Welcome to a blog in which you will find examples of my work in two areas and comments on whatever topics come to mind.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Summer Lake Scenes

Oil on Canvas Boards 9.5 x 12 ins (24 x 30 cm); 5 x 7 in (13 x 18 cm)

Efforts to escape from strict representation of nature, without going abstract.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Oil on Board 10.5 x 14 in (27 x 35 cm)

I've tried copying a portrait by the Spanish realist Raimundo de Madrazo y Garreta -- born in Rome 1841, died Versailles 1920.  He lived most of his life in Paris.  If Realism in literature -- French literature, at least (Zola, Maupassant, Flaubert) tends to depict the sordid, this is certainly not the case with de Madrazo.  He painted pretty women in pretty clothes almost exclusively.  His taste, if not his treatment of the subject, was Renoir-esque.  If the notion of kitsch floats near his airy and blithe canvases, if you hear the beatings of its wings,  try to match, or even approach, his facility, his technical near-perfection, and you may be left like me, one of his many admirers.

Monday, November 21, 2011

At the Market

Oil on Canvas Board 8.5 x 10.5 (22 x 27cm)

Representational painting can be unsatisfying when everything in the background is just as clearly defined as the subject, say a bird, in the foreground.  This little scene is an attempt at creating a realistic background -- i.e. one that's out of focus, or merely vague, in relation to the subject (which is the thing in focus, clear).   I have gone over the background with a couple of layers of medium, each laced with a small amount of pigment -- hoping vague impressions of people and things would result, without being obliterated. An alternative way occurs to me in recalling Renoir's theatre balcony, a young girl in profile as subject, and distant rows of other spectators as background; where he has managed a marvellous effect of distance, and blur, merely by brushing main forms, and ignoring detail.  What I've tried to do here is probably not a good solution at all, risking mud.  But the other way is something I'll have to work on.  Maybe a glass or two of wine before embarking, would be a good idea.

Friday, November 11, 2011

'Miss N.'

Oil on Canvas Board 10.5 x 13" (27 x 35cm)

Recently, I picked up a book of black and white, and sepia, photos created by a group of 'photo pictorialists' under the wing of the early 20th century American photographer Alfred Stieglitz. I quote from the editor's Introduction: 'The pictorialists believed that photography was not about the recording of documentary facts nor was it a vehicle for trying to recreate works of art, . . but was a means of creating a new purely photographic reality. . . . A wide variety of lenses negatives and manipulated techniques were used, including drawing etching, painting, and scratching both negatives and prints.'  I have transgressed: by 'trying to recreate [from two or three of them] works of art.'  Gertrude Kaserbier's 'Miss N' dates from 1903.  Precocity, impudence, a world-weary indolence, shine languidly from that face. I have not caught anything much akin to the original expression.  Using her as my model, dead though she has been these many years, I found challenge enough just translating the sepia shadows, highlights and half-lights, into colours. I spent a week in her enigmatic company. In this same collection are Clarence H. White's 'The Orchard' (1905) and Frank Eugene's 'Lady' (1910),  my models for two of the paintings in last week's blog. The book, titled Camera Work, is published by Taschen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Three New Paintings

Dame en Robe Bleue
oil on board 9,50" x11,75"

                   The Lady in the Three Musketeers Hat
oil on board 8,75" x 10,75"
                             Girls in an Orchard

Oil on Canvas Board, 10.50" x 14"

I'm back at painting, after a year spent writing.  It's a joy.  The gal in the outlandish hat is based on a Vuillard.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Coffee Pot

Oil on Canvas Sheet  7.5 x 10 ins (19 x 25 cm)

This coffee pot, bought at a garage sale -- known picturesquely in France as a 'Vide Grenier' or attic-emptying -- expressly to by used as a model, proved a challenge, which may be obvious.  I have not touched a paint brush or pallet knife for several months.
This was painted for Carol Marine's DPW challenge .

Tuesday, March 22, 2011



This is a 24 page pamphlet, a compendium of facts and opinions bearing on the relationship of Western democratic values to  those of Islam and Islamism.  Readership restricted. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Dame Blanche

Oil on Canvas Board 14 x 10.75in (35 X 25cm)

 This is from a photo I took in Portugal. (The lady came walking along leisurely later -- as it were -- after I'd looked at the path and thought it needed an occupant.)
The painting is for the January challenge of Alice Thompson's Calypso Moon Artist Movement: