Friday, 5 December 2014


Apart from a few teething problems (glue not liking foam board) my exhibition doesn't look too bad.  I've had some very nice comments from kind people and I feel that at least showing my work in a public place within the community entitles me in a small way to call myself an artist.  For the time being, at least.

My next challenge is to use what I've learned while making the exhibition in the right hand cases (all those pieces made directly from life) in the development of my work as a whole.  I enjoyed using a bolder line, and also the simple collages, both of which I will try to utilise and develop in the work I create next year.  I also enjoyed using colour more, and again I want to build on this.

I still love using a dip pen and plain Indian Ink though, my biggest problem is how to do everything I want to do in the little time I have to do it all in!

On Tuesday I took a trip to London and was inspired by all the fantastic work held in the National Gallery.  I visited some old favourites.  I gazed in rapture upon Gainsborough's The Watering Place which just takes my breath away.  I want to live in that painting!  I really enjoyed sailing the icy arctic seas with Peder Balke, and being in the presence of 16th century Italians painted by Moroni (my favourite was this poignant painting of a child).  I visited the Rembrandt exhibition at the National too, but it was too busy to make any real connection with these works, incredible though they are.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Penned Petals

My exhibition finally is up at Wolverhampton Central Library and it can now be found in the glass display cases at the top of the stairs on first floor.

I had a few teething problems, mainly that I had used foam board to mount the labels and photographs I am displaying.  These all went up lovely, I've attached the wall mounted ones with velcro on the back of the foam board.  But as I locked the final case I noticed the paper on which I had printed the title label of a couple of the pieces was peeling away from the mount board!

I tried a quick fix, but if this hasn't worked by Wednesday I'll re-do the labels on card and re-fix them. 

I'm dreading turning up and finding that I've created a snow globe effect with all my carefully printed labels fluttering about behind the glass like snowflakes!

I haven't taken any photographs of the exhibition yet, hopefully I'll get these done on Wednesday, but in the mean time I have published a digital catalogue of my exhibition which you can view by clicking here.

These are the plans of the 2 cases which I made throughout the time I planned my small exhibition.  I set the material out in the back garden or on the landing, marking the case with string, and then drew up this plan of left case (above) and right case (below).  As it turned out the left case worked perfectly but I had overestimated the space of the right case and had to adjust the display of the material a little.  But it all fitted into the cases in the end.

View digital catalogue of Penned Petals here.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Penned Petals - Monday 1 December to Friday 12 December 2014

Hopefully after weeks of planning my small exhibition will be held at Wolverhampton Central Library from Monday 1 December to Friday 12 December 2014.

You'll find it up the lovely spiral stairs in the 2 long glass fronted cabinets between the Learning Centre and the first floor library.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Preparing for an exhibition

The exhibition I'm going to hold at the library is in 2 glass cases at the top of the stairs in the main foyer area of the building.  I held an exhibition there in 2011.  The cases are surprisingly spacious and so I've been planning what material I have and how much I will need to fill that space.  Like before I've made a plan in the back garden with string and various bits of paper cut to the size of existing pieces...

Then I've drawn a plan showing these pieces in situ, marking in red things which I don't have yet (titles, accompanying text etc...) so I know what I've got to get ready to take with me in December.

I've decided to theme the exhibition around the flower drawings I've been doing this year, and to split the 2 cases into work done in dip pen and ink from my photographs in the left hand case and in the right hand case I will show the drawings I've made from life.  These are done in sketchbooks, in fibre pens of varying thickness.  I will show prints of the pages from the sketchbooks and the sketchbooks themselves.

I've made a timetable and hopefully I'll have everything ready in December.

Here's a piece I finished earlier this month.  It's called 'Tearful Rose' and it's in coloured acrylic inks applied with dip pen.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sunflowers and wayside poppy

I've been working through the course I mentioned in my previous post.  I'm finding this really helpful and it has shaken up lots of different ways of thinking and ideas that I hope to develop. 

I'm not rushing through it, as I've got quite a few other things on my plate at the moment (IT course, general DIY jobs, my part-time job at the library and the exhibition I'm planning to hold there in December).  Also my main purpose in doing this course was to motivate myself into other ways of approaching my work, of levering myself away (or at least get breathing space from) my dependency on photographs.

Our garden is a tiny oasis in the urban environment in which I live.  I've spent quite a lot of time there through the summer, and now summer is drawing to a close I'm making as much use of it as I can, enjoying the huge sunflowers I've managed to raise this summer.  Some of them are well over 7ft tall!  I've never managed to get them so tall before. 

My routine has become to work for about an hour or so from the course then, with the principles gleaned from the course still buzzing in my head, to work an hour or more drawing from life.  These drawings are done in fibre tip pens of varying nib size and they're done quickly.  Here are a couple of small ones I made last week.

Indoors I continue working with dip pen and increasingly coloured ink rather than my usual black Indian ink.

This piece is very small (about 13cm x 11cm) and I made it deliberately with a few aims in mind:-

  • I wanted to finish something quickly, ideally within a week
  • I wanted to produce something primarily in line that I can experiment with perhaps adding colour either onto the drawing itself, onto a print of the drawing or onto a digital image of the drawing using Photoshop.
I'll post progress of this when there is any!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Chilly sunflowers

It's hard to believe that just 3 weeks ago I was sitting in the sunshine attempting to cool down with orange ice lollies and filling my glass with ice cubes before adding water that melted the ice cubes within minutes.  Today I sat in the garden wrapped in sweater, cardi and body warmer as I tried to draw the sunflowers I've managed to coax into some sort of life this year, despite snails, wasps and gale force wind.

It's been so windy!  One poor sunflower snapped in two, others have toppled in their pots so many times that they crushed and snapped their lovely heart shaped leaves.  For much of this week I've spent running about in search of a sheltered part of the garden, wedging the pots with bricks, other pots and whatever else I can find to stop them toppling! 

And now, I attempt to draw the survivors.  I feel I owe it to them, if just to record the proof of the fact that some of them have actually survived and grin at me with their lovely yellow faces.

 I love these Teddy Bear sunflowers, but this is the only bloom I've managed to coax into life so far.

This is a Little Leo.  Just like me.

I wanted a break from working with fine dip pens so I've been trying out these marker pens.  This one is a chunky nib.  The sketch book is A3 size.

I bought these Sharpie markers a few weeks ago and I think it's about time I tried them out.  This is on an A4 sketchbook.  The Sharpies are spirit based so they bleed through to the next page in this sketchbook.  I like the mirror image they cast through the paper.  The left hand image has bled through from the previous page, the right hand image is the new Sharpie drawing.  I think it might be nice to experiment with combining the two effects on the same page.

Another double page spread with Sharpie drawing and bleed through from previous page.

I used the chunky marker pen for the foreground sunflower and a finer marker to roughly sketch in the background.

I had some great news yesterday.  I have had a drawing accepted for this year's Open Exhibition of the Society of Graphic Fine Art.  It's a drawing I made in 2010, so it falls just within the 5 year span required by the Society for entries.  It is, I think, one of my best pieces, I exhibited it a few years ago at the RBSA and at an open exhibition in Worcester.  It's called PW PW 2001.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Here is a small pen and ink drawing I've been working on, it's almost finished. It's more stylised than my usual work, and I gave the flower a coat of iridescent ink before drawing on top of it with dip pen and ink.

And here is a new seed I planted yesterday.  It's a rose bejeweled with rain/teardrops.

I regained some of my time 4 weeks ago when I was made redundant from one of my 2 part-time jobs.  I am still trying to get on my feet at the moment, but I dived into my new treasure box of time by signing up for and begining various courses and projects.  I've signed up for an on-line IT course with Vision2Learn and a Photoshop course with Wolverhampton College.  I  had my eye on a couple of on-line art courses but couldn't afford them, so I invested a little money in purchasing a course in book form.  I think I need to free up the way I approach my drawing, developing the imaginative side in a more obvious way.

I made a start on it last week.

I'm hoping to use some of the concepts I encounter in this book in my serious artwork.  Time will tell...

One other project I've been dwelling on and working towards this year is an exhibition, which I am hoping to mount of my work later this year.  Hopefully around December time.  As I have focused on flower drawings mostly though 2014 this will be the subject of the exhibition, which I hope to hold at Wolverhampton Central Library

Friday, 27 June 2014

Prize Exhibition

I have 2 drawings in this year's Prize Exhibition at the RBSA.  The exhibition runs until Saturday 12 July.  You can view a short film of it here.  You can see my picture in the corner in one shot, and then just after it there is a short of the wall with Frou Frou hanging on the left hand side.  I've not managed to get to the gallery to see the exhibition yet, but hopefully I will get to see it within the next couple of weeks.  It looks good from the film.

Here is a quick sketch I made of the lovely plant known as Lamb's Ear.  I bought one of these plants after looking for some time for one, I've seen it in gardens and loved the silky silver texture of it.

Mine's in a container and I've had to treat it for a fungal disease, it keeps going spotty!  I don't know how long it'll last in the polluted Black Country air. 

And here is some more progress on my rose drawing.  All is done in FW Acrylic Ink, red for the rose, payne's grey and black for the background. 

I'm still listening to Wolf Hall while I work.  So I guess this drawing will be forever linked in my mind to the ambiguous character of Thomas Crowell and the bloody glamour of Tudor England.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Flowers Against A Wall

Here's the finished pencil drawing I began a couple of weeks ago. 

And here's recent progress on a new pen and acrylic ink drawing. 

Working as usual from one of my digital photographs, and working directly from the screen this time (as I did with the pencil drawing above) I lightly sketched the rose in pencil, then added a wash of pearlescent acrylic ink.  Over this I began working in red acrylic ink, occasionally sketching in pencil to guide my pen marks.  I'm working on heavy watercolour paper.

Listening while I work still to Wolf Hall.  And enjoying the lovely sunshine.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014


I was really over the moon tonight to learn that I have sold the piece I had on show at the Broadway open.

I'm really really pleased about this, it is a much needed confidence boost at a time when I can really do with it.

Whoever has purchased my drawing THANK YOU!  I hope you get much pleasure from it.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Pencil dust

I've been working on this over the past couple of weeks.  I found a piece of mount board which I had painted with Pearlescent FW acrylic ink.  It gives the surface a nice brittle glow.  I'm not sure the orange colour works for the flower, but there are some nice-ish textures and ebbs and flows of light in the background, which it is taking me forever to achieve.

I tore myself away from my pen and ink today to begin a pencil drawing.  I realise now how addictive working in pen and ink is for me, it's both a comfort and a puzzle, repetetive, hypnotic and frustrating.  I need a change though, even if just for a short while.

This is very small and I've only worked for a couple of hours so far.

I'm having a break from Radio 4 as well, which is my usual sound wall of choice whilst I work.  I've been listening instead to audio books which you can download for free via (in my case) Wolverhampton library's website.  I've listened to Jo Jo Moyes Me Before You and today I began listening to Wolf Hall.  The quality of these recordings is very good and the actors convey the action excellently.

Monday, 12 May 2014

A little more progress

Almost finished now I think. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Magnolia Progress

Just managed to squeeze a little bit of energy out of myself this evening after work. 

Too tired to do any more this evening and not spoil it.  I managed an hour.

As you see, I've dripped a little Paynes Grey ink in the middle of the bottom of the magnolia.  Tiredness makes me clumsy.  I've let it dry and hopefully I'll disguise it tomorrow.  Reminds me of putting concealer on my spots in the old days.  My drawing has become an extension of my own skin.  Permanent adolescence.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

A Timely Piece of My Shadow

I haven't worked much on my artwork over the past week or so, partly because I've had a bit of a cleaning frenzy and have been doing some much needed chucking out of stuff I should have got rid of years ago, but hadn't had the heart to.  It's hard getting rid of old things sometimes, and it's amazing how the most mundane belongings can take on sentimental value.  I have been in the habit of scanning things like receipts, tickets, programmes and greetings cards for years now so I still have a digitised version of them to look back on when I feel like wallowing in the past.  Which do have a habit of doing from time to time.  I've always been both astonished and fascinated by the feeling of time passing, the surreality of memory and how something can feel so tangible in the mind and yet be irretrievable in reality.

I returned on Monday from a lovely Easter break with G to Cornwall.  We paid return visits to Heligan and Eden, and visited a garden which was new to us called Pinetum Park, which has some lovely exotic pine trees and a beautiful Japanese garden, among other features.  I took a few photographs which I hope might be useful to my work in future.  We paid a return visit to Mevagissey (or Meva as I've heard the locals call it) where we stayed in 2004.  Back then we had a lovely meal in a restaurant called The Haven, and we stayed at a lovely apartment called The Sundeck, all gone now.  Yet still there and tangible in the memory.  If I close my eyes I can seat myself back in that tiny cosy restaurant turn my head and see the businessmen enjoying their rowdy dinner to our left on the other side of the chimney breast, to the right the apologetic waitress (or maybe owner) apologises that our food is taking so long, only it is all locally sourced and the table is ours for the night.  The meal was lovely, well worth waiting for.

Anyway, here is A Tiny Piece of My Shadow.

And here is something new which I sketched out this evening.  Another magnolia.

Friday, 4 April 2014

A new piece called...

...which is the piece I began yesterday.  It's smaller than Blue Tulip, about A5 or so, which is very small for my recent work.  There are several reasons for this, not least being time and energy constraints.  Also, as I'm making this piece for another self-imposed deadline, I'm aiming to complete it within a week if possible.  I'm not going to rush the piece, but I'm making an extra huge effort to make every effort mean more, if you know what I mean. 

About 12 or so years ago I began making a series of photographs of flowers and plants which I called 'Fuzzy flowers'.  It was really then when I started using a digital camera with any seriousness.  They're snapshots in a way, and I thought then that they combined the insignificant and transitory with the poetry of the fleeting, the poignant moment.  They were fuzzy and out of focus, but I liked the quirkiness of the apparent throw away nature of these photographs, which was something that I would never have dared to do if it wasn't for the digital camera.  I would never have had the money to take all those 'throw away' photographs and have them printed out on paper, and so I was free to indulge in recording my fuzzy, poignant, transient moments.

This new drawing is taken from a later incarnation of those fuzzy flowers.  Here's day 2 of work in progress...

It so happened that I had problems with my printer yesterday, which insisted on spitting out, or refusing to swallow, any of the lovely shiny HP Premium Plus Photo Paper I'd bought.  Turns out 300g is too thick for its little printer mouth.  Then the printer got its revenge on me for trying to feed it over-thick paper by promptly running out of Tri Colour ink!  So I improvised, and began making this drawing straight from my tablet screen. 

After an awkward start I began to forget I was looking at a computer image (which does feel distinctly different to drawing from to a printed photograph) and I managed to make some progress.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

April Fool

Mom got me first thing this morning with an April fool 'there's a spider on the wall!'  Works every time.

But at least I've finished this little picture at last.

I'm really obsessing over the background in this drawing, and it's something I've an idea to take further in my next piece which hopefully I'll start later this week once I've got a couple of handing in deadlines out of the way.

Digital submission seems to be the popular way to enter opens lately.  Even the RBSA has gone digital for its Prize Exhibition.  I'm not feeling very confident though, as I don't think my work really comes across in digital images.  Maybe it's my amateur approach to photographing them, but I'm afraid the ssubtelties of my style will dissolve on a computer screen or worse, when projected many sizes bigger onto a wall or screen.

But there's no avoiding it if this is the way open submissions are going these days.  And at least it saves in unwanted trips to hand in then collect rejections a week later.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Blue Tulip

This evening I had to admit defeat.  I knew it was coming.  Encouraged by my success in completing magnolia in 2 weeks last week I then tried to follow it up with completing a smaller scale drawing in slightly less time. 

I began thus...

 Then powered ahead, driving myself too hard for my poor aging eyes.  Three days later I had got this far...

But then by Wednesday, which is my late night at my day job, I had to admit defeat.  I decided to enter another piece of work for the deadline I'd been aiming for, as if I'd have pursued my over ambitious aim of finishing this piece this week I'd probably have pushed my eyesight and my sanity too far.

So this is as far as I've got with it...

It's smaller than A4 but I realise that I've already sacrificed something in the subtelties of the back ground (which strangely enough, has become the area I'm most interested in) and to push it any faster would have not been sensible.

I might finish it this weekend, if I can. 

I've just checked the deadline for the RBSA Prize Exhibition.  This year it's an on-line digital entry process and the date seems earlier than usual - 7 April.  Which is a bit of a blow.  My work doesn't really come across that well in digital images and I don't think I'll have anything ready for such an early deadline. 

I'll have to see how I get on over the next week or so...

Friday, 21 March 2014

RBSA Friends Exhibition

I have had some good news for a change this week.

I have had 2 pieces accepted for the Friends Exhibition at the RBSA.

One piece is called Bank Holiday Monday, 2012.  This is a piece I completed last year, but I had little confidence in it and didn't submit it to any opens.

The second piece is the one I set myself the challenge of finishing at (for me) lightning speed. It's given me food for thought actually, this piece.  Hopefully I've learned a few lessons from its completion.

The exhibition, which I am so pleased to be a part of, began yesterday at the RBSA gallery and runs until Saturday 29 March.