Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Aphrodite's Island - the poster

Just a bit of publicity to advertise the next exhibition.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Preparing for "Aphrodite's Island"

That is the name I've finally settled on for my upcoming exhibition at the LUDUS Centre in Lancaster.

LUDUS is primarily a dance studio but has a small art gallery in its foyer which supports local artists by giving a slot each month. I have been allocated a slot to run from Jan 5 2009 to the beginning of March.

Aphrodite's Island is, of course, Cyprus so half the exhibition will show pictures of the Mediterranean Sea around Cyprus and the rest of it will display images of mythological figures including Aphrodite, Artemis and Hermaphrodite.

The accompanying picture here is "Gynaeia", a portrait of a Grecian girl taken from a statue of the Hellenic period circa 500 - 300 BC.

I have had to stop work on the Caryatids for the time being while I get this exhibition mounted.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Four Caryatids

This is an ink sketch of the proposed layout of the four figures. They are drawn here at 12 inches tall each. As it is intended for the finished work to be four panels each four feet tall by 14 inches wide it will finish up quite a sizeable piece of work, probably around six feet or so wide. I will probably do it in monochrome but haven't made my mind up yet.

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Studio

As well as the Orestian six-part trilogy(!) There is planned as part of this particular body of work, some figures from the Ερέχθειον adjacent to the Πάρθευου in Athens. There are the Caryatids, - female figures acting as columns to support the building. The original Karyatides, - Καρυατίδης, - were dancing maidens in the temple of Artemis in the Peloponnese in mainland Greece. They danced with baskets of plants on their heads and were known as Karyatidae. The sculptural caryatid developed from this. A caryatid is a figure carved as part of a pillar. Some of the more modern examples, e.g. Modigliani and Rodin depict muscular male figures supporting some structure with their arms.
Here on one wall of my studio are two studies of the figures. I originally intended them to finish up as life size paintings six feet tall. The examples shown here are four feet tall.
I did make one at six feet tall to see how it would look. It is a bit too monumental in scale. O.K. if I had a big gallery lined up for it, but I haven't. Considering I intend to do four of these figures to make up a polyptych, even at four feet it will be a fairly large piece of work. At six feet it would be enormous.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

More on the Orestian Trilogy

This is a computer generated mock-up of how the finished trilogy will look when mounted in a gallery. Before some of the more sharp-eyed of you make comments, yes there are six pictures and yes a trilogy is a three part.... story.
I have made six components of the trilogy as two triptychs. On the left are the three characters that make what the three parts of the trilogy is about, namely, Agamemnon, Electra and Orestes. The right hand triptych has the three protagonists, if that's the right word, Cassandra, Aegisthos and Clytemnestra.
The images shown here are only 12 inches tall, The plan is to have them life-sized at six feet tall. That is going to need a lot of wood for stretchers and canvas to say nothing of the amount of paint used. So that stage will have to wait until I have a little bit more of the necessary wherewithall. Meanwhile I can carry on developing the project and the ideas. You can see more of this on my other blog, The Draughtsman.

I have two exhibitions coming up in the new year whioch is taking up a fair chunk of my time and money. I have a one man show "Mediterranean" at the LUDUS Gallery in Lancaster and the other is a studio collaborative show at the Edge Gallery, also in Lancaster.

"Mediterranean" will focus on my work in Cyprus. The Edge is showing landscape/seacape work by the artists of Luneside Studios.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Lost in Fog - Lost in Time

A dense white bank of fog rolled in across the Lune estuary shrouding Lancaster in its clammy embrace.

The buildings on St. George's Quay down by the banks of the River Lune have changed little over the last couple of hundred years. The housing development completed nearly ten years ago tastefully mimics the established architecture. Now wreathed in fog, and with cars absent it doesn't take too much imagination to expect a square rigged sailing ship to loom out of the murk as it glides up the River. Lancaster was the major port in the North-West before Liverpool got started during the 1700s.

John o' Gaunt's Gateway

This evening I emerged from the studio and the fog had thickened still further. It was evening and dark. The street lights in this part of the city have retained their pre-20th century form, though now they are electric instead if the original gas. I walked up towards John o' Gaunt's Gateway at Lancaster Castle before descending Castle Hill and its narrow alleyways. Again there were no cars about. Everybody had gone home. I would not have been in the least surprised if I met a man in a frock coat and tricorn hat.

But the the illusion is quickly shattered as, after passing Covells Cross I arrive back in the 21st. century at the pelican crossing on China Street and wait for the manic rush of motor traffic to stop briefly and allow me to cross the road.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


At the moment I am making a concerted effort to learn a bit more Greek.
What Greek I have is what I've picked up during my times in Cyprus. This is mainly the "gettting by" stuff. I can order a meal, book a taxi, get a bus, shop and ask for directions. Oh and the polite conversation stuff as well.

But I can't really string a sentence together, - yet.

So, I spend a half-hour driving my long-suffering wife crazy by reciting things in Greek. Usually I write them down in Greek then read them out loud. This could be interesting as I have been told by the Cypriots I have managed to master the Cyprus inflection of the language and many of the words I've learnt are Cypriot dialect and not pure Athenian Greek. A bit like a Greek learning Glaswegian for English if you see what I mean. But hopefully, by the time I go to Cyprus again next spring I might be able to converse a little better. Ελά! Καλω!

After today's little session I set off into the grey rain under a leaden sky. I stopped to talk to a builder waiting across the road for the rain to stop. We spoke in the Lancastro-Cumbrian dialect we use up here. I was more acutely aware of this as I had already been using three languages this morning. English, then on the phone to a friend in Stuttgart and speaking German, then as I said earlier, practising my Greek. The conversation with the builder went something like this:

ME: S' thy fault's raiannnen. Thou's tekken 't' slates of't' reeaf.
HIM: Aye. Oppen invitation. Sodz laar.
ME: S'way it gars ah reckon. Waet till s' sunny an' s'ower caad te dee owt and when its warmer s' ower wet.
HIM: Thou's reet thur a'll tell tha!

After that we went our separate ways. Looking at that lot written down it looks like anything but English. But English it is, albeit a dialect whose origins probably date back to Saxon times.
Read it out loud and it might make more sense.
Now I'm just waiting for someone to ask for a translation.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Complete Triptych

If you've been following this blog for the last few days you will have been watching this project grow. Today I completed the Electra image so now the triptych is complete, - in its water-colour form. This is a preparatory work on paper, though in its way is complete in itself. The plan is to develop this into a larger painting. I had originally intended the panels to be six feet tall; pretty well life-size. But now I wonder, perhaps they would be better at four feet tall (that's 120 cm in European). What is shown here is 24" ( 60 cm tall). I have done it this size so that scaling up shouldn't be too complicated.
Anyone out there got any thoughts? 48" ? 72" ?
There is another triptych planned to go with this one, the three protagonists; Clytemnestra, Aegisthus and Cassandra. Watch this space. I may be a week or two working on it.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


I've used the English spelling this time, mainly to stop my spell-checker going bananas every time I use the Greek version. But just for devilment I'll put "Ηλέκτρα" in. That'll set it screamin' at me!
Seriously though, if you take a look in The Draughtsman you can see a more detailed update. As a side avenue of this project I did a head and shoulders drawing of Electra. The idea came to me yesterday while doing the layout. The drawing looked complete in itself so here is a development of that.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Agamemnon and Orestes


Two distinctly different styles. One emerges from the shadows and the other from the light.
Elektra will be added to these and will stand between the two. For more details see The Draughtsman.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sea Jewels

A piece of driftwood lies washed up on Morecambe Bay. The sky is grey with the certain promise of windswept icy rain. The tide is out, - far out. The Bay is little more than a monotone wilderness,
And yet....
And yet, nestled in a hole in this nondescript driftwood a group of small stones cuddle each other. Do stones need comforting? Well, they are part of creation and like the rest of us could probably use a bit of company.
They don't sparkle like jewelery but ensconced like this they are precious. They delight the eye.
I take the photo then get back to the studio before the rain carries out its threat.

Just thought I'd make a change from posting art. But then photography is an art form.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New Project

Four Figures
Caryatid - Artemis #1 - Artemis #2 - Afrodite

"At the moment I have a large body of work assembled of the "Sea Pictures" so there is not so much pressure to produce new work in that direction. This leaves me free to concentrate on my Hellenic project(s) which hark back to the times I spend in Cyprus.
Not surprisingly the mythological material coupled with the modern Cypriot Art scene has exerted something of an influence here. Many years ago when I was in my late teens/early twenties I avidly read the Greek classics. My trips to Cyprus have re-awakened this interest. I have done a lot of random drawings of Hellenic style figures, mainly female, but there has been no real cohesive plan. It was rather like looking around a new environment and just taking everything at face value."

The above is a quote from my other blog The Draughtsman which I have just revived. It has lain dormant since September.

It is in the preparation of the above composite that a plan emerged where I intend to produce a body of work of these mythological characters. A start has been made. I am working on the Agamemnon/Elektra/Orestes trilogy. More details on The Draughtsman.

The four panels above are 42 cm tall, gouache on paper. The four make up a complete work.

Phil Bird

Phil Bird is a British painter permanently based in Cyprus and is a full-time tutor at CyCA.
While in Britain much of his work explored the imagery of pre-Chistian Britain harking back to pre-Roman times. He lived not far from the Avebury Ring and the Vale of the White Horse.

Now working in Cyprus his work looks at some of the imagery of the Eastern Mediterranean and embraces Hellenic, Egyptian and other ancient Middle-Eastern cultures.

He has made not only paintings but small sculptures of the figures that feature in his work.
Phil is also a folk musician whose compositions are also evocative of these (almost) lost cultures.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Anna Georghiou

Anna Georghiou is a Cypriot painter whose late work comprises groups of women usually attired in the early Cypriot national style. The wearing of national dress as everyday wear only ceased within living memory. Certainly European nation costume was the norm in more rural countries in the early 1960's. I can personally vouch for that.
Anna tells me there is no deliberate message in her work though one may emerge as it develops. Indeed some of the best art is produced when the artist doesn't think about it too much.
I like this enigmatic quality Anna brings to her work. This piece is about four feet square, pastel and other wet media on thick tinted paper. See more of her work on her website.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Student Work at CyCA

Setareh Aliahmadi is a first year BA student from Iran and studying at CyCA in Larnaka. This is a portrait she painted of a Greek Orthodox Priest up in the Trodos Hills. What struck me is the standard of this work. I think she could go far. The work is about four feet tall so is just about life-size.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


The breakers here have formed an amphitheatre around a slightly raised sandbank. I painted this just before I left for Cyprus last September. This picture has a Cyprus connection; it is of a small stretch of beach midway between Pafos and Coral Bay. This is an area of coastline made up of low lying cliffs and several small coves. The cliffs are never more than say, 3 metres or ten feet high so this is no Cornwall. What is interesting though, is how rough the sea is on this western tip of the Island compared to Larnaca where is can be as flat as a millpond.
This painting is A3 (30 x 42 cm) size, gouache on 300 gsm cartridge.
These postings have been a bit infrequent of late but I'll try to rectify this even if its just to show some art. I intend to show the work of one or two Cypriot artists.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Aphrodite's Rock

Πετόυ τού Ρομείου, Petrou tou Romeiou. Arguably one of the most beautiful and romantic places in Cyprus. It lies about midway between Pafos and Limassol. Better known as Aphrodite's Rock, this is the birthplace of Aphrodite. Legend has it, if you're single, that if you swim three times round the central group of rocks you will meet your true love soon afterwards. I haven't done that but have plodged in the waters hereabouts and wished my wife was with me. Perhaps she'll come to Cyprus one day and I'll show her this place.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It seems a world away now...

I've only been back five days and already Cyprus seems to be a world away. Here, we were having a musical evening. The guitarist is Phil and the flautist his partner, Anna. They were my hosts. I rented a room in their spacious bungalow. Both of them are painters in their own right and I shall post examples of their work anon. The seated violinist is a Swedish professional player and has a versatile repetoire ranging from Fritz-Kreisler to Stefan Grapelli. He is a very talented musician. Phil and Anna compose folk songs from time to time, usually with a strong Cypriot theme to them.

Breakfast time in their household can be a good way to start the day; they rehearse in the music room. They play a very soothing form of music.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I Live in a Northern Land

There is a song by Edward Elgar called "My Love Dwells in a Northern Land". In Cyprus one of my catchphrases for those whose experience of the English language is standard English as spoken in the Thames Valley/ Oxford areas is, "I come from a Northern Land," said in rather the same way as Blackadder's Baldric spoke of his "cunning plan". I must admit to having to moderate my Northern twang a bit when abroad, even for those English who come from anywhere south of the Manchester Ship Canal. Ee bah 'eck! S'reet, tha' knows.

Anyway, today I got a bleak and powerful reminder I am back in this Northern fastness as I walked into town on my way to the studio with an icy blast coming in across Morecambe Bay fit to take your face off. And with the ever present promise of wind-blown icy rain to boot, if not the threat of snow. Or so it felt. Before you click on the comments bit, yes I was wrapped up under four layers of clothing, (tee-shirt, shirt, sweater, fleece and wax-cotton raincoat.) No sandals this time but my fell boots and heavy jeans.

I think this so-called global warming has passed this bit of the world by.

Monday, October 20, 2008

and now, the end is near...

Shirley Bassey used to sing that in her song "I did it my way."
While out here in Cyprus I have been rather busy and there isn't much time for blogging on a shared computer. I have my slot and that's it. Anyway fly back to my cold Northern land on Friday. So once I am esconced in front of my own PC I can update the blog.
Lotsa photos and stuff as usual and for me, writing the blog post datal as it were means I am (virtually) reliving the scene.
Cyprus College of Art keeps me busy in my role as artist-in-residence. It is all very pleasant working in wall-to-wall sunshine, there's no denying that, but and actual holiday? Well not quite.
Having said that, I wouldn't be anywhere else. I'll very likely be back in the spring.

One by product of these trips to Cyprus is my Greek is getting a bit fluent even if it is the Cypriot dialect rather than mainland Greek. Kalimera folks.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

First day of term

I have a hangover this morning. I'm not surprised. Yesterday was the introductory day for the students. That didn't affect me much as I am not concerned with registers and all that admin stuff. I just got on a nd did my own thing.

In the evening we had a visiting lecturer fly out from London to give a lecture on The Francis Bacon exhibition currently running at Tate Modern. After that it was the introductory social for staff and students alike. Soon we all retired to Stoa's Taverna where we drank and discussed art, history, mythology, etc. far into the following morning. Many bottles of KEO, the Cypriot lager were consumed. Nobody got disgustingly drunk, - you get arrested for that in Cyprus, - but by next morning most of us had the distinct symptoms of dehydration, the hangover headache. A large glass of water and a good stiff μετριω (Greek coffee) had us ready to take on the day.

All the students went into town to take part in a mass "draw-in" after which we evaluated the results back at the college.

I read in the Cyprus News, the English language newspaper, that September was the wettest on record. This after a three year drought. The resevoir levels have now doubled. They are 6% full now. That's right, six percent. I wonder how the British water companies would cope?
But now a new heatwave has set in with temperatures back in the mid to upper thirties. Gets a bit chilly at nights now, dropping to around twenty. I'm not complaining you understand.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Nicosia (Λευκωσια)

Took a bus trip to Nicosia, the capital, yesterday. A journey of some 40 km along a quiet (by British standards) motorway. It only cost nine euros for the round trip. The bus station is close by the Pafos gate shown here. It is an ancient gateway to the walled part of the city.
The next place I visited was the famous Ledera Street which has one thing in common with Unter den Linden in Berlin but unlike the Berin street that no longer is blocked by the Berlin Wall, Ledera Street leads to the Green Line separating the Turkish occupied zone from the rest of Cyprus. Gladly the way has been opened up but restrictions still apply. I walked up as far as the line, well as far as the UN troops at the line. It is a stark reminder that Cyprus isn't entireley paradise.
The last picture here is of the Freedom monument. Originally built to commemorate the end of British rule in 1959 but now looks to the re-unification of Cyprus. North Cyprus has been occupied since 1974.
It is all a poignant reminder.

But on a happier note I spent a large chunk of the day in the National Museum viewing ancient and modern Cypriot art. Later I spent a leisurely couple of hours window shopping in the Laiki Getonia district. It is rather like a North African souk but full of tourist shops.

In a Cyprus Garden

You don't get gardens like this in England. The table and chairs are under an overhead trellis of grapes to provide cool shade. In the foreground, ripe pomnegranates, 'undreds of 'em. In the background a lemon tree. We sent a day lasst week harvesting some of this stuff. Figs, oranges, lemons, pomegranates and in a corner some of the largest aubergines I've ever seen.
This is the garden of a fellow artist who is permanently in Cyprus. I'm rentinf a room off him. The room is so big you could put the ground floor of my house in Lancaster in it.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Turning my attention to....

CYPRUS. Larnaca this time round.

My pictures pictures are now with the Qsand Gallery in Morecambe ready for the exhibition that opens on October3.

My studio is looking a lot clearer now the main body of work has gone. Now I can concentrate on deciding what I'm going to do in Cyprus. (1) Develop further the Hellenic series such as this Amazon/Artemis image.

(2) Work on the "Cretan Ship" which I've done a few preliminary sketches for. These are based on a replica the "Kyrenia II" which put in to Paphos recently and with a little bit of luck may be in Larnaca ere I arrive.

Now that the more settled weather in England is giving the lie to our ingloriously wet summer, and I am looking forward to a bit of sunshine in the Eastern Mediterranean, what's the news I get?

Cypriots overjoyed at listening to water gurgling down their gutters! After a dry year its raining! At least its warm rain.

Well, I'll be there on Friday so posts may be a bit infrequent unless the studio internet is up and running. Otherwise its internet cafes which don't come cheap.
Καλιμερα. Cheers!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Choral Evensong

One of my favourite programmes on BBC Radio3 is the Sunday afternoon broadcast of Choral Evensong relayed from some Cathedral and sometimes University chapel like King's at Cambridge or Christ's at Oxford.
"And what is a Buddhist doing listening avidly to a Christian Church service?" you may ask.
When I was about nine years old, nearly sixty years back, I was a chorister at the local church in Sunderland. It was through this I developed a love of sacred music. I remained a chorister until well into my teenage years by which time this particular treble (or boy soprano as those across the Pond call it) had transmogrified into a bass. I just love the settingsof the Responses and Canticles along with the Psalms. As it happens, this musical tradition has been taken up somewhat by the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives so even at Throssel it is a home-from-home in this respect. It may be some time I guess, before the John Stainers, George Stanfords, Olivier Messians, or J.S.Bachs of Buddhism begin to emerge.

Sometimes the BBC broadcasts from Lancaster's Priory Church shown here. It stands on Castle Hill behind the Castle itself. They weren't broadcasting from there today but I thought it would be nice to go along for a live Evensong for a change. I wasn't disappointed. The settings by Orlando Gibbons were used and the Anthem was a piece by Palaestrina. The exeunt voluntary on the organ was J.S.Bach's Wachet Auf.

What better way to end a Sunday spent in the Studio?

The Culmination?

Its all coming together at last. The work for my upcoming exhibition at Qsand in Morecambe which I'm sharing with local artist Ben McLeod is now ready. All fourteen pieces are framed and wrapped, catalogued etc. and all that remains is for them to be transported to the gallery tomorrow morning. A friend of mine with a transit van is helping out here. The gallery are hanging the show on September 29 by which time I'll be in Larnaka in the Republic of Cyprus.

It seems to be the story of my artistic life this year, every time I have an exhibition I miss the opening party because I'm elsewhere. But I will be back in Blighty before this show closes so I will get a chance to have a look.

The studio is very busy just now. There are another four of our number with exhibition deadlines to meet in this next week or so. Among other things ideas for my work are flooding in. I'm working on new interpretations of my Sea Pictures which you can glimpse on this picture of my studio space seen from the doorway. I envisage these elongated pictures becoming long horizontal canvasses about a metre or so long by about 30 cms high. There are ideas for more conventional formats where only part of the picture is coloured and the rest is b&w. Like this sketch here.

Then there are the Hellenic figures, - drawings of sculptures made around 500 BC to the arrival of Rome. I was never quite sure what to do with these but I knew how I wanted to paint them. But I think I've arrived at a solution; long tall narrow canvasses, life size.

Now there's no way I can get all this done in Cyprus. Well I can but the cost of transporting large work back to England would prove prohibitive. So the time spent in Cyprus will be spent furthering this line of research and enquiry. Also, there is a commission to paint for a client in Crete. We shall meet up in Cyprus and decide in proper Greek fashion over a coffee how this is to be done.

Oh, and I do have to help with a bit of teaching at the Cyprus School of Art. I don't think there'll be much time for lazing on the beach. Which may be just as well because I learnt today that it has been raining the last few days. But temperatures are still up in the low thirties. I don't mind warm rain.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Happy Chappie

That's me. I saw the G/P a couple of days ago for my annual check-up. I had a blood test a few days before, and after checking weight, pulse, BP, etc. the doctor's verdict reads, "A fit 68 year old with the body of a fifty-eight year old."

Nice to know. It made my day.

There's life in the old git yet.

Just about sorted

Thirteen of the fourteen works are now ready for transfer tothe gallery on Sept 22. The last on is the one shown here. It is called "Surf" and was painted in 2002. The edging needs tidying up a bit and a bit of retouching is needed in the top right corner. This is by far the largest piece of work by me in the exhibition. It is 48" (120 cm) square. Painted in acrylic on board.
There is something of a logistical problem in that my wife's car is a Toyota Yaris and as far as I can guess there is no way a four foot square painting is going to fit in.
At the moment the painting takes up almost all of one wall in my studio while I work on it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

A sense of urgency

All artmaking has gone on "hold" for the moment. With less than three weeks to go before I leave for Cyprus and an exhibition of my stuff opening in my absence I have to get things ready before then. Consequently my studio space looks more like a framing workshop just now. Its a fiddly business making frames. The mitred joints in the corners have to be right. If work is badly presented then no matter how good the art is, it just won't connect with the viewing public.
They don't have to be super-duper frames, - they just have to look good. That's all. So a lot of time is spent simply attending to little details. I don't know of any artist who enjoys framing. But there are more to do and less time. I shall probably have to contract some of the work out. Actually, the cost of timber and glass these days plus the taking up of my own time probably means I'm not rewlly saving anything by doing it myself. Professional framers use pre-set jigs and can do the job quicker.
Anyway, here's a picture, the last bit of work to come off the drawing board a couple of days back. Each image is 60 cm long. I have an idea for making a much larger painting, probably about a metre and a half long from this. What is on this large sheet of paper is a series of different interpretations of the same theme. The top one in pencil, the next a drawing on top of watercolour, then one in layers of coloured inks and at the bottom, a gouache which is fairly close to how the final painting might look.
.... unless I change my mind.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Little Kwan-Yin

She sits on a shelf in my studio surrounded by other small sculpture pieces in front of a plinth holding a slightly larger piece of work. She is only 5 cm (2" in English) tall but refuses to be ignored. As the Scripture of Avelokiteswara Bodhisattva says,

"In all the world, in all the quarters, there is not a place where Kwan-Yin does not go."

Not even in my cluttered studio.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Work in Progress

Its been a little while since the last posting. I have been a bit out of sorts for the last few days. Last Thursday I though I would take a bus trip out to Glasson Dock and walk back to Lancaster. I reckon it is only three or so miles out of town. Er, nearer seven as i found out. It was an enjoyable walk and I was a bit footsore ere I finished it but that was to be expected. Then, after being back an hour or so i felt decidedly unwell then had to make a dash for the loo. Yup. I got the dire-horrors. Now GI infections with me are very rare. So whence cometh this one? Two questions come up here, (1) is this diarrhoea connected to exhuastion or (2) is it totally unrelated and just chose this moment to manifest? Either way, by 8-00 p.m. I was in bed shivering and with an extra blanket too for all it was a warm evening. Next morning I felt a bit better but decidedly fragile. It has taken a few days to get back to normal. Had I done too much? I sometimes wonder. My brain still pretends I'm 21 but at times my body reminds me that my twenty-first birthday was forty-seven years ago. I never learn!

The top picture shows one wall of my studio space at the moment. You can see the two sea pictures I featured earlier among the other stuff. The ideas are flooding in just now so its one seascape after another.

This picture is a general view of my cluttered desk and table. this is the usual scenario. On the drawing board in the foreground is a series of interpretations of a large tsunami-like breaker rolling in. There are three images thus far, the top one in graphite, the middle, a watercolour with graphite added and the lower one colouredd inks in several thin layers. Down by the tee-square is the faint outline of what will be another interpretation using gouache, a waterbased full bodied medium.

Life has its complications. Nice complications though. I have to have an exhibition of some 14 sea pictures ready before I go to Cyprus in just on a month's time. The exhibition will be at Qsand in Morecambe throughout October. I will be showing alongside another marine artist, Ben McLeod. Most of my stuff is ready but the gallery have selected two works on paper which are yet to be framed. So I'll have to stop artmaking and get on with making a couple of frames.

This last piece is the first of the wave-cum-tsunami pictures. It is about 8 cm high by 50 cm long. This is a watercolour with some gouache added. None of them have a title yet; they are all "Untitiled Number whatever". The image is from a sreies of sketches and a photo I took in St. Ives last December in an Atlantic gale. Quite a contrast to the Cyprus I had only just returned from a week before.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

New Paintings

I have made two new paintings over the last few days. Both of them are of the Atlantic at St. Ives. This first one of a wave is so far untitled but for the sake of cataloguing it is "Untitled (not Hokusai)"
Hokusai was a Japanese painter/printmaker who was famous for his picture of a wave. I have appended an image at the end.
This Untitled (not Hokusai) is 30 x 30 cm, acrylic on canvas.

The other, equally thus far "Untitled" is of the wave after it has spent its force on the beach and there is just a general turmoil of foam and waves going in all directions. Actually I might call this second one "Turmoil". But let's wait and see. I prefer the titles to evolve naturally. This work is 20 x 20 cm also acrylic on canvas.

"Hokusai's Wave"

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Lotus - The Jewel

At the Lancaster Meditation Group meeting last Monday I was explaining the role of the lotus blossom in our tradition. I explained how these flowers are usually found in brackish water. The root grows from the mud at the bottom and the stem grows up through the dark muddy water climbing towards the light and blooming in the glory of the day on the surface before sending its seeds back to the muddy bottom to begin the cycle all over again.
The lotus blossom shines in the glory of its existence, transitory though it may be.
But we don't have to travel far and wide to see other "lotuses".

I was struck by this recently when I saw the clear blue sky reflected in a muddy pool in the middle of a cart track in the Lake District. It was like a sapphire amongst all that grey.

As I've mentioned in previous postings this has been one of the wettest summers I can remember. I feel tempted to add, "and the most miserable." But no, while it would be nice to wake up to wall-to-wall sunshine and not oppressive grey clouds, even in all this greyness there are flashes of real beauty which inspire. The sun struggles to break through the clouds and its light is reflected in the puddles in the gutter like a jewel glinting in the mud.

All we have to do is really see it. The image is fleeting. A flash of light reflected in a puddle. Then it is erased as another set of car tyres splash through and cascades thousands of droplets, each reflecting that light.

Pity about those muddy droplets landing on my white shorts. But then thats life for you.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Went for a Walk

Thought I'd take a day off from the Studio today and take a walk. Being over that certain age I have my bus pass and one thing Uncle Gordon did get right was to introduce nationwide bus passes which means I can go anywhere (in England) for free. So I got on the Peston bus as far as Galgate, a smallish village some six miles south of Lancaster. From Galgate I walked back along the canal towpath back to our fair city. The weather was threatening rain but I thought, what the 'eck, I'm not made of sugar, I won't melt. I took a waterproof anyway which turned out as not needed. A stiff breeze was blowing in across the Bay sending clouds and patches of blue sky scurrying overhead. At least the wind was warm. But with all the rain we've been having lately there was as much water standing on the towpath as in t' canal proper. Now I've been wearing sandals all the time since I last got back from Cyprus and anticipating a waterlogged walk I opted for my old pair which are just about dropping off my feet now. Actually it was so muddy I walked barefoot most of the way and only put sandals on for the gravelly bits.
Its quite pleasant slodging barefoot through mud and water and it was surprisingly warm too.
It has been a nice day. Must do it more often.

Footnote to all this rain. I saw in The Observer today an article about "Tinder dry Britain", what planet are they on? Or is it me on another planet?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

End of the Show.

The summer show at Arteria Gallery in Lancaster ended to-day so I called there to collect my work and was pleasantly surprised they had it all packed up ready for me. It only remained for me to phone my other half to bring the car round and we take the stuff back to the studio.
We arrived at the studio to find the place had been broken into. Other artists were there and after I had unloaded my stuff we set to looking around to see if anything had been stolen. A camera, a bottle of Ouzo, two duvets and a rug have been taken. The thieves had also availed themselves of the pantry and fridge along with some cigars belonging to one of our artists. They did leave a visiting card, second-hand syringes. We decided not to touch anything and dialled 999. The police arrived in pretty short order and immediately set to with one officer donning a white paper boiler suit and gloves then examining the evidence. Another set about investigating how the thieves got in and of course we had to answer the routine questions. They were very thorough and efficient and not overly officious. Ten out of ten to the police I say.
My own space had been left untouched I was relieved to learn. But we did deduce the method of entry.
The entire premises has state of the art deadlocks as recommended by crime prevention but the system had one flaw. The letterbox is wide enough to allow a would-be intruder to reach through and operate the lock an gain access. Needless to say we have now secured the letterbox in no uncertain manner. The other failure was the burglar alarm. It never went off. Turns out the developing contractors next door had inadvertently severed the cable. The word "developer" is a swear word in Lancaster. They turn our city upside down then clear off leaving us with an expensive building that no-one can really afford to live in.
And just to put a finishing touch to our day, it has p***ed down all day and one of the skylights has sprung a leak.
But it isn't all bad, my wife did me a lovely meal to come home to. Also I have in the last few days got two definite exhibition bookings; one in Morecambe in October and another in Lancaster in the New Year and a possible re-booking at Arteria next summer.
"Und Morgens wird der Sonne wieder scheinen" as Max Schiller's poem says. Tomorrow the sun will shine again.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Where have I been?

Its amazing how time moves on. I haven't realised just how long its been since I put up a posting, nearly three weeks. So what have I been up to since the house got painted?
Well, I've visited family in Brum and in Wales and yesterday visited daughter "crazy" Cath at her holiday caravan. She went abroad this time, in Lancashire terminology, - to Yorkshire!

I've been making art as ever and have now moved back to painting/drawing sea pictures again but taking a slightly different approach. There is a largish body of work featuring the beach and breakers, - views looking out to sea and it was time to stand back and take a look at what I am doing. The stepping back was doing some of the Hellenic/Mythical figures which I have featured earlier. In them I have been exploring other techniques and ways if expressing the image. Now I am thinking along the lines of having the centre of the picture in sharp focus and possibly in full colour too and the periphery faded somewhat. A bit like a soft focus photo like what you see in wedding pictures I suppose.

This one is called "LAND'S END" as that is where the image was taken from. An arm of rock projects into a protesting sea. That sea has travelled unopposed all the way from New York and lands here on the rocky Cornish Coast. No wonder the waves are big.
It took me best part of a week to make this piece. Its pretty big at A1 size (84 x 60 cm). While I was making this piece I had my studio stereo blasting the Albert Hall organ into my ears via earphones. Wayne Marshal playing Messian at the Proms , "Eh? Pardon? You'll have to speak up, got tinnitus now!!"

This one is called LOW TIDE worked from a sketch I did quite some time ago and featured in The Draughtsman in December last year. It is 50 cm square and painted just as noisily, Mozart Requiem I seem to remember.

And finally, this drawing of a delapidated goat shed on Corfu, worked from a sketch from four or so years ago. This is 35 cm tall by 25 cm wide. I had Choral Evensong on Radio3 blowing my eardrums out at the time. A Bruckner chorale followed by Bach's prelude and fugue BWV 375 nicknamed "Bach riding his BMW" and it isn't called that for nothing.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It is Finished

There has been a break in the wet weather, just long enough to get the house painting finished. Now the back of the house is done.
My postings have been a little infrequent of late but life is a bit hectic just now what with the Welsh contingent of my family being with us and me getting through the list of house jobs that was awaiting my return from Cyprus. But now they are all done, maybe I can turn my attention to preparing stuff for my next teaching stint in Larnaca. After all there's only just over six weeks to go and I leave this cold, sodden island, this jewel sinking into a shining sea, blah-blah-blah... this England. Dunno what John o'Gaunt saw in the place....
I'll bet that's why we haven't been invaded this last thousand years, our climate keeps 'em all away!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Losing it or Senior Moment?

At the moment I am working on a large drawing of an Amazon based on several sketches taken from statuary in Cyprus. This is the unfinished work. Now I needed a particular drawing I'd done out there and I hunted high and low around my studio for it. I knew it hadn't been sold though another version of it has, I was convinced it was here in Lancaster somewhere....
....then, at last, I remembered. This is the sketch, yes I featured it on the last posting and I think that's why I was sure it was with me in Lancaster. But no, actually it is on show in Larnaca! No wonder I couldn't find it!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Happiness is....

The Angel of Papfos
Dress Study Amazon.

Happiness is..... doing lots of figure drawings, mainly on an Eastern Mediterranean mythology theme while in my studio with my earphones on and listening to tapes of Church music, usually of Choral Evensongs from Radio3 or, in the case of today, Elgar's Dream of Gerontius.
It probably is not a good idea to try conducting to the music with a loaded paintbrush in your hand, that can put involuntary marks on the paper. But there is always that random factor I s'pose.... hmm?
I am taking a rest from sea pictures for the moment. The plan is to produce a few large works later on.