I went to Durham last week to visit family and also to have a look around in order to paint a city scene for one of the new rooms they have added to their house. I thought that they knew what they wanted, but it was very apparent that they didn’t. We walked around the city rather aimlessly looking for scenes, mainly of the cathedral.

As I approached the cathedral close I saw the light cutting across the courtyard and with the figures coming towards me I thought that here was a great scene. Though I don’t think that they will like it, but it caught my eye and here it is.

Later, as we were passing their church, which is on the bank opposite the cathedral, the light was catching the building. Later my sister in law said she liked that view, so off I went to check it out. Unfortunately when I got there the light had changed and it looked rather flat.

So I didn’t get many images to work off. Looks like this one will be a long time in the making.

Other townscapes are available on my website:




At one life group I attend they seem to make things as difficult as they can to work. Here they insist on two models who then turn up late and before the main pose the group decide to do some ‘warm-up’ sketches, as if there is some chance of pulling a muscle when lifting your charcoal. Then as soon as you get started it’s time for a tea break. This is what I managed. I did like the way the female sat languidly in the light, though I think that right knee of the male could do with a touch of remodelling.


This one, at a more organised session,  was as much about taking out as putting down. I wanted a rougher feel to the work and think I got it.


Finally a more staid pose, but the turned up foot posed some difficulty.

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The last of the seaside paintings – well at least for a while – I promise. This is from the sketches I posted earlier.

I also did a painting of the water surface sketch I published in my last blog.


Other seascapes and beach scenes are available for sale on my website:



I enjoyed loading up a large mop with masses of dark colour and floating the tip over the paper’s surface drawing out random patterns in this sketch. It will be worth trying again and getting the density of paint stronger. I had prepared a light underpainting first on this one, to try and get the swell and roll of water before going in with the reflections.


The second one is a half imperial sized version (52x36cm)  of the sketch I put on the blog on the 12th February. I decided to go in even closer on this version. I was quite satisfied with this one, so hopefully you wont see this again.

Other seascapes are available for sale on my website:



I must admit to doing this a couple of weeks ago, after the giraffes, but I thought I’d hold it back and release it on the eve of  the Chinese year of the dog. With global politics being what they are, I thought an hyena carried some resonances.

This particular one was part of a family living in a drainage culvert under a road in the Etosha Pan in Namibia. Apparently they gave themselves away by their white faeces which is a result of the bone they crunch. With the lorry sitting directly over them, the low frequency reverberations of the engine forced them to come out and investigate.

They did have a look of vulnerability, but I wasn’t going to extend an arm in sympathy.

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When I was on holiday I took many photos of waves in order to paint some seascapes on my return. I had these images on one of my memory cards which I placed inside my computer case for safe keeping. It didn’t work: I lost the card and with it many photos of my holiday. Fortunately I had two other cards full of images, but not many of the sea. Anyway I have a number of images from other stays by the seaside and a few on the other cards so I tried out some sketches.

Here are a few of them. I will try working these up to bigger paintings, in fact I’ve already started on one.


The last one is mixed media which is what I wanted to explore, but I was happy with the straight watercolours so I have decided to stay with that.


So there will be a few more paintings of the shoreline in the coming weeks.

Other paintings of beaches are available for sale on my website:



I was looking at my holiday snaps and some African penguins caught my eye. I combined a couple of shots and came up with this. This was at Simonstown, near Capetown, and the wind was blowing the sand in my face and my camera and the penguins didn’t look too happy either. I wouldn’t have bothered, but the wife likes penguins, so I stumped up the entry fee.

Other wildlife paintings are available for sale on my web:



The last day on our first stay in Cape Town, in the early evening, we were coming back up to the hotel in De Waterkant district and I saw these guys pushing this enormous box up the street. I would have helped but I was too busy taking photos.

I did feel very uneasy about the situation in South Africa, particularly as a white. I don’t remember if these guys were black, but by doing some manual work probably meant that they were. It seemed a metaphor for the country: the uphill struggle against poor education and poor housing holding many blacks back. What’s more upsetting and perplexing  is that they have have a primarily black government, but the whites hold the purse strings – certainly the wealth.

So here are these black guys labouring in a rich white neighbourhood, pushing a box up the hill – you hope that they get to the top.

Other townscapes are available for sale on my website: 



The demonstrations I have just done have disrupted my chance to paint, so I am a bit short of material for the post, but I still managed to get out and do some pastel work at


some of the life and portrait sessions so here are the latest, Some I am pleased with and others, well …


I was after a punchy image, but the lighting at these sessions is very poor so I have resorted to squinting and compacting the mid-tones to try and inject some tonal energy.


If I stick to the plan it starts to work, but then I sometimes go off piste and the effect gets lost.

Then, it’s all good practice.

Other life drawing and portraits are available for purchase on my website: