I have been asked to do an illustration for a neighbour. It is of the building involved with a project that he has been running. The building is, in my eyes, boring, but the project means a lot to him. This is the second sketch I have done. The first involved combining the front with the back of the building in an effort to shake things up a bit. He didnt like that, so I went with a bog standard view – though on the right of the illustration above, I did a pen and wash whilst on the left it is a standard watercolour format. At the moment the jury is out and he will be getting back to me.

The project is about replacing the old council- run local library which the council sold off and is now a small housing estate. Locals got together and established a small library and community centre at the old station masters house that is owned by the Mersey Rail Company and loaned to the group. This house is attached to the local railway station and, up to this point, was empty. The community centre is now up and running and my neighbour wants a momento of the hard work put in by him and the rest of the team.

I find commissions quite challenging, as left to my devices I would be off in one direction, but as a commission I feel I must be meeting the tastes of my client – that’s where it can get difficult. Hopefully a compromise is in sight.

other townscapes are available for sale on my website:


Still playing around with the inks and washes. I am trying to get something to work up onto a canvas. So far I feel the simplicity of the pieces just fail to maintain interest on a bigger scale. I am applying the ink with a pipette but get much more interesting lines with my broken pipettes rather than the ones supplied with the acrylic inks. The one on the right, above, was done with my broken pipette as opposed to the one supplied with the ink on the left. Although I did like the effect of mixing the different coloured inks in the lines on the image on the left , the blue is certainly a less strident colour than the black..

The style and orientation of the lines also bring their own images, such as the grid giving an urban feel on the right above.

So with another difference in orientation of the lines, a more nautical feel emerges which is then reinforced with colour.

Here, above, I`ve tried to add further textures though I dont feel that it has moved the image on much and made it more messy. So I will keep on playing. Fortunately I have a lot of discarded paintings I can work on the back of.

Other abstract painting can be found for sale on my website;


With the lifting of the complete lockdown I went into Liverpool and got myself some acrylic inks this week. I am thinking of putting some of these line and wash style images onto canvas. Up until now I have been using standard inks for the line and watercolours to add washes and I feel I need acrylic inks to apply to canvas. This one above is done in acrylics on paper with acrylic ink, liquid acrylic and heavy body acrylic. I am happier keeping it simple than adding layers of complexity as I did in the one below.

In this one I used black and white inks to create the lines and I feel that has some mileage for developing.

I am still playing around with standard ink and watercolours as they are quick to do and here are a few more below.

The one above is a more complex version of the first painting and I dont think the complexity adds much value.

Putting ink onto a wet surface can give an overpowering effect especially with black ink, so it needs to be done sparingly. I did buy some red, yellow and blue inks and havent yet started using these. They look more potent than the liquid acrylics I use.

There may be more of these to follow.

Other abstract paintings are available for sale on my website:


Recently I saw a documentary on the artist Maggi Hambling. In one scene she was demonstrating what she does in the studio at the beginning of the day. On a sketchbook page she drew freely in ink, using a dropper.

She was able to create a great variety of marks easily. I have done a lot of work with ink and use an italic nib to create broad and fine lines but this has limitations. Hambling’s approach seemed to offer wider options.

Naturally I gave it a go. Above are some calligraphic doodlings. But having a few watercolours around I was soon adding colour.

On this one above I also sprayed the wet ink with water to create other marks. I used acrylic paint on the one below.

Hambling explained that she might work up these quick drawings into paintings. Unfortunately she didn’t give any examples.

In this one above the brush took over and I finished up with what looks to me like birds in a bush.

I then decided to prepaint the paper and leave to dry before adding the ink. This gave another dimension to the possibilities as you can see above.

Though I must admit I was running out of ideas when I worked on another preprepared sheet.

I have used ink in many life drawing sessions, using a dip pen with an italic nib. It is quite a heady process as once the mark is made it is there for good. I took an old life drawing and copied it to see how the dropper compared to the pen when drawing in a more constrained manner – though I used a brush to add some form to the figure. I must certainly give this a go when life drawing resumes around here.

Other drawings and abstract work are available for sale on my website:



Another play with ink and watercolour. The ink runs gave a leafy texture on the trees, as if autumn was stripping the dead leaves from the branches. Again the black ink pushes the tonal range and allows a sense of recession with lighter trees in the background.

Other landscape paintings are available for sale on my website:



Since returning from my trip I’ve attended two or three life drawing sessions. The ones I’ve been to  prefer the fast and furious so I just took a pen, some writing ink and a brush. Drawing with a pen shows all the hesitations and mistakes, but the ink washes means you can get a great tonal range which, if the lighting is any good, means you can exploit fully.



More life drawing is on my website


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I had a number of sketches in my book done as tonal work in various media. The first one is ink and wash. I use Quink ink which is permanent. As soon as its down it stays, so you need to think about mark making before you proceed. The next one is watercolour, with a drawing in pencil. I have loads of Paynes Gray which I now never use. So I thought this would be a suitable outlet. It doesn’t have the power of the ink, but you can correct and manipulate it more.

The third is charcoal which is a media I have never got to grips with despite many tries. The fourth is pastel on a slightly toned paper. The pastel allows me to use both back and white and I find the depth of tone you can achieve very exciting.

The final painting is back to the paynes grey watercolour.

All were done in under an hour in the life sessions I go to.

Other life work can ne found on the gallery page of my website


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I have been trying some pen and wash work at the life drawing sessions I attend with mixed results.Here are two. The male was done in pencil, then with an ink wash. I am disappointed with this. The clear lines on the female done with the pen gives some clear demarcation which I prefer. I will be trying some more. Each one was completed in 25 minutes.

Other figurative work is on



Another quick sketch using pen and ink wash. The model’s name is Carey and as we worked, the track of the same name by Joni Mitchell came on. The song invokes the memories of holidays in me, being in exotic places with feelings of strangeness, transience and the excitement of the new.
…And it helps you work quicker, though sometimes not better.