I was looking to do an abstract inspired by the gorgeous colours of a Corsican summer and pulled out a painting I had completed a few years ago of a corsican hill-top village. I got quickly sidetracked and thought I could improve on this old painting so set about repainting much of it. The result is disappointing, no progress here, though I did get some ideas for colours and textures for the abstract. For the record the original I painted over is shown below.

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The regulars will realise this isn’t the first time they’ve seen this. It’s been in my studio for a while, propped up against the wall and the other day I could take it no longer and had another go at the lower half. I hope that it is a bit looser and less fastidious than the earlier versions. I’m certainly beginning to like it better.

For reference the earlier versions are below The first version is at the bottom.


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A friend of mine, a very good watercolourist, gave me a couple of sheets of watercolour paper he uses. It is quite rough, but also the texture of the paper is quite flaky and loose, you can see discrete particles which make up the paper. I’ve had it for a while and thought that I would give it a go with this sketch.

The painting is of the Corsican coast. I only used two colours: Windsor blue and cadmium red. The surface of the paper isn’t as tough as my usual Arch paper, so when I started to scratch back to regain some white, the paper seemed to ball and I had to carefully remove the balled fibres with the tip of my scalpel.

Also marks appeared. You can see a dark blob to the left of the sailing boat. Also there are lines in the far hillside on the left and they also appear on the right.

I cant understand anyone using this kind of paper. If you put a lot of effort into a work – which I didn’t here – you don’t want imperfections showing up. It would be embarrassing to sell this work particularly if dark stains start appearing.

The only thing I was impressed with was the lack of cockling when I applied my initial washes. Normally I stretch my paper, but this time I just laid it on the board and sloshed on the water. It stayed flat.

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I did this on white paper and so dont have patches of undercolour showing through. The guy in yellow with his hand behind his head, half in and out of shadow, attracted me at first, but as a worked, his dining companion, the lady with the sunglasses, took over as the focal point.

I am not sure whether a unifying undercolour might help here. It seemed to make it more laborious covering all the surface with paint rather than being able to leave slivers of another colour. I also had concerns over the large areas of shadow and the rather crudely painted roadway, but I will give it some space and look at it again later. With acrylics reworking areas are very straightforward.

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On 30th May, I posted several watercolour sketches of Corsica, one of which was done in the lovely port of St Florent in northern Corsica. I was painting close to this fountain, in the shade myself, painting another part of the square. A number of people came to the fountain and they made some interesting groupings. I took some photos as I waited for my paint to dry and I decided to combine a number of the photos to give me this composite view.

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A second acrylic using this style. Again I am pleased with the vitality. I think if I had done it in watercolour in my usual style it would come out too stolid. I had my doubts in the execution, but the group of people on the right have come out well. Perhaps there is too much weight here, although the action is going on over to the left, so that might help redress the balance.

This is a development of a watercolour I did in Calvi, Corsica which I posted amongst others on 24th May

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This was from some photos I took in Calvi, Corsica. I have posted a set of café scenes last year on this blog but a number of them were disappointingly flat. I recently saw an article in the UK magazine Artists and Illustrators by Hashim Akib. I liked the vibrancy in his paintings – I presume it is a him- using chiselled brushstrokes and juxtaposing tones and hues.

So I thought I’d have a go with this street scene in Calvi. I was pleased with the result. I can feel the heat amid the slabs of colour and it has forced me to be less descriptive. I am pleased enough to try again and do a version of the boules players I did a few weeks back in situ, whilst on holiday. I’ll post that when I’m done.

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Well, as you can see I’ve been playing around with the earlier post. This time I drove the yellow underpainting into the citadel area and then drew the buildings and trees in on this underpainting before putting in the background mountains which I left very simple and painting upside down got some nice light effects on the mountain tops.

I let some of the yellow underpainting show in the citadel which further unites the foreground and middleground. I also played around washing some of the bottom squares away. I now wish I had done more. I rather like the effect and might experiment with this later. I also added some of the buildings which were lower down the slopes in an effort to unify.

Much happier with this which I hope conveys the heat and brightness  of the day.

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I took one of the sketches I did whilst on holiday in Corsica and tried working it up into an acrylic painting. I liked the shapes of the buildings in this hill-top hamlet and wanted to reflect this in the foreground.I don’t think this has worked and need to take stock and seek another approach. I do like the village against the brooding colours of the distant mountains with the light reflecting off the rooftops, but the foreground needs further thought. I will try again in the next week or so..

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Calvi citadel in the morning, looking down on the port below. The French Foreign Legion, well a few of them anyway, gathered at the building on the left for their morning run as I sat and painted. There is a big Foreign Legion camp just up the road and the paratroopers have their HQ in this citadel.


The Chapel of Notre Dame De La Serra sits high above Calvi  town giving great views of the bay and town. However,  it is still dwarfed by the surrounding hills and mountains


We took a trip to St Florent which seemed a smaller and les frenetic version of St Tropez. I sat in the central square and started this painting. As I worked a woman came up and asked me how I was getting on. She was an artist who owned a gallery right by where I was working. It was shut for lunch and she was returning to reopen. She came back again to further review progress. I thought that she was going to give me a mark.

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