I went to a couple of life groups this week where we had just  over an hour on each session, so I took my acrylics. The first two were done on Wednesday evening.


I think the first one was the stronger – maybe I was getting tired as the evening wore on. Also the lighting wasnt as good on the second pose.


On Thutsday morning, the next day,  I turned up at a different group and set up. In came the same model from the previous night. I had a bit longer on this last sketch, about and hour and a half, as they have a need to do quick sketches first.

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I do find the setting of the models at the life sessions I go to very uninspiring – mainly people sitting rigidly in a chair or stretched out on a bed, hoping to get paid for a good doze. Most of the problem is down to the organiser not having thought about what to set until faced with a group and model. In a similar situation someone turned to me in desperation to set a pose for a group on Thursday. They got the above –  maybe more than they had bargained for (too many sharp angles and hands on display).

A number of years ago we had a model in Liverpool who had worked for both Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud. Now, he could get himself into some  amazing contortions and hold them as well. Bring back Phil. I think he relocated to York.


This pose is more the type we get, though I did get her to look down – otherwise she would have sat even more rigidly looking outwards. I try to refrain from interfering when the pose is being set, as there is nothing worse than people calling out their preferences and you get a pose set by a committee which can be a disaster.


I am back to using acrylics after a spell with pastels. For the top two I started to use black to mix darks instead of a blue. The bottom one used blue as you can see. I prefer the rawness of the top two. I have been taken by the work of Crawfurd Adamson, whose work I have seen over the years and  this has influenced my approach on the top 2 sketches. I have booked to go on a 3 day course with him in my old hometown of Hastings in December. I do particularly like the directness he applies his pastel and the interesting poses he sets. I am looking forward to it.

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The session organiser gave the model a Rubik’s cube to focus on for last Saturday’s session. He declined the challenge to solve it.


Here is the same model sparsely painted in acrylics a couple of weeks ago. It was done on a yellow base I used it just to give me a tonal background to work off. The model was taken with the colour as a possibility for his living room. I sent him the details later.

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I did intend posting a new watercolour, but with distractions and problems it has drifted behind schedule, so here are some paintings from recent life sessions. I decided to revert back to tonal work with conte pastel pencils for this. To get some darker darks I introduced a black conte crayon which was a bad mistake.


I liked the power I achieved with the pastel on this one. I find a lot of the time my pastel work lacks authoritative punch. With this in mind I am thinking of going on a figutative workshop with someone who does strong pastels. I am making some enquiries at present.


This is what I mean in getting a scatchy effect which lacks punch. I start off with a few colours and cover the paper in a random fashion before working into these marks with the drawing and more layers of pastel. It does give dynamism with the early colours breaking  through the later marks, but I am dismayed by the saturation particularly in the areas defined by the earlier marks.

But then that is the point of experimenting with these approaches.

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The organiser was away for this session so I got the model to strike a more compact pose. It also helped that the session was not as full, so I was able to move into a better position. Normally at this session you can get there half an hour before the start and you are still having to squeeze yourself into  the little space that is left.


The figure above was sparsely done, using the paper  as a tone, but I did like the cushion she rested her arms on.


I did this in about 50 minutes in an evening session where they spend most of the time doing quick poses. I dont normally take my pastels to this session, because of the lack of time. Here I just banged in some primary colours and I was quite pleased with the result.


I normally do these charcoal studies at the evening sessions. You have enough time to make a measured drawing, consider your marks and  develop tone. I also find the constant rushing of quick poses leaves me skittish and hyper, like I’ve just consumed five cups of coffee. So before I start these longer 50 minute poses I need to pause, slow down and consider, before I start a measured piece.


And sometimes you wonder why you bothered. Well I tried.

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I tried an acrylic painting of this lady at another venue a couple of days earlier  and gave up and walked out as there was not enough time to make radical corrections as things went a bit awry. This version in pastels,  of another pose, seemed to fall into place easier.


I liked the angle on this pose, in acrylics, as everyone else worked from the front.


The model asked for a glass of water during this session. I thought that it made a nice accompaniment.


This guy looked a bit wary, like we were about to whip away his manhood.


I dont normally like long poses and once again struggled to get all the figure in, but I took a low angle which gave the pose a bit more interest.

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I  have been doing work in dry media recently after  a notice appeared, from the landlord of one of the groups I attend,  decreeing that paint should not go down the drain in the building. Despite my protestations that this was a ridiculous constraint for an art group nothing has changed. I even asked the secretary of the group to find out from the landlord what their concerns were and told the secretary how we might reduce blockage risks, but he seemed more concerned with defending the landlord than serving the club and its members – and he still hasn’t got back to me .

Now, after seeing members of the committee disposing of paint down the drain, I might restart my acrylic work. Anyway, before my blood pressure rises any more,  here are the rest of my paintings:

P1030056(1)a  P1030054(1)aP1030058(1)aOther life drawings and paintings for sale can be found on my website: