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New Gallery

I've been approached by the owner of a new gallery who is keen to take some of my paintings. The property is in the process of being acquired and will need to be refurbished but is expected to open later in the year. Will provide an update when I have more details.


It has been a while since I last posted but I have been quietly working away in the background. Here is one of my model as a showgirl.

Small Is Beautiful

This is a small painting that I've been working on alla prima. When I say small, I mean small as it is only about 7 inches by 5 inches. I'm using this as a warm up exercise for a much larger painting - of a completely different mage - to try a few things and work out what kind of palette I might use. Quite pleased with this one.

White Shirt Black Tie

This is the underpainting of the painting I've been working on. I was asked to do more paintings of men in white shirts like the poker players and And Your Point Is ? but, for a change, decided to do one of my model in white shirt. And, for another change, I decided to use a rich red background rather than a very dark, virtually black background. Next stage is to apply the velatura to the flesh and subtle glaze to the shirt. 

If Only But Also

It's a while since I posted anything. I've had a few distractions here but I've still been working away and the painting above is one that I've been meaning to do for a while. A previous painting, If Only, was very well received when exhibited and sold immediately so I wanted to do another along similar lines with bold red headress and monochrome flesh.This time I've used cadmium red rather than crimson for the material.

My fabulous model, Ingrida, has been round for a photo session so I have a number of images that I can get started on. The first one will probably be a showgirl theme featuring a large feather headress which I'll do alla prima.

I was down at Wimbledon and took the opportunity to go along to the NPG to see the BP Portrait Award exhibition which I always make a point of seeing and enjoy the different styles and approach to the subject. And its always an inspiration to get on with the work

Chips Are Down

As the previous version of a poker player was very well received and sold immediately, I've been working away on this one which is almost finished. All of the cards showing on the table are Hearts of course.


Edinburgh Art Fair

My work can be seen at the Art In Ecosse stand at The Edinburgh Art Fair from today until Sunday. Decision Time, the subject of the last post, has been completed and I've put an image on the Gallery page. It can be seen at The Edinburgh Art Fair.  

Decision Time

I had a very successful and enjoyable time exhibiting at The Pittenweem Arts Festival and, as was the case last year, one of the main benefits is getting direct feedback from visitors. I've now been getting back in the swing of things and have almost finished this painting which I'm thinking of calling Decision Time. The photo isn't the best and its always difficult getting decent photos of paintings with dark backgrounds as they tend to pick up reflected light. Thats why I always have the finished painting photographed professionally.

One of the paintings that received a lot of favourable comments at Pittenweem was the one of the poker player and which was sold  (Do You Feel Lucky ? is on the gallery page). Its always interesting to see how people read a painting with some thinking the poker player was about to win while others were convinced he was about to lose. The same thing happened with The Letter with some people thinking that the subject was receiving good news and others thinking it was bad news. I know what I think but I'm delighted that there appears to be some ambiguity or uncertainty as it makes the image more interesting. The next painting will be another poker player and has already been drawn onto canvas.

Lisle Nails It

Dylan Lisle, exceptionally talented artist extraordinary, has an exhibition on at The Union Gallery, Broughton Street, Edinburgh. The work is just wonderful and you must definitely go along to see it if you can. It is on until 5 August. As a visitor to the studio, I am privileged to see the work as it progresses and it is always a great pleasure to see what is developing and see a master at work. I dont have enough words to describe the work, so see two reviews that Dylan has posted on his blog (the blogs of 6 and 9 July). Go see !!!

As for myself, I have put images of the three latest oeuvres on the gallery page.

Poker Player

I've been meaning to do another painting of a man in white shirt since there was such a positive reaction to And Your Point Is ? (see Gallery) when it was exhibited and snapped up at the preview. This is progress so far on the underpainting. The table will need a fair bit of work to give it the patina of polished wood with the subtle reflections of the figure which will be done using a combination of glazing and dry brushing. The finished painting will be ready for the Pittenweem exhibition.  

Flower Power

Here is the latest opus done using the alla prima technique. The background isn't as blue as shown in the photo but you will be able to judge for yourselves as it will be on show at The Pittenweem Arts Festival from 28 July to 5 August.

Auction Result

My painting Aurora, which can be seen on the gallery page, sold for £600 in the charity auction held as part of the Trades House Of Glasgow Ball. The money goes to a very worthy cause, East Park, a Glasgow charity which provides education and supported accomodation to children and young people with additional support needs including autism. 

Crimson Evolution

I've been working on this painting and thought it might be useful to show the stages that it has gone through to get here from the underpainting stage. Not quite finished yet but almost there.

The Letter

Here is one that I've been working on, again doing it alla prima and using the lovely Sarah as my model. I'm pleased with this one and the detail on the shoulders of the dress give it a bit of extra interest. I'm getting the impression that my models like to make life difficult for me by wearing dresses with complicated patterns eg the white dress in the previous post and the portrait of Natasha on the gallery page. I've started on another painting, this time featuring the crimson gown shown in a previous post with lots of folds and light and shade so I'll be switching back to the mixed technique.

The White Dress

Here is a painting I've been working on - almost there, just a few more tweaks to do. I've done this one alla prima as it seemed more appropriate for the complicated pattern of the white dress which I've set against a strong red background. I'm really pleased with the way this has worked out although it has taken a lot of painstaking work to get the detail of the dress.

Dont Paint It Black

As Rabbie said, the best laid plans .... Although I'd planned to leave the flesh as monochrome black and white, when the blue turban was added it just wasn't working. So, firstly, I warmed up the flesh by stroking in burnt umber and white. I then applied a velatura of ochre and vermilion. The first velatura of the turban was done using phthalo blue but that seemed too cool and greenish so I then applied a second velatura of ultramarine which warmed up the blue. This one has been a bit of an experiment and it has been a case of adapting and adjusting to achieve a result that works.

Charity Auction

One of my paintings, Aurora, which can be seen on the Gallery page is to be auctioned for charity at The Trades House of Glasgow Ball in the Hilton Hotel on 12 May. The Trades House was founded in 1605, which I think is the last time Hibs won The Scottish Cup, to represent a number of crafts but is now mainly a charitable and educational organisation.

Proceeds will go to East Park, a special needs school in Glasgow to buy specialist equipment and transport. It is a very worthy cause so lets hope that Aurora will help in achieving the aim of raising £30,000.


This one is now finished having given the flesh a fairly warm velatura using ochre and vermilion. Still not sure what title to give this.

Paint It Black

I was in the studio thinking about the approach to this head when the courier arrived with paints that I'd ordered up including some black. As he came to the door The Stones' Paint It Black was playing on the radio. So I did. True - although I'd already decided on black rather than the usual umber. The reason ? I'm going to glaze the turban blue and using a warm umber for the flesh might not sit well with the cool of the blue. We will see. The turban has been painted with ivory black which has a hint of blue in it but I've used lamp black for the flesh as I dont want that blueness in the flesh. This is a bit of an experiment and I'm keen to put the glaze on to see if it works. In keeping with the theme of having a change, the model for this one is the lovely Sarah just in case you think it doesn't look like my usual model.


Pittenweem 2012

Today I sent away my registration for the 2012 Pittenweem Arts Festival which starts on Saturday 28 July. Last year was very successful and was really enjoyable so I'm looking forward to this year's event. Many thanks again go to Tracy and David McGraw for making their lovely house available to me.

Here is an update to the painting with the crimson gown. The gown has been worked on with a crimson glaze. After I've worked on the flesh, I'll re-assess the gown and decide if it needs any more work.


A Plan Comes Together


I've applied a crimson velatura to the underpainting of the turban and worked into it with cadmium red. The crimson glaze works well over the darker parts of the underpainting so that the darks dont need much further work. All that was needed was to bring up the highlights with cad red. I think the original idea of glazing the material red but keeping the flesh as a tonal painting works. I have to say that I'm pleased with it.

I've started work on a couple of other paintings and shown below is work in progress on one of them. The underpainting needs further work on the form and tone of the figure but you get the general idea. At the week-end, I went to see the Cadell exhibition at the SNGMA. I've always liked Cadell's paintings of elegant New Town ladies - if you get a chance go and see.


New Year, New Work

A number of people have been chastising me for not updating my blog more regularly. Its not that I haven't been working away its just that I've been working on a portrait and, as the client hasn't seen it, it doesn't seem right to post it here without them seeing it first. The portrait is finished and just needs to be framed and I will post it in the gallery once the client has seen it.

Shown above is the underpainting of something else that I've been working on. The turban, which has an ivory black underpainting, will be finished using a red velatura. I've changed what I've done with the previous red head/turban paintings and used raw umber for the underpainting of the flesh. The idea at the moment is to leave the flesh  more or less as is but I'll assess that once I see it against the colour of the turban. Not sure of a title for this one - any ideas greatly received.

I've also started another painting of my model in a crimson gown which I'll post once the underpainting is more advanced.


The Red Turban painting is now finished and I'm putting it into The MacMillan Art Show in Glasgow which is on from Monday 14 November to Saturday 26 November. Since the previous post the flesh has had four glazes of varying mixes of transparent yellow and vermilion and yellow ochre and vermilion, working into these to bring out the highlights and strengthen the darks. The turban has had two glazes using crimson this time rather than cadmium red which was used for The Red Heads.

I've now started on the portrait commission of Natasha - more on this when it is more advanced. 

Red Head Mark 2

At the Pittenweem Arts Festival, the Red Head Triptych received so many favourable comments - and could have been sold many times over - that I've decided to do more on the same theme. Here is the underpainting of the one I've been working on. The technique is slightly different in that the underpainting has been done using ivory black (rather than burnt umber) and white and I'll go on to use transparent glazes rather than working with a velatura and more opaque colours. The next stage will be to use a crimson glaze for the turban and then use the colouring of that to provide the key for the flesh tones.

Although I've got plenty of work and images to get on with, a friend of mine, the lovely Sarah came round at the week-end to model for me. She might not be a professional model but she's a natural and I have some more great images to work from. 

Portrait Commission

When I was at Pittenweem, someone approached me to ask if I would undertake a portrait of her niece Natasha which of course I was delighted to accept. The upshot is that Natasha came round last week for a photo session. To my mind, there was one pose which stood out and which the client agreed with. So, as well as all the other work that I need to get on with, I want to get started on this portrait. Natasha is a lovely young lady and the portrait looks like it will be fun to do.

Talking of being a busy bee, check out Dylan's blog (see links page) as he is submitting work to an exhibition at The Union Gallery on the plight of the bumblebee.

Macmillan Art Show

An invitation has arrived asking me to submit two paintings to the Macmillan Cancer Support Art Show in Glasgow. The invitation comes as a result of my work being seen at The Pittenweem Arts Festival. The exhibition which runs from Monday 14 November to Saturday 26 November will have over 700 works of art. I've added the website to the Links page. Not sure what to submit as yet - probably one that is already finished and another I've yet to start. 


In the last couple of days I've applied velaturas over the underpainting of my sleepy model using alizarin crimson on the tunic this time rather than cadmium red as I used before when painting the red uniform. I think it still needs some adjustments but I'll let it dry and then re-assess it. I'm quite keen to finish this one off as I've got a lot of other good stuff to get on with. The canvases have been ordered ! 

I was shown a copy of a sixteenth century Italian book describing various artistic techniques. It recommended adding in the yolk of a town hen's egg to the velatura for the skin tones of older people but the yolk of a country hen's egg for the flesh of younger people. Apparently, country hens had a better diet than town hens and their more strongly coloured egg yolks would be more appropriate for the healthier skin tones of young folk. I wont be going to this eggstreme.

Back To Work

With the Pittenweem dust settling, I'm now getting back to work and have picked up the painting shown above. Just finishing off the underpainting ready for the velaturas. After this photo was taken, I've been adjusting the background - nothing difficult, but it felt like a sensible way to get back into the swing of things, a bit like a finely tuned athlete (which I am of course) warming up before the main event.

At the weekend, model Ingrida came round and, as a result, I now have a number of images that I can get on with. She is just a great model to work with and is such a big help in getting the look that I'm after. She keeps me right and I was impressed with her turban tying skills (no really !). I reckon that I'll manage to get about ten paintings out of this session. I also roped in neighbours son and poker ace Giles to pose for some other ideas. From the hugely positive reaction that And Your Point Is ? received, I decided to do some more paintings of men in white shirts - but this time with a more photogenic subject. A handful of paintings should come out of this session.

Together with commissions, I have more than enough to be getting on with. However, a very strange thing happened to me the other day and has given me the idea for another painting. I already have the image and title in my head. Funny where ideas come from and how the wierdest situations can be transformed into a painting.

Red Dots Akimbo

Have just returned from exhibiting at The Pittenweem Arts Festival and I'm delighted with the result. I sold nine of the twelve paintings to discerning buyers - six sold on the first night - have picked up two commissions and a few other possibles, been asked to submit to an exhibition in Glasgow and to provide a painting to a charity auction. I've also been asked to take paintings to Poland as part of a Scottish week but might not be able to fit that in. But more than that, there has been an over-whelmingly positive reaction to the work with lots of very kind comments. I also met a number of very interesting people with many good things to say. The objective of the exercise was to get feedback and, as a market research exercise, it was an excellent experience.

Pictured above is the delightful model Ingrida, who was much in demand for photos on preview night, in front of The Invitation (note the red dot as already snapped up by an astute collector) with a scary man looking over her shoulder (also sold to a shrewd buyer).

Many thanks go to David and Tracy McGraw who kindly allowed me to use their house in Pittenweem and for being such excellent hosts over the first week-end.

So, I'm now fired up and raring to go with more paintings. Onwards and upwards !

And The Next One Is

I visited Atelier Lisle to discuss the current painting above. As ever, the professor's keen eye and sound advice was invaluable. It's still at the underpainting stage and needs a bit more work before going on to the next stage but thought I'd post where I've got up to. There are a few tricky areas in this one caused by the way the light falls on the figure and the foreshortening of the leg. But I will crack it !

Dylan has been powering through the work. Lots of good stuff going on which you should check out - see the links page for his blog.

The photo above isn't David Bailey standard but I've had my finished paintings photographed professionally which means I have the option of producing cards or prints if there is any future demand. I'll have to see what feedback I get at next month's exhibition.

Model Soldier

I haven't been entirely unproductive these last few weeks and have been working on the painting below which is work in progress. Another using a red tunic but this time it has been done alla prima - without an underpainting, applying paint directly onto canvas and without using any glazes. It has a very different look from previous work and doesn't make use of more dramatic light and shade. It has been fun using a different technique with the most difficult part reworking the flesh a few times to find the right form and colouring. I think the composition is a bit unusual but I think it works with a strong diagonal in terms of form and colour across a light background. Haven't had any feedback yet on this one from the professor, so it will be interesting to hear his comments.

I'm about to start another painting - guess what, using a red tunic - going back to using the mixed technique. This will probably be the last using a red uniform - at least for the moment. Will post this one when the underpainting has been advanced.


Last Dance Steps

Haven't been as productive these last few weeks - various things keeping me away from the easel. However, I've finished this painting and I'm pleased with the way the figure has worked out. The background has had a few crimson glazes to warm it up and I've darkened the floor by working in raw umber. The photo isn't that great but will add it to the gallery once it has been varnished.

Next Dance Steps














I've now applied glazes to the tunic and flesh and worked into these.   They are now complete bar a few small tweaks, Visited Atelier Lisle to discuss the painting with the professor and next steps namely the treatment of the background. I'll apply crimson glaze(s) to the wall to warm it up and adjust the floor area to give it more depth. At the moment, I'm not intending to add any other featues in the background as I like the feeling of space around the figure.

I've also started another painting using a red uniform but this will be done alla prima (without an underpainting) and will be much lighter in tone. The photos of the drawing on canvas aren't very good so I'll need to progress the painting before posting an image.


Going To A Dance














Here's what I've been working on today, a monchrome underpainting I think I'll call We Are Going To A Dance using only tones of raw and burnt umber. Dont think that this took a day to complete - this is several days work.The next stage will be to apply cadmium red glazes to the tunic. After that, the flesh tones can be applied and adjusted depending on how they look next to the bright red tunic. Not entirely sure what I'll do for the back wall but I'm beginning to think a crimson glaze might be in order. I'll see how things look after the figure has been completed.

The Invitation


I've just added the finishing touches to my latest painting The Invitation. As the background behind the head is similar in tone to the face and hair, a thin blue glaze was applied to the white sheets in the frame to push this back and bring the head of the figure forwards.I've not really done too much work on the figure letting the strength of the pose speak for itself rather than over-working the painting of the flesh. Less is More as consultants like to say.

Captain's Blog

My inaugural blog and feeling quite pleased with myself having managed to set up a website. Techie stuff is not my strong point as former colleagues in the world of high finance can testify. I will be exhibiting at The Pittenweem Arts Festival in August (see Links page) courtesy of David and Tracy McGraw who have very kindly offered to let me use their house in Cove Wynd as the venue.So I need to crack on and complete enough paintings for the exhibition. Have just completed She Wore A Yellow Ribbon and put it on the Gallery page. A homage to John Wayne ? The hell it is. No idea where the idea came from but I think it works. More to follow using a red uniform.

In case you are wondering, the model in almost all of the paintings is the wonderful Ingrida. I'm fortunate indeed to have found such a fantastic life model.


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