One linocut with many and varied outcomes

Continuing with printmaking I made one A4 size linocut of tree branches and experimented with monoprint backgrounds and printing over existing drawings and paintings… and also added a stencil for the jug.

Picking up a paintbrush for the first time in ages

I spent last Thursday with  friends Karen and Stella gathered around our dining room table with brushes, palette knives, credit cards, sponges and acrylic paints. We dived in with abandon and worked quickly and freely painting on to large canvases, or in m case gesso primed paper.

This is the first time for nearly a year I’ve painted with acrylics. I was drained after POP1 which I found to be a very intensive module . At times I felt I’d lost the joy of painting but it’s back after a very therapeutic and enjoyable day.

Painting tulips and irises

Having been inspired by the flower paintings of Peter McCarthy whose work I saw recently at the John Russell Gallery on the Waterfront in Ipswich, I painted tulips and irises with abandon. With the tulips I actually did succeed in capturing what I had in my mind and I felt that a good bit of me had gone into the picture. The irises, while still loose, got a bit lost in translation. Shame as they had promise at any earlier stage.

Happy day tulips – acrylic on paper

Irises, acrylic on paper

Earlier stage. Something promising was happening here. It was quite striking at this point but I lost the plot!

Printmaking class – experiments with drypoint

I’m feeling my way forward but liking the medium. Drypoint seems to enable a more spontaneous, looser result than  I can achieve with collograph or linocut. Early days… early experiments. Interesting how different colours and different density of the inks influence the end result. Background helps to create atmosphere. I am keen to experiment more and frustrated that I can’t print drypoint at home as this form of intaglio printing can’t be done by hand.

Gee Vaucher Introspective at Firstsite


The show’s ‘cover image’ Oh America is a Gouache created in 1989 – uncanny how relevant this feels today.

This exhibition  which runs until 17 February 2017 at Colchester’s Firstsite Gallery is so good that I’ve been three times. This is the artist’s first major institutional show in the UK and it charts her journey as an artist and political activist  from the late 1960s to the present day. I say congratulations to Firstsite for showcasing such an extensive range of Vaucher’s work.

Her practice includes collage, photography, photomontage, painting, sculpture, film, performance, typography, sound and installation.

It’s a hard-hitting and emotive exhibition and was very relevant to my current OCA studies – Creative Arts Today | Part 4 Photography. I personally  rate her work alongside that of Peter Kennard Britains best known political artist.

The show’s cover picture (above) provides a  fascinating example of how an image can travel through time and gather even more meaning. This 1989 picture was overwritten by Vaucher with the following words:

‘Give us justice which is not the searing spite of revenge, peace which is not the product of war nor dependent upon it. Give us freedom where now there is only servitude.’

The image was used recently by the Daily Mirror as a front cover.

As far as I’m concerned this is a not to be missed show – and it’s free.

Lettering diary


Too many visits to the dentist

I am two weeks into a new project…  My lettering diary expresses in a few short but ‘illustrative’ words some of the places I’ve been and things I’ve done lately. Some are quick scribbles, others are more developed. They are all an enjoyable way to get some drawing and lettering practice as well as an alternative way to keep a diary. I’ve included a few on this page.I hope  that some design ideas will emerge that I can put to further use.

Click here for my full diary so far (PDF)



Clearing the loft



Walking on the beach at Dymchurch


Staying at the Powdermills Hotel in Battle

Life drawing classes at The Wilson Marriage Centre in Colchester

I’m currently studying Creative Arts Today with the OCA and it is a theory based module so I’m missing painting and drawing. So that  I don’t get too out of practice, today I started a Life Drawing course – two hours on a  Wednesday for six weeks – and I I am going to set myself some objectives:

  • work on achieving expressive, meaningful lines (avoid scribbling) and aim for nice fluid, flowing lines
  • take Jim Unsworth’s advice and keep the history of the drawing – i.e. correct but don’t erase earlier lines as they give vitality
  • use different weights of line
  • use colour in interesting ways e.g. let it run over the edge
  • experiment with different drawing materials … pencil, pen, ink, charcoal, Conté crayon, pastels
  • experiment with different types of paper / background colour.

And if I put a few of my drawings on my blog each week I will be able to look back and see if I am making  progress!

Week 1 – Model Sarah

Today the focus was on proportion and I’m happy that these sketches are reasonably accurate although it would be easier to judge if I had fitted the whole figure on the paper.

sarah1 sarah2 sarah3 sarah8 sarah9

Week 2  in the bin! I arrived late and flustered and everything went down hill from there.









Week 3 – Rachel

I focused on line rather than tone this week. Rachel is a very long lanky model and I struggled with the proportions but I think they are just about right in these images.











Week 4

Rachel again – in some lovely poses today.























Exercise: Mixing materials into paint

IMG_8275Experiment with mixing materials from the landscape to build texture into your painting. 

I should think this painting is going to take a few days to dry. I’ve used a lot of acrylic paint  mixed with PVA and a selection of materials gathered from garden, garage and kitchen.

I didn’t have any particular theme or design in mind. I was simply using up left over paint , splodging it on with a palette knife and trailing one colour through another. It seems to have energy like some kind of showy, exploding chrysanthenum.

How effective were the different materials?


Small pieces of wood in the red paint. Quite effective but lost in the maelstrom.


Crushed peppercorns in white paint  – looks a bit like someone has thrown up!

hydrangea petal

Dried hydrangea petal – with less going on this could be effective – the vein of the petal shows through the paint. In a different colour scheme it could appear delicate and fragile.

fine sand

Fine sand in the white – this is subtle and I would definitely use it again

rosemary and brush bristle

Rosemary ‘needles’ and brush bristles – the bristles were very fine and have been lost but the rosemary is interesting. Quite angular and harsh.