Friday, 25 August 2017

Painting Again... but not as you know it!

Will be trying to get around to my long lost friends blogs in the next few days. Just hope you remember me! 

... meanwhile...

I'm painting again, but not on canvas but on "Seagull"

For those that don't know, I've been building this wooden (No Tupperware boats here) boat for over a year now. It's a 16 foot Maine Lobster Boat.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Getting there!!

Well it's been months since I posted on here, but I'm sort of getting there now. Started on some still-life stuff, but at this pace could be some time yet.

   I'm also writing my autobiography, and family far & wide are sending me all sorts of mementos they have about my life.

      I had forgotten drawing these two in 1982 of the F4 Phantom; I was a Combat Operations Officer (a 'Seagull') with them in Germany 1979 - 1983. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Turbulent Air

My only claim is that the painting is far better than the photograph ... nevertheless, I don't really care as this one is all about me having fun.

The pose is made up from lots of different photographs. The tights are based on Freddie Mercury's (Queen). The sleeves from an imagine I remember from a pack (deck) of cards. The hat and mask are from memory of items I vaguely remember.

                                                      Turbulent Air                                John Simlett
Acrylic on Cotton Canvas
39 x 19 inches
(100 x 50 cms)
I had this imagine in my mind of the air on stage being still until this dancer changed it into turbulence. Where he has been the air is turbulent whilst the unsuspecting air on his left is still calm.

The problem with a large painting, is that so much detail vanishes in the photograph, and many shades of red aren't really visible. 

Friday, 17 March 2017

Giselle Completed ....Again!

Still not where I want to be with oils yet , but still ... I think I'm getting there. I painted on a Burnt Sierra ground to warm up her finish  - which is why she looked like a redhead for a time. 

When I have been painting 'blondes' in the past I have tended to use a light-coloured background and then found myself having to warm up a pale face. 

                                                            'Giselle'                                        John Simlett
Oil on Stretched Cotton Canvas
31 x 23.5 inches
(79 x 60 cms)

Giselle is one of those rare creatures that has naturally blonde hair and deep brown eyes (Italian great grandmother), and I think that allows the Burnt Sierra to glow through. 

Sunday, 12 March 2017


One of my poems was accepted into an International Poetry Competition today - the result published in May.

Not sure how it will come out here, it's okay in 'Word' but gets temperamental when posted elsewhere.




                                                                    I like flags.
                                                                              a  Set
                                                           fore  Sails
                                                     sail  is    Flapping
                                               not for sale  In the wind.
                                           you  may find   Makes one think
                                       that you need it    Of  flying far off like
                                    rather badly in a    Some Albatross set free
                                 wind or in a gale       From land and those grassy ties
        I                    and  without it  find      That shore can bring, although I do
           do      others quickly up your tail    Like being a landlocked Shipwright it's part
                 like                                            of
                       boatbuilding it's                  my                                                      
                           such a large part of my life. I love the smell of the wood as I cut and plane it.
                              Listen to the music of the parts that go to make a boat, each such poetry:
                                      tumblehome and transom; hog and hogson; apron and the thwart                
                                           gutter and garboard strakes of planking: clinker & hard chine
                                                       but alas, without a keel,
                                                              where would we be?
                                                                   capsized and upside
                                                                       down, swimming
                                                                               deep beneath
                                                                                          the sea.


Monday, 6 March 2017

Giselle Again - A Work In Progress

My best friend granddaughter, Giselle, continues to be my favourite (favorite) model.

Oil on stretched canvas 31 x 24 inches 

I have another in progress that I feel might surprise y'all.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Boat Club

I haven't any paintings to show at the moment, but I have so many painting projects in the planning stage that I'm very excited .... however ... we went to a place called Parrog today (5 miles away) ... so ... look out for seascapes in the future.

Parrog is a small village which is part of  the town of Newport, Pembrokeshire. Now when I tell you that Newport has a population of only 1200, you can imagine that Parrog is tiny.

We went to Parrog to join the Newport Boat Club:

Newport Boat Club, Parrog, Pembrokeshire, Wales.

It was a wet and windy day and all the boats are laid-up for winter. Here's a more popular seasonal picture:

You can see the potential for paintings already can't you?

We joined the club - a cosy little place we will be using a lot once I've finished building Seagull

Seagull - The  Wooden Maine Lobster Boat I'm building 

I had a look around for launching slips and there are lots of them. This one looked the most likely one, for two reasons:

Firstly, it's adjacent to the Boat Club Car Park and secondly, it is next to the lovely little restaurant which you can see on the left, in yellow. Best Crab Bake Pat has ever tasted.

My daughter and her dog Blodwyn sniffed-out a second slip behind the Boat Club:

Looks like lots of fun ahead ... I like the idea of painting from a boat!

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Sandra Busby!!

No, I'm not Sandra's Press Agent, but I do owe her a debt-of-gratitude.

When I first started blogging in 2012,  Sandra was the first person to 'comment' and generally support me until I got the hang of things.

The blogging buddies I met along the way were all painters, and really good ones at that. In those days I was a Pen & Ink artist (To See My Drawings Click Here). To me all you painters were magicians ... I was spellbound.

Eventually, I thought I might have a try at painting but had no idea how to go about it. Sandra, plus others, explained about fat on lean, colour (color) theory, linen versus cotton canvases etc...

Well Sandra vanished from blogland, but has reemerged elsewhere: CLICK HERE

The point to all this is not for you to join a fan-club, but for you to look at her latest posting: a video on palettes (See it HERE).

Her video has inspired me and given me an Eureka moment! I was using a glass computer table as a storage for paints & brushes. It was covered in over a year's worth of paint. Following Sandra's technique I had it looking brand new in a couple of minutes. I now have the biggest glass palette in the whole universe(ish).

Here it is in place:

This inspired me to clean my studio out ... I do this every two years, if it needs it or not :)

The Painting Area

The the Pen & Ink area

The Refuelling point!!

When I'm not painting I'm a writer/editor ...

... for which I need plenty of reference data.

Similarly I need Art reference, which is tucked behind the easel. I mix my mediums here too.

And finally a little area for planning my boat-building:

This turned into a marathon posting, although not as long as the 'cleaning up the studio' marathon!

'Blodwyn walking near the Studio

This is really a test of uploading a video onto the blog .... I've never done it before

Seems to work OK. Blodwyn is a 9 month old Welsh Sheepdog (similar to a Cross Border Collie)


As you can see there is always a wind blowing here, straight off the Atlantic(ish)

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Louise 5 - finished

Not too happy - I don't capture the vivacious character. Can't win 'em all.

                                                     "Louise"                                John Simletrt
Oil on Stretched Linen Canvas
18 x 14 inches (45 x  35 cms)

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Louise 4 - Nearly finished

Nearly finished -  she looks miserable, I will need to tweak a 'smile.'

I've shown a string of photos, as the closer you get to the canvas, the more the light bounces  back off it.

It's oil on stretched linen canvas (18" x 14").

It might help if she wore makeup, but she's more of the 'farm-girl,' happy living on a farm, and walking her Welsh sheepdog (Blodwyn) along the cliffs and shoreline.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Louise 3 - Grisaille planes.

To remind you: this is not a lesson! BUT ... 

 ... if this system was good enough for Diego Velázquez, then it's good enough for me (although I got more hits on my blog than he ever did! ........... just saying.)

Today I added grisaille planes (which the dictionary defines as: decoration in tones of a single grey [gray] designed to produce a three-dimensional effect.)

I mixed the grey (gray) using a W & N Carbon Black (a slow drier) with a W & N Alkyd Titanium White (a quick drier) to speed up the drying process.

I made a grey (gray) string mixing proportions that gave me a match with each value on the scale shown above (right).

I placed splotches of the mixes on a throw away paper palette, with pure unmixed black on the extreme right and similarly unmixed white on the extreme left.

I them mixed a medium for this layer of painting thus:

Using the value finder to identify the values on my reference photograph, I replicated the value planes on the painting, observing not to blend at all; just laying in planes of grey (gray)



Finally, I just softened the lines where the grey planes met, with a dry and paint-free soft sable brush - avoiding fully blending

I've left it to dry overnight.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Louise 2 - Blocking In

Let me first say that I'm not intending to teach you how to paint; I'm not qualified to do so.

 There's three reasons for spelling out the process (that dates back 100 s' of years) that I use:

a. You may well see that something I'm doing is wrong or can be done in a better way, and you may be kind enough to let me know.

b. There just might be someone starting out who has little or no idea about painting, who may realise that if I can blunder through a portrait then so can they.

c. It journals my play work.

OK, so I'm using a pre-primed linen canvas measuring 18 inches by 14 inches.

I've sketched onto the canvas, with a soft pencil, a drawing of Louise, copying a (awful) photograph as a reference.

I then lightly sprayed over the canvas with a fixative to prevent the pencil running and getting all mixed up with paint.

I then mixed up my first medium as follows:

I used a kitchen scales and metal jug for this ... don't tell Pat!!

I like to use throw-away paper palettes,  and on to mine I put a squirt of oil paint

It's an Burnt Umber coloured Alkyd - a quick drying oil paint - from Newton and Winsor.

I then sploshed it over the sketch to show me were the darks are.

Then I left it to dry, and started another portrait of a surprise visitor to the blog, Blodwyn!

Still Having Model Problems!

You may recall the problem I had with getting my great-grandson 'Topgun' (Logan) to model:

His brother 'Billy' (Koby) is just as awkward, but then he is a pirate.

I blame the parents, Giselle and Max

At least Louise (Giselle's mum) is behaving for my current painting

Monday, 20 February 2017

Every Little Breeze....

... Seems to Whisper ..... Louise.

My poor daughter thought she was going to escape ...........wrong!

Louise: The initial rough sketch.

Started back on the boat-build today ... sanding down the varnish for the final coat.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Max - Writ LARGE!

I'm still over-the-moon that I painted such a large portrait 'accurately.' Here's a photo with a chair close by which gives you some perspective of the scale 

Friday, 17 February 2017

Max Completed

I had a lot of fun with this one. With a large 36 inch x 28 inch canvas there was plenty of room to cut-loose and splash paint around. I had lots of fun with the folds in the fabric where I went totally alla prima.

Because it didn't really have to be a good likeness, I just 'painted' totally relaxed and a good likeness just appeared.

When Max was younger he liked to be seen as an 'Emo' (?) and he has always tended slightly towards the 'Gothic'. Therefore I invented the idea of him clothed in a robe and painting in mono.

He tends to be a shy and very modest Australian (a contradiction in terms some may say) I needed to draw him out and capture the passion he shows when he's talking about his art. I did this by imagining his surprise when he sees this image of him in a non-existent robe.

                                                   MAX                              John Simlett
Oil on Stretched Canvas
36 x 28 inch
(91 x 71 cms)

 Needless to say the camera records the light thrown back from the medium and gives no idea of the size of the painting


Friday, 10 February 2017


Don't ask where the locomotive series are....? I continue to go where the mood takes me. So I'm painting my grandson-in-law, Max: the Australian who married my best friend/granddaughter Giselle!

Why I've gone for a massive canvas (36 inch x 28 inch) I don't know ... wanted to bring a bit of drama into things and slosh some oils about.


It began formally but the brushes took over and the hood began to appear! Not sure where this one's going ... only that it's going to be in mono .... but who knows it could end up anywhere!

Just had a few days up in the mountains of North Wales - reminds me of Austria.

Saturday, 14 January 2017


I'm spending a bit of time organising my work for display. I'm dividing my stuff into two Gallery Blogs, one will be for Painting and the other I have started for Pen & Ink work (half-finished - 11 pictures at the moment)

I've got some of my very first drawings in there, for example, Monschau, which is a small town in the Eifel Mountains in Northern Germany. We spent a lot of time there 1979 - 83.

This early drawing was made in 1980.

                                         Monschau                                             John Simlett
Pen & Ink on Cartridge Paper
10.5 inch x 7.5 inch
(265 mm x 190 mm)
If you can  check out the new blog and feedback any errors I would appreciate it.... here's the link