Monday, 19 March 2018

Spring is Coming ....... Isn't it?

Hopefully we will soon return to this 

from this

Meanwhile, I'm about half way through my Pen & Ink drawing.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Blast From The Past

                              Rechteren Castle, Holland     John Simlett

Pen & Ink on 350 gsm paper
11 inch x 9 inch
(280 mm x 230 mm)

I drew this picture 38 years ago and it was the fourth drawing I had ever done in my life, outside of Geometric and Engineering drawing. It was a significant drawing insofar as it indicated to me, and others, that perhaps I should take it all a little bit more seriously. It was then, this drawing that 'sorted me out.'

At the moment I need 'sorting-out' once again. For many reasons, not least that my wife is physically disabled, I am unable to get continuity in anything I do. When I do get free time, I seem to be unable to focus long enough to carry a project to a conclusion. Half-finished paintings litter the studio.

As a solution I am undertaking another pen and ink drawing of some complexity. I haven't drawn for ages as I got seduced by painting - and the influence of many of the painters you may see in my 'Blog Roll.' A drawing, therefore, will be a complete change.

Pen & Ink, as you probably know, is very unforgiving: there is no way back from a mistake. Focus and discipline have to be continuous and I think that is what will 'sort me out'. We'll see.


Sunday, 11 February 2018




                                                                    I like flags.
                                                           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.
                                                                                                                           (John Simlett,2005)

Friday, 2 February 2018

Logan's Light - Finished

Tried a lot of experimentation with this one (a) Painting it almost mono although I used burnt umber glazes to soften edges and give the suggestion of a secondary light source - top left. (b) No eyes - and I always make them the key point of a portrait ... similarly the hair.

                                                                Logan's Light                                             John Simlett
27 x 19.5 inches
Oil on stretched Italian linen

The photography does no favours (favors).

I tried to soften everything except the two focal points, the light and the face.

Given the degree of difficulty I'm reasonably pleased. As always seeing it full size is best. 

Friday, 26 January 2018

How to DOUBLE your artistic output

'Topgun' (Logan), my great-grandson and the sitter for my current portrait (see last two posts), has let me in on his secret for doubling artistic output. I always like to pass on any tips I learn, so here we are:

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Underpainting - Stage 2

Not a lot different to last posting, just strengthened the 'darks' and introduced the 'lights.'

For those who don't know me, I am in reality a pen & ink artist who was seduced into painting by my friends hereabouts. Quite unexpectedly I feel the urge to do a bit of drawing again ... wonder if I will and wonder what I'll draw.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Underpainting stage 1

I have made a start on my latest, and here is the first part of the underpainting  using only raw umbra. 

27 x 19.5 inches
Oil on stretched Italian linen

I always rely on the eyes to make my portrait work, here the eyes aren't visible so quite a challenge for me. As if the lighting wasn't tricky enough.

I'm letting it dry out overnight before completing the underpainting tomorrow.

I really do love the Pre-Raphaelites and am trying to paint under that influence. The two paintings influencing me here are Holman Hunt's Light of the World' E R Hughes's Midsummer Eve.  Hughes was Holman Hunt's studio assistant .

Saturday, 20 January 2018

The Light of My World

You have probably seen the Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Light of the World' by Holman Hunt, in which the light source comes from below, casting unusual shadows on the subject. It is my intention to paint a portrait of my great grandson 'Topgun' (Logan) using a similar light source, from below, that all but blots out his image with shadow.

To complicate the issue I shall use oils, and paint it in mono - yes black & white (ish).

I've made a start by sketching out the basic image, in which a nighttime scene shows Topgun  holding a bright light in his hands and looking down on it. I have used the grey (gray) grounded canvas I showed you in the previous post.

I have set myself an impossible task here, but at worst I will turn a grey canvas into a black canvas and nobody gets hurt in the process. If it works then it will match the portrait of his dad, Max, that I painted last year

Why I have to complicate life with next-to-impossible tasks I don't know ... it must be pre-programmed into my DNA. For example, I am about to turn-over the wooden Maine Lobster Boat (Seagull) I am building: 

The easy way to turn it over is by using 10 strong men! I want to do it single handed next week. I don't have the foggiest idea how though ... I can't wait to see what I do. 

Monday, 8 January 2018

Paint on Canvas

It might not seem a lot to you, but the canvas shown here is, "One tiny step for mankind, one huge step for me," as it is almost 12 months since I last painted, for many and diverse reasons.

This 27.5 x 19.5 inch (700 x 500 mm) Italian linen canvas now has a thin wash of light umbra acrylic on it. I have also marked in the vertical and horizontal centre-lines with a pencil: my portraits tend to end up off centre without this aid.

That's it folk, that's all the news... but heck ... "mighty oaks from acorns grow", "Rome wasn't built in a day", "slowly, slowly, catchee monkey" ...................!!

Who knows, I might just remember how to paint a portrait.