Monday 29 December 2014

ANGOLAN WOMAN - Portrait #6 (Painting #44)

I'm teaching myself to paint, and this is my 44th. painting. Portraits are now attracting my focus, and this is the #6 since I started (never tried 'people' before).

I'm rather pleased with this one insofar as the plan, based on the previous experiences, worked out as I'd hoped it would.

Susan Smolensky had told me she liked a light Burnt Sienna ground and it seemed totally appropriate for this painting.

                                                            Angolan Woman                                  John Simlett 2014
30 x 20 inches
Acrylic on Canvas

I wanted the image to 'glow' to reflect the heat and red earth of Africa. The necklaces, etc., that the woman wore already had a reddish orange hue. I therefore wanted the burnt sienna ground to 'bleed' through of it's own accord to influence the earth colours: raw umbra, burnt umbra and yellow ochre. The photograph doesn't show all the glow but isn't too bad

I also used a Zinc White (Open) which I mixed with a Titanium White (Heavy Bodied) to keep the latter from drying too quickly. The Zinc White I also used as a 'mixing white' for the tones.

A dab of Mars Black and Cad. red competed the palette.

I confess that I find that I like big canvases ... which is an expensive thing to like.

PS Father Christmas bought me a bunch of Black Sable brushes!!!!  Woo Hoo!

Wednesday 24 December 2014

PORTRAIT #6 Work In Progress

I've just started on an African Lass (From Angola, where, a long time ago, we nearly got shot out of the air). 

It's a bigger painting: 20 x 30 inches, because I'm still feeling my way and want to try out what it's like to paint at this size.
   Colour mixing isn't coming naturally yet, although I get the basic tones fairly accurately the fine tuning of skin tones is more of a struggle. Practise, practice and more practise.

Christmas tomorrow, I'm hoping Father Christmas brings me some Black Sable Brushes!


Friday 19 December 2014


                     Japanese Girl          John Simlett
Acrylic on Cotton Canvas
31 x 12 inches

Sunday 14 December 2014

Portrait #5 (Painting #42) "Lauren"

I've tried my hand at a portrait of my second granddaughter, Lauren. I didn't have many recent photos and so I cobbled it together from the two that I had.

It's not very good, but I'm learning. It's the first time I've tried to paint hair.

                       "Lauren"                      John Simlett
Acrylic on stretched Canvas
14 v 10 inches


Here's Hoping Father Christmas Drops In On You!!

Thursday 11 December 2014

Portrait # 4 (Picture 41)

Onwards and Upwards. The fourth and next step in my quest to learn how to paint portraits (and how to paint).

This is the largest canvas yet.

                                       Geisha                         John Simlett
Acrylic on Canvas
24 x 18 inches (610 x 460 mm)

Wednesday 10 December 2014

RIP 'Jimpie'

I was on Comet 2s with 'Jimpie' Hoad in the early 60s. 

His death leaves a massive loss. A very sad day.

From the Obituary

"HOAD – Air Vice Marshal Norman Edward CVO, CBE, AFC (Ret’d) said goodbye to us on Saturday 29th November 2014, aged 91.

He was not only a well known pilot, but a brilliant painter - member of the Guild of Aviation Artists.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,

And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunday 7 December 2014

Portrait #4 WIP

This is quite the biggest canvas I've painted on so far: 24 inches x 18 inches (610 x 457 mm).

I saw this photograph and just had to have a go at it.

I have painted all weekend, a luxury I've spent all year working towards. I hope to finish tomorrow.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Portrait #3

This is the 3rd Portrait I've attempted, and painting #40 since I first picked up a brush and covered the house, me and my clothes in paint.

This one is better than this photo, but, nevertheless

'In the Ring'                 John Simlett
Acrylic on Canvas  (14 inches x 10 inches)

I'm quite pleased with it.

 It's alla prima which is, as you know, difficult with acrylics which dry so quickly. As I go on I'm beginning to use mediums, water spray etc, which makes wet on wet with acrylics a bit easier.

   I'm also beginning to get my head around base mixes and glazes.

Probably try one of my lovely granddaughter, Lauren, next.

Monday 1 December 2014

Portrait #2

Really disappointed with the photograph. My portrait of Anders Zorn might not be brilliant, but it's a whole lot better than
'Anders Zorn'                 John Simlett
Acrylic on Canvas  (14 inches x 10 inches)
the photo. Not that it matters that much.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Portrait #2 is now WIP

After a week of madness, Work is now In Progress (WIP), on my second portrait attempt.

After taking two months to get here, the carpet fitters finally arrived, and, as they do, fitted carpets throughout. This took over 2 days, but the emptying the rooms of furniture and then putting the furniture back has taken all our time.

The light here is amazing. I had heard artists talk of 'the light' and knew that Cornwall was considered the place to be with its famous Newlyn School. 

It was only when we moved here to West Wales,that I realised what was meant by 'the light'. The colours leap out at me. When it rains I can seen up to 10 rainbows during the course of a day. Because we are high up (the house is named Highview) I can see rainbows ending in the sea or in green valleys - amazing.

The skies, like the weather, are dramatic. The colours are almost unpaintable - who would believe them?

Here is a photograph taken by Ian Wright, which captures a typical Fishguard sky.

The Sky at Strumble Head, Fishguard, Pembrokeshire, Wales       by    Ian Wright
As blogland is so international, many will have see far more exotic sights ... but ... to a simple soul like me: this coast is a magical place to be. It's what I would call a Joan Sicignanos coast line (New England, US). Joan paints fantastic sea/coastscapes as you can see on this link to her blog....

Saturday 22 November 2014


Well here it is, for what it's worth. Not brilliant but I feel I can move on from here. It's Acrylic on Canvas 9" x  6"

Zorn's Wife

Thursday 20 November 2014

My First Steps into Portraiture # 1

I started off by watching a few videos with my favourite, Will Kemp.

Colours used, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Mars Black, Raw Umbra and Titanium White.

I put down a wash of Neutral Gray (grey) on old damaged canvases 

From the Colours on my limited palette I produced colour strings by mixing the colours.

This gave me a feeling of the range the palette offered. Although they would be a bit 'bright' for the subject of my first portrait which, as you can see, has a very pale complexion.

I then sketched the model onto my canvas, at which point our visitors returned.

Tomorrow we are catching the Ferry to Ireland and return: Duty Free Christmas shopping trip. It's going to be Sunday before I can paint again!

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Zorn's Limited Palette

Forgive me for stating the obvious when I speak of Zorn's limited palette. To me, the Newbie to painting, Anders Zorn is a recently discovered character, to you all he is probably common parlance.  

He was Swedish 1860 - 1920 (found fame in the US after painting the portrait of Presidents, Cleveland, Taft and Roosevelt)) and, from the look of his studio, seems like my sort of man.

What interests me, amongst other things, was his use of a limited palette. 

The fewer colours I use ... the fewer mistakes I can make! At least that's my theory :0)) So if I used a his limited palette for portraits I should stand a better chance of getting things a little less wrong than I otherwise might ... if you can understand that bit of back-to-front English.

Just to compound the task of portraiture I shall use Acrylics. I'm going to try Golden Heavy Body acrylics and maybe a W & N Burnt Sienna.

I think I may be forced out of my rigid attention to detail into a looser impressionist style to make it work. Who knows?

As we have friends staying until Saturday, I shan't be able to start until Sunday next. I shall record what I do for two reasons:

(i) It might give you a good laugh!
(ii) You may be able to point out the errors of my way.

Either way, I'm quite excited about it all ... should be great fun!! 

Friday 14 November 2014

THIS IS IT Folks!! I'm Back ... ready or not!

After a very long time ... I'm back.

We have now moved into West Wales and are very happy to have found this fantastic and magical place!

I have had a very non-art year, which I'm not going to bore you with. The last stage was setting up a new studio ... and here it is.

The Drawing Office Part For Pen & Ink Mode.
The Writing Area for Author Mode
Another View of Drawing/Writing areas
The Painting and the  Library/Reading Areas
 So ... no more excuses for not working. Get the Coffee & Cookies ready, I'm on my way to yours shortly!!

Monday 28 July 2014

Still Here!

I'm still around folk ... but only just!

We should move to West Wales in September, in the meantime I'm still hard at work, but no time for art until I'm established in Fishguard in the county of Pembrokeshire.

Nevertheless, some of the art I have produced since being on this blog is still doing its thing.

I'm still selling prints, and I have sold the original of the Lunardi Balloon to a gentleman in Oxfordshire, UK, which is unusual as most of my originals got to the US. My stuff seems to find favour (or should I say favor) rather well over there ... 

Every inch of my garden is now done, and I've only achieved that twice in 26 years.
The Main hedge was a monster - 15 bin liners of clippings.
Excellent company whilst doing it: butterflies, a few dragon flies, and millions of bees on the lavender bushes. At one end of the garden I have the thin robin for company whilst at the other is a fat one - never ever see them both at the same time. Not forgetting the grey squirrels who spend ages searching for - but never finding - their buried treasure.

No more wood pigeons or collar doves indicates the hawks are back nesting in the Castle.

The house and outbuildings are now all painted. The rooms that needed re-wallpapered are done.

The Outline Planning Permission (so much work and drawing of plans for that) for the side-land was received on Friday, and the land is up for auction on 28 Aug. 

We have a lovely couple who are hoping to buy the house.

All this effort has cost 2 stone (28 pounds 12kg) in weight and I feel fitter than I have in years ......... the reason for all this effort is in the video ... it's where we are going to live. 

You're all welcome to come and stay!

Sunday 13 April 2014

Collage of Some of My Work

Hi Everyone.....!

Still around but little time for art at the moment.

Missing you all, but it will be a month or two before I get back to normal in the blogasphere.

I keep peeping to see what you're all up to and it makes me want to join in, but I'm so busy getting this old house ready for sale.

Here's a little collage to remind you who I .....was!

Have fun, here comes the sun ... butterflies & bees in my garden all ready, 2-3 months too early!

Saturday 25 January 2014

Dipping my Toe in the Water!

The fish series continues and in it I have 3 'American' fish to draw. Here is the first: The Freshwater Wide mouth Bass. 

                                                                Freshwater Wide Mouth Bass   John Simlett

Pen & Ink on 350gsm Cartridge Paper
15 inches x 10 inches
38cms x 25.5 cms

Not a lot to say about it. However when we move to our new home (see previous post) it might be more appropriate as it is in the town of Fishguard in Pembrokeshire, West Wales.

As my father was the outcast of the family I knew nothing of my roots until a few years ago when I did the family research thing. It turns out that my family on both my mother and my father's side go back many 100s' of years ... in Pembrokeshire. The earliest I can find is Philip Simlett marrying Ann Fortune in 1705.

I had never been there until we went for a week last September. We fell in love with it and bought a house down there in the first 24 hours. The coastline is now a National Park, and voted the second best coastline in the world by the National Geographic Magazine. It is off the beaten track and seems decades behind the rest of the UK. The view from the house, straight ahead, is across the sea, and on a clear day you can see Ireland. Looking to the right gives a view of the North Wales mountains.

In preparation for the move we have tried to rationalize our library. We thought we would get rid of some of the books that were overflowing. No chance! Instead we tidied them, double stacking some and putting others on top of the bookcase. Here's a couple of views of one end of the room.

Monday 13 January 2014

#3 In The Fish Series - A Trout.

Not much to say about it beyond the fact that the photography is even worse than usual. It's black on white but I guess the camera was confused with it being a Rainbow Trout in mono! ;0)

                                      Trout                  John Simlett
Pen & Ink on 350gsm Cartridge Paper
15 inches x 10 inches
38cms x 25.5 cms
That's the European Sea-Bass, Atlantic Cod and the Trout done and three to go. Not the most exhilarating of subjects, but good drawing practise.

We are aiming to move home this year (the 24th move in married life), consequently I divide my day thus, morning to preparing the house for sale, afternoon Painting/Drawing and the evening writing. The mornings get earlier and bedtimes... later, ".... But I'm singing a Happy Song, Hippoty, Hopotty Hi ...singing a happy song!!"

Here's the view from the house we are buying - if all goes to plan!

Stay Warm!

Thursday 9 January 2014

Painting # 37

Here is the 37th painting I have done to date, and the first of 2014. 
    Another Geisha of the 19th Century. It's in the style of  Kitao Masanobu (1733 - 1816).  I just liked the lines and couldn't resist. As usual, forgive the photography.

A Geisha in the Style of 1800                      by John Simlett

 Acrylic Paint on Stretched Canvas 

32 inches x 12 inches (81 cms x 30 cms)

Now back to the pen & ink fish series!