Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Yorkshire Dales

Walking towards Janet’s Fosse (8″ x 8″ oil on board)

I spent a couple of days walking in the Yorkshire Dales a few weeks ago, including the must-do trail from Malham to Gordale Scar and then over to Malham Cove, with its cliff edge and fabulously preserved limestone pavement. To say the route is well trodden would be an understatement.  There was a steady stream of walkers most of the way, especially from Malham village to the waterfall delightfully named ‘Janet’s Foss’.  The sun was shining that morning after rain overnight and the views were magnificent.  I’ve tried to capture in this small painting my experience of walking into the sunlight – the glare on the path, the walkers ahead and the cloudy mist on the hills ahead.

Mistletoe-laden trees

Mistletoe-laden trees and sunlit arch, Burghley (February) (10″ x 10″ oil on board)

Another Burghley piece … and more trees!  Many of the large trees in Burghley park have mistletoe and this is all the more obvious in Winter/early Spring before the trees come into leaf.  The shapes are fantastic and rather surreal.  The early Spring light is pretty special too. A joy to paint!

How to grow a tree…

..well a tree ‘portrait’ anyway!

I quite often get asked how I approach making a painting and as I remembered to take some photos of work in progress on this one (which is rare!) I thought I would share.

The approach varies depending on the medium I am painting in but this is fairly typical for paintings done in oil.

My painting surface here is 3mm MDF which I have primed with several coats of household primer and then a coat or two of artist’s ‘gesso’.  I then stain the white surface to a cool or warmish grey, either with diluted oil paint rubbed in with a rag or sometimes with acrylic paint.

I start by roughly drawing out the main shapes with diluted oil, taking note in particular of where the darks will go (stage 1). The next stage is to mix up the colours I will be using and to ‘block in’ the main areas of colour, trying to get the lights and darks and the colour mixes approximately right (stage 2).

Stage 3 then involves refining the block in until the painting is finished.  There are lots of mini stages here and what amounts to ‘finished’ is often hard to gauge.  Some people like a very detailed, refined image.  Personally I strive not to fiddle and to try to achieve a ‘painterly’ work, which hopefully has interest to the viewer.

Here is the finished piece.  I hope you like it.

Tree avenue, Burghley (February) 10″ x 12″ oil on board

Opening night of The Grosvenor Museum’s 12th Open Art Exhibition

It was ‘full house’ at the official opening of The Grosvenor Museum’s 12th Open Art Exhibition on 14 March by Sarah Maxfield, Area Director North, Arts Council England.  The exhibition walls were also packed as my hastily grabbed photographs show.  It was great to see a real breadth of work – in size, media and subject matter – and a chance to see how my own painting had been hung.

The worthy winner of the first prize was Mark Elsmore’s ‘One Man’s Ceiling is Another Man’s Floor’, a beautifully executed piece in watercolour and gouache.  Unfortuntely I didn’t manage to grab a photo of it.  It is well worth visiting the exhibition to see it (and the other works) in person if you are likely to visit Chester and the surrounding area over the next few months.  Entry is free, most works are for sale and the exhibition runs until 21 June. See

Some of those works not selected are currently being exhibited at the ‘Not The Grosvenor Open Exhibition‘ at the wonderfully named Funky Aardvark in Chester – an exhibtion space, art workshop and quirky gift shop situated in the medieval Chester Rows.  See  Most works there are also for sale and as it’s only a stone’s throw from the Grosvenor Museum it’s worth checking out both exhibtions and seeing if you agree with the selectors!  Here’s the painting I am exhibiting (and selling) there.

Early Winter morning light, The Groves