Friday, 14 December 2007

Ding Dong Merrily on High

At the risk of sounding a bit churlish, I'm going to say what I think;

Fuck Christmas.

Every town and city in the land is full of people desperately trying to plunge themselves further into a spiral of debt and despair, to buy unwanted and mostly unnecessary shite for people they don't see or even think about for 11/12ths of the year.
Before you can join the happy throng of miserable geriatrics and yowling screaming snotty fucking kids, you will need to brush up on the old reflexes for the fist fight you'll be having, to secure a parking space in a dimly lit impossible to get-into/out-of concrete communist style bunker called a "Car Park".

Having negotiated this subterranean labyrinth of yuledoom, you will emerge into the fluorescent glare of good will and christian celebration that is the average shopping centre.
The goods in the shop windows will trick you.They don't have these shiny things in the shop, they sold out weeks ago, but you fought your way in through the temporarily retarded shopping zombies at the door so you buy something, ANYTHING.
Grabbing an item either large/colourful or small/mind numbingly expensive, you head for the till.........."Oh shit", goes the flashing sign behind your eyes, (It's actually your brain stem trying to make you run, but you'll get all Homo Erectus and over-ride it),the queue awaits.

Although constructed of flimsy nylon strapping, the magical forces of the maze mean that it simultaneously lures, hypnotises and stupefies a veritable horde of human life.
It wanders so far round the shop, back and forth, up and down, that it's length is equal to a medieval pilgrimage, which is a good thing because it's a christian festival we are all celebrating. As you are sucked into the open end of this cattle run, you idly wonder why all the people nearest the till are old and have grey beards....even the women......Too late the answer pings into your thumping head; they have been here a long, long time.

Beep, beep, beep, go the tills. four of them........although there only ever three working.....some cash, mostly cards. Forgotten PIN's, faulty cards, sorry we don't take cheques. You know they are doing their best, but couldn't they use BOTH hands ? If the use of chewing gum, and the simultaneous use of brain matter is SO hard, couldn't we lose the gum ?
Are they bovvered ?.........NO.

I understand, I REALLY do, I well remember doing a stint of shelf stacking at a supermarket one Christmas.
On the last Saturday before the big day, I unwittingly entered a duel with the married women of the town in which the shop was located.
Stupidly I imagined I could re-stock the mince pies in Aisle 4, then move on to the rest of the store. I was in the shop for ten hours, I failed to fill those shelves with mince pies.
Thousands of both the own brand and Mr Kipling's finest went onto the shelves, but word had spread. They were burning tyres in the car park to send a signal to their sisters.
Not once could I honestly say that the shelves were 'full'.

I got over it, but I won't be doing retail at Christmas again, ever.

So you get to the till, you brave the blinding glint of the cheap jewelery on the ears of the assistant, your card works, the present goes in a bag, with fifty feet of paper till roll, you swerve and blunder out of the shop, tripping over a stultified married man rocking in the doorway. Solidarity is one thing, but sorry chap, you're on your own today.

Desperate for something to stop the shaking, you head for the coffee shop. Yes, yes, nothing would give you greater pleasure than the mulled-skinny-mincepie-lattechino, with a marzipan float. Just make it hot..........£4.60, lovely old job.

As the trembling subsides, you open the bag to savour your victory........a shiny label glints mocking you in the neck of the present..........SIZE 8 !......but the hangar said size 12, you know it did, you checked twice !

Fuck Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007


Suddenly realised that we are only a few days away from Christmas, and just for a change, I have not even started to do the cards/buy pressies/get rations.

I really do seem to leave it later and later every year to get a grip. I think that one day I will actually wake up on the day and think "Oh shit".

The fact that it was only yesterday that work/school was resumed by the household, after the plague finally cleared up a bit, has not helped. However, Amazon will no doubt be pleased to hear from me tonight !

How about you lot ?

I bet you're all organised. Stuff under the tree, cards in the post etc..........

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Intelligence or coincidence ?

Wandered past this little scene yesterday.

Can they read ?

Did they think it was an offer of free accommodation ?

Made me chuckle for about an hour.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Potato Eater

I was in Amsterdam when I made this picture. More specifically I was in the Van Gogh museum.

If the owners of dogs subconsciously pick animals that they themselves resemble, do people who look like they belong in a painting subconsciously gravitate to art galleries ?

Monday, 26 November 2007

So I'm sitting here............

sort of sniveling and coughing, in that involuntary "this is ridiculous, I can't stop myself spluttering like a twat" way, when I happen across this image from way back in June.

A nice warm glow ensued.

Herself and the kids are still huddling together in the kitchen, and the large red 'unclean' cross which has been painted on the Lounge door, is still dripping blood like onto the hall carpet, but I don't care 'cos I have my pictures to keep me warm.

Monday already

So, the main event since the studio became officially open, has been my newly developed technique of painting while sneezing/squinting/coughing. Interestingly enough, snot appears to slow down the drying of certain pigments..........I don't think it will catch on, but it has opened up a whole new world green hues...................

The image is a work in progress. It's a big seascape, inspired by the winds and storms of the last couple of weeks.

If you are round and about, come in and have a coffee; the C21 shop, 38 High Street Mundesley. That's MUNDESLEY Sally in Norfolk ! x

Back with more soon.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Grand opening

The headache has cleared !

Thanks to all who came and supported the bash on Saturday evening, especially if you volunteered to be "portraitised"(or whatever the term is).

A couple of people came along who had read about the opening on Blog power is yet again demonstrated. Thanks to you for showing up.

On another subject entirely I have been tagged by swearing mother.


Eight things I am passionate about;

Herself and the evil ones.

Friends and Family

My work


Art in general

Music and Gin. (that counts as one)

Eight things I want to do before I die;

Paint full-time, all the time

Go back to Paris

Go back to Amsterdam

Make enough money to get the kids set up for life.

Paint a portrait of Michael Cain or Rolf Harris.

Be comfortable with the concept of being a selfish artist

Be chased up the stairs by a nymphomaniac

Own a VW Camper

Eight things I say often;

That's bollocks

Fuck right off

Who's moved my keys/hat/phone etc.

I'm not being funny, BUT.........

Of course I can paint it again in colours that match your sofa.....

I'm on my way

Oh yes, painting is SO relaxing

I didn't want to anyway

Eight books I have read recently or are still reading;

Berlin, Anthony Beevor

Trusted Mole, Milos Stankovic

Degas, by himself

Billy Bragg, The Progressive Patriot

Flags of Our Fathers, James Bradley

Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island

Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That

Sebastian Faulks, The Fatal Englishman

Eight Songs I could listen to over and over;

Paul Weller, Sunflower

U2, Beautiful Day

The Frattelis, Chelsea Dagger

The Jam, That's Entertainment

Martha and the Vandellas, Heat Wave

Stevie Wonder, Very Superstitious

Basement Jaxx, Where's Your Head At

The Cure, Lovecats

How thrilling !!!...........never been tagged before !

Friday, 16 November 2007


Trying my hand at something new. For the last few weeks I have been attending a ceramics evening class. The guy teaching it is a real gem, and hugely knowledgeable.
It is becoming apparent that I must be careful not to become obsessed. This three dimensional stuff could really get under the skin.

This piece has taken about four hours so far, and I'm hoping she'll end up a bit more attractive, but retain the strength. I don't want her to be too prissy and delicate.

I'll update with more pictures as she progresses.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Naked bravery

One of my best mates stepped in, at short notice, to model for the life drawing class last night.

I don't think the sound of a howling gale, and rain lashing against the windows, was helping her mental fortitude in the chilly village hall in which we hold the class.

I think this piece shows how she was feeling !

Monday, 12 November 2007

Time travel

A rare enforced admin day today due to the cold, wild, wet weather, and the laptop making scary wounded animal noises, 'cos of the 6 gigs of image files blocking it's electric string.

Picture the scene; me, tea, a pile of blank CDr's, a veritable sea of joy. At some point, in that trance like state that repetitive tasks induce, I found myself mentally transported back through the year.

All sorts of moments passed across the screen, dragged and dropped in groups of twenty, thirty, forty. Work, play.......other peoples work and play.......Friends and family, now taller or with different hair. Beaches and waves long since changed and dissipated. Three weddings, no funerals. Randomly or thoughtfully harvested incidents. Ghosts made as permanent as digital facsimile will allow. A visual tally of the ordinary and unusual bits of 2007, for me and mine.

I found at least fifty semi-forgotten images that could, and maybe should, make guest appearances here. This one is from Southwold, a lovely Suffolk town I maligned in a fit of pique for it's lack of a proper fish and chip shop.

I like the picture for the obvious fact of it's redundancy. The man kept walking, the moment passed.
I remember standing in the August sunshine, looking through the viewfinder at the buildings, thinking that I needed someone to walk through the frame.
With the slightly reverse deja-vu feeling that occasionally creeps up on me when I'm working, I knew someone would.
He appeared, I shot two frames, this is the second. My timing was a bit off

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Naked Saturdays........

Blatant plug, but those of you within drivable distance of here, are welcome to come and have a mosie round the new gaff on the 17th.

I'm also going to be doing some ten minute pastel portraits which you can take away with you.

Sorry if you live miles away (like Australia), you are still welcome, but I don't expect to see many of you.

If you are coming, please be aware that the title of this post is a joke.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Feet and hands

Sometimes the challenge of drawing feet and hands seems way too hard. You look and look but the eye can't make sense of how things work.....which bit goes where? that a toe? does that look like that.
Bits of this were a struggle, but I particularly like the hand.

And the arm.

Oh, and the bum.

Friday, 2 November 2007

Ebb and Flow

I don't presume to think I am in control of my destiny, but some days self delusion is easier to swallow than others.

Over the last few weeks a series of unconnected events have contrived to make life a bit too interesting.

It has become all too evident that despite adhering to the 'Six P' principle, (Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance), the random nature of the world we live in can and will cause the occasional unexpected bump in the road.

Now, I know this all sounds obtuse and a bit self-absorbed, not to mention vague and lacking in detail, but this stuff mostly involves my nearest and dearest, or cock ups of my own accidental design. Either way vague it shall remain.

Thinking of how to sort out some of this stuff, while strolling along the beach, I stumbled upon this old plastic drum stuck in the beach.
It had obviously come adrift from a set of crab gear out to sea, and ended up half full of sand, held captive at the edge of the ocean.
No longer fulfilling it's purpose, unable to drift on or sink away from sight.
A simple sad thing, under a wide blue sky.

Wednesday, 31 October 2007


One of the unexpected benefits of fatherhood is having your 12 year old son (the strawberry blonde on the left), lift your mood when you feel a bit down.

This is Sam and his mate Henry, on their way round the village to scare old ladies earlier tonight.



Tough couple of weeks. Much decorating of the new studio, (pics to follow), sudden influx of commercial photography, plus lashings of domestic trauma. Nice.
I'm getting seriously twitchy about my auction purchased Chaise Lounge...............every serious artist should have has sat idle for over a month, too much decorating going on to be used for proper painting.
I have a couple of volunteers to be the first to be painted on it, so I need to crack on.

Looks like the studio will be finished next week, which means getting into it and thrashing some paint about.

Anyhoo, back now, more regular that syrup of figs, love to all, especially if you have been nipping in and going away disappointed.

Gotta go, need to find a cravat that doesn't clash with the Chaise...........

Friday, 19 October 2007

New work

Managed to get a bit of daubing done, despite all the Dulux getting slapped on the walls in the studio.

I'm trying to work on some home-made boards, that I have covered with heavy duty canvas. This has the effect of making it very hard to paint prissy details, thus I hope freeing up the composition.

This one worked ok, gonna do some nudes and portraits as soon as the studio is finished.

Any volunteers to sit ?

It's been over a week.................

since I had a minute to post. The main reason has been this.......................the new studio is more or less redecorated and starting to take shape.

More later today.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Curves, oh yes.

On a much warmer, cuddlier note than the post below, I just lurve drawing and painting curves.

Last night, running the life drawing class with a pounding skull ache. I did two or three crappy scribbles, and then this happened.
Head much better, neck un-wound, skip in the step............the magic of curves. Proven.

That will be all.


When the dog needs a walk at, or around dawn, you see a lot of unusual stuff. For instance, this sunrise, which was actually on Sunday morning, but I only just got round to posting it.

This morning, however, was windy grey and not at all beautiful. As soon as I dragged the poor creature out of the warm kitchen, our ears tuned-in to an insistent 'ting-ting-ting-tinging' coming from the direction of the main drag.
Rounding the corner at the end of the road it became obvious what was causing the noise. At the top of the Haig Club flagpole, just visible against the still dark sky, was the Union Jack fluttering wildly and causing the lanyard to twang on the metal pole.
Well, thinks I, bet the neighbours love that. Inconsiderate wanker.........Imagine my surprise, when I cross the road and draw level with said pole, to see a bloke balancing against the forty foot flagstaff, on a small step ladder.
There he is in the dark, with a roll of black bodge tape, trying to stop the 'tinging' by taping the lanyard to the pole about ten foot up from the bottom.
Did I stop and offer help or advice ? Did I fuck. I loudly guffawed and kept on walking.

You see, it's like this; if you are going to fly a flag.....any flag.....but especially the Union flag, show some respect and do it properly.

Up at Dawn, down at Sunset.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Miss Smack

Two really good things already today;

1. Miss Smack the sassy antipodean lovely is back on the block.

2. Her nom de plume gives me a perfect excuse to post a painting with some shiny plastic in it............. Bargain.

Thursday, 4 October 2007


You can't say fairer than that.

(Pic courtesy of photogdownunder, New Zealand).

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Because he's been a good lad today.........

Here's a frame of the dog looking cute.

Dramatic skies

A good day creatively yesterday. Earlier on from the life drawing (see below), I spent the morning chasing clouds across my canvas, trying to get a feel for the sea and sky, while the clouds rolled past quietly laughing at me..................along with the gulls.

Tuesday night comes round again

Amazing how fast the weeks pass, measured by me in how quickly the Tuesday night life drawing class comes round.
We have had an influx of young students over the last two or three weeks. It's a real change for the group, as previously I was regularly the youngest person in attendance.
(Not often you can say that when you're 40 !)
Excellent news, not least because it makes paying the rent on the village hall a formality, rather than a constant worry.
Three of the new kids travel from Norwich,(an hour's drive), so their commitment can't be faulted. I think the willingness of these young people to spend time and money on life classes reflects a general return of drawing to the art student's armoury. All in all a very good thing.

Monday, 1 October 2007

Goodbye darkness my old friend

The sky was torn open by the dawn this morning.
It was as if the light moved the clouds, without any involvement from the air.
As I watched the blue-grey clouds parted to reveal the livid red and yellow scar of daylight. Beautiful, and distinctly autumnal.

Friday, 28 September 2007

Avoiding hibernation

Idly scanning through some of the photographs made this year I came upon this one. It was taken late in the spring, after a warm afternoon spent scorching meat and drinking cider.
All but one of the females present on the day are in the picture, one little girl having scampered off to my left before the shutter caught the others.
As you can see by the faces and the body language, the North Sea was not at it's tropical best.
Typing this I can just hear the ocean roaring up the beach as the wind blows it up the beach a couple of hundred yards from the front door, how quickly the intervening period we call summer has passed. The chilly Briney was briefly less so through August and September, but a glass of something warming was still the best way to recover from wetsuit clad foray into the waves.
Thinking about this has made me determined not to let the onset of autumn and winter make me hibernate.
I have found the last few winters very hard work. They have not been particularly inclement, I have just failed to deal with the lack of daylight, and the fact that shorts and sandals have to be forgone if hypothermia is not to be a constant companion.
The move to a warmer studio, with the prospect of exciting new challenges and the ability to work two minutes by iron horse from home, coupled with the need to exercise the new boy, will mean less opportunity to prevaricate.
I'm hoping the end result will be a step on for the work, and more finished vibrant canvas' for the newly available shop window.

Tuesday evening was the first time this brave woman had ever modeled for a life drawing class.
Under normal circumstances, with between four and eight regular artists attending, this would have been a slightly nerve jangling experience.
When several young students appeared, plus one of their Mum's, taking the number of people drawing to seventeen, I was getting nervous for her.
Reacting like a seasoned pro she just got on with it. Not a sign of worry, not a hair out of place.....and she has agreed to come back again soon.

I am hoping to do some bigger work of her, in paint, soon.

Dog's life

It's a long time since I had six ohstupidhundred hours starts on the bounce.
If it wasn't for the north easterly gale that's been blowing for three days, the experience would have been more amusing.

The most remarkable part of the early dog walking experience has been the occasional willingness of 'herself' to be included.
Previously blissfully unaware that 0600 even existed, her energetic out-of-bed-knickers-on-in-one-movement dismount is a wonder of fluid motion.

The muttered comment of "I'm not sure I like him that much", is betrayed as a minor porky by the sight of long blonde and short ginger rear end's forging energetically ahead of me through the wind and rain lashed streets.

On a slightly more prosaic note, I cannot recommend the pre-breakfast scooping up of dog ordure into a small plastic bag. Hardly a bowl of porridge has past my lips this week.

Oh well, all in a days work.

Monday, 24 September 2007

Meet Jack

This fella is the reason why there have been no posts over the weekend.

A year ago our dear old Staffordshire called Snorks had a stroke and had to go off to the big Kennel in the sky. She was 14 and had been a puppy when our daughter was born.
After twelve months of deliberation we decided, on seeing a picture of Jack on a re-homing charity website, to go and take a look at him.

To cut to the chase, after a 250 mile round trip to Lincolnshire, he's got a new family.

He's a darling in the house, and like all Staff's he thinks it's his job to love every person he meets. He needs a bit of work on his social skills with other dogs, but as he's only twoish I think he can be educated.

Oh yeah, he's also very handsome and knows it !

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Moving on.....

A new studio beckons. Over the next few weeks I am going to be packing up my paints, canvas' and assorted weird JuJu items and leaving the cliff top barn at Trimingham.

Two years and a couple of weeks ago, when I moved into the empty flint former threshing barn, I was taking a first step toward full-time self sufficient painting.
I have done some good work of wonderful subjects within it, and I have enjoyed the indulgent company of my landlords and their family.
I take with me memories of rattling roof tiles in winter gales, painting from reference material in two coats and a hat with frost on my palette, summer mornings with light streaming in through the door, the company of friends and models, and models becoming friends. In all, an enchanted place, although not always entirely comfortable.

The studio I move to is part of a current gallery. I am again grateful to my friends Jenny Rumens and Sally Wallace for their generosity of thought, and I hope great foresight, in asking me to join them at the C21 shop in Mundesley.

The next step begins.

The quest for the perfect five minute nude sketch continues

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

National Portrait Gallery

Frantic last few days, including a visit to the NPG.

If you can get to London, the BP portrait award stuff is magnificent.

Have a look here;

Thursday, 13 September 2007

New sketches

The top piece is a few weeks old, but I had misplaced it in the old map chest I store finished work in.
The bottom two sketches are the start of the new far, so good.


I still have real problems figuring out how you get a plant two and a half metres tall, from a seed one centimetre long.

This is my prize specimen for the year. I love growing Sunflowers because they can stand a bit of abuse. Like when I forget to water them for a couple of days, or when we have a sudden sea breeze...gusting to thirty knots.

The sparrows are starting to fly under the petals to pinch the seeds, I think the autumn is here.

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

Pristine & scarey

Thats how I feel about new sketchbooks.

Stupid really, after the first few pages, and the first poorly observed sketch, greasy mark, or coffee cup ring, a sketchbook becomes a living thing. It then has history and memories that are not solely about the sketches themselves. Vital to remember the real undertones of any scene or subject, these blemishes become at least as important as the marks made deliberately in charcoal or graphite.........But, when brand new and brooding on the shelf, the sketchbook is a perfect unmarked thing full of potential. It whispers to me, the half heard creative conscience....."Do some more work, get on with it".

I think I better bite the bullet and start the first page this evening.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

More from Blickling

From the top down;

Cultural Export by Sam Robbins

Being Buoyant on the Beach by John Midgeley

Evening Song by Sandra Hayward (left) with Partial Eclipse and Tropic of Capricorn by Nick Reynolds

Italian Landscape by Heather Tamplin

Future Fossil by Tony Eadson

Shadows on the Sea by Kit Wade


This is a piece of work entitled Shapeshifter by Harry Baker. My photograph only shows one aspect of the piece, but the more you look at it the more you see.

Go and have a look yourselves, it's at Blickling in the Secret and the Revealed show.

Wednesday, 5 September 2007

Old School

Two things happened at the life drawing class last night. I rediscovered the joy of drawing with graphite sticks, (I know, I do need to get out more), and I fell in love with Herself, AGAIN.

The show must go on

Private view tonight of "The Secret and the Revealed" at Blickling Hall.

Not feeling too nervous, mainly 'cos I'm one of thirteen participating artists so I'm only about a thirteenth as pink as I would be if it were all my work.

The Curators (Sally Wallace and Jenny Rumens), have put together a very good show. I also feel a warm fuzzy glow being asked to put my work alongside these artists;

Harry Baker
John Midgeley
Sandra Hayward
Heather Tamplin
George Simmons
Jenny Rumens
Megan Green
Kit Wade
Tony Eadson
Sue Heath
Nick Reynolds
Simon Marshall
Julia Cameron

If you are at a loose end this evening, the view starts at 5.30 and ends at about 8.00. Feel free to come along and have a snout about.

The show continues in the Hobart Gallery until the 23rd of September, Thursday to Sunday, 10.00am to 5.00pm.

The photo is one of my pieces, an installation no less !!!!
It's called Ghost Bike, a bit of a laugh but I think it looks pretty cool.
(I'll be the one at the private view wearing a Paisley cravat).

Monday, 3 September 2007

Wayside Weirdness

Wishy Washy in neon, not a description of something insipid or lacking in substance, but a late night lit up enticement to cleaner whites.

McDowells, self explanatory commercial don't-care-ism. Outstanding.

Turkey, a heady mix of eastern instinct and western avarice.