Three large harbour paintings from the 90's - 'a place can be defined by its' shape...'


'Barcelona' 180x140cms


Aircraft over Aberdeen
'Aircraft over Aberdeen'    180x120cms


San Diego
'San Diego'     180x100cms


I really liked San Diego spending a week there on my travels. The orientation is switched so that south is at the top of the painting, a subversion of 'map-truth'. The angled line is the Mexican border. It is a painting of curves with the man-made elements around the harbour picked out in tuned-up colours and straight lines and angles. In the detail below I love the interplay and repeated motif of the cranes and the harbour-arms, aerial-view and image in harmony.


san diego detail



'City of Glass 37 - (PLOT.Noun/Plot.verb)' was shortlisted and exhibited in the 2016 Lacey Contemporary Art Prize.


37CAT9 Copy



I've spoken many times about 'breaking (the perfection of) the square' - well, it's not a square now....

This is very exciting; the power and tension of the black-lines of 8th Ave and 14th St, holding the shape that wants to spin round...I've pushed the shape of Manhattan right into the corner - more plotting. Because of the orientation of the canvas, the original drips now become a subversive, subtle pattern of angled lines beneath the transparent paint. I think it might be done.

Mysterious doorway.

'Hello Mondrian..' would make a good title, though he wasn't fond of green! (or curves)


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This goes back to something I was looking at during Open Studios last year when this painting and 'City of Glass 33 - (Buried)' were in very early stages.


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I have used the idea of the controlling vertical in a shaped canvas before in 'Porthleven 13', (below), the only circular canvas that has worked and that I've kept.


Porthleven 13 30cms diameter
'Porthleven 13'


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detail- City of Glass 37


City of Glass 37
in progress


 37cat8 Copy


Early days but I already have a title- the relationship with words is so important in this series wirh its' source in text*

Love the multiple meanings of the word 'Plot':

plot as in narrative, plot as in conspire, plot as in plan or map....

In the novel, Quinn plots Stillman's walks onto a street-map of New York

In turn, in City of Glass 6 and 35, I have 'plotted' Quinn's walk described on pages 106-112...

In the act of painting, I have 'plotted' the grid of New York, already several times in this piece, to establish the angle, scale and position of Manhattan within the canvas , looking for the strongest composition.

My 'plot 'is for the Manhattan shape, once established, to be painted entirely with layers of transparent colours, giving the appearance of coloured-glass.....


*'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster

City of Glass 36 The Force of Chance 120x100cms
'City of Glass 36 - (The Force of Chance)'   120x100cms


Time to look at this again now the paint is dry. It's not enough but it's exciting. The title came to me in my sleep, or lack of. There is deliberation and control in the selection of colours, the liquidity/consistency of the paint, the placement and concentration of the drips, (to establish the avenues of Manhattan), but how the drips run, how they behave, is down to chance.

The exploration and manipulation of chance is at the core of Paul Auster's story 'City of Glass'* which inspired the series.

This is a beautiful painting, but a drip is a drip and I see connections in the language to the work of Jackson Pollack, Ian Davenport, Bridget Riley. If I choose to take the painting further, it will inevitably go backwards before going forwards, but this decision, this risk, is what painting is about: it there are any questions, any doubts one must take the plunge into the unknown.

*from 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster

Village Green new
'City of Glass 34 - Village Green)'    70x70cms


City of Glass 34 - (Village Green) was 'Selected Not Hung' in the 2016 RWA Open.


4.30 p.m.

More clarity by extending pink border/frame to top corner. Is this it?

2 p,m.

I think I'm there. I am enjoying the reworked shapes and the warmer colours that were introduced- the earlier version below felt too crude, the palette cold, cold, cold. There is an in-and-outness about the grid that I like- sometimes linear and forward, other times 'shape' and locked, with colour creating the space. The rectangle of Washington Square is now strong, tucked amongst the pinks in the bottom right corner. The green is based a Michael Harding paint, Bright Green Lake- beware! The top section is indulgence - I enjoyed making this mark. The gestural paint and blue slash continues the movement of the fast pink marks on the right around the canvas, helping isolate the painting within a painting, the large shape of the grid.

Denise wasn't sure about the painting, thinking it too complicated, and suggested taking out the line of 8th Ave, below 23rdSt. It's made a great difference, opening up the painting and revealing the green semi-circle more. The different thing about this painting? Not a single drip.

Quinn's walk from the novel is there*: initially a strong dotted line, I've gone for subtle. There is a trace if you know where to look (see description below)

'Village Green' is quintessentially English: do New Yorkers use the phrase?


COG35 Village GreenSunday
In progress - 'City of Glass 35 - (Village Green)' 70x70cms


This much worked canvas has had many lives but never gained priority or favour. A sparse, abstract demonstration painting from the Portheven workshop tentatively became a painting about Porthleven itself before becoming an enjoyment of colour, shape and paint, with that first exercise providing the palette.

To be honest I didn't know what to do with it but seeing it on the wall after a break of a few weeks, with fresh eyes, I immediately hooked onto the pink triangle, my entry into the latest City of Glass painting. It is the 'Chelsea Triangle', formed by 24th St, and 11th and 12th Aves which I seem to have highlighted in many of the paintings in the series. My first thought was to balance the triangle with the green rectangle of Washington Square in the bottom right corner, hence the title. I'll have to fix the shape and make it a powerful green to take attention away from the pink triangle, still, in my eyes, the dominant element in the painting.

I like how the quadrilateral sits within the square, with faster marks and movement around. Organic shapes undermine the severity of the grid and the less-disciplined streets below 14thSt gives scope for angles, zigzags, real and fictitious, giving more movement.

Washington Square features in the novel, part of Quinn's meticulously described walk on pages 106-112. ...down 5th Ave to the Flatiron Building, west along 23rdSt, left down 7th Ave to Sheridan Square, then along Waverley place to Washington Square.

Quinn's walk will be plotted on the painting- it has to be there, it just a question of how strong or subtle it has to be in terms of the painting.

Here we go.

*'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster

City of Glass 34 watch that man
'City of Glass 34 - (Watch that man...) 120x100cms



I have redrawn the left-side of face again & also added a very subtle line of the chin. There is a definite twist to the face now, less flat. I am enjoying the composition - how the West Side follows the angle of the face and how the bulge of Chelsea is echoed by the left ear. Two more City of Glass paintings on the go now, one I started a while ago, the other with the working title 'Village Green'. Watch this space.


A few subtle changes to the Bowie outline- it now seems more varied, more interesting and truer to the image. I also added a couple of small piers on the West Side to disrupt the verticals. Listening to Young Americans. The intersection of 5th Ave and 14th St is very powerful, an unintended piece of symbolism. This painting is right on the edge.


A tribute to David Bowie, a hero...the iconic outline of Aladdin Sane becomes the framing rivers of Manhattan. The outline is not quite right, it's a little crude,a little obvious. I may re-draw tomorrow.Or not.

Choosing the title for the piece was very difficult but critical- some were obvious, others more subtle: 'Hero', 'Starman', '285 Lafayette St', '(1913-1938-197?)', 'Millions weep a fountain..'.

I've gone for 'Watch that man...' with it's dual reference: we were all watching Bowie, wondering what he would do next.

The novel 'City of Glass'* is all about watching that man...

'Watch That Man' is, of course, the opening track of Aladdin Sane..

Emotion, image, place, was more ambiguous than David Bowie. 'Ambiguous' comes a close second as a title...




285 Lafayette St


detail 5


in the studio

* from 'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster