City of Glass 40 Riverside Park
'City of Glass 40 - (Coat of Paint))' 60x30cms



COG 3940 CopyCity of Glass 39 - (Prophecy)                                           City of Glass 40 - (Coat of Paint)



A change of title, a more intriguing title that references the physicality of this piece, the act of painting and Tom Waits' song, 'New Coat of Paint', from 'The Heart of Saturday Night' one of my favourite and most played albums in the studio.


'City of Glass 40 - (Riverside Park)'

A colour-exercise (1), preparing for the 'RED' workshop in Canterbury, becomes a painting. If there is red there is green, hence the unplanned title. If you are familiar with the novel*, Stillman, (and of course Quinn who is tailing him), spends a lot of time wandering in Riverside Park.

Following the method of 'City of Glass 39 - (STILLMANBABEL)', Stillman was 'built' over the armature of a wooden tower (of Babel). Once again the intention was to remove the tower during the process but stuff happens - I felt no need. Another bald Stillman- in (2) he has lost his head! Next time I'll give him some hair.



*'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster

Cape Cod the Islands
'Cape Cod & the Islands' 60x80cms


At the midway point of my journeys around US on the Boise Travel Scholarship*, Denise came over for a couple of weeks and we drove to New England visiting Cape Cod, Nantucket and up the coast to Maine. After an aborted attempt to get a studio in New York, I took up the offer of working in the barn of sculptor Jon Isherwood in upstate New York. a great friend from Canterbury College of Art. The location was idyllic, with a view of the Catskills through the barn door. Jon and Helen were great hosts and critics too. An intense two months period of working followed, a critical period in my career. I was prolific, twenty odd paintings, including several large canvases. I worked in oils so had to return to the US a year later to build a crate around the paintings, before shipping them back to England. My experiences in the US continued to inspire my work, becoming the 'A m e r i c a s c a p e s' series which was shown at the Woodlands Gallery, Morley Gallery and the Michael West Gallery.

'Cape Cod & the Islands' was shown at the Royal academy Summer Exhibition in 2011. Fall colours,... boat-shaped Nantucket sails out of the painting....enjoying the range of paint, the journey from the flat wash in the top left through to the dense mass/weight of paint, colour, marks in the waters of Rhode Island. (below). Powerful in a different way is the second area of focus, the tiny pink tip of Cape Cod pulsating against the blue sea....the Atlantic shoreline is broken, water seeps into the land creating movement...


Detail Cape Cod


Zooming in on Cape Cod in the next the colours of the water and the curved corner, echoing the shape of Cape Cod and the hook of Provincetown. The painting has an ambiguous space, the aerial viewpoint subverted by the receding scale of the boats, which help make Cape Cod almost vertical and sculptural. strangely anchored at the base.


Cape Cod700
'Cape Cod' 90x70cms


A colour-reversal in 'Nantucket': a mass of red-sea, perhaps influenced by Jon's barn where it was made. Colour and imagery are kept simple to highlight the amazing shape of the island- boat, sea-creature, moving through the water...


'Nantucket' 168x206cms


Two more favourite New England paintings from the 'Indian-Yellow' period! In 'New England', I particularly like the meandering outline of Maine against the lemon-sky (Canada). This painting has disappeared.

We never got to to Two Bush Island, I just liked the name. The painting is playful: location, image and the curious painter's space tucked behind the lighthouse.


New England
'New England' 60x50cms


Two Bush Island Light Maine
'Two Bush Island Light, Maine' 25x35cms

* from the Slade School of Art

COG 39 Prophecy Copy
City of  Glass 39 - (Prophecy)  60x30cms


It's taken a while but we have a new title.......



A few new touches that seem that seem to make the painting stronger. The orange line lifts the eye to the top of the painting: there was a nagging suspicion that the tower had to be higher - no need for that now. The orange line slightly squeezes the space between the top of the painting and the head and draws attention away from the head which I think works. I've also tidied up the top of the tower making it sharper, stronger and the paint around the bottom left of the overcoat which was getting a bit murky. Touch of orange in the brown too. Fiddled a bit with the hand that looks like a club in image below! The title still not definite..I may know more when I've finished the second one..


I took out a heavy brushmark from the bottom left of the coat and refined the shape of the tower by carving out the 'ziggurat' steps at the top. Much stronger now...there are traces, residues, marks of interest within the tower, not sure there is any need for the island....might have to change the title, perhaps 'Obsession' Thinking about putting thin horizontal band on the top edge to squeeze the space with the top of the head and also lift the tower. Or put in a spire/radio tower cutting thru the collar..we'll see...

'City of Glass 39 - (Prophecy)' 60x30cms


I couldn't wait..the reveal...odd, exciting....just dealing with it at the moment... might take out the heavy outline, lose the figure a little or lose the blue or the figure entirely then re-draw the figure inside the tower...

COG 39 The Reveal2


Stronger drawing- love the curve of the back- and better browns that are starting to do something with the blues. Denise and I are missing the grey. I've run out of quick-dry medium so shall have to wait longer before the tower is removed. I have a same size canvas- lets do another one. This is quite a small piece- 60x30cms- perhaps i need to do one life-size...the purity of the early version (1) is still my favourite..


The 'City of Glass' series*, is dominated by three elements:the Tower of Babel, the island-shape of Manhattan and the figure of Stillman. Several of the paintings include two of the three elements, the idea behind this piece is to include all three.

I started off with a straightforward representation of the familiar motif of Stillman. I was thinking about the sequence of 'Weeping Woman' paintings in the Edvard Munch exhibition at Tate Modern a couple of years ago, with the bowed head almost crushed by the low ceiling. Its' literalness was disrupted by smudge and disguise and a pour of blue and then by the introduction of the tower, made from wooden strips. A beautiful grey.

Then the figure of Stillman was re-introduced (2) - apologies for the brown, it's just Pollyfilla, building up the bulk of Stillman as I work out the composition. The painting tries to replicate the claustrophobia of the Munch paintings, the figure trapped by the four sides of the canvas. The plan, reviving a past process, is to remove the tower at some future point, to leave behind it's negative shape, seemingly carved out of the back of Stillman. Then we can work on the island-shape of Manhattan within that outline. Time to work.

COG 39


City of Glass 39


Weeping Woman Edvard Munch
'Weeping Woman'     Edvard Munch

*inspired by 'The New York Trilogy', a novel by Paul Auster

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.


 DSC 0093web


 DSC 0096web


 DSC 0097web


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'


DSC 0005web
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