Crane Blog Copy
Crane  40x30cms



The 'demonstration' painting from the September 'Freedom in Painting' course in Polruan. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they are a beginning...I had to wait a few days for the paint to settle down - to avoid it sliding off - before I could have a proper look on the wall.

It's fresh, it's exciting, it's different, it's done. There is both a flat-space and a hierarchy of receding space. The pink-shape establishes 'foreground' and holds back the yellow. The small purple marks at the top of the canvas, and the layers of paint tucked behind each other, together (accidentally) establish 'distance'.  Beautiful paint. The crane is a lifelong motif but specific to this wonderful place. It says Polruan to me.

Pier 6 Copy
Pier   60x40cms



A continuation of the idea of 'surge', this painting has a rawness and dynamism rare in my work. That sea is an irresistable force, the orange pier frail and overwhelmed....the canvas-divide provides the only point of stability in the paint: a twisting,surging,writhing mass...uncontrollable.

Tension: the dark blue line visually holds the paint but will it physically hold the paint? Already a fat piece of blue slid off while I was watching the football.


pier 1 Copy


The beginning (1), was too static, the frozen moment akin to a photograph. The second canvas was added (2) to diminish the scale of the structure and enlarge the 'surge'. These are my daughter Faye's colours - using her leftover paint - but the canvas a perfect match. The last act was to open up the painting more by taking out the downward movement of the heavy blue line on the bottom left edge in (3).

'Pier' is a very personal motif, in my life and in my art. The title is a kind of tribute to Mondrian's wonderful 'Pier and Ocean (Composition No.10)' and I was secretly thrilled when Janie said 'where's the pier'? when I told her the title. This is a common reaction when seeing Mondrian's painting for the first time! if you know Porthleven you may recognize the front pier with its distinctive kink - here the crisp angled-line leads the eye back into the painting and forms the tip of the diamond-shape.


pier 3 Copy3


pier 4 Copy


pier 5 Copy


P28 6 Copy
Porthleven 28   70x50cms



A new photo with the Nikon - close to the truth. 

The painting works both ways. In a portrait-format, perhaps Porthleven is more defined, with the distictive flick outwards of the front pier and the harbour curving to the right ...the rose fork, now more prominent, defining the gap between piers.  As a landscape, its more of a cubist space, with viewpoints intermingled, less defined....


P28 5 Copy



A feeling the painting was slipping to the bottom-right corner - a few extra lines of movement lift the eye...always looking for a stronger piece, I tried something towards the end of the day. Harlequin...I might be will have to wait.


P28 2 Copy


P28 3 Copya.m.


I've described the end of a painting as a sequence of green lights, where each painting decision /action seems to be the right one and I think we are there or nearly there with this piece. A late night session after a couple of pints in The Ship turned this painting around. I think the large angled yellow shape in the foreground is a thing of beauty, its purity and crisp edge setting off the complexities of the paint and drawing behind. The shape came from a diamond-shaped patch of light on the studio floor. It's sunny again - unreal.

It's fafantastic to look at the painting from 20ft away, with the soundtrack of the sea. It's an art trying to get a good photo with an iphone!


P28 4 Copy



P28 1 CopyOpen Studios in The Old Lifeboat House, Porthleven



P27 CopyPorthleven 27 - (Hinge)   180x60cms


This painting is a response to the theme of 'Borders', the inaugural Newlyn Society of Artists exhibition at their new home at Tremenheere in early 2017.  The reference is how I define my work, on the 'borders' of abstraction and figuration.


TUES 7 JUNE 2016

 Far, far stronger now -  it's done. The verticality of the painting is reinforced by the stacked and levered curves and the long vertical on the right, cutting through the paint. Much more movement. Poured pinks and purples shake up the colour, setting off the greens. The canvas divide is now integral, linking to the higher horizontal of the green pier. In a discussion about the painting, Janie M McDonald, commented on how the green curve coming in from the left and the reverse curve of the purple made the painting appear hinged, 'with the possibility of flipping' where they join, as if the vertical orange strip could flip backwards and forwards 'over and over as an animation'


P275 Copy



P276 Copyin the studio


P274 Copy


I've been struggling with the shape and scale of this piece for the past few days, at 180cms is is the largest painting yet in the Porthleven series. I feel I'm getting closer with the colour and harbour-shape (4). There is greater clarity but It's looking a bit too controlled. Much has been lost: the sea has gone backwards, the red/orange is too flat and the bottom panel feels a little disconnected. I have in mind a fat, off-vertical line of force - a slightly paler turquoise with streaks of pink - that runs from top to bottom of the canvas, crashing through the gaps between the piers. It will bring life/light/movement if I get it right. I'll be re-drawing tomorrow and cutting/scraping through the paint to bring out the hidden colours and energize the surface.

P273 Copy


P272 Copy


P271 Copy

COG1 Copy
City of Glass 1     150x120cms


'City of Glass 1' was joint-prizewinner in the 2012 Canvas & Cream Art Prize, London, selected for the 2013 National Open Art Competition and shortlisted for the 2013 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.



On an earth-red base-colour, the painting began with a series of long drips, using gravity to establish the avenues, or the city blocks between the avenues. I love watching liquid paint drip downwards, the consistency of the oil-paint crucial. The drip is a mix of control and chance: the placing of its beginning is deliberate but the drips do not always flow straight, sometimes veering off to make beautiful angles. In this painting, Manhattan was deliberately de-cluttered and isolated, revealing its island-shape and its curves, beginning the dialogue with the straightness of the avenues and cross-streets. Manhattan hangs, meat-like, from the crisp structural line at the top of the painting. I've never painted blues like these before. Taking inspiration from the novel, I originally intended to introduce one of the letters that spell THETOWEROFBABEL into the painting but decided there was no need: the Upper West Side, one of the key locations in the novel*, was already emphasized, with precisely scored lines, like a blueprint. Nor was there a need to introduce a building, the new Babel: architecture was implied in the grid pattern of the streets. After all the new Babel does not exist: it is' there but not there', in the mind of the character of Stillman. The key locations in the novel are indicated by tiny green dots: it is for the viewer to become 'detective' and find the clues and links to the text.


COG1 1 Copy




COG1 5 Copy



COG1 3 Copy



COG1 4 Copy


*'The New York Trilogy' by Paul Auster