Sunday, July 13, 2014


Some smaller studies done mostly in my sketchbooks - all from life. The immature Gryfalcon was seen at a wildlife art show some years back, first drawn from life then the above study finished in the studio.

Studies of an immature American Crow drawn via a telescope from my studio. The Greylag Goose done from a waterfowl collection in the UK.

This feather found on a walk near where I live, most likely from a Red-shouldered Hawk. They breed in the nearby woods and are almost always seen when we go that way. In spring their shrill and loud calling comes from high up in the sky as they soar over our home proclaiming their territory.

These unusual seed pods are from the Sweetgum Tree (Liquidambar stryaciflua). A mature tree grows just up the street and later in the year, these pods lie scattered all over the ground, the small seeds are inside and come out if you shake the pod.  Would love to rake up a few hundred and use them in the garden as mulch - they have a fascinating structure and invite closer study. All these studies done in watercolor - sizes vary.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014


I was wandering about outside one morning after a night of snow and saw this unusual cloud formation. Since there was only a light wind, I was able to work in comfort and completed the sky first working quickly while the cloud pattern was still fresh in my mind. Most of these smaller paintings I try and finish outside but sometimes as in this case, the painting was completed in the studio. Mostly this consisted of the finer details in the trees and grasses etc but I also touched up the sky in places. There is a strong horizontal feeling to this work, the bands of thin cloud are echoed in the foreground by the grasses and to a lesser extent, the patterns in the snow. Oil on canvas, 9" x 12" (23cm x 30cm). Private collection.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Living as I did in Hong Kong, some aspects of life there are synonymous with the character of the place - such as the hustle of Kowloon, the busy streets full of cars, people and buses, the trams running through Central, street hawkers and jay walkers, and over and around the skyscrapers of Hong Kong Island - Black Kites. Seen year round, they are almost always floating overhead or flapping about just offshore looking for tidbits on the ocean waves. They have for me become part of the landscape there and I never tire of watching them. They bred on Lamma Island where I lived and the nest was nearby so I could study them at leisure. Often I would be up at dawn watching and waiting for their first flight of the day and this was the feeling that I tried to get into this painting. The upward thrust of the rocks leads (naturally) to the bird which I feel is just about to launch off into flight. I kept the colours muted and harmonious to tie the piece together using many washes of watercolor to obtain this. The size is 22" x 15" (56cm x 38cm). Private collection.

Saturday, June 21, 2014


I'll be showing new paintings at the Summer Exhibition at McBride Gallery in the Maryland State Capitol, Annapolis this weekend. The show runs until July 20 and my Summer Morning figure study shown in the previous post is on the poster advertising the exhibition. Address is: 215 Main Street, Annapolis. 410-267-7077. Their website has more info plus some of my paintings -

I did the above plein air painting last week walking down to the lake on two consecutive mornings as I couldn't quite finish the painting on the first day. The light was changing quite quickly so I only had about an hour and a half each time. My focus was on the strip of sun-lit grasses in the foreground as well as the reflections. The work does perhaps lack a focal subject but is a good starting point for future studies and I am already thinking of a new larger painting based on this scene with perhaps egrets or a heron. Size is 8" x 10" (20cm x 26cm). Oil on canvas.

Friday, June 13, 2014


Here is the final painting, quite a change from how it looked in the last post I know. I thought that I had another pic of the painting between this and the previous stage but I seem to have lost that photo. Anyway, a lot of the more subtle tones are not coming through in this pic and blogger has made the left side of the painting darker than it should be, in the actual work there is a much more subtle gradation towards the light on that side. Anyway, I'm really glad that I have finally finished this one as the actual painting took ages and I found it quite difficult to get the feeling I was after. So now onto the other paintings that I have in the studio plus I am thinking of working on a completely new series - more on that later. 'Summer Morning', watercolor on Arches paper, 15" x 22" (38cm x 56cm).

Monday, June 9, 2014


Quite some time had passed by the time I came back to this painting and still not having a decent idea for the background, I eventually decided on some pillows. A wash of textured paint was put down over the background leaving the lighter areas of the pillows. When that had dried I started laying washes on the pillows themselves creating more texture, but after awhile decided that this was not what I wanted so the painting was once again put aside - this time for even longer! Coming back to the work later and making a final effort to finish the painting, I added yet more color washes to the figure. Almost there now but I knew that when I had painted in the hair, I would still have to slightly adjust the overall tones for a better balance. Next, I repaint the background, the covering and finally finish the figure.


Working with the human figure can be very demanding especially when working in a realistic style of painting. This approach demands accuracy so a slow and careful approach is called for. One needs to combine accurate drawing with correct skin tones for the work to be successful so it was with this in mind that I started the painting seen here done on stretched watercolor paper. I positioned the model slightly to the left of center which allowed a little more space in front of her. Once an accurate drawing was in place, I started to lay on washes of pale reddish orange greyed slightly with sepia. This process continued for some time until I thought that I was getting close to the final skin tone then I added some details around the feet and hands. The sheer material that the model was wearing had some pale blue flowers embroidered into the pink so those details were also put in using a fine brush and cobalt blue. Next, more color to the figure plus I try adding the background.