Sunday, December 25, 2011

Annual Review: Flickr, Blogger, Facebook, Saachi, Deviantart, Art and Artists



The year has essentially been good, with a decent level of production, some sales and positive gallery contacts in Edinburgh.

In terms of quality, the work varies. Art is not craft, nor is it decoration: it's an experimental research, and the products of any artist necessarily vary in quality. A percentage of work -even whole weeks or months- can be spent in futile searches. This is not enjoyable, but the alternative is to lean into insipidity or mere craftsmanship.

This year, however, has consolidated somewhat: when I began blogging a couple of years ago I was in a very uncertain phase, trying many new media, and techniques, and themes, in an attempt to find my feet.

I elected to follow the path of "itinerant painter", humbly in the footsteps of painter-heroes such as Turner and Lear. I felt that this would be a way to combine the pleasures of travel, of observation, of personal reflection with the delight of painting, and allow me to escape from private ruminations, which are rarely, in truth, of much interest to anyone else, even when lent artistic form. With this role, I joyfully visited Italy, Malta, am touring Brazil, and will, in February, go to London, Scotland and Tunisia. 

Ergo, over the last year, I have been considerably more focused on painting "pochades": portable small paintings about the sises of postcards, or even smaller.

My production, naturally, varies in quality: there are a fair proportion of "duds": at least 15%. There are works which are, I think exemplary, perhaps one in thirty , and then there is the grey mass, whose quality is never easy to discern.

It can be said that making very bad painting is better from an learning perspective than making mediocre ones, in that they illustrate faults with much less ambiguity. Contrawise, when things "go right", I always hate that touched by the hand of God feeling, which both athletes and artists share on rare, brilliant days: such instances teach nothing, even as they lend moments of ecstasy.

Like many artists, I possess a "blind spot" when it comes to judging my own work: things which seem wonderful to me on the day of painting, on the next appear meretricious. Others, which I dismissed soon after making, later seem to possess some interest. 


This site remains excellent for attracting new viewers. The fact that I can show my work in various virtual groups allows me to find new followers. The site is elegant and easy to use.

There are 545 followers,  up from 454 last year.


I have been posting here steadily, with commentaries. I went through a period of posting film reviews on here too: later I came to the conclusion, from reading other online film reviews, that I have little or nothing to add to the good work done by many well known critics, my own opinions really differing little from theirs. Ergo, I slowly stopped publishing my reviews.

The indexing system is superb, allowing : rapid thematic connection between postings. Choosing keywords is not easy: too general and it is useless, an too specific fill fail to connect one post with another. Should there be separate keywording for "sea" and "sea painting" for instance? But, as my blog develops, which keywords are useful will become more obvious.

So now the site concentrates almost entirely on my own art production.

There are  now 59 followers, up from 43: I rarely get feedback though Blogger, however.


I've been showing work here steadily through the year. It is quite effective as it bridges social networks and art sites. I recommend it. It has been good for generating sales and interest. I have  "friends"- few of who met me there specifically to follow my work.


This inelegant and fussy site is not much good- I think it''s primarily aimed at teenagers. I have now 39 followers, up from 10 last year.


I have found this site utterly useless in terms of making contacts with other artists, rarely receiving comments or any interest whatsoever. My feeling is that it attracts strictly careerists, and they have little notion of community. I will probably stop posting here.

Art and Architecture

I have joined this site a few days ago. Let's see how it goes:

I feel a broad sympathy with it's objectives, though it isn't elegant.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The mountain, Palhoça; miniaturism

The mountain, Palhoça, oil on card, 11.7 / 14.7 cm

Palhoça is one of those towns on the periphery of Florianopolis, like so many satellite towns in other Brazilian cities, so undistinguished that is it difficult to know quite why it exists.

But there is the mountain: undeniable, like the mountains in Poussin, rendering all below to insignificance.

Further thoughts on miniaturism, and small painting- notably the observations that the act of painting small seems happily to place one in opposition to bombast -as I write, as my country idiotically flings money at that costly, grandiose, pea-brained extravagance called the Olympic Games, giving good taxpayers money on ephemeral kitsch while cutting vital assistance for people with severe disabilities.

More pertinently, have not most art lovers at some point in their pilgrimages found themselves wandering with  dulled eyes through vast chambers in European Galleries and Palaces, uncharmed by endless rows of joyless gigantic Baroque paintings, extolling this or that official virtue, lined up in great halls in European galleries and palace, to find themselves suddenly delighted by a small and intimate painted voice?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Road-building 2, Lagoa; travel painting: my secret shame

Road-building, oil on card, 15 / 12 cm

A particularly shimmering day, God-made with Velázquez, perhaps.

This is the second of an open and occasional series tracing the building of this new suburban development being constructed on some heathland, which I had previously painted.

This time I am again on the rise, but about two hundred metres further over from the road.


My secret shame as a painter of landscapes and whose work is increasingly dependent on travel, is that I dislike travel itself.

I don't like the actual processes of travel, apart from trains or the buying of tickets and planning as I find I find this stressful. I have generalised worries that something is going to go wrong. I don't like having to speak foreign languages and I feel nervous in new places. I am suspicious of all strangers, especially if they want to help me. I don't like hotels and hostels and I don't like strange food. I worry continually about being robbed or losing something. I resent paying huge sums for simple items and consumables. I don't like being alone for long periods and I don't like losing my routines.

In short, I am a pitiful traveller.

Quite what the solution to this is, I don't know, though I have found that the best thing is to imagine a worst case scenario ( robbed and gang raped in the mountains of Tunisia, reads the headline in the Daily Mail, perhaps), then judge the likelihood of this, then place all the other pettier worries on a sliding scale, to illustrate their triviality.

The benefits gained in terms of inspiration well exceed these caveats.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Ostrich, oil on card, 13.5 / 10.8 cm

Painted at the north of the island- thanks to César and Angela for letting me use their balcony.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Praia Joquina: lifeguard; exhibition

Praia Joaquina: lifeguard, oil on card, 12 / 14.9 cm

I am thinking of having a little show consisting only of sea paintings. There are about 30 little ones in total. I wondered whether this might be monotonous, or whether the narrowness of theme could have the opposite effect, by encouraging comparisons.

I laid out the thirty paintings and they are not too bad, though I feel that it is probably better to present a smaller selection, say 12, because the eye gets weary, and showing too many things can have a cheapening effect.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Santo Amaro de Imperatriz from above

Santo Amaro de  Imperatriz from above, oil on card, 11.2 / 13.5 cm

Another Saturday visit  to this beautifully located little town, which I love to paint.

I wish I could easily go and see some of Kokoschka's or Bomberg's paintings. Seeing things online is only really good as a reference and both were fellow itinerants, painting places from above.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Road-building I, Lagoa

Road-building, Lagoa, oil on card, 13.5 / 12.5 cm

A new suburban area being contstructed where previously lay heathland.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The lake from Ishbel's house

The lake from Ishbel's house, oil on card, 13.5 / 12 cm

The first of a little run of pictures from this beautiful house.

Many thanks to Ishbel for letting me work here, and for giving me lunch.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Nocturne: in a new suburb

Nocturne: in a new suburb, oil on card, 12 / 8.7 cm

Welcome to the new Florianopolis: faceless blocks showing little imagination, with few green spaces, and little to delight. How do people remember which block is theirs?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Entrance to a salvage yard

Entrance to a salvage yard, oil on card, 14.5 / 12 cm   SOLD

Painted in São José, among a network of streets where dilapidation is the norm. There seem to be a huge number of businesses devoted to car tyres in these run-down areas, these interzones, where towns becomes highways.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Poplars, Rio Tavares

Poplars, Rio Tavares, oil on card, 12 / 14.5 cm

Quite hot: delightful to drive down these back roads, to sit painting in the car, listen to Bach and then have a wonderful Brasillian kilo lunch.

It doesn't get much better.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Popular housing, Saco Grande

Popular housing, Saco Grande, oil on card, 14.2 / 12 cm

The dog decided to lie in the middle of the road: it disappeared when the drizzles came on.

A heavy day, pregnant with rain, lending that luminous light, which I perhaps haven't quite captured.

I am becoming more and more interested in the movements of people, making these poorer, car free places much more fun to work in.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Early evening

Early eveing, Lagoa, oil on card, 11.3 / 13.1 cm

Painted down in Lagoa

I tend to alternate between urban themes and nature. I fear obvious beauty...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A poor neighbourhood

A poor neighbourhood, oil on card, 11.7 / 14 cm   SOLD

Painted behind the Havan store, Sao Jose.

As far as painting goes, these poorer areas are considerably more interesting than middle-class condo-land. There's a variety of buildings, in a range of colours, some of which seem to be ever in a state of construction and addition and people can be seen to be doing things, their lives not shut away behind doors.

There can still be found in Brazil considerable areas of cities taken up by the sort of repair shops, little restaurants, pubs, and stores that are the subject of some of Atget's photo series. In Brazil these are always at least slightly askew and brightly coloured. I think it would be fascinating for a child to grow up in such an environment. I feel dismay when I see emerge the new Brasil of identikit shopping malls and insipid ready made condominiums.

I feel nervous painting in such neighbourhoods though, sensing a close potential for disorder (I feel much the same about Brixton in London) - although the people who approached me were pleasant (much as they have been to me when painting in Brixton too) one kindly advising me that I had left my car lights on. Some of that nervousness is present in the picture, I think.

Working from the car, observing, painting seems voyeuristic and impolite but it is safer and more comfortable: if I'd known someone in the neighbourhood to introduce me it would have been better.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Two more from near Santo Amaro de Imperatriz

 Carriers, with matches for scale: there is considerable perspective distortion here, but at least it gives an impression of scale.

Animals in a field, oil on card, 14.5 / 12.5 cm  SOLD

I drove out to the splendid countryside about 20 miles from Florianopolis.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Houses on the way the Joaquina beach; December Santa Catarina Road trip

Houses on the way the Joaquina beach, oil on card, 14.1 / 10.4 cm  SOLD

Painted some weeks ago: I don't know why, but I didn't feel great about it at the time, partly because I had some problems getting a decent photo.


I'm gearing myself up for a great December Santa Catarina road trip- from Florianopolis to the west and back. A week spend driving (very slowly as I dont like driving for much more than 200 miles a day), stopping here and there for painting and to streach my legs. Then all the way back.

I think to drive to Sao Miguel do Oeste via Lages, Curitibanos, Concordia  and Chapecó, and to return through São Lourenço, Caçador, Santa Cecilia, Rio do Sul and Timbo. But none of this is set in stone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Campeche, oil on card, 14.5 / 11.5

Painted from the dunes: I almost stood on a huge li

Monday, November 14, 2011

Two Brazilians walk along the highway, a dog forages


Two Brazilians walk along the highway: a dog forages, oil on card, 12.5 / 14.5 cm  SOLD

A rather Nordic- specifically Norwegian- style: the dog came in part homage to Frédéric Glorieux, a French painter with an affection for animals.

Today was heavy and close, refusing to rain: you feel tired and hopeless on such days, wishing the air would clear. I watched an excellent film called "The Road".

I must sort some kind of plan for Christmas.It will be dismal to rot here. Perhaps I can drive somewhere?


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Timber yards off SC 401

Timber yards off SC 401, oil on card, 9.5 / 11 cm

A small painting: I love the intimacy and intensity that you can get when working small.

I like the play that comes when between painting great themes on a small scale: a sort of psychological game linked to miniaturisation, where the viewer has to "peer in".

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Nocturne: night walkers' song

Night-walkers' Song: oil on card, oil on card, 11.2 / 14 cm

The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night walkers' song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

From Byzantium by William Butler Yeats 


Monday, November 7, 2011

Portait of a Russian Woman; free pictures

Portait of a Russian Woman, oil on canvas, 73 x 60 cm

One of six portraits that were painted in the same corner of a flat in Maida Vale, London, about ten years ago. At the time, my notion was to create a huge series (very Perec-ian, perhaps), featuring many different sitters: life, however, got in the way.

At the time I was into portraiture, having had the notion of making a career of it. But I discovered that I lacked dependable accuracy in drawing likenesses. I was especially poor at depicting women, partly because my painting style was so angular that they appeared, literally, hatchet-faced.

I am sending this one to France, along with a nbumber of other paintings. It's great to find homes for pictures which have been sitting in storage: paintings should be seen and enjoyed.

Ergo, should readers see things they like here or on Flickr- particularly larger things, and want them, please let me know and I will send them to you if you pay the postage, packing, and handling costs.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Builders Yards near the turn-off to Santa Antonio

Builders Yards near the turn-off to Santa Antonio, oil on card, 13.5 x 11.5 cm

Painted from the car- a beautifully sunny day, almost too hot for comfort.

I also drove around Ratones, an interesting, quiet area which looks ideal for painting- the road winds and undulating, there are few tourists, horses graze.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

São Paulo

From the Cinelândia Hotel, oil on card, 11.2 x11.6cm

Well, I spent most of last week visiting galleries in São Paolo, hoping to find someone to help show my work. Perhaps I got a lead, but I am not optomistic. I am not sure why it is so difficult here: my pictures are selling and are accessable. Perhaps it is simply that there isn't much of a market here, and this makes dealers nervous.

São Paolo is a loathesome place: a brutalised environment with no end of beggers and homeless people. It is highly polluted and I became ill there almost immediately.

However, there is a nice collection of paintings in the USP Muesum of Contemporary Art, itself located in a fine park. I liked seeing the calm Morandis and wonderful Pancetti.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pochade carriers; São Paulo; February 2012: Tunisia, London and Scotland: places to paint

Pochade carriers: there are forty odd. I'm going to São Paolo this week to see if I can find a gallery to represent me. I need to make a few more of these carriers for the coming trips. People seem to find the carriers quite charming.


I shall be there for fourteen days. Following from my experience of previous trips, for painting it is better to stay in than stay somewhere for three or four days than to travel around a lot, because then you can then take your time more to see what is really worth painting. Also you lose less time with changing hotels and so forth. I think therefore to stay in Tunis and in Sousse perhaps with a trip down to the south somewhere such as Matmata.

Tunisia is not huge, so crossing it from north to south can, I guess, be done in a day.

Perhaps (not in order):

1. Carthage
2. Grande mosque
3. Dougga 
4. Sidi Bou Said 
5. Holy city of Kairouan
6. Matmata- wonderful buildings
7. El Djem amphitheatre
8. Sousse- the Medina


It is sure to be utterly freesing. The cold, however isn't what makes painting in Britain difficult, it's the fact that the weather changes rapidly, so no sooner have you started a picture than you have to restart it!

I'll go to Rosslyn Chapel, and if I can, from Edinburgh, some scenes from Carlton Hill. Also the spectacular Dean Bridge.


I'll continue to explore along the river. The reason for this is that its relatively easy to work there, there are fine views and the light is good. there aren't cars blocking the way either.

I'll also try to do something from the north of side of Notting Hill. I love the big stucco buildings. I love the rise of Ladbroke Grove, it's elegant Victorian planning and garden squares.

The difficulty is finding a good place to view it: an apartment with a good view, perhaps: can any readers help?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

White herons

White herons, oil on card, 13 x 9.3 cm

This picture represents something of a breakthrough for me, not in any particular respect other than general fluency.

Painted near the junction of SC403 and the turn-off for Santo Antonio de Lisboa.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The end of a lane


The end of a lane, oil on card, 14 x 10.4 cm

Painted in Trindade:  very high key colours for me.

I am trying to play around more with thicknesses of paint, taking cues from Morandi and the Saint Ives artists- whose work I have always found very slight. But perhaps in the specific aspect of textures it can offer something to me.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The black flag

 With my hand for scale

The Black flag, oil on card, 12 x 9.3 cm

Painted down at Saco dos Limões.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Warehouses, an office and a water tower

Warehouses, an office and a water tower, oil on card, 14.5 x 12cm

Painted from the car on one of those beautiful sunny days that somehow serve to worsen my depressions. 

These are some of the buildings that line the SC-401. I think of the style of this picture as owing something to Morandi.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Praia Mole- a bright day; London, Tunisia and Scotland


Praia Mole- a bright day, oil on card, 11 x 13cm   NOT FOR SALE

I have bought my tickets for the UK and Tunisia in February. 

The weather is likely to be cold in the UK: if it snows I shall be happy as painting things in the whiteness is so delightful. I shall be in Scotland and in London.

If you are there and wish to meet, drop me a line.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Landscape near Vargem Grande

Landscape near Vargem Grande, oil on card, 12.5 x  10.5 cm  SOLD

Another "Dutch" -or perhaps English- landscape, from off the BR-301.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tall pines

Tall pines, oil on card, 13.7 x 10.7cm

They appear to bevlearing the land here, presumably for housing. After I painted it I thought "Hobbema!", specifically the famous Avenue at Middelharnis in London's National Gallery.

There is a fine song by The Band called Whispering Pines:

If you find me in a gloom, or catch me in a dream
Inside my lonely room, there is no in between
Whispering pines, rising of the tide
If only one star shines
That's just enough to get inside
I will wait until it all goes 'round
With you in sight, the lost are found
Foghorn through the night, calling out to sea
Protect my only light, 'cause she once belonged to me
Let the waves rush in, let the seagulls cry
For if I live again, these hopes will never die
I can feel you standing there
But I dont see you anywhere
Standing by the well, wishing for the rains
Reaching for the clouds, for nothing else remains
Drifting in a daze, when evening will be done
Try looking through a haze
At an empty house, in the cold, cold sun
I will wait until it all goes round
With you in sight, the lost are found

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Two pictures from near Santo Amaro da Imperatriz

A view of the mountains from Santo Amaro da Imperatriz, oil on card, 14.4 x 10.8 cm 

A community near Santo Amaro da Imperatriz, oil on card, 13 x 10.9 cm

You can see in Brasil, as if from a late novel by Hamsun, communities establishing themselves from almost nothing- a tiny cluster of houses: these often have a paradiscal quality.

And, as if to confirm Hamsun's pessimism about cities, you can also see how these little communities grow into huge areas of urban squalor. Santa Catarina is free of these huge cities, fortunately.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A drive along the SC-282 to Alfredo Wagner; Union Gallery- works on display


Landscape near Alfredo Wagner, oil on card, 12.8 x 11.6 cm

Landscape near Rancho Queimado, oil on card, 11.8 x 14.5 cm

...painted along the SC-282, a lovely road.

I had originally thought of sleeping in Alfredo Wagner, but the hotel there was too awful, even for me.

Union Gallery, 45 Broughton Street, Edinburgh:

I have 6 landscapes in their current exhibition ‘Onslaught of Autumn’, which opened on Thursday evening.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Roadbridge over SC 401

Roadbridge over SC 401, oil on card, 13.8 x 11.7 cm

Painted in the car lot of Tok and Stok.

I think I will drive to the mountains tomorrow- Alfredo Wagner.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Exploding Boy

Nick Parker, the wonderful English writer, has most flatteringly used one of my monoprints for the cover of his collection of stories:

Hurry now while stocks last!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Ocean; The Middle East

The Ocean, oil on card, 14.8 x  11.5cm

Painted down on Beiramar Avenue.

It was the sort of shimmering weather that Ardizzone loved to paint- an aesthetic lineage that spins delightfully back through Whistler to Velázquez and Titian (there is that wonderful nautical Titian,  Perseus and Andromeda in the glorious Wallace Collection- I used to enjoy going there in my luch hours and feeling doomed).

What I like about the Wallace Collection is that I don't get the feeling there that the curators are trying to teach me anything: wheras if I go to, say to any of the Tates, I feel bombarded with notices, explanations, often horribly written and very partial.


I am thinking about a Middle East trip for late January or February. I'd like to go to Syria again but the state there has murdered to many people there recently that this would probably be unwise.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Headland, Beiramar

Headland, Beiramar, oil on card,12.7 x 13.6 cm  SOLD

Painted at the Agronomica end of Beiramar Avenue.

I painted here before on a much bigger scale: I overworked the peice and it lost its charm, becoming heavy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Roadworks on BR 403

Roadworks on BR 403, oil on card, 11.8 x 12.2 cm

Painted near the Passion Motel.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Cleared ground

Cleared ground, oil on card, 12 x 13 cm

Painted near Rio Tavares, on a little drive down to the south of the island: Civilisation marches forward!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Red Boat

Red boat, oil on card, 10.5 x 13.8 cm

A very warm day: I think winter is coming to a close.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A weekend in Curitiba

 Just off Rua Tibagi, oil on card, 12.7 x  11.5 cm

 Hotel Roochelle hotel suite, oil on card, 10.5 x  14 cm

 Curitiba nocturne, oil on card, 14.2 x  10.5cm

Rooftops, Curitiba, oil on card, 9.6 x 8.1cm

Four new pictures from last weekend trip to Curitiba, where they are haveing an art Bienal: some very good shows. The art infrastructure there is good.

The city itself has fewer and fewer charms for me with each visit: the massive dominance of anonymous corporate hotels and conference centres, which contrast strangely and bleakly with innumerable seedy lanchonetes (diners) whose food is so bad that Macdonalds seems good in comparasion. And then there are the malls, those monstrous and charmless shopping malls...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A little fishing boat off Beiramar Avenue

A little fishing boat off Beiramar Avenue, oil on card, 14.8 x 11.7 cm   SOLD

I do not know what they are fishing for: they come quite close to shore, and there is a fellow standing, using the oar as if on a punt.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011



Joaquina, oil on card, 13.5 x 12 cm   SOLD

An exceptionately beautiful day, the sun not too warm and a wonderful friendly atmosphere on the uncrowded beach.

The beaches have beautiful names: Galheta, Joaquina, Solidão...