Monday, December 30, 2013

Annual Review: 2013: Flickr, Blogger, Facebook, and other sites



The year was a general success despite a slump from October to the end of December.

I enjoyed painting trips to Egypt, Uruguay, New York, Minas Gerais, and exploring further Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. I spent a few days working in freezing London too.

  Luxor- the Winter Palace from Hotel Susanna, oil on card, 12 x 9 cm

In Uruguay, oil on card, 12 x 9 cm

A Chinese restaurant in New York, oil on card, 12 x 9 cm

Boa Esperança, the central square, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm

Mafra, simple houses, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm

Sao Francisca de Paula- road out of town, oil on card, 12.5 x 18 cm

All the trips were too short, and I shall try to extend them in future. It is necessary to have a few days simply to acclimatise to a certain place, to settle in, and relax.

I sold reasonably well, with sales at the Royal Academies in London and Scotland, and at Dubai Art Fair, and to various private buyers.

I used various sites to show work:


Flickr messed up their site with an ugly and frustrating redesign.

However, I  continued to use it, partly out of habit, partly because I have already invested quite a deal of time in putting work there, so that it is really a complete catalogue of my work, and because I could not find a better alternative. I usually show pictures in about ten groups. I have 721 followers, up from 612 last year.


The number of followers increased only a little from 70 to 78.


This site again prove to be good for feedback, contacts and sales. Please feel free to add me as a contact there if you wish.


I stopped regularly using this site as it is really just for teenagers to exchange pornographic  manga cartoons and kitsch. I have 55 "watchers" up from 51.


This site is elegantly organised and a pleasure to use. I sporadically loaded pictures, and these were stacked 77 times. I shall use it more.


I am going to Salvador, Bahia in January, and to Morocco in March. I wish to do a further trip in late July, but I haven`t decided where.


Many thanks to everyone who helped me in 2013: buyers, followers, family and friends.

There are a good number of people online who have been supportive, but whom I have never met. I found their comments useful and encouraging. 

Happy New year to you all.


Carnations 5, oil on card, 9 x 10.5 cm    SOLD


Ten days in southern Minas Gerais -part two


Varginha, view, oil on card, 16 x 14 cm

Cambuquira , rain on a pond, oil on card, 17 x 14 cm

Cambuquira , a view from the hotel terrace, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm    SOLD

Cambuquira , the lonely duck, oil on card, 15 x 18 cm

Boa Esperança, the lake, oil on card, 18 x 14 cm

 These pictures are the fruit of some short trips from Boa Esperança to nearby towns. 

Varginha is probably the ugliest city I have ever been to, with architecture of such gracelessness and  such a lack of general urban planning that might even some Brazilians might be taken aback. I cannot recommend going there.

By contrast, Cambuquira, an old spa resort, has considerable charm, unspoiled by the intrusion of contemporary Brazilian design. It`s gently crumbling away. We stayed in a most agreeably faded hotel from the thirties near the melancholy bus station and enjoyed wandering in the spa gardens trying the waters.


Ten days in southern Minas Gerais- part one


Boa Esperança, shop, oil on card, 14 x 16.5 cm

Boa Esperança, pasteleria, 12.5 x 18 cm

Boa Esperança, Percy`s Peças , oil on card, 13.5 x 15.5 cm

Boa Esperança, Salão de Beleza, oil on card, 14 x 16.5 cm

Boa Esperança,the central square, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm

Boa Esperança is a town of forty thousand, prettily situated on a lake in Southern Minas Gerais. 

I tend not to go to the interior of Brazil much. I always think of it as the real Brazil, deep Brazil, Brazil for really serious explorers, in contrast to Santa Catarina, which I think of as Brazil-lite, easily palatable for gringo softies such as me. That is, in the interior you have to endure sertaneja*, dilapidation, heat, slowness, and very heavy food. You feel like you are the only foreigner and you probably are, and everyone is incredibly religious**.

The landscape of southern Minas is not as charming as that of Santa Catarina, as it lacks the drama of both the coastline and high mountains. There are huge coffee plantations over slow, almost treeless hills, and small towns in which nothing ever happens except the occasional downpour and their own gentle decline. There are many children and many dogs and everyone seems quite happy.


I enjoyed my time painting in Boa Esperança very much. I loved the simple painted buildings, which often have deco detailing, and the pleasant people, whose children, playing in the streets, struck me as very polite and sweet-natured.

I am trying to paint pictures which are simpler, more cheerful, and more colourful. For a long time I had, largely unconsciously, been trying to paint North European landscapes here- and painting the shop-fronts were a great way to escape from this. I am also working on a slightly bigger scale. I want to feel freer with the brush and enjoy broader effects.

* a form of Brazilian country music, often played at high volume by morons in oversized cars.
**this, sadly, has a political aspect, with various Protestant church groups seeking to meddle in the affairs of secular state, harry homosexuals, and generally reduce the liberty of others.

 Many thanks to the Rodrigues family, especially Filo, for kind hospitality in
Boa Esperança.


Sunday, December 15, 2013

CD covers for 12in12x12, for 2014

Twelve covers for Jim Mendola's  12in12x12 rock band project, to promote their monthly issues.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ratones, edge of woodland

Ratones, edge of woodland, oil on card, 15 x 15 cm

Another very hot day.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

São José, a house near wasteground

São José,  a house near wasteground, oil on card, 18 x 12.5 cm

Painted back in September: back then I wasn`t happy with it: now it seems quite okay.

Praia de Gravatal, blue

Praia de Gravatal, blue, oil on card, 14 x 15.5 cm

Painted from the trilha that runs above Praia Mole to Gravatal.

It has really become summer here and is very hot: insects everywhere.


Perhaps the finest painter using blue is Matisse. His blues are exceptional in the way that they convey warmth rather than cold.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Urubici, tall pines

Urubici, tall pines, oil on card, 14.5 x 18 cm

Painted in the afternoon.

Many thanks to John "the lad" Collins and Tielle for their excellent company in the mountains this weekend.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Five recent sales

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

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

Joaquina, oil on card, 14 x 12 cm  SOLD

Warehouses on Jane Street, Leith, oil on card, 9/ 12.5 cm  SOLD

Praia Mole from above, oil on card, 16 x 12.5 cm  SOLD

Five recent sales here in Florianopolis. Please contact me if you are interested in any of the works on this site.

Monday, November 18, 2013

In rememberance of Clancy

In rememberance of Clancy, oil on card, 16 x 16.5 cm

Not dissimilar to other flower pictures: I shall experiment more with the backgrounds in future.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Mafra, Santa Catarina


 A distant farm, oil on card, 16 x 12.5 cm

 A view of Mafra, oil on card, 14 x 12.5 cm

 Mafra, simple houses, oil on card, 14 x 14 cm

Mafra, man with a back pack, oil on card, 18 x 16 cm

Mafra is a smallish city in the North of Santa Catarina which merges with its neighbour Rio Negrinho across the river. Its inhabitants are largely Polish and Ukrainian in ethnic origin and there are various very Eastern-European looking wooden buildings there, a big Ukrainian church and blond people. 

It`s prettily sited on a series of wooded hills, which are where I did most of my work. I could, I think, have spent a few more days here quite happily, although the food was dismal and costly (though don`t they say, "bad food is always expensive" ?): I had a particularly vile hot dog (what Brazil has done to the hot dog would cause nervous breakdowns in Frankfurt) and a foul Burrito. But the town seems orderly and prosperous and has none of the squalor that mars so much of Brazil.

I had originally intended to return to Florianopolis via Lages, but felt that this would, without a night`s rest somewhere, ìnvolve far too much driving in  one day.  I regret now that I didn`t consider this properly when planning, and added another day or two to my itinerary, as I was therefore forced to return via the route I came: via the tedious expanse of Teutonic suburb towns that stretches from Joinville to Brusque to Blumenau and Jaranagua. And the area between Lages and Mafra remains, for me, still somewhat unexplored.


 The pictures are mostly quite good, if occasionally generic in composition (especially the first and third). I am working on a larger scale these days, and  am feeling very confident.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Saco Grande, a white house

Saco Grande, a white house, 13.7 x 12.7 cm

Painted on a pretty road running behind Floripa shopping.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The road to Itacorubi

The road to Itacorubi, oil on card, 12.5 x 12 cm

A very pleasant day for painting.


I have bought tickets to Minas Gerais, where I shall pass Christmas, and Salvador, where I will spend some days in late January.

Preparations for a journey to Mafra

Unpainted pochades: it is fun to have a range of sizes and shapes

Another of Brazil`s innumerable public holidays (I count fifteen annually) is approaching on Friday: Proclamation of the Republic, and given the atrocious standards of political  leadership in this country this really should be a day of collective national shame, better  commemorated by mourning and self-flagellation than the usual parades by Brazil`s  hilarious military, who have only been tested in modern times by campaigns against other Brazilian citizens and with relief work in perilous Haiti and bits of Brazil.

But that is by the by- I shall shall pass my weekend making make another little trip into Santa Catarina: this time to Mafra. My idea is to  take fast coastal 101 and cutting in west after Joinville along BR301.

I`ll sleep there, then drive south via Itaipolis and picking up BR290, passing trough São Cristóvão do Sul and possibly sleeping another night near Lages, before returning on the BR201 to Floripa.


If you wish to join me for refreshments somewhere along the way, drop me a line.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A street in Biguaçu- dogs and children

A street in Biguaçu- dogs and children, oil on card, 22 x 18 cm

I`m going to push up in scale over the next few days. 

I`m interested in capturing something of the life of the streets here: shamelessly pinching some ideas from Lowry.

Working class neighbourhoods are best for this: you can see people doing all sorts of things their streets- flying kites, playing ball games, riding bikes, drinking, selling things, and just hanging around. 

The middle-class zones, with their tight-lipped condominiums and security cameras might be neat and tidy but they must be a lot less fun to grow up in.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

New York V: above Queens; evaluation

Above 43rd St., Queens, the back yards, oil on card, 13 x 12 cm

 There is something of Eardley here.

Above 43rd St., Queens, looking North-West, oil on card, 14 x 13 cm

Above 43rd St., Queens, N.Y., looking down, oil on card, 12 x 12 cm

These three paintings were executed from the roof of my lodgings.

 If I regret anything about the US trip, it is that I did not paint anything close up, intimately.

 All painters have their distances: Lucien Freud or Chardin work much closer to his subject than, say, Turner does. And different cities condition different distances, so that panoramic views are a more likely response to Rio than perhaps to Camden. But I think if i were to revisit, I would try to get closer to my motifs, at least sometimes.


The trip was, I think the most successful of my longer painting trips so far. The weather was magnificent, the light perfect and  the city is easy to understand and it is dramatic. The decision to focus on Queens, a rough 4 mile radius from my lodgings was wise, allowing me to explore without getting bored. 

I came to love Queens: it is ordinary but then quite beguiling at the same time, with an incredible mixture of unpretentious people from all over. I didn`t find any architectural marvels there- it is strange to me how few Churches there are- but there is a huge amount of good solid ordinary building, both blocks and townhouses -the sort that is so woefully lacking in Brazil- all laid out on an elegant grid, sloping easily down to the river, punctuated by small parks here and there.


Many thanks to James for putting me up on my first days in the USA and for helping me, and to Tatiane for bravely and brilliantly assuming the role of  photographers assistant.