Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A view west, Antônio Carlos


A view west, Antônio Carlos, oil on card, 14 x 18 cm

This is the first time I have been painting on the continent since my return from New York. Petrol prices have risen appreciably, discouraging me from travelling too far.

The picture is perhaps a little cramped. I have been pinching ideas about spacial organisation from William Gillies, an artist of extremely variable quality.

Extremely hot.


Sunday, December 27, 2015



 Moçambique, woodland, December 2015, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

Moçambique, trees, December 2015, oil on card, 14 x 16.5 cm

A pair from the woods behind Moçambique: quite cool and pleasant in the shade.


Thursday, December 17, 2015

Moçambique, December 17, 2015


Moçambique, December 17, 2015, oil on card, 15 x 15 cm


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Joaquina, December 2015


Joaquina, December 2015, oil on card, 17.5 x 16 cm   SOLD


Sunday, December 13, 2015

View from my window, Trindade


View from my window, Trindade, oil on card, 11 x 13 cm

As the view from here is fascinating, I shall do a run of these, It's too hot to go out painting, anyway.

I am finding working again on a little postcard size very pleasing again. It is to do with the way the small size makes every brushstroke important.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Shop Fronts, West End, Glasgow, framed


Shop Fronts, West End, Glasgow, oil on card, 14 x 15.5 cm, Framed   SOLD


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Moçambique, paths, December 2016


Moçambique, paths, December 2016, oil on card, 19 x 22 cm  SOLD


Friday, December 4, 2015

Praia Mole, December 4, 2015


Praia Mole, December 4, 2015, oil on card, 18.5 x 24.5 cm

The first painting since my return from New York. 

The weather has been difficult, and I've been in the process of moving flat.

 Hopefully now I am more settled into my new place,  I shall be able to get back into the rhythm.


Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Visual Arts Scotland, 2016, acceptance


Shop Fronts, West End, Glasgow, oil on card, 14 x 15.5 cm   SOLD

My picture has been accepted by Visual Arts Scotland's 2016 Annual Exhibition, at the Royal Scottish Academy.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

Framed pochades for the Society of Scottish Artists show.


Framed pochades for the Society of Scottish Artists show-

A view from the Necropolis, Glasgow, oil on card, 13 x 18 cm  SOLD

 Sidi Ifni, roofs, oil on card, 12.2 x 15.5 cm   SOLD


Monday, November 9, 2015

Society of Scottish Artists, Open Exhibition 2015, acceptance


 Sidi Ifni, roofs, oil on card, 12.2 x 15.5 cm

A view from the Necropolis, Glasgow, oil on card, 13 x 18 cm  SOLD

Both my submissions to the Annual Open were accepted. 

 Last year my submissions were rejected, and in the year previous to that accepted. I cannot for the life of me find any logic behind their acceptance or rejection.

It is nice, nonetheless, to be an (albeit tiny) part of the Scottish art world this December.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Two recent sales


Lagoa, haze, oil on card, 18 x 22 cm  SOLD

Arch, Washington Square, New York, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm  SOLD

Two recent sales.


Monday, November 2, 2015

Three weeks in New York: Conclusions


This year's New York set

The trip resolved the desire to really know New York. There remain swathes which remain unknown to me, whole boroughs, indeed: the Bronx and Staten Island remain mysteries. And I have never explored the city in Winter. I also regret not having worked in Chinatown, which is very striking, visually.  But you cannot do everything.

For painting,New York good. The colours are beautiful- splendid reds, ochres, grays and olive greens- (seemingly the basis of Williamsburg's exquisite range of oils). The people are easy to understand, individualistic and bold. No-one bothered me while working and most people are courteous. The city has few hills, alas, so getting views usually involves scaling buildings. I wish I'd had more access to rooftops.

It may be the capitalist city per excellence, but isn't as materialistic as they might have you believe. No city with such dedication to art (which is still, despite what auction headlines might lead one to assume, based more on passion more than profit) can be said to be materialistic. Some of the art is rubbish, for sure. but much is breathtaking,

MoMa disappointed me. It's crowded, like a shopping mall on Christmas Eve. And the galleries are uncomfortable spaces where it's hard to sit down, or relax to study the works. There was a huge survey given to Picasso- an amazing display, but so large as to exhaust the visitor. The garden is .  and stony full of mediocre sculptures. 

Much more enjoyable were the Brooklyn Museum, which is especially good on American works, and the Neue Gallery, which had an excellent exhibition on inter-war Berlin. Of course the Metropolitan is glorious. And The Studio Museum in Harlem had a fine show of paintings by Stanley Whitney.



The day long peek at the world inside the USA, which I gained at Cold Springs has made me think that it might be time to revive the New York Road trip idea. 

I shall attempt to re-visit Valparaiso in February for about ten days.


I am grateful as ever to the friendliness and courtesy of passing strangers, who were very often Black and old. 

I thank the philosopher J. Heald for his amusing company in Williamsburg, and for helping me lug the easel about. 

I also acknowledge the helpful presence of Lancastrian W.J. Eccleston who, for mysterious reasons, seemed to accompany me in thoughts as I wandered  in the Big Apple.

 Detail: Block, North end of Lorimer Street



Sunday, November 1, 2015

Three weeks in New York: 5. Manhattan, Central Park and Cold Springs


Arch, Washington Square (detail)

Playing fields, Central Park, Manhattan, oil on card, 16 x 17 cm SOLD

Arch,Washington Square, New York, oil on card, 17 x 14 cm    SOLD

Central Park, Manhattan, oil on card, 15.5 x 17 cm

Clinton Street, oil on card, 18.5 x 18 cm   SOLD

I found Leonard Cohen's old street, and worked there. There isn't that much that remains, just one block is in an old style. The rest has been given over to recent housing estates.

A toy boat on  Conservatory Water, Central Park, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm   SOLD


 Cold Springs

A tiny peep from New York into a vast world beyond, taking the Hudson train up. Amazing natural abundance, pretty towns. An invitation, and a reminder of how  how claustrophobic life in New York might become.


Toy Yacht, Central park: detail


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Three weeks in New York: 4. Coney Island


Pier, Coney Island, oil on card, 15 x 18 cm    

I got the trains down to Coney Island, an exhausting experience, as it seems extremely easy for me to to take the wrong train on New York's subway system.

The painting there went well, the day warm and gilded with sunshine, and that warm melancholy you feel you feel on such days when it is nice and there's nothing to fight for.

Coney Island seemed less tragic this time than I remember  two years ago


Friday, October 30, 2015

Three weeks in New York: 3. Brooklyn / Down by the river/ and Brooklyn Bridge / Green Wood Cemetery / Williamsburg


There was first the ferry boat moving softly from the Jersey shore at dawn- the moment crystallized into my first symbol of New York.

Well, this isnt the ferryboat coming from New Jersey, More likely it's coming from Governor's Island, and it isn't dawn, but about noon. But surely any excuse justifies quoting Fitzgerald: does any writer better capture the feeling of arrival in New York? Let's have a bit more: here he is again, in The Great Gatsby:

I began to like New York, the racy, adventurous feel of it at night and the satisfaction that the constant flicker of men and women and machines gives to the restless eye. I like to walk up Fifth Avenue and pick out romantic women from the crowd and imagine that in a few minutes I was going to enter their lives, and no one would ever know or disapprove. Sometimes, in my mind, I followed them to their apartments on the corners of hidden streets, and they turned and smiled back at me before they faded through a door into warm darkness. At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others—poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner—young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.

Green Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, a view, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

This, above, is one of those that I feel has the necesary je ne sai quois, to make it stand out from the rest- a certain liveliness that suggests the pleasure of its making. It was indeed pleasant sitting there on the hill in the cemetery, which is extremely well maintained. One is greeted by a very friendly guide.  But the views were less dramatic than Id hoped.  And then the rain..

The picture (below) seems to me, to suffer from a certain lazy Japoinaiserie:

View of the East River from Williamsburg, Kent Street, oil on card, 18 x 15 cm

Quite what is this factory on the other side of the East River from Williamsburg?:

View of the East River from Williamsburg, Kent Street -detail

There are fine places to eat there, and it isn't too costly. You feel at home. I did an interior and a couple of pictures of the river but only one came out well. The wind blew like hell.


Thursday, October 29, 2015

Three weeks in New York: 2. Bedford Stuveysant and down to Williamsburg: from the street


Ellery and Broadway (detail)

The grid plans, or almost grid plans are a delight, seguing unpredictably into each other. their occasional monotony affording the possibility of surprise. Magnificent! My happiness was such that even the names of streets, seemed portents of mysterious delight: Myrtle, Dekalb, Quincy, Bushwick...

Marvellous  too are fire escapes,..

Funeral parlour, near Metropolitan Avenue subway, Brooklyn, oil on card, 19 x 18 cm

But after a couple of days the sun came, and indeed it stayed for three weeks, with not a single day of rain.

I adore New York's elevated railways:

Ellery and Broadway, Brooklyn, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

Broadway, Bedford Stuveysant, oil on card, 15 x 18 cm

I love exploring the Orthodox areas, their strangeness. I am transported to Pi, Aranofsky's marvellous film.

Returning from the Synagogue. Walworth Street, Brooklyn, oil on card, 18 x 15 cm


Sugarhill Social Club and Disco, Brooklyn, oil on card, 18 x 16 cm

Deli, Marcy Avenue, oil on card, 18 x 16 cm

This last is one of the more successful of the bunch, with just the right amount of work. Sickertian, I suppose:

Parade of shops seen from Flushing and Thompkins, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York
 oil on card, 16 x 18 cm   SOLD


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Three weeks in New York: 1. Bedford-Stuveysant from above


View from my room in Bedford-Stuyvesant (detail)

The following six posts concern my recent, three-week trip to New York and what I found there.


I'd worried before leaving that I was about to be trapped in a Disneyfied simulacrum of New York, the city perhaps having been cleaned to sterile excess by over-zealous mayors and their planning officers. I was happy disembarassed of this delusion: Bedford-Stuyvesant at south-east Williamsburg borders, where I first stayed, is every bit as sketchy as I could have hoped- while remaining safe.

 Yes! There are abandoned cars, empty lots, graffiti, giant signs offering bridging loans, miserable diners and broken railings and so forth. Reassured, I launched into work, dragging my easel here and there.

This first set of pictures depicts the area of Bedford-Stuyvesant from the roof of my pad in Ellery Street. These are the only views I managed from above. There is something about the claustrophobia of New York that invites, perhaps necessitates, that the visitor ascend, and it is a pity that I didn't do so more.

Almost all the pictures I did were on the smaller side. I tried working larger but it did not often work out. It felt that the city, in its structured intensity, needed a tighter scale, to suggest that sense of containment. 

View west from above Ellery Street, oil on card, 16 x 18 cm

This is a view down from the roof (above), and you can see how there were grand apartment blocks, then there are little gaps where they constructed some post war clapperboard stuff, quite sadly and petit-bourgeois in comparison, as if implanted from a distant and rather unloved suburb. 

There are gaps all over this part of Brooklyn: empty lots, despite the fact that it is only 15 minutes from the centre. I wonder why no speculator wants to build there? It seemed as good a place to live as any.

Looking Down and north from Ellery Street, Brooklyn, oil on card, 17 x 14 cm

I am attempting to maintain freshness in these pictures and economy of effort. I didn't spend much time on corrections, If a thing did not "take" within twenty minutes, I wiped off the paint and restarted.

This was the view from my room (below). The picture owes something to Matisse. 

One thing I love about New York, and which it shares with Morocco, is that when you are there you have this impression of the squareness of things..or of things that are not quite square meeting nonetheless to form a huge rubric. It is fun to trace this in great blobby brushtrokes so that the parts of the scene before you somehow fits together, and you don't have to amputate a wing of a building  or kid yourself that you were standing in a different position from that you were really in to complete the picture.

View from my room, Bedford-Stuyvesant, oil on card, 14.8 x 14.8 cm