Sunday, December 23, 2018

Friday, December 21, 2018

Society of Scottish Artists Prize at the 121st Annual Exhibition


Near Berwick-upon-Tweed, fields, oil on card, 16 x 15.8 cm  SOLD

I'm pleased to say that I was awarded the The Henderson Art Shop Purchase Prize for this painting at the Society of Scottish Artists 121st Annual Exhibition in Edinburgh.


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Annual Review 2018; social media



The year often had an enervated quality. I spend a good deal of time waiting. I was not bold with planning. 


There were three trips in 2018: Peru, Uruguay and the USA.

Ayacucho, a view across a gully, 21.7 x 17.7 cm

Peru was a success: the weather was kind and the work was often good. I spent a considerable time exploring Lima, a rich and curious city. The people of Peru are modest and leave you alone. The scenery is interesting as is their bizarre culture and it's blissfully cheap. I started working on a  a larger scale, a tendency I pushed across the year.

Cabo Polonia, Uruguay, sea, oil on card, 21.7 x 27.7 cm Not for sale

In Uruguay, a pleasant country for which I feel considerable affection, my trip was ruined by sickness and I spent a week in bed in two hostels. 

This is the risk inherent in shorter journeys, that a mishap or a bout of sickness renders the whole trip worthless. Short trips might be considered a waste of time and money. No sooner have you unpacked then you are off again, and the cost of flights weighs more heavily when taken as per day cost. But such trips do break up the ennui induced by teaching...

Chicago, view down from an apartment on Madison Avenue
 oil on card, 23.2 x 20 cm

I did some nice pictures in the USA  but the trip was not enjoyable. 

There's a disagreeable atmosphere in the USA: a lack of true spontaneity in relations and sometimes boorishness. It doesn't take a great psychologist to see that there must be something profoundly wrong with a people if they feel the need to elect someone to tell them how great they are all the time. This combination of insecurity and boastfulness characterizes much in Chicago. There is a rarely quiet ease there, a considered pride. Big and brash is best. 

 Despite it's reputation for gracelessness, New York is better but it's often a tired or angry place. I didn't sense that people have much fun in either city.

The work

I worked with fair discipline and the pictures became steadily bigger.  I worked small on some still lives, but moved up to a roughly A4 size for landscapes. I attempted two different approaches.

In the first I tried to push a sort of "Chinese" style- economical and rapid and intimist. The second  style I refer to as "blocky"-  using large squarish marks to delineate simplified forms. The colours are usually bright, rarely tertiary: extrovert. This style works satisfactorily with buildings. There are various crossovers between the  two approaches.

In Brazil

Rua Luis Pasteur, Trindade, Florianopolis, looking down
 oil on card, 20.5 x 22.5 cm

I did a run of pictures in this neighborhood. I also explored architectural subjects. This went nicely and  I didn't go to the mountains at all nor visit other places in Brazil. There are reasons for this. So much of much of my work is concerned with architecture and there is very little architectural variety in Brazil. And what there is is often poor, and poorly integrated into nature.

The landscapes are often very inaccessible because of the way land is closed off by landowners. It is not always easy to find a trail or place you can walk to get views. The rights of way you get in the UK are unknown here.


There as a show at BRDE. It went well. It sold well and functioned as a review of the last few years and some of the Peru work. There was also work on display in Scotland. There was supposed to be another show here but it never happened because the gallery was messing around. 

Social Media

Like many, I suspect, I am unhappy with social media. It simply does not seem to fulfill much of its promise. Like me, I once thought it would be a means to connect with like-minded people internationally, and while of course this does happen, too often it seems to be a forum for banality or unpleasantness..

Of course, as with all media, one can say what matters is how one uses it, and the user is to blame for the world they inhabit with a specific medium. However,each medium does seem to bring certain emphases, and this medium seems to emphasize transitoriness and celebrity-narcissist culture.

I also dislike how social media- usually Instagram or Whatsup or Facebook- obtrude, their use determining how social situations develop, with silly set-up photo opportunities breaking the flow of conversations and justifying bossiness on the part of those taking pictures on their mobiles and imposing fake behaviors on the subjects. I dislike how the mediated, parched world of social media is now a substitute for real exchanges and experiences. I see people in galleries taking photos of each other in front of exhibits without even considering the exhibits themselves.

In contemporary art the use of social media is closely related to advertising, especially through the development of easily recognizable visual catchphrases and interjecting a chummy personal aspect.  One should take photos of ones home, situation work in progress and so forth, as well as one's finished work in such a way as to create an image, a brand, and henceforth a following.

Most artists can take a bit of this, and might even enjoy it. They understand that people wish to get to know a bit about them and where they are from and what they objectives are and that this helps in the understanding of their work. But many artists don't want themselves to be focus of their practice. They want their artwork and the things they are developing using art to be the focus. 

Well, all this is a roundabout way of describing my unease with using social media.


I am annoyed with the site management for messing with the site. I consider not using more but as it now contains a readily accessible catalogue perhaps that would be unwise- though that catalogue is also available on Facebook. I have risen from 937  to 959 followers. 


The number of followers has hardly grown. There are 85, up one. 


The site is a good place for showing work and maintain contacts but I sense that it is being used less and that people are transferring to Instagram. I have a "page". It has 82 followers, a good hike up from last years's 3 and connected to my exhibition and some reluctant efforts I made.


I started using this and found it rapid and easy. Now I think it it is just another invitation to waste time peering into a tiny screen. There is desolation in all this. I have 136 followers. 


I went through a phase of posting stuff here but then gave up as there was so little interest it's not really a site designed for visual arts. There are 253 followers.


There was one sale on this site. Sales usually necessitate endless phone calls with the an appalling courier service called DHL. 


Occasionally I posted here but it opened no doors. There are 31 followers. 



Thanks to the BRDE, especially Prisclla Gobbi,  and Vikki Debden, who helped hang my show, buyers, my ever supportive parents and random strangers who made trips more agreeable.



The year will begin with Ecuador, a six week trip, then to the UK in July, or perhaps August, for at least three weeks. I want to do more work in Scotland and as ever there is the question of where to stay there that isn't cripplingly costly.

I read things from time to time about travelers who have such and such adventure when their four wheel drive loses a wheel or two in some ravine or other and they seem secretly pleased about this when it happens. But my mindset is essentially bourgeois, though I like the nicer youth hostels as they can be agreeable social spaces.

A pond at a ranch, oil on card, 15.5 x 17.5 cm


Saturday, December 8, 2018



ACAP members at the opening

These are photos of my work at the ACAP (Artists Association of Santa Catarina) Group show at the Cruz and Souza Museum in the centre of Florianopolis. 

My paintings depict the centre of Florianopolis- they were painted in the last few months and may  be seen on previous pages.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

ACAP Group Show


Here is the invitation for a group show with the Artists of Santa Catarina Group. The title translates as   Dialogues with the Surroundings -  I have several pieces in it, all painted in the centre.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Monday, December 3, 2018

Sunday, December 2, 2018

An egg on a plate


An egg on a plate, oil on card, 16 x 13 cm


Friday, November 30, 2018

Two apples and the edges of a plate and of a table


Two apples and the edges of a plate and of a table
 oil on card, 15.7 x 17 cm

It's very pleasing to work economically. You focus on little and learn much.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Bowl, plate with sweets, fruit


Bowl, plate with sweets, fruit, oil on card, 13.5 x 16 cm


Monday, November 26, 2018

Not showing at Ateliê Casa das Ideias


I'm  not showing at Ateliê Casa das Ideias as the woman who runs the place tried to change the dates for the fourth time, this time with only six days notice. This will not do.

This is rude and annoying. I spend almost two years dealing with her selfishness (emails not replied to, dates changed at the last minute, not being kept informed of changes, enduring long stupid conversations about herself and her problems and so on and so forth)  and no longer trust her.

 Besides, there is very little point in exhibiting work if there isn't time to publicise it. 

These little shows are very easy to organise: hang fifteen to twenty pictures, send invitations, buy wine, be a pleasant host, have fun and sell pictures. A good time is had by all. In Brazil organizing anything,  however minor, can become a saga and render the whole experience is unenjoyable.


Joaquina; Liquin and travel


Joaquina, November 26, late morning, oil on card, 20 x 23.5 cm

I have been using a drying agent called Liquin and a Brazillian equivalent to mix with the colours. This way they dry much more quickly and become more transparent. 

There is a risk that if they dry too quickly the surfaces of pictures will one day crack. But as I use limited impasto I judge this risk to be low and offset by the degree to which faster drying times will facilitate the re-use of pochades when travelling. 

Many of these problems would be circumvented entirely by using acrylics or watercolours. I would miss the richness of oils, however.


Friday, November 23, 2018

Servidão Alcides Anacleto Vieira - Pantanal


Servidão Alcides Anacleto Vieira - Pantanal, oil on card, 24 x 21 cm


A new way of keeping pochades in carriers


wire holder

The pochade support is held in place by:

 a. wires which pass through the perforations in the corrugated card  

 b. blu-tac on the underside of the pochade, sticking it to the carrier (not illustrated)

This new method has a disadvantage, notably that a small area of the pochade where the wires sit is less accessible to the brush and will interfere with painting. However, it is worth experimenting with because in  direct sun the pochade buckles, so that when the carrier is closed the painted surface touches the lid. This is particularly an issue with larger pochades. 

The new method also allows pochades to be removed more easily.

pochade carrier with support


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Two framed pictures for the Society of Scottish Artists


 Yellow Tree, Central Park, N.Y., 2017
oil on card, 15.5 x 14.5 cm framed  SOLD

Near Berwick-upon-Tweed, fields, oil on card, 16 x 15.8 cm, framed SOLD

Many thanks to E.L.D. for these photos.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Gardens, Trindade; Ecuador; carriers


Gardens, Trindade, Florianopolis, oil on card, 21 x 24 cm

These larger pochades are less easy to get right as they demand a more sophisticated compositions. 

With this in mind, how many pictures can one reasonably expect to be successful in a week's painting, and therefore how many pochade carriers should I take to Ecuador?

Approximately a third of sessions are successful- the others can optimistically be regarded as "preparatory". So, with two sessions a day and fourteen a week, there will be five good pictures (if I am lucky) at the end of each week....which means I need only take about 15 carriers.

At the end of each week a few carriers can be "liberated" because the pochades inside them will be dry and can be removed.

All this matters as I like to carry as little as necessary when travelling.


Monday, November 12, 2018

Santo Antonio- in fields


Santo Antonio- in fields, oil on caqrd, 20 x 23.5 cm

A difficult painting because it was so hard to arrive at a simple model of what I saw. Or sometimes I wasn`t satisfied for strong but mysterious reasons.

 It seems to me that for this style to work it is best to have a very limited palette or one becomes confused working.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Two paintings from Ingleses- late afternoon and evening


 Ingleses, November 2018, late afternoon
 oil on card, 23 x 18.5 cm

Ingleses, early evening, November 2018,
 oil on card, 21 x 24.5 cm

Too cloudy for much of a sunset, but very enjoyable to sit there working nonetheless. despite the tourists with their horrible music.


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Joaquina, end of October, 2018


Joaquina, the end of October, 2018, oil on card, 22 x 22.5 cm

It became very windy on the beach and my stuff started to get blown away.

The effect here is rather reminiscent of Paul Nash- quite unconsciously so.


Monday, October 29, 2018

Governador Celso Ramos, mountain


Governador Celso Ramos, mountain, oil on card, 24 x 21.2 cm

This is a sort of Cezanne-influenced picture that  find it very agreeable to paint from time to time, though Cezanne`s brushstrokes are usually more systematic than mine.


Saturday, October 27, 2018

Florianopolis: in the centre


Rua Blumenau, a white building, oil on card, 18 x 17.5 cm

The streets of Florianopolis weave and twist in the strangest ways. You start walking around, then find yourself right back where you started, having managed to go in a giant circle quite unawares.


Friday, October 26, 2018

Society of Scottish Artists 121st Annual Exhibition


I`m pleased to say that three pictures were accepted for this  exhibition, which runs from 23rd December to 17th January at the Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh.

 They are from Berwick, Sifi Ifni, Morocco and  Central Park, New York.


Sunday, October 21, 2018

Florianopolis, centre


 Florianopolis, centre, street
 oil on card, 20 x 17.5 cm

Florianopolis, blue striped building
oil on card, 21 x 24 cm


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Edinburgh Art Fair 2018


I`ll have work here at the Society of Scottish Artists stand.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Ratones, afternoon in October


Ratones, afternoon in October, oil on card, 19.5 x 24 cm

I shall do some research into Ivon Hitchins, in whose shadow I step.


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Praia Mole, October


Praia Mole, October, oil on card, 20 x 23.5 cm


Saturday, October 13, 2018



Rua Herman Blumenau, oil on card, 20 x 16.5 cm

 Rua General Bittencourt, oil on card, 16 x 16.5 cm

These are the first of a run depicting places in central Florianopolis- a busy, often battered locale.


Friday, October 12, 2018

Praça XV, Florianopolis


 Praça XV, Florianopolis, from the Cathedral
 oil on card, 15.5 x 14.5 cm

 Praça XV, Florianopolis, oil on card, 21.5 x 17.5 cm

These works continue a series of Floripan paintings done with a view to the Association of Artists of Santa Catarina (ACAP, which I recently joined) Christmas exhibition. The architecture of the town centre is often highly detailed and, though prettily coloured, makes a rather fussy basis for the sort of painting I enjoy.

The city is full of vagrants and rough sleepers who rather seem to take over the city after the shops close. 

These pictures pursue the simple style, somewhat like that used in children`s books, and which seems appropriate to the character of the town.


Thursday, October 11, 2018

Praça Getúlio Vargas, Florianopolis,


 Big white building, Praça Getúlio Vargas, oil on card, 19.5 x 17.5 cm

Praça Getúlio Vargas, trees, oil on card, 19 x 17.5 cm