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