Steyning Arts Trail – what else is coming to Sakala!

I did some more unwrapping today. This piece was part of the batch I unwrapped a couple of days ago but which had somehow wangled a trip out in the van and made a bid for freedom!

It’s the very divvil to photograph because it’s under glass so you get the whole kitchen in there as well and that really is NOT in the painting. Part paint, part collage, this is acrylics on paper mounted and framed. Definitely best seen in person! Red frame though …

Approx 26″ x 19″ mounted and framed.

Steyning Arts is never too posh for cats! This is based on a photo of one of mine.

Acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 18″

I found this remarkable woman during a search for faces when, as part of the course, I was required to make a portrait and I was heartily sick of painting my own face. The photo was black and white and uncredited.

Acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 18″.

There’s a long tradition of men painting naked women, sometimes in the company of clothed men. Degas didn’t do that so much but he did hang out backstage around young girls – the Petit Rats as they were called – and painted very many of them. This painting is based on (‘after’, as they say) his ‘Woman on a Balcony’. She is quite haughty and may have been a person of importance, unlikely to strip off for an artist. My young woman though is giving the artist the side-eye, I doubt he’d risk any unpainterly moves.

A painting within a painting; acrylics on canvas. 14″ x 18″.

Next – the box with the smaller stuff in it!

Strayfisharts at Sakala, Steyning Art Trail August 28th – 30th and September 4th – 5th. Sakala is also normally open every day.

Haiku to Klimt

A small piece arising from an exercise in the Studio Practice module of my OCA painting degree. This is gold and silver acrylic on black cartridge primed with gloss varnish. The thin dark marks are scratched texture made with a pen.

Gold; leafed and shaped to
the wish of a painter's hand
in the longest kiss.

Haiku to Klimt - SCH 2021

Its journey, along with some other pieces, is here.

Blue Bus to Keswick

Painting on mirror foil as part of the OCA painting degree course requirements. Based on a lockdown bus ride via webcam from Lancaster to Keswick on damp, dark day. The painting analysis, if you’d like one, is: tiny green/blue strip at the top – roadside trees and foliage; dark strips beneath – the road; wild blue/grey swirls beneath – the leaden sky; and the wide, geological strip at the bottom – the brown and green rolling hills of the countryside.

Blue Bus to Keswick

Blue bus to Keswick; Sodden greens under a biscuit tin sky.

Ambleside is tourist rammed, and Keswick is a black-stoned webcam terminus, dotted with bright visiting anoraks looking for lunch.

The masked passengers stretch their legs and join the rain-bowed pedestrians hopping puddles through the streets, while the driver breaths out a safe arrival and turns the rest of us off.

SCH 2021.

Louis of Loch Arkaig

Yesterday we heard about the premeditated destruction of a nest elsewhere in the UK, and this, along with the empty nest at Loch Arkaig as Aila fails to reappear and Louis sets up home nearby, has left the Woodland Trust nest-chat bereft. I’m one of the chatters; people are angry about the destruction, worried about Aila, and feeling adrift without the prospect of an osprey family on the camera nest this year.

A while ago, I said I might try to paint that scene; the nest, the colours, the magnificence of it; and probably no one noticed. But I did paint it, using artistic licence (like Bond’s without the Martini) and a clip from the live stream to imagine an osprey there. It isn’t quite Louis, the sharp-eyed osprey watchers will notice that immediately, but I’d say it stands in for him. My best hope though is that it looks enough like an osprey not to offend anyone.

While the majority of the canvas is painted using acrylics, the nest is made from a collage cut from screen-clip photos of the branches and twigs, the hills and the trees. Sharp, angular, and bright.


Still technically on hiatus but distracted by an over-stuffed SSD which means finding a new computer with a larger one. Much hunting and talk of terabytes as the current puny one sits there bright red with excess content.

So back to the paints while other things sort themselves out, such as my bank recognising Dell as a legitimate enterprise and paying them.

I’d intended to make a very delicate pencil watercolour of a tight horizontal line but found I wanted to add some paint. The horizontal is still there, and it’s still in isolation towards the top of the 16″ x 11″ canvas board.

Charcoal lines with water so that the pigment bleeds outwards.
Watercolour pencil and some acrylic pen which turned out to be a bit harsh. I’ve deliberately allowed the fluid to collect in a line and then to flow downwards beneath the land. These are the roots – soil, land, vegetation, homes, community. Quite a burden for a little painting.
A few dabs now of acrylic paint to give shape to the trees and add light to the field behind the house.

This may be it but I’ll look at it again tomorrow. After I’ve had whatever words need to be had to get the new PC packed and on its way here.

19th April. Bank now happy about Dell, painting varnished, and NASA has flown a helicopter on Mars.

A dribble is fine, a smudge isn’t.
Tiny dabs of dilute T white, smoothed with a cotton bud then varnished. Amazing what you can pick up from BBC’s The Repair Shop! I can still see the remnants of the smudge, but then I’m looking for it. Someone coming to it new may not.

That’s probably quite enough prevarication, I need to get on with the assessment admin which somehow doesn’t lessen by neglect.

Short hiatus

When you’re doing a course, every so often there’s the inconvenience of preparing an assessment portfolio. These days, it’s digital so there’s no more wrestling of large pieces into massive cases for posting. Or, increasingly because now there’s something a bit more worthwhile in there, worrying till it gets to its destination and back. One time, I found someone else’s sketch book in amongst my stuff.

Still, there’s the selection, the photographing – clean crop, dirty crop (bit of contextual background), and some detail, the essay (500 words at this stage and to be submitted for plagiarism checks), a raft of blog posts referring back to learning outcomes (what??!), and a 750 word doc or six minute video artist statement.

Basically it’s admin [yawn].

I’m getting it done in short bursts in between long bursts of prevarication because the deadline is some way off, but now I’ve run out of legitimate prevaricants [<– new made-up word and I like it] so Strayfish Arts will have to take a back seat for a while.

If you’re so inclined, the blog for the current course is here. See you on the other side!

Totally Fungible #6 – baskets

By now we’ve all forgotten what the fungible thing is about, right? Well, to recap it’s the opposite of non fungible which has suddenly hit the headlines as NFTs or Non Fungible Tokens – ways of proving that you’ve bought a piece of digital art. The Totally Fungible series, as it’s become, is a response to that.

As I’m reasonably sure another 8″ x 10″ canvas board isn’t going to suddenly materialise, this is the last hurrah and it features a hanging basket tumbling with colour from a few years ago. There’s an orange wash on top of the gloss and at this stage, I’m just piling clips from the A4 photo and a small set of crops onto the board to describe the chaos of the tumble. I have a mind to make more blue and the orange is there to pop that out. Of course, that might change because, well, pink. There’s a lot of frill and fringe going on here because so many of the leaves are tiny and not at all ordered.

Touch of the pointilisms going on here now – little dots of colour to extend the tumble chaos of the flowers. Quite big points though. I have a sheet of film with paint transfer on it ready to deploy and in my experience with the previous paintings, this can change the overall impact of the piece completely.

This, in fact, is how my garden looks all summer – no semblance of order and a post right where you think you can stick your head to find the other side.

So, mission accomplished; all tiddly canvas boards fully occupied by media that are very much mixed, and a great deal learned in the process. Key amongst these gems is the dual finding that I have a better sense of what can be done as I go on and simultaneously entirely less sense on the matter of keeping it simple.

Animation ir-re-sistable 🙂

Totally Fungible #5 – hippeastrum to you …

I was well into this before I remembered to take a snap. My Amaryllis is about to burst forth so I looked back through my photos for one in full flower to complete this set, the last of the tiny squinty canvas boards*

Photopaper collaged onto a gloss surface with a first wash of pink and a second of green. There’s some judicious flannelling top left to remove a little of the pigment, leaving some residue in the texture of the board; and I’ve added in a tiny clip of the text from a crop of the photo.

I’ve painted into this to add variety to the colour range – the original has one massive red flower sitting in a deep green background which is a wonderful photo but doesn’t make much of a painting unless you’re into clean, graphical images. I’ve also used some of the film from last time which gives it a jungle look – I’d buy a skirt in that material! There’s no 3D in this one, the plant itself has no frills and there’s very little about it that isn’t robustly solid in appearance so I don’t think that would be appropriate. I’m letting it settle now to see if it needs anything else, other than leaving alone.

So if anyone has a birthday – hippeastrum to you, hippeastrum to you; amaryllis hippeastrum, hippeastrum to you!

*I’ve found another of the little perishers!

Totally Fungible #4 – Pink flower

I’ve had to trawl my past photos for suitable subjects by which to despatch the final two eye-squinting, take-aim-from-a-yard-away, 8″ x 10″ canvas boards so I can’t name the pretty thing I’ve chosen this time. It required a vibrant pink background wash though, and there might be some burnt sienna to follow the random wiping with fingers and flannel. Is there such a thing as cute grunge?

Initial collage with the film transfer on the right.
Almost done. The flowers have become butterflies with a bit of judicious scissor-work, and I’ve painted into the collage again, this time with a green/yellow blend and with some white. I want to do some pen work when it’s dry to finish it off with areas of definition, although the glue may have other ideas!

One final 8″ x 10″ piece of eye-strain to go. Probably better be pink.