Self portraits

Oil on canvas paper – 40 x 50cm

This is the second oil painting I’ve tried since I was at school. With the encouragement of Andy Pankhurst at the Royal Drawing School it was the obvious progression to learn how to paint. I’m learning much about the new media: better colour retention and the ability of the wet paint to be reworked.

Below is a sequence of other attempts at trying to capture myself. This is difficult and raises many questions. Do I wear my glasses to be able to see what I’m doing? Do I take them off so I can see my face and eyes properly? As I concentrate my eyes freeze staring at my own reflection – can I try to hold a smile?

Towards Walberswick

Acrylic paint on canvas board – 50 x 40cm

This is the fourth time I’ve tried to capture this view. The colours look too bright, as if I’ve applied my recent colour theory tuition to the extreme. As a reminder, please see the earlier versions below:

Summer School: Life Painting

Vanessa, acrylic on canvas – 61 x 76cm (day 4 & 5)

I’ve just concluded a week’s painting at the Royal Drawing School. It was another excellent course tutored by Andy Pankhurst introducing me to colour theory, temperatures and tone, subjects I vaguely knew about but had never learnt how to apply or understand.

The challenge was to paint a single pose in three days after two preparatory days with other life models to explore figure drawing and painting. It was hard but very rewarding. I learnt about Jean Antoine Wattau, a 17th century French artist, the power of Phthalo Blue pigment and the wonderful work of Euan Unglow, a 20th century British painter.

Below is some of my preparatory work which shows my development during the intensive five days.

Acrylic sketch on canvas paper – 40 x 73cm (day 3)
Acrylic sketch on canvas paper – 40 x 51cm (day 3)
Acrylic sketch on canvas paper – 80 x 51cm (day 3)
Adrian, acrylic sketch on canvas paper – 40 x 51cm (day 2)
Conte pencil on paper – 59 x 83cm (day 1)
Charcoal on paper – 64 x 90cm (day 1)


The ride up to Hull from Peasenhall was good. The cargo bike worked well to carry my painting and camping gear and to get around Hull on the couple of days I was there.

The campsites were invariably occupied by big cars, caravans, camper homes and lean-to walk in tents. There were no other cyclists or walkers travelling light. Often I was given unasked for advice about my route or the state of the traffic but always from the perspective of a driver. I began to feel a certain dislocation as I realised these other campers knew nothing of the way I was travelling. I would watch many of them sitting inside their camper van boxes with the glow of a television on, wondering why they might want to do this, shutting themselves off from the sky and land around them?

The above vehicle combination was driven and occupied by a single man. He sat inside the small caravan all evening. The windows had curtains, just like any suburban home, which he proceeded to close when he put on the lights, shutting out the coming evening stars and fresh air.