Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013!

'Rubens New Year' 20½"x18" charcoal on paper
I wish everyone a happy 2013. May all your endeavours succeed and may your happiness increase!

The image is a somewhat crude Rubens pastiche in charcoal... no particular reason for drawing it other that I felt like doing one.

As far as I know Rubens never actually did an image of Old Father Time and the New Year Child, but if he had, it would probably would look something like this (but with more finish, flying putti and symbols obviously).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Great Pender Escape

'The Great Pender Escape' 40"x50" Acrylic on canvas
Another portrait of Neal, my studio mate, on his prized Yamaha YG1 café racer. Sadly it wasn't actually running at the time (although now is... sort of). I'm not the best at painting complex machinery, so this picture was a bit of a challenge. Motorcycle fans are very particular.

This work was started at the very height of the growing season on British Columbia's Pender Island, so the foliage was a incredibly vibrant green. That said the photo is not the best, so appears far too lurid. I really must get a better camera.

The film reference is hopefully obvious, and as in the movie, the bike (and as it's not operational) promises much, but is a transport to little but trouble.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


'June' 50"x40" Acrylic on canvas
A portrait of my friend June, a fellow painter.

June always paints a lemon into her works as a sort of signature, so as I always think of lemons, I asked her to pose holding one (actually plastic) with a lemon-yellow hat on, in front of one of her paintings. Although not too easy to see, her painting is of a view of a field in China... with a lemon in it.

This painting was part of an international exhibition at The Federation of Canadian Artists. I was happy with getting the picture in as it was the first time I had entered one of the Federation's shows.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

ACME Studios Series, Number 3

'Neal' 50"x40" Acrylic on canvas
A portrait of my friend and studio-mate Neal E. Nolan, an installation artist and curator. A man with a lot of fingers in diverse artistic "pies".

As part of the ACME series I asked Neal to pose in front of one of his works. Sadly this type of artistic work doesn't reproduce well in painted form... too 3-dimensional and structural. Being installations, they need to be actually touched and their constituent parts explored.

Neal organises and runs a number of exhibitions around Western Canada. A man with huge amounts of artistic drive, entertaining experience, and pleasant to be around (mostly).

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Current Eye Research

'Current Eye Research' 28"x36" Oil on canvas
A landscape 'kit-cat' sized painting I did of my father wearing his favourite 'Current Eye Research' shirt, prior to my emigration to Canada.

My father, before his retirement, had been a Don at Oxford University in the Ophthalmology department, where he had taught and undertaken research since the mid-1970's.

Current Eye Research (an ophthalmological journal) used to hand out very high quality "freebies" at their eye conferences... the usual things such as mugs and shirts, but also some very, very strange items that included such "treasures" as "decorative" pottery tears embossed with maps of the world.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


'Katya' 36"x22" Acrylic on canvas
A portrait of my eldest niece Ekaterina (shortened to "Katya"). She is a bundle of energy and "fun"... a real tomboy.

She is wearing a fancy-dress costume for a performance, but still has on her red shoes with the flashing lights in their heels.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


'Nelly' 24½"x18½" Acrylic & charcoal on canvas
A portrait drawing of Nelly Makovskaia (b. Nelly Troukhina in 1939 Krasnoyarsk, Russia), my brother's Mother-in-law.

A ballet dancer from the age of 15. She was offered a place in a ballet school, however her mother was against her going away to another city, so she trained as a chemist in the local university and worked as a research specialist in gas chromatography and air quality analysis (retired 2004). She has lived in St Petersburg since 1967, and serves as a chairman of her condo residents' committee.

She danced in the Amature Ballet Company for many years, until 1970 when she stopped to concentrate on her career and daughter. She still has her love of dance, and classical ballet in particular, being a frequent visitor to the Kirov Ballet and to St Petersburg's museums and theatres.

Monday, April 16, 2012

John Ruskin

'John Ruskin', Charcoal on paper
A charcoal drawing of John Ruskin, one of the greatest art critics that have ever lived, a beautiful draughtsman, an odd individual, and "star" of many 'urban myths'.

The drawing is of a marble statue in The Ashmolean Museum in my previous home city of Oxford. One of the lovely things about the museum, which is owned by the University of Oxford, is that they positively encourage drawing in the galleries (although after their recent renovation only pencil is allowed due to the flooring).

Ruskin taught at the University of Oxford where he was appointed  the first Slade Professor of Fine Art in 1869 (off-and-on until 1884), and where he established the Ruskin School of Drawing. He was also a huge supporter of education for all and wrote widely.

His legacy is vast, and via his works has greatly influenced Western visual culture... no critic since has exerted such influence.

Friday, April 13, 2012

'Prometheus Bound'

'Study after Rubens & Snyders' 'Prometheus Bound''
48"x42", Acrylic on canvas
If there was ever a single moment that made me an artist, it was being taken to Philadelphia Museum of Art by my mother when I was around three years old.

I can vividly still remember seeing Pieter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders' 1611-12 'Prometheus Bound'... it was electrifying. I can only describe the feeling as a portion of my brain, that was not until then functioning, suddenly "switched on" upon viewing this painting. I was never the same again.

It's a huge painting, roughly 8' by 6'10" (although for some reason Rubens described it as 9 by 8 feet in his correspondence). Rubens painted the figure of the titan Prometheus having his liver pecked out by Snyders' eagle... both incredible bravurra pieces of painting. Both were masters of large workshops in the same road and often "sent" paintings along to have the appropriate section added by the painter who specialised in the area required.

Anyway, in the tradition of making studies of the masters I made a "half-scale" version in an umber tone.

'Prometheus Bound' 96"x82.5", Oil on canvas

Monday, April 9, 2012

ACME Studios Series, Number 2

'Duncan & Sienna' 50"x40" Acrylic on canvas
A portrait of Duncan MacCallum the studio manager at ACME Studios, with one of his cats, Sienna.

This is another in the series of life-sized portraits of artists in my studio block, in this case he is a sculptor and very fine cabinet-maker. Again I produced a monotone sketch on raw canvas, a method I find helps in formulating my intentions as regards the final painting.

I designed the T-shirt that Duncan is wearing as well, it was used as a fund-raiser for opening a third small gallery within the studio block.

'Duncan' 24"x18" Acrylic & charcoal on canvas

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Alex, working (ACME Studios Series, Number 1)

'Alex' 50"x40" Acrylic on canvas
A "work in progress" of an artist friend of mine, chiefly a photographer although he also paints. This is still being worked on, as I'm not totally happy with the flesh tones and overall "feel". Acrylic is a wonderfully flexible medium to work with, but it does have issues, these principally for me being the relative strength of some of the dye-based paints.

However, it is superb for capturing sketches and preparatory work, the charcoal and acrylic study being an example of one of my "working" images.

The painting is somewhat busier than I would normally paint as a portrait, but I wanted to include some of his non-photograhic work in the background. As a successful photographer (and very shortly a first-time father), I imagine his output of paintings might trail-off... it captures a period of his life.

'Alex' 24"x18" Acrylic & charcoal on canvas