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