Thu, 28 May 2020
Neon Greens

Below is a screen capture from a short YouTube video, an interview with David Hockney. The video's only about 4 minutes long and he's talking about the state of his art and the world. As usual, good sense and humour from him.

I don't think I can get such bright, almost neon, colour in my painting! Mine aren't backlit though.

He speaks of a philosopher he saw talking on television: the news comes on and he's asked how he can be optimistic with news like this? He replies, well, that's television. Bad news sells. So he's asked, what's the good news then? And he replies ... the arrival of spring. Hockney chuckles and it's a typical Hockney observation (about "observation" itself).

he says, of course nobody notices spring arriving usually but in the past, everyone noticed. In 2020, I think many more people started noticing as well. And now it's summer. End in sight of the "crisis"? At least the beginning of the end.


Wed, 13 May 2020
Cast Shadows

Above: Queensferry and Learmonth Shadows, oil, 8x10", April 15 2020

I painted this a few weeks ago, the "hook" being the light through the large tree casting a great mosaic of a shadow on the road. Not a particularly complicated picture and it came out fairly well. Unlike some other paintings recently though. In fact, a week or so ago I was having a lot of trouble sitting down and getting anything done. Some days are like that, and it can definitely cast a bit of a depressing shadow itself. Very frustrating. Luckily, I managed to break the spell last week. Hopefully for a while.


Wed, 06 May 2020
BP 2020 Offline

The National Portrait Gallery in London are hosting the BP Portrait Award show online this year and have created a virtual gallery in the web browser. I had a poke around and it works very well, although I think I heard my laptop fans start to spin a bit faster. A "virtual" gallery like this is not bad at all but no substitute for real life. I'll be having a "stroll" around it and checking out the pictures, almost as usual. The painting just in the above frame to the left is the 2020 winner.

BP Portrait Award 2020


Above: Heavy(weight), portrait of Benjamin Gasinga Gaspard - Rwanda, Papay Solomon, oil

I hope the London gallery does the virtual display like this every year. I was very disappointed that 2019 was the last year the BP Portrait Award exhibition would be shown in Edinburgh. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery decided they did not want to host anything sponsored by BP, an oil company. I'm opposed to that decision and feel a loss. I bet a lot of people do. Edinburgh's loss.


May Gardening

Four years ago, the Royal Academy had an exhibition I reported on called Painting the Modern Garden ("Monet to Matisse"). I enjoyed it immensely (I think I went twice): the RA know how to put on a great show. The Monet water lilies in the last room were like being before an altar. Quite magical.

The Academy have just put their film of the exhibition on YouTube. Beautifully produced and full of colour as you would expect. This is worth putting up on a big screen and sitting back to wallow in: much art and beautiful plants.


Mon, 04 May 2020
And Another Fresh View

From the same day as the previous work. I liked the view a lot and did another small oil painting of the view of the city over Inverleith Park pond.

Below: Inverleith Pond Frozen, oil, 12x10". Jan 2020.

Sun, 03 May 2020
A Fresh Morning

This is a study I painted in December 2019, based on a reference photograph from earlier in the month. A lovely cold and fresh morning, frost on the ground. The pond was mainly frozen and birds were standing around on the ice. It came out well I think :

Below: Inverleith Pond Frozen 2, oil, 8x10"". Dec 2019.

Fri, 01 May 2020
Portraits 2020

No visits to the Mall Galleries this year either! This is the gallery I think I miss the most. This year's Royal Society of Portrait Painters exhibition is on and we've all got the email alert. Great paintings, online only. It really does pay to take some time to have a look through them.

Darren Butcher's painting shown below could be called caricature rather than portrait. Does it matter though? Very well painted anyway and there's an Expressions Two as well. In fact, there are a lot of new artists in the show this year, as well as the usual ones I remember and love.

Below: Expressions One, Darren Butcher, Oil, 63x63cm

The portrait below is by Alex Tzavaras. He runs a good YouTube channel called SIMPLIFY Drawing & Painting where he teaches painting technique and does some artist interviews.

Below: Peter Wearing a Plaid Shirt, Alex Tzavaras, Charcoal, 90x70cm

It woud be great if the various painting societys and groups could work out a way to take their exhibitions north of the border each year as well somehow.


Thu, 30 Apr 2020
RSA Annual 2020

The Royal Scottish Academy annual exhibition is on just now. In normal circumstances I'd be up there in person. Unfortunately, these are not normal times. Anyway, thank goodness for the internet. These are a few pictures I liked, but there are quite a few others worth seeing.

Below: Om Elephant Temple No. 1 (detail) by Alan Robb. Acrylic and Oil. 183x153cm

The above Alan Robb painting is very striking (and large). This is only a detail.

Like the RA Summer Exhibition, it can be a hit or miss affair but there's always something good in it and I won't be alone in missing being there in person. Although there are many good things about viewing art online, it's not the same at all, no matter how good the photograph. I feel a lot of sympathy for the organisers of the show this year, but in particular for the artists. Some would have been looking forward to their first RSA presence. They must be very disappointed.

Below: Night of Wonder by Gordon Mitchell. Oil. 41x51cm


Below: Pennan by Neil MacDonald. Oil. 71x82cm

Sat, 25 Apr 2020
Light and Colour

In a past life, before the crisis (maybe that should be BC, Before-Covid), I would often travel up to Edinburgh on the train for a holiday in September. I'd take a day trip to Glasgow and visit the Kelvingrove Museum, and the Hunterian a short walk up to the university. Sometimes freshers week was on and I got a reminder of my student days.

The sun was shining in a good way on this beautiful tree in the university quad one time over there. It was one of those magical moments that sometimes happens and you're in just the right place, light and colour link up nicely. Definitely something to try and capture in paint later. I did one of my "studies", which I thought was successful, and then blew up to a larger canvas :

Below: Tree in the Quad, 50x60cm, oil, March 2020

The sky is blue, the sun is out and it's a beautiful day.


Thu, 23 Apr 2020
And the Winner Is ...

Geraniums by Ruth Murray.

Ruth Murray has won the Jackson's Painting Prize with this amazing oil painting of a garden greenhouse at night. I wrote about this prize a week or so ago and remember opening this picture to have a closer look and thinking how good it was. Very deserving. You can see some other examples of her work linked on the Jackson's page.

Ruth's web site is here.


Wed, 22 Apr 2020
Still Not Boring

At the end of his interview with Tim Marlow, Hockney says that he might be boring others but he's not about to go and bore himself: he'll do what he enjoys doing. This is another great YouTube video from the RA, covering Hockney's 2012 show with his amazing Yorkshire lanscapes, and his 2016 show with all the portraits (and a still life).

I've gone on about how much I loved his colourful landscapes many times before. He is 82 now and currently "stuck" in Normandy due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Luckily he paints and draws, so I hope he's capturing some great spring weather over there.


Tue, 21 Apr 2020
Picasso on Paper

With the "lockdown" continuing, we can't go to the gallery. If I was still in London, I would definitely have gone to the Royal Academy to see their Picasso and Paper exhibition. The RA have created a virtual exhibition though and they've done an excellent job. Watch on their own site (link above) or on YouTube :


Mon, 20 Apr 2020
More Goudie

Above: Swallows At Eggardon, 81.5X98cm, Oil On Board

I have to say that I really like some of Lachlan Goudie's work, especially some of his newer stuff. It's bright. colourful and accomplished, whether the landscape, still-life or complicated engineering (see his shipyard work). Some of the gouache sketches he did in the Holy Land were also very good (a BBC film was made). I think that as far as the landscape and still-life work goes, he is very much in the tradition of the Scottish Colourists.

If you visit Goudie's web site (which is not the easiest to use), start with the "gallery" link (bottom) and view his "New Work" to start.


Above: Sur La Cote, Oil On Board, 102x76cm

Paintings to draw inspiration from.


Wed, 15 Apr 2020
St Vincent

A painting of the front of the St Vincent Bar and the corner of St Vincent Street and Circus Lane, done a few days ago. I've not been in the bar but it's always seemed an attractive picture, as is Circus Lane.

This painting is only "OK" as well but I think it might do better on a larger canvas. We'll see (I have no plans).

Below: At Vincent Bar (study), oil, 18x24cm, April 2020

Mon, 13 Apr 2020
Lachlan Goudie

This is Lachlan Goudie's "isolation" message via the Scottish Gallery. He's well known from being a judge in the BBC's various Painting Challenge programs but also makes other art related programs (e.g. on Charles Rennie Mackintosh). I like his work. He's also one of the few artists who seems to regularly use gouache paint.

I saw his Shipyard exhibition at the Glasgow Art Club last year, which included some beautiful pieces and amazing detail. His web site is here.


Reasons to be Cheerful Part 1

Tesco were selling fresh blueberries : "100% extra free".

Part 2

It's nice not to have the constant thrum of traffic on the roads.


Sun, 12 Apr 2020
Two More Studies

I'm not just showing my "good" stuff, I'm also calling things "studies" to try and emphasise that I'm not spending too long on the paintings. I'm not going to display anything I think's terrible though! These two studies are not great: let's say I think they're OK. However, on occasion, I've initially hated a painting only to change my mind after a few days, so I try not to rip stuff up too quickly.

These were both done in the past week. The beach scene was rubbed out and re-done once. It's done on an MDF board, not canvas textured, so much smoother than I'm used to. I had some trouble adjusting.

Below: Leith Shore Reflecting (study), oil, 8x10", March 31st 2020

Below: Dunes (study), oil, 20x30cm, April 5th 2020

Fri, 10 Apr 2020
Life in Isolation

Also from Jackson's blog, a post from Lisa Takahashi.

She asked various artists how they're doing during the "lockdown" period. The first asked is Peter Brown, one of my favourites. A lot of art is created in a solitary way anyway, but some does require more space or equipment. Some artists don't have much of a "home studio", so have to make do and packed what they (thought) they needed. It's tough for everyone but I think that an artist has some advantage at the moment; maybe writers as well. Everyone wants to decompress in the sun sometimes though, or feel comfortable popping out to the shops. An online and virtual life doesn't cut it yet.


Jackson's Art Prize

I've bought quite a bit of stuff at Jackson's over the years, and quite a bit recently as well. I never visited a shop when down south but they do a lot of business online. I am not affiliated with them in any way but can vouch for their service, range and quality. They also have a good blog with regular and interesting posts.

As well as all that, they do a painting competition every year and have just announced their shortlist. I like this sort of thing, as well as group or club exhibitions, as it's great to see a wide variety of art on display. Some very good works of art here.

There are many pictures I like, one I've highlighted below :

Below: Cafe Culture, Paris by Hilary Burnett Cooper, Acrylics, 72x72cm

This sort of outdoor painting is called contre-jour, against daylight. Painting facing towards the sun. I think it is particulary good in urban settings.


Wed, 08 Apr 2020
A Walk in the Park

Luckily, we're still allowed a walk in the park, for exercise. Once a day anyway.

Living in Stockbridge, I'm lucky to be near the Botanics and Inverleith Park. The Botanic Gardens are closed just now unfortunately but the park is open. It's a lovely great big open space, with an outlook over the Edinburgh skyline from far East to far West, including Arthur's Seat and the Pentland Hills. Lots of bird life around as well, not least around the pond. Spring's here, the sun is out and we're (mostly) stuck inside ...

In frostier weather last year, I did an early morning visit and managed to take some decent photographs. From one I did a small study. And earlier this year I expanded it to a large canvas. This is the largest canvas size I've used so far and I think it came out well.

Below: Inverleith, Frost and Trees (study), oil, 18x24cm, Dec 2019

Below: Inverleith, Frost and Trees, oil, 50x60cm, Feb 2020