Monthly Archives: January 2015

Painting in Progress..

P1180963As you can see from the photo above, I’m just at the stage of laying down layers for this first painting in a series of three. My usual approach (unless it’s a commission where someone has asked for something very specific) is to lay down translucent layers and textures. Partly because it creates depth and interest, but also because I don’t like to be too specific when I start out.

One of my favourite painters is Peter Doig who grew up in Canada and Scotland, before moving with his family to Trinidad several years ago. He had a huge retrospective at Edinburgh’s National Gallery recently, and I can’t begrudge him the fact that his paintings are among the highest selling in the art world (of living artists). He had his fair share of grim flatshares post art college! I love the texture and mystery of his paintings and I was fascinated to learn a little of his technique, which has some similarities to mine though the end results are different.

DSC02462Doig builds up layers, often beginning with a photograph as a starting point, but with a certain narrative or sense of place that he wants to capture. Apparently he often leaves paintings for many months, allowing inspiration and ideas to grow. This is something I can’t currently afford to do as I have deadlines to meet and my paintings sell at a miniscule fraction of the amount Doig’s do!

music-of-the-futureHis work has interesting perspective and depth too, not obvious in a sense, but definitely there in the way your eye is drawn in to a view – from a distance perhaps, from across water, or through trees. It’s partly this that creates the sense of atmosphere and mystery, but the layering of texture adds to this, drawing your eye in to details.

20091127025732_peterdoigcabinOften the deliberate flaws, the lack of coherence in some areas, that makes a painting interesting. Even Vermeer (whose works look almost photographically realistic at first) uses this technique; deliberate roughening, or leaving gaps. It works because that’s the way our eyes work – we select details, focus in on some, or become curious about things our eyes don’t quite understand.


All of this observation gives the impression I know what I’m doing! The reality at this stage is nearly always anxiety – patiently waiting for the painting to make sense, unsure of where it’s going.

After a day of staring at a canvas (in this case a 40×40″ wood panel) all day, my mind is full of fleeting images before I go to sleep – effects and colours. Soemtimes they’re even useful!

This first painting I’m working on is called ‘West’, and it’s part of the series of three I’m creating for the Eigg Island group exhibition opening at the Scottish Storytelling Centre on Thursday 26th March

Click on this link for more info, or to book tickets for the launch music and poetry performance.. Eigg Island exhibition

More of Doig’s works..

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New paintings

280px-John_Knox' photo on the left is of the Scottish Storytelling Centre in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town on the Royal Mile, where the Eigg Island exhibition and event will be held in March.

It’s on the site of John Knox’s house which is Edinburgh’s only completely original medieval building, dating from 1470.


The event includes debut performances By JL Williams and Atzi Muramatsu, so we’ve decided to ticket it (£6 – £4 concession). You can buy tickets on this link: Tickets

Depending on fund raising success we hope to give ticket proceeds towards the Eigg Island Heritage Trust (I should find out by early February if we’ll receive funding. Fingers crossed!)

You can keep up with exhibition and event updates here: Eigg Island Facebook

Also, a welcome new addition to the exhibition is photographer Simon Nicholas White – who is very much an Eigg aficionado! He was on the island in 1998 when the community bought the island amid much celebration. His photographs are semi abstract works inspired by geology – a focus in to the textures and patterns of rock formations which are small worlds in themselves. I’m really looking forward to seeing them in the exhibition space. (Click on the link on his name to view images)

phthaloblue_eb38f4f1-a913-4ecf-a7cf-792afb143b7b_largeAt the moment I’m in the midst of ordering art supplies for three of the largest paintings I’ve made so far. I’ll be focusing a lot on texture, and have ordered large quantities of molding paste, and glaze effects (normally I add lots of salt for texture and grittiness, but on this scale I’ve had to ‘upscale’ my materials!). Also some of my favourite paints – pthalo blue and green mixed with varnish for transparency

The works will be on three 40 x 40 inch wooden panels and I’m looking forward to working on these, having often worked on smaller pieces of wood. You can really play around with effects since wood is more resilient than canvas; scratches into the surface, layers and so on.

The themes are East, West and North Eigg (I wrote more about inspiration in the earlier post Here)

If you’re in on near Edinburgh on the 26th March, I hope you can attend the launch event which promises to be very atmospheric with poetry and music recitals inspired by Eigg and its landscape, or drop in between the 27th March to 21st April to see the exhibition

‘Eigg Island’ Exhibition Launch and Event

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I’m pleased to announce the up-coming Eigg Island exhibition launch and event!



This will be held at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, High Street Edinburgh on the 26th March at 7pm (All details on this link – Eigg Island Exhibition and Event )

The larger image above is a photo I took while on the Isle of Eigg, of a map which was faded and weather-worn. The text and image were barely discernible beneath the rain-washed, sun-bleached surface. I wasn’t sure at the time why I was drawn to the image, and I’m still not entirely sure! Except that it echoes the process of ‘discovering’ an island and the way its landscape and people gradually become more familiar.

These maps will be the inspiration behind the next series of paintings, although I’m not sure as yet what the process will be. The paintings will be titled West, North, East and South and they’ll represent my experience of Eigg over the past year.

I’m delighted that Atzi Muramatsu (Cellist/Composer) and Jennifer L Williams (Poet) will be collaborating with me again on this project. The exhibition will also include craft-makers from Eigg, a photographer and a song-writer from Edinburgh. (These last two are tbc so I will add more info once confirmed).

I hope you can come along to the launch evening on the 26th March, it’ll be a wonderful evening with debut performances to celebrate the launch of the exhibition! Also the exhibition continues until 21st April and the gallery is open from 10 – 6pm daily

In the meantime, this short video shows a collaboration, between myself, Jennifer and Atzi, of paintings, poetry and music inspired by Eigg..