Sight-size Method

I have sung the praises of people like Sargent on this site, as alla prima painters. I was unaware though, until recently coming across an excellent article on the history of its use, that he was one of many great portrait painters who used sight-size technique.

I have consciously adopted sight-size technique for this oil painting derived from a short drawing I did. Of course the “model” for sight-size purposes was the drawing itself set up at the same distance as the easel.

I have to say, having always worked by transcribing proportions, I found this method a revelation and will use it in future. The article is by Nicholas Beer and can be found among studio essays on Charles Cecil’s website:

Lake District, Keswick and the History of Pencils

Just returned from a week in the Lake District, where I had the chance to do a few sketches.

Excuse my ignorance, but I had not appreciated that the first pencils were made in Keswick following the discovery of Cumberland Graphite in the mid 1500s. I think we’ve all used Cumberland pencils at some stage, and there is actually a lovely museum and shop in Keswick selling all those Cumberland/Derwent graphite and now coloured pencils we all know.

Seemed appropriate to then head down to the banks of beautiful Derwent Water on the edge of Keswick and sketch a bit …


I have just finished this oil portrait of one of our models, Naomi.

As with the others, derived from this 15 minute pencil sketch.

In Living Colour: Grant Bradley Gallery

Attended the private view of the “In Living Colour” exhibition at the Grant Bradley Gallery in Bristol tonight.

I exhibit two known paintings from this site “Golden Gown” and “The Prestige”. It was also the occasion to exhibit some short 15 min liquitex drawings (set out in an earlier post below)

I was delighted to win the prize in this category. The pictures, again, are below:

Liquitex on paper

Bristol Art Prize 2013

The Bristol Art Prize is an art competition currently running in the city. Artist entrants are being allocated parts of the city to paint and present for selection in an exhibition to be held in the old court buildings; the Guildhall.

Working in the old city in the centre I was intrigued to find what landmark I had been allocated to paint…

I was introduced to a part of Bristol’s old port where the city centre’s floating harbour meets the Cumberland basin at the river Avon: Junction Lock.

This, my first landscape for a while, and more in the style of an abbreviated oil sketch is “Through Junction Lock”.


We were let loose with new “liquitex” pens in class last week. Some interesting results. These were 15 mins drawings in 5 colours

Liquitex on paper

Some interesting results. These were 15 mins drawings in 5 colours


I am intending to exhibit some at the forthcoming “In Living Colour”exhibition at the Grant Bradley gallery in Bristol this August.


Our Glorious Leader…

I am doing the 3 peaks challenge next month, (climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Mount Snowdon – the three highest mountains in Scotland, England and Wales – in 24 hours!) with a group of friends for charity.

This is our guide and guru Steve Tyrrell captured in a moment of meditation before doing Snowdon (twice) this weekend in preparation…

Penny Drawing

This is an oil sketch of one of my fellow life drawing colleagues, Penny.

Occasionally you get a boring back view and decide to sketch those around you – the pencil sketch from which this is derived, is below.