The Prestige

Using the same palette as my previous painting, juxtaposing warm/cool complementaries, this is another large  oil based on a 1 hour life drawing.

Again, hope you like it…

The Golden Gown

Haven’t posted for a while as I’ve been working on this one.  Again, an oil painting based on a life drawing – an hour long study this time for a change (see bottom).

The Golden Gown

As you’ll see from the drawing I had no information for a background and instead of imagining one have instead “quoted” part of one from a 19th century oil painting by Joseph Frederic Charles Soulacroix known as  “The Reader”. I also admire the paintings of William Merritt Chase, who clearly enjoyed using flat patterned and decorative japanese backdrops for his subject for effect –  so I thought, why not?

Academic really but this is also the first time I have used what I understand to be a proper “limited palette” if not a Zorn palette: Vermillion; Alizarin Crimson (for lake); cadmium yellow; yellow ochre; french ultramarine; van dyck brown; cinnabar green (for emerald); lamp black and titanium white

Hope you like it.

Painting By Numbers

I have just completed a couple of oil studies based on photos for ease of reference. The purpose was to try and focus on building a painting in tonal stages as set out below.

Dividing the value range from say black to white in terms of 10 tonal values I started with a value 4 background/ground comprising the main colours I’ll use in the portrait…


I then painted in the shadow areas in no darker than a 7. The darkest areas, say a 9, were then imposed upon that. The areas where the light falls were then blocked in in say a 2 or 3 (saving the 1 for the highlights) …

Oil Portrait

The hard work is in choosing the right colour temperature and of course values in that 4 – 7 range and closing in on the detail.

I always try to work wet in wet in the manner taught by Carolus-Duran to Sargent. See James Gurney’s really informative post on this. I’ve always had to guess though and it’s a matter of extrapolating from the few gems handed down there; “the truth in painting lies in the halftone of every plane” and the like…

The above “number” method, however, is set out by the fabulous young artist Louis Smith.  He betrays a love of Sargent and I wonder if his approach isn’t basically an exposition of the same Carolus-Duran method. Sargent basically says abbreviate every plane to its midtone, build from those midtones and finish with the darkest darks and lightest lights. Whilst the “number” method goes to dark tones and light very early it still reserves the extreme tones for later on.

His work is well worth checking out as well as his demonstrations on the site to which the above paintings were indebted by way of technique. He is one of the very best out there at the moment in my view.

Quick on the Draw

When I first started posting on this site I sang the virtues of short poses. I had begun life drawing doing 1 hr poses but quickly found that I could get a lot of information by doing 15 min poses.


This is one of Lauren,  15 min sketches of whom have formed the basis of other paintings on this site: “Late afternoon light”, “Baby it’s cold outside” and “The Ratcliffe Venus”

“Smock on Tommy”

Look at this fabulous commissioned portrait by Anders Zorn:  “The daughters of Ramon Subercasseaux”

A Portrait Of The Daughters Of Ramon Subercasseaux

The composition is uncompromising. The striking features are the snapshot effect and the minimal use of palette. This is probably derived from use of no more than four colours, which helps focus on tone.

There is some debate as to whether Zorn really used a limited palette but here he clearly does and to great effect.

Ever leading with the chin I tried to do a similar exercise.

I derived a pencil sketch of my children painting:

Smock on Tommy – sketch

And executed an oil sketch with a limited palette of cadmium red, yellow ochre, titanium white and raw umber:

We have a saying in our house whenever they want to paint. It’s a little joke they may get when they are older. “What must we do first children before we paint?”

“Smock on Tommy” they cry in unison.

It amuses me.


Ever tried doing a sketch of someone from memory. This is one I did of Bristol artist Chris Hibbard from memory.

Memory – Chris Hibbard

I had met him a couple of times when I did it. In comparing it with his photo though I was tempted to amend but thought better of it.

If you want to compare it with him check out his website at:

Hello world again!!!!!

Oh no!!! Some gremlin corrupted my site and sadly, I’ve lost 8 months of comments, posts, media etc.  … Aaaarrrgghhh!!!!!

But then again,  I’m reading Moby Dick at the moment and Melville there talks of how many histories, eventful lives and deeds unfurl and yet go forever unrecorded and untraced on the surface of the oceans…

Hmm. Vanity vanity, all is vanity etc…

Summer at Sea Palling

Well, ho hum! Welcome to website no.2.

Please post a comment and, spammers, please dont.



February 2012