Thursday, December 30, 2010

The intellectual on the train

Concentrating hard on her dissertation on the portals of the Romanesque churches of southern Tuscany but distracted by Isabella Allende. I can sympathize.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Barefoot in the lounge

Sometimes you want to kick off your shoes and enjoy a nice cup of coffee, no matter that you're surrounded by undergraduates and it's cold as Satan's member outside.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ciume Acting Pensive

Ciume is an actor and has a unusual name.  I wouldn't describe her as a pensive soul.  Sexy she is.  This painting was done as an after thought to another last winter when I didn't trust the light for anything grander. 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Urban canyons

The streets of Florence are narrow, claustrophobic and endlessly fascinating. This was drawn, with a dip pen, while looking down a side street towards the via del Moro.

Friday, December 17, 2010

One of the many decrepit but still habitable houses in the vicinity of Florence. I encountered this one on a hot day in September, while walking on the via delle cinque vie south of the city.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A very quick and minimalist sketch of the artist and martial artist Robert Bentley. He's a talented polymath and all-round dangerous guy.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Looking up at the Cathedral of St.Louis in Blois, France. The cathedral, a 17th century building graced with charming modernist stained glass, is not the most interesting or impressive sight in Blois. But the confined view up the hillside stairway is one of the most striking.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Sea

Nautical paintings have a long history, but paintings of the sea are less common. It was things on the waves, not the sea itself, that animated most painters.

And for the minority of artists that did concern themselves with the sea itself, it was invariably the sublimity of the ocean, its danger and vastness, that provided their themes. Caspar David Friedrich's Monk by the Sea is a good (spectacular, really) example.

Tarragon's recent seascapes have a composition derived from Friedrich. But the theme here is different. The creamy breakers curl and roll, skimming the sand like wet silk over flesh.
They are not sublime. They are erotic, as lush and inviting as Hockney's swimming pools.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Friday, December 10, 2010

The chateau of Meyrargues dominates the community of the same name, although why anyone should bother to dominate such a tiny place is beyond me. The castle itself is quite beautiful, chiefly because of its vivid yellow colour. Not visible here, of course.

These days it's a  4-star hotel. Perhaps one day...

It's in Provence, just south of the Durance. I cycled through it en route to the (rather lovely) campsite at Cadenet.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

In the classroom

Also in Italy, as it happens. Also in the summer. It's hard to pay attention to the class sometimes.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Girls of summer...

sitting in the piazza, drinking coffee, not taking notes. It's possible they're supposed to be paying attention to a professor of medieval history.

A typical sketchbook page, done very quickly with a china marker. They end up a bit worse for wear sometimes, but that's an inevitable consequence of carrying the book around everywhere.

Monday, December 6, 2010

London Fields

Have you heard about the Hipsters?  Have you heard about the London Hipsters?  The kings, the natural beauties on their danger machines, the landing strip legs in spring.  The handle bars and the grease and the beer.  The throw-out barbecues burning the grass through the long evenings.  They all converge here, these fields left undisturbed in the midst of Hackneys victorian sprawl.

I think the high-rise is new.  Never mind the high-rise.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


One spring I spent a lot of time walking in the hills above Florence, sketchbook and watercolours in hand. Cliche, I know.

Here we're looking down the via di Feliceto in Settignano, a small village a few kilometres' walk north-east of the city. While I was painting, a local couple came by and we had a nice chat about Canada. They'd been to Montreal, and liked it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Work in progress

A little while ago I posted an early sketch for this drawing, entitled (no longer provisionally) Eurydice, Eurydice. At that time I hoped to finish it within a week. But as they say, hope springs infernal.

Nobody ever accused November of being the most fruitful month. Sadly, the same is true of December. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Musicians at the Transat Club

A bunch of guys sat around improvising all night. They were having fun, but as background music goes, it was hit and miss.