Saturday, March 30, 2013

una capanna in Firenze

I once lived in the east end of Florence, almost at the verge of the city. It was a gritty district at the time, although you wouldn't know it by day. You could walk out of the city, and if you took the right route, find yourself in above the valley in Settignano, where Michelangelo imbibed marble dust with his mother's milk.

Or you could walk left out of the city, through the new suburbs and the power lines, and turn up in places where neither Michelangelo, the Medici, or any of the gilded apparatus of the capital of the Renaissance should ever trouble your head.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

the nude model

Our model, David, striking a very model-like pose. Naked and muscular men are probably the most traditional things in visual art. Michaelangelo (and to be fair, Signorelli) thought it was a good idea, and here we are 500 years later, still sketching naked men.

It was drawn with a brush pen, various crayons, and some charcoal.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Slumber On

If Tissot had the convenience of the Eurostar at the turn of the century he probably would be too preoccupied sketching women of uninvolved virtue stepping between sliding doors to notice this barn ensconced in snow, but it would be there. Is this something Tissot should regret? I doubt it. And if one hundred years ago the snow fell for even a day longer per year than it does now, he would be stuck in London anyway.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St Mary's Vacated By All But The Quiet

In London the Cherry trees are all in blossom. Every February it happens and by March everyone is surprised that it isn't warm out and hasn't it been a dreadful winter. But there is a reason that blossom viewing parties generally happen in the snow. Speaking of which, I like blossom viewing parties. Every time I get invited to one, I think how nice to see again all the people I saw at the snow viewing party yesterday.

In this particular picture these is no snow because it was 14 degrees above today. But never mind that, it will be cold again tomorrow.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Two similar beauties with differing thoughts

Maddy and little Kate are sisters. Maddy is the smaller of the two and she is a morning person. Kate is not, and I doubt that she was consulted when we agreed on a early morning modelling session.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Many successful drawings are more about what is left out than what is put in. This is a good thing: representation can never be perfect, so the absences are in some senses the most perfect part of the picture.

Which suggests the road towards the flat black square of Malevich, but in fact the thing about negative space is that it's generated by its reciprocal, the positive space of representation. A picture that is nothing but a white square, or a black one, is not a picture of negative space - it's a picture of white, or black. For what's left out to matter, something has to be put in.

Drawn from life at the Arts Project in London, Ontario, in ten minutes.

Your old men shall dream dreams; your young men shall see visions.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Flowers in Grey

I didn't think of the drunk woman even once whilst doing this. Drawn from life and for once the vase appears to be included.

Sunday, March 10, 2013


I met Angela in Siena, Italy. She always had the best shoes. A pity they're not really visible in the picture.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Essex Rd, Islington, London.

This is why picture making is such a pleasure. There is nothing in this scene that can't be seen from the flat on Essex Road. The trees were drawn from life looking out the window, and yet it doesn't quite look like this. Perhaps this is not the picture that will remind you of John Atkinson Grimshaw but I like to think he smiled inwardly when he composed his pictures. It was the smile of truth that artists are known for.

8 lines at noon

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Drawn at the life drawing sessions held at Bijan's in London, Ontario. Our model brought along a hardback to keep herself occupied. Which was awkward, because the head moves more than you think when you read. Also, it was Twilight.

Drawn with a Copic brush pen, in around fifteen minutes.

Behind St Mary's, Upper Street

I was berated by a drunk woman for painting in black in white. She took it as a personal insult against the charms of spring. My opinion on the charms of good society was not sought.
I like it. It makes me think of Frank Auerbach. Every morning he gets up at six in the morning, before the models show up, and draws picture around and about Mornington Crescent. You might think it was another neighbourhood if you didn't know.

Sunday, March 3, 2013


view from a hill

Looking down the slope from the fortified burgh of San Gimignano in Tuscany. This is an old one, from my first trip to Italy. I took the bus instead of cycling on that trip, but views like this one helped convince me to change my approach.

Friday, March 1, 2013