stories and illustration

Four Stages of a Painting: Fly-By-Night

fly-by-night 2Fly-By-Night, painting in acrylic, neocolor II and conte, to be shown at The Coldstream Gallery in an exhibition entitled “Imagine”.

October 3, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments



October 3, 2014 Posted by | Art, Illustration, Painting, Uncategorized | , , , , | 7 Comments

Tubes of Blue

watercolour tubes

I was trawling through photographs, eliminating a good many –  if I go on amassing images my computer will not have room to breathe. I found some very repetitive snaps of my studio, which I sent to the recycle bin (how do old images get recycled, eh?), but I kept this one as I thought the colours were nice.  At this point I seem to have got some pristine tubes – delicious.  I thought of entitling the blog Blue Tubes, but decided it sounded a bit too like a late-night pay-to-view programme. I keep my acrylics in an old cutlery tray when I am working, but these watercolour tubes are in a contraption which I bought for a couple of quid at Kelso Car Boot Sale, I think it is for serving some kind of Japanese delicacy by the look of it, but soon as I saw it, “paint tubes” came into my mind.  It is ideal, the best thing I have found for keeping the colours fairly separate, so I can find them when I want. If anyone knows what it was for in the first place, I would be interested to know.

Off to Newcastle tomorrow, to look at the SevenStories collection at Design Works, to choose something appropriate to go into an exhibition of children’s illustration in the Granary Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed, as part of the Berwick Book Festival in October.  We have been asked to to choose some work from the wide collection at SevenStories, to by shown with our own work. I am hoping that my choice of a page from Angela Barrett’s work sheets will be permitted to be shown.  Her work will put mine to shame, but hey-ho, that’s my choice.

Actually, I like it that there is much room for improvement – it makes life more interesting.




August 14, 2014 Posted by | Art, Painting, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Paintings for an Exhibition at Eyemouth

August 5, 2014 Posted by | Art, Painting, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | 5 Comments



The Tardis, my studio, is filling up gradually with books, rags, old paint pots, half finished canvases, big bottles with paintbrushes, knick-knacks, charcoal dust, cacti and bird seed. In the midst of trying to finish some acrylic paintings I get a commission of tiny proportions, which means some delicacy needed, which means the table gets dusted free of gubbins, and I take my watercolours out of the cupboard, two paintboxes, a brush roll, and some tubes arranged in a Japanese type woven tray with shallow baskets, obviously for food, but brilliant for keeping the colours separate, bought at a car boot in Kelso.  As I sit down to sketch out a tiny rough, I notice the light through the cobwebs in the window.  Ah, distractions, distractions….

July 7, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Running Hare: All That Was


A hare painting for an exhibition entitled “Running With The Hare” at Harestanes Country Visitor Centre, painted two months ago but just finished now as it needs to be sent off to be framed. The mixed exhibition will be on from April 1st until May 26th, and will include painting, prints, sculpture, drawings, photography, 17th Dutch and new tiles, and textiles.

March 9, 2014 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Hare Moths Candle

Hare Moths Candle

Had to scan this on my computer in two parts, hope the join doesn’t show.  Put my cardigan over the scanner in case light crept through, as this is a deep edge canvas.  Needed to do the scan as it may be used as part of publicity material for an exhibition at Harestanes, an Arts Centre near Jedburgh, subject The Hare. The colours come out brighter than the original, even though I have taken otu much of the magenta.

The little ghost figure  with the candle is like Wee Willie Winkie.  In the background is a city, perhaps Sunderland, with the bridge, and  church spires or factory chimneys.  White flowers and moths shine out at night. What is the hare doing on this wasteland?  It looks alarmed, almost frozen, but ready to flee.

February 21, 2014 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Colours of Frost III


I just pointed my camera downwards and took a snapshot of the frosted leaves on the ground.  It would have been difficult to put an edge to these pictures, it is just stuff as it was, spreading indefinitely like wallpaper. One leaf could have produced a more aesthetically pleasing image.  But what intrigued me  was that in this random leaf-fall there was such a variety of colour and shape, and the frost itself wove it all into such harmony of colour that I could not help finding it pretty.

December 5, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Window, October, Reflections


I was walking across the Market Square in Coldstream and saw something strange.  I couldn’t understand why I had never seen this object before, as it looked like a pub sign or a painting on the side of this house which I must have passed hundreds of times before – however, when I shifted my viewpoint I saw that it was just an ordinary window.  I took these four photographs of the window and put them together, as I think they look like a sophisticated abstract painting, and they are just reflections.  I like the colours! I have been thinking about colour today, because I have decided that in the rough of the story I am creating the illustrations are wrong tonally, they don’t have the feeling that I want.  I bought a book some time ago of photographs of gardens by night, and looking at this has given me new ideas for the story. Maybe I was feeling more alert visually because of this and these reflections caught my eye. If I was doing a painting  I would take out quite a lot of the window frame, but it isn’t a painting so I’ll leave it a tad haphazard as it is.

October 29, 2013 Posted by | Illustration, Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Shadows over the Barley


The week of celebrations and commemorations is over, the travellers (unaccredited) have left the green beside Penitents Walk, and the welcomed visitors have left Tweed Green, where they erected front rooms under canvas beside their caravans. Three portaloos were destroyed by fire, using accelerant, before Civic Week started, and the rubbish container was set on fire by mistake, at the end of Civic Week. In Sunderland in the devastated 90s cars would be twoked and set on fire at the top of the hill and rolled flaming down towards the estate (what larks, Pip), so this was rather mild by comparison (Phone rings.  Policewoman: We have found Mr Manesh’s car. Myself: Oh good, he will be pleased. Is it alright? Policewoman: Not really…. (Pause) What colour did it used to be?)

The sun shone nearly all of Civic Week. Now August is nearly half over, the barley and the wheat are ripening, some of the barley has been swept by storms, but mostly it is undamaged.  I go out for a quick walk in the late afternoon, climbing up the steep path beyond the Leet:


There isn’t much time for walking today, so I decide to just walk along the greensward at the edge of the barley and come back in front of the fishing lodge:


The stream beside the wider path is almost dried up, in spite of some bursts of rain. There have been swans walking across the Tweed, with their cygnets behind them, the water has been so low:


The green way goes up towards the river:


I see the small hill with the copse of trees on its top, a landmark in all seasons.  This season, the hill is gold. The clouds look as if they are rushing towards the horizon:


Towards the bend in the path, the shadows of the trees lie across the barley:


The undergrowth on the edge of the field is twisted and curled like something out of Rackham, or an illustration by Angela Barrett, in the background to a folk tale.


As I approach the place where the path goes up towards the Tweed, I see the truly free-range guinea fowl running away beyond the fence:


The Tweed is calm today, with few waterfowl in sight, though it is probably teeming with invisible life. If I pointed the camera up-river towards the sun, which is the best view from here, I would get the impression of a dark day, so instead I point it downwards towards the purply-brown water:

looking down

Then I look up, towards England on the opposite bank:


I walk on past the small, crumbling temple beside the Tweed:


And then spot a small outcrop of Scotland’s other favourite flower:


Time to head for home. I don’t wear a watch, but when walking by the barley one can hear every quarter of an hour sounding from the town clock; whereas, though we live only a few yards away, up in my room I don’t even hear the hours chime. Sound is strange that way.

August 13, 2013 Posted by | Photography, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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