Delivering from your own brief and the ‘London 12’….

The ‘London 12′ sounds more like a group of wrongly convicted jail birds, but is in fact a series of twelve paintings I’ll work on in April. One for each month of the year and covering key areas of London.

Always a lot easier to come up with ideas for someone else’s brief, but when the brief is one created by yourself and has to be delivered by yourself it’s not so easy and very quickly ideas can dry up, so I’ve been working all morning in the Liverpool library with a simple story board below showing progress.

Liverpool library is great, loads of light and I really like the new architecture, only downside is that by mid-day, the wi-fi is down to as slow as slow can be as the place is filled up with many people using the internet. As you walk round the auditorium you can glance over people’s shoulders to see the spectrum of internet use, never fails to amaze me from the history of bull-fighting, the compulsory cats playing the piano …….to nuclear physics – the whole world is here – just as any Library should be!

Meeting Ken Martin this afternoon to discuss dates for the Exhibition in Liverpool of my work starting this August.

sketch book ideas

Work on three small canvases and Belfast ferry ‘parked’ in the wrong place!

Turned up at my usual painting spot on the Wirral with the ‘Belfast Ferry’ canvas and three of the seven small ‘Mersey’ canvases. (Early start usually set up for 7:45am).

The captain of this morning Belfast ferry had frustratingly decided to moor todays ferry at the other end of the pier and facing north, so that put a halt to work on the large canvas (I’d planned to paint the boat) and meant ‘on the spot’ painting today focused on updating three of the small canvases (see below) they went well and the early spring sunshine was great this morning.

Outside I always paint standing up, think it helps the concentration, but, means anywhere between 2 and 3 hours is the maximum without a break!…..returned to Liverpool by late morning and worked where I could on the large Belfast Ferry painting in doors.




Matthew Street home of the Cavern – 2 oil sketches…

Spent today working on two small canvases based on some digital reference shots taken yesterday. The views shows a rainy morning on Matthew Street which is where the Cavern is  – home of the Beatles, or at least where they started in Liverpool. The venue is still a great one rebuilt as it was in the early 60’s and in the same spot.

If you are Beatle fan (as I am) I also recommend going to Woolton where there is the village hall that Lennon and McCartney first met, and across the road there is the church  where a certain Eleanor Rigby is buried. Paul McCartney has always said that its just a coincidence  – though you have to wonder…how many Elanor Rigby’s have you met? Its an unusual name and my theory is that he must have seen the name and the name seeped in to his unconscious to resurface in that great song of the mid-60’s, close to her grave there is a also buried a Farther John McKenzie…!

Weather forecast is good for tomorrow morning so the plan is to work on the Belfast Ferry landscape from the Wirral, plus a couple of the smaller canvases.



Big Sky – large canvas 4′ x 3′ and 12 ‘London’ paintings start…

Rain this morning so was in doors and worked on the large sky line canvas of Liverpool…..bright blue sky this afternoon so it was a bit frustrating not to be painting outside.

Meanwhile started work also on the first 6 of twelve  ‘London’ medium sized canvases which will take a few months to complete, so initial work was just background colours and getting rid of the white background.



Bright low sun on the Mersey and a Solar Eclipse…

Spent most of today on a small canvas (See below) based on a reference digital shot taken on Wednesday early morning of the Mersey ferry as it docked at the Wirral with the sun so bright that it bleached out nearly all the colour from the picture. Very strange pale yellow/red light caused by the low sun and mist.

Today as with most of Northern Europe the solar eclipse at 9:30am gave a weird shift in lighting and temperature for around an hour, felt like evening light but was different, still holds plenty of fascination for people today, no wonder that hundreds of years ago when people had no idea of the science behind what was happening that it spread fear and confusion…!



Sea and Pubs – Liver portrait canvas

Another beautiful spring morning in Liverpool and early start with work on a small canvas and a medium sized (1 meter x 50 centimetre) canvas in portrait mode of the Liver building (see below).

The two Liver birds on top of the building face in different directions one out to sea and one inland. The story goes that the one looking out to sea is waiting for its partner to come back from the sea, and the one looking inland is waiting for him to come back from the pub! Always makes me laugh when I think that story when looking across at the view from the Wirral.


18/3/15 – Early Sun and Mist over the Mersey – 3 new canvases, 7 small canvases in total

Misty and cold this morning, but the sun broke through and there was no wind trying to send any paintings flying, it became a really nice spring morning and I worked on three new small canvases and did some more work on one of the small canvases from last week.

All seven below and with the forecast looking good for tomorrow , I’ll go back tomorrow, but this time with a larger new canvas…

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Tuesday – 17/3/15 – One big meeting room and a Seagull target…

Forecast was supposed to be good for today, but it was starting to rain this morning as I set off early for the Wirral, but I was lucky the moment I arrived the rain eased off and I was able to get the canvas, easel and paints to the edge of the Mersey with no problems, no need to book a meeting room or charge a laptop, only danger was being a target for low flying seagulls who clearly had seen the Dambusters film one too many times…

….the view was a foggy blur across the Mersey to the iconic Liver building and all the others stretching on the skyline south to the Roman Catholic Cathedral and then the Anglican Cathedral that appears higher on the skyline, and off todays canvas. The scene was definitely very misty and you could hardy see the buildings ….which actually made for a great view to paint.

What colour is mist or fog?… well today it was a grey red, the sky is very rarely blue and the sea not blue or green and on the Mersey it will change colour as a tug goes by churning up the waves behind it.

I remember when I had a flying lesson a few years back in a small plane that was more like a go-kart with wings and a flight to the North West of London which had an evening view of the London skyline and asking the instructor what was the orange hue above the skyline and below the grey-blue summer sky  – he said it was pollution!….nice….next time you see the sun rise or sun set over a major city, have a look at all the loads of interesting colours, unfortunately some of them we would all be better off with out!

Today’s work below, probably my favourite work of the last couple of weeks…(Approx. 3 x 1 foot canvas)…



16/3/15 – Banks, Boats and Billingsgate….

Worked today on the large square canvas of Billingsgate building with the large new Credit Suisse building looking like its about crash like a wave over it.

The boat has been updated to a smaller tug that was moored further down the Thames in place of the larger boats that were originally there, but were too large for the composition  – this boat works better!

Talking of better the weather forecast looks like that it will be good for the next three days – so I’ll be painting out doors for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday…