The photos above show the stages in the construction of a ruined section of church or abbey. Made from sheets of polystyrene foam, and coated with plaster filler, before finally painted in washes of oil paint. The similarities between the diorama and a Caspar David Friedrich painting is not coincidental!
This marks a significant departure from the ambiguous cardboard structures that have until recently provided the inspiration for my paintings. I have resisted heading in this direction for some time, and for two reasons: firstly, I’ve felt it was a retrograde step, reminding me as it does of modelling-making hobbies from my youth. But my interests were taking me in this direction, and so I decided to follow them wherever they lead. And secondly, such an emphatic reference to a recognisable object I felt would be limiting, that it would narrow interpretive responses or narrative possibilities. However, by directly invoking the tropes of the Romantic landscape tradition, I feel would be an engaging strategy the better to explore the ideas, values, and political concepts that inform our understanding of landscapes in Western art.

The evolution of an image, from original photograph of cardboard model, to the hand-finished inkjet prints on transparency film.

Two more inkjet prints, hand finished with a brush. The source images were photos of dioramas created in the studio using concrete, paper, and cardboard. The intention here is to continue to explore artifice, and disorient with a playful manipulation of scale.

Four small works from a series of paintings first begun in 2017. Layers of paint are applied with a palette knife on a coloured ground, before being scraped, smeared, and spread across the surface. A brush is used for blending in the final stages. Photos were used initially for reference, but the resulting images bear little to no resemblance to the source material.

Small paintings from 2017, all oil on canvas, and 20 x 25cm. Experimenting with a change in palette (more yellow ochre), and again using a knife to apply and blend paint.

Five small (10" x 8") paintings from a growing series of works executed in oils using a palette knife. Begun in April 2017, they reference documentary photos of U.S atomic testing. The surface of each work is the accumulation of several layers of paint, applied rapidly and with no clear idea how the final image will look. The surface becomes a record of this process: each layer disturbs, and is disturbed by, the layer beneath. It can be said that the resulting image conveys the disruption and the violence, while the medium embodies it.

Before and… after. On the left, the original photo of the diorama (cardboard and concrete), and on the right, the subsequent oil painting (25 x 30cm).
The photo in many respects is only a starting point; my intention is never to produce a slavish copy, but rather to exaggerate some elements, while suppressing or omitting others. A successful painting achieves a balance, and should transform the cardboard and concrete into something both strange and recognisable.

These five small paintings represent initial studies made from the diorama photos described in the last entry. They are approx. 12 x 20cm, executed in oils on canvas. I intend to make larger paintings from these studies, and for them to join the series titled ‘The Diminished Realm’.

At the beginning of November I began a new project. Rather than rely on found images for the inspiration for paintings, I instead decided to construct a world; I assembled crude structures, landscapes and dioramas from concrete, cardboard, and assorted detritus, before photographing the various scenes. The lighting was provided by strong lamp (in this case an archaic overhead projector), and the photos were taken with an iPhone.

The original intention was to use the assemblages as a ready source of reference for paintings; I may however decide to develop the images as a body of work in their own right.

Three paintings, all oil on canvas and completed in 2016, selected here as examples of my evolving style and palette. They are in order of oldest first from left to right, with the large image being the most recent of the three.
Each painting began with a warm pink ground, before a similar palette was used to model forms. Over time however, the paint was thinned with increasing amounts of medium (linseed oil and turpentine), and more of the ground was allowed to show through; highlights were not stated with opaque colour, but rather with the exposed pink below. Successive paintings became looser in their modelling, my intention being to develop a more economical expression of form, so that they would attain a ‘provisional’ and even an unfinished impressionistic quality.

‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ (2016).
An inkjet print on transparency film of a found photograph, painted into with a brush and water. Made with Halloween in mind…

A study in oils on cardboard. An opportunity to explore both a muted palette, and also to experiment applying paint with a knife. The absorbent texture and colour of the cardboard suit the subject particularly well.

Two of several recent small oils on canvas – preparatory studies for a project I hope to soon finish and include in my portfolio

These images are derived from a found photograph that was first printed on transparency film, before being altered and manipulated in a further development of the ideas and techniques shown below. This time, however, the effects were achieved with a combination of water, overlays, and photoshop.

Three of a number of experiments made by ‘painting’ with wet ink on acetate prints. While little more than sketches at the moment, they however suggest exciting possibilities for future works.

This is the first of a series of photos of a work in progress, from the early stages through to completion. Inspiration for the piece came partly from photos of the demolition of a local landmark (Northampton’s Greyfriars Bus Station), and my desire to incorporate one of Nature’s noble beasts into a changing urban landscape. The painting was produced on commission, and is now in a private collection.

First, an acrylic wash is applied to the canvas…

Washes in oil paint are then introduced, and modelling is done in stages, allowing each one to dry before advancing to the next.

The forms of the dust cloud and foreground are gradually established…

The white lines are added to the ground, before coloured glazes are applied to both the dust cloud and the car park. Next, a stencil and spray paint are used to create the form of the stag, and the details are added with acrylic paint.

The final touches (with a palette knife) – two thicks smears of oil paint over the antlers. A risky strategy as it could have all gone horribly wrong at this point. But, with considerable relief, I believe it worked out well.

The completed work, ‘A Longing For An Elated World’.