Christmas Workshops December 2014 & January 2015

Christmas Workshops

December and January





Sunday 21st, Saturday 27th December, and Saturday 3rd January:

Plein Air painting. 9.00am - 12.30pm.

Meet at 8.30am at the studio. 2b/9 Chrome St, Salisbury.

$85.00 per day



Saturday 22nd & Sunday 28th December:

Tonal painting from the cast. 10.00am - 4.00pm

At the studio. 2b/9 Chrome St, Salisbury.

$85.00 per day


Sunday 28th December & Monday 29th December:

Still Life in Colour. 10.00am - 4.00pm

At the studio. 2b/9 Chrome St, Salisbury.

$85.00 per day

More on the Joynt Venture

Hello, I've been quiet for a while, but busy. The last few months have been full of mould making for the production of plaster casts (feet, hands, skulls, Popes, all-sorts. More in the next post).  I have, however found some time for painting, and the Joynt Venture (see May blog) is progressing well. Still a way from being finished, but substantially in place. I changed one of the main figures after a visit to one of my favourite haunts, a bar called 'The Hideaway' in The Valley, Brisbane. A large girl in a halter-neck dress filled my vision, and seemed perfect for a part of the painting I had been struggling with, so in she went, and is as you see.



For those of you who don't know him, this is Nima, a popular model in Brisbane. I painted him during one of our regular Saturday life sessions at the Atelier. I only had about three hours, so this is it, no more to be, or can be done.  I'll make sure I give a bit more time to the next one,. Whilst I'm happy with what you can see, a bit more time would allow for a bit more resolution.



Four different ones:

Four different ones:

The last but not least is Garry, after another two hours painting. Less coarse than the previous week, and overall, as an exercise, I’m quite happy with it.

I suppose the problem is with a group setting, you are never going to be able to set the model up in the way you would truly like to. Whilst I firmly believe that democracy in a life drawing/painting setting is hugely problematic and should be avoided, one does need to take into account the needs of ones fellow travellers, and so the lighting etc. is compromised accordingly.

I was still using the Hannaford palette for this painting. I find it rather bright for my tastes, although it has been good to try another colour set, and I’ll use it for a few more portraits before I decide whether to continue using it. Some of the colour combinations are too beautiful to dismiss!

The other three 9x5 paintings were painted over the recent holiday weekend. Great company, and lousy weather! You will probably have gathered by now that I rather like the 9 x 5” format. I have to paint quickly, and that makes me simplify what I see. Some are more successful than others, but they usually offer the promise of something bigger and far more considered.

I especially like the limited tonal range of the last painting in the group (which might well lead to a studio painting). It was a very damp day, and the sight of the clouds sweeping in through the canopies of the gum trees was extraordinary. I remember the rain well enough from my first thirty years spent in England. This is of a different quality altogether. It doesn’t sheet in at you sideways, it's not cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey, and the sun will be out soon!

I'm not quite sure what I will be showing you next. I've got a lot of projects on the boil at the moment, not least the 'Joynt venture' painting I started a few weeks ago. I've worked on it, but I would like to work on it further before I put it up for all to see.

By way of a footnote, the little bayside overcast painting I showed you last time won a "Commended' at the Royal Queensland Art Society last week. I'm not even sure the paint was dry!


Minto-Crags-Croftby-Vale-June-2013-9x5 for-web.jpg
Minto-Crags-June-2013-Rainy-afternoon-9x5 for web.jpg

A good week,

Sunday afternoon after a productive morning. I went over the road to the old RSL park (Returned Serviceman's League, for those who live overseas) with a couple of friends for a few hours plein-air painting this morning and the resulting piece you can see below. On setting it up on the easel in my studio upon my return, I realised how tonal the appearance of my painting has become over the past few years. I still look for the form in things, which is quite contrary to the dogma of Max Meldrum and his followers, because I think it helps me to make a convincing painting. This one uses some elements that certainly weren't in front of me as I was painting, but if an element of invention helps with the overall composition, then I'm happy to use it.

I don’t like to follow one 'Method' in my work. There is some value in all that I have been taught, but of course some things are of greater value than others and the more I do, the better I am able to discern the difference. I used the word convincing a moment ago. Robert Hannaford used the word 'Truth'. For me, a combination of the two goals is what it is all about. If I can convince the viewer that he or she is looking at things in the way I wanted to see them, then I have succeeded. It might take a single line, a considered area of colour, or it might take a carefully crafted composition with many hours of work in it. Whatever it takes is what I will use.

The second painting is a mid-morning plein-air painting I made on Monday. Overlooking Moreton Bay from the esplanade at Manly, the day had started with a heavy overcast. This painting is a small one, 9 x 5 ", so I was able to complete it quickly. It describes a few minutes between rainstorms when the sun shone with great intensity upon the water. The specula reflections at the horizon are painted in almost pure titanium white which is as close as I can get to describing its brilliance. I was puzzling over the different colour of the sky and the body of water to the left of the piece when it occurred to me that it was due to the water being very shallow, and being able to see something of the mud beneath the surface.

A good week.


After Hannaford...

Portraits seem to be the theme at the moment. Having attended the Robert Hannaford workshop a couple of weeks ago, I have decided to change the focus of my Friday morning session at Atelier from life drawing to portraiture and working with the draped figure. Neither is something which we have concentrated on so far, so this will give our students a useful opportunity to extend the scope of their work. Go to for more details of these classes if you live in the Brisbane area.

Gary, below, is a delightful model, a lot of character, and probably quite pleased to remain in his clothes for a change. The portrait you can see below is only half finished with a single three hour sitting so far. Another three hours or so next week should see its completion, with the refinement of the features that I think a decent portrait requires.

So until this time next week...


Robert Hannaford workshop

What a weekend! It was my privilege to take part in a workshop conducted by the great Australian painter Robert Hannaford, at the Royal Queensland Art Society studios.

The direct placement of paint of the correct tone, colour, and shape was the essential message, along with the notion that the development of the painting as a whole rather than working up discrete elements was the best way to go about things. Not unfamiliar ideas, but under the guidance of a great painter, ideas that took on a new vibrancy, as I hope is evident in my painting of Brett, the model.

The repeated mantra was the search for the 'Truth' in the subject. Aiming to capture the essential character of the individual through their appearance, their posture, the look in their eye, whatever it is that gives the essence of their personality. Of course there are as many truths as there are artists, but I am very glad that my ideas accord with Robert Hannaford's rather than the wilder flights of fantasy often seen in the Archibald or Doug Moran prizes, or what in my opinion are the bland soulless offerings of 'photorealistic' photocopiers like Michael Zavros.

The photographs below are of rather poor quality, but serve to show what the subject looks like. But as I say, as far as working with Robert  Hannaford goes, a privilege, and an experience I wont forget.


Something a bit different...

It has been my habit for a few years now to take my sketchbook with me when I head out for a night of revelry. Brisbane has a delightful selection of places to draw and have a beer or two at the same time, and I have filled up quite a few books since moving back up here from Sydney!

Most of the sketches will probably never see the light of day again, but once in a while I manage to create a gem. It seems a bit of a shame to leave some of my liveliest sketches tucked away unseen, so I occasionally trawl through the books and bring together likely drawings into compositions which I have occasionally painted. The one you can see below is just such a piece. Where things differ though is that I have chosen to throw caution to the wind and paint a triptych. The piece Isn't as big as the biggest painting I have ever painted, but its not far off. The middle panel is 44x33" (112x84cm), and the smaller panels on either side are 44x24" (112x61cm), or 44x87" (221x112cm) overall.

Aside from the challenge of size, the biggest challenge is going to be achieving a sense of unity between the panels.  I am intending to use the light source to accomplish this. I am also hoping to suggest a narrative through the placement and relationships between the figures, and then use the whole thing as something of a test bed for ideas I have about texture and layering of paint. What you see now is only the (incomplete) underpainting. 

Unusually, I have painted this -so far- in acrylic paints, which I usually avoid like the plague. This time however, they have proven very useful for their quick drying properties, and the fact that I wont get any bleed through from the underpainting, a problem I have had in the past.

The figures are mostly suggested by drawings I made at 'The Joynt' (one of Brisbane s best music venues), whilst the window openings and outside are suggested by those at The Joynt itself. I'll probably call it "A Joynt venture", but that is just a working title for the moment.

I'm looking forward to seeing where it leads.


New website


Welcome to my new website. First thing to do is thank my friend Marcus Callum for the old one, but despite his best efforts to teach me, I could never quite work out how to upload new images to it. Rather than leave a four year old website to gather dust somewhere in the cloud, I recently started to look for another way of making my work accessible.

I tried a few packages but finally settled on the one we use for my Art School, Atelier Art Classes ( ) . This one is made using a template from a company called Squarespace, and it took me about three days to put together. It would have been about six hours if my files had been more organised.

Anyway, its new, most of the work is new, Let me know what you think please.