Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wee ones


this time of year appears to be swamped by the need for wee pictures (most are largely unframed, and thus cheaper). Since I came back from LA I haven't framed one piece yet, although I have finished about 15 little ones and I'm also working on about 4 large pieces at the same time(multi-tasking me?). I thought I would share some of them with you and where they can be seen in the flesh so to speak.

Open Eye, Edinburgh

Open Door, La, 21 x 14.5cm watercolour

Crumbling around, 21 x 14.5cm, watercolour

Long shadows, Rome, 21 x14.5cm

Pier Lock, LA, 21 x 14.5cm, watercolour

There are another 6 pieces at the show in Edinburgh. If anyone is interested I can post more or send the images directly to you. The wee ones are a good way for me to explore ideas for larger pieces, so although they are in a way studies for larger pieces, I don't compromise on quality.

Queens Gallery, Dundee

Past its best, 21 x 14.5cm, watercolour

Sign of the times, 21 x 14.5cm, watercolour

RGI Xmas show, Kelly Gallery, Glasgow

Gift from Rome, 14 x 15.3cm, watercolour & Gold leaf

Friday, November 02, 2007

Catch up

Ok. Every now and again I go Awol. So here's the excuses!

I went to Rome recently (October break) to gather research material for my next show. It will be a combination of work from LA, Rome and Scotland. I have loads of ideas, just need to sort them out logically in my head, so it doesnt look too much of a hotch-potch. The exhibition will be in the Open Eye Gallery, Edinburgh next October. I havent been to Rome for 20 years and it was so much better than I remembered. I walked myself to death but covered most of the city many times over. I produced a fair amount of sketches, ideas, photos and still life material to last me quite a while. Rome really makes you think, the history of western civilisation unfolds before your eyes, all it requires is a little imagination.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

More from London

Small study for "Permanently Temporary", unframed £280

Well I spent the last few days in London attending the prize award ceremony for the Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander/ Sunday Times watercolour competition on the Tuesday and was awarded my cheque by Mariella Frostrup. You could certainly tell who the artists were amongst the many bank employees and friends. I enjoyed the evening and met all the artists who of course turned out to be all very nice people. Gordon McDowall I already knew which helped me (I am not always entirely comfortable in certain social occasions on my own) and got to know Julia Farrer (1st prize) and Wladyslaw Mireki (3rd prize winner) and his wife through the course of the evening. Everyone of course was complimentary which all helped to make the evening special. The food & drinks were in copious amounts, which I tried not to over indulge in.

I spent the Wednesday visiting a number of private galleries across London and getting a feel for the style and content of each place which proved very enlightening. Wednesday night, well what can I say, I found a pub (3 Kings) which was showing all the International football matches on that night. The pub was filled with every European nationality going, including a fairly large and raucous group of Scots. In the 67 minute the place exploded with noise. Needless to say I am still a little hoarse. Final score, Scotland 1 France 0, as if you didn't know.

Thursday I went to the Tate Britain and took a boat ride to Tate Modern, which would have been great if I hadn't fallen asleep, ach well. I was pleasantly surprised by some of the work on show at Tate Modern, as on the whole, it was quite accessible and less obscure/obtuse than some modern art tries to be. Thursday night was the artist opening at the Mall galleries for the Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander/ Sunday Times watercolour competition, this was an entirely different affair to the Tuesday presentation. It was less formal and we artists dissolved into the crowd quite easily. The night for me was topped off by selling my painting which just made a great night even better. I then went for a meal with Julia Farrer and her sister and friends which rounded off a perfect few days in London.

The less said about my cell of a hotel room the better!!

I also thought I would let you know about an interview with Peter Blake (Artist and Judge) by Frank Whittford (Journalist/writer and Judge) talking about the prize winners which is very illuminating.
You can find the interview here: or click on an interview with Peter Blake

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The result!!! - Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander / Sunday Times watercolour competition

Extract taken from the Sunday Times, written by Frank Whitford. Full transcription can be found here;

Of course you should go and buy the Sunday times as it has all the prize winners in full colour.

In its 20th year, the contest has put on new clothes. It’s now called the Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander/Sunday Times watercolour competition, incorporating the name of the Icelandic bank that is now in charge.

Nothing else has changed, apart from the name of one of the judges. This year, they were: Professor Brian Allen, director of studies at the Paul Mellon Centre (chairman); Sir Peter Blake, artist; Carol Robertson, artist and former prizewinner; Dr Joanna Selborne, curator of prints and drawings at the Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery; and Frank Whitford of The Sunday Times.
The award presentation will take place on Tuesday, September 11, with the broadcaster Mariella Frostrup as the guest of honour.

Second prize, £7,000

Angus McEwan, Permanently Temporary

When I mentioned to Angus McEwan, a Scot who lives near Dundee, that his painting had several of the qualities associated with an abstract composition, he immediately agreed. “I’d go further,” he added. “I think there’s an abstract core to every good painting.” Yet McEwan’s picture is also an exercise in almost photographically sharp realism. The surface and texture of every part of this ramshackle structure of wood and metal and mesh is rendered with a persistence and an attention to detail that make every part of it seem solid and tangible.

“I like painting wood and rough surfaces,” McEwan says, “and I loved the colours and haphazard arrangements of the materials here. The structure is actually in Marrakesh, right in the heart of the tannery. The gut-wrenching smell alone would make you run a mile, but someone has found a patch of dirt in which to take up residence. So this is part of a dwelling, just thrown up without any thought about permanence or the way it looks. Yet the arbitrary nature and placement of the boards, corrugated iron and doors has created a harmony and aesthetic all of its own. There’s a beauty that’s purely accidental, and it’s that beauty I wanted to preserve, clearly distinguishing between the texture of each of the different surfaces to preserve the identity of each part.”

The painting wasn’t made on the spot in Morocco, but in the studio, with the help of sketchbook drawings. McEwan also surrounded himself with similar materials. “The trick is to work in the studio while preserving a sense of that freshness that made the subject seem exciting in the first place,” he says. He likes to experiment, using resists above all.

McEwan is a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and teaches at Dundee College. He has submitted work to the competition for the past two years, and last year his entry was in the exhibition. He learnt that he had won a prize (though not which one: this report is the first news of it) while in California, by looking at the competition website. Though he was on holiday in LA, he was also doing preparatory work for a show at Edinburgh’s Open Eye gallery next year.

1st Prize;

Julia Farrer

2nd Prize:

Angus McEwan RSW

3rd Prize:

Jennifer McRae

3rd Prize;

Gordon McDowall

3rd Prize:

Wladyslaw Mireki

3rd Prize:

David Prentice

To say I am chuffed to bits is an understatement. I had convinced myself that it would be a 3rd prize, so I was genuinely delighted to find out otherwise. Now to look forward to the opening on the 11th & 13th of September 2007.

Friday, August 24, 2007

International artist

The Lantern Maker of Marrakesh, watercolour on paper

Another piece of good news came in the post last week in the shape of a 'Finalist award' from the art magazine International artist. To my eternal shame I looked through the magazine when I came back from the States and never noticed the reproduction of my painting (above). It wasn't until the certificate came through the door last Saturday that I became aware of the honour, oops!

The International artist magazine run competitions in every bi monthly issue. I put something in occasionally if the subject matter suits ( they change the subject of the competition regularly), or indeed if I feel I have something worthy to show. They award 1st, 2ND, 3rd prizes and 10 finalist awards. This is my 4Th finalist award and I am determined to achieve one of the top 3 awards eventually (ever hopeful).

The 'Art prize challenge no 40, subject; Favourite Subject' was published in Issue 56, August/September 2007, and you can find them here:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Short listed for the Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander / Sunday Times watercolour Exhibiition

Permanently Temporary, watercolour on paper, 2007

Here is the exciting news I promised a few days ago. During my trip to the states I was informed that I had been short listed for the Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander / Sunday times watercolour Exhibition. The award winners will be announced on the Sunday the 26th 0f August in the Sunday Times (London). This is the largest watercolour competition in Britain so to be selected is an honour, but to be short listed for a prize is beyond belief. The painting (illustrated above) was painted in Marrakesh and you can find more information about it here;

2007 Prize Winners

The following artists have been short listed for the six prizes on offer in the 2007 exhibition:

Julia Farrer
Gordon McDowall
Angus McEwan RSW
Jennifer McRae
Wladyslaw Mirecki
David Prentice

The six prizes are:
1st Prize
2nd Prize
4 further prizes of

Exhibition History
Kaupthing Singer &Friedlander Group PLC and the Sunday Times started the competition in 1988, to encourage the use of watercolour and water based media painting among both amateur and professional artists. Along with this aim, the sponsors also wanted to reward drawing ability and skill demonstrated in the use of these media.
Now in its twentieth year, the competition continues to support and encourage diversity and each year the distinguished panel of judges look to select works that embrace this distinctive medium.
The 2006 competition attracted just under 1200 works from which 181 were selected for exhibition

Exhibition & Tour Dates

The Mall Galleries, London, 12 - 22 September 2007
Following the London exhibition the show will tour to Manchester:
Sculpture Hall, Manchester Town Hall, 9 - 20 October 2007

The judges will be looking for work which makes the most imaginative or otherwise impressive use of a water based medium. The judges' decision will be final and binding. No correspondence will be entered into.
The 2007 judges will include:
Brian Allen - Director of Studies at the Paul Mellon Institute
Peter Blake RA - Artist
Carol Robertson - Artist
Dr Joanna Selborne - Curator Prints & Drawings, Cortauld Institute of Art
Dr Frank Whitford - Art Critic for The Sunday Times

Kaupthing Bank acquired Singer & Friedlander Group Plc in July 2005. Kaupthing Bank is a Nordic bank with headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland. The acquisition of S&F represented a strategic move in Kaupthing's efforts to establish a presence in the British financial market. Kaupthing Bank are delighted to be supporting the Singer & Friedlander/Sunday Times Watercolour Competition.

Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander / Sunday Times Watercolour Exhibition, Wed 12-Sep-2007 to Sat 22-Sep-2007Now celebrating twenty years of this exhibition discovering the diversity and beauty of the frequently undervalued medium of watercolour. Abstract, figurative and landscape pieces in any water soluble medium are celebrated in this exhibition taken from a nationwide competition. Admission free

Monday, August 13, 2007


'On the brink', watercolour on paper 2007

My website

has, after many years, been updated. Absolutely shocking stuff, but its taken me a long time to sit down and update the site. Not sure, but it seems a little slow do download, maybe you could let me know. I think it just needs the cookies downloaded and it will appear a wee bit faster, but what do I know?

Also there is some exciting news, but I wont let the cat out of the bag yet. Come back in a couple of days and I shall let you know whats going on in the land of haggis and neaps!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Back from LA!!

well I've been away for the month of July and today marks the first day in my studio since the beginning of June. I haven't taken this amount of time away from my work since I graduated some 20 years ago. I have always felt that it would be difficult to get back into the swing of things if I didn't work almost every day. Well I was correct, I spent quite a bit of time pottering around, tidying up and shifting bits of paper around. Finally I settled down to paint but was increasingly distracted by random thoughts which meant i kept flitting back to the sketchbook and researching material on the Internet. It was a process which I believe was unavoidable as I began to settle into the creative process. I am starting to formulate a plan of action for the next few paintings /shows. Nothing settled yet and its all so fluid and flexible.
You may be wondering what has taken me away from my work. Well I was in Los Angeles visiting my parents with the family. I decided to think about how I could incorporate some of the things I saw and collected into my work. A lot of looking, thinking, sketching, nothing resolved, only a series of ideas, but plenty of potential. Only problem is that the subject matter is totally different from some of my other work. That causes the doubt which slows up the creative process, but it is something I have to come to terms with.
I just hope that I do it all justice.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


'Chinese Graffiti', watercolour on paper, 1996

I have been a member of the Saatchi Gallery website for some time and recently was approached to take part in a video "magazine" by the creator Roxanne Brousseau-Felio. She has produced three of these magazine articles, this being the third. There is the magazine video and on her website a small interview with each artist. The paintings highlighted on the video were chosen by Roxanne and quite possibly a lot of people will not have seen them before.

I thoroughly recommend you take a visit to her website and check out the Saatchi site as well. There are a lots of artists out there and standing out these days is difficult to do without doing something ridiculously outrageous to catch the public's attention. The methods employed by Roxanne are much more inventive, creative and dare I say it, subtle in the way she has chosen to showcase the work of other artists. The videos are Roxanne's creative outlet.

The 10 artists who feature in this week's Your Gallery video by Roxanne Brousseau-Felio have been chosen from more than 45,000 international contemporary artists from the Saatchi Gallery's Your Gallery site. This week's artists come from Malta, England, Argentina, Canada, Germany, US, Scotland and Switzerland. Brousseau-Felio has also created a personal webpage highlighting the works selected with more personal details on The artists featured this week are (in order of appearance on video clip): Patrick Willett from Buffalo, New York, US. Patricia Sea from Bayern, Germany. Shana Kohnstamm from Nashville, Tennessee, US. Richard Sweeney from Huddersfield, England. Jane Ackroyd from London, England. Anthony Caruana from Xaghra-Gozo, Malta. Angus McEwan from Dundee, Scotland. Andrea Barrera Mathus from Mendoza, Argentina. Susi Staub Ernst from Zurich, Switzerland. Bill Hoopes from Bowen Island, Canada. Roxanne Brousseau-Felio is also an artist registered on Your Gallery.

Friday, May 18, 2007

"Leading masters of Contemporary Realism"

'Key to the West', watercolour on paper

I have been a member of the International Guild of Realism for a couple of years now, but due to other commitments haven't had the opportunity to exhibit with them. That is until now, I recently had a piece accepted for the "Leading Masters in Contemporary Realism" show, which will be held in the Winstanely-Roark Fine Arts Gallery, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.


The Painting "Key to the West" is a watercolour and depicts the side of a rail carriage including metal sign and a key which I picked up in California on my last visit to the States. The subject matter is pretty simple as is the image, but I find when working on a small scale simple is best.
The gallery website;
The show opens on 24th July through to August 5th 2007.
My next problem appears to be getting the painting there in one piece and within the realms of a realistic price. So far the most outrageous price is £380 for a pretty small painting and that doesn't include dealing with customs or tax, and they are using FedEx. Seems the only thing they will do is make the small crate, mmmmmm!
I have other options to explore. Now if anyone has had experience in doing this, please let me know.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Queens Gallery show 2007

Queens Gallery Exhibition 2007

Well that's another show over with. It had an excellent start with lots of sales pre-opening which tailed off dramatically over the duration of the show. According to the Gallery the paintings were well received and those that are left have been earmarked for other adventures. I do enjoy showing there and believe the gallery owners are very genuine, enthusiastic art lovers. Here are a few images from the show in case you didn't make it!!

Friday, March 23, 2007

New Paintings - Queens show

Moroccan Dream, Watercolour/mixed media, 2007

Well folks,

this is just a wee note to let you know about the opening of My work at the Queens Gallery show, Dundee on Saturday the 31st of March 2007, from 2pm.

I am exhibiting 21 paintings from large to very small and two thirds of the show has never been seen before (some of it is still in the framers as I write).

The paintings draw inspiration from Morocco and Italy (Florence, Lucca, Sienna) and are mostly in watercolour although there are a few acrylics as well.

I hope I can have the opportunity to catch up with you on saturday 31st, if not please feel free to visit when you can. The show is on until Saturday the 21st of April 2007.

Queens Gallery, Nethergate, Dundee DD1 4DU
Tel 01382 220600

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Subject revisited

' Ancient Sun', watercolour on paper, 2007

I have painted a few images where I felt that further investigation around the subject was merited. This doesn't happen very frequently, as I try to find the 'ultimate' image/composition on the first time of asking.

Occasionally though another view point, whether close up, further back, or other combinations of objects, different sizes of paper or different materials will breathe new live into an old idea. I was always told at art school that an artist will only have three good ideas and you will repeat them over and over. I do have to admit to sometimes seeing new ways to interpret and old idea, but I am careful not to overdo this tendency.

'Ancient sun', was first introduced as a small watercolour called inner sanctum. I liked the image so much that I decided to do a larger version but with a different composition.

'Inner Sanctum', watercolour 5 x 7 inches

This was then recreated as 'Fisherman's sanctuary', a larger watercolour with other details added such as ancient symbolism from the North Africa area. A Christian symbol was also added.

'Fisherman's Sanctuary', watercolour on paper

This was then explored by 'stepping back from the detail of the door to the door in context with its surrounding arch and 'melting' walls. The texture of the stone was the main challenge and I enjoyed trying a variety of ways to describe the surface of the stone.

close up of 'Ancient Sun'

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Additions

Hi, I've been a wee bit busy recently hence the fact that there has been no activity for a while. I just spent the last couple of days hanging the RSW exhibition in Edinburgh and now await the phone call asking to change things around. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all will be OK.

Lock Down
I thought I should post a couple of new pieces, which will be hung in the up and coming Queens Gallery show in Dundee.

The painting, 'Lock down' is a close up of a lock from Italy. It is fairly large and I decided to use paper which has an irregular edge to it. I have shown the painting here at a variety of stages to give you an idea of the length of time and the amount of stages it must go through before it is complete.

I use watercolour by applying layers of pure colour one on top of the other, this is called optical mixing and hinges on the artists ability to predict the final result. It allows the painting to stay fresh even though there might be quite a few layers of colour down.

Since there are a number of layers of colour applied throughout the process, the painting goes through a number of colour stages to reach its final destination. This can be seen here in these examples when it goes from pale red to orange, then crimson to finally a rich warm red.

'Lock down', watercolour on paper, 76 x 56.5 cm (sight size)


Saturday, February 10, 2007

'Standing Firm', Watercolour on paper, Feb 2007

This painting started life as a demonstration for the Stirling art society. I have a particularly unique technique to building up surface texture and I decided to show the good folk of Stirling. Unfortunately it is only a small part of the painting process and as such they were given a little insight, all be it an important one.

'Standing firm', is in fact a closeup of a door which I have painted a few times and can be seen here;

'Chameleon Door', watercolour on paper, 2006

The painting 'Chameleon Door' has been admired by a few people and I personally enjoyed the colours and textures, and believed a close up of the bolt/lock would offer a different point of view of the same subject.

close up of 'Standing Firm'

'Standing firm' also has a map of the souks of Marrakesh outlined in gold acrylic and can be seen occasionally if the light reflects off of the surface at the correct angle. It has the effect of being like a gold vein running through the wood, but its not obvious at the first glance, its only revealed through time.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Order and chaos

'Quiet order', watercolour on paper, 2007 approx 120 x 100cm

'Quiet order', as some of you may have noticed, is very similar to a small piece completed before Christmas entitled 'View from San Marco'. I really liked the balance of the quiet black set against the window and thought it displayed some of the characteristics of the monastery at San Marco, Florence.

'Quiet order', detail of window

The calm cool interior which has pretty much remained unchanged for centuries is juxtaposed with the view looking out on to a changing landscape which is reflected in the ancient warped glass. The glass has made the structures outside look as if they are made from melted cheese. Order and chaos, interior and exterior, old and new, are all suggested within this deceptively simple composition. The window, especially the drapes took an inordinate amount of time, but the effect was worth the trouble.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Castles made of sand, wee watercolour on paper, 2007

Here are a couple of wee paintings, earmarked for the Queens show, which opens on the 31st of March. I have just realised how little time I have and a slight wave of panic hit me while I was pushing around some paper in the studio. No more time for procrastination, I have 8 pieces lying around the studio from 3/4 finished, down to some little more than sketches, but, they all require immediate attention.

'Castles made of sand' (above) is named after a jimmy Hendrix song of the same name, which, (allegedly) was inspired by a trip to Essaouira in Morocco. The battlements and the town wall, which can be clearly seen in the painting, are not the same ones Hendrix refers to in his song. That is further south of the old town.

'Rickety blue', wee watercolour on paper

The eagle eyed amongst you will have notice the ragged edge around the watercolour. I have used the irregular edged paper for a little while and I like it. It reminds me of a piece of fresco which has been removed from a wall. It helps add to the textural qualities of the surface. 'Rickety blue' as a painting of an old door in Luca, Italy.