...and the difficulties of finding the right reference material.

 I know I could pick easier subjects to paint!

 Animals and the sea form the bulk of my subjects and neither are predictable, rarely behave as you’d like, or will keep even remotely still.

 Perhaps that’s what makes them so interesting though, and when you do manage to capture the essence of either, it’s a real thrill.

 

When I was asked recently to paint the dog for the new WINALOT DOG FOOD packaging, they knew pretty much what they wanted and the brief was quite specific.

And so I set out to find a dog that was the right age, colour, size and shape, then told it to look to the right, look happy, look healthy, look interested and stick it’s tongue out a little but not too much! Hmmm…

 Obviously there are ways of coaxing and encouraging dogs into doing what you want but it’s fairly hit and miss. It’s not long before they’re bored of treats and impervious to ‘what’s this!?’ Thankfully in this case, with some perseverance from both parties and a few visits, I eventually got what I needed and could retreat to the studio for the relatively straight forward part of producing the painting.

 
 
 
 

Anyway, I’m really pleased with the finished product and looking forward to seeing my other paintings on further lines due to come out soon. The Winalot brand has been around for a long time and I haven’t a clue how many ‘shapes’ biscuits my dogs have crunched through over the years, so I’m proud to somehow be a part of their product. Very generously, they’ve also put a paragraph of information about myself on the side of every product too.

 The project has sparked a new series of dog paintings and prints which I’m continuing to add to. The completed ones are now available to view on the website so please check them out.

 

Talking about tricky subjects…

A few weeks ago my painting ‘Sun on the Solent’ was awarded the KENNETH DENTON AWARD at the ROYAL SOCIETY of MARINE ARTISTS annual exhibition in London.

I was delighted to receive this award and it’s a great honor to have my painting singled out in such an impressive show of works by accomplished artists.

 As with painting animals, I often find that a crucial but challenging part of the painting process, after finding the subject, is exploring all the variables at your disposal. This might include changing the viewpoint and composition or waiting for the light or weather to change. Each can have a significant effect on the essence of the picture and these effects have to be considered carefully if you’re trying to convey a message.

 Controlling the variables however, sometimes isn’t easy as was the case with this painting!


'Sun on the Solent'

It was the Cowes Regatta in mid-summer, though in very ‘un-summer-like’ and stormy conditions. I managed to get on the only spectator boat that would go out that day (for good reason) and just as this ocean racer approached us, the clouds obligingly let a few shafts of sunlight through. For a fleeting moment the conditions were perfect. My boat was being thrown around all over the place and staying on my feet was a challenge. A digital camera can be such a useful tool in these situations and as I reeled off lots of shots with one hand, my other white knuckled hand held tightly to the boat. There was a large element of chance and randomness to the photos and plenty shots of the sky and my feet, but also enough visual information to then combine into a painting.

 This is how I often work, borrowing different elements from different reference sources, be they sketches or photos, and selectively compiling them to produce an image that conveys what I want to say. This part is very much a process of design and I enjoy the storytelling aspect of it.

 The painting has now arrived back at the gallery and on display for anyone who would like to see it. Which leads me to…

 

LOCKDOWN

From Thursday in accordance with the government guidelines the gallery will CONTINUE TO BE OPEN FOR BUSINESS, but our doors will be physically closed.

 Where possible we are offering home viewings and will happily send photographs or videos of framed paintings and prints to you by email. Purchases can still be made online though delivery times may be slightly longer.

 Any enquiries, please contact us on info@mill-house-gallery.co.uk or 01257 462333.

 

A few images from my new series of dog paintings. There are many breeds of dog I’ve never got round to painting and I’m gradually working my way through some of them! Here’s a few of the ones I’ve finished so far but keep an eye on the website for more coming soon.

 

The Winalot commission inspired me to get out and find some new subjects and I’m pleased to say I’ve found some corkers! Like these beautiful huskies and collies that I found locally.