Moonlit safari

One of the fun things of tablet app art is discovering new apps and working with different ones which have varied levels of control. 

My latest has been created in A-sketch a simple charcoal drawing app which quite recently added a colour palette enabling a chalk/pastelle finish. Control in this app is tricky and detail takes perseverance, but it also causes happy accidents along the way so is worth the effort in the end. 
I’ve rarely been on a night safari, and as part of my African series I wanted to make use of the luminescent blues available in the app as I have in earlier oil paintings.

African series

I’ve always enjoyed painting African scenes from memories of my childhood as well as inspiration from other painters whose work my mum and dad liked and we had in our house. Some of the artists include Peter Birch who painted houses and town scenes, Joan Evans (landscapes) as well as Pat Hesketh and David Shepherd who both were great painters of animals.

I recently depicted a lioness lurking in the long grass and had good feedback from artist friends and family. This contrasts with a Rhino I painted in 2015 in terms of style and colouring. The African bush often has a range of yellows and browns and I achieved this in the earlier Rhino piece, but the lush greenery of the lioness one was perhaps slightly too verdant for the part of Africa I’m focussing on.

So in my new chalk pastelle piece called ‘Predator’ I’ve focussed more on the yellows and browns of the savannah, initially creating wild swathes of grass, which were somewhat flamelike in the early stages. Later these became straighter as I worked into the colour to reflect the true grassland style.

Initially I added a figure to the piece to give a sense of mystery but after some further thoughts created instead a large cat prowling through the grass in search of prey. This would perhaps be an unsuspecting impala in the distance. I added a small mammal hoping to escape unnoticed by the hunter in its search for larger game.

To give the piece a sense of scale and distance I added the Msasa trees with the iconic canapies of leaves giving the piece a more African feel.

Seals and coral

These are the 6th and 7th in the series of underwater themed pieces. I decided to try out chalk pastelles in the 6th which was fun and gave me the chance to experiment with different drawing techniques.

With my most recent piece I went back to my paint and palette knife and reworked a series of paintings I’d been working on to create a third in the series bringing in the underwater theme but keeping the general format of the picture from the previous two landscape based paintings. The first, a fairly abstract dawn piece and the second a more literal landscape with a mysterious figure.

This third painting came from a comment on the first from a friend that the piece looked potentially like an underwater scene, so I developed it in this direction and let the colours and paint evolve in their own way.


Hello and welcome to my blog.

After painting constantly for over 5 years I’ve decided to write about the process and share this. I have many questions in my mind when working on a piece, here are some of the main ones:

When creating a landscape, what makes it a good painting?
What makes people respond strongly to one piece and not another?
Where does a piece of art come from?

We are all unique and have our own personal experiences, things that inspire us, things that scare us and those that surprise us. So when we look at a piece of art we react to our associations and it either moves us on some level or doesn’t.

I’ve worked in a number of ways to create my art and one my favourites is to simply let the paint decide what it is going to be. This is a fairly hit and miss kind of approach and I have numerous examples of failed efforts which either went nowhere good or efforts where I reworked the piece to such an extent that I managed to salvage something pretty cool and perhaps unexpected by the time it was complete. Often these salvaged pieces can take weeks or even months and I’ve even had the occasional situation where I’ve stopped and given up, starting something new in a different direction to move forward and keep the journey going.

Fingerpainting on a three inch screen with a zoom aspect of up to 800% means it can be challenging to get the right result in a piece, and a large scale print of the work is significantly more impactful than what I see when working on the tiny screen.

Using a palette knife or brush with a one pixel width means very fine detail can be achieved and it can be painstaking to complete a painting where there is much detail as in rendering of trees and foliage (see below).


Despite this ability to create great detail fingerpainting as a technique makes it much harder to depict objects and people convincingly, and early on I chose to work within these limitations and allow the naive style of the paintings to become part of their charm, rather that treating it as a limiting factor.

When I start a painting using this approach I select the tube tool, choose the colours and squish the paint out onto the canvas.


I then grab the palette knife and work the colours together until I’ve smoothed the paint down to a textured finish.

I step back and see what the paint has to say, and it usually tells me what the piece is going to be, I start working close in on the detail of the focal point in the painting adding objects or people to give it a narrative and get the viewer asking questions like, what is going on in the scene? Who is that person what are they doing there? What is the mysterious shape in the distance? Is there danger? What will happen next?

Signatures are very important in these pieces and they give much needed depth to the landscape and engage the viewer to ask questions and wonder. The piece shown above is my first attempt at an undersea theme and I’ve produced a further seven pieces in this series and am working on a fifth as described in my next post.

Night seas

This is the 5th in my series of ocean themed pieces and is the first attempt at a night scene. It is proving to be a challenge as conveying the watery scene is more difficult, with richer dark hues of blue and blacks to convey the ocean floor and coral reefs. I’ve decided to include a moon and shafts of light to help give viewer the feeling of the murky depths as well as a few ocean dwellers to enhance the subterainian atmosphere depicted. See below early stages.