Final Badger


After the badger sketches it was time for something a little more polished.    Everything went very smoothly due to the preliminaries.  In fact the most difficult part was deciding on the background.  In the end I kept things simple and just put in enough to provide some contrast and color.

Very happy in the end.   Will take him back across the pond and maybe put in some softening in the eye area before sending him to his final destination.

Badger Sketches


Trying some badger poses for a possible larger painting.  This is done with a water brush in a Stillman and Birn Alpha series sketchbook.    Some people love these books but I’m still getting used to it with color.   I really like the colors in the dark areas and the characteristic badger shape.

Also did a couple with soluble graphite and a water brush.    I found this pencil recently during my ‘brush audit’ and remembered how much I like using it.   I don’t think it’s graphite at all – it feels plasticky – but it goes on well and a bit of water creates good light grays.    Best of all you can keep it in your bag and not end up with everything grubby with the graphite.    Even keeping things in a ziploc bag doesn’t keep things clean with a normal pencil.



Flowers – The Battle Resumes


With flowers I sense that if I could reliably paint them successfully I would discover something fundamental about painting.    This is why I come back time and time again.  Sometimes I see a flicker of hope and sometimes, like today,  it’s frustrating defeat.   Each time I think I’m on the brink of success but it still often eludes me.   

On the bright side there is a lot to like here.   Just not enough.   


Cold Comfort Farm


Actually I don’t know where this is.     Definitely cold comfort though.    It’s another challenge and very challenging it was too.   Sometimes I wonder whether I’m going in the right direction.    This should be one where I try it again and again until I get it right but I’m not enamoured of the subject so may just put it down to experience.

The sketch looks pretty good though.


Orrery and The Dangers of Overconfidence


I went into this one somewhat overconfident.   I’ve been looking forward to this and as the microscope and callipers turned out so well this was going to be a bit of a treat.    The drawing came out well – took extra care over the ellipses and jumped in.

After a reasonable start everything began to go wrong.   I messed up my nice ellipses and things were getting muddy and indistinct.   After an hour or so I was ready to throw in the towel but after a bit of lifting off of some of the areas it was a case of throwing caution to the wind and ‘I can’t make it any worse so let’s just go for it’.

And in the end I’m actually quite pleased.  The shapes are good and there’s a lot of interest in the paint so sometimes it’s worth it to persevere.



11″x14″/16″x20″ matted

Add To Cart

Antique Microscope


I’m still noodling on the science theme and thought I’d go in a different direction just to see how things turn out.   Modern instruments aren’t particularly visually interesting for the most part but antique ones have lots of brass and twiddly things that look great.

Very pleased how this came out.   All those hard lines make it fun to decide which edges to soften and you can really go to town on the softening without losing the image.

The initial drawing.  Fairly tight as I knew things would get a lot looser when the paint started flowing.

The initial drawing.  Fairly tight as I knew things would get a lot looser when the paint started flowing.

Antique Microscope

Add To Cart

Lake Garda Boats

Lake Garda Boats

A marathon session today.    This is the April challenge from

 and they’re always, well, challenging.    See
this one

from February which took me 3 goes before I got something non embarrassing.   Now this isn’t perfect and it is also at a much bigger size than I usually do (16×22 – might not sound much bigger but it really makes a difference) but considering my past form on these things I’m not too unhappy.

Part way through.   Initial washes are on and boats blocked in.  The drawing is pretty on the mark which always helps enormously.

The original photo.   Look at all those boats!!!  My colors are rather drab in comparison but not too bad for a first go.

Edit:  This has *really* grown on me over the last two weeks it’s been up in my studio.   Always the sign of a good painting.      I think he deserves promotion to the inventory pages.


A Stage Further

I wasn't really feeling it when working on the bigger board so went back to real watercolor paper at a smaller size.   Colors are brighter definitely.

I wasn’t really feeling it when working on the bigger board so went back to real watercolor paper at a smaller size.   Colors are brighter definitely.


I left the previous stage to dry for over a day as I was worried whether the paint would stick well enough to put another layer on.   I think it’s ok but next time round I’ll put a couple more coats of the absorbent ground on.

I did a few digital sketches over the previous version to see how I could fit in other elements.   I was noodling with electron arrangements of the alkali metals,  a dna helix (maybe overdone?) and some common organic molecules.    


Not great.   It looks like I’ve just been doodling.    Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.   I quite want there to be a sketchiness/uncertainty to the whole thing which more reflects science as it is done in real life rather than how it appears in text books.

However, when I got down to actually continuing on with the painting it really didn’t need all these extra elements so I decided on the electron arrangement to appear behind and half hidden by the elements.    It works well at this scale but in the back of my mind I keep hold of the final size of 4×6 feet.    Will I need more elements at that scale?  Pfft – don’t know yet.

So where from here?   Originally I wasn’t going to put in all the elements but just have boxes.  As things are progressing I think they need to go in.  I need to work out a way of emphasizing some and pushing others into the shadows without everything getting too regimented.