Painting has been for me both a pleasure and a struggle.
I have tried to make good paintings but what exactly is 'good'?
Sometimes when I have created what I regard as a very modest painting I have received lovely comments and the picture has sold.
But sometimes when I have slaved away at what I hope will turn out to be a masterpiece, and when I am at last satisfied with the result, I have found that nobody shows much interest in it.
Occasionally I have achieved success in getting one of my pictures into a reputable Art Exhibition and that was always very pleasing, but rejections have been more common than acceptances, and that can be disappointing.
Each painting is rather like a song in many ways: an idea comes, then you start, you work at it either quickly and successfully in a short time, or else it can take ages and even when it is finished you still feel the need to alter and improve it, sometimes over months or years.
I have tried my hand at landscapes, more complex subjects, an occasional portrait, waterfronts, buildings, and a few cats. I like a quirky picture, one that elicits a chuckle.
There was a time when I was intrigued by the work of Marcel Duchamp: how can it be possible that a chap can drop bits of string onto a piece of paper, fix them there with a dab of glue, and give it a silly title, and such a picture ends up as a treasured possession of the New York Museum of Modern Art! The idea of course is to tickle the onlookers and cause them to contemplate what Art is. It can be anything! But paintings are nice to look at. They are better than photos, more substantial, and they carry in their substance the efforts of their creator. They do indeed have a lot in common with songs I think.
Most of the paintings I have put onto this website have been sold or given away, some of them a very long time ago, but I still have about 45 stashed away at home so if anybody wishes to make contact with a view to coming to see them or to buy one you are welcome to send me an email.
'Archie in the Daffodils'.
Here's a little story about Archie. He's the ginger cat in the painting shown here. He was a big, heavy, lumbering cat. What a weight! But if he heard the sound of catfood being put into his tin bowl he could run at top speed across to the kitchen from the far side of the garden, reaching his bowl in a second! I once did a painting of him as he sat amongst the daffodils and I really liked it. The painting was sold at a local art society exhibition some years ago. Some time later we had trouble with our telephone and the telephone engineer came to fix it. He was up the telegraph pole when he spotted Archie in the garden. "Hey!" said the telephone engineer, "Is that Archie?" To which I said "How do you know Archie's name?" and the man explained that it was his mother who had bought the painting and he recognised the cat in our garden to be the same cat as in the painting which his mother has. I thought that was great!
This is a painting of the small croft where Mairi, my wife's mother, was born. It is situated miles from anywhere way up on the Northwest coast of Scotland. In this wee croft there were 5 children born and their father, the crofter, died when Mairi was just 4 years old. Her mother, who was called Mary, did not give up but stayed on another 12 years in this croft with her five children.
'Dawn In The Forest'.
This large oilpainting was inspired by walking through the Blueridge Mountains of Virginia for several days along the Appalachian Trail. The woods were just wonderful and although the views were largely restricted to trees and yet more trees day after day it was beautiful to walk through the forest.
Click on the picture above for a slide show of some of my paintings. Or click on one of the larger pictures to get a better view.
'Piriac sur Mer'.
This oilpainting shows the beach at Piriac. This is where Annie went for a walk on the beach whilst I enjoyed the delights of the village market, roast chicken, a glass of wine. Hours later Annie returned and explained that she had met a man standing on the beach staring silently out to sea. She had said hello to him following which he had started telling her about himself. He was Dutch and had, ten years before, gone off to serve with UNPROFOR in the Dutch contingent to act as sort of 'police officers' to try to keep the peace in a place called Srebrenica. The story which he had related to Annie was passed on to me and it caused me to look up a lot of things on the computer, all of which led to me writing my song "Srebrenica Will You Never Go Away". Many of the Dutch young men were never the same again after the massacre that had taken place in Srebrenica, and their side of the terrible story was not really known because the newspapers and news reporters had villified the Dutch contingent. I felt that their side of the story needed telling.
'Against All Odds'.
This oilpainting is quite large, about 4ft x 2ft 6".
It shows the small boat "The James Caird" sailing from Elephant Island in the Antarctic to reach South Georgia as it carried Ernest Shackleton, Worsley, Crean, Vincent, McCarthy and McNish across 800 miles of Southern Ocean in 1916 to try to bring a rescue ship for all the other men who remained on Elephant Island. This is surely one of the most desperate survival stories of all time.
I thought I had finished the painting and was pleased to have caught the idea of the hurricane which lashed the tiny boat for two days as they approached their destination on the South side of the island, preventing it from landing on S. Georgia.
Then I read that the "James Caird" had been recovered years ago and had been brought back to England and was now to be seen at Dulwich College in London, so Annie and I went down to Dulwich as I was keen to see the actual boat. Unfortunately Dulwich College was shut, the gate was barred, and the only thing to be done was for me to climb over and pull myself up to a window to see if I could see the famous boat! And there it was, inside. Unfortunately I could see that it had two masts, not just the one mast as I had at first shown in my painting. So back home I went and added another mast! You can do that with oilpainting.....not so easy with watercolour!
'The Rydal Chestnut'
This amazing tree is in the grounds of Rydal Hall. It is hundreds of years old. It is immense and convoluted with branches going all over the place. It even has some small trees themselves growing out of the main tree higher up.