After a gap of over two years I’m so happy today to have made a little space in which to work. It’s about one-third of a spare bedroom in a small flat and it’s cramped but I’ve tried it and it works. It fits an A-frame easel, a trolley, two small tables and a chair. It’s about five feet wide and is bounded on one side by a wall and window and on the other side by a bed which I’ve covered with plastic and which is great for spreading out sketches and photos. So after more than two years of flailing around I feel I can get back to work in earnest. Another decision is to go back to oil because I find acrylics too spasmodic, always having to stop to let the paint dry, which doesn’t allow you to get into a state of flow. I will probably start a painting in acrylic and and go on to oil at some point.
The still life painting above is from 2012, the year after graduating (late in life). I’ve been doing more abstracts and small landscape studies for the last couple of years but for this new phase am planning to go back to still life at least for a while.


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Two little exercises at home using up leftover paint.

The oil painting classes at ESOP are just what I was hoping for, with emphasis on the basics but not atelier-style, it’s a more contemporary approach. New ideas come flooding in too but I’m trying to stay focused and not let myself get distracted.


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Today was cleaning day. I spent the afternoon tidying and rearranging my studio space. It involved some tedious sorting through bits and pieces, throwing out empty paint tubes, acrylics that had gone hard, dead pens and so forth. I’d like to be able to switch quickly between acrylics, oils, gouache and drawing. The studio at ESOP gave me some ideas. It’s efficient and well organised, everything has its place. Small things such as palette knives have their own labelled drawer in a lightweight drawer unit. There’s a can of clean turps and a can of used dirty turps with a small funnel. I really like the drawer idea, there are so many odds and ends that, at certain moments, are useful or even vitally necessary, like Richard III (I think) whose kingdom was lost “all for the want of a horse shoe nail.” There’s more stuff to sort through but already the space is more functional and efficient.


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So I have the Hyacinth painting in the living room, propped up so I can see it easily from my chair. I’m wondering what to do with the blue background. The overall plan is to add the running dog pattern in the band at the lower edge, and Hyakinthos at upper left edge. Earlier today I had a look at the Greek alphabet in Wikipedia. Debating whether to devote some time to learning it. Instinct says yes.

If I can just concentrate on the painting process. It’s harder than one would think. Also I haven’t yet had a long enough session to get into a state of flow. In flow some of the choices or decisions make themselves. I wonder if it’s that I’m just not there yet? On a different tack, the oil paint is very thick and viscous, it doesn’t go on as smoothly as I’d like. The Liquin should help. I would like to mix large quantities of whatever colours I’m using with the lovely long flexible palette knife.

Anyway I have everything I need now. Paint, mediums, palette, brushes, and space (don’t mind it’s small). Wondering if I should start another one? Instinct says yes to that too


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Drawings in pen, charcoal, crayon, then the second-to-last one is acrylic on canvas and the last one is middle stage oil over the acrylic.

After restarting oil I find I need to brush up on the technical skills of painting with oils, the solvents and mediums especially but other things too. So on Monday I joined an oil painting class in Wood Green, London, one three hour session per week at The Essential School of Painting or ESOP. It’s a very large studio, loads of space, stocked with all the necessary equipment and materials. Brilliant, especially compared with my 50 square feet at home!


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Charcoal drawings of a hyacinth from Sainsbury’s in a paper pot . I feel so happy doing this, it feels more right than anything else in years. Plus a photo of my ‘studio’ space.


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