Rock Pool – mixed media

A few photos of the process:

Some close ups:


‘Rock Pool’ 34x34cm square mounted size – mixed media on stretched canvas mounted into a wooden floating frame

Top third is soft pastel on liquitex ceramic stucco; middle section is Golden fluid acrylics mixed into Asterdam extra heavy gel medium
Lower section is Golden.crackle paste worked over with watercolours. Posca pens, inks and metallic acrylics. All triple sealed and varnished with Galeria gloss varnish.
I enjoyed fiddling about with this one. Here it is on the wall next to some other thingies. This piece is available for sale – please email me for details or more images.
Hope you 👍

Mixed Media work

This first piece was an experiment in my sketchbook. I layered several collage elements – such as lace, strips torn from a old story book and various texture pastes and stencils. I was quite surprised how well the sketchbook paper stood up to the abuse!

Next, I tried using the collage idea on a piece of scrap hardboard – it’s about 20cm square:

I also used pastes and gels to create an abstract landscape.

New soft pastel and a reworked piece

I received some new soft pastels yesterday but they were honestly so crap that I couldn’t use them. I ended up going back to my Sennelier pastels and a new piece of Pastelmat. I used a light grey colour for this piece, which is about A3 in size. The image of it on Instagram has been cropped square, so this is the actual full sized version of it.

‘Morning has broken’ Soft pastels on pastelmat – about A3

I reworked the Sapphire Tree encaustic looking abstract that I did the other day, adding more fluid acrylics to it.,

‘Sapphire Tree – final version’ – mixed media on canvas panel.

‘Sapphire Tree’ – mixed media on a recycled canvas panel.

I used an old fracture-pour painting that I’ve never liked.

I then smothered it in Galeria heavy structure gel, which I had tinted with some resin inks (gold and metallic yellow) – this gave it a very soft buttery colour, mimicking the colour of beeswax.

When it was dry, it looked like this:

I then built up more texture with another coat of the gel, after I’d applied a tissue paper stencil of a Celtic symbol.

I dripped tiny little specks of Golden fluid acrylic onto the surface and sprayed with water and some iso-alcohol. I moved it all around a lot, spraying where I wanted the paint to go into the fissures and folds of the dried gel. I used Phthalo Blue and White fluid acrylic. This stuff is fabulous paint. When it was dry, I sculpted the surface with a tiny tweezer (I couldn’t find anything sharp that was tiny – so used the mini-tweezers).

‘Sapphire Tree’ – gels, pastes and fluid acrylics on a canvas panel – 20 x 20cm

I really like how this has come out – I was aiming to mimic the look of an encaustic painting and I think it’s been successful.

Soft pastel tests on different papers

I’ve been wanting to do a comparison of different papers for quite a while.   For this test, I chose a reference photo off the internet of somewhere in the Highlands of Scotland (one of my favourite places).   I set myself the target of making sure that the sketch only took a maximum of 15 minutes each time – however I did these sketches on different days, as I was waiting for some of the papers to arrive.     In all cases I used a mixture of soft pastels (mainly Sennelier), Caran D’Ache soft pastel pencils and Koh-I-Noor soft pastel pencils.  I didn’t really have enough time to do much pencil work in the time I allocated for these tests, but used the pencils to roughly sketch out where the main shapes were and worked up from that.  In all cases, the papers were pre-tinted, not all the same background colours but I chose darker colours for all of the studies.

First I tried the scene out using Caran D’Ache pastel paper – I was really looking forward to using this paper but to my dismay, discovered that it is ‘Ingres’ paper and I battle to get anything resembling what I want using a pre-textured surface (which is what you get with Ingres).  The colour lays down pretty flat and the paper is smooth to work on but you have that waffle imprint going on, which just gets on my nerves.    I also found that trying to do any kind of pastel pencil work on top was pretty useless.

Next, I had a go using Sennelier’s Pastel card.  I have to say that I am starting to enjoy this paper, although it is quite harsh on the fingertips (very sand paper texture).  I think because of this harsh texture, I tend to just go for it and be more loose in the application of colour and marks.  The good thing is your pastels really get into the crevices on the paper and you can do a lot of layering.  That said it works out expensive because you go through a lot of pastels due to the heavy sandpaper surface. I quite liked the result.  

Highlands – Soft pastels on tinted Sennelier Pastel Card 24 x 32cm or 9 x 12″

In my mind, I left the best ‘til last – I used a new pad of Pastelmat – working on the dark grey pre-tinted paper.  Instantly, I could feel a difference in the way I approach the work and the development of it.   It just all comes together (for me) so much faster and easier using Pastelmat.  It’s still my favourite paper.

Highlands – Soft pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat Dark Grey 24x30cm or 9.5 x 12″


Towards the middle of January, I acquired a new(-er … than the old one) car, so I can now get out and go to wilder places and not feel so cooped up. Here’s my little pocket rocket.

I have been feeling a bit low, in the art department, for a while – mainly due to the fact that I am (still) in limbo waiting for next painting course to start. I have now discovered that it will only be April, due to major cock-ups between SFE and OCA … ho hum. In the meantime, I have done bits and pieces (mostly soft pastels):

I have tried out Unison soft pastels (I used them for the small tree study up there on the right). I have also ordered Koh-i-Noor soft pastel pencils and some Caran D’Ache soft pastel paper – I haven’t worked with either of these products before, so it will be interesting to see how that works out.

I am in discussions with my IT consultant (har, har that’s my son) to figure out how I can really vamp up this website and make it start earning its keep.

2022 a year of massive change in my life.

It started out fairly quietly then … wham! Iceland, Solo Camping (a few times), Wales, Covid, falling on my face, art exhibition, two painting commissions, Liverpool, earth pigments, giving art lessons, starting a new job, getting an increase, having great family get togethers and parties. I’m still obsessed with someone who doesn’t really care but I’m happy. My life has been good this year, despite smashing my face up and a few other injuries/Covid – I can’t complain. My financial situation has improved – due to the new job and yes, I passed Painting 2.1 (67%) … I start the next course ‘How Paintings Work’ in January 2023.

I hope everyone who passes by, has a wonderful time over the festive season. Keep safe, look after yourself and those you care about. Don’t forget to hug someone who needs it. Give love, it may even come back to you (it’s taking its time for me but I never give up hope). Remember you are fabulous. I’ll probably duplicate this post on Instagram.

Here are some of the art highlights in collage format:

Floating Leaf with runes .. series

I have been working ‘small’ for a few weeks and seem to have created a series of paintings using earth pigments, collage, inks and incorporating Elder Futhark runes, which I’m getting a bit fascinated with. Most of these are about 30 x 30 cm square on various papers.

Which one do you think is most successful?


Painting stuff: Well I have decided to abandon producing a large format oil painting of the below scene (which was originally done in soft pastels on organza). It wasn’t speaking to me and felt a bit like reinventing the wheel. I am going to be exhibiting this piece anyway in November, so it will get its moment of glory.

I am concentrating nowadays on working with raw (natural rock or refined) mineral (earth) pigments. So, I’m going to do a large piece using earth on the canvas, which is now prepped and waiting.

Degree stuff: I received the Gdrive folder for my autumn assessment last week and have started uploading all the required course work. Even though I’m at level 2, it doesn’t get any easier, the Uni is constantly changing parameters and rules. I hope I do well with this unit, it was an important one for me.

Work/life stuff: I start a new job on Monday! I am excited, nervous and terrified but looking forward to the structure of an office environment again. I’ve been working for myself for so many years, it will be a nice change to be in an office with a bunch of other mad people.

Camping stuff: I will have to wait for a few months I suppose before I can get some time off and then we’re looking at winter. I was going to go camping this weekend but it had to be cancelled due to all sorts of other things going on. If I get chance I still would like to try and squeeze in a wild camp before the end of this year. I have found another site offering semi-wild woodland camping (close to a river this time) – so I hope to get to that at some point.

Health stuff: Well last weekend I tried to take myself out and almost succeeded. I tripped up in the dark and face planted into a concrete plant container. It made a right mess of the right side of my head and the bruising is now all green, purple and yellow. I went and had x-rays last Monday and nothing broken but very badly bruised and I had concussion for a while. The nausea and dizziness is going away but it is SLOW! The doctor at A&E told me it can take over 2 weeks to recover from something like this – bloody hell.

Other stuff: It’s the 1st October today, geez what happened to this year?! It’s been quite momentous for me and seems to be continuing along those lines (despite the head trauma). Next weekend is my birthday and the Saturday I’m going to London to see the Cezanne exhibition at Tate Modern, I can’t wait for that. Then on the Sunday, I’m having a ‘birthday’ lunch with around 20 people t one of our local restaurants … should be fun.

See ya!

WIP and other news

At the moment, I’m kinda stuck between several things.
Work on this large canvas (in oils) is taking way longer than I initially anticipated and it’s frustrating. I just hope its worth it once finished. The soft pastel version was much easier to produce.

I have also just completed all the submission artwork, including a somewhat taxing essay for the current course assessment. The assessment event itself happens in November and I get results mid-December.

And I’m starting a new job soon😊😁

Woodland camping, foraging and Egg Tempera

I spent a few days solo camping in woodland recently. Whilst there, I ‘foraged’ a tiny bit of orange red pigment (probably the remains of a brick) from the area near my campsite.

I ‘refined’ the pigment in a make shift pestle and mortar (I used a melamine bowl and a smooth pebble).

In order to be able to paint with it, I needed some sort of binder. I didn’t have any glue with me. To try and get over my aversion to using egg yolk as a binder (to make egg tempera), I mixed the pigment with about a teaspoon of yolk from the last remaining egg (the things we do for art). Then I used a twig to make a painting.

It is a tiny study on watercolour paper of a baby hedge. I quite like its simplicity.

‘Hedge’ Egg tempera earth pigment on 300g watercolour paper. 18x8cm or 7x3in

I still, however, don’t like the smell of raw egg yolk in my paint …



I’ve been invited to exhibit around 15 works of mine for a show happening at the beginning of November. The venue is just down the road from me. I exhibited there a few years ago (before the pandemic struck). It’s a bit nerve-wracking trying to figure out what pieces to include. The clientele around here all seem to like ‘pretty pictures’ i.e. figurative stuff that’s instantly recognisable – they don’t tend to go for abstract paintings – so I don’t think my earth pigment pieces will sell at this venue. I decided to focus on soft pastel or mixed media work and so far I’m thinking of these ones:

Framed pieces – one large (Fjord), one medium (storm over fields – A2) and three smaller

Plus 10 x small pieces (all of them are no larger than A3 – mounted but not framed). I’m not sure about including the first two flowery thingies or the monotypes ?? Aargh!

I’ll probably include a selection of hand-made note cards too, as I make these al the time. Anyway, I’ll update this post with more details once they start putting up advertising. Wish me luck!

With apologies to him*

New paper, new challenges. 

I have been thinking a lot about *Cézanne, especially because I will be going to the exhibition at Tate Modern in October.  To try something different, I had a go at producing a quick study based very loosely on his ‘The Bibémus Quarry’ painting. My version is with earth pigments, charcoal and some soft pastels on the Fabriano Pittura paper.  I’m not sure I like this paper yet, the ‘line’ texture on the surface kinda irritates me.  Anyway, we’ll see if it grows on me or not.  

‘After Cézanne‘ Earth pigments, carcoal and soft passtels on 400gsm Fabriano Pittura paper 31x31cm

Cézanne’s original painting was done around about 1895 in oils 65x80cm:

‘The Bibémus Quarry’ Cézanne oils on canvas


I am offering limited edition prints of the following soft pastel pieces:

Price includes postage/packaging to UK and Ireland. If you are based outside of the UK, please could you email me (see form below), as the price will be slightly higher. Thank you!

Sunlit Autumn Stream

Print taken from my original soft pastel painting. Print measures 16.5 x 12″, 42x31cm or A3 and is matt finish on photo paper.


Shelter in the Woods

Print taken from my original soft pastel painting. Print measures 16.5 x 12″, 42x31cm, or A3 and is matt finish on photo paper.



Sadly for me, I can no longer get single sheets of the Giant Atlantis 400gsm paper delivered – unless I buy 10 sheets and at just over £135 (plus delivery) I don’t think I’ll be doing that for a while. Needless to say I’m trying other papers I have to hand today. This time, I used a Fabriano Unica 250gsm paper – yep I know ideally it should be used for printmaking. Don’t judge!

I gave it a good work out, doing an up-scaled version of something I did earlier this year, on the request of my tutor. I don’t make a habit of ‘duplicating’ work I’ve done before so this was very interesting for me. I used almost the same materials. The paper kinda held up but it was close to disintegrating by the time I’d finished.

‘Winter Thaw – upscaled’ 30x30cm
Winter Thaw v2 and original on right

Refined (with a muller) and semi-raw earth pigments, Liquitex acrylic ink and D-R system 3 white acrylic on Fabriano Unica 250gsm paper.
Pigments used:
Perranuthnoe Ochre, Fremington Grey, Gorran Haven Grey, Bideford Black, Geevor Red, Meeth White, Peppercombe Red from the Devon coastline (I think).


I am now quite interested in the idea of making a much larger work – I have canvasses that are large – around A1 and some a bit bigger but I’m thinking of going even larger than that, which is one of the reasons why I’m disappointed with Atlantis’ new restrictions on how to buy their 400gsm watercolour paper, which is really strong.

I didn’t think it would be satisfying for me to try and recreate one of the older pigment paintings – as the first one had come about very much by accident, I wasn’t working to a plan. With the second attempt, I was aware of the paper having limitations and this tended to stop me from experimenting as much as I would have done on a stronger paper. I like working on paper, as opposed to canvas or other solid types of support but perhaps I might find something else that is much more suitable, so I’m going to do some digging about.


Sometimes an image or emotion (or both in this case) lingers in my head and until it’s come out onto the paper or canvas, I can’t really concentrate on much else.

I’ve had this idea to do a portrait of my friend in Turkey for a long time but was nervous to tackle it, in case I couldn’t capture him properly. He has very strong, striking features, which does make it easier I suppose but I have been following him on YouTube for a long time and there is much more to him than just how he looks. It’s trying to get that essence across that I was nervous about.

Anyway last weekend I managed to make it happen. It is a soft pastel portrait and I’m pleased with how it turned out. I know he is! And that’s all that matters at the end of the day.

‘Tahir’ Soft pastels on pastelmat

New work

These are two pieces I recently did towards coursework – made with raw earth pigments, acrylics and inks on paper.

‘Memory 1’ Earth pigments, inks and acrylics on Atlantis 400gsm paper 22x22cm

‘Memory 2’ Earth pigments, inks and acrylics on pre-prepared (with gypsum) Atlantis 400gsm paper 22x22cm


I loosely based this new piece on my own reference photo. I was trying to capture emotion and a sense of the power of the sea in this painting. I used magenta and red, with paynes grey and white … oil paint this time. It’s about A2 (50x37cm actual painting; paper is 60x41cm)

‘Storm’ oil on paper 50x37cm

Some new work

I am having a few issues with WordPress at the moment, don’t quite understand what’s happened but for some reason I can’t post from my phone anymore, which is a bit of a pain in the neck. Anyway, this is an update of work I’ve been doing lately …

I may not be posting here for a while, as I have quite a lot of course work to wade through in coming weeks.