Category Archives: Inspiration

Up Close: Moth and Butterfly wing scales

I love the abstract nature of the moth and butterfly wings that I paint.  Here you can see their underlying structure, close-up.  This structure informs my brushwork:

Looking at the construction of space in Aboriginal Artists’ painting

Over the past year or so, I’ve been looking closely at many Aboriginal Artists’ work.  I’ve been admiring the complete finished works, and also looking at technique.  Because of my own work, I’m interested in how broad areas of ostensibly one colour, are painted, so that they are interesting to look at and not flat.  Here are some examples:

Large areas are painted with a wide brush, and with a thin wash, so that the background colours shows through, or the foreground hue is slightly varied, as in the white in the righthand detail:

Below are examples of monotone dots painted over backgrounds of varied hues, also lines and scrapes.  The righthand example shows monotone dots over almost monotone backgrounds.

In this one the dark red-brown background shows round the edges of the bright foreground colours:

And here a variety of background colours – many layers – are held together by a network foreground which is mainly one hue.


The works I viewed are in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.  I apologise for not naming the artists as they are too numerous to list here, some paintings are collaborations; I reproduce portions of their work here with profound admiration for their talents.

Entomological Loan the Second

I have been fortunate to meet Ken Walker, Senior Curator of Entomology at the Melbourne Museum. He welcomed me into the insect vaults at the museum, and as in Oxford, I was able to take my pick of insects.  I’ve decided to focus on moths for now, as I love ’em – they are less obvious than butterflies, more subtle..   And as I was looking through a few of the thousands of drawers down there I got the idea for what I’ll be working on for the foreseeable future – so I’m glad that there are an awful lot of drawers – although I’d also love to see these guys in the wild – turns out I’m living in the wrong state – I need to relocate to Queensland – however, these are going to do me for now – these are all Australian, and some are local:

Melb-Mus-MothsThen the next day I found this lovely specimen in the window of the bookshop where I work:

Bookshop-MothIt’s called the “Old Lady Moth” apparently – Why?! – with thanks to another very helpful guy, Peter Marriott at The Entomological Society of Victoria; he’s also identified all the moths in the first picture for me.



Oil Painting

I wonder if anyone wonders what I have been up to, artistically, since we moved to Australia..?  Well, whether you wonder or not, I’m gonna tell you..

I’ve been thinking (and boring people by telling them..) that I would either branch out, or return, to painting in oils at some point.  So when we moved here, I found the best teacher I could, and got on with it.  David Moore did turn out to be a great teacher – people travel from all over to be taught by him, so I am lucky to have him here in my home town – and at the beautiful and interesting location of Montsalvat.

And so began my Monochrome Period..

To remind us how to paint form and space, and to re-familiarise us with handling the new medium, for the first two terms we painted in varieties of black and white.  This resulted in some fairly interesting images:

But then my favourite is when we are at last “allowed” to use colour!  Phew!!


Moving to Australia!

We’ve been working towards this move for over a year now, and it’s finally in the last stages.

We’ll arrive in our new home country in early November.

Things I loved about it when I visited last year:  The LIGHT, and I was inspired by many aesthetically pleasing things, and the way the light fell on them.  Here’s a taste of what I saw:


Here are the boats I photographed the other day – there is rather more water there now!

Today I collected so many great images to paint, that I hardly know where to start, which is a very good feeling!  (Though I will be good and finish my commissions first, of course.)

It was perfect timing too: as I finished up, the sun retreated behind that cloud layer, and the landscape became flat:

So I was very grateful.  I then retreated home, again as quickly as possible on my bike, (zooming past the many gridlocked cars – Oxford is a bit of a nightmare for drivers and bus users at the moment 🙁  I’m sorry for you drivers and bus users 🙁 Roads are closed, flooded, all over the place) and I endeavoured to warm up with 3 hot drinks in rapid succession.

So, now that I am thawed, I need to stop blogging and sorting out photos, and paint!!

It’s the time of the Purpley-Pink!

Have you ever noticed how the colour of blooming flowers shifts through the spectrum as the year progresses?  In spring you’ll notice a period of predominately yellow flowers, then white soon after, reds in high summer, well it’s a very broad observation.  But now I think it’s the time for purpley-pinks – which is great for my colour preferences!

Sweet Peas in September!

Sweet Peas, and wedding flowers, in my studio.

Experience of and knowledge gained from growing Sweet Peas at National Trust Property Chartwell and at Green and Gorgeous, enables me to grow them in my garden for a long season.  Their perfume in my studio at the moment is fantastic!

The other flowers (Dahlias, Golden Rod) and greenery were bought from Green and Gorgeous for my brother’s wedding – the last few remaining, but a lovely reminder 🙂

Of course the danger is, to Blog, and not to paint…

But I did finally produce a painting; see it here!