Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Coat of many colours.

Hello you...remember me?...I thought it was about time I let you know I'm still alive, although the kicking has had to take a bit of a back seat...Christmas is a little like a family sized sledge hammer..(sadly no snow to actually sledge on !) of good company, food, organisation and (this time) more virus's producing coughs and colds throughout the family.

The traditional round of family gatherings has this year met with two new Christmas outings for Jan and I. Just before Christmas we went to the 'Hurly Burly night' at Derby Dance Centre...a night of burlesque performances including escapologist,comedian,chanteuse, mime artists and lots of lovely ladies taking their clothes off (In a very tasteful and artistic way!!)..was fantastic and lacked only the Absinthe. Next we went to the Derby Comedy Club which held a knock out tournament...one of Jan's friends was performing but sadly never made it to the final. But so inspired were we that Jan is going to enter one of the competitions...i may even have a go too!

I'm not one to tell you all about the lovely gifts i received this Christmas....but I just had to show you my new rainbow jacket (pictured above). It's knitted in wool with a fleece inner layer..it also has a hood and is really warm. Jan gave me this after I subtly showed it to her on a web site of wonders!! Wizadorea's Wardrobe is a goldmine of wonderful apparel...take some time to see what i mean!!!

I've not put pen to paper since 18 December in open hostile artfare...but I wanted to let you know that normal business will be resumed shortly after the New Year!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Seasons Greetings...Peace to all !


The Christmas holidays have arrived at last, and I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Happy Christmas. May peace reign in your hearts and minds...may you find joy and happiness in all you do, may wars end, may famine be eradicated and may you find good fortune in your lives.....and if not, please at least hit each other gently....and shout in a nice polite way.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Preeti!

I wanted so much to do something special to commemorate your birthday Preeti...so here's a little message from me...can you guess how I did it?

Star of India
Happy Birthday
From Niall Young

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas approaches.

I've spent ages deliberating over what to publish here...my gripes about the commercial present orgy that is Christmas...the effect of the economic downturn.....my lack of motivation to press on with my work...the lack of 'Christ ' in Christmas...my teenage sons who think life will be made complete with the addition of an X-Box...One thing that will stun you is the fact that over Christmas Day and Boxing Day..a group of 12+ family members will descend upon us, and you may well laugh (as I'm doing...but not for the reason you'd think!) I am the only one who'll be drinking alcohol!...now this might be a good thing as the lovely bottles of Red we've bought...and the Brandy...will see 100% of my attention.But with a solidly tee total family,I'm bound to say something I'll regret!...and if I perchance cause myself a self delusion that through toxic over indulgence, I'll forget and not care what I've said or done , I'll surely hear about it on every family gathering for the rest of the year.My thinking and advice is , if you're going to get a reputation...get a big one!

Oh yes...the photo is of my front room a few minutes ago...darkness has nearly fallen and everyone has left the house except me!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Enigma - 3

Trust me to have been wearing a dark t-shirt!..it also had a logo on the front, but i decided not to include it..I heard a great saying today...

"Do not measure the quality of life by how many breaths you take..but how many times life takes your breath away"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Enigma - 2 Cool pics

I'm so sorry you have to look at this picture of me for the next few weeks..I'll try to make it interesting! As for the photos below...I'm responding to a Tag I have received from Preeti
It seems you walk into anyone's home and often you'll see the fridge covered in drawings..postcards..magnetic alphabet letters....all manner of things....and mine is no exception...
From a large oil pastel drawing by my daughter of 'Daddy'..to Christmas recipes....

newspaper cuttings...Doctor who magnetic pictures...Tweenies figures...school news letters..pens...and two magnetic photos of Jan playing the role of Elizabeth Strutt. the Doctor who magnets have also invaded the side of the Micro wave oven too!

Of course I've now got to tag some friends too...ok Devil mood Sue Julie and Tysonice it's over to you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Enigma - 1

OK..I've spent so long deliberating and fussing, I'm just going to get on with this...I've started with the eyes as usual and radiated out from there.It's important to achieve the right balance of contrast early on as it will affect the rest of the drawing...also to establish which areas of the subject will have the most light...currently the subject is surrounded by plain paper, but eventually I'll want the right side of the face to be the brightest...so a very careful omission of dots is needed to achieve the desired effect.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Enigma - sketch

I'm not sure how this is going to go...I've been working on sketches for weeks now, it was to have taken one particular route, but I've decided against the original intended one and developed a new theme..of course all of this is meaningless unless you live inside my head ( not recommended!). so the best i can do is let things unfold here before you.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Spinning down The Derwent

'Spinning down The Derwent' is a new film released by Maypole productions and Treacle City films..starring renowned Derby actress Gwen Taylor(see above photo). It tells the story of the building and development of the first mass production factories in the world on the banks of the River Derwent in Derby by Sir Richard Arkwright and Joseph Strutt.

Last night , Jan and I went to the premier of this independent film at The Ritz in Belper, Derbyshire.Jan had acted in the film playing the role of Elizabeth Strutt.Below you can see a photo of the cast and crew celebrating ( as is the tradition) 100 hours of filming by drinking Campaign. Jan is on the far right holding the baby.If you fancy seeing other photos and reading info about the film.then follow this link:


I hope you'll all forgive my absence from posting. I'm finding work very difficult at the moment, with my abortive attempts on watercolour, my week long viral infection and the complicated nature of my next big picture, i'm a little unfocused. I shall try to get myself sorted out over the next few days and let you see the start of something new!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Watercolour didn't workout

I decided to produce six small pieces using simple washes...then adding washes on top, then adding landscape or other detail...I got the first and second washes down alright, but I'm afraid everything went wrong after that.I made a total mess and (no disrespect to a three year old) but my work looked like it had been done by a three year old....a colourblind one at that! So I'm going to shelve the watercolour experiments until after Christmas and get back to doing what i do best.

i love the delicacy of watercolour and the texture of the paint on the paper....but I'm going to have to practise a whole lot more!
I hope you enjoyed the previous post...the video is not very good but i chose it because it features the lyrics to the song. I've been a fan of Peter Gabriel's music since way back in 1970 when he was lead singer with Genesis.

The Book Of Love - By Peter Gabriel

I thought this was wonderful....

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Watercolour workout 2

Well, the watercolour didn't work out..and to make matters even worse, I felt achy and full of cold all day..I need to look after myself better.

On the good side ..Mr Postman called with a package from Preeti in India...above is '34 Bubblegums and Candies'..a selection of tasty treats from Preeti's own blog, 'Just A Mother Of Two'...I like to refer to Preeti as 'The Star Of India' as she's someone whom i value immensely as a friend. So I was anxious to see how the writings contained in the book differed (if at all ) from those on the blog...perhaps it was just me, but there seems an extra sparkle..an added something..to tell the truth, I had cried by the end of the first piece!...then I read on and laughed...a bit more..I pondered...then smiled... what a great little book,I shall treasure it forever and you could do no wrong by ordering your own copy here

Monday, December 08, 2008

Water colour workout.

Well...here I am after a prolonged layoff. I've had a viral infection which (similar to influenza), completely knocked any desire to work on the head.But today I've felt well enough to do some work. I did mention that I had a few projects which i was looking forward to launching. well, the first is in response to my readers comments about my water colour paintings. now, bearing in mind I haven't done any painting for around 10 years and before that nearly 20 years...I've got a lot of catching up to do technique wise. so I've tried a few simple little washes here just to get the feel of the paint and water.

i have to admit that I'm very impatient when it comes to painting..i want it to look perfect immediately and i hate making mistakes....something that rarely happens with my dot work! but I've got to learn to experiment and try out things .....I'm perhaps confining myself to a too smaller size and need to 'breakout'....the one hard and fast rule I am going to set myself is that i will complete each picture in only one day!

Thursday, December 04, 2008


I'm ill today..i've not done any artwork...Annie is also off sick from school, so we huddled up together and watched 'Charlie And the chocolate factory' dozed and moaned.She's a lot better this evening..I feel worse..I'm off to bed soon ...See you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Will - Self portrait at Nottingham University

This is my son will who's 13.He's a great lad, caring, gentle but deadly in a rugby scrum! As part of a working partnership with the teacher training dept at Nottingham University, a selected few of the pupils artwork is chosen to display with in the campus. Here's Will standing proudly alongside his blue self portrait..which is framed along with one of his class mates self portraits by Rika . I was so proud of Will and loved the fact that i was attending HIS exhibition.
Here's a better view of Will's painting...(photo by Annie)
I promised I'd tell you about my next project today...well, actually it's one of three projects.I'm still preparing sketches for my next big black and white picture...I'm also working on a commission...and more immediately I'm about to attempt to produce a series of watercolours. I had a go today and the results were disastrous!!! It didn't help having a fairly heavy cold and a daughter of sick from school with all the demands that brings with it.So hopefully I'll have another go with the brushes tomorrow and show you what I've been up to!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Bench - finished

Just finished work on this piece. My final tasks were to increse the amount of purple and green in the shadows and add a little more interest to the fallen leaves. Tomorrow I shall revealing what I'm going to work on next.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bench - 14 Happy Birthday Tysonice

Again..more interruptions,I'm still responsible for school runs etc...and also had to go to the dentist for my routine check up...all is well with my teeth! but managed to get on with the shadows...I spend so much time up close that when i reduce the size for posting here..I can see what it is I've done...sounds strange doesn't it? I spend time every day staring at this as it grows...only just over 40 hours of work..but you can imagine what it's like to work on a 200 hour piece which takes weeks....when I hang my work for exhibitions..I see something altogether familiar but new if you get my meaning...like meeting an old friend.People often query why it is that I don't sell the originals....to me, it would be like selling my children....hey, now really do sound like a mad artist!

Quick Niall, change the subject before the reader realises i'm well and truly bonkers! Below is a photograph...I didn't ask the owner if I could use it ( I hope he forgives me!?)...but this man is someone very special...we've never met, we live thousands of miles apart. He writes a blog which i read..he makes me laugh...he makes me think..he's also on occasions makes me cry, but he doesn't know that. We have many things in common..we're both married to special women...we both have wonderful children..we both like drinking Jack Daniels..we both are often puzzled with regards to women and life in general, and on the subject of terrorism, both horrified at the depth of evil to which the human mind can sink ...both mourn the loss of innocence..the loss of the innocent...

My friends...please pay his blog a visit..be prepared to have your senses..and even your 'chuckle muscles strained....i give you The Man Tysonice! Happy birthday!!!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bench - 13

I don't normally post on a Sunday..for no other reasons than i try to give myself a day off each week.But here I am posting. I'm keen to finish this piece now as I've other things I want to do.In effect, what you have here is a version of one of my photographs which despite the intense level of concentration needed, is not all that creative. Don't get me wrong, I'm very pleased with it..and I'm sure I'll sell a number of prints of it...but there is a bubbling of new ideas trying to get out. I shall finish this picture in the next few days.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bench - 12

You can see the deep blue of the shadows developing now.I'm forming this from a basic layer of Dark blue..then Mid Blue and purple...there will be green and red too eventually.

You may have read that a couple of weeks ago I saw a DVD of '...Spotless mind'? Well last night I watch another film by the same director called 'The Science Of Sleep' Brilliant...I watched it without thinking what the time was and found it ended all too soon for me...It's not a short film, but I became so engrossed in it.If you haven't seen it yet...do so! (you can see by the way I'm no film critic..!.Look for reviews on Amazon..they'll say much more than I ever can!)

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bench - 11

I've now moved into the final phase of this picture, namely the path and shadows. I will be working from right to left.I've already started the basic texture for the tarmac which shows a lot of small details due to the slant of the sun and the wetness of the surface...I've added some medium blue into the darkest area around the grasses edge and will continue this along the line of the shadows.The blue is quite striking already and will look wonderful when finished.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bench - 10 A closer look

Pink Dogwood asked yesterday what the size of this picture was..so in answer to that and as a way of showing the process I use..here a re few photographs taken this morning as I worked on the shadows leading from the bench. After penciling in the areas to be the shadow, I lay a basic layer of dark blue dots ...the white circular shapes are to be fallen leaves.

Here I'm strengthening the yellow by adding a bright yellow...I will then lay more yellow ochre and green over this.

Next..(whoa!what happened to the contrast!?)...I add medium blue to begin extending the shadows away from the bench...the shadows are in fact going to be quite blue...the path was wet at the time I took photos so there was a lot of glare.

Here I'm strengthening the tone of the bench it self with yet more blue. Remember I spoke about the scroll detail on the top arms of the bench?...Well, having thought about what to do I used a very hard rubber which is in the shape of a pencil...I can actually sharpen the tip to produce a very accurate rubber..I think these sort of rubbers were used by typists...I've tried to find similar ones for a couple of years now but to no avail.
Tomorrow you'll see the area underneath the bench completed and the fallen leaves take on an even greater degree of realism with more fine detail added.....

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Bench - 9

I thought I'd show you the whole of the composition so you can see how I plan to radiate the shadows out towards the viewer...I'm currently building up the complicated series of patterns that will become leaves on the ground..and balancing out the level of contrast between the bench and the tree behind..I've added subtle layers of yellow ochre into the buildings and bench..I know I've said it countless times, but that particular colour always adds a special something...its one of the organic colours we see as a result of visible light..very rarely will you see a perfect white cloud..those of you who have had anything to do with lighting will know that to produce a realistic daylight effect means shining red,yellow and blue together...

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bench - 8

As you can see, I've been working well today putting in the buildings in the background..I used a fairly light pattern of dotting using purple,blue,green and red.The grassed area beneath the trees is my next task....mainly covered in yellow fallen leaves, there is actually little green grass to be seen,but the base colour I'm using is green..I shall then darken areas for shadow and add yellow ochre towards the end. There is actually lots more path in the foreground which you'll see when I get there! I'm a bit bothered by the scroll detail trailing up off the back of the bench...the detail on the right is longer than the corresponding detail on the other side of the bench...see if you can spot if I manage to resolve the problem!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Quiz results - Please mark your own paper!

Here's me and Annie about to blow the candles on my birthday cake I had a nice day which saw me treated to a gorgeous Full English Breakfast whiich for those of you who don't know what that means, well I can tell you 'Full' is the important word in it! Fired bacon,sausages,black pudding,tomatoes,eggs,mushrooms,baked beans and fried bread phew!!During the early evening I also had a phone call from Preeti which was a real treat!....later I enjoyed copious amount of red wine accompanied by two friends Allan and Sheriden..I then lay back in intoxicated bliss whilst listening to a CD by The Flaming Lips...'Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots'. Therefore I have not been able to summon up enough vitality to unleash my creative powers today if you get my drift?

The answers to yesterday's quiz?...Firstly, well done if you managed to work out the fact that they were all born on 21st November thus sharing my birthday...who were they?...well here you are:

1. Goldie Hawn. 1945. American actress...this photo is a fairly early one of her...I came to love her quirky image and style in the 1960's TV show 'Rowan And Martin's Laugh-in ' Now better remembered for films like Private Benjamin, Death Becomes Her, and The First Wives Club...

2. Ingrid Pitt. 1937. Gorgeous Polish born actress famous for her portrayal of female vampires in British horror films of the 1970's for studio Hammer Horror.Most notably 'Countess Dracula' 'The Vampire Lovers' and 'Lust For A Vampire'

3. Rene Magritte. 1898. Belgian surrealist painter...one of my all time favourite artists!

4. Voltaire. 1694 Author and philosopher. 'Voltaire' was his chosen pen name as it was an anagram of his surname in Latin ..real name Francois - Marie Arouet.

5. Bjork Guamundsdottir.1965 Icelandic musician..famed for innovative, eccentric performances and composition...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Bench - 7 Connections

It being the occasion of my 47th birthday today, I have not dedicated my time to my work...I have however done a little bit..a very complicated bit. I'm working on the iron fencing behind the trees..it's important to establish their lines before working on the houses in the street behind.What my drawing doesn't show here is the grandeur with which a lot of the houses were built . Originally built to house the wealthy owners of the surrounding industry including the Midland Railway and locomotive works, and Royal Crown Derby the factory of which is still on the boundary of this park. The housing has long since passed into private landlord ownership and is now a land of bedsits and small flats.
To this very day, not many people are aware that the Arboretum was THE first public park in the world and was the 'blue print' behind the development of Central Park in New York.


OK...so can you work out the connection all these famous people have apart from the fact that all but one of them are favourites of mine despite their connection ?....that's probably fairly easy...but can you put the names to the faces?






Good luck...answers tomorrow!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bench - 6 Top Artists Directory, Artist of the week!

Today I managed to buckle down to some serious colourising...lots of yellow ochre and green...red and blue. I must admit, the picture up until now was looking fairly bleak, but I've begun to achieve the effect the late autumn sun has when streaming through the remnants of yellowed leaves and wet ground.

One rather pleasantly surprising bit of news was broke to me today by Kim who runs The Top Artists Directory. I am their featured artist of the week. So if you fancy checking out my work there, you'll also be able to access the works of many other talented and gifted artists from around the world....and if you're visiting here for the first time via Kim's site, then welcome, please take time to look around and I'll try to answer any questions you may have. Also please take time to look at my selection 'Finished Pictures' from the past couple of years.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bench - 5

If only you could see my work in the flesh, you'd understand my frustration with these representations!..all the subtlety of colours is gone here. Never mind. I have good and not so good news. The good news is that I have been commissioned to work on a portrait which will be ambitious and richly intense. I can't reveal anything here in case the recipient is reading..so the not so good news is that sadly you won't be able to see the development of it. however, I will probably mail out updates to those who would be interested, just let me know. On top of that, I am continuing with 'Bench'..but sketches for the next big picture will have to move down the list of priorities.

Yesterday I went back to my old school for a final time to demonstrate and exhibit my work.Always a joy and a pleasure to answer the many forthcoming and well thought out questions from the students..it was in fact at that school I first used the dotting technique as a piece of homework.Below is a photograph of me sitting in the entrance hall of Littleover Community School just before the bell sounded for lunch time..

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bench - 4. Subject and portrait united

Plodding along with this one at the moment,but the good news is that I've moved a step closer to my next picture..I'm working on sketches daily and should have something up and running in the next week or so...

This weekend saw a party at our house..we decided that since Jan and my birthdays are but a week apart, we'd have a party in the middle.We invited lots of people and lots came..(To see the full series of photos from the evening, click on the Facebook panel half way down the page). But here's one I wanted to show you, Having worked on the portrait of Kay over the last couple of weeks, here she is in the flesh . Kay travelled down especially for our party and to be united with her picture.I was so nervous ...I was so worried that she wouldn't like it and be unable to say so...but she liked it! I'm hanging on to the original for the time being as I want to get a copy of made.

I'm still feeling run down but the party at the weekend was a welcome relief from the usual...and guess what..I only drank 3 glasses of wine all evening. Thus ensuring I could actually talk to my guests!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bench - 3

Apologies to all of you whose blogs i usually visit...I will get around to everyone in time.The fact is that I'm feeling very run down..tired...call it what you will...I'm not managing nearly enough time on my work . It's not that I don't want to, it just feels too much. I realise this sounds pathetic...especially in view of the fact that we're planning a party at our house for tomorrow night.I shall find a cosy place in the corner (near the stereo) where I can relax. But the treadmill seems never ending for not very much reward ("so what ?" I hear all you parents say..that's just about par for the course!) Kids argue..Jan is away most of the time, and when she's here she's asleep.Honestly..Do you ever feel there are times when you and your partner are travelling parallel routes that never actually meet up?....How long can that go on before the paths head in totally different directions?

*this is not a cry for help dear reader..just a statement of how it is......No one said it would be easy!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Bench - 2

I'm slipping..my concentration and application to my work seems to failing at the moment..I put this down to many factors, not least the fact that I've not had a holiday this year and I'm currently in a childcare routine due to Jan being off on her theatre tour.The days are getting shorter and darker and it makes me feel tired.What I really need is a good kick up the backside and a whole bucket full of fun. To this end we're having a joint birthday party this Saturday which should be good.

Yesterday was Jan's birthday,so I dusted off my culinary hat once again, spent the morning in the kitchen, and made this scrumptious chocolate cake ..I even made the Gnash chocolate icing..then added giant chocolate buttons all over. It was a success!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Bench - 1

Well,as you can see, I'm still not quite ready to unveil the next big picture..sketches for that piece continue to be developed,but in the meantime, here is a drawing based on one of the photographs I took last week at the Arboretum in Derby.

I've just got back from visiting my old senior school...I was invited to show my pictures and demonstrate my technique. It was a most enjoyable time and I was amazed at the mature level of questions the pupils asked...I'm going back there again next week too!