Saturday, May 31, 2008

Irongate - 12. The Mad Vicar Unmasked!

I worked for a while today on the bushes in the centre of the be honest I'm finding it a bit of a struggle to finish especially when I have so many exciting ideas taking shape. I went down into Derby today to take photographs of the Violinist. He's wasn't there..I believe he has gone to 17th Century Russia. I think also it is part of the lore that if you look for him, he will never be found but will only make himself known at the time of his own choosing.

Earlier we took delivery of two sets of clerical vestments...Me being someone who really enjoys dressing up decided it was time to i am as the Mad Vicar..if you think you've seen me somewhere before..look further down to see 'Elephant'.

shortly after this picture was taken...I was defrocked!

I'm now on the lookout for someone to be my French Maid...any volunteers?


In answer to Devilmood...I am a dreamer. you have to understand that my line of work means I spend large amounts of time by myself concentrating.My mind can go to all sorts of places, i enjoy letting my thoughts wander...

Here is a little sketch I just may be wondering where it might come from. Well, to set the record straight, as with all my characters, they are entirely made up, which is what surprised me with one of the earlier sketches..(see yesterday)..when I looked back at one drawing, i realised I'd created Saddam Hussein!...see if you can spot the likeness.

my Violinist , i think is Eastern European in origin...and needs to be wirery...a little unkempt....The photo also contains a free ariel view of my left foot.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Gestations - 2

I've been fascinated by the appearance of a Violinist who regularly plays in Derby city centre...usually at weekends..his playing is phenomenal.I was musing over the possibility that he is a time traveller...fate appoints his arrival to perform a special piece of music which draws lovers together..he appears in different cities at different times...always playing the same piece of music.Those destined to meet are unaware of each other, but as they stand to listen to his playing, their eyes meet. i think also he may have appeared on the Titanic as she slipped into the waves..during a lull in fighting in the trenches of WW1 as German and Allied troops laid down their weapons to celebrate peace was declared in 1945 in Piccadilly circus...Times Square..Berlin.....

All that from a little sketch...what more will surface?...perhaps I'll get down inot Derby tomorrow and take some photos of him....?

Irongate - 11

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Right at the beginning of all I do is the sketchbook. It is the gym in which the artist flexes his creative muscles..learns to hone the skills is the windswept cliff top where musings congeal and forms gather themselves..little ideas become bigger ..shapes take on dimension and all is balanced in readiness.
If you have any interest in art...I urge you...keep a sketch book...I have very many of them stretching back decades..all numbered and dated....with in them is contained the flights and fancies of my mind...and as such, they are like a visual journey through my me they remain for my eyes only....for to share them would be like speaking the ramblings of my thoughts out loud....meaning little but to myself.
I often imagine that you can step into my reality and together we'd light a little candle and turn the pages as i reveal the very essence of that which inspires me. So here and now I've decided that I'll do just that. Presented for your delectation and perusal are the doodlings and gestation's of an idea which if you keep your eye on these pages, will become something more substantial...perhaps in a day or two...perhaps in a year of never know

Irongate - 10's time i finished this ...I've become a little uninterested and more concerned with my next project..but I'll stick with it and get it finished.

The exhibition as always brought me into contact with hundreds of people,many of whom i was able to gain valuable insight into what piques the imagination and interest of the viewer...the most popular work?...well, it was 'Elephant' followed closely by 'Ball Of Wool'. there were various pictures i purposefully left out of the show, but know that when the time comes, they'll generate as much interest.

So my conclusion and the public's was: more surreal/fantastical works like Elephant/Spirit/L'inattendu/Ball Of Wool etc....I'm excited and can't wait to get on with something new...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008



Today I just wanted a rest from my work...So having walked down into town and bought a couple of books i've been meaning to read ('The Road' by Cormac McCarthy and 'The Witch of Portobello' by Paulo Coehlo) I thought it's time to sit back and enjoy some good sounds. Regular readers will know what that means!!...yes, an eight minute song.This time by's taken from the album 'The Masquerade Overture' and is called appropriately enough: 'Paintbox'Here are the lyrics.....enjoy.

Painting pictures of a thousand different paths

We sketch an outline of a love that hopes to last

Casting a wand over imaginary hopes

And close our eyes so we don't fell the ebb and flow

And paintbox you are my only hope

Of covering the faded past and starting out once more

With a fortune in new colours new hopes to inspire

I paint the path I want to take and paint a life of fire

Marking out our lives full of different plans

Excitedly we hold the key to change our hearts and hands

We climb the hill to see if green fields lie beyond

Only to realise they've faded now and gone

And paintbox you are my only hope

Of covering the faded past and starting out once more

With a fortune in new colours new hopes to inspire

I paint the path I want to take and paint a life of fire

Painting pictures of a thousand different paths

We sketch an outline of a love that hopes to last

Casting a wand over imaginary hopes

And close our eyes so we don't fell the ebb and flow

And paintbox you are my only hope

Of covering the faded past and starting out once more

With a fortune in new colours new hopes to inspire

I paint the path I want to take and paint a life of fire

Monday, May 26, 2008

Irongate 9 Exhibitions end.

I always find it a sad occasion seeing an exhibition dismantled...for three days at the Old School Hall , the little group of artists I exhibited with was a like a friendly community of like minded individuals. We shared and exchanged ideas and advice and took encouragement from each sale. It was very busy for most of the day as it was a Bank Holiday, families were out to explore the Arts Trail. I was humbled by the amount of work I sold..surprised even!

If you remember, yesterday I told you about Nicky's work...well her website has now gone live...she assures me that there will in time, be more to see on it, but do have a look.

Apologies to all of you whose blogs I have yet to visit..i'll get round in the next few days.Finally, thanks to all your good wishes for my exhibition,I wish wish wish you could have been there!!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Irongate 8..Exhibition 2

Managed a couple of hours on this piece today..and also managed to sell another original and a few prints...Net and chatted with lots of interesting people throughout the day. to me , it makes it all the more worthwhile if I can talk about my work.

Below are two photographs of a work by Nicky Ward..she uses various bits and pieces that she collects on her travels and creates these magnificent collages.Below you can see a landscape with hills reflected in the water..but on closer inspection, the next photo shows zippers,tickets,scraps of material etc...I love it!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Willington Arts Festival.

First of all, a big welcome if you're visiting after we met at the Willington Arts Festival today...I hope you are able to explore my blog and investigate works not seen in today's on Finished Pictures to see some more.

Here is the customary 'Niall at work' photograph taken by my staff photographer Annie (aged 7 1/2)..I arrived early enough to put up labels on all the pictures and present my prints in an appealing way. The Festival is in it's first year and therefore no one is certain as to what the response from the local area will be...Despite that, there was a steady trickle of visitors throughout the day and I even managed to sell a few prints and one original!!!

Here's a picture Annie wanted me to show you..just behind me you can see 'PWM'. There follows a small selection of photographs showing my work as it's seen at the exhibition. I hope to show you some of the other exhibitors next time including the work of Nicky ward who i think is a really exciting mixed media artist....Also check out the interesting prints by Miles Tebbutt .

Friday, May 23, 2008

Irongate - 7.

I don't know what the grey bands are that have appeared on my photo here...I'm not going to reshoot the pic. We're off in a short while to hang my pictures at the Willington Arts Festival. We have from 6pm till 10pm to do it....i've had some recent pictures framed and they're looking wonderful...especially 'PWM' and 'Ball Of Wool'...I'll of course publish photos here of them hanging and other stuff at the show. I've also got a big pile of prints to sign and wrap...which we'll do later tonight.

I've also got to pick up a car that my good friends Chrissie and David are lending to's one of those two seater 'Smart Cars'...Jan is away acting over the next couple of days, and she needs the i'm going to have fun zipping around the country lanes in a giant motorized roller skate.
See you tomorrow..

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Irongate - 6

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Irongate - 5

Monday, May 19, 2008

Irongate - 4

Here's the latest progress..It's just a matter of adding in buildings one at a time...I still don't know what I'm going to do with 'on the ground' but it still isn't something I need to decide just yet.

Life is a bit 'higgeldy piggeldy' here at the moment..Jan has acting jobs all over the country which means she's away alot at the moment..Sam is taking his GCSE's which means he only has to go in for the exams.I'm a creature of habit when it comes to work..i like my hours and routine to be fairly similar each day...but this is not the case right you will i hope forgive me if I am somewhat erratic with the amount of progress I show.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Irongate - 3, Will's hair.

I think I sounded a little negative yesterday..that might be partially due to the cheeky little bottle of Merlot i had just imbibed!..I'm actually quite enjoying working on this now, i think it's because i can almost switch's a technical exercise.

Below is a photo of my youngest son Will , who came home sporting this hairstyle today...he's off to see his older brother who's playing his second gig with his band. Believe me..he will fit in perfectly with the sort of crowd there tonight.

Irongate - 2

not done much work on this today..I've had to firstly take my application for the wirksworth Arts Festival to the festival office in Wirksworth..then buy watercolour paper to take to the printers for more copies of pictures which we then took to the framers..added to this the poor nights sleep i had and the upset stomach i seem to have acquired. despite my love of my home town heart lies with my more fantastical and surreal it's an effort to make myself work on this pays the bills however!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Irongate - 1

Each building's facade is like a jigsaw piece...each one can be worked on individually. Each building is different to the next..unlike our modern cityscape's which often put glass covered box next to a ..erm... glass covered box.Each building here originally belonged to a small business jostling for individuality and prominence at the most public centre of town...Insurance..shoe makers..banks..a music shop...haberdashery...iron monger and public houses stand shoulder to shoulder.

I chose one of the darkest buildings to begin with..I like to establish the contrasts early on often returning and deepening the shades later..working with blues, green and red, i am trying to replicate the mid morning May- time sunshine.

Irongate - Drawing 2

This is the whole area of the composition. I have yet to decide upon the placing of figures, but at this stage it's unimportant. My main aim was to roughly put down the i work on each one, I usually redraw with more accuracy .Good draughtsmanship is the key to understanding how to render an image, weather it is a figurative subject such as the one I'm working on here, or an's the method of laying down a skeleton upon which to hang the ink/paint/collage etc...Take a look at the preparatory drawings of Julie's to see how a painter goes about starting a new piece.

I've already added dots to this piece today (not shown here)..I'll post the progress later for you to see.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Irongate - Pencil preparation.

Here's the first photograph as work begins on a new picture..My Derby pictures currently sell as prints via the Tourist Information Centre here in Derby. During my last meeting there a few weeks ago, it was suggested that a few images depicting the 'Cathedral Quarter' would be popular. Westfield opened a large brand new shopping mall in the city last October, and although being very popular, it has drawn trade away from the area I am basing this picture on. the Cathedral Quarter is the oldest area of the city with some very historic buildings. Irongate is the centre thoroughfare and has the Cathedral at the Northern end.

Each day you will see progress on this picture as i create the image entirely with dots of ink..for those of you who are regular'll know what to expect.....although I'm hoping that this particular piece will be finished in a couple of weeks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Live Nude show!

I saw this amusing scene whilst out gathering images for my next piece suggested the title of 'Everything must go'...of course it might be a sale of mannequins!

Monday, May 12, 2008

St. Michael's Church.

St.Michael's Church.
Willington,South Derbyshire.
Ink on watercolour paper
27x17 cm.

I've put the finishing touches to this picture today...this along with the three other examples will be available as half size mounted prints. I went to visit the venue for my exhibition this evening and met the organizer. It's always exciting preparing for a show...I'll be exhibiting with 11 other artists in an old school which is now used as a community can see a write up on the other artists (including me!) by visiting Willington Arts Festival exhibitors.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

St. Michael's - 4

Latest update on this one..I could really have finished it today, but I had to put another coat of paint on the stairs and door frames...i'ts finished now! tomorrow I will be able to concentrate on this picture.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

St Michaels - 3

I did go back to the area I had worked on yesterday, darkening and picking out more detail..i then extended this across the page. I know i always finish a picture with my signature as the last act..I've already placed it in the picture as you can see, but i haven't rubbed the pencil out yet..that Will be the last act.

Friday, May 09, 2008

St. Michaels - how to draw grass and flowers

I thought in answer to those who wonder how I do it..I'd show a simple but effective way to create believable and detailed grass and flowers. Firstly I've randomly scribbled in lines representing grass making sure the leaves arch in differing directions and sketched in the outline of some aim is to keep the flowers free of any lines for the time being. I then start to shade in blocks between the lines.

It's a fairly random activity, but I try to look for continuations of grass leaves ..I'm also trying with this picture to keep most of the 'cross hatching ' lines in the same direction. in this case, right to left.

Once I'm happy with the area, I rub out the pencil lines giving me a clearer picture of the forms and lines I've suggested. It is now that any further shading can be added.

Not a very clear photo, but the next step is to lightly draw lines over the whole area taking care to leave the flower clear.

Now it's time to add a little depth by adding yet darker shading onto the grass, it's up to you to decide which are darker (making them appear buried deeper in the shade) or lighter (making them appear to catch the light). I've also accentuated the petals of the flower.

Her is the finished area. Of course, I may go back to pick out further details as and when I like. Below is a photo of the whole composition showing the area completed in relation to the church.I will have to use this technique extensively if i am to fill up the entire foreground.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

St.Michael's. Willington, Derbyshire.

St.Michael's Parish Church, Willington, Derbyshire, dates back to Norman times ( 1066 and all that).. and there are records of marriages on the site dating back to 1698..I've decided to capture a fairly conventional view here which will have masses of foreground detail. I've only been working on the drawing this evening...we're still decorating and i've spent all day glossing woodwork...THE FUMES!!!...aarrggghhhh!!!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Lock gates - Finished

The Lock Gates
Stenson Bubble Derbyshire.
Ink on watercolour paper.
27 x 17 cm.

Picture number three of this series is now finished. Now for something a little different for my next piece. I spent some time today lurking about in a grave yard belonging to Willington Parish church.If i really do have to produce work to sell, then i think beautiful little English countryside churches are a necessity. you'll see what I'm up to if you join me tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lock gates 3.

Seeing this picture reduced in size increases it's quality...which often causes me to think maybe i should head in the direction of book illustration....we'll see . I like the way it conveys the way that the pace of life on the waterways is much slower and relaxed....all good I think!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Lock Gates 2...Bluebell Woods

I've shown the full area that the drawing will occupy here, I liked the arm of the gate as it cuts the composition in two...the bottom half of the drawing will show reflections in the water.

Below I've included some photographs taken by Annie my 7 years old daughter this afternoon. Jan took her out to meet some friends for a walk at Caulk Abbey in South Derbyshire.The woods are full of Bluebells which are at their best right now...despite the angles, I think they're beautiful!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lock Gates 1

I photographed various views around the Lock at Stenson, and yesterday caught this chap sitting on the Gate. He sat and chatted with another fellow who'll appear as the drawing develops. i don't very much like the early stages where all the lines are so obvious. I've only just finished working on this..(it's 8:30 pm)..the day has been spent painting gloss onto yet more's funny, but now that I spend all my time working from's the home that receives the least amount of attention.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

"Ey up mi duck!"

Ey up mi duck!....that's one of the greetings you'll hear if you ever visit Derby.Duck being a term of affection..I've had visitors who have seemed amazed .."it's like they already knew me!" people will say, after going into a shop or catching a bus .

I've not started any new pictures just yet..I need to get out and take some more photos...which I've done today. Despite the cloudy sky, I love these Mallard ducks and the reflections in the canal. I've also been up the ladder with my paint brush in the hall way and then down on my knees painting the skirting boards etc.....but I need to that will bye my goal tomorrow.I hope your weekend turns out fine..bye for now!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Canal Trees on the Trent And Mersey Canal near Stenson Bubble Derby

Trees On The Trent And Mersey Canal near Stenson bubble, Derby.
Ink on water colour paper.
27 x 17 cm.