Capturing the vitality and richness of oil paint in acrylics is a challenge. Oil paints have a natural, organic quality that is generally absent from the synthetic neutrality of acrylic paints. The way to recreate the inherent liveliness and immediacy of oil is to make liberal use of different mediums and gels. In the final stages of a painting, I am still making compositional adjustments and decisions and I am prepared to carry out radical alterations if it isn’t working. And this is when acrylic paints are at their very best, they encourage and facilitate major revisions of the painting. They dry rapidly and have excellent opacity. Here, I have fragmented the image far too much and need to counterbalance the multitude of smaller shapes with large areas of flat colour.

I have used Golden Mediums Acrylic Glazing liquid alongside Jackson’s Fluid Gloss and Fluid Matt medium. Apart from extending the working time, they each contribute to the feel and look of the paint surface, breathing new life into the sometimes dry appearance of raw acrylic.

Here is something a little out of the ordinary, definitely not my usual offering, but I thought I might share this with you. I created this video with my daughter, it was recorded two years ago on a handheld mobile phone; so all credit to her directorial and editing skills. I put down the audio track in the house because here in the Fenlands it is always windy and you wouldn’t have heard a single note. Did I hear someone say that would have been a wiser option? 🙂

For those who are interested, this is a Gretsch open back banjo, which I have now replaced with a Deering model. Recently, I have focused all of my energies on playing acoustic guitar and learning the Travis finger picking style. I have to say that the rhythmic style of frailing or clawhammer style banjo really helped with the finger picking. Sadly, I haven’t picked up the banjo for a year… the rest of the family are just quietly delighted.

‘Half Moon’ 60 x 60 x 4 cm on Canvas

My painting ‘Half Moon’, currently on exhibition at the Babylon Gallery in Ely has just been bought by a collector. This is a highly textured mixed media painting using cold wax, oil, bitumen and a wide assortment of mark making tools. The exhibition is open until 6th September and I hope you will get a chance to visit if you are in the area. My daughter, Louisa also has a painting in the Summer Open exhibition called ‘Modern Times’.

‘Modern Times’ 60 x 60 cm Acrylic on Canvas

Somersham Fen 40 x 40 x 4 cm

This painting based on Somersham Fen has been created using oil and cold wax medium on a canvas stretcher. The intense yellow of rapeseed dominates the Fenlands at certain times of the year; it saturates the retina. For a painter, the task is to capture the overwhelming power of colour and yet also retain structure and form in the painting. The heavy impasto of cold wax helps to establish the solidity and sculptural qualities of the landscape near the Fenland village of Somersham.

‘We associate yellow with warmth, sunshine, and positivity. Bright yellow is an attention-getter, and its contrast with black is the most visible color combination.

‘Despite its association with cheerfulness and warmth, yellow carries a surprising number of negative connotations. Yellow is a symbol of cowardice, of sickness, and of mental illness. It’s the color of sensationalism and even of excess. Vibrant yellow is typically used with caution by designers, though paler yellows can certainly have a modest uplifting effect. Too much bright yellow can easily overwhelm a project’. source: The Meaning of Colour

Somersham Fen: (detail)
Somersham Fen (detail)

‘Neu Wald’

This highly textured painting on a solid oak block has just been sold to a collector in Scotland. Oak has a very dense grain and provides a resilient surface for the cold wax process. A variety of tools can be used with confidence to create a range of natural textures and fine surface markings. Multiple layers of wax have been used to generate the illusion of depth and translucency.

‘Neu Wald’ (detail)