Sally at Vobster, in watercolour, gouache and gold leaf


This is Sally, another painting in watercolour, gouache and gold leaf, a celebration of our lovely clear lake at Vobster Quay, where I swim once a week. The source material for this painting was an underwater photograph I took on our first swim of 2017. It was 2nd January. When the lake gets a bit warmer I hope to have a few more subjects not in wetsuits, but for the moment there are a hardcore few of us, though even we have mostly resorted to wearing gloves in these temperatures. The highlights of the water at the top are created…

Close up of Medusa with a head of worms - watercolour and pencil

Medusa of the Levels

I finished this a couple of weeks ago – a new Medusa picture. This is Medusa of the Levels. To those not acquainted with Somerset, large areas of this county are floodplain, known round here as The Levels since, being flood plain, they are… level. This is a very special and beautiful aspect of the Somerset countryside, and Medusa here is a bit special. Somerset is short on snakes, instead she has worms for hair: because worms are more important than snakes, except to other snakes. In the background is Glastonbury Tor, just in case you failed to realize where…

The Pigs of High Ham, painting in watercolour by Nancy Farmer

The Pigs of High Ham

Continuing my documentation of our local magical creatures, I bring you The Pigs of High Ham. The sketches and explanations for these appeared three posts back in How Pigs Fly. Here is the finished painting, and I have broken away from the one colour at last! (The last 3 large paintings were entirely in Prussian Blue) Having said that this painting is in colour, it isn’t in all that many colours. With the exception of the tiny bit of blue sky, I only used two more colours than the previous blue paintings. Here’s my palette: Here we have yellow, magenta…

Hilda Pig

Technicolour Flying Pigs!

Ladies and Gentlemen, I bring you the technicolour flying pigs: Hilda, Mildred and Archibald! …they are going to feature in a larger painting too, but while I was pondering what to enter for the art exhibition at the Royal Bath & West (an agricultural show plus everything else, for those who don’t know), I realized they would be just the thing, so I’ve whipped up this little group of piggy paintings for that.

The Winter Tree Demons - detail 2

The Winter Tree Demons

Whilst I am on the subject of our very local magical creatures (Rhyne Maidens, Pollarded Dryads), I couldn’t let another winter pass without documenting the Winter Tree Demons. Not so evocative of my local area on the edge of the Somerset Levels, these creatures are visible all over the country in the winter, but particularly in low-lying rural countryside. In the summer you would think they were trees; only in winter do they show their true shape…

"Art can never..." detail 1

“Art can never exist without naked beauty displayed”

I have finished the monster spelling undertaking! If you missed the first stages and explanation, the quote is from William Blake, and the work in progress pictures are here: ‘Biting off more words than I can spell’ ‘Still chewing over the words’ So, I re-did the whole thing, swapping the dip-pen and Indian Ink for a plain old Biro. Not as black, not as ‘proper’ but a far nicer, more sensitive drawing tool to work with… and more disaster-proof, too! Here are the pictures, rather a lot of them: the words are about 35 inches wide, so there is a…

Hard as Hell, but Cooler: spelling for Carbodeon

How to Spell with… Pistons.

If you’ve met the Spelling Animals before you will not be surprised to find me occasionally spelling words with slightly inappropriate objects: cats, chickens, octopi and so on. But this may be my most unusual spelling commission to date. Done for my brother as a gift to give to the people from Carbodeon Ltd Oy, a Finnish company specializing in nanomaterials, specifically very, very tiny diamonds. I shan’t go on about the thermal conductivity and functional groups of these things: I spent a day at Birmingham NEC at a trade fair for Advanced Materials and can talk quite convincingly on…

Mezzotint: 'Cat-in-the-Box'

Cat-in-the-Box: another mezzotint

I am not sure if I had intended to do a series of mezzotint cats, but that is what seems to be happening! Besides, they are a useful subject and size to be practising with a technique that is fairly new to me, so here is my latest. This is not a drawing sketched from life but owners of cats will instantly recognize this behaviour as classic catishness. Below is the initial sketch on the aluminium plate, all the rest of the detail was made up as I went along. For more on the mezzotint process, have a look at…

The finished mezzotint print

Mezzotint done properly

‘Stripy Cat, Washing’ I do not claim in any way to be an expert in mezzotint, the title of this post is to contrast with the post coming next, which will be ‘Mezzotint done improperly’. I have two new prints to show you which I did very differently from each other, however you will have to wait for the ‘improper’ one. This is a print inspired by the many cat drawings I have been posting on my other blog, Cat-of-the-day. A few months ago I posted a series of photos of the last mezzotint print I made – ‘Percy Cat’….