March 8th, 2016


Click for bigger.

I have this friend Matt who is from the internet, where he lives a happy and contented life. The only way to speak to him face-to-face is by video chat. I spoke with him on Skype for 4 hours about philosophical conundrums and then (some time later) made this digital painting based on two webcam stills and what I learned about him during our conversation.

November 3rd, 2013

selfie portrait


March 30th, 2012

it’s painting baby

click for bigger

May 22nd, 2011

life drawing

Yesterday I drew naked people all day.


April 14th, 2011


two experiments from 2010:

pencil, red wine

felt pen, charcoal, red wine

March 10th, 2011


I’m learning how to wield a pencil. More photos from my sketchbook are on flickr.

October 1st, 2010

belgian bananas

It’s getting cold and grey in Ghent but there are still tropical plants in and around the glasshouses at the university’s botanical garden.

It’s interesting to me how my own inaccurate reproduction of the scene above in paint is already replacing my memory of the real thing in my mind. The more I look at my own painting, the more it becomes my memory. The same thing happens with old photographs, I find.

Although, to be fair to my brain, I do remember more detail from the real scene than I would have if I hadn’t painted it at all, even if the painted version is encroaching on that memory.

A caveat: These images are a tad unsharp because I copied the paintings with my camera instead of scanning the originals.

Though these paintings are still heavy handed and lacking in control, I feel like I’m paving the way for improvement every time I paint something new. The hardest part, again and again, is summoning the confidence and ease of mind to finish the painting when — during every painting in this beginning phase — I inevitably lose control of the painting.

September 30th, 2010


I’m not sure I’m happy with this postcard sketch. What I am sure about is that I need a lot more practice.

July 28th, 2010

urban sketching

I went out and painted in the centre of Ghent today. At first it was uncomfortable — people swarming around you, cars, trams, bikes. Ok perhaps not swarming. Milling.

But once I got into it, I forgot where I was and what time it was, and enjoyed it a lot. Drawing urban scenes is completely different to drawing the natural forms of the countryside.

I was almost finished when I was approached by an old man who talked to me about painting. That was nice. He said he was thinking himself of sitting in that position but with a different subject. And he was politely complimentary about my picture. It was a nice exchange and I thought: that’s something that wouldn’t happen in the countryside.

The picture above is taken from a poor angle using my camera as I don’t have a scanner here. Maybe I can get a proper scan of the image at a printshop.

July 5th, 2010

a lesson in meanness

I don’t have a scanner here so this reproduction isn’t very good. (It’s a photo.)

I’m in Ghent! I went for a walk yesterday to relax a bit, and I took my watercolour gear with me. I found an interesting subject beside the river and sat down on someone’s stoop to begin sketching. After a basic sketch I was ready to create the details and the atmosphere with the paint itself. That’s when I realized I’d brought everything except the paint.

Getting ready to leave, I began to pack away my things. And I noticed there was still a skin of old dry paint on my palette, from the last painting I did, in Mallorca. I had to be very mean with the application of paint, and very creative with the colours I had, in order to save the picture. In the end I also used grass to colour it. The picture isn’t perfect but I was delighted to have found a solution, and to have learnt quite a lot about layering and texturing using watercolour paints.

June 29th, 2010

forgive and forget

In order to improve…

…I need to not rip up pictures when I get frustrated.

…I need to forgive myself when they don’t turn out the way I wanted.

And I need to recognise small victories.

June 23rd, 2010

sheep shed

A sketch from earlier today.

Like the rest of my watercolour sketches so far, this is a scene depicting rural Santa Margalida. I ought to make the most of my environment here and practice more in the coming days, because I’m off to Belgium on the 29th.

This one’s a bit messy… clumsy… Not very pleased with it. I had the sun on my back and was sat on a rock. Lesson learned: paint in the shade. And think about getting a tripod seat!

June 13th, 2010



I need to learn to prioritize the important parts of these sketches; I tried drawing this scene when the sun was going down and soon learned to appreciate brevity in sketching.

June 4th, 2010

learning to paint, using instinct

The latest sketch of my foray into watercolours. Can you tell what’s depicted?

I’m still lacking control of the finished product (I always know what I want but rarely how to achieve it) but having fun nevertheless.

I’m finding it fun to use my instinct and available resources. My brushes aren’t very good but most of the nicest effects I’ve achieved so far are from using bits of plant stem or leaf as brushes. I also used a knife to cut up the paper in places, but that’s less evident in the photo than in reality.

The green grid pattern is meant to represent the protective wire around the two sapling trees (yes, that’s what they are). I achieved it by cutting out some mesh from a garlic bag and making a stamp.

Update: I see now that I should have made the background layers leaner in places so that the thicker paint in the foreground wasn’t muddled. And perhaps I should have been more patient with drying times. Hopefully I’ll remember all this next time.

June 1st, 2010


I’m using watercolours for the first time.

In the past I’ve only painted digitally with a Wacom tablet. Below are my first four pictures. Clearly I have a lot to learn. But I’m already having fun with different techniques, styles, papers, subjects, etc. I hope that by shaming myself on my own blog I will be encouraged to continue practising :)


First steps. From observation (actually, all of them are).


Getting more confident. Started using a penknife to apply paint in some places because the brushes I have are too flimsy and broad.


This one’s less confident, more complicated. Mixing colours is difficult!

February 26th, 2010


Click to enlarge.

Well it’s true, sometimes you just have to abandon something.

February 20th, 2010


(click to enlarge)

Another sketch from observation. Santa Margalida, Mallorca.

February 13th, 2010



Unfinished sketch. I’d have liked to capture more of the light (and detail, for that matter) in this scene but it changes so quickly in the morning that I got left behind. I need to be quicker, for this.

Could just take a photo but it’s not the same; in trying to capture the details before they change, you become extremely perceptive and appreciative of all the details. A certain glistening or shadow will be gone in moments, the colours change, whole trees disappear behind fog, etc. Drawing becomes a meditation on nature, change, emotional connection with the environment…

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