The Old Blue Shoes again

30x30cm Oil on Canvas
[framed 33x33cm]

Well, I just couldn’t resist the temptation to render a painterly impression of my old comfy shoes. They really sparked my creativity last week, starting with a quick sketch in the sketchbook then scribbling the start of what could easily become a new short story. Within a few days, I had started painting them, finishing them the following day. I was pleased with end result and will be having the painting framed next week. I’ve submitted this painting to the Meffan Winter Exhibition so here’s hoping they will have their debut locally very soon. Sadly, the comfy old shoes gave up the ghost a couple of days ago. If the painting sells then I shall have to look out for another pair of comfy shoes …….. or perhaps I should look for cosy slippers now that we are slipping into winter.


The Old Blue Shoes

Black Biro on Cartridge paper [14 x 14cm]
Sketchbook Study

I saw my old blue shoes in a different light. They lay as they were discarded; on the old-fashioned floral rug in front of the sofa. The light from the south facing window reached into them from a drizzly overcast sky, throwing the shadows to the right and slightly backwards towards the sofa. The pale blue shoes had lost their brightness through age and wear, changing to a dusky blue tinged with daily grime. They had become arthritic like old ladies’ feet, my feet, through constant wear. They were old now, almost worn out. And yet they sat there, poised of their own accord. Waiting on the mat. Waiting to dance the dance of the day. Perhaps the old lady should have been a ballerina.

Galleries and Artists

What a jam-packed, exciting day yesterday turned out to be. The intention was to take a trip out to Fortingall Gallery‘s annual exhibition (held in the Molteno Hall, Fortingall, Perthshire PH15 2LW) and have a peek in at the Dunkeld Art Exhibition on the way. Well, one started the day out and the other finished it with lots of other in-between visits to galleries, a short walk and even time to indulge in tea and cake in a lovely cafe in Aberfeldy.

The day started with Dunkeld Art Exhibition. This was my first opportunity to see the exhibition, having missed the preview evening on the 17th June. One of my paintings had been sold and I felt quite sad not to have seen it hung in its first public showing. There were many wonderful paintings and other artworks on display with a diverse range of styles and techniques; many being affordable for limited budgets. Artists that I found interesting here were Nancy Brooks (Patchwork Landscape and Musical Trees) for her innovative approach to landscapes; Franciszca Doris for her interpretation and presentation of floral art (I was sorry not to see her poppies as they had been sold); Jane Ross for her compositional skills and expertise in using foil wrappers (various Tunnocks foil wrappers artworks depicting birds and animals, most sold); Jonathan Sainsbury for his delicate watercolours (Dipper and Burn, Blue Tit and Apple).

Walking back to the carpark, we stopped off Atholl Gallery for a quick glance around. We’d been there a few weeks ago and wondered if there had been any changes. All seemed to be fairly similar to last visit so perhaps there has been no change to artists on show. There really is an eclectic mix of artists and makers here, unforuntately I did not make a note of the names. It really is worth popping in if you are passing.

Aberfeldy was our next stop where we had a walk around town, down through the memorial gate to stroll along the paths of the Lower Birks, coming back out at the top of the town where we stumbled upon Aberfeldy Gallery There are many artists represented in this large, bright gallery. One of the back galleries (there are three very full rooms of exhibition space) is currently exhibiting four artists: Fiona Matheson (I love her ink and acrylic works, paticularly her painting ‘One Window, One Door’ ) Paul Bartlett, Ken Fergusson, Kevin Fleming and so many more, too many to mention them all. This is a very professional gallery with excellent presentation of artworks.

Continuing our stroll through Aberfeldy we came across Artisanand Gallery. Yesterday was the launch of a new exhibtion. Holly MacKenzie was one of the many artists exhibiting and I was impressed with her pyrography on sycamore slices. Time was slipping away and we both felt in need of refreshments so headed off to The Watermill Cafe, gallery and bookshop for tea and cake. This is a wonderful stop-off point in Aberfeldy and a place I have visited a few times. The best place I have ever found for a wide range of ‘proper’ teas served in a lovely teapot and accompanied by a small pot of extra hot water (offered, not asked for – now that is good service!). It was a very quick look around the gallery here (posters mainly so I did not linger) and the bookshop before heading out to Fortingall.

Molteno Hall in Fortingall is a beautiful location and a wonderful exhibition of some of the finest artworks around. There was a very high standard of artworks displayed at Fortingall Art Exhibition . The following artists are but a small sample: Erraid Gaskill; Helen Welsh; Shona MacKenzie; Rochelle McConnachie; Maryann Ryves; Keith Brockie. An online gallery shows examples of the work on show but the art really needs to be seen in the flesh to fully appreciate it. I highly recommend a visit there during the next two weeks.

Our day of galleries had come to an end. All that was left to do was take a long, leisurely drive home, stopping at Kenmore for a drink and bar of chocolate at the waters edge of the Loch Tay looking out towards the Crannog. It was indeed a very busy but delightful day out. So much to see and be inspired by. I do hope readers have enjoyed this rather lengthy Blog and have browsed through some of the links. There have been so many more artists I felt inspired by and excited about their work than I’ve had room to mention. In fact I’ve used up a big chunk of Sunday writing up this blog. Enjoy the rest of the weekend.


Finishing Day

Thursdays I try to focus on finishing things. Thursdays call for a lot of self-discipline. My work environment, wherever and whatever it has been throughout my life as an artist, has always hosted a diverse range of unfinished projects. Being a creative person means that I have ideas a-plenty but not always the time to see the inspiration through to completion. So I now devote a whole day, once a week, to finish things off. I still have a lot of projects that need picking up to work on but I can, at last, say that things are getting done.

This week I have concentrated on finishing the wood engraving prints I started on Tuesday. I have managed to turn quite a few of them into greetings cards to be sold at my next event. I have also been putting together some small original studies and paintings onto cards for the same purpose. I’ve used some (brown) craft cards, pre-scored with fold, that I’ve not used before. I’ve added a white paper insert which I like to see in cards and much nicer to write on. I’ve even re-designed some small labels to be stuck onto the back of the cards so they are truly hand-crafted original artwork cards. The finished product, packaged in a cello bag, is looking good. I’ll also be looking for other outlets to host and sell my original artwork cards. In the meantime they will be available to purchase through my website. You will notice from the photograph that I’ve finally managed to complete the varnishing and packaging for a selection of tags I did earlier in the year. I’m still not sure about how to present these for sale: in the clear bags with cord, attached to a greetings card or framed in a small black frame. Some of these tags a very detailed and take me a considerable amount of time to paint which means that I am never likely to cover my cost let alone make a profit. Either I will have to go more ‘impressionist style’ or sell them as miniatures mounted and framed.

The only painting I have managed to ‘finish’ this week is a small impressionist painting of (yet another!) a tree I completed several weeks ago. I’ve now mounted and framed this piece but I am not sure about the thin black frame being right for it. The frame may change at a later date, as may the brown card backing. For now though it will hang on the wall until I decide what else should be done with it. Or I may sell it as a study without the frame.


En Plein Air: Wet and drizzly

Well, someone ought to tell the weather that I have organised a weekly schedule to keep me organised and working on my art. Wednesday’s are ear marked for En Plein Air work; and what did the weather do? Drizzled and rained off and on. A dreich day as oft happens in Scotland. Needless to say that no work of significance happened. I did manage to geta couple of sketches done in my sketchbook that I can work on in my studio, so not all was lost. Yesterday’s ‘oot and aboot’ adventure was Edzell Castle and Gourdon harbour.

Edzell Castle has a beautiful garden and a super wee summer house which remains complete. The castle itself is a ruined relief of its once grand former self. I’ve taken lots more reference photographs for future inspirations. I took time to walk around Edzell to get a feel for townscapes at a later date.

Gourdon is one of my favourite wee places to visit on Scotland’s East Coast. An unassuming and very small harbour village. Hardly a town as it is so small. A place that inspires me greatly and one I enjoy visiting even when it is raining. I stayed in the car to sketch and paint the boats yesterday as the rain was more than a slight drizzle. Hence I forgot to photograph the scene I was painting. I’ll be back there soon no doubt.

This week’s artist: Jolomo

[2013. S Mansfield, J Leighton and T Roberts.]

BBC I-Player has been running a programme on John Lowrie Morrison, better known as Jolomo. This is a programme well worth watching about a famous and very prolific artist with Hebridean roots. The programme has only three nights left to run but it is certainly well worth making time to view.

Jolomo’s work is very vibrant and full of energy. His use of strong bold colours seems at odds with the Hebridean landscape and yet he manages to capture the essence of these remote places very well. It is almost as if these wee crofts come alive under his application of thick oils. Jolomo’s paintings have a similarity of colour and texture to Van Gogh, but without a personal anquish often found in Van Gogh’s work.

Take a look at to find out more about Jolmo’s work. The book above can be purchased through


This week’s work

Sunday’s wee studies from Derbyshire

This has been another week of to-ing and fro-ing between one thing and another. I returned from almost two weeks of travelling around on Monday night, notching up 1200 miles, only to travel south again early Friday morning. Consequently there has only been enough time to do a few sketches or small studies this week.

The weekend was spent with family in Derbyshire, with some really good sunny weather. I managed to gather some photographs for resource material and on Sunday spent the day in the garden doing these wee studies. Both the cup and apple study and the tree study is developed from a pencil sketch in one of my sketchbooks I had brought with me. The small landscape study was done en plein air looking out from the garden across the hills towards Thornsett. All were done in watercolour.


Current Exhibitions

These three paintings are being exhibited and offered for sale in Dunkeld Art Exhibition.
Exhibition open 10-7pm & Sun 12-5pm until 29 August 2019
Duchess Anne Hall, Dunkeld, Perthshire
‘ROOTED IN CORBAR’ is currently exhibited and offered for sale in
The Green Man Gallery, Buxton
Open 7 days 10.30 – 5.30pm
is currently exhibited and offered for sale in
The Green Man Gallery, Buxton
Open 7 days 10.30 – 5.30pm

Please contact me for more information.
These paintings can only be bought through the galleries until the closing dates of exhibitions.

Copyright applies to all artwork
please do not copy or reproduce.

Book: Carlson’s Guide To Landscape Painting by JF Carlson

It’s not often I want to recommend a book before I’ve finished reading it. But here I am doing just that. It is more than a ‘how to’ book; it is a guidance tool for development aimed at those who are just starting out as artists as well as an invaluable resource tool for the more experienced. It is written in simple language with a depth of explanation that is often lacking in more modern books. There are few photographs, all in black and white, but this does not diminish the value of the teaching within it. Black and white helps when first learning about tonal value therefore colour only becomes important when colour mixing or colourist techniques need to be explored. I’d go as far to say that more pictures and less words would deprive the reader of an interactive experience with the author, albeit he died in 1945.

The language used is quite dated, and biased somewhat towards male learning, but it still holds a great deal of value and relevance for today. The first two chapters cover how to approach painting and the mechanics of painting in a very easy to understand way, giving encouragement to experiment with techniques. This, I believe, is the only book artist Carlson has written and perhaps the book that aspiring artists should read first before diving eagerly into the many other ‘how to’ books .

I bought this book from Amazon, digital format, for £6.45. I can’t always take hard copy books away with me but I often have my tablet. Hard copies can be bought for a couple of pounds extra.


Tips and Techniques: Storing wet oil painting panels

Last week an artist in one of my Facebook groups shared his space saving way of stacking his wet oil paintings. Bert uses metal dish draining racks to safely store his drying panels. I was so impressed by his ingenious tip that I went out and bought one for myself. These wire dish racks are inexpensive – £5.00 from Asda – and sturdy enough to hold fairly large panels. The one I bought will hold up to 40cm+ wide. I’ve also heard that toast racks work well for smaller pieces so I may be utilising my toast racks for art too!

If you buy a rack for drying, check the feet – I found that my Asda dish rack a bit ‘scratchy’ on a table surface so had to put some blue tack on the ball-feet. I’ll be taking some fine sandpaper to it later.

My old toast rack on the other hand (see right) has no rough parts so perhaps spending a bit more to get quality is the answer. Happy painting peeps.


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