Today’s painting

Bottle oven and swirls

I like painting bottle ovens on long thin canvases and I tend to use the shape of the side to make almost a yin yang curve. I might add some stars to the swirling sky. I’ve used mainly reds browns and oranges for the brickwork on the kiln. I need to go over the dark mortar and add some shading to the kiln to give it more shape. Acrylic on canvas.

Drawing to scale

Oh I wish I’d done technical drawing at school. I’d know how to draw perfect circles and how to indicate cross sections. Yes I can draw around things, like this watch, but the line is very wobbly, then I wanted to draw an inner circle, but again its approximately a circle….. I’m a bit disappointed to be honest. I must find out if there is a particular template I can buy. If I’m going to learn, I need the right equipment. Another thing I need to invest in, and maybe an illustrated guide to technical drawing?


Changing colours

Have you tried adjusting the colours in a photo in curves? I had taken a bland photo of a tree outside my window and I decided to see what I could do with it. I wanted to increase the contrast, change the colours, add brightness to bring out where the light was in the photo to differentiate between the tree leaves and the background.

Curves is like a graph, by changing the height and depth of the curves you can enhance brightness and colour by making the curve higher, or lower the curve and the image loses brightness and can lose contrast too….. The curved graph representing this was up and down then back up again. All I can say is have a go and see what happens. You don’t have to accept the result and you can go back to how it was originally.

Vanishing point exercise

If you are learning to draw have you tried drawing vanishing points yet? If you draw a horizontal line along the middle of a piece of A4 paper you can work out how to do three dimensional objects. Draw a dot somewhere along that line. Use a ruler and draw lines radiating from it. Then draw vertical lines up or down to them. Instant buildings in perspective. You can even use more than one vanishing point. For curved objects like a can or a glass it gives you a clue on how to draw curves and what direction they will be in. Generally upwards if you are looking from below the rim of a can and downwards if from above. It all depends on your eye level. The horizontal line in this exercise represents that. But it’s your choice. The line can be higher or lower (think of the view for a child, closer to the ground, or someone at the top of a bus!)

I used to also have fun drawing boxes with this, or alien buildings, or anything, I tried it with a horse once! You can use soft pencil to draw in the lines so you can erase them later, or use to mark out an object before you start a painting. It helps you sort out all types of things, including portraits or figures. Just play about with it.
I only suggested A4 as that gives you plenty of room…. You can use any size or type of paper.

Phoenix doodle

I drew some curves and spirals then started adding doodles, including a couple of birds and a face. I started using a fine line black ink pen, but it was running out so I turned instead to a black calligraphy pen. When I’d finished I decided to add colour. That helped accentuate some of the shapes. I could do more but decided to leave it. I called it phoenix because a bird seemed to ge appearing from the background.

Liverpool metropolitan cathedral.


A sketch of the inside of the Liverpool metropolitan cathedral. This is the Catholic one. There is also an Anglican one. This was our Saturday ‘sketch out’ with urban sketchers Stoke-on-Trent.

We did this on Zoom again, although I couldn’t remember how to log on. So although I could see people talking and hear them I could not interact. I decided to sketch it quickly as I was late to the conversation. I tried using blocks of strong colour. The lighting in the cathedral is bright and colourful. This image was taken off Google maps as we are not allowed to visit these places yet.



When you take a photo do you ever think of adjusting the colours or the hue? It’s easily done on a smart phone. You can use so thing called ‘curves’ where you can change all the colours, tones, contrast and dark and light using one tool. You have a curve indicating the colours and by adjusting the curve in different places…. I’ve taken a few screenshots to explain. First take a picture, then go to photo editor.

I don’t know how anyone else’s phone works, but in photo editor if you find the editing button in editor, choose the one for changing colours. The icon has a curve on it. Click on that and you can adjust the levels, you can see them move on the screen. When you like it choose save. You then have an image that looks completely mad, or subtle, or however you like it.



We have an art challenge at Spode studios to come up with an art work which follows the theme “transition” or “transitions”.

I would normally come up with a realistic painting but I’m also toying with something more abstract. These are initial digital drawings, working on the transition from grainy to smooth, straight to curvy, and changes of colour.

I might try and turn one of these into a large painting. In a way it’s also making me think about changing my work practice from quite a straightforward way of working into something more involved.

Watch thus space for possible updates….

I might even enter something into the exhibition….