Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Not the Norm . . .

A couple of unusual commission requests lately.
John, the owner of NEAC in Eldon Gardens (plug) asked if I could do him a Corn Bunting in my 'character' style, for a regular visitor to the Gallery as a surprise gift, I duly obliged and here it is, sadly a bird even less seen than it is requested in our part of the world :

Corn Bunting 'in character'

Secondly a request from Washington WWT, a parting gift for a volunteer of some years, relocating to another part of the country, and who's favourite bird at the Centre is the Nene, or Hawaiian Goose. Again I duly obliged and here is the finished image, a minimalist composition standing central on an A3 sheet.

Poor quality image as it is a photo rather than a scan (sheet too big
for scanner) 

As they were both only dropped off recently I don't think they have yet been handed over, but hope they are well received. :-)      

Thursday, 20 November 2014

New Outlet - Visitor Information Centre

The North East Art Collective Gallery (which stocks my work in Newcastle) has recently been granted space in the Visitor Information Centre in the Central Arcade, and a few pieces of my work are now on display and sale there, namely these :

Hopefully this will give both the NEAC and myself a bit of extra publicity, it being a prime spot in the centre of Newcastle, and while dropping off some more work yesterday I was informed the Robin print had already sold :-)
Good start, hope it continues, and many thanks to Cath for choosing me as a representative of the NEAC Gallery to display there, much appreciated.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

End of 2014 Tour

Took the display down at Newcastle Central Library today, well what was left of it. Five exhibitions and displays this year was the most I've done for a while, but as to be expected, the one nearest Christmas is inevitably the most successful, and as you can see by the red dots denoting sales, the panels were looking a bit bare by the end of the two week stint :-

 Altogether, Bob and myself sold thirty-one pictures between us in a more-or-less even split, so we both left the venue happy today.
No more now until we are back at the same venue for our Spring Show at the end of April, when no doubt most of those unsold will be going back up again for another try, mixed with a new batch of work, and the old favourite best-sellers in print form :-)

Cheers Bob for doing the donkey work in manning the show, you're a gem.  


Friday, 7 November 2014

Mini Masterpieces - Charity Event

Last night saw the grand opening of Mini-Masterpieces, a charity auction on behalf of Rape Crisis at the North East Art Collective Gallery in Eldon Gardens, Newcastle :-

I donated a couple of postcards myself and hopefully they will add a few pounds to the total.

By all accounts the opening was a great success and the display looked great with well over 100 pieces of postcard art to be seen.

Part of the Postcard display - (pic from @NorthEastArtCol)
So please call in and have a look if you are in town, even make a bid for one of the cards, it's a secret auction and all to a good cause, and is on show through November.  

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Christmas already ?

Getting prepared for Christmas with my good mate Bob Laine and our 3rd annual Christmas Gift Show at Newcastle Central Library :

A bit earlier than usual but it's never too early to start thinking about Christmas . . . .

Some things old, some things new . . . 

some things borrowed and some things blue . . .

 . . . and some of Bob's
 . . . in fact my first sale today was indeed a xmas gift according to the purchaser.

Bags of bargains and we're up 'til Wednesday November 19th, take down around 5pm. Bob will be on hand 10am -5pm most days for sales, enquiries and a chat, I'll get down when I can, early next week for starters..   

Friday, 3 October 2014

Heavy Metal at the Laing ?

All That is Solid Melts into Air . . . is the title of the current exhibition at the Laing Gallery in Newcastle (by Jeremy Deller) which I had a look at last week. It's all to do with the industrial revolution and the effect on culture, with images and objects from the latter part of the 20th century combined with those of the 19th, and thought it worth a mention as it's the first time I've seen my heavy metal heroes Judas Priest represented in an exhibition at the Laing (or anywhere for that matter), with the sleeve of their 1979 live album 'Unleashed in the East' adorning the wall as a way of representing the studs and leather look which developed along with heavy rock music from the steel towns of the black country in the 60s and 70s.

Great live album . . . brings back memories

Also hidden among the photographs, objects and cultural icons was the tale of how Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath fame lost part of two fingers in an industrial accident, which forced him to alter the sound of his guitar to dull the vibrations, and led to the distinct metal sound of Sabbath.

Tony Iommi . . . with false fingertips
Last but certainly not least covering the West Midlands music scene is a large-scale family tree scrawled on one wall tracing back the working class roots of Neville John Holder, better known as Noddy to Slade fans (my first fave band back in those heady days of glam-rock).

Neville John Holder . . . in more recognisable pose.
All in all quite an enjoyable display, though whether it is strictly speaking art or merely an interesting history lesson I'm not sure. More memorable than the previous Turner/Constable exhibition though, which by all accounts failed to live up to the hype considering the entrance fee.

All That is Solid . . runs until October 26th at the Laing Gallery (free entry)

Monday, 22 September 2014

New Show for Autumn

Short notice but I put a display together for Thornley Woodlands Centre and hung it today, basically a last call for my Red Kite 10th Anniversary Celebration Tour : -

Most of the pictures have been shown around various venues in Newcastle, Washington and Gateshead over the last year and have run their course as display items, also a lot of the frames are showing signs of wear and tear, therefore prices have been reduced, in the hope of raising a bit of revenue towards a new stock of frames for the xmas selling show at Newcastle Library at the end of November with my good mate Bob Laine :-)

A good selection of Red Kite prints and originals on display . . .

. . . with one wall dedicated to other wildlife

Twenty Nine pictures in all, but any sold will be removed at time of sale, so get along quick to see the whole show. In fact with opening times of 10am - 2pm weekdays and 11am - 4pm weekends it's a cracking little outing if you have just an hour or two to spare. What could be better than an Autumn ramble through Thornley Woods on a chill day, following the Tommy Craggs sculpture trail, then warming up with a nice cup of tea in the Thornley Centre café, where you can browse my pictures at your leisure. And don't forget, a percentage of sales is donated to the Centre and goes towards safeguarding the local wildlife :-)   

Thornley Woodlands Centre (with exhibition space and café)
and the new Green Man Sculpture by Tommy Craggs

Carved from the remnants of a diseased Beech tree, the green Man
makes the entrance to Thornley Woodlands centre unmissable
and marks the start of the sculpture trail.

And another picture of my display taken from the café area.

What are you waiting for ?


Thursday, 18 September 2014

That'll Do Nicely . . .

Very pleased to say that the North East Art Collective Gallery (in Eldon Gardens Newcastle)
and the ONLY gallery in Newcastle-upon-Tyne to stock my range of Wildlife in Character originals and prints has won a competition to find the top 100 Small Businesses in the UK :
In their own words :

"We entered a National competition sometime ago called  Small Business 100. It is run by American Express and to cut a long story short, WE WON..  This means we are one, of only 100 featured businesses, chosen from throughout the U.K, to be promoted on the run up to Small Business Saturday, which is held on 6th December . . .On December 6th all American Express card holders will be given a 10% discount on purchases in North East Art Collective which should generate lots of extra sales."
Like I said above, they stock a selection of my originals and prints (as well as the work of around 130 other local artists) so with Christmas in mind (sorry to mention the 'C' word already) there is no better place in the City Centre to pick up an original gift to show someone how much you care.
So Saturday December 6th is designated as Small Business Saturday, and I shall be present in the Gallery (along with many other artists) to chat about my work and hopefully sell, take orders and commissions.

Visit the North East Art Collective website at and see the magnificent selection of artists, media and subjects, with prices to suit all pockets.
Should you call in and not see a specific picture of mine on display, enquire at the desk and they will contact me to sort out your request, no problem.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Latest Commission - Kane

I've just completed my most recent commission, a pet portrait, something I haven't done in a while mainly because my confidence was low after a couple of failures. My main failings have been using a different style every time and working from photos I should really refuse. Luckily this was a short-haired boxer dog which has strong features and no tricky long fur.

I only had a single image to work from which wasn't a bad photo but was of low resolution so not particularly sharp and difficult to extract much detail from when zooming in. When scaling up  as in this case it helps to have as much detail as possible otherwise too much guesswork makes it difficult to make a representation of the character of the particular animal; the client requires a likeness of a much-loved pet rather than a generic image.

But I thought this still good enough to do a decent job, and set about the task by first of all drawing in as much detail as I could in pencil, then a light watercolour wash to set a gauge for the tone of the light and dark areas.
At this stage I wasn't particularly happy with the way it was working out and was quite prepared to start again, but persisted by inking in over the pencil marks and graded the shading using dots of varying sizes and intensities.
Stronger watercolour washes then followed which masked a lot of the inkwork and I'd somehow managed to pull it around, so finished off with Coloursoft pencils for highlights, a bit of texture and blending.
After sending the client an image for approval I had to make a few slight adjustments to make him just right, (eye colour is especially difficult to judge in photos) and here he is :

watercolour, ink and coloursoft pencils.
The client was more than happy with the finished portrait and to be honest so was I, so with confidence restored and technique perfected I might opt to do a few more in the same style.             

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A Grand Day Out . . .

The FoRK (Friends of Red Kites) Anniversary event at The Sage on Saturday was a grand success from beginning to end, with a wide variety of art and music celebrating not only the success of the re-introduction programme so close to urban communities, but the feeling of pride those communities have in 'our' red kites.

On arrival, the first kites I noticed were these mobiles dangling all along the overhangs, made by pupils of Rowlands Gill Primary School, where my own kids go. They looked great.

Setting up my own display of (mostly) red kite related artwork I was flanked by a floral portrait image of a red kite made by Rowlands Gill florists Flowers by Design, and on the other side was a display by Derwent Valley glass artist Rena Holford of Hagghill Farm. Beautiful glasswork kites have become her speciality, and I recommend a visit to the Studio and café at Hagghill farm for a relaxing cuppa overlooking the local landscape and a look at her animal inspired glass sculptures (open Fri-Sun).

The Friends of Red Kites had a few of their own displays, the photographic record of the giant 'tiled' kite taken at  landmarks around the region in the 'Flight of the Kite' exhibition (and incidentally the kite was assembled once again and on display outside the eastern entrance of The Sage). Also a display of prize-winning photographs, poetry and writings by local people inspired by the kites and probably the most enjoyable display of all was a collection of paintings and drawings of red kites by local primary school children, covering four massive display boards. A visual treat, the naivety of the images coupled with the effort and obvious pride in the kites was a joy to behold. Lovely stuff.

There were plenty of FoRK volunteers on hand with information, chat, a membership table and a sale of specially made greetings cards of the Flight of the Kite, which regretfully I forgot to purchase.

The RSPB too were on hand with a display partly dedicated to the plight of the Hen Harrier. I had an enlightening conversation with one of the enthusiastic young volunteers and signed enough petitions to become a Hen Harrier Hero myself. It's great when youngsters show such passion about conserving wildlife and are actively trying to do something about it.

Music in the display area was provided by primary pupils of Amble First School, and a superb Folk set by the Stocksfield Stompers, themselves aged only between 6 and 16.

The main event in Hall 2, two fantastic performances of 'On Red Kite Wings' were presented by ex-Tyne Tees weather girl Trai Anfield, who now presents BBC radio 4's The Living World, heads a production company and is patron of FoRK. As you would expect she did a fantastic job of fronting the concerts, and had also produced an excellent film about the red kites which played during part of the performance.
The concert itself consisted of a performance of Haydn's First movement of String Quartet in C major (The Birds) and then three competition winning compositions based on the Red Kites, all superbly played by the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and finally another rousing performance by the Stompers.
Both performances of the concert, which were dedicated to the late Leonard Atkinson, husband of FoRK stalwart June who was heavily involved in making the day a success, played to a packed hall.

On a personal note I renewed some old acquaintances and made some new ones, spoke about kites, art and wildlife all day, and was even filmed for the anniversary documentary, (though my performance might be better suited to You've Been Framed.)

Yours Truly with a table full of red kites (and more)

My yacht parked outside and ready to take me home
(yeah right, in your dreams dude)

Congratulations to all involved, great to see such enthusiasm. Pride was the theme of the day and it's great to see the future of our kites is in such good hands.     

Thursday, 3 July 2014

On Red Kite Wings - Sage, Gateshead.

This Saturday (July 5th) sees the 10th Anniversary Celebration of our Red Kite re-introduction at The Sage in Gateshead.

Two concerts of specially composed music will be performed by the Royal Northern Synfonia Orchestra, and I, (among others) will be displaying a table of wares showing what the Red Kites have meant to me over the past decade ie I'm showing some framed prints of work old and new, plus a few character birds, including my new Red Kite.

 Looking forward to it, should be quite an occasion.

  It's Open from 11am - 6pm so anyone in the area pop in, plenty of displays to see and you can even have your face painted. All takes place in the concourse opposite the café.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Spring Show II - Washington WWT

The second leg of my Spring Show tour (A Red Kite Retrospective) opened today at Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre.

37 pictures (a mix of originals and prints) on display, half of which are dedicated to the local Red Kite re-introduction 10th anniversary celebrations.

The show runs until June 28th, so plenty of time to pop in for a look and pick up a bargain. I'm a great believer in affordable art so plenty of great value pictures on show. Let me know if you call in, always nice to get  a bit of feedback.   

Friday, 16 May 2014

Red Kite Retrospective (and a bit more besides)

My joint exhibition with Gosforth's Bob Laine is underway at Newcastle City Library, and will run until the evening of May 21st.

Two shows for the price of one
And it's FREE !

For anyone in Newcastle over the weekend or beyond, opening times are as follows :

Sat 9.30 - 5.00pm
Sun 11.00 - 5.00pm
Weekdays 8.30 - 8.00pm

Red Kite Retrospective

More Red Kites, and a bit more besides.

Part of Bob Laine's cracking display of landscapes and townscapes

  Bargains galore for one week only, but we'll be back in November with plenty of original xmas artwork gifts.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Two for One . . .

One Venue, two shows. Myself and Gosforth's Bob Laine will be putting up a display of artwork at Newcastle City Library on Thursday morning for one week only.

Bob's mix of local and rustic scenes, landscapes and seascapes in a variety of media, (and all at good prices) will be on one display board, and my display, consisting mainly of prints on the subject of Red Kites as my contribution to the 10th anniversary celebrations of the Northern Kites Project, will be on the other.

So if you're in town from Thursday afternoon onwards, come and have a look; you might even pick up a bargain :-)    

Thursday, 1 May 2014

One Swallow doesn't make a Summer . . .

. . . and neither do four judging by today's weather, but here's the latest additions to the 'Character' collection, a few summer specialities hoping to encourage a bit of sunshine.

Will be putting one of them on sale in Eldon Gardens' magic corner otherwise known as the North East Art Collective next week. Incidentally, to celebrate a good run of sales there, my Artist Profile is now up and running. Visit the Artist section of and have a look.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Event Horizon

The Spring Shows (incorporating the Red Kite Retrospective) are on the horizon, first up at Newcastle City Library from 15th - 22nd May (as above) then Washington Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre 1st - 28th June. Hoping they are as successful as last year's events, as usual a mix of old and new, prints and originals, with prices to suit all pockets.

The Red Kite half of the show is all sorted but the assortment of the other half is still to be finalised, and just like Roy Hodgson's England Squad for the World Cup, there are still a few places up for grabs.
This fellow for instance was just finished yesterday, and might yet play a part.

'The Puffin has Landed, (almost)'
 Hopefully a few more to come, now the kids are going back to school I might be able to get weaving with some more pictures in good time for the first show.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Carry On Painting . . .

Have recently completed a set of three A4 Watercolours in an experimental way, based on the work of two of my favourite wildlife artists, Greg Poole and Carry Akroyd.
Both are primarily printmakers but their colourful style of simplification lends itself well to watercolour too, and is something I've dabbled with in the past but not on any grand scale.

The three pictures are on the subject of Red Kites, and I'll be showing them in my forthcoming exhibitions at Newcastle Central Library (May 15-22) and Washington Wildfowl and Wetland Trust Centre (June 1-28) when half of the displays will be dedicated to a Red Kite Retrospective in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the NKP reintroducing the red kites into the lower Derwent Valley.

Three New Works in a different style 

Just a taster; more about the upcoming exhibitions soon.


Monday, 14 April 2014

Every Little Helps

A short while ago I donated this Watercolour of a perched Red Kite to FoRK (Friends of Red Kites) as part of the 10th (and 5th) Anniversary celebrations.
It was one of the first red kite pictures I made and has been displayed region-wide over the years both with the Northern Kites Project and my own exhibitions, and is still available in print form.

Red Kite Perched
painted in 2004 so apt that it should be auctioned
for the 10th anniversary of the project. 

They decided to auction it at a members night at St. Bartholemew's Church the other evening and I'm happy to say it went towards raising £300 for the FoRK kitty, which I'm informed will buy a number of rings, tags and tail transmitters to keep tabs on this year's fledglings.  

Glad to be of some use to someone once in a while :-)