RSW 5th Summer Open Annual Exhibition

The RSW show opens this weekend in Forfar with a wide selection of work in water-based media. I'll be showing two works both inspired by some of my travels and the result of much experimentation. I find that working across a variety of media leads naturally to approaching work in new ways as one discipline informs the other and my printmaking practice has had a strong influence on the development of these pieces. 

 This is one of a series of "Lost Postcards" from Cuba, my postcards (those which turned up) took over six months to reach the UK leading to questions around communications and freedom of speech both within Cuba and its relationship with the wider world.

Below, a painting on constructed papers reflecting the wonderful higgeldy-piggeldy effect of crumbling plaster, painted signs, posters and other ephemera which captivated me in India. 

For more details and opening times follow the link: 

Santa Fe

Well its been an incredible month or so working in Santa Fe, New Mexico during July and August with master printmakers Ron Pokrasso, Lennox Dunbar and Don Messec. I have learnt so much over the past few weeks and am itching to get back into the studio and start some new ideas. 

Much of the work was very much monoprint and monotype based allowing for very painterly results and "one-off" images rather than mulitples and editions. For me it was the perfect way to expand on that blurry area on the margins of painting and printmaking where the work is neither quite one thing or the other.

For example this piece again based on some of my Cuban drawings where I combined photo-etch, monotype, chine colle, collage and drawing. And below some work in progress at Ron's studio, having fun getting lots of colours, shapes and textures down onto the paper before either working back into them to bring out a composition or cutting up to use as collage.

I'd also like to say a special word of thanks to the lovely people at the Elizabeth Greenshield Foundation whose support made possible all of my travels and learning over the past year. I'm incredibly grateful for such a wonderful set of experiences.

Postcards from Cuba

I have been working on some small pieces based on my Cuba sketchbooks, just playing with a few images and trying out different ways of applying some spots of colour or collage. The postcard size format seems particularly fitting for these "disposable" pieces which are not so much about a finished product but the journey to realise an idea. My actual postcards sent from Cuba went on a bit of a journey themselves - who knows where to - but they arrived back in the UK a mere 6 months after being posted!

Faces and Places

 I've been thinking about all the various faces encountered on various drawing trips and how each starts to take on its own character once its down on paper...suggesting a narrative or emotive element. In the studio I've been doing a couple of slightly more finished works (above) thanks to the lovely model Wendy and her willingness to get dressed up in various weird and wonderful costumes.

Below are a few more pages from the Cuba sketchbooks which I'm intending to work with over the next few weeks and try out a bit of mono-printing to bring some colour into them. The top set were made on a very bumpy camion (army style truck) ride in the pouring rain from Santa Clara to the small village of Remedios. The lower one was made in Havana, initially I had been drawing some domino players when this character took a break from welding work across the street and sat down to watch me, I couldn't resist drawing him as well and he very obligingly sat like a statue until I was done!

The Cuba sketchbooks #2

Sometimes I find a position to draw from which allows me to capture all the information I'm looking for in one image and this can then be used very much as it is to scale up or begin some ideas for more finished work. Other times there just isn't a good vantage point, I run out of time or there are lots of little interesting details in a larger area so I will make numerous studies and then find a way of piecing them together at a later date. Here is an example...

I drew this building on the corner of Infanta and San Rafael on a sunday afternoon while the languid heat encouraged many people to pause and take a seat either on battered old chairs, front steps or pavements edges in the shade. Even the street vendors were taking a break to chat and maybe drink a coffee.

And below a different street but a similar structure on the ground floor and that same atmosphere of just sitting waiting for time to pass.

This man was sitting making fishing flies and hooks but I chose in the lithograph below to depict him holding a bunch of the paper wrapped cones of peanuts which are sold for a peso on practically every busy street corner in Havana. Details from the two buildings were incorporated and I used it as an opportunity to play around with some textures to try and bring movement into what is otherwise a very static scene.

The Cuba Sketchbooks

Here are a few pages from my sketchbooks, all in Havana Vieja. I used a combination of watercolour, gouache, various pencils and soft pastel and from all I remember the conversations with various curious onlookers, in particular a very kindly stall keeper at the Egido market (top right) who brought me a stool to perch on while I completed the drawing.

The sketch of a young woman sitting watching the world go by was directly translated into a stone lithography print (one of my first of this technique)...I forgot to reverse the image onto the stone in the excitement to get started so it appears here not exactly true to life but close enough.

I really enjoyed the mark-making process that lithography affords, it feels very free and liberating to draw directly onto the stone which has a wonderful fine texture to pick up the greasy crayon and painted marks. Once these were dry I was also able to scrape back into them to create highlights or further textures.


So its been a while since my last August I left Scotland to spend several months living and working in Havana, Cuba to develop my printmaking at the wonderful Taller Experimental de Grafica located in the heart of the old city. Its been the most extraordinary  and intensive period of learning, experimenting and of course escaping into the sunshine every now and then to draw.

Following the time in Cuba I was fortunate enough to be able to travel through Central America with sketchbook in hand, from southern Mexico as far as Panama City exploring the cities, coastlines, highlands and jungles of this diverse region.

Now I'm looking forward to getting back into my studio and developing new work...more soon!