Winter Drawing

A few quick sketches from my travels around Dumfries and Galloway on a glorious frosty and sunny morning in February. 

And drawings in ink of some fantastic tree forms. I really enjoyed getting back to basics making these, restricting myself to working purely in black and white with one brush and a twig. Its always a pleasure spending a few hours outside, getting completely absorbed in a subject and thinking of nothing else but what the next mark will be.


Royal Institute of Painters In Watercolour Exhibition

One of my India inspired watercolours 'Sabzi Bazaar' has just been accepted to the RI show at Mall Galleries, London and will be on show there from 6th-16th April 2016. 

The piece began life as a selection of sketchbook images which I had been working up using different printmaking techniques and as a by-product, had lots of lovely scraps of brightly coloured and textured papers. They resolved themselves into an image formed around two women who I drew at a vegetable bazaar in Udaipur. A huge basket of luscious papaya and other equally vibrant fruit and vegetables in the foreground vied for brilliance with the womens shimmering saris. As usual the setting was a confusing backdrop of awnings, parasols, doorways, peeling paintwork, signs and small shrines. 

New year, new projects

This year has brought an exciting new project which will be taking me on a number of drawing trips around Dumfries and Galloway, an area I've often travelled through but never before had the pleasure to stop and explore. So far I've travelled most of the length of the Solway coastline, pausing to draw subjects along the way ranging from the Barnacle Geese at Caerlaverock to the Mull of Galloway lighthouse.

 Also recently completed are two new sets of linocuts based on some wildlife drawing made in the autumn.




A recent collagraph I've been working on after spending many happy hours watching the cormorants and gannets diving off Waternish Point on Skye earlier this year. This is a working proof yet to be editioned but I think its just about ready to go. I really love those rich, velvety blacks full of texture which collagraph can achieve.

And some fresh inspiration from a recent trip into the Cairngorms just in time for the first serious snowfall of the year. The walk up was eerily misty but once in the bowl of the corrie it suddenly began to lift, revealing spectacular black rocky outcrops and snow filled gullies.

Sea Campion and Gulls

Another new linocut fresh off the press, Sea Campion are one of my favourite flowers clinging to tiny scraps of turf in among the rocks at the bottom of my parents croft on Skye. The delicate white petals and subtle veins somehow withstand the battering they receive from the elements and always seem to have a tangle of twines, interesting flotsam and jetsam intertwining with their roots.

Christmas Exhibitions

I thought this was a suitably wintry picture to accompany a selection of other works in linocut and painting at the Frames Christmas Exhibition (13th November - 30th January)

There will also be a a couple of my linocuts on show at the House for an Art Lover Christmas Exhibition (24th November - 18th January)

Further north I have recently sent a selection of new linocuts  to Gallery 48 in Cromarty and will also be bringing some of my most recent works to the Castle Gallery in Inverness later this month 

Directional Signage NHS England

The last few weeks have seen my linocut tools being put through their paces cutting a set of images for a refurbished health centre in Nottinghamshire. Each scene is based on a site of local interest and has a key colour relating to the wayfinding signage. The prints have just been sent off for scanning and will be reproduced at several metres width to fill entire sections of wall. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished result!

Puhoi Organic Milk Packaging

This summer I was asked to do some work for a design agency in New Zealand to be used on packaging for an organic milk and artisan cheese company near Auckland City. They were very keen to use artwork that evoked craft and tradition but also had a contemporary feel and would work well in a variety of soft, vintage style colours. It turned out linocut was just what was needed.

And the lovely vintage company van being kitted out with its new livery.

To see more examples visit:

Notes from the Sketchbook

 I always enjoy heading off in whatever direction my feet happen to carry me with a sketchbook and selection of drawing equipment. Normally fairly basic, quick and easy to use items like watercolour pencils, a few soft pastels and plenty of soft pencils. This year has taken me to Shetland, Sutherland, Galway, Skye, the Lake District and the Perthshire hills so far with some great wildlife spotting including huge bird colonies, dolphins, orca and a sparrowhawk which made itself at home on my parents lawn on Skye one morning.

Here is a small selection from the current sketchbooks....

Two books

During the spring I had the pleasure of working on illustrations for two very different books, 'The Dumb House' by John Burnside and 'A Portable Shelter' by Kirsty Logan.

'The Dumb House' published by Penguin Random House in their Vintage Classics collection tells the dark story of obsession with the nature of language, exploitation and revenge.

Meanwhile 'A Portable Shelter' is a collection of short stories which take the reader through a seemingly timeless world somewhere between dream, fairytale and contemporary life. It required the creation of a number of related works for chapter headings and a vintage style cover printed in black and silver foil onto hardback binding, published by ASLS.

All of the artwork was created using linocut printmaking, using half tones in black and white for 'A Portable Shelter' (this effect is achieved by stripping some ink from the block with a sheet of newsprint before printing). For 'The Dumb House' I opted to use two blocks with a black and white 'key' and also a colour block which could be inked up in sections. 

Both are released this month and I've just received my eagerly awaited copies so now its time to actually read the full text!

Summer update

Well its been a wee while since the last post and a very busy few months with trips to Shetland and Sutherland plus I've been working on some exciting illustration projects. 
More about them once the publication dates are a bit closer...but I can reveal that I've been working with Scottish author Kirsty Logan on her new book "A Portable Shelter" which will be released during the Edinburgh International Book Festival next month.

In the meantime a couple of new linocut prints

New linocut prints

 So I have been busily printing away over the last month or two making these couple of new linocuts among other things. The terns were inspired by a trip to the Isle of May nature reserve earlier in the year and the experience of being mobbed as we made our way up through the nesting site away from the jetty. Its somewhere I'd like to return to for longer with a big blank sketchbook!

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!

Sequential Works

Narrative and the creation of series of works is something that has interested me for a long time, to see a picture in context with its companions. I think in many respects it harks back to my love of sketchbooks and how precious these are to me as a visual timeline of places visited and ideas noted down. There is also something very personal and intimate about sketchbooks and artists books which are not necessarily created with the aim of public display. Like exploring a new place the book reveals its contents slowly with a fresh discovery at every turn. It is something I hope to explore more over the next year or so, especially in relation to the Cuba sketchbooks.

This piece 'A Walk Along the Naver' was completed after my residency in Sutherland, incorporating chine colle, collagraph, embossing, Japanese woodcut and painting. It was exhibited with a selection of small objects by sculptor Trevor Gordon at Dundee Contemporary Arts during the Impact 8 International Print Festival