Development work on my forthcoming exhibition themed on the Arctic Convoys of 1941-1945 continues. Alpha hints at the threat from German surface raiders to the convoys and references the Tirpitz, who’s short sortie on July 3rd 1942 was enough to cause the admiralty to order the convoy to scatter and the escort to turn back.

Quite pleased with the looser feel to this piece, in developing work for the exhibition I am constantly trying to balance the narrative component (which leans towards representation) and my more expressive style, without doing a Turner 🙂 The exhibition will use paintings, sculpture and audio effects to create an installation comprised of discrete stand alone works that combine to convey a diachronic experience – a tall order as the elements are all synchronous but I’m fascinated by the possibilities, in particular of challenging the traditional concept of an exhibition.

I shall be showing a much larger version of Alpha in the show, where I hope it’s looming presence will contribute a sense of unease to the viewers. The show, titled For Those In Peril, is by way of an homage to the thousands of merchant navy seamen and women who risked and gave their lives to maintain the defence of the USSR, and the members of the Navies of Britain, Russia and America who defended them, in possibly the most important and least regarded action of the fight against fascism. It opens on June 23rd, at Gage Gallery, Sheffield UK, and will run until July 12th, hope you can join me there 🙂




Inspired by nature


The Colours of Winter

Much of my energy in January has been spent trying to find a venue in the Loch Ewe area for the Arctic Convoys Exhibition. Sadly it looks like it will not be possible to stage the show near this important assembly point for the convoys, so I will probably fall back on my usual exhibiton space, Gage Gallery  in Sheffield. Other activity has included helping to set up the Midlands & South Yorkshire Art Show at Rotherhams Old Market Gallery, the first public airing of Aftermath and The Difficult Path Back To You’, and adding work to my Artfinder store.

I have found time to create one new painting, and start another. The Colours of Winter is inspired by the Apple Trees in our front garden. Staring at the last Apples on the tree in our front garden, I was struck by the way they glowed against the grey light of December. Inspired by the colours of dead dry foliage, leaves and stalks, the warmth at odds with the cold heaviness of the sky, not dead but dormant. Painted in acrylics on deep canvas, I greatly enjoyed developing the textural feel to the foreground, and generating a colour for the apples that would shine out against the sky. I love this season, there is so much going on as the Earth renews itself for the spring to come.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you too can grab those moments of joy and hope in an increasingly alarming world.

John 🙂

Playing with texture

The Difficult Path Back to You

The Difficult Path Back to You

December was a busy month, so I didn’t get round to my regular update. Went well though, I sold 7 paintings over three weeks, including my first sale in to a US buyer – thank you Gabriele in Florida 🙂 I spent most of it concentrating on studio/gallery admin work, and looking for venues in Scotland for the Arctic Convoys exhibition. I did manage to complete two new paintings though, and in both pushed my technique further.

I have been doing a lot of paperworks recently, and the backboard I use to support the paper on the easel is far from smooth. This shows as the knife is far more affected by surface than a brush, and I noticed some interesting paint effects as a result. I decided to experiment with recreating these effects on canvas, and returning to techniques I first used in the 1980’s I added sawdust  to the base primer as I was preparing the canvas. I then built up the surface with carefully placed wood shavings, and created a card mosiac to give the feel of cracked pavement. Great fun to do, an interesting challenge to then build colour with a palette knive. The Difficult Path… also uses aluminium shavings to suggest barriers. Getting these to adhere to the canvas was a major challenge.

Difficult Path - detail

Difficult Path – detail

I liked the detail shot so much that I used it as the basis for another piece, Aftermath, so titled because of its post apocalytic feel.This also uses grass and small twigs to create texture, and an old shoe was an effective means of applying some of the paint. I really enjoyed the process, and will use it again – one of the great joys of art for me lies in its development, every work teaches me something new, and I try not to stay in my comfort zone as I push ever harder to express myself.



Both paintings reflect my concerns as the world becomes ever more uncertain and extreme, it is ironic that my main body of work for the coming year focuses on a time when people of all ethnicities came together and gave their lives in the fight against a political belief whose rhetoric features increasingly strongly in our current political climate. Both paintings have their first public outing this January, in a group show of Midlands and South Yorkshire artists at Rotherham’s Old Market Galley (opening event Saturday 21st Jan), I look forward to hearing what people think of them.

Cheers and thank you for reading 🙂