This portrait in water miscible oils (posted with permission) is not yet finished but it needs to dry before I do anything more to it.

I have used predominantly yellow, white, purple, and black, although I cheated and separated purple to blue and red to help contrast the outside and lining of the coat, and also to show the headphones.

Yellow, white, purple, and black are colours selected in 2014 by a (then) teenager called Kye Rowan to express the non-binary gender identity.  This is now widely accepted under the Pride rainbow umbrella. Yellow represents people whose gender exists outside of the binary; white, people with many or all genders; purple, people with genders considered a mix of male and female, and black for people who identify as not having a gender. A link to an explanation of the use of colours to show diverse gender identities and sexualities is shown here.

Here is the painting process, starting with some outlines drawn in my ipad then transferred to canvas that had been primed in acrylic cadmium yellow.

I contoured the nose in white paint then weirdly incorporated this into their face, creating a huge conk.

Here (below) I have shaved off a lot of the extra nose but the shape is still not right.

My 16yo daughter critiqued this and helped me reshape the nose in shading and contour. to reach this version. The nose may need shrinking when I come to the final iteration. At least this now feels recognisable.


This started with a 15 minute sketch on Reading Station and a certain mood.

This was the sequence of painting, starting with the varying opacity seen through the canvas made by the initial acrylic white layer priming the canvas.

Then building in shapes taken from the platform, rails and evening sky in water-miscible oils.

Was this the point I should have stopped? It seemed too muted.


Three weeks ago I went to meet people gathering near Cambridge with whom I identify and whom I had only met through social media before now. The Friday night and then the breakfast on Saturday morning have, I think been transformative. Driving back, the thoughts and memories merged with the light over the road and started to form into this abstract which I have subsequently painted in oils.

This is how it started.

grammar of images

This is an exercise in using oils. I feel a bit more in control, mixing with a knife and using paint on the tip of the brush rather than over loading the bristles.  Where needed I am blending on the canvas.

There was no sketch. The only idea was the hard edge between orange and blue centre stage and a vague sense of yellow and green at the top.

Rotating this 90 degrees and working further imposed a child-like grammar of landscape – blue sky and clouds above, earth colours, mountains, trees, grass, below.

The other way up, blue and white are water and surf crashing onto rock faces.

Rotate back one quarter and I am staring down the cliffs onto a torrent.  It needs the dentate leaves of ferns and, far below, the small shapes of wheeling pterosaurs.

I’ve been following a lot of fabulous palaoeart on twitter recently which is rubbing off on me.  See these as examples, fossil fish and the first pterosaur to be recognised as being furry.  Here are some more. Mark Witton, whose sketch accompanies a piece on the BBC world service, is a fabulous palaeoartist I have followed for some time.



I hope everyone has had happy holidays. This is how my first attempt in oils is shaping up. These are water miscible, but that just means I can wash brushes without toxicity.  I have switched to using linseed oil as the mixer where needed.  This builds on a charcoal dog-sketch transferred onto a textured canvass, prepared by painting over an old image in white acrylic.  After the first layer of oil I muted the garish colours in white, left it for a few days then scraped back.  I will leave this to harden a few days then work over it again. There is a kind of plan, but I dont wholly know what I am doing. The dog-sketch was from late September and I have some source photos.  However, I am  not setting out to be true to the original scene.  Comments and advice are welcome