I found an article the other day about a group of Swedish artists who call themselves Anonymouse. They create tiny buildings for mice – shops and apartments – and then instal them at pavement level. They use recycled materials. No one knows who these artists are – they are certainly very skilled model makes. The buildings light up at night. There is an element of humour too – see the LP covers in the Ricotta record shop window. There are more examples online.

The way these artworks have just been installed around the city with no clue as to who made them reminds me of the paper sculptures made from books that were left anonymously in Edinburgh libraries and bookshops. I wrote a post in November 2011 about these exquisite pieces – check the archive.

Both of these anonymous gestures show how generous artists can be – willing to share their work with no credit. In both these cases the artworks must have taken hours to create and then to just let them go is quite extraordinary.








The first project planned for the new term on the Intermediate course had an option to create a textured surface on which to apply paint. I was looking forward to bringing along all kinds of texture materials to the first session. Unfortunately the first session has been postponed and those of you on the course will know by now that we will not be returning to college this week. However I thought that I would put up this post to show you a few images and explain how I have used texture materials in the past.

I went through a stage some years ago of creating large paintings with names like ‘Erosion’, ‘Storm’ and ‘Edge’, inspired by the Dorset cliffs and the Norwegian fjords. I started these pieces by pasting on to the canvas a range of materials such as sand, wood ash, sawdust, thread, string, muslin or scrim, hessian and paper pulp using PVA glue. These materials were often layered one on another. I also mixed up powdered filler with water and scraped it across the other textures. This could then be sanded back, before or even after painting.

I still have two of these paintings and have taken these photos. ‘Erosion’ hangs on the stairs making it really difficult to photograph. The lighting isn’t very good but I did manage to get the whole thing in by leaning over the bannisters. There are two details of the painting too. One from the lower left corner and the other, centre left showing where I had stitched thread through the canvas and also how I had let the paint drip to replicate the liquid mud that was flowing down the cliffs. This canvas started out with a lot of texture on it. I wasn’t too happy so I removed the canvas from the frame and folded it until a lot of the material fell off. I replaced the canvas on the frame and completed the painting. While this seemed a drastic move, it captured the feeling of the cliff eroding away.

The second painting is hanging in an awkward place to photograph so I am just showing some details from it. I had to use flash so there is a bit of a shine as I ¬†used a lot of glaze medium mixed with the paint. On this painting ‘Storm’ I used paper pulp (in the first of these details) which produced a lovely effect. To make the paper pulp I broke up cardboard egg boxes into tiny pieces, which I soaked in water for a few hours. Then the pulp is whizzed up in a food processor to produce a grey mush. It is best to use this soon after you make it – If you leave it sitting around for too long it doesn’t smell all that good, which I expect is the glue used to form the boxes. It’s a bit of a messy process but worth it. Stick to the canvas or board with PVA glue – pasting over the top too.

After I had stuck all the texture materials on to the canvas, I let it dry and then painted the whole thing with gesso or acrylic primer to give a uniform white surface on which to apply the paint. Sometimes I used oil paint and other times acrylics and then oils. You can get some good effects by applying a layer of dark paint, really pushing it into the cracks and then wiping it off the surface or dragging another colour across the ridges. Using transparent glazes works well too. As I mentioned earlier you can use a sanding pad to remove texture or paint but be careful not to make a hole in your canvas or you will have to patch it up on the back. I speak from experience!

I hope that you find these images interesting and helpful to your own artwork if you are going to work in this way.








I expect, like me, you are having a very ‘different’ Christmas day today. I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas and let us hope, a much happier New Year.











I have added some fabulous new images to the gallery page for the Autumn Term 2020-2021. The end of this week marks the end of the term so there may be a few additional images to add to the page.

I visited Nyman’s Gardens on Monday. The gardens were open, even in lockdown but you need to book. The cafe is serving take-away refreshments and we sat on a bench, well wrapped up, to drink our coffee. It was a little misty and grey but still so beautiful amongst the trees. There was some colour around too as you can see from these photos.

The statues and the fountain were wrapped up, ready for winter. Some of the plants had gone to seed but many, particularly the salvias, were still flowering.










Unfortunately we are in lockdown 2. During the first lockdown I set up a series of pages on this website under the heading Images that Inspire and began creating pages that linked to the projects that we would have covered if classes had been permitted. In lockdown 2, as a college, we are allowed to keep courses running throughout but I know that some of you may be a little nervous about venturing out. So I have, this first week of lockdown, created three more pages of images that link to current projects – I hope that you find them inspirational.





I have added a new page under Images to Inspire. It shows paintings by some very inspirational portrait painters. Artists using colour and paint application creatively and expressively. I will add more images in time.

Here is a painting by one of my favourite artists – Tai Shan Schierenberg.

I hope that you are all staying well.















By now many of you will have seen your artwork on the METfest site in the end of year online exhibition. I have added a new page to this site to show all the artwork too, which includes any latecomers who didn’t meet the deadline for the college show. If anyone else has recently finished artwork please send an image on to me and I can at least add it to the page on this site.

I have also created another page under the heading Images that Inspire. This shows the work of a number of famous 20th century Cornish painters. I would love to visit Cornwall again. It is such an inspirational place for artists. Who knows when that will be possible. In the meanwhile we can look at the work of artists past and present to inspire us. Here is an image of a small painting by Alfred Wallis, a self-taught artist who inspired many others.









The ACL remote exhibition will be visible today from 2pm on the following website http://www.metfest.net. That is the information that I have been given! So we don’t have to wait long to see all your lovely artwork. Thanks to everyone who sent in images to me. I will be putting them on this site too in the next few days. It is so unfortunate that we couldn’t have an end of year show as usual but I hope this makes up in part.

The new courses for September are now on the college website and you can enrol. We are all geared up to return to college in September and I am really looking forward to teaching again.

While looking at the news online today I saw a piece about the chalk artist David Zinn. How amazing, cute and funny his artwork is. Here are some examples. Sad to think that they all get washed away when it rains. I love the way he uses objects in the streets to incorporate into the designs. He also uses cracks in the pavement and weeds growing through as part of the picture. There are loads more images online so Google him to see.

I have added a new page under the heading ‘Images to Inspire’. One of the short courses that was cancelled this term was the Collage and mixed media course. It is very disappointing that I am not able to teach this course as I really enjoy seeing the artwork created. Working with these techniques produces such imaginative and creative outcomes – not always the ones you expect!

The new page shows some of the photo montage and mixed media photographic collage pieces created by a range of traditional and contemporary artists including this image by Eugenia Loli.

I have also added another page to the site – in the gallery section. It is for the summer term as the Intermediate course is still running remotely and I have already received some images of your lovely artwork. Please keep sending them in and I will add them as we go along.

If any of the others that I have had the pleasure of teaching this year are still painting and drawing and would like to send me images too please send to my college email address as an attachment and I will include them on the site.

These are still very challenging times for us all. I hope that when things have improved we can all enjoy painting and drawing once again.







I have added a new page of paintings to inspire you in your work – Gardens. This is primarily for those of you on the Intermediate course. As you will know from your course plan it is the first project of the summer term. However I hope that students on other courses, and those whose courses have unfortunately been cancelled, will also find these images inspirational and it may encourage you to make a painting of your own garden, window box or house plants. While researching I discovered a few new names, such as Senaka Senanayake, an artist from Sri Lanka and Curtis Hoekzema. Please let me know your favourites via the comment box and also the name of any other artists I might have missed off the list.

The tulips are still out in my garden although they have been blown all over the place today. I took this photo a few days ago. I hope that you are all keeping well. Take care.