Diana and Actaeon: Spot the Pun Answer

Diana and Actaeon Bone Arrow v2
Diana and Actaeon Spot the Pun Answer

In the original post I mentioned that there was a hidden pun in this painting and, that to solve it, it would be necessary to consider what a mighty hunter or the goddess of the hunt would need that’s in both of Titian’s versions but not in mine?

The answer? A Bow ‘n’ Arrow (bone arrow…) of course!

Please ‘like’ this post if you groaned or ‘share’ if you rolled your eyes! In the meantime, I’ll get my coat..

New Linocut Reduction Print of a Cow

Cow Reduction Linocut cropped 2
Cow Reduction Linocut

This is a reduction linocut print I produced a few weeks back to test my new printing press. The process is also referred to as a ‘suicide print’ since additional linocut material is removed after printing each new colour, so it’s virtually impossible to recover from any mistakes.

This image was inspired by a new book called ‘Picasso Linocuts’ by Markus Müller (ISBN: 9783777439815) and by Picasso’s famous Bull series in which he worked to banish unnecessary detail from the image in order to distill the purest representation of the animal.

In the print above I was trying to sum up my impressions of the pure physicality of the cow and, especially, how such a huge bulk can be supported on such dainty legs.

As with most printmaking, ensuring the paper is registered in the same position when printing the different colours is essential, and you can see mine is very slightly off. I’ll try and post sequential photos or a video of the whole process the next time I attempt it.

New Painting: Abstract South Stack Lighthouse

South Stack Lighthouse Abstract
South Stack Lighthouse Abstract (Acrylic on Canvas)

This is an attempt to try the Colour Field painting style of Mark Rothko and others. It’s actually a simplified landscape painting of South Stack Lighthouse, which is probably a contravention of the ‘subject/form free’ approach of the Abstract Expressionists. Incidentally, it’s also the first painting my wife has liked enough to put up in our house. That means I must be getting better, right?

New Painting: Diana and Actaeon (Can you spot the pun?)

Diana and Actaeon
Diana and Actaeon (Acrylic on paper on board 92cm x 53cm)

This is my first attempt at a Mythology painting which contains a hidden pun! Can you spot it? Read on for a clue!

The painting is based on the classical tale of Diana and Actaeon, in which the great hunter, Actaeon, stumbles across Diana (who is, ironically, goddess of the hunt,) whilst she is bathing. In her ire, she transforms Actaeon into a stag, after which he is pursued and torn to pieces by his own hounds after they fail to recognise him.

The painting was developed from a sketch produced during an Island Art Group workshop conducted by the artist Iwan Lewis. During the workshop, Iwan presented us with an eclectic collection of objects (see image below) for inspiration, having asked us to read the passage on the Death of Actaeon from Ovid’s narrative poem Metamorphoses prior to the workshop.

Iwan Lewis IAG Workshop
Iwan Lewis IAG Workshop

I found this approach truly inspirational and, on being informed that, as well as being goddess of the hunt, Diana was also goddess of the moon, I was prompted to bring together such disparate influences as William Blake’s print of Nebuchadnezzar, Pablo Picasso’s linocuts of bull fights (in which the abstracted skeletons of the bull, horse and rider are clearly apparent), the change scene from the film American Werewolf in London, as well as Titian’s wonderful masterpieces.

At Iwan’s prompting, I also began to pay extra attention to the interesting negative space between forms, rather than just modelling the forms themselves. I tried to focus on creating a collage/assemblage of interlocking blocks of flat colour that can be viewed as separate entities in their own right, but which then ‘metamorphose’ into a coherent image.

I also tried to select suitable complementary colours which would create conflicting effects of the warm background ‘pushing forward’ against the cooler main figure trying to ‘recede’ in order to deliberately set up contradictions between the figure and the ground as per aspects we’ve been learning about in the MoMA course on Abstract Expression.

All in all, this was an absolutely fascinating project and I’d love to paint a large scale mural in this style!

For anyone that’s read this far and wants a hint to help find the pun, then you need to consider what does a mighty hunter or the goddess of the hunt need that’s in both of Titian’s versions but not in mine?

Did you get it? Please give me a ‘share’ or a ‘like’… (Luckily, I don’t think Facebook has got a ‘groan’ button yet!)

This painting is now available in the shop.

Menai Bridge Abstract Painting

Menai Bridge Abstract
Menai Bridge Abstract (Acrylic on Canvas 32cm x 40cm)

I’m now on week 4 of the Museum of Modern Art‘s course “In the Studio: Postwar Abstract Painting” hosted by Coursera in which students are encouraged to attempt paintings in the styles of Barnett Newman, Willem de Kooning and other artists from The New York School of Abstract Expressionists.

The course is presented by Corey D’Augustine who as an art conservator, technical art historian, and artist himself does a fantastic job of making the course interesting, informative and fun, even for an aspiring figurative artist like me who has always struggled to properly appreciate abstract art.

The course is free (unless you choose the option to earn a certificate) and is highly recommended.

Above is my attempt to investigate and apply Barnett Newman‘s techniques in my own work. Newmann, together with Mark Rothko and others, championed Colour Field painting (as opposed to the Action Painting of Jackson Pollock et al).

Newmann also developed what he called ‘zips’, or lines, running across the painting in an effort to subvert the perceptual concept of ‘figure and ground‘.

I’ve attempted to apply those techniques of colour fields and ‘zips’ in a landscape painting of Menai Bridge, albeit that the idea of a landscape may be at odds with the principles of Abstract Expressionism. I also stuck a piece of torn and painted corrugated cardboard on to represent one of the pillars as a play on the idea of figure-ground relationships in space and as a nod to Newman’s painting called ‘The Wild‘, which, bizarrely, is 243cm tall but just 4cm wide!

More resources and info relating to Barnett Newmann can be found at Artsy.net.

Whistler’s Wife Painting


Just to provide a bit of background to this painting, it was painted from a reference photo, completely by eye without gridding etc. As can be seen from the above gif, it’s not too far off considering.

I called the painting Whistler’s Wife as the pose reminded me of James McNeil Whistler’s painting “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1” which was also more popularly known as “Whistler’s Mother”, and since I constantly drive Netty half crazy with my whistling when I paint, it seemed the obvious choice for a title…

The painting is currently still on display in the David Hughes Centre in Beaumaris, together with 4 more pieces by me and lots of work by other artists from the Island Art Group. The exhibition finishes at 5pm on Sunday 11th June.

Inland Sea painting development

Yay! Someone kindly bought my painting ‘The Inland Sea Pontrhydybont New Year’s Day 2017’ from the Island Art Group Exhibition in Beaumaris last Saturday (for which ‘Thank you!’) so I hope this post isn’t a bad idea, but I thought it might be interesting to show the development process the painting went through…

Inland Sea Photo

Here’s a photo from one of my visits there just so you can get a feel for it if you haven’t seen it.

I’ve always loved that particular view of the Island Sea when the mill and Holyhead Mountain are picked out against the sky by the sun. If the tide is right, a variety of water birds (e.g. herons, little egrets, various ducks and waders) make the most of the exposed banks in the middle of the Inland Sea, and standing there listening to their calls and painting is like trying to paint a little piece of heaven, so I’ve been returning to this spot on and off for ages.

I painted the following version ‘en plein air’ (which, I believe, is French for painting outdoors whilst getting sunburned and receiving funny looks from passersby). As you can see from the photo above, a fair bit of artistic license has been used to try and fit the key elements into the composition.

Inland Sea Au Plein Air (Acrylic on Paper 40cm x 32cm)

At the time, I was really taken by how the water seemed to be as smooth as glass in certain parts and yet still have a slight sense of movement from the gentle tide in others, providing interest and texture as well as changes in reflections and colours in the water, depending on where and when I was looking.

I then worked on recreating the painting on canvas over a number of weekends in my ‘studio’ (spare bedroom) to try and encapsulate how I felt about it, as evidenced by the following gif (made with gifmaker.me).

Inland Sea Pontrhydybont New Year’s Day 2017 development

On standing in the studio recalling the experience of being ‘on location’ painting it, the main things I remembered were the bright sunlight making the fragmented reflections look like a stained glass window, and the contradictory sense of stillness and movement, so I was very keen to try and replicate those in the finished painting.

This fragmented approach also brought to mind a quote by Maurice Dennis (BrainyQuote.com):

Remember that a painting – before it is a battle horse, a nude model, or some anecdote – is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.

Maurice Dennis

As someone who is particularly interested in describing clearly delineated physical forms, volumes and planes in finite spaces, I find it an especially difficult challenge working out how to represent the enormous empty spaces and distances involved in landscapes, so this stained glass window approach using flattened colour shapes provided a way for me to try and address that.

I just hope that one of the previous iterations doesn’t appear to be better than the finished version!

(For info, for those that haven’t been to Pontrhydybont, just out of the picture to the left is ‘Four Mile Bridge’ bridge itself which is responsible for the cast shadow across the water and land, brought further into the picture for compositional reasons…)

The-Inland-Sea-Pontrhydybont-New-Years-Day- -lrg

Island Art Group Exhibition at the David Hughes Centre, Beaumaris

Just to mention that the Island Art Group Exhibition starts tomorrow Saturday 27th May 2017. It’s being held at the David Hughes Centre, Beaumaris and is open between 10am and 5pm ending Friday 9th June.

There’s a great selection of work on display from members of the group, including the following 5 pieces by me, so why not drop in and have a look if you’re in the area?

Exhibition of Work at the Roadking Truckstop Cafe, Holyhead

Thanks to a very generous invitation from Stuart Burne (seen in the photo below with 3 of the pieces) and the kind folks at the Roadking Truckstop Cafe in Holyhead, the following 5 pieces of work are on display for public viewing for the next couple of months, so why not drop in and have a look if you’re in the area? More details of the pieces can be seen in my shop as well as in any related articles at the bottom of this post.