Thursday, 13 September 2012


Just got back to the house to await the arrival of Messums.  We are due a catch up and it's about time I provided a sandwich for David and Carol.  The morning's post had arrived:
"Oo goody the Discerning Eye results"
I opened the letter to find 6 straight 'R' s. That hurt.  You always come across people who no longer submit for the RA Open since the year they were rejected (while their work had been in consistently for 20 years or so).   I have always found this a  natural but illogical reaction.  Art is subjective and it is all down to that year's selectors.  BUT...  That Friday 'put in' was a beautiful day and I spent hours driving to London, collecting paintings and dropping them off and I was really frustrated at the time.  It was a wasted day and a missed day's painting. GRRRR!!!
But never mind.  Much more interesting is my new discovery:
I headed down that way on Tuesday as the sun looked best there.  I stopped first at Osmington Mills for a painting and then on to Weymouth.  School has started hasn't it?  It was throbbing.  what amazing terraces on the front with wonderful victorian shelters and railings, loads of cafes, b&b's, hotels.. and tonnes of people eating ice creams.  It is great and I will be back a lot I think.
Lesson is:
Paint and do as little running around with the goddam things when they are done as possible.
Now I must tidy my studio for the visitation.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Bum! Missed the party!

My first visit to London for ages..
We booked our holiday, for the first time, and what a year to pick it, chasing the sun driving down through France to Spain. It was fabulous! The timing was built around Ollie's rugby tour and meant we missed all but the last few days of the Olympics. It seemed London was buzzing. I never listen to panic traffic warnings so why did I pay any attention to the 'don't drive in London during the Olympics' notices? This morning I drove past the banners, the union flags, the trampled dead grass in Hyde park where the big screens were and my heart sank. London always reacts well to troubles: - the tube bombings- I'll never forget the city coming to a halt a month later for two minutes and then the response to the riots last year. Apparently we can celebrate too. Apparently London was smiling. It would have been good to catch that.  I understand it had never been easier getting in and out of the city too. Never mind. My kids will tell you I always get fed up after Christmas but I remind them it's not over yet. There's new year yet... And now we have the Paralympics. Rock on!
On another note I have just finished another couple of days with the wonderful APV (caroline and Ant Parker) filming in Bantham. We had one day of sun. Out of the five or so paintings done I think 2 or 3 came good which is cool. I can not talk while painting though so we have a voice over and a bit in my studio to do. Anyway I think the sun is peaking through here in London. I'm off to paint a piece of the Howard de Walden estate with a scaffold truck in the foreground.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Olympic London

Bit of a rant... Forgive me:
We have spent a huge effort and enormous sums of money bidding and preparing for the olympics so people can come to London from all around the world but then we put signs across London on the weeks leading up to it on our roads and our public transport systems saying for God's sake don't think of travelling to or in London when the olympics are on.  Strange really.
Messums are doing a 'Best of British' group show and I have put some new pictures on my website that feature - sketches that I did on pageant day and a couple of the Gloriana when it was at Richmond having more gold put on it.
I finished the Cardiff show a couple of weeks ago and have handed over all the information and pictures.  I really enjoyed painting Cardiff and its surroundings.  It is a wonderful city with lovely Victorian houses.
I spent last weekend in London with Caroline, Ant and their son Oliver alias APV films.  They filmed me painting Broadway Market in London Fields, Shad Thames and Lambeth Bridge.  It was fairly rainy.  We dodged most of the showers spending long periods under brollies but it was all great fun.  We are going down to Bantham to do some more on Tuesday and Wednesdy and are praying for sun.  When we were in Lambeth we saw this amazing Victorian building on the west end of Lambeth High Street a bit like Keble Oxford and St Pancras.  Lambeth High street incidentally is remarkable for being the least High street high street there can be.  There are no shops - just one pub in the middle.  Apparently Lambeth was once famous for it's tiles and the building at the end is decorated in the most incredibly detailed ceramics.

The Day of the Pageant, 10am, Spectators Settling, Lambeth
oil on board 6 x 8

Bute Street from The South, Cardiff
oil on board 8 x 10

Friday, 22 June 2012


And I forgot the most important... Charles Williams:


I am just sending off some pictures for the Royal Society of Portrait painters and as these never really get an airing here are a couple of sketches.  The first is Hattie and Ned asleep in our bed the morning after Ollie's rugby team lost the Somerset Cup Final and the second is what I do at NEAC committee meetings featuring David Parfitt, Richard Pikelsley, Toby Ward, Charlotte Halliday and a bit of Melvyn Petterson.

Friday, 15 June 2012

On Gary's request..

I have avoided in the past talking about painting let alone posting pictures but as Gary from down under has requested here is my rejection from the Threadneedle:

  I was lucky enough to have a small on accepted which I am delighted at.  I am not posting that one - you'll have to go to the Mall for that.  This is 50 x 40 inches and took me an hour or two.  By the way I think I said something derogatory about the Threadneedle taking 4 years to go trendy but it has been pulled right back in line and I would recommend any serious figurative painter to enter (keep your big mouth shut Brown!).  While we're on the case, registration for the glorious NEAC Open Exhibition has opened.  With the option to apply digitally this makes great sense for those further afield to now enter. Here's the link:

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Sun and Rain: Olympic Torch and the River Pageant

On the 23rd May Summer came to Bath with the arrival of the Olympic torch.  My painting elsewhere desperately needed sun so I was not there to join in the atmosphere of school children and parents and grandparents, etc.... lining the streets in anticipation.  Apparently it was great.  It marked the beginning of shorts and sandals and, for us, signing up to the local outdoor pool.  After 2 days we never thought it would rain again and we started to worry about the garden and desperately tried not to say out loud:
"But it's too hot!"
I am currently trying my best to paint a commission for the Draper's Company of the pageant.  I had decided on a view from London Bridge towards Tower Bridge.  I had set up a lovely sunny day from there previously with lots of foreground space for the tall hips and the relevant boats to stick in from sketches on the day... but sun did not happen so on the morning of the pageant I set off at 4am and got to London Bridge at 6am to set up a rainy scene. After weeks of being very apprehensive I had put myself in a positive state of mind and was up for it.  When I'd parked up and arrived at the bridge I was faced with three yards next to the balustrade cordoned off, guarded by those fluorescent jackets.  A deep breath, a smile and my best attitude was not good enough:
"Just an hour,.. half an hour,.. in and out and I'll be gone..."
I was pleased that I did not shout at him and took my temper out on the security fence when no one was looking later on (a small kick - oo Pete).  I painted what I could from behind the fence - the top three feet of the masts and the balustrade while I watched them put plastic seats out for the nobs and the media.  I did not find the watercolour  jokes and the 'put me in it' jokes funny for that hour and in the end I left to paint a pageant unrelated wet street in Borough. 2 Hours later I'd calmed down and drove to Lambeth to do a tiny quick sketch of the building crowds on the embankment before going to a concrete pontoon at Battersea under the kind invite of Melanie and Mark 'The Organic' who live on the craziest catamaran houseboat I have ever seen!  There were lots of people there with food and fancy dress invited by various residents and the atmosphere  was great.  We heard cheers from crowds over the river watching the big screen and I worked on a 10 x 15 looking at Vauxhall bridge with the great heights of the Shard disappearing into mist behind.  The boats were great and the colours, I thought, better on a grey day than a sunny one.  My depiction of the boats consisted of dots and splodges.  My companions, Jonathan and his son Ludo were great company and Jonathan's knowledge and commentary on the passing boats it seems far exceeded that of the BBC who apparently banged on in the usual show biz obsessed style.  When most had passed we drove up to London Bridge so that I could catch the tall ships at last from the bridge but the commoners were still forbidden from the view.  Jonathan and Ludo went off to get a closer look at the queen and I found a great view looking over that slated ground around the 'Crash Helmet' looking towards London Bridge.  Whether the painting comes to anything we'll see.  The firework volley off the top of Tower Bridge was a great surprise and in the following seconds the smoke engulfed everything as the bridge disappeared.  I was quite calm now getting steadily soggier and people chatted to me about their day and where they'd come from and it was lovely.  My companions phoned to say they were off as Ludo who'd done so well was tired and wet and shortly after wetting my pants laughing at the lady in her union flag dress singing in the rain as she danced through the water feature 30 yards to my right I packed up and squelched back to the van.  I drove home in bare feet warmed by the heaters ironing out the soggy wrinkles and at 10.30 shared some crisps and a glass of wine with Lisa before sleep - ahh lush!!  I am not too sure quite how to proceed with the commission and as I sit here I am debating whether to drive up on the off chance that the tall ships have not left but I reckon they probably will have..
A great weekend though confirming my belief that people are good natured (excepting the odd knackered artist at 6am on a rainy morning at London Bridge) complete fruitcakes!

Monday, 30 April 2012

This can go in the '??' box with Economics..

..That's floods and droughts.  "Rivers are full but there's no water in the ground"??
I'm afraid "all weather Pete the street" has been in the studio for the last week or so dodging the rain.
Today though I was in Chelsea painting Chelsea and Albert Bridges in glorious sun (and wind and those itchy bits from plane trees that go in your eyes).
The Lynn Painter Stainers Prize was great.  I need to find more Bollinger sponsored events.  There were several sponsors and prize winners thanked that night but the biggest cheer of the evening proceeded the word 'Bollinger'.  It really did flow and there were hundreds of people there!
Encouraged by that anyway I thought I'd break from Cardiff and have a go at a studio mantle piece picture for the Threadneedle Prize (yes another one - but they are great fun and the control you get in the studio compared to windy embankments..!).  I already have a quirky perspective long thin one and am working on a 50 x 40 inch one square on (I have a 50 x 40 frame begging).
Last week was however was not quite as smooth as I'd hoped - at least the painting wasn't. The mighty George Devlin had his latest wonderful show opening at the Portland Gallery.  George very kindly decided to invite the 'India Boys' to join him and other family and friends for a meal after his PV at the Chelsea Arts Club.  10 days I was in India eating everything I should not from street food to egg curries.  My intestines were never happier.  One delicious meal in Chelsea and the liquid could not leave my body quickly enough from every available hole for two days!
Anyway after my day in the sun in London I'm back to the mantle piece for a couple of days.  I'm hoping that it'll be near done this week but I know I shall fiddle for ever.
Family news: Ned (3 years old) has taken to falling to sleep to radio 3 in his room at night.
Motor news: The TR6 goes to Acton on 10th May for a rebuild of diff mounts.  I have this plan to take Ned up and spend a day in London with him but the jealously amongst his siblings may just be too much.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

A new superlative..

I have been painting in Cardiff recently.  The day before yesterday I was congratulated on a small oil of Bute Street (people are so polite) 'That's SMASH that is!".
'Smash' - I like it.  So we can add that to 'proper', 'well good','bad', 'heavy', 'do' (pronounced do and not doo) and the most popular 'sick'.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Enough chocolate

We've had a good blast this Easter and I've not painted since Good Friday!! Just the odd sketch book hit.  I think I start work for the Cardiff show today so I'm over the Severn Bridge.  At least that's the plan.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Painting Ella

She is getting better at standing still.  It looks like her although I'm not sure it makes for a great painting.  She is currently in her school shirt, tie and tights.  Lisa and I have decided to put a skirt on her.

Monday, 5 March 2012

NEAC Committee Meeting

At the Mall Galleries this morning for an NEAC committee meeting.  It was a great turn out and I managed to draw Richard Pikesley, Toby Ward and a bit of Melvyn Petterson..  oo and had a go at Alex Fowler.  I made his face too fat.  I usually do that to him.  I think it's because I am jealous of his goddam youth!!  Saw the new Threadneedle space which looks great and squeezed in a bit of painting in the afternoon.  The van by the way is running lovely and apparently it was simple to fix - a broken wire, a missing washer....  I need Ella to stand in the studio tomorrow or Wednesday in her school uniform with her mad bunches in so I can finish an oil of her for the RP: put in on 15th March.  I am also putting in a drawing of Hattie asleep.  I don't really know why I enter.  I don't think the RP would like me as a member even if I was up to it as I rarely do any portrait painting.  I just love having a go.  Working on the mantle piece painting for RA.  I think you are more likely to get interiors in as the idea of 'Plein Air' I think would be seen as terribly unfashionable with the selectors.  Everyday detritus on a mantle piece I think is seen as more contemporary...??  My other form of attack will come in putting in a very small second one which they may not see and send it through as accepted to save getting up from the chair.  When I have done these opens I am looking forward to concentrating on my next show.  The 2 man in Cardiff is in my sights and I have had a couple of scratches.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012


In case anyone was looking for some art comments - unlucky - I'm still on car maintenance:  The van is very poorly!  It will be fixed tomorrow.  Yesterday I took my Mum and Dad up to see the exhibition.  We whizzed round it and shot off for lunch at the Europa on Albermarle Street on a table next to Michael and Brenda Felmingham and friend which was fun.  I don't think the decor in there has changed since Bill Paterson first treated me to cod and chips and a bottle of red one Friday lunchtime 10 years ago.  I had to return to Messums today to sort through some possible commissions with Kris.  4 hours later we emerged a little clearer. I took the TR6 and it was lush.  It makes such a great noise!!  I managed to rework a couple of oils from Hungerford Bridge looking at Westminster (nothing new) and I think made them passable.  The light was misty/pink/twilight at 5 and I tried a view of Buckingham Palace though the light faded too fast.

Monday, 27 February 2012


I did not book tickets for the show.  It's always just too much grief.  I always miss these things.  Spoke to mother on the phone about wheeling her and the old man up to the show tomorrow (in a van with dodgey PAS again, an airbag light and a brake warning light on! It's booked in again on Thursday).  Mum mentioned she'd been watching Andrew Marr and Hockney and she loved it then my friend Joy phoned reporting the same.  So for the first time ever I used BBC i player.  I do like him.  He does not use deliberately ambiguous 'smoke and mirrors' art language.  He is very straight forward and yet passionate.  Best bit of the film:  25mins:35seconds - 52seconds: The lady with the feather duster!!
Some good quotes I thought (not new ideas but succinct):
'The world does not look like a photo.  It's not the human view'
'Notice what the artist does not what he says'
'You can teach the craft but not the poetry.  Now they try to teach the poetry but not the craft'
And then his paraphrasing 'The Chinese': 'You need the eye, the hand and the heart.  Two will not do you need all three.'
Now I shall try and find the freud programme if it's still on i player.  Do they have shelf lives?
I Think I'm going to be up all night.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


Private view today. We'll catch the 16:15 from Bath Spa and probably sneak a quick gin in on the way up.  They are funny old evenings private views: Usually busy although I remember one at W.H.Pattersons when my aunt told my mother she'd like to go:
"Well please do Natalie but you have to realise Peter will be very busy and probably will not get the chance to say hello"
Come the night I was delighted to see my aunt kick the tumble weed out the way and I gave her the biggest hug.  I had been feigning interest at all the paintings for 10 minutes and had run out of things to do other than stand with my hands in my pockets waiting for 8.30 when Bill Patterson, the bloke serving the drinks and me could go home.  I did not let my aunt go.  It was a god send!  Coming tonight Nats?

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

End of man flu!!

I woke up this morning having slept well with no cold.  Deep joy.  18th February (Saturday) is hand in for the Lynn Painter Stainers Prize which seems to have taken over from the Threadneedle (having taken just 4 years to go trendy) as the major figurative art prize.  So today I am going to paint the messy desk in my office to fit in a frame in the studio.  It is going to win the prize.  Well it is a bit unlikely but you have to think that.  The likely outcome is I get in a tizzy and finish the day grumpier than I started yesterday.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Back from India missing the snow in England

Arrived back from Udaipur via a 12 hour wait for a connecting flight at Mumbai where I caught a taxi from the domestic airport to the beach to watch the sunset before getting completely ripped of by a rickshaw back to the international airport.  I had my luggage transferred with the 20 oils I had done and was relieved to see them again before boarding.  India, as my pal Caroline told me, was a 'seminal experience'.  I am weary of boring people with it but let's just say it was jaw dropping and the people were amazing.  Painting on the narrow busy streets of the centre of Udaipur's old town was at first nerve racking (how they can fit 2 rickshaws a motorbike, a cow and a few pedestrians across  a road 3 metres wide I do not know).  I would have loved to have shown Westminster city council how the people of India did not bizarrely find my tripod a risk to human life.  I would ask the shop keepers/ stall holders if they minded me painting from their spot and they could not have been more welcoming and helpful insisting I shared their lunch and offering masala chi every hour!  It was a treat to spend the week or so sharing evenings on rooftop restaurants over looking the lake with the lads (Ken, Patrick Cullen, James Horton (with his botttle of whisky) and George Devlin) and of course Dora (but please Patrick don't mention Berlusconi).  I experienced for the first time jet lag over the weekend and having adopted Ned's cold will now spend 2 days doing that guff that we all said it was great to get away from in the last week: emails, post and goddam VAT!!  Patrick Cullen organised the trip - thank you very much chum.  Let me know when the next one is.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Sunday night blues

The airbag light is still on.  The garage said they'll wipe it.  I wonder what it's for?  Off to India on Wednesday.  I can smell the cat has poo'd in the studio but can not locate it. May be a while before my fourth post.

Thursday, 26 January 2012


Picked up the van.  Luckily the 5 litre drum of genuine turpentine with the dicky lid was saved from emptying slowly on the van floor over the last week by the box of clothes it fell into.  I closed the door and the handle fell off. Ollie broke the arm rest on the way home and the air bag light is now constantly on. So I'll take it back to the garage tomorrow.

Van nearly resurrected: TR6 heaven: painting in Bath

I have ducked this for long enough.  I am still not sure if I should but thought I'd give it a bash.  Last week the power steering went on the van and it's been in the garage all week. It's a bit hard driving a 3 tonne van without it.  I pick it up today so I have spent the day in Bath in and out of the TR6 ducking showers and painting from Bathwick Fields on board.  I also had a go at a 'Sun after Rain' when it glares off the tarmac which seemed to go well.  I'm trying Marine Ply at the moment as opposed to MDF.  It has a bit of grain for a tooth but no way near the canvas I use.  It is very light.