Saturday, December 21, 2013

Highlights of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhbition (Winsor & Newton Young Artists/Under 35yrs)

This is another review of the ROI Annual Exhibition at The Mall Galleries, which is a bit late this year as the exhibition closes today! But for for those of you who couldn't make it and for those of you far far away...this is post highlights few of the paintings in the Under 35 category that got my attention.

They are young painters with so much potential and I know when I say young, some people might say 18-35 yrs isn't young. But we all know that in this business, most people never really hit it big in this career until they have passed the 35 hurdle, anyway that was my experience after 15 years of painting!

Anyway, enough of the explanations, lets get down to the paintings! I'll take the artists one by one and without much ramblings just go straight to the point and reason why I liked the piece. I don't know if I can keep to my promise, but lets see how I get on!

Just remember, there were more in this category but these are the ones that caught my eye!


He stole the show in this category! He won the First Prize!

James Bland and his winning painting

I like his work because he draws with paint! The mark making in the painting below is just feel you can understand his decision making and struggles. His paintings are like drawings in colour to me and it's not only the fact that his drawings are accurate to the eye, but he knows what to put in and knows what leave out.

James Bland, Reclining Figure, Evening

He is a master of selectivity!

I have to ramble a bit...... I was introduced to his work by Ilaria on Facebook and then I saw him and his work at the New English Art Club Annual Exhibition just before this one and I was really impressed seeing his work live.

Paul from Winsor & Newton, James Bland and lovely Model he painted

The painting below is amazingly composed. The colour is vibrant, he has painted the model over several sittings under artificial  light. I just love the way he composes all his pieces. You can immediately see that a lot of thought has gone into developing these paintings.

James Bland, Lime Green Dress

Whenever an artist conquers drawing, he conquers painting! But whenever an artist conquers colour and drawing, he triumphs in any artistic battle! Hence the victory of this young painter has just begun, watch out for him in the future, he has been in  the hiding but his revelation is right here for us to behold in the present!   


Tom Hughes is naturally a vibrant, energetic and really nice chap! His paintings have some of those qualities.
I don't really paint still life pieces but when I see his still life paintings, I get a feeling of how I would love my still Life paintings to look.....anything but still. His painting below is dynamic, it has a nice monochrome underpainting which has been skillfully painted with ease and flow. He then decides where he is going to add colour to and where he is not...again it's the selectivity! There's a constant interchange of thick and thin, which makes the eye excited, as one takes in this painting!

Tom Hughes, Painting of a painting of a painting with Deer Skull

The other painting of his I liked so much in the show was this little plein air piece of an ice cream van. I don't have much to say on this one, the work speaks for itself. It has an urgency it and because it was done with that spirit (The True Alla Prima Spirit), he then has been able to produce a lovely energetic and dynamic piece! Look how he has blocked off the background with a lovely dark washed colour to create a functional contrast to the van! 

Tom Hughes, Ice Cream, Plein air


She loves painting! Having watched her paint sitting on the floor on the ROI Open Painting Evening... I now have a better insight into how she works.

Leanne Rutter, Brutally Refined

For this piece above, she has created an exciting painting that has simple coloured dotted strokes all over. No passage is plain or just one shape of flat colour, every bit is a mixture of dots placed side by side to create a vibration and some sort of tension which keeps this piece and her other paintings alive and more than just a truthful rendition of what she paints. She takes us beyond the surface and works out these beautiful motifs that are little abstract pieces if isolated to stand on their own.

Leanne Rutter with her painting

I had to add this picture above, so you can see the size of this wonderful piece!


Sometimes you look at a painting and you just don't know why you love it! You go back to it and you just keep on going back to it!

Flora Watson, Georgy

That's exactly what happened to me with this painting above. Maybe it's because the lady is not staring straight at me, so it gives me the opportunity to steal a longer gaze at her, over time, like those people I sketch on Public Transport. Maybe it's the colour temperature, because this piece is a clear cut study by someone who has mastered colour temperature. The whole face is painted almost in one tone and to me that would have been boring without must value. But she proves to us with this painting that successful portraiture is not all about value (light and shade) but Temperature( the warmth or coolness of colour)

The drawing is accurate and it's a piece that has undergone the surgery of life sittings! Oh, I long to paint from life sittings again! She sees lovely shapes of colour and this is not a painting to please the sitter, this is one that makes me feel the artist is free to take decisions based on how she sees the Three Dimensional transformed into The Two Dimensional.


When a painter takes the painting backward and forward with one mind and one goal, but that goal is not reached until something suddenly resonates....then the painter has not just used technique for the sake of it but knows how to use it as a means to an end.

Yermolova, Watermelon Mood

Her style is unique! I watched her paint on one of the ROI Open Painting Evenings and it was simply a delight to behold. There she was scrapping, pouring, allowing accidentals, pasting, carving, it! She was enjoying the process! And that why her paintings beam with such liveliness! 

Her still life is anything but still! I love what she does and the confidence with which she does it and when a painter is confident-the painting can no more be confidential but one to be seen by the world and hailed for its uniqueness!


For this piece it is all about the skin colour here. Sometimes getting the right skin colour can be difficult. She has definitely painted a girl who is an albino, now, to paint albino skin colour, you must be very observant and Caroline has been able to portray the tanned skinned colour under a very cool light source.

Caroline de Peyrecave, Musunda

The artist has done well to produce a truthful piece with so much fluidity and sound drawing skills. 

It's a piece that has a very painterly approach, somewhat of the school of thought that Sargent belonged to. 


 Whenever I see a work like this I really appreciate the time and patience it takes to be classically trained and to master this sort of  technique in painting. I love it for the accurate drawing, brilliant and vibrant skin colour, and the way he has included a backgound which doesn't compete or swallow the main figure but yet compliments it in everyway.

Simon Watkins, Winter Evening



 This is a simple plein air piece. He actually told me I was one of those whom he discovered on-line that helped him to be inspired to take up plein-air painting! I was happy to hear that!

Francis Martin and his winning painting

He hasn't been doing outdoor painting for long but he is sure on the right direction with what I could see with this little street scene. You can almost count the marks he has made, only striving for what matters most and for what would speak most about the scene at hand. 

Francis Martin, Autumn Greys-Theberton Street, Islington

I particularly liked the honesty in this piece, nothing is overdone, just beautiful marks of a painter in the right tune with the Alla Prima Spirit! He won an Award with the piece! Keep an eye on him!!!


 Simply love it for her labour of love and celebration of colour! Her keen eye for detail is to be adored and the way she is able to include everything she wants into the painting without ending up with chaos has do with some sound and proper planning at the beforte such paintings are embarked upon.

Stephanie Pijper, Studio 6.13


Graham Webber and his well presented paintings

 That's the man with three well painted plein air pieces and well presented too! Presentation is powerful and sometimes it is easy to overlook the fact that after a painting is done in flesh and blood, it needs the right clothes to wear. Now, don't you tell me clothes don't matter! I have been treated differently all because of what I was wearing at the time.

Hence my praise this time, not only for the beautiful impressionist style of Graham and his profound way of simplifying the landscape and only honing in on the essentials BUT for the professional presentation he has given the works!


There's always a portrait that breathes!

Ellen Tovey, Sasha

This is one of them! What I like about this piece is the mood that shines through. It is a fairly large portrait but what wins it for me is the distribution of light on the skin surface, it was terrifically done! 


Alice Hall with her painting.

 I love this one for it's pure impressionist approach, every stroke she lays is seen clearly you can read her hand. It's truthful and the surface of her paintings are very interesting, I just love the way her strokes dance all over the surface with some lyrical movement!

Alice Hall, Falmouth Dock 2013


You might guess already why I love this one! I love crowded scenes but this time it's not the only reason. I love the way he has created some drama here. The play of light on the whole scene, the suspense- you begin to ask yourself what are they gathering to see or talk about? 

Jack Banister, Gathering


Hayley Brown, Homage to Chardin

When a painting is executed well and all the the main essentials like composition, value, colour, texture and the focal point have been all given a very good amount of skillful attention, then the rest is history, the painting is a winner!

I could begin to write a whole story about this painting, I really love every bit of it! The shadows are so subtle and the change in temperature of the greys is amazing on the wall that the dead bird is propped on. Finally, look at those negative shapes that the shadow forms with the pears and the background, sweet!!!


Brandon Scott, Nick Rehearsing
This is a very bold little painting that celebrates meaningful shapes of colour! It all fits well together as a brilliantly composed design and works as an abstract too! It takes great confidence in ones style, not to go further than this but to leave the conversation right where the main ideas have been highlighted!

I hope you enjoyed this post, please feel free to comment and share with the social media buttons below.

My next post would be on the open painting evening where both members and non-members of the ROI took part in painting on an explosive evening!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Highlights of The Royal Institute of Oil Painters Annual Exhibition 2013 (Main Category)

The 126th Annual Exhibition was opened by The new President, Ian Cryer who succeeds Peter Wileman, who had been President since 2008. The Opening Speech and awards were given out by the eminent Historian Dr David Starkey.

Dr David Starkey speaks about the history of the ROI and some reasons why the Institute gained it's Royal status.
I am happy to say that those two paintings in the middle of Dr Starkey and The President are mine......yeah!

The Exhibition runs  till Saturday the 21st of December. If you are in London please try your best to get down to The Mall Galleries, it's a cracking show!

A cross section of the crowd at the Private View

Every year I personally highlight a few paintings that caught my eye. These are just a few paintings that interest me! Apart from sketching and painting, I like to review paintings and say what excites me about them. So relax and enjoy a few of my ramblings!

Adebanji with his painting Sloane Square, Summer Shadows

Above is one of the paintings I have in the show, It's of one of my favourite spots in London, "Sloane Square, Summer Shadows".


Early Morning, Elephant Gate Udaipor, Peter Brown

I am always on the look out to see what Peter Brown has up his sleeves, as I am a great admirer of his work and his work ethic!

This particular painting of his above is just one of the rewards you get for waking up early and chasing the beautiful light! I can just imagine him working on this one! It has the force of a typical energetic "sketched plein  air piece".

 Everything is in the dark and mid tones apart from the source of that lovely Naples yellowy light peeping through the gate! It is not a common thing to see that he has not overstated the light but just apportioned the right amount of effect it makes on the surrounding environment!

I can almost see myself walking through that warm light into the distance!

I would like to own a piece like this because looking at it would always remind me that there's gonna be a way out of the chaos of the day, if I remained focused!

Peter Brown with his paintings in the show


Moorings at Hayton- Chesterfield Canal, David Curtis

David Curtis, so modest, so humble but yet his paintings speak volumes! You instantly know when seeing his paintings that he is an ardent draughtsman! You couldn't get a better  silent lecture in drawing than when you look at his paintings!  I love both of them! The one above is incredible! How did he capture that light without making it look overworked or unnecessarily detailed? The effect of sunlight on the dirty water is so REAL! Yet when standing close up to the painting, you almost feel a certain measure of mystery  about the whole piece!

I'll have to attempt something like this is the new year! When I look at paintings like this I just want to paint!

Midwinter, Slaynes Lane, Misson, David Curtis

The striking thing about the snow scene above is the tree! I love trees! But David even makes me love them better! He has a deft touch.....It's a combination of loose washes with some thick and thin applications of oil strokes that just bring out the beauty and reality of those twigs and branches!

Zooming into the branches wasn't something I planned doing until I saw my fellow painting colleague-James Bland, had done so on Facebook. This is what the Zoom-in looks like below:

Detail of David Curtis' painting-Midwinter, Slaynes Lane, Misson

Michele Del Campo, Haidee-Jo Summers, David Curtis and Kieron Williamson (Mini Monet) with David's paintings in the background


Punt Station, Magdalen Bridge (Oxford)
David Pilgrim has developed into a very mature painter. I must say I struggled with getting a good image of his painting above because it was taken under a strong tungsten light in the gallery but all the same I think this piece blossoms well with it's very loose and impressionist handling!

I have seen the smaller version of this piece which I'm sure David blew-up on, to create this one. The thing that I noticed was that he managed to keep the same spirit and vitality in the small piece as in this larger one. This is not an easy thing for the painter to do. Many a painting is ruined while under this process of enlarging.

He uses a very complimentary shadow of purple to form an inviting abstract shape around the centre of interest where the figures are, to the left.

I just love the way he interprets shadows, he never overworks them and never paints them too dark. That's the mark of a plein air painter who is observant and keen to get his colour mixtures, spot-on!

Above all, I love the overall composition and the combination of the organic and inorganic elements in the scene!

David Pilgrim with his paintings


White Hoarding in Morning Light, David Walker

This guy was the one who stole the show in this exhibition. A discovery!!! He mainly paints in watercolour but his transition to oils has been incredible. Let me put it as William Wray put it, "One medium will inform the other....."

I saw his work and I was shocked, I thought of Jeremy Mann and William Wray! But this is neither of them, this is David Walker who takes two awards on the day and makes my  mouth water as he explains his slick technique as a designer!

You can see this concept instantly when viewing these paintings. I can talk about what excites me here all day long. Is it the application of paint? The lost and found edges in the shadows? The overall abstract design of the piece? The balanced tonal values used or the way he handles the light in the whole scene? Well, hold your breath because this is a guy to watch!

I'll say no more!

David Walker with two of his paintings on show


Passing Gondolas, Douglas Gray
I can't remember seeing his work in the ROI exhibitions in the past but I have always been fascinated by his work in the Royal Society of Marine Artists Exhibition at the Mall Galleries.

To me he is just a great lover of light! He knows how to capture it and make you just want to walk right into his transforming scenes!

I like this one because of the atmosphere. Can atmosphere be painted? Can it be captured in paint? Well, Douglas has the answers and this piece makes you feel the heat of the light as it moves from the  horizon.  Another great feature is the warm and wonderful rippling effect of the Venice waters. It is just a delight to behold!


Sails up in Harbour, Paimpol, Haidee-Jo Summers
I had seen this piece on Facebook before seeing it in the flesh and it just made me think once again that the images we see on the computer screens never do paintings the justice they have to come up and see it live!

When I saw it live, I was able to appreciate some of the lovely use of lush colour and loose stokes which almost looks flat in the painting when viewed on-line.

The treatment given to the water in those lovely interlocking horizontal strokes are one of the main reasons why this painting is so appealing.

It also takes a vast amount of confidence to use red the way she has done here. It's the mark of a confident, hardworking and lively painter, who has won many awards and is doing a fantastic job in the plein air realm at the moment!


East End Market, Hashim Akib

Everyone who has seen my Rush Hour paintings knows I am a fan of crowded scenes. It is no wonder why I was drawn to this fabulous piece by Hash.

It was painted in acrylic and the colours are nothing but static! They are vivid and harmonious!

I love the way he uses the square brush stroke! It keeps the viewer well engaged and excited!

Dynamic! That's the word I was looking for and I really would love to own one of his paintings one day, he makes every stroke count!


Alan, Maryam Foroozanfar

You can't walk away from this piece, it won the An Award and rightly so because it has the mark of a maturing painter who knows what to put in and what to leave out!

This is not something easy but most of the time it works out as a result of proper planning and preliminary sketches.

I've known Maryam to paint very detailed pictures but now she is opening up her free spirit and I'm just loving it!

There's just something spooky about this, a bit of mystery, the overall application compliments the mood so just want to know what was going through his mind.

I love the static drama inherent in this piece!

A far more clearer image of this painting is seen below, as the one above was taken with the glass over, as framed in the Exhibition.

Alan, Maryam Foroozanfar


Navel Oranges, Michael Travis Seymour

Some may look at this and say, "Just a bowl of oranges, right!"..... No, I'll say a carefully designed still life with every force and tempo that keeps me activated and involved from the first sight of it. 

The lovely treatmernt of different textures, the emergence of the light and the one orange that didn't want to be in the container, freely allows the eye to go in and out of those uneven negative spaces with such ease and flow.

One of my favorite Still Life paintings in the show!


Rubbish, Michele Del Campo

Michele Del Campo!!! I just love his name! Sounds like that of a movie star! I had to include the picture of Michele with his painting below so you can appreciate the size of this amazing piece!

I have seen a series of works that Michele has executed on this scale and they are all so great to behold!

This particular piece titled, "Rubbish" is  a lovely exploration of some of the things we take for granted and the beauty around them. I would never have seen this as a painting concept but Michele is a story teller, picture director and an intelligent painter!

Everything here is carefully planned and executed to precision. He uses lots of oil colour, it's thick, bold and vibrant!

I really love his attention to detail and how on the overall this piece stands out as a successful abstract explosion of colour when one looks at it with eyes almost closed!

Michele Del Campo with his painting.


Winter Oaks 2012, Stephen King
This was chosen for my love of trees! Bare bone beauty! I love the way he takes us on a journey through the skeletal system of woods in the winter!

Again the drawing is also what I love, the attention to detail but not over-worked! He selects what he wants us to see and exaggerates the chiaroscuro on the middle tree to evoke some excitement and interest!


Waiting, Tim Benson

I am not sure whether I got the right colours on this one (photography), but this happens to be one of my best paintings in the show.

I am passionate about faces and I love the painted face. But this piece is electric! I mean, I get a buzz, a sensation, a feel for the three-dimension, it's basically SCULPTED PAINT!

I just need to be this bold in the New Year, I now regret missing his Masterclass at the Mall Galleries, I'm not missing any other one!

Tim is always working hard, he once did a striking 30 minute oil sketch of me which is not in this show but below.

While being a model and observing him paint, I must say,  he paints with a stern looking face, with movement, energy, attitude and flair!

The Sketcher- sketched in 30 minutes by Tim Benson


Rosie, Valerie Smith
This is amazing! Valerie works only from life! She told me she can't work any other way! 

I just love this piece! The mood on the ladies' face is striking! Her use of colour and brush stroke applications just lures me to want to paint right now! Look at that "chequered" dress! The handling is second to none!

There are not many portraits in the main category of the show but this is one outstanding one and ticks all my boxes for a very successful portrait!


Polperro, Cornwall, William Carney
This is my best little painting in the show! Why? It's all about less is more! The limited use of colours, the way he has applied the brush strokes in the most haunting manner!

It's almost as if I should just live with this one for the rest of my life. I am sure this was not the colour of the scene-What William has done is to bring in a romance of his own and transform this scene into a mini-paradise!

THE SYMPHONY OF SUBTLE GREYS......It's the greys that make the colours sing- I once read somewhere...... and this painting sings the most harmonious rendition of a solo composition from William in his unique painterly voice!


Look out for another post on this exhibition which features the young artists (Under 35 category)- I have always loved this section since winning the First Prize in 2007!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Featured in The Artist Magazine December Issue

A Cut out of the 3 page article in The Artist Magazine December 2013

I love sketching on public transport, the streets and anywhere I get to see faces!

In the Current December Issue of The Artist Magazine, I have a 3 page article on how I transform my sketches to completed paintings.

A lot of people sketch but sometimes they wonder what to do with the sketches after turning out loads of them in their sketchbooks. I often advise students to try painting directly from their sketches, it is a great challenge but it helps one to develop ones observation and intuition.

Look out for this issue in the shops, my article is on page 46-48.

Below, I have a recent transformation that I embarked upon. It was of a lady I sketched in the way to York.

The Original Sketch

The Transformation to Colour

To see some of the steps I went through to paint this transformation, Click HERE.

I love to see how a sketch would look in colour, so, I do my best to either put some colour notes down  while sketching or observe keenly so that I'll be able to remember as much information as possible from my memory.

It's a very good practice to take note of different skin tones and colour temperature in different settings. I am always excited to find out if I was able to get as close to what I saw on public transport or not.

"Sketch and draw in such a way that you'll be able to paint from it, if possible. Train yourself to know what to put into the sketch or drawing that will make your painting exercise from it much easier."-Jeff Stultiens RP (talking to us while at Heatherleys School of Fine Art, 2005)