New Charcoal Drawing - Looking Down On Luddenden Dean

The latest charcoal drawing, a small, seemingly nameless reservoir above Luddenden Dean in Calderdale.

And a couple of work in progress shots. There are some things about the original sketch I prefer and wish had been kept in the final image - to do with the foreground.

Wheatear and Cottongrass Woodblock Moorland

Its festive open studio weekend in Hebden Bridge and I've been working extra hard all week to get the studio space looking good with much of the 'mess' tidied away and a lot of my work on display.

The atmosphere was great all day although the hideous windy wet weather put a lot of people off going out at all and numbers were down from previous years.

I met a lot of lovely people and had some interesting chats - discovered that there are at least two other Reservoir Tower anoraks (both male) in my local area!

2015 Winter Open Exhibition at Water Street Gallery, Todmorden

I have 3 diorama woodcut prints on show at the Water Street Gallery in Todmorden as part of their 2015 Winter Open Exhibition which now runs until 31 January 2016.

I made the decision to paint the plywood box frames I had made to give the work a more finished appearance. It was well fiddly!  Here's 'North Country' on my studio wall without the glass in to avoid reflections.

I really enjoyed looking at a wide variety of different works in this show; you can spend ages there as in addition to the two ground floor rooms, they have opened up the basement into an extra very well lit gallery space.

Artsmill Winter Fair 2015

This is 'Bright Field' a charcoal drawing, 500 x 500 mm and is one of 3 large drawings I've had accepted for the Winter Fair at Artsmill in the David Wright Gallery, Linden Road, Hebden Bridge HX7 7DP.  The selling exhibition is on from November 25th to December 18th.

I am pleased to be taking part this year and the show looks set to be of a high standard judging from the list of exhibiting artists. The preview is on Sunday 22nd 2 - 4 pm and I'm looking forward to seeing a range of good work.

Anna Gibson, a colleague from my studio space, also has 3 works in the exhibition, and we both have images chosen to be on the poster so feeling optimistic.

Reeds and River Greetings Cards

Now available from my on-line shop, a set of four greetings cards featuring the reed beds and riverside at Cromwell Bottom a nature reserve on the river Calder near Brighouse in Calderdale.

The place name 'Cromwell' means crooked spring/winding stream (according to my somewhat superficial research) which seems fitting for the lay of the land there still.

The reeds are a problem at the nature reserve because they are so invasive and a team of volunteers have to cut them back each year, or the wetland areas would be completely choked. As an artist, I find them beautiful both as a subject for artworks, and to use as a drawing tool since reed pens are very easy to make.

Poster inspired by Russian Stamp depicting Shukhov Tower

The design for my poster was influenced by this wonderful Russian stamp from 1979.  The Shukhov Radio Tower was designed by Vladimir Shukhov and built around 1922. Its still just about standing but is an endangered building according to Wikipedia.

The tower itself is an amazing hyperboloid steel structure as you can see in this public domain photograph below by Arsenyev.  However, its the great colour scheme and graphic impact of the stamp design that really grabs me - so typically Russian it seems to me.  I can't find any mention of who created the artwork, only that it belongs to the USSR Postal Service.

Festive Open Weekend at Brooklyn Studios in Hebden Bridge

The first weekend in December - Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th 2015 - I'm opening my studio along with the other artists and makers.  All welcome and looking forward to seeing old friends and new.  I'll be making my popular mulled cider and spiced apple warmer to fill the studio with the scent of Christmas and bring some cheer if the weather is chilly.

I've created this poster and based it on one of my reservoir tower drawings with digital embellishments so its like a kind of beacon, beaming out energy.

Calderdale Hills and Valleys Greetings Cards

Another set of greetings cards now available at my on-line shop with Big Cartel. These ones feature the hills and valleys around Hebden Bridge and are reproduced from original images on repurposed manila envelopes and security envelope inners, using a hand made pen made from local reeds.

Hebden Bridge Greetings Cards

I've put new stock on my little on-line shop with Big Cartel, including this set of popular autumnal greetings cards featuring buildings in Hebden Bridge.
The original artwork was done in ink and wash on manila envelopes using a reed pen made by me from locally growing reeds.

South Pennine Moorland Paintings

I'm sitting looking out my window at home and the colours outside are exactly the same as a painting I just completed, even though I'm seeing trees on the valley floor rather than the high moorland in my picture.

Distant Bright Water, oil pastel on 640 gsm watercolour paper, 35 cm x 60 cm.
When you're up on High Brown Knoll, (one of my favourite local haunts) if the weather is kind you can see right across to three distant reservoirs in the west, Widdop on the right and the two Gorples on the left.  The space in-between the hills acts as a cauldron making turbulent skies which are normally far more interesting to paint than placid blue

Here's another new moorland painting I finished recently, looking south east from High Brown Knoll with brilliant light breaking through chunks of heavy cloud and turning the moor grass gold.

Shifting Light From High Brown Knoll, oil pastel on 640 gsm watercolour paper, 35 cm x 60 cm.
I use Sennelier oil pastels, they are very high quality and are made from proper artists pigments. The feel of them is extremely buttery and some artists don't like this softness. For me it works and the coldness of my studio is for once an advantage. These oil pastels are extremely versatile, you can 'melt' them with turps to make glazes or apply them in very thick in layers. 

Sky And Water

The reservoir at Old Town above Hebden Bridge is square and very small, more like a pond.

But even the tiniest puddle can look serene and beautiful in the late afternoon sun.

Water And Fire

Recently one morning coming out of the very low cloud up on Oxenhope Moor into a sudden bright world of blue and sunshine, the vapour looking like smoke boiling up from the valley.

Cloud moving upwards

A few days later, not to be outdone by Nature's harmless spectacle, the keepers of 'game' must pollute an unblemished sky with their acrid heather burning, the plume of which flew out all along the tops before curling down into the valley.

smoke moving down

And I was left wondering at the circularity of things and shamed by an artist's fascination with the shapeshifting splendour of big smoke.

Late Summer Flora

Last week was a true 'Indian Summer' in the Calder Valley with misty mornings and dazzling afternoons. The growing time is almost over...

Cotton Grass on Black Pebble

One of my Cotton Grass prints collaged onto a salvaged block of wood (from when we had a new studio staircase put in). The block is standing on a plate by Poole Pottery, designed by Robert Jefferson in the late 1950s and called Black Pebble. I love Black Pebble and use a set at home but this plate is badly chipped; I couldn't face binning it, so it lives in my studio.

Frightened Lake

Despite a long silence on here, the Widdop obsession continues unabated. As I've mentioned elsewhere Ted Hughes aptly described Widdop Reservoir as a 'Frightened Lake' in part connected with its isolation I think, but also to do with the peculiar way the water shivers under the ruthless wind that furrows it from nose to tail.

This is a current large drawing based on a tiny sketch done in August 2012. I'm trying to get it finished and framed in time for the Open Studios weekend in Hebden Bridge  3, 4 & 5 July (next weekend in fact).

I will be opening my space at Brooklyn Studios despite not being in the brochure this year. I thought I'd be away but things have worked out differently. It will be good to have a Widdop drawing dominating the wall


Rejecting the conventional art tools in my kit, I selected from the natural range provided by Sky Studio this afternoon. Here's a close-up of some twiggy marks.

The decor in the studio this week is a refreshing moss green and snow white offset by neutrals in russet and fawn.

The heating has been off for quite a while so a certain degree of physical bravery is called for alongside a rapid sketching style.

Sky Studio is all about being in the now, and there's no point in worrying too much about making a 'good' drawing; its enough to just be there doing it.


Had to force myself out from the warm today to get some fresh air. I'm so glad I did. Climbing up through Spring Wood the world quickly disappeared under a big grey snow storm and then just as swiftly it swept past leaving the boiling sun in a serene blue sky.


Some views from Sky Studio this morning and a very hasty sketch from a wobbly perch.