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Athena The Wise Owl

Dear Blog follower please note this post links to the character Athena The Small Brown Owl who features in, and lives in, The Magic Cabinet with Brian The Baby Dragon.

The images and artwork for Brian & Athena are my creation.

The Adventure of something different

January 2015 I replied to a Facebook call by Ann Sharman for an artist to make illustrations for a proposed children’s book about a small dragon.

I knew it would be an interesting challenge that would involve working on a much smaller scale using A4 paper and making more line drawings than I would otherwise use in my canvas art.

I needed to get a sloping drawing board to make it a more comfortable process for my wrists & hands and a light box to combine the various elements involved in some of the more complex illustrations. Another pair of more powerful spectacles to see what I was doing…new items an endless list!

A new stock of various H grade pencils , those that I last used in industrial draughtsmanship of my youth and softer erasers. I needed new smaller design T squares, shape templates, set squares and to dust down my fifty year old professional drawing compass kit.

Then I had to figure out how to paint on paper using acrylic paints. This would be simple as I’d used Winsor & Newton’s Galeria Paper long ago in the past I knew it would work for me as an artist.

Only to discover that it was not the best surface for scanning into a printed image. For the next stage of this commission I’m currently trying to source  some beautiful ‘Clairefontaine’ Acrylique Paper which has an incredible smooth surface and does not readily cockle. This paper is made in France and currently no UK artists’ supplier has any of it in the A4 size, which is the preferred size by the print-shop!

The first trial painting run revealed another problem for me; acrylic paints that I have known and loved for half a century were too heavy and difficult to drag into place on this new to me small scale. My normal smallest short flat brush which is about 5 mm across was too big. I would need finely round pointed brushes similar to those I last used in senior school half a century ago. Fortunately Rosemary & Co™ makes the finest small sized round pointed brushes for acrylics with short handles and they were immediately available from stock. Short handles? For close-up work without poking my eyes out.

in 2013 on a long-haul cruise I took a ‘learn how to paint with watercolours’ course with my dear friend Peter Woolley and I realised that I could make those illustrations in acrylic inks as I know just how they behave...if in doubt shake them up in passing!

Except I only had black or white acrylic inks which I use in my canvas art for ultra fine detail. It needed an investment in further acrylic inks of all colours and hues and watercolorist palettes.

Update: 12-05-15 Grateful thanks to Nick Parry, Clairefontaine Agent UK I've got the paper.

Be Your Own Art Expert? part two.

Art is for sale just about everywhere with all sorts of claims as to it being made by a particular artist. It is imperative that tangible concrete proof that an artwork is by a certain artist exists before agreeing to buy any artwork. Those claims are often backed up by various forms of documentation like a "Certificate of Authenticity". Sadly they may not be even worth the paper they are printed on.


Those Certificates of authenticity can only be accepted by a qualified art-expert but only if there already an art expert, that one key person, for this particular artist. If the artist is still alive then he is the only expert. This is why making that Catalogue Raisonné is so important for any living artist. It immediately establishes the artwork’s validity. One day you, the only expert on your art, will be dead.


Attributed artworks can only be decided by those same experts stating that in their best opinion their artist painted it. At best an expert can only give a qualified opinion and not in any way authenticate that artwork as being made by the assumed artist. Now if the artist is still alive that attributed artwork can perhaps be properly authenticated. I say authenticated but what if the artist never kept any records? It still remains only attributed.


Then what if there is no expert on that particular artist? What if that artist is you?


 A Qualified expert is someone who has exhaustively studied 'their artist' and knows them inside out and they have probably at least:


·        published learned papers about them

·        delivered lectures about them

·        written books on them

·        curated exhibitions of their art

·        written articles in journals about them

·        bought & sold artworks made by that artist

·        and perhaps best of all just happen to be a relative of the artist


Just because an unknown artwork looks like something seen in a book is not good enough. Any individual can do online research and convince themselves that they know their art and again this is not good enough. Just because the previous owner told you so is still not good enough. Just because you have a piece of paper saying it’s a genuine artwork is by no means good enough – unless the artist gave it to you in person.


Art experts make those important authentications of recently discovered low-value ‘art-finds’ those previously assumed to be painted by an insignificant artist now become a considered work of a significant artist and instantly becoming high-value art. Or conversely conclude that a valuable artwork in a collection should now be considered as a fake.


This is why you must be your own art expert on you and your art. Make your Catalogue Raisonné now.

Be Your Own Art Expert? part one

A typical catalogue raisonné is a comprehensive monograph listing of all artworks made by a single artist in their lifetime. Its purpose is to describe those artworks in a way such that one day an unidentified artwork believed to belong to that particular artist can be reliably identified as true by any art expert, or for that matter be reject as a fake.


It is possible to construct a catalogue raisonné for each medium used by an artist and similarly their representational art and their nonrepresentational art. So it can become a multi-volume treatise.


That catalogue raisonné is clearly a scholarly tome made by an art expert. Today there are just too many artists' producing more and more works of art. There are not and there never will be enough art experts to go round. One day you will be dead and just maybe your art will become highly collectible and highly valued. Just who will then be your expert?


Just think; those sky-high sales belong to your estate. You are the only art expert for your art.

So sign and date every artwork either in words or by a monogram of your initials either on the front or the back of your artwork.


Now start on cataloguing your art and at the very least record the following all in one document:

  • A digital photo of the artwork..
  • The size of the artwork.
  • The Title of the artwork.
  • And it's date of signing.
  • A written description/story for every artwork.


It can all be done on your computer or on paper and make sure that a certified copy is regularly printed off lawyers like that sort of thing!


Footnote: The term catalogue raisonné is French, meaning "reasoned catalogue" containing arguments which support the information given. such as attributions. Catalogue raisonné is part of the technical terminology of the English-speaking art world. The spelling is never Americanized to "catalog", even in the United States. The French pluralisation; "catalogues raisonnés" can be used.

Artistic Style?

Artistic Style is about getting to a decision point. This is my technique. These are the sort of compositions I will regularly paint. These are my artists' materials that I will always use and this is my choice of surface they are on. This is my art and  I'm proud of making it. This is sort of art I want to be known by. Ultimately it's my artistic expression that I want the world to remember me by.


Many artists would describe this as their personal journey of self-discovery in that  took their life and their passion. All those wasted starts and stops, all those frustrating experiments and no two paintings ever looking like they were painted by the same hand. Their path is littered with a miscellany of works of art lacking any coherence even lacking a coherent signature of their own name on their own art.


That simple thing signing the work of art, that painting, on the front is also there for the world to know you by. It too is about artistic style. 


Many artists' are convinced that if they adopt the style of their favourite past master artist or even better still copy those techniques they too will somehow become just as famous. No it's simply faking it. It's not self discovery its merely a futile pose. It's like coming second in a race, only the winner is ever remembered.


I just knew from the start that this is what I was going to paint & just how I was going to paint it. There is no place in my psyche for pretending to be someone else, like trying to paint as a perceived past-master artist. It's me and my art. Not me pretending to be anyone else.


I was very lucky in that I knew all along what sort of subjects I wanted to paint. I knew just how I wanted to draw it and just how I wanted to paint it. I knew exactly what sort of paint I wanted to use and just the sort of brush that would deliver it for me. I knew just what I wanted to paint on. For me it's about being authentic at all times being true to myself, no matter what the circumstances are


Artistic Style is something that I too had to carefully think through and worked consistently towards. I know who I am and I know what my art is about and I can confidently paint it in a way that is instantly known. It's that comfortable confidence about me and my art. I simply just make it and sign it in the exact same way each and every time.


This is the joy of taking up art late in life, that something to do in retirement, after all I spent most of my lifetime career drawing things and planning how I would paint things when I got the time to do it. That time is now.


Artistic Style is my personality expressed in colour on canvas with brushstrokes of rich acrylic paint and pen-strokes of acrylic ink. 

Syros Sunset: A Reflection

My 66th birthday was in 2012 celebrating in The Sunset Taverna in the village of Galissas on the Greek Island of Syros, part of The Cyclades group of islands in the middle of the Aegean Sea north of Crete and next door to the home of the gods, the island of Delos.


Dining in any Greek eatery is always a leisurely affair and the sun was setting. The view of it was simply stunning The wine was surprisingly good for a house red. The company was excellent just me and my adorable wife. The photograph of that magical sunset just had to be made and I was still road-testing my latest camera. That photograph was beyond all of my expectations.


Back home, The Memsahib, aka my wife set the challenge "OK it's a beautiful photograph and it has fine memories so paint it and if I like it you can hang in the hallway for all to see". My art does not always get offers like this!


Version One: a plain sky and sea with a hint of land with sepia toned vegetation. The sky and the sea were executed on a blank white canvas using large-flat No 8 brush. It was a case of very quickly blending red yellow and orange cadmium-based pigments in acrylic formulation with varying amounts of acrylic glazing medium. The sepia toned vegetation was achieved with acrylic inks applied as individual strokes of a fine No 3 round brush. It got that coveted spot on the wall until version two was finished.


Version Two: as above but on a lemon yellow tinted base. "It needs something, a dead tree over on the right." The tree was crafted in acrylic inks using  a steel-nib calligraphy pen. This sun is more heavy in paints. It got the coveted well-space and it is framed and it's still there. The first thing you see entering and the last thing you see leaving our home.


Version Three: as above but a tree in full leaf. The leaves are individual dabs of various greens & yellows applied with a No 3 round brush. I just love the colours of new leaves. The island is in various purples, one of my favourite colours too. The vegetation in the foreground are pen-strokes of acrylic ink with individual blobs of various greens much as for the trees. It's in my art studio.


Version Four: The Abstract. A central sun in heavy gold metallic acrylics. The circular sky executed with a No 5 flat-brush again in yellow orange & red cadmium pigment acrylics toning down to purple at the periphery. The island is in toned purple iridescent acrylics and again that No 5 brush. The sea is in toned iridescent blues applied with various sized flat-brushes. The spring green is the land. The silver object is the one of mystery. Silver has been part of life for at least 5 000 years.In Greek mythology there is The Silver Age. A time when Zeus created humans out of the ash tree. Those men lived for one hundred years under the dominion of their mothers so much so that they stopped  worshipping the gods and  Zeus destroyed them for their impiety. After their death those men became " the blessed spirits" of the underworld. It is said that silver is the gift from the gods to mankind.


Versions 3 & 4 are my favourites. This series is complete.

Its All Just an Image Now

Art is about sharing a well thought-out hand painted image that has a carefully crafted composition with colour & texture on a permanent surface for just one owner to savour for ever. The image of that work of art is shared with the world via a website like this. The world wide web is today's technology.


In the beginning it was a tiny band of professional artists were the original tourists. They were truly  intrepid  adventurous explorers finding their way to those impressive foreign sights that we so admire today. Imagine their struggle travelling with their brushes, oil paints, canvases, easels and all of those other necessary artists' accoutrements. In essence a lot of bulk and a lot of weight to manage with no aeroplanes, no trains, no cars.


Leisurely they could find and capture that one definitive vantage-point where there they could be seated for days on end without distraction, unhindered by jostling crowds or security guards and not be corralled  by safety-fences. They could carefully and skilfully created that one single stunning painting of that sight before moving on or returning home. That one painting was either just for them but better still a single rich art-loving benefactor. Oil painting on canvas was the technology of their time.


Those original paintings made by those explorer artists were the stimulus for the über-rich young gentlemen to make their leisurely Grande-tours. This was something that every young true gentleman was supposed to do. Their adventures were recorded as water coloured sketches. The crowds begin to form at those sights. Watercolours & paper was the technology of their time.


In the early days of photography intrepid photographers with large heavy box cameras, monstrous wooden tripods, fragile glass plates and all those bottles of expensive and dangerous chemicals  set off to capture those sights that were once only the preserve of the über-rich on their Grande-tour. These early photographs in the form of postcards triggered the desire for travel and tourism in the common man. Photography with silver halides was the technology of the new era.


For the next hundred years or so the cameras got smaller, the films got smaller, the lenses got better, photography got cheaper. And the crowds grew as the artists' on site diminished in numbers. As George Eastman of Kodak fame put it way back in 1892 "you press the button we do the rest." Photography was here to stay and it was adopted by all travellers.


Impressive must-do tourist sights can be described as hell on earth with those officious curators insisting that you must stand farther back insistent that you cannot take any photographs and certainly not use any flash. When you leave please visit our money making 'Tourist Shop' to purchase our copyright protected postcards and our glossy coffee table book as your souvenirs to take home with you and keep moving along!


Today with mass tourism there is not enough time or space for an individual to make anything more than the most elementary sketch let alone be allowed to be seated there making a painting. The horrors of one small viewing platform and twenty coachloads of cruise liner tourists is not uncommon on say the Atlantic island of Madeira. You can forget all about photographing or painting here. Winston Churchill had a bit of clout and he was allowed to paint that scene but then it was also war-time.


The digital camera is so much quicker in capturing those details needed for making a painting. A series of photographs of any potential subject form a photo-montage recording all those necessary little details that can lead to a true work of art. © PK 24/06/2012 

Your Canvas?

I was asked the simple question what canvas do you use? Here are the answers.

100% Pure Cotton Double Gesso Primed Stretched Canvas suitable acrylic paints...


Canvas is a generic term for any strong closely woven cloth originally woven from linen or hemp. It's a material for an artist to paint on. Canvas today is usually a cotton material called Cotton Duck.


Cotton Duck is a strong plain canvas material that is categorised as a weight in ounces for a 36" x 22" rectangle.


The lightest grade of cotton duck is a No.12 or today as #12 and that standard rectangle of this would weigh a 7 oz. It is a thin canvas which is suitable for lightweight clothing or a good artists' canvas. #12 equates to 406 g per square metre.


#12 grade of cotton duck is typically woven in a 72" width [1.83 metres] typically costing about £8 per linear metre or about £65 for a 10 metre roll [33 feet]. This grade of cotton duck guarantees a long life for any painting made on it.


Cotton Duck canvas is my preferred choice due to its economic price. But in comparison to linen can be more prone to bacterial growth. Who keeps art in the kitchen or bathroom?


 Artists’ White Acrylic Gesso Primer provides a matt white surface. This is a unique quick drying formulation which needs no dilution. It is highly adhesive quickly sealing any canvas surface prior to  painting. The titanium dioxide in it provides a brilliant white surface. That white Gesso  enhances colours by providing a reflective background.


Technically Gesso also isolates the canvas from any potentially damaging ingredients in the paints used by the artist but this is not a problem with acrylic paints & inks.


Gesso provides a surface that accepts the paint and allows it to adhere. It is described as having enough tooth to pull the paint off the brush.


I only use pre-stretched canvases. It is a traditionally a wooden framework supporting the canvas. The canvas that I buy have a double coating of machine applied Gesso . This now saves me much time and effort. But I still apply a further two coats of acrylic Gesso before I paint on them. I do not sand down between the applications because there is no need for it or the dust!


My paintings are hung on the wall using No 2 pure brass picture hanging wire [a multi-stranded wire that supports pictures weighing up to 150 lb. or 68 Kg.]. I tape the cut ends of this wire for safety! This wire is attached to two [one left and one right] genuine brass D rings that are attached to the stretcher framework by genuine brass screws. Brass is corrosion resistant in most environments that a picture would typically be hung.

These pre-stretched canvases come from China they are a true bargain. I'm an artist and I paint on them. I do not mess around building canvases from scratch it is too time consuming and so expensive and yes I have done that too in the past. I do not have hang-ups about the ethics or their long-term stability and I doubt if the past masters in the art world had any foibles about using them either if they were alive today.

Why The Buildings?

In my youth art would have been my life but I did listen to people: my parents, grandparents, teachers and career advisor's, bank managers and so on. I was very good at art. I was also very good at technical illustrations [a lost art-form in the computer age] and science. 

Do the science they all said, don't bother being a technical illustrator and certainly not an an artist. The grants were good, the study was a slog and I became a college lecturer in biological sciences. The pay was good and It raised the family, it paid the bills, it paid the mortgage but otherwise it left me cold.

I soon became very proficient in churning out complex diagrams on chalk-boards, white-boards, student hand-outs and so on. A sort of hand crafted multimedia approach.  

If I could have only followed that dream and combined say art and architecture as my career choice I think I would have been in heaven! That would have been my career if it had been down to me.

Since 1992 I've had the great fortune to travel to many countries being totally captivated by their widely differing architectural styles. So basing much of my art on buildings was the obvious choice and it's one that I have not regretted. I'm a city person to the core, born in one always lived in one. 

The great wild countryside terrifies me: all that open space and just what is it others ‘see’ in the countryside? Just what are those views they would die for? It’s a sky, it’s a mountain and it’s a tree? So what?

Up to 1995 a heavy professional 35 mm camera captured my ‘memory images’. I have tens of thousands of very expensive prints all put away in the cupboard only to forget where they from and recently worse still: they all fell out spilling over the floor. Cataloguing is not one of my favourite tasks.

2006 the computer age and my first digital camera. 2013 I'm into my second digital camera having literally worn the first one out. Those images are stored on my computer with each and every one accurately recorded. Each and every one is backed up too.

Retirement has allowed me to become the artist. I mainly use these new digital images of buildings to create my works of art. They are just so cheap in comparison. I can have say 50 images of just a single building for a zero cost.

It is said that architecture encapsulates the dreams & hopes of the age and sets them in the proverbial stone for future generations to marvel at. Architecture reflects the cultural and aesthetic desires of the nation that has them on its land. It captures the dreams & visions of the designing architect with the skills of their builders. Ultimately it’s down to the client who paid for it and other client’s deciding: hey I want a building just like that, but better!

Buildings have elements of beautiful symmetry that just cry out to be looked at. Sadly most people in a city are just too busy to bother to stop & study any building; they simply just don't have the time. Few people bother to look all the way up the building; just do it there are often surprises!

What do you do with art?

Starting from 2007 there are currently some 150 works of art in my catalogue. The majority of these are in the form of stretched canvases on standard 18 mm stretchers. Most of them are typically 500 mm long and 400 mm wide. So doing the close packed maths without any gaps 150 paintings are...


If  piled up on top of each other, the stack would be 2.7 metres high [nearly 9 feet] and that would not include any protective wrapping.

 If  displayed vertically on a wall it would be 75 metres from floor to ceiling [about 246 feet].

 If displayed horizontally it would be 60 metres from left to right [about 196 feet].


There are currently just three paintings that my wife likes enough to have displayed on the walls of our bungalow. Clearly quality, not quantity!


At any one time there are no more than ten paintings that completely fill the wall space in my art studio.


There are no more than ten paintings out on permanent loan with various family members.


Ten early paintings were sold on EBay, literally for peanuts.


Five years of marketing my art online from my personal website sold just a few. The efforts were not matched by the reward and this was put to an end in 2012. Enough is enough in retirement.


Two paintings were destroyed. One accidentally while sanding it down with a view to repainting over it [that recycling thing]. The second one? I put my foot through it sadly because I had run out of storage space in my art studio. Drastic measures were required.


Fifty paintings or so were donated to Oxfam. They have since sold them through their retail network and I have the satisfaction of knowing that some small African village has a water pump due to my art.


Oxfam is the one charity that I have supported one way or another since it started. I have the intention of releasing further batches of paintings to Oxfam on an annual basis.


What do you do with your art?


Footnote: Of course I could just some how store all of my art. A dear friend did exactly this, leaving his widow to dispose of some 5,000 the maths on this lot!

Boats [1-4] aka Nineveh to Ophir

The Boats series of four paintings: From Nineveh to Ophir. An allegorical paintings on canvas, 40 x 30 cm painted with standard, metallic & iridescent acrylic paints.


John Mansfield English poet 1878-1967 wrote a poem of just three verses, fifteen lines titled 'Cargoes'. It's a poem that school children the world over learn by heart at a very early age. Poetry was my escape from the harsh realities of a UK Catholic Primary School in the mid 1950's. It was perhaps a place of learning [the catechism and all things holy] very little of the three R's and it was a place & time where a rule [12 inch ruler] was seldom used as a measuring implement.

This poem has stayed in my memory and as I have often said; images burn in my memory for years before they get painted. And each of those four paintings has a name...The boat of the first verse the quinquireme was a man of war rowing practically the boat was more likely to be the Arab Dhow!


Boat [1] Cloves

Boat [2] Cinnamon

Boat [3] Myrrh

Boat [4]Frankincense


That Poem...Cargoes

QUINQUIREME of Nineveh from distant Ophir,        

Rowing home to haven in sunny Palestine,        

With a cargo of ivory,        

And apes and peacocks,        

Sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine.               


Stately Spanish galleon coming from the Isthmus,        

Dipping through the Tropics by the palm-green shores,        

With a cargo of diamonds,        

Emeralds, amethysts,        

Topazes, and cinnamon, and gold moidores.               


Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke-stack,        

Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,        

With a cargo of Tyne coal,        

Road-rails, pig-lead,        

Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays


From SALT-WATER POEMS AND BALLADS, edited by John Mansfield, published by The Macmillan Co., New York, US, © 1944, p. 124; first published in SALT-WATER POEMS, © 1902.

The Golden Apple Abstracts-a reflection

Golden Apples are a completed series of allegorical abstract paintings made with standard, metallic and iridescent acrylics painted on small 40 x 30 cm canvases. PLEASE accept that the Greek Gods & Goddesses are open to much speculation and alternative names, alternative spellings, relationships & connections. So as a trained scientist it tends to do my head in, so to speak. It is possible to trace Golden Apples and Greek Gods in triplets. As with any of my abstract artworks suspend reason and come on a journey with me into my art...


Golden Apples [1] Helios, Selene & Eos.

Helios the sun god. Selene the moon goddess & Eos the dawn. Eos from the edge of the oceans surrounding the world... In some solar myths the sun is paired with the moon. The two may be husband and wife or brother and sister. In the mythology of many Native Americans, the sun god and moon god are sister and brother who became forbidden lovers. In some accounts, the moon flees in shame when he learns that his lover is also his sister. This is why the moon leaves the sky when the sun comes near.


Golden apples [2] The Hesperides.

 The Hesperides were the guardians of the Golden Apples given by Gia [earth goddess] to Hera [love & marriage] when she married Zeus [king of the gods, ruler of Olympos]. The Hesperides are Aegel [sun, light, radiance]. Erethea [red]. Hesperos [evening, swift]. All three are the source of the golden light of sunset.


Golden apples [3] Selene, Artemis & Phoebe.

Selene?Is an ancient deity the daughter of the Titans Hyperion & Theia and possibly pre-dating the Olympos deities where Artemis & Luna. She is described as being 'fair-winged' by Homer [a bird-reference?]. Selene is classically depicted as a beautiful pale-faced woman. Selene is possibly derived from Selas as in Boreion Selas meaning 'brightness' as in the modern Greek for the Aurora Borealis [the Northern Lights]. Then there is Selenolgy the study of our moon's geology and the chemical element Selenium..... Artemis? An ancient Greek deity [goddess] the daughter of Zeus & Leto also the twin of Apollo. Later as a Titaness she became a moon goddess along with Selene. Homer refers to her as 'The Mistress of the Animals', the goddess of the hunt........ Phoebe? The gold-wreathed one also one of the original Titans and along with Selene also associated with the moon. The mother of Leto..the grandmother of Apollo & Artemis....... Titans? A race of powerful deities, the descendants of Gaia, the Primal earth goddess & Uranus, the Sky Father. The Titans ruled during the Golden Age [one of some 5-6 or more?] a period of primordial peace, harmony, stability & prosperity...Further generations of Titans followed.


Golden Apples [4] Heracles, Atlas & King Eurystheus.

Heracles, the hero, finally returned to the court of king Eurystheus having completed his penultimate task. The capture of the three golden apples guarded by the Hesperides. In order to do this he had to dupe Atlas into helping him. Heracles presented the three golden apples to king Eurystheus, while he appreciated their beauty he was bewildered by them and did not know what to do with them, and handed them back to Heracles. Unsure of himself as what he should do, Heracles asked for guidance from his constant supporter, Athena. She took them back to the garden of the Hesperides, as the law of the gods commanded that they should remain in the garden far to the west but close to Mount Atlas.


Golden apples [5] Atlanta, Hippomenes & Aphrodite.

Atlanta was a very beautiful goddess who could run as fast as a deer. She had been told by an oracle that marriage would bring her bad-luck. Her father, none the less wanted her married off. It was agreed between them that if a suitor could out-run her then she would marry...many tried & failed. Hippomenese [aka Melanion] knew that in a fair foot-race he would never win. The Cypriot Greek goddess Aphrodite aware of his plight, gave him three golden apples...sort of drop them along the way...hope she stops & picks them worked...he won the hand of Atlanta in marriage...but he forgot to say thank you to Aphrodite. She turned the happy couple into lions...The oracle was correct.


Golden Apples [6] The Finale.

The ' Golden Apple' is a mystical forbidden fruit that figures widely in many ethnic folk legends. In some it is the divine food of the gods. Perhaps even the source of mortality. These mystic golden apples are in fabled, distant orchards and fiercely protected by a variety of monsters. Being golden these apples are the object of both desire and theft. Perhaps even in the distant biblical tracts the apple of Adams temptation? The Golden apples are also the genesis of the Trojan War. In most of the European ethnic folk legends the golden apples, in addition to the Greek Myths, are stolen from various kings [Russia, Germany, Serbia, Bulgaria & Romania]. These golden apples figure in art, poetry & operas. The golden apple of Greece was perhaps the Golden Quince originating in the middle east. It could also be the magical Cathay Golden Orange [oranges magically & uniquely] fruit & flower at the same time. From the land of the Inca's we have The Golden Apple [pommo d'oro] the love apple...the tomato. The Three Golden Balls? The symbol of Lombardy and the Lombard financial family adopted by the money lending pawnbrokers!...a leap of faith is required here. This is the finale of this gets just too complicated within the Norse Gods!

The Beach Bum Series

The starting point was another idyllic early morning;  in the Caribbean paradise of Antigua in January 2011. There I was on the beach with a freshly brewed coffee watching those sunshades going up for yet another day in yet another colourful pattern that was different to yesterday’s pattern and different in the arrangement. Then there was the jetty. Then there were the bird droppings on the post…

 After 19 years of explorer holidays a committed beach-based holiday it was a change and had a certain attraction. I guess I must be getting old. You just have to suffer the heat, the flies and the gin & tonics while trying not to develop bed sores.  So it was just a case of taking a few photos. There is not a great deal that can be said about skies, sand and beach umbrellas.

Beach Bum 1-4 The inspiration was simply the daily pattern of those umbrellas

Beach Bum 5 the colours are those of the national flag of Antigua & Barbuda: red, black, blue, yellow and white. These colours are symbolic. Red is the dynamism & energy of the people. Black is a reminder of the black soil of Africa and the ancestry of the people. Blue is for both hope and a connection to the sea. Yellow for the sun and White for the sand. There is also a complex optimism in the overall design: a V for victory, a seven pointed sun rising over the sea and the beach...

Those colours also have a meaning for me; red is for intensity and passion, black is a sophisticated mysterious colour, blue is for harmony & tranquillity, yellow is for idealism & imagination and white is for simplicity & purity.

The Greek mythology: Amphitrite, the daughter of Nereus & Doris a true Neried, she became the wife of Poseidon. Amphitrite is the very personification of the sea itself and the controller of the open seas and that jetty is an invitation for you to enter her domain, but at your peril.

Beach Bum 6 is about the Sea Eagle or Osprey. King Nisus [Nisos] of Megra in Greek mythology became a Sea Eagle in order to hunt his daughter, Scylla, down after she showed a total lack of filial devotion by stealing a lock of purple hair that granted him invincibility. She intended to give it to king Minos of Crete. Minos had invaded kingdom of Nisus and Scylla had fallen in love with king Minos. King Minos was so disgusted with princess Scylla's lack of filial devotion to her father, king Nisus, that he left Megara immediately by boat. Scylla took to the water swimming of after him. She nearly reached that boat. She was attacked and drowned by King Nisus in the guise of a Sea Eagle. The princess was reborn as a common sea bird called Cirus. To this day she is still hunted all over the world by that same Sea Eagle. Today we call that sea eagle the Osprey. About 60cm long with a 2 metre wing span. The question asked in Antigua was what bird was making all that mess on the jetty piers [Beach bum 5]? The answer was: get up just before dawn and wait keep very still...keep very quiet...I witnessed it and later that day it flew very close & directly over me. It’s an impression. Not based on; any sketch, or photograph, It’s from memory.

I manage to take in the ordinary and make it my art. This always seems to be the magic that other artists miss out on.

This series of paintings will continue...

Planets: A reflection

This art project was to explored the  practicalities of painting on small canvases. The brushes are smaller than those I normally use and it took as long to paint as a bigger painting with bigger brushes. The brushes of choice were my favourite Rosemary & Co. Ivory short-flats. The acrylics are mainly Winsor & Newton's.


The painting starts with those circular skies being painted from the centre outwards in one continuous painting session starting with a near pure titanium white mixture adding increasingly more of the darker colour as each circle is made. The colour mixtures are not fully blended on the palette, nor were they blended on the canvas. This gives a greater variety in the finished painting. The paint is dragged mainly anti-clockwise [why I do not know but it works for me] forcing the paint out into ridges around the brush stroke. The brush is cleaned after every circle and flow improver solution is used for this. Those ridges on the canvas take about two or three days to fully cure. So the painting has to be left alone for what seems like, for me, a very long time.


A very early morning walk along the deserted beach, just before sunrise in the Caribbean paradise of Antigua in January 2011. It was a unique moment of tranquillity, reflection & solitude. I was totally alone and at one with the very universe. There was: a simple jetty, the sea, the sky, the sand the sun glowing in red as it entered the sky, over the horizon and for a moment it all lined up. It just had to become a painting when I returned home. It did not need any photographs or sketches it was etched into my memory. If I did not make this series of paintings on my return, how could I ever explain that magic of what is an event that has happened before time started and one that will go on to the end of time itself? I manage to take the ordinary and make it my art. This always seems to be the magic that other artists miss out on.


Painting No.1 Walk-way to Helios

For me: green is for good fortune, red is all things intense and passionate, orange is energy, blue is harmony & tranquillity, yellow is idealism & imagination, gold is always my sun. Then the Greek mythology: Helios the sun god paired to the moon goddess Selene and I have written about them before.


 Painting No.2 Walk-way to Selene

For me: purple is the colour of spirituality & mystery, silver is always my moon.  Selene is the moon goddess. This was the simple opposite the moon going down over the horizon something I did not experience though but logically it’s the reverse of the sun coming up and it too must have happened like this at least once.


Painting No.3 Walk-way to Saturn

This is intended to be the centre-piece with painting No.1 to the left & painting No2 to the right of it. This is painted in a larger format of 50 x 40cm with blocks of iridescent colours. The moons of Saturn are classically in a flat parallel band. I needed to be different and think of a single ring-like band. Rings are gold. The planet is mysterious it’s painted in silver, stainless steel particulate paint and iridescent medium. The choice of colour was quite an experiment. This was back to the larger short flat brushes, that I'm more comfortable with and the Spanish AV [Acryicos Vallejo] iridescent acrylics. These need a black gesso base to become truly effective and then at least three coats about four hours apart to get the depth of colour and the true sparkle that they show in daylight. Brush marks have to be managed very carefully with this finish.


 In Greek mythology, Kronos/Kronus or Cronos was the leader and the youngest of the first generation of Titans. In Roman mythology Kronos becomes Saturn [Latin: Saturnus]. Kronos is that voice in the head reminding us of our mortality which is the ultimate limit on life itself. He inspires us to have urgency in our quest to put the most into our one and only life-time’s mission.

My Art in the Digital Age.

From the conception of an idea for a subject of a painting it's often a personal struggle and often throughout the painting stage it's often another struggle, so when it all comes together and works it's oh so good and it's a great feeling. As a purely creative artist I have two motivations: one to create art for the sake of its creation and two to share, via the internet, that art to connect me and my art to the outside world for all to find.


Copyright protection can be cited to keep my art  and its digital image in a strictly regulated prison cell. This is my art, I have made it & it's too precious to share so I'm not showing it to you sort of thing. So in effect I have both total ownership & total control over that digital image until the moment that I unleash it on the internet. I use the internet fairly and I have to hope that all using the internet fairly.


 So when I unleash images of my art  on the internet for anyone to find, I have to put my trust in whoever finds it because I have no knowledge of what use, if any, they might make of it. And if they publish a modified version of my art on the internet I may never discover it.


Their 'creative freedom of fair usage' of my art images is one that  I might discover it on the internet but only by pure chance, a bit like the winning the UK Lottery with odds of about one in 14 million!


Copyright put simply allows me, the artist, to do what I like with my art  and it prevents other people from using my art without my written consent. I have to hope that nobody captures my images only to manipulate them & republishes them as being an image of their art.


As an art professor friend, based in Egypt put it: "your art is so instantly recognised, one look and you know it's a 'Kendall' in front of you. Phil, you do not have to worry about other leading artists' copying your work as the art world would instantly know it. Those currently lesser artists' who are still learning their trade would perhaps show up one day. So why worry?"


So this is perhaps this compromise:


  • Anyone can use my images for their own personal reasons such as: for their own art development or other educational efforts...just give the reference back to me.


  •  Anyone can use my images in their personal blog or as wallpaper on their computer     screen….again just give the reference back to me.


  • Nobody can make a copy and exhibit as is being their work (it's mine!)


  • They must contact me and pay for a licensing agreement to use any of my images for their commercial gain.


  • I would not be happy for them to simply print off my art from their home computer and then to stick  it on their wall at home or to incorporate it into their collage artwork.


If you like my art enough to have it on your wall please buy it from me, respect it and cherish it just as I do.


But please remember that under the terms of The United Kingdom's Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 my works of art are protected. This legislation allows for a maximum fine of £50,000 [about $79,000 USA] or ten years imprisonment. © Phil Kendall 06-03-13

Why The Abstract Art?

As an artist who paints abstract art I frequently get the comment. "That's amazing, just how do you come up with those ideas?"


Well it's what I do, I'm an artist. I think things through and I see things very clearly in my mind's eye as it were but then this does not always happen in the proverbial flash. I may have been thinking about it for some considerable time before it becomes a clear enough visualisation in my mind for what just might work as a painting. Sometimes it's a thought while another painting nears its conclusion, I wonder what it would look like if I did it this way? It's that art-vision thing. It's in my imagination all I've got to do is paint it. From then on it gets easier. A design is made. A colour choice is made. And until that painting is finished very little else is of any importance.


I want  to create works of art that reflect who I am as an artist and it’s about me being true to my art vision. Ultimately its just how close that finished painting comes to my mental image of what it should look like. If I have created an artwork that meets those expectations that I had when I began, then I have succeeded. It has to be bold and it has to be colourful. 

Art for me is a quiet almost meditative experience; the brush, the paint, the canvas & the evolving painting. Time  stands still only hunger an nightfall interfere.


My paintings reveal a calm timeless image but some with more mystery than another. My art offers a calm inspirational reminder of a simpler world or a simpler time. I share only the best of my art on my website: only those that I love, only those that have come close to the message I want to share and only those that came close to that personal vision.


So that's it. I consider myself to have the best job in the world, I'm an artist. Ultimately some people may not like my artistic vision. Some people may not even like my work. Then that is what real life is.

My Technique?

My technique Is called direct painting. It's also known as alla prima or premier coup painting. Essentially a brush-stroke of paint is applied to the canvas and its intended to be part of the finished painting. There is no intentional painting over it again when it is dry. Retouching or over-painting after that layer of paint has dried seldom happens in my paintings. There is nothing new or revolutionary here, the ancient cave painters started this method. It's so simple, a well-loaded paintbrush is always dragged down/across the canvas squeezing a thick brush-trail at the border of the stroke. There is none of that scrubbing the paint into the canvas.


 I try to complete the artwork in just one attempt. So much thought & planning is put into the preparation stage. Each brush-stroke of colour must be put on the canvas so that it states simultaneously the location, size, and shape of the area. As the artwork progresses, each brush-stroke must relate accurately to every other colour that has already been put on to the artwork. Ideally when the last bit of bare canvas is covered, the picture is finished & no retouching is needed. That's it. It's done. It's signed & it's catalogued. It's on this website for the world to find.

My Brushes?

The decision for me the artist, working in acrylics, is: which one brush shape is capable of producing the brush marks that I want to leave on a finished painting? There is also the for me a less important factor of just how much paint will that brush hold?


For me the short-flat or bright is the brush of choice.

After several years of painting I have devolved to the short-flat or bright brush as being my best and favourite tool for moving thick, heavy bodied acrylic paint over canvas.


Short-flat is a reference to the brush-bristle length and not the handle length! I prefer to have a short handled brush because I need to paint with my head close to the canvas in order to see exactly what I am doing because I'm short sighted. Otherwise I would either nock my glasses of or poke my eyes out.


Short flat brushes tend to have stiffer bristles which tend to force paint out to the edges of each brush stroke. This leaves a very prominent permanent brush mark on the canvas, which I like. They are  very good for short thick strokes but not so good for longer flowing brush strokes. They give the precision of my art, those sharp boundaries between the kissing blocks of colour.


From the brush marks in the artworks of the great artist, Vincent Van Gogh I would think that he also used short flat brushes. His artworks always show those characteristic brief, staccato strokes that are thinner [in paint thickness] in the middle and thicker at the edges.  It is said that Van Gogh cleaned, in the sense of wiped his brush, after every brush-stroke and then reloaded his brush in readiness for the next brush-stroke. Its the method that works for me too.


Rosemary & Co. make my all-time favourite Ivory Short flat brushes with short handles. These are hand-made brushes that are remarkably inexpensive. They give the very precise paint strokes that make my paintings special. They are also a very long lasting brush that keeps a good edge for a long time.

My Colours?

Art is about grabbing the viewer's attention. It's about provoking that viewer pause and take that closer look. It's about immersing them in the visual excitement of my art and my interpretation of the subject I painted. It's about getting the viewer just curious enough to pause and have a longer look at my art. Colour does this every time.


It's about making the viewer think and interpret what I'm showing them. Usually it’s my use of colour that  grabs them first . I am very aware that the colours I use are bold and bright. I'm drawn to bold colours to describe the my paintings. Put simply I just love colour.


I try to make use of a unique, non-traditional approach to colour. My colour choices are intuitive & I'm always pushing the boundaries to see what might happen if I use this colour alongside that colour. I learn  by experimenting with colour experiment and I enjoy the results.


The snobbery of only using a restricted palette and mixing every colour holds no attraction for me. I have a limited time left and I intend to use it for painting, not mixing colours. The manufacturer's have done it all for me. I use every manufacturer's range of 'Artists' or 'Professional' Acrylics bold permanent colour. I'm a great fan of metallic and iridescent acrylics. The fugitive fluorescent & the interference formulations of acrylics are not for me.

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