Painting Stories 1: ‘Settlement’

‘Settlement’ watercolour on 300CP 19x28cm 2021

There is little contrast in the sky at this time of year. Clouds are often heavy with vapour, reflecting cool and warm tones depending on how they layer, or thin and let some sunshine through. Rarely the sunshine reaches us but nevertheless I find the skies’ soft pastels fascinating in November through to February. I like the challenge of remembering and creating the feeling those skies give me, of gradually, peacefully settling into the darker time of year.

There are technical issues to manage – allowing the colours to blend evenly means that the paper has to remain equally damp, but not too wet. It has to dry evenly too so preparation is essential and also I have to say somewhat satisfying. Brushwork is vigorous and the balance of pigment to water carefully judged. Too much water and the result will be patchy; too little pigment and will lose depth and tonal range.

The title came from sitting with the finished piece and reflecting on the elements in it. Often I try to express something of the deeper stories that emerge by describing the elements in relation to one another. But on this occasion, one word came to me: settlement. Settlement describes the sense of winding down, of compacting and layering like a soft blanket, but also the suggestion of humans inhabiting the landscape, of making a home there. In this space they are actively engaging in their surroundings, altering them and perhaps, one hopes, respecting the place they’ve come to inhabit. It raises the question as to how we settle on our land and what our responsibility is towards the existing, other living organisms with whom we share our space.

In this painting there’s the suggestion of the settlements along the North Wales coast on Deeside from Flint to where the coast turns sharply west at the Point of Ayr and vanishes from our sight here in Burton Marshes, Wirral. It’s not clear what they are, but in daylight there are many — industrial, farmland, open common, residential and protected natural areas. The scene reminds me of returning at dusk to my starting point after a long walk in the hills, gradually descending to meet the brightening lights of the settlement where I’ve begun. There’s nostalgia in remembering, and yet questions in the present.

Open Studio Sat 20 Nov 21 10-4

If you missed us in September’s Wirral Open Studio Tour, Marcus Leon Drummond and I are opening again on Saturday 20 November 10am-4pm and look forward to seeing you. As Yule approaches, I’ll be offering plenty of watercolours at studio clearance prices and Marcus will have his finely made furniture and smaller wood items for sale too. Accessible entrance available, washroom and kitchen bar providing drinks hot and cold.

3 Zig Zag Rd, New Brighton, Wirral CH45 7NY (map below)

Poetry Picnic: Wirral Festival of Firsts

Wirral Festival of Firsts 2018 includes a theme of Open Spaces – there are over 240 across the peninsula! On Sunday 13th May I’m leading a Poetry Picnic at Royden Park, which will include walking and writing using aspects of mapmaking for inspiration. Book via this link. Continue reading

Watercolour Lessons

A new video by Patrick Pinion advertising my watercolour classes, in time for this Friday’s Culture Tank event at Williamson Art Gallery & Museum, part of the BBC Get Creative initiative. Come along, pick up some information and try out materials 3-8pm. Enjoy watching! Please also note I have created a new page for general information on classes here.

Questions, queries and to book – complete form below:



I love experimenting with watercolour as there are so many variables – type of pigment, wet or dry surface, granulation and transparency, degree of drying-ness of the painting in progress, brushes, tools and masking. Many of my sketches and experiments focus on playing with any of these, but recently I’ve been drawn to observational work. Continue reading

Last Available Dates for Summer School | August

Starting week beginning 31 July:

*NEW* EVENING CLASS  3 x Thursdays 7-9pm – 3rd, 10th & 17th August – All levels (previously Intermediate) £20 each, discount for returners £15. Book all three for £50 (materials included) or £45 (using own materials) *PLACES AVAILABLE*

DAY CLASS Saturday 5th August *NOW FULL* Improvers 10.30am – 3.30pm (please note this has changed from a Beginners’ Day) £45 (discounts for returners and using own materials)

I am still taking bookings for groups at their own venues, though. I will also take bookings from groups of 3-5 who wish to enjoy a class together at my studio. Group rates apply – please enquire. 

During term time it is challenging for me to run classes as my job takes up much of my energy, however I am happy to plan an occasional half day masterclass (demo plus focus on particular technique) if there is enough interest – let me know your thoughts. Beginners – I will upload information on my website shortly which will enable you to get a head start.

Please register your interest via the form below, stating your experience with watercolour. Feel free to ask any questions. Your comment will not appear.

Best wishes for the rest of the summer


Continue reading

Watercolour Classes 2017 – August Update

Full Days

1st July Beginners’ Saturday – FULLY BOOKED

14th July Beginners’ Friday 10am – 3pm – ONE PLACE LEFT

15th July Improvers’ Saturday 10.30am – 3.30pm  – 1 PLACE LEFT

21st July Improvers’ Friday 10am – 3pm  – 1 PLACE LEFT

5th August Beginners* Saturday 10.30am – 3.30pm *changed to Improvers – FULL

£45 each, discount for returners / bringing own materials

Download 1Watercolour Beginners Information 

Download Watercolour Materials (for those wishing to purchase their own)

Short Courses

*NEW* EVENING CLASS  3 x Thursdays 7-9pm – (27th July possibly) 3rd, 10th & 17th August – STILL BOOKING

*NEW* AFTERNOON CLASS  3 x Tuesdays 1.30-3.30pm – 1st, 8th & 15th August – FULLY BOOKED

£20 each, discount for returners £15

Please register your interest via the form below, stating your experience with watercolour. Feel free to ask any questions. There are information brochures available, which I’ll add to the site (hopefully!).