Liverpool Urban Sketchers exhibition at Lark Lane Art Works

Preview: Friday 10th July 5-8pm Exhibition: until Sunday 2nd August at 5pm. Sketch Crawl: Saturday 11th July from 11.30am – Lark Lane Art Works, Liverpool L17  Further Details

I’ve been out with Liverpool Urban Sketchers since the start of the year. I have to say that drawing buildings was akin to sticking my head in a vat of boiling oil, but, like trees and water, I knew that pushing against my limits is always rewarding in the end.

View Along Hope St (pen & wash on A4 paper) 2015

View Along Hope St (pen & wash on A4 paper) 2015

Liverpool Urban Sketchers is part of an international movement which began in Seattle in 2007. Their motto is “See the World, One Drawing at a Time” and all work is done on location rather than from photographs.

Duke St from Parr St, Liverpool (pen & watercolour on A4 paper) 2015

Duke St from Parr St, Liverpool (pen & watercolour on A4 paper) 2015

It is great fun meeting up with others – 10am on the first Saturday of the month at a different location each time – and then sharing our work over lunch. I was quite shy about drawing in public spaces but knowing other artists are around makes it so much easier. Artists come from all backgrounds and disciplines. Some are experienced, others are not, and I have learned a great deal.

Thank you, Mr. Muldoon, Poets & Players

Poets & Players Competition 2015 - highly commended and winners with judge Paul Muldoon

Poets & Players Competition 2015 – highly commended and winners with judge Paul Muldoon

Professor Paul Muldoon is a fine poet and fellow Ulsterman, so I couldn’t resist including ‘Ulster Grill’ in my selection for this year’s Poets & Players competition, which he was judging. I thought it might at least give him a wry smile but certainly didn’t expect it to be a winner, being short and fairly sparse. I can only say I am delighted to receive third prize and feature on Poets & Player’s website.

Ulster Grill

Three breads, two puddings, sausage
stuffed with grain, an egg on top

and a careful rasher of bacon
laid with grace. A tray of tea follows,
breaking the silence with its little bell

and always you are asked: Is it enough?
Would you like some more?

Along the coast
from this butter-scented room
in a small town with seven castles,

through three loughs, a city
and a pinball of glens and arches

you’ll be asked the same questions: Is it enough?
Would you like some more? 

Soda and potato, wheaten and oats,
blood and guts, sunny side up.

Comments from judge Paul Muldoon
3rd Prize: ‘Ulster Grill’ by Janine Pinion

witty take on the “sunny” attitude of a beleaguered nation set against their diet of “blood and guts.”

And here’s the video:

Williamson Open Exhibition 2015

Friday 10 Apr 2015 to Sunday 10 May 2015. The painting above is called ‘Marine Life’ and is a mix of watercolour, acrylic and emulsion prints. For a while I have been thinking about the totality of my experiences when out walking, so that a single scene is insufficient to say much about a whole walk, although brilliant for drilling down into an experience. In this case, I’m bringing together a number of facets of walking around Wirral. It’s an experiment and one which terrified the life out of me, since I decided to created it during the week before handing in for the show. It could have gone horribly wrong, but it sold.

New Paintings In Progress

I’m aiming to refresh the display of my work that Alex Corina has kindly been showing at his gallery, Lark Lane Art Works. It’s a lovely space in a busy bohemian street, out of the city centre but in popular L17 close to Sefton Park. Here’s a taster of what’s to come.

This is new work on a slightly larger scale, now that my home based studio has grown bigger too. I should have frames and sale prices soon.
IMG_1740-0.JPGfrom ‘Coast’ Series

IMG_1825.JPGfrom ‘Wave’ Series

IMG_1804.JPGfrom ‘Dark Fell’ Series

Surrendering to Paint

Detail: Bow Wave (watercolour) work in progress

It’s happened again tonight, a delicious madness that ends in tears which merge, often literally, with the paint itself. I find myself on the other side of the room from my easel, not really sure how I got there, heart racing, gulping air and crying out. It sounds painful and in some ways it is, but it’s become a regular and welcome experience in my new work about the sea.

I suppose it could be like drowning, raw and visceral. I think painting the sea means touching the power of it and the cycles of tides and living species submerged in it through a process of examining what it looks and sounds and smells like, what it means, the stories it carries, the stories I carry, and so on.

Then there’s the technical stuff I really love – a flick of masking fluid here, some broad welts of squid-ink there, a fat hogshair brush or a sword-cut sable. I feel like a surgeon under my spotlight, selecting a series of precision tools. I’m slicing in, not knowing what I’ll find, checking I’ve got all the right settings, checking all the records I’ve gathered which culminate in this operation. I’ve painted this wave before but it’s not the wave I’m painting – I’m searching for something in the experience of this bow-wave; it’s not what I set out to do but it’s how I discover whatever it was that subconsciously drew my attention.

The paint runs and merges. I have a new brush, a filbert with whiskers which tickle the thick paper and send little snake tongues of acid yellow into a blend of phthalocyanine, alizarin and paynes grey. Across the lacy swirls of masking fluid it settles into small muddy dots on the surface and with a slap of lamp black the underside of the wave makes its presence known.

At once the feeling is of both power and vulnerability. The lacy spray of seawater/paint catches me unawares and I’m at the mercy of both the sea and the art itself. Against all the complexities of managing daily life this feels elemental and necessary!

Splash! New work from a summer by the sea.


I’m very lucky to have achieved my childhood dream of living by the sea and later resolving my adult dilemma of city or rural home. The area I live in has a curious maritime history of pirates and sea-shanties, a run of blossom-sweet cottages and its own castle walls where the Liscard Battery once was. Across the bay, a Manhattan-like view of Liverpool’s world famous waterfront is majestic by day as the ships dock and leave, and magical in the evening as the sun goes down and city lights begin to shine instead.

There’s that moment when the sky is a deep warm blue and the electric lights warmly amber that I find very appealing. Added to the view is the Mersey and sandbanks visited by hungry seabirds. As the tide goes out it is very pleasing to hear the sounds of water and birds and human life and look at the colours and shapes of pools left behind.

In the summer I ride out to Leasowe Bay where the sand is firm enough for me to enjoy a cycle along the water’s edge and if it’s warm enough, a swim. I’ve recently learned some digital photography skills and have recorded the patterns of the coast – waves, sandbanks and light, particularly lovely in the evening.

With all this at hand, there’s the risk of making art that is clichéd or that I can’t explore. I like a challenge; I like not being sure how I’m going to approach a subject or what is has to say to me.

One day I took a trip on Tuskar with Liverpool Bay Marine Life Trust. We sailed our way out and through the wind turbines, across to Hilbre Island and back. I felt raw and energised scooting through the swell and as we returned past New Brighton and turned into the estuary, I became mesmerised by the bow wave – the swell made as Tuskar sped through the tide – and the gash in it made by the boat’s hull. Clean jewel blues, blacks and greens offset by the white and creamy crusts of the wave top appeared in around forty pictures I took that day.

I began sketching and drawing in pencil and pen, producing several images and then developing works in watercolour and inks. As I painted, the painstaking detail of the distant town became a distraction and I ended up obscuring it with a dark pour of Phthalo, Veridian, Umber and Black mopped in places and spattered in others as I relived the excitement of the sail.

Heswall Arts Festival with Two Rivers Art Group Sat 27th Sept – 11th October 2014


Heswall’s annual festival fortnight includes a substantial arts trail, including Two Rivers in Heswall Library Gallery. Here’s the link:
I’ll be showing half a dozen or so paintings as part of the group. All welcome.

Liverpool Poetry Café – Thursday 24th October at 7.30pm

All welcome to this ticketed event in which I’m reading with other North West Poets – a celebration of the region including work from the Sculpted anthology.

Featuring: Martin Figura, Robert Sheppard, Janine Pinion, Dave Ward, Alison Chisholm, Matt Fallaize, Pauline Rowe, Steve Waling and others, introduced by editors Lindsey Holland and Angela Topping.

Sculpted is a definitive, ground-breaking anthology of poems by 62 of the North West’s best contemporary poets. As diverse as the area that inspired them, the poems dig beneath the skin of the region: its towns and cities, countryside, industries, history, geology, and above all, its people.”

Tickets £3/£2 – box office 0151 702 5324

The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool, L1 3BX

Wirral Open Studios Tour 2013

Over thirty artists, including myself, across the Wirral peninsula will be opening their studios and working spaces to the public this coming weekend, Sat 15th 10am-5pm and Sun 16th 11am-5pm.

A map / brochure can be downloaded here

The open studio tour is an event in which artists invite the public to visit their workshops and display spaces. It’s an excellent opportunity to talk first-hand to the artists and to view their work in the environment in which it was created, to participate in free workshops led by the artists or to just enjoy the exhibits in the various venues. Some art will also be for sale, so this is an opportunity to buy an original work at artists’ prices, or even lower clearance prices (studios can fill up quickly!).

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