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A work in progress. This page is a diary of the step by step process of painting and building up a painting, which I did a few years ago.

VOIDS - She died so young. A work in progress October 2011

This is a painting I'm working on at the moment I thought I'd take snapshots of the painting as it progresses. A sort of step by step, to involve you all in the painting process, and day by day effort that it takes to produce one of my paintings .

People are genuinely fascinated in the work processes that artists employ. I certainly am. I love nosing around people's studios and reading books about the lives of artists and seeing pictures of their houses and studios. I recently read the book by Marie-France Boyer about Matisse called At Villa Le Réve . The Dave Duncan books about Picasso and his houses and studios are great. Recently the Bruce Bernard / David Dawson book Freud at Work, gave a wonderful incite into the painting processes of the late, Lucien Freud.

Francis Bacon was famously reticent and coy about letting anyone see him paint. After his death, his studio, which was painstakingly dismantled and rebuilt in Ireland revealed his secrets and reference material.

She died so young is approximately 42ins x 36ins / 107cm x 91cm. Oil on canvas.

The picture (above) shows the first under-painting. Using fairly large brushes, I try to work out the basics of where the light is coming from, and a rough general feel of how the painting is going to look. I've always had the ability to see the finished painting in my head. Which in some ways can be a hindrance, because it doesn't allow for 'happy accidents'.

I'm attempting to rectify this, and free myself up a bit.

I'm currently putting the next layer of paint over the whole canvas. I'll post another photo in a few days. I tend to keep a few paintings on the go at the same time, which allows me to move from one to the other while the paint is drying on them. Or I'll be sketching out ideas for the next paintings. Mind you. these days I seem to be spending all my time sending books out.

Painting, is a mystery, and in some ways should remain so. Jackson Pollock made a mistake in being filmed drip-painting, suddenly everyone decided it looked easy. What they missed, was his genius in discovering the technique and the visual application, made real on a gallery wall, in the 50's was so vibrant, new and true modern art.

October 18th Another layer of oil paint has been added to the figures of woman and baby. These underlying colours will be important as the shadows, highlights and details emerge. I'm now going to add a layer of paint to the background. The purple will virtually disappear, even though people tell me they like it as it is. Sorry !

October 20th As you can see, I've painted the first layer of oil paint in the background, behind the figure. You now start to get more of an idea of the woman leaning against the wall, crouching down. Also the light source to the right is casting shadows, making the figures look 3 dimensional. I haven't touched the figures, but isn't it amazing how suddenly, now the background is being painted in, how they've been transformed, and come alive. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to wait for the paint to dry on the canvas, before I can progress with the painting and start adding detail etc. This is why I usually have more than one painting on the go, at different stages. Cadmium Red is pretty slow at drying, and there;s quite a bit of it in the figure, as you can see. So, patience dear friends. It could be a week before I can proceed.

November 10th Hi. Sorry it took so long to to get back. The paint took quite a while to dry, and I had other things to do..

As you can see, I've started to apply more paint to the woman's upper torso and face. I love the richness of Cadmium Deep Red. I'm going to restrain myself from putting too much detail in this painting. I want to keep the soft edges , and as I said in my Facets book, I'm learning to blur the edges. There's going to be more of an emphasis on light in this painting.

Nov 24th. Once again, sorry, haven't posted next pic of the painting yet. It will probably be updated in the next few days.

Had a bit of a problem, namely, I lost my glasses last week, somewhere in Penzance. Didn't help, either that I dropped my other spare pair into the path of my lawnmower and mangled them. Good old Boots , the opticians, are even now, busy like bees making a couple of new pairs for me. Going to tie them on this time ! Even, as I write this, I am squinting at my Mac screen. Take care. S.

November 26th. As promised, here's the next picture of the painting. I've applied more paint to the woman's lower torso, and started to work on the baby's face and arms. I'll tweek the detail on the baby a bit more, then start at the top of the woman and work down her figure again, applying a bit more detail. After that, I'll have a go at the background of the picture, before once again tweeking the whole picture. I want the picture to remain uncluttered, with an emphasis on the light, so there won't be a great deal going on, in the background. My glasses should be ready in a few days. For now I'll carry on squinting.

December 5th. Glasses back ! Working on the baby's face, and some more work on the woman's upper torso and head.

December 6th. When I paint, I usually work from light to dark, and each layer of paint gets darker and darker and the definition and shadows begin to appear. It sometimes seems to be so laborious and slow,building up the layers, but suddenly towards the end of painting a picture, it just magically all comes together with that last shade and application of detail. We are by no means there yet with this painting, but I can feel it happening, and see how it's all going to work. It's quite exciting !

December 18th. Another layer of shading has been applied to the woman's head and body. It probably won't get much darker, but there's some tweeking to be done. I don't want to put too much detail on, I'd rather leave it soft, paired down and aloof. There's a bit more work to be done on the baby, and the background shadows have to be a bit more synchronised.

January 5th 2012. First of all, may I wish all of you a Happy New Year. Sorry there's been a gap. Christmas, family commitments etc, and bad weather. I photograph my canvases outside. It never seems to stop raining here in Cornwall at the moment and the usual winter, stormy,gale-force, winds. However, saying that, it's amazingly mild, and maybe my Echiums and other sub-tropical plants will get through this winter and remain unscathed. As you can see, I've added more detail to the woman's hair and body. It's also a shade darker. I've also started altering the background, this will be more noticeable in the next photo I post.

January 7th 2012. As you can see, I've been busy working on the background. Especially on the lefthand side of the woman. The shadows around the baby have to be slightly darkened and there's a bit more work to be done on the figures. I might darken the lefthand side a bit more yet. You have to wait for the layer of paint to dry a bit, so I'll work on the baby's figure next. The end is in sight now. The picture is coming together OK.

January 10th. As you can see, I've added a bit more detail to the baby. The shadows to the left of the woman's figure have been darkened. The background colour to the left of the painting will be slightly darkened, and there's still a few things to do to the figures, but the painting is getting close to finishing.

January 11th. Spot the changes ! Subtle detail has been applied to the woman's body and baby. The shadows towards the bottom left of the painting have been slightly darkened. The next picture I post will show a darker background.

January 12th. Started applying darker paint to the background. It'll take a day or two to build up.

January 16th. There's still a little bit to do on the background, and the shadow beneath the baby's head isn't there yet. Also the hand , which is dangling down towards the baby needs a bit more work, but the painting is virtually finished.

January 20th. 2012. Well, here it is ! I've finished it ! I think !

I'll have to look at it for a few days. Live with it for a while. At the moment, I can't see anything that needs extra tweeking . I've made the background on the left stormier. Softened the woman's hair. Sorted out the shadows around the woman and baby. Added more detail to the woman's dangling hand. People keep asking me to add something into the picture that offers a bit of hope. There's a tiny ray of light in the sky , to the right.

To be honest, the point is, that for a woman to lose her baby is a deeply sad and traumatic time. No offers of consolation, or sympathy can bring that child back. The loss is massive.There is a VOID ! It might be filled eventually by the birth and happiness another child will bring to the woman. But that dear woman will mourn the loss of her dead child for the rest of her life. I have no easy answers to such an awful predicament.

I, personally, can only point the way through Jesus, to God and quote the verse, 'By His stripes we are healed". He took all our troubles and problems upon Himself on the cross. We have to hand them over to Him. It's worth a try ! You might not agree, and be highly antagonistic, but how do you know, until you try !

The series is called VOIDS. We all have aspects of our lives that have to be filled. Sometimes it seems, even to people that have great faith, that there is no answer. Not everything in life is black and white. These pictures are meant to stimulate debate, and ask, sometimes uncomfortable questions.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing the process of a painting being developed and worked on.

There'll be another one soon.

Take care.


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