I was pleased to see the back of January this year. Trying to balance work and home schooling is proving to be an increasingly difficult and frustrating juggling act that leaves precious little time for anything else.

The other week I had to make a short trip to the nearby town of Seaford. It’s not a place I know well, aside from its delightful seafront which is great for a promenade.

On this occasion I had to pass through part it’s ‘old town’. The sun was shining and, I’m pleased to say, I had my camera to hand!

This painting is based on one of the photographs I took that day.

Seaford Old Town

There are some parts of this that I quite like but, and I think this is mainly down to the composition, it doesn’t actually do much for me!

When I think of the paintings I’ve done recently that I count amongst my most successful, this doesn’t have the range of tones, variety of edges, or energy of brushstrokes that I feel help to make a strong painting.

I think it was the slight sense of heavy handed-ness that led me to tackle this next painting, which I did purely as an exercise.

The source image for this was one that I found on Pinterest – a vintage black and white photo of Milan if I remember correctly:

Although this painting is also largely monochrome, the grey is mainly made up of lavender, colbalt blue and light red – a mixture I’ve been experimenting with quite a lot in my recent paintings.

As a little challenge, I was quite pleased with how some of this turned out – particularly the indication of the background building and the subtlety of the light moving from right to left.

The cars and figures however leave a lot more to be desired!

Still, it was a nice little exercise and helped me to keep my brushes moving!

Some disappointing news…

The Alvaro Castagnet Masterclass that I booked onto back in January 2020, which was subsequently cancelled and rescheduled for 2021, has again been cancelled! With the continued uncertainty that surrounds all of our lives these days this didn’t come as a total surprise, but it was yet another reminder of how so much of our lives has had to be put on hold, and for how long! The masterclass has now been rescheduled once again, this time for the end of May 2020. Fortunately, my diary just so happened to be free so I’ve been able to transfer my booking once again, this time to 2022! I daresay I’ll keep my out for any other online workshops just to keep my interest piqued!

Some joyful news…

Regular readers may recall this painting from a visit to The Salt Box:

Well I’m delighted to report that after posting this on Instagram back in October 2020, I was subsequently contacted by one of the owners of The Salt Box to enquire if it the painting was available for sale!

Naturally I was delighted, but as the painting was being purchased as a Christmas present, I didn’t feel able to talk about this until after it had been presented!

Well with everything that’s been going on, I completely forgot about this until I was reminded, in the most pleasant fashion, by the arrival of the lastest Salt Box e-newsletter, which featured in its header a detail from my painting!

The Salt Box e-newsletter header

This was a wonderful surprise, to open up an email and to see my painting front and centre!

This led to me contacting the person that bought the painting to see if the present had been well received. I’m delighted to report that the recipient was “quite literally over the moon” and they subsequently shared this post on their Instagram stories:

Happy where it belongs

All of this cheered me up no end and reminded me that, as dark as things are at the moment – and they do feel pretty dark – there are still rays of light to break through the gloom.

Fingers crossed February brings many more rays of light for all of us!

12 thoughts on “January blues

    1. Hi Carole and my apologies, I have to approve every comment (which helps me keep out any spam comments) but with all that’s going on at home/work, I’ve been slow getting round to it this week!

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  1. Hi John, well done with your success with the Salt Box…good to have your name in print!
    Well done too with your perseverance at what is obviously a very busy time for you….it does all seem to be going on for far too long doesn’t it?!
    So glad you didn’t forget your camera…hope my gentle ‘nagging’ helped you remember!😄
    Keep up with the painting and at least you can look forward to your AC workshop next year. Do let us know if you book another online workshop. I see Andy Evansen will be doing a tutorial soon….very tempting but it’s for a year and quite pricey, though well worth it I’m sure.
    Well stay safe and well. I am waiting for my vaccination and have been offered an appointment which is pleasing news, to say the least.
    Best wishes and happy painting,
    Carole 😄

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    1. Hi Carole and many thanks for this! Great news that you’ve received news about your vaccination! Amidst all the gloom, the vaccination roll out does seem to be going well, so there’s a glimmer of hope on the horizon that much better times lie ahead! I ‘ll have a look at the Andy Evansen workshop – though I doubt I’ll be able to afford it or make the commitment to the time! I think I’ll be looking out for any short half day sessions in the first instance. In the meantime, and thanks in part to your gentle encouragement, I hope you’ll be pleased to hear that my camera, whilst not exactly a constant companion, is spending a lot more time with me now that it did last year (although I only wish I were able to take it on some proper adventures!) Many thanks Carole and good luck with your vaccination, and of course your painting too!

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  2. Hi John
    There are both very good and fresh too, you grey mix works well.. The Salt Box one is very good and looks good framed, what a difference decent framing makes. Alas these days I can only ship people watercolours in tubes for them to frame and mount. I rarely ever get to see the finished hanging artwork.
    Pity about the workshop, I keep my fingers crossed that JZ will be able to go to Norfolk in September.
    Best regards
    Brian

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    1. Hi Brian and many thanks for this, much appreciated. I must confess that it’s a rare treat for me to see my work framed and hung in a new home! I supplied this one mounted but not framed at the customer’s request.
      Re the workshop, I first saw news that the IWM event that David Poxon is organising (that was due to take place last year, then this year, had been cancelled and rescheduled for next year.) As Alvaro was due to be at the IWM event just prior to my masterclass, I assumed that my event would get bumped too!). Hopefully, with your JZ event being later in the year, and his travel hopefully not being dependent on lots of other events in the UK or Europe, it will be able to go ahead! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you! All the best Brian

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      1. Ah, congratulations on getting your jabs, this is all encouraging news! Hopefully if JZ is able to get his too by the end of the summer you should all be ok! It would be so nice to have all of this confirmed and for you to have such a great experience to look forward to after all the confinement of the past year!

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