Self Portrait with a New Haircut

‘Self Portrait with a New Haircut’
quarter imperial – arches rough 300gms
© The Artist.

Pulling faces again…

I caught it for an instant whilst painting this portrait. That look of surprise & vanity & curiosity that follows after ahaircut, when you peer cautiously into the mirror to see weither the hair cut is a catastrophe or not.But then I lost it, as I got more involved with satring into a mirror whilst trying to paint. Hence that ‘look’ that pervades all self portraits. The look of an artist at work, partly concentrating, partly pulling a face.

BTW, yes i am grumpy 😉 especially in the mornings….




‘My Brillant Career’
A5 doodle. Ink
© The Artist.

my not so brillant career

All these recent posts of my retrospective work over the last twenty years has depressed me. Gloomy & disappointment….. so little? To cheer myself up I did a doodle, which started off with a red dot & ended in a notan, ohhhh sorry, that’s a no-thing 😉


sketch after Immendorf ‘ Soceity of Decificiency’

My Feelings of Failure

Even more liberating was to re-read a quote from Immendorf, the wild german painter. I sketched this after his canvas ‘ Society of Deficiency’ which is in the Saatchi Collection, London.
Immendorf, like Beuys I think, was a liberating teacher:

I tell my students take your time. Breathe for twenty or so years. Try & make a portrait of yourself that depicts whereyou will be in twenty or so years from now.

Well, that portrait of me in twenty years time seemed along way away, so I started a self-portrait with some old watercolour on the back of an old failed watercolour. I would like to be able to paint portraits well. I would like to have portraits of my loved ones & my children… if it’s going to take me twenty years to get good, then I better get started straight away before they grow up.


postscript 2013 :

Regretably I still get these depressing feelings of deficiency , that I haven’t achieved much nor made half as many, half as good… Also now, that time si short & doesn’t go on & on. Tomorrow & tomorrow & tomorrow…

….. so little?  ….still always failure? less ambitious now too, which is OK too.

My lovely kids are growing up so quickly, as kids always do. I still would like to make some good portraits of my loved ones & my children. Here’s a recent one.

The moral? If there is one, it must be ‘enjoy the journey’ 🙂

The things I thought were so important — because of the effort I put into them — have turned out to be of small value. And the things I never thought about, the things I was never able to either to measure or to expect, were the things that mattered.   – Thomas Merton

Figs II

‘Figs II’
32 x 24 cm.
Watercolour. Lana 220 GMS
© The Artist.


I forgot to mention the garlic in the previous recipe.

Fry some garlic along in the duck’s breast. When the meat is done (rosy… sometimes I add a splash of raspberry vinager which then turns this recipe into a kind of sugary/salty complementarity….. but beware of things getting too complicated. Tastes from the frying pan are better pronounced crisply & cleanly. If you want to stew it all together, go for a long, slow cook in a casserole, or a marinade), lift the garlic out along with the meat.

Then flash fry the figs & finish off with a flambee in Armagnac. Figs caramelise well; garlic doesn’t. As in cooking, as in art: you’ve got to get to know the tolerances of your ingredients.

It is so very, very easy to overdo something.


32 x 28 cm. Watercolour, Lana 220 GMS
© The Artist.
Figs from the garden.Thinking about how to cook them. Vegetarian resolve goes to pot. The South West is the land of THE DUCK.

Here’s how I’d do them:

Slow fry the duck’s breast in a frying pan, Cook till rosy red but still bleeding. Keep the fat on as this is what you will make the gravy from. Ducks fat spits alot when hot, so watch out ! Take the meat out & stand on carving board. Add figs,turn up the heat & flash fry. Let them caramelise somewhat . Salt, pepper & a twissle of Armagnac (more grapey than Cognac). Burn off alcohol & add some boullion to liquify. Cut the meat in a fan-tail of slices, then pour over the gravy & figs. Serve on a bed of lettuce & toast ,preferrably high gluttenso as to go with ‘stick’ in the fig juice. A glass of high tannin Bergerac red will clean the palette.

‘FIGS’ 1994

‘Figs’ 1994
41 x 28 cm. Chalk.
© The Artist.
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More comparisons with early work, from the portfolio that was moved out from under the bed. Is old work better left behind, left to the spiders? These comparisons always provoke feelings of unease & disapointment in me. Have I really only come such a little distance, when I wanted to move mountains?

A5 scribble in ink
Market day in Bergerac. Busker with electric guitar & vox-box on the pavements. I particularily liked the juxtaposition between him, the artist doubtlessly living in precarity, and the publicity for life insurance. Everything has its price & the price of a life of creativity is often financial insecurity. I thinK maybe this is part of the public’s attraction for buskers, other than of course, the fact they (sometimes…) make beautiful music.
Talking about music is like dancing about architecture. – Steve Martin