The Development of a Painting

I thought I’d show the stages I went through in the development of this little painting of Lower Largo in the bonny county of Fife, which I painted for my nephew and his wife. It was very refreshing to take a break from creating black & white designs for my adult colouring book (which I hope to publish in the autumn) and re-acquaint myself with brushes and paint. It reminded me of how much I enjoy the physicality of mixing and putting paint on canvas just as much as analysing the tones and colours required. And that elusive quality of painterly-ness that I strive to achieve, still dances frustratingly – just out of reach!

The photos speak for themselves, so I’ll ditch the descriptions and let your eyes teach you all you need to know.








Lower Largo, Acrylic on Board, 9" x 18" (approx)
Lower Largo, Acrylic on Board, 9″ x 18″ (approx)


My Daler-Rowney “Stay-Wet” Palette. A great invention!

Colouring In

Recently, out of the blue, a friend happened to mention the growing trend in adult colouring books. “You could do that” he said.  At first I was skeptical – “Whaaat? “Colouring-in books for adults? Really?!!”

However, after some interesting online research, I thought “Why not?” I spent many hours as a child  – “just colouring in” and I well remember, as many of us do, the contented, quiet satisfaction that such activities produced. So perhaps it’s not so strange to want to recapture that happy state of being. Now, thanks to adult colouring pioneers such as Johanna Basford in Aberdeenshire and Millie Marotta in Wales, many big boys and girls (mostly women actually), are doing just that – rediscovering what “arty people” have known forever, that engaging in any creative activity takes your mind to a place where the urgency of time disappears and you become completely absorbed in the process of making something unique.

sneak preview-290815-01
Pencil drawing in preparation for inking

So, for better or worse, I’ve started work on a colouring book for adults! Even though it’s a time consuming task, the pleasure of creating something completely different from my usual output, is very motivating.

Eventually I hope to set up a Facebook or Twitter page for the project but meantime the goal is to reach my self-imposed deadline of next Autumn! [UPDATE: The book is finished. just waiting on the proof copy to arrive, then the book will go live on Amazon. Go to my colouring website to learn more!]

Message me if you’d like to share your thoughts or comments!


waterlily painting


I’ve spent a very enjoyable couple of days on & off, painting this beautiful lily that is gracing our garden pond at the moment. This is a mixed media painting – watercolour, white chalk and white gouache paint. I’m afraid the delicate, lucid tones of the stamens eluded me! Which points up the fact that Art only imitates nature, it can never portray accurately the amazing delicacy and subtle nuances of light that we see with our eyes. As Picasso famously said: “Art is a lie which makes us understand the truth.” in other words my painting, or anyone else’s for that matter, can only be an approximation; we have to find an equivalent in paint or whatever medium we work in, that will at best enable us to mimic on paper or canvas the effect of light .

waterlily painting
“Waterlily” Watercolur on Arches paper, (9″ X 6″ (approx)

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…” (Matthew 6:28,29)

Prints of this work are available via

 “Redbubble” or “FineArtAmerica”

painting of Goldfinch


Every now and then we get a visit from these lovely little birds in our garden. Their markings and colours make them immediately recognisable.  I really enjoyed painting this little beauty.

“They make the most use of our gardens at the same time in late spring every year – between returning from their wintering grounds and the start of breeding, and at a time when natural food resources are at their lowest. More interestingly, this finch is increasingly using garden bird feeders, this may be because natural resources are in steady decline or more gardens are offering niger seed and sunflower hearts, which are both high energy foods that Goldfinches seem to prefer”. (Garden Birds UK)

Painting of Rathillet Cottages

Cottages at Rathillet, Fife

Fresh off the easel today is this wee painting of the hamlet of Rathillet, just beside the A92 in Fife. I really enjoyed working on this and even managed to remember to shoot some video of the event!

I travelled this road nearly every day for 16 years and always promised myself I would come and paint this scene one day. I think it’s the juxtaposition of the row of pan-tiled, red roofed cottages with the stately tree beside the road and the gorse covered hill in the background that excited my artistic senses. The gorse is a spectacular golden orangey colour at this time of year, which contrasts beautifully with the blue sky. Just wish I was more accomplished…but I’m working on that!

Rathillet was the home of Covenanter David Hackston who was hung drawn and quartered at Edinburgh in 1680 for his part in the Covenanting struggle to win religious freedom in Scotland. The story of the Scottish Covenanters needs to be understood against the backdrop of Reformation history, during a time of great religious and civil upheaval throughout Britain and Europe. A minority of the Covenanters, including Hackston, took up arms in response to the brutal oppression of Charles the second who wanted to reintroduce the idea that the King had a “Divine right” to rule both church and state. The Covenanters believed that God, not the king, had the sole authority in the church and that the Bible, the Word of God was the sole authority in spiritual and religious matters.

In 1662 over 300 Protestant ministers were evicted from their parishes and many of their congregations followed them into the fields where they preached at “Conventicles” in the open air, all over Scotland. In 1663 the government attempted to restrict people’s freedom to attend these conventicles and so the persecution of those who opposed the state on grounds of conscience began.

Hackston’s brutal execution is recorded in all its savagery in the old legal records. Scottish poet Henry Inglis wrote of the shocking event:

They hewed Rathillet limb from limb, and as each fragment fell 

Shorn from the bruised and quivering trunk, these ministers of hell 

Howled round about him like a pack of fiendish hounds at bay, 

Upon the watch to whet their fangs in some incarnate prey : 

One agony of death they deemed too great a boon to give; 

And twice from off the cursed tree 

With all a tiger’s clemency 

They set the writhing carcass free 

And brought it back to live.

They were Christians and they cut the heart from out the living man, 

And waved it as a flag is waved upon the battle’s van ; 

And burned it as a beast is burned some idol to appease, 

And cast the human ashes round like incense on the breeze : 

And they did it in the name of God ! Where were His lightnings then, 

That came not with consuming fire 

To light the everlasting pyre 

For these blaspheming men ? 

Look round on Scotland’s ruined fanes on shattered arch and wall, 

On roofless aisle and broken font on column, tomb, and stall 

Laid waste within the sunniest spots of this our happy land 

As waste as lieth Nineveh upon the desert strand, 

The lightning of a nation’s wrath has smote them with decay : 

The Faith their reeking altars fed 

With life-blood of -the saints, is fled; 

In Heaven the martyrs have their bed 

The Covenant lives for Aye.

Today, religious freedom is under renewed assault and true disciples of Christ must once again be prepared to suffer and even lay down their lives for the noble cause of religious tolerance, freedom of conscience and the right to worship and serve God according to one’s convictions.