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Sunday, 31 May 2020

Elephant Hole Cave, the Undercliff, Ventnor, Isle of Wight

This 20" by 16" oil on board is a revamp - as the painting dried out, it also became duller, and mere varnish wouldn't have fixed the problem.

So I've .... well, zhooshed it up a bit would be the technical term.

It was always going to be a dark painting - it's a dark place usually - but I'm happier with it now.  The Elephant Hole Cave is partly a natural formation in the rock, and partly excavated by man - quite when, and for what purpose, I've yet to be able to ascertain. 

Saturday, 30 May 2020

First one for a long time - more to follow.

And see my Facebook arty page -

Getting back into painting required a limbering-up exercise: it's been over a year since I painted anything other than the occasional birthday card; took up a Labour Party job .... too much for a kid of my age to manage on top of sustaining a painting output: something had to give - and painting did.

Lockdown, therefore, has had its benefits.  Retirement from bureaucratic entanglements would have more....

This is a painting in oil, 16" by 12" (we don't do metric..) which I did to refresh my painting skills - I say nothing at all for it as a painting in its own right: it's too fussy, and has other faults.  But the figure within is myself - and what COULD be lovelier?

Kindly don't answer that.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

2020 not at all sure he wants ANY part of this.

But if you can face it, Happy New Year. 

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

First new one for a long time...

Back to oil painting, after months of being occupied with other things - this is a study employed to get my hand in again, and for those who find these things interesting, the colours used are Lead white, a little Titanium White, Mars Yellow, Cadmium Yellow Medium, Burnt Sienna, Viridian (for the underpainting), and Prussian Blue.

There are one or two bits to tidy up on it as yet, but it won't look so very different when it's done - just a bit less clumsy in places!

Monday, 6 May 2019

New Website on its way

For a variety of reasons - principally that the system by which my old website was built is no longer supported, and was in any event very difficult to use (well - difficult for ME to use, anyway) I'm having a new one built for me, using WordPress.

It is very much in the early stages of development at the moment, but I will post details here when it's fit to be seen. 

In the meantime, I'll be putting newer work on my Facebook page.  Go to:

Robert Jones Isle of Wight Landscapes - where you can also leave comments, of course. 


Sunday, 21 April 2019

Still Alive!

Yup, I'm still to be numbered among the Quick rather than the Dead.

More posts and paintings ARE on their way.  It's just that a hiatus has ensued - too much to do, too little time.  But - keep gazing on this space.  More is to come!  Once I wake up.....

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

The Long Delay - The Fallow Months....

In November last year - I think it was only in November, I seem to have entered a breach in the space-time continuum - I agreed to take on the job of Secretary/Agent of the Isle of Wight Labour Party; a position I last occupied from 1975 to 1992

Since then, the only thing I've painted has been a birthday card for my mum's 93rd birthday.  Either I had minutes to type, or letters to write, or rules, standing orders and more to read, or I was just too tired to pick up a paint-brush.

This must end!  I will paint something this week if I have to go on strike to do it.

In the meantime, my old website is now defunct, and a new one is in the process of creation - with a bit of help from my friends.  So I shall have to paint something new in order to populate it. 

Watch this space, if you would - announcements will be made shortly..........  I sense your mounting excitement.....

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Christmas Greetings

It's been a looooong time - not at all sure why or where the time has gone: but let us hope that my Christmas card creation leads me to keep the paint and brushes out and get on with something new in the new year.

So here is Oswald, inviting you all to pucker up.   He knows he should be hibernating by now, but the excitement got too much for him.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Too busy - but more to the point, computer problems (ie, my old bucket really isn't up to much any more).

My website is in abeyance but when I paint something new, I'll post it here, or on my Facebook page, for the time being. 

I'm too bloody old for technological advance, and so is my superannuated computer.

But keep an eye on here, or wherever you can find me should you be inclined to look, of course: I shall sort myself out eventually - er, perhaps.

And if there's anyone out there who can sort out a website on Serif (which doesn't work anymore on any platform) for Linux - well now don't you even begin to hold back!  Help, already ....... I'm far too old for this!  Beautifully marked, mind!  Oh yes.   A shining example to all - just hopelessly technologically clueless.

Monday, 16 July 2018

The Long View - First new one for a while

Acrylic on stretched canvas, 20" by 8". 

Not quite sure where June went ... but there wasn't much painting going on.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

In Praise of "Fiddling"

I submitted an article to Leisure Painter last year, which was eventually rejected as the magazine editor didn't think the illustrations would have shown up well on the printed page - and she was probably right.

However, I think it will work here: and feel it needs to be said: so I'm publishing it myself.   Comments appreciated.


"Don't fiddle", they say; "less is more". And I suspect this is why I'm seeing more and more paintings in exhibitions which just aren't finished at all. The advice has been taken so literally that oil and acrylic paintings are left thin and scratchy, looking like nothing so much as a paint-by-numbers effort (where the paint is thin because they give you too little of it, and most p-b-n'ers stick rigidly to the lines).

Thing is, this is good advice for watercolourists, on the whole. Once you've applied a wash, the best thing to do with it is often to leave it alone - fiddle with it and you get back-runs and mud.

But there are reasons for this. Watercolour is a medium which relies on its transparency and purity of colour. There are opaque colours in watercolour, but many of us avoid them because they can quickly ruin the light, evanescent appeal of a watercolour painting.

Oil and acrylic, save in special circumstances (glazing, particularly) are not primarily employed for their translucent qualities. They can certainly be used as such, but the usual approach with both is layering of one colour over another, or one tone over another to achieve depth and form.

So it should go without saying - but it doesn't - that you aren't going to get the best out of these opaque, layering pigments if you don't actually layer them: this doesn't mean you have to add finicky, nit-picking detail - that is true "fiddling"; but it does mean that the subtlety of oil and acrylic is best exploited by a process of addition; a painting may actually accrete layers - we can work them up in stage after stage, each one strengthening the image, establishing form, shape, tone, shadow, light.

Oils and acrylics are, in short, USUALLY additive rather than subtractive media - whereas in watercolour you might, as a matter of your usual technique, take something out, in oil and acrylic you're generally going to be doing the reverse. Yes, you'll sometimes find you have to take the sponge, cloth or knife to the paint, to remove a claggy mess of mud: but this isn't something you'll actually be planning or hoping to do. It may form part of your technique, but only because you haven't yet mastered it.

There are of course those of the plein-air persuasion, who very reasonably point out that there's no way they can apply careful layering in oil, because it just doesn't dry fast enough out there in the field - in fact, it IS possible, but only with a delicate and at the same time sure touch. Even so, one takes the point - yes you can work over several days; or finish off your plein-air study in the studio; or of course use the plein-air sketch as the basis for a larger painting to be tackled indoors. But the typical plein-air work requires mixing the right colours to start with, and getting them down in relatively quick, unrehearsed, and unfussed strokes of paint. Such paintings have great immediacy - they might however sacrifice subtlety. Many of us, perhaps most of us, sketch en plein air, and either finish the painting in the studio, or start a new, larger one, using the sketch as our guide.

One of my recurring nightmares is that I drop dead in the middle of a painting - because most of my opaque work reaches a stage that might generously be described as god-awful: a stage at which you could only think the poor old chap's lost his touch; to think it should have come to this, etc.... But then, it's a work in progress - true, if a watercolour starts to look as though something horrible has happened, it probably has. But oils and acrylics - mine, anyway - nearly always go through the "oh dear, surely he can't have meant to do that?" stage, and by way of illustration I offer an acrylic painting of mine that did, in the end, represent what I had in mind, but had rather painful birth pangs before it got there.

Here's the sketch – the tones are broadly indicated, plus as much of the detail as I felt necessary:

Figure 1
I toned my board with a mixture of Burnt Sienna and a touch of red, to produce a map of the tones; no detail – just putting the big shapes in. And I roughed in the sky with ultramarine and white. I decided at this point that I didn't want a complicated land-mass and a busy sky – if I do this again, I think I might make the sky more interesting, since it occupies quite a large area of the painting.

Figure 2

At this stage, it doesn't look too bad at all: the profiles of the cliff are about right; I've mixed ultramarine and burnt sienna for my darks, just placing the foliage areas. In fact, if I'd been a bit more careful with these shapes and darks, I could even have glazed over the top to finish the painting in half the time (in theory at least).

Fig 3

Had I been going to pursue that route, this is the stage on which I'd have based it: just firming up the darks, lightening the lights, and refining the drawing, then adding transparent glazes. However, that wasn't what I was after: I wanted a rather more rugged look than that approach would have given. So rather than refine shapes, I built the painting up from the broad shapes I'd already established – remember, I had my sketch to show me those details I was about to cover with opaque white, mixed at this stage with varying amounts of ultramarine, burnt sienna, and yellow ochre.
This is the stage at which I would not have wanted to drop dead (any other time, fine: but not just now). Because it looks … well, vile, don't you think? But – I've got the big shapes; I've got the build-up of opaque paint which will give me my textures, especially in the near cliff. What have I got to do now? Well – this was perhaps the most important stage of the painting. It doesn't look it, maybe. But all I've really got to do now is – fiddle. Take a good, chisel-edged flat, and a fairly large rigger, and turn these blocky shapes into convincing rocks and trees.

And this, completed in one stage, is it. I've removed the fence from the bottom left (without which I would never have stood on that bit of cliff, but it wasn't needed in the picture). I've added a little chunk of cliff beyond the first promontory, which isn't there in reality, but the composition needed it. And using no more extra colours than viridian, a little Naples yellow, and a touch of prism violet, I've just built up detail by, well, fiddling. The hard work was done at Stage 4 – you've GOT to get those basics down, however awful they look, before you can put clothes on them.

There are things I would do differently if – when – I tackle this again: a bigger canvas (this one is 30 by 40cm); a livelier sky; and next time I might actually try getting to Figure 3, establishing some lighter lights, and apply transparent glazes. And I might do a version in oil, which lends itself better to the textured approach (especially if you're using only paint, and not any kind of texture paste). But without a bit of fiddling with detail, I'd have had a different picture. So long as you remember that the time comes when the fiddling has to stop.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Oil painting - no solvents

Well, that was a revelation.  I've always used a little Turpentine or odourless mineral spirits of one kind or other in oil painting until recently.  Experimenting with none, I first of all produced a couple of rather dry looking paintings (though varnish will sort them out in due course). 

This one however doesn't look dry - I used a minimal quantity of Linseed Oil as medium, and nothing else at all.  Moreover, I didn't feel I needed anything else - so goodbye Liquin, Turpentine, Low Odour Spirits, Sansodor, and all the other things customarily mixed with oil paint to make it flow. 

And yes, Linseed Oil will tend to yellow somewhat, but the addition of solvents does nothing to counteract that anyway.

Apologies for it being a snow scene, when we'd hoped to have seen the last of it, though.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Oil painting without solvents

Right then - for a while now I've been telling people who don't like to use White Spirit, or Odourless Mineral Spirits, or Turpentine, that you don't HAVE to use solvents with your oil paint.  You can just use Linseed Oil, or, indeed, nothing at all.  No Liquin, no Oil Painting Medium, no Turps or Linseed.

In practice, doing without any oil or medium at all isn't easy when using brushes - though perfectly possible if employing a painting knife.  But what I didn't necessarily tell people was that I did tend to use a little bit of solvent, either to apply a colour wash to the painting board, or to clean brushes, or to make the paint more workable.

So - I've just started an oil painting in which I intend to use Linseed Oil, and possibly a little Stand Oil towards the end, but no Turps, no spirits, at all.  I know it can be done, it's just that I haven't really ever done it.  We shall see what transpires.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

New page on Facebook

I now have a page on Facebook that will be devoted entirely to my artwork - no politics, no idle chat, no long, rambling moans...........

Robert Jones Isle of Wight Landscapes is its title, at least until I can think of something snappier.  My brain tends not to work in that way, at least when it comes to self-promotion. 

Anyway, take a shufti.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

In memory of Edward Gouge, PhD, 1947 - 2018

This has been a bad couple of months for all of us in the Isle of Wight Labour Party, as we lost our Secretary, Dr Ed Gouge, to a brain haemorrhage in January.  It temporarily destroyed my desire to paint anything.   Yesterday was his funeral - he is much missed.

This post is dedicated to him, and illustrated with the one painting I have completed this year, based on a photograph by another of our members, Mr Mick Lyons.   It depicts the change of season from summer to autumn at Priory Bay, Isle of Wight - it's an oil, 16" by 12".