Experiments in gold leaf

Oof!  My exhibition at Oriel Ynys Mon (click here) on Anglesey still has a month to run.  It’s been hard work, as pictures sell off the walls to all the tourists who pass through there, so I’ve been painting like mad to fill the gaps.  Here are some new pictures.  I’ve been experimenting with ‘icons’, which are hinged – they have found materials, drawings of skulls, random (relevant) pictures on the front, and a ‘surprise’ painting with gold leaf inside – a bird icon!  Difficult to convey in pictures, so you have to imagine that you’re seeing the front and inside together…



Razorbill, not hinged!


Rhiannon’s birds#2 (inside)



Rhiannon’s birds#2 (outside)








This is another story from the Mabinogion.   Rhiannon’s birds sang the dead to life and the living to sleep…..



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Welsh tale

This started life as an icon with a hinged front but has now become a diptych.  The hinged front was really heavy, especially with slate glued to the front, and was a danger to passing artlovers!  It didn’t really work, we’ll have to see if it works better in this format.


Blodeuwedd, egg tempera on wood and ink on slate

It is flying off shortly to Oriel Ynys Mon to join my exhibition there, as there is a gap where another icon has been sold off the wall.

It is called Blodeuwedd – she was the wife of Leu but she fell in love with Gronw Pebr.  Together they murdered Leu, but he turned into an eagle and was brought back to life by the wizard Gwydion.  Leu sought out Blodeuwedd and Gronw Pebr, and threw a spear at Gronw Pebr, which went straight through the rock he was hiding behind and killed him.  It is now called the Slate of Gronw can be seen somewhere above Blaenau Ffestiniog  (I must go and look for it sometime!)  Blodeuwedd was turned into an owl by Gwydion for her part in these shenanigans.  I love the stories from the Mabinogion, more Mabinogion inspired work to follow shortly perhaps?


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Exhibition at last ready…

Oriel Ynys MonA5handout

What a week!  Finishing, framing, mirror plating and wrapping 40 pictures for my exhibition at Oriel Ynys Mon Long Gallery, at Llangefni, Anglesey.  This represents about two years’ work, watching and drawing seabirds in the UK and the Falkland Islands.  It’s been fun!  The work has really changed over that time: I started off with oils on canvas that I stretched myself:


Gentoo Penguin, oil on canvas


and finished by using mostly egg tempera on board:


West Indian Whistling Duck (seen at Slimbridge!), egg tempera on board


and also started my very exciting (to me, anyway!) Icon series – interactive pieces with a hinged front.



Icon: Rockhopper Penguin, egg tempera and gold leaf, inside


Icon: Rockhopper Penguin, front

Going to go and have a look at the exhibition tomorrow!!  Then taking a few days off !

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Adventures in Photoshop – yes or no?

Samuel_Ruddy Headed Goose II_2018

Ruddy Headed Goose, egg tempera on board

See how this image pops!  Just been to a Helfa Gelf (the North Wales Open Studio Event – click here to look at their website)  workshop on Photoshop, really good.   Now dithering about whether it’s worth spending money to rent the programme.  It makes such a difference to the presentation of images on the webpage, but not sure there’s an economic argument in favour?  What do other people advise?

Samuel_Icon Cormorant_2018

Cormorant Icon, oil and gold leaf on board

It makes a massive difference to the presentation of my images because I like to have white backgrounds, which always come out grey or blue in reproduction.  Hm, meditate….

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Falklands magic



My visit to the Falklands Islands is now paying off!  Oil on canvas.  This is Rock Hopper Hop!! Rock Hopper Penguins are really charming and comical, and very interested in people.


Four Rock Hoppers and a King Cormorant.  This is in egg tempera, a new departure for me.  I love the way you can use it to do detailed work.  More details shortly.

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Guillemot time


Three Guillemots, oil on canvas, 60 cm x 60 cm

I had a super visit to South Stack on Anglesey a week or so ago.  It was a good time to go as it was late in the season, and the fledglings had left the nest, so there were a lot of birds to see, both mature and this year’s young.  Lots of puffins of all ages – well lots for South Stack, there’s never a lot of them there because there isn’t enough pockets of soil for a lot of them to dig burrows in.  Also rows and rows of guillemots, standing shoulder to shoulder along narrow ledges as they do, the Red Army of the bird world perhaps.  After mulling this over for a little while on my return home, I sprang into paint, and here are two completed Guillemot pictures, more in the pipeline.  In September they will be exhibited in Galeri Betws y Coed, so see them there if you’re in the vicinity!  Lots of other super things there also.  It will be part of the Helfa Gelf Open Studios Event, which takes place on 4 weekends in September across North Wales.   Above is the link to my studio, Ladder Store Studios, Llandudno, where you can come and meet me and my colleagues!  Check the link for our opening times.


One Guillemot, oil on canvas,                40 cm x 40 cm


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Have been struggling with this avocet for a time: these are beautiful interesting birds but it’s difficult to make them look good in paint.  This painting has gone through several stages, adding and removing backgrounds and surrounds till I settled on this one:


Avocet: oil on canvas

Quite pleased with this one version!  Not sure where I’m going to exhibit it yet…

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