Thursday, 20 December 2012

Seasons Greetings

"Stormy Sky over Bridlington"
Follow link for full details
This painting was done on the iPad and is based on a recent photograph by my wife. There are times when we still can't believe that we actually live here. We see this view nearly every morning as we stroll together with Bonnie, our lovely little dog.
Merice and Bonnie on a 'nicer' day.
We would both like to take this opportunity to send you our best wishes at this time as we look forward to 2013.  

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Things we said today.....

"Layby in the Snow"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall
For further details please follow this link

My mum will be 88 years old on the 1st January and when I'm with her we spend a lot of time reminiscing about the "good old days". Sadly, though inevitably, the vast majority of her peers are no longer with us. I am probably the last person alive who can provide her with a link to certain aspects of the past - these include precious memories of my father especially  the last ten very happy years they had together before he died.
Between them mum and dad constructed a greenhouse. When he could no longer be bothered with the effort of getting ready to go out, they  extended it by adding a wooden "lean to" that eventually evolved into the "den" complete with lights, heating and an assortment of old chairs and wooden benches. He could pass away the hours listening to the radio and watching his beloved dahlias grow.
Then one by one, his former drinking companions began to appear. They too appreciated a place where they could spend a day undisturbed, safe and well away from their wives!
They  smoked and eventually it killed all of them. But they were born into a different age when smoking was actively encouraged to calm your nerves. By the time they became aware of the dangers they all decided it was too late to stop and that any damage was already done - they were right - it was. My mum says that when she opened the door to take them a cuppa she was assailed by a cloud of tobacco smoke so it was no wonder that the tomatoes never did too well...though the dahlias positively flourished!
One day the discussion centered on the granting of wishes. 
Finally it was Joe's turn. "Well Joe, if you could do anything at all in  the world tomorrow, what would it be?". 
There was a silence and then through the smoke Joe replied simply, "Wake up!".
Brilliant answer and definitely one to remember.
Here's another one that I've always liked.
My wife Merice worked for a life assurance company and she teamed up with a guy named Nigel. Merice was (and still is) a very beautiful woman. Nigel was (and still is, I hope) a pretty sharp guy who was very good at figures..
So Merice, in a shortish skirt and all made up, would provide the charm (or distraction!) to prepare the way before Nigel took over and closed the deal.
They were a very successful team nicknamed 'Dempsey and Makepeace' by their colleagues.
Now you might be wondering how I felt about my glamorous wife spending time with such a sharp guy. Well apart from the fact that I never doubted Merice's fidelity - Nigel was ...well... a Nigel.
But he had his moments.
Driving home from visiting clients at their home, a car pulled out in front of them without any warning. Nigel had to slam all on to avoid hitting it. He eventually caught up with the offending vehicle at some traffic lights. Pulling alongside he wound the passenger window down and when the female driver did the same he inquired gently, "Excuse me love , do you know your indicators aren't working?"
She thanked him and pressed the indicator switch. "Oh but they are." she replied.                                   "Well ******* well use them!" he yelled before pulling away....nice one Nigel.
Finally a classic. Leaving a restaurant a waiter asked an acquaintance of mine "Hey man, you got tip?"
"Yes" he replied "Come to my house and I'll show you how to cook ******* steak!"
Don't mess with a Meanwood lad.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Shampoos, Hospitals, and Uncle Rufus....

"Forest Light"
I had occasion to visit hospital today to see a consultant and this was not going to be as straightforward as I thought.
In the first place my wife insisted that not only did I have to have a shower - I could agree with that, but also I had to wash my hair - I couldn't quite see the point of that as the consultant would be looking at my knees not my head.
However as an experienced husband of over thirty years I knew better than to argue so there I was in the shower contemplating the range of shampoos. The old outside toilet has been converted into our shower room and unfortunately the central heating ends in the kitchen. This means that the shower room is  as cold as if still  outdoors - even on a good day you can see your breath - and this is the middle of November which is not a 'good' day.
We have a large range of shampoos from organic 'top of the range' to the highly toxic 'cheapies' that the grand-kids bring to use as they don't like Grandma's organics. I chose a 'mid range' combination of shampoo and conditioner following the simple formula that they were the only ones I could get the lid off. The snazzy looking container informed me that I was washing my hair in a gentle but exhilarating solution that contained apricots. Apparently apricots will leave me with a lasting shine....what more can I say.
We have a metal stopper that fits over the drain hole. It fits extremely tightly and does an excellent job of keeping the bugs out. Unfortunately it also does a very good job of keeping the water in and when the water level was somewhere round my knees, I realised that I had left the darned thing in.  Putting on my dressing gown, soaking wet, and with my hair plastered in apricot conditioner I  had to get Merice to rescue me. She gave me a knife that I used to prise the grate off and allow the water to run away.
The next hurdle to negotiate was what to wear to see a consultant. It seemed a moot point as I would be removing my trousers anyway but I was instructed to put on my 'best' ones. The last time I wore these was in January to visit the Royal Academy - now that was worth making a fuss of, but dutifully I demurred.
So dressed in my 'best' and with hair shining we finally made it to the hospital.The first thing is to find somewhere to park. This I eventually did but it was so far away from the entrance that I decided to wait for the hospital shuttle bus!
Remember I had an appointment with a consultant about my damaged knees. I don't suppose he just dealt with knees but probably all kind of arthritic ailments that made it very difficult for his patients to get about. That being the case you would have thought he would be given suitable rooms near the entrance to see his hapless patients - but no. His assigned rooms were right at the back of the hospital and this meant another long hike down endless corridors following the green line for me and other poor sods caught up in the treadmill.
The consultant though was very pleasant. He seemed to know what he was talking about and looked the kind of man you could trust to stick a knife into if!
He asked me if I was happy - I said "yes"- "Good" he replied "come back and see me just before you get miserable and I'll sort your knees out then."
My kind of medical lingo, and my kind of consultant.
Uncle Rufus never went to hospital and he did not wash his hair for the last thirty years of his life. You wouldn't know it though for after a while his own scalp oils worked their magic and his hair was luxuriant and shining without the assistance of apricot or anything else. He died aged 94 after a long fulfilling life. He only gave up then because his beloved Mary had gone and he didn't want to live without her.
I hope I do as well.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Of Baths, Barbers and Beatle Cuts....

"The Enigmatic Eleanor Rigby
I was born in 1950 which means that I was a teenager in the so called "swinging sixties".
This was not quite as glamorous as it may sound.
Indeed it wasn't until 1961 that we moved to a house that actually had electricity!
Previous  to that my family lived in an old semi detached farmhouse labourer's house. As I said there was no electricity and lighting was provided by gas. We had the old gas mantles and they were very delicate so lighting them with a taper was a very difficult operation best left to grown ups. There was no running hot water and it goes without saying that the toilet was outside about a hundred yards away with hardly any roof left.  Can you imagine having to use that on a cold winter's we didn't either! Bath night was a once a week family occasion in the old tin tub. The house was certainly semi detached - the end wall of the other house had literally fallen down. We were evacuated twice by the fire brigade who immediately condemned the property. However despite it's obvious shortcomings I remember being very happy there and though dark, the house always seemed warm and friendly. We lived next door to a timber yard and as my dad sometimes worked for 'Chippy' Schofield, we were never short of wood to burn. Incidentally bread toasted on a fork over an open fire is quite simply the best toast there is.
However the council had to provide us with accommodation so they pulled out all the stops to make one property habitable on a new building site and we duly moved in - the only inhabitants of Moorland Avenue.
This is not quite accurate as there already existed an old Moorland Avenue but this was always known locally as "Hollywood" because of the number of "stars" who lived there. That is another story for another day!
When we moved in we had no carpets but at least we had electricity and I remember my sister and me being enthralled by the light switches, switching them on and off to our amusement and annoyance of mam and dad.
Over the next few years our lot improved - carpets, nice furniture and eventually a telly.
And then in 1963 the Beatles appeared and so began the "Swinging Sixties".
Now to say that my village Gildersome was caught up in this new phenomenon would be a slight exaggeration to say the least. But we did have the most wonderful music of any era before or since and we had the Beatles which meant we had to have the Beatle Cut!
Our village, as every other small village in the old West Riding of Yorkshire, was self sufficient so we had our own barber's shop and incumbent barber - one Clifford Pitts. Clifford or 'The Barber' as he was universally called had a small shop attached to the local village pub (another story or stories some day!) and of course he cut men's hair only - unisex had not yet been invented. He opened on Saturdays only.  He was a cloth cutter at one of the mills in his day job and this constant practise with the sharp shears ensured he was well qualified to cut the hair of the men of Gildersome.
So off we went as thirteen year olds, down to the barbers.
The barber was well used to generations of teenagers asking for different styles through the decades from the teddy boy quiff to a D.A. (ask your dad!) so he was certainly not phased by a request for a "Beatle Cut please barber". "Reet lad" he'd reply and set to work pausing only to dispense 'something for the weekend' and  tips for the next race to passing males.
The trouble was that no matter what you (or anyone else for that matter) asked for, he always cut your hair exactly the same - short back and sides.
"That doesn't look like the Beatle Cut barber " you might dare to suggest....."It would if they came in here lad!" was the succinct reply!
Happy days indeed and we still have that glorious music to bring it all back to life.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Of Boxes, Hugs and 'Ar' Billy.....

"At Eventide"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

I went to a funeral yesterday. I never met the man but to all of his large family, including my wife, he was simply 'Ar' Billy.
Funerals are funny things - not the most apposite adjective of course - but you know what I mean. People do 'funny' things at funerals and are affected in 'funny' ways.
It's also strange that  funerals are the only occasions where the main character is christenings we have a baby, at weddings we have a happy couple but at funerals all we have is........well ... a box.
Billy was a poet and songwriter so his box was painted white and decorated with guitars and musical notes - in fact the family called it "The Music Box" as Billy loved his music even more than his beer and fags. The music played was written by Billy himself and performed by his younger brother Steve. It was very moving and very cool at the same time.
After the committal we drove twenty miles to Billy's favourite watering hole - East End Park Working Mens Club. The booze flowed freely and the buffet was good. Everybody told the compulsory funny story about Billy and as the afternoon progressed I realised that I was wrong.
Billy was not missing - in fact he was more 'present' than he had probably ever been. He was the thread that connected this large gathering and each time they mentioned him, he was there. I hope the family keep him present for a long time - he must have been a nice guy.
Of course funerals are times to show emotions. Now my family do not make an open show of emotion and I was not brought up to do so.. which brings me nicely to the subject of hugs.
What are your thoughts about hugging?
I'm hopeless. My wife tells me that my hands are extremely warm. She admits that this is quite nice in some situations but that is another story and we have a licence.
It's the people I don't have a licence for that cause me problems.
Living in Yorkshire the idea of 'man' hugging seldom arises. We make do with a 'manly' handshake or in extreme circumstances (usually the result of some female insistence)  it is a quick hug with minimum contact, perhaps a perfunctory pat on the shoulder, soon over and done with.
But it's the females who cause the hugging problems. Where do I put these red hot hands - on her shoulders,on her back, lower down or what? What about eye contact? Do I give her a peck on the cheek or offer mine to her? It's a minefield and that is just the younger women. What about the older ones, the ones who crush you in a breathless grip - it's very tricky to know what to do.
I say this because I was observing my lovely wife yesterday moving among her family dispensing hugs with such  warmth, so naturally and so gracefully that people were genuinely touched.
It made me think of all the times I wished I had hugged her and told her that I loved her - but didn't..a bit sad this keeping your emotions in check.
So I will now put this right. Merice - this is for all the opportunities that were missed - here's a big hug and "I love you.".
There I told you that funerals make you do 'funny' get a grip man - tighten those shoulders, straighten that back, keep calm and carry on as normal!

Monday, 12 November 2012

"Cottage in the Snow"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

Twas Christmas Day in the it wasn' was a cold December morning in Gallery Forty-Nine, Old Town,  Bridlington.
It was freezing  and I was contemplating a long day that would culminate in a music and poetry evening at the gallery followed by a long ride home to York probably in icy fog. Now - music I could probably cope with but poetry! And to make matters worse my dear wife, who was manager of the gallery, had decided that we should make an effort so I would have to change into something 'suitable' for the evening entertainment.
Although I had a lovely studio in the back room of the gallery my demeanor was hardly suited to any worthwhile inspiration.
Fortunately I had a visitor.
Margaret is a friend who took me under her wing and as she knows what she is talking about in all matters concerning art, her advice was (and still is) always welcome.
She suggested that I paint a simple little painting of a cottage in the snow.
She even assured me that it would sell!
I set to work and slowly as the painting developed, I warmed up. I wanted to make the cottage warm and inviting in contrast to the coldness all around. I used a lot of colour on the snow itself to give the impression of reflected light  leading to this lovely warm, safe haven.
Guess what... Margaret was right...the original painting sold that very same evening and since then has been my number one bestseller in prints and cards.
As for the dreaded evening. Well it was great. The gallery was packed with enthusiastic supporters and the performers were brilliant. Pete Bolton, the musician, has become a friend since that evening. But the real revelation was the poetry. To hear it read by the author just exactly how she imagined it was a mesmerising experience and opened my eyes to be more receptive to other forms of art, and even the ride home was safe and uneventful.
"Optimism doesn't wait on facts. It deals with prospects. Pessimism is a waste of time" - Norman Cousins.
Lesson learned.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Robots, Scarves and Private Viewings.....

Whitby Sunrise
iPad Painting
Glenn Marshall

It's official - I am a robot or should that be I...AM...A...ROBOT...exterminate, EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE....sorry got a bit carried away there.
But I am a robot. Google says I am so I must be. This was decided after I failed  to read the scrambled letters that Google said would prove I was NOT a robot. After twenty wrong goes at it - I gave up and decided I must be a robot so there you have it.
Being a robot though does have its advantages. For one thing robots don't get invited to special preview evenings at art exhibitions.
When you first receive that 'special' invitation for you and a guest to attend a 'private' viewing it is always a bit flattering. But as any non-robot knows there are certain pitfalls to be avoided at all costs.
Do not wear slashed jeans and t shirts. This will not make you look like a 'devil-may-care' artist will make you look a prat. The 'real' artists wear white linen with an air of casual elegance.Even if you are in a room full of casually elegant white linen  it is still easy to spot the artist..he or she will be wearing a brightly coloured scarf. This is compulsory even in the middle of a heatwave - artists wear scarves.
Definitely, definitely do not wear purple velvet. An artist friend of mine did but, unfortunately,  his suit exactly matched the plush purple velvet curtains draped so decorously around the gallery. For the whole evening he was called the invisible man and people kept trying to 'draw' him.
Do not stand anywhere near your own works of art..this is too risky as you will always be disappointed by what you hear...especially if you are a 'modern' artist.
It is inevitable that at some time you will be asked your 'honest' opinion of some 'masterpiece'.
In this case honesty is probably not the best policy. Simply follow the sterling example of a great friend of mine Margaret Hockney who has been involved with the art scene all her life. ...look earnestly at the piece for a few seconds, nod your head a couple of times and then say with conviction - "Very interesting and well framed!".
Ah well food what do robots eat?

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Concerning chickens,cakes and commissions...

"Out to Sea"
Original watercolour
by Glenn Marshall

I have been commissioned to illustrate a children's book about an adventurous chicken. This is not my usual genre but it could turn out to be quite lucrative and when I accepted the project it seemed so far in the future that I would have lots of time to look up,  research, learn and practise the various techniques leaving me  fully equipped and confident of doing a good job. Of course I did none of these laudable things and now am faced with having to complete a full series of sketches for next week.
Having a deadline though is not such a bad thing - it means my drawings will be fresh, loose and full of spontaneity rather than technically correct and boring...this is what I am telling myself of course!
So this afternoon I am going to grab the bull by the horns(or in this case the chicken by the beak) and get cracking (no pun intended!).
However this has made me think about commissions in general.
Now it seems almost heresy to suggest that commissions could possibly be anything but a 'good' thing - after all you have a subject to paint and a guaranteed sale for an agreed price. So what could possibly go wrong?
The first commission I received after I became a 'professional' painter turned out to be a steep learning curve for me. I was given a good price to paint two hotels (no not emulsion - do paintings of) for a client in York.
As this was my first ever commission I took a lot of time, and I do mean a lot of time, to get the first one right and when I presented it to the client he was satisfied with the outcome. I followed the same procedure for the second one but when I presented this one he was not so sure. "Leave it with me" he said, "I'll put it on the wall and see how it looks over the next few days"
After a couple of weeks he got in touch and said he didn't like it and wouldn't be buying it. I was too embarrassed to even go get it back and I don't know what he did with it to this day many years later. By the time I worked out the number of hours involved and the cost of framing both paintings, it was very clear that my first foray into this field was not an unqualified success.
Lessons learned but here are some tips that may help you to avoid the same mistakes:
The basic difficulty to overcome is that you are painting someone else's vision. As a painter you will know it is hard enough to paint your own vision, let alone someone else's - so get as much information as possible from the client about what he wants. Talk about colours, seasons, places and always make a series of sketches so the client can choose what he likes best.  I always do a quick watercolour sketch later so the client can get a rough idea of how the painting will turn out and confirm he is still happy with the layout and the colours.
Now this takes time and money so make sure you include this in your price. Above all make sure you obtain a non refundable deposit that will cover these expenses. If you are presenting your painting unframed it is a good idea to get it 'backed and wrapped' with a plain mount - it looks better and only costs a few pounds.
 I hope this will help you to have successful commissions.
My last job before commencing with the adventurous chicken is to bake a fruit cake.
We will be open every Sunday afternoon from 1230 - 1530, here at Finley House on Main Street, Sewerby so if you are in the area please call in and have a look ..there might even be a piece of cake left!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Why we need art.

"Girl by Moonlight"
iPad painting
Glenn Marshall
"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have." - Andy Warhol

I always think that the best critic is the person who parts with their hard earned cash to obtain a painting. In view of Andy Warhol's quote above, this is the absolute proof that the buyer admires and appreciates your skills.
So I am pleased that the large iPad painting above was bought this weekend and will hang on someone else's wall. I have been asked if I ever feel sorry to see one go...the answer is a resounding NO.
When one goes, it means space for another and this gives a great motive for carrying on painting.
Our open studio weekend was a great success and we will be opening every Sunday afternoon between 12 noon and 4 pm.
Please come along and pop in - there is no obligation - I just want you to enjoy what we do.
In these difficult times it is nice just to take time out and relax - surely that is the point of provide a little escape from everyday life, to stimulate the imagination and to provide the viewer with something to think about.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Open Studio Weekend

"Late Evening at Tintern Abbey"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

We are holding an open studio weekend here at Finley House, Sewerby. We will be open from 1230 - 1530 both days Saturday and Sunday 3rd and 4th November 2012,  so if you happen to be in the area, please call in - you will be made most welcome. For full details just get in touch at:
Open studios are a 'good' thing. It gives people the opportunity to see the painter and the paintings in a more relaxed atmosphere and the painter the chance to explain the 'thinking' behind a particular piece.
The location is also free from what I call the 'gallery' effect.
Now I am a great supporter of the gallery system - painters like me would not be able to survive without it and I appreciate the efforts they make on my behalf especially in these difficult times!
However as someone who has worked in a few galleries, I have observed a few things - the 'gallery' effect!
First of all people tend to speak in whispers as they do at the dentists.
This could be because their comments are not very favourable - "A kid could do that!", "How much??", we have all certainly heard those sort of remarks. But I think there is a more underlying cause. People are still a bit in awe of 'art'. So they keep their opinions nice and low in case they appear foolish to other viewers or gallery staff. This applies especially to contemporary art. Joe public thinks they have to like it even if they don't understand it..they don't want to seem  old fashioned or uncool, do they.
The other good thing about an open studio concerns choice.
At your place there is only your stuff to consider - either they like what you do or they don't!
Sometimes in a gallery people can be spoilt for choice and end up not buying anything as they just can't decide what they like best.
Anyway, time to start getting ready - prints to frame, cards to print etc, etc. and hope for a successful weekend - look forward to seeing you!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Cheating art!

"Towards Bridlington from Dane's Dyke"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you're an artist."
Do you know who said that? All will be revealed....
.......I am very fortunate to live where I do,with just a five minute walk to the beach. We have wonderful beaches here on the east coast, and the ones around Bridlington are among the best!
This is a view towards the town from the beach where Dane's Dyke meets the sea. I remember the first time I visited this wonderful beach at low tide and just how inspired I was (and still am) by this amazing vista. This is painted in  tea time light which makes it a crepuscular painting (go on - look it up).
One of the chief joys of being a painter as opposed to a photographer is that we can change things at will to improve composition, tone or even colour to make our painting more beautiful. For example - the chief attraction here is the light all pointing to and centered upon the distinctive Bridlington skyline but ..was the scene just like this? Of course not. These days anyone can capture exactitude with the modern wonders of digital photography, so the painter must do something more than faithfully reproduce a scene..he must enhance it by putting 'feeling' into it. Every painting contains something of the painter and this is what makes it special and unique. This also explains why no painter ever paints the same scene in the same way as, of course, we are all different.
So do we cheat for the sake of beauty...of course!
And the author of the above quote...David Hockney, Bridlington's most famous resident.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

The power of the press!

"Burton Agnes Hall, Spring 2006"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

Recently I was pleased to donate an A3 giclee print of this 2006 painting as part of a charity auction run by the East Riding Council and was even more pleased when it realised £150!
However at the time I painted the original, perhaps I was not so pleased.
For several years I had the  pleasure of sharing the artist in residence at Burton Agnes Hall with  a good friend - Tony Hogan. Tony is a very well known artist and it was great fun to spend a whole month together painting and enjoying life in general in this lovely location. We were based in the summer house and exhibited our paintings for sale there as well as in the Long Gallery of the house itself....a brilliant setup, I think you will agree.
I probably had the best part of the deal. Because I lived in York at the the time I was given a rent free flat for the full month of April. Now the flat was in the old servants quarters...but who cares...we didn't! For Merice and me it was a free holiday and we even had the grand-kids over for the odd weekend.
Back to the matter in hand...
It was the first day of our residency. We had hung all our paintings and they made a good display even though we said it ourselves. Merice was pottering about in the flat and Eileen, Tony's wife, had returned home so we were on our own.
We were discussing the press visit due the following day.
"Any particular plans for this season?" Tony asked.
I had been mulling over a little project and blurted it out - "I rather fancy having a go at a large painting of the Hall itself." I said. Now I was not, and still am not, particularly inspired by painting buildings but I thought it might be another string to my bow and get me some commissions.
The next day along came the press and we were shepherded around the grounds while the photographer captured us in suitable artistic poses and then back to the summer house for a cuppa and a chat with the reporter. All went well until towards the end of the interview when the reporter asked if we had any special plans for this year. Tony made a suitable reply about his intentions and then added "...and Glenn is going to do a large painting of the Hall this year".
"That's interesting." said the scribbler making his notes with a final flourish before departing to write up his story.
So there it was. I was now totally committed to the large painting of the house!
Well I put it off and off until Tuesday of the last week before I decided to give it a go. I set up my easel with a full sheet of paper directly in front of the house. My intention was to paint the east face of the Hall which would be reflected in the ponds in front to make an unusual view - one that I hadn't seen anyone tackle before.
The drawing was painstaking and took two full days..well not exactly full ..plenty of time off for coffee and meals etc..but you know what I mean. I included every window - go see for yourself if you don't believe me! Finally it was finished and I was so impressed with what I'd done that I decided to take no chances. I scrapped all ideas about reflections in ponds and such like - this was now to be a simple painting of the house in pre-pond days!
The sky and background trees were painted quite loosely but for the building itself I took my time using a very small brush. It is probably the most nerve wracking painting I have ever done but at last it was finished and I had done what I said I would do.
I have done a few 'building' commissions since but never on this scale. In the process I have gained an enormous appreciation and respect  for topographical artists.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Nice to give something...

"Lone Tree at Mattersey"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall
"The essence of all art is to have pleasure in giving pleasure."- Dale Carnegie.

It was December and I was looking for a suitable subject for my 'winter' painting. Although we had lots of snow ourselves I came across a photograph by a good friend - Sally Outram. As well as a talented photographer, Sally is also a rising star in the field of journalism, so I was well pleased when she gave me permission to use her image of this lone tree in Mattersey, near Retford in Nottinghamshire.
We decided to get together and use our efforts to raise some money for the RNLI and managed to raise £300 in a silent auction.
Sally's original photograph
I visited the location and it might be worth painting the same scene in a different season!

Sunday, 21 October 2012

When is painting... easy?

'Girl by Moonlight'
iPad painting
Glenn Marshall

I just love  paintings by John Atkinson Grimshaw.
This iPad paintings contains all the elements of a classic Grimshaw 'moonlight'.
It isn't until you try to paint in another painter's style that you realise just how good they are!
I have learned a great deal by studying the work of painters I admire, and trying to capture their effects and way of working has been a great inspiration and benefit to me in the development of my own style.
I will leave you with a telling quote from another man who could paint a bit - Edgar Degas:
"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do."

Saturday, 20 October 2012

How long does it take...?

"Sunset over the Humber Estuary"
iPad painting
by Glenn Marshall

Every painter who has ever lived will have been asked the question - "How long did it take you to do that?"
It's a strange question, as if the length of time taken is somehow related to the validity of the painting. Some paintings actually do 'flow' and take very little time while others have to be worked on for a long time.
One of the best answers to the question came from a fellow artist and good friend - Rob Gobel.
A group of us were demonstrating our techniques at an exhibition we were involved with.
Rob works in mixed media and tends to start many, many paintings outdoors and sometimes.... even finishes them if he gets round to it!
The  piece he was working on was begun several years earlier but this particular morning he had been working away for a couple of hours developing his painting.
A passerby stopped and watched him for a while.."How long did it take you to paint this?" he eventually asked.
Without missing a beat Rob, replied so casually, "Oh three years and a couple of hours." Brilliant!
So when you are asked the question again, remember Rob's reply. You might also want to bear in mind a quote from the great James Whistler  -
"An artist is not paid for his labour but for his vision."

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Roman Army Bread, Cranberry Cake..and A Walk on the Beach

"After the Storm"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

One of the joys of having a dog is that it gets you out of the house ...whatever the weather! This morning it was raining so hard that even Bonnie did not want to venture out.So I baked some bread and made a cake!
We use spelt flour which is an ancient from of wheat introduced to this country by the Romans. I use very basic recipes that adapt whatever the flour or fruit. The only problem with it is that they are very 'moreish'.
 Fortunately the clouds passed out to sea, the sun came out, so off we went.
We are blessed with wonderful beaches here on the east coast and Bridlington can boast some of the best. We walked from Sewerby down to town and back again, taking full advantage of this glorious sunshine while it lasts. The beach was deserted and it really was a delightful experience - good preparation for putting up shelves which is what I am going to do now - who's a busy boy today!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Follow the Leader

This is a follow up to yesterday really about the decline in fortune of  Victorian painters.
Let me tell you a story.....
I grew up with a faded print on my mother's wall - it portrayed a typical English village scene around evening time. I was always drawn to it and was fascinated by the tale it told of a bygone age. Eventually when I began to paint myself I  wanted to be able to paint like the artist I so admired, even though I didn't know his name. Gradually I progressed - learning my colours, developing my technique - until I felt I could do it justice at last!
Merice, my wife, took a photo of the print and I did my simplified version of it on a 30" x 22" watercolour. I have already said it was faded so there was little colour to go on. I decided to make my painting  a 'nocturne' so I could concentrate on the tones of the piece without having to worry about colour.
I was (and still am!) pleased with the result and when we had framed it, Merice said she would try and find out the original artist so we could give him due credit. It didn't take her long -thanks to good old Google - there he was...Benjamin Williams Leader RA. and the original painting was entitled "February Filldyke".
Intrigued I delved a little deeper.
His real name was plain Benjamin Williams. However  there were other Benjamin Williams at that time who also painted, so he added Leader to distinguish himself. His father was a friend and neighbour of a certain John Constable RA and it is thought that the great man encouraged young Benjamin and even gave him some sketches to work on. By the time he painted "February Filldyke" he was a member of the Royal Academy and one of the most well known artists of the day.
I was pleased to be able to give him due credit for my painting and even more pleased when I found out that the Ferens Gallery in nearby Hull had two originals and several 19th century prints in their collection.
.....and they all lived happily ever after.....well no!
I got in touch with the Ferens and made arrangements to go see the 'Leaders' and was told that one was in Hull City Hall in the chambers and the other was in the stores, not on public display.
I had already done another  painting based on "When Sun is Set" by Leader and this was the painting in the vaults at the gallery so I was naturally keen to see it. A curator kindly led us down into the storeroom and on the way she remarked, "Do you know how big it is?" I hadn't given it much thought - my paintings were 30 x 22 inches but it turned out his paintings (in oil of course) were 6 x 4 FEET, and with a large ornate frame it was a very impressive presence. Unfortunately the painting is in need of some restoration work. Sadly Leader's standing, in common with so many talented painters of that era, is so low that the gallery cannot justify the expense of restoration from public funds - so there it languishes unseen and unwanted.
I was not allowed to photograph it, nor do a sketch from 'life', but its magnificence is clear and bright in my memory.Perhaps we should start a campaign to rescue it as a symbol for all those other great artists of that time!
"Back to Life"
Original watercolour
by Glenn Marshall
based on "February Filldyke"
Benjamin Williams Leader RA
"Evening Falls"
Original Watercolour
by Glenn Marshall
based on "When Sun is Set"
by Benjamin Williams Leader RA

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Are you utterly bewildered?

"150 Years Ago Today"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

Earlier this week I was given a book entitled "The 20th Century Art Book". It made depressing reading for me. Art has certainly changed in the last one hundred years or so - we have had 'post-impressionism','expressionism','post-expressionism','cubism','post-cubism','surrealism' and every other 'ism' you can think of.
Maybe it's because I'm a boring old reactionary but my favourite'art' comes from the 19th Century! There was a marvellous flowering of talent especially towards the end of that century. Sadly their efforts are now mostly derided and ridiculed, their craftsmanship mocked as too rigid, and their descriptive skill dismissed as irrelevant.
My painting above is a watercolour painting trying to emulate the effects that John Atkinson Grimshaw achieved with his oil paintings. Grimshaw is a case in point - dismissed as a charlatan and a trickster by the 'critics' soon after his death, his work and his reputation faded from public interest. However there has been a great revival of interest in Grimshaw and his paintings are now selling round about the three to four hundred thousand mark...maybe there is hope for us after all!
I came across this quote from Al Capp:
"Abstract art: a product of the untalented sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered."
I'll leave it up to  you whether you agree or not - but I know what I think.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Thank You Mr Constable

"Haywain Unplugged"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

 This was my attempt in watercolour to do what Constable had achieved with his oils as part of my 'Inspirations' series of paintings and workshops. Constable painted this iconic image in his studio in London but had to send back down to Suffolk for his cousin to do some drawings of a hay wagon that he could maybe this most famous landscape in English art looked like this at some stage before Constable received the drawings and was able to complete it!
I sold this painting this week. People ask me if I am ever sorry to see a painting go. The straight answer is "No.". I am always pleased when someone likes one of my paintings enough to part with his or her hard earned cash. What is very nice though is to see one of your paintings in its new home. This happens all too rarely unfortunately, but when you do come across one carefully placed by a proud owner, it gives one a very nice feeling and you even think to yourself sometimes.."mmm - that's not too bad!".

Friday, 12 October 2012

"Back to Life"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

The first time you ever take paintings to a gallery is a very, very stressful experience. I had been avoiding the inevitable for a while but the day would finally dawn.
I was having my hair cut when my lovely wife announced she had found a gallery that was advertising for new artists and that she would make an appointment for me. I was so startled that I ended up with a 'mohican'....well not quite....but I did jump a bit!
So the dreaded morning arrived and off we went. The gallery was called Windows on the Moors and was situated in Rosedale Abbey a delightful village in the outskirts of the North Yorkshire Moors.
We were met by the owner - Monique - and her daughter in law - Sarah. They were very nice and took us into the gallery to have a look round. The gallery was a converted chapel and the 'window on the moor' was an exquisite stained glass window that flooded the gallery with fantastic light. There was a wide variety of paintings on the wall but the one thing they had in common was that they all looked like masterpieces compared to mine!
Monique was a Belgian - yes a Belgian like Hercule Poirot, he of the little grey cells - and she was so enthusiastic about promoting art in this quiet corner of Yorkshire.
But now it was my turn to let them see my paintings. I remember walking back down the steps to the car and then having to walk back up clutching my efforts, thinking "What am I doing here!".
I had brought seven, a good selection, hoping they might just pick one. We laid them out propped up against chairs for inspection. There was complete silence for a while. It seemed like hours to me though it was just a few minutes. Finally Sarah spoke, "Yes" she said"I am sure we can sell these". The elation was incredible especially when they took all seven!
I suppose you could say that this was the beginning of my was certainly an inspiration to keep going.
Sadly Monique passed away a few years later and Sarah was not able to keep the gallery open but I will always be grateful to them both for giving me the opportunity to show my paintings in their lovely gallery.  This is a good time too to record my heartfelt thanks to Merice - the lovely wife mentioned at the beginning. She has supported, encouraged and sometimes 'driven' me (as in this case!) from the very start down to the present day, indeed without her I would never have got this many,many thanks.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Foxes, Robins ...and Staffordshire Bull Terriers.

"Twilight on the North Yorkshire Moors"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

As a general rule I abstain from putting people or animals in my paintings. I feel that if I add a squirrel then this somehow limits the viewer to seeing a squirrel, when what I really want to do is stimulate the viewer's imagination to see what THEY want to see be it squirrels, pixies or fairies.
There are obvious exceptions of could you portray the Yorkshire Dales without including sheep, or indeed, the North Yorkshire Moors without soaring birds! And including a human figure is a great way of bringing the idea of scale into a picture.
But there was a time when I thought it would be a great selling point to include a cute little animal or bird to clinch that elusive sale!
My first attempt was a snowy, winter woodland painting. It was the perfect time of the year to include a robin...a sure fire winner! I didn't think I'd done a bad job with my robin and brought it proudly to the gallery for exhibiting.
My colleagues went strangely quiet and said how much they admired the concept and that the woodland was well painted etc, etc but no mention of the robin. Eventually one spoke up - "Don't you think the robin is a little bit...large?" he offered. My friends shook their heads in agreement so I had to look very closely again at my effort. They were robin was totally out of scale and was as big as a golden eagle! Never mind, robin deleted and lesson learned.....well almost...
....undeterred my next painting included a fox. This was quite tricky with complicated anatomical details  but I persevered and eventually brought it to the gallery for pre-hanging scrutiny.
This was an occasion for great mirth among my 'friends', and much chastened, I hid the fox behind a bramble bush with just his head showing.
So I learned a good lesson - if you are going to include animals or birds, make sure you do it well or a whole painting can be ruined.
However I did have the last laugh. A good friend of mine bought the painting from the gallery and it has pride of place in her living room and she refers to it to this day as her 'fox' painting.
On the subject of animals I went for a walk with my granddaughter Kate and their two 'staffie' puppies - Tank and Chunk - it will be much joy, I'm sure, watching them grow and play with our staffie - Bonnie.
Staffordshire Bull Terriers ( to give them their full title) are a much maligned breed. Yes they were originally bred for fighting bulls and later other dogs, and yes they are very powerful dogs for their size, but with the right owners they are as loving, and as  loyal a companion as any other breed if not more!
At about eight last night I was still on the laptop but Bonnie came and barked at me to remind us all that it was time to settle down on the sofa together to watch a bit of maybe they are quite smart as well!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Of Tall Trees, Dykes....and Kippers

"Out to Sea"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall
"Tall Trees in Autumn"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall
It is such a beautiful day that we decided not to waste it. So this morning we set of on the "tall trees" walk as named by a friend of ours. This is a stroll through the golf club to Dane's Dyke into the trees and back along the cliff tops - it takes me two hours but is well worth the effort.
Now I must digress for a moment:
Recently I did an iPad painting of a tree stump in Dane's Dyke and uploaded it onto the app site under the title ......'Tree Stump at Dane's Dyke',....well what did you expect?
However when I clicked to share my painting up popped a notice saying the title was unacceptable as it contained an offensive word! Any ideas? The only possible candidate was 'dyke' so I re-titled the painting "Tree Stump" and submitted it again.
Success. I added a comment to the effect that 'dyke' merely referred to a defensive ditch that had been in existence for 1100 years. I also pointed out that Holland is full of dykes!!  However when I submitted my comment up popped another warning - if I persisted in using offensive words I would be barred from the site! What more can I say...just be careful how you title your work.
As to kippers - well after 62 years I have finally decided that I like them so after my exertions I enjoyed a couple along with fried santini tomatoes and some of my homemade spelt bread...certainly a day NOT wasted.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

You must have a gift...

"Rays of Hope"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

   "You must have a gift to be able to paint like that!". I guess that most painters have heard this or similar and while it is very it true?
Let's consider the different types of gift. Well first there is the gift that is eagerly awaited and when unwrapped is immediately loved and put into use. Then there is the gift that once unwrapped is used for a while and then put away in a cupboard.  But there is another kind of gift...let me illustrate.
I love barbecues and several years ago I was the proud owner of a large portable barbecue. This brought me invites to many a summer get together..."and bring your barbecue with you.".
Unfortunately I didn't look after my barbecue and it rusted and finally fell to bits...some of the invites died up!
However one afternoon there was a knock at the door and when I opened it Judy was standing there. Judy is an old friend and she said she had brought me a new barbecue as a gift. Gratefully I went outside expecting to see a shiny new appliance but.......all I could see was a pile of bricks and bits of was a self build brick barbecue. I built the barbecue and hosted many, many more happy occasions.
Do you get the point...yes it was a gift but I had to work to get the best out of it!
I think this is the type of gift that applies to painters. We might have a modicum of talent but we have to work hard to realise our full potential.
So the next time someone talks about your gift ....accept the compliment but remember the hard work!                                                

Monday, 8 October 2012

Winter is coming...

"Deep Midwinter"
Original watercolour
by Glenn Marshall
Winter is coming....there is a definite nip in the air. We had a lot of snow last year and this made for some fabulous paintings, though I am at an age when snow is probably best in a painting. Have a look at...

.....for a selection of winter scenes that will make fabulous Christmas cards.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Of Flying Ducks...and one that didn't!

"Lady in the Lane"
Original watercolour
Glenn Marshall

I have always thought that artists are very brave - after all we bare our souls to the world , but artists are also very presumptuous - imagining that anyone would want to look in the first place!
I had just started as a 'professional' artist and was in my first year as artist in residence at Burton Agnes Hall. This was a brilliant engagement - I was given a flat free to live in for a whole month as well as unlimited access to the house and grounds and an opportunity to display and sell my work. The icing on the cake was seeing one of my paintings hanging with the very best of the post-impressionists in the Hall's famous collection.
I decided to do a painting 'plein air' and set up my easel  in front of a very imposing gateway. Now architectural subjects have never been my strong point but what I was interested in was the shadows of the trees on the ancient stonework - perfect subject for a new, keen painter. Nevertheless the structural details had to be tackled and I laboured away gamely for several hours. Throughout my travails I was visited at regular intervals by an older lady who made kind comments on my progress.
Finally I felt I had finished and was pleased with my efforts. In due course, up came my elderly supporter.
She said that I had done a good job but could she make just one observation:
"You see" she said "you see that statue on top of the gatepost. Can you see how it looks poised to take flight, how you can see the power in its wings and the nobility in its head..." I looked at the stone phoenix and nodded in agreement.."well yours looks like...a duck!" Feet back firmly on the ground.
Talking about ducks brings to mind a painting that I did also in my early days. I had executed a commission for a lady of a cottage she used to live in when she was a girl. Pear Tree Cottage was the oldest inhabited home on Danby Moor in North Yorkshire. It was a remote farm building and took some finding but when my wife and I eventually located it we were shocked. It had been completely modernised with dormer windows and a conservatory added - Deidre would have been horrified! However no problem for a painter.
I simply removed the modern features and painted it as it would have been. Deidre was delighted with the result and even her husband, who was not renowned for his exuberance, was enthusiastic and said it was just as he remembered it.
She was so pleased she gave me another commission for a good price. Deidre produced a sketch of an unfinished work and the deal was that I had to put myself into the shoes of the original artist and finish his painting (I did find out many years later that the artist was Walter Sickert but at this time I had never heard of him.). This wasn't as bad as it sounds because the composition was good and featured a couple dressed in elegant clothes riding a horse drawn carriage towards a fine chalet surrounded by mountains and reflecting in a lake. "But ", she added " I want you to put three flying ducks in the picture...and proper ducks mind you, not seagull squiggles".
Unfortunately this request triggered a mind picture that has stayed with me until this day. All I could see was Hilda Ogden's famous 'Muriel' of yes...three flying ducks! UK readers will be aware that Hilda was a character in a well known TV soap, but for the benefit of non UK readers I will explain that "Coronation Street" started probably around 1067 shortly after William the Conqueror landed, and has been going ever since.
Try as I might I could not get this fateful image out of my mind and after several attempts I presented my painting unsigned and as a gift, waiving the fee. She seemed to be pleased with it (maybe because she got a bargain!) and I have not painted ducks since!    


Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Highest Mountains in the Yorkshire?

"Roaring Ghyll, Honister Pass"
I have the great fortune to be a born and bred Yorkshireman. Now everyone who lives in Yorkshire knows that it is "God's Own" County and the best location on the planet with the best possible landscape features in existence.
 However some people get a bit confused and need to be put in the picture so to speak.....
Stan Lewis is a very dear friend. He hails from Seattle but is happily settled in Hull with a lovely Yorkshire lass. He attended one of my watercolour courses and this particular week we were doing a painting of mountains in the Lake District. The following week he turned up with a photograph from 'back home' and said that these were what HE called mountains. They were indeed very impressive - a range of majestic snow covered jagged peaks piercing the sky. "They are proper mountains." he proudly announced.
However I soon put him right....
"Everyone knows that the highest mountains in the world are in Yorkshire - it's just that they have worn away a bit!"
So there we are, honour settled and the true facts presented...gracefully accepted by my genial friend who was happy to be put right!

Friday, 5 October 2012


This is my first 'blog' and marks another step towards my acceptance of modern technology. I don't know why I have resisted for so long especially as artists have always taken advantage of any technology available to them at the time....think of the use of the camera obscura, or the effect  oil paints in tubes had on the impressionists!
However here I am at the age of 62 with ten years as a professional artist behind me gradually joining the 21st century.

Light of the Forest
iPad painting
Glenn Marshall
Since the beginning of this year, I have been getting more and more fascinated with painting on the iPad. This is a brilliant way of 'painting' outdoors - no easel,no messy paints or mediums - and easy to carry. You can even post the image to your PC or Facebook from site.