Malvern Hills landscape painting

Landscape artists, I admire you so much. How the devil do you cram in so much detail just through the odd dash here and brush stroke there?

I have shied away from landscapes, seascapes and cityscapes because I find it tricky to condense huge amounts of visual information into one moment in time.

What a frustrating RESIGNATION when you live at the foot of the Malvern Hills.

Between the ages of 10 to 18, I sat in their shadow. Gazing up the gorges and quarries, resting my eye on the peak of the Beacon as it simmered in and out of the wispy cloud, I wearily sketched and re-sketched the scene. I sleepily watched the shadows dance across the wild fluffy grass in the sunsets, and the rain washing in sheets from one face to the next.

But my representations of these never-to-be-seen-again seconds in infinity just never looked as beautiful as I wanted them to. 

Fast forward another ten years - the last attempt at capturing the hills was gathering dust in my portfolio - and my folks announce: 'it's time to sell up and move on!'

I decided to make them a painting, with some trepidation (this hadn't gone well in the past, so why would it work now?), but I immediately found that the old frustrations were inexplicably long gone.

I was able to see the shadows of the vista a little more easily and put it on paper more simply. And they liked it, much to my relief :)

This painting gave me the confidence to experiment with mountainscapes in paint and pencil.

And, coastal scenes too...

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Christmas cards 2016

The end of last year was bittersweet, for various silly reasons I won't explain here.

In lieu of money and clear life direction, I channelled a lot of nervous energy into making a batch of Christmas cards. 

The 'collection' featured everything you can shake a stick at dashing through the snow. Foxes, boats and port towns were all lost in inky blue skies and seas as snowflakes fell from the heavens in front of a full moon.

I didn't have two pennies to rub together, let alone paint brushes, so I improvised! These were created with the edge of a matchstick and a sponge - magic!

Ragdolls and rabbits

In case you weren't aware, I have a four-year-old ragdoll cat called Chewie.

He is ADORABLE if I do say so myself. Much like any other cat, he is a bundle of curiosity with a quizzical expression. Icy blue eyes and snow white fur gives him the appearance of a wild snow tiger, rather than a moggy about-the-house. And, such is his striking appearance, drawing him felt rather intimidating.

I have a good understanding of colour so I wasn't afriad to pick up a set of watercolour pencils and get to it.

It was rather the texture and movement of fur that was a new challenge. In days of yore (whenever the hell that was), artistic folks capturing the likeness of horses, dogs, sheep and farm animals, commissioned other painters with a fur specialism to finish off and finesse their work.

NO, REALLY. 

As you can probably tell, I didn't ask my mate to do the fur for me, but I think these are rather sweet all the same. 

Self portrait 2017

The Portrait Artist of The Year competition is in full swing, and I'm hooked (as usual).

I've spent the last decade thinking that I can't draw faces and that my portraiture skills are a bit rough around the edges. Noses, eyes and ears point in the wrong directions. Everything's there, but it looks off-kilter.

Desperate to right these wrongs, I experimented with a technique that many of the painters use in Portrait Artist of The Year.

Usually, I trace the shadows of the image and build up the picture freehand. This gives the cartoon/graphic effect you can see in the Jeff Goldblum illustration I published last year.

The new technique makes use of a crisscross graph, laid over the top of a digital image. Then, square by square, you recreate the image on the page.

It's. A. Revelation.

I remember trying this method at school and failing miserably - clearly too distracted by boys to care one iota about drawing graphs and observational drawing.

I did this portrait of Dave Grohl in an afternoon - a timescale unheard of in the Bathory-Griffiths household, particularly without at least a few false starts.

Island Life

Siva maia oe le tausala
a e aiuli ane o ni tama
e o’o le teine ia tafatafa
e i ai ma se sei fulu lanu lau’ava

An artwork a day keeps the grumbles at bay. Something serene for a turbulent July.  A night owl, restless in the midnight heat rolls out of bed and pulls on their wet suit. Running into the inky waters, they sail over a moon-lit ocean atop a stand up paddle board. Breathe in. Breath out. Paddle. The water is flat, the air is warm. Petals drift across the water's surface and ride the waves rippling from the nose of the board. It's hand-carved from driftwood, painted red.  Close your eyes and switch on Bobby Alu. Picture turquoise waves and a Pacific island beach. Imagine you're home. 

An artwork a day keeps the grumbles at bay.

Something serene for a turbulent July. 

A night owl, restless in the midnight heat rolls out of bed and pulls on their wet suit. Running into the inky waters, they sail over a moon-lit ocean atop a stand up paddle board. Breathe in. Breath out. Paddle.

The water is flat, the air is warm. Petals drift across the water's surface and ride the waves rippling from the nose of the board. It's hand-carved from driftwood, painted red. 

Close your eyes and switch on Bobby Alu. Picture turquoise waves and a Pacific island beach. Imagine you're home.