Starry Starry Night…..

It’s a hint! Another motorcycle sketch in my constant search for artistic merit and loose rendition whilst still rendering subjects as recognisable. This was painted straight to the board without pre-drawing. (which explains the oversized front wheel!). So the  header will hopefully tell the variety of ‘bike depicted for those who care…….It’s a marque now financially out of reach to us mere mortals.

Sennelier Oil Pastels were the medium here and they’re quite new to me. The image was done very quickly too – which was nice. Those pastels are quite strange – like your wax crayons of old. But priced as professional materials!  They might be good for working “in the field” – and I know my pal George IS looking for a painting of his lovely Moto-Guzzi single of the late 1930s.Revised Vincent wee I’ll have to buy some Bright Reds……

Same- but Much Different


Have been footering about to little effect for the last few months.  Mostly due to a computer slowly expiring – the offender sadly now with the Great Re-cycler – and from having abortive trips in search of a 1950’s 350cc Matchless or AJS to suit my standards. All too demanding for the depth of my pockets it would seem…….Ah! well. One day one will appear just like this………..


So I’ve returned to the discipline of painting Aireys. One of my recent attempts there sold at the Guild’s show in July and folks seemed to think it a worthy attempt, so I’ve resolved to do it again in another form. For a start it will be a watercolour rather than in oils and a different view to the previous “Balkan Baroudeur”. I hope the terrain will look much the same though. The main aeroplane – once again a Halberstadt DII and it’s again confronted with a French Caudron G4. Or perhaps two of them again? There may be enough airspace! As is my pedantic wont, the Halberstadt was drawn by trial and error with no mechanical or digital help save for having a 3-view drawing and photos. This is a method I never tire of repeating in the current easily-originated world of Aviation “artists”.

So – Work in Progress of the current image. If I post now I’ll HAVE to finish it!

Barodeur Two


Halberstadt DII – Finished – Gone!

Self -praise, I’m aware, is no praise at all – so I’d best not admit I was chuffed with this one when finally finished.  It turned out to be the first of my pictures to sell at the Guild’s Annual show this year. As I’ve posted a “work in progress” of said Halberstadt here before I thought I’d post the finished article. Plus I need to get used to this damn blog thing again……….

wee Balkan Barodeur


A brace of Beezas….

….and each in different styles. While my own quest for a “classic” and affordable British thumper continues I’ve been peeling-off from aeroplanes as art-subjects and leaning towards motorcycles. But beasts of a certain vintage as the modern motorcycle leaves me cold. My quest for a less “literal” style of art continues – although you wouldn’t know it from the first painting here.This is a BSA 500cc “Sloper” of the early 1930’s  painted at the request of the proud owner. Lucky man!



Recently a pal got it touch having discovered a sad and neglected old BSA 250cc of the same vintage as the Sloper and sent me a snap of the hulk languishing in a cellar “somewhere in Scotland”. Unfortunately, after enquiries, the bike was confirmed as not for sale.The photo was however quite inspiring and led to the pic below. Pretty chuffed with this as a step forward in my search for a less photographic rendering. Watercolours again, but this time copying the photograph directly onto the paper with no pre-drawing in pencil. A dark satanic Beeza which remains in its cellar still. But a wee picture I’m pleased to say is mine. We won’t dwell on the somewhat increased fork-rake. Artistic Licence, see!

Barn Find

The Balkan Baroudeur

No French speaker, I – but I remember the SNCASE Baroudeur as a French jet fighter from days of my pre-youth. The term has re-surfaced with my present enjoyment of cycling and watching its machinations on the sports channels.  A “Baroudeur” is a battler or fighter and it’s applied by the commentators to a rider who will take the fight individually to the peleton or who is a constant thorn in the flesh by breaking away from that organised group. I was struggling for a name for this painting as I always search for alliterative names for mine (A smartarse personal foible). This was how the picture started………

Halberstadt and Caudron 001

It’s now a bit more respectable as an image although with a lot to go yet…………

Halb 003

If, unlike most “aero-artists” you don’t start with a computer-scanned and corrected image drawing and drop-in a background via Photoshop or the like, or if you don’t use a direct tracing or a three-dimensional “drawing” programme, then you can always venture into the world of drawing – as folk used to do in pre-DigiHistoric times. To paint an image this way is quite humbling as the subjects always need tweaked and adjusted from the original laying-down. But hopefully  the painter gets better at it with practice and in this case the main subject is pretty close to its true shape whilst the wee Caudrons are reasonably close to factual  and  rather “painterly” in their almost casual form. We live in hope!

The Halberstadt DII as shown here was the first successful German biplane fighter – and its quarry are two French Caudron G4s – cumbersome if well-loved observation aeroplanes. The Balkan aspect is shown as mountainous country as opposed to the gently-rolling Western Front. The Balkans were flown by those front-line machines whose times had come in the over-competitive skies of France and Belgium.

A Good Start!

It’s always encouraging, a good start – for example see this old snap. Recognise the stylish chap in red just behind the starter’s Saltire? No?

Start - Greeves

Many years have passed since that day at a Kirkcaldy Scramble – and yet I find I’m still behind the Saltire. Ha!

But the “good start” today refers to a new aeroplane-painting on the stocks. I’ve been ranting for a long while now about the origination of most modern aero-painting with its increasingly computer generated drawing and mechanically produced overlays and Photo-shopped images that simply need painted up to the outlines to produce. Folks that do this are perhaps painters but are they artists? They are not. Neither have I any time for photographic representational paintings that could easily be bettered by simply being a photograph. Aviation Artists? Where is the flair and imagination of the true Artist?  I’ve had a scunner for a while about my own stuff too and find these days that the only way I can hold my head up over a painting is when it has been drawn directly onto paper or canvas and adjusted and modified until it looks right. An original photo can well be copied – but by eye and not mechanically – not tracing, not even sizing-up using squared graph-like paper. Well – that’s my take on it anyway. Almost like real drawing ,eh?

It being the New Year, I was keen to get started on something positive. I should be out putting in the miles on my bicycle and reducing the results of the Season’s  excesses, but the weather is just too crap for me at present. So I thought I’d try to start on a painting. I think my favourite WW1 aeroplane is the Halberstadt DIII and I found a good photo of one without any photo-distortion to it. (Photo-distortion seems to be another favourite factor amongst my beloved non-selective Aero -“artists”). No drawing at all with this pic below. It was painted straight onto the board and adjusted as I go. And there’s a lot to go.

But I think it’s going to be OK, this one. And that’ll be a Caudron G4 down below………

Halberstadt and Caudron 001

Actually, it’ll be two Caudrons below to balance things out. This is painted on a smooth panel – I’ve always painted on fine linen canvasses until now and I’ll admit it was because I though panels were a cheap option to stretched canvas. But I really like the smoothness of this panel. Time will tell about the ability to paint fine detail thereon.  So this is stage two below. That Halberstadt is such a nice shape. Definitely my favourite WW1 aeroplane!

Halb stage two


The Scottish Railway Preservation Society’s acquisition and unveiling of this Stanier 8F was keenly followed by many Bo’Ness “enthusiasts” recently.


Eight Eff

All the way from Turkey it came – although born in Glasgow. I’m not holding my breath until it’s seen running, but it IS a most impressive beast. We were at Bo’Ness yesterday too and took a trip to the new End of the Line station at Manuel and thence back, with a rather less impressive DIESEL loco. I’m not keen on them so didn’t even take a snap of it. Diesel, Schmeisell……

A bit of the Dark Satanic Mills about this area of West Lothian, where the visual highlight is the Grangemouth petro-chemical works….

Wee Bo';Ness

So out for a spin on the Fixed today as start to the Post-Christmas self-indulgence, Mighty Expanding Gut banishment regime.

We’re just a few miles south of Bo’ness here at the Union Canal, complete with its solid topping. Fairly chilly!

Fixed at Canal.


As a pro. photographer, probably the least thing I can think about posting here is a mere photograph. But we dropped into Dysart yesterday and on a grey day this seemed to be a most fine sculpture at the harbour. As with most photies created these days – no camera was abused.


Grey Sculpture

Even wrinklies can get something with a PHONE…….

Merry Christmas to YOU!

That means you! In fact anyone I forgot to send a card to – and all who read this or have a penchant for aeroplanes and history and many other interesting things……..

End of Empires - Brandenburg C1 for MOO Card

The Brandenburg C1 is as accurate as possible, but having finished the painting, I find the bridge – which is the Mehmed Pasha bridge over the Drina at Visegrad – is quite inaccurate in two major ways.

To be revealed in 2015!

Loosen Up!

Some wee drawings of late in an attempt to get less totally representational. The one thing that scunners me about my chosen sphere of Aero-Art is its almost total adherence to photographic representation. I include myself in this, more’s the pity, and would love to discover the way to break out of it.


Pens and BrushPens at the moment. I suspect strong drink would help too. Recently I was led towards smooth gesso-primed boards and they certainly allow tiny detail to be incorporated in a small painting. But is that what I really want?



What to do, eh?