Martello Tower at Aldeburgh

Martello Tower
Martello Tower at Aldeburgh (Oil 50 x 50cm) completed under the guidance of Stephen Higton

The Martello Tower at Aldeburgh, seen across the water, was painted in a workshop with my friend, Stephen Higton.

Stephen has been my oil painting guide right from the start. I did my first ever oil painting in one of his workshops and knew then that I wanted to do more at some stage.

Unpacked - First oil painting

Unpacked – First oil painting

The image was quite simple (which was good thinking on Stephen’s part as it was easier to focus on technique and not have to worry too much about composition).  I have a fondness for my ‘firsts’. The pastel from my first painting session hangs in our lounge and Unpacked has a home of a bedroom wall in our house.

Inaccessible Pinnacle (oil 24 x 30 cm)
Inaccessible Pinnacle (oil 24 x 30 cm)

As soon as I posted a photo of my first painting online I was asked to paint a commission of  the Inaccessible Pinnacle. Conscious of my inexperience in this medium,  I took a deep breath and had a go. Fortunately, the recipient was happy with the result and this painting now lives in Edinburgh.

Getting back to painting in oils after a long break was great. I always have the best intentions, but somehow my watercolours kept calling me back.  The martello tower photograph Stephen gave us as a reference had more complexity in it than either of the previous two oils I’d done. I wanted to capture the early morning light on the water, the scattering of boats and the moody, dark shape of the martello tower on the horison.

I’ll have to find more time for oil painting.

A little more about the Martello Tower at Aldeburgh:

Built to defend the UK against Napoleon, the martello tower at Aldeburgh is the northern most in the chain. Now owned by the landmark trust, the tower can be rented for a holiday. Trivia: Almost a million bricks were used in it’s construction.

Note to art lovers: Stephen and Mita Higton are holding an open studio on June 29th, 2014. Worth a visit if you’re in Suffolk.


Light and shade (watercolour sketch)

Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that one of the things I’m always doing is pushing to try new ideas. Sometimes it’s a new medium, sometimes just working on expressing a new idea. One of the best aspects of paintings is knowing that the learning never stops. I find that a high proportion of my inspiration and my learning comes from other artists. I make it a point to seek out and look at the blogs of new artists so every day new images appear in my feed. If you embrace it, the community of artists online can be a warm and generous place to hang out.

Light and shade (watercolour sketch)
Light and shade (watercolour sketch)

This was an early failed attempt at portrait painting. It was done about 2 years ago and I’ve not gone back to doing portraits yet – but one day I will. This young lady gazes out from my studio pin board to remind me that one day I should have another go at painting faces.

In the meantime, I’d like to share the websites of a few of my newly discovered artists:

– I ‘ve followed Sue Nichols on Facebook and now on Twitter for some time now. Her love of the British coastline shines through her wonderful paintings. I can just about smell the salt air when I look at Sue’s paintings

Haidee-Jo Summers is someone whose work I discovered fairly recently. She paints wonderful life scenes and works en plein air (something I still find challenging)

– Today I happened on the wonderful website of Paul Burgess via is twitter posting of his marvellous painting of curious cows (he calls them ‘nosey’)

For future reference, links to all these websites are not on my Artists page.

And finally a blog post for the watercolourists, Don Rankin posted this great piece about sketching en plein air today.

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