A few words from the new gamekeeper: "To confirm that Brutus migrated south and is settling in well. We cannot stop walking into the lounge and studying him. You are very talented sir! As Pope John Paul II said ' Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation; to know that he cannot waste this talent , but must develop it'. You have certainly achieved!" Thank you so much

Chris & Yvonne

"Brutus" complete


"Brutus" complete.

I know many artists personally and the work they produce and in each case I can clearly see the personality of the artist reflected in the art they produce. It is therefore safe to assume that the same applies to my personality and to the work I produce. If this is true then to examine "Brutus" with eyes focused on the artist who painted him could be revealing.

"Brutus" is about as pure and honest a painting as I have ever painted and it therefore with trepidation that I face the painting and try to analise exactly what it is that I have produced and why? Perhaps "Brutus" reveals not only some aspects of my personality but also some aspects of my current state of being?

If, in the Jungian sense, I examine Brutus" and I accept Jung's personality theories and the influence of the sub-conscious, I seem to understand the painting with a degree of clarity. Could, for example, the impenetrable darkness in the background be my depression? If so, it is well "fenced in" and contained. Assuming that this is true then every other element in the painting seems to have a relevance in my life at this precise moment. "Brutus" seems to be content and this makes me feel very grateful and secure. Long live "Brutus"

The last posting.


This will be the last posting on my good friend Brutus until I have completed the painting. Brutus has developed a character and I shall miss him when he migrates down south. He has had a good winter because he has a bit of a belly compared to a few others I have seen lately.

The reason that I am not going to post on this painting anymore is the same as for “Puerto Escondido”. Once I get to this stage things get really complicated and by the end of a session I am too confused to go into detail.

 So, to bring you aspiring painters up to date: Today I repainted the entire background by adding atmosphere to the mountains. This has really focused all attention to Brutus’ head which is exactly what I initially intended. It has meant that most of the trees have been repainted but don’t be lazy. Remember that every coat is an improvement and this is the beauty of oil paint. The snow is still in deep shadow and because of the repainting most of the trees are bare of snow. I really am itching to start adding light to the snow because it will transform the painting but patience is needed. The paint is thick and wet and needs to dry thoroughly before the glazing can start. In the mean-time, I will add more detail to Brutus (Penni wants to know where his dick is but a gentleman keeps these things private. In this case, it is hidden by his leg) and work on the trees. If you have any questions drop me a line and I’ll fill you in. Good luck and be brave.

It's been a long day.


It has been a long, long day today. I was at the canvas at 7 am and, as predicted, there was a nice layer of snow. Took Zulu for a walk at about 10 and walked in the tracks of some deer. Perfect. I have made a number of changes to the trees (Penni was nagging me to change the big middle tree because she said it seemed to be growing out of Brutus’ back). Another layer of colour to the snow and have finalised the lay of the land. The photo does the painting no justice so tomorrow, in the sunshine, I will use the Nikon. I reckon another week and the job should be done or close to being done. All I know is that I am really cream crackered because I have been working with a tiny brush on the fur for hours. It will be worth the effort though. I hope.

Head of Brutus

Head of Brutus.

Today I had to carry heavy loads of wood to prepare for Storm Doris and the snow. By one-ish I had recovered enough to sit and concentrate on the head of Brutus. The rest of the body can wait awhile. All that needs to be done now is to apply the reflection of the sky and the snow. These colours reflect from the tips of the fur so the smallest brush possible is recommended. I have a brush that consists of a single sable hair and I shall be using it soon.

The hard graft starts here.


No more steps to be taken because now comes the concentration, invention, inspiration, mistakes, corrections, philosophical insights, moodiness and all the little precious things that make artists such p’i’t’ases when so deeply involved in a piece. Lots of changes have happened. The mountains were to contrived and the forest needed extending so now the balance is good. I am adding to the stag all the time and the colour of the snow is getting closer and closer. We are expecting a heavy dump of snow on Thursday so I will have some on-hand examples to work from.  The paint is wet all over the place so I work where I can. Tomorrow the trees on the right (the viewers right) will be dry so I can work on them. I won’t stop now until the job is done and who knows how long that will be. Perhaps a week or two or three. Whatever. P.S. I like the antlers.

Step Five.


That’s the underpainting done. Now I want to let the painting breath and dry. Maybe 2 or 3 days to contemplate the final stretch. Then I start the detail which makes or breaks the painting. So far I am reasonably pleased with what I have on the canvas but it needs something in the right front bottom corner. Maybe a rock, I also want to paint a red squirrel in the branches somewhere and some birds. A Golden eagle? I will think about this. The snow needs at least three more coats.

Step Four

Before I start I must mention that when Penni saw my snow-capped mountain she said it looked like a “Blancmange”. Bloody cheek of the woman but she had a point so I changed things a bit and it does look better.

I have added the Ash trees in profile and am fairly pleased with the result. The horizontal branches in the middle of the shadow is a fallen Hazel tree. Each and every branch and twig is to get a topping of fresh snow which will balance the mountain. I am slowly working on Brutus making sure to get the eyes and mouth correct. I dare say Penni will have a critic in the morning but I rely on her honesty. I really look forward to working the foreground snow because there will be a lot of shadow cast from that yellow sun. The challenge I have set myself is the fur covering Brutus and this is going to take time as there are so many reflection colours. The truth is that I am thoroughly enjoying this painting. I have also started a large skyscape which I will put on the blog in a day or two. This skyscape is for the family so that when I am dead my kids won’t forget me. Steve, my daughter-in-law’s dad is a pilot of a 747 so he will have first dibs.

Step Three.

Snow capped mountains

I love painting snow- capped mountains. If you have the correct colours on the palette you can sculpt any shape you wish. I am so tempted to paint a black run with a ski lift but that is my surrealist bent coming through. Keep it simple. I am going to add a bit of mist once the mountain is dry and this will add a touch of colour. Sometimes I believe I have the best job. Tip: The more shades of snow colour you use the better it will look. In the hills around us we haven four Golden Eagles so I may have a couple in the painting.

Step Two.

12 Pointer named "Brutus"

Starting with the sunspot, working outwards, I used neat Indian Yellow (Horse urine pigment) and brought in raw Sienna with a large 1 inch soft varnish brush. Then I brought in F U Blue with a touch of Burnt Umber just to kill the brightness. Work loose and fast because most is going to be hidden behind a host of Ash trees. On the left I am placing Schiehallion as seen from the south west. Above the mountain, I introduced some Cerulean blue just to give a hint that the sun is there somewhere. The dark shadow in the middle is shadow of the trees to come. The dark streaks in the middle will be rocks, fallen trunks etc. The foreground I want to be virgin snow with perhaps some stag footprints. As I paint the stag I am staying loose but making dead sure that eyes are in the exact position as is the mouth. I am aiming for seriously high detail on the stag so much so that you should be able to see the ticks that plague the beast. The rutting season is over and our stag (Lets name him Brutus) is about to lose those antlers and that next year he should be a 14 pointer. That is if some 14 year- old spoiled American school girl hasn’t brought him down with a 5 Calibre Remington Sniper rifle equipped with a night vision telescopic scope from 20 metres.


Step One.

As always, the first step is to cover the entire canvas with paint. Unlike “Puerto Escondido” where I used a wash, I used a 1/2” Pro Arte soft to apply a good even layer. The sunsets up here in Scotland are stunning at this time of the year with golden-reds in strong evidence so there is to be a warm sky with a cold foreground. The stag himself is warm so I used 50/50 burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna simply to help in the design of the composition. Tip. Ensure that the subject of the painting, in this case the stag, is accurate otherwise it will bug you through the whole job. Also remember that 99.9 of what is applied in this layer will not be seen in the end product but the .1% that will be seen could make the difference between a good painting and a Great painting so don't go using colours outside of your ultimate pallette.

The approach.

The first stroke

The approach is very important. I can have the approach of painting to get the job done asap, to pick up the dosh and start a new painting. In other words, the commercial approach. If I do this then I may as well pack up and stack shelves down at the co-op.

I have had in recent months had a few very intense and personal experiences with these majestic animals. I have stared one in the eye from four inches and seen into his soul. Then I slit his throat. This was done for compassionate reasons as the animal was mortally wounded and in pain. I see stags every day and they always stand tall and proud. They are stunningly beautiful creatures and deserve my total respect.

This painting is my homage to the Stag. To show my sadness at having to witness the atrocities committed by man in the name of “fun”. This painting is for me and the fact that it will ultimately hang on a wall of someone else is purely coincidental. It will always be mine so I am devoting all my energies and love into this project.