Friday 29 December 2023

Magic City Doodles

 More ideas for ways to make an image of the Magic City of the White Lotus Sutra.

My current exploration across all themes is the interplay between spontaneity and planning. Improvisation versus structure. Making  a surface combining different kinds of wet and dry media on paper.

In today's doodle I play with light and dark using tinted charcoal and gold pen, thinking about pyramids, the sun and moon and a stairway to heaven.

And this is an earlier mixed media sketch  (pastels, water, marker pen) - there surely are gardens and music in the magic city. .

Friday 8 December 2023

Solid Air

 A few studies from my sketchbook using oil pastels and watercolour aiming to express a sense of the element of Air symbolised by a green crescent bowl. The pastel sketch of the stupa is here to give the image context of the green crescent  of air.

Saturday 11 November 2023


 A theme I return to from time to time - here are two sketches.

Going for a combination of stillness and dynamism.

Friday 6 October 2023

Golden Bird

This painting is inspired by Wallace Steven’s “Of Mere Being” and reflects my response to Steven’s evocation of the space of the mind beyond reason and thought. The poem has a number of visual images: a golden bird on a palm, bronze decor, fire fangled plumage, and the mysterious spaces in the mind beyond the last thought. I've juxtaposed a literal figurative image with abstract forms. It is a difficult painting to photograph:the actual painting is more subtle and luminous.

You can read the poem here: 

Wednesday 20 September 2023

 This new circular painting of Peaceful Vajrapani explores stillness and movement. The figure is an embodiment of energy.  For me wrathful Vajrapani correlates with Piti (rapture) in meditation: his energy bursting out and full of movement, and peaceful Vajrapani correlates with Sukha,(bliss) a fuller, more intense and more contained form of the energy symbolised by the figure. This painting is currently on display at the North London Buddhist Centre in an exhibition on the ground floor. The exhibition runs for a month.

28 years ago (1996) I made a life size painting of him after a vision in meditation the previous year where he came forward out of a visualised array of figures on a refuge tree, shining out like a blue sapphire, vivid and luminous and brighter than the other figures. This early version was painted during a stay in St Ives, Cornwall. The bright rainbow light reflecting off the sea found its way into the painting. The way I painted the figure and composed the piece owed a lot to the formal influences of Matisse and Patrick Heron. 

Five years later (2001) I made another version of Peaceful Vajrapani where I was playing with the pictorial space in a different way, exploring the spatial paradox of painting a dark blue figure where, because the dark blue melts back into deep space the figure may not be immediately apparent. I was interested in the connection between pictorial space and the inner space of the mind. And I used a few pictorial devices to create the spatial effects in that version.

Friday 15 September 2023


This painting was inspired by solitary walks on Hampstead Heath tuning into the elemental energies of the landscape, tracking the ley lines and significant shapes.

It is an attempt to describe the Genus Loci: the spirit of the place.

There is a circle of trees on a raised mound where I like to imagine the Druids gathered in times past. It is not far from Boudicca’s Grave, a raised tree covered tumulus, thought to be Bronze Age, and a site for Druidic Solstice celebrations.

Memory is in the painting too, remembering spinneys and copses seen on travels through the West Country.

And I was thinking about cartography and how we map the world, and how the maps made for navigation differ from our personal experiences of following trails across the land. 

The painting is on view for a month at the North London Buddhist Centre as part of a small exhibition of my artwork. 

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Still pondering how to make an enchanting image of a magic city

Not there yet, still trying to find the right visual language for my magic city. 

This first one is a really really tiny scribble in my sketchbook.

And here are two more experiments with marker pen and fineliner:

And here is another yin yang cosmic tree of life with the silver apples of the moon

Wednesday 5 July 2023

Tree of Life

 I continue to work intermittently on my Cosmos of Life series. This image was created to celebrate the summer solstice.  It is a tree bearing golden apples against the background of the yin yang symbol.

And here is a detail:

Saturday 24 June 2023

Red Rose in Small Glass Bowl

 Another drawing from observation in the sketch book.  Another set of tricky shapes and forms to capture.

red rose

Friday 16 June 2023

Seven Birdsong paintings

 Birdsong doodles. 

Seven songs of turquoise, rose quartz, peridot, topaz, red gold, emerald, and sapphire. 

Chirrups, chirps, trills, warbles, croaks, twitters, tweets, calls, whistles, carols, rolls.

Match the birdsong sounds to the images.

Wednesday 31 May 2023

First Birdsong Painting

 Today I had an impulse to make a series of images of birdsong.  Here is the first Birdsong painting, mixed media and collage on watercolour paper. The photograph does not capture all the subtleties, but gives an idea. There are no birds or musical notes as that would be far too literal.

Wednesday 17 May 2023

Metamorphoses - fun with butterflies

 Just playing in the sketchbook to test out some new watercolour pencils and masking fluid . . . .

Thursday 4 May 2023

Tulip Time

 It's tulip season and there are some extraordinary tulips in bloom. This is an attempt to capture one of them as it changed over time. Tulips just don't stay the same they open and close their petals and bend their stems to dance in the vase. Catching these changes in paint, ink and crayon. I tore up the drawing and re-assembled the pieces in an attempt to communicate my experience of the flower.

Saturday 22 April 2023

Thursday 30 March 2023

Blue City - magical fragments

 I'm exploring themes from the White Lotus Sutra. One theme is the Magic City which provides a temporary respite and stopping place on the journey towards Awakening. Taking a deep dive into the teaching of the Magic City I discover how difficult it is to come up with the right image.  I found myself cutting up one small painting of a Blue City and reforming it into new patterning.  As the Magic City is not a Pure Land it is not yet whole or complete. Although fragmented, nevertheless it has its beauty. There are fresh discoveries, and treasures to be found in alleyways and corners.  The collaged fragments were strangely appealing when I stepped back from the new image and gazed at it afresh. I see this as a preliminary study for a larger painting yet to come.

Below here is another earlier version of the Blue City.

Crayons on paper in sketchbook. Approx A5 size.