John Maltby and Scottie Wilson


Two recurring pieces in my still-life paintings are the John Maltby pelican with pendant fish on its outstretched wings, and a milk-jug by the outsider artist, Scottie Wilson. (I have the coffee-pot and sugar-bowl too, though I’ve only painted the former a couple of times, and the latter, never.)

Today I started a new work at the easel in which both appear, together with a cowrie-shell and a bunch of hellebores for the jug. (I shan’t cut and bring the flowers to the studio until I’ve laid in the background paint over which they’ll be added. Beth Adams at Phoenicia Publishing particularly requested the hellebores, of which many varieties grow here at Ty Isaf.)

Pencil on gessoed panel

Here are some past paintings in which the Maltby pelican and the Wilson milk-jug have appeared, occasionally together. For me they are like characters in an ever unfolding drama, and I never tire of painting them.

coming soon to a screen near you

For the Puppet Challenge Artlogger Karen Godfrey has made not only a magnificent marionette of Frida Kahlo, but a film in which the puppet plays the starring role. And moreover not just the film, but the trailer to publicise it. (See below.) Well done Karen. You are an inspiration to us all.

Above: Karen’s design for her puppet.

The finished film will be screened at the Artlog during the Puppet Challenge Exhibition.

Toccata for Toy Trains

This is a post made for the sheer pleasure of sharing an extraordinarily beautiful short film made in 1957. It’s called Toccata for Toy Trains, and anyone who loves vintage toys and the art of film should see it.


Probably best known for their iconic chair designs and cutting edge buildings, Charles and Ray Eames ran a design and architecture studio where their workforce was given free rein to be playful in the process of solving problems. It was a laboratory of ideas, and though the revolutionary furniture designs alone would have ensured the success of the couple, there were any number of other disciplines at which they excelled, including producing short films. It seems that Toccata for Toy Trains came to be made simply because they had the idea and wanted to try it out. They created it out of a love of toys and the ingenuity and craftsmanship of their construction.

Above: Charles and Ray Eames working on Toccata in their design studio

I won’t say too much about the film, because those of you who don’t know it are in for a treat that will be all the more enjoyable for coming at it fresh. It’s not really a puppet film, though it contains elements that nudge it in that direction. It has a wonderful score by the great Elmer Bernstein. Every viewing of it thrills me anew. It was made in the Eames design studio, in a make-do space created by rolling back the office-furniture. Now that’s the way to do it. Sit back and enjoy.


Cathryn’s cake and Dylan’s plate


It’s been a painting-free day, which is a rare occurrence for me in this run-up to the exhibition. And so today I present not anything from the easel, but the gorgeous simnel cake made for us by our lovely neighbour Cathryn, topped not on this occasion with the traditional eleven marzipan balls representing the apostles (minus Judas), but covered with a scallop-edged blanket of marzipan and a scattering of candied primroses. I have to tell you that it’s quite as delicious as it looks! I photographed it on another work-of-art, my favourite Dylan Bowen plate with a glaze like burnt toffee and a lick of vanilla-coloured slip.

Happy Easter.

Colour at Tegfryn

The past months have seen me working seven-days-a-week at the easel in preparation for my forthcoming exhibition at Oriel Tegfryn. As Winter has given way to Spring, light and colour have flooded my work. Here’s a cache of details from some of the paintings.

Telling Tales: new narrative works from Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Tegfryn Gallery/Oriel Tegfryn

Menai Bridge


Opens May 10th

See the work that will be in Telling Tales, HERE

‘Saint Kevin and the Blackbird’s Nest’

Completed  18/04/14

Saint Kevin and the Blackbird’s Nest 
Acrylic on gessoed panel. 60 x 81 cm. 2014

Lots of sgraffito here, used to enliven the the surface of the painting and add sparkle to the trees and bushes. As I’ve always loved painting water, the river has been a particular pleasure to work on. (It’s the river Wye, running past Catchmay’s Court at Llandogo, home of The Old Stile Press and our friends Nicolas and Frances.)

This marks my return to the subject of Saint Kevin after a long absence. Seamus Heaney’s poem has for many years been the source of inspiration for my work on the theme, and indeed I’ve made enough paintings to merit a whole Kevin and the Blackbird section in the Artlog archive. (Check it out in the ‘Topics’ box at top right.)

Kevin and the Blackbird’s Nest will be in:

Telling Tales: new narrative works from Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Tegfryn Gallery/Oriel Tegfryn

Menai Bridge


Opens May 10th