Friday, 13 December 2013


Wednesday, 23 October 2013



Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson, 1 June 1926 – 5 August 1962)

Marilyn Montroe was found dead in the bedroom of her Brentwood home by her psychiatrist Ralph Greenson after he was called by housekeeper Eunice Murray on 5 August 1962. She was thirty-six years old at the time of her death which was attribut to "acute barbiturate poisoning" by Dr. Thomas Noguchi of the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and listed as "probable suicide." Many questions remain unanswered regarding the circumstances and timeline of her death after the body was found. Many elements of this timeline have been brought into question, most notably the discrepancies in exactly what time the actress either made or received her last phone call and at what time during the late night and early morning hours of August 4th and 5th her body was discovered. Eunice Murray volunteered that on the night of the actress' death: "When the doctor arrived, she was not dead." Eunice Murray died in 1994 without revealing further details.
Many detectives — including Jack Clemmons, the first Los Angeles Police Department officer to arrive at the death scene — believe that she was murdered. The death of the actress has since become one of the most debated conspiracy theories of all time. 
I wanted my portrait(s) to reflect her tortured existence, controversial death, undead aspects and intimations of an altogether less glamorous life than is normally asssumed looking only at the surface. An old friend and established artist in her own right, Laura Harold, commented on first seeing my treatment of Marilyn Monroe:
"Visceral. Looks like you've peeled her skin off."
I sought to expose something less obvious, something certainly more visceral, which pealed away the layers of superficiality and illusion. Glamour today is usually taken to mean the quality of allurement or attracting by a combination of charm and good looks, but it used  to mean magic, enchantment, spell and witchery. Marilyn cast a spell over her adoring public, but it should be recognised she was also under one herself.

Anthony Hill, another old friend from way back who greatly appreciates art, had this to say:

"You have really got it with Marilyn. It has everything, all the pain and the tragedy is there, and so much emotion. A stunning work of art. It will be difficult for me to watch 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' without seeing that harrowing face."


Sunday, 13 October 2013



At the beginning of modern jazz, as it became defined by bebop, was Bird. The first two records I bought as a youngster were by Bird (alto saxophonist Charlie Parker). Those two EPs (extended playing vinyl discs) were followed by a 78rpm of See You Later Alligator by Bill Haley and his Comets with Paper Boy on the B side. Sadly, the brittle 78rpm did not survive, but I still have the treasured EPs which I continue to play.

My portrait of Bird (whom fellow jazz aficionados of the period within my circle also referred to as Chas P), is inspired by the first saxophonist to impress me. Others followed, but Bird remains indelibly stamped on my musical memory and remains as potent as ever. If you love the music, it is impossible not to love Bird.

My first horn was an alto which I played briefly with a band around the age of fourteen before quickly moving onto a tenor saxophone which I felt more comfortable with for the next half a century. Then I evolved into a baritone and bass saxophone player, but I still play alto and, of course, tenor saxophone as required.

I kept the portrait simple and sincere, concentrating on those elements personal to myself and the period. Above is my first impression and below is a more worked version which I personally prefer out of the two:

Bird is now on permanent display in the small gallery which exhibits pictures relative to the period, expressionistic sensibility and mood:


Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life or joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my lifes esteems;
Even the dearest that I love best
Are strange — nay, rather, stranger than the rest.

Friday, 13 September 2013


Saxophonarium was originally titled The Saxophone Man, but has now developed into something transcending that earlier picture. The Time Travelling Transmogrified Saxophone Six Five Special Man would probably be a more apt title for this 40 x 28 inch (oil on canvas) rendition featuring a vintage Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy alto betwixt a gold tenor and baritone sax with a Puffing Billy locomotive joining in the mêlée. Like many, I hold immense nostalgia for the age of steam, but there is something more familial which connects jazz musicians, saxophonists in particular, with hissing, puffing steam railway locomotives. Both are probably equally subject to near-extinction. I have tried to capture the feeling as well as the sound these improvisational horns deliver through colour, movement and,  most of all, visual expressionism. The subject is static, trance-like; yet movement is evident from the piercing sound emitting and disturbing the air around, bringing vibration and rythmn. The saxophonist seems to be still, but within he is moving faster than the speed of sound whilst all around becomes a swirling mass of intense coloured light filling the void. Even the inert horns are sounding off to blend in the cacophony. 

The Time Travelling Transmogrified Saxophone Six Five Special Man.

An  earlier version of the painting.

Blowing a pre-1910 silver Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy alto saxophone.

Detail from the painting.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Click on each of the above images for more clarity.

Anyone who was around in the early Sixties would have known of the Shrimp; especially if they lived in London; especially if they were also a photographer with a studio central to much of what was happening.

It has been suggested I create a portrait of the Shrimp by an old friend from my studio days. I had a glance at what other people had attempted by way of portraiture and felt something was absent. Either their drawing was a carbon copy of an already published photograph (see below), or it lacked the mood of the Sixties and the subject became like any other sitter. The Shrimp was not like any other model. She was the Kate Moss of her day. She was stunning, small and of the time. She was the first ... and the last. We will never see anyone like her again.

My first three portraits (top of page) are impressions (after the passing of over half a century since David Bailey captured her so brilliantly through his lens) of how the Shrimp looks now. She was mostly photographed with a fringe, which decided me to portray her without one in all my paintings. The fourth portrait of the Shrimp shows her in her famous black dress (penultimate photograph at the foot of the page) and is inspired by her iconic Sixties' image.

She was also described as having the "world's most beautiful face." She was dubbed "The It Girl", "The Face", "The Face of the Moment", and "The Face of the Sixties." Glamour named her "Model of The Year" in June 1963. She contrasted with the aristocratic-looking models of the Fifties by representing the coltish, gamine look of the youth movement in Sixties Swinging London, and she was reported as "the symbol of Swinging London." By breaking the popular mould of voluptuous figures with her long legs and slim figure, she was nicknamed "The Shrimp." Jean Shrimpton (born 7 November 1942) was also known for her long hair, usually  with a fringe, wide doe-eyes, long wispy eyelashes, arched brows, and pouting lips.

Click on this picture for more clarity.

Today the Shrimp is grey-haired, prim and almost severe. It is perhaps hard to imagine that this is the woman who epitomised the Swinging Sixties in London, and introduced the miniskirt to the masses.

Jean Shrimpton, half a century since her hey-day as probably the first supermodel, now resides in Cornwall where she has lived as a virtual recluse with her husband since quitting the fashion industry more than thirty years ago.

She has always been honest about loathing the ageing process, saying: "I lie in bed sometimes and think 'ugh,' I don’t like my looks at all." 

After marrying photographer Michael Cox in 1979, the pair had a son, Thaddeus, who now manages the hotel bought by the Shrimp when she turned her back on the bright lights of London.

She said recently: "I am a melancholy soul. I’m not sure contentment is obtainable and I find the banality of modern life terrifying. I sometimes feel I’m damaged goods."

Monday, 1 July 2013



Published on what is and shall ever remain the traditional feast day of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I have given this recently completed oil painting (approximately 20 x 30 inches) the title Golgotha.

Sunday, 23 June 2013



The supernatural was the subject of great deal of controversy in the nineteenth century, but this is today where sinister supernatural encounters are all the more terrifying due to folk's general unwillingness to recognise the existence of such eerie phenomena. In my very first book on a supernatural topic, I wrote:

"Have we become too 'intelligent' to seriously heed any of the old, instinctive fears that preserved us through past centuries? Sceptics fail to recognise that seemingly 'superstitious' instincts are founded in the very nature of things, that their grip and strength are rooted at the beginning of time. To suddenly dismiss what our unconscious mind has stored for centuries because it is no longer fashionable in a materialistic world, is dangerous indeed."

My portrait sets out to capture the moment of realisation, when the door to the subject's unconscious mind is ripped of its hinges; that something darkly supernatural is in very close proximity and clearly very real.

The mystery surrounding our dread of the unexplained is worth considering for we have been endowed with an almost universal horror of the supernatural because we feel we are not meant to see behind the veil.

My picture is titled Scream. It must not be confused, should comparisons be made, with Norwegian painter Edvard Munch's "The Scream." I doubt such comparisons will be drawn, but just in case they are I have enclosed some commentary about the circumstances and visual trigger for Munch's famous image.

Edvard Munch (1863-1944) did several versions of "The Scream" in oil, pastel and lithograph between 1893 and 1910. His picture depicts a man in a private moment of anguished despair and anxiety, while the other people in the painting, perhaps his friends, seem blissfully unaware of the man's situation.

Munch described the inspiration for his own image:

"I was walking along a path with two friends - the sun was setting - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature."


Thursday, 13 June 2013



This painting (oil on canvas) describes Count Guiccioli (left), the young Contessa Guiccioli, and Lord Byron (right). A chance meeting with Teresa Guiccioli (1800-1873) changed the course of Lord Byron's life. Last of his many loves, he behaved as if she were the first. The evening they met they talked excitedly of poetry, particularly that of Dante and Petrarch. The year prior, Teresa, fresh out of convent school, had become the third wife of the rich and eccentric sixty-year-old Count Guiccioli in a marriage of convenience. In Italian custom there was a place for a discreet attendant, a cavalier servente, in a marriage of convenience such as Teresa's. But although he could pay court to her, the role excluded public recognition of them as a couple. This was not enough for Byron. He wanted a relationship that was lasting. As Teresa put it, he was:

"...not a man to confine himself to sentiment. And the first step taken, there was no further obstacles in the following days."

Breaking all the rules established by aristocratic Italian society, the couple spent ten days together, openly, in Venice. This was no casual liaison for Byron. As he wrote to a friend:

"What shall I do? I am in love, and tired of promiscuous concubinage, and have now an opportunity of settling for life."

As the love between Byron and Teresa deepened, so his friendship with her father and brother grew. They initiated him into the secret revolutionary society, the Carbonari, to which he gave money for arms. This activity was closely monitored by the Austrian police, and in 1821 the Gambas were exiled from Ravenna. Teresa was by now seeking a separation from her husband, and she and Byron accompanied them.

The following year, in Genoa, an unfriendly spy spread an unkind rumour:

"It is said that he is already sated or tired of Favorite, the Guiccioli. He has ... expressed his intention of going to Athens in order to make himself adored by the Greeks."

In fact, Byron's energies, reinvigorated by his love for Teresa, now turned from the cause of Italy - where police scrutiny rendered him powerless - to that of Greece.

Fever struck him down, and on 19 April 1824, and he died murmuring in delirium that there were:

"... things which make the world dear to me."

Was the image of Teresa in his mind? She believed so. All her life she defended his memory, and on her own deathbed she wrote:

"The more Byron is known, the better he will be loved."

In her copy of Corinne she had underlined the words of his letter and written simply:

"God bless him."

Saturday, 20 April 2013



Portrait of Sarah.


Saturday, 2 February 2013



Titled Vampirologist, this self-portrait was predominantly inspired by an iconic image taken by professional photographer Lauren Hicks for a magazine photo-shoot at the turn of the 1990s where I also appeared on the magazine's cover which can be viewed on page 6 of The Vampire Hunter's Handbook (Gothic Press, 1997). I could not resist the addition of a stove-pipe hat. I have been known to wear such a hat in the past, eg at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Pictured above in the monochrome portrait from the 1970s is that very silk topper. Lauren Hicks' image of pensive melancholy appears below. I loosely based my painting's attitude on what she captured in terms of atmosphere; though her photograph was taken just prior to dusk while my painting is set in the dead of night. It was one of a number at the same location used for a feature article on the topic of my work in this field. The Sunday Times magazine also had me on their cover for a similar feature about my life, but this time the sepulchral images were more appropriately nocturnal. Their cover photograph with candles and crucifixes appears at the foot of the page.


Thursday, 31 January 2013


Details from two of a series of paintings which comprise my last collective portrait of Lusia. Click on the images for further examples of the nightmarish vision described on pages 176-178 of The Highgate Vampire.

"Something smiled in the incandescence of the street lamps ... The grip on my hand was icy cold ... a loud hissing emitted from between its gnashing teeth. What ever clung icily to my hand was transforming into a demon from hell."

The Studio


The Studio