4 min read

1: A lamp to my feet (and a new newsletter!)

Firstly, let me explain the newsletter name. I wear shorts and T-shirt just about all year round. (New Zealand is pretty temperate compared to other countries.) It's pretty much my uniform. And recently I realised I'd gotten paint on the one pair of shorts I wear and would have to buy a new pair for when I go out—especially with my wife. Paint On My Shorts seemed like a good name for the newsletter. Captures a little bit of who I am. 😊

I'll probably experiment with the format a bit, but you can generally expect some updates from me on what I've been up to and then some interesting bits and pieces I've found during the month.

I hope you enjoy this first issue!

Lamp to my feet

A kerosene lamp on the ground in a dark scene
60x40cm, acrylic on board
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

—Psalm 119:105 (ESV)

I finally finished this!

Here's the reference photo it's based on.

You'll notice I've simplified the lamp a bit by not including the connecting bits between the middle of the lamp and the outside bars. That was partly because I found them a bit distracting and partly because I didn't quite get the underpainting right from the beginning, so it was going to be tricky to do.

This was a difficult painting for me to make, and I understand now what painters mean when they say painting is problem-solving. This was problem-solving all the way! But I'm pretty happy with the result.

A few sketches

The first one is a blind-contour drawing of some fake flowers in a vase. I quite liked the gestures. The other two are sketches of a tree and a rock at a couple of parks I've visited recently.

A blind-contour pencil drawing of some fake flowers in a vase
Pencil on paper
A fineliner drawing of a tree
Fineliner on paper
A fineliner drawing of a rock and its shadow
Fineliner on paper

Painting L2 at Browne!

I'm excited to finally be doing level-2 painting classes at Browne School of Art. I start this Monday, and I think it'll keep me pretty busy (and provide me with quite a bit to share here) for the next couple of months.

Van Gogh Alive

My wife alerted me to Van Gogh Alive. I thought it was only exhibited in France, at L’Atelier des Lumières, but it sounds like it's now shown in many countries around the world. Aside from what seemed like a higher-than-necessary ticket price and the tacky Sunflower Room (a small room filled with fake sunflowers and mirrored walls), I really enjoyed it. The music made it. I don't think it was quite as impressive as the L’Atelier des Lumières version, but it was still very immersive and moving.


We rarely 'see' based on sight alone. Instead, each sense adds to our perception.

—Frances Ambler, Brief Lessons in Seeing Differently
I started plein-air painting with a group, and it took me two years— two years—of going out on a regular basis before I got anything, because I was trying to copy the outdoors, and the outdoors will not stand for that. I always call plein air the drunk model.

—Vianna Szabo on The Artful Painter
By being willing to be a bad artist, you have a chance to be an artist, and perhaps, overtime, a very good one.

—Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way
I now consider what I do in the studio to be theological work as much as aesthetic work. I experience God, my Maker, in the studio. I am immersed in the art of creating, and I have come to understand this dimension of life as the most profound way of grasping human experience and the nature of our existence in the world.

—Makoto Fujimura, Art & Faith: A Theology of Making

Artists I've discovered

I heard about Jane Davies on the Learn to Paint Podcast, and when I visited her gallery site, I found I really liked her work. Watch the video below on her Stripes series.

Other bits and pieces

  • An excellent episode on the Plein Air podcast, with James Willis, about painting architecture. I haven't heard many people talking about this. Lots of helpful information and tips.
  • The Genius of Turner: Painting the Industrial Revolution. I love many of Turner's paintings and sketches, and I really enjoyed this film. Fascinating. Quite clever how they've incorporated both interviews as well as dramatic reenactments.
  • "Top artists answer questions about plein air painting", part 1 and part 2, on John Pototschnik's blog. I've done a number of sketches outside, but I've only attempted one plein-air painting. I'd like to do more, so this is really helpful.
  • The Rabbit Room has recently started a project called artists &. Until now, they're focused more on writing, music, and film, so I'm stoked to see this.
  • "Stop This Absurd War on the Color Pink" on Scientific American. This is pretty old, but I read it recently after overhearing a university student on a bus talking about physics and the colour pink.