Tag Archives: Gawain

Taking the plunge – Staffordshire Open Art exhibition

Apologies for not posting for a week or three. A few things are behind it really.  First, I’ve just been sooo tired – most evenings I’ve been putting my black belt in chair-dozing to good use. Second, my mojo got up, blew me a raspberry and ran off.  Finally, I’ve been trying to finish and prepare three paintings to submit to the Staffordshire Open Art exhibition – difficult enough without constantly dropping off and feeling generally ‘meh’.

For me this feels like a big step, I’ve never submitted work for consideration to any exhibition before. It’s a little intimidating if I’m honest as I’ve always been very impressed by the high standard of entries. Nothing ventured as they say, and so I decided to enter the maximum of three works.

My choice for two contributions was guided by a favourable reaction to a pair of recent acrylic paintings on Twitter. I framed up a couple from the #skymarch challenge using bespoke black frames from Jacksons Art supplies:

Open Art entires
Open Art entries




The Jackson’s frames came as ready cut components and fitted together seamlessly with nothing more than an hour-glass shaped plastic fillet tapped into a precision routed slot. Very accurately cut – I was impressed.

My third is the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight inspired acrylic painting I’ve been working on for a while. I’ve called it ‘A fox for Sir Gawain’. It’s taken a while, but I’ve got it to a stage now where anything else would just be fiddling.

A fox for Sir Gawain
A fox for Sir Gawain

Honestly? The photo really doesn’t do it justice (it’s 18″ by 24″). The sunny area of the sky doesn’t resemble a fried egg (honest), it’s a lot more subtle. The camera has distorted the subtlety of the colours to leave a rough approximation.

This is currently placed with a local framer. I’ve chosen a white, 45mm flat  faced frame to set it off. Going to be ready for pick up on Wednesday morning – I’ll post it again.

So, that’s it, all ready for next Friday’s submission. Wish me luck 🙂









Sir Gawain’s winter journey

A week on and I’m still feeling my way toward my Sir Gawain and the Green Knight project, but the swirling ideas are starting to condense.  There are many key moments which I could plunder from the tale:  the Christmas feast in Camelot, the arrival of the Green Knight, his challenge, his beheading (all good clean family fun).  Or perhaps Gawain’s trials in Bertilak’s castle; preserving his loyalty and honour when faced by lusty temptation in the persistent and comely form of that lord’s wife (ooer missus…)

But no.  My interest lies in the landscape, without the walls of court and castle.  For inspiration I’ve decided to focus on one of the shorter passages in the poem, Sir Gawain’s winter journey, two months at the year’s end to fulfil his part of the bargain with the Green Knight.  And it’s a miserable journey.  He’s wet, cold, hungry and beset by all manner of beasts: serpents, wolves, wodwoses, bulls, bears and wild boar. It’s an epic;  dark and cold. My imagination runs riot.

pencil study sketch gnarled tree Sir Gawains journey
Pencil study for a gnarled tree
Sir Gawain acrylic painting twisted tree
Experiment in acrylic – dark, cold, twisted tree

Physically I’m thinking along the lines of five, maybe six, panels. The two end pieces, Gawain to the left and the Green Knight to the right, would represent the beginning and end of Sir Gawain’s journey.

pencil sketch Gawain painting panel layout
Rough panel layout for Sir Gawain’s journey

The central panels will be panoramic and largely topographical while hinting at elements from Sir Gawain’s personal trial; the deer, the boar and the fox will all be in there somewhere. I’ll work the panels in acrylics and possibly oil for the later layers. In my mind the treatment will be loose, hinting at rather than completely describing a scene.

Sir Gawain acrylic painting spring tree
Acrylic painting – spring tree

While the journey in the poem is at the years end, there is a temptation to extend the central panels to four, one for each season of the year Sir Gawain has to wait to fulfil his grim promise.  Contrast of the bleakness of winter’s dark with the bright flush of spring appeals and sits very nicely with the poem’s life/death/rebirth undertones.

I’ve got a lot of thinking to do…