An update

April 3, 2013

Having received a few recent enquiries about art classes, I’d better add a note of explanation to this website as to why there are no blocks of classes arranged at the moment.

The main reason is lack of time! I have always loved teaching the group sessions, but the preparation for each class, and the behind-the-scenes administration, were simply becoming too time-consuming to continue on a regular basis.

Certainly, I have had far more time and energy for my own picture-making in these past few weeks.

So, what have I been doing lately?

This is an art blog, so I’ll not include unrelated activities here.

Thinking back to last year’s visit to the glassworks at Biot, near Nice, I  have started a series of oil sketches, some of which are shown below. It was the combination of control, focus, and energy that amazed me about this glassworker. Throughout this creative and but highly technical process, he moved about his work-space without hesitation, rather like a dancer.

glassworker_painting_M_Dorn_oil_sketch (4)


glassworker_painting_M_Dorn_oil_sketch (2)


glassworker_painting_M_Dorn_oil_sketch (1)



I have visited the Picasso exhibition at Somerset House. It continues until 27 May 2013, and I recommend it whole-heartedly. Related reading has since included “Picasso in Paris 1900-1907” by Marilyn McCully (this one is very relevant to the exhibition), and “Picasso’s World” by John Finlay. These books are both lavishly illustrated.

The exhibition of portraits by Manet at he Royal Academy in London has been another personal highlight.

Plus the British Museum, including the incredible current exhibition of Ice Age art.

Sketchbooks continue to be filled, as ever.

I join in with meetings at the Hertford Art Society – a welcoming group of like-minded people and an excellent source of new ideas.




Other oil sketches have been based on last summer’s graphite drawings of horses grazing in the late evening. Above and below are two images of “Night Grazers”:



I have continued a series of paintings relating to the absence of my old dog, Freddy. Some are completed though, like Spring itself in this country, an image referring to springtime has not yet got past the idea stage.

There are also a couple of larger oil paintings that are near completion, so please watch this space.

Further ideas, including those relating to musicians, prisoners, news stories and horses (but not all in the same picture!) are currently just scribbles in a notebook. Certainly, extra time and “mind-space” (i.e. the opportunity to focus on artistic things without urgent distraction) have proved to be great for creativity.


As an artist, should one focus all energy and time on creating pieces of art?

This is debatable.

Pablo Picasso certainly thought so, and his vast artistic output was incredible for its wealth of ideas and clarity of vision. He said of himself when speaking to his lover, Françoise Gilot:

“Everybody has the same energy potential. The average person wastes his in a dozen little ways. I bring mine to bear on one thing only: my painting, and everything else is sacrificed to it – you, and everyone else, myself included.”

Many of Picasso’s images possess tremendous energy and he produced vast quantities of work. However, Gilot deserved better, and the relationship did not end well!

On the other hand, a working artist surely needs the chance to observe the world, to think a little, and to interact with other people if they are to create images that are more than superficial. Picasso did of course get out into the world, observe different situations and create images in response, whether of circus performers, prostitutes, landscapes, bull-fights or children playing. Perhaps part of his artistic genius lay in his very rapid and interesting response to whatever he observed. He maintained that focus of energy, and a minimum of thinking time was required.

Should a good artist also be a good human being and reserve enough energy and focus for their family and society? In my opinion, yes. Can anyone truly achieve this? I don’t have the answer to this but will listen to your ideas if you wish to share them in the “Comments” section, below.

In the quotation above, it is interesting that Picasso spoke of energy rather than time. I agree that increased mental energy can lead to increased artistic productivity. An increase in available time is not always as helpful as it at first seems.


Are there any future workshops planned?

As explained above, I currently have no classes arranged.

However, I do love teaching and sharing ideas. The very occasional day-course would be great to teach, so do get in touch here  now or in the future if you would be interested. Good workshop subjects for a small group include anything from  using lines  to colour and composition  to animal life drawing. Though, for the latter, some warm weather would be helpful!


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