the mystery of painting

OK, so I have written a book about painting, and just completed a PhD that examines in detail the relationships between painting and cinema. I know quite a bit about art history, now. Here’s a  shelfie to ‘prove’ it 😀


So the day after I did my PhD viva I decided to challenge the art historian in me to actually learn the basics of how paintings are made.

I signed up to a class in Painting techniques with the great British-Argentinian painter Noel Basualdo. Noel is a classically trained, highly technical painter and a highly experienced teacher – the Paul Delaroche of today, lucky for me! You can learn more about Noel here [check out her paintings]

Painter and art teacher Noel Basualdo


So I’m starting at the very bottom, and loving it. Although I did art right through school and even did an MA at art school, nobody ever actually taught me to draw and paint. I wondered why I could never paint or draw anything that actually had any technique. Well I’m the kind of person who needs to be taught. As with music, some can play by ear, some need to learn to read music. I could never play by ear but I could play quite well if I had sheet music in front of me.

So, I tip my hat to Alberti and Brunelleschi and the other great Renaissance heroes of art and humbly follow in their footsteps…



You start learning by copying. I chose a Hockney
Finally, I had an outline and was able to erase my grid, This is all charcoal on paper. Next, I started to add in the details so I will know EXACTLY where to put the paint when I eventually reach that stage

It is fascinating to see the marks on the paper resolve themselves into a picture, developed out of the observation of forms and structures rather than ‘subject matter’.

My photography has always been about form and structure so it’s interesting I never realised this was the core of painting too.

photos from my last exhibition

So, while my aim is not to become Albert Bierstadt, I hope my painting turns out well – I guess we will see in a few weeks. In any case, the appreciation of the techniques used to build a painting from a blank surface into a picture is really fascinating.