The Art of Looking

I have designed a series of lessons specifically aimed at encouraging people to look at the world around them. There are many people who teach or take courses about painting, drawing and photography but what is rarely touched upon is the skill of observing our surroundings.

Artist’s view

ColourSplodgeWhether you are an artist, a photographer or a regular visitor to art galleries, this series of lectures will be useful. It doesn’t matter what material you choose, watercolours, pencils or charcoal, it will give you an insight into how artists view the world.

You will be inspired to create magnificent compositions, use fabulous colour combinations and demystify the art of looking. This is one of the often overlooked skills that people should definitely acquire and develop

The art of looking

neal-winfield-archesThe “Art of Looking” is a course that will show how the world is put together and break down colours, lines and shapes into a series of captivating talks. This will enable you to clearly plan paintings and get more out of visits to art galleries. The course will show you how to compose pictures, make the most out of scenes and understand the importance of colour.

Courses will be run over four mornings during June to September in the gorgeous Niccone Valley on the Tuscan Umbria border. Lessons will typically be between 9.30 and 13.00, leaving your afternoons free to paint, tour and explore the surrounding countryside.

Art course content

Fig6During the sessions you will hear about the elements that make up a picture, practice simple exercises to commit your observations to paper and look at examples from throughout art history. By the end of your time you will have practical knowledge of colour theory, perspective and depth, as well as the mathematics of paintings.


For full details of the course itinerary, dates and prices please drop me a line at

Exhibiting on Othello’s Island

Every year Cyprus hosts the medieval and renaissance conference, Othello’s Island , in Nicosia. This year I was lucky enough to be invited along to exhibit some of my work. The conference is held inthe Centre of Visual Arts and Research (CVAR) in Nicosia’s arty district. Here Dr Rita Severis curates an interesting collection of Cypriot artefacts and hosts educational events.

Art on Cyprus

20190416_111510My involvement started a couple of years ago when I helped with Dr Gaie Burnet’s paper on Simone Martini’s lost predella. Gaie presented this paper at conference and included my sketches along with other paintings of a medieval nature.

Medieval exhibition

20190416_111545The exhibition features a mixture of medieval rooms, Gothic machines and twenty of my saint renditions. Along with these, there were also a couple from the medieval tree series and two olde Twitter bird watercolours.

The interlinking theme in these paintings is the idea of the modern world through medieval eyes and the show illustrated 21st century devices displayed in a 13th century style.

This worked well with the various papers the academics presented, which included such topics as incorruptible saint’s bodies, bad boys of Shakespeare and a lovely piano recital by Richard Hull.


Painting Course in Umbria

Recently, I had the joy of running a painting course in Umbria for a group of visiting artists whose tutor had been injured days prior to leaving. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, get outside and paint and impart some of my own particular thoughts on painting.

IMG_20190322_100413[1]Painting outdoors

The event was organised by the Civitella Ranieri Foundation and was based in the fabulous, 15th century castle near Umbertide.   This location is perfect for artists, perched high above the old town with expansive views of the Umbrian countryside.

This time of year the weather is somewhat unpredictable so we had studio based exercises on the cloudy, windy days and trips out, painting au plein air on the sunnier days.  Here, high above the Asino Valley, we spent our time capturing the hills, woods and fields before us. A couple of days later we followed this with a drive into the beautiful hill town of Montone, where the students painted the buildings of the town.

Art in Umbria

IMG_20190326_151042[1]The highlight of the week, for me, was visiting the Archeologia Arborea just outside of Citta di Castello. This is a tree museum, where they care for over 400 native fruit trees, grape vines and wild flowers. It’s a lovely peaceful place to sit and paint but sadly the weather was against us on the day we were there. Despite this, it was a thoroughly enjoyable trip with Isabella, the owner, explaining the history and importance of the orchard.

All in all the week proved to be an inspirational success for everyone, with students picking up new skills and experiences along with unforgettable memories of the Umbrian countryside.

If you are interested in a painting course or guided au plein air trip to study the landscape of central Italy, please drop me a line at  🙂

Medieval Study Room


Medieval Study – watercolour & ink – 23cm x 29cm (For Sale)

The Medieval Study continues the collection of watercolour paintings in a 13th century style with furniture from the IKEA catalogue. It looks at the modern world from the viewpoint of a medieval artist and interprets how they might have painted life in the 21st century.

The room features a castellated doorway with a circular, stone window above. The study itself contains a writing desk, children’s table and chair and a storage unit and there are also medieval instruments and a chart of symbols on the wall. All give the room a feel of studious activity.

The depth perception created using typical techniques of the period and uses multiple one-point perspectives, strange lines and weird angles. the floor runs off in one direction, while the furniture in another. The colour pallet also is of the period and the addition of acrylic gold paint re-creates a gold leaf effect.

Other Medieval rooms include library, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

Artist’s Books – Medieval Trees

I’ve always loved the idea of artist books and have plenty of sketch pads with designs, tree11projects and drawings. So at last, I’ve finally got around to making a hand bound book of my own.  It combines three interests of mine, the medieval art style, liner projects that explore a theme and bookbinding.

I’ve put together a couple of books before but this time I decided to do it properly and bought myself the right tools for the job. So with this in mind, my recent art works have IMG_20190228_125654been looking at how trees were portrayed by artists through the Late Middle Ages.

From borders to hedgerows

The images start with the heraldic border designs, flowery lines with leaves and buds that dangle down the page and trail across the tops and bottoms. As the church relaxed its attitude to depicting nature, artists increasingly began to explore painting trees.

Their first attempts show lollipop style trees and any parent will be familiar with a green blob on a stick. These gradually developed to a stage where there are tree shapes filled in with leaves. tree5

Superstar artists

By the 12th century artists were becoming more and more recognised and with the arrival of Giotto di Bondone the superstar painters had begun. Prior to his fame, artists were merely seen as craftspeople with a technical skill.

IMG_20190227_125521Cimabue, Duccio, Martini and the Lorenzetti brothers all brought their own take on nature and with it secured the status of artists in society.

Drawing trees

Eventually the way of drawing leaves changed from simple ellipses to more complicated ideas. Here you can see the type of foliage that could have been found throughout the era.

By the end of the 14th century artists had started to nail painting nature and were capable of capturing the rich diversity of trees present in the landscape. It is really interesting to follow how artists, over time, looked at the world around them and IMG_20190303_092446_6experimented in painting vegetation.

Hand bound books

The idea now is to compile these paintings into a leather, hand bound book. I will also make a limited series of 24 watercolour paintings reproduced as digital prints and stitch these into an A5 copy of the original artworks.

If you’re interested in obtaining one of these rare books about the story of Medieval Trees, please email me for further information at –

The Modern Medieval Electric Toothbrush


Modern Medieval Electric Toothbrush – watercolour and ink

This is the latest in the series of paintings that explore the design style of the 11th century polymath, Ismael al Jazari. He famously produced a manual with over a 100 designs for clocks, fountains, water pumps etc.

These paintings take the designs of al Jazari’s machines working parts and use them to paint modern devices such as the electric toothbrush.

The original paintings have Arabic script and symbols, however, not wishing to make linguistic errors, I decided to use a phonetic alphabet instead. This gives the designs a mystical feel, while retaining their use as the labels that can be understood, once you decipher the writing.

I love the way Jazari conveys pumps, gearing systems and camshafts,but had to explore ways of portraying modern components, such as batteries, electric motors and wires. Next step circuit boards I think.

Others in the series include a steam iron, coffee machine and cigarette lighter.

The Medieval Greenhouse of Eden


Greenhouse of Eden 35 cm x 35cm

The Medieval Greenhouse of Eden plays on the same ideas as the other room paintings in this series. It uses a 13th century style, with its weird perspective and limited palette to create a modern image in a Medieval way.

It takes inspiration from my neighbour’s banana tree, the florist over the road and the tall umbrella pines that populate the nearby park.


Medieval Garden

The facade is drawn as a front-on elevation linked to multiple vanishing DSCN7344points throughout the painting. The idea is that viewers are forced to use other depth cues in order to create a three-dimensional view. This ultimately gives the painting a topsy turvy feel.

Strange perspective

Blurring of the images behind the glass windows, overlapping, size difference and aerial perspective all give depth and three-dimensions to the painting. The blue sky and verdant green background, orange ochre tiles and red pots create a spacial effect and make the conservatory stand out.


Like an M. C. Escher etching, the viewer believes and disbelieves in the same breathe. You can see the depth in one moment and then are unable to the next. This is how one-eyed people see the world, through a series of snapshots that on occasion don’t add up but then with a twist of the head, all make sense again.