Monthly Archives: June 2012

Painting Without Perspective

 A Personal Perspective

Firstly to clarify things, I am blind in one eye and suffer with tonal opposite colour blindness. I say this merely to qualify my work rather than justify it. I don’t expect to be judged any different and have never used it as an excuse. A good drawing is always a good drawing and the not so good will always stand out.

 What this means is I do not have a traditional appreciation for perspective and see the world through totally different eyes. Colours constantly swap and are interchangeable and distance has a complete life of its own. I know when things are near or far, flat or round but I often have a different point of reference to those of you who are more visually aware.

Perspective Old Style

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 While I do not have a problem seeing things in three dimensions, I have, over time, learnt to love the methods our ancestors used to indicate space and distance. And it is these devices that I employ within my work to convey the three-dimensional quality of the world in which we live.

In old Germanic woodcut prints, the buildings are painted flat, two dimensionally on purpose and given shading to indicate direction. Size, as in traditional Byzantine iconographic paintings is used to convey i

 mportance and status. In my own works the more memorable attractions are larger than their surroundings, as the angels and bishops are in 12th century frescoes.

Mean Composition

Citta di Castello

I also like to use the rule of the Golden Mean in compositions; by dividing of space into thirds give compositions a balanced, natural and pleasing feel. The paintings are set out to meet this criteria, with the hills filling 2/3 of the central space, a third of the foot of the painting is left for some feature or other and there is normally 1/3 of sky at the top. Some of the works also play on the diagonals creating strong lines through the pictures or harmony by using repeated patters such as hill shapes etc to balance the composition.

Painting Theme

The idea within the current pieces was to get away from mindless attempts at recreating the world, especially when I rarely see it that way and to produce paintings which have a dreamlike quality, painting places as an edited version of reality. When we recall places of our childhood, we don’t remember all the details, just the important aspects, shapes, singular building or features in the landscape. Hills have a generic rolling feel and mountains are the childlike renditions we produced in our youth. The idea is to leave the viewer with an essence of the destination, its colours, shape and landmarks. After all, if you want a picture, take a camera.

Hopefully this explanation serves to make the allusions used in the pictures more obvious and therefore more interesting as a result. It’s not that I can’t draw a tree but its more fun finding ways not to draw one. I enjoy interpreting the landscape as it feels, as a semblance of the countryside’s of a more technically innocent time.

Scenic Positano

Positano - Celeb Playground Watercolour and ink 12cm - 36cm (Sold)

Positano – Celeb Playground
Watercolour and ink
12cm – 36cm (Sold)






















Positano on the Amalfi Coast has for over sixty years been a popular destination for the rich and famous and also used as the setting for a number of films and books, most notibly “The Talented Mr Ripley”, where the

town plays the part of the mythical Mongibello.

This painting follows the same formula as the previous hill towns but with the added novilty of the sea. To keep the foreground in touch with the others I chose to paint it a turquoise, blue green and give it a rolling hills sort of feeling. The outstanding feature of Positano is the bright orange roofed Church of Santa Maria Assunta with its distinctively coloured majolica tiles and its lovely bell tower nextdoor.

The hillside itself is populated with a myriad of boxed houses, appartments and hotels all filling the slopes and broken up with the occassional group of trees. The composition echoes this crazy jumble of builidngs laced with arches and shutters, terraces and gardens. This is once more not an attempt at recreating Positano but one of conveying the felling of the town.

If you would like to know more or are interested in any of the work on this site please email me. Thank you for your interest.  Neal


Tuscany’s Medieval Manhattan – San Gimignano

Painting San Gimignano

San Gimignano

Ever since I saw it in the 1999 film “Tea with Mussolini” I’ve always loved the idea of San Gimignano. The idea that the towns merchants in an explosion of competition all went tower building crazy and left us with a fabulous legacy of towers. In its heyday there were 72 towers of various height, of which only 14 still remain, however even this is a remarkable achievement when you consider how many other cities, such as Florence and Bologna have lost pretty much all of theirs over the centuries.

The painting measures 16cm x 36cm and is a watercolour and ink picture on heavy cartridge paper. Like the others in the series it isn’t a slavish rendition of the town but a feeling and sense of its towering presence, over the surrounding countryside of olive groves, vines and cyprus trees.

If you’re interested in this or any other of my paintings please contact me at

Anghiari and Other Places




Citta di Castello




Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been working a little larger, these paintings are 16cm x 36cm so it gives me a bit more space to play with composition and scale as well as allowing for extra detail. I love the way these little medieval towns are perched precariously on top of hill sides like Anghiari or sat brazenly in the open like Citta di Castello as it nestles alongside the River Tevere. 

All pieces are for sale and commissions are undertaken. If you are interested in finding out more or have any questions please drop me a line.