Category Archives: Painting

13th Century Cigarette Lighter


Cigarette lighter

If in the 13th century Ismail al Jazari had had the opportunity to design a cigarette lighter, I feel sure his painting would have looked something like this.

He would have incorporated a sealed pot to hold the gas and somehow tied down a piece of flint. There would have been a cog that when turned could adjust the height of the flame and the whole mechanism would have been put in a decorative box.

As with the previous machines, I’ve used the phonetic alphabet to give the painting an air of mysticism. The strange symbols and the addition of the mathematical formula for a burning match gives it a real sense of this being a scientific document.

The Modern Medieval


Carrying on from the modern landscapes in a Medieval or International Gothic style and the contemporary saint avatars, I have started a series of medieval instruction manuals.

I discovered the 12th century, Arabian polymath, artist/inventor, Ismail al Jazari’s works and have taken them as a starting point. Al Jazari produced a manuscript book detailing 100 different machines that people could make. These included fountains, clocks and musical machines.

Al Jazari machine

Al Jazari’s water pump

Using the format and devices Jazari created I am producing drawings of modern appliances in his medieval style. This includes strange spiky cogs, flaming furnaces and water wheels, all linked up to power and operate my machines.

Al Jazari’s designs also contain Arabic lettering and symbols to explain the working of his creations. Not speaking Arabic and not wishing to write complete nonsense I decided to use the phonetic alphabet to annotate my drawings. This gives it a mysterious feel but is also legible if you know how pronunciation is written.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the first design is a coffee machine. Obviously water flows from the tank on the right, into the boiler and is pumped up into the filter from where coffee drips into the cup. If you have any ideas that you’d like me to try out please add to the comments section. 🙂



Archangel St Michael


This forms part of the modern emoji saints series. The idea that if Byzantine or Early Renaissance painters were working now, how would they have portrayed religious topics. As emojis, obviously.

St Michael

So, if you’re looking for an angel to take your battles to the enemy, Saint Michael is your guy. He is often pictured as a warrior angel, fighting the foes of heaven. In Revelations he takes on Satan and wins, there are also paintings of him defeating serpents and dragons.

Attributes of the saint

St Michael is fully equipped for the task and is shown wearing armour, carrying a sword and spear with his banner attached. He also is depicted holding the scales of justice, where the lives of sinners are in the balance. Tradition has it that the colours associated with him are Royal purple and cobalt blue, this accounts for his colourful attire.

The archangel is a popular figure as patron saint, he is the protector of Jewish people and guardian of the Catholic church. The people of France, Germany, the Ukraine, Brussels, Kiev and Dumfries. Enforcers also look to St Michael, so police officers, the military, paratroopers, firefighters and paramedics call upon him. Strangely enough, so do grocers and the sick.

Other saints in the series – St David, St George, St Andrew, St Patrick, St Francis



The Saintly Chemical Brothers


St Cosmas & St Damian

The two brothers, Cosmas and Damian came from Arabia. They were Christian physicians who freely administered care and relief to the sick of the area until their martyrdom in Syria, in 287 AD.

When arrested and tortured they proved pretty indestructible, surviving hanging, crucifixion, stoning and being shot at with arrows. Still they refused to recant their beliefs, so the Prefect of Cilicia ordered the pair beheaded.

The brothers are most often depicted together  surrounded by medical paraphernalia. Due to their healing skills they have been adopted by physicians, doctors, surgeons, dentist and veterinarians as their patron saints. St Cosmas is usually associated with physicians and is depicted holding a pestle and mortal, while St Damian is normally shown holding some form of remedy.

Other saints in this series – St David, St George, St Andrew, St Patrick, St Michael and St Francis

San Francesco Preaching to the Birds

neal-winfield-st-francescoFollowing on from the Saints of the British Isles series, next we have San Francesco, one of Italy’s favourite saints.

Sites of St Francis

The churches, monasteries and hermitages of Saint Francis are popular places for both locals and foreign travellers to visit and down the centuries his stories have provided artists with inspiration.

Giotto’s paintings

On the subject of inspiration, this latest watercolour takes Giotto’s paintings and combines his preaching to the birds with the background of  the painting of St Francis receiving the stigmata.

The hills represent the landscape at La Verna in Tuscany and amongst the various birds he preaches at are two Twitter logos. The tree is also a representation of Giotto’s oak tree, with a golden background.

Like the other saintly paintings, St Francis can be bought as a postcard, poster or on a lovely coffee mug.



The Saints of the British Isles


St David

I thought the four great saints of the British and Irish isles would be a great set to paint. Each has their own idiosyncrasies, their colours, attributes and associations, all are colourful characters.

Dewi Sant

Saint David, a peaceful preacher who is pictured in full regalia, with his crozier and a dove. Being Welsh, it wouldn’t be right not to include a daffodil and a dragon. The colours reflect the red, green and white (hence the clouds) of the Welsh flag too.


St George

Saint George

George has been adopted by many countries, along with the English, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro are all patrons of the armour wearing, spear wielding, dragon killing saint. He has also been adopted by the scouting movement, the military and syphilis sufferers.

Saint Andrew


St Andrew

Andrew the Apostle is another favoured saint and as well as the Scots, the people of Georgia, Malta, Cyprus, Romania and Spain are also great followers of the man. Scotland’s interest stems from the belief that relics were brought from Constantinople to St Andrews in Scotland. He was crucified on a Saltire cross and this accounts for the white cross on a blue field that makes up the Scottish flag.


St Patrick

Saint Patrick

Ireland’s Romano British missionary who is feted as the founder of Christianity in Ireland. He famously used the shamrock as a tool for teaching the holy trinity and is credited with driving all the snakes out of Ireland. It is also said that his old walking stick when thrust into the ground and left, grew into a tree.


The four can be bought as mugs or postcards, which would make excellent gifts for anyone interested in the saints of the British and Irish isles.

Other saints in this series include – St Francis, St Michael, St Emygdius, St Cosmas & St Damian

Religious Depiction

Religious leaders have always been great communicators when it comes to spreading their message. Through the aid of books, tomes and pictorial illustrations they have brought the word to the faithful.


Painting the saints

The images are always particular of their time. So in the 1100s scribes painted medieval knights and in the Renaissance the protagonists are shown wearing 16th century fashion neither of which would have happened 2,000 years ago. So I decided we needed a new style of image for communicating religious ideas in the 21st century.

I am currently working on a series exploring the depiction of saints in a modern way. Today we live our lives on the internet, iPhone and tablet so I think we need religious images that reflect our modern age.

Religious emoji


IKEA figure

The newest of languages is the visual emoji, emoticon language, where feelings, states of mind and responses are all quickly communicated via the international language of cartoon characters.

IMG_20180813_0001Since their inception in 1982, emoticons have been the chosen form of communication for the new age. From the simple full-colon with a bracket  🙂 smiley face we have seen a whole drama of emotions created. With the addition of avatars, emojis and memes, conversation and messages have taken on a whole new direction.

Contemporary style

IMG_20180815_0001This series takes modern iconic symbols and combines them with current technologies and an older style of portrayal to produce a contemporary image, with a historical connection.

As in the thirteenth century rooms series, the initial point of reference was the IKEA catalogue. The figures are based around the character found on the much ridiculed instruction leaflets that come IMG_20180814_0001with any flat-pack and has been altered slightly to suit the saint.

Modern saintly images

Who these days uses an iron cauldron or fires a crossbow? Very few I’d imagine. Therefore the addition of things like wicker baskets, casters or wooden dowels put the saints in a modern context to which people can relate.


IMG_20180815_0002The paintings look modern but are also easily recognisable as religious iconography, even through their simplicity. Bright and colourful with the usual, slightly obtuse viewpoint they are fun but relevant comments on religion in today’s society.


Who is your saint of choice?