Tag Archives: mick duff photographer

Happy Birthday Mick.

Today is my friend Mick Duff’s 70th birthday.   


Mick and I first met when we were five years old.     We attended The Camp School in Kent, situated in the middle of bluebell woods and housed in wooden army huts from the war, it was a wonderful foundation for creative spirits.

Gail, Mick’s wife, came to The Camp School when she was about seven – and yes, they married and together have lived a life filled with creativity, along with producing their glorious daughter, Lucy.

There was no central heating in the classrooms, – we grew vegetables in little gardens around the huts, which we ate for our lunch.   We danced around the maypole, as well as lots of country dancing.    We walked and ran everywhere….no being ferried around in cars…

Mick and Gail are very involved with keeping up ancient English folk lore traditions.  They believe that their love of this came directly from one particular teacher at The Camp School, Mrs Whitefield. 

When we get together, it’s as if no time has gone by at all….as if we are exactly the same as we were back then……long may that last.

May the magical hummingbirds always surround you, Mick.


A Bientôt

Landscape exercise using gouache.

I visited my old school friends Mick and Gail last weekend in Kent, and although quite warm there was a feel of change in the air, and indeed this week all of a sudden autumn is definitely with  us.

I love the subtle change in colour as one season moves to the next, which I recorded in this landscape exercise.


I began by using an old sketch.    Remember this is an excellent way to warm up.   There’s a sense of freedom about working on paper that has already been used.

This was the old sketch, which I turned upside down.   I will use this sketch as I would a colour ground…


I am using Winsor & Newton Designer Gouache for this exercise.    Gouache is opaque which means it can cover strong colours.       With a wet brush I add some Permanent white, and allow the colour underneath to be picked up and mixed with it.


I am working the sky area in an energetic manner – again allowing the colour on the original sketch to blend into the white……


Note the suggestion of blue hills on the right of picture and how I have lightened the sky above the hills and horizon line.

I then add light green and naples yellow into the foreground, and while the paint is wet, indicate dark trees and hedgerows.     There is no detail….it’s an impression, and I am working very quickly.


Given that the sky reflects upon the land, I have taken some of the Naples Yellow into the sky so that the two elements of the picture, sky and land are interconnected.


Final image.


Regardless of my subject matter, or where I am painting, Magical Hummingbirds are always with me.    HummingbirdHQ.com



Have a lovely weekend.



A Bientôt

Special friends

This week I have my dear friend Claudia Notalle visiting from Paris.    We first met in 1977 and have been close friends ever since.     I have painted Claudia many times over the years…..here is one of the paintings in sequence. 

Watercolour and gouache painted over an unsuccessful sketch 






Today we are off to Kent to visit more friends for a day in the countryside. 

Have a lovely weekend.


A Bientôt


Time for reflection

I have always found that leaving one calendar year and entering another is a good time for reflection.

As an artist, I am aware that all of life is interconnected.     There are no lines around anything, and as I often point out when teaching…to change one tiny portion of a painting, is to change the whole.    This same principle applies to everything in life.

With the internet and social media our interconnection is much more tangible.    We can communicate with people from around the globe in a way that has never been possible before.

As the environmentalist, David Suzuki says,

‘The human brain now holds the key to our future.    We have to recall the image of the planet from outer space: a single entity in which air, water, and continents are interconnected.    That is our home.’

Many indigenous peoples, saw the hummingbird as a connection with nature and the unseen worlds.


This past calendar year has been a good one for me and has been all about ‘interconnection’.

Through Facebook I have connected with Axlepin Publishing, and through Axlepin I have connected with some brilliant writers, poets, painters and photographers from around the world.

Early in the year, again through FB, I connected with a fascinating woman in Dubai, who suggested that I contact her son who is currently studying at the Royal College of Music in London.     This lead to a meeting with Arsha Kaviani – an extraordinarily gifted composer, pianist, which in turn led to my painting his portrait.


I had two fun visits from my friend and fellow artist, Suzy Davidson from S. Africa.      I first met Suzy when I house/studio/animal sat for her seven years ago in a wonderful place outside of Brussells.

This ‘still life’ represents an inside joke, which only Suzy will fully appreciate:)   For me, it represents a wonderful memory.


Last February I visited my friend Helga and her two lovely cats in Vienna….This time around we took the train to Semmering, a delightful place in the lower mountains of Austria…not much more than a two hour train journey from Vienna.    It was snowing and cold….and very beautiful.

Helga taking a mid afternoon picture in Semmering.


I also spent a long weekend with my old art college friend Maureen Poynter Franklyn.    We were reunited through FB after not having seen one another for 47 years!    Five minutes in one another’s company, and it was as if no time had gone by:)

I took this photograph in an ancient Dorset church when visiting Maureen last spring.


I visited and painted portraits of my friends Mick and Gail.     We have known one another since we were young children.     Our lives are intertwined in so many ways.

Gail Duff…writer, performer, musician, therapist and dear friend.


Mick Duff.   Photographer, performer, musician and dear friend.


I had a wonderful surprise in August when my friends, The Kearnsclan called to say that their daughter, Catherine was to be married in October, and that they would be sending tickets for me to attend!

I was at Lynn and Stratton’s (the parents) wedding in 1977, and have known their four children since they were born….they are family to me.

I painted this large watercolour of Catherine, the day before the wedding.    A very special moment.


It was a joyful affair…full of love and laughter….this picture shows the bride and groom and wedding party…..


Given that I was in the States, I also visited my beautiful daughter, Christie and my equally beautiful niece Kate and her husband and the the twins, in Ipswich, Mass……and we had so much fun.

Photograph of Kate, Christie and Grace in front of a mural in Ipswich, Mass.


Me painting with the glorious twins…..a very happy moment.


On the same trip, I saw other friends who I haven’t seen since 1968!    Once again we found one another through FB…..oh the power of the internet.

A photograph taken in 1967 when we were neighbours living on Staten Island, New York.   Helen and I were wearing costumes…a special memory.


This joyful picture is of Carmella….a budding young artist who lives outside of West Chester, Pennsylvania.     I have known her grandparents since 1974, and can remember the day that my daughter and I delivered a baby present to Carmella’s mother….Ruby.

Thanks to FB and the internet, we are all still able to be in touch and enjoy special moments like this one.


There were many more special moments in the past year.   T hese were some of the highlights.

Tomorrow, New Years Eve, I will talk about my hopes and wishes for the coming year.

A Bientôt