Alternative Christmas Tree - if you prefer to leave them uncut - get a Sandra Jordan photograph! Feature on the photographer's contemplative winter landscapes photos at

Winter Photography: Alternative Christmas Tree

If you prefer your Christmas trees left in nature, unchopped, au naturelle – then an alternative for December decoration is to buy yourself a print from Sandra Jordan Photography.

The print featured is “Winter Forest #1”.  And, encouragingly, that number would lead you to assume that there are other photographs in a similar vein.  And you would be right.

With a touch of the poetic and humorous, this particular series is called Cabin Fever – and Sandra describes it thus:

cabin fever noun

a term for a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period.

I live in a busy city, I live with a busy mind, sometimes I feel trapped within my own limited space and have an urge to run away, to escape. Photographing this series allows me to stop, breathe and take stock.  I hope that my  photographs allow the viewer to experience the same sense of space, serenity and peace.



Collage! Photography, bit by bit

I like the way this guy approaches what he does – takes a photo then collages pieces of magazine to recreate the photo: large.

Giles Davies began doing collage after a career working as a graphic artist and in publishing – he made some pictures for a small group exhibition and found that they sold instantly – to the first person who came in through the door.  A new career emerged.

Watching him at work, it becomes clear that this is no easy way out of drawing.  It is incredScreen shot 2017-09-12 at 18.38.39ibly painstaking.  It’s like putting together an immense jigsaw with many pieces…. and you have to make the pieces first, to begin with.

However, it is clearly absorbing.

And if you’d like to learn, how to, Giles gives lessons from his studio in Derbyshire, England.  Details on his website:

I can’t wait – I want to start now – what do I do?

The first stage for Giles is to take a superb photograph of landscape – some of it obviously involves high hill challenging walks – then he draws it out roughly.

Next, he gathers pieces of coloured images from a pile of magazines, and arranges them like an artist’s portfolio, to give him the ranges of colours and tones in the photograph.

Gluing down can be a messy process for collagists – Giles does this really cleanly and simply through sheets of contact adhesive – similar to double-sided sticky tape but available in full page size, in rolls (this is a tool he used in graphic design days).

There is obviously huge skill in cutting the right shade of each paper to be in just the right place.


Two pictures in one

Screen shot 2017-09-12 at 18.45.02

The beauty of this technique is that Giles gets to enjoy peoples seeing his landscapes from a distance, appreciating it, then going in closer and suddenly discovering to their astonishment that it’s made up of fragments of unexpected elements.

Creative Ideas to takeaway

For those of us with some visual ideas, but a lack of confidence in drawing skills…. collage can be a good starting point.  You can use someone else’s images – either cutting and pasting (quite literally) or copying part of them – maybe the colour or simplified shape.

Also, on a day when you lack that starting spark for the brain cells – you can randomly pool together cutout elements from magazines and see which random pairings start a new idea.  This is also a way to produce wild and whacky results by chance, if you set yourself the constraint of working with a certain set of elements.

Poetry Pilgrimage: Little Sparta

Two days ago, I went to Little Sparta, Scottish home of poet Ian Hamilton Finlay – whose garden contains words set in stone, playful and very often anti-war symbols – a place of imagination with 300 word/art works.

“The garden functions as a political statement…. it suggests that as it is possible to transform this hillside into a garden, so it is possible for man to transform the world or society.  It is an example of action and that’s very important to me.”

Ian Hamilton Finlay (in conversation with Melvyn Bragg, 1983

A theme which Ian brings into the conversation is how gardens have become a place for (more…)

David Hockney and the Grand Canyon

Happy 80th birthday, today, to David Hockney!

In honour of his day, Louisiana Channel have posted an excellent 15 minute video interview with the artist, talking about his painting “A Closer Grand Canyon”

In the interview, David talks about:

  • how photography tends to push things further away, so although he photographed Grand Canyon, he felt he had to go back to paint it


All about sky

I am intrigued by this painting of urban landscape but skewed to feature the sky:


“Berliner Himmel” by Helge Windisch  at

Frustratingly, this oil painting is not for sale.  There are works also on urban landscape and sky by the same artist – for sale at Saatchi art –  but none so mysterious as this.  I suspect that the artist has realized that this is a key painting in her development and is holding onto it.

As I look at the picture from top to bottom, the tall building seems to transform into a door with impenetrable dark panels.  All the texture and movement is in the sky, which pools and dredges and pulls the eye.

As far as I know, “himmel” is German for both sky and heaven, so I wonder if this has a spiritual interpretation.  It certainly intrigues and points heavenwards.  It would be particularly interesting to view if it was fixed high up on a wall.

I’m on the Riviera…..

with film star Richard E Grant.  And the painter Matisse.  And a BBC camera crew.

As you’ve probably guessed, I am watching a BBC Arts documentary – “The Riviera: a history in pictures”.  (We have only seen episode 1.  For UK viewers, episode 2 is on Monday at 9 pm, BBC4).



Joyfully, our companion/presenter/guide, Richard, is obviously glad to be there in the sunlight (he has holidayed there over many years) – and explains how the South of France coastal landscape influenced the artworks painted there by Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Cross, Signac, Matisse and Braque (co-creator of Cubism with Picasso).  Richard is not only pleasant company, he has really done his homework well and unfolds an insightful story of art.

Through what he says, you can see the influence of the particular light and harsh rocks landscape on the way these painters made art.  And you feel like you’ve been sitting in sunshine, with a delightful, charming and witty companion.