The Bean Eaters

The Beaneater
(Italian: Mangiafagioli) is a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Annibale Carracci. Dating from 1580-1590 (probably 1583-1585), it is housed in the Galleria Colonna of Rome.
Jonny the Beaneater


This is my mate Jonny. Whilst working together in The Isle of Man we shared a house. One night I was experimenting with his camera and took this shot. Immediately I noticed the similarity with Carracci’s painting much to my amusement.

That Sinking Feeling

About 30 years ago Caroline and I went on holiday to a Greek Island where I managed to paint and sell a few paintings. I was getting noticed in the village and even managed to pick up a commission from the local ‘flash Areios’. He asked me if I would paint a picture of his ‘spikbot’. I tried to understand what the hell he was going on about for a while until someone kindly translated: ‘he wants you to paint his speedboat.’

“Ah, speedboat” said I, “ok”.

There was no mention of a fee as I followed him round the little harbour to where his boat was moored about twenty yards out from dry land. I set up my gear and commenced to tentatively sketch the boat. Suddenly there was a load of splashing; heading towards the boat; it was Areios in his swimming trunks and sunglasses. This took me rather by surprise; especially when he struck up a pose in the thigh deep water alongside his ‘spikbot’, hand on hip facing me.
A little crowd gathered round to watch.


Anyway, in for a lepta, in for a drachma…

Rather than having him stand there ages while I painted the boat, I painted him first in about 10 minutes. He appeared on the paper, a little figure about 2 inches tall, hand on-hip staring out through his shades to the audience behind me. That was the tricky bit out of the way, so I shouted to Areios “okay, you can go now”, thinking that he would paddle back out of the water and I would have as long as I liked to paint the boat and complete the painting.

Instead he climbed into the boat, started up the engine and sped off into the distance leaving me sitting there with a blank expression, a nearly blank piece of paper and a perplexed audience.

I gathered my things together, crawled off and hid.

The Portrait Gallery

We’re held prisoner here,
Oil, watercolour, charcoal, pen and ink,
Strung up to the wall,
Not even allowed to blink.
All of us were framed,
Innocent, though surrounded by gilt,
Staring at each other,
In a room purpose built.

Unless the inspectors cast their critical eyes,
The guard sits in the corner dozing,
They come to scrutinise,
Our hang-ups and our posing.
Footsteps echo round the hall,
Forwards and back,
We don’t know who we are,
We can’t read the little brass plaque.

On paper and wooden panels,
Although mainly canvas from the loom,
Our eyes follow,
The inspectors round the room.
We dream of escaping,
At night we discuss our plan,
Perhaps a tunnel,
Into a get-away van.

Painting on Holiday

Normally I can’t find the time to paint pictures for the hell of it, but on holiday I usually manage to do something. I pack my little watercolour paint box, paper and a couple of brushes and sit somewhere idyllic without a care in the world (while Caroline’s gone shopping).
I try to be discreet but people are generally nosey and want to have a peep at what I am doing.

This is one of the watercolours I painted en plein air, Vaison la Romaine, Provence.

Ricky the Bricky

pasted1089Caroline was painting stone-blocking as part of one of our murals. She was being watched by a builder who declared: “I’ve never seen that done before - somebody building a wall from the top down!”

Ricky the Bricky

Ricky left school with n’O Levels,
He was an odd character,
Who became a hod carrier.

He worked his way up the ladder,
And became a brick layer,
Then a trick brick layer.

His party piece,
Which gave him great renown,
Was building a wall from the top down.

They’d never seen anything like it,
He certainly had a flair,
For laying bricks in mid air.

He went on to perform in Working Men’s Clubs,
And was in great demand,
With his bricks, cement and sand.

But it didn’t last,
Although he was an overnight sensation,
His success had no foundation.

The Ornament

I used to employ my father-in-law (Bob) who was a painter and decorator (now retired). One day me Bob and Caroline were working in the same grand house. Me and Caroline were in one room and Bob was in an adjacent room.

There was a clatter coming from Bob's room followed by silence.

His head slowly appeared round the door.

"I only picked it up and the top fell off" he said sheepishly holding several pieces of an ornamental grouse. and Caroline looked knowingly at each other.

Eventually I decided to take the pieces home and glue them back together.

I spent several hours that evening restoring the ornament; sticking, filling, painting and varnishing. Although I say it myself you would never have known that it had been broken.

I could have taken it back the next day, put it back in its place and no one would have ever known about the accident. However, Caroline decided to ring the client to apologise and explain. She grovelled at great length and offered to replace the ornament if the repair wan't satisfactory.

After several minutes of patiently listening at the other end, our client replied:

"Caroline, it was already broken."

The Ostrich and the Tiger

I can’t believe I’m telling you this …
Crossland Hall
When I was at Infant’s School I sat next to a bit of a dunce who drew a picture of an ostrich with four legs. He’d taken his inspiration from a photograph of 2 ostriches (one partly hiding the other). I didn’t half laugh at him. What a fool.

Many years later…

I was commissioned to paint a classical ceiling taking elements from ‘The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne’ by Annibale Carracci. The original painting features two tigers pulling a chariot. My design used just one of the tigers.

One night I received a phone call from the interior designer in charge of the project who said:

“Alan, you’ve painted the tiger with five legs.”

I thought he was winding me up. But the next day on site there it was for all to see.

Obviously an easy mistake to make!

Alan's first oil painting (aged 10)

my first oil paintingMy Dad always fancied himself as an artist and once had a go at painting by numbers. When he had completed the painting the little pots of paint that came with the kit still had some left in them so I decided to have a go on a blank board. It caused quite a stir; my teacher offered to buy my painting of Mevagissey Harbour for 5 shillings but my mother wouldn’t let me sell it. She gave me 5 shillings herself and it went up on our wall.

Filming for Yorkshire Television

It must have been around the turn of the millennium when I was on TV. I was part of a series about Yorkshire Artists (of all types). After featuring my work I a reviewed David Mellor’s exhibition in Sheffield which featured everything from his designs of knives and forks to traffic lights.DSCN0837

Me and the Reynolds

L1030279One of our clients who has become one of our very best friends owns an original Joshua Reynolds. Alongside this masterpiece hangs one of my own paintings (hiding behind the lampshade).

Painting Wrought Iron in Portugal

Wrought IronHere’s Caroline working away. We painted ironwork inside and outside this mansion which took several trips to Portugal. It was a combination of faux verdigris, black and gold. It was so hot that the paint was sizzling as it was applied.portugal
We had an interesting encounter with the Portuguese version of a Portaloo which looked okay from outside but was just a stinking hole in the ground inside. Fortunately we complained after the first visit and were given the keys to the site managers cabin which had relatively posh facilities.

Our Converted Cow Shed

In 2010 we bought an old cowshed and converted it for ourselves to live in. A project not for the faint hearted!
The photographs show before, during and after the conversion.

Tel: 07748 201548