I’ve been getting excited recently about my shiny new(ish) fisheye lens, which has done nothing short of revolutionise my roundography, as I say here. However, that’s not the only new lens I’ve thought necessary to acquire. My new status of Mother has demanded of me that I begin my Crafthole family album as quickly as possible, since our boy changes almost daily.

For the first four months of his life I have been snapping away at him, as you would expect, but I have felt the results singularly uninspiring. This picture of me in the early eighties, taken by my Dad on his splendid and much loved Pentax, was my standard:

What I love about this is the wonderfully shallow depth of field that really gives such a sense of softness and intimacy. Beautiful. I am so glad that my Dad amassed this collection of family snaps that can be thought of as true portraits.

I know a bad craftsman always blames his tools but this sort of image really is impossible without a lens with sufficiently low F number. My Dad had his portrait lens, and I wanted mine. And I got it (with a bit of financial shifting, squeezing and moving). It’s a 50mm, F1.4 Nikkor thing of joy. I couldn’t be more happy with it.

Here is my first attempt, taken the day the lens arrived (yesterday):

I can’t wait to see the pictures as they come in the next few years. I hope to give my son a documentation of his childhood as thoughtful and intimate as the one my Dad gave us.

My dad, David Martin, is this year’s featured artist at the Dewsbury Arts Group Summer Exhibition and I had the pleasure yesterday of seeing some of the setting up.

Our house has been filled with paintings wrapped in bubblewrap propped against every surface for the last week and finally, yesterday, my dad and Crafthole (humming the theme to Lovejoy apparently) filled up their cars and drove them all down to our town hall where they’ll be occupying the entrance half of the main hall throughout this year’s exhibition.

Setting up was a mammoth task it seems. I met them there last night to find all the paintings had been arranged around the room and are being hung throughout the day today, ready for the preview this evening.

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Painting & Decorating

July 1, 2010

A couple of years ago, while visiting my mum&dad (back in the days when we had a home of our own in Oxford) I got roped in to, quite happily, helping out with the decoration of a Bacchus themed new wine bar in Batley. I went down with my dad and we spent our time painting grapes on panels propped up on the floor. I didn’t get much done, being not as quick as the others, but I did my bit and can now proudly state that I have painted with an artist with three paintings in the National Portrait Gallery. Oh yes.

Tom Wood (on the right above) was directing the people there and handing out jobs. He has painted Prince Charles and Alan Bennett amongst others and can be found in the NPG directory. There were only five of us altogether and I was the only one not a professional artist; I don’t think I’d have dared go if I’d known that to begin with…

My dad’s bit of vine (left) was rather better than mine (right) as is only right & proper I suppose…

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I started to post a serial in the spring following the progress of my dad’s latest project: a copy of his favourite painting (the second time he’s done it, but the first time at almost the full size). My plan was to photograph it in the same place with the same light after each session, but that never actually happened. I didn’t get very far in (I got up to parts 1 and 2) until Crafthole & I had to go away for a wedding (and stayed away for a few days) during a very crucial point in the proceedings, and I missed most of the development.

Those still at home kept it up for me though, and photographs do exist of the stages while I wasn’t there, but they were mostly taken with mobile phone cameras and some are quite blurry. I never got round to posting them as parts in a serial and it has now been finished so long that it seems daft to keep it going now.

Therefore, here are all the photographs that were taken after each painting session, including the ones I’ve already posted. The colours I can’t vouch for, I haven’t made any effort to match them to the painting (which is now covered in a blanket and propped up on the back of our sofa) since my monitor isn’t colour calibrated properly anyway, and I bet nobody else’s is…

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I have been away from home for the last couple of weeks and have been receiving painting updates via email. I haven’t got round to posting them though until now, so here are three updates. Next week I will be back home (with Crafthole who is out of a job for the second time this recession… I expect there’ll be a post on that soon), and so will resume taking the photos myself and will be able to add a bit more information.

In case you’re wondering I do know why he’s started at the bottom and is working upwards: it is because of the height of the chair. He has now reached the point at which he’ll have to set himself up differently to comfortably do the rest :-)


I never actually finished this serial, but I did post the finished painting with all the intermediate stages here.

My dad, David Martin, has been painting all his life. In the last ten years or so, as he has gradually retired (he is/was a freelance designer), he has spent more and more of his time painting. This July he will be the featured artist at the Town Hall in Dewsbury for the duration of the Dewsbury Arts Group’s Summer Exhibition, and this has galvanised him to more or less spend the first half of this year a full-time artist.

He has two large oil paintings on the go at any one time, and at the moment one of his projects is an almost life-sized copy of Turner’s Fighting Temeraire. I have decided to serialize the progress of the painting as best as I can here in this blog, as it is the sort of thing I would find interesting. I hope other people do too.

Here is Part 1.

This is simply a base coat with a pencil sketch over the top at this stage. The colours partly come from the earlier long-abandoned painting beneath (perhaps I should have photographed that too).

Maybe I’ll make a little movie out of all the different stages when it’s finished (if I manage to photograph it frequently enough).


I never did finish the serialisation of the progress of this painting (we were interrupted by going away for a wedding), but the painting did get finished. I posted all the photographs that exist of the process here in one go.