Plans..What Plans?

Photo one was the canvas on the easel when I went into the studio today and, what I thought I was going to be working on throughout the day.

If only things were that simple...

Francis Boag Blog


I allowed myself to be distracted by a barely started canvas lying on the studio table and that was me for the rest of the day.

Photo two is what I ended up with...


Francis Boag Blog


I don’t know whether to be annoyed at my predilection for ‘kicking the can down the road’ again or to just be happy that I managed to scratch another itch?


Photo three shows the new painting framed (thanks to FrameBuilder app).

I think I might be secretly pleased with my days' work...


Francis Boag Blog



Work Small, Learn Big | Pens

Francis Boag Blog

Many years ago I worked as a freelance cartoonist (I was never very good) - the humour was ok but the drawings were terrible! Yet I had spent countless hours trying to create a ‘line’ that was uniquely mine.

I tried dozens of pens and used acres of paper looking for that elusive quality that is the stamp of a good cartoonist and although I was having my work published, I was never really happy with what I was creating. But, I did learn an awful lot about what makes a line ‘alive’…how did the ink flow? How thick should the line be? Was board or paper best? Did the ink sit on the surface or was it absorbed into the paper? Was a fast line better than a slow line etc. etc?

The variables of pen and paper are infinite and often produce minuscule changes of which only the artist is aware. Don’t be afraid to look for inspiration in the ‘Funnies’… these are professionals working at the top of their trade, and they can teach you a lot if you open your mind. I eventually decided that I didn’t have what it takes to be a good cartoonist and stopped trying but the lessons I learned during that time have since proved invaluable.

Time spent with a pen or pencil in your hand should never be wasted. You can even make writing your grocery list a learning experience by experimenting with different pens and paper...


Work Small, Learn Big | Tools

Work Small, Learn Big Blog


For the sake of my sanity and my bank balance, I have taught myself to strictly ration the time I spend in my local art supplier. The tools of our trade, pens, pencils, brushes, sketchpads, paints etc. have always been a source of fascination to me and I could happily spend hours browsing through the delights on offer.

I have even been known to pore over art catalogs and brochures looking for the magic ingredient that will solve all my artistic problems and change my life. Like the golfing ‘rabbit’ who is convinced he can get round in par if he could only find the right putter or new driver, I am always looking for the ideal pen or perfect paper.

One of the ’perks’ in my post as Head of Art was the requirement to purchase materials for the department and so I could indulge my passion for art products with a clear conscience. It was during this time I discovered that there was no substitute for quality and I have carried this lesson with me into my career as a professional artist.

I remember many years ago reading an article by David Hockney where he explained that when his work began to sell for quite large sums he realised that he should stop using the cheaper paints and boards he was accustomed to as a student and use only quality materials which would stand the test of time. Work offered for sale should only be produced using materials tested for reliability and quality. On the other hand, work produced as preparatory studies, or for your own use can include any media you like. One of the homework tasks I set as a teacher asked the students to make a self-portrait with anything they could normally find around the home.

One drawing I particularly remember was made with lipstick, rouge, shoe polish and mascara on a piece of fine grade glass paper. It had a unique quality which made it look as if it could have been found in Tutenkamun's tomb! Items like lipstick and eye pencils make very expressive lines and anything that stains i.e. red wine, coffee, turmeric, food colouring and so on will make a colour wash. You can also, for instance, make a lovely, subtle ‘drawing ink’ by diluting a carton of cold water dye in a jar. Try it and see…there are no rules.



Still Life with Dove

Francis Boag: Still life with dove

'Still life with dove' is a painting which, as is common with a lot of my work, combines bits of direct observation and other bits dredged up from my ‘memory bank’.

This painting is unusual in that it started life as an exercise at a workshop session. Not one of my own workshops, but every so often when I get a bit stir crazy working alone in the studio, I join an old friend Bobby at a workshop he attends run by artist, Susan Winton at her studio gallery near Pittenweem.

The company is always good and there is a nice atmosphere, very conducive to making work. The fact that there are unlimited chocolate biscuits and wine with a superb lunch only adds to the attraction.

Susan usually has a theme and several ‘props’ scattered around the studio. The red plant pot, pears, table, blue jug and most importantly the chocolate cake were all painted on the day.

The single rose, sunflowers and caged bird were all added the following day in my own studio. This was how the painting looked after day two. I then revisited it the next day and that is the finished painting which you can see in the Summer Exhibition at the Gullane Gallery in the summer.

I would advise anyone on a Painting workshop to follow my example, don't try to finish your  painting on the day.  Take it home, sleep on it and finish it the next day (or as soon as you have time).


Blair Atholl

This painting is another case of a carefree day out providing unlikely inspiration.

My wife, Teresa, is passionate about horses and persuaded me I would enjoy a day at the International Horse Trials at Blair Atholl. And she was right, I did, however, like all these big sporting events, as well as the horses, there was a large tented village thronged with people and selling everything from AGA cookers to Alpaca mittens. It was quite a dull day and in contrast to the bustle of the areas, Blair Atholl Castle could just be been seen rising through the mist like something from Brigadoon.

As the mist cleared, the whitewashed building set against the backdrop of dark, brooding hills, looked like it was made of icing sugar. As usual, I wasn't thinking about making a painting, but the very next day in the studio, the idea of a painting showing the contrast between the cool, crisp vision of the castle in its natural surroundings and the hot, hustle and bustle of the tented village just jumped out almost fully- formed.


Open Studio Weekend: April 8th & 9th 2017

If your memory is better than mine you may recall receiving a similar invitation to this just over a year ago.

The event in 2016 seemed by all accounts to be very well received so I have decided to repeat the same format for a ‘Meet the Artist’ event on the weekend of April 8th and 9th 2017.

I have been working my socks off over this exceedingly mild winter and this will be a first chance to see the fruits of my labours.

I hope everyone who joined me last year enjoyed it enough to want come along again and we look forward to welcoming many new faces.

As well as a large body of brand new original paintings, BoagArt Publishing will also be launching two very different print ranges, and once again there will be a selection of books, cards and small framed prints.

We will be open Saturday 10am-4pm and Sunday 1pm-5pm.

Full details of the event will also be on the Boagart Publishing website and Facebook page.

My address is:

Old Mill Steading
Home Farm
Ury Estate
AB39 3ST

For directions to the Ury Estate see below.

The only way into the Ury Estate at the moment is via the Slug road.

Follow signs to Banchory B957.

As you leave  Stonehaven, after about a mile, on your right, you will see a blue sign saying ‘FM Ury Estate; Blue Lodge’. That is the entrance to the estate.

You should pass over two-speed bumps spaced a few yards apart and 50 yards further on, at a granite roadside sign saying  'Ury Home Farm’ take a left turn.

Follow the road round and we are the last house on the right.

Find me on -

TWITTER: @FrancisBoag
INSTAGRAM: @francisboag
FACEBOOK: www.facebook.com/boagartpublishing
TUMBLR: www.francisboagart.tumblr.com

Look forward to seeing you all. 



Pop Art

I first wrote this blog exactly ten years ago and I wanted to share it with you all after deciding to release a limited number of pop art prints on my website...

The weather over the past couple of weeks has been appalling and while it’s nice to be inside my warm, cosy studio while it’s pelting down outside the light has been so poor that it has made painting very difficult.

Trying to find just the right temperature of colour for a particular passage in a painting is hard enough at the best of times but in this prevailing gloom, it has become almost impossible. As well as the poor light I’ve been suffering a touch of ‘artist’s block’. Not entirely surprising as I have been working continually on back to back shows since May of last year.

I spent a couple of idle days reading Len Dighton…again.  Does anyone know why he isn’t writing any new books?

Maybe it was the setting of the book ‘Horse under Water’, which I first read while at Dundee Art College in the sixties, but I began to wonder what I would be painting if I was 19 again?

So indulging myself, I knocked off the three images you see here. 








The first one was, ‘Marilyn’ which obviously owes more than a little credit to Andy Warhol but hopefully has enough of ‘Boag’ in it, followed by ‘Paul’ and then ‘John’. I had a great time painting them. It was better than a rest and gave me a lot of new ideas for future work.

It also took me full circle as I started my ‘commercial’ art career in 1963 when I would take requests from girls in my class at school to draw pictures of the Beatles.  If my memory holds I think sixpence was the going rate for a pencil drawing with a watercolour retailing at the princely sum of one shilling. Plus ca change.

You can find all my pop art prints available for sale here.



As many of you may know, last month, I was involved in the North East Open Studios.

During the week, I was asked to take part in a Q&A with the Press and Journal and discuss my ongoing involvement with NEOS. I've put together a blog for anyone who may have missed last month's article and is interested in finding out more about my journey as an artist, feel free to have a read. 

Where are you from?

I was born and grew up in Dundee. I didn't move up to the North East until 1989.

What medium do you work in?

I mostly work with acrylics and also some collage.

Do you exhibit often?

Yes, my work is always on show somewhere.

Where do you exhibit?

These days I tend to exhibit with a small group of galleries, mostly people who have become friends over the years.

When I was building my career I was showing in up to 30 to 40 galleries, all over the UK including several London galleries and also in Paris, New York, Seattle, Munich, Dublin and I even had prints for sale in Baghdad!

Where is your studio/where do you work?

My studio is now at my home on the Ury Estate in Stonehaven.

How long have you been an artist?

Hopefully I have always been an artist, but it has been my full-time exclusive career since 2001.

Have you always wanted to be an artist?

Yes, I had a poem published in the school magazine when I was in my first year at secondary school and the first line read 'I wish I was a painter, a Raphael or Holbein...' and finished 'I would sign myself, Francesco de Boagi'

Have you done any training?

I attended Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, during the sixties...my main claim to fame being I booked Pink Floyd for our Christmas Revels.

In 1999 I managed to obtain a sabbatical from teaching and studied at Grays for an M A.

Have you done any other jobs?

Yes, mostly teaching - I was Head of Art and Design at Aberdeen Grammar School from 1989 until 2001. It was then that I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life to give up teaching and pursue a career as an artist.

What inspires you?

I have often considered that question and have reached the conclusion that because the world is such a beautiful place, especially as you get older, as long as I walk around with my eyes open I will never be short of inspiration.

Why did you decide to take part in NEOS?

I decided early on in the year that I was going to make NEOS my big exhibition of 2016.

How many years have you been doing NEOS?

I think I did my first NEOS in 2008.

What do you want to achieve from NEOS?

What I've always wanted to achieve from my paintings, I want lots of people to visit and everyone to enjoy my work. I may be wrong but I would imagine almost all the artists taking part in NEOS are looking for the same thing.

What do you want people who look at your work to come away thinking?

I want them to go away thinking 'I really enjoyed that and I'm glad I took the time to visit'.


The Castle Collection

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a historic fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position on the Castle Rock. By its very nature it imposes itself upon the surrounding landscape, and looking up it seems to fill the very sky.

My early attempts  to capture this feeling featured the most common viewpoint from Princes Street but, I was soon looking for alternative viewpoints such as, the view from the approach to the Grassmarket.

Other vantage points which stand out are looking across from the terrace at Harvey Nichols or the Tower restaurant in the Chambers Street Museum.

Edinburgh Castle, Evening

In the paintings of this and other Scottish Castles, I enjoy exaggerating the contrast between a very free, fluid interpretation of the area below the Castle, while using a ruler and mapping pen to create almost an Architect's drawing of the Castle structure.

I also strive not to be too influenced by the 'local colour' but to experiment with colour as an emotional response to what is one of Scotland's great landmarks and a scene whose impact is never less than highly dramatic.

Edinburgh Castle, Witchery



Winter Hills Dunoon


My normal method of beginning a painting is to create as much excitement as I can with liquid paint applied in bold strokes and splashes. Most of the time, this is then refined and painted over as the painting progresses, but I always try to retain some of the original marks as they are usually the most freely painted and full of energy.

However, in this painting I was so pleased and excited with the qualities of the early stages of the work, I determined to leave as much as I could in the finished piece. I anticipated some difficulty in resolving the completed work with a recognisable landscape element, but knew instinctively that the transition between the two areas would be a river bank.

My first thoughts were to integrate the coast at Cowie in Stonehaven, as seen from the harbour area, but then another image began to insinuate itself into my thoughts and I decided to go with that.

Several years ago, I was given the use of a cottage on the Cowal peninsula by a gallery in Glasgow, who were hoping it would inspire me to paint some west coast landscapes. We had a lovely family holiday and I did manage a few paintings from my travels round the local area.

The view in this painting is my memory of the ferry journey across to Dunoon, which we took a couple of times towards the end of the day. It is now quite a few years since I made that journey, and I am not sure why it popped into my head, when I was contemplating this canvas.

However, I have learned over the years to trust that 'wee inner voice' and so 'Winter Hills, Dunoon' was the result.


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