Paintings now online

I’ve finally got around to updating my artwork page and have uploaded a selection of the oil paintings I have completed over the last 12 months, along with some preparatory sketches.

(All my work is for sale by the way if you’re interested in helping a starving artist.)

Please check it out by clicking on this link: https://philmansell.com/my-artwork/

Paintings by Phil Mansell
‘Dancing at the Fiesta #2’ Oil on canvas, 2018.
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All Set to Publish!

I’m about to press the button to launch my first book on Amazon. It’s a moment filled with excitement and not a little trepidation. Just how did I get here?

It all started  about a year ago when I wrote a story called ‘Uncle Mungo and the Great Wallaby Painting Contest’ in one of my notebooks.

Mungo notebook collage 1

This was written pretty much all in one go and the story just seemed to flow onto the page. I stopped occasionally to sketch a scene from the story.

After I had scribbled down that first, very rough draft,  I typed it up onto my favourite writing program, Scrivener (try it for free here).

I knew straightaway that, as this was a children’s book, it should have lots of lively and quirky illustrations. The main character, Uncle Mungo, I had written about many years ago and I had sketched him many times for a book that has yet to be completed.

MyUncleMungo medal web

One of the original Uncle Mungo drawings from many years ago.

So the next step was to decide which parts of the story to illustrate. Some scenes were crying out for a picture – Uncle Mungo paddling, Barney’s junk shop and the pirate ship through the telescope.

Mungo on Bike Sketch 1)

I liked this original sketch of Mungo on his bike so much that, try as I might, I couldn’t better it. So I used this one in the book.

Over the following weeks and months I did the artwork for the book in between other writing projects and doing oil paintings (that’s another story you can read about in a previous blog post entitled ‘Painting the Working Class Heroes of My Childhood’).

My illustration style is very loose and in some ways child-like. I start with a quick pencil drawing which I go over in permanent black ink, and then I apply a watercolour wash over that.

Very often I start the picture again to try to capture the flowing lines and spontaneity of the initial sketch.

Sometimes I’ll do the picture over and over – maybe a dozen times – until I get something I’m happy with. After all that, I occasionally like the sketch so much I’ll use that in the book.

The day eventually dawned when I thought, right, I’d better start working on a layout of the finished book. How exactly do I do that? What size book did I decide on? I tried lots of different templates before I found one I was happy with – but that’s for another blog.

Pigsty Portrait (sketch)

Another original sketch that I preferred to any subsequent “polished” versions. Again, I used this in the final version of the book I’m publishing on Amazon.

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Coming Soon: Adventures in publishing with Amazon

I’m in the process phil portrait 1 smof publishing my first book on Amazon – and it’s been quite a journey.

I aim to write about my experiences in self-publishing and record some of the highs and lows of the process. Hopefully, this will prove useful to other writers and help them to overcome some of the obstacles that I found along the way.

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‘Bats’ Takes to the Stage Again

I was delighted to see that another amdram group is staging my one act play ‘Bats’.

Hedgehog Productions have put on five productions of the play in three different venues in October 2018.  This follows the very successful staging of the play by by Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society at the Powys Theatre  earlier this year, which I wrote about here.

‘Bats’ is a black comedy set in a quiet cul-de-sac, where a couple find their nice, quiet orderly lives disturbed by an infestation of bats. A string of people turn up and are mistaken for the bat exterminator. When he finally does turn up, his work is interrupted by a birthday strippergram, and by the time he gets down to business, it looks like it might be too late…

I’ve been in touch with Jim Hayman, who played the bat exterminator called in by the harassed householder in the play, and he wrote, ” I’ve based the “bat man” on Ronnie Barker’s character in ‘Porridge’.  Ann is weirdly middle England and tweedy.  Peter is very uptight, impatient and boring, even anal about  the detail he chooses as important.  Helen has bursts of emerging from her shell.

“The play demands character extremes and strong differentiation between the players. Once this was mastered, we started to have real fun with the piece and were able to draw out comedy,which would only work for certain types of characters.

He added, “We have sold out and will raise our target sum for our chosen charities.”

Very pleased to hear that.

If any other amdram (or professional) companies want to perform ‘Bats’ it’s available from my publisher Stage Scripts. I also have have several as-yet unpublished play, the details of which can be found here and on my other blog Phil Mansell Plays.

Bats Pics web

Hedgehog Productions rehearse my play ‘Bats’. Photos courtesy of Jim Hayman who played the role of  the “bat man” called in to solve the problem.

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Painting the ‘Working Class Heroes’ of my childhood

After years of doing funny scribbles with a watercolour  wash I’ve finally got into painting with oils. As always, it’s people – rather than landscapes or still life – that interest me, and so I’ve set about creating a series of paintings entitled ‘Working Class Heroes’.

This is an attempt to re-create my memories of the working men of my childhood in the back streets of 1950s Birmingham. The cloth-capped men who worked in the factories that churned out goods for the world. The men who clocked on at eight and who worked until 5.30, often doing mind-numbingly tedious repetitive jobs. They were men who smoked like factory chimneys and liked their beer. They’d been through a war (or two) and spoke their mind.

Like the factories they laboured in, these men seem to have all but disappeared. By using old black and white photographs as reference I am trying to bring them back to life. My paintings, I hope, will depict them in their favourite habitat – haunting the smoky old public bars and pubs that have also disappeared.

It’s early days yet – and I’m still trying to find a style I’m happy with – but I’ve done a few paintings that I quite like, and I’ve put them below.

A Painting by Phil Mansell

Old Man in the Corner

A Painting by Phil Mansell

Cheeky Chappy

A Pint after the Day Shift

A Pint After The Day Shift

A Chat Down the Pub 2

A Chat Down The Pub

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Premiere of ‘Bats’

Really pleased to have received confirmation from my publisher Stage Scripts that my play ‘Bats’ will be staged for the first time ever by Newtown Amateur Dramatic Society at the Powys Theatre from 5th-10th February 2018.

‘Bats’ is a black comedy set in a quiet cul-de-sac, where a couple find their nice, quiet orderly lives disturbed by an infestation of bats. A string of people turn up and are mistaken for the bat exterminator. When he finally does turn up, his work is interrupted by a birthday strippergram, and by the time he gets down to busines, it looks like it might be too late…

Poster for 'Bats' by Phil Mansell

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Playwright in residence!

I’m pleased to say that our local amdram group, Javea Players, have adopted me as their playwright in residence. This followed a recent, highly successful open day event where I had a stall featuring some of my plays and a slideshow of various production photos.

After saying that I wanted to arrange readings of some of my unpublished plays in order to get feedback, the positive response from members of JP has prompted me to arrange a date. This has been done. I’ll be posting an update after the reading. In the meantime, here’s a cutting from Javea Grapevine featuring me with a copy of ‘Poor Yorick’ which I’ll be directing for the JP summer show next year.

Phil Mansell playwright

Cutting from Javea Grapevine

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