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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Artwork from the archives

Wending my way through some ancient folders on my laptop, I stumbled upon a multitude of my old artwork from the days when, as a freelance artist and writer, I would frame my work and sell it at exhibitions in the Southborough area of Kent. They used to sell surprisingly well – and not just to the more eccentric types!

As I am about to start painting and drawing again seeing this art was intriguing. You are invited to check them out. If there’s any you like I can do prints at a reasonable price! Just contact me.

Incident at the Rio Cafe by Phil Mansell

Incident at the Rio Cafe by Phil Mansell

'Pub' by Phil Mansell

‘Pub’ by Phil Mansell

'Sax Mad' by Phil Mansell

‘Sax Mad’ by Phil Mansell

'Waiter!' by Phil Mansell

‘Waiter!’ by Phil Mansell

'Coming up to the finishing post' by Phil Mansell

‘Coming up to the finishing post’ by Phil Mansell

'Card Trick' by Phil Mansell

‘Card Trick’ by Phil Mansell

'The Amazing Ventro & Pablo' by Phil Mansell

‘The Amazing Ventro & Pablo’ by Phil Mansell

'Card Trick' by Phil Mansell

‘Card Trick’ by Phil Mansell

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My Plays are Now Available from Stage Scripts

I’m pleased to announce that several of my plays are now available from Stage Scripts, a long established publisher of plays, musicals and pantomimes. For perusal copies and information about performance rights go to the Stage Scripts website.



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New Website for My Plays

According to Claudia by Phil MansellAs one door opens…

I was pleased to hear from the Endeavour Theatre Company in Australia who were keen to produce my play ‘According to Claudia’. This was welcome news after my publisher ceased trading due to ill health.

Just in case other theatre groups want details of my plays I’ve set up Phil Mansell Plays to provide the information they need. Feel free to peruse it!

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Using Scrivener to Hit My Word Target

As I mentioned in my blog about my art, I have taken a break from writing plays and set myself the challenge of writing an adventure story aimed at pre-teens (or Middle Grade fiction, as it is often known).

Packed full of tools

Packed full of tools

I am of course using my favourite writing tool, Scrivener. I love this program – it’s packed full of great features that enable me to store reference material, plotlines and character descriptions all in one place, so that I can look at them quickly and easily.

However, it has another useful tool which I’m only just beginning to make use of – the word count button.

Keeping an eye on the number of words I wrote wasn’t that important when scripting a play. But as this is a book for children aged 9 – 12, I want to limit myself to 1,000 words per chapter – to maintain the pace and keep those young readers interested.

sciv 3

So I press the word count button in the bottom right of my work screen and up pops a window in which I set the number of words.


Then as I write I can see at a glance how close I am to reaching my target number of words – and know I have to work up to a cliff-hanger for the end of the chapter.

Scriv 2

A simple tool – but very useful.

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