Time marches on. It is now nearly the end of term 2 at Edinburgh College of Art and I am sitting at home, having taken a few days off with a bad bug. This has given me time at last to freshen up my website and preen some of the gallery pages from all the inconsequential work. Since I started this version of the website in 2004, I tended just to put up all the work I did at the time, probably just to prove that I am still making work. When I was painting in Hastings, I was just so pleased to be making any art at all, that every scrap of creativity went up. Now, with the chance to review and edit it down to one page, my Hastings period reveals to me a time of relearning my skills and re-evaluating what picture making means to me. I am still very proud of the fact that I have taken risks in my employment, which has always been informed by trying to find the right balance between making art and facilitating education.

So, now I find myself in year in to my new life in Edinburgh. Catie has moved up and is also painting and teaching. My job role at eca has been fluid flexible and quite demanding. But, I am still managing to paint as I have finally realised that I have to use most of my available free time to make art if I am ever going to develop. This has meant far fewer opportunities to see family and friends and far less gallivanting across the country or abroad.

From the period I moved to Leith with Catie, I have solely used the interior of our rented Georgian townhouse flat as a backdrop for subject matter. I have done more direct observational drawing and painting than I have since I was a student, and I have learned so much by doing so. I think it has recharged my pictorial armoury and freed me from the often-tiresome need for inventing compositional devices. Using a combination of biographical with observed topographical elements has allowed me to reflect on a more explicit portrait of my new life with Catie. While I have maintained my gut need for flippancy and irony in the use of a collection of soft toy animals, I am trying to evoke a greater depth of time and place.

Most recently, I have completed a large two panel portrait of Catie with our soft toys (the bears)! Revealing the exuberant and delightful space we live in. The carrot for this was to enter the BP portrait award. While I am pleased with the ambition of the picture and its sense of place, I am not sure whether it works on the level of a portrait and I am not optimistic that it will be successful in being accepted for the show.

Here are eight stages of the portrait which I did almost entirely from working in situ over about 5 weekends.