External events (public):

A Modest Guide To Speechmaking: The European School of Rhetoric
Rhetorical handbooks have taken many shapes and sizes down the centuries, John Paul-Flintoff has refreshed the genre. 14 April, morning

Find The Perfect Phrase, Masterclass: Arvon At Home
Start a collection of well known and lesser known rhetorical devices, play with them, make them your own. As your collection grows, you will never again be lost for the perfect words. 13 May, 11am – 1pm

Internal events:

Up Next | Writing | Drawing | Mental Health



Mental Health

Commissions: how I work


Recently, I was asked to draw somebody’s house – the exterior, from the street.

But after looking at it, and thinking about other angles (from the garden at the back?) we settled on an interior.

Using a single reference photo, I quickly created a digital sketch:

This went down well enough, but the person who asked me to do it specifically liked the idea of pencil or pen drawing.

So I requested some additional photos, giving me a wider perspective. Using those, I sketched in pencil a very rough approximation of what the room looked like: I wasn’t trying to get perfect proportions. I also sketched the patterns on the rugs.

Then I created a drawing on A4 paper and threw on some watercolour and gouache.

If you look closely, you see that I sustained myself by eating nuts: hazel, almond, brazil.

The painting was intended as a draft only, but it went down so well with my client that I decided to keep it and work it up digitally, using the “pencil” and “brush” tools on an app I’ve been playing with recently,

I heightened the colour, because I liked it very saturated in my original digital drawing.

But my client asked me to drop that down a little, to more closely resemble the colour in her room. She also requested that I make the ship on the wardrobe a bit more shiplike, and straighten the chest of drawers.

On my computer screen I placed the painted version (above, and below right) beside the touched-up digital version:

I wrote this as much as anything for my own sake, to create a record of what happened – for next time.

Is it how other artists work? I don’t know.

If you would like to commission something – well, you know where I am.

Even if you don’t want to commission anything, I’d be pleased to hear what you think. Leave a comment below, or send me an email…


Online Drawing Collaboration #11


“Not quite the dream” | JPF and Viv B

Viv wanted to draw the final scene in her memoir, a very funny book about (among other things) keeping goats.

This picture shows Viv (right) with her daughter in a disappointing cafe in the Hebrides, drinking yucky coffee:

Tech failure means I have no video this time, and am struggling to format the audio so that WordPress allows me to embed it. I hope to fix this!

Online Drawing Collaboration #10


“Wakes up, heart racing” | JPF and Cath H

Cath said she’s no good at visual art. She wanted to use our collaboration to get clearer ideas about a scene in a book.

We used drawing to work out who was in the room, and what was in there with them – then to use the “props” to develop her narrative. Bear in mind that we started with a blank page. This is what we finished with.

You can watch our process, and maybe pick up some tips about how drawing can help your writing, in the video recording:

Our drawing/writing process

Afterwards, Cath sent this message:

Hi JP, great to see you (on Zoom) again. I really enjoyed it. What a fresh way to unblock writers block- by having fun!

Online Drawing Collaboration #9


“Lifebelts for Improvisers” | JPF and Joel Levack

We decorated one of the sketches I made while training in impro with Keith Johnstone. It was just a line drawing, with the three “lifebelts” listed on the top right.

Joel used his iPad today for the first time. And to raise the stakes a bit we recorded it live to Facebook. I have no idea what people watching might have made of the sight of us drawing – the picture itself never appeared on screen.

At one point, as I was drawing the splashes and the big wave, I lost Joel for a bit and had to talk to myself.

Online Drawing Collaboration #8


“Woof!” | JPF and Anna M

Today’s session was not recorded on video. Sorry about that. The full picture can be seen below.

We started by familiarising ourselves with, the online drawing tool thingy.

We made a few marks, most of which subsequently got hidden or deleted. And we settled on courage as our theme.

My dog Peanut inspired us to start. We created the wolf as a scary counterpoint, and devised a short dialogue.

Anna suggested that the wolf might even eat the sun itself, which greatly ramped up the scariness.

Quite a bit of mark-making got erased or undone, until towards the end, when the ticking of the clock required us to make marks and add colourful decorative elements in haste, without worrying if they were “good” or not.

We finished on time (of course).

Thank you Anna M.