Friday, 31 December 2010

Art and the value of Paintings

The painting above is not one of mine but as I had been talking about values and prices of paintings I thought it appropriate to post it.

The painting is by a fine artist called Clive Richard Browne (1901-1991) a Norfolk artist whose work is represented  in the National Collection and County Art Galleries. I don't generally buy contemporary works but I do occasionally buy a painting that takes my fancy. The painting above is in my studio and I bought it for £40. It is oil on canvas in a wooden frame app 26in x 20 ins.  The artist is not particularly well known these days and the shabby gilt and plaster frame didn't help it when I bought it from a dealer.

Never the less it is a far better painting than you could get for many times that amount these days. A British Impressionist from the Norfolk School. I bought it because I liked the work. Because it is not very valuable I felt no great shame in taking the frame off it and pressure washing all the plaster and gilt off it and painting it dark brown.

It could do with a clean and restoring but the cost wouldn't justify it. I have in the past touched up paintings for people. I am not an expert and would n't do it on a painting of any value. Although with all due modesty the matching was pretty good and would have needed an expert to locate it.

So my point it is possible to pay a fortune for a poor painting and buy an excellent one for next to nothing.
Price doesn't necessarily guarantee value or quality.
Despite what anyone says paintings are simple ~ what you see is what you get ~
Anyway today I did finish my still life barring any final details. So life is slowly returning to normal.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

The End of Clevedon Pier

The painting above was about 3ft x 3ft and never made it. It is of Clevedon Pier and after I finished it I decided it was not for me and it was part of the next cull.
Anyway I am feeling a lot better today, got up and ventured outside. Yesterday Geraint popped in to collect a painting. Nice to see him and we had a short conversation about today’s values money and society. We were both coming from the same direction. I really find it hard to understand the value of money. There is a limit to what you can actually spend without just throwing it away.

We are very lucky living in a comparatively rich country. We have a house clothes and food after that anything else is a bonus. I don’t do the lottery as far as I am concerned I have already won it. I have a wonderful wife and – family, I don’t need a fortune.

So we do contribute to charity and are happy to do so.

There again there are others who have totally the opposite philosophy! When I took posters around the shops in Carmarthen advertising the Macmillan Cancer Support Exhibition one shop refused to display it. As I may have said before I had been previously a good customer.

On the upside all the others agreed so she was the exception.

These values for me also make their way into art. How do you value a painting?

For me it is simple how long did it take me to paint? What is a reasonable sum to expect on the basis of time labour and materials and the tax to be paid? No different to any other commodity.

I have seen new artists at their first exhibition brimming with excitement and enthusiasm only to wonder why no one had bought a painting at £1000 that had clearly taken them an hour to complete. I guess if they had their boiler serviced and saw it took an hour they would conclude the plumber was taking the mickey if they were presented with a similar bill.

For most artists painting does not either pay well or at all. I am lucky too be passionate about painting and manage to make a modest living, which is fine.

Talking of which tomorrow I expect to be painting again for the last time this year!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Man Flu

The painting above is of Llansteffan and although it is sold I thought it appropriate for the weather we have been having.
We had a good Christmas but as luck would have it I have caught a dose of man flu. So I haven't felt much like doing anything except feeling sorry for myself. I have work to do but I can't see me getting around to it for a couple of days. Anyway hopefully by the weekend I will be back to good health and painting.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Just one shake to Christmas.

This painting is now in the third quarter of completion. I have as you can see painted the main objects first and will finish by blocking in the background and finishing with the last details. The reason I did it this way was because with a lot of detail it would be all too easy to drag backgound paint with the arm, brush, or hand onto the work. The item behind the plate is a sugar shaker used for shaking sugar onto delicacies. I  had not seen one before but I found it in an antique shop for £8. It adds height to the composition.

The easel in the picture is one of five I own. I have one studio easel, one field easel and a tripod easel. I also made two easels from 2"x 4" lengths of wood with bolts and wingnuts. They are very adjustable and cost me about £12 each to make. I tend to use them most when working indoors. It is important to be able to place the area you are working on at the right height, for me about shoulder level. These easels are infinitely adjustable within the height of the easel. I use the Julian field easel outside and although it is heavy to carry around (about 13kg +) it is quite practical. The Julian does have an annoying habit of sliding shut with your work on it. The two knurled nuts that hold the lid and easel upright do not tighten sufficiently. I will change them for 2 x 5mm wing nuts one day.

So I have done my painting for the day. A coffee pot was delivered that I bought as a prop off ebay and I have taken Alex to the Gallery. Friends and family are now arriving and it is probably time to become more sociable, well it is Christmas Eve!
Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Seeking Solace

Painting and Sailing have something in common you (well I do) become completely absorbed in both practices. In sailing (particularly in the Bristol Channel) there is nearly always too much to think about to let your thoughts wander. In painting within seconds of starting to think about the painting I am fairly oblivious to other thoughts or outside influences. We no longer sail having had to sell our yacht for family reasons.
I do however still have a great respect and attachment to the sea. The painting above is sold but shows a Brixham Trawler entering St Annes Head and is based on a painting that has been in the family for several generations.
So despite the chaos that is Christmas I have for the most part been in a state of inner peace and concentration with a brush and paint. Today I decided to start on a second Still Life. The first hour was spent considering the props and the composition. Three days or so painting is a big commitment so it is essential to get it right from the begining. After working out the composition I then consider the order of painting. Do I do the background first? Do I put an overall ground over the surface ? Do I start at the top and work down?
Am I going to use glazes? There can be good reasons for choosing anyone of the above.
Then I get ready to work. I am by nature a tidy person not obsessed by it but I like a clean organised work space. There is less chance of accidentally spilling paint or damaging your work and it is easier to know where everything is.
So today went well, I think. I have got the main elements down. Being Christmas Eve tomorrow, even I may not be able to seek solace in my small studio. But you never know!

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Making an impression

The painting above is of Alex and is not for sale. It has obvious references to A bar at the Folies-Bergère paintied by Manet during 1881/1882. The figures are reversed and naturally my wife is better looking. I enjoy the work of the impressionists by and large, particularly Manet. On the whole my least favourite is probably Monet. His lilly pond paintings do nothing for me truthfully. There again my work probably wouldn't appeal to him so that's probably honours even.

I probably like Manet because he was fairly unique in that he bridged the two styles of Impressionism and Realism. In many ways my work flits between the two. I also have in the past undertaken an homage to Dejeuner sur L'Herbe by Manet and also Olympia.

Today Alex fought her way into and around Tesco's for 4 hours doing the Christmas shopping. Quite ironic really as we don't know who is going to get here. One daughter, husband and grandchild have been trying to get a flight home from Las Vegas for the last 5 days. One son in law's parents are coming from Ireland.

Well if no-one gets here then I will certainly be well fed and watered. I spent the morning searching for props for my still life series. I went around the Antique shop next to Carmarthen Castle. It is quite easy to while away an hour there in any case. (Yes while away the hours is grammatically correct "while" in this case is a transitive verb apparently).

I found several items but none were perfect. If I am to spend two or three days on a painting it has to be right. The nearest was a Coalport Vase but the shape was a bit stubby, pity because it was in perfect condition and only £18.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Aberglasney - Graham Rankin

The painting above is of Pidgeon Wood Aberglasney. Aberglasney is a Mansion in the Towy Valley with a magnificient garden that goes back to at least the early 1400's. The Mansion was saved by a trust when it was in a derelict state and the gardens have been restored retaining some of their unique features. There is still work to do but the place is truly a jewel in the Towy Valley.
I have painted quite a few paintings and sketches in the gardens most of which have been sold.

Now I confess I am no gardener in fact I hate cutting the lawn. I do enjoy lovely gardens but I have no real interest in knowing the names of the plants or reading gardening books.
So Alex and I are members of the gardens and we visit it regularly throughout the year. We also exhibit once a year in the Mansion for a fortnight. As Alex says," it is a magical place".

The person who has been in overall charge of bringing the gardens back to life for the trust has been Graham Rankin along with his wife Frances. They are both leaving now to work on another challenge. So good luck to you both, what a great job you have done.

Today I did some work on my waterclour techniques. I am trying to reduce the time I take to complete a watercolour sketch or painting. When I am working at home this is not an issue but when I am outside speed is an important factor. A scene may change rapidly with the change of light or sky so it is important to get the painting down or you end up painting 2 or 3 scenes in the same painting. I am quite a quick painter if I need to be but there is always room for improvement. Today I also heard from David Cowdry (a fine artist and friend ) who unfortunately has been sufferingly with bad flu.

Monday, 20 December 2010


The above painting Cattle near Libanus sold last week in a gallery. Libanus is on the Brecon to Merthyr Road and you can see part of the Brecon Beacons in the background. It is a very warm painting (predominently browns as opposed to blues). This is in sharp contrast to the walk I had this morning.
I was still without a car and walked in to Carmarthen and out to Tesco's and back to get some provisions.
The pavments were slippy with dirty snow and ice but it was a nice bracing walk.
I then made a stew for Alex and her mother who had decided to risk the bad weather to get home. I put a steew on then found time to potch with my painting of Tretower. Having looked at it there were a couple of areas I was unhappy with. There was a lack of overall harmony. Basically I felt that the foreground needed to reflect the colours of the sky to unify the painting. Also the hill on the right was a bit dark.
Anway I am fairly happy with it now but don't rule out a final amendment. 
Alex and her mom got home after a 6 hour drive.It normally takes three hours. The M4 was apparently pretty bad with snow but worse going the otherway as it was completely blocked by a jacknifed Royal Mail lorry.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


The painting above is of Tretower near Crickhowell. I did it today. I have often said that I make a sketchin most instances and then do the painting, as was the case this time. In a large or complex piece I do a detailed drawing first called a cartoon. Occasionaly I will just paint from scratch if I am confident I have worked out the composition and values.

Anyway the sketch is just a working out of the painting and there may be real differences to the finished item.
I often just use printing paper it is so cheap and I will generally through it away afterwards anyway. Ihad thought about making it a snow scene but in the end I didn't probably seen to much snow already.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

That still life

Today after clearing snow and walking the dogs I got down to working on the still life. As you can see above it is coming on now. The final version may be slightly cropped and I will add the final details over the next few days.
I did succumb (from succumbere, to lie or recline) to the glass of wine and very good it was as well. Fortunately I finished that part first. The plate did have cheese on, no not really. Still lifes are a genre of painting, that of inanimate objects. I don't do a great many but it is nice to have a change. I chose a  Masons Ironstone Mandalay plate because... thats what I had and its nice and intricate.
After painting I watched the rugby on television and now I have Salmon in the oven for supper.
Tomorrow not sure yet.

Friday, 17 December 2010

A little glass of wine

The painting above is of the lifeboat house at Mumbles. We once sailed from Swansea to Angle Bay in Milford Haven and the last thing we saw was Mumbles Lifeboat House and Lighthouse until we were actually inside the Milford Haven. It was a little bit nerve wracking. We did have radar or we wouldn't have attempted it. As it happened there was a tanker coming out of the channel towards us in the fog bank as we entered the Haven but we only had to find shallow water to ensure we were out of his way.

Today I awoke early let the dogs out to find 2-3 ins of snow. I watched a pretty disastrous end of innings for England in the Ashes Test, and then walked the dogs. It was very quiet and we were walking on virgin snow, all very pretty.

I was a little bit delayed in starting to paint today, as the carers couldn't get to my mom. I did however get several hours painting done. I also opened a good bottle of Rioja at 10.30am. Now I do enjoy a drink but don't get worried. I still haven't touched it. I may have mentioned before I am doing a small series of Still Life Paintings and I needed a prop. A glass of wine. The painting is under way but will probably take a week. I took a while to sort out the composition and palette but I'm unusually still not quite 100% on the background tone. I am doing the rest of the painting and then I will fill it in after.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

At a loss

I finished the above painting today. It was a commission. Ferryside from Llansteffan Beach.
It has been an odd day. Got up early as Alex had to go off to Sutton to visit her mother who is recuperating from a hip hop, sorry op.
I watched a bit of the test (Ashes) then took the dogs out. Then the carer called me with problems with my mom.
Finally got down to some painting but then there was trouble with my mom's lights so fixed that and took the dogs out again. Had a call from Alex she is somewhat geographically challenged and somehow ended up in Dudley.
It reminds me of when my daughters got lost in Birmingham a few years ago.
They phoned me up and said,
"We are lost. We are by a Texaco Garage can you give us directions?"
At the time we were at anchor in St. Brides Bay. Not much you can say really is there?
(I guess it runs in the family).
Anyway after several circuits of the West Midlands Alex has now arrived safely.
Good news on the Co-operative front. "Origin Dyfed" won the shop window display in Carmarthen, well done Moira.
Now its time tea time.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Light and Fairies

We sold a painting yesterday of the old waterfront and quay at Carmarthen. The painting above is not the one but the subject is the same. For some reason I don't have an image of it. The one above is quite "Boudin"( French Impressionist Painter, 1824-1898) looking at it. Certainly the palette (colours used) is, although the work is not impressionistic. It is more bordering on the semi-abstract. Boudin did tend to use a lot of black and greys which was unusual for an impressionist. The impressionists were all about light and painting outdoors. Fine unless you live in the UK!

Talking of lights Alex, my good lady has gone very "Christmas Lights", Every where you look there seems to be a set of twinkling fairy lights. There are so many it takes five minutes to go around the house turning them off. We haven't yet got to the stage of icicles on the roof and Santa on the chimney or reindeer grazing on the lawn but I do return home wondering what new fairy enhancement is going to greet me.

Talking of Fairies one of my favourite paintings is the "Fairy Fellers Master Stroke" by Richard Dadd.

Dadd was quite mad and ended up in Bedlam having killed his father who he believed was the devil. On the up side he was one hell of a painter, hell being the operative word.
Last night I went to the Origin Dyfed AGM thanks for the cake Moira.
Today I did a painting of Carmarthen from Green Castle Corner. Time for a cup of tea now!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Hobby Horse

We sold the above painting today it was large 42ins x 27ins so we delivered it to ensure its safety. Transporting paintings is a bit of a hobby horse of mine. (A hobby was in fact a now extinct breed of horse popular in the Middle Ages).We have had so many paintings damaged that we are fastidious about packing and carrying them. I have made a set of stacking crates that interlock on top of each other. Each crate will hold three paintings safely and securely. The whole stack will hold a total of eighteen. The crates can be used for carrying or storing. Paintings of 42ins long bring their own problems. We transport them inside a duvet.
When making the frame itself frames of over 36ins are a problem because it means working with sheets of picture glass 6ft x 4ft. If you haven't tried it don't. If you work with glass you have to be very confident. I am not. Alex is.
Anyway the exhibition is finished and all put away. So today involved taking the dogs 2 walks, picking up a painting and delivering it, taking down and transporting the exhibition, collecting one of our grandaughters, fixing a still dripping connection on the header tank in the loft, picking up our grandson and tonight I have an AGM of our arts and crafts co-operative.
On the way home from school our five year old grandson asked
"Are you sad Michael Jackson died?"
Reply, "Well I didn't really know him."
"Are you glad he died?"
"No, it must have been very sad for his family."
"Why did he die?"........etc..
It was as long and difficult conversation as I have had in a good while. I did resist the temptation to fob him off but it did test my powers of communication with a mind probably a lot sharper than mine. God help me when he is six!

Monday, 13 December 2010

White Cattle

The painting above was sold on Saturday and is of Dinefwr Castle and their famous white cattle. The cattle have been associated with Dinefwr since Medieval times and are apparently distinctly different from all other breeds. I just like their long horns and inquisitive faces.
Today was the last day of the exhibition and we reached our target so officially a success but still disappointing that more people didn't come to look at the paintings. I think some people are afraid they will be put under high pressure to buy something. Not my style at all. In fact I am pretty much a poor salesman.
Paul Stokle came in today and we had a good chat he exhibits in the King Street Gallery ( and is a painter I greatly respect.
I also had a lady of some years come in who spent at least 20 minutes examining the paintings which was for me a real pleasure. I asked her what her favourite painting was when she was leaving she said it was Llansteffan. I was pleased to give her a nice card of it.
Tomorrow we are taking the exhibition down and Wednesday I will be back painting. I have so many images in my head there is no lack of subjects.

Sunday, 12 December 2010


The painting above was sold yesterday. It shows two red kites in the Black Mountains. There are two coincedences involving this picture. I painted it a couple of months ago. This week I saw the very same location on the TV. On Country file there was an article on swallows nesting in under the eaves of a pumping station roof. The pumping station in question is just below this waterfall.
I was quite excited to see the camera pan across the scene, when I explained it to Alex she showed enough enthusiasm to put me in the same league as Pikey in Dad's Army,
"Stupid Boy" Oh well. Maybe you just had to be there.
The other coincedence is that the person who bought it turned out to live 80yds away from us.
Weird! Sorry that was ironic.
I was quite pleased with the painting. I don't paint birds close up very often as they can sometimes make a picture very artificial like an illustration. I think this one worked.
Tommorow is the last day of the exhibition. Overall it has gone ok. The footfall has been very low but 10% of those that came in bought something so it has been long periods of quiet interupted with a sale.
Alex put up the Christmas decorations today and I went for a long walk on the beach with our dog and the resident guest (our daughters dog).
Anyway to finish with quote of the day:
"It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life." Julius Ceasar

Saturday, 11 December 2010

LIfe in a Library

Another day at the exhibition. We didn't see many people today probably less than 15 but we did sell several paintings including Carmarthen from the West above.
You would image your archetypical library dweller would be "Mr Squint" with apologies to author Jenny Partridge. I know this is probably politically incorrect but it is also factually incorrect.
I have had the opportunity during the last 5 days to observe the library dwellers and it is a quite varied cross section of the community.
It all boils down to what a library can offer:
Books, yes of course.
Journals and research opportunities.
Warmth and shelter.
Toilets and drinks machine.
Mind expanding opportunities to visit art exhibitions occasionally.
So today for example we saw Geraint, great to see you have a chat and break the monotony.
Upstairs we saw the constant flow of Mr and Mrs Bookworm, no intention to insult anyone. I wear glasses and can often be found lost in a book. Either a reference book on art or a light novel.
Then this afternoon a tramp wandered in to the exhibition looking for a cosy corner to deposit his sleeping apparel. We did have a chat but not wanting to be too much of a sissy about it he did smell and I am itching now thinking about it.
Later a group of young lads (about 16 or 17 years old) playing "high jinks" came in and after intial mutual mistrust and a request to restrain their antics we had a passibly reasonable conversation for ten minutes until they became bored with the artist and left. Story of my life!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Slow Period

Today was again pretty deadly quiet we sold a painting of the valley and Paxton's Tower not the one above but from a similar position. We also sold quite a few cards and got another commission so the week is working out okay if not terrific. So it looks like Tiny Tim will have a goose for Christmas!
Tomorrow will be a test as the Scarlets are playing and we will miss the game, I hope its worth it. I spoke to another artist today who is going through a slow period. She is a very fine artist and popular so things must be getting difficult.
Touch Wood ~ we have been doing well generally and still have work lined up but who is to say when things could change?
I had someone around the exhibition who was learning how to paint in oils and it was nice to give them the abc's of surface preparation and its history. They seemed very interested and were still awake when I concluded that they had enough for one day.
(I do recall giving a technical talk on composition and was unsure at the end whether one member of the audience was asleep or had expired completely).

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Precious Jewels

Today was a bit like watching the grass grow. It wouldn't be so bad the exhibition room is spacious and has good lighting but it is downstairs in a basement. No windows and no connection to the outside. I am an outdoor type person. I never wanted to work in an office. I like camping, sailing, walking and although I don't suffer from claustrophobia I am decided uncomfortable in Tesco's or any big artificially lit stuffy indoor environment.
So 3 days in a bomb shelter even with my most precious jewels, (Alex my wife and my paintings)
is a long time.
We sold cards today and had some enquiries. I also have another commission, so plenty to do.
Last year I did a series of still life paintings for a change . They have all sold and I am now pondering the next series. What size? What objects? What palette (the colours I will be using)?
So I managed to get out for half an hour to peruse the local antique store. I eventually found one decent prop.
The big andvantage of buying items to paint is they don't have to be perfect. I don't care if a Dresden vase is cracked or has chips. I am not a collector. I can paint them or make it look new. This is very helpful when it comes to buying.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Expert Witness

Today we sold cards a watercolour painting of Llansteffan and I had a commission for a large painting. So all in all not a bad day. Still not that many people but the one's that came in bought.

The other good thing about exhibitions is that you get a chance for "feedback", what people like don't like, and of course the expert witness. Today I had the expert witness who pointed out a technical error in one of the paintings. He was actually quite correct, although this is not always the case and in those situations its a choice between arguing the point or just agreeing. Generally I would just politely listen and let them go on their merry way.

As I say in this case my friend was quite correct and I readily conceded the point. It is always useful to be kept up to the mark. To err as they say is human and I am very human with all the frailties attached. I was grateful he only found one minor technical error in 61 paintings. I am sure I could have found more if I tried really hard.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


There are many sayings that cover quiet like, " as a graveyard, like a ghost town" or words like "isolated, tranquil, peaceful". Well use whichever ones you like but the exhibition today was"quiet". I counted ten people and three of those were builders looking at plans to knock down a partition wall. That being said Town was much the same and those that did come in were very complimentary including the builders. Maybe they were being polite anyway we did sell a framed collectors print of Llansteffan by moonlight as above and cards.
Hopefully tomorrow will bring more people and warmer weather.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Absolute zero.

Well just got in after a longish day. Four trips to take paintings, two dog walks, and then a Private View. Well in fact a very Private View. To be honest if we could have contacted every one we would have cancelled because the weather and roads were awful. Nobody should be out in it. Over the last few days many events have been cancelled aournd here and it is a wonder anyone turned up. We had a very convivial meeting with wine and little things on plates. We actually took some money as well so not the best private view but enjoyable. Oh, I also got a commission.
It is minus 5 outside and foggy. We are now settling down for the evening with another glass of wine and something on a plate that is tasty.
The painting above reflects the scene and was sold last week.
Absolute zero by the way is defined as 0 K on the kelvin scale and as −273.15°C on the celcius scale and is the lowest temperature theoretically possible. So it is a bit of an exaggeration but it is and has been cold!

Sunday, 5 December 2010


Here is the painting I did yesterday. It went swimmingly well! That is more than you can say about today. Icy roads and the computer went into lockdown. It started when we attached the new printer. After we bought the new printer the errant old one started to behave under the threat of the bright new machine in its box sat next to it. Today however it gave up and we uploaded the software for the new printer which resulted either coincedentally or otherwise in a complete freeze of the computer.

As Alex was in the middle of printing cards labels et. al. for the exhibition this was not greeted with amusement.

In the end Alex went out and delivered three framed prints to a customer and I sat trying to out smart (out guess would be more accurate) this machine. After three frustrating hours Mrs Compaq was working again.

Unfortunately the weather forecast for tomorrow is not great and our Private View could well suffer. Still there's not much we can do about it. Maybe its time to have a glass of pre-dinner wine!

Saturday, 4 December 2010


The painting above is of Feryside and was sold today. Ferryside is on the mouth of the River Towy or Tywi. Here Ferryside is seen from the opposite bank, Llansteffan Beach. We have often sailed the estuary and seen some interesting sights. One day we were sailing down the estuary when we saw an old biplane which was clearly in trouble. It sputtered and yawed and landed heavily in a field above Ferryside. We later learned that it had suffered engine problems, no-one was injured fortunately and the plane was later taken away by road.
On another occasion a small yacht had gone aground off the beach. A man was up to his waist in water pushing the boat off the sand. All the sails were up and suddenly a gust of wind blew the boat off the sandbank with the sailor hanging off the stern of the boat being dragged through the water in a spray of water like a drunken surfer. Fortunately the boat eventually turned into wind and stopped with the sails flapping allowing the bedraggled sailor to clamber on board before any serious mishap befell him.
Anway today I didn't take the dogs first thing due to a layer of black ice over the drive, roads and footpath. I did do a painting and then with some sort of thaw taking place carefully ventured out.
The above painting was then collected by a lovely couple from Cardiff. I went food shopping while Alex framed a couple of prints that had been ordered.
Tomorrow we start packing paintings and getting labels etc. for the exhibition.

Friday, 3 December 2010


This is a painting of the Preseli Mountains in Pembrokeshire I did last week. It is a view from Treffgarne a small settlement dating back to Medieval times. The painting is from a sketch I did previously, although I have painted there previously last November. The actual spot is very exposed and I stood, having carried my easel 2 miles in a biting wind. I had to hold down the easel with one hand and paint with the other in between wiping my nose. It was more of an endurance test than a painting session.
The Preseli's are the source of the Bluestone used in "Stonehenge".
Today I have been preparing boards and decorating. I often use MDF boards for painting. Originally oils were painted on wood panels. As paintings became larger a stretched canvas was used. Canvas is fine to use as a support and I do use it occasionally.
Boards however are solid and the brush doesn't move around so much when painting on it. Board is also more stable and there is less chance of paint cracking and peeling. The great advantage for me is that I can choose exactly what size I want to use and I can prepare it as smooth as I wish depending on the painting I am going to do. The sharper and finer I want to paint the smoother I prepare the board.
I generally triple prime my boards and rub them down in between coats of primer. As I was waiting for them to dry today I was painting skirting boards!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Colour Sergeant

All sorts today. I took the dogs for a walk in the snow/ice and then went to the dentist. She was obviously in the Christmas Spirit as she didn't charge me! When I got back I was unexpectedly contacted by my Uncle who was looking into the history of his father, my grandfather. Hence the painting above which is one I did of my grandfather in his army uniform with my grandmother in 1916.
I hasten to add I didn't do it at that time! I then spent some time going through records and forwarding them to my Uncle. My grandfather was a Colour Sergeant in the Hampshire Regt. but confusingly he was also in the Warwickshires. I never spoke to him about the war, a missed opportunity I guess, but then again maybe he wouldn't want to be reminded of it.
My grandfather painted and I have his boxwood watercolour box dating back to the 1920's although it isn't practical to use now.
Anyway after that I made lunch walked the dog's again, cut some MDF boards ready to prime tomorrow and then had a pupil come for private tuition (in watercolours).

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

This is a watercolour of St David's Cathedral and sold this week. I was rather attached to the painting. I feel it is one of the best views/compositions of the Cathedral and I was pleased with the overall effect.
St. David's is a lovely City, being the smallest City in Britain. It also seems to have the most tourists in Summer! St. David apparently taught, ‘be joyful, to keep the faith and to do the little things’.
Not a bad standpoint. Lets face it no-one needs the negativity of a miserable soul and it is often the little things that mean so much in life. I once went to a talk where I was encouraged to do one good turn a day.
If thats all I could manage I would be a pretty poor human being.
Anyway today I finished the painting of David Lloyd George with a couple of small amendments.
I went to the gallery. My oh my was it cold. I did an oil painting and was fairly amazed I could get the paint out of the tubes. I was quick, very quick.
Alex has been framing and still has a lot to do ( and I keep adding to the pile ), but she is getting there with her normal steely determination.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

David Lloyd George

David Lloyd George a famous Welsh Prime Minister and also a steam engine on the Ffestiniog Railway. We went on this train in the Summer. I admit being a sucker for steam engines and traction engines... I am not a fanatic but I did as a child collect railway engine numbers..

Anyway by way of a change I painted the above yesterday and today.

The setting is generic to the hills around Blaena Ffestiniog and the engine details I got using my photographs as a reference. I then did a drawing to sort out the composition and engine details before getting on with the painting.

The image is pretty poor due to the light when I finished painting today.

Other than paint I haven't done anything else today really taken the dogs out twice and an old friend called around for half an hour.

Alex is on her way back from Sutton in the snow this evening which is a relief we are two extremes of culinary ability. I can't, she is wonderful.

Tomorrow I am painting in the gallery.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Christmas Charity

The painting above is of Whitesands near St. Davids and was sold today. It is a lovely spot in the Summer well actually it is a lovely spot at any time of the year. You can see Ramsey Island in the background. There is a very strong current running through the Sound (the gap beween the manland and the Island).
Today Alex went to see her mother in Sutton. She also dropped off some paintings on the way.
Unfortunately when she came to deliver them the boot wouldn't open! It turned out the fuse had blown. She did manage to get the paintings through the back seat.
I walked to Town and delivered posters to most of the private shops. As the exhibition involves raising money for Macmillan I had no problems.
All the shopkeepers were happy to put up posters, except one. The really ironic thing was that I have been a really good customer of this small shop and bought many expensive items over the years. I am not saying I wouldn't go back there but I certainly won't be rushing back.
Still 99 out of 100 isn't bad and the 99% were very supportive and happy to oblige.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Reservoir Dogs

One of our regular walks is around the reservoirs in Carmarthen and strangely although I have many collected images when I saw a scene and thought "Look at the reflections or light. I must paint that." I never had.
So today I put that right the scene is of the lower reservoir. I added the tree and branches in the foreground to give it some depth. The colours are quite muted and seasonal. I did toy with the idea of putting in some bank in the foreground but in the end decided it was fine without.
I had got up to watch the Ashes earlier but bad light had stopped play. So I did have an early start to the day although I couldn't paint until it there was reasonable light.
Alex has been framing paintings to drop off tomorrow and then she did some posters and invitations for the exhibition.
Tomorrow Alex is off for a couple of days and I am left to look after the two dogs (one is a boarder on temporary stay). I have all sorts of meals planned none involve anything remotely to do with cooking! I just remembered I forgot to buy fishfingers in Tesco's. Oh well I did get eggs and bread.

Saturday, 27 November 2010


A quiet day today played with the central heating and got some hot water through the pipes and then watched England play South Africa at Rugby. I will shortly be watching the Wales v. NewZealand game so I thought a rugby painting would be suitable. This is the last game at Stradey Park home of Llanelli Rugby Football Club and later the Scarlets. I did the painting last year and it is sold.
Well back to the televisioin and the rugby and a cup of tea. Tomorrow a bit of painting I think.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Brechfa Winter

I chose Brechfa in the snow because that is what has arrived today. Snow and cold. The watercolour above is several years old and has sold . I still use the image for cards. The Pub in the picture alas is no more, it has been empty for a good while. The old coach house at the centre has been sold and I believe has been converted into a house.
Time moves ever forward!
Today I spent sometime doing press releases for our exhibition. It is a time consuming job but one I find generally always pays off. It is a matter of look ing for what is the hook for the media you are sending it to.
I also got up early to watch the Ashes only to find that play had been abandoned due to rain! This afternoon I spent sometime with the central heating which is not working as efficiently as it should be. I quite like ice on the inside of the windows (Alex is less keen). You get lovely patterns on the glass. It also reminds me of our house when I was growing up. We had to climb into the loft to shovel out the snow which blew through the tiles. All the windows iced up in winter. You just got used to it.
Alex has spent all day preparing for a dinner tonight she is without doubt the best cook I know so I am looking forward to the meal and if our friends cant get here I will be well fed.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Christmas Turkey and Ashes

The painting above is an oil of Llansteffan and was sold today. I was pleased because it is going to a very nice person who I have known for a good many years.
Today I didn't get the chance to do any painting although Alex managed to frame a couple of paintings. I spent some time last night and this morning sorting out the computer. It is very important to the business. Mainly to have a web presence which does bring in work and for e-mails. Most importantly our records and business information is also on it.
I thought we had a virus despite comprehensive security protection. However it turned out to be software malfunctioning. The printer though is now dead and has been superceded by a new one.
Fortunately it was only our small printer as the large one is fine (touch wood).
We went to Crosshands to order Christmas turkey etc this afternoon and strangely the sky was very close to the one I had painted yesterday. There were brown and blue greys with a yellow tint and a snow flurry in the middle of it.
Tomorrow I am not sure yet what I am doing but I am sure it won't be a day of watching cricket. ( To tell the truth I was up early this morning to catch a bit of the Ashes!).

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


The painting above is a commission which I finished at the weekend. It is a watercolour and is a nice composition. Hopefully I have done it justice. It shows Llansaint Church and the start of the Village. Llansaint is a small village in Carmarthenshire overlooking the Three Rivers which run into Carmarthen Bay at the Carmarthen Bar. As such there are tremendous views of the Bay across to Tenby and Caldey Island to the West and Worms Head and the Gower to the East.
Today I did a painting of The Preseli Mountains and then had a photo-call for the Carmarthen Journal. This was in relation to the next exhibition.
I then tried to print out some posters but the printer is dying a slow death and now refuses to accept paper. To make matters worse for some unexplicable reason the computer went on strike for half an hour!
Anyway back in business now (touch wood).

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

WInter in Towy Valley

Its getting colder so here is a painting I did a couple of weeks ago which is now sold. It is one of my favourite views down the Towy Valley from Penllanffos. I often stop and take in the view when walking the dog. On the left is Merlin's Hill and in the far distance are the Black Mountains (although there are very much white in this picture).
I primed some boards today and then did an oil painting. Then Alex and I sorted out what paintings we were going to exhibit in the next exhibition. We have between 50 and 60 paintings dependent on framing. We had the pleasure of grandaughter number 3 and grandson number 1 today. Actually they were quite well behaved!
Tomorrow I am painting in the gallery and in the afternoon there is a photo for the Carmarthen Journal with Macmillan Members. (The next exhibition we are donating 25% + to Macmillan Cancer Support).

Monday, 22 November 2010

Painting stroke by stroke

Okay well the day started not too well. Jac pictured above was sick on the carpet just as Alex called me for breakfast. I also had to go to the dentist with a root canal problem.. On the bright side I did a painting which turned out fine and Alex got a couple of paintings framed.
That being said I just heard Alex questioning Jac about having rolled in something?
Anyway the painting above is pretty unusual for me. I don't paint pets. In fact I generally don't paint anything I don't know. I do however know Jac therefore I am happy to paint him.
It is infinitely more difficult to paint anything well if you don't understand it. It is all very well seeing a picture of something and then painting it, but if you copy it and don't understand it then it will show.
In China there are whole villages copying paintings, brush stroke by brush stroke. Production line painting. There are obviously some excellent artists but it is, in many paintings all too clear that they have no idea what they are trying to represent.
For example there are paintings of Galleons which look totally wrong. Now I do paint sailing ships occasionally but I do have a working knowledge of the rigging and I have built and studied accurate models as well as having sailed a yacht for many years.
So what am I trying to say ?
Its better to stick to what you know.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


Well here we are again. We spent the last week in Moreton-in-Marsh. The vignette above is of the Redesdale Hall in the centre of Moreton. The hall is not that old (1887) but is eye catching. A vignette in painting is where the focus is concentrated on a definite object and there is a fading away from the subject. In essence an incomplete painting although this may not detract from the painting itself. I hope that is clear? Anyway I managed a couple of little vignettes while away. It was actually either a bit cold or wet for painting outside.

I did read a book a day and have some good walks. The Cotswolds are lovely for a visit. However the last time I was there was when my father took us in an old Lanchester like the one below, and we had a picnic near Snowshill. The car was pretty ancient then. That was probably 50years ago.
Today its back to work and I painted a watercolour commission. Alex is very busy framing and printing. I have primed some boards and tomorrow I intend to do an oil and fit in the dentist!

Sunday, 14 November 2010

Day of the Match

The painting above is of West Gate St. Cardiff and shows "The day of the Match" - Wales v. South Africa. Now I am a fast painter and we did go to Cardiff yesterday for the game but I didn't paint that overnight. It is in fact an image of a painting I did following the game last time. It took me about 4 weeks to do.
I quite often get asked what the lady is doing in the black. It was a small incident of no real consequence. She had been bumped into, and had dropped her umbrella. It caught my eye and I painted the scene. It wasnt exactly like that but it captured the atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed the game but I thought Wales could and should have won the game. I am no great expert but I thought several decisions by Steve Walsh the referee were pretty odd.
Still there were many positives. George North was great and the whole team played well.
I am taking time out from blogging for a few days now.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Shop Window

This morning was spent surfing . Dont get excited it was surfing the net unfortunately. Hence the painting above which was sold, last year I think. Although we keep a record of sales and Alex catalogues everything I have a reasonable idea of what is where and what sold. I should look it up really.
Last night I had an enquiry about a painting from a lovely lady and I said I would put a painting on my website for her to view. A website is a window for your work and I find it really effective. Well anyway the website took forever to load. There was clearly too much dead wood and it all needed clearing out. I sat for ages while it chugged away making little pattering noises like my dog on laminate floor. It then crashed!
What happens is that I put images on my website when I paint them and then replace them when they sell. What I don't do is take them from the site library. This effectively means they are still there but not on view. The end result was a massive file of images.
Today then I weeded two thirds of the images and files off the site. So everything is pretty streamlined and working now although I do need to translate a few Welsh titles for some of the paintings.
I went to Town with Alex this afternoon and we visited the Carmarthen Sketch Club Exhibition. It was a really good exhibition with a great deal of variety.
The Club itself, I believe was founded by B A Lewis a prolific amateur artist (known as Lewis the Gas, he was manager of the Carmarthen gas works).
His son was the famous artist Edward Morland Lewis who tragically died in North Africa during the second World War.
I also took the opportunity to buy some Cotman Paper for my watercolours.
Tomorrow will be spent watching the game ~ Wales v South Africa.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Well quite a day and not yet over. I started off at 8 am going to Towy Works a genuine old style ironmongers and builders merchant's to get a new valve for the header tank in the loft. I have actually painted the building and it also plays a cameo in some of my paintings as it is adjacent to the quay and Carmarthen Bridge. Anyway I finally got the tank and valve dismantled after a lot of problems and fitted the new valve only to drop a fibre connecting washer. There must be a black hole up there because it never re-appeared. I put it back together with the old washer (not a good idea) and of course it leaked.
I gave up at that point and settled down to doing the painting above. The colours aren't quite right in the image because it was going dark when I took the photo. The painting is of horses on Druidstone Beach.
Alex is in town at the moment delivering posters, tickets, and also getting me a new washer!
When she returns I will hopefully finish the job and turn the water back on. That will be nice because at the moment I am itching from the rock wool insulation out of the loft.
A shower beckons.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010


Here is the small painting of Ferryside I did yesterday. Its about 8ins x 5ins. I painted it small because I had a few small primed boards left over. It is a bit testing painting that size and I wouldn't want to do it all the time.
Today didn't go to plan. I had intended to do a painting. I started to do a bit of decorating first which went fine then I found the gutters were blocked so I enjoyed a precarious hour at the top of the ladders clearing the guttering. I then noticed the overflow for the central heating header tank was running . The problem with that is that the tank is in an almost impossible place to work on! It has to be done but its going to be tomorrow now.
I did work out what I was going to paint next. I previously saw horses on the beach at Cefn Sidan and mentioned I would do a painting of them. Well I think I will but it will probably be horses at Druidstone Beach instead.
Strangely Alex showed me an image off the internet today it was from an email off Carmarthen Tourism and it had a photograph of the Black Mountains the exact same location as the painting of the Red Kites I posted yesterday. How's that for a coincidence?
Alex has made five frames and cut glass so the exhibition work is progressing. So today was a bit of a hotch-potch. (I believe this originally meant a pudding in the 12th and 13th centuries).
Teaching tomorrow and sort out the header tank!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I rarely paint birds but a trip to the Black Mountains ensured I must include these magnificent birds in a painting. I fiinished this painting today. I then went on to do a small painting of Ferryside for the next exhibition.
This morning I had to go on the roof as there was a small leak coming in the central heating pipe.
This meant climbing out of a velux window over the pitched roof to the top where the pipe comes out. It is three stories high and I do not like heights. Now I believe that you should confront your demons and many, many years ago I left the ground in a Dragon Rapide biplane. Although this plane had been built in 1934 and was basically wood and cloth and not much else by the time it got to 2,000 ft I was firmly attached to it. I could see absolutely no good reason to leave it with a parachute strapped to my back. I did however climb out onto the wing, hold onto a strut, and then throw myself off. It was probably a defining moment in my life as although I had previously been afraid of heights at that point I was seriously terrified. Despite all the training (jumping from a box in an empty hanger) I managed to hit the concrete runway, land in a heap and cut my tongue, and knock myself senseless.
Maybe climbing on the roof isnt so bad on reflection.
Alex has been out all day with one of the grandchildren (she's a hero, okay heroine).
Tonight we have a meeting at Origin Dyfed an arts and craft co-operative we belong to.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Christmas Shopping

I spent part of the weeekend sorting out and I came across this painting. It is several years old. It was part of a pair and I sold the other and forgot about this one. It shows the tug Anglegarth off Milford Haven.
Today I didn't get any painting done. We did a bit of Christmas shopping.
Funny how things have changed. As a boy my father made me a train for Christmas. It consisted of the end of a telegraph pole and a set of castors off a piece of redundant furniture. It was well built and painted bright green. I had that train for years and gave it my son when he was young. I also had a red fire engine made from pieces of our fence. Well not exactly our fence, as the house was rented but it was the fence from the garden. Actually my dad also made a set of shelves from the fence which we still use. I can't imagine there was much of a fence left.
Both train and fire engine are now gone but they are still living in my memory. Was life simpler then or is it just viewed through hindsight?
Anyway, this Christmas I would be happy for some watercolour paper or a book. Just a hint! Tomorrow I have a painting still to finish. I am not happy with it yet so one final go, I hope.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

A day for Reflection

I received a phone call this morning with some sad news. A long time family friend had passed away. Ernie was 100yrs old and was still quite fit. I remember him with his stick and old hat walking the lanes around Knighton not ten years ago. He had farmed all his life and would joke that the ER emblazened in the hillside forestry above Knighton were his intitials (and not Elizabeth Regina). Ernie had apparently decided a few days ago that it was his time and told his family that he was going, although he was not ill. He passed away calmly with dignity and what more could anyone wish for after a long life. He will leave behind a bucket full of memories to those that knew him.
I do not have a painting of him but I thought the painting of Red Street in Carmarthen was quite suitable. This painting is in my own collection. There is something both poigniant and dignified in the way the older generation carry themselves. I find that they are a good subject and although not particulalry sale worthy I enjoy doing them for my own enjoyment. I have spent a couple of hours completing two paintings this morning and then had a trek around shops with Alex looking for a new rug!
Now Alex is placing Satin Wood on the scirting board with the same precision she cuts a 45 degree mitre.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Dinefwr in the snow

After a late night and a bit of a lie in I was woken by the delivery man with a parcel of books. After walking the dog I set about doing a painting. I felt like doing something different so the painting above is of Dinefwr Castle in the snow. It is more impressionistic than some of my works. I do tend to flit between realism and impressionism. I also added a little to one of my previous paintings an oil painting of Mwnt.
Now I am going to give the dog a second walk and then watch Wales play Australia. Alex is out with one of our daughters and grandchildren.

Friday, 5 November 2010


Today I went to Brecon to take five paintings to a Gallery. Ian and Clare run the Ardent Gallery.
In actual fact they have recently opened a second gallery there. There are some lovely works and the lighting is really good. So if you are in Brecon they are a good place to visit. On the way down I was stuck behind a convoy of infantry coming off excercise. It was a miserable day and I bet they were glad to be heading back to the Infantry School in Derring Lines, Brecon.
The convoy reminded me of a commission I had done of an army officer, pictured above.
I had also stopped on the way to look at the village and church in Llywel on the edge of the Ranges. It would make a good painting and is added to my list of images I keep in my head as must do. Llywel is famous for an Ogham stone which was found there and is now in the British Museum. Apparently Ogham is an old Irish ? or Celtic language.
Alex has been very busy printing cards and framing.
Tomorrow I may get to start a painting before the rugby comes on!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Merlin's Hill

Here is the winter scene I did the other day. It is looking down the Towy Valley with Merlin's Hill on the left. The hill has an Iron Age Hill Fort not surprisingly as this would have been a gret vantage point to overlook the valley. According to Gerald of Wales writing in the1100's Merlin was born in Carmarthen. Hence the name Merlin's Hill.
We are now going pretty well flat out as I am taking work to Brecon tomorrow, we have a meeting about our next exhibition tonight. Alex is framing a painting for someone to collect today and last night she was printing bilingual invitations.
I did a watercolour this morning of Dryslwyn and this afternoon I am teaching.