Sunday, 31 October 2010

Home and Away

The painting above is of The Gower, Llangenith Beach and Worms Head, and was sold yesterday.
Worms head is a very familiar shape to us as we have sailed around these waters of the Bristol Channel for a long time. I understand that the word 'Wurm' means 'dragon' and it was named by Viking invaders. The shape as you can see is very like a giant dragon or sea-serpent and marks the westerly end of the Gower. When we camped in North devon recently we could still see the Wurm from our camper van on the cliffs. Ironic really as we had travelled some 200 miles by road and we were in site of home.
Last night we had David Cowdry and Erika round for dinner both lovely people and exceptionally talented. As usual our dog Jac was the centre of attraction and stole the show.
Today was spent making some trim out of oak to finish off our new flooring. Tomorrow is put aside for painting and Alex has a number of paintings to frame.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

"Any old iron"

The painting above is of Llansteffan Beach. It was sold to a lovely lady from Caerffili yesterday.
I just got back from walking the dog and I heard a very unusual sound from the estate above the reservoir.
"Any old iron scrap metal pans.." this was a cry I hadn't heard for about 50 years. The only difference was that today it was on a loudspeaker. I have to say though it did get me thinking about the rag and bone man when I was young. He used to come down our street with his old white cart horse pulling an open cart piled with rags and relics from the kitchen. He would have balloons tied to his cart and would give children a balloon for a bundle of rags or an old pan.
Obviously the price of metal is going up at the moment.
When it comes to recycling paintings or canvas I am afraid I generally don't bother. I have previously primed over an old painting and spent time producing a new work to find that the texture of the old painting ruins the work. I do recycle brushes to some extent. Watercolour brushes tend to be used for oils when they are no longer suitable for watercolour. Worn oil brushes are used to scrubble turps or medium onto a canvas. When of no longer use they are thrown in to the scrap wood pile for my friends wood burner.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Whats in a Sketch

The watercolour sketch above is of Druidstone Haven and was done on the scene last week. It was painted on Saunders Hot Pressed paper. I don't usually use HP paper but I had been generously been given a pad. The paper is smooth and similar to painting on thick cartridge paper. Anyway why do people make sketches? For myself I sketch both in pencil and watercolour for a number of reasons:
To make a record of the scene before me for a possible painting later
To keep my hand in drawing and painting from nature
Because I enjoy doing it
A sketch will take about 2-15 minutes normally. The time is generally dictated by the subject, the weather conditions and my wife Alex. If it is wet and windy I paint very quickly but more importantly I judge how long I can take by my wife's look when I say,
"I am just going to do a quick sketch!"
In fairness she is very patient, more patient than I am when she runs into a friend and starts a long conversation.
The majority of my sketches are kept for a period and then culled,(taken to the skip), if I haven't made use of them within a couple of years. So even if I havent used them for reference I have still enjoyed doing them and they have helped to keep my skills honed.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

North South divide

We have been away for a week while my family came to house-sit and look after mom. We stopped in Druidstone in a little campsite with views overlooking St. Brides Bay. It was a really nice week which was spent walking the coastal path and reading when it was too wet. I got plenty of material for new work too. Pembrokeshire is divided into North and South by the Landsker Line an invisible boundary that divides the English speaking South and the Welsh speaking North. It is also divided physically by the Milford Haven Waterway.
We stopped South of the Landsker Line in Druidstone and North of the Haven. The main difference we noticed is that in North Pembrokeshire particulalry close to the coast there is a distinct lack of trees. A scruffy windswept bush would be as much as you are likely to see. The other really noticeable difference is that in South Pembrokeshire at night there are literally flocks of starlings in their thousands whilst in the North there are barely 20 or thirty birds in an evening display. It could be that the lack of trees and low numbers of swallows is connected.
Anyway I did a lot of sketching mainly of coastal scenes. On approaching Broad Haven you are quite high and can easily see the Oil refineries in the South of the Haven. The picture above is of the Old Texaco refinery and is sold.
Dinner time now!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Cattle in the floods

The picture above is of the scene I saw of cattle in a flooded field at the begining of October. I didn't get a chance to sketch ot take a photo of it at the time it was just posted in my mind for future reference.
I am not fortunate enough to have a photographic memory but I am able to visualise some scenes and paint without other references particularly if there is no great amount of detail required.
Today I painted in the gallery. I went up the Black Mountains on Sunday and today I painted a scene from the Black Mountains of a stream and waterfall. I may put a red kite in the painting when dry as we did see half a dozen and it may just be what is needed. I will see.
This is my last post for a week or so as I am away. My family are coming down to look after my mom so a week away and a bit of walking and painting.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


I am by nature given to nostalgic phases. As a young boy I used to live within 100yds of the London Midland and Scottish Railway line. My brother and I would sit on the embankment and watch the locomotives thundering up the line. I loved the sound of the big pistons and the smell of the smoke with bits of burning black coal. Occasionally we would place an old penny on the track and recover it after the loco had passed. The resultant mishapen brass pressing would be an item to cherish. We also used to go down to the "sheds" where the locomotives were kept and maintained. As young boys we were often treated to cabbing, that is being allowed on the platform of the engine by a kindly fireman or driver while she was fired up. This was in the days before health and safety.
Anyway later in life I taught myself basic engineering and did make some working model steam stationary engines and boilers. I always felt steam engines were a living thing.
You can now see that I find them to be a good subject albeit I rarely get to see one these days.
The painting above of the Gwili Railway is sold. Today was spent with grandchildren and collecting my mom from the home. Tomorrow I will be painting in the gallery.

Monday, 18 October 2010

"Water under the bridge"

The painting above is of the Bridge over the River Usk at Brecon. I have painted a couple of versions of this subject. There is something quite satisfying in painting bridges, gates, doors etc. I suppose there is a lot of symbolism involved either on a concious or sub-concious level.
Bridges are often used in metaphors. e.g. "Who are the bridge builders?" - Rudyard Kipling
Anyway this is getting a bit heavy - I just like the view.
I painted it today. I also visited my mom, and the local refuse tip to dispose of the various detritus from decorating and stripping various rooms.
We have to get ready for our next exhibition in Carmarthen in December. I have quite a few paintings but there is the matter of framing, prints, marketting etc, etc... So a few busy weeks in store.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

A bit of a hike

The painting above is of cattle near Libanus in the Brecon Beacons.
I didn't go there today. I went up into the Black Mountains with my son and one of his daughters. It was a beautiful morning with long shadows cast by the sun. The scenery was stunning. I have got quite a few more references for paintings.
We walked for about 3.5 hours and I was spent, but I can't complain as my son carried his daughter for most of the time. When I got back Alex was still decorating.
I then watched the Scarlets attempting to compete with Leicester on the TV. It was embarassing!
Still there is always next time.

Saturday, 16 October 2010


The recent triumph of the rescue of the Chilean miners reminded me of another mining incident. The Universal Colliery Senghenydd Mining Disaster. A powerful gas and coal dust explosion on Friday May 24th, 1901, killed 81 of the 82 men underground at the time.
I was commissioned to paint a scene from the disaster. The painting was for someone who had a relative in the mine. Fortunately they were not underground at the time and survived the disaster.
The painting had to be done from photographs from the time. The Universal Colliery was distinctive in that it had 2 pit heads and I was not able to find a photograph with the two shown together. So it was quite a challenge to do the initial drawing whilst being as accurate as possible. The final painting is shown above.
Today was a bit "pick and mix". We had to take mom to hospital, clear 2 rooms, lift 3 carpets, and do the shopping and then on to decorating.
Actually Alex did the decorating I sat and watched the rugby on tv.

Friday, 15 October 2010

The Unknown Soldier

I heard a mother from North Wales on the radio this morning talking about her son's memorial. He had been in the RAF and had been killed in Afghanistan. A memorial stone had been put up for him but it had been repeatedly damaged by vandals.
In the end the memorial was removed. My reaction to this sort of incident is two-fold the feelings of sorrow for the mother and the anger at the apparent inability of the authorities to catch or deal with these mindless juveniles.
The painting above is of the memorial in Cidweli. I painted it not because it is a marketable subject it is clearly not. I feel these memorials are however a very powerful symbol of the sacrifice that the generations before have given. It was a compulsion that made me record the image a small homage to their sacrifice.
On a lighter note I have been decorating today and dealing with paperwork for a future exhibition.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I love cricket

I mentioned in a previous post that my grandson had asked if I would be an angel when he was grown up. I got to thinking about my own grandfather. I was fortunate that I did get to know him as I was about 10 years old when he died. He used to take me to watch the cricket at Edgbaston. That is the home of Warwickshire. Strangely enough I also met Alex at Edgbaston County Cricket ground, although that was at a dance. The painting above is of my great grandfather who was born in Ayreshire. I did the painting from an old photo. I dont often do portraits now and then only of family members.
Today I taught watercolours to a lady who comes for private tuition. She did a very light and lovely painting from a sketch of the Menai Straits. I also finished a painting of Ferryside in oils.
Alex is now busy painting the walls. Tomorrow will probably be more decorating and maybe a small painting.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The Strand

The painting above is one I have done for my next exhibition it is of the Strand in Laugharne. We really like Laugharne and have a lot of attachments to it. We have often sailed there and go to the Rugby internationals in Cardiff on the Laugharne RFC Coach which is an event in itself.
I am not personally a great fan of Dylan Thomas. I enjoy hearing Richard Burton reading his words but I can't really say I connect with it. That said Laugharne does feel like the ghost of Dylan Thomas still resides there. It is a place of great character which has not yet been ruined by the advance of progress from the East.
Today I spent decorating, tomorrow a bit of teaching for a change and maybe a painting?

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Sainthood and angels

The painting above is one I donated to Dorothy Bere from Carmarthen who raised funds for a charity engaged in building schools in Nepal. Dot has been out there and put in her own work so good for her. It is always good to give something back and I always appreciate the many blessings we enjoy. In truth in this country we have an excess of riches. This Christmas we are donating to Macmillan again and have asked for matched funding from Barclays well you never know.
Anway before I promote myself to Sainthood I must mention I was brought down to earth by a great question by my 5 year old grandson today,
"Will you be an angel when I'm grown up grandad?"
Well I'm certainly no angel now and am never likely to be nice though the thought might be.
Alex and I spent a good deal of the day in hospital with my mom and then picked up some of the grandchildren. I did spend 10 minutes waiting for school to finish by examining the shadows in the playground (no not the group) and the light in the trees. I chatted to David Cowdry tonight a a really nice guy and a fantastic artist if you don't know his work you should look him up.
It looks like it will be Wednesday before I can get around to painting again.

Monday, 11 October 2010

2 colours and a nap

Worn out today after a hectic weekend. Grandchildren are great but occassionally a bit on the noisy side. So being out Friday and Saturday visitors and decorating we are on our last legs. Still did a painting of view near Libanus today and also got down to Saundersfoot taking advantage of the lovely weather. Called in to see my mom earlier. Saundersfoot at low tide has some fabulous images that would make great paintings. You are spoilt for choice with wet beaches,cliffs,boat people and a drying harbour.
The painting above is one I did last week of Mwnt for no particular reason other than I had this idea to paint it in basically 3 colours or more correctly 2 colours and white ie; yellow ochre, ultramarine and white.
Might have a small nap now!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Stripping - wallpaper

The painting above is one of two paintings we sold yesterday. It is a view of Llansteffan from Ferryside Beach. A lovely couple from Cardiff came to buy it. Both sides of the estuary are very picturesque and make great subjects for a painting.
The rest of yesterday I spent at Parc y Scarlets watching Scarlets beat Perpignan. It was a nice event as it included a pre-match dinner and tea afterwards. Then home where Alex had laid on a large evening meal and drinks.
Today we went for a walk on Llansteffan beach and then got down to stripping wallpaper for the rest of the day.
Tomorrow hopefully I will be painting (and not the hall and landing).

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Rosie Swale-Pope

The painting above is the one I did yesterday. It is of Bull Point in North Devon. I did the painting from a sketch I made when we were stopping in Damage Barton last month. I had seen Bull Point Lighthouse from the sea having sailed past it several times so it was familiar to me but not from close up.
Last night Alex and I went to a charity dinner in Carmarthen. It was a good meal and we had very pleasant company. However the highlight was that the guest speaker was Rosie Swale-Pope.
My word what an extraordinary lady she is. I was aware of her run around the globe but there is so much more to her than that. An adventurer, eccentric, author and marathon runner. She was the first woman to sail the atlantic in a small boat (a 17ft boat she found in a barn in Dolgellau).
She has raised so much for charity and yet she hardly has a penny to rub together. She slept in the car park of the Hotel last night.
It is fair to say I was impressed.
Anyway today Alex is working in the gallery and I am off to the Rugby including a pre-game dinner so that should be good!

Friday, 8 October 2010


The painting above is one I did yesterday. It is the view from the canal bridge over the River Usk looking towards the road bridge at Brynich. What makes the view for me is the shadow on the bridge and the Beacons in the background. I did consider putting a figure on the bridge but decided the painting didn't need it.
Today I did a painting of Bull Pt. from my sketch book of our trip to North Devon. It may never be framed (the painting is fine but the subject is out of context in this part of the world) but it was nice to reflect on the rocky coastline and enjoyable walks we had along the coastal path.
Tonight we are out at a charity event so an early post today.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Blank canvas

Alex and I have enjoyed sailing our small yachts around the coast of Pembrokeshire and the Bristol Channel for a good many years. During that time I have become attached to images of working boats such as that of the tug "Anglegarth" above. I sold this painting a few years ago but still hold on to a number of my favourite working boat paintings. I also have a number which I have yet to do. As they are generally quite detailed I have to set aside some time to do them.
They are therefore quite expensive and a limited market. I have an image in mind of one of the Fisher tankers coming in the West Channel at St Annes Head with the light behind it and I guess I will get around to painting it one day.
Today I did a painting of the River Usk at Brynich, Brecon where the road goes over the canal and river. We also took our camper van to Poniets for its MOT. I visited my mom walked the dog a couple of times and we stripped off a lot of wallpaper ready for coving to be put up in the halls.
Tomorrow I would like to say is a blank canvas but the list is already getting longer

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Idle images

As we came back from Brecon on Sunday I sat idly enjoying the scenery pass by while Alex drove the van. I am quite content being driven and in fact I have only ever driven the van once in the whole time we have had it. She enjoys driving so who am I to argue. This is great for me as I can day dream and collect images in my head for future use. One such image was of cattle standing in a flooded field in the Towy Valley. The image struck me and today when I went into the gallery that is what I painted.
The painting above is of Snowdonia from Harlech beach. This is one of the fruits of a fortnight in North Wales earlier this year. It is actually not quite so blue in real life as it appears on my monitor. Anyway the painting itself sold over the weekend.
Also today we visted my mom did the shopping and now are in the process of clearing the remnants of a ceiling which is being replaced. Life is never dull!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

A painting a builder, an electrician and 4 grandchildren

The painting above is a commission we delivered last week. It is an oil painting of Whitesands Bay near St.Davids Pembrokeshire. When we went there it was a beautiful warm day with blue skies. The beach was actually more crowded than that but I didnt want too many figures in the painting.

Today I spent working on an advert in Welsh Country a glossy bi-monthly magazine (is that twice monthly or every two months? Anway the magazine is every two months). I was finally happy with the advert and the images to go with it. At the end of the day it was not that expensive so nothing lost whatever happens.

We also had the builder and electrician in today along with 4 grandchildren so "mayhem" is probably an understatement. Tomorrow I am painting in the gallery so I am really ready for that.

I hear two grandchildren departing now so its nearly safe to surface. Dinner is calling anyway.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Painting on hold

The painting above Bridge 159 Brecon Canal was bought by the Lord Lieutenant of Powys Hon Sian Legge-Bourke over the weekend. I have had the pleasure of meeting Sian Legge-Bourke on several previous occasions. As you may be aware I am not a fan of persons who put on airs and graces. This however is a Lady of substance. She is absolutely solid and down to earth. She is not the least bit patronising and is a pleasure to talk to. Of course added to that she had a great eye for a painting!
Today I had to collect a couple of paintings, and we also had the builders in. Painting is going to be impossible for a couple of days. It's hard enough to breath with all the dust and plaster.
I have several paintings in mind so it will be all systems go when things are straighter.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Mushroom Soup

Well we are back. Had a very nice long weekend in Brecon. We met a lot of very nice people and sold some paintings. We used to live in Brecon before moving to Carmarthen about 20 years ago so we know the town well. It is on old market town which is largely unspoilt. We owned a house with a view to kill for. The Beacons were the backdrop to our garden and I can still recall opening the backdoor and taking in the magnificence of Pen y Fan dusted with snow in winter.
This weekend we camped in a small site on the Libanus Road. We were the only occupants, no surprise considering the monsoon. The site is bordered by a river which runs into the Usk and on Friday it was a wall of angry water swollen by hours of torrential rain.
On Friday evening we went to the Private view of the Small Picture Show. There was an abundance of high class work. Three paintings by Ken Howard,work by William Selwyn,Sian Egerton, John Knapp Fisher, HRH Prince Charles donated a ltd edition print, and many more in fact too many to mention. We took 6 paintings of which 4 were sold by Saturday morning.
The painting above was bought by a very nice couple Ian and Clare. They own the Ardent Galleries in Brecon stocked with lovely work so if you get a chance drop in to see them.
We have the builders coming in tomorrow so we have to start moving paintings and clearing the halls now.
First Alex has made mushroom soup which I hear is ready.