Monday, 28 February 2011

Family matters

I didn’t post yesterday because we went to our grandson’s christening. It was a good day out and all went well. Alex drove so it was a long day for her. It was nice to see all the family and a few old friends.

The painting above is a watercolour sketch of Alex with one of our daughter’s with a grandson on the beach.

Today I did some work on our camper and a watercolour. Tonight we are taking work out of one of the galleries because the gallery will be closing for building work.

It is always a job to know where and when to put work in galleries. It should be a no risk, easy win all around. It’s very tempting to offer work in a variety of locations. It’s not that easy however. Firstly there is the distance to consider. You have to transport any work and that involves travelling costs and time that could be spent painting i.e. another cost. Then there is the issue of replacement after a sale and the reliability of the gallery. We have found that although an agreement may be made regarding payment after sale. That may not happen in reality. For whatever reason you may not receive notification of a sale and no money either until prompting or a visit. If a gallery is some way away it can be difficult to keep on top of this. At the end of the day it is a matter of trust and I am afraid to say we have been let down in the past. We tend now to stick to galleries where we know and trust the owner.

Our strategy is to limit our outlets and concentrate on private sales and exhibitions.

This has worked well to date. Being flexible is a necessity and we will have to change our strategy to deal with any downturn should it happen.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

His Pride and Joy ~ Ferguson Tractor

I didn't do much this morning. Well, I took the dog out twice, pressure washed the front and cleaned some pots for Alex to do her Spring Flowers. I primed some MDF, and then did the drawing above for a small painting featuring a farmer with his Ferguson Tractor.I didn't put lights on this one. Apparently some had them others didn't?
I have done the painting but haven't photographed it yet. Alex has done a good job with the flowers.
Now its time for an afternoon sitting watching the Six Nations Rugby!

Friday, 25 February 2011

Scarlets win

The painting above is sold but I thought it appropriate to the post.

Yesterday was an interesting day although I eventually got a watercolour done not much went right. I had planned to take Alex out. We were going to watch Scarlets in Llanelli. My son would drive us so we could have a couple of drinks lash out on a pork role and generally live life to the full.(irony). My son got a couple of tickets and I bought one on line. We were looking forward to the game, as we hadn’t been this season for one reason or another.

Anyway I collected Alex from the gallery had tea ready for her getting home, okay it was pizza, but it was a nice one. We were already to go out when the electricity went off for the street. We found the torch and candles and went to see my mom who was sat in darkness. After half an hour and still no electricity one of us had to stay with my mom, so in the end Alex stayed and I went with my son and didn’t collect the ticket I had paid for. Scarlets did win and the person who gave us the two tickets was man of the match.

Today the doctor came to assess my mom and lets just say, things could have gone better.

On the plus side I did get an oil painting done this morning of a scene I caught last Summer of an MG sports car with its owners.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Guildhall Square Carmarthen

An odd day today as I had nothing really planned but the day got taken up with little things but I did manage to get a watercolour done of the Guildhall Square in Carmarthen above.

It’s been a bit of a busy week Alex has been house hunting for her mother and in the Gallery at Origin Dyfed. Last night I did watch Rolf on Art and it was an interesting program, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I still find the work of Josef Herman a bit depressing for my own personal taste. Simple test is would I have it on the wall in my living room? That doesn’t mean its not good work just that I couldn’t live with it. As I have said previously I am pretty much an optimist. Although I am an optimist I am a bit superstitious and don’t risk-bringing bad luck into the equation. I am a very logical person but despite that I do salute a lone crow. I don’t walk under ladders, (although granted there is a very logical reason not to do that). So please don’t tell me any more superstitions in case I pick up on them. Oh one more superstition I don’t drip paint on the kitchen floor when cleaning up, because it hurts when Alex sees it.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Josef Herman

I note that tonight, Rolf on Welsh Art is doing a program on Josef Herman.

He is reportedly a painter of realism according to some art resources. It is always difficult to pidgeon hole any artist as belonging to a particular style or grouping. I am not sure that Josef would have considered himself as such. His paintings were dark and much to do with the dignity of the”working class”.

Josef lived in Wales for about 10 or 11 years and during that time he drew and painted quite a number of scenes from daily life of the miners. Miners were portrayed as the heroes of the working class by Josef. In many respects I can understand that.

In 1972 I was at The Battle of Saltley Gate, where Arthur Scargill with his mass picketing shut down a Birmingham coke works. The event became one of the epiphanies of his life. I would add that I was merely a witness to the event and played no active part. Arthur was in charge of the final dispute which devastated the miners and their way of life.

Many people at the time and after expressed their views on the Miners and the Dispute. It is all well and good to have a view on the subject but if you haven’t been down a working mine then it is a view based on ignorance. I have been down a working coalmine and the coal face is noisy, dirty, dangerous, and claustraphobic. You are unable to stand sit breath or do anything comfortably. A man who can work in those conditions day after day is a very special person and for my money is worth twice whatever he is paid.

Josef clearly admired the miners for their strength and courage but also portrayed the the darker realities of their hard lives.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Mind Reader

I did the painting above today. It is a distant view of Llandeilo. It is quite small about 7ins x 5ins. I had a piece of primed board available and thought it would suit.

I can get a bit picky when I see artists copy each other's work or subject. Of course in many cases artists will paint a well known view in their own style which is fine and absolutely legitimate. Endless artists have painted Llansteffan Castle from Turner to myself. What is a bit annoying is when an artist has their work obviously copied or their particular subjects painted. This does happen and is generally fairly obvious which is ridiculous really considering all the subjects available and the different ways of painting them.

The Internet unfortunately does promulgate this form of plagiarism. An artist may surf through online sites and copy other work without leaving the comfort of their own studio.

I raise this subject because I collect references for painting wherever I go. I sketch and take numerous digital images and have quite a library that I can use in the studio albeit I also like to paint outside when practical.
Last year I had an image in mind for a painting in Llandeilo. The particular subject was a specific view through the graveyard in the centre of the Town. Imagine my surprise when I went to an exhibition and saw the identical image I had yet to paint. The Exhibition was by my friend David Cowdry and I accused him tongue in cheek, of reading my thoughts.
I am glad I hadn't painted it as he had made a far better job of it than I would have!
So coincidences can happen ~ but not often.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Uncle Jack and the Royal Flying Corps

The other day I went down to the Gwili Railway to get some material for paintings. They were a very friendly lot and lent me a reflective jacket and because there were no trains steaming I was allowed to wander around.

The painting above is of a North British Diesel from the Gwili Railway I did today. I took a couple of very large hand forged spanners to donate to their workshop. Two of them were made by my Uncle Jack. They were hand forged by him and were really of no further use to me. Uncle Jack wasn’t my real Uncle but a friend of my father’s. Uncle Jack had been a member of the Royal Flying Corps. He was a mechanic and went out to Egypt with the Corps during the First World War. I remember he had a watercolour picture in his parlour of a Sopwith Camel ( A type of Bi-Plane) with Palm trees around it

I remember going to visit him as a child. He was a bachelor and didn’t have many decorations or much furniture. It was all quite dark in his house but he gave us tinned fruit with evaporated milk, which was quite a treat then. After my father died I went to visit him but found the house empty and a for sale sign up. Other than my memories those spanners were the only things we had of his but they will be put to good use I am sure.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


As you walk down from Penlanffos you are looking down into the valley. In the morning you are also facing the sunrise. The picture above is a view I saw of a Robin exercising his voice from a gatepost with a field of sheep behind. There are vapour trails in the sky as this is a main route for the Atlantic traffic to USA.

Today we went to the beach at Llansteffan for a Sunday morning walk with my daughter and son in law along with 3 of the grandchildren and 3 dogs. It was a bit of a circus with dogs and children falling everywhere. It was also bitterly cold with an Easterly wind. It certainly blew out some of the cobwebs.

I watched a program on television the other night, “Rolf on Welsh Art”. He really is a great communicator and an excellent artist. The subject was Kyffin Williams who is probably the most famous Welsh artist.
Rolf did a portrait in the style of Kyffin which was very good. Although Kyffin was obviously very successful and had a good eye his paintings in the main for me can be a bit depressing. I know some of his characters are fun and he obviously had a sense of humour but maybe it’s his colours, the heavy greys. Of course the greys are a reflection of the slate grey hard North Wales he lived in but there are other colours in the landscape as well. Also there is very little variety in his work he had a definite formula for painting which changes little.

At the end of the day who am I to offer any criticism? He could obviously paint and paint very well but he is not my first choice. I would probably go for Augustus John or his sister Gwen.

Of course they spent little time actually painting in Wales so maybe it should be Kyffin after all.

There are of course very many fine artists living and working in Wales currently the website below has some examples:

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Still life

Here is the completed still life. I have always been interested in art but I have also been interested in science. As a young boy of 11 or 12 I converted the coalhouse into a laboratory. To be fair I had quite a bit of equipment and chemicals, everything from distillation tubes to concentrated Sulphuric acid. I avidly read old reference books explaining industrial processes. I would make all sorts of chemicals and gases with only minor accidents.

My pride and joy was probably a carbon arc furnace I made that would melt sand etc. This on reflection now, was probably quite dangerous as it used the mains with live terminals to each end of the electrodes and an electric fire element as a resistor. To start the process involved moving the electrodes together to strike the arc and then pulling them away.I used smoked goggles, which probably weren’t up to the job.

 I never blew up the household electric supply which is something of a surprise looking back with hindsight.

I still have the book “Chemistry Inorganic and Organic with experiments” by Charles Loudon Bloxham. Published in 1883. The illustrations are beautiful and are an art in themselves.

Friday, 18 February 2011

British Bulldog 123

Here is today’s work. I have completed the bowl in the still life and should finish it tomorrow pending any detail changes.

It is the birthday of one of our grandchildren this weekend. It just amazes me how much times have changed, how many presents they get and what they cost. When I was a child toys were rarely bought. Either they were made for us or we found something to play with. The most we could wish for was, a penknife with a rainbow handle, a catapult or some marbles.

There were any number of games to play with a penknife but the most popular was split.

Split was a game when you stood opposite each other with feet together. You would then take it in turns throwing the knife. The idea was to throw the knife into the ground adjacent to your friend’s foot. If it stuck in the ground the friend had to move his foot to the position of the penknife without moving his other foot. You took it in turns to throw until one fell over or you couldn’t go any further. Then you threw the knife between the opponent’s legs shouting split to win. No doubt health and safety would frown on this sort of activity but I don’t recall anyone getting seriously hurt.

The catapult would be fashioned with a knife from a stout forked branch with a good piece of elastic on it. We would go hunting imaginary beasts with them or play “war” on the bombsites still around at that time. War involved picking sides and throwing stones at each other, pretty basic and of course to be frowned upon by adults. Marbles was the game you played in school along with British Bulldog.

British Bulldog is quite physical, often being regarded as violent leading it to be banned from many schools now. One or two players were selected to play the parts of the the bulldog.The bulldogs stood in the middle of the play area. All the remaining players stood at one end of the playgound. The aim of the game is to run from one end of the field of play to the other, without being caught/takled by the bulldogs. When a player is caught, they become a bulldog themselves. The winner is the last player or players 'free'.

Maybe on reflection Wii and the other toys are a safer (but not necessarily better) option.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Still Life

The other day a willow pattern bowl arrived via ebay so I started my next still life of the series. I have primed a piece of mdf and rubbed it down, then repeated this 3 times. For a detailed painting it pays to have a good flat surface with no flaws in it.
Next I sort out my composition and draw the outlines. Then the tiring bit, painting the detail. An hour or so at a time is enough before taking a break. It was nice and bright today so it was a good day to paint something this detailed. So above is the coffee pot well on its way with the bowl outlined in front.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Harlech Sunset

The painting above is one I did last week. I have done a larger painting of the same subject previously. In the previous painting the sun was actually coming through the gap in the hills on the peninsula (which is the Llyn Peninsula from Harlech Beach).

I unknowingly started singing the other morning and I got the usual response from Alex and it wasn’t pleasant. I am apparently tone deaf. I don’t know this for sure but everyone else assures me it is true. My singing and whistling sounds fine to me but I guess the response says it all. I like music, well most music. When I was young my mother used to take me to concerts in the park at the bandstand and even in the town hall. I believe this early exposure to classical music may have had a big influence on me because it’s the one form of music I don’t like. Even back then I would become bored and restless. Don’t get me wrong I can manage easy listening, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, or the Pastoral, but I am not into long, deep, and heavy works. I like music with a tune I can follow. At school I joined the choir to get out of French but I was thrown out after the choirmaster asked, “What is that terrible noise?”

Anyway where am I going with this? I have no ear for anything really. I can’t tell the difference between an Australian accent and a Scots accent. I do however have good visual recall. When I used to do exams I would remember definitions and such by recalling them written on the page. I could even remember whereabouts on the page they were. I don’t have a photographic memory. If I did I would have done better in my exams. I do remember most things visually, which obviously helps me to paint. This is even more ironic when I note that my grandfather went blind and my father had glaucoma when he died at a relatively early age.

I did a painting of a dockyard in Corfu today for a change. I can still visualise looking at the dockyard from the jetty in the hot sun. I did take some photographs of it, which I also used as a reference.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Jac ~ Our Cocker Spaniel

We had the grandchildren today and I didn’t get to paint. I rarely use pastels but I felt like a change today and did find a little time so I did a picture of our cocker spaniel “Jac” above for my own amusement. Painting a black dog can be a bit more testing than a multicoloured dog. You have to rely on tone for definition so it is a good excercise in composition as well as observation.

Pastels blend easily and can make very soft atmospheric pictures. For landscapes clouds, and portraits of a reasonable size they are a very good medium. The downside is that you are limited by the size of work and the amount of detail you can get into a picture. The other downside for me is that they are so messy and the result is not permanent. The pastel lodges in the paper and can be easily dislodged or smudged.

You can use fixative but this alters the texture and softness of the picture. So if you wish to keep the picture the only real alternative is to mount it and frame it. There are a lot of very fine artists who use pastel and obviously don’t mind the limitations but for me paints are a more flexible medium. By sticking to one or two mediums you are also more likely to become reasonably proficient at them.

There is a Zen saying, “The hunter who chases two rabbits will catch neither.”

That’s why I only use oils and watercolours for my work.

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Vintage Show

I did the painting above today. The image is not quite right as the camera caught the light and although I should go back and do it again I haven’t.

There are plenty of good subjects at a fair or vintage show. The only limiting thing is how marketable they are. I like trains, tractors, stationary engines, galloping horses but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Edward Seago one of the best if not the best British Painter of the 20th Century (in my opinion) painted and drew subjects from the fair and stage but they are nowhere near as sought after as his landscapes.

Seago was not recognised by the artistic elite and was not made a member of the Royal Academy.

He was not “cutting edge,” and worst crime of all he could paint. His brushwork was effortless, oh yes he could paint. He painted very quickly and would finish a painting in 45 minutes.
Have a look at the below website for a glimpse at Seago's work.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Man at work

I can’t remember if I have posted this painting before. I think not but who knows? I occasionally do a quirky painting, not for anyone or anything specific, just because I want to. (This one is a good likeness of my father. He also spent several months at sea in troop transports during the war avoiding U boats on his was to Ceylon, via Spain,South America, Persia, and India).  Generally they all sell, as did this one.

I had intended to do a painting or portrait of one of the family this morning, but well It didn’t happen.

I got up early took the dog out in the rain. I then finished polishing some new knobs on my lathe for the kitchen units. I did some work on my websites and then a man came to give me a quote to re-tarmac the drive. Then my son and daughter in law came with 2 of the grandchildren. Then it was time to go shopping, take the dog for his second walk and have a very late lunch.

So I thought the painting above of a man at rest was quite appropriate. I am now going to sit down and watch the rugby.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Cadair Idris

The painting above is one I started yesterday and finished today. It is of Cadair Idris from the East.

If you are not careful you can spend hours altering and fussing with a painting. It is often said with good reason the hardest decision is when to put your brush down and leave a painting.

I thought of another embarrassing moment the other day. It happened when we lived in Welshpool.

One day Alex went into the Insurance Brokers. She went up to the girl on the counter and said she had had an accident that morning. She explained that she had put the children in the car ready to take them to school. She got in, started the engine and was ready to reverse off the drive. She checked her mirror and reversed out. At some point a stupid man in a van had pulled up across the end of the drive to let a girl out of the van. Alex had reversed in to the side of the van damaging the van and our car. It was clearly the fault of the stupid man in the van.

At this point Alex looked at the girl and said,

“Don’t I know you?”

She replied,” Yes I was the girl in the van with the stupid man. He’s my father.”

I should add Alex is actually a very good driver, but obviously not very good at remembering faces!

Friday, 11 February 2011

Old Tug

Here is a watercolour pen and ink painting of an old tug. As I have previously said I am interested in working boats and have quite a few photos and sketches.The Painting was sold at a Boat Show exhibition.

I delivered a painting today to a nice couple who have done a great job renovating an old barn that goes back to 1623. It was all very tastefully done. It had been a Tithe Barn that is it was used to hold all the wheat and barley paid to the church in the form of taxes.

When I got home I  decided to do a painting of Cadair Idris (a mountain in Snowdonia) for a change.
Cadair Idris means Idris’s Chair and is linked to a mythical giant, who used it as an armchair, alternatively it means the stronghold of Idris ap Gwyddno. Take your pick.

I regret to say I have never climbed Cadair Idris but as I am not keen on heights I suppose this is forgiveable.

This is all quite well but at one time I was co-ordinator to the Brecon Mountain Rescue Team. I even did a helicopter famailiarisation course which involved being picked up, winched up and down in a harness from an RAF Sea King. Fortunately my task didn’t personally involve much tramping around rescuing people.

I have done the majority of the work on the painting today but the foreground needs finishing either tomorrow or Sunday.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Dryslwyn Castle

I did the painting above today. It is of Dryslwyn Castle in the Towy valley. (There is also steam locomotive named after Dryslwyn Castle).

All went reasonable smoothly except I managed to drop my palette, which as luck would have it landed upside down. I am quite a clean worker as a rule and like everything reasonably ordered. To find my palette with its paint covered in dog hairs etc was a bit of a nuisance. Artists paint is also not cheap so I don't like to waste it, but there was nothing for it but to clean off the paint on the palette and start again.

Still after a clean up off we went. Lunch and then I finished the painting and took the dog out with Alex who had been framing. Yesterday Alex took the car to the garage to have a new rear light fitted. She had previously reversed out of our drive and had an argument with the gatepost. It wasn't her fault, that gatepost has been threatening to do that for ages!

I will probably do another still life next week I have an idea of a composition and have made a bid on ebay for a prop. Tomorrow I have to deliver a painting.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Artist's Statement

The painting above is of the Gower with its most South Westerly tip, Worms Head. The view is taken from Cefn Sidan, (Silky Back) a fine long beach off Pembrey.

Today I painted in the gallery. I didn’t have many visitors except for a writing group who sit and read to each other. It has been pretty quiet in the gallery for quite a few months fortunately this has not (so far) affected us with work coming in from other sources. On the way home I called in at the King Street Gallery for a chat and look at their exhibition. They have some very good artists with a variety of styles.

I also popped into Oriel Myrddin. This is a gallery supported by I believe the Arts Council and the Local Authority. The exhibition was probably very good but it wasn’t for me. What really puts me off exhibitions is when you read the artist’s statement or whatever.

“This work is a transition from the primitive to the modern transgressing the boundaries of the blah blah blah…”

Okay maybe that’s a bit harsh and maybe there is validity in an artists statement but I prefer a work of art to stand by itself and not have to be justified by some random collection of big words. I like to think what would Stubbs have said about his painting “Whistlejacket”.

“You want a what?”
“An Artist’s statement?”
“Okay, it’s a horse.”

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Lords Park Farm

The watercolour above is of Lords Park Farm on the right with Llansteffan Castle in the background. I don’t know much about the farm except it in owned by the National Trust and is a listed building. There is a nice walk around Warley Point and through the farm back to the Castle.

Today I finished off some details of the commission I was doing yesterday. Then I went to see Bryan Thomas a tutor at Trinity College. I had a couple of books on ceramics to donate, which I thought might be useful for the students. Bryan seemed in good spirits and there was some interesting work in the studios.

Tonight we have a meeting of the co-operative. I take the minutes, which keeps me occupied.

Years ago Alex and I took our old dog Luke for a walk. We parked in Llansteffan beach car park. There was an information board in the car park about the Castle, which we read. We then walked up the path and after a good climb arrived at the Gatehouse of the Castle. It was there we found a notice from CADW stating that dogs were not allowed in the Castle. We were a bit put out and walked back down without seeing the Castle.

We then penned a letter on behalf of Luke something like, “Today my mom and dad took me to Llansteffan. I was very excited and they read all about the Castle in the Car Park…etc. etc.”

Yes I know its all a bit sad but fair play to CADW by return of post we got a letter addressed to Luke. They apologised and sympathised with him. They said he was allowed to go in and it was an old sign.

So some organisations are efficient, do reply to your letters and have staff with a sense of humour. Well-done CADW!

Monday, 7 February 2011


The painting above is a commission I have worked on all day. For the most part commissions of people homes, and churches are about the place itself. They are not about the painting. It is normally a matter of detail and accuracy and presenting the subject in a favourable light.

I have done atmospheric commissions but only when I knew that’s what the customer wanted and that it would look appropriate for the subject and composition.

Generally the drawing is as time consuming as the painting. I was quite happy with the result of this one. I had to take some artistic licence in respect of the sun. The sun does not in fact shine on the front of the house but by rotating it 180 degrees you bring the house to light and solve the problem of a white subject against the sky. The left hand gable is now in shadow and the right is covered by the shadow of the adjacent house. The front of the house is now bordered by a darker tone and stands out.

So provided the customer is happy (which I am sure they will be) a good days work.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Wet and Windy

The picture above is a watercolour from my sketchbook. It shows Druidstone Haven with 2 tankers at anchor in St Brides Bay.

It reminds me of a trip we took across St Brides Bay in our sailing boat. The forecast had been quite good and we left Solva heading for Milford Haven. We set out and started crossing the bay at a good rate with a medium wind on our beam. After 20 minutes the wind started to pick up to point where we had to reef our sails, (reduce them). We couldn’t return to Solva as the tide was going out and were committed to our course.

The wind was soon over 30 knots and we were going like a train with hardly any sail up (something like the size of a handkerchief). Our problem was we had to go through a really difficult piece of water (Jack Sound) at exactly slack water and we didn’t know what the conditions were on the other side. It was raining and blowing hard now.

We locked our dog below and closed everything up attaching ourselves to the boat with lifelines. The wind was now showing over 36 knots, gusting more, and the seas were nasty with waves breaking right over the boat. We negotiated Jack Sound and fortunately the conditions were no worse the other side. We heard a distress message from outside Solva but there was nothing we could do about it. We got to the entrance to Milford Haven hoping the wind would not have shifted. We were lucky and fought our way up the Haven to shelter under the cliffs and drop our anchor next to a professional sailing yacht, which had been sheltering all morning.

We were very tired wet and glad to go below and fall asleep. It was not the strongest wind we had ever been in but it was the worst conditions. Had we known the conditions were going to deteriorate anything like that we would not have left Solva.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Oh Lord

The picture above is a little watercolour out of my sketchbook from the end of last year. We had a week near Druidston and this is the farm where we camped in our van.

Yesterday I went to watch Wales v England in Cardiff with my son. We met a few interesting individuals and had a nice time. The result however could have been better.

We arrived in Cardiff and went to the Hilton Bar. It was quite full and there were a few golden oldies there that I recognised and probably more I didn’t. I noticed Dusty Hare and Jason Leonard. We got talking to a gentleman in a wonderful green and red striped blazer. You probably have to be very confident to wear something like that or completely insensitive. He was very confident. He turned out to be a Lord and was a member of the Commons and Lords Rugby Club who had been playing that day. He said he was a centre, I was far too polite to comment on his position considering his ample girth. There again I suppose there is a bit of the pot calling the kettle black there. He was a very pleasant chap and kept us company until he ditched us for the Chairman of the R.F.U. (understandably as he had his tickets for the game).

When we got in the Stadium we had to climb into the gods. I don’t like heights but it wasn’t too bad. I didn’t get nosebleed. We normally sit in the lowest tier near the halfway. The problem we had was that half a dozen English supporters were sat behind us. We are used to friendly banter but to be honest there wasn’t much that was friendly about it and it was all one way. It got quite personal and I received a shower of beer for minding my own business much to the amusement of the visitors. I got a “sorry” and was told it was an accident. Shortly after I received another soaking from them again. I regret to say they were getting to me and I gave them some rather specific advice. Fortunately that seemed to do the trick and my son also calmed things down by making an effort to tolerate the idiots and set up some sort of rapport.

Nevertheless a good day out and met some interesting people.

Today we had the grandchildren this morning and I made a replacement gate. This afternoon was spent watching rugby. I did stretch some paper ready for some work tomorrow or Monday.

Friday, 4 February 2011


I was talking about commissions yesterday. The painting above was a commission for a Supermarine Spitfire. Pat who came around yesterday reminded me of some of the work I did I years ago when we lived in Mid -Wales. Unfortunately I only have images of paintings going back for about 5 years.

When doing a commission for someone it is very important to have a good talk with them to ensure you know what they want. Even then it can go wrong. I did a painting for a nice couple in Pembrokeshire. We sat down for about an hour or so and discussed their painting. In fact I could have probably done the commission in the time we took to talk about it. I made careful notes showed them examples of my work and got the exact angle and content they wanted in their picture.

Some people are particular about skies and colour, other people are superstitious about birds in their paintings, so that was covered and agreed. All of which was fine and I say they were a nice couple. They wanted a watercolour so I did a sketch and over the next few days completed the painting.

I sent them an image of the painting and received a response. They were delighted with the painting but wanted daffodils in the borders and more green in the trees. All this was well and good but it was autumn and I had painted the scene accordingly, and it was a nice painting.

You can’t win them all. No-ones fault really just different expectations and how people view things.

Thursday, 3 February 2011


Here a are some drawings of several features of Carmarthen including the Castle Gate.

I went out to see someone about a commission today. This is an odd process and every artist is different in how they go about it. The finances vary, the methods vary and the customers vary. I know some artists who won’t accept a commission because they find it puts them under too much pressure.

There is a big difference between doing a painting and then letting the customers choose whether they like it sufficiently to buy it, and doing a painting to order. You can pretty well be sure that someone who buys a painting off the wall is pretty happy with it. If you do a commission you can never be 100% sure its what they want or if they will reject it.

Some artists require a deposit, for larger sums even a contract is signed. I never ask for a deposit and operate on trust. I don’t like someone to put down money for something they haven’t seen. I have been let down once in the last 10 years on a commission when the customer decided they didn’t have enough money after all!

So all in all my system works okay.

This afternoon I did some tuition and an old friend of ours, Pat came to see us and collect a picture.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The Valley

Interesting day today. After the initial dog walk we had a few problems. My mother’s boiler had packed up. Her Telephone wasn’t working and she needed the doctor. So after sorting that out including getting hold of the plumber who to be fair came straight away, we had late breakfast and I went to the gallery. I did an oil painting of Gower and Worms Head. Being an artist or for that matter any occupation can be complicated these days. We are thinking of getting a sign made saying:

“Boarding Kennels, Nursery, Residential and Care Home.”

You have got to smile. There are plenty of people far worse off in the World.
My brother who is an art teacher spent some time in Tunisia of all places. He was employed by their Government to teach in the University. If his tale of woe is anything like half truth it was pretty bad. He didn’t get paid for the first 6 months. Excuse followed excuse then he got one months pay. His accommodation was by any standard a hovel. The streets were used as the final resting place for all household rubbish and human waste. The place was filthy and corruption was endemic. He finally decided to leave and had to call the British Consul to get out of the Country as the Police and Immigration wanted bribes to let him and his motorcycle out. He drove back to Britain with Legionnaires disease he picked up there. Fortunately he survived but spent several months in hospital emerging a shadow of his former self and still suffering. He never received his money. I think it would take more than a regime change in Tunisia to encourage him to return there. There is a huge divide in the World between the haves and the have-nots. Unfortunately on many occasions one corrupt regime is often replaced by another one equally corrupt.

Anyway the painting above is one of my favourite views from Penllanffos, East down the Towy Valley. God bless Wales. January hasn’t been a bad month. It is normally fairly quiet after Christmas but we have sold a few. I have another commission to see to tomorrow and some tuition to do.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Low tide

When we went for a walk on Sunday the tide was out a long way. It must have been a Spring Tide. I thought I must do a painting of the castle with just the beach and here it is above. There is always a danger of overdoing sand making it orange or having a large area of colour so there is a need to break it up. I think it has worked okay.

I posted about a couple of incidents we had with the car yesterday so I thought I would add to the theme. My first mode of transport was a motorbike and we have had many adventures on those that I will probably get around to talking about. The first four wheeled transport we had was a green Morris 1000 pickup that I bought off a fireman.

He had used it for his other job which was gardening. It was in good condition but we thought we could add a little character to it.

So we spent a week cleaning it up and re-spraying it metallic blue. We had all the equipment so it was a fairly easy but time consuming job with several layers of paint. It was to be fair, stunning and quite unique.

So we decided to take it for a test drive to Shrewsbury. Now on the way we met a nice family from Birmingham, a young man and his girlfriend, their baby and grandfather.

Now actually it didn’t happen quite like that.

Fifteen minutes into our maiden journey we were going around the double bends at Buttington when the family from Birmingham hit us head on. They had crossed the double white lines at an excessive speed and written off our pickup.

The grandfather broke his leg and the young man came through the windscreen. Alex went to hospital and I crocked my knee.

The charming family had stolen the car and were on their way to Aberystwyth for 2 weeks holiday. The young man didn’t have a driving licence and of course there was no insurance. Fortunately the Morris 1000 was pretty sturdy and we had no long term effects. We were third party so in the end we got nothing still the boy went to detention centre which was some consolation.

We did re-spray and do up a mini for Alex a while later. My father had the mini off her eventually and left it parked on a hill without the handbrake on while he opened a gate. It ran away and turned over writing it off.

Fortunately we are more successful with our paintings than car spraying.