Thursday, 31 March 2011

No place like Gnome

There the still life is finished bar any details when I look at it next. The background is actually slightly greyer than blue but it gives you an idea. I had thought about the crab’s whiskers but probably won’t add them as they are normally absent when you buy a crab. I did some tuition this afternoon so a good day’s work. Alex has finished off 8 pictures as well.

When we lived in Welshpool we had a friend Neil who was quite hilarious. He had a very dry sense of humour and generally took all that life could throw at him with a smile and an off the wall comment. Neil had in his front garden a large cement gnome who he affectionately called Norman. One day he informed us in rather a lather that Norman had been stolen and he obviously quite put out about it.

Nothing more was said until about a month later when he showed us a picture postcard of Rio de Janeiro, which read,

“Dear Neil,

Sorry I left without saying goodbye but I have decided to see the world so don’t worry about me. I am having a wonderful time. I hope you are all right. The beaches in Rio are super. I haven’t met any other gnomes here yet.

Love Norman”

Sure enough it had been posted in Rio. There followed a series of postcards from all around the world much to Neil’s and our amusement.

We never did find out who was responsible but one night Norman re-appeared having apparently had enough of globetrotting.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Alpha

My son-in-law and daughter-in-law are both Irish and have dogs called Paddy and Murphy. I am a dog lover, which is just as well as we are frequently dog sitting whilst the owners trot off to America or Ireland.

The watercolour sketch above is of Murphy a black lab. He is obviously spoilt when he comes to our house and will leap on the sofa next to me. At home he is not allowed in the lounge at all. He is a big dog who is reasonably well behaved.

Paddy a golden retriever is the interesting Steve Davies of the two and has no personality whatsoever and does tend to smell. Strangely both these large dogs are completely dominated by my youngest daughters spaniel bitch who is comparatively minute.

In many ways this is replicated in my life. Alex who is the petite lady likes to think she is the boss and gets her own way. The truth is she does. I think this is probably a trait passed on to both our daughters.

Anyway today I went in to Origin Dyfed to help hang paintings ready for the opening tomorrow. Jane Russell an artist from Llansteffan came in and we spent several hours getting it right while Moira and Martin did the displays.

Alex has got on well framing and has finished about 8 paintings today. Tomorrow I will push on with my still life and am teaching in the afternoon.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Triumph 750 Motorcycle Combination

The above is a sketch for a painting of Llansaint. I haven’t done the painting as yet but I expect I will get around to it one day.

Today I was in Origin Dyfed the Arts and Crafts shop in Carmarthen. We were redecorating the shop ready for re-opening this week. I was chatting to Helen Elliot who is a member and very good artist. She is a keen motorcyclist and I thought I would add a tale about our exploits.

Motorcycle combinations love them or hate them, whatever they are different. The main problem with them is that because there is a third wheel in order to turn right you have to brake and in order to turn left you have to accelerate. This is great unless you wish to stop at the same time. They take a lot of getting used to. Anyway we had a Triumph 750, which we added a motorcycle sidecar to. The main reason we did this was because we had a dog so he could go with us in the sidecar.

I eventually got used to it and decided it was time Alex had a go. She could ride a motorcycle and had a BSA herself. We went to Welshpool Car Park one Sunday and I gave Alex some lessons in how to handle it.

All was going well and she was going around in figure of eight accelerating and braking. I was standing giving instruction. Suddenly she accelerated when she should have braked and the combination swerved into a parked lorry trailer. Fortunately Alex was wearing a full-face helmet as the combination went under the trailer and knocked her off the back of the bike onto the floor. The Combination carried on under the trailer and through a hedge into the canal.

Alex was stunned temporarily having taken a hefty blow to the head. The bike had meanwhile disappeared.

I took Alex home and she rested for the day. I then went around and scrounged a crane and lorry. I then provided the main amusement for the local youth as I waded into the canal to find the combination and hook it up to the crane.

At the end of the day it all turned out ok. It cost me 2 bottles of whisky for the unofficial hire of a company crane and lorry. Alex was fine and after changing the oil and drying out the bike it stated first time.

Alex replaced the lemon today so I can finish my still life.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Still life

Today I started a new still life picture. It took a bit of time to work out a reasonable composition with a crab in it. There is going to be a lemon on the right behind the bottle but Alex used the one I had for cooking yesterday! So I will add it later. I also added the spoon after I started painting. The bottle is one Alex dug up in the garden when we lived in Brecon. I am hoping to finish the painting this week!
Tomorrow I am going in to help redecorate a local gallery Origin Dyfed in Carmarthen. I am a member of the co-operative that runs it.

Alex is busy framing two large prints and Jac our dog is apparently going through the pockets of my old sports jacket looking for dog biscuits. When I walk him I keep a couple of treats in the jacket pocket. He is quite well behaved except he has a requirement to steal and bury shoes. If you leave a pair of shoes unguarded they will quickly become one. A search of the house is then required and then a check of the gardens to look for recently disturbed soil or gravel.

For my part I only have a couple of pairs of shoes. I wear them until they are worn out then throw them away and then buy another pair. Unfortunately one of the pair is now in the singular and the missing right shoe has so far eluded me.

Eventually Jac digs them up and returns them although this may be weeks later.
You will see him come into the house with a shoe filled with gravel or soil.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Saundersfoot Harbour

The painting above is the one I re-worked this week. I have lightened it fractionally.

Today has been spent with the grandchildren and also did a spot of DIY for my mother. Alex has been attempting to keep the peace between the two siblings with some but not great success.

When I talked about Merlin (our old cat) yesterday I omitted to mention one of his characteristics.

He was, it could be said with absolute truth of a very generous disposition. He would often bring home presents and leave them in place for us to discover. These would be sparrows, moles, and earthworms alive or dead. He even managed to find room amongst Alex’s huge shoe collection to deposit a magpie. How he managed to get it through the cat flap I will never know.

After Merlin moved away from us to neighbours up the road he apparently moved on again.

Occasionally I see a black cat with a wild look in its eyes and wonder as I pass if it is in fact Merlin. Although it is rumoured he died of a poorly liver, I like to think of him still out there causing h

Friday, 25 March 2011

Cadair Idris and Merlin

The painting above is of Cadair Idris. I decided to make a few minor changes in it today before it is framed. So I spent an hour on it. That’s it. It's finished.

Its been like “Fred Karno’s Army” here today with dogs and children. “Fred Karno’s Army” actually refer’s to a group of comedians including Stan Laurel, Charlie Chaplin and of course Fred Karno who as a group caused mayhem and were completely chaotic. I can think of several organisations I have dealt with that could rightly adopt the title. My sympathetic nature prevents me from naming them.

Anyway we are looking after two children and a dog until Sunday. Alex has been painting garden furniture, sorting out our prints and shopping. Having prints made of your work are really quite essential but it is easy to get carried away with it. It is expensive to have them done properly, which of course we do. We use the DOT Foundry near Bridgend. They are award winning Fine Art printers and are lovely to deal with. They are also perfectionists.

We only have a dog ourselves (when we are not a boarding kennel for the family) but we have had cats in the past.

Some years ago just before Christmas I heard a noise and went to the front door with the dog. I opened the door and a black cat ran past me and shot into the living room making himself comfortable on the sofa. No amount of persuading would move him and he was quite wild although of a tolerant disposition. That is he would allow you to feed him and shelter him but wasn’t keen on being fussed. Although he would sometimes jump on my lap when I least expected it. Merlin (as we called the cat) paid him no attention whatever to our dog. One look from the cat would send the dog to sulk in the corner.

It wasn’t so much that we had a cat but we had a lodger.

Our neighbours also experienced Merlin’s idiosyncrasies. One night Wendy our neighbour was in bed when she was awoken by something.

She said, “Mike what’s that on the bed?”

He replied, “It’s the cat.”

Wendy, “But we haven’t got a cat.”

Merlin had climbed on their roof and got in through a velox and made himself comfortable on their bed.

On another occasion Mike ran out into the road to stop another neighbour driving up the road. Merlin was on the car roof facing forward apparently enjoying the ride.

Merlin stopped with us for two or three years and then moved into a house at the top of the road ~ just like that. We would see him from time to time but he largely ignored us. He didn’t write and he didn’t call!

Tomorrow will be spent entertaining the children I guess.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Milford Tug

Started today with a stock take. With so many paintings it can be a job to know what we’ve got and where they are. We spent a few hours going through them and identify paintings for the next exhibition, and also paintings to be written off. There were a few old paintings and chipped frames to go and quite a few paintings that need to be framed. It was all a good exercise.

We came across several marine paintings of shipping hence the painting above.

I then got down to doing some fencing for my mother.

This afternoon I have been reworking a painting and Alex has done lots so quite a good days work. Tomorrow we have got two grandchildren coming for the weekend so I’m not sure what’s in store.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Gwili Railway

I went to the gallery today but it had been booked for an event. They had forgotten to tell me. It was a lovely day for a walk so I didn’t mind. I called in at Oriel Myrddin on the way back to see the exhibition. To be honest it was not really my cup of tea but there were a couple of drawings I liked. I also went to the library.

I did a painting of Gwarchodwr Cymreig a little tank engine on the Gwili Railway when I got home. See above.

I then took my mother to the beach and she sat while I walked the dog. In the meantime Alex was in gardening mode. She also bought another set of click boxes.

Whoever invented them I would like to meet them. I think we have more click boxes than paintings in the house.

Tomorrow I have to repair some fencing.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

David Cowdry ~ Aberglasney Exhibition

The painting above is one from my recent visit to Snowdonia. Today I set about the commission and it is pretty much done. I find the finished work quite agreeable. Well it is of a pleasing disposition. You will note that I have finished, “The Mayor of Casterbridge” today.

This will please Mrs Cox who is getting fed up of conversing in 19th century English.

Today we received an invitation to a private view of David Cowdry’s next exhibition in Aberglasney. An event not to be missed, definitely one of the best artists I have seen.

Although his subjects and style differ from mine he is technically immense. A lovely man and a true genius with a brush. You can tell I am impressed.

Visit    for details

We had the grandchildren today who were well behaved. One is very content to draw and draws very well.

Alex got a lot of mounts cut so a good day.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Harlech Castle and the Elephant Rally

Here is the other watercolour I did from the sketch of Harlech castle. Today I stretched some watercolour paper and then did preliminary drawings for a commission. This all took a little longer than I expected so I didn’t start painting as the afternoon was progressing and the light was okay but going downhill. I walked the dog then picked up my book for half an hour.

Alex has been getting on with zeal and now the garden is pretty much under control the framed work is flying out.

I did a post a couple of days ago about our first Elephant Rally in Germany. Well here is the summary of the second.

Alex and I went to the Elephant Rally in February 197? on our motorcycle combination taking my brother who shared the driving. I had a very nice Triumph 750 Tiger to which we changed the gearing and attached a sidecar. All was going splendidly until we got to a forest near Eupen.

This at the time (at the height of the Cold War) was in the middle of a military restricted area. Typically the spokes in the rear wheel decided to rip out of the rim. We were stuck in a forest with no rear wheel in an area where we were forbidden to even stop.

We had no mobile phones in those days, no AA, and the nearest Town was many miles away. What was worse we had no food or drink. Being late we set up the tents in the snow and went to bed. We were rudely awoken in the middle of the night by Armed Military Police. I woke to German voices with the tent collapsed around me. I found a tent pole in the dark and promptly stuck one end in Alex’s eye. She appeared and sounded very nonplussed about the incident. I stuck my head out and tried to explain the reason for our predicament to our visitors. My brother crawled out of his tent wrapped in tin foil looking like a Christmas Turkey. This fortunately brought some merriment to the proceedings. I showed the Police our wheel and they left telling us to be gone tomorrow!

The following morning a motorist stopped and took my brother to the nearest town to get the wheel re-spoked. Alex and I waited all day for him to return and ended up drinking rainwater from a ditch. When he did return he admitted he had been in a café drinking most of the day. Although he didn’t bring back any food or drink he had managed to get the wheel re-spoked.

We had now spent the entire weekend of the rally in a forest and headed back to Ostende. Unfortunately the rear wheel had not been done properly and couldn’t carry a lot of weight. This meant we had to hitch lifts while my brother rode the bike.

All in all an interesting weekend. More about the sidecar in another blog.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Sometimes I work directly outdoors (en plein aire), sometimes I work from photographs, sometimes from a sketch and sometimes a combination of them. The sketch above is of Harlech castle which I used for a couple of paintings. There are advantages and disadvantages to all the sources used to make a painting.
I like sketches because you have already identified the main features for the composition and also the values.

Today is painting free. I have done a few jobs for my mother and Alex has been busy in the garden.  A quiet afternoon with a book I am currently reading the Mayor of Casterbridge  by Thomas Hardy which is quite good.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Cattle near Brecon

The painting above is of Cattle near Brecon on the canal. This morning I re-worked the foreground of another oil painting. I had been looking at it for a while and finally decided it needed lightening. It is always a risk to re-work a painting but this worked out okay.

As I have previously said we have had many experiences on motorcycles in the past both good and bad.
Many years ago sometime in the 1970’s we went for the first time to the Elephant Rally in Germany. This is a winter motorcycle rally which takes place in February and attracts large crowds of motorcyclists from Hells Angels to Vintage enthusiasts. The main ingredients are motorcycles, alcohol and snow.

We went on a three cylinder Suzuki and got a fair indication of the weekends outcome when we got off the boat in Ostend at three in the morning. A group of motorcyclists set off down the Autoroute in front of us. One after the other they came off their bikes with people,equipment and machines sliding down the road. The authorities hadn’t gritted the roads and it was well below freezing. Alex and I parked under a motorway bridge until morning and then made our way to the Rally. This was a huge event. We had a tent and camped in 6 inches of snow along with everyone else. It was too cold to even take off your coat. We bought a can of emergency spray starter, which I think was mainly ether for spraying into the carborettor intake in very cold weather. We spent most of the time in cafes or beer tents keeping warm.We didn't drink much beer because we couldn't afford it and in any case we would be riding back on the Sunday. But it was an interesting and enjoyable event.

On the Sunday we made our way back to Ostende and then started up the motorway back to Wales. We were travelling in company with my brother and his girlfriend who were on a 750 Suzuki. At some point in the night I noticed they were not behind us. I pulled over and we walked back down the hard shoulder to see he had a flat rear tyre.

The machine was a bit of a beast and he couldn’t put it on its stand without help. We eventually got the wheel off and fixed the puncture. It was dark and freezing, so that was quite an achievement. Alex and I then walked back to out bike. There was a layer of frost over it and it refused to start. I sprayed a good dose of the ether or nitrate down the air intake and tried the starter. It immediately caught fire. Flames were coming out from under the petrol tank and Alex was trying to pull me away. We did fortunately manage to put it out. The bike started and we got as far as Telford following my brother. He came up behind a gritting lorry and overtook it. I like an idiot followed him. We got about half a mile when I noticed Alex sliding past me down the road with the bike leading the way. Apart from gravel burns we were okay but again we sat it out for couple of hours for conditions to improve.

It was an eventful weekend but we survived.

This afternoon we are watching the rugby.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Night Watch ~ with apologies to Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn

I did the painting above today. It is lightly referenced to Rembrandt’s famous painting the Night Watch. There the similarity ends.

Of course Rembrandt had to paint in the actual faces/portraits of all the members in his work. I did not and therefore the painting is a lot looser and was quickly executed.

I was asked yesterday if I would consider doing some teaching in an establishment. I declined, quite abruptly according to Alex. The point is really I enjoy painting I don’t enjoy teaching.

I do currently give personal tuition on a one to one basis but only have one pupil. She is very keen and I am quite happy to give up a couple of hours a week. I would not wish to teach on a more formal basis.

Today we had one of the grandchildren. Why do schools have inset days?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

North Wales Cottage

The painting above is of a cottage above Harlech. I like simple watercolours and for me this is about as simple as it gets. To reduce a scene to its bare essentials while keeping its charm and atmosphere is really the key. I think I have achieved that here.

Today I was a bit off colour and took it easy except that Alex encouraged me to go shopping. I think using my discount card for Focus DIY was the main reason. We bought timber to build raised beds for the vegetable garden.

I cut the timber in between taking it easy watching England escape a certain loss in the cricket to the West Indies. Alex spent the day building the beds and digging.

I have two paintings in mind to start at the moment and am not sure which one to do tomorrow. They will both take a little time so I will take the plunge in the morning.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Paxton's Tower

The painting above is one that sold last week of Paxton’s Tower in the Towy Valley. Today I went into the gallery and did an oil painting of Snowdon. As I had been looking at Snowdon from our camper van for quite a few days this last week it came fairly naturally. When I got home I finished off an oil painting of cattle near the canal in Brecon.

For the first time since Christmas Alex has now got a chance to start framing. There is a lot of work to do for the next exhibition and this afternoon she made a start. Unfortunately the mitre cutter began to play up. It is only about four years old and in excellent condition but the blades take quite a hammering bearing in mind they have to cut through solid wood up to 3 inches across and an inch and a half thick. The blades need professionally re-sharpening every 2 months and so we have a spare set. (Spare blades are about £150). Then you have to reset them when they are replaced. With small tolerances this can either go well first time or be irritatingly awkward.

I have spent the last three quarters of an hour on them and have my fingers crossed. Alex is now trying it out. I haven't heard anything being thrown through the workshop window yet so am hopeful.

Framing is not cheap and for good reason. Bespoke frames take time and money and I am glad Alex no longer frames for the public or other artists because frankly the returns didn’t justify it.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Min-y-Don Harlech

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post we have been up in North Wales for a few days in our camper van stopping at Min-y Don. I did some sketches and a number of watercolours about 20 I think although only half that number will eventually make it to framing I suspect. Its mainly finding subjects that are marketable. I will paint all sorts of things that take my eye but we won’t necessarily go to the time and expense of mounting or framing them.

The painting above is an example, a nice little watercolour of sheep and the dunes at Morfa Harlech. Will it find a frame? Probably not.

When we got back we had an email form Pat who we hadn’t seen for years. She reminded us of another embarrassing moment which I will get around to posting.

Today was spent in the garden and collecting grandchildren and my mother.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Harlech Castle

We have been away for a few days and have just got back. We spent our time in Harlech, a lovely spot but unfortunately the town is a bit run down. I suppose the recession is hitting everywhere. The people were very friendly and the beach is superb. Jac ran for miles in the dunes and on the shore.

Anyway we had a good time relaxing walking and painting. Here is one of the watercolour paintings I did of the Castle.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

On the beach

The watercolour above is another in the series I have done of figures on the beach.

When the children were young we would go on camping holidays. We like the outdoors and we could also just about afford it. I am often reminded by my son and daughters of the preamble that accompanied any treat in a fish and chip shop or café on holiday.

“You can have one drink so make it last that’s all we can afford.”

It was true and at least they appreciated it now although it did cause problems at the time. Many of our camping holidays were at Barmouth and were for the most part a great success. We had a ridge tent, which held five of us including the dog. It didn’t have any separate compartments and it wasn’t tall enough for anyone to stand up in apart from the dog.

Occasionally we were rained out. We would wake up in the middle of the night wet, with our little tent collapsed on top of us in a howling gale. We inevitably gave up and packed the car at that point to go home.

We still love the area and Alex and I go back there and I sketch and paint the coastline and the Mountains of Snowdonia. We do have a tent still but we use our camper now. That is our concession to getting older.

Today was spent sketching and reading.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Ceramics and me

The painting above is of Alex and one of the little ones.

When I did my art degree I learnt a lot although strangely I was never taught how to paint or the techniques of painting. Fortunately for me I could do that before I went. I did learn about Art History and also Ceramics.

I am interested in techniques and methods so ceramics did appeal to me. When I was boarding at school we had a good teacher with no budget so we dug clay and then built our own wood fired kiln. We made slips and were relatively successful.

It is quite a scientific process, firing times, formulae for slips and glazes etc.. The lecturer at college was also very good and very organized something of a rarity in Art College! Unfortunately I had no connection with ceramics or pots and was very average.

It was a blessing really as you have to specialise and me real love is painting.

Friday, 11 March 2011

His Pride and Joy ~ Grey Ferguson Tractor

The painting above is the one is of a Ferguson tractor. I posted an image of the drawing a couple of days ago.

I went to a school in Aston which had an annex near Lichfield. The annex was an old hall and farm. You spent the third year boarding at the annex. (It was subsidised and people paid what they could afford if anything). I thoroughly enjoyed my year there and got to drive a tractor like the one above and do all the farm chores. I could never have been a farmer though. It is just too much of a tie. But I loved the outdoors and still do.

I probably enjoyed the boarding because school work took a bit of a backward step.

We did anything to get out of maths or French. Someone would leave the pigs out and we could spend a morning chasing them around the fields. Someone else would stuff straw up the chimney in the Nissan Huts used as classrooms and we would be smoked out.

We played rugby in a field full of cow pats and sheep….Probably couldn’t do most of it now with H&S.

It all sounds a bit Huckleberry Finn and I suppose it was in way. I didn’t like school much bit I did enjoy the year boarding.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Man's best friend

The watercolour above is of my son’s dog. He is a big black Labrador, the dog not my son. All my children have dogs which is nice for them but it can be a bit chaotic at family gatherings.

Our daughter was talking the other day about our dogs when she was young. I hadn’t thought before about how much impact it had on her. She remembered when they died and how she felt and going to fetch a new dog, what we did and which dog was with us. It was obviously a big part of her growing up. Anyway she turned out to be a lovely person as did the other children so I am sure the addition of man’s best friend to the family helped in their nurturing and development.

Dogs are popular in paintings probably because they hit the spot and remind us of a dog we had or knew. I am a big softy in that regard although I rarely paint a dog portrait as I have said before. I do incorporate dogs into a painting as incidental to the scene on occasions.

Ah well its time to take the dog out now!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Vintage MG Carmarthen

The painting above is one I did last week. It shows an MG sports car, which I have to say I love the look of. It was one of those really hot days in July last year.

I have to say that although I am fascinated by machinery I am not really interested in cars as such. We used to do all our own maintenance and servicing at one time. Alex had an old Landrover which we did most things on including changing the cylinder head and converting it to unleaded fuel. Cars now of course are half machine half electronics so are impossible to work on without the right equipment. All I need from a car now is it to stop start and be comfortable carrying our work and us. I must say also that I don’t really enjoy lying under a car getting rust in my eyes changing an exhaust pipe. These days any problem straight to the garage!

So I would never go to the motor show but I would go to a vintage show or steam rally. There are plenty of good subjects there and of course there quite nostalgic.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Getting Ready

The little watercolour above is of my son-in-law and grandson playing football on the beach. For some strange reason our son and one of our daughters both married Irish Partners. I did make a suggestion as to the reason but it got me a slap. They are both very warm and effusive and a great part of a large family. The only problems arise during the Six Nations when there is some friendly rivalry.

I am pretty well covered now for our next exhibition, which is in June at Aberglasney.

I have enough new work to ensure that at least 70 % + has not been shown there before. I will of course keep painting and finalise our choice nearer the date. Not all the paintings I have done will be mounted and framed; some may be stored and retrieved later or eventually disposed of.

Alex has the big job of preparing the mouldings, frames and putting them all together along with publicising the exhibition. To be fair Aberglasney are excellent at marketing and publicising so for that exhibition there isn’t much to do other than notify our usual customers and friends of the date.

Today I did some sketching, which was quite relaxing.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Triumph Daytona

Here are some more figures on the beach at Llansteffan. A typical windy damp day but great for a walk. Here is Alex with two of the grandchildren.

Alex is the holder of a full motorcycle licence, as am I. Before we had our children it was our main form of transport. My first motorcycle was a 250cc Royal Enfield, I also had an Ariel Colt LH 200cc and an Ariel NG. We had several other motorcycles after.

We got about quite a bit and travelled light. We toured Scotland for a fortnight with Alex on the back of my Triumph Daytona 500cc with just a one-man tent, a small wash bag and sleeping bag. Today it takes a week to pack the camper for a day trip to the seaside!

I remember pulling into one campsite and the lady said “No bikers I am afraid.”

We eventually persuaded her that we were two respectable if a little smelly travellers and she agreed to let us stay if we “Promised to behave!”

We went to Kilchoan the most westerly village in mainland Great Britain. Until about 1900 it was accessible only by sea. Unfortunatley the bike fell off its stand and bent the right hand handlebar to near vertical. We rode home about 450 miles in the rain with my right hand in some sort of paintful salute.

The scenery was spectacular and we have promised ourselves to return to Scotland to tour in the van when we get the opportunity. I suppose we should go anyway as my grandfather‘s family were from Ayrshire.

Saturday, 5 March 2011


The painting above is one of a boatyard on the Island of Corfu. Much of the work is done as it has been for many years. Boats are pulled out of the water on wooden slips and worked on in the open air.

As Alex has worked in a Boatyard as a marine engineer she is always interested in these places. I find them fascinating for the shapes and contrast they bring to the landscape. I painted this picture is an Impressionistic Style because I thought the light suited it. I put a ground of sienna and crimson over first and then painted over it fairly quickly. Ther isn’t much attention to detail only really in the areas of the shape of the boats and the shadow.

Today I did a watercolour and Alex read for a change.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Dylan ~ Laugharne

The watercolour above shows the Town Hall in Laugharne.

Laugharne is pretty unique in that it was granted a granted by Sir Guido de Brion the Younger in the 1290s. The Charter allows for the Town to be run by a Corporation of Burgesses. The Charter gave the Burgesses of the Town the right to choose a Portreeve every six months, to act as a magistrate and to receive the tolls. The Corporation still exists to this day.

Laugharne is of course more famous for the Poet Dylan Thomas. I am, as I have previously state not a big fan of Dylan Thomas. On the other hand I do like the other poet and songwriter Bob Dylan. I feel I have more of an affinity to Bob Dylan and I can understand what he is talking about (for the most part).

It’s hard not to have sympathy with a straight forward lyric like:

“If you see your neighbour struggling, help him with his load,
And don’t go mistaking paradise for that home across the road.”

Can't argue with that! Today I walked the dog and did some sketching.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Pride comes before a fall

Here are some more people on the beach withtheir bundle of fun.

I was talking in my post yesterday about our first dog Pluto. We took him to Montgomery Castle one day with a French Lad who had turned up on the doorstep, I am still not really sure who he was as he didn't speak much English.
Anyway we walked up to the Castle and crossed the wooden Bridge into the Keep (the main part) of the Castle which stands on a rock overlooking the County of Mongomery. Pluto was quite well trained and would walk to heel normally . He was therefore off  his lead. We wandered about and Pluto jumped over a few low walls and then we noticed he had disappeared.
I asked the French man where he was and he made a sign with his hand like a wave or swallow. He had obviously lept over the walls until he came to the end curtain wall and jumped over that.

I looked over certain that he had met his maker only  to see him running around on the rocks below. I have looked at the pictures of the castle now and can say with certainty he must have fallen at least 40 feet. He had cut his tongue and had a few scrapes but the vet confirmed he was fine. In fact he lived to be a lovely grumpy 15year old.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Here is a little watercolour sketch I did of Alex on the beach with Paddy the dog!
Paddy is a golden retriever belonging to our daughter and son-in -law. He is honestly not very interesting and doesn't do a lot. His one main feature is he smells, quite badly. He stays with us from time to time and it is on those occasions I realise I am blessed for not having a great sense of smell due to an operation on my nose as a child.

When we were first married we had a sheep dog puppy which we called for want of an original name "Pluto". He was a bit of a scamp. We rarely had meat in those early days other than sausage or sometimes liver. When my Mother-in-Law came to visit withher mother we saved up and bought a joint of lamb.
The inevitable happened and we found the joint buried in the garden. Unperturbed Alex fought the dog for it and won. She then cleaned up the remnants and cooked it. It was a little smaller than it had started but no-one seemd to notice.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Llanddew ~ St David's day

Here is a watercolour I did of Llanddew Church. I thought it was appropriate for St. David’s Day. ( Llanddew meaning St David’s Church). Llanddew is just outside Brecon and is a lovely little community.

For me watercolours are best when they are simple. Everything is synthesised or reduced to the minimum whilst retaining the whole essence of the scene.

Hopefully the watercolour above achieves this.

We used to live in Brecon and so we feel a great affection for the area. It remains as yet unspoilt but I am not holding my breath.

Today we have the grand children and shopping along with some domestic chores and I feel it is unlikely I will have the opportunity to pick up a brush.