Monday, 31 October 2011

Llansteffan Green

I finished the painting of Llansteffan Green today shown above. The light was pretty poor to start with and I had a break for a cup of tea and a read. By then it had brightened up a bit and things went ok.

Alex and I hadn’t watched TV for about a week so we watched a bit of X Factor and Downton Abbey over the weekend. I kind of like X Factor but think morally it is a bit cheap to make a show of people losing every week and exposing themselves to ridicule and failure. On the other hand if they put themselves up for it what do they expect? What I am really not sure about is the quality of the performers. There are professional entertainers working every day and not making it that must get pretty fed up with a very mediocre singer who makes it as a celebrity. Frankie is one who comes to mind.

That of course is life and a similar situation occurs in the art world.

Anyway I am still fascinated by the program.

As for Downton Abbey it is not as Alex says that I come from that period but it is probably a kind of nostalgia, a longing for a gentler age.

Alex is putting the second coat of spray on the frames today, not a great job, as the fumes are not nice.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Here is the reworked painting from yesterday. Winter in Abergwili a little village just outside Carmarthen. The chapel lights are shining across the fallen snow.

I had intended to continue with another painting this morning but the first layer hadn’t dried. I forget it’s getting colder; I will have to think about putting the heating on. Okay I have thought about it, it can go on in February! We never had heating in the house when I grew up only a coal fire in one room. The bedrooms had ice on the windows on the inside in winter. When it snowed we had to go into the loft to shovel the snow out as it blew in under the tiles. The cold doesn’t bother me much as a rule and I can draw outside in the bitterest wind.

Had an early phone call this morning form one of our daughters. Predictably she had forgotten that the clocks had gone back! I was up and it encouraged Alex out of bed so it was no bad thing.

As I wasn’t painting today Alex and I have been working on frames. She had cut mouldings to join 8 frames and we began priming, undercoating and rubbing down in between. The topcoat is sprayed on. It really is time consuming but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.
Later we will go to the gym time permitting.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A small world

The painting above is of Llansteffan at low tide and sold last week. It’s a very small world isn’t it? Very recently Alex and I were on holiday in Croatia and a stranger sat next to us. It turned out he was from Brecon and his sister had bought our old house.

We are getting pretty busy now Christmas is coming and we have plenty to do. I have reworked a painting today I wasn’t quite happy with. No major changes but a change of tone here or there can totally change the balance of a painting. eg. a very light area of a painting normally needs to be balanced by a darker value.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Taking in the rays?

I made the above sketch on holiday this year. Two gents taking in the sun and the view. As sods law dictates as soon as I put the first mark on the paper they turned and walked off. Anyway I quickly finished it. It could be turned into a painting or a card but most likely will just join my pile of sketches and then be ditched.

I have been sketching again today while Alex has been making more cards for the next exhibition.

PS. I never take my shirt off on holiday well its just not done is it!

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Frames and Framing

Alex does all the framing for me. Very good she is at is too. She is a perfectionist, which can be a bit of a bind. She will cut and assemble the moulding into a frame and then notice a small defect in the moulding and bang into the bin it goes and start again. What happens more often is that having carefully assembled a frame and made a mount, she puts the picture in hoovering carefully everything as she goes and then tapes it all up. Picking the picture up a minute spec of dust will drop into the front of the picture under the glass. Same result start again!

If we go to an exhibition I will look at the paintings and Alex will look at the frames, coming out with comments like;

“Look at the corners on that, and look at the gap”.
“That moulding is cheap plastic.”……

I wouldn’t have the patience to frame paintings. Anyway the sketch above was made when she was framing.

Today Alex is framing.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Whitesands Bay

This is a painting finished last week is of one of my favourite parts of Pembrokeshire. This is the beach at Whitesands Bay. There is a also megalithic tomb on Carn Llidi a rocky outcrop of the overlooking Whitesands Bay. (Carn Llidi could mean Cairn of the Gates or Cairn of Wrath).

The only down side to the bay is that during the holiday season it does get crowded very quickly.

I wont be doing any painting today as I have a lot to do outside. The garden needs putting to bed for the winter and I have been putting it off a bit. Alex is making cards after looking after the grandchildren.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Cleddau Bridge

The watercolour sketch above is of part of the Cleddau Bridge in Pembrokeshire.

We used to moor our boat in the marina in Neyland near to this spot when Alex was working as an engineer in Dale Sailing. The place we moored was in the upper basin, which although being cheaper was restricted because you could only get in or out an hour or so either side of high water.
It did have the advantage of a lovely walk along the old Railway built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Neyland became the terminus for the Great Western Railway in 1856. The railway fell into disuse after Beeching I believe. Anyway there is now a lovely long walk through nature reserves although you have to dodge cyclists.

“Jac” our cocker spaniel loves nature although he has a real thing about black birds. So we often took him long walks from the time he was a puppy. One day we took him along this trail and met a young couple pushing a pram. The pram contained a baby and unbeknown to us a picnic wrapped up under the pram. We stopped briefly to chat to the couple, and then I suddenly noticed “Jac” disappearing with a package in his mouth. I called him but being a young pup he took no notice and proceeded to unwrap and eat sandwiches at a distance. I finally caught him and handed the whole sorry mess back to the couple who were none to pleased. We then disappeared with as much grace and speed as we could, muttering apologies for our wayward dog.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

15 minutes of fame

Currently Alex is having to spend a lot of time making cards, as there seems to be a run on them? It’s very nice to know they are appreciated. One of the cards that sells consistently is based on the sketch above. The card is called Old Friends.

A couple of years ago we were in Criccieth when we saw this couple on the beach. They were the only ones on the beach as it was a fresh spring day. They were obviously intent on enjoying themselves and the scene touched both Alex and I. So I got out the sketch book and they were none the wiser that;

I did a painting of them that was sold to a couple in Holland.
They have had countless cards sent everywhere with them on it.

It was Andy Warhol that said, “Everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”,
So today Alex is making more cards and I have been sketching.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

More than a dusting of snow

Here is another of the winter landscapes I have done. It is based on the sketch I did of the Preseli’s but I have added the layer of heavy snow.

One of my earliest memories is as a young boy walking out of the house and being hit by an avalanche of snow that god decided to dump on me of the roof. I was no worse for ware and god clearly had a good laugh, as did my family.

Snow scenes are generally quite atmospheric as the light is bounced around quite a lot of the different layers and particularly if there are snow bearing clouds around. The trick is to have enough contrast in the composition. Hopefully this one has succeeded.

I remember when I worked in Welshpool one of my colleagues rang up work after a particularly heavy fall of snow he spoke to his supervisor and told him he could n’t get to work as the roads were impassable.

The supervisor said;
“How did you get home last night ?”
“I had to walk home the 8 miles in the snow”
“Well walk back in then.”

He did. Things were different in those days.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Five Loaves and 2 fishes - Mark 6.41.

I was flicking through some images and I saw this one. It reminded me of the time Alex and I have been royally entertained by the Dean of Brecon Geoffrey Marshall and his lovely wife Hazel who put on a huge spread. As a thank you I did this little watercolour sketch for them of the Deanery.

They are a delightful couple and were excellent hosts. Also present I recall was Father Richard Williams of Hay on Wye a real character who takes services with his dog (some sort of Large poodle) present. It was a very informative and entertaining afternoon.

Back to making posters now for the next exhibition.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Towy Valley

Logic is that fairly undefined thought process that people’s minds go through. Let me give you an example. Today I got up walked the dog had breakfast and then washed up leaving the kitchen looking not quite like an advertisement for kitchens “r” us but pretty tidy.
Alex came in and picked up the washing up sponge out of the sink and said,
“Did you use this to wash up?”
“Er yes.”
“Well I used it to clean my boots last night, that’s why it was in the sink,” and gave me a pitying look. I gave her my Benny look “Yes miss Diane (for those of you that remember Crossroads).

Yes I should have known better it was obvious wasn’t it!
The watercolour is of the Towy Valley with Merlin’s Hill.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


I spent a few hours in the gallery this morning doing a painting of Kidwelly. I am teaching this afternoon. So a quick walk of the dog in between and a bite to eat.

On the way home I bought another sketchbook. I buy Windsor and Newton sketchbooks as a rule. I like a paper that can take watercolour if required. You still have to be careful though. Like many firms these days I guess they outsource and you get mixed quality. Last year I took a new pad with me on holiday and found that the surface of the paper just balled up when wetted. I was annoyed mainly because it was the only one I had with me. I have found it is no use complaining to Windsor and Newton as they don’t reply. I am not a moaner or complainer as a rule but if something is wrong I will generally do something about it. It is always nice to at least get a reply even if it is just to say sorry.

I complained about a £40 watercolour brush to them once but didn’t have the courteousy of a reply.

I always buy their artists quality paints, which are pretty well flawless.
Anyway always look on the bright side of life. The sketch of the waterfall above is one I did in Pembrokeshire while balanced with my easel on a little bridge. “Jac” was running around threatening to tip me and the easel in the stream. It wouldn’t be the first time. I think I still have the painting somewhere.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Paxton's Tower from Whitemill

The painting above is of the Towy Valley towards Paxton’s Tower from Whitemill.
Paxton’s Tower is very similar to Broadway Tower in the Cotswolds that Alex and I visited earlier this year. Another folly. It is strange that landowners would build such massive structures for no useful purpose other than for their own ego. Particularly when there was so much poverty at the time.

There again it also perhaps obscene that many “works of art” are also sold for figures that would build schools or hospitals? It is all a matter of opinion.

Talking of money we are still having aggravation getting our money in from a couple of places. It is odd really that 50% of aggravation comes from a couple of outlets. At the end of the day it just isn’t worth bothering with and I suppose we will get around to taking more control of our sales. I have read on blogs that in the USA artists experience similar problems.
Anyway today I finished off the painting of the reservoir path. We have the grandchildren today so we are a bit limited.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Off the hook

The scene above is taken from the footpath around cwmoernant (little valley of the cold stream) reservoir, Carmarthen. I was taken with the scene when I took the dog around the other week and I thought I must paint that. The leaves were starting to turn and the sun was low and strong against the tree trunks, contre jour (literally against the day).
I painted this today although I will probably potch with it over the next couple of days.

There are 2 things that you should apparently do in life, not jump to conclusions and own up when you have erred.

Some time ago my daughter bought Alex a raft ride for her birthday. Now why I had to go I don’t know because it was her birthday but in any case Alex and I were going. We travelled to Northampton and arrived ready for our ordeal. There turned out to be a group of about six of us in this particular raft. We were by far the oldest. We had a briefing and the instructor showed us the course. I was pleasantly surprised as it looked quite gentle and went away to get kitted out in good spirits. When we were all ready we carried our raft to the start of the course.

The water was now a raging torrent, the sluices had not been open before. We were told not to hold on to anyone else or the side of the raft as you could pull someone in or tip over the raft.

We set off and negotiated the first part of the course well enough then we came to a very turbulent part and I lost my balance and inadvertently pushed my neighbour who disappeared into the torrent. We managed under the instructor’s guidance to get to the bank and recover the wet young man who was in something of a lather. Fortunately his friend was laughing so much he somehow thought he had pushed him and I was off the hook. With my now dripping fuming neighbour back next to me we continued our journey until we came to another set of rapids and a bend. I again lost my balance and held the rope on the side of the raft. The next thing was the raft came over the top of me and everyone in it and we all ended up under water. After much splashing and accusations we all got back in the raft and continued. My neighbour and his friend were still at odds and no one was sure who had turned the raft over.

Well I was man enough to own up, to Alex on the way home!
My neighbour shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions as to who pushed him in but I was glad he did.

By the way we havent been rafting again.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Miners Lamp

The sketch above is a quintessential icon of Wales, a miner’s lamp. This one we used on our boat and was actually stolen in the last break in on the boat.

The mining industry was a big employer and the men working in it were incredibly hard and deserved every penny they got. I have been down on the coalface of a working mine and know how incredibly difficult the conditions are.

We had a family evening last night after I got back from watching the Scarlets beat Leicester.
I have to do some more posters today for the next exhibition.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Cymru am Byth

Gutted today Wales were never going to win the game against France. Maybe God is French who knows? Wales were immense and deserved to win but they had the chances and didn’t take them. So a big disappointment but they are and are going to be a great team.

After watching the game I went for a walk along the River Towy. It was a lovely day and I felt more optimistic after the walk. I have a couple of images in mind for a painting as well now. I won’t so any work today as I am not really 100% positive.
Off to watch the Scarlets game tonight as well with our son, son in law and 2 grandchildren.

The painting above sold yesterday. It is of Druidstone and is the smaller version of one I did that sold a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Boat bits

The sketch above is of boats in Lawrenny Quarry on the Milford Haven Waterway. We used to keep our boat in the quarry over winter. It was a nice spot with friendly owners, Sue and Brian. The downside about having a boat out of the water is theft.
We were broken into on three occasions there and on the third occasion over £1500 worth of equipment and tools were stolen. We never did recover them.
What was more upsetting was that a great number of the tools had belonged to my father so couldn’t be replaced. In the end we had to sell the boat, as we weren’t using it due to family commitments.

Alex has been waiting to arrange another course at Rick Stein’s in Padstow. She is a terrific cook anyway but enjoys the courses. She had phoned up and left details asking to be informed of next years course dates when they were out. Today a letter arrived from Rick Steins much to Alex excitement. She was most put out to be incorrectly addressed as Mr. Alex Cox. To make matters worse they had forwarded last years calendar of courses. I am glad I didn’t receive the call from her when she complained to Rick Steins!

I started an oil painting of Whitesands in Pembrokeshire today.

Up to watch Wales in the morning so fingers crossed.

Thursday, 13 October 2011


It’s been a busy day. Alex has been mounting prints and making cards along with a million domestic chores. The boiler man has been. I have been out searching for a for a friends birthday present. I finally got what I think he will appreciate. I have also finished another winter landscape. I sneaked to the gym and walked the dog.

Last night we had a co-operative meeting all went pretty well. Fortunately we all get along reasonably well. No mean task for an idealistic bunch of artists and craft makers. The new gallery is keeping its head above water.
We also are doing okay but it would be nice if we didn’t have to chase the money. We have a lot of outstanding money I know it is difficult times but when you have to repeatedly ask for payment from commercial concerns it is a bit irritating. Some galleries are great, others not.

The painting above sold last week. It is the beach at Broadhaven.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Sheep and snow.

I am not a great reader of Poetry to be honest. Much of it passes me by like a random collection of words. I used to enjoy “ A child’s garden of verses,” by Robert Louise Stevenson when I was young. I remember it had wonderful illustrations by Charles Dobson.

I can manage a bit of Tennyson like:

Of old sat Freedom on the heights,
The thunders breaking at her feet:
Above her shook the starry lights:
She heard the torrents meet.
There in her place she did rejoice,
Self-gather'd in her prophet-mind,
But fragments of her mighty voice
Came rolling on the wind.

Which somehow is appropriate to the painting of the Preseli’s. The painting was sold at the Newport Exhibition and bought by Lord Tennyson (current) whose ancestor penned the above extract. Very fitting I thought.

Alex is busy mounting prints which we picked up today.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011


So despite taking and collecting the grandchildren to school doing the shopping, taking the dog for his two walks, the gym and taking the camper to Pontiets (and collecting it) for an MOT, I managed to finish “Ebeneezer Chapel”. You will note the car has been disappeared into a black hole. The car took a way the focus of the painting. There is still the one in the distance at the approach to the village. I have also finished off the values of the painting along with some detail.
We received some translations from the Welsh Language Board today. I have to say they do a terrific service. We do pretty well every thing bilingually so without their help it would be a nightmare.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Ebeneezer Chapel Abergwili

I started the painting of Ebeneezer Chapel, Abergwili today. With talk of a new ice age coming and memories of last winter I have made it a winter scene. As I have had a few other chores to do today I haven’t finished it, there is still some cleaning up to do and detail to add.

Alex is in the new gallery today in King St. Carmarthen.

Yesterday we went to Cardiff to meet a couple of old friends from Newtown for lunch. A very pleasant occasion it was too. Afterwards we went around Cardiff looking for a pair of new jeans for Alex. You would think that would be an easy task. We went to many shops but all the jeans we found were £45+. What was worse someone had gone around cutting holes in them or pouring bleach on them! Fashion! Even Alex wasn’t going to pay £45 for new jeans with holes already in them.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Cutting Brambles

I did a blog recently about optimism. Well yesterday I watched our neighbour Mr Davies working on his smallholding. I wouldn’t put an age on him but he isn’t that youthful.

He is often out on his land with a roll up hanging from his lip and flat cap down over his brow. Then he sets to on a 2-acre field with a hand scythe. The field is more like a jungle with overgrown hedges that are really trees and brambles in clumps the size of houses. After 2 hours it is difficult to see any progress but there he is still cutting away I guess that is real optimism.

I only hope I am that active at his age. I have in cluded a little sketch above.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Wales v Ireland - Celtic Cousins

Alex and I were up early this morning. I admit I wasn’t full of confidence but well what a great game. Wales versus Ireland in the Rugby World Cup. Terrific!

One son in law is Irish and our daughter in law is Irish so there is a lot of Irish support in the family but today we were right behind Wales. Heroic all of them. It was a nice touch at the end of the game between the two teams and I have recorded the essence of it in the little sketch above of Roberts and Brian O’ Driscoll.
Roll on France next weekend. A busy week next week off to Newport to collect a few paintings and also to collect another batch of our prints from the DOT Foundry.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Winter Llansteffan

The oil painting above is one I finished today. It shows Llansteffan Green in the winter. Unusual colours for me but it needed to be atmospheric.

I occasionally find myself doing daft things when I’m not concentrating like putting the sugar bowl in the fridge. It reminds me of a secretary who once worked for me.
She was a real character. On more than one occasion she came to work in odd and different coloured shoes, i.e. one brown one and one black one. She also occasionally disappeared at lunchtime and didn’t come back. It would then require a search as she would have fallen asleep somewhere. The oddest thing was that I drank fruit teas and nearly every time she made one for me she would put milk in it no matter how many times I explained it was far nicer without. Everyone has their foibles and hers were pretty quirky. She was a real legend and loved by everyone as she was hilarious to work with and there was rarely a dull moment.

Alex is busy making cards now. She spent the last 2 days preparing a meal (banquet?) for last night when we had friends over.

Up early in the morning to watch the Wales v. Ireland game.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

The Teifi

I finished the painting above this morning. It is another painting of the River Teifi.

I was out walking yesterday when I saw a sudden flash. It was the bright iridescent blue of a kingfisher. The blue is difficult to describe, as it isn’t the colour of any pigment. The colour comes from the sun on the feathers of the bird in flight. I would call it electric blue nearly the colour or the feeling of a spark. Anyway I was sufficiently impressed to make a mental note of my sighting. I haven’t seen one around the reservoirs for several years.

On the same day I also saw a greater spotted woodpecker in the trees behind the house. It was a bit of a bird spotter’s day out. I love nature but unfortunately these birds are impossible to paint.

They don’t hang around like a cat or a dog or cattle.

I am off teaching now.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011


It’s been a bit of a mixed day really. Walked the dog twice, been to the gallery and have done a painting of sheep in the snow in the Preseli’s, been shopping in town, finished an acrylic painting at home and have been down the gym. I am now going to re-hang a door, something that I have been putting off a while.

While I am on the subject of doors. One of my pet hates is people who ignore you when you hold a door for them or let them through first. Strangely I find it tends to be the middle aged and elder members of our society who completely ignore you as they waltz by you as if you were a commissionaire. Only yesterday four ladies walked through a door in procession while Alex stood holding it like a lemon with not an acknowledgement from any of them. Here is an appropriate quote.

Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot. Clarence Thomas.

The sketch above is of Harlech Castle. I did it earlier in the year when we were stopping on a campsite there. Unfortunately the town seemed to be suffering with shops closing and it looked pretty neglected. On the other hand the beach was terrific.

Have to rush now a door is waiting!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

A Family Portrait - Lambs in June

Okay, I have finished my picture of the Lambs shown above. A nice optimistic picture sunshine fields and lambs. (Note the one lamb has hold of the other’s paw, is that the right word?) I am an optimistic person by nature and this comes out in most of my work.

(It is said that an optimist is : "A man who is chased up a tree by a lion but enjoys the scenery anyway." Walter Winchell )

Yesterday evening I had to collect Alex from the Leisure Centre and go to the opening of the "Three Towns Exhibition", in Carmarthen. I wasn’t exhibiting but I was interested in going and had received an invite. I thought I could go to the exhibition first and then rush over to pick up Alex. I slightly mistimed it as the opening speeches took about 45 minutes. In fairness the speeches were all interesting and it was a pleasant event but I didn’t have time to see the exhibition and I was 40 minutes late for Alex!

I will definitely go back to have a good look at the exhibition this week. What I could see was of a very good standard.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Mumbles Sunset

Alex and I went for a walk down at Mumbles the other evening for a change. It was a lovely sunset and hence the painting above showing the lighthouse with the sun setting behind it.

Last Wednesday I walked past a car in Lammas St. Carmarthen and although I was several feet away the car alarm went off. I felt a bit like a criminal but ignored it and carried on. On Thursday Alex and I went to the Leisure Centre. We parked in the car park, which was pretty quiet and walked across to the Centre. As we were doing so a car alarm went off about 20 feet from me. Then on Saturday I walked across the road to my mother’s house and for no apparent reason a neighbours car alarm went off!
It is all probably coincidence but you have to admit it is a bit odd. I initially thought maybe my mobile phone was setting them off but then on Saturday I wasn’t carrying it.
Maybe car alarms don’t like artists!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Pretty Baa-Lambs

I have previously said that in addition to many other fine artists I have a strong affinity to the work of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood. This is not because I particularly paint like them although I have on occasions flirted with their techniques. It is because I grew up studying their works hung in the Birmingham Art Gallery. This obviously did have a strong influence on my development as an artist. Anyway one of those paintings is “The Pretty Baa-Lambs” by Ford Madox Brown.

I have done my own take on this work. It has to be said that the composition is entirely different. In the original Brown includes his wife and daughter feeding the lambs. Mine shows two lambs at rest with their mother.

Stage 1 of my painting is shown above. It may look like an odd way to paint a realistic scene but I am confident it will all come out okay (of course I could be wrong).

We have been having a good year and Alex is busy on the card and print front.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Gwen John

No this is not one of my paintings. Alex and I managed to get away for the day to Pembrey Country Park, which was nice. Then, would you believe it out of all the thousands of people in the park we saw some of our grandchildren.

I started talking to one of our grandsons who is 6 years old. He then proceeded to tell me all about Gwen John. I was stunned. He knew about her paintings what they were like, the subjects. He knew she had lived in Paris with a famous sculptor (Rodin). It also happens I am a big fan of hers, along with her more famous brother Augustus John. For a six year old to have such a knowledge of a lesser known but great Welsh artist is unbelievable. He actually loves drawing too so who knows one day he will be an artist, but not if he wants to be rich!

Anyway the painting above is by Gwen John and is typical of her style. Gwendolen Mary John was born I believe in Tenby, (I was wrong Haverfordwest), (22 June 1876 – 18 September 1939) but worked in France for most of her career. She is noted for her still lifes and for her portraits, especially of anonymous female sitters.
Today Alex is making cards as we seem to have had a run on them lately.