Monday, 31 December 2012

Prize Bull

I finished the above painting today of a bull being taken for judging. They are magnificent animals but I would avoid knowingly sharing a field with them. I have occasionally found myself in that position whilst walking the dog.
Yesterday Alex spent the afternoon doing the banking sheets compiled by stewards for the co-operative gallery. Alex is very good at book keeping but she did have problems with one of the returns which was apparently all over the place, yes it was one I had done! In my defence it was busy at the time, I'm a good guy and apparently only women can multi-task!
It reminds me of the saying:

Expecting the world to be fair to you because you are a good person is like expecting the bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian.

Alex tells me I have a busy week so I am not sure how much painting I can get done this week.
Time to take out Jac now and our lodger (our daughter's dog who has had a personality bypass).

Sunday, 30 December 2012

5 Whys ~ Sakichi Toyoda

I finished the above painting today. It is a commission for a book cover. I thought I would post it on here as it is something different and I still have copyright at present. It is not what I would normally paint but I enjoy a challenge of doing something different.

I have previously said I look at my work very critically and one good way of doing this is using the 5 whys method developed by Sakichi Toyoda.

Here is an example of an imaginary painting

If a painting looks wrong for example then ask the question 

why is it not quite right?
because the composition looks out of balance 
why is it out of balance?
because there is a large primary colour at the bottom
why is there a large unbroken primary colour at the bottom
because I didnt plan or fully visualise the work before I started
why didn't I plan it or fully visualise it
because I rushed into it
why did I rush into it unprepared
because I am a knob!

Anyway you get the point it is a good method for drilling down into the basic cause of an unwanted result.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Welsh Guardsman ~ Gwili Railway

Today Alex and I went to visit the Gwili Railway. It is on our doorstep and yet although I have been to draw and paint there we have never been for a train ride. It was really nice the volunteers are so friendly and the trains bring back happy memories. So the painting above is of Gwarchodwr Cymreig (Welsh Guardsman) one of their saddle tanks.

It was not the only first this Christmas as I went to see my first 3D film, The Hobbit on Black Friday.

Anyway today I have also made a good start to one commission and started work on re-designing my website. Later I will finish the book I started yesterday.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Portrait of the artists Grandson

I have been working on one of my commissions today, well I have done a preliminary drawing, cut the board to size and primed it.

The drawing above is of one of our grandsons I did over the holiday period. Not a bad likeness but I have made him a couple of months too old. Very fractionally long in the face, only minutely but enough to add a couple of months.  Anyway enough self criticism, must do better next time.

Alex and I have worked out our business plan for the year, it carries a few risks but nothing worth being concerned over. My next task is too redo my website. Not a job I am looking forward to. I think I will start that tomorrow and I will get my head into a book this afternoon rather than paint as the light is pretty poor.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Old Smithy Brechfa

The painting above was a commission and is of the old blacksmith's in Brechfa.
Anyway we have had a good Christmas and now our family have all gone their seperate ways.

We are now considering our business plan for the future. We have several options but as yet are undecided on what route to follow. So interesting days ahead.

We watched the Scarlets last night. Something is seriously wrong there.

Anyway right now we have to go shopping for my mother.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Gangnam Style Christmas and River Taf, Laugharne

The painting above is of the River Taf at Laugharne with a heron in the foreground. In the distance are Pendine Sands. In Elizabethan times it was all open to the sea from here and was a haven for pirates so in that respect not much has changed. (Only joking we have very good friends in Laugharne).

Yesterday went well, I ate too much and fell asleep on the sofa. I was then photographed and put on some software on a tablet and am now a hilarious Gangnam Dancer! No I didn't know what it was either..

I post the link but must point out this one isn't me!!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Nadolig Llawen

Well "Happy Christmas" ~ "Nadolig Llawen" its Christmas Day. No painting today maybe a few sketches.
Plenty to eat and fortunately Dwr Cymru have fixed the water main or we would have no water to cook the dinner.
Best wishes to all.
Mark and Alex Cox

Monday, 24 December 2012

Winters Morning

Here is the Towy Valley on a Winters morning although lately it has looked more like a large lake. One of the granddaughters was drawing people last night very impressive competition on the way!
I am off to Origin now. Happy Christmas.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Three Kings ~ Milford Haven Tugs

I thought Three Kings the painting above was an appropriate seasonal choice if only for the name which I gave these proud little ships that battle all weathers. These are three tugs moored in East Angle Bay, on the Milford Haven Waterway.
Last night I enjoyed some lovely organic beer that  Alex's mom bought for me, very nice it was too. Thanks Norma. I am in Origin, Carmarthen tomorrow. I hope its busy as it will make the day go quickly. All the family will be here by tomorrow night so as they say, its beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Anyway I hope things are going well for you all and enjoy the Festive Holiday.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

On the beach ~ children playing

I haven't done any painting today so here is a sketch of two of our grandchildren playing on the beach.
I had to go to town this morning for a couple of last minute things for Alex. I popped into Blasus a really good delicatessen. This is the shop Alex parked her car keys for a few days until she remembered where she had left them. They have lovely almond slices but I avoided temptation today.
Yesterday being Black Friday was a day to avoid public houses, I dislike crowds and noise. Instead I went with our son to see the Hobbit. Great also it was in 3D, my first. So a pleasant evening while Alex went to do her shopping in Tesco poor dab.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Abergwili winter scene

I know its wet but here is a nice Christmas view of Abergwili. Its one I sold a while ago.
Haven't got any painting done today and probably not much now until after Christmas but still something to look forward to. I am going to have to buy Christmas presents as the world didn't end this morning. So much for the Mayans!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Best in Class

Today I did a quick watercolour for Alex then finished the above painting of a sheep being prepared for judging. I also have been thinking about the picture for a book cover I have been commissioned for, so plenty to do.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Destroyer ~ Milford Haven

I cleared out my studio this week, ( its not that big and I like to keep it tidy).  I had dozens of old sketchbooks and had a quick flick through them before assigning them to the bin collectors. One sketch that caught my eye was this one of a destroyer in Milford Haven off the Oil Refinery. I recall I had been working in the area and took my lunch break overlooking the Haven with sketchbook in hand. This must have been late 1980's? I believe the destroyer may have been used to tow targets at this time. I am not sure if I ever did a full painting but you can see my notations on the sketch. There had been a Naval Dockyard in the Haven and an armaments facility for many years.  My family worked in the Naval Dockyards until the 1900's.  Unfortunately The Royal Navy closed the dockyard and left the Haven in 2008.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Surfing Llangenith Beach

Today I walked the dog, had a good work out at the gym and then finished the painting above.  After that  I set about putting a landline in to my studio. It has been a pain for years but I have never got around to sorting it out. I either didn't hear calls or by the time I had stopped painting, walked downstairs the phone had stopped. So it was a job long overdue not that I am the worlds greatest conversationalist on the phone as my daughters will tell you.
It reminds me of when I had just joined the police in ...well. Anyway I was tasked with taking over the sub division switchboard. It shouldn't have been a problem well not if you are used to yards of wires and plugs. I had about one minutes instruction and left to it. Dropped in the deep end, a familiar term in the police. Little flaps would wave at you meaning either they wanted a phone line and you had to answer it and ring a number putting a plug and cable in the socket and then pull it out when the line was dead. Anyway I am sure you have all seen the pictures of telephonists at the exchange  in the 60's and get the picture. Well my first mistake was to cut off the Superintendent who was probably on to a lodge mate or the golf club. In any case I suffered some verbal abuse. We later became close friends, right  in pigs eye we did. He told me I had not made enough arrests in the preceding 3 months. I explained he had put me on security duties for 3 months and I hadn't left the station. Logically a good argument I thought  but it didn't wash with him. I was never asked to operate that switch board again and I was moved to another division shortly after where I actually got on well with my supervisors.
Tomorrow I hope to start a new painting but now I have to pick up two grandchildren from school and go to Tescos.!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Surfs Up ~ David Hockney

The painting above was finished today. Takes me back to the time I was a beach bum surfing and hanging out on Malibu Beach, well no not really but you can dream can't you. The closest I have got to Malibu is ordering one for Alex. This was actually Llangenith Beach on a good day.

I didn't realise until I had finished it that it was quite reminiscent of David Hockney in the 60's "Splash" and all that.

Well I know his works are a lot flatter, I believe he used to use masking tape and a roller. Anyway I used orange and blue two complimentary colours to get the effect I wanted (actually Burnt Sienna and French Ultramarine along with lamp black to get the local colour and there it is.

Alex and I popped in to our sons last night for mulled wine and a mince pie. The wine was mulling on the stove as we were greeted and we overheard the conversation between our son and daughter in law.
It went like this.
"Moira turn the wine down to two will you."
"Its already on two."
"Well I can hear it boiling turn it down to one."
"Its already on one."
Two seconds later,"What do you mean its not on one its on eight?"
Alex lifted her eyes at me and we both laughed. The wine was very good.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Snowball Fight Nott Square.

I have among other things started two paintings today but the light defeated me, so I thought the above watercolour and ink Snowball fight in Nott Square was appropriate for the time of year. I don't remember it like that but I think Alex may. I think I still have the painting somewhere?

Our son in law once ran the Angel Vaults so there is another connection for us.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Gibraltar Anchorage

The above sketch shows is from my sketchbook and shows shipping in Gibraltar Western Anchorage. We have been to Gibratar a couple of times. It is rich in history and everything is pretty well in walking distance.
Today I went to the gym.  Alex watched our grandchildren competing in a gymnastics competition they came back with a silver and gold. I watched the rugby.
I am slowly getting to grips with my website, and we are now planning future exhibitions.
However I think the priority at the moment is to avoid the norovirus.

Friday, 14 December 2012


The above painting of Broadhaven sold this week.

Today I got to the gym after walking the dog. I finished the commission I was working on. Then I did start to update my website. Not perfect but getting there.  More to do yet and I am tempted to re design it but there again maybe I'll spend the time painting instead.
Alex has done her back in. She says its from carrying me all these years. She may be right but maybe not.

I notice on my walk today that the four geese in the field by the farm have disappeared. I don't suppose they were looking forward to Christmas.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Painting again.

The painting of sunset over Worms Head sold this week. It was originally a study for a larger picture which I later completed.
Today I typed up the minutes of an Origin meeting then I have been getting on with a commission and just maybe later I will start to have a look at my website! I have been asked what I want for Christmas. To be honest I haven't got a clue. I am low maintenance and can't think of anything I need or even really would like, oh well whatever.
Time to take the dog out now though.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Newport - Mynydd Carningli

The above painting of Mynydd Carningli Newport sold last week.  It shows teh mountain from St Mary's Churchyard.
We had a busy day today taking down the exhibition, doing the banking, changing paintings in Origin and the Waverley. This afternoon I was treated to lunch by an old friend and we had a few beers.
Tomorrow its time to start on a commission.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Towy Valley across to the Black Mountains

The above watercolour of Merlins Hill Towy Valley sold this week. A spectacular view one of my favourite spots overlooking the Towy Valley looking across East to the Black Mountains.

This morning was, I am running out of words "inspiring" maybe? A hard frost on the ground and the sunrise coming up over the ridge and to top it a crescent moon with Venus holding its hand.
Last day of the Exhibition today. I have met some lovely people and had genuine compliments but I will be glad to get back in my studio to paint. I must also update my website. To be fair although I have been tardy there is an issue with the software that is not compliant with Windows 7 on my computer, I know mumbo jumbo (i.e. it doesn't work and I cant update it). I think I have the answer and must set aside time to do it.

So a busy day, we have the exhibition, the grandchildren this afternoon and start taking down the work tonight, before I have a meeting in Origin.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Sea birds Cefn Sidan

The above painting of seabirds at Cefn Sidan sold today. I took the opportunity to pop out to check on details for a commission while Alex held the fort in the exhibition this morning.

Now I am home for dinner and feet up.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Whiter Shade of Pale

The painting above of a musician busking sold this week. I have mentioned before my interaction with a cello. That is probably why the scene appealed to me. As an 11 year old I was given the cello to learn at school. Not a major problem you drag a bow across the strings and move the fingers on your left hand. No the issue for me was I had to carry the thing 2 miles home and back whilst being chased by the less musically inclined lads of Aston which was quite a rough area at the time. I guess anyone carrying a cello around was asking for it to be honest. No it was a short lived love affair with classical music.
Anyway I did a bit of painting today. Not really what I had in mind I ended up painting the walls of the hall and stairs. The colour is described as timeless, in other words white with a bit of something. Alex is always reluctant or sceptical about me doing any decorating in the house. I suppose to be fair I do get bored and lose concentration after a while. To be safe I put down dust sheets, put on overalls and set to work while she went out. I was quite careful as we have a lovely dark carpet so the dust sheets were dragged along to cover it all. At the end I was quite pleased. It wasn't until I lifted the dust sheets I found that a good dollop of paint had got on the corner of a dust sheet and had been ceremoniously been dragged along the carpet leaving a snail lie trail of paint!
Fortunately Alex was still out and I managed to scrub it and clean it up pretty well.
When she got back Jac hid in the kitchen. I was relieved when she inspected the work and only said, "Have you cleaned the brush and roller?"
"Yes, Why?"
"You have missed a bit there."
No problem I was pleased to get off that lightly. A close shave
Back to the exhibition tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


The painting above went at the exhibition this week. It is not a great image as the original is  lighter  and more transparent than the image.
Anyway we have just been out for a quick meal  following our stint and are settling down with Jac for "Strictly"!!*

Friday, 7 December 2012


The above painting of Llanstephan Beach sold this week at the exhibition but selling isn't what always makes the best  impact. Yes of course it is a business and if we didn't sell we wouldn't be in having exhibitions etc.
The really impactive moments for me are the personal comments I receive.
Yesterday a man came in and bought a card. He told us his best friend had passed away and he thought the card was just what he was looking for as the painting conveyed everything he wanted to say . It was quite an emotional conversation but one that left a mark on Alex and I.  In some very small way we had helped  or touched him and there is some real satisfaction in that.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Lock keepers cottage - Brecon

The painting above is one of the ones that sold last night at the private view. It is going okay but it is early days yet.
I confess sitting around stewarding an exhibition is not high on my list of favourite pastimes. Anyway it has to be done. I was talking to a couple this morning and said I was bored and wanted to get back painting and they reminded me it only opened last night!
Ah well back to it.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

End of the World - Mayan Prophecy

Well up till midnight making cards and other odds and ends then out this morning with Jac under the moonlight. Venus was shining brightly just above the horizon in the South, so a lovely walk around the reservoirs. (Hence The Boathouse by moonlight above).

According to the Mayan Prophecy the world ends on 22nd December 2012. Maybe I should hold back on buying Christmas presents until 23rd? Ah but did the Mayans see the conquistadors coming?

Although the world is admittedly a dangerous place and mankind seems to have done its best to destabilise the climate I don't believe in soothsayers. Although Frankie Howard was forever saying "We are all doomed in up Pompey" (for those of you old enough to remember it). That was a little bit after the event wasn't it?  Remember the millenium bug? A lot of money was made out of that too and it all came to nothing.

Yes, I am pretty certain we will all be here eating Christmas dinner on the 25th December.

Well I could be wrong, but lets hope not.

Well its 7.30 and I have a busy day now.

Link is one of my favourite bands from the 1960's

On hearing it again a few decades later maybe it goes on a bit!

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Carmarthen Hospice Exhibition

Well I chose three paintings from the exhibition at random. I hope you like them enough to come along if possible. I haven't done as much advertising as I normally do but I am sure it will be fine, que sera sera.
I look forward to seeing some of you during the next few days.

Remember it opens with a private view 5pm - 8.30pm tomorrow and is then on during normal library hours 6th,7th,8th,10th,11th, take down on the 12th.

sorry about the link 

Monday, 3 December 2012


I finished the above painting today. It is of the Carmarthenshire village of Llangendeirne. This pretty little village would be under a great deal of water if not for the resistance of the locals. It was intended to flood the valley to create a reservoir for Swansea. Anyway they won the fight and here it is today.  (To be honest the image doesn't really do it justice  the colours a bit off and the light caught the texture of the canvas causing the shimmering effect).

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Breakfast with Catrin Finch

As I have mentioned alex has been away so I have been left to fend for myself. I have my own way of dealing with domestic chores, basically keep it simple.
Anyway this morning I was up at 6.15am and got the washing on. I don't know why manufacturers put all these programs on washing machines you cant read them without glasses and what do they mean anyway. I put everything in and turn the dial until it starts making a noise. It pretty well always works although occasionally Alex's whites come out grey or pink. (Then I just hide them in the bottom of the ironing pile and deny all knowledge).

I did the washing up. As I only use one mug, one knife , fork,  one spoon, one bowl and one saucepan that doesn't take long. Then a good walk with Jac through the woods under the moon. You couldn't see the town or any lights in the valley this morning it was covered in mist. I could just make out the red light over Police Headquarters. I was never sure that was about them using that colour.

Next Jac and I had breakfast with Catrin Finch well not literally we listened to "Crossing the Stone" while eating our porridge. Jac likes to sit looking out the window at the birds feeding off the bird table. This morning a real brazen hen blackbird was fighting all comers for the rights of ownership of the table.I like to doodle pics of the birds over breakfast as above.
Today I am in Origin so off now for a walk to town.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Texaco Refinery

The painting above is an old painting I did of the Texaco Refinery in Milfod Haven. It was done in a Fauvist style measuring about 3ft x 14ins. I no longer have the painting but I put it up today as I haven't had an opportunity to get any painting done. I have a board ready and an image in my head well actually two and I am still wondering which to do.
I had to recover my address book from my old computer which died. I somehow managed to recover and copy it. Being optimistic I thought well maybe I can recover the whole disc and use the computer. I even found a cheap LCD monitor online and ordered it. Typical I went back to the computer and it was just tragic, wouldn't restore or recover the operating system in the end Jac dragged me away to go for a second walk and I gave up. But having been to the gym and had  a great walk over the top with the moon still out it hasn't been a bad morning. With both Wales and England playing rugby today my afternoon schedule is fixed.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Morfa Newport Pembs

I finished this painting today. It is of Morfa from the old lifeboat slip in Newport Pembs. We stopped near here in our van one winter. We occasionally saw seals off  the slip and Jac would take the opportunity to go in for a swim..The farmer who owned the land was a real character. He asked us if we wanted a lift to Cardigan Market in his Land Rover dog and all. We declined we had been told he apparently had a habit of enjoying himself at the market if he had a driver, and would likely as not ask us to drive the Land Rover back.
Not that we were particulary averse to that but it sounded like a long day. Today Alex has gone off with her mom to one of our daughters leaving Jac and I to fend for ourselves. Get out the jam, beer and crisps!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Portrait of the artists wife and dog

I know it’s not spring but I decided to have a sort out of the studio the other day. It’s no hardship in this weather as it is lovely and warm in there.  Anyway I had a good clear out; found a framed painting for the exhibition and also the drawing above. This is an old drawing of Alex just after we were married with our first dog. I can’t remember how long it took to do but quite a while I guess. As it happens I asked Alex to sit for 10 minutes (literally) to do a sketch at the breakfast table this morning. Alex can’t sit still I hate to think what she was like at school. It was like trying to do ten different poses. 

Anyway something’s are worth the effort. I was up on top of the valley at 7 this morning. It was hard work probably because we had been to the gym yesterday and then played badminton till 10pm last night. I was glad I was up there though having walked through the woods with crisp leaves underfoot and a sharp white frost kissing the branches and grass. The sunrise was glorious. Ochre against the sky line with grey cold mist in the valley and vapour trails of cadmium red in the sky. A perfect start to the day.

Yesterday Alex completed framing for the exhibition which was a major achievement.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Boogie Woogie

I finished the oil painting of the River Towy with Merlin's Hill in the background today. Its a lovely walk alongside the river but its been flooded a lot lately and the ground is  pretty wet underfoot.

I watched the film "Boogie Woogie" last night. It is a comedy send up of the London Art World. Now I have no real experience of the London Art World other than from what I read and have seen in the galleries, very little of which appeals to me.  I have to say the film was no ringing endorsement of the London Art Scene. I found it funny if a little rude. ( I probably liked it because it reinforced my own impressions). Incidentally the name of the film derives from Broadway Boogie Woogie the name of a painting by Piet Mondrian. He apparently loved to dance to the Boogie Woogie. So the link below is appropriate.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

In the deep end

Here is another of the sketches I did at the weekend. You can clearly see the construction lines in the picture. The square was at a slight angle to allow for the slight tilt of the head. The only time the full width of the square was covered was at the bottom where the hair took it up.

I was asked today for some details by a young lady in Canada who is doing a project on my art work. I got to thinking about my earlier years. Its funny how first times stick in your mind or make an impression. (No, I think you may be getting ahead of yourself!).

During my first week as a policeman I was sent for familiarisation. Basically this involved going to different offices and places to see what the police did. I think it was really a way of using up a few days time, and giving the training sergeant a break.

 I was sent to Washwood Heath Police Station. Getting there was fine the bus was free for police officers in uniform or near uniform. I think conductors were glad to have you on board. To be honest there was hardly any trouble on a bus other than late at night.
Anyway 9am one morning I arrived at Washwood Heath Police Station. I had never been in a police station before, fortunately. There were a great many police stations dating back to the mid nineteenth century in Birmingham and they were all pretty much the same. When entering the charge office as it was called you were immediately met by a large polished wooden counter. Behind the counter was the office a highly polished floor and a coal fire heating the room. Behind this counter I met the master of the office the Station Sergeant.
Now there were two fundamental errors that you could make in the charge office.

1. As a member of the public it was generally accepted that it was mistake to complain about the police or be in any way disrespectful. This was likely to result being pulled over the counter and charged with being disorderly in a police station (a local bye law). This tended to keep complaints to a minimum.

2. An offence considered just as serious by the Station Sergeant was walking across his floor with dirty boots. I fortunately on that first day was as immaculate as I was ever going to be.

 I told the Sergeant who I was.
 He looked me up and down and said,
"Good I can go for my breakfast now."
I looked around in bewilderment at the machine in the corner ticking out tape with little holes in it and a radio giving garbled messages. "But what do I do Serge?"
"Call me Sergeant and don't let the bloody fire go out."
With that he pulled on his coat and left me "in charge" of my own police station.
I survived somehow, and  I kept the fire banked up.

Monday, 26 November 2012

End of the weekend

I have been cataloging and packing paintings for the exhibition today as well as sorting out my studio.
The sketch above is one I did at the weekend of Alex. There are still construction lines on the sketch which I haven't bothered to rub out. It is important to get the features in the right place when doing a portrait even a quick sketch. Get the mark in the right place even if the mark itself is a little off. I tend to draw a square for faces encompassing the whole head and come in from that when working out proportions and positions.
You can see the bottom line of the square under Alexs' chin. I work in from the side where the eye is nearest the edge of the square. Might sound a complicated system but it generally works for me and prevents me putting features where they should be as opposed to where they actually are.

Alex has a weakness for agreeing to do things for people at the expense of all else or generally herself. Whenever anybody wants something I find they ask her instead of me. I cant imagine why. Anyway on Sunday she said she would look after our youngest granddaughter for an hour or so.

 "Yes, its fine." she said.

As soon as our daughter was out of the door and the car had started I heard her say,
"Mark come and look after your granddaughter."

Well okay I turned on the TV, put on Thomas the Tank Engine and sat her on my knee. Well I don't know who fitted her nappy but they didn't put enough sealant around the edges because the next thing I knew was I had been soaked.
Even at the age of 6 months my youngest granddaughter has obviously inherited the family sense of humour of which I tend to be the butt of the jokes!

Last evening I watched the Scarlets play Munster - brilliant can't say more.

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Yes a chaotic but entertaining day yesterday. We had all the family around for a day of watching rugby. All pretty predictable results wise with a few bright spots for Wales. We got through quite a bit of wine and food so the last game was a bit hazy to be honest. The grandchildren seemed to have a good time as well.
I didn't get any painting done but I did do a few sketches. I use any old bit of card or paper lying around.
The one above is of my mother.

This is one of Alex done on the back of a scrap card.

Saturday, 24 November 2012


I finished the above painting this morning with a light application of the mist on the water. It is the view of Cwmoernant Reservoir in Carmarthen as I saw it yesterday on a cold damp November morning.
I started the painting with a ground stain of grey green all over,which I allowed to dry. Now there must be a good reason for this. Yes there is.

Earlier this week I set about a painting with no clear image of where I was going. I had a vague idea but I couldn't see the final image in my head. So for me I got what I deserved. The painting went from one vague notion to another. Nothing magically came out of it and although it was recognizable I was totally unhappy with the finished work. I did the only thing I could. I wiped the whole painting with turps leaving the grey green stain. As a ground it was fine for the painting above so nothing wasted except time and a lesson reinforced.

 Its not often I have a disaster but it did me good to be brought down (pride/fall and all that). I have developed my own way of working don't take any short cuts!

Friday, 23 November 2012


Had a busy day today. I walked the dog. It was cold with mist rising from the valley and the reservoir. I decided to get a painting done of Cwnoernant Reservoir with the winter mist still on it.  I had breakfast then  went to do the shopping for my mother. By the time I got back the grandchildren had arrived. at that point I found I had forgotten to buy butter so Alex could make the Christmas cake with the grandchildren. It was also at this point that Alex found she had 5000 card covers of the wrong size delivered.
Then a nice surprise David Cowdry turned up. So we had a pleasant walk followed by lunch before I had to go off to town to post the card covers and buy butter.
I did manage to get the painting pretty well finished but I will have a look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes.
The watercolour sketch above is of the approach to Lisbon.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Alone again

This is the painting I finished yesterday. It started off as a smaller study for a commission which I did earlier  this year but I decided to finish it and make a complete work out of it. As I say it is smaller than the commission and has a few things different about it.

Last night Alex and I went to play badminton with our son. I ended up being the subject of much hilarity. Not for my playing I might add. I took off my track suit top and made my presence known on the court only to be greeted by howls of laughter. My sports shirt was inside out with buttons logo etc all on the inside and labels on the outside. Well how was I to know, the only time I ever only look in the mirror is when I have a shave first thing in the morning.

This morning having breakfast I noticed there was one solitary leaf left on the hazel hedge behind us. The little yellow leaf was stood on a long twig like a flag blowing in the gusting wind. All the other leaves were gone.
A bit sad really. It reminded me of what I think is the saddest song written. That really poignant song by Gilbert O Sullivan. Words can be very powerful and in this case they really are. If you haven't listened to the lyrics do.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

MG Sports car

Today I finished off an oil painting study of a previous commission. I was happy enough for it to be a painting in its own right. The painting above is an old one of an MG sports car.  As I related sometime later the problem with this sort of subject is that you get the odd enthusiast who either launches into the the pros and cons of the MG versus the Triumph or tells you the the 1947 model you have painted only ever had bifocal radiator trims! There again if you paint it you have to expect it and I did get all those conversations before it was bought.
I chose it today as a reminder that we have had nice sunny days suitable for a picnic it just seems that it was along time ago.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Lighthouse Opporto

Life can be a little complicated at times and we are having one of those weeks. So no painting today.
Above I have shown a page from my sketchbook. It is the lighthouse at Opporto. Again a simple composition but sufficient detail if I wished to do a painting from it. I am always fascinated by lighthouses and the stories around them. Here is quite a well known story.

One night in rough seas and poor visibility, a ship’s captain saw the lights of another ship heading toward him on a collision course. He had his signalman contact the other ship: “Change your course 10 degrees south.” 
The reply came back, “Change YOUR course 10 degrees north.”
The ship’s captain answered, “I am the captain of  the Unites States Battleship Nimitz – change your course south.” 
To  which the reply was, “Well, I’m a seaman first class – change your course north.”
This infuriated the captain, so he signaled back, “This is the most powerful and largest battleship in the world I say change your course south. ”
To which the reply came, “And I say you had better change your course north. This is a lighthouse.”
Sorry the link is a bit obvious

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bay of Biscay

The little sketch above was done in the Western Approaches to Great Britain and Ireland. A day later we were in the Bay of Biscay 300miles West of Bourdeaux in an Atlantic Gale. Despite the weather Alex and I sat down to dinner with a number of interesting people. The subject of Egypt came up in the course of conversation and Alex who is not slow in coming forward gave a fairly forthright opinion on the hygiene standards of Cairo and environs. Now this was taken exception to by one lady. She said, "Cairo was not dirty it was just dusty."
Not to be deterred Alex gave a few examples of her experiences.
Now as luck would have it the Lady in question had married an Egyptian. Following that disclosure we quickly moved on to other subjects. In actual fact we soon became friends despite the poor start and the Lady told us her life story which was really interesting. She had been on the stage in the West End and been PA to many notable personalities.
There must be a moral to this story. Its probably why I tend to take a back seat in conversations.
Today I am in the gallery in Town.

Link has to be

Sunday, 18 November 2012


The sketch above is of boats in the harbour in Opporto (Portugal). Simple quick, and got the relevant bits down.
Last night I went to watch the Scarlets play the Blues with my son, grandson and granddaughter. It was a chilly night and most people were tucked up with a drink keeping warm. In front for us were a group of 6 ladies  all dressed up in their winter best and supping on a glass of wine. They were in hysterics when my granddaughter started shouting, "Come on Scarlets you can do it." (She was probably the only one who thought they could). To my left was a young lad about 5 with his mom and dad. They were all drinking hot chocolate which smelt divine. At some point the young lad must have dozed off because the next thing his hot chocolate went up in the air and sprayed all over the lady in front of him. She was wearing a lovely white coat which now had chocolate stains all over it.
The boy did the only thing he could do. He burst into tears and was inconsolable. In fairness the lady was absolutely lovely and was more concerned with reassuring the lad than her ruined coat. It just gives you faith in people. You often hear about the bad things but 99% of people are great.
As for me I just made a mental note not to let our grandchildren have drinks as knowing my luck it would be over a 6ft. 6" Mr Angry.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Johnstown ~ Oak Tree

Now I am not exactly a tree hugger but I do love to look at  the shape of trees. Yes I know its a bit odd but trees are all different and I like to make a note of interesting shapes. I have painted this one before. It is on the path going from Carmarthen alongside the river. You pass under the Bascule Bridge towards Johnstown and its on the path not far from the river.
Its an old oak tree on a bit of a skew. It makes for a nice painting. I have put sheep in the picture and added a kite in the distance. I am not sure what to call it - sheep under a tree? Perhaps not.

The amount of information I need to do a painting varies. For this one the sketch shown above is pretty minimal even then I have taken liberties with the information exaggerating the angle of the tree...
I played badminton last night. Well that is quite a loose description perhaps I should say I had a go. Then I watched Wales playing Samoa. There again that is quite a loose description. Halfpenny, Roberts, North, Ryan Jones, Dan Biggar seemed to be putting in an effort and Ken Owens was very good when he came on. 
Off to watch the Scarlets tonight with son, grandson and granddaughter.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Seagulls ~ Cefn Sidan

I finished the above painting today. I initially thought about having the dog chasing the seagulls then I changed my mind and just put in the two figures, finally I changed my mind again and added the dog. The blue may be slightly too dark on the internet it depends on your settings.
I met Alex for lunch today at the Waverley as she was having a day in town. I finished the above painting, walked in to town and am now sorting out my paintings for the exhibition. Later I will have a game of badminton then watch the Wales game on TV.