Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Lark Ascending

When I went out yesterday afternoon I did a quick watercolour on the top field of the nettle patch. When we were young we used to have boiled nettles as a green vegetable but you don't hear of it now.
I had the same problem as the night before. The water was drying straight away so the sky wash was less than perfect. Anyway a kite and crow were having their antics so it was still enjoyable.
This morning when I went up a skylark was making his tune and fluttering 100yards above my head. The first time I have seen or heard one there this year.
Today I made another crate for transporting my paintings.

Link to the Lark Ascending Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Ferry Point

One disadvantage of this hot weather is that using an aqua pen can be a little frustrating.  I did this watercolour of Ferry Point from the beach at Llansteffan last night. It was quite difficult to get enough water on to do even a small wash as the water was drying straight away. With a normal watercolour brush and a pot of water it would have been easier but then difficult to juggle holding paint box, pad, water and brushes standing up. Of course I could take my easel but I only do that if I am going to do a specific painting. Lumping 13kg around on a walk is no joy.
Today I have to visit the printers

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

St Mary Magdaline St Clears

I painted the watercolour of St Mary Magdeline Church in St Clears today. The Church was founded in the 1100's and was a priory church. It was dedicated to St Mary Magdeline and St Clarus (from where the Town gets its name).
I went out this morning to water the rasberry plants that I had transplanted yesterday to find that they had disappeared. I investigated further and found that in there place "Jac" had buried a wooden rolling pin!
What can you say.
Alex had a delivery of materials today and has been going flat out.

Monday, 28 May 2012

St Marys Church Burry Port

I did the above watercolour of St Mary's Burry Port today. The colours are quite autumnal. The Church was  built in the 1870's and is a major landmark in the area.

This mornings walk with Jac was superb. We had only crossed the culvert in Reservoir Road when I heard "little voice" above me ie Jenny Wren. Jennny was on a branch about 4ft over my head and repeated her song several times before we moved on.

(Of course "Little Voice" was actually a very good film starring Jane Horrocks but I digress).

Jac and I went through Blue Bell Woods to the accompaniment of Wood Pigeons, Black Birds, Chaffinches et al. In the top field were two Red Kites in the  cut grass basking in the early morning sun. I then spent a pleasant 10 minutes chatting to the herdsman who was waiting at the top for the milking cows to make there way up.

This afternoonAlex and I had to deliver an order.


Sunday, 27 May 2012

Carmarthen Coracle Man

I finished this painting yesterday. Well more correctly I reworked it. I am pretty happy with it now.
It shows a Carmarthen Coracle Man with the old bridge in the background. At one time there were about 400 hundred coracle men working the Towy and living in the streets near the Quay. Now there are only 12 people licensed to fish in this manner.
We have had family here all weekend so it has been pretty hectic but very enjoyable.Now we have to get on with  our orders and work. Not much of a chore for me to be honest.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

Talley Abbey

This painting of Talley Abbey was one of three paintings we sold this week. It is a lovely spot and I enjoyed painting it.

This morning as I came over the top of Penlanffoss I could see the old house of Ray White on Merlins Hill. Ray White was the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys. Senior Police Officers are just like any other Senior Executive in a large organisation. Some are inspirational others do what they have to do or less.
Ray White was immense an enthusiastic totally committed leader. He was pleasant, a real gentleman who took the trouble to learn everyone’s first names. He did expect you to work and gave you plenty of it. He was very challenging. I think you have got the point that I thought he was great.
Anyway one thing you didn’t want to do was embarrass him (something I unfortunately did once but that is another story). Well the story goes that a young office was appointed temporarily as Ray Whites Staff Officer. The staff officer’s job was very trying. He had to make appointments, arrange transport to venues, do endless research and accompany the Chief Constable to meetings taking notes etc.
On this one occasion in London there was a meeting of all the Chief Constables. The staff officer made all the arrangements and went to the meeting with the Chief. The Chief was dressed in his black and white tuxedo with bow tie, as the staff officer had informed him it was a black tie “do”. Of course the inevitable happened. The Chief made a grand entrance into the room to find everyone else in lounge suits. He may as well have turned up in a chicken outfit. Whilst the occupants of the room may have found it amusing I am assured Ray White did not and made a hasty exit.
The Staff Officer didn’t get the job.
If you get to read this Mr White I hope you take it in the manner it’s meant. You were inspirational and highly regarded.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Constantine's Arch

The sketch above is of Constantine's Arch in Rome. We were discussing visiting Rome recently with friends.
We have had mixed experiences. We love Italy and Rome is full of historical interest not to be missed. I had the  dubious pleasure of learning Latin in school and most of it was about "strangely " the Romans and Rome. Actually "learning Latin" is probably an over statement but I did go to the lessons. I do however have a basic grounding of the history  of Rome and have as a boy ploughed through several volumes of Gibbons Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire. So seeing the sights is for me a great pleasure.
What I didn't enjoy were the street cafes. Waiters with dirty shirts and filthy finger nails. Being charged exorbitant prices for a bowl of stale bread you didn't order or want. You also have to be very aware of pickpockets, beggars and thieves. The dirt and graffiti were everywhere so plenty of pluses but a few minuses too. For me Florence is far better fare.  A beautiful City clean and unspoilt.
Anyway yesterday I worked on a couple of oil paintings and today I am in the Origin Gallery for the morning.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Ferguson TE20

I finished the painting above today. It shows a farmer on his Ferguson Tractor. I have said before that I always plan my work mentally and/ or on paper. I wanted to use this viewpoint with a driver on the tractor. Ordinarily the exhaust pipe would have obscured the face of the farmer as it goes straight up from the engine. Fortunately some models had the exhaust fed down running out behind the driver. This is the model I opted for.
I drove a tractor similar to this when I was at school. The school had a farm and we spent time there working on it. I was allowed to plough the fields at the age of 13 or 14 although I am not sure what health and safety would say about that now. The ground was pretty flat and unless the plough got caught it was probably reasonably safe. It was a great experience working with animals and that was just my school friends. I love the country but would have found being a farmer too much like hard work.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Next Exhibition

Its just over 2 weeks to the start of our next exhibition at Aberglasney.(8th-21st June).  I am confident we will be ready with a load of new work and prints...  The drawing above is one I did last year at Aberglasney.
Today I have been working on an oil painting. I should finish it tomorrow. Alex is away visiting one of our daughters and family. Jac has been for a couple of good walks over the top. It was spectacular. I could have filled half a book with the birds we saw or heard.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Talybont on Usk

I finished the painting above today. It is the lifting bridge at Talybont on Usk and is destined for the Small Picture Show. The soil is red clay in the area and the rivers and canal often have a tinge to them.
Alex has been busy with a couple of orders and thought she was just about clear to finish off the prints and cards for the exhibition. She has just received an order for 100+ cards so that will keep her busy again (each one is hand made).

(Nice to see you in the Gallery Geraint and the third lock I couldn't think of that had left Scarlets was, Damien Welch).
Time to pick up the grandchildren from school now!

Monday, 21 May 2012

Aberaeron Harbour dried out

I had enjoyed painting the watercolour of Aberaeron the other day so I set about doing another one today in a slightly different style. The result is above.

One son in law and our daughter in law are Catholic. This makes no difference to us except that when it comes to weddings christenings there are more formalities to be gone through. Sometimes this involves a group test. The family gathers and the priest asks pertinent questions. None of this is a problem but it can be a little surreal. You would actually expect the most knowledgeable to be our son in law and daughter in law. In practice this isn't necessarily the case. On one session I decided we could be there all evening so promptly answered all the remaining questions which to be honest weren't that difficult. The sort of level being, "How many wise men were there?"
Anyway on one occasion before a christening we were all gathered before the priest and he asked,
" Who is the father of Jesus?"
Now Maria was at this point mentally many miles away, probably sunbathing on a beach.
The priest repeated in a loud voice, "Maria who is the father?"
She jumped and said,"Well Martin of course."
We all fell about in fits apart from the poor priest and Maria, who hadn't any idea what had been asked.
In fairness to the priest he didn't give up but I think he realised it was a lost cause.

Alex has been doing sterling work framing and mounting prints today.

Sunday, 20 May 2012


I was asked to do something for the window of the Waverley in Carmarthen to celebrate the Jubilee.
So I spent this morning doing the above painting. It was quickly undertaken on oil sketching paper and using quick drying alkyd oils.
I have met and spoken to the Duke of Edinburgh on a number of occasions. The conversations were generally short and to the point.  The Duke is quite a character and very much his own man. He is interested in art and has dabbled himself. He had plenty of time for Edward Seago and took him on Brittania when they went to the Southern Atlantic.
I have not had the pleasure of meeting the Queen although I have been in her company  on a number of occasions.
This afternoon we are going to a birthday party for one of our granddaughters.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Marjorie, Bridget and Gertrude

I admit I was a bit sceptical when I heard that my son and daughter in law were going to keep chickens or more correctly hens. However eat my words they have been very successful. They lay eggs don't cost much and the grandchildren love them. The pen and hen house should be fox proof but we will see.
The sketch above shows Marjorie, Bridget and Gertrude. Marjorie is the white bantam.

I am in the Origin Gallery again today. Alex is framing.

Friday, 18 May 2012


Here is the watercolour commission I worked on this week. Alex and I went to the new restaurant, Compassionata in Carmarthen last night. Good meal and very friendly. The wine was excellent and I was glad of the early morning walk to clear my head this morning. I am in the Origin Gallery today. So no time to waste I have a walk in to town and then open up! I expect it will be like the "Next Sale" queues outside the door.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


The watercolour above is one I did today of Aberaeron. I felt like a change and so after finishing off a couple of oils I did a quick watercolour.
I am in the gallery Friday and Saturday. Alex is working at home framing. So I am having an enforced break.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Here is another painting I finished today which is destined for the small picture show. It is a view of the Beacons from Nant Llwch.
The talk last night was very well attended and went down well. Unfortunately my video projector is on its last legs and the colours are not what they should be. As I don't do talks now as a rule there isn't much point in getting a new one. Still it didn't seem to spoil the talk.
Today I walked the dog twice, went to the gym, and finished the above painting. Now I am going to read for half an hour and have a cup of tea.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Sweet smell of success

The picture above is of Arlandsfjord. I have finished a watercolour today and am giving a talk tonight.

Last evening I was in a bit of a rush but I went to the gym for an hours exercise. No I don't know why either but I suppose it keeps my heart going. It certainly feels good when I stop. Anyway I always take a bottle of water, a towel and my old ipod to keep me going. Well last night I got about 20 minutes into the treadmill and I grabbed the towel to wipe my face and head. There was a rather distinctive smell to the otherwise clean looking towel. It took a minute until I realised in my haste I had picked up the dogs newly laundered towel.
Alex delivered a few hundred postcards today and has been making cards ten to the dozen.

Monday, 14 May 2012

River Usk

Here is the third of the paintings I have done for the Small Picture show in the last week. It shows the River Usk running under the road Bridge at Brynych. There is a similar bridge carrying the canal which is where the view is taken from.
Yesterday was a good day. Alex came back so things are getting back to normal. I am giving a talk tomorrow so I ought to prepare for that.  I have stopped giving talks and demonstrations. I don't enjoy doing it so I stopped. I am doing this one as Norma, Alex's mom is in the group. Norma was very good while Alex was away being very helpful particularly as I didn't have transport.
Today I have started a large watercolour commission. I have got some oils to do but I inadvertently ran out of canvas and am waiting a delivery.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Brecon Beacons

Here is another painting I finished this week for the Small Picture Show. It is the Brecon Beacons from Brynych.
Today I was having breakfast listening to Carly Simon when I witnessed a fight outside. A female/hen blackbird had assumed the rights of ownership of the contents of the bird table and was driving off any attempt by two male blackbirds to share in the feast. She would then sit in the tree and wait for them to have another try, swoop down, peck and scold them until they flew away. The strange thing is that when Christopher Robin came along he was allowed to have his fill as was Simon Sparrow.
I have an oil to finish off today and I suppose I ought to do some work in the garden!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Lock on the Brecon Canal

I finished the painting of a lock near Brecon today. It is one that will be going to the Small Picture Show. I have been invited to exhibit and although it is a busy time for us I was unwilling to pass it up. It is a fine exhibition with HRH and members of the Royal Academy normally exhibiting.
A couple of weeks ago Alex and I were on a cruise heading to Norway. We went to for dinner and joined 4 other people on our table. We had never met them before but they were very pleasant company and the food was excellent.
As I was half way through my main course a lady to my right became extremely distressed and was saying, “Help him, help him.” Her husband by this time was trying to stand and was in real difficulties. He was clutching his throat and was obviously choking on something. I got up and went around to him and gave him a hard slap on the back. Nothing happened so I then gave him a very hard bag on the back. Unfortunately this had no effect either. In the meantime his wife was in real distress and he was losing consciousness. I then put my arms around him to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre. He had I think lost consciousness at this point as he had slumped back into his chair and I had to lift him as well as give several strong squeezes of his diaphragm. This was to no avail. Meantime a man joined me and said to lay him on the floor. I ignored the advice. I am not sure if he had medical qualifications but he may have thought he was having a heart attach. I continued to perform the Heimlich Manoeuvre even though at this point I was having to hold him up as well. On the third set of pulls I heard Alex shout, “He’s back.” I felt him begin to move and placed him back on his chair.
Anyway alls well that ends well he recovered and although both he and his wife were in shock they were okay. They left and we continued our dinner.
I had never performed this manoeuvre before (although I have had to do emergency first aid on quite a few occasions) and I am sure there must have been someone in the room of several hundred people who were better qualified than I. I am just glad it worked eventually, as I would probably have felt responsible to some degree had it not. So Clive it’s a good job I remembered your first aid courses.
PS. nice to catch up with you Jen.

Friday, 11 May 2012

People are Strange ~

The watercolour above is of a waterfall in the Fjord near Flam, Norway.

Some people are strange its a fact. When Alex and I went on a train journey for an hour up in to the mountains above Flam we were stunned by the scenery. I could hardly keep my eyes from staring out of the windows. Each bend brought different views of snow covered mountains, waterfalls and pine trees. I did spend a little time gauging the reaction of the other passengers which was for the most part in line with ours.
The really odd couple were a pair who sat opposite each other near us. They were probably near our age or a bit younger. They spent the whole time "playing" with their mobile phones. I am not sure what they were doing, texting surfing or messaging each other? They were 3 feet facing each other and looking at these mind numbing irritants. Why pay £some £60 for a two hour train ride and then ignore it?
Now I have to say that mobile phones do have their uses for keeping in contact. Orange text me about once a day which is nice of them. It is usually a bit of a nuisance as I have to either find my glasses or decide to leave it until later and then forget all about it. The kids got me a mobile one that has giant numbers so at least I can see to dial (? is that the right word?). It doesn't have a camera or internet or anything else , well I don't think so. Don't worry I can see very well to paint with reading glasses (I think).

Anyway had a good walk this morning. I have heard a cock pheasant a couple of mornings running and I popped my head over the hedge today and saw him sitting in a field. No one rears them around here as far as I know so maybe he is lost or just searching for a mate? Fortunately Jac hasn't cottoned on to him yet.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Adventures in Washing

The watercolour above shows the little church in the village of Olden which is situated at the end of a Fjord about 23 miles long? I stood on the side of the road to paint this. I could probably have stood in the road as I think we only saw about 2 vehicles.
I think I have mentioned that Alex is away with our daughter so Jac and I are having to make do. I am pretty much an organised person so my days are planned in my early morning walk. I have been walking the dog and breakfasting until about 7.30am and then doing a couple of hours domestic chores!
When Alex left there was a huge pile of washing as we had been away. Now fortunately I am a modern man (well modern for the 1950's) so this was not a daunting task. My first memories of washing day were as a child turning the great mangle for my mother while she ran the clothes through it. My next experience was as a single man. Things were a bit more practical then, two shirts and seven collars would last a week. You only needed to iron the front top of the shirt as that was all that  was in view. Trousers were different I could spend 20 minutes getting a razor sharp crease in my trousers and using soap to rub on the inside seam to hold the crease. Anyway I digress.
I found the washing machine and plumped for setting "D" as it was in the middle. I couldn't find any powder.
On closer inspection in the cupboard I found washing liquid? Easy a splash of that four loads later and I was in to the ironing. The iron was temperamental. Fortunately I started on bedding not Alex's dresses as no matter what I did it was hot enough to melt solder (or the bed linen). It also had steam ! ( in my previous experience I had put a wet tea towel over the clothes). Jac decided to leave the room as  the smell of singed cotton was beginning to make him sneeze. I finally got the iron to a temperature that didn't start fires and turned off the steam. I made my way through the mountain until in the last washing basket I found a blue ball in the bottom. I think I was meant to put the liquid in that on reflection? Anyway who will know?
Yes I am a modern man although you can say I wear the trousers in this house. You can say it, but it isn't true. Alex just lets me think that!
Ah now to do some painting and this afternoon teaching.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Ain't no mountain high enough ~ Marvin Gaye

Here is another of my watercolours from Norway. This is the spectacular view of the mountain overlooking Flam.

The other week I went to a talk on the life and work of Rolf Harris. Now I don't often go to talks but I was tempted as I admire the man greatly. A great communicator and a very talented all round artist even though he is not regarded by the Art Hierarchy seriously. Perhaps that's why I like him?
Anyway the talk was mainly about his life and very interesting it was. Unfortunately when it came to looking at a critique of some of his works and his working methods there were some factual inaccuracies.  I admit I was tempted to say something for a brief moment but quickly thought better of it. What would have been the impact of doing this? Would it have added to the enjoyment of the listeners? No probably not. Would it have improved their knowledge ? Yes possibly. Would it have embarrassed the speaker? Yes. So I said nothing and ignored the minor inaccuracies. I enjoyed the talk as did the rest of the audience. Unfortunately some people have to have their input at a talk or exhibition without considering the impact. For them it is not about the talk or exhibition it is all about "me" whether they realise it or not.

Yesterday I started an oil painting of the Beacons. Today I am stewarding in the Gallery at Origin in Carmarthen.

The link below is for Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel "Ain't no mountain enough"

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Embarrassing Moment

Here is another of my watercolours from Norway. I looked out of the window early one morning and was greeted by the sight of Arlandsfjord and the above scene slipping by (we were on a ship at the time). I had to get it down in a few minutes before it was gone.
Alex and I met a nice couple half our age on the ship.. He was a car salesman and although he wasn't interested in rugby he was still very pleasant company!
I have quoted several of my most embarrassing moments on here previously. Well he told us his most embarrassing moment.
He had been a car salesman for 4 weeks and had done well. One day he took a brand new Corsa to a customer. It was for a very nice old lady. It had been bought as a surprise by her family for her birthday. Everything was arranged for the day. As he arrived at her house he pulled into the drive and was met as arranged by the lady and all her family standing outside with balloons etc. A colleague from work had followed him in his own brand new car to take him back.  Our friend got out of the car and walked across with the keys to present them to the assembled family and proud new owner. He heard a shout looked around and realised he hadn't engaged the hand brake. The brand new car rolled back down the drive with him chasing it. He watched it with horror as it  ran into his colleagues car which was parked across the bottom of the drive.
Alex is away at the moment helping out our daughter and son in law. So Jac and I are fending for ourselves.
Norma kindly dropped a plated dinner off for us yesterday. Today I am off to Tescos to find something very unhealthy for dinner.

Monday, 7 May 2012


Alex and I were recently in Norway and the watercolour above is of the Fjord in Flam. Over the years I have experimented with many different ways of painting or sketching when travelling about. I have now got it down to the following methods. I generally carry an A6 Ebony sketch book which fits in a pocket and is good enough to take watercolour as well as for sketching. I tend to use this for sketches of about 4-5 minutes at most.
If I am going somewhere I know there will be good subject material like the fjords then I take an A4 ring bound pad of watercolour paper along with an Aqua pen a small plastic field palette of artists watercolours and an old no 8 watercolour brush. These fit in a canvas satchel and are light enough to be no trouble to carry.
Of course using them is the trick. I can now having had much practice stand and paint with the pad without too much trouble. The results will never be as good as if I took my Julien work box and easel which gives a reasonable stable surface to work on. However due to size and weight I only take the easel if I am specifically going to paint a certain view.
The watercolour above was painted standing with my pad and watercolour paints being juggled in both hands.The Fjords are stunning and we were lucky in that the weather was glorious. Alex and I have sailed in the Fjords and around the Lofoten Islands previously but as part of a working crew on a large sailing yacht so this was a more relaxing visit.
Today we had some very good news our eighth grandchild has arrived in the world.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Morning light over Penlanffoss

From Spring onwards there are generally cattle on the top field overlooking the valley. As I open the gate to get on to the lane early in the morning I generally join the long meandering queue of cows walking to the top field having just been milked. Jac is always nervous and I am always wary.
Anyway the cows on the skyline make for a good picture with daylight coming up behind them. Further to the left in the distance out of view are wind turbines some 7 or 8 miles away. I have mixed views on them. I agree with using renewable energy but there are obvious downsides to them. I do think it is about time that a proper established strategy for our energy needs was put in to being or we will be in the dark in ten years time.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Through the gateway

On the way down Penlanffoss  hill there is a field with a gateway that is often open and in the mist you can see the outline of Merlin's Hill. The lane is sunken with hedges high on either side. A variety of birds can be seen from goldfinches, bullfinches to buzzards and kites overhead. Yesterday I found a pile of pigeon feathers. Obviously all that was left of a sparrow hawks breakfast.
Today I am doing some sketching and Alex is taking a day off.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Cwmoernant Reservoirs

I have painted a view along the path around the reservoir. The sun is coming up and is low in the sky, shining through the trees.
The two reservoirs were built in the 1850's to serve the town with water and as an amenity. I have to say it is only in the last 20years that there has been a proper path established around the top reservoir. Prior to that it was pure mud in winter. There is an abundance of wildlife which is supported by the reservoir and cover around it. I occasionally get to glimpse a kingfisher darting over the top reservoir. There are woodpeckers to be heard in the trees above. Moorhens nest in the floating islands and at the moment the little ones are hopping over the weed walking on water. I have seen an otter there early one morning but that was quite a few years ago.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Merlin's Hill

As I walk down the lane from the top of Penlanffoss Merlin's Hill becomes clearer. I start to hear the sound of cars on the bypass and dogs barking in the gardens of houses. Also the gees form the farm. Looking over I can see my house and know that breakfast is under way. There is no better start to the day than a walk to clear the mind and mentally prepare yourself. It is at this time I will go over a painting in my head deciding how to paint it. In what order and style it will be done. I find that having a clear picture of the finished result in my head and the order of work makes a successful conclusion more likely.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

From Penlanffoss

Here is another view from my morning walk. Unfortunately the picture hasn't come out very well it is a bit dull. The original isn't that bad. Anyway the view is from the top of Penlanffoss looking South East towards Merlin's Hill and down the Towy Valley. This view changes every day, it can be misty, dull, bright or covered in dark skudding clouds.  
I love this part as it is also all downhill from here. I often stop and listen to the sounds and take in the sights. We have been to many places but the Towy Valley takes some beating.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Morning Walk

I have said on many occasions that I enjoy an early morning walk with Jac our dog. I thought I would post a couple of watercolour sketches of the walk. On many occasions  there are horses in the fields at Cwmoernant. At the moment they are neatly attired in their winter coats. They always trot over to the path as we pass by. Jac is not too keen on them and hurries off to sniff someplace else. 
I dont paint horses as a rule only as part of a landscape and I am not interested in riding or hunting. I do recognise the beauty of the equine species however. My favourite painting is "Whistlejacket " by Stubbs which is outstanding and to my mind the most impressive painting in the National Gallery. Stubbs was a genius but you wouldn't want to ave accepted an invite to dinner. He kept disected horses, animals and I believe human remains for study (all without the aid of a refrigerator).