Sunday, 30 September 2012

Llansteffan rain

The painting above of a couple on Llansteffan Beach was finished this week. Could be any day this summer really. Incidentally we occasionally get told that our spelling of Llanstephan is wrong. To clarify Llanstephan is the English way of spelling it and Llansteffan is the Welsh spelling. Our cards and prints are bi-lingual so we cover both. I tend to use Llansteffan but whatever.
I forgot to mention yesterday when I did the blog on peanut that I got a bit OCD. I initially painted the boat with just the mast and boom. For the purpose of the composition it was just fine. You are never going to put all the details in and you had sufficient information to let the eye fill in the rest. My sailing side however said it was incomplete and I painted in the furling jib that is the blue line going from the bow of the boat to near the top of the mast and I also added the spreaders the foils halfway up the mast that hold the rigging out to create a greater angle at the top. To be honest it didn't really improve the painting but I felt happier.
We had a pleasant evening at our son and daughter in law's last night. Although we watched the Scarlets throw away a good lead and lose to Treviso we had good food and company with two little girls flying all over the place for entertainment.
Today I am doing household chores while Alex is mounting prints.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Laugharne and "Peanut"

The oil painting above is one of the ones I finished this week. The boat is called Peanut and is pretty well a fixture in Laugharne. I know the owner George (a lovely guy who I could write a book on),  although that isn't why I painted it. It is just a "nice" composition leading to the Boathouse. It took a bit of juggling and artistic licence to achieve. In the image above there is a bit of graining (new word), this occasionally happens when I take the photo because of the canvas surface.
I have to do some work in the garden before winter so as its sunny I guess I am obliged to get on with it.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Bathurst Park Cirencester

The watercolour above is of the entrance to Bathurst Park with Cirencester Church in the background.
I did this standing in the park grounds holding the watercolour pad and using an aqua pen brush. These brushes are great for on the spot paintings . I have tried other makes but they weren't as good as the original.  As with all paintings and particularly watercolours it is a matter of deciding what to leave out. Anyway I think I got the essence of the scene including the mother having a picnic with her toddler.
Today I got to the gym and did an oil painting.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

St Mary's Abbey Cirencester

This is the 12th century gatehouse of St Mary's Abbey in Cirencester. It is all that remains of the abbey. Strangely enough the only  remains of the Priory in Carmarthen is the gatehouse. Anyway I painted this stood on the hard shoulder opposite with lorries and cars passing in between. Jac behaved himself although he was a bit nervous of the lorries.
Today I walked Jac, visited the gym and finished two oil paintings. Now I am going to settle down to watch the cricket. Alex is up to her eyes. She has 20 paintings to frame and is busy making cards.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

St John Baptist Church Cirencester

Alex and I were recently in Cirencester a lovely town with plenty of subjects to paint. I don't do much with my paintings outside of Wales as a rule, I just do them form my own enjoyment. I tend to stand and paint off a watercolour pad for 20 minutes or thereabouts. Jac is normally attached to me and he is pretty good but can suffer from a low boredom threshold. While I am painting Alex is going around the shops so I also have to restrict my time. (There is  a direct correlation between the time Alex is shopping and the amount she spends!).
The painting above is slightly unusual in that I found a bench in the church yard so I sat and could draught a pretty accurate picture which is helpful in a complicated structure.
The Church itself is pretty spectacular and dates from 1115 with a huge perpendicular porch on the other side of the church.
Today I am starting a new oil painting.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

David Cowdry ~ Aberglasney Exhibition

I finished the above commission of Llansteffan today. Then Alex and I went to see David Cowdrys' Exhibition in Aberglasney. Brilliant work, otters under water, fish, birds, rockpools, wildlife, landscapes all superbly painted. Probably the best artist of his genre in Wales and so very unassuming. He also treated us to lunch so an added bonus.

 His exhibition finishes Thursday not to be missed.

We then went to pick up the grandchildren and packed a painting for collection.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Green Castle ~ Castell Moel

The above is an oil of Carmarthen from Green Castle Corner. I no longer have the painting as I wasn't too enamored with it and it found the out tray. Green Castle was a fortified manor house of which little remains. It had a spectacular view of the Towy Valley towards Carmarthen.

The other weekend we spent a good while searching for the house and car keys. Finally Alex had a brain wave and rang Blasus an excellent delicatessen in Carmarthen. "Yes" the keys were there. She had left them on the counter on the Friday morning!

I finished a watercolour commission today and was pleased with the final result.

Sunday, 23 September 2012


Alex is probably one of the most drawn women in the country. I am not sure what sort of accolade that is.
If I have five minutes and a bit of paper or card to hand I capture a moment. It has to be a moment as I have said she can't stay still for a minute. She would be a hopeless professional model. Anyway as shown  in the sketch above she is thoughtful.
I have a few more paintings to get on with now ready for the next exhibition. I have two commissions to finish.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Join the Police

I have often been asked how I came to be in the Police Force ( yes it was the police force when I joined not the police service, life was simple you arrested bad people, protected the good people and demanded respect).
Why did I join? Well I would like to say that I wanted to help people or put something into the community but that would be untruthful. I wanted to go to art college but had no grant and nowhere to live. I had tried to become an apprentice stonemason (probably after reading Jude the Obscure), but there were no jobs or apprenticeships available. I wanted a job outside and somewhere to live. The police were badly paid and were short of numbers so if they had a uniform jacket to fit you you were in.

There would have been no chance of me getting in these days, it is very well paid and you need a degree in political correctness to even get an interview. The only degree I had was a degree of common sense although my drill sergeant would argue  that.

Anyway as I said they had a jacket that fitted and within 2 weeks I was in. They had some strange customs like initiation which I may go into another time. Did I regret joining? No I had a great time, albeit that I saw and  had to do some pretty terrible things. I saw all aspects of humanity and learnt what really is important in life.
Although things have certainly changed since my day the basic job is the same and I have the greatest respect for those that work in the British Police Service.

Today I finished off a watercolour.

Friday, 21 September 2012


Here is a simple little watercolour of a boat on a trailer in Garlieston. Our first real little boat was something like this and we had great fun in it pottering around and over the Bristol Channel.

I sometimes think back to my earliest memories. I have about three. Probably the earliest is when I was about 2 or 3 and the snow fell off our roof when I was playing in the street. (It obviously made some sort of impression on me, maybe I was easily impressed). I remember being told I was going to school! I remember going to school on my first day. I enjoyed junior and infant school but didn't like secondary school and left at 16 although to be fair they gave me a good education.

In the junior school our toilets were outside in the open air, literally there was no roof on it although the cubicles were covered. The boys used to compete to see how high up the wall they could aim. (A bit gross I know but boys will be boys). I should really do a sketch of that!

No doubt a psychologist can read something into all that.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Aberaeron Harbour

The watercolour painting above is or Aberaeron Harbour. A popular seaside spot with brightly coloured houses.
I always feel an affinity to the sea. It is probably because the one side of my family worked in shipyards and the navy going back at least a couple of hundred years from the 1800's. The last ones worked in Pembroke Dockyard.
Today I am starting a new commission.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Culderry House Garlieston

The watercolour above is of Culderry House in Garlieston. All I know about it is it is a listed house but it took my eye sat in amongst the trees.
Jac and I used to treat ourselves to an ice cream and sit on the bench overlooking the bay nearby. I would have a Magnum and he would have a tub of Vanilla. Not really good for you but heh lets live life to the full !
Today I have done a couple of sketches.
We stayed on the caravan club site at Garlieston and had a spot right on the quay wall. It was ideal, odd thing though after we had parked the camper and connected the electric.... the warden came over and told us to move the camper 2 ft over so the site peg was in the middle of the back of the van. Now we only took up a portion of our pitch whilst caravans had cars and took up the whole of their pitch so we had placed it to leave most room on either side. We had however broken the regulation by 2ft, well hang my head in shame.
I gave Alex a warning look, we didn't argue we just unhooked everything and moved over. I do swear I heard Jac muttering, "knob," under his breath.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Sunday Service

Now I am not sure what the vicar was saying when I sketched this but Alex certainly seems attentive. Seems a bit like, "No not me vicar."
If you look carefully you can see the construction lines for the sketch. The outline of the basic shape. Actually I was pretty lucky as she doesn't sit still for long. She was probably afraid to move in case she was struck by lightning.

Monday, 17 September 2012


A quick sketch of Jac is shown above. He loves coming away in the camper and is usually very well behaved. Recently we stayed in Chirk and the site there is alive with wild life.
Rabbits outside the window were  areal temptation for him. But when a cock pheasant strode up he jumped up went straight through the window which was just on the catch and was away howling after the pheasant.

Of course he didn't catch the pheasant or any of the rabbits.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Going backwards at a rate of knots at Neyland

I posted yesterday about sailing and the unexpected. Well above is an oil painting of our last yacht. A really lovely boat that we had to give up for family reasons.
At one time we kept her at Neyland Marina. Now when we applied we were lucky to find a space. It was just next to the tidal shelf of the upper basin. Although room is pretty restricted we sailed her in and moored in our berth without any problems. Other boat owners chatted to us and we explained how lucky we were to find a spare berth in the marina. We explained where it was and I recall now they didn't comment.
Let me quickly explain the first time you can get out of the top basin is about two hours before high water, basically from when the tide is strongest. So we decided on a days sailing. Alex was on the helm and I as usual was the crew. We got ready started the engine and I let go our warps ( ropes) and we went astern out of our berth across the tidal flow intending to turn and depart the marina.   Oh no the current  had other idea it caught the boat and pushed us backward and sideways up into the marina our engine powerless against the force of the current.
Boat owners were grabbing fenders and boat hooks in case we trashed their gleaming hulls, Alex on the helm was unusually starting to panic and take on the demeanour of Corporal Jones in Dads Army. Fortunately Sanity quickly prevailed and she managed a perfect full 360 turn being carried backwards through rows of yachts to the delight of onlookers. We then gained momentum and motored majestically out of the Marina.
It was at that point we realised why that particular berth was vacant when all the rest of the marina was full.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

River Taf Laugharne

The oil painting above is of the river Taf at Laugharne. We have often sailed and anchored in this estuary.
 The one thing about sailing is that every time it is different, different tides , different wind strength and direction... Its dealing with the unexpected like the engine cutting out just as you are approaching your mooring in a strong tidal flow amongst yachts ten times the value of yours. Yes an engine that has been perfectly behaved all day will decide to have a hissyfit just at the wrong time. I wonder what their gender is?
Anyway we tend to leave Laugharne on the incoming tide early morning generally a lovely time of day with the sun breaking through the mist.
Today we had a day off and went walking with Jac.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Tesco's Carmarthen

I don't like cutting the  grass and I don't like going to the supermarket. Both seem to steal your time. Alex can multi-task and get on with most things efficiently exceptions being, deciding where to park the car in an empty car park and deciding which tin of beans to buy. Both take forever. So if Tesco's car park is empty I know we are in for a long visit.
Anyway even a supermarket can provide some stimulation for the artistic mind as there are always plenty of figures to draw.
Oh and another pet hate, moving the location of products around the store. I don't buy more I just want to get out quicker.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Out of the Blue

The picture above from my sketch book shows a man digging for bait on the sea shore. Being a police officer for 30years is a risky business and not just the likelihood of physical assault. Dealing with thousands of incidents there is the probability if not certainty that something will go wrong. Hence it tended to be that those who did the most work got the most problems. You may see 50 people staggering home every night if one falls under a bus later there is the inevitable question, "Why didn't you do something about them when you saw him/her?"
Hindsight is something that is generally the preserve of newspapers and people who sit behind desks.
Anyway fortunately the police tend to look after each other (or they did in my day). You need to be able to rely on your colleagues.
Things can go wrong very quickly and unexpectedly. I once went with my fellow Detective Sergeant to Crown Court. We had dealt with a robbery and for some reason the case ended up in Manchester Crown Court. Now the case went on for a couple of days and I was the last witness. My Sergeant was giving evidence and I had no idea what was going on or how the trial was proceeding. Suddenly I was called by the usher to go into the Court. Obviously my D.S. had finished giving evidence I concluded. When I got in their the Court was hushed, Bob my D.S. was still in the in the witness box and I was directed into the well of the court. I was totally confused. I was stood before the Judge who seemed to have taken a disliking to me albeit that we hadn't met before. I was then subjected to something of a judicial tirade. I didn't take in what was being said but I got the distinct impression I was in deep trouble. I also noticed the defendants smirking in the dock and I felt if not saw Bob chuckling. As the monologue continued I felt certain that I would be spending the night in HMP Strangeways. When the Judge concluded I still had no idea what I had supposed to have done or what was expected of me. Doing the only thing I could do. I apologised to the Judge and looked very humble (not very hard to do in the circumstances). I was told to leave by the Judge and the trial finished with defendants being aquitted. For me leaving the court by the Public exit was a result. Bob never did explain what happened in Court but I got the distinct impression he had stitched me up as he didn't stop chuckling all the way to the car. We left the Courts very quickly in case the Judge changed his mind.
Today I did some sketching.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Celtic Cross Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral is well known for its large knocker, (no behave). Anyway when we went this year I was taken by the view of the young child looking at the Celtic Cross next to the door. So there it is from my sketch book.
My sister told me the other day that she needed a new front door. Nothing special no side panels just a front door. She wasn't sure whether to get a wooden one or a upvc one. Anyway she called a double glazing company that have a name like a famous Mountain or a lazy boy. The salesman turned up showing her his genuine Rolex watch (not very subtle). He gave her the spiel for three quarters of an hour then finally came to the part that hurts. For a double glazed door no side panel it will be he said, £5,000 (actually it was £5,000 plus but she forgot the figures in the fainting fit).
"No I don't want a new porch just the door," she said.
"Ah but the good news is, he told her you can have it half price." She ushered him out of the door.
I guess the sad part is a lot of old people actually buy these things at these prices.
 If it was around here we have genuine tradesmen who would fit the door for a decent days pay.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012


Many of the next images are from my sketch books this year.. I still haven't quite worked out Pixia so forgive some of the quality of the scans.
The above is a couple having an afternoon drink outside their caravan. Simple is good and it captures the moment.
Our one daughter is highly qualified in human biology has a degree in anatomy and one in physiotherapy. So when one day we were out as a family and I complained of a headache she stepped up to the plate.
 "What you need dad is an expresso."
Now I don't drink coffee at all but I took her at her word that she knew what she was doing. She ordered me an expresso a small bitter tasting thing. Why anyone would drink it for pleasure I don't know. Anyway sure enough after 10 minutes it had its effect. what had once been a bad headache became a raging migraine. I had to leave the restaurant with Alex and return home.
So now when she offers me advice I do tend to listen but at the back of my mind is that expresso.

Monday, 10 September 2012


As a boy I was interested in all technical things and for a while took to photography. This followed the receipt of a fantastic Christmas present a Kodak  Brownie 127. This would be about 1962. This camera was a bakelite point and shoot affair. Well I got into it and made my own dark room etc. I didn't have an enlarger as such although I do recall I used a series of lenses to make do.
You can see by the photo above that professional photographers would be worried by my efforts. To be honest I was probably more interested n playing with the chemicals than taking the pictures (well its a good excuse).

Anyway if you hadn't worked it out that is Stonehenge with my mother and sister decked out in the latest fashion for the time. I seem to be making an appearance at the bottom of the photo. In those days Stonehenge was open to the public. We would stop off on our way to visit my grandmother and grandfather in Hampshire, I believe we still had the old Lanchester at that time.
Suffice to say no career as a photographer beckoned but a pocket camera is still useful for capturing references for my work as an artist.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Sunset over Garlieston

Last night Alex and I went to the Aberglasney Ball. It was a lovely evening Pimms on arrival in the gardens a first class meal in the Mansion, fireworks and a band. We had the foresight to book a mini bus for 8 of us.
I am glad it was success (sold out) as the money is in aid of the restoration.
I am surprisingly bright this morning although Alex seems to be having a lie in.
I started a watercolour commission yesterday I might have time to do some more today. The painting above is a quick watercolour of sunset over Garlieston.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Scots Pine

Some shapes immediately appeal to me particularly trees. Being a landscape painter this is no surprise I guess. Some trees have a natural balance to their shape. The one above out of my sketch book for Scotland is a good example. There is a Scots Pine on the way to Cymffrwd that I would like to draw,but I have never got around to it. 
I was chatting briefly to Geraint the other day he is a fount of knowledge. He was referring to people I can relate to, Joe Bugner, Nicky Piper and others. I don't have much interest in boxing these days although I did  see Joe Calzaghe fight in Cardiff. Well that's not quite true.  A few of us went and arrived early evening. We had a meal and a few pints of Brains, made our way to the stadium. The fight started early morning and it was way past my bedtime. Inevitably I slept through most of it (although to be fair from where I was sat it looked like two ants in a matchbox so I wouldn't have seen much anyway).

Friday, 7 September 2012


I rarely go to church but when I do I make up for lost time. Here is a sketch of the vicar reading his sermon. My time in church is not wasted.
I do to be fair always count my blessings. I am blessed with a wonderfully odd family. The licorice alsorts of humanity but all pretty happy and hopefully contented. I am also blessed with a talent that allows me to enjoy nature to its best. Having the ability to paint is a great gift although it needs constant attention and should not be taken for granted.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Leather on Willow

Here is another of the sketches I did yesterday while watching the cricket. Nothing to write home about but  all good practice for observation. Basically for the left hander the shape of a batsman waiting to receive the ball is a figure four well, thats how I see it. For a right handed batsman its flipped horizontally. The wicket keeper is an "H".... Of course the most common sight yesterday was that of the batsman walking back to the pavilion.
As a young boy my friends and I would often take a bat and cricket ball to the park and spend the summer playing cricket. We didn't have any protection and it could be a bruising experience although we did eventually get given an old leg pad from school.
If we weren't playing cricket it was likely to be playing "War". We would go the bomb site opposite our school choose sides and run around throwing stones at each other.  Not something a parent these days would be too chuffed about. I remember we also got caught scrumping for apples and the police came to the school. There was a bit of a fuss but it was all pretty much innocent fun.
Anyway another beautiful morning with mist rising over the valley. Just the top of Merlin's Hill poking out of it as Jac and I made our way over the top of Penlanffos. Breakfast now, the gym and then a watercolour to be done.
Incidentally I like Sir john Major's Cricket prayer, "Oh Lord if I must die today, please make it after close of play!"

link 10cc "Dreadlock Holiday"

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Jonathan Bairstow

Okay well days don't always go as planned. I walked the dog, a beautiful morning stroll over the top of the valley. I was greeted by an old white pony that is being kept out to grass at the moment. (I felt guilty I hadn't picked an apple for him). Then off to the gym and a surprisingly energetic work out. Back to cut the lawns, trim the hedge, and prune the apple trees. I then sat for ten minutes watching the cricket. Unfortunately the ten minutes led into three hours. I regret to say it was probably wasted as England's batting was on the whole pretty lamentable.
So no painting done today, I did a few sketches while I watched, the one above is Jonathan Bairstow who played some decent shots. I confess here I love the game but I was no great player. I also met Alex at Edgbaston County Cricket Ground so reason enough to love the game!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Pre-Raphaelite Painting finished

Okay so there it is pretty well finished. I was in the Gallery today but tomorrow I start on a watercolour.
Got the grandchildren to take home and then dinner and feet up?
If you like the style of the painting look up Ford Madox Brown or Arthur Hughes, one of my favourite paintings is the Long Engagement. link

Monday, 3 September 2012

Stage 2 Pre-Raphaelite Painting

This is the second stage of the Pre-Raphaelite painting. I have put in the cliffs with soft textured grass in a velvet style. I had to purchase a couple of colours I don't usually use to do this. Still it was worth it as the effect was what I wanted. The cliffs will naturally take the eye into the focal point of the painting.

When doing this painting it is important to work it through mentally. I painted it two or three times mentally to work out any snags. This ensures you don't get any nasty surprises when actually putting brush to board. For example running a blue glaze into a yellow one in the sky would not be clever (unless you want a green sky).
Anyway all going well so far. It should be finished this week. I have some watercolours to do as well so its going to be busy.
Alex is collecting prints from the printers today, pretty well an all day job.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Pre-Raphaelite painting

I was asked if I would paint a particular scene in rich colours. Now my palette of colours is normally fairly muted but that doesn't mean I can't paint any other way. A group of artists who were my greatest influence growing up were the Pre-Raphaelites. They are well known for their deep rich transparent colours. I have studied the techniques and their manner of painting. This isn't going to be a quick painting.

 I won't go into too much detail but the first and most time consuming part is preparing the ground. I chose a hand prepared board triple primed by myself and rubbed down in between the first coats and checked carefully for any raised parts or blemishes. (The Pre-Raphaelites were among the first artists to use a white background. Prior to that it would have been earth colours).

I have chosen a specific set of colours all nearly transparent and Artists Colour, the highest grade of pigment.
There is no dead colouring or first layer, the paint is applied with an oil rich medium in a series of glazes. Anyway I am going a bit too deep now I can hear people falling asleep.

I have started with the sky working down the board from the top. It is practical and saves working over the wet painting and also allows me to judge the tones (darkness and light values) of the rest of the painting. So there is the first stage complete after 3 days work.
Yesterday Alex and I went to the Scarlets v.  Leinster game. Safe to say I came away with a large smile.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Autumn Colours

It is now Autumn and I guess I am well into my own Autumn, not a bad time or season. I like the earthy colours that it brings. As for me it should be slippers, a book and hot chocolate but I haven't decided when to retire yet. I guess when I do that will be the start of  my winter!

The picture above is of Abergwili in the Autumn and is sold.

I have been working on a commission this morning and we are off to the rugby this afternoon.