Friday, 31 May 2013

In the doghouse

This morning I decided to do a painting of my daughter's dog as it was stopping with us. Now I know I said I don't do pet portraits but I do paint our own animals now and again.
The cocker spaniel bitch is getting on and is quite a character. Anyway we were going to the gym at 10 o'clock so I had time to put a ground of burnt umber on the board before we went. I was dressed for the gym but I am not a messy painter quite the opposite in fact. I even have carpet in my studio. So I did the ground but naturally got carried away and before I knew it Alex was calling me and I had drawn the head with a brush and started the under painting. Aghhh! It was then I noticed the paint on my track suit! Its a good thing Alex doesn't read my blogs!

The painting is above is as far as I got before the gym. I will post the completed work tomorrow.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Errant Dog

The above is a watercolour and pencil sketch of one of our grandchildren. It was a quick work and could have been better. Today I finished packing the work for Picton Castle Exhibition, walked the dog and went shopping.
This afternoon Alex and I took Jac and our daughter's dog (actually bitch and in fact Jac's mother) for a walk. We are temporarily looking after the dog which is the smallest cocker spaniel you will probably see.
We got near a pond and she shot into it and swam around in it barking merrily. No amount of calling or whistling would drag her out. Alex and I were running around from one side of the pond to the other calling her name as she swam backwards and forwards. None of it guaranteed to help the heart or stress levels. Jac just looked on bemused.
After 20 minutes she came out of her own accord. They say never work with children or animals!

Her next walk will be nowhere near water.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Scottish Links

The painting above is of my Great Grandfather who was Scottish but opened a drapers in Woodstock. I did the painting from photographic references, (quite obviously as he was born in 1838!).

I am quite interested in my family history and have a number of characters in the background.
I was talking to my mother in law about her (Alex's grandfather)  father who was at Dunkirk, Italy and Iceland during the war. She told me that when there was an air raid warning her father's unit would raid the American Forces billets for provisions while the Americans took shelter. Sounds a bit risky to me, but I suppose you would get a bit fatalistic about these things. Anyway I can sympathise as I am always pinching bits from the kitchen.

I spent a few hours re-reading "Colour" by Edith Anderson Feisner today. A must really for any serious artist. A lot to take in but I have read it several times and every so often do a quick recap there is always something I have missed or forgotten. It is a very technical treatise but worth the effort.

Anyway my link for today could have been "Woodstock " by Mathew Southern Comfort but I went for something else! I know my father liked anything swing

Monday, 27 May 2013

Celia Beaux

Now as far as I can recall I haven't seen any of Celia Beaux's work in real life. I have only the images on line and in books to go by. But I have to say I like what I see. An American artist who trained in France and kept to her own principles and ideals. A realist painter who concentrated on portraits of the American Social Elite. In many respects I find it hard to differentiate her work from John Singer Sergeant whose work I have seen in real life. Perhaps his work is more fluid and hers more considered? Anyway I like them both and am always interested in portraits. I haven't done any myself for a while maybe I will set aside some  time and do a couple of the family this year?

"The painting above is called portrait of a man with a cat." (WYSIWYG) by Celia Beaux (1855-1942)

Sunday, 26 May 2013


It was a beautiful morning yesterday and I was out with Jac just after 6am. In fact Mal Pope on Radio Wales even asked Alex where I was when she asked for a request. On the way back down the hill there was a chaffinch on a telephone pole greeting the day and I thought for such a common little bird he has the most wonderful happy song. He matched my mood. So there he is above.

Later I went to the gym and took two of our granddaughters to drop off in gymnastics. Now I have interviewed pretty well every type of person from rogue to the very worst of mankind and generally not many got the better of me. My one year old granddaughter however got to the gymnasium and refused point blank to go in. She had the wrong top on! It was a waste of time arguing with her it was "No!" Despite all my powers of persuasion I was bettered by a four year old! I had to turn around and take her home.

We are nearly ready for the next exhibition so no panic there just need to catalogue and pack the paintings now.

Before I went out Mal Pope played a great track by Dave Grusin. I have Catrin Finch's version but here is the piano version:

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Cattle after the Rain

I had this painting lying around for a while and picked it up yesterday. I said to Alex," I think I can do something with this."
She replied,"Yes . Have you got any black bin bags?"
I thought that was somewhat hurtful. It was a painting I quite liked. It was bordering on abstraction and I agree the palette was pretty sombre. If Alex doesn't like something you can pretty well bet it won't sell. Nevertheless I picked it up and worked up the shapes and contrast to produce more realism. I showed it to Alex again and this time she said.... nothing. Oh well.

So there it is. I still like it, although it may never adorn anybodies wall.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Walking a dog on the beach

I finished the above painting this week. It shows a couple walking their dog on Llansteffan Beach.
It would appear that this activity may be further restricted in future. I note there are moves afoot to place further banning notices on beaches in Carmarthenshire.

Like most people I hate it when dog owners don't clean up after their dogs on the beach or park... However in my experience this is in fact a minority. I appreciate the Council are in a difficult position and I can quite understand having "different areas" of a beach where dogs are banned. This seems to me to be a sensible position. But a total ban as is the case in some other areas is both short sighted (as it will adversely affect tourism) and disproportionate in my view. So here's hoping we have sensible compromises.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Unknown Soldier

I was wondering what I could post today. A day for measured reflection. Here is my painting of the Unknown Soldier.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Le Dejeuner...

The above painting was done by me some years ago. It is a take on "Le Dejeuner sur l'herbe" by Claude Monet. My version is somewhat different (self evidently). It was quite large if I recall about  4 ft x 6 ft?
It was done for a college task. I didn't dislike it and had it on the wall for a while. However the positioning of the main figure is all wrong. That irritated the hell out of me. It is right in the middle and too high. As I recall the college didn't particularly like it either. Probably because it still resembled something and was painted quite nicely.  I kept the work for a while but it was in the way and I moved on or more correctly came full circle. It then made its way to Nant y Caws (the local tip).

Working on a large surface can cause problems in a small studio. I remember working on a large portrait. It looked fine in the studio but once I took it out and looked at it from 30ft it was pretty awful. I didn't even try to correct it I just started again from scratch.

Monday, 20 May 2013

"Barents Sea" at the Texaco Jetty Milford Haven

As Jac and I were out for our walk this morning I got to thinking it would be a nice day for a sail.
It is now a few years since we had to give up the sailing boat and to be honest I know its something we won't go back to. But there are days when I think it would be nice to be out on the water, sailing down the Milford Haven, past the jetties with the tankers discharging there cargo, the boat heeling at a kind angle and a wave occasionally splashing on the fore deck. Then out to Skomer Island to see the Puffins. Lunch at anchor with seals for company.

 A faded memory now but still its nice to have had those experiences. The painting above is one I did of the tanker Barents Sea against the old Texaco Refinery as it was then.

Last night I decided there wasn't much on the television so we would watch a film. In the end I chose "Prometheus" the prequel to "Alien".
After about ten minutes Alex turned to me and said,"Is this a true story?" I wasn't sure what to say.

This morning my mother in law was describing someone to us.
She looked at me and said, "He is about the same size as Mark but thin." Okay point taken but at tad brutal.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Rook

We always sit and watch the birds on the bird table while we have breakfast. It is always entertaining to see which birds have the upper hand. The rooks are probably the biggest visitors and turn their heads to the side and shovel the bird food in with the side of their beaks. This also allows them to have a beady on the sky for unwelcome visitors.

The rook is part of the crow family. There are many superstitions involving rooks and crows. Alex thought it was particularly bad luck when our old cat "Merlin" brought one in to the house.

Anyway who is king on the bird table? Well I am not quite sure as they all jostle for position but surprisingly the old wood pigeon doesn't get pushed around for anything.
I started to do a line drawing of one of the rooks and then thought I would add a bit of colour I had to stop or the next thing it would be a full blown painting.

Link: one of my favourite singers

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Clevedon Pier

Yesterday Alex and I went to Clevedon for a birthday party for 2 of our grandchildren.
I am not the most sociable person at parties and generally end up in the kitchen, which was where I was yesterday. As the children had all come as pirates I was probably a lot safer in there anyway.
It was a good party and all seemed to enjoy.

 I obviously didn't get any painting done yesterday but I did sneak off for half an hour and managed to do a sketch of Clevedon Pier surrounded by the muddy waters of the Bristol Channel. The blobs in the sky are on my scanner- reminder must clean the glass. I did have an A3 scanner but it was more trouble than it was worth and was always playing up so to give myself a life I took it the recycling.

An obvious link Jona Lewie

Friday, 17 May 2013

Spring Flowers

This morning was bright and beautiful as I walked Jac around the woods and fields. The horses welcomed us hoping for some tit bit. Blackbirds led the morning chorus and a buzzard flew over us as we came into a clearing in the wood.  We were too early for the cows who were still being milked. As we came down Heol Penlan-Ffos  blue bells and dandelions in equal amounts adorned the hedgerows.

The painting above is one of a few that I have done of flowers. I love looking at them but I don't really "Know " them and I have so much else to paint anyway. I never used to bring Alex flowers in case she wondered "Why"! Nowadays she is used to my impulsive nature and I do get them as and when.

Link Guess

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Mwnt and the Church Of the Holy Cross

Here is the finished painting of Mwnt and the Church of the Holy Cross. Apparently this site has been occupied since the iron age when a hill fort was located there. A small church or cell was here in the 6th Century. It is fairly robust presumably to stand up to the fierce winter gales.

Anyway it is finished and I am not displeased with it.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Merlin's Hill ---- Alice's Restaurant

Merlin's Hill didn't look like that this morning. It was just poking out of the rain. The river Towy had broken its bank and was flooding the valley.The world was grey windy and wet. I quite liked it! The painting above was started last summer and finished last week.

Monday evening Alex and I entertained two old friends. Well to be truthful Alex entertained and fed them I just got entertained along with them. (But I did dry up on Tuesday Morning!). Now Alex is a terrific cook and host. She had bought long horn beef and much other wonderful produce mostly local. Unfortunately and unusually the beef was tough. Still not Alex's fault she had cooked it perfectly. One very rare blip in Alex's Restaurant.

Link Don't blame me if you get a bit fed up with it. It was ok in 1967 and it is a nice study in irony.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Mwnt ~ A Summers Place

Today I started a painting of Mwnt. You can see I started by sketching out the basic outlines and blocking in the cliff with a brush using burnt umber and turps. This is just rough and should take a few minutes. I made a mistake in that the ridge of the church roof coincides with the horizon. I amend this as I lay down the sky. I change the shape of the hill to make it more interesting as well.

A couple of hours later we have the basis of the painting done. I have worked top down for convenience on this occasion. Tomorrow I will get it finished, right now its time to go and get the grandchildren then tonight we have a meeting of the co-operative.

Link suits the mood although I did think of the Acid House Band KLF Justified and Ancient!

Monday, 13 May 2013

National Botanical Garden of Wales

Yesterday Alex and I went to the National Botanical Garden of Wales. There was a food fair on and Alex was keen to see Ludovic the French Chef (ex Masterchef) who has a restaurant in Newcastle Emlyn. As for myself I was interested in the food and seeing the Garden as I hadn't been there for some time.

The weather was pretty poor which was a pity. We had Paella for lunch and I confess it was disappointing . For me it was too dry and a just bowl of yellow rice topped by a mussel and King Prawn. I admit I am  spoilt as Alex makes a superb Paella so the poor guy didn't stand much chance with his takeaway version.

I was impressed by the glasshouse which has now developed a lot since I last saw it. Anyway we had a pleasant couple of hours before I got bored and dragged Alex away.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Big River ~ Old Carmarthen Quay

I did this painting of Old Carmarthen Quay yesterday. The Gaol is shown in the background and the bridge shown was replaced in the 1920's by the current one. The palette of colours was partly chosen to suit a frame I had for it and the style to match the period. The river used to be the main artery for trading in the area until the railway came along. Ships were built on the bank. Now it is of no great commercial value except for tourism and to be honest I think more could be done with it. Many towns would kill for a tidal river frontage.

People buy or choose paintings for varying reasons for example, cost, the artist, the subject, and the size.
Generally of course they like it and can live with it on their wall. Occasionally you get a different reason.
A lady came in to the gallery the other week with a curtain and went around the paintings looking for a  painting that would match her decor. Nothing wrong with that it kind of makes sense to buy a painting as a matching accessory. To be honest I was quite pleased she didn't buy one of mine. I know that sounds a bit snobby but I prefer to think my paintings are bought because they are valued by the purchaser.


Saturday, 11 May 2013

Red Kite Kidwelly Castle

The painting above is the one I was working on yesterday. It shows a red kite at Kidwelly Castle.

I watched the Scarlets play Ulster on the TV last night. Although I hadn't expected Scarlets to win it was a disappointing game. Scarlets were pedestrian until Gareth Davies came on in the second half and to put it delicately the Scarlets had no help whatsoever from the officials. I am surprised they didn't walk off the field.

The other day we were sent some photos of the Olivier Awards. It was funny to see our Nephew in them. Following his degree in art and design at Cardiff (specifically for the theatre) he has become a very successfull set designer. Well done Tom.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Modern Manager

It is over 10 years since I left the Police Force. I rarely have contact with anyone from the police but on the odd occasion I do meet someone I generally have an interesting conversation.
The other day a lady came up to Alex and asked after me. She told Alex I had treated her very well when I was in the Police. At first Alex assumed it was a case of mistaken identity. I suppose I was a bit in the Alex Ferguson mold. Lets just say I was not your modern manager! In fact I think the term "manager" should be banned in the Police Force it should be all about leaders and leadership. I didn't tolerate fools gladly but like to think I was always fair.

Modern Manager? Generally people say to me "Do you remember when...? " and then relate a story of woe when I end up tearing a strip off them... Frankly for the most part I don't remember the particular incident but it obviously had an effect on them (hopefully the desired one). On the other hand if my staff had a genuine problem I would do all I could to help them. So it was nice to get a bit of positive feedback.

Today I spent at the gym and then reworking a painting that had been annoying me for a while. Oh, the watercolour painting above is Dyfed Powys Police Headquarters as it was when I finished.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Short Sunderland Flying Boat ~ Milford Haven

Yesterday Alex and I went to Cwm Deri Vineyard in Pembrokeshire. We had a wine tasting session and stroll around the vineyard. It was all very pleasant. The wines were very good and the surroundings immaculate. We had taken our camper van so we stopped in their campsite overnight (very convenient) checking another bottle of their damson rose! It was a pleasant day and I would recommend anyone to visit there if they are in the area. In addition to wines there is other Welsh produce and a restaurant open for lunch.

This is the website:

We got back this morning and I got on and finished the Sunderland shown above. It will be dry in time for the exhibition in Picton Castle. If there is sufficient interest I can have a Private View for the Exhibition at Picton Castle on 7th June 6.30pm free admission with drink and nibbles.. If you are interested in going please email  Alex ASAP and we can decide if it is feasible.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


I helped one of our grandson's with their homework last night. When I was at school I hated homework and to be honest I didn't like school. I left at sixteen. Getting back to the homework it was nothing too taxing just a picture of old Carmarthen. He chose to do one of the Gwili Railway. I am not a great teacher as I feel inclined to grab the brush or pencil and do it myself. I suppose where painting is concerned I want to see it done as I imagine it.
That is one reason I don't teach the other is I want to spend my time painting not showing others how to do it.
Anyway back to the homework, he did a good job of the Tank Engine Heulwen. (Shown above as painted by myself hauling a passenger train).

This week I have to finish the painting of the Sunderland and start another landscape. Alex did ten frames the other day and is going flat out.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Short Sunderland ~ stage one

Last night Alex and I went to David Cowdry's House for dinner. Another artist Andrew Evans was also there with his wife and we had a lovely evening. Andrew is quite a character and very good company. The food was excellent and we went home full.

Today I decided to do something different and started a painting of a Short Sunderland Flying Boat in Milford Haven. I have painted smaller versions before. Anyway that is as far as I have got so far. With the plane blocked in and the sky done. I tend to draw and paint objects coming from the left be it a plane, a train or whatever. I don't know why I just like the composition that way.

Monday, 6 May 2013


I did this little watercolour commission today of Llansaint. A lady had seen the card Alex does of it and asked if I could do another watercolour of it. No problem

I was interrupted when I was painting by the telephone. I didn't recognise the number but answered it to be greeted by:
"Can I speak to the Sky account holder?"
I said, "Do you realise its a Bank Holiday?"
To be answered by a confident/cocky, "Of course I do sir that's why I am ringing You."
I replied "Well I have better things to do today."
"No problem,"he replied "I' ll ring you back soon."

Now I am normally pretty patient but I don't know how many times I have been asked to take out insurance for my Sky equipment. I know the lad is only trying to earn some money but frankly I get a bit fed up with it.
Anyway I suppose that's why Alex got me an apron with "Grumpy Old Man" on it.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Picton Castle Exhibition 3rd - 29th June 2013

Today I went down to Picton Castle to meet Sharon and make the final arrangements for the next exhibition starting on 3rd June.The place was heaving and the gardens were coming into their own. The scent and colour of the magnolias on the main drive were beautiful. I took the opportunity to have a cup of tea and chat with Maria who runs the lovely cafe. There was a plant sale on so it was a good job Alex didn't go. I took the opportunity for a quick sketch above.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Carpe Deium ~ Seize the Day

Here is the painting for the book cover of the next in the series "The Carmarthen Underground" which is due out later this year. I can't really say more than that. I have read the first in the series and found it enjoyable. I am looking forward to reading the next one.

I did some reworking yesterday on an old canvas  that had been looking at me for about a year. It had been propped up against the wall in my studio. It wasn't finished and I felt it was time to seize the day. Alex framed 10 paintings yesterday so a good weeks work done this week.

Last night we went to watch the Scarlets. Good running rugby, excellent backs moves, great work at the breakdown. Unfortunately this was all down to Benneton Treviso as Scarlets had the worst performance I have seen in 30 years. They only came second because there were only two teams playing. Not a good day at the office and we left with ten minutes to go another first for us. Still tomorrow (or actually next Friday) is another day as they say so lets hope they seize the day!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Pembrokeshire Cottages

I started a painting today. I had a painting in mind for a while of a larger version of some cottages in Newport I had done previously. I found the right frame so it was time to get on with it.
I used ochre and brown umber with neat turps to draw the picture mostly using the negative space to outline the buildings. It may look a bit odd but trust me it will be fine. This gives me a sense of the composition and the tonal values.

Next I work from the top using my own medium and oil getting the background done. You can see it is starting to take shape now.

I then work on the foreground. Having the some ochre ground makes it easy to have fractured colours in the trees and grass. ( Fractured colours are areas of broken colours showing through and against each other).
Anyway the final painting is shown below. The mountain is Mynydd Carningli.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Farm North wales

The above watercolour painting went today. It was one I did in North Wales at Dolwyddelan. I hope you like it Gail.
I spent the first part of the morning working on images for a book cover. Then the gym and then off to see my Mom.

I am not sure yet about tomorrow. The Canada Geese were on the reservoir this morning and maybe I will do a painting of them?