Sunday, 30 June 2013

George Thomas Hospice

The above painting is one I did last year for George Thomas Hospice Care in Cardiff. I was more than pleased when Nicky Piper asked me if I would do a painting for them again this year. It is such a worthwhile cause I couldn't refuse.  

I have a scene in mind which I think should come out well. I have a while to do the painting but then this is the busy time for us so I have prepared a board and will make my final decision in the next day or so with a view to getting it underway this week.

Anyway keep an eye out for the Art Exhibition at the hospice it is on in October. I will post something about it again nearer the time.

Saturday, 29 June 2013


I was woken this morning to the sounds of Adiemus by Karl Jenkins. So I thought maybe I would share it with you.

Karl Jenkins is from Penclawdd, Near Swansea and holds a Doctorate of Music from the University of Wales. He started as a Jazz musician. Anyway he is a great composer and I love this uplifting score. Perhaps I should have put some local scenes with it but I have a lot to do today. I have to watch the Lions test and then take down our Exhibition in Picton Castle.

Friday, 28 June 2013

A tale of two artists

The other day I was contacted by a lady regarding a post that I had done in 2010. The post was in relation to a very fine impressionist artist Clive Richard Browne.  Judy was a friend of Clive and corrected me on some of his details. He was in fact born in Keelby and was very much a Lincolnshire artist not a Norfolk artist. It is always nice to get feedback from my blogs and it is always surprising what they unearth. Clive is very much an under valued artist with little information available about him or his work. His work is in the National Collection as well as County Galleries and yet his works sell for next to nothing. I bought a painting of his purely because of the brushwork, composition and pleasing nature of the work. I found the signature afterwards. The painting is shown above.

Okay so where am I going with this? 

It is quite possible to buy a quality painting for very little if you know what you are looking for and are not interested in a "name".

Secondly lets have a bit of realism here. I have been to exhibitions where new artists have gone to a lot of effort to show their work but have absolutely no grasp on the realities of the commercial world. Possibly because no-one has given them appropriate guidance.
I have gasped at prices of £5,000 - £15000 for paintings that could have taken less than a day to paint by completely unknown artists. Somehow they are surprised and disappointed that they don't sell. 

Now lets be fair Members of the Royal Academy who are well known and are collectable rarely charge that much. Ken Howard a lovely impressionist painter for example has work available for much less than that.

If they were to take my advice it would to ask a fair day's pay for a good piece of work. Compare yourself to any other skilled person, plumber, plasterer but not of course a banker.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The Milk Cow Blues

Here is the finished painting of Marloes Beach. The rocks are amazing and are great for the composition.

This morning Jac and I met the cows coming out of milking. As we got onto the top road they were coming back down the lane onto the field. Not normally a problem. Today however there was one white heifer or cow however that had got one on her. She insisted on following Jac and I along with four or five of her posse or crew. Getting within 10 yards she would break into a trot at which point I would turn and go towards her shouting. This did the trick a couple of times. However having a 1660lb cow bearing down on you is not for the feint hearted or even the strong hearted to be honest.  Although  she stopped and ran back each time she soon resumed her harassment and she persisted in her behaviour all the way to the cattle grid some 300 yards. I confess I was quite pleased to say my farewells to her at this point.

Link;  The musselwhite family band and

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Newgale and Ricketts Head ~ Pembrokeshire

The above painting sold today. It is of Newgale with Ricketts Head in the background.
Had a bit of an odd day today. Up at 5.30 am took both dogs around reservoirs. Then took Jac up through the woods and over the top of Penlanffos. Our lodger dog is unable to go too far or uphill so it is two walks twice a day. I had breakfast and was in the Gym by 7.30am. Walked to the dentist for 10.15 am where they informed me my tooth was a bit of a disaster having exploded to the accompaniment of almond nuts. Got home walked the dogs again and then had a quick lunch.

Alex and I then went to Cwm Ifor where I gave a talk. It was a lovely group of people who were interested and asked searching questions.

Back then to feed the chickens for another family member.

So you may have guessed no painting today. May have a glass of wine now ? What do you think?

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Marloes and the dentist

Here is the first stage of the painting of Marloes Beach. I have drawn the outline of the rocks, cliff and islands. I have then worked down from the sky to the horizon. So far so good. I want to give the idea of the space and depth of the sands hence two thirds of the painting are beach and sea the one third sky.

I am off to the dentist tomorrow as I have broken a tooth! Then I am giving a talk. I know I said I don't do them anymore well I don't but somehow I agreed to this one a while back. I may will do a painting as I could be numb and dribbling after the dentist a bit like Mr Bean!

Monday, 24 June 2013

A sketch in time.

I have been busy painting over the weekend and today. The sketch above is 24ins x 16 ins for one of the paintings. It is of Marloes Beach looking out towards Skomer Island. We love this part of the coast and have sailed the waters a lot over the years. Tomorrow I will show the next stage.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Last week of the exhibition

I have been busy painting this weekend in between watching the rugby and hosting our visitors.
So to be getting on with here is a photo of me at the Picton Exhibition which is finishing next weekend. I cant say it has been an outstanding success but on the other hand it hasn't been a disaster.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Pembrokeshire Meadow

We were away in Pembrokeshire on Thursday. On our walk we took the dog through a fantastic meadow in  probably about 2 acres of wild grass and flowers. I can just remember my biology lessons form 40+ years ago. The grasses can be identified by the spikes or spikelets at the head of the stem. I remember and could identify cocksfoot, the oat grasses and Poa after that it gets a bit hazy. Anyway it was a field of diverse British nature unspoilt, with dandelions, purple and white clover, buttercups, a miriad of grasses bounded by a hedge of oak, hawthorn, ash and beech. To top it all the hedge had magenta foxgloves pushing through the the top. As Jac ran through the tall grass clouds of seed exploded around him giving off wonderful smells. Then we were treated to flocks of goldfinches feeding on the flower seeds and moving in unison in a wave motion from one part of the meadow to another. yes a magical day.
Yesterday we were in the gallery so no painting done. Today I have to prime boards (and watch the rugby) as I have a couple of paintings to do next week.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Number 2 daughter

I have had a busy day today but haven't had time to do any painting. A good walk, 1.5 hours in the gym, watch the Lions!!, walk the dog collect two grandchildren, cut my mother's lawn and trim her hedge. Yes the Lions were disappointing, but if we had injured anymore of our first team it would have been worse.
The watercolour sketch above is of one of our daughters who has just come back from Rhodes. Note to self, clean glass on scanner.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Boys on the Beach

The painting above is on an easel in my studio. I decided to do a very quick oil painting as I have agreed to give a talk or demonstration next week. I have stopped doing both talks and demonstrations but unusually I agreed this one off. My digital projector is working but the colours aren't great so a talk was out. I thought maybe I would do an oil demonstration. I have always done watercolour demonstrations in the past. This being the case today I thought I had better do a 30 minute painting to practice pacing myself. I forced myself to stop dead on 30 minutes but had pretty well finished it.

The result is above, an impressionist painting of boys on the beach.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

My Viewpoint

I have two viewpoints one literally a physical place and one a place in my mind. I will explain more. On my daily walk I stop and look over the valley take in the scene, the smell, the sounds and let it permeate into my mind. This view point is a gap in the hedge on Penllanffos overlooking Cwmoernant Farm.

My other place is a non existent place. I was privileged to practice Shotokhan Karate until I was in my 40's. I was trained under a number of Sensei however my first Sensei had the greatest impact. He was more interested in the mental process of Karate than the physical. Don't get me wrong we physically trained very hard but having a clear calm mind under all circumstances was an ongoing objective. Not easy when someone is trying to take your head off. I digress. During the sessions and particularly at the end we were required to relax, clear the mind and go to a specific place in your mind. I am still able to do that. Despite many many difficult situations I never suffered from stress in my work with the police (some may say I may have caused a bit!). I believe that this training had much to do with it.

Anyway the watercolour sketch above is my viewpoint. When my time comes I would like to have my ashes spread there ( hopefully not for a while). Of course there are no guarantees and sods law says the ashes my family are given will not be mine but Mrs. Jones of 27, Heol David Lloyd George and my ashes will be buried under a bench in the garden of 27, Heol David Lloyd George. I guess I would find that quite funny.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Llangennith Beach

The painting above is the first stage of a painting that went this week. I don't have a photo of the final work for some reason. Anyway it was a scene of the Gower Worms Head from Llangennith Beach. Much of the underpainting is still shown here and the sky is a work in progress. I was pleased with the final result but seem to have forgotten to photograph it.

Alex and I went to Cwmderi in Pembrokeshire for a meal last night. I have to say I haven't had a better meal out for many years. We have had great meals and different meals. We have been lucky enough to dine at expensive restaurants such as the Ritz on a few occasions and at many recognised establishments. Some were good, other's occasionally disappointing, overstated (and overpriced). Going on my experience last night I can say for taste and value Cwmderi is superb if you like Italian Cuisine.
(You need to check opening hours as it is generally open in the day but only Fri and Sat in the evenings.)

Friday, 14 June 2013

Pontargothi Vintage Rally

I was in the workshop last night doing a job for our son when I came across a hot air engine I had made many years ago. They are quite a clever concept working without fuel just on the heat of a naked flame. I was looking for a piece of decent timber and was in two minds about using the Iroko plinth the engine was mounted on. In the end I decided to leave it although I hadn't used the engine in 15 years.
I have always been intrigued with how things work. I was one of those boys that would take things apart and put them back together out of curiosity. Of course sometimes they never went back together. I used to visit the Science Museum in Birmingham and was always fascinated by the large steam engines which were often shown working. I went around Guest Keen and Nettlefold's factory as a boy and was intrigued by the screwcutting machinery (invented by Whitworth). My father was  apart from a chemist, and electrical engineer a self taught engineer and made mostly anything including lathes, milling machines, metal cutting machines all out of metal from the local black smiths. His workshop was like a nineteen century mill with many pulleys going around and the clatter of the metal teeth joining the flat belts hitting the pulleys.( H&S would not have been amused) I was always happy to be in there learning something new.
Anyway Alex and I took the children to Steam Fairs when they were young and I have enjoyed painting machinery and steam engines. Its the old maxim paint what you understand. That is the problem I have with all the Chinese art factories. I cringe when I see their painted galleons and efforts at 19th century works. The artists are clearly talented but they have no idea what they are painting and to me it shows. They are just not convincing whereas if they painted village/city life or the mountains of China I am sure they would be fine.
Anyway the painting above is of two characters at Pontargothi Vintage Rally talking over a stationary engine. I believe this is event is on 29th and 30th June in 2013. I intend to get there if I can.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

She closed her eyes - A day at the beach

A day at the beach shown above is one of the paintings that has sold this week. I love the simplicity of it. It reminds me of the 1950's railway posters advertising sea side holidays. They were of course flat block prints but had the same feel about them.  It could be anybodies childhood or motherhood memory. To Quote Chris Rea:

She closed her eyes
And let them fall away

And in her dreams she is standing by an ocean
She is gazing out to sea
She can remember with just a fleeting glimpse
That she was once free
So long ago now, so long it was as if it had never been
Was it a holiday
She thinks it could have been


Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Cultural Differences in language

Children are like sponges and absorb everything. This is mainly a good quality although it can have its downsides. For instance where they are influenced by different cultures. Now two of our children have spouses from Ireland. Naturally enough the grandchildren pick up and copy what they hear. This can be disconcerting and confusing for them.

Now and again they may hear the Lords name taken in vain in this country. Not really an issue. Should anyone dare to do this in front of their Irish grandparents they are likely to get a boxed ear and be given a severe admonishment.

(Now I appreciate a boxed ear is absolutely taboo and history has shown that banning physical chastisement of children has resulted in a perfect paradise of well behaved youths and a non violent society! That is unless you happen to live in the real world not the Eutopia of Liberal life that never has to leave the comfort of their cocooned existence or get the last bus home at night). Sorry that was getting a bit controversial.

Anyway on with my cultural theme. It is not acceptable to take the Lords name in vain in one side of the family, or Irish Sea, but it is quite normal and acceptable to say "fecking hell!". Hence the issue when the little granddaughter walks into the kitchen at home and says "Mommy there's fecking water on the floor!" What can you say to a confused child?

The mother and child in my drawing are of the artist Marie Vigee Lebrun and her daughter Julie who experienced  very different cultures, The French Revolution and the comparative safety of Russia, Austria, Italy and Britain.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The Rapeseed Field

This morning Alex and I had to take a trip to Cardiff Airport. Somehow I ended up with a gentleman trying to tell me his life story in real time minute by minute. Now I know I am not very sociable but I do enjoy a conversation but not however a monologue. I had never met him before and I was probably the only person left in the world he hadn't told his life history to. In the end I found an excuse to move and left him turning to some other poor unfortunate victim.

Anyway on the way back I saw two scenes that I thought I must get down on canvas.

Artists/painters can be generally categorised as either a tonal painter or a colourist. Tonalism itself is a name given to an American art movement. Painters may be more interested in the colours or the tonal values in a painting. For my part I tend to be more interested in the tonal values.

However today I saw a rapeseed field on the way back to Carmarthen. The yellow field went to the horizon and met a blue grey sky. It was stunning. The scene is all about that meeting of yellow and grey. I got home and painted it. There it is above verging on abstraction but not quite.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Car Boot Sale

I was asked the other day about sketching. A lady wanted to know how to go about drawing or sketching. She didn't have time to go to classes and hadn't done any art since school. I suggested just buying a cheap A4 and or A5 sketch book plus a couple of pencils (2b , 4b) and getting on with it. Keeping the subject as simple as possible. Keep the picture uncluttered and perhaps use only outlines to start. Later they can be coloured in with watercolours if she wished.
Look at other people sketches everyone is different.

The little sketch above is a good example of what I was trying to say. The subject is a dealer at the Carmarthen Car Boot Sale. The outlines probably took me 3 minutes and the same to add a bit of colour. All very simple but it captures the scene.

I quite like going to car boot sales. It is a bit like a child with a treasure map. You are always on the look out for that bit of gold hidden amongst the debris of other people lives. Of course most of the time you come home with one more bit of useless junk you don't really need.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Still Life and Food as I know it

The other day we went out for an evening and had an interesting meal. Now for starter we had a salad course. I like salad. I have never had salad without at least one of the following: tomatoes, or beetroot or spring onion, or apple, or avocado, or nuts, or cucumber. This salad was a small pile of rocket leaves with a dressing and a few pumpkin seeds?  I appreciate I am not up with the latest food etiquette but for me it was a bit too strange. The meal got stranger as we went on. It was all nice but just a weird mixture of courses like a cheese board before dessert. It could well have been a theme but I am not sure for what. Anyway I won't say where it was, as we have eaten there before and the food was fine and in any case probably other people thought it was fine too. I suppose I am just a boring stick in the mud where food is concerned. It may be food but not as I know it.  Bring me prawn cocktail, soup in a basket and I am happy!
Oh and a glass of wine or two.

The still life painting is one I did a few years ago.

Link a bit (sorry a lot) annoying but ...

Friday, 7 June 2013

Sheep in the Preseli's

The other day coming back from Pembrokeshire I had a good view of the Preseli's as Alex drove. I thought I must do something to include that. I thought I would frame it between two clumps of trees with a path leading into the painting. I then thought that sheep coming from within the painting towards the viewer would complete the composition.

So yesterday I thought I would give it a go. I decided on a light fluid style and after brushing in a few guide lines with burnt umber and doing a ground of burnt sienna went for it. The result a couple of hours later is shown above. It is pretty much finished. There are a couple of things to add but if I am not careful it will lose its fluidity.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

A quick sketch of Alex

On Tuesday Alex and I went to Cwmderi Vineyard. We took the camper and had lunch in the restaurant. The food was excellent and very good value. A 3 course meal for £13.95 each. I should add we had a bottle of wine as well. We then retired to our camper to read and enjoy the afternoon sunshine. I took the rare opportunity to sketch Alex while she was comparatively still.
To get the right angles on the face it is often easier to draw a series of short straight lines and smooth them out after if necessary as is the case above.
Last night Alex went out with her mother for a meal with her mother's friends. There was a traditional Welsh Dancing Display which they both joined in and Alex was asked if she would join the group. I have to say she is a very good dancer so I can understand why. I think she would look good in Welsh National Costume so I will keep you posted!

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Coffee Time

I do not drink coffee I do drink tea.  The last time I had a cup of coffee was about 8 years ago although I had given up long before that. Anyway some 8 years ago we were in a restaurant in Bristol with our family celebrating s family event. I had quite a nasty headache. Fortunately our daughter is very knowledgeable as regards medical issues and advised me to have a cup of expresso. As I say I didn't drink coffee and as far as I am aware I had never had an expresso before. I readily accepted her advice and drank the vile tasting brew. I have to say that within minutes my mild headache was gone. It was replaced by a migraine that hit me like a train. I had to leave the restaurant with Alex guiding me.

That was definitely the last cup of coffee for me.Give me a hangover any day!

Why I bring this up is Alex occasionally enjoys a cup of coffee and the other day I noticed she had bought a new jar with coffee granules in it. So when she asked for a cup of coffee I naturally used this new coffee. The problem was the granules didn't dissolve and merely floated around the top.
I pointed this out to Alex who responded, "You idiot those are toasted crumbs for my puddings!"

Anyway obviously many people enjoy coffee and the painting above is of 2 gentlemen enjoying their morning capuccino or whatever in Hay on Wye.

\\\\\\link obvious

Tuesday, 4 June 2013


I have talked about the Venice Biennale previously. We have been to Venice in fact when the Biennale was on but felt our time was better spent enjoying the sights and doing some sketching for paintings like the one above.
I know it is questionable to be critical of something you haven't seen but if you don't want to do something why do it?  For example I have never seen the Sound of Music (and don't intend to either).

Anyway just to prove a point I was listening to the World Service at about 3.30am the other morning, (no, I don't sleep much). A poem came on that originated from the Biennale. I won't quote it all for copyright reasons (and also I can't remember it all) but it went something like this:

" I don't want a new car,
  I don't want a big house.
  I don't want flashy clothes.
  I don't want a big yacht.
  I don't want any material things.
  I just want money!"

I was quite amused so maybe I was being a bit too judgemental but there again maybe not. As the quote goes,

 "Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement."


Monday, 3 June 2013

Picton Castle

The exhibition is now up at Picton Castle. Alex and I were up early for the off. The paintings were all up by 11 o'clock. So the Exhibition is now on until 29th June.  Jean Thomas is the artist in the other gallery. Her works are pretty amazing, large canvases that are full of sea birds and movement.
If you would like to come along to a private viewing a chat and a pleasant soiree on this Friday evening admission free please let me know by Thursday at the latest.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Llandefaelog Church

I saw a charity was asking for donations this week all for a good local cause. I offered to give a painting or print. I am happy to help with good causes in this way and often do.  As a rule they are all local. I will help Macmillan, the local hospice etc but I rarely give money to overseas charities. I like to know what the money is being spent on or how my donation will help. Perhaps I am wrong and unchristian but that is just the way I see it.
Anyway I did the little watercolour of Llandefaelog Church today. The colours haven't quite come out right on the image but I don't want to spend time on photoshop to get it right.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Old Cocker Spaniel

Here as promised is the completed painting of our daughter and son in law's old cocker spaniel "Shabby" kennel club name "Rimfire Rita".
You can probably see now why I was happy to paint her. She has a really interesting face as old age is coming upon her quickly. Of course the eyes are central to getting the character right.

This morning was a beautiful walk with the two dogs. I stopped on top of the valley to watch a sparrow hawk glide across the trees by Cwm Oernant Farm below me. You could see across to Mynydded y Garreg in the South and Green Castle Corner in the South West. Looking North East you could see the wind turbines out towards Brechfa slowly turning. Looking towards Merlin's Hill a field of this years calves were highlighted against the light. Each one was a rich dark brown silhouette with a golden outline of light.

Sorry I'm going all poetic. Breakfast calls.