Monday, 30 September 2013

The Valley.

I am back into my early morning walks now without feeling any the worse for wear. Its nice to get the view of the valley waking up. Jac appreciates it as well. Yesterday we took our time and I collected a good pound of blackberries which I turned into a blackberry and apple crumble. I didn't post anything yesterday as Alex was in front of the computer all day with papers everywhere, yes the accounts are a pain. Anyway she must be nearly finished as she is smiling.

I have been priming boards in between putting the garden to bed for winter.

I have in mind a large painting as my next project and hope to start it tomorrow or Wednesday.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

W R Colquhoun - Cirencester St John Baptist Church

I did this watercolour of St John the Baptist Church in Cirencester from a bench in the churchyard.
I had 30 minutes to spare before meeting Alex. 30 minutes is a short time when painting and taking the dog for a walk. It is a very long time when Alex is let loose with the credit card in the shops.

Anyway I did the little watercolour without interruption. Occasionally there are the odd early morning drinkers in the graveyard which can be a bit off putting.The bench was in a lovely position under a tree. I noticed the dedication to W R Colquhoun born 1899 died 1971. I wondered who he was and looked him up on line on returning to Carmarthen. He lived at Cecilly Hill House in Cirencester and is in Burkes Peerage.  His father was decorated and took part in the relief of Kimberly in the Boer War.

Anyway curiosity satisfied on this account. I am stewarding in the gallery today.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Aberaeron Harbour

Above is the finished painting of Aberaeron Harbour. Well pretty well finished I will take a couple of days to look it over and make any final adjustments. There is slightly too much contrast in the image compared to the original. With a subject like this it is very much about what to leave out and get a successful composition. I think I have got it about right in any case it came out how I intended. The town is composed of brightly painted houses which look best in strong sunshine and that is what I tried to capture. I will probably send it to the printers to have the image captured for future prints.

Today I have plenty of work to do in the garden. Alex is off delivering a painting and then is getting on with the accounts.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Man's Best Friend

Here is a little watercolour sketch of Jac I did last week. I took him out the other day for a walk around the Cwm Oernant Reservoirs. There are two lakes an upper and lower joined by a very deep series of steps forming a weir. This channels the water from the top lake to the lower.

Of course as we were walking around Jac decided to jump in the top step and then continue down.
Unfortunately the last step is about a ten foot drop and the walls are like contained tanks. He could only go down and when he got to the last one he was stuck. He cries like a baby when he is stuck or cant get out of somewhere it is a horrible heart rendering noise. I should think anyone within a mile could hear him.

The other thing I hadn't mentioned is that the weir is surrounded by overgrown brambles. I had no option but to wade through the brambles and climb into the tank lean down and lift him out. Yes I got caught by the brambles and yes I got very wet and muddy. Jac thought nothing of it and ran off continuing his walk! Thanks pal, so much for man's best friend!

Today I finished my painting of Aberaeron Harbour along with another painting I had been working on.

Link A good old song thank you Cat

Wednesday, 25 September 2013


I did this little series of sketches whilst sat out last week. Yes you get the idea people and dogs.
Whenever I take Jac out people always stop and make a fuss of him and chat. I do likewise. I guess its  a dog person sort of thing.

Anyway Alex and I were talking to an elderly couple who had an old black German Shepherd sporting some nasty injuries.
They told us the following story.

They had been walking when an American Pit Bull Terrier (or something similar) leapt out of a car ran down the road and attacked their dog. It caught the dog around the head and they couldn't get it to let go. They were extremely distressed and this was happening in the centre of the town with passers-by trying to help. The owner turned up and he eventually got it off. The German Shepherd was badly bitten with cuts and bleeding over his head and neck. The lady was in tears.

The part I found sad was that they told us that they called the police "who didn't want to know". This is something that surprised me as I was unaware that the Dangerous Dogs Legislation had been repealed. (It hasn't and the updated powers were introduced to give the police powers to deal with this type of incident). Now I am naturally a very big supporter of the police and it is my experience that they generally do all the big things really well. The majority of the public however only ever need to ask for help with "the little things" ( if you can call being attacked by a dangerous dog a little thing)  and it with those that the police occasionally don't do so well.

Fortunately the general public came to the assistance of the elderly couple and even blocked the path of the owner of the Pit Bull preventing him taking his car until he gave his name and address to enable them to reclaim the vets expenses. ( Although whether he will ever pay is another matter).

 This did not happen in West Wales and I would expect that if it did the Police would take a better course of action after all the next victim could be a child in a pram.

( Bit of a heavy blog this morning where did all that come from? Memo to self "Must get off my soap box".)

On a lighter note I am getting on well with my painting this week despite a morning in the dentist and some necessary work in the garden.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

St Mary's Abbey Gatehouse Cirencester

The sketch I did last week is of St Mary's Abbey Gatehouse in Cirencester. The Gatehouse is all that now remains of the abbey. The gatehouse is quite ancient as the Abbey was consecrated in the 1100's. While I was doing the sketch I had a number of people come up to chat including one man who introduced himself with, " I am an artist you know."
Well the conversation went down hill from there. To be fair to him I was in a bit of a hurry as I only had 20 minutes before I had to meet Alex so I probably wasn't as tolerant as I should have been. He did however try to interest me in his life story in real time minute by minute. When I finally asked the question what had he drawn or painted recently he couldn't remember.

Anyway talking about old things I think I am getting a bit of a complex. When I was recovering from my recent illness I saw my friend  Duncan a very fine potter. He asked how I was and then advised me to take it easy as, " You can't be too careful at your age!"

Yesterday I went to see my mother and she looked up at me and said,
" How old are you now, eighty?" Still I suppose that is an improvement as when I have visited her before she said,"Oh I thought you were dead!"

Link the inimitable Robbie

Monday, 23 September 2013

The Cut

This painting of a lock cottage which sold earlier this month was a 6ins x 6ins version of a previous larger painting. The Cut is a slang name for a canal I assume coming from "cutting" as in a canal or railway cutting.

Alex and I have been away for a few days in the Cotswolds. We had a good time walking, sketching and reading. We also picked a lot of apples and blackberries there so we have been living on tarts! I remember when I was young and we had a boat on the canals the lock cottages were all abandoned.  The overgrown gardens were full of fruit apples, plums berries rhubarb etc. In those days the system was pretty much neglected and it was a struggle to negotiate some locks. There were still some working barges even one pulled by a horse taking household refuse out of Birmingham.  So I have fond memories and like painting the odd canal scene.

Anyway now its back to work. Alex has a number of commissioned paintings to frame and I have a painting to finish this week and there are also the tax returns /accounts!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Scrum V

The above oil painting of the Wales Scrum was sold recently at my exhibition in Aberglasney.
The rugby season is upon us and I am full of hope and expectation! I have only painted a couple of rugby related paintings.This one was 6 ins x 6 ins. It is quite difficult to get any identify features in a painting that small however you may recognise Ryan Jones on this side of the scrum with his hand on the pitch. Also Alan Rolland  and possibly Gareth Cooper if you have a good imagination.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Another fjord

Here is another page from my Icelandic sketchbook showing the entrance to a fjord. You would think when you had seen one you had seen them all but actually I was just in awe of the landscape and couldn't stop sketching it.
All the veg are out of the garden now buckets of apples (yes I know apples are fruit), onions, potatoes, beetroot... so we shouldn't starve over the winter!

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Woodland Path

I painted the above picture about twelve months ago. It was sold two weeks ago. To be honest initially I was surprised it took so long as I was quite taken with it myself. Yet I suppose when I think about it the exposure time was only three weeks, (i.e. the time it was on a wall on view to the public). It is actually on its way to the Middle East strange to think where your work ends up.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Memories of the Bluebell

The other week I was watching Derek Brockway on the television walking along the Offa's Dike path. It was quite nostalgic as he was going through Montgomeryshire and visited places that brought back some good memories.

He went to the Bluebell Inn. 40 years ago it was run by Helen and Alice who had DS. They were lovely. Alice was great fun. Alex and I went there with our friends on many occasions. We were treated to real home cooking and plenty of it. They were long nights!

Derek also went onto Mongomery Castle the top of which is reached by a wooden bridge and you have spectacular views over the Severn Valley.  Alex and I went there with our sheepdog about 1975. He bounded over the walls and ran around having great fun until he came to the outside wall and we watched in horror as he bounded over  and disappeared. We knew he must be dead as it is a 60 foot drop to the ground below. We ran to the wall and looked over. He was running around below us. A visit to the vets confirmed he had somehow escaped with a few cuts. He lived another 13 years. I thought only cats had 9 lives.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


When I was at Aberglasney Exhibition a number of people commented about the above painting. I do not normally paint portraits of animals bit when I saw this dog I felt I had to do it. I took a series of photographs and did the painting at home. I work in many ways, sometimes from sketches alone, sometimes form photographic references (as in this instance) and sometimes en plein aire ( in the open straight from the subject).

Anyway the dog was sat outside a shop in Hay on Wye. I put the painting in the exhibition not because I expect it to sell but purely because it is a sympathetic subject. I was told this story by a couple who came to the exhibition from Hay on Wye. They told me:
The dog's name was "Molly" and belonged to the owner of the shop. She would sit outside the shop and was well known and loved by the people of the town. One day the owner of the shop decided to close the shop down. He left the dog in the care of the next door bookshop. The owner of the bookshop took care of Molly until she passed away.
I can't vouch for the accuracy of the story but it is clear that Molly was well loved and looked after.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Dryslwyn Castle Watercolour

The above watercolour of Dryslwyn Castle went at the recent exhibition in Aberglasney. I painted it standing in a  little pull in at the side of the road. It took me longer than usual to paint as cars kept stopping and the occupants would get out and engage me in conversation. Not that I objected I like to chat about my work. It was a nice summers day and a pleasantly spent morning.

Today I will do a bit of sketching, maybe a watercolour?

Friday, 13 September 2013


This painting of the Holy Cross Church at Mwnt sold a couple of weeks ago. Mwnt is a lovely spot near Cardigan with a beach and headland along with this beautiful 8th century pilgrim church.

I remember the first time we went to Mwnt. The children were small and we were allowed to take our dog on the beach in those days. Anyway a lady lost her wedding ring and she told all the children on the beach that she would give a reward of I think £5 for anyone who found it.

 It was bliss the children were occupied the whole time we were there. In the end we virtually had to drag them off the beach.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Bird Feeder

Alex was feeding the birds on the bird table this morning when a chaffinch flew in to the window.
Now I don't know if the chaffinch initially realised how much danger he was in.

 The window must have stunned him but when Mrs Doctor Doolittle got involved he was at his greatest danger. Alex is a real softy and will try anything. In this instance for some unknown reason she picked up a dried mealy worm and started stroking the chest of the chaffinch. Yes I know what is that all about?

She has never been the same since she read the James Herriot series All Creatures Great and Small.
The chaffinch must have heard about Alex feeding a young sparrow from a matchstick. The sparrow swallowed the matchstick and died, because the chaffinch made a miraculous recovery and flew off.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Train Journey

As you may be aware I was hospitalised a few weeks ago. In my semi conscious state on the first night I shared a ward with three other fellow sufferers of some malady. That first night I seemed to be on a train ride. I was suffering from delirium so I wasn't too sure at first. The night was punctuated with calls of station and then conversations with engine drivers and station masters. Both in Welsh and English. At one point the train broke down and another had to be sent up the line. It seems that one of my fellow patients had been a train guard and he was reliving some or one of his journeys. I was not fully concious but aware enough to finally work it out and listen with as much interest as I could muster at the time. The following night he had been moved so I didn't get a second journey. I am not sure what I would have been calling out probably best if I didn't know.
All my fellow patients were characters and maintained a sense of humour in difficult personal circumstances.

The painting above is of a Stanier on the line in Washwood Heath. I used to sit on the embankment with my brother and watch the trains go by when I was a boy. The spire of the Church is St Marks where my mother and father got married.

Link an old blues favourite

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Fast Bowler

One of the great memories of my childhood was being taken to the Edgbaston Cricket Ground with my grandfather. I enjoyed playing cricket as a lad but was never much good with the bat. I used to try and strike the cricket ball with every part of my body instead of the bat well that's how it seemed to me. I fancied myself as something of a fast bowler. I was tall and lanky so I could get the ball moving fast the major problem I had was that only one in six balls went anywhere near the wicket or batsman. Members of my own side were more likely to be hit by my bowling than the batsman.

Anyway I liked to go with my grandfather on the bus to watch the cricket. We would have sandwiches and I would be treated to a ginger beer. I also missed school which was a real added bonus.

I had quite a collection of autographs of the many cricketers both County and International Players and they were all pretty good and would stop and say a few words before signing your book. Like all schoolboys I had my heroes. Fiery Fred Truman was my idol. England's terror fast bowler.

I finally got the chance to ask him for his autograph and in fairness he did stop and say a few words.

"If you want my autograph buy my book!"

The chances of me a 7year old having enough money to buy his book were as remote as being hit by a sputnik.
I was deflated my big star had turned to dust. My new hero as I recall was Wes Hall or Sir Wesley Winfield Hall the Barbados fast bowler.

Anyway never let it be said I carry a grudge just that I have never forgotten my only encounter with Fred Truman even though it was well over 50 years ago!

Monday, 9 September 2013

The Moorings River Towy

The above paintings is of the Pilglas Moorings on the river Towy looking seaward towards Ferryside. I particularly liked this little painting which sold at our recent exhibition. We used to keep our boat on moorings here and then sail off over the Carmarthen Bar, an interesting sandbank extending 2 miles out to sea with a navigable channel if you could find it. The number of shipwrecks is testimony to how dangerous it can be in bad weather.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

A waste of time?

Okay so never waste time you can never get it back. I was with Alex in Isafjordur when she decided she needed the little girls room. While she went off for 5 minutes I grabbed my sketch pad and found the most interesting thing within 40 metres. Yes its a house a slightly rusty corrugated iron house. (No doubt corrugated iron sheets were practical to put up houses quickly in the early and mid 20th century).
Will I ever do anything with the picture? Well actually yes I have put it on my blog but that was not the intention when I did it. It was a few minutes of pleasure and practice the doing it was sufficient ends in itself for me. I probably got a few odd looks form the locals wondering why I was painting a house in the midst of stunning mountains and fjords but there  we are.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


The painting of Llansteffan sold a couple of weeks ago. A popular spot and a popular view. It reminds me of when we were sat in an exhibition of my paintings and a youthful lad came in probably straight out of art college and said in a  loud disdainful voice to his companion, "Oh more castles!" ( In fact out of 70 paintings there were only five paintings of castles three of which sold).

 Everyone is entitled to their view although shouting it to the whole world can be a trifle immature.

Anyway Joseph Mallord Turner had no problem painting castles including Llansteffan so if it was good enough for him it is good enough for me.

Friday, 6 September 2013

End of the Exhibition

This large painting of Llansteffan was sold last week. The exhibition is now finished. We took it all down last night and have packed the paintings into their crates. It has been a good two weeks but it is now time for a change. We were blessed with good weather and lots of interesting people to talk to hopefully we will have a similar year next year.

We haven't decided on our next exhibition yet as we have a number of options but also still plenty of work on the go.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Last Day

A watercolour of Tenby sold this week at the exhibition. I can't find an image of the painting for some reason but it was a similar view to this one.

Meeting new people can be quite entertaining especially if you are a detached viewer. Yesterday Alex got to talking to a couple about the gardens. The conversation that went like this.
Alex,"So where are you from?"
Alex, "Oh I know someone from Norfolk now what was their first name?"
Stunned silence

Last day of the exhibition today so this afternoon we will be taking down the paintings and crating them up.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

St Mary Magdalene St Clears

This little watercolour of St Mary Magdelene Church in St Clears was one of those sold at the exhibition yesterday. The church is dedicated to St Magdalene and St Clarus and dates back to at least 1100. St Clarus was a French monk who was the son of a nun.

Anyway there was plenty of strong contrast in the sunshine when I painted it and it came out as I wanted.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Kite Flying

The above painting of children flying a kite was sold yesterday. I had seen them playing on the sands at Machynys, Llanelli and couldn't resist doing a painting from the memory. The red sail in the distance was added to give the eye an exit.

This morning the mist was hanging in the valley when I walked Jac up into the woods. It was quite strange the woods were unusually totally silent. Normally there is a chorus of birds. I think Jac must have felt it as he normally runs off in to the undergrowth in search of something to flush out (although he rarely finds anything). Today he just walked along the path with me. It was a bit like a scene from a Hammer Horror film.

Anyway I picked a good selection of blackberries on the way back to go with my porridge. Only three days left of the exhibition now. If you haven't been there is still plenty to see although a good bit has gone.

Link the late Dusty Springfield

Monday, 2 September 2013

"Llandeilo from a distance"

The above oil painting of "Llandeilo from a distance," was sold at the exhibition yesterday. It seems like this charming view will change if a bye pass comes into being. The town probably needs it but it will produce yet another scar on the landscape.

Ever decreasing circles was a sitcom in the 1980's and at times I think Alex and I begin to resemble Howard and Hilda from that TV program more every day.

This morning we were a bit late and Alex was in a bit of a panic as we got in the car she realised she had forgotten her glasses (which she needs for driving). She got out of the car and unlocked the front door and disappeared in to the house.

A few minutes later she reappeared empty handed. She went in to the back of the car and started rummaging in her shopping and hand bags.
She stood up and announced ," I must be losing it I have no idea where they are."
With that she placed her hands on her head and said,"Oh, here they are."
The little blighters had been hiding on her head all that time.
Me I had been looking at her and not even noticed!

Sunday, 1 September 2013


The above painting of Treffgarne in the Preselis was sold the other day in the exhibition.
I asked the lady who bought it if she had any connection with the area. She said, no she just loved the painting and had fallen in love with it, which obviously pleased me.

I tend to do mainly non generic paintings i.e. I do paintings of specific places. Normally people buy them because they have some connection to the area and hopefully because they are well painted. Nevertheless it is always nice when people buy them purely because they love the way it is painted.