Friday, 28 February 2014


 I am a bit low on the painting stock I have available at the moment. I normally have about 60-70 framed paintings ready for sale or an exhibition. This is in addition to stock in galleries. I find that I only have about half that at the moment. So I am going to have to get on with it.
Anyway this week I have been doing a largish painting of Laugharne. One of the views I normally choose is from the water treatment site as this gives a good landscape view of the castle and the boathouse. This time I decided to do a view from the small jetty instead which gives a nice clump of water in the foreground with the boats and includes both the castle and the boathouse.

The picture above shows the first stage. I spent some time getting the sky right. This is important as it sets the tone for the rest of the painting. I laid out the painting using a HB pencil to indicate the main outline of the castle and skyline and a few lines to indicate where the other features might be. I try to use as little pencil as possible (if at all, I prefer a brush and oil paint when practicable) as it gets mixed with the paint and can make it dirty if you are not careful.

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Old Carmarthen Quay

The above painting of Old Carmarthen Quay sold this week. To paint something like this you have to rely on a variety of references. I found a couple of monochrome pictures of the Quay in the early 1900's and also used my knowledge of the current buildings. The bridge was replaced in the 1920's. I added the shipping.

I like the palette I used of cool greys and black. I felt it lent itself to the subject. Unusually I have also described the location above my signature. I was surprised the painting had hung around for a while but then I realised for most of its life it had been on my wall at home.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Port Talbot Steelworks

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Well, the other morning when we got up early to go and fetch my mother in law from Cardiff airport we were going along the M4 when Port Talbot Steel works came in to view. The sun was rising and the works were engulfed in steam. I was very taken by the image and I have tried to give you an idea of what it was like in the little painting above (6ins x 3 ins). I cannot say it is an accurate depiction as flying long the motorway gives you fleeting glances at best.

Anyway there it is with the pylons in the foreground over the town and the steelworks surrounded in their own mystery.

I may have mentioned this story before but it is appropriate and worth repeating. Many years ago I was policing in the centre of Birmingham. I was working nights and we had just had a change of boundaries so we were taking in a new section of the City. I was given the new section to cover. All went well until about 1am when I saw sparks and flames coming from a large factory complex. I immediately "called in" the fire requesting the fire brigade attendance to a large factory fire. I "proceeded" to make my way around the factory which was surrounded by a large wall on all sides. I eventually came to what was the front of the factory and saw it was the Spartan Foundry. I could now hear the sounds of the fire engines and other police cars arriving. It was now clear to me that they had been stoking the furnaces and to make matters worse there was now no sign of any flames. My sergeant came up to me and I told him what had happened.

He left me to explain to the unamused occupants of three shiny fire engines why I had disturbed their night's sleep.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Aerial Perspective

I was asked the other day about aerial perspective. Well for the sake of those that don't know
(and I am sure there are many who read this understand the phenomenon well) here is a simple version.

The atmosphere is not clear it contains,"stuff" particles dust etc... The greater the distance viewed the more stuff you look through. Hence subjects close by are in focus sharp and have plenty of local colour. The further away they are the more out of focus they appear and the less contrast and colour there is. Similarly if you look at a celestial object such as the moon it is always clearer directly overhead as opposed to the horizon as you are looking through less of the earth's atmosphere.
As stated colours and contrasts are therefore reduced in distant subjects. Generally they appear more blue, but if the light conditions change they may take on those colours such as at sunrise..
You will note that in the painting of "Newport in the early morning" above the distant hills are a blue and purple and have little contrast. It is important to use aerial perspective to get the feeling of depth /distance in a landscape.

Today we have two of the grandchildren so little time for painting.

Link Blue Ridge Mountains

Monday, 24 February 2014


I found another image of a still life I was referring to yesterday. The trick with it is not to copy the pattern but appear to. That may sound odd but the eye will fill in a lot that isn't actually there.

The other day I was in the checkout queue in Tesco's when we were spied by our eldest granddaughter and her boyfriend. Now she is a real credit to the family and he is a lovely boy so we are very lucky. Anyway it had been his birthday recently and he came over and thanked us for his present. He threw his arms around Alex and gave her a big hug thanking her. He turned to me and as I was saying,"That's okay no need to hug me," He threw his arms around me and gave me a big man hug smacking me on the back. I saw Alex smiling/laughing at my embarrassment. I guess I am from a different era. The sun was setting on the British Empire when I was born but it was still there. I was brought up greeting people in a more formal manner. A peck on the cheek for mother and a strong handshake for a man was as close as you got embracing. Man hugs hadn't been invented.
To greet a woman you either nodded and said,"hello" or gently shook her hand if offered.

I have kind of got into it as all the male members of the family do this quite naturally but to be honest it does leave me wondering whether to hug a man or woman peck them on the cheek or just run.

Anyway the link is a bit tentative but I like the song    Hello

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Love and Affection

I paint all sorts but I suppose mainly landscape and coastal scenes. I will paint something different from time to time,  cars, planes, shipping, people, and still life. The still life above is an example. I have painted a couple of series of still life works, some with willow pattern or mandalay china. These can be a little tiring on the eyes when painting. The bottle in the painting above came from our garden when we lived in Brecon. We got all sorts out of the garden but this was the only whole item. (The crab didn't come out of the garden it came from the fishmongers).

I was listening the other morning to the World Service on Radio 4. It was an interview with the great singer song writer Joan Armatrading.  It was very interesting to listen to her describe her creative process. There were many similarities as to how I go about painting a picture. She had a solid grounding in music theory but the words came to her in an inspirational way and then she put in the music and technical base. During this process she was, "In the zone and wouldn't notice if you walked naked in to the room."

I can relate to this when I start painting I am pretty well oblivious to everything else, I often don't hear the phone or doorbell and forget about food luch.. I am not sure I would miss someone walk naked in to the room though! As it hasn't happenend (as far as I know) I guess I will never find out.

Link Love and Affection

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cold Hearted Orb that rules the night

Here is the other surfer painting that sold this week. 

This morning Jac and I were out before it became light as we were going off early to pick up Alex's mom from the airport. Anyway the moon was out and you could see Saturn, Mars and Venus. I am quite happy walking around in the dark and don't need a torch. I spent many nights walking and only came to grief on one occasion when I climbed over the gates of a supermarket and landed in dishes of catfood that had been left out for the stray cats. Oh yes I went over to arrest someone breaking in and I did but of course the smart alec did give me a hard time because I was covered in catfood.

I digress the moon was beautiful and gave soft shadows to the trees on the woodland path.

I am not a great one for poetry but there are a few that touch a part of my heart. This is a good excuse to post one of them.

Breathe deep the gathering gloom,
Watch lights fade from every room.
Bedsitter people look back and lament,
Another day's useless energy spent.
Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
Lonely man cries for love and has none.
New mother picks up and suckles her son,
Senior citizens wish they were young.*
Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
Removes the colours from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white.
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?

*(No I don't,once around the block is enough)
 words by Graeme Edge


Friday, 21 February 2014

Bird Walk

Good to walk around in the daylight first thing in the morning. I heard the woodpecker for the first time this week and Jac put up a pheasant this morning. No danger to him though as I don't hunt.
The last couple of days a cormorant has been back on the top reservoir. The song thrush has been practising mimicking the other birds as well. Yes good to have a "good bird walk".

Was in the gallery this morning and took paintings to another this afternoon.

Link Herbie Mann

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Merlin's Hill - Towy Valley

The above painting sold today. It is the view from Llangunnor Churchyard looking across to Merlin's Hill and Abergwili. St. David's Church is prominent. I was pleased with the painting it is quite large and shows the Towy Valley in its glory.
It was quite a busy day, up to walk the dog , breakfast, Tesco's shopping, a piano lesson, show around the lovely couple who bought the painting, make lunch, walk the dog, go to the gym, visit my mom, home and shower now to make the dinner. Feet up and watch rugby on the TV tonight!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Surfer- David Hockney

The above painting sold this week. I was taken by the scene as I saw surfers going down to the sea on Llangenith Beach one sunny day. Now I confess the nearest I ever got to surfing was listening to the Beachboys in the 60's. I have donned a wet suit in the days when we used to go dinghy racing. The hardest part of the day was getting the damned suit off.

After I finished the painting I noticed it clearly owes a bit to David Hockney whom I have admired since the 1960's. He is one of the best British  painters of the last 50 years in my opinion (although I confess I am not really taken with his recent work ). I like his paintings which were verging on becoming prints like Splash and so many more. In fact I believe he used to roll his flat colours and use masking tape...., anyway they are outstanding capturing that feeling of light and colour. I guess I must have had some of those images in my mind when I painted it. So yes this painting does owe something to the California of David Hockney from that time.

Link predictable I know

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Gower in Mist from Cefn Sidan

Here is the painting I did on the beach two days ago. The Gower was surrounded by sea mist which made for a "nice" subject. There were also wading birds in the near distance, curlew, oystercatchers and the like.

I note that I used the word "nice" there. So what's in a word? Well quite a lot actually because for some words (other than superlatives like, "Brilliant") they can mean  different things to different people.

The word nice can be taken to mean average, boring, nothing special? For me it means a warm feeling an adjective conveying comfort.  When my mother used to see my paintings she occasionally would say, "Thats fun." For her that was code for, "No its not for me, I don't like it."
When Alex has doubts about a painting she will say,"Yes...yes." Followed by "Its not one of my favourites."

All this may seem accademic but occasionally when I look at someone's work and say, "Yes its nice," I  see that look on their face like I have hit them with a wet fish. I then have to explain what it is I mean. Maybe I should just say everything is brilliant.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Pochade box painting on the beach

After all the appalling weather, continuous rain and wind it was great to get out yesterday.
Alex and I packed a picnic, home made bread, tomatoes, olives, goats cheese, avocado, apples and went off to the beach. Of course Jac came along and I took "Bertie the Box", (my pochade box with oil paints).
I soon found a view of the Gower while Alex and Jac explored the beach. Jac found a dead jelly fish to roll in and then came back and decided to dig under the tri-pod! Fortunately I had finished by then and we set off for lunch. We then read books and had an afternoon nap.
A perfect day.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Portrait of the artist's mother.

The above painting is one I did of my mother about ten years ago. Now in fairness to her she was quite happy to sit for the portrait and she hardly moved. The painting was about 48ins x 30ins. I stretched the canvas myself for this painting to get the size I wanted.

The size and proportions of canvas were carefully regulated by artists in previous centuries. A "Head" size painting in the nineteenth century was generally 24ins x 20ins although Joshua Reynolds actually used 30ins x 25ins as a "Head "size. For half size and full length there were other formulae. e.g. "Whole Length size" 72ins x 50ins. For landscape paintings artists intially used portrait sizes turned 90 degrees.

These days most artists choose whatever is appropriate to the subject they are painting and also allow for the fact that houses are smaller so inevitably people can't hang large canvases.

We have our prints done by one of the best fine art printers in the country ( they are nationally recognised and have won awards as such). Alex prints our cards on high quality paper and uses good quality inks. Many people buy them and frame them.

Yesterday I asked her if she needed me to order any more inks and if so what colours.
Alex replied, " Yes, we are running out of magnolia."
Hmm, okay. Should that be magenta?

Saturday, 15 February 2014

St Anns Head Lighthouse

The watercolour above is of St. Anns Head Lighthouse at the entrance to the Milford Haven Waterway.
Just around the headland is Mill Bay where Henry Tudor landed in 1485? before claiming the thrown after the Battle of Bosworth field. Alex and I  have spent many a pleasant night anchored in the shelter of Chapel Beach Bay another anchorage around the corner. The only issue was holding onto the wine bottle whenever a tanker went throught the channel!

The painting itself never sold for some reason and went in a clearout a couple of years ago.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Portrait

Its Valentine's Day, yes I remembered and I got a card (I mean I bought one). I went to the gym walked the dogs made an apple crumble for pudding for tonights dinner and found time for a quick painting.
As its Valentine's Day I thought for a change I would do a portrait. I did a quick portrait of Alex.
Quick being relative, it was about 1hr 45mins.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

A Winters Morning - Dinefwr Castle

I had intended to go off for a couple of hours with "Berty the Box" (my pochade painting box) this morning but as  soon as it was packed the heavens darkened and the rain started. Change of plan so I finished the above painting of "A Winter's morning Dinefwr Castle" instead. Of course it has been lovely and sunny since  a tad cold but not bad, but there we go.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Llansteffan Castle by moonlight

Okay well here is the painting I started yesterday. Llansteffan castle by moonlight. The castle was painted by JMW Turner but he used a great deal of artistic licence (not that I object to that in the least). He would add a river or anything to gain the overall aim of his painting. He is one of my favourite painters.

Anyway here is my offering of the castle in moonlight. I attach a great link that shows my age.

Below are a couple of images to show the process of how I arrived at the finished painting.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The exploration of mark-making...

The above painting is an example of my recent work. It is an an exploration of the irreducible act of mark-making which delves into the connectedness of the real and the abstract. This is achieved by alluding to tropes of the built environment. It is essentially an investigation of the mimetic process...

Sorry I can't go on of course it isn't anything of the sort I borrowed the above bits from an artists statement generator.

I just couldn't avoid a poke in the eye to the "Artist's Statement" that accompanies and tries to justify many obscure/weird " art works?" and occasionally some very good ones (which is a pity as it makes it hard to take the work seriously).

The above is actually the start of a new painting and I have used a ground of french ultramarine and turps.
Any ideas on what it is going to be? I should finish it tomorrow.

A clue okay Joseph Mallord William Turner also painted this.


Monday, 10 February 2014

Sketch of Lisbon

I am often asked why I do a daily blog. Well there are a few reasons but the main one is that my work is searchable and generally comes very high on google's images. As a result I get all sorts of contacts mainly to do with purchasing or having work done but also just nice comments and general enquiries. It doesn't take that long to do the blog and I haven't run out of subjects yet!

An example is an email I had today from Lisbon.  I was asked if I would allow the above image to be used on a flyer for a National Meeting of Students in Lisbon. I had posted the blog in Nov. 2012 with the above image and a search for "Lisbon Paintings" brought it up in the first 20 images
So it is nice to see your work being appreciated and used across the world. The watercolour itself was done as the ship was approaching the dock and I had to work very quickly as the scene was changing constantly.

I was in the gallery most of the day. I may get to do some painting tomorrow.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

A Family Affair

I was in many respects lucky that creativity ran in my family. My brother is an artist although he spends more time writing now. My grandfather was a talented artist although his major love was carving. He did all sorts of wood carving for churches etc. My grandmother was no mean artist either. Two of her paintings are still in the family.

The paint box above is a boxwood affair and belonged to my grandfather. It is dated Dec 1912.
I used it until about 35 years ago when it became impractical. My father's mahogany paintbox is now in the possession of my good lady Alex who uses it to keep her bobbins and threads in. I have made a couple of paintboxes and handed one down to one of our grandson's.

Whether any of this creativity will continue in our grandchildren I don't know. Certainly one of them has a penchant for drawing on walls! Bless!!**

Saturday, 8 February 2014


The oil painting above is an old one that I no longer have. It shows a fishing boat going passed the (as it was then) Texaco Jetties on the Milford Haven. The painting was about 4ft x 2ft.

I listened to a discussion on the radio the other morning about success. It got me thinking about the subject, well its something you do at 5am in the morning. In terms of my own personal life I measure success as the impact I have on other people. Basically my own family. We have brought up 3 good kids and that to me is success.

In terms of being a successful artist I don't measure myself against other people/ artists. I think to do so is a mistake although I do see others do it. No I am happy to be what I consider a competent artist. I can paint pretty well anything to a good standard after years of practice and experience. I don't need accolades or to be courted by the artistic cliques. I have sold hundreds of original paintings and thousands of cards and prints, so being successful is again about doing something that is appreciated by others. It is not about the amount your work can go for or how many prizes you win. It is about the self satisfaction of creating quality work that others appreciate.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Pilglas - Moorings by moonlight

The above painting sold this week. It shows the moorings at Pilglas near Llansteffan.
Alex and I have spent quite a few nights on a boat on the moorings here. When the tide goes out it is a magnet for wading birds such as curlew, oyster catchers..

 One night the wind picked up from the south east and it became really uncomfortable. It was quite safe but there was no way we were going to get a good nights sleep. So about 11.30pm we got off the boat and made our way ashore. The moorings are really muddy and you need to know where to walk. Anyway we got pretty filthy dragging our dinghy over the mud in the dark. We got in our car and drove home. Our eldest daughter was living at home at the time. Much to her shame we walked in as she was entertaining several friends we hadn't met before. We were soaking wet and wearing wet weather gear plastered in mud.
She said." Oh no these are my parents!"
A glance in the mirror confirmed we did look quite bad.
I think she may have forgiven us by now.

Thursday, 6 February 2014


I see many wise words and phrases on social media but if you ask Alex she will tell you I am not a great fan of instant "bumper sticker enlightenment". Its not that they aren't for the most part relevent but they just say the same things in a different way and by the time you read the next one it is forgotten. The only one that I ever really took to possibly because of the people I was dealing with at the time was,
"Oh, Lord help me to open my eyes and shut my mouth until I know what I am talking about."
Anyway I guess I am more of a picture person than wise old sage.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Wind and Rain

It has been a windy night and it reminded me of our sailing days. The painting above is of our last yacht Sapphire close hauled with full sail.
One occassion in an older yacht we spent 7 days sheltering under a weather shore from a strong easterly. We had two bow anchors out with all our chain. Although the wind was flying over the top of us we were safe and secure as long as the wind dindn't change direction. That week was spent reading and playing cribbage by the light of an oil lamp.  The only down side was taking the dog ashore twice a day this meant lowering the dog into a tender (dinghy) and rowing him ashore. This could be tricky but all went well.
Nowadays I am finally content to listen to the wind and rain from the comfort of the house although I wish the roof didnt leak, (something to be sorted when we have a period of dry weather!).
Today we are taking some work to another outlet.

Link one of my favourite groups I was fortunate enough to see:


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Llandeilo from Ffairfach

I finished the above painting today. It shows Llandeilo from Ffairfach with the railway bridge.
I have done a few paintings from this side of the town in the past and I prefer the composition to the normal one chosen of the road bridge leading up to the church.
Off to collect the grandchildren now!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Talley Abbey

Bit non stop today. Out with the dog, breakfast, gym, off to see my mom, walk the dog, lunch then finish the painting above. This is a painting of Talley Abbey a ruin near Llandeilo. It was a monastery of the white canons so I believe.
I kept to a fairly limited pallette and painted straight from the off. I enjoy painting like that although it isn't always feasible.
I have mentioned I am learning to play the piano. Well I can now read the music in its simplest form and play most of the notes in the right order. My issue is and I knew it would be rythm, or time. I cant dance, Alex will say, "Can't you here the beat?" Well no actually I can't if I could I might be able to dance. I could never march far without getting out of step. When I go to a concert I am reluctant to join in with , "Okay everybody put your hands in the air..." I quickly find everybody else has got out of synch with me and are half a handclap in front or behind. So natural timing or rythm is an issue and even with the simplest of tunes it is hard work getting it anywhere near right and counting out 1,2,3,4 etc. All that being said it is a new challenge and so far so good (unless you happen to be listening to it of course).

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Wales Lineout - Richard Hibbard

Yesterday we went to watch the game in Cardiff, Walas v Italy. We had to leave Carmarthen late as both our son and eldest grandaughter's boyfriend were working until 12.30pm. We had a full carload fortunately the Zaffira has 7 seats.. Vince is Italian and is the father of our grandaughters boyfriend so we also had full representation. Alex was still suffering a bit from a "late night " on Friday but was fortunately fine to drive back. We parked got the bus in and got to our seats with beer just in time for the anthems.
Great seats courtesy of our son. I was happy enough with the game although there were mistakes my only concern was the scrum which wasn't convincing. Anyway a win and a good start to the Six Nations. We had a good view of the lineouts and I have done a sketch of Richard Hibbard about to throw in with Mike Phillips ready to receive.
After the game we walked back to the car park as the Park and ride bus was outnumbered about 2000 to one.
Back in Carmarthen a lamb dinner was waiting and we had the pleasure of watching the England game. A perfect end to the day.