Thursday, 31 July 2014

Is it me?

When we were away in the Cotwolds we came across a couple of traction engines wandering down the road. I was really tempted to get Alex to stop but the road was narrow and it didn't seem practicable.  I really enjoy looking and sketching old engines and the characters about them. The one above is of a Lister stationary engine at a local show.

It is a hectic week I have finished one commission and am starting another, and have finished two paintings for the exhibition starting a week tomorrow. I have a piano lesson in a minute and then have to go out to deliver another painting. Plus we have 3 dogs at the moment to walk.

Anyway Alex went out a couple of days ago to meet our eldest granddaughter for "lunch" (read into that a days shopping).
She came home opened a carrier bag and said.
"You know I have been looking for a white cardigan for ages?"
"Err, Yes." (it's news to me actually)
"Well I got this in "Blossom" (or some such name) and produced a grey jacket!

Is it me?

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


Yesterday we went down to Lawrenny for a picnic. It is a lovely spot and it is where we used to have a mooring for our yacht. It brought back a lot of memories.

The time I got up in the middle of the night in a howling gale to row our dog ashore as he was desperate and then he jumped over board out of the tender. I did manage to catch up with him and drag him aboard.

The time when we first arrived in a new yacht after sailing from Swansea and I went below to find 12 inches of water in the cabin.(No panic there then).

The time when the engine packed up as we were manoeuvring amongst expensive yachts in a strong out going tide and the engine packed up!

It goes on.

Anyway it was nice to return and have a look at the place. The picture above is actually of the Jetty and moorings on the Towy where we had our boat for many years. The painting never sold and it went to the big land refill site in the sky although I was actually quite fond of it.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Posh Punks

We recently spent a few days in the Cotswolds in the camper van. I didn't do any painting although I did do one sketch of the site on cheap cartridge paper. The weather was glorious and more importantly the schools hadn't broken up for the summer.

Most of the caravans and campers were spotless. So it was quite interesting to see a carvan being towed into a spot next to us by a battered and filthy Nissan. The caravan looked like it had been pre-owned by Greengrass off Heartbeat. It appeared to be covered in green flock wallpaper however on closer inspection it turned out covered in algea. Now was I being judgemental (whatever that means?). The answer is quite clearly yes.

The couple jumped out and unhitched the caravan and proceeded to throw out the contents of the van in a great hurry. Everything came out and was either thrown under the caravan or leant against it, bowls chairs, bags an old table... Within seconds I was transported back to Albert and Harold Steptoe's Scrap Yard. I was quite expecting to see Hercules the carthorse make an appearance.

The couple were exceedingly well spoken and educated. From their conversation I gathered they were off to some function and there was a great need to get changed and go. The man was dressed in old cargo trousers and white t-shirt with trainers. The lady was dressed in something similar.  Anyway quick as a flash they jumped into the caravan and like Mr Ben re-appeared changed for the off. The quick change had consisted of changing their t-shirts. When they had gone I was slightly disappointed for I had been kept entertained for about 10 minutes. I could see Alex was dying to get a bucket of water and clean their caravan.

Now was I being judgemental?  Should I care that they don't look after their things?

Judgemental def. "tending to judge people too quickly and critically, making moral judgments"

Well I will say that I judge people on their actions if I have to judge them at all. However your observations and experience can be good indicators of future behaviour. I don't care what clothes people wear or what colour their hair is and that includes my own children and grandchildren.

I care what kind of people they are.

So when they returned from their function at 12.30am I was awakened by the neighbours driving their car to the caravan (when there is a seperate carpark to use at night to avoid waking the whole site) I was less than impressed. I was even less impressed by the noise and loud talking that continued until they finally went to bed. I have to add that the second night the same thing happened. We didn't stay a third night.

I think initially I judged them too lightly as just lazy and untidy whereas in fact that they were thoughtless and didn't give a damn about anyone else. Posh Punks!

Link  Joan Jett Bad Reputation

Monday, 28 July 2014

Dr Dolittle

When we got home yesterday I spied an old dog under next doors van. I didn't know the dog and it looked pretty frightened. I called Dr. Dolittle a.k.a Alex who took on the case. After half an hour she had coaxed it out and was giving it water. The dog had a collar but no tag. The police no longer have any responsibility for lost dogs and I am unaware of anyone that keeps a full register of them now. The council will collect dogs and take them to the pound (but not on a Sunday appartently).

Anyway Alex decided to put the old dog on a lead and see if it would take her home and off she went. The dog did in fact finally lead her half a mile away to its home. So a happy ending.

Link  ?

PS thats not Alex above!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Ode to Billy Joe

The above painting of the River Teifi sold last week actually the photo image looks a bit too yellow for some reason?

The other evening we went to a jazz night at The Cawdor in Llandeilo as part of the Music Festival. I am not a Jazz buff but enjoy all sorts of music. I was thinking about my favourite tracks and one that I have kept playing over the years is "Ode to Billy Joe" by Bobby Gentry. I guess I like it because the lyrics tell a story that actually takes you there (if that makes any sense). You can picture the whole thing. Its sad but spellbinding. I try to work out which is my favourite line in the song but having made up my mind then look at another one oh well. For me it is just a great song.

 According to Wikipedia who put it so much better :
The song is a first-person narrative that reveals a Southern Gothic tale in its verses by including the dialog of the narrator's family at dinnertime on the day that "Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge." Throughout the song, the suicide and other tragedies are contrasted against the banality of everyday routine and polite conversation.
The song begins with the narrator and her brother returning, after morning chores, to the family house for dinner (on June 3). After cautioning them about tracking in dirt, "Mama" says that she "got some news this mornin' from Choctaw Ridge" that "Billie Joe McAllister jumped off the Tallahatchie Bridge," apparently to his death.

Anyway here is a link to the song Ode to Billie Joe

Saturday, 26 July 2014

An Old Dog

One of my walks is around the Cwmoernant Reservoir in Carmarthen. As I mentioned yesterday
we often have visiting dog lodgers. One of these is an old cocker who is actually Jac's mother. She is old and really lively but unfortunately is also totally deaf. Taking her anywhere is a bit of a gamble as you can't recall her as she can't hear and can't relocate by sound. As she is by nature a flusher she runs off in to the undergrowth and disappears. She also loves swimming and will go in the any water and not come out as she cant hear the recall.

The first time this happened Alex and I spent an embarrassing 45 minutes trying to get her out of the reservoir while she swam up and down the lake with us running from one end to the other calling her to on avail. When she got to the bank where we were she just turned around and went back for another length. All this caused great amusement for the onlookers and Jac!
(It had crossed my mind that she is just putting up a great pretense in order to do what she pleases and get away with it).

Friday, 25 July 2014

Walking the Dog

Its difficult to know whether we are a boarding kennels or a creche at times. During the Summer we tend to have someones dog or children with us most of the time. All part of being a grandparent apparently. Still it keeps us young!

Anyway its always nice to go for long walks with the dogs. I find the attitude to dogs and owners varies dramatically according to the local councils. With so many dog owners it is odd that many areas make visiting with a dog either impossible or at least very difficult. Some of the best places that are dog friendly that we go to are Cirencester  and Padstow.
In Cirencester dogs are generally welcomed in shops and pubs. There are also great areas for them to run in.
In Padstow there are no restrictions on dogs on the beach and yet they are as clean as they come.
The shop owners put drinking bowls outside and they are allowed in many pubs.
We have been to places that we have found to be not dog friendly and won't return there one area coming to mind is Woolacombe and Mortoe.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014


The above painting of Aberaeron sold last week. A lovely spot but it gets real busy in the Summer.

I love painting and I love selling paintings mainly because its great to be creative and for someone to want what you ahave produced. Of course the money is also quite useful.What I don't like is the business side of it. Fortunately Alex does most of that. I was reminded the other day of an outlet that took our work, sold it and we never ever received one penny for it. This was some years ago but that sort of thing is not unusual. Still thats life as they say!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Picture from my earliest days.

Here is a painting from the past. I did this quite a time ago it is a family recollection. When I was a toddler we would go to Cornwall a weeks holiday. We would drive down overnight in our old 1932 Lanchester.

 I embarrassingly remember being on blue reigns with bells on the front!! Anyway the picture depicts a family portrait my mother, father, brother and sister. I no longer have the painting I am not sure what happened to it.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Daniel Crawshaw Exhibition

There is an Exhibition on at Oriel Myrddin currently showing the works of Daniel Crawshaw.
A superb set of paintings very much worth viewing. Daniel is not only a very talented artist but a lovely guy too. If you get the chance pop in to see it I wish I'd had more time to view it but I had an appointment to keep.

Featured above is one of his paintings. 

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Setting Sun

Sunsets are a wonderful subject. The one above is a large oil painting I did of the sun setting over the Burry Inlet. I was thinking last night that I hadn't done one for a while so I guess it is on the cards. In actual fact I have started a painting of the Brecon Beacons that I must finish but today I am in Origin in Carmarthen. Talking of which I must go!

Friday, 18 July 2014


I finished the above painting of Newport Pembs yesterday. A nice quiet spot especially out of season. One of my favourite views of Newport are of Mynydd Carningli which overlooks the town. I have done several sketches and a couple of painting of the mountain all of which are sold. The view above is of the harbour and yacht club.

We have been kept quite busy the last month or so nut Alex has nearly finished preperation for the next exhibition in Aberglasney and has started packing the work in to crates.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Conversationally interesting

The above painting sold last week. We used to do a lot of sailing in and around this estuary. We had many exciting races in a dinghy with Alex at the helm. We sold the dinghy about 15 years ago although we continued to sail the Bristol Channel and coastal waters in our yacht until about 7 years ago.

One of the nice things about living in a small town is that you always bump into someone you know. I regulary see a gent who we knew from our dinghy sailing days. It is always something of an interesting experience. He is a lovely guy but like all of us who have less to go than have behind us his memory is not as reliable as it was ( I also count myself in this group).

A meeting can be interesting and challenging. Here are a few examples.

"Hi Mark did you go dinghy sailing at the weekend?"
"No,we sold the boat a few years back."
"Right so are you going out this weekend?"

"Hi Steve. (Steve who the hell is Steve?) How was the skiing?"
"Er (Do I tell him I'm not Steve or do I play along?) Yeh fine thanks.
"So where did you go?"
"Er (God I have never been skiing in my life) Valdisere (I am sure that is one place people go).
"What were the conditions like then?"
"Look I have to rush but great to see you again must go"

"Hi Mark are you still painting?"
"Hi, Yes keeping busy ( Phew this should be fine)
"So how is Ruth?"
(Ruth who the hell is Ruth?) "Yeah good."
"How long have you been married now?"
(This could be a disaster)
"Nearly forty years"
"Really, anyway give my love to Ruth."
(God I hope he doesn't meet Alex and call her Ruth.  How do I explain that?)


Monday, 14 July 2014

Cricket - Clevedon

The page out of my sketch book above is the scene of a cricket match in. Whilst we were in Clevedon at the weekend we took the grandchildren to the park. Unfortunately the dogs weren't allowed in the play area so I had to sit outside on a bench and watch the cricket while Alex went in to play with the children.

I have always had a soft spot for cricket although I concede it can be a bit like watching paint dry at times. My grandfather used to take me to Edgbaston to watch the cricket, and yes I should have been in school. I must have missed quite a bit of school during the Summer. (Funny these days how it is fine to have Inset days and strikes but if you take your child out of school for just one day you can risk being fined?). Anyway missin schul did me no arm.

Of course I also met Alex in Edgbaston Cricket Ground. So I was never any good at the game although I did make 20 once somehow.  Anyway I still enjoy watching the odd game. A village game of cricket is a bit unique and kind of quirky.

Link Roots Manuva bit repetitive but a good video for a minute or so.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A letter from England

So here we are we have been looking after 2 of the grandchildren. I have watched Frozen at least three times but thankfully so have the grandchildren. Attached is a sketch of one. Anyway all has gone well and time to cross the Severn Bridge soon.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Llangenith Beach and surfers

Here is the second painting of Llangenith Beach on the Gower. (I did mangage to squeeze in time to do it while Alex and her mother took the grandchildren for a day trip toTescos). The first stage is shown below.

I drew the outline of Worms Head with a brush in burnt umber and roughly put in a few figures. I removed one figure in the foreground after I had drawn it in and subsequently added another figure talking to the surfer on the right. I then started putting in the sky with a large brush. It doesn't matter if you go over the skyline in fact it is better to go over the line than go short of it.

The next stage involved putting in Worms Head and the distant sea. I wanted one large breaking wave taking up a lot of the sea area. I then painted in the waves and figures adding the one I mentioned. Finally it was the foreground "Eh voila" as they say somewhere in the European Union.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Llangenith Beach Gower

I have finished the painting shown above. It is actually slightly darker on my monitor than the original which is slightly lighter and softer but I couldn't be bothered to alter the image.

Today we have two grandsons 2yrs & 3yrs, then we have a grandson and granddaughter 5yrs & 2yrs for Saturday and Sunday so I have no expectation of doing much painting this weekend.

Anyway as Dale Carnegie put it, "When fate hands you a lemon make lemonade". (I could be making a lot of lemonade this weekend).

Link   appropriate..

Thursday, 10 July 2014


We had to go down to Pembrokeshire yesterday but found time to make a stop at Blackpool Mill. There were a couple of swans on the river with brown trout swimming under the bridge. Then to top it all a beautiful kingfisher flew out from under the bridge skimming over the water.

I have decided to start a painting of Llangenith beach today. It will be on block canvas as Alex has enough framing to do currently. I was unsure what figures to include but I think it will mostly be surfers. First off the dentist though!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

A day without rain

The above little painting of the boathouse sold last week. There is a channel running alongside the boathouse under the trees with a small sandbank. We have successfully anchored on the sandbank and dried out in the past. It is quite tricky because if you get it wrong and the boat is not fully on the sandbank the yacht will topple as the tide goes out. Anyway we have done it and had beautiful views of the estuary with the benefit of being able to hop ashore to Laugharne. (PS I am not recommending boat owners try this).

Talking of which I haven't had a commission to paint a yacht for a while but one came in the other day so that is something different to look forward to at the end of the month.

I am hoping for a day without rain this week so the house can get painted. It is half done a the moment. I am not keen on anything being left half done just the way I am I suppose. If I have a job I want to do it and get it finished. Anyway its looking good so far.

Monday, 7 July 2014

A Quiet Moment

I am in the gallery in Llandeilo today whilst Alex is getting on with framing for the exhibition and making several hundred cards. She is shown above in a page out of my sketch book in a quieter moment recently in our camper.

Our house resembles a scene out Alfred Hitchcock's film "The Birds". Alex buys food by the sack (literally) to feed them.  Anyway the other day she hung up a new bird feeder full of sunflower seeds on the balcony. Later that afternoon we heard a loud clunk. On investigation we found the string had come undone on the bird feeder fallen on a blackbird and broken his neck. I am not sure what the moral of the story is but fate can be cruel.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

David Cowdry Exhibition - Newton House

Last night we went to the Private View of David Cowdry's latest exhibition at Newton House.
Wonderful work including stunning pictures of Dinefwr white cattle. The house and grounds are worth a visit by themselves but if you have any interest in art then this work should not be missed.

The watercolour above is one I did of the House with the deer park behind.

Today I am painting, but not the sort I enjoy as it is decorating the gallery in town.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Figures on the beach

The picture above is a page from my sketchbook that I did whilst in Padstow. I like to catch figures of all shapes and sizes. Drawing them simply in a few lines and then adding a bit of colour after. Its all good practice.

On our morning walks in the West Country Jac and I saw all sorts of birds ranging from little dunnocks hopping along the path in front of us and then in and out of the hedge rows, to curlew wading in the mud. Yellow hammers seemed plentiful and their colours were enhanced by the early morning sun. My favourite bird which greeted us each morning as we crossed the fields is though the sky lark.

I am an optimist by nature this bird appeals to my soul with its beautiful song and fluttering flight. It rises with song and flutters down to silence as it lands. It is nothing to look at just a medium brown bird having a bad hair day, but what a voice!

"Up with me into the clouds!
For thy song, Lark is strong:
Up with me, up with me in to the clouds!
Singing, singing,
With clouds and sky about thee ringing,
Lift me guide me, till I find,
That spot which seems so to thy mind."  William Wordsworth

 Link Lark Rising Vaughan Williams.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Mares Tails and Mackerel Scales

We recently went to Padstow for a few days. I had a seafood cookery course at Rick Steins a Christmas present from Alex. It was really good, pretty intensive but as you can see the important things were well covered (wine). I am pictured above with Rob a semi retired GP who was a lively companion and between us we managed to cook everything.

I like the West Country its a lovely area with plenty of wildlife. We managed plenty of walks and Jac always ended up with a bit of rock climbing and a good swim in the sea. I didn't have much time for painting but I did succumb to a couple of sketches. The weather fortunately was kind to us.

Tomorrow we are in the gallery in Town and are both looking forward to seeing David Cowdry's Exhibition at Newton House, Llandeilo later. Link below.

David Cowdry

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


I am by nature given to nostalgic phases. As a young boy I used to live within 100yds of the London Midland and Scottish Railway line. My brother, sister and I would sit on the embankment and watch the locomotives thundering up the line. I loved the sound of the big pistons and the smell of the smoke with bits of burning black coal. Occasionally we would place an old penny on the track and recover it after the loco had passed. The resultant mishapen brass pressing would be an item to cherish. We also used to go down to the "sheds" where the locomotives were kept and maintained. As young boys we were often treated to cabbing, that is being allowed on the platform of the engine by a kindly fireman or driver while she was fired up. This was in the days before health and safety.
Anyway later in life I taught myself basic engineering and did make some working model steam stationary engines and boilers. I always felt steam engines were a living thing.
You can now see that I find them to be a good subject ( ie something I understand and enjoy painting).
The painting above is Not For Sale.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

A quick sketch

The watercolour sketch above is of the Fjords and was done on the scene. It was painted on Saunders Hot Pressed paper. I don't usually use HP paper. The paper is smooth and similar to painting on thick cartridge paper. Anyway why do people make sketches? For myself I sketch both in pencil and watercolour for a number of reasons:
To make a record of the scene before me for a possible painting later
To keep my hand in drawing and painting from nature
Because I enjoy doing it
A sketch will take about 2-15 minutes normally. The time is generally dictated by the subject, the weather conditions and my wife Alex. If it is wet and windy I paint very quickly but more importantly I judge how long I can take by my wife's look when I say,
"I am just going to do a quick sketch!"
In fairness she is very patient, more patient than I am when she runs into a friend and starts a long conversation.
The majority of my sketches are kept for a period and then culled,(taken to the skip), if I haven't made use of them within a couple of years. So even if I havent used them for reference I have still enjoyed doing them and they have helped to keep my skills honed.