Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Crug - Brecon

Every day when we lived in Brecon I used to climb the Crug with our dog Luke. It is a great vantage point overlooking the town and across to the Brecon Beacons. The position was the site of a large Iron Age Hill Fort and the ditches are still prominent. The painting above was only about 6ins x 8ins and sold at one of the exhibitions we had in the Cathedral.

I have done quite a number of small paintings although for me I find it generally easier to paint in a larger size.

The last month has been pretty quiet which is just as well as I haven't got a lot of stock and I have been generally otherwise engaged. I have now a lot of material and have to get down to turning it into something worthwhile.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Lowri Evans

I am not a member of Carmarthen Arts Society. (I am not really a person who likes being in societies and committees etc. Although I have given a talk to the society back in the day when I did do demonstrations and talks).

My mother in law is a member however and last night she arranged an evening of music and poetry reading. Well I was a bit perturbed that it clashed with the rugby on TV, but when I got there I have to say it was a really great evening. I am not a connoisseur of poetry but I was very happy with what I heard. There was Izzy an unaccompanied singer who was also excellent. Then there was Lowri Evans
with Lee. They should not be singing in the Carmarthen Quinns Club they should be filling large venues. Lowri has a haunting voice similar to Alison Kraus but as far as I am aware Alison Kraus doesn't sing in Welsh. Superb performance and a real unexpected treat. Thanks Norma for arranging it.

Anyway judge for yourself. The song is about the death of her grandfather.

Link Corner of my eye

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Thomas Street Cirencester- Abandoned Sketch

When we go to Cirencester in the camper we tend to walk into the Town most days. Then I have a choice. Jac and I can go around the clothes, wool and sewing shops with Alex or we can go for a walk and do some sketching. To be specific Jac doesn't do any sketching but he is pretty good sat waiting for ten minutes or so.

Anyway the above sketch is of Thomas Street in Cirencester where there is the old St. Thomas hospital (the oldest secular building in Cirencester -1483). I had stopped on a street corner with sketchbook in my hand and Jac sat fairly quietly at my feet. I was five minutes into the sketch when an old lady stopped for a chat.

People paint for different reasons, for a living, for pleasure or both. I meet a lot of people who paint for pleasure and social reasons. They enjoy going to a weekly class meeting people chatting and producing a watercolour... This lady was in this category. We had passed a very pleasant time chatting about art in general in fact time passed so quickly it was time to get off and meet Alex before I knew it and I didn't really finish the sketch, just abandoned it.

Link well the only reason I picked this is because it was on my Dansette Record Player as I was typing this.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Silver Birch

Last week I had a few minutes to spare whilst waiting for Alex to go shopping, so I grabbed my sketchbook and looked for a subject. There wasn't much to choose from but looking out of the window I could see a couple of Silver Birch trees over the hedge bingo! Artists watercolour on cheap cartridge paper using an aqua pen along with ink. Quick and simple.

Today we went to the Gower finding reference material for new work. We didn't have long as we had to be back to pick up the grandchildren at three but a nice day out.

Monday, 22 September 2014


We recently went in our camper to the Cotswolds. We inevitably took the scrabble board. I am not very competitive and frankly don't care if I win or lose but I am sure it keeps the brain plodding along. Alex takes things quite seriously and usually wins which explains why I have time to do a drawing of her while she is working out her go!!

When we arrived at the site Alex went to plug in our electricity at an electric point behind the camper. She told me that our neighbour had plugged into ours and we didn't have a socket.

" No problem." I said. I promptly went off to the site office to complain and came back with the warden in tow. He went over to the mains pole and said,
"Yes, you see on this pole we have three sockets two are being used and one is empty, so whats wrong with this one?"

"Err. Sorry." Embarrassed from Carmarthen.

Behind him I could see Alex grinning!!

I don't normally need any help to show myself up.

Saturday, 20 September 2014


A while back our daughter in law was driving a new Landrover for the first time. It was a company vehicle. The girls were going shopping  so they jumped in with shopping bags and credit cards minus children (yes the men were baby sitting) and left for the shops. All went well until the store closed and threw them out. They went back to the car and at that point my daughter in law realised she didn’t know how to reverse the car. She tried pushing and pulling the gear stick to get it into reverse but failed. Alex came to the rescue. We once had an old series 2 Landrover and she handled it like a toy. 
So Alex leaned over pushed the gear stick in the right direction and gave a mighty heave. 
To the amusement of all her hand came up holding the gear stick and complete housing. 

Eventually she got it all back together and with everything restored reverse gear was located. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

Working in the boatyard

The other day Alex and I were walking into town to go for a well earned meal. Alex had dressed up and as we passed another couple the lady said to Alex "You look stunning."

Now my first thought was she was talking to me (not really). We didn't know them and I thought how nice and how spontaneous to say that. (Although I would not go saying that to a stranger myself).

It made Alex's night as she doesn't get dressed up that often and has worn work clothes a lot..
I mentioned before she worked in a boatyard and used to come home covered in bruises oil and smelling of diesel. However she did enjoy it and although the only female fitter in the yard never had any problems with the men. She had their total respect. When she left the yard to work with me they offered her, her own team and a pay rise to get her to stay but it was a long hard day with a lot of travelling.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Canal Boats

My sister mentioned the other day that she didn't like water probably because I nearly drowned when I fell in a lock when I was young. My father actually pulled me out of a sluice gate with a boat hook. Anyway it didn't have that effect on me I love boats, the canals and sea. 

Alex and I bought a canal boat many years ago when we were first married. We bought it in the Exchange and Mart. I am not sure if that is still around. I don’t think we had even seen it but it was very cheap. The owner obviously just wanted rid of it and it was in a marina in Northampton.
Anyway the only real problem with it was the engine wouldn’t start and it was on expensive moorings. We thought we could sort out the engine between us and that was no problem. We decided to bring it along the canals to Welsh Frankton where we could more it for next to nothing (things have changed). We set out in the middle of winter and after a day or so the canal began to ice up until we had to use the boat as an icebreaker. At night we would stop near a pub to spend the evening in the warm with a few beers. We never got it all the way home as British Waterways were doing engineering work assuming no-one was mad enough to be using the canal at that time of year. We left it tied to the bank and returned for it a couple of months later. It was fine and it arrived in Welsh Frankton where it was used for a season. We later sold it along with our motorcycles when children came along to buy “things” for the nursery!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

In the cells

The nickname for a police patrol car used to be a jam sandwich because of the red reflective stripe around it. 
Jam sandwich has another meaning for me. I have previously mentioned that when I was in the police in the early1970’s I was quite short of funds. Well occasionally I was sent to work in the lock-up in Steelhouse Lane.

The lock-up was the police cellblock for prisoners waiting to go to court. They could be held over a weekend or merely overnight. When I worked outside the City Centre I was occasionally sent to the lock-up to sit with a high-risk prisoner (someone arrested for rape or murder). I was also sent to work there on overtime when they were short of officers.

One of my duties would be to make the prisoners meals and feed them. This is absolutely true, for breakfast they had a choice of a strawberry jam sandwich and a mug of tea or nothing.
For dinner they had the choice of a strawberry jam sandwich and tea or nothing.
For tea they had the choice of a strawberry jam sandwich and a mug of tea or nothing.
I still recall the piles of white sliced bread, tubs of spread and the catering size tins of strawberry jam.(This was of course before human rights legislation arrived).

I have to add that I too always joined them and was very grateful for a strawberry jam sandwich for breakfast dinner and tea mind you that also meant it avoided me claiming expenses for a meal!

Saturday, 13 September 2014


The drawing above is of Solva and was used as the basis for a large painting which has now sold. I do use a ruler for nice straight lines when doing a cartoon like this particulalry if it involves something like a boats mast or the roof of a house. The straight lines are also a nice foil to the curves of nature.
There is a pool  of relatively deep water at the entrance to Solva with good holding for an anchor where it is possible to remain afloat at all states of the tide. This is quite advantageous as it allows you to go at any time also it is free as opposed to the moorings inside Solva itself. The pool is reasonably sheltered except in a Southerly Wind.

Alex and I were asleep here one night on our boat when we were awoken by a phone call from our two daughters both of whom we love dearly and are very intelligent? They had set out by car to visit my mother in law in Sutton Coldfield and had apparently got lost.
“Hello Dad?”
“We are lost in Birmingham somewhere. How do we get to Mother in Law’s”
“Right have you passed any landmarks?”
“Yes hang on Dad there is a Texaco Garage on our left.”
What do you say? “Very helpful?” Holding back I said,
“I tell you what. Go in there and ask where you are and ask for directions.”

Friday, 12 September 2014

Sods Law

I came across the above photo the other day it is of Alex on the Welshpool Light railway. 

It reminded me of a story I was told by Pat Cochrane a real gentleman from Newtown. He had been a fireman on the Llanfair Caerienion Light Railway before it was shut by British Rail. He told me that one day the driver let him have a go at driving the train while shunting goods. Guess what he de-railed it. He couldn’t believe it and neither could the driver. The driver was in a spot because he couldn’t say that he had let an unauthorised person drive it so he had to take the blame.

I understand they had to call a crane from Wolverhampton to come and get it back on the rails. He didn't get a second chance to drive a train.

This is for me another fine example of “If it can happen it will happen!” or "Sods Law"

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sunderland Flying Boat

One day during the last exhibition I grabbed a block canvas and had a ponder what I should do and decided to paint another Sunderland Flying Boat. It always provokes a lot of interesting tales. In fact again I had several people come and chat about their recollections of them from flying on them and working on them to watching them take off and land.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Time on your hands

When you are at an exhibition for 14 days 8 hours a day you have to find something to do other than just sit there. Although I read occasionally I prefer to draw or paint to pass the time.

The drawing above is of a pair of trees at Aberglasney. You can see I had time on my hands by the amount of detail.

Monday, 8 September 2014


For years we were a one car family. If I was way which was a lot then Alex had to walk to the shops or take the kids to school.. Eventually when the kids got older she got a job and bought herself her first car since we were married.

She went down to Pensarn in Carmarthen and bought an old VW Jetta. As she was driving it home the horn came on and stuck on. She didn't know what to do as there was nowhere to pull over. Cars in front of her started to pull onto the pavement and people were stopping to see what was happening clearly believing there was some sort of emergency.  In the end she just drove home with it on somewhat embarrassed and disconnected the horn when she got on the drive.

We found out when it rained you had to wear wellingtons as  the passenger side foot well filled with water, and we could see where it was getting in. Eventually we drilled a hole in the floor to let it out other than that it wasn't a bad car.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Forest Arms Brechfa

I was pleased to hear that the Forest Arms (above) was opening again. George Rashbrook from the Black Lion in Abergorlech is opening it and is also using one of my watercolours for the advertising.
Good Luck George.

Last night we went to the Summer Ball at Aberglasney very nice and a late night. We have to deliver a painting today.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Bull Point

When we go away I pretty well always take my sketchbook and watercolours. I rarely do full paintings or at any rate frame them up though. It is a matter of marketing really. My market is mainly paintings of South and West Wales with the occasional painting of North Wales. I did do this painting of Bull Point when we were in Devon years ago but it was never framed and ended up being consigned to the bin during a clear out.

Today we have an unexpected visitor grandchild number 9 is stopping with us. He is no real problem and is very sweet.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Family Combination

As I haven’t done any painting for a few days  I thought it might be worth posting this charming picture. It shows my Uncle Don seated on the bike with my grandmother and my father in the sidecar. I am not certain but I think it is a Norton 1926 four speed 588 OHV outfit. My Uncle Don was very keen on motorcycles and eventually opened up his own garage. I believe the outfit showed here belonged to my grandfather who probably took the picture. He was a bit of a lad. He had worked in a jewellers before he left for South America in 1912 on the SS Mauritania travelling on a passport under a different name! Anyway enough said.

I remember when you had to put a parking light on your combo or car at night. If you didn’t a policeman would call and tell you to get it done! Also when it was cold you put an oil lamp under the sump to keep the oil viscous. I’m not sure if it was the good old days but they were certainly different.

(Our son Martin has now gone into the car business starting "Martin's Motors" buying and selling cars so he is following in the footsteps of my Uncle. So if you are after a good used car in Carmarthen....07719 068540)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Bridge over the River Gorlech

Here is one of the commissions I did last month it shows a bridge over the River Gorlech, contre-jour (against the light). It was a lovely spot and I think I did it justice.

A few odds and ends to do today on the domestic front and looking forward to the Private View of David Cowdry's Exhibition tomorrow night at Aberglasney.

My sister has been stopping with us for a few months while her newhouse purchase goes through.
Hence we have all been decorating for the last week. My sister is a great favourite with Jac so I thought I would do a sketch of them walking in the rain.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Art for arts sake

Last night I attended a meeting of the local co-operative. We had an application from a new artist to join us. He was an abstract artist and because my work is very much in the traditional genre of realism I think some people made assumptions about my reaction.

In fact I have done an amount of abstract paintings and post modernism work and am reasonably knowledgable on the subject. This includes working with computer generated images, an example of which is shown above of Guidhall Square, Carmarthen. But everything comes full circle and I am fully at home in my traditional genre.
To quote Graham Sutherland, "Be true to yourself and nature."

Anyway I can appreciate all forms of art but I have strong views about poor quality work (of whatever genre) or "work" that is passed off as art by people who should know better. You can call a wheel barrow a Rolls Royce but at the end of the day it is still a wheel barrow.

Oh yes, as for the artist last night I liked his work. The name James Morgan Taylor

Link James Taylor

Monday, 1 September 2014

Sun Odyssey 33 "Tofibe" on its moorings at Lawrenny

The painting above was a commission I did last month of a yacht, "Tofibe" (Sun Odyssey 33) on its moorings at Lawrenny.

I haven't done any paintings of boats or ships for while so it was a nice change. I used to do a lot of shipping and coastal paintings and exhibited at boat shows at one time. I have a pretty good working knowledge of boats and rigging. Its a golden rule for me and I think it should be for all artists, "know your subject".

Anyway I think the mad rush of the last few months is over and I can possible have a quieter period before starting to replace my stock of work. In the meantime its painting "cotton white" walls again today.