Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Early Morning Rhossili Bay

I finished the above painting of "Early morning in Rhossili Bay", Gower today. It was meant to be a commission but I got my wires crossed (it happens!). Alex tells me it is the wrong size. Oh well it will have to sell somewhere else.

Alex is trying out some new frames and I am keen to see how they look but today she is entertaining two grandchildren somewhere.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Straight from the horses mouth

A few years back Alex and I were sat on our boat at anchor in Lawrenny. There is a lovely little cafe on the shore and we saw a group of horse riders stop there. They tied up their horses and bought ice cream from the cafe. We watched as one girl got stuck into her cornet then offered her horse a lick then continued attacking the ice cream herself and alternately sharing with her horse. We were a little grossed out ( I think that is the modern term).

The other night I made fish pie. I dished out a helping for Alex and a helping for me. As we sat eating we had the news on tv. As I finished my plate I gave Jac the last bit.

I then continued watching the tv.

There was a bit of pie left and Alex had some. She then asked if I wanted the last bit. It seemed a waste to leave it so I got tucked in and emptied the dish..

As I laid down the cutlery on my empty plate Alex said, "You do realise that is the fork you were feeding the dog....?"

Still I have had no ill effects apart from a wet nose and a sudden craving for bone meal.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Misty Morning Towy Valley

The above painting of the Towy Valley sold today. Meanwhile I was in the gallery in Llandeilo decorating.

I always end up doing the ceilings I suppose I am always going to be covered in paint so it may as well be me. Anyway job done. Tomorrow I have been asked to judge a Halloween pumpkin competition, which is different.

I was a bit worried lately as I have all of a sudden taken an aversion to wine! Not through any bad experience just haven't felt like it or enjoyed drinking it. Not that I would let this bother me. Now I have been drinking bottled bitter when the occasion demands. Its funny how your tastes change.

As a youngster my mom and dad would leave us outside the pub and come out with a packet of crisps with the little blue bag of salt together with glasses of cider for us. When I grew older I started going into pubs and I drank warm mild beer at one shilling and ten pence a pint ( about 9p in new money).
Occasionally I would have a sweet milk stout like a Mackeson. (Incidentally my grandfather had beer delivered at home in the form of Davenports Stout).

On a school trip to watch King Something Something by Shakespeare in Ludlow we stopped off at Clee Hill for a view of the countryside. A couple of us found a Public House that would serve 14year olds with bottled cider and we thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

I later changed my taste to Bitter Beer which again was always served warm. Ansells Brewery was near my school and you could always smell the hops. When trends dictated that lager and beers should be served cold or ice cold I turned to wine.

We used to brew our own wine as it was too expensive to buy. We would ferment anything and always had a stock of several gallons. We had big plastic barrels for fermenting. On one occasion we had a large barrel of apple wine fermenting in the airing cupboard of a police house. The barrel literally exploded when the air vent got blocked with apple. There were several gallons of apple wine over the walls floor and ceiling. We failed to cover the stains with blocker. At one time we gave up bottling it and used to syphon the wine straight into jugs. Fortunately I was unable to drink for about 3 weeks in every four due to my shifts so drinking was never too much of a problem! Even so we decided it was perhaps a bit over the top and stopped fermenting our own.

Anyway to keep you up to date I bought a bottle of Rioja yesterday and I may sample it tonight and see how it goes.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


I was pleased to hear from Nicky Piper  (ex Welsh Middleweight) today. He informed me that the above painting had been sold in aid of Cardiff Hospice.
It was a nice painting and reminded me of our days sailing into Solva. It had been on the wall in our living room but it has found a far more useful purpose and in any case I have replaced it with another painting now.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

A helping hand

The weather is apparently getting colder and going to be more seasonal. That being the case I relate the following which I know I posted a few years ago.

One New Years Eve I was working on a cold frosty evening. I was the observer in a Police Patrol car when we came around a corner to find a motorcycle and rider across the road. Somehow my companion managed to avoid the rider and motorcycle, no mean fete as the road was quite icy. The lad as I recall was a student and his mount was a Jawa 250, not really a thing to boast about quite utilitarian machine. Anyway having brushed him down and established he was unhurt we looked at his motorcycle. He had a fair way to go, no money and no other means of getting there. His motorbike had lost its front mudguard and bent the handlebars and gear lever. He was a nice enough lad and we spent some time helping him. We had a piece of scaffold pole we used for removing Krooklocks on illegally parked vehicles. We used this to bend his handlebars and gear lever back into useable condition. We found some baler twine in the hedge and tied his front mudguard up for him. He was most grateful. He tried to start the machine, (they always were a bugger to start as I recall along with the CZ it counterpart). Anyway we told him to sit on the bike and let the clutch in when going at a reasonable speed. This was easy as we were at the top of a hill.

He thanked us profusely and got on the bike and disappeared down the hill. We watched his taillight until we heard the machine start and saw him going down the hill towards the corner at the bottom. Our hearts were in our mouths as we saw him fail to negotiate the right hand bend and continue straight on through the hedge. We ran down after him. While my partner got him out of the hedge I recovered the bike. It was then I noticed that in the dark the mudguard and front forks had been inadvertently tied up tight to the frame and had stopped the front wheel turning. We quickly re tied the mudguard without saying anything and got it into a road worthy condition. The poor lad was mystified but swore he would sell the infernal machine as soon as he could. Eventually he got on his way no worse for his adventures and fortunately no wiser.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Oystercatchers on the beach

I did this painting of oyster catchers on the beach this week for a commission. They are great fun to watch as they scurry about the waters edge. With all my domestic commitments this week I have done well to get two completed I guess. 

Talking of which I have to dash food shopping for the grandchildren coming this afternoon.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The beach

I finished the above painting today. It is a commission.

Alex has been busy painting too only she has been decorating. She has caught this chalk paint bug and is painting anything that can't move in it ("Jac" has been keeping a low profile as he doesn't fancy becoming the only Duck Egg Blue Cocker Spaniel).

Alex was painting one of the doors of the built in wardrobe in our bedroom when our daughter in law called around with several dozen grandchildren (okay a slight exaggeration!). Anyway she said to Alex:

"Oh it looks lovely are you going to paint the other doors as well?"


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Three Cliffs Bay - Gower

Well we had two days of wind and rain so the easel didn't make much of an appearance. I did manage the little watercolour sketch of three cliffs bay and we had a great time.

I have a lot of reference material and now I have to get down to doing some work. I have a commission to get stuck into this week as well.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014


I am often asked for paintings of the Gower and so for next years exhibition I intend to have  a number of paintings of the Gower. Hence today we are off again on a trip to the south side of the Gower. The one above is of Rhossili Bay and sold a good few years ago. 

Right must go before the rain arrives.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cadair Idris

Normally we go to North Wales for a fortnight during the year but this is the first year we haven't got around to it. The scenery is spectacular and I get a chance to do a few different works. The one above is of Cadair Idris. I am not sure why we haven't got around to it but we did have to cancel a break due to family illness and then we got stuck into work. Anyway next year!!

Did I mention that I had ordered some doors that were the wrong size for a built in wardrobe. Well this morning we were a bit under pressure. I took the dog out,gave my son a lift to pick up a car, had breakfast and then had to wrap these two doors before I rushed off to torture my piano teacher.

Alex and I got the wrapping laid it out on the floor I lifted one of the doors put it on the wrapping. it Then we found some more card and cut it to shape making a box. We taped it up lifting the dam thing wrapping it round and round. Finally we stood up and there staring at us was the other door! A deep breath then start  unwrapping.

I had my lesson, did the food shopping made lunch then  I went to collect one of the grandchildren, bring him home then take him to music lessons, pick up another grandchild then go and pick up the first lad from music lessons. In between Alex was decorating. Then tea.
Did I do any painting err no.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Jack Sound

Jack sound is the stretch of water between the mainland and Skomer Island and is a tricky little piece of water with hidden rocks and overfalls. It should only be negotiated at  or around slack water.
We had to go through it on one occasion in quite bad conditions even though it was high water. The water was coming over the top of the boat and we had to lock Jac in the cabin clipping ourselves on with safety harnesses. Anyway it was quite exhilarating but I would not wish to do it again. The picture above is of Jack Sound in more favourable conditions.

As you get older your hearing deteriorates a bit and it is wise to double check what you hear or think you hear. I answered the phone at home the other day and heard someone ask for "Alex" and then say something about "Sexpot". I did a double take and handed the phone to her and found out afterwards it was about some testpots she had ordered for painting!

It reminds me of an incident a few years ago when I took a film into Boots to be developed. I handed the film over to the lady and then she asked me if I wanted exta sex! I went very red and apologised but could she repeat that.
"Do you want extra sets of photographs?"
"Err No thanks."

I have started on a built in wardrobe but found out today the doors I ordered were too big! Measure twice order/cut once!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Aberystwyth Promenade

When the children were young we lived in Newtown and although I was only off one weekend a month we often took one of those days to go to Aberystwyth as it was the nearest sea-side. In those days you could park on the sea front without much problem and we would eat our sandwiches and then take the kids to a lovely little toy shop that sold farm animals. We had an old Austin Maxi at the time which was like tank.
During its stay with us it wrote off a mini that had the effrontery to fail to give way to Alex coming out of a side road. It also demolished a front porch of the neighbours opposite having rolled off our drive run across the road and swept into their living room.
The only damage it sustained was a bumper that needed to be removed and reshaped with a lump hammer and broken lenses and scratched paintwork. It was fantastic in snow and would go anywhere even if you had to temporary lower the tyre pressures a few pounds. Yes it took as everywhere in safety and we were sorry it see it go.
Anyway the painting above is of Aberystwyth Promenade as we often saw it, wet and windy. (The paitning is sold).

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Carriage driving

Recently Alex and I went to watch carriage driving. I am not as you may be aware a great fan of horses but there is no denying they are magnificent creatures. Better to look at than be sat upon in my opinion. I have ridden in the past and have blogged about these experiences previously. The only really positive experience with horses was when we spent a weekend in Newbury on a stag do and had a private box. I could see the horses from a safe distance and enjoy the benefits of a free bar.

I am a strong believer that you should paint what you know and as a result I only include horses as part of an overall subject. I would not do a portrait of a horse.

Anyway this weekend we have grandchildren but I did manage to sneak away for a short while and do the above painting. It will probably never be framed or shown but I enjoyed doing it and I chose to do it in a style tending towards impressionism. I wanted to try and capture some movement and get a lot of light in the picture and I think this was the best way to do this.

I took a snap of the start of the picture to give you an idea how it built up. There was no pencil work just straight in with a brush and ignoring the cries of "Mark where are you?" from downstairs.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Pierre-Auguste Renoir

No not one of mine Pierre-Auguste Renoir. I chose this because I watched a drama about the artist last night on Sky Arts. Well actually thats not quite true I watched most of it but missed the last bit as it was passed my bedtime. It showed him in his 80's and was a beautiful production.

Renoire said he only painted beautiful things ast here were enough bad things in the world already. I have sympathy with this view.

I am by nature optimistic and the majority of my work reflects this. That said I can appreciate art works that draw attention to issues or make statements about less ideal matters.

Alex was supposed to be stewarding in a gallery in Llandeilo today. I couldn't do it as I had a piano lesson. Shame. Anyway last night she passed on a message to say my lesson was postponed therefore I am now going to Llandeilo for the day! (I suspect foul play here). The result is no painting today.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Broughton Beach - Gower - in stages

Okay here are the various stages of the painting I have done today. Step one get a pint of tea in a large mug find glasses squirt a palette of colours out and away we go. Here I have carefully (ok not carefully at all) scrubbed burnt sienna and burnt umber on a board with pure turpentine.

Next I have wiped the top 2/3rds with a rag to lighten it and very quickly drawn in the horizon and a couple of cliffs in burnt umber and turps. I have used a large brush to make a few marks for the foreground rocks using burnt umber, ultramarine and turps.

Add sky

Add titanium white for start of clouds

Now I have started working on the distance put in a silhouette for headlands on the horizon and started on the cliffs.

Then it is just a matter of putting in the foreground rocks and putting a couple of brushstrokes for a couple and a dog. There it is - Broughton beach , Gower. How long did it take? About a lifetime of learning. I have developed this way of painting because it suits me and is very quick. The essential thing is to have a mental image of how you want the finished painting to look before you start.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Exciting News

Alex told me some good news the other day. Dunelm has come to Carmarthen...!
Whats more she was going to take me there for a visit. Well life doesn't get much better does it?

Alex is in a bit of a decorating and home changing spree so anyway off we went. I can tell you Dunelm contains house stuff not a pint a painting or a rugby ball in sight.

Predictably I wasn't doing gambols when I went around the place and I would  like to say having been there for some while it was enlightening, but the truth was after wandering off leaving Alex inspecting curtain material I had to go outside and watch the grass grow.

Alex is really good at this sort of thing and I am happy for her to make all the decisions but I am obliged to nod and look interested. I remember when we had our first brand new car. I had no real interest and Alex went to the garage and decided what to buy. I didn't even see it until it was delivered some days later.

Today is grandchildren day hence the picture above. We also had a very early start to take someone to the airport so I am looking forward to a quiet day tomorrow and hopefully starting a new canvas.

Monday, 6 October 2014


Someon once called the hour before sunset and the hour after sunrise the "Golden Hour". This because when the sun is low in the sky the trees and land can take on a golden hue. Long shadows and plenty of contrast add to the effect. This is the time I take Jac for his walk and am often rewarded with stunning views.
Last night the wind and rain removed most of the leaves around the reservoir and the cold grey morning looked pretty much like the painting above (which is sold). Now the sun has come out and all is unseasonably warm.
Origin in Carmarthen has been re-decorated and re-organised over the weekend and is looking great.

Saturday, 4 October 2014


I am not keen on acrylics but I have used them for some bigger works like the painting above. This is part of a large picture app. 5ft x 3.5ft. I no longer have the painting.  Although I work pretty quickly acrylics dry too fast and aren't as soft as oils for my liking. I guess its just a personal preference and as I say they can be useful. In the above painting I also used household emulsion mixed in to give me the consistency I wanted.
Anyway today I was decorating in the gallery in town and then I had my flu and pneumonia jabs..!!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Betrothed - Whitesands

Here is another in the series of beach scenes I have done. Some are commissions some are just what I have taken a fancy to doing. The one above was a commission for a couple who were engaged on the beach at Whitesands. If my memory serves me (which it doesn't always) he was going back to the war and he proposed on the sands here in Pembrokeshire.

 Anyway he couldn't have chosen better spot.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


I have painted a lot of pictures with water and reflections. For me they are always challenging but include a natural balance a symmetry of composition.

What colour is water? Well obviously itself water is colourless but it may appear as any hue (colour or combination of colours). This will be dependent upon particles in the water, what is beneath it (sea or river bed or sand if on a beach) the light at the time and the sky along with factors such as dark and shade etc...

So observation is key to all this and will generally reward you with a balanced painting full of atmosphere. The painting above is of children on Broadhaven Beach.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Cefn Sidan

This last weekend Alex, Jac and I spent a couple of days camping at Pembrey Country Park which has incredible wooded walks and the beach (Cefn Sidan). There also happened to be a Steam Rally on so happy days. Pembrey is probably our favourite beach miles of sand with a glorious view of the Gower and even on busy days you think the place is empty. Needless to say I have done a few paintings of the scene from summer to dark threatening clouds in winter. Well I guess there are a couple more in the pipeline as I have a couple of ideas in mind.

Today I am in Origin in Carmarthen so I am hoping its busy or it can be a long day so I will find a suitable book for company.