Friday, 31 July 2015

Brecon Cathedral

A few weeks back I went to Brecon to meet up with our eldest daughter and family. Brecon is a halfway point so quite convenient. Unusually they were running late (note the irony) so I had a good hour to meander around Brecon and reflect on a lot of good memories. We have exhibited in Brecon very successfully over the years and had a very warm welcome.

The scene above shows the stream running down to Castle street and the Cathedral in the distance. The building in front of the Cathedral is the old Gaol.

Today I am going to make a start on the tax returns!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Chicken Surprise

Although I do most of the cooking these days Alex is an excellent cook.  I recall one Christmas a long time ago when Alex's Mom and her grandmother came to visit us (Happy Birthday Norma!). We had been married a couple of years.

Anyway Alex obviously wanted to put on a good display of her culinary expertise and we saved up for the event. Come the day everything was elaborately done with hand made place names, a table cloth, starters a bottle of wine (probably Lambrusco) etc.. Bear mind that at this time we didn’t even have carpets or much in the way of furniture other than a new bed and a second hand three piece suite Alex’s Mom had given us. Our weekly consumption of meat was generally a pack of sausages.

Anway all went swimmingly well until a panic stricken Alex caught hold of me and confessed she had left the plastic bag of giblets in the chicken which was now cooking in the oven. I said it would be fine and don’t admit it. Now Alex can't tell a lie and would admit anything before even being asked but on this occasion she summoned up superhuman strength and kept stum. (this saying apparently comes from a German word for dumb).

There was a little bit of an after taste with the chicken as I recall but that was probably because I knew about the plastic in the bird. Alex swore me to secrecy and I remained silent ~ until now anyway.

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


Here is another of the paintings that sold during the exhibition. It shows a red kite over the Bluestones in the Preselis.

I am pleased with my finished portrait commission. I confess I was not one hundred percent confident I could pull it off to my own satisfaction. Portraits can be painted in a thousand different ways and styles. This one was done in a realistic manner. The most difficult thing about that is getting the flesh appearance / tone right. The skin needs to be translucent to be virtually alive to the touch other wise it will look like a photograph. Unfortunately I can't "share" the painting and it hasn't been seen by the customer yet, but I am very content.  It was a one off and  I won't be accepting another similar commission in a long time.

I started a landscape yesterday ah back to the comfort zone. I also received my piano examination result. Surprisingly I did pretty well! (Well it would surprise the neighbours). My good lady wife Alex has also purchased me a very lovely acoustic piano which will be arriving today. We went to see Sandra Philips exhibition yesterday. Lovely work and nice to catch up with her.

Alex's Mom is having a bit of a rough year but is bearing up pretty well and keeping very chirpy.
Jac has been in the horrors. He had the vet on Monday for his anal glands to be done, (makes me wince to think of it). He had acupuncture yesterday for his nearly one hundred percent repaired cruciate ligament. I laughed, then Alex told me I had the dentist today!

I heard an interview with Ray Davies on the radio this morning so my link is

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

What's in a name?

The above painting sold at the weekend. It shows the river Towy looking towards Llanarthne. The image is actually a bit too blue on my monitor but you get the idea. That of course is an issue with the internet everyone's monitors are set differently so we are not seeing the exact same thing. Not really a major problem normally but always worth bearing in mind.

A very nice lady moved in to our road a year or so ago and we were introduced to her at a friends house. Ever since we have always stopped to pass the time of day with her. However the other day Alex and I were talking about her to a third party, saying house nice she was.  They didn't know who we meant but knew a woman of a different name who had moved in to our road a year ago and described her.  The light slowly dawned and we realised for over a year we had been calling her "Annette" when her name was "Marianne".

Monday, 27 July 2015

Work life balance

The above painting is a very old one but is quite appropriate to the topic. We used to have a business model (yes painting is a business and we had a business plan, marketing strategy etc.) that involved up to five exhibitions a year, and exhibiting or showing work in a number of galleries across the South and West of Wales. It was a successful model that worked well for us for a number of years but it was work intensive.
As time has gone on we have been able to reduce the outlets and maintain our income. We have turned down some work and undertaken only one main exhibition a year, at Aberglasney. As a consequence our work life balance has improved.
This year we had our most successful year ever at our main exhibition but found we didn't enjoy it for a number of reasons. It was a difficult decision as we have had 8 or 9 good years there but we have decided to not apply to exhibit there again next year and have informed them accordingly.
Our main source of work now is from private sales and commissions and the internet which is far more manageable.  We only sell work through one gallery, Origin in Carmarthen so maybe we will be spending more time on the deck chairs at the beach, in the rain!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Llandeilo Church

The painting of St Teilo's in Llandeilo sold in the last couple of weeks. The graveyard is unusual in that it is cut in half by the road running through it.

This morning Jac and I had a very wet walk. He was also mugged. As he was climbing out of the reservoir a golden retriever grabbed his throwing stick from him and ran off with it!

Oh well have to post code the next one!

Alex is making progress with the accounts and I have now pretty well finished my current commission.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Coffee Time

I will be finishing off my portrait commission this weekend. Alex is well into the  accounts.
I have a few bits to do in the garden as well.

Last night we decided to go to a local restaurant for a meal as we had been given a gift voucher for it.
I booked a table and later I booked a taxi to take us as it was raining. Alex misunderstood when the taxi was coming and inevitably wasn't ready when it arrived and it was all a bit of a rush. Anyway we got to the restaurant.
Alex said, "Did you pick up the voucher?"
I said, "No, didn't you?"
Oh well we'll just have to go again!

Incidentally while we had a pleasant meal and conversation we noted a young couple on the table next to us who spent the whole time between courses looking at their mobiles! We didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I guess its just sad! 

Friday, 24 July 2015


Yesterday morning we had a break and went down to the beach. No we didn't go surfing but Jac had a good swim.

Its a bit wet a miserable this morning but the light is okay so I will be getting on with painting. Its time to do our accounts and Alex is I think reluctantly going to make a start today! This is the least enjoyable part of having your own business!

Thursday, 23 July 2015


As I am on the theme another portrait of mine this time of my grandfather who's family hailed from Scotland.

Yes the commission is going well but I definitely have no plans to return to portrait painting.

Not a bad day in the gallery yesterday. I read a bit, had a few customers and Pat called in. Nice to see you Pat.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Hot water?

We had a nice trip to the seaside the other day to let Jac have a run. He is pretty well recovered from his cruciate ligament injury (touch wood).

Our eldest daughter and family have just moved house. I was talking to her on her mobile phone and she informed me the move had gone well but they had no phone line,  no internet fitted yet and no hot water or heating.
Enquiring more I asked why no hot water. She said she didn't know how to work it.
"Well." I said." What sort of heating system is it? Oil? Gas? Electric?"
"How do I tell ?" She replied.
Good job winters a way a way.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Facing the music

This is an old painting of Alex.  The reason I put it up is because I have accepted a commission involving a portrait for a well known personality. For reasons I won't go into it is a very challenging commission. Many years ago I was fortunate to be given personal tuition by a member of the Royal Society of Portrait painters at his studio. At the time I was doing portraits and the tuition given was the best advice I ever received regarding the use of oil paints. I value those days more than anything in my years of painting.

I don't do portraits anymore. I stopped doing them as the market was very limited and the returns did not justify the time spent.

Nevertheless I am now doing another portrait this year and this one has given me plenty of time for reflection if not sleepless nights. Hows it going? Well too early to say really but I have "literally" mentally painted it several times and that went well. You won't see the finished work but I will let you know how it goes.

Oh yes I took as piano exam last week. How did I get on? Well probably not as well as the five year olds that were taking the same exam. Hopefully I passed but I wouldn't complain if I didn't!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Reflections at Cefn Sidan

The above painting of reflections at Cefn Sidan sold on Saturday  at Origin in King Street, Carmarthen.

I have a few jobs to start today. I have to try and recover my daughter and son in laws pictures from their old computer which died on them. I have a number of commissions to start on and the garden needs some work after being ignored for a few weeks.

At the exhibition I got asked all sorts of things one of which was,
"How do you keep your colours so fresh and clean?"

Well it is easy to make something that looks like mud if you keep pushing paint around so this is my advice for what its worth:

Have a clear plan and know what order you are laying on the colours. Generally light over dark but not always!

Clean your brush regularly and after each stroke if you are laying on top of another colour.

Hold you brush at an angle to the surface and lay on paint rather than at 90 degrees pulling up the old paint layer into the new.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Dinefwr Castle

This painting of Dinefwr Castle in the mist went at the exhibition. I had gone out looking for a view of the bluebells but came across this view which took over. I did do the bluebell wood subsequently.

I had a good clear out of work yesterday. The majority were watercolours and watercolour sketches but half a dozen oils joined them. There weren't bad paintings its just I can't keep everything especially when I am producing new work.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Misty morning on Cefn Sidan

Here is one of the paintings that sold during the exhibition. We finished unloading last night and now have  a dining room full of paintings and prints etc until we sort them out. I have several commissions to do starting next week. A couple of days out are called for I think.

BT Broadband is now playing up and disconnecting itself more than it is connected. I tried to report it and waited for a long time "In a queue with unexpectedly high calls!"( never heard that one before, irony) being assured I would have my call answered. Yes but life is too short and I wanted to go to bed before midnight so gave up after 30 minutes.

Just thought I would take advantage of the current blue light on my hub and get the blog out before cutting the lawn (grass is probably a more accurate description).

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Family Portrait - Pretty Ba Ba's

There are more paintings that have sold but I thought I would show this one as it is one that didn't.
I am not quite sure what to do with it. Normally 90% of paintings sell in 18 months to 2 years. After that the 10% are disposed of to make way for new work. This was has been shown for 3 years and I am reluctant to get rid of this one as I am quite fond of it. I am not sure yet I will dwell on it.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

The Aberglasney ghost?

Well here it is the last day of exhibiting coming up tomorrow. This has been the most successful exhibition we've had. . The painting above sold today. It is of the Church of the Holy Cross at Mwnt.

If you didn't get a chance to see us the gardens are worth a visit in any case and Sandra Phillips is exhibiting next and always puts on a great show.

Now then, every day we have been here we have noticed something a bit odd in Aberglasney Mansion. The first day we noticed that the door to the video room off the main hall was closed at 5pm although we didn't notice when this happened. It is normally left open for public access. Anyway we opened it again.
The following day we actually heard it close this was around 4.35 - 4.40pm. There were no other people in the hall or the video room. We thought maybe the floorboards were contracting/expanding and this caused it to release. However everyday for the remaining days the door swung shut by itself at 4. 35pm irrespective of the weather/ heat  etc. I decided to film it today on my phone but by the time I got the video part working it was mostly closed. Could it be the Aberglasney ghost?  Bishop Rudd walking through the hall? I am sure there is a rational explanation but it evades me at the moment.


The colours in the above image are a bit off on my monitor but nevertheless it gives you an idea of the painting. It went yesterday. Nice to see Nic and Fiona at the exhibition along with Wendy Powell Jones and friends, other than that another damp day. I am looking forward to finishing now and getting back to normal. I have 4 commissions to do so work is not a problem.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Scene from the Towy Valley

We had another very quiet day visitor wise yesterday but a pretty good day anyway. David Cowdry called in to see us, "Thanks for the bottle of wine". Kris and John came in. Good to see John looking fit and out and about. We had friends visit from Newtown come to see the exhibition and we sold a couple of paintings. To finish the day of we went to Florentinos for a lovely meal.

A perfect day. Oh and the painting. It sold yesterday a lovely calming scene in the Towy Valley.


Monday, 13 July 2015

Little grey Fergie

I occasionally do something different and this painting was one of them. It sold at the exhibition this week. I don't have much knowledge of agriculture other than that gleaned when I was a boy and working on the school farm.

I did use a Fergie to plough the fields. I suppose I was about 13 at the time. Probably not something that could be done these days. I remember when we had maths lessons coming someone would let the pigs out and that would take up a good deal of lesson time chasing the pigs around the fields and lanes.

Anyway it was very quiet again yesterday as we only saw about 30 people but we did sell a nice painting.

Sunday, 12 July 2015


The above painting of Rhossili Bay sold the exhibition this week. We sold one painting yesterday and to be honest it was a bit of a shambles as there was another event on in the afternoon and with setting up it was hardly conducive to any sales apart from the fact it was closed to the public for three hours.
It did mean I got an afternoon off so Jac was happy and had an extra walk.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Cattle on the Skyline

The above painting is a watercolour showing cattle on the skyline. It is actually Penlanffos. It is one of only two watercolours I exhibited and it sold yesterday. I generally only use watercolours for my sketches now. I still enjoy using them but my finished works are mainly oils.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Crow on beach

The above painting was one of the paintings that went yesterday at the exhibition. We met some very nice people and had a generally good day. One purchaser was very emotional over a painting they bought. This is not unusual but it always gives me a bit if a lift to know I have made a real difference to someone.

A week to go now so we keep going although its pretty tiring for Alex as she goes straight to visit her poor mom in hospital every night after the exhibition and doesn't get in until after nine.

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Sheep and Dryslwyn

This is one of the paintings I did for the exhibition but actually sold in the week beforehand. A quiet day today with one painting going and only 38 people going through including couples. A better forecast today so should be more footfall.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Aint nobody here but us chickens

The above painting sold in Aberglasney this week. Something different for me. Our son keeps a few hens and they always run round following his old black lab.

There was an event held in the main hall in the Mansion yesterday so part of the exhibition was shut down. Footfall was a bit quiet and I literally nodded off in the chair. I don't know if I had any visitors while I was sleeping! Alex says it is an age thing. Cheek, I think I must be working too hard!


Tuesday, 7 July 2015


The above painting of Sunrise over the Gower sold yesterday at the exhibition. We saw in total only 38 people but nevertheless had a pretty good day. Although the weather hasn't been bad the forecast has probably put people off. I mentioned this to Alex this morning before taking Jac for his walk. I must have tempted providence as she had a good laugh when I came back and asked me if I had fallen in the reservoir. The heavens had opened and I was soaked to the skin.

I had a nice chat to a man learning to paint in oils and later had a very interesting conversation with another knowledgeable artist about painting techniques.  We discussed the differences between Titian and Rubens and how we incorporated their techniques and working patterns into our work. So a pleasant day and quite successful on the sale front too.

Monday, 6 July 2015


The above painting of Tenby has sold at the exhibition. It was a very quiet day visitor wise with only 38 people coming in and that included couples. Never the less it was okay financially. I guess the bad forecast put people off although in the event we only had one heavy shower.

I was asked by one gentleman if I taught, resisting the response,"I would rather boil my head."
I said,"Wendy Powell Jones is a very fine artist and an excellent  tutor if you are looking to progress." I gave him her details.

I was chatting to someone in the gym the other day and they told me they were going on a cruise to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary. I said that was a coincidence as it was our 30th anniversary and we were doing the same this year. It transpired our anniversaries were within a couple of weeks of each other.  When I got home I relayed this to Alex.

She looked at me and slowly shook her head said, "How old are your children?"

I thought long and hard,

"Err, thirty something." The penny dropped." Yes, I see its our fortieth wedding anniversary isn't it?"

She turned and walked away and I am not sure if she said or just thought, "Stupid Boy!"

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Conversations at an Exhibition

The painting of the Bluebell woods sold at the exhibition this weekend. I was pleased with the painting but may not do another one well not for a while anyway. It took quite a while as there were a few layers that had to dry in between.

Conversations heard at the exhibition:

Two octogenarians enter,

Lady, "Look dear its Rhossili we've been there. It's  lovely."
Man, "Look it's  Rhossili haven't we been there?"
Lady,"There really lovely."
To me
"Who's the artist?"
Me."That would be me."
Lady,"He's very good. They are like photographs only better. The colours are softer."
I really like this lady.
Leaving. The Lady. "Do you know the artist?"
Me."Er, yes quite well."
Lady "Tell him he's very good."

Elderly lady approaches me.
"Do you remember me ? It was a long time ago."
Heart quickens, surely not.
"I bought a lovely painting."
Heart returns to normal

A couple enter

Lady "Look at this beautiful painting of Tenby. Shall we get it?"
Man,"Come on lets look at the gardens." Guiding her out of the door.

Saturday, 4 July 2015


This was the first painting to sell at the exhibition. It shows the river Gwili between Bronwydd and Carmarthen.

It is always a bit manic setting up. Hanging 70 + originals and some framed prints is quite a task when there is no hanging system just a rail and picture hooks. Everything is then hung by cord which is okay in itself but a real pain trying to get 70 of them all the same height or matching. Anyway we started at 7.30am and had finished by 12 noon.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Nunney Castle

The above is a painting of the visit of Nunney Castle to Carmarthen railway station and is in the exhibition. I included in the painting Jac and myself along with three of our grandchildren who would be surprised to know they were there.
If I put figures in a painting I will occasionally include a family member or friend.

"Palette" can mean the range of colours used in a painting it can also refer to the surface they are mixed on. As for the former I tend to choose a limited palette for the painting and mix the colours concentrating on maybe one prime colour (basically red, yellow or blue) and a couple of secondaries.

The actual mixing palette can be anything really, board, baking paper a purpose made hardwood artists palette etc. However it is worth bearing in mind that if you are painting on a white canvas then a white palette will give you more accurate colour mixes so a plate could be a better option. So I do tend to chop and change my palette or at the least make allowances for it holding a sample of paint to the canvas on a palette knife before finalising the mix. Sounds a bit over the top but if you mix a colour on a dirty brown surface don't expect it to be the same on a pristine white canvas. If you are applying a ground to the canvas then this will also affect the mixed colour. Okay,a bit geeky but whatever!


This is something different in the exhibition a Sunderland Short Flying Boat in the Haven.  I actually painted it in the exhibition last year but reworked it this year as I felt it wasn't quite finished. It had been sat in my studio waiting for a return to the easel. Well I reworked it a couple of months ago and am happy with it.

I have done a couple before and do have some tenuous connection with the subject.

Anyway so we are ready for a couple of busy weeks at Aberglasney. Both Alex and I will be there every day. I will pop home to walk the dog around lunchtime but other than that I intend to be present all the time to chat or answer any questions.

Jac and I had a lovely walk this morning. The steam was rising off the reservoirs and the baby ducklings were making their way to safety in the middle of the water. When we arrived back home it was 5.45am and the sun was braking through the mist. Off to Abergalaney now to set up.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

River Towy

This is the view of the River Towy looking towards Paxton's Tower which is just visible in the far distance.

I have a few pet hates.  I was reminded of one yesterday when I went to pick up two of the grandchildren from school. I get quite annoyed when I see people parking at the entrance to a school where there are notices and lines prohibiting it. Fair enough I guess everyone pretty well parks illegally on occasions. (Well I do know one person who never did but that's another story).

However the reason you shouldn't park there is because of the visibility and the safety of the children coming out. So why would a parent or relative  risk a childs life doing this?

Anyway lovely weather at the moment if not a little too warm. I am in the Origin Gallery today.