Tuesday, 31 January 2017

All at sea

The above painting of a Brixham Trawler is based on a painting I have known since my childhood by a French Artist. The painting was done about 7 years ago and is sold.

I have an affinity to sailing and the sea but also have a great respect for it. We have sailed the Bristol Channel and West Wales Coast (as well as in the med and arctic circle). All that is now behind us but I still enjoy wandering around little harbours sketching boats, watching the gulls circling and listening to the clanking of halyards on the masts. One of my ancestors, a trawler man was lost at sea and another a seaman lost during the Second World War.

I have now finished Alex's painting of a Misty Towy.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Surfer girl

I am always interested in differing styles and techniques. If you get into a conversation with me on painting techniques it will probably send you to sleep. Anyway I have painted in the style of many artists and genre purely for my own education and amusement. I have done a series of portraits as Modigliani, in fact they were okay. He used to exaggerate the neck of his sitters. I have painted in the style of Kees van Dongen. He did the painting of the lady in a red hat. I have a portrait of Alex on the wall at home in this style.

I have done Fauvist, impressionist and paintings reflecting members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. How much influence all this has had on my painting is hard to know. The painting above is an old one and is sold it is one of a pair of paintings I did it in the style of David Hockney. I like his work from the late sixties to early 70's when he used acrylic and rolled it on using  masking tape and other methods making a flat print like finish. (My painting was done in oil and brushed on).

Sunday, 29 January 2017

River Taf at Low Water

The above painting was a commission I did a few years back. It is of the River Taf at Laugharne low water. It is a view we know well as we have often anchored overnight on the sandbank on the left of this picture.

Yesterday I started a painting of a Misty Morning on the Towy. I had sold the one Alex coveted so I thought I had better make it up to her and do a painting of that view.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

A Day at the Museum

Now Alex is a natural with grandchildren, me not so much. I like them and am proud of them but until they are of an age where I can talk about Newtons Laws of Gravity they wear me out quickly.

The other day I was entrusted with one grandchild for an hour. What  to do with him. He is an awkward child because doesn't like to sit in front of the TV and is too young to play on a phone or ipad. No he likes to be busy.... He is actually a delight and we always get a warm greeting from him and he never stops asking questions... I am tired just writing this down thinking about it.

Anyway I thought I will take him to the Museum for an hour to kill time and I can show him the wonderful Edward Moreland Lewis paintings and discuss the composition with him. Perhaps that's a bit too ambitious for a four year old? Anyhow we got there and he was his usual buoyant self. Within seconds I was hurrying after him from room to room answering questions until he found a case that held his interest.

"Grandad look GUNS..."

" Ah yes now they are very dangerous and.."

Before I could go on he was off running to the next room where I heard the sound of clinking. I hurried in to find him tussling a full size model of a Roman Soldier in full armour. He was grappling a six foot spear from him. The Roman soldier was swaying and I had visions of explaining to his parents how I had let him be crushed by a Roman Soldier in full Battle dress. I stopped him and decided to go outside for a nature walk. Alex turned up about two hours later and relieved me.

Yes Grandchildren are Great but they can be quite tiring at my age. (Perhaps that is a bit understated).

As an aside the Carmarthen Museum is well worth a visit. It could really be marketed better. It is on a main road into town and has adequate parking. If it had a big sign saying "Visitor Centre" that would be a start. I know they have plans for it but it could really be a tourist attraction with a cafe, paid parking for the cycle trail...Anyway..

Friday, 27 January 2017

Misty Morning on the River Towy

The above painting of a misty morning on the Towy sold this week. It is a favourite spot on the Towy of mine and I have done a couple of paintings of this view. I think that Alex was a bit disappointed  it sold as she was eyeing up a place for it on the wall at home.

Thursday, 26 January 2017


The painting above is a winters morning in the Towy Valley.  It is sold. Don't be confused by the title this post is nothing to do with Artes Munde the contemporary art competition.

Yesterday morning Mal Pope played an Artie Shaw record on Radio Wales. It took me back over half a century. Artie Shaw was a big band leader who played the clarinet. My father was a big band fan who liked Artie Shaw, Benney Goodman, Duke Ellington and more. His records were all 78's but I knew most of them pretty well and played them on a wind up gramophone which our son still has.

My father played piano and clarinet by ear. He took his clarinet everywhere with him in his kit bag during the Second World War. Ah nostalgia (sounds like a medial condition, maybe it is).

Link "Art"

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Family Portrait of childhood memories

I did the above painting quite a few years ago. It is a childhood memory of my family. I am the baby of the family shown with my mother, father sister and brother. I no longer have the painting but still retain those memories of playing cricket on the beach and long overnight drives in the old Lanchester car which my father kept going on bits from the scrapyard and pure genius.

The most knowledgeable person I have ever known now writes for a large newspaper and probably has the combined knowledge of the eggheads. The cleverest person I have known was my father. A quiet man but could make anything from literally anything. He made everything from our first TV to lathes metal cutting machines, electric organ, a boat and numerous other contraptions  ... all from old radio and rada bits or from a visit to the blacksmiths scrap box. His geenhouse which he built from scratch ran itself. All the plants were watered automatically powered by a large tank of water that started off as a massive commercial orange juice container.each trough always held the right amount of water. It worked on a system of gravity and syphons, tipping tays being filled by drips.

I have beeen working on a commission the last few days. It is a beach view of a family which is why I have posted the above painting today.  I can't post the commission because the buyer is going to give it as a surprise. Anyway its come on well.

It's St. Dwynwen's Day today so I would be remiss not to give my love to my good lady wife Alex.
 (I suppose I shoudl have got a card!).

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

When we were young

This is a beach scene from Broadhaven. We have stayed at a camp site at Druidstone a few times and walked the coastal path and this is a scene I captured. I titled it "when we were young" because it brought back memories of playing on the beach and at times negotiating the tanktraps that were still about.

I posted a story from my time in the Birmingham City Police yesterday and maybe I will do a couple more in the future. I enjoyed my time there although they were a rum lot, brave, hardy and not a degree in sight. It really was Ashes to Ashes stuff. Policing was so much simpler in those days and justice well it was ..different.

Monday, 23 January 2017

The case of the missing Panda

Many years ago I was a policeman in the now long gone Birmingham City Police. I worked in the City Centre ( I may recount how I got to be there at some point).
Most police officers walked and a few unfortunates had to drive the several Panda Cars. Being a driver was not popular as you got all the rubbish jobs. Any way I won't go into details here about that.

I was designated driver for one of these Austin 1100 Pandas one afternoon shift. It was a fairly quiet shift and after refreshments I decided to park up and go for a walk. Later I went into the police station and booked off after a quiet shift. I was due two days off and went upstairs to my room where I lived and got changed.

Two days later I was back on shift. During the briefing the Sergeant asked if anyone had any knowledge about the Panda Car and gave a call sign. I started to blush and felt in my tunic pocket feeling the familiar shape of the keys for said car. I had parked it up in a quiet side street and eventually walked back to the police station booking off and taking two days leave.

I decided to say nothing and when allocated a beat diverted (risky as being off your beat area was a discipline offence in those days) to find the missing panda. It was still there and unbelievably un-blemished. Now should I come clean or risk returning it to the yard and say nothing. I decided to do the right thing and return it without saying anything.

Nothing further was ever said although I am pretty sure the sergeant knew as it wouldn't take much effort to work out who was last allocated it.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Short Cuts

The above watercolour of the Towy Valley was done a good few years ago and was scrapped off the board. I took a risk and used a paper that was not properly stretched and in the end there was  a cockle in it. A wavy line although that not too pronounced but unsaleable. A lesson there don't take short curts in preperation. I have since done this view a few times in oils and watercolour

Due to my work I had to work or be on call for Christmas and the New Year for 30 or so years.

I think I pretty well worked every New Years Eve which to be honest was no great sacrifice.

When the children were younger we would always try and go to my parents for at least one of the days of the Christmas holiday. They lived on an old smallholding near Knighton. We would go onto the common and either play cricket weather permitting or sometimes take a motorbike up there. (I appreciate this may not be quite legal so I will make it quite clear we always remained on the road and conformed to every statuary requirement!).

We had an old DMW at one time. Know what that is?
A DMW was a Dudley Motor Works motorcycle. Link
We had a few problems with it such as the spark plug blowing out of the cylinder head and the clutch packing up. We made new clutch plates with cork mat and put a helicoil in the cylinder head. In the end we scrapped it.

We also had a trials Honda. It was quite easy to pull this over your head with a fistful of throttle and a steep gradient which was quite entertaining for those watching but something not to be recommended as good practice. Seeing the world go by with the front wheel coming up over your head and wondering whether the bike will land on you is a little disturbing.

I remember watching Alex accidentally do a similar trick at the Beguildy T Junction. She pulled up at the give way, checked it was clear grabbed a fistfull of throttle, lifted the front wheel and shot across the road straight throught he hedge opposite. My brother and I were in fits!

Several times we had to get up to my parents house through snow. They lived at the top of the hill overlooking the Valley and the roads were never cleared. We used to pull off the main road and lower the tyre pressures in the Austin Maxi and she would go like a train ~ generally most of the way up if not we would go as far as we could then leave it and walk the rest. This was always an adventure, which the child
ren loved.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Solva cartoon

My methods of painting have developed or changed over the years. For a good while I used to work from sketches or a full size cartoon like the one above of Solva. Although occasionally I still do this for the most part I prefer to just get on painting straightaway. Possibly it is because I am more confident (or lazy) but it is certainly quicker.

In whichever case it is essential to have a good image of the finished painting in your head. I always work through how I am going to get there what I am going to paint first and what palette I am using.

This is the finished painting of Solva using the cartoon above and in fact it has never been framed as I noticed it in my studio and thought I might post about it today.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Vignettes of Carmarthen

I put together the above vignettes of places in Carmarthen with a view to using it for prints or postcards. In the event I never got around to it. I did a couple of drafts.

At one time we did sell postcards and they were sold in various places including the Boathouse but to be honest they were more trouble than they were worth and were little return for the effort so we stopped.

We had a day out in Pembrey yesterday and had a long walk along Cefn Sidan probably our favourite beach and one I have painted on a good number of occasions.

Pat I know you read this blog I hear you and Clive have been not too well. I hope you are on the mend.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Brecon Beacons from Brynych

I have had a bit of a job getting a decent  photograph of the above painting. The colours have not come out at all well and overall the painting is darker in the foreground than it really is. Still its the best I can do without wasting more time on it. Getting back to the painting it is from Brynych near Brecon. Much of the paint work is translucent although that doesn't show up much here.

When I have prints done I take the painting to be professionally photographed in a studio then colour matched before getting a draft. The equipment costs in excess of £60,000. It is a time consuming process and expensive (so we are careful in choosing to have any prints done) . So I suppose I shouldn't complain about the results with my Brownie Box camera. Anyway I finished the painting yesterday.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Painting of Brecon Cathedral

I have now finished the painting of Brecon Cathedral. The rest of the work surrounding the cathedral was done very loosely. I did this to emphasise the cathedral and not to cause a distraction to the eye.
It is also quicker!

I have started another painting of Brecon probably my last in this series although I am hoping for a nice day soon to go out in the Beacons with my pochade box and paints.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Painting of Brecon Cathedral stage 1

I have been working on a painting of Brecon Cathedral today. I have put in the cathedral and sky with turps and oil paint. I want this to be an atmospheric work with a good bit of light. It is going to have trees and a wall in the foreground. I will be overpainting with oil and a medium.

All being well I should finish it tomorrow.

I went to watch the Scarlets yesterday with our son in law and eldest grandson. Thoroughly enjoyable but a pity about the final try. Its the best I have seen the team play for a good while. I still think there are a couple of players not up to their true potential but what do I know about it? Anyway a great effort hope they can keep it up in the Pro 12.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Painting of sheep in the Brecon Beacons

This is the other painting I was working on this week. It is a painting of sheep in the Brecon Beacons. The view is from the Ffrwdgrech side.

I have more paintings to start next week then I will get on with a commission.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Painting of a Red Kite over the River Usk Brecon

The painting above is of a Red Kite over the River Usk at Brynych near Brecon. It is a painting I have been working on this week. I have made several changes to it including the addition of the red kite.

The bridge in the painting is the road bridge over the river and is from the canal bridge over the river, hopefully this makes sense.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Painting of Towy Valley in the snow with Merlin's Hill and Abergwili.

I said recently I had a couple of paintings I wanted to rework. I finished reworking this one today. It is a painting of Towy Valley in the snow with Merlin's Hill and Abergwili in the background. You can just make out  St David's Church. I made a few changes to it including removing the figures in the foreground. Although it was okay I am happier with it now and feel it is more balanced.

It seems an appropriate painting to post in view of the weather forecast today.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Corner of my eye - Lowri Evans

The above painting is of the little boats that ferry you out to Caldey Island from Tenby. It is sold.
We often go to Tenby and have had some brilliant times there. Nowadays I like to wander the harbour or beach and sketch. I was reminded of this watching a film last night.

I watched "Mr Turner" for the first time. This film is about the last 20 years of Joseph Mallord William Turner's life. Turner spent a lot of his time painting the sea and in particular went to the little town (then) of Margate lodging in a house overlooking the boats. Timothy Spall played Turner and was excellent. I was fascinated although I know his life story well. I confess it may have been slow if you had no interest in the man or art in general.

I now have a display of 3 paintings in Origin window in King Street Carmarthen. One is 4 feet by 2 feet the others of a lesser size. So if you  are passing that way you may glimpse them from the "Corner of your eye".

Which brings me to the link, Lowri Evans is a very fine Welsh musician. One of my favourite songs is about the death of her grandfather.  She sings about his passing her memories of him and that sometimes she feels she can catch a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye and searches for him there.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Last Year

Its the start of another year and I look back on my work of last year. In all I painted my works outside from life and I managed to paint outside every month of the year albeit some of the conditions were challenging. So I proved to myself it is possible to paint outside in oils and not make excuses about the weather. In all it was a worthwhile experience. I hope to paint outside "en plein air" more this year but I have not challenged myself to do it every month just when I feel like it.

My most successful painting en plein air was I felt the one above of Carmarthen. (Probably because I like the view and it was warm and sunny).

Friday, 6 January 2017

Van Gogh's Ear

I have always been interested in Vincent van Gogh. He was an interesting person and artist. I am currently reading Van Gogh's Ear by Bernadette Murphy. I have been to Auvers to see the house and little bedroom where he last worked and died. We have also visited his grave which is also in Auvers next to his brother Theo who supported him throughout his life. Just a couple of ordinary gravestones hidden against a wall in the village cemetery.

I am not sure I could personally live with one of his paintings on my wall. I like calm his work is busy energetic.
What  I like about him as an artist is that he was depicting the world as he saw it. Yes he was influenced by other artists but he wasn't trying to paint like them or adopt a style to be famous. You truly see the world through his eyes. 

I feel some students leave art college today looking for some ridiculous gimmick to outdo the previous nonsensical delight. You can list them yourself. They want their 5 minutes of fame, a short cut to being successful.  Far better to be true to yourself and work hard developing your skills and producing work that has value. Okay that's my take on it but each to their own.

Anyway so far so good in the book its well written and holding my interest.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

Painting of the Promenade Aberystwyth

The painting above of Aberystwyth was a commission. We know the area of Mid and North wales quite well having lived there a good number of years. We often took the children to Aberystwyth or Borth for the day when I wasn't working. There was an old fashioned toy shop the children loved to go to and if they were good ( a rare occurrence, only joking) they could have one toy, usually a farm animal. We might take them to a cafe for food and they were told you can have one drink but don't rush it because that's all we can afford.

Yes they were happy days. The painting was to commemorate a proposal on the promenade 50 years before, if I remember correctly.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Painting of a Traction Engine

We always used to take the children to Steam Rallies and Shows when they were young. I guess part of it was I was interested in traction engines, vintage motorcycles and the like.

On one occasion I recall when our son was about 6 years old and he saw they had an attraction with children's motorcycles. The  little circuit was surrounded with bales of straw and seemed safe enough. He begged to have a go.

The circuit was on the top of a small hill and we saw him fitted with a crash helmet and off he went going around and around. After a couple of laps he hit a bump and his steering went awry.

He shot towards the bales of straw and, only he could find it! He found the only gap in the bales and shot off out of the circuit and down the hill.

With Alex in full cry dragging the two girl we set off after him with people jumping out of his way totally out of control.
We were shouting, "let go!" Fortunately he did or at least he said he did later. I think he just fell off. Anyway he came to a crumpled heap with the little bike over revving.

All was well. The only danger was to the man who came up moaning about his motorcycle. I dragged Alex away before she did him some damage.

Anyway I still like trains, traction engines and even made steam engines before I got rid of my lathe and tooling. I still paint them. The one above was used for ploughing via a large cable and drum underneath the engine.

Fortunately our son never developed an interest in motorcycles after that. I don't think they were a good match.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017


Last night Alex Jac and I went to Pembrey stargazing. It was a beautiful sky with Venus and Mars very apparent hugging the moon. The sky was amazing and we were lucky enough to see a shooting star before we froze to death.

Now I am not much driven to poetry but this is a masterpiece something that draws a picture:

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?

(Graham Edge, Moody Blues)

Of course add the music and you are there. 

I don't understand some poetry and am quite happy to acknowledge the fact. It seems to me to be a series of words chosen at random. Likewise there is a lot of "art" I don't get and am not afraid to say so. Anyway each to their own. 

The painting is Llansteffan by moonlight on block canvas.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Painting of Paxton's Tower

I did a last minute commission of Paxton's Tower before Christmas. It wasn't the painting above. In fact I forgot to photograph it....! The one above was a quick loose interpretation and I believe it was never framed and went with my clear out.

Glorious walk this morning 40 minutes of pleasure well okay the last ten were the best. Its all down hill looking into the Valley. Note to self, must lose a few festive pounds!

I have a bit of painting to do and am also going to declutter over the next week or so.

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Putting the World to Rights

I have never had a daily paper and probably a good thing too. I do occasionally read one if it is lying around and I am short of anything constructive to do. I do listen to the World Service in the morning and then  Radio Wales as I am getting up. If you were the worrying kind then reading the papers would probably not be a good idea. I did glance at them today and if you believe any of it:

We are going to have a polar plunge..
We are going to have nuclear war between North Korea and S. Korea plus USA
Planet X is going to destroy the Earth
There is going to be a movie of Brexit

Good job I am a sceptic. Oh and an optimist

The painting above sold I think? Anyway two ladies putting the world to rights. About time someone did. No New Years Resolutions.  I am a bit frayed around the edges today but not bad!