Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Helping hand?

Happy New Year to all. I have been working on the commission today. Pretty well finished I think. I Also walked the dogs and have been shopping for Alex.

The computer has been playing up for a while and I am not sure if it is a hardware or software problem. It is working but frustratingly freezes when you don’t want it to. I have found many bugs and issues but nothing that has fixed it yet. I don’t want to change it or take it for repair? But I feel it is getting to that option. Last time I took a PC in I was told it had had it and who knows maybe it had. Anyway enough about boring stuff.

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 slippy. 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 tied up tight to the frame and stopped the front wheel turning. I quickly re tied the mudguard 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.

Is this story true? I will let you decide.


Oh and the sketch its Paxton's Tower Towy Valley.

Friday, 30 December 2011

Bambi on ice



The sketches above are more form my Christmas pocketbook. Today I started on a new commission that came in yesterday. There is a bit of a rush for it although it is quite doable. I went to the gym first thing. I hadn’t been for a week and when I get on the treadmill at first it is a bit like Bambi on ice. Particularly if I haven’t been to the gym for a few days. My legs have to get in to the rhythm and it takes a few minutes to settle down. I probably look fine but I feel like I am about to fall and shoot off the back of the treadmill.


Painting is a bit like that as well. I am pretty confident I can paint most things to a reasonable standard. However there are always a few butterflies before I start any painting. These become worse the longer I leave between paintings. Once I start that’s it no problem I am “in the mood” and concentration takes over. I am lucky that I don’t have to be feeling creative I can just turn it on automatically. Lucky that as today I had a bit of a hangover.

The painting is coming along fine although bad light stopped play about 3pm. I have another commission to do and I had the opportunity for one yesterday but I decided not to take it. So enough to do.

Alex has had a day out shopping with her mom today so that will be a nice change for her.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

How to survive at Xmas

The sketches above are taken from this Christmas' pocket sketchbook. Doing these sketches keeps me occupied during the festivities. All good practice and in any case Alex won’t let me read a book when we are visiting. She says it’s disrespectful and to be fair she’s probably right (again). Sketching though is apparently not frowned upon. I do actually enjoy Christmas but I run out of anything meaningful to contribute to a conversation after about 5 minutes.
So sketching is a life saver.

We are in the gallery today so normality is returning to some extent. We were expecting relatives to come and stop but very sadly they have colds so they have cancelled. At the weekend we have 2 of the grandchildren staying oh and we are looking after our son’s dog while they are away.

Tomorrow we must visit the gym ~ well I must anyway. Then next week painting, god willing?



Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Oh Well ~ with apologies to Fleetwood Mac



I did a watercolour painting for the first time in a while today. Unfortunately I chose a board with an already stretched piece of paper on it. This was done a couple of months ago and the tape had started to lift. Anyway I thought I would risk using it.

The result is shown above. Oh well. The painting cockled i.e. it wrinkled. I have seen worse offered for sale and it is possible to reduce the cockling but this one will be relegated to the bin. At the end of the day it pays to do things properly and if you have any doubts don’t waste time start with good paper that is properly prepared.

The view itself is of the Towy Valley in the snow a scene I love as it is part of one of my walks. Yesterday we did a lot in Origin while it was closed. We moved a lot of shop fittings out from the upstairs gallery. Many of these were donated to a charity shop. There is more space to work in now and move on, getting it ready to open in March.

link to "Oh Well"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KE4HGlmtOcg







Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Big numbers

Carrying a small drawing pad is a good habit and allows you to sketch anytime. I did the pen and ink sketch above in Harlech. Pen and ink itself is challenging in this format, as it doesn’t allow for any mistakes. This being the case you are pretty particular on the relative sizes and positions in a composition before you draw them.

My idea of a perfect design surrounds the functionality of the object. For example what do I want in a watch? I want it to tell the correct time always, not need winding up, be clear and easily read in the day and night, be totally waterproof, and be comfortable to wear. I also don’t want it to be flamboyant. I want simple clean lines. With this specification it is already nearly a winning design for me. Oh I want it to be reasonably priced too so I can wear it all the time. My watch is all of these things.

I bring this up because one of our daughters bought me a mobile phone for Christmas.
I am not a technophobe but I am not one to text or spend endless hours babbling on the phone. I did have a mobile phone a Nokia that cost about £12 a few years ago. It had no features except you could text with it and phone with it. It didn’t even have a camera. It is Pay as you go costing me about £10 for 6 months. One problem I did have with it was that it was difficult to see without my glasses. So they bought me a pay as you go phone with large numerals. It is great.
It is no larger than my previous one and is lighter. It ticks all the boxes of functionality I need and is simple.

Okay a different colour might improve it aesthetically but other than that it’s a perfect design.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Knott Square

The painting above is a watercolour I did of Knott Square Carmarthen.

As a young man I used to go to the local pub and the regulars would be playing dominoes and crib. It was natural that I picked up and played these games.
Our daughter gave me a set of dominoes this Christmas, which will be really good to use in the camper van. When my father was alive Alex and I would play Bridge with my mom and dad but the only card game we play now is cribbage. I am not sure how popular card games are these days but they are probably overshadowed by video games etc. which is a pity. I know things move on but sometimes I wish they wouldn't.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Happy Christmas



Happy Christmas to all readers of the post.

The painting above is of the Towy Valley.


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 http://www.localhistory.scit.wlv.ac.uk/Museum/Transport/Motorcycles/DMW.htm
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 children loved.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Plastic Chicken



The sketch above is of Tin mines and I did it when we went to Cornwall earlier this year. I think it would make a good painting but then how marketable it would be in this area I don’t know.

Yesterday I posted about cooking and what an excellent cook Alex is. I do however recall one Christmas a long time ago when Alex's mom and her grandmother came to visit us. 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.

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.

Friday, 23 December 2011

Toast



The vignette above is from an old sketch book of Alex in the kitchen. She is an excellent cook and one of the reasons we don’t go out that often is because it is difficult to find somewhere to eat that provides better food than she can cook. We used to like going to the Angel Vaults Restaurant in Carmarthen but that closed down. Actually our son in law at one point ran the Angel Vaults when it was still a pub.

Anyway about cooking I am useless. When it comes to food Alex waits on me hand and foot (funny saying that I am not sure where it originates).


I do a good selection of household chores but avoid the cooking variety. I always thought why cook when you have a top quality chef on the household staff? However about 15 years ago I gave in to the sexual equality jibes and decided to have a go for the sake of peace and quiet!

Alex bought me Delia Smith’s first recipe book and the kids bought me a timer in the shape of a cow that went “moo”.
Fine I thought I will teach myself to be a cook. I am a methodical person and like to perfect things before I move on. I decided to work through the book from begining to end in sequence perfecting my offerings as I went. It started off first page with toast, which actually is not straightforward. To get it crunchy not soggy and the right colour requires a little skill. Next page was omelette this wasn’t right first time so the following day I tried again, better but not perfect. By the end of the week I was turning out reasonable omelettes but not perfect. I turned a page and moved on to egg custard.


I was starting to hear moans “not omelette again and oh egg custard for pudding”. You know children can be so ungrateful. I think Alex could see where this was going and called a halt to it before everyone’s digestive system came to a stop.


So my brief flurry as a cook came to an abrupt end. I am not disappointed (and neither is anyone else).

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Optimism



The painting of Llansteffan Green above sold yesterday. I have done a number of paintings of Llansteffan and make no apologies for it. I try to make each one different. I painting many different subjects but there is always a demand for some of the most popular views. Ultimately in order to sell you must paint what the public want. For me that is not an issue as I have a passion to paint and am not too precious about the subject.


I am reminded that Cezanne painted Mont Saint Victoire on a daily basis and never tired of it, painting it literally until he he died.


Ken Howard states that he would, if he started again merely paint one subject over and over. These views are a little extreme for me as I like variety but I can see where they are coming from.

For me my art is about communicating to the world my vision. It is about revealing how I see something. Generally my art is very optimistic a reflection of my view on life.


Today I am in Origin, which is quite a nice change as you get a chance to meet new people. I can’t see me starting my next commission until after Christmas now.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

A University Education

The little drawing above was done from our boat whilst at anchor in Solva Pool.
The Pool is a small area 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 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?”
“Yes”
“We are lost in Birmingham somewhere. How do we get to Mother in Law’s”
Sigh.
“Right have you passed any landmarks?”
“Yes hang on Dad there is a Texaco Garage on our left.”
Sigh.
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.”
"Is it me?"



Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Jam Sandwich



The sketch above is of Shortland Farm near Druidstone where we tend to camp when down that way. No amenities other than a tap and a toilet. Fantastic views though across St Brides Bay. Plenty to sketch and draw.

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 early 1970’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.


I have to add that I too always joined them and was very grateful for a strawberry jam sandwich for breakfast dinner and tea.


I would like to say it put me off strawberry jam sandwiches but actually I still like them!

Monday, 19 December 2011

At Sea



The watercolour sketch above is of Druidstone looking out at St Brides Bay with 2 tankers at anchor.

We have sailed across St Brides Bay on many occasions. On one windy evening we anchored under the cliffs at Goultropp Roads and were perfectly sheltered from the prevailing wind. I didn’t sleep that well in case the wind changed direction in which case you could be blown on to the cliffs. Several ships have foundered here so we took no chances in our 32ft yacht. The Wasp, the Dogstar, the Sylph, the True Bess and the Briton are all ships that have gone down here over the last 2 centuries.


Today was mixed a bit like sunshine on a lumpy sea. We sold a framed print ~ fine. But I had to change the connector on our water closet (wc) and although I got a replacement part it was an inch longer than the original which meant having to move all the other connections..not a nice job!


Then Orange locked me out of my email! Why? I am accused of being a spammer. I sent two messages to ten of the artists and craftmakers in the co-operative and Orange locked my account without warning. I have to wait for them to decide if they will activate it and there is no contact telephone number. There is an email address (how you manage if you only have the email account they locked I don’t know!).

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Cutting Edge?



The above is a drawing I did of Marie –Vigee Le Brun an excellent artist who was a friend of Marie Antoinette. She fled to England during the French Revolution. The drawing was one just for practice I did quite a few years ago.

I would be interested to have heard her views on the annual irony that is the Turner Prize. I haven’t mentioned this year’s selection but I note that it was the same old, same old, no it isn’t cutting edge. Yes we have seen footage loops of still life...etc.etc. before.
In the 60’s it was done with a projector now it is mandatory for every exhibition to have at least 2 digital projectors and an odd noise. Oh and yes we have seen bits of wood knocked together before. The last time I did this was when we were putting a stud wall up but we did have the grace to cover it with plasterboard.

Anyway art is subjective but mistaking an art exhibition for a freecycle collection is an easy thing to do these days.


Don't be despondent there are interesting and talented contemporary artists you just have to look for them and use your own opinion for example Andy Goldsworthy see the link below:

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Nightwatch



The painting above of the Nightwatch is my take on the painting by Rembrandt. Anyway the painting sold last year but is appropriate to the post.

When I first joined the Police in…well a long time ago I was first posted to Cotteridge, incidentally the police station is now long gone. You were “paraded” 15 minutes before your shift stood to attention showed your appointments (truncheon, pocketbook, whistle), were then briefed issued with a radio (yes they had them then) and left the station. On nights that meant being out of the station at 10pm and apart from 45 minutes to come in for food break you stayed out until 6am.

My beat was Northfield a 2-mile walk to get there. Other than closed shops and houses there was nothing on the beat so it meant walking around for seven and a quarter hours in whatever the weather.

One night it was so cold I sat on a bench in a bus shelter with my helmet pulled down and my hands and knees inside my cape. I finally woke up feeling very cramped and heard voices. I found I had been joined by workers going to Longbridge Car Factory for the early shift. I was cramped on the bench pushed into the corner of the bus shelter. I looked at my watch and saw it was 5.55am and I had to book off at 6am. I fell off the bench as my legs were cramped and didn’t work and found myself in a heap on the floor much to the amusement of the gathered workers. I gathered my helmet in my hand got up and ran back to the station, cold and frost covered. I bet the citizens of Northfield would have slept soundly in their beds knowing I was looking after them!

Friday, 16 December 2011

Egypt



The painting above is the one I have been working on this week. It is obviously (hopefully) of the Pyramids. An unusual choice of subject for me but it is a commission and it has turned out quite nicely.

We visited Egypt a couple of years ago and even then there had been trouble with tourists being targeted by terrorists. It was interesting how the Egyptian Police looked after us.
We were among a party of tourists going by Coach to the Cairo Museum of Egyptology. We climbed into our coaches and set off with a Police pick-up in between every coach. The Police were armed and sat in the back of the pick-ups with machine guns. As we approached any pinch point like road junctions or roundabouts the police had officers ready to stop the traffic and let us pass. All very impressive, a high level of security which put us completely at ease. We arrived at the Museum shortly before midday and went in.

The objects in the museum were fascinating and I was stunned by the quantity of exhibits. It would have been nice if the curators had updated the exhibit labels which must have been written by Howard Carter in 1920 as they were hand written in ink and had faded to nothing. The Museum was packed with representatives from all nations including the party of Japanese complete with dust masks on their faces (inside the museum?). The takings for the day must have been in the tens of thousands in sterling.


Eventually I decided I needed to visit the gentleman’s room! Having got to the front of the queue I was faced with two attendants with hands outstretched. I was impressed they wanted to shake my hand but I declined in the interests of hygiene. I went in to the lavatory and was pleased I hadn’t tipped them the toilets seats were on the floor and the drains were overflowing as I paddled around. It would have taken a man (or woman) with a toolset 20 minutes to put the lavatories right but it had clearly been in this condition for days. Obviously not a high priority. Alex stated that the Ladies facilities were no better if not worse.

Anyway we came out loaded on to the coaches and drove off. Not a Police Officer in sight no escort, and stuck in every bit of traffic. It hit me like a shot obviously we were only a target for terrorists in the morning. I should have realised.

We did visit the Pyramids and were advised not to give our cameras to anyone, particularly the Tourist Police, as they would offer to take your photo and demand money to return it. I won’t go into detail about the Hotel where we had tea but it was “interesting”.

Yes I remember Egypt a real experience but perhaps bizarre is the word that comes to mind.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Greenmantle




Just to show you that things don’t always go right, although that may be subjective.
The painting above is of a canal in Venice from the previous visit we made there.
I don’t like it. I cant honestly put it down to anything in particular it just doesn’t work for me. I am not sure if I still have it even I think it went at the last clear out.

Today I have walked the dog, been to my mother in laws to fix a couple of things on the wall and move furniture for her, delivered a painting to a customer, creosoted my mom’s fence, dealt with some correspondence and started to read a book. Unfortunately the book was Goldilocks as I was looking after one of the grandchildren. I am not sure what the rest of the day holds but it will probably go quite quickly.


Talking of reading I am only halfway through John Buchan’s “Greenmantle”. John Buchan wrote the “39 Steps” an excellent read. “Greenmantle” is not a book I would recommend. I regret starting it and then continuing with it. It is a poor cross between, Biggles, Boys Own, James Bond and the Famous Five. You get the picture?


It is however quite enlightening about the English attitude towards the rest of the World at the beginning of the 20th century. It makes me cringe somewhat.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Light Railway



The painting above sold last week during the exhibition. Today I finished the commission I had been working on. I have another one to start but there is no rush on that one.

Last night I watched a programme on Welsh Steam trains. It was very interesting showing unique footage of the railways before they were all axed. It reminded me of 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.


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

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Challenging Commission



The painting above of Carreg Cennen Castle sold on the weekend. Today I have been working on a commission. I don’t have a lot of time to do it so I am using alkyd oils and liquin. These dry fast and are a slightly different consistency to normal oil paints.I can work with them if I need to. The painting has to be planned painted and framed in five days. I had to check with Alex first before I accepted it to see if should would have time to frame it.


I hope to finish the painting tomorrow.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Moriath Glass





The above painting of the Towy Valley sold during the exhibition. We have now taken all the work down and got it home before the gales come in. One of the most challenging parts about exhibitions is how to transport a large number of paintings without scratching or damaging the frames. This can easily happen and lose you time and money replacing the frame. We have made interlocking crates to transport and store the paintings. These work well but are still a problem if it is raining.



I went to watch Scarlets play Munster on Saturday with our son. When we arrived we went into the refreshment area. All of a sudden the light was blocked out by a large silhouette accompanied by a loud booming voice.
“Hello Mr Cox.”
It was John a retired policeman. I had known John for about 20 years. A kind of “gentle” giant who had played for Llanelli in the 1970’s. John always treated people with the respect they deserved and in some cases this wasn’t a lot. I had got to know him quite well and had a lot of time for him. I am pleased he is doing well for himself and has hardly aged at all. I doubt there are many left like him. As for the game it was pretty poor, well we lost lets put it like that.




This morning I awoke and put on the radio at 5.30am to hear about Crafts Alive and more interestingly a long interview with Moira White a glassmaker. Moira used to be Chair of Origin and did an excellent job. She has a studio out in Drefach although I believe it is closed for the year now.
A link to her website is

http://www.moriathglass.co.uk/

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Ping






The painting of Druidstone above sold yesterday on the last day of the exhibition. In all it was a very successful exhibition, we met a lot of nice people and old friends, sold well and made a good sum for a worthwhile charity.

Yesterday I came home at lunchtime to walk the dog and see my mom. Making my lunch I heard the ping of a smoke detector indicating its end of battery life.


Now we have several detectors, 5 in fact. It isn’t always easy to identify which one is going off particularly as they go off intermittently and are at ceiling height. I was up and downstairs trying to identify which one it was and eventually tracked it down to one in our hall.

I found a new battery and removed the detector only to find it had a non-replaceable battery. I put it in the garage and then thought, “I will still be able to hear that annoying ping,” so I got the pincers, snipped the wires and threw it in the bin.

As I walked back into the hall I heard that “Ping” again. Yes, I had binned the wrong one!



Saturday, 10 December 2011


The painting above is of the Brecon Beacons and sold this week. It was nice to have Pat and Clive call in to see us. They were great neighbours and we have known them years.

Another couple of friends came into the Exhibition to see us a right couple of WAGS in the old sense of the term not Wives and Girlfriends. Glyn and Quentin are oh I don’t know 77 – 80 years old. Loud, grumpy, humorous are some of the adjectives you could use to describe them but never boring.

Quentin was explaining how he took he fell over yesterday morning on the yard taking his ferret for a walk! This was interspersed with loud laughs from Glyn that must have resounded around the building making the librarians shudder. Glyn then told a tale about Quentin.

Quentin had recently been cleaning up a grave in the local churchyard. A local farmer stopped on his Massey Ferguson Tractor leaned out of the cab and enquired over the hedge what Quentin was about.

Quentin told him he had got in to a fight in a pub in town and had been given 20 hours community service. With that the farmer put his foot on the accelerator and drove off.

Quentin thought nothing more of it until several days later he was in Carmarthen when a young lady came up to him and told him how sorry she was to hear that he had got in to trouble and had an ASBO and 100 hours community service for fighting.

Of course Quentin has never been in trouble in his life (not bad for an elderly Septuagenarian) and by now this story had spread to having been given an ASBO and an increase to 100 hours community service. Both Glyn and Quentin were in stitches at this point in the story.

Anyway not a bad day in the Exhibition but I have had enough now and look forward to a days painting.


Friday, 9 December 2011

Burgers



The watercolour of Carmarthen Bridge sold this week at the exhibition. I painted this from the edge of the PC World Car Park earlier in the year. It was one of the few lovely hot days we had in May. I spent the morning with my watercolours and easel in my own little world. The only thing that broke into my concentration was the smell from the burger van parked nearby.

Many years ago when I first joined the police the pay was very poor although I had somewhere to live. The money could be eked out for 3 weeks just but the 4th week was absolute penury.

During that week I would volunteer for nights. That meant walking the streets of central Birmingham. It also meant a free beer from a grateful landlord for emptying his pub at closing time. More importantly if you stood next to a street trader selling hot potatoes, burgers, or chestnuts they would feed you. They liked the security of a police officer standing there, as it could be a somewhat rough at night. So the last week of the month was always a diet of burgers and beer.

Looking back this was not really the sort of thing a public servant should do. Times were however different then as anyone who has watched “Life on Mars” would have noted. It depicted a fairly accurate description of attitudes within the Police Force at the time. Obviously things changed over 40 years and now it is according to Judge Bean (yes that is his name) apparently all right to swear and abuse a police officer as they are used to it! Words fail me at this point.


Anyway going back to the burger van I can't stand the smell of burgers now so maybe those early years of living on then have had some effect.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Simples !





The painting above sold this week and is another still life, featuring that well used item a sugar shaker. Actually I am not sure we even have sugar in the house never mind a sugar shaker.

We sat down at half eight last night and watched Masterchef. It is oddly interesting featuring a sense you cannot use through the medium of television. Cooking is all about taste so why is it so compelling to watch it?
It has many similarities to art or is it just that the chefs are trying to bring it to that level to justify high prices?

Do some people appreciate something more if they are told it is High Art or something only an elite number of persons can appreciate? Probably. It is quite a good marketing ploy anyway.

For me it is quite simple.

I think in relation to a painting
“Would I like to look at it on my wall?”

In relation to food
“Do I like the taste of it?”




There again Alex says I am quite simple!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Llansteffan



We had a very nice day today and met a few old friends, nice to see you Geraint. Nick I was surprised you had taken up painting but stick to it, it’s a great pastime although it can be frustrating at times. I first met Nick I think when I was in Welshpool many years ago. That was a bit like being at the end of the World. I went there as a policeman in 1975 having transferred from Birmingham City. The shift such as it was has all but passed on now but their faces remain in my memory as do some of the stories. I can relate some others not.

Many Police Officers in those days had served in the Second World War and had a singular outlook on life and many/most had a black and wicked sense of humour. The Police Station was opposite the Council Offices and officers would park their cars if they had one in the car park facing the iron railings. One day a very irate PC Jones came into the station muttering all kinds of threats. He had got into his car and reversed backwards to go home only to hear a loud bang and clatter. Someone had tied his front bumper to the railings! He suspected rightly that it was the work of his colleagues but he was greeted with sympathy and offers to assist in looking for the vandals that obviously had a grudge against the police.


Now I guess this sort of behaviour might sound odd and truthfully it is but that is how they dealt with pressures and you were probably more at risk from your colleagues than the miscreants who were dealt with in a similarly robust manner.


You may be relieved to hear this sort of behaviour is less common these days and a more politically correct and less interesting Police Service is managing your issues.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Still life



Every so often I paint something completely different. If I feel the need for a change and generally it is a still life or a childhood memory of a steam train for example.
Anyway the still life above is one that sold in the Exhibition.

They take a while longer to paint than a landscape because I generally do several layers which dry and also because I can only concentrate for about 2 hours with the amount of small detail and my eyes need a good rest. I like still life paintings and have used different styles the ones in this exhibition owe more to a Dutch influence.
Today a reader of my blog came from Abergwili to the exhibition unbeknown to me but left a note in the comments book so many thanks for taking the trouble to come and I hope you enjoyed it.

Monday, 5 December 2011

St Peter's Carmarthen



The painting above sold this week at the exhibition. It is of St Peter’s Church, Carmarthen from the East.

Its funny how out of 80 paintings so many people want to buy the same one. If you could just bottle whatever that painting has it would be easy (maybe its just that red dot that says someone else has it?). It is always a temptation to keep painting that picture as long as people buy it. I do paint the same subject more than once but try to make them different. Different weather, time of year different angle, different painting techniques different ancillary subjects…
Anyway we had a quite a few people in today so times going pretty quickly

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Mwnt



The picture above of Mwnt went this week. It is a lovely place and with a clear sky, dolphins in the bay and a beautiful view there is nowhere better.

Yesterday a family came into the exhibition. They walked up to the first paintings a sigh came out of their mouths, “Have you seen the price of these? “ and they turned around and walked straight out.

Now I was disappointed on a number of counts and also slightly embarrassed. Firstly the cost of the painting may have been more than they could spend at Christmas for everything. So I was very empathetic. I was sorry they didn’t walk around and enjoy the paintings because although it is helpful if they sell (which they do) I really like to see people enjoying my work. I was also sorry that I hadn’t thought to put some small cheaper items at the beginning of the exhibition such as cards/postcards so people don’t feel embarrassed about being there.

My paintings are by all comparison very cheap and I only expect a good days pay for a good days work. Nevertheless they are still a luxury outside many peoples pocket something I am glad to be reminded of. Being humbled occasionally is no bad thing.


Today the exhibition is shut being Sunday and Alex has been dealing with orders from this week. I have been sat at the computer dealing with “malware problems”.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Last Christmas




The painting above is of Abergwili and the brook in the snow last Christmas. It sold yesterday. So far the exhibition is going very well. We have met a lot of very interesting people and sold well. Last night we went to Alex’s mom who kindly made us dinner.

Thanks to Mal Pope this morning on Radio Wales for the plug.

I watched the Scarlets on TV last night and then had an early night. Hopefully a busy day today.

I said yesterday I ended up in the Police in the early 70’s. How times change. I needed a job and wanted one outside not being an office type person. I went to the army recruiting and the police on the same day. Within 2 weeks I was in the Police. Basically the Police were well under strength, under paid and they had a jacket that fitted me so I was in. The main thing was I had a roof over my head.

These days you need a degree in god knows what to get in the Police. In my time it was a just degree of common sense (perhaps that’s a bit optimistic too thinking about it, present company excepted).
Anyway back to this century we are off to the exhibition.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Salute




It was cold and foggy when I walked the dog around the reservoir this morning. A touch of winter. The painting above of Abergwili in the snow last year was sold yesterday and is quite appropriate.

Nearly forty years ago I found myself for various reasons at Ryton-on-Dunsmore.
I had wanted to go to Art College but had neither money nor a place to live. Ryton-on- Dunsmore was an old army barracks but was then converted into a Police Training Centre.
Anyway I digress. I was sat in the front of a class of some one hundred officers in training. The class was believe it or not on saluting. Its funny how some things remain with you, but we had to learn what a salute was and when you did it.
I recall to today that
“A salute is an outward sign of an inward feeling of respect and humility.”


How to do you do it? “Longest way up shortest way down!”
Then we came on to the tricky part. When do you salute?

The drill sergeant stood at the front of the class.

“Hands up who would salute an army officer?”
We all put our hands up.
“Yes they hold the Queens Commission” he replied.
“Hands up who would salute a funeral procession?” He asked.
We promptly all put our hands up.
“Yes a mark of respect.”
This went on and it became a bit automatic for me sitting at the front until.
“Hands up who wouldn’t salute my wife?”

It suddenly became a very lonely place. I found myself alone with my hands wavering in the air and a very ugly looking drill sergeant glaring in my face.

“Why wouldn’t you salute my wife you horrible man?”Struggling for any excuse I mumbled,
“I don’t know your wife sergeant.”

My life for the next 12 weeks was hell on the drill square and I became accustomed to names that even I had not previously heard.

This story comes to mind as Lilwen came to the Private View and she was actually an instructor at Ryton when I was there. Earlier this year I had delivered a painting to her house and we had a good chat about mutual acquaintances and old times.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Successful Evening




The painting above of winter at Llansteffan is one that sold last night. A really excellent Private View. Lovely to see so many old friends and also to make new acquaintances. Nice to meet you Mary and hope you had a safe journey home. A 240 mile round trip is not something I would enjoy on a wet winter evening.



Anyway a very pleasant evening that went very well and raised money for a good cause. Alex has a bit of work to do now replacing all those cards!