Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Card Players


No this is not one of my paintings but it is a lovely work. It is by Cezanne and is called the card players.
I love the palette of colours and although there is something very wrong about the way the player on the left has been drawn it doesn't take anything away from the painting at all.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 we 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 games we play now are cribbage and dominoes. 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.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Attis



The painting above is of the tug, "Attis" in a harbour in Brittany. I believe the name derives from a Roman God. I painted this about 30 years ago. Working boats, trains, machinery have always interested me from a small boy.   Although I have the image I think the original painting is gone.
We are reasonably on target now for the next exhibition. I am keeping all paintings back now as I have sold a good number that were originally  intended for the exhibition. I am up to date on commissions so I can nearly relax.
Alex has printed the cards and posters and is looking good, as always!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Nature Walk


A watercolour sketch of Alex reading above. Normally this is a precursor to a good nap.

Many years ago longer than I care to remember I worked with a good number of ex servicemen. They had become Police Officers and had a fairly robust attitude to policing. Not too much interest in paperwork of which to be honest there wasn't a great deal. I suppose if you had fought your way across the fields of Normandy then walking down a high street on a Saturday night was a pretty relaxed affair. For the most part they dealt with issues as they came along in their own way.
An example was of a man who was a drunk and a pest who was habitually turning up in the Town and causing trouble. He had been arrested and appeared before the Court on many occasions but it did not deter him in the least. The next time he caused trouble he was apparently removed by Police car and taken out in to the wilds of nowhere in the dark and left to fend for himself. After his second nature walk he apparently got the message and avoided the Town. Now I appreciate this strategy could have gone wrong but this was in a different time with different attitudes. I often think about these men who are no longer with us and their service to the Country and what they would have thought about today's attitudes.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Evening Paddle


The painting above of an evening paddle at Llansteffan sold last week. It reminded me of the children when they were small and our trips to the beach. Happy memories interspersed with incidents like the dog stealing an ice cream from another child.
The palette of colours is deliberately evocative of that warm feeling of nostalgia.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Spitfire LF MK IX b


Here is the finished painting of the Spitfire. I have changed it to a four blade propeller and added some shading. It is a painting of a Supermarine Spitfire LF Mk IX b. it was made at Castle Bromwich in 1943.
The newly built planes were delivered to squadrons around the country by female pilots.
I can still remember the airfield and hangers there before it became a vast non-descript housing estate.
I have no plans to paint any more airplanes at the moment but you never know.
The painting is with the framer now, Mrs Cox.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Tricoteuse or Zen and the art of knitting!


Now I may get the odd look form Alex for drawing in Church but just maybe its better than knitting? After all the historical precedent is the "Tricoteuse", the French ladies who sat by the guillotine during the French Revolution and proceeded to knit during the executions.
Anyway Alex is very proficient at knitting and turns out baby ware at a good rate. Probably not fast enough to  keep up with our expanding family though.
I am working on a new oil painting today.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Studio


Just to frighten the children here is a photo of me in my "studio". It is not very big but has excellent light. I tend to have three easels on the go at any one time. A pint mug of tea and the radio will keep me going for three or four hours. I should say it is probably not a good idea to eat or drink when using oil paints. I paint with the window open to reduce the fumes, even so Jac lies just outside the door and only ventures in to tell me it is time for his walk and then he tends to sneeze. You can see I am quite a clean painter but my jumpers are always my oldest and I have been known to answer the door or even go to Town with a blue or red streak of paint on my face or in my hair.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Towy Mist near Tan yr Allt



Here is something a bit different. Towy Mist near Tan yr Allt. It shows the river in the morning back lit by the sun coming over the hill into the valley. I appreciate it may not be everyone's cup of tea. Alex is not doing hoops over it. I had the image in my head and it had to come out so I am quite pleased with it.
Much to do today in respect of the exhibition and household chores. Alex has disappeared behind a pile of ironing and I must do some more work in the garden.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Lammas Street, Carmarthen



This is the painting done from the sketch of Lammas Street. There isn't much in the way of colour and what little there is has a similar tonal value to the greys in and around it. The strong tonal values are in the foreground. I may get rid of the wire and crop the painting slightly.

Lammas Day is 1st August, marking the end of the wheat harvest.

Today I have been to the gym and have to deliver a painting before collecting the grandchildren. I may get an hour to start on a painting I have in my head of morning mist on the river.

Monday, 22 October 2012

War Memorial 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers Lammas Street.



Yesterday Alex and I went to fetch Norma, Alex's mother and her friend from Bristol Airport all went well until we got to the Centre of Bristol. The road was closed and we had to go back. I didn't have a road atlas, the diversion signs were non existent, but we had the sat nav. Well good old Tom so good they named him twice,Tom Tom. If we hadn't been on our way to collect Norma it would have been nice to enjoy the detour.  
We could never have found a more obscure route if we had tried. Little lanes, tracks, and I swear we went through someones garden at some stage. Anyway we got there even if it was by way of Canterbury. On the way back we had the same problem and ended up picking the motorway up in Clevedon! Next time I am in Town I will buy a Road Atlas.
I thought today I would do a painting of the Crimea War Memorial and Lammas Street Carmarthen. The memorial is dedicated to the 23rd Royal Welch Fusiliers. For the painting I will probably leave out the railings around it. Anyway the sketch for the painting is above.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Alex with the grandchildren



So yesterday we went to the rugby Mike enjoyed but he is a Leinster supporter. Scarlets were pretty poor. A missed opportunity and not looking likely to make an impact on anything this season to be honest.

I finished an oil yesterday but will be otherwise engaged today.  So the little watercolour above is another of the beach with Alex and two of the grandchildren. I have a busy week coming up with visits to the printers and delivering posters and cards for the next exhibition.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

On the beach



Yesterday we had a big family do. It was the birthday of one of our grandchildren and also our son in law. We started with a big breakfast at a pub in town then later went by stretch limo to a nice restaurant in Mumbles for the evening. All very nice and the children were all very well behaved, shock. I feel pretty good today as I took it nice and easy.

I finished an oil painting this morning and I am off to the rugby this afternoon to watch Scarlets and Leinster with two of the grandchildren.

The little watercolour above shows two of our grandchildren on the beach playing in a puddle!

Friday, 19 October 2012

Coracleman



I have been asked a couple of times to do another coracleman since the last one sold. As yet I haven't got around to it. Then today I was asked by a local Gallery, The Saith Gallery in Burry Port if it was available. I had omitted to mark it as sold on my website.
So although updating my website is a task I find a bit of a chore I must do better, in respect of adding new work and noting when work has gone. I have done a watercolour sketch today of a coracleman above for my next painting.
I must also pop in to look at the Saith Gallery next time I am in the area.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Angle Bay ~ Milford Haven


Here is a tranquil oil painting of morning  in Angle Bay in the Milford Haven. It is about 24ins x 20 ins? and framed. I came across it when having a sort out. It hasn't been exhibited for a few years. It is one of those that may ultimately end up making room for other works.
Today I started an oil painting and now have to visit the dentist!

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Kidwelly Castle


I finished the painting of Kidwelly Castle this afternoon. It is showing just slightly dark in the image but the camera needed charging and I couldn't be bothered to do it again. I intend to run prints off it in any case so
it is only if Alex wants cards off it that I need to re do the photo. The printers have a set up to capture large images of paintings that I couldn't hope to match. It is an imposing castle and I hope I have done it justice.
I had thought about putting a grey heron in the foreground but in the end decided it wouldn't improve the composition. I did include some rooks in the background.
I think I will sit down with a cup of tea and a book for half an hour now. Jac has been out twice, I have been to the gym and finished the painting so half an hour in the chair.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Garlieston House


Here is a watercolour sketch form my sketch book. I generally use Saunders Waterford not paper and take a spiral bound pad with me. This takes several washes and is a good quality paper. Occasionally I will use Bockingford which is whiter and more forgiving. Yesterday I changed the spitfire I realised the model I had painted should have a four blade prop and not three. No doubt this would be obvious to an enthusiast. Well anyway it now has the requisite amount.
Last night I went to the gym and tried self induced water boarding. I was finishing off on the bicycle and sat back to have a drink of water while still pedaling. I threw my head back but managed to pour the water down my nose rather than my mouth. I am obviously not good at multi-tasking. Anyway the result must have been quite entertaining to watch as I was peddling spluttering and blowing water everywhere at the same time.
Today I started on an oil painting of Kidwelly Castle. Now I have to collect the grandchildren from school.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Sandpiper ~ Laugharne


I finished the above painting of Sandpiper a fishing boat on the foreshore at Laugharne this morning. I removed some of the detail of the boat as it was unnecessary and took away from the overall picture.

The other day I was tidying up when I picked up a magazine Alex had left open.
 I said to her," Did you want this?"
"Yes, I want to read the article."
I looked at the article it was titled  Mediation and solving work related issues between people. I was surprised she would take an interest in this unless I was a problem.
I said, " Why do you want to read this?"
"You know I do yoga and am interested in training the mind."
I said,"You know this says Mediation not meditation don't you ?"
She said something a bit rude and then added, "I suppose this will be in your blog." Er yes.
Anyway today Alex is very busy working on framing for the next exhibition.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Burry Port Lighthouse



The painting of Burry Port and the Gower above sold this week. The harbour area is now a very pleasant area and in fact the whole coastal region along to the Pembrey Country Park is an excellent "leisure facility".
It is not that long ago that the MOD were there and I remember going to use the skid pan on the old airfield.
Anyway it is a beautiful stretch of coast viewed from land or sea.
A little while back a yacht loaded with drugs was wrecked on the beach near here. The "sailors" had panicked somewhat due to some poor weather and ran the yacht up on the beach. Not the best action to take in bad weather as it is more dangerous than riding out the gale at sea. Many bales of cannabis were handed in by the public but I often wondered how many weren't. A bit like "whisky galore". Anyway the smugglers got away with it, well they got off the stricken yacht alive and wet only to be taken into custody for their trouble.

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Castell Carreg Cennen


The painting above of Carreg Cennen Castle sold this week. Always a popular subject and a spectacular view.

Yesterday I had a conversation with two jewellers who were somewhat affronted by the attitude of some painters who looked down at them for being "craft" not fine art. I have to say I can sympathise with them I have on occasions come across this attitude amongst other painters. It matters not to me whether an artist or artisan uses clay, silver, paint or any other medium, it is the technique, skill and imagination that it is worked that determines whether they are an artist.

Today Alex and I took the grandchildren and dogs to Llansteffan Beach it was busy but as it was out of season we were allowed to take the dogs right along the beach. This afternoon I will watch Scarlets play Clermont with more hope than belief.

Friday, 12 October 2012

An evening paddle ~ Llansteffan


I finished the above oil painting of an evening paddle at Llansteffan yesterday. I quite like a paddle or a swim in the sea. Alex on the other hand hates cold water. I quite often wash in cod water. I am used to it. We generally had cold water at home when I was a boy.  We moved to my grand parents house when I was about 8. This was a big house and had real plumbing. We had a shower attachment over the bath. This was all novel as it was the first time we had an indoor bathroom never mind a proper bath. The shower attachment was plumbed into the cold water pipe so it was quite refreshing and the pressure was enough to strip your skin off. Happy days!

I ended up stewarding in the gallery again today so no painting today.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Mynydd Carningli ~ Newport


The above painting is of Mynydd Carningli (Carningli Mountain) viewed from St. Mary's Church Newport Pembs. It is a lovely spot.
We went there at the end of the season and stopped a week on a field overlooking the bay. We were the only ones there and had some rough weather. One night we had to get up and move our camper around to face out to sea. We had been side on and the wind was blowing against the side and lifting the van. Once the van was facing into the wind we had  a  reasonable nights sleep.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Hand Me Downs



If only Alex listened to me like she does the vicar! I am not even sure if she is keen on me drawing in church, not that we go often. It is usually for funerals and the odd christening. Anyway its about the only time she sits still so its a good opportunity. You can see the basic construction lines of the sketch. Now the jacket is right it has three quarter length sleeves. Not like when I was a boy, having an elder brother I used to get his "hand me down" trousers and school uniform. My blazer started off looking like a bell tent on me and ended up being exchanged when I couldn't clap my hands because the arms were too tight. It was no great problem I wasn't alone, it was common in those days. In fact it was probably worse for a boy with a new blazer as the boys sitting  behind the posh kid would spend the lesson flicking ink over his new blazer and head. 

Looking back I realise I went to a very good school. Leastways I had a very good education until I left at 16. The building was old and cold with damp patches and many of the small windows were broken. We hardly noticed any of that . There was strict discipline and the ruler was common in most lessons accompanied by the flying blackboard rubber if you weren't paying attention. The cane was last used I believe on my brother who was caught somewhere he shouldn't have been, doing something he shouldn't have with a member of the opposite sex. 

Today I am in the Origin gallery in Carmarthen.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Sheltering in the Rain ~ Llanstephan


The above painting of a couple on the beach sheltering form the rain at Llansteffan sold yesterday. With baby sitting duties I have had my weeks work put on hold but I managed, literally 25 minutes to start a painting of Mynydd Carningli at Newport, Pembs. It is only a small painting but I think it should turn out well.
I am in the Origin Gallery tomorrow a bit of light relief, so unfortunately for Alex she  is left with the nursery. At the weekend we have two grandchildren and a dog!

(I was tempted to put the link to "Oh Joy unbounded," from Gilbert and Sullivan, but Alex would have hit me)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Spitfire in the clouds


Here is the Spitfire. It is pretty well finished. There were many variations of the Spitfire over the years and   there may be the odd technical querk in the detail but it is pretty accurate and a nice picture.
We are now looking after 2 of our grandchildren this week so all our planned work is out of the window.
Anyway I will certainly sleep well tonight!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Spitfire


Yesterday I thought I might do a watercolour but in the end I decided to do something different for a change. I have had an image of a spitfire in my head for ages so it was a good opportunity to give it a go. 
I had quite a number of references for a picture of a spitfire and I have painted them before. It is not just a case of having a photo and copying it. It is a matter of composing a picture using whatever references you have, photos, videos, drawings and technical information to get the picture you want. It took a good deal of the day to get the picture right and do the outline drawing. I decided to do the background in one sitting and leave the plane until today. So there is yesterdays work.
I remember when I was in university I had time to kill (plenty of it to be honest) so I painted some large animal works in the jungle to donate to a school. These included an elephant and tiger. One of the students came over and said he thought you should only paint what you have seen and asked when I had been in the jungle. Unless you include several of the rougher areas of my wanderings as a youth I have never been in the jungle. I confessed I never had. He walked away satisfied having made his point.
I suppose it was a point of view and it always better to know your subject. I went around to his studio later and noted he was in the middle of painting the Maddona and Child. I looked at him and raised my eyebrows he went a lovely hue of cadmium red and I left him to it.
Last night Alex made a lovely dish of trout fillet with vegetables and a tasty topping. At the end having polished off the lot I complimented her on the topping. She looked at me sternly and said," That topping was out of a jar."
I clearly chose the wrong part of the dish to compliment her.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Day of the Aunties ~ Clive Gravell


Yesterday I was stewarding in the Origin gallery King St. Carmarthen. On impulse I bought a book called, "Day of The Aunties," by Clive Gravell who came into the shop. The book describes his experiences being brought up in Carmarthen during the 1950's.

My instincts were right. It was a lovely book full of interest and humour. Although I wasn't brought up in Carmarthen it took me back to my own boyhood a real trip down Memory Lane. In it Clive refers to the "White Bridge" this is the Bascule Bridge which I have painted above.
Anyway it is beautifully written and an easy read. I smiled all the way through. I recommend it.

Today I am probably going to do a watercolour after struggling to the gym.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Anyone for Tennis


You would think with a name like Mark Cox I would be good at tennis. (Mark Cox was a tennis player in the 1960's). I actually have very little ability in sport. In football I used to be able to shoulder charge players (this was a long time ago) and bring them down as a defender. In rugby I got around the field and could tackle. My reactions were good in boxing but I was never keen on being hit and forgot to breath. I kept up karate for about 10 years and enjoyed that. Anyway on a really boring day this year I watched Wimbledon. I lost track of the score, lost interest and picked up my sketch pad.
The other day my mother asked me if her memory was going. Well considering she had just been telling me she remembered the Romans coming to Britain and meeting Queen Victoria I thought it was pretty good, if a little bit off track. I occasionally forget myself. The other day Alex reminded me not to forget  to pick up her mother and take her to "Lidls" to meet a coach. Fair play I remembered and was just pulling in to "Lidls" when I realised I had a problem. I hadn't picked up her mom on the way.
Today I am in the gallery and Alex is looking after the grandchildren. I know where I would rather be.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Merlin's Hill Carmarthen


I have been working on the oil painting of Merlin's Hill above this week. It is quite a large painting and pretty well finished. I will probably potch with it over the next couple of days. I note that the dictionary definition of potch is too trample, or thrust not quite the meaning I had in mind. Potch comes from the French to poke and I understand it to mean to dabble, or add bits. Anyway a sunny day in the Valley.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tenby ~ "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio"


I did the watercolour of Tenby yesterday. I have painted the fishing boat a couple of times from this and different angles.

You may have noted I am something of a skeptic by nature and experience. Occasionally however things come along which are quite inexplicable, hence the quote from Hamlet above.

My mother who everyone refers to as "Nan" is none too well and one of the few things that can get a response is a visit from the grandchildren. Now my daughter in law is really good and takes them pretty well every day for a visit.

Now the other day my daughter in law went to visit a clairvoyant in another town, I know, not for me either. Anyway she came back and saw my daughter. The clairvoyant had said to her "Maurice wants to thank you for visiting Nan."
Now how the clairvoyant had known that:
She was visiting Nan daily
or that we call her just  "Nan" is inexplicable.

My daughter in law then had to ask "who is Maurice?" Maurice was my father who died many years ago! How did the clairvoyant know that?

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

WYSIWYG


I did the above watercolour of St Peter's Carmarthen in the snow yesterday. Alex wanted to do some new Christmas cards. Apart from that yesterday she was on a mission, framed a lot of prints and made mounts for originals.

It is the silly season again I note.The time of year for the Turner prize. It is one thing to be cutting edge and creative it is entirely another to strive to have the biggest gimmick to cover up for a lack of talent. I have no real issue with the participants (they may be artists I don't know) they are just taking advantage of the system that cons some of the public. I object to the pretentious critics who interpret and analise it and pretend it has some profound meaning. Not all works of art have any deep significant meaning and most certainly objects of derision (sorry Turner entries) in a similar manner may have no deep thought provoking concept.

 I like David Bowie and the words of his songs have been examined and interpreted by many pseudo intellectuals. At the end of the day  I understand that he just got headlines from newspapers and put them together. That does not detract from them being entertaining or a work of art in themselves, but don't tell me they contain the secret of life.
In a similar vein I admire the works of Salvador Dali which have been argued over as to their true context by art critics ad infinitum  whereas at the end the artist himself stated that he had no meaning for them thats just what he painted.

So when it comes to a pile of garbage generally what you see is what you get.


Monday, 1 October 2012

Winter walk Towy Valley




I finished the painting above last week which  is of the Towy Valley in winter with Merlins Hill on the left in the distance. As with all disciplines painting improves with experience and training. Painting regularly keeps me going.

One of the things the police service do really well is training. I have been on numerous courses to learn the law, health and safety, project management, financial management, equal opportunities law, interviewing….etc etc as well as all the role related stuff CID courses, fraud, computer fraud, public order …etc  etc.

 All of these courses were of a very high standard with relevant qualifications.

The one exception to this for me was in Police Management at the “Staff College” Bramshill.  I had to attend 2 courses, a junior command course of 6 weeks and a senior one of 3 weeks.  Now reality stopped at the gates to this fine establishment as did time for me. To be fair I am sure there must have been others that found it a life changing experience and deeply satisfying? (I am sure things have changed now anyway as this was many years ago).

Anyway  I was in a group of 12 senior officers with 2 tutors.
Now it is no secret and probably not surprising that I didn’t get on with my tutors but that is another story. Basically Bramshill at that time was in my eyes equivilent to sitting around holding hands and chanting Hari Krishna. It certainly had nothing to do with Policing as far as I could see. One of the things we had to do was talk about ourselves and how we could make more of our feminine side, or something like that.

One of the officers let’s call him John a Detective Chief Inspector from Manchester on the Crime Squad gave a long talk on his work and how it had affected him. The tutors were spellbound, the one was making page upon page of notes,(probably for a book).  John had been so affected by his work that he had taken up rug making to get in touch with his feminine side. He told us all about the yarns and the colours and how he was abused at work because of his new hobby. I swear the tutors were near to tears. So was I and every other officer in the room but for a completely different reason. It was complete garbage but very convincing. John had never been near a rug in his life. His story held up for the whole 6 weeks and got more and more embellished. God knows what was said in his report or if it was even mentioned but he knew how to play the game as did most of the others.