Friday, 30 November 2012

Morfa Newport Pembs


I finished this painting today. It is of Morfa from the old lifeboat slip in Newport Pembs. We stopped near here in our van one winter. We occasionally saw seals off  the slip and Jac would take the opportunity to go in for a swim..The farmer who owned the land was a real character. He asked us if we wanted a lift to Cardigan Market in his Land Rover dog and all. We declined we had been told he apparently had a habit of enjoying himself at the market if he had a driver, and would likely as not ask us to drive the Land Rover back.
Not that we were particulary averse to that but it sounded like a long day. Today Alex has gone off with her mom to one of our daughters leaving Jac and I to fend for ourselves. Get out the jam, beer and crisps!

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Portrait of the artists wife and dog




I know it’s not spring but I decided to have a sort out of the studio the other day. It’s no hardship in this weather as it is lovely and warm in there.  Anyway I had a good clear out; found a framed painting for the exhibition and also the drawing above. This is an old drawing of Alex just after we were married with our first dog. I can’t remember how long it took to do but quite a while I guess. As it happens I asked Alex to sit for 10 minutes (literally) to do a sketch at the breakfast table this morning. Alex can’t sit still I hate to think what she was like at school. It was like trying to do ten different poses. 

Anyway something’s are worth the effort. I was up on top of the valley at 7 this morning. It was hard work probably because we had been to the gym yesterday and then played badminton till 10pm last night. I was glad I was up there though having walked through the woods with crisp leaves underfoot and a sharp white frost kissing the branches and grass. The sunrise was glorious. Ochre against the sky line with grey cold mist in the valley and vapour trails of cadmium red in the sky. A perfect start to the day.

Yesterday Alex completed framing for the exhibition which was a major achievement.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Boogie Woogie



I finished the oil painting of the River Towy with Merlin's Hill in the background today. Its a lovely walk alongside the river but its been flooded a lot lately and the ground is  pretty wet underfoot.

I watched the film "Boogie Woogie" last night. It is a comedy send up of the London Art World. Now I have no real experience of the London Art World other than from what I read and have seen in the galleries, very little of which appeals to me.  I have to say the film was no ringing endorsement of the London Art Scene. I found it funny if a little rude. ( I probably liked it because it reinforced my own impressions). Incidentally the name of the film derives from Broadway Boogie Woogie the name of a painting by Piet Mondrian. He apparently loved to dance to the Boogie Woogie. So the link below is appropriate.




http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9b3ZZywQvg

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

In the deep end


Here is another of the sketches I did at the weekend. You can clearly see the construction lines in the picture. The square was at a slight angle to allow for the slight tilt of the head. The only time the full width of the square was covered was at the bottom where the hair took it up.

I was asked today for some details by a young lady in Canada who is doing a project on my art work. I got to thinking about my earlier years. Its funny how first times stick in your mind or make an impression. (No, I think you may be getting ahead of yourself!).

During my first week as a policeman I was sent for familiarisation. Basically this involved going to different offices and places to see what the police did. I think it was really a way of using up a few days time, and giving the training sergeant a break.

 I was sent to Washwood Heath Police Station. Getting there was fine the bus was free for police officers in uniform or near uniform. I think conductors were glad to have you on board. To be honest there was hardly any trouble on a bus other than late at night.
Anyway 9am one morning I arrived at Washwood Heath Police Station. I had never been in a police station before, fortunately. There were a great many police stations dating back to the mid nineteenth century in Birmingham and they were all pretty much the same. When entering the charge office as it was called you were immediately met by a large polished wooden counter. Behind the counter was the office a highly polished floor and a coal fire heating the room. Behind this counter I met the master of the office the Station Sergeant.
Now there were two fundamental errors that you could make in the charge office.

1. As a member of the public it was generally accepted that it was mistake to complain about the police or be in any way disrespectful. This was likely to result being pulled over the counter and charged with being disorderly in a police station (a local bye law). This tended to keep complaints to a minimum.

2. An offence considered just as serious by the Station Sergeant was walking across his floor with dirty boots. I fortunately on that first day was as immaculate as I was ever going to be.

 I told the Sergeant who I was.
 He looked me up and down and said,
"Good I can go for my breakfast now."
I looked around in bewilderment at the machine in the corner ticking out tape with little holes in it and a radio giving garbled messages. "But what do I do Serge?"
"Call me Sergeant and don't let the bloody fire go out."
With that he pulled on his coat and left me "in charge" of my own police station.
I survived somehow, and  I kept the fire banked up.


Monday, 26 November 2012

End of the weekend


I have been cataloging and packing paintings for the exhibition today as well as sorting out my studio.
The sketch above is one I did at the weekend of Alex. There are still construction lines on the sketch which I haven't bothered to rub out. It is important to get the features in the right place when doing a portrait even a quick sketch. Get the mark in the right place even if the mark itself is a little off. I tend to draw a square for faces encompassing the whole head and come in from that when working out proportions and positions.
You can see the bottom line of the square under Alexs' chin. I work in from the side where the eye is nearest the edge of the square. Might sound a complicated system but it generally works for me and prevents me putting features where they should be as opposed to where they actually are.

Alex has a weakness for agreeing to do things for people at the expense of all else or generally herself. Whenever anybody wants something I find they ask her instead of me. I cant imagine why. Anyway on Sunday she said she would look after our youngest granddaughter for an hour or so.


 "Yes, its fine." she said.

As soon as our daughter was out of the door and the car had started I heard her say,
"Mark come and look after your granddaughter."

Well okay I turned on the TV, put on Thomas the Tank Engine and sat her on my knee. Well I don't know who fitted her nappy but they didn't put enough sealant around the edges because the next thing I knew was I had been soaked.
Even at the age of 6 months my youngest granddaughter has obviously inherited the family sense of humour of which I tend to be the butt of the jokes!

Last evening I watched the Scarlets play Munster - brilliant can't say more.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Heads


Yes a chaotic but entertaining day yesterday. We had all the family around for a day of watching rugby. All pretty predictable results wise with a few bright spots for Wales. We got through quite a bit of wine and food so the last game was a bit hazy to be honest. The grandchildren seemed to have a good time as well.
I didn't get any painting done but I did do a few sketches. I use any old bit of card or paper lying around.
The one above is of my mother.


This is one of Alex done on the back of a scrap card.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Cwmoernant



I finished the above painting this morning with a light application of the mist on the water. It is the view of Cwmoernant Reservoir in Carmarthen as I saw it yesterday on a cold damp November morning.
I started the painting with a ground stain of grey green all over,which I allowed to dry. Now there must be a good reason for this. Yes there is.

Earlier this week I set about a painting with no clear image of where I was going. I had a vague idea but I couldn't see the final image in my head. So for me I got what I deserved. The painting went from one vague notion to another. Nothing magically came out of it and although it was recognizable I was totally unhappy with the finished work. I did the only thing I could. I wiped the whole painting with turps leaving the grey green stain. As a ground it was fine for the painting above so nothing wasted except time and a lesson reinforced.

 Its not often I have a disaster but it did me good to be brought down (pride/fall and all that). I have developed my own way of working don't take any short cuts!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Lisbon


Had a busy day today. I walked the dog. It was cold with mist rising from the valley and the reservoir. I decided to get a painting done of Cwnoernant Reservoir with the winter mist still on it.  I had breakfast then  went to do the shopping for my mother. By the time I got back the grandchildren had arrived. at that point I found I had forgotten to buy butter so Alex could make the Christmas cake with the grandchildren. It was also at this point that Alex found she had 5000 card covers of the wrong size delivered.
Then a nice surprise David Cowdry turned up. So we had a pleasant walk followed by lunch before I had to go off to town to post the card covers and buy butter.
I did manage to get the painting pretty well finished but I will have a look at it tomorrow with fresh eyes.
The watercolour sketch above is of the approach to Lisbon.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Alone again




This is the painting I finished yesterday. It started off as a smaller study for a commission which I did earlier  this year but I decided to finish it and make a complete work out of it. As I say it is smaller than the commission and has a few things different about it.

Last night Alex and I went to play badminton with our son. I ended up being the subject of much hilarity. Not for my playing I might add. I took off my track suit top and made my presence known on the court only to be greeted by howls of laughter. My sports shirt was inside out with buttons logo etc all on the inside and labels on the outside. Well how was I to know, the only time I ever only look in the mirror is when I have a shave first thing in the morning.

This morning having breakfast I noticed there was one solitary leaf left on the hazel hedge behind us. The little yellow leaf was stood on a long twig like a flag blowing in the gusting wind. All the other leaves were gone.
A bit sad really. It reminded me of what I think is the saddest song written. That really poignant song by Gilbert O Sullivan. Words can be very powerful and in this case they really are. If you haven't listened to the lyrics do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D_P-v1BVQn8

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

MG Sports car


Today I finished off an oil painting study of a previous commission. I was happy enough for it to be a painting in its own right. The painting above is an old one of an MG sports car.  As I related sometime later the problem with this sort of subject is that you get the odd enthusiast who either launches into the the pros and cons of the MG versus the Triumph or tells you the the 1947 model you have painted only ever had bifocal radiator trims! There again if you paint it you have to expect it and I did get all those conversations before it was bought.
I chose it today as a reminder that we have had nice sunny days suitable for a picnic it just seems that it was along time ago.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Lighthouse Opporto


Life can be a little complicated at times and we are having one of those weeks. So no painting today.
Above I have shown a page from my sketchbook. It is the lighthouse at Opporto. Again a simple composition but sufficient detail if I wished to do a painting from it. I am always fascinated by lighthouses and the stories around them. Here is quite a well known story.


One night in rough seas and poor visibility, a ship’s captain saw the lights of another ship heading toward him on a collision course. He had his signalman contact the other ship: “Change your course 10 degrees south.” 
The reply came back, “Change YOUR course 10 degrees north.”
The ship’s captain answered, “I am the captain of  the Unites States Battleship Nimitz – change your course south.” 
To  which the reply was, “Well, I’m a seaman first class – change your course north.”
This infuriated the captain, so he signaled back, “This is the most powerful and largest battleship in the world I say change your course south. ”
To which the reply came, “And I say you had better change your course north. This is a lighthouse.”
Sorry the link is a bit obvious http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMXFSp4yfm4

Monday, 19 November 2012

Bay of Biscay


The little sketch above was done in the Western Approaches to Great Britain and Ireland. A day later we were in the Bay of Biscay 300miles West of Bourdeaux in an Atlantic Gale. Despite the weather Alex and I sat down to dinner with a number of interesting people. The subject of Egypt came up in the course of conversation and Alex who is not slow in coming forward gave a fairly forthright opinion on the hygiene standards of Cairo and environs. Now this was taken exception to by one lady. She said, "Cairo was not dirty it was just dusty."
Not to be deterred Alex gave a few examples of her experiences.
Now as luck would have it the Lady in question had married an Egyptian. Following that disclosure we quickly moved on to other subjects. In actual fact we soon became friends despite the poor start and the Lady told us her life story which was really interesting. She had been on the stage in the West End and been PA to many notable personalities.
There must be a moral to this story. Its probably why I tend to take a back seat in conversations.
Today I am in the gallery in Town.

Link has to be http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLdmxgRdMAM&feature=related

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Opporto


The sketch above is of boats in the harbour in Opporto (Portugal). Simple quick, and got the relevant bits down.
Last night I went to watch the Scarlets play the Blues with my son, grandson and granddaughter. It was a chilly night and most people were tucked up with a drink keeping warm. In front for us were a group of 6 ladies  all dressed up in their winter best and supping on a glass of wine. They were in hysterics when my granddaughter started shouting, "Come on Scarlets you can do it." (She was probably the only one who thought they could). To my left was a young lad about 5 with his mom and dad. They were all drinking hot chocolate which smelt divine. At some point the young lad must have dozed off because the next thing his hot chocolate went up in the air and sprayed all over the lady in front of him. She was wearing a lovely white coat which now had chocolate stains all over it.
The boy did the only thing he could do. He burst into tears and was inconsolable. In fairness the lady was absolutely lovely and was more concerned with reassuring the lad than her ruined coat. It just gives you faith in people. You often hear about the bad things but 99% of people are great.
As for me I just made a mental note not to let our grandchildren have drinks as knowing my luck it would be over a 6ft. 6" Mr Angry.


Saturday, 17 November 2012

Johnstown ~ Oak Tree


Now I am not exactly a tree hugger but I do love to look at  the shape of trees. Yes I know its a bit odd but trees are all different and I like to make a note of interesting shapes. I have painted this one before. It is on the path going from Carmarthen alongside the river. You pass under the Bascule Bridge towards Johnstown and its on the path not far from the river.
Its an old oak tree on a bit of a skew. It makes for a nice painting. I have put sheep in the picture and added a kite in the distance. I am not sure what to call it - sheep under a tree? Perhaps not.


The amount of information I need to do a painting varies. For this one the sketch shown above is pretty minimal even then I have taken liberties with the information exaggerating the angle of the tree...
I played badminton last night. Well that is quite a loose description perhaps I should say I had a go. Then I watched Wales playing Samoa. There again that is quite a loose description. Halfpenny, Roberts, North, Ryan Jones, Dan Biggar seemed to be putting in an effort and Ken Owens was very good when he came on. 
Off to watch the Scarlets tonight with son, grandson and granddaughter.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Seagulls ~ Cefn Sidan


I finished the above painting today. I initially thought about having the dog chasing the seagulls then I changed my mind and just put in the two figures, finally I changed my mind again and added the dog. The blue may be slightly too dark on the internet it depends on your settings.
I met Alex for lunch today at the Waverley as she was having a day in town. I finished the above painting, walked in to town and am now sorting out my paintings for the exhibition. Later I will have a game of badminton then watch the Wales game on TV.


Thursday, 15 November 2012

St Phillips Cathedral ~ Kismet


I am not a great believer in fate or anything else to be honest but occasionally something comes along that make me question my position. When the odds are so heavily against something happening and yet it happens it does make you think. Take the example below.

I met Alex as I have mentioned before at Warwickshire County Cricket ground some forty years ago. Nothing strange in that but what were the odds that I should bump into Alex unexpectedly the very next day. I was  in uniform, by St. Phillips Cathedral in Birmingham when a young lady wearing boots and a long black coat came into my vision. Out of a population of probably 4 million people in the area what were the odds that Alex and I should be in the same place that day? (They were pretty high unless she was stalking me). So maybe luckily for me in this instance fate or a better word kismet (it means fate and luck) played a hand.
The rest as they say is history.

I had been thinking what to blog about and I thought I would do this and paint the scene as it was then.

Incidentally St Phillips Cathedral has some beautiful stained glass windows added by Edward Burne-Jones a close associate of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Llansteffan Summer


The above painting of Llansteffan sold yesterday. "A Summers day on the beach at Llansteffan", quite a rare summers day actually with sunshine and blue skies.
Alex and are I getting pretty close to being ready for the exhibition. It has been a bit of a race but things are looking okay. In actual fact the painting above was one that I had earmarked for it but I have a good selection now.
Off looking for new subjects today.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Delia Smith


The watercolour sketch above is of the Ponte Sorb o Tego. This is the scene you see when entering Lisbon by ship. When I drew this it was sunrise and about 6am.

Yesterday I mentioned my fondness for egg custard. Well if I haven't related it before you may be interested in my relationship with Delia Smith.
As you are aware Alex and I have been married for getting on 37yrs plus. During that time we have shared domestic jobs and rarely had a cross word. Now I have always been of the opinion that if you have an electrician in the family it is best to let them do the wiring, likewise if you have a fantastic cook let them do the cooking. I can feel the daggers being drawn as I speak, as you may have an idea where this is going. Now Alex is very talented and can decorate, service an engine and is an outstanding cook. Why then would I need to cook? I am happy to wash up, hoover watch the television..but leave the cooking to her.
Anyway this came to a bit of a head years ago when the children were still living with us. I eventually, reluctantly agreed to do the cooking.

Now if I take on a new skill I like to do it methodically. Learn the basics and go on from there. If you want to paint you must know the basic technical qualities of the paints and mediums you use (ok. I accept there  are many artist that don't, but don't push me on that subject). So going back to learning how to cook I got hold of Delia Smiths excellent Learn How to Cook book one.
Now to quote Delia, "If you want to learn how to cook there is no better place to start than with eggs."
My plan was to go through the book perfecting my skills before moving on to the next challenge.
Naturally then I started at the beginning of the book which deals with eggs.

Menu for Day 1 evening meal scrambled eggs. Feedback ~ "Not bad."
Menu for Day 2  evening meal poached eggs.   Feedback ~ "Good."
Menu for day 3  evening meal omelette .           Feedback ~ "Nice omelette but can we have a change."
Menu for Day 4 evening meal omelette  followed by egg custard. ~ "Dad can we have something else."

By the end of the week I still hadn't perfected eggs and the household was in a state of revolt for several reasons.
To the applause of the children Alex returned to the kitchen and I was banished.
Yes Delia is definitely one of my favourite cooks.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Egg Custard


I finished the painting above today. It is, an autumn evening at Llansteffan. I may tweek it when I go back to it in a couple of days.
A little time ago I was shopping and I thought I would buy a couple of egg custards for Alex and I as a treat.
I went to the bakery in Tescos. Egg custards are sold in packs of 2 or 4. Unfortunately the packs of 2 were sold out  so I bought a pack of 4.
When I got home I took a cake out and thought I'll have one with my afternoon tea.
That left three.
A bit later again I walked passed the open packet and thought well there are three there now so if I have another one that will be an even number, one for me and one for Alex. So I had another one.
That left 2.
Alex was a little late getting back and I thought, "Oh well I may as well have mine now Alex can have hers when she gets home."
That left one.
After a little reflection I thought, "She going to give me hell for eating 3 egg custards." So I ate the last one and hid the package in the recycling.

There is surely a moral to this story but I am not sure I want to find out what it is.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Remembrance and Respect


Well yesterday Mrs Cox and I went to Cardiff to watch Wales play Argentina. Now we had a lovely day, a coach to Cardiff and a fine Italian meal in Bellini's. The game was however something of a disappointment.
Wales game plan seemed to me to get the ball and then run horizontally across the pitch. If we got into a reasonable position then we kicked the ball back to the opposition.  Now after 40 minutes even I after a bottle of wine and several lagers could work out this was not working to our advantage. Nevertheless the same plan continued in the second half. Pretty desperate stuff lacking any imagination or flair. I will leave it to the experts to determine if this style of play is a good idea.
Anyway on a more serious note today is Remembrance Sunday. I am not a particularly religious person but I do observe respect for those who across the years have made the ultimate sacrifice and I have likewise a similar attitude to the armed forces and the police service. So today I will take time to consider those who have fallen, including members of my family in the Great War together with old friends and former colleagues who are no longer with us.
The watercolour sketch above is all I will be painting today.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Call me Trevor


Not believing that you should waste one minute of your allocated time I often take the opportunity to grab a quick sketch no matter how unpalatable. Waiting for Alex is an occupational hazard when going out so the other day I did a quick pencil sketch of the only subject around, me.
Sometimes a little white lie or exaggeration can take you places you don't want to go. Many years ago when I was interviewed to join the police force I sat in the waiting room and chatted to another lad. Neither of us had prepared for the interview. I had assumed you just went in and answered questions about yourself and that was it. "Well to be honest it wasn't far off that." When he came out he said he had failed so I don't know what he had done wrong. I went in and everything was going well until I was asked about sport.
Did I play rugby?
"No." I replied (I hadn't played since leaving school, although I did play again after joining).
I quickly realised I might have made a mistake and added," I do play football."
This is where I made my bigger mistake. The police would teach me to probe and not leave any superficial answers.
"Oh, that's interesting, what position do you play?"
I hadn't played football since I left junior school but had to say something, "Right back."
" And what league do you play in?"
Oh no this is getting bad. I told them the only league I knew the name of.
"Great what side do you play for?"
Oh God take me now, I gave the name of the only team I knew, "Fisher and Ludlow."
"Aren't they top of the league?"
"Err yes." I didn't know but apparently they were.
They changed the subject and all seemed to be well. I got in and two weeks later I was in a gymnasium with other recruits changed into sports kit. The PTI (physical training instructor) came in and announced,
"Well I understand we have a first class footballer in our midst," and looked straight at me.
Oh God not again. Help.
Well my efforts on the football field were enough to prove my inadequacies as a first class player. I decided the only thing for it was to come clean. I went and saw the senior officer who had been part of the interviewing board and admitted what had happened. Initially I was severely admonished but in the end he burst into laughter and told me they had a good idea I was making it up and they just kept pushing me to see how big a hole I could dig for myself.
For a short period I was called "Trevor" (after Trevor Francis the sublime footballer of that time). It didn't last and the incident was soon forgotten. A good lesson had been learn't.



Friday, 9 November 2012

Burry Port Harbour


Here is the finished painting from the last couple of days. It shows inshore fishing boats in Burry Port Harbour. I initially drew the outline in a thin liquin based cold grey. I took some liberties with the detail for the sake of the composition.
I then used  black and white to make up the tonal values of the painting. Effectively this results in a black and white image. (Although I have never used one, the artist Claude Lorraine (1604 -1682)  used a convex piece of black glass  to view his subject and help remove colour when working out his tonal values. This glass is predictably called a Claude Glass.)
Anyway yesterday the painting was dry as a result of using the liquin and I was able to complete the painting putting colour and glaze onto the painting.  I paint in a few different ways depending on the subject and how I see it. This is just one traditional method using modern materials. It is a bit time consuming but I got the result I wanted..

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Gibraltar Barbary Ape

Earlier this year we were in Gibraltar where I did this sketch of a Barbary Ape. (Apparently the Barbary Ape is a common macaque distinguishable because it has no tail).
The apes are quite mischievous and interesting to watch although they have learnt a good deal of bad habits such as foraging in litter bins. They have been fed by well meaning tourists but unfortunately this has led many of them having diabetes and it is now against the law to feed them.

They will sit reasonably and are tame enough to allow you to sketch them. They reminded me of the grandchildren we had left at home. The British Army used to be responsible for the apes until the 1990's and named each one after Generals and commanding officers..an interesting concept.
Anyway today I am going to the gym and finishing the painting I started yesterday.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Health and Safety Risk Assessment ~ River Towy



This morning I was having breakfast when Alex said to me, "Have you got an eye test today?" Hmm yes I had. It was in five minutes. Maybe it should be a memory test?  A mad rush and I was down town and in the opticians inside ten minutes. Anyway I saw the optician and during the examination she became concerned about my right eye. What I had forgotten to tell her was that two nights previously Alex and I had been to a show. I am the sort to sit quietly enjoying whilst Alex will throw herself into the entertainment, jiggle about clap etc.. All very well but it may come to tears I say.  Now for some unknown reason when it came to the entertainers calling on the audience to join in with Village People and "YMCA" Alex did the inevitable. She threw her hands in the air made a big "Y" and stuck her finger nail in my right eye. While I was sitting grimacing with pain she continued obliviously singing and trying to blind the person on her right hand side.
Obviously in future I need to do a complete Health and Safety Risk Assessment and wear safety glasses when attending such shows!
Anyway I painted the picture of the River Towy yesterday. I came across some carmine red which I rarely use now (I used to use it when I did portraits). I thought it would be ideal for the painting I had in mind and there it is. The River Towy looking East towards Merlins Hill from Tan y Rhallt.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Lisbon Tram


Not long ago Alex and I were in Lisbon. It's a lovely City with plenty of character. The big thing I noticed is that the city centre buildings were still intact and hadn't been demolished for large department stores. This meant that there were dozens of small independent cafes, bars, and shops. Of course I was more interested in  the trams that still rumble around the town. Crowded, individual and an anachronism but I think they are great and couldn't wait to get a sketch done. So I dragged Alex behind me rushing to the next street corner to catch more details of the next tram. I don't know what the locals thought, but I have a feeling I know what Alex thought.
Both Alex and I have plenty to do at the moment its just a matter of  prioritising!

Monday, 5 November 2012

Traffic Duty


When I joined the Police Force things were different. I had a cape, a lovely item warm, heavy and your hands were free to hold or carry whatever you wished away from sight. Chips, beer, a heavy torch or truncheon everything must have been carried in this way. A big rubberised coat kept out the rain but was incredibly difficult to wear and it was  impossible to chase a snail wearing one. We had two helmets. One had silver badge and fittings for use in daylight where the idea was to be seen (no need for that now). One had black badge and fittings to wear at night to allow you to hide in doorways and catch the unwary miscreant.
Traffic duty was not unusual. We had white gloves to allow high visibility! We were taught the traffic signals by rote. You learned the stop signal, forward and to the rear, the come on signal forward and to the side...
All this was put to music in a sequence to allow you remember the signal correctly. You went through the whole sequence in about 30 seconds. Giving about 5 seconds per signal. of course in practice you only chose which particular signal was needed at any one time.
I recall the inevitable happening when a newly arrived Policewoman went out to do her first traffic duty. Within a couple of minutes we received a report that there had been an accident. Apparently she had stepped out in to the road smartly and gone through the traffic signal sequence. She had in fact basically called all vehicles forward at once or within seconds of each other with the inevitable consequence.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Books


I sold the painting above at an exhibition in the Library a couple of years ago. I read quite a bit and was given a book reader by Alex about a year ago. It is not a Kindle but a similar tablet for half the price. The main advantage is that it can read virtually all formats of digital books. It can hold up to 60 or 70  books. What amazes me however is the pricing structure for ebooks. An ebook uses no paper or printing and is distributed electronically. The cost must be free because you can down load virtually all the classic books at no cost from sites quite legally. (Yet for the unwary you can also buy them from Tescos). I looked at Thomas Hardy works at anything up to £7 a download whilst at Project Gutenburg you can download it for free. Lee Childs ebooks can cost around £6 pounds at Waterstones and Tescos the same price virtually as the paperback version which is often available cheaper. I use my ebook reader but wisely. There are many classics available totally free and a very good read.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Atmospheric paintings



I finished the painting above last week it is one of the series I have done of Llansteffan Beach. In doing an atmospheric painting the essential part is to reduce the contrast of values as the painting recedes. There  may be odd exceptions when you wish to emphasise part of the work but that is the general rule. The couple are highlighted and then to take the eye there is an escape with the castle in the distance.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Racing in the estuary


I did the painting above last week. It is a warm painting of an ever popular subject. It is challenging to find different ways to paint the same subject. If I didn't I wouldn't enjoy painting it.
Years ago we used to do dinghy races which would sometimes involve treasure hunts in the estuary. We would have to pull the dinghy up onto Llansteffan or Ferryside beach and run to retrieve some object. We would often sail with our children and our dog who would be quite happy watching the waves breaking around him even if we got a bit nervous when the boat went on its beams ends. I think all that would all be a bit hectic for me now

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Cattle in the rain and Hieronymous Bosch


"Cattle after the rain", this seems like an appropriate painting following the weather we have been having this year. this was a picture I saw as I was being driven by Alex back from Llandeilo. The cattle were standing in the field looking very sorry for themselves after an enormous downpour. I was taken by the image of the animals reflected in the temporary pools of water in the field. Then we had passed them but the image stayed behind long enough for me to paint it later.
Today I am going to do a watercolour and then a few chores before sitting down to my book. I have read a few books lately in the series relating to Hieronymous Bosch (the detective not the painter) by Michael Connelly . Very well written and good stories.