Saturday, 30 March 2013

110,000 deaths in the last year alone


Here is a page from my little A5 sketch book I just caught Jac sitting on the passenger seat of our camper looking out for Alex.
I have done a painting today but it was too late to capture it. I also got to the gym walked the dogs and watched the two rugby games on tv.

The last two days have been a bit "iffy " in the road I am beginning to think someone has got my number.
I have had 3 drivers try and wipe me out. One was a small Fiat with three escapees form "Woodstock"
who drove straight across my lane nearly taking my out my right hand wing and then wandering back into their own lane. The other two were as Alex calls them flat caps (This is quite amusing as I wear one myself).
Anyway you know who they are they have been driving for 50 years and never had an accident, but have caused several hundred!

I suppose I should be grateful I don't drive in India. They apparently have an average of 110,000 road deaths a year and no record of the number of injuries! That is a fatality every 4 minutes.

Friday, 29 March 2013

A day at the Beach


I finished the above painting today. A nice nostalgic scene of a mother and children on the beach.
I used a palette of cool greys. There was a time when I almost exclusively used this  palette of colours.
Now its pretty much horses for courses.

I did a little watercolour of a starling this morning but like the bird it went south and I tossed it into the bin.
Anyway its a shame about the old starlings. We get one or two on the bird table but they are in great decline.
We have lost apparently 40 million since 1980 and they are now in the red category as endangered.
Apparently habit loss is a major issue. I recall 50 years ago Birmingham the City Centre was alive at night with the sound of thousands of starlings that came in to roost in the warmth of the city centre and perch upon the window ledges. Then action was taken to drive them away and stop them roosting. I suppose because they left a bit of a mess! If you see a few thousand starlings together in flight it is a spectacular sight. They weave and glide in unison it is called a murmuration of starlings.

Anyway an appropriate link is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94bdMSCdw20

Thursday, 28 March 2013

David Cowdry Exhibition Aberglasney


This morning the above plopped through the  letter box on to the mat. Its an invitation to the opening of  David Cowdry's first exhibition of the year in Aberglasney. Now I have said it before but its worth repeating he is one of the finest artists in Wales. He has a relaxed and fluid style with an amazing ability to capture light.

So if you get the chance visit his exhibition but don't be surprised if many of the works have already been sold. They don't hang around for long.

Link to the details http://www.aberglasney.org/index.php?page=events&type=exhibition

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Snowdon watercolour


Here is a watercolour I did recently looking up at Snowdonia in the mid morning.

We have just changed our car and this morning Alex was on the phone to the Green Flag ( the recovery people to change the details of the car).
Alex explained she had bought a new car. The man asked Alex what sort of car it was. She replied
"Oh its a very nice one."
He said," I was thinking along the lines of, is it a five door or a hatchback.."

There again I can't say much. Last night we went out to deliver a commissioned painting to a very nice lady.
We arrived back home  and as we went in the front door I could hear the telephone ringing. I rushed in, picked it up and said,"Hello." I could hear a faint background noise but no-one answered.
I repeated my greeting several times. It was obvious there was someone on the line but they refused to answer. I finally put the phone down.
Alex said, "Who was it?"
"I don't know some idiot. Just a silent nuisance call." I replied.
Alex came in, picked up the phone handset and said, "They haven't put it down."
She then looked at the caller ID. looked straight at me and said, "Why are you calling the house? Its your mobile."
I had my mobile in my pocket and must have knocked it on speed dial when I got out of the car. Ah! embarrassing, not the first time I have been talking to myself but the first time I have done it on the phone.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Edward Hopper


The other day a book arrived it was on the works of Edward Hopper. My brother had sent it as a birthday present.

I have always liked the works of Hopper. Albeit that I can only relate to his subjects (American life) through the films of my youth such as Bad Day at Black Rock.  Probably his most famous work is shown above the Nighthawks.

There is I find a sadness in his work the paintings feel empty and have a sense of loneliness about them. I don't know a great deal about his life but I know he was late coming to success and maybe that is reflected in his work.

 I will have a good read of the book and hopefully this will enlighten me.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Snowdon form Porth Madoc


I finished the above painting today. It shows Snowdon from Porth Madoc. It is a popular view with artists for obvious reasons. You have the mountains in the distance and an estuary normally with cattle and birds in the foreground. I have taken minor liberties with the composition. I have a couple of paintings in mind for later this week but have promised myself I will also finish my latest book.


Sunday, 24 March 2013

Snowdon


The picture above is a sketch done this year of Snowdon with a good dusting of snow. I thought it was appropriate today. Its pretty nippy and somehow I managed to get myself locked out of the house without, mobile phone, a coat or key. Not really a mistake to make on a day like this. I had visions of being found in the future frozen and mummified. A bit like Otzi the iceman who had died some 5000 years ago and was discovered in the Italian Alps in 1991.

Anyway I am back in now and looking forward to a full Sunday Dinner of Welsh Lamb. Thank you Alex.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Dylan Thomas the young poet


Here is the finished painting of Dylan Thomas the young poet. I spent this morning in the Origin Gallery and was relieved by Alex after lunch.

I will probably read a book for an hour then collect Alex at 5pm.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Chiaroscuro


I wasn't sure what I was going to paint today. I had a good spare frame and I had a piece of board prepared to fit it. I had a few options but decided to do a dramatic painting of of Dylan Thomas using chiaroscuro.
I set about it and here is stage 1. The painting is less than 6 inches square so it is quite fiddly to do a portrait.

Having got this far I realised that I had made a mistake the frame it was going into is in fact a grey blue moulding and the painting above is warm browns! The painting will fit but won't suit!
Never mind not a problem.

The other evening Alex and I had a bit of a competition. Now I am not one to hang around in the kitchen unless it is to pick at food being cooked. However we decided to make a couple of loaves and see who made the best one.
Well I have to say honestly mine was by far the best. Surprisingly Alex also agreed. However the truth is I had a little help from my friend Ken. Ken is an excellent breadmaker, his full name is Kenwood. Alex unfortunately made a mistake with her yeast and her hand made loaf didn't rise as much as it should. Still I am sure next time her loaf will be prefect.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Sketch of Harlech Castle


We were awoken this morning at 5 o'clock by a familiar sound, no, not the happy song of a thrush but the retching of our house guest (our daughter's dog). So nice start to the day clearing up after him. 
I then walked the dogs, did some decorating, visited my mother, went to the gym, came back for soup, took the dogs out again, then Alex and I set to on some framing. 

I don't normally need to help Alex but this particular expensive moulding is quite large and will not behave. The mitre machine will grab it and move it only fractionally but sufficient to throw out the angle of cut by one degree. This is a disaster as it means the corners don't meet up correctly. Also it has a section of rough grain in it which fractures the covering. Anyway we got through it  after much ado. 

I haven't picked up a paint brush at all today other than to do some skirting boards so the sketch above is from my sketch book. One of many sketches of Harlech Castle.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

City Hall Cardiff


I did the above painting today. It is of City Hall Cardiff a lovely Baroque building. I have painted it in an impressionsitic style. It is quite nice to use this style. It's easy going, there's no need to draw anything out, just get going with turps and some browns blocking in the values. Its just a matter of building up the painting then using medium and more paint finishing with the lightest colours. Of course it could go wrong if you got things in the wrong place or got bogged down in detail.

I like Cardiff. It's one of my favourite cities. It's not too far. You can walk around it. There is plenty to see and has the best stadium in the world!

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Walking the dog


I finished the above commission today. It is based on a painting I did last year. I have to do some more decorating later then the grand children are coming over.

Our electric kettle gave up the ghost the other day and we bought another one. I promptly got it out of the box and washed it through. I went to plug it in and there was a problem. I stood there muttering to myself when Alex came in.

"Look!" I said, "How stupid is that? The flex isn't long enough to reach the socket." Our sockets are about nine inches off the kitchen work top. Alex said nothing but slowly shook her head, picked up the base plate and pulled out more flex until it reached. She then gave me one of those looks still shaking her head.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Sheep



The above ruminant was captured in my sketch book in North Wales. He was casually having his lunch amongst the remnants of some farm machinery.

Today didn't quite pan out as expected. Alex reminded me this morning that I had to go to the dentists first thing! Alex and I then took some work into Origin Gallery. Then a neighbour asked me to cut down some branches in my mother's garden which were going into his garden - fair enough. I then ended up doing some decorating and am now off to the gym.

I have promised myself tomorrow I will make a start on a commission.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Wales v England 30 3


Yes well what a day. After a bit of a false start with the mention by Mal Pope on Radio Wales that I completely missed. Alex drove us to Cardiff. We had time for a good look around the Martin Tinney Gallery. A couple of very nice Harry Holland paintings. I like his figure paintings and admire his technique greatly.

Next off to the National Gallery for a cup of tea and a quick sweep around the Impressionist Collection and the Turner Exhibition. Wales owe a great deal to the Davies Sisters for their collection.

We then went off for a nice Italian meal before meeting friends in the Hilton for a few pre-game refreshments.

We bumped into a few friends in Cardiff as well, always the case on International days. We saw Tom Shanklin but he obviously missed us as he walked straight passed. Then on to the stadium. But oh my what a game, the passion, the atmosphere a day not to be forgotten ..ever.

 Plenty to do today and to be fair not suffering much.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

2 Minute Sketch


Wherever I go I tend to carry an A5 sketchbook for the odd quick sketch. The one above is literally a 2 minutes sketch. I first did the watercolour using an aquapen  dipped in a small watercolour box I carry in my pocket. Then I added a couple of outlines with a drawing pen. Simple but it has all the essential ingredients (I have been watching Masterchef too long).

Yesterday I didn't post anything. We drove back from North Wales to Carmarthen. Then we had to go to Laugharne to pick up  tickets for today's game. We then drove to Somerset and back to pick up our daughter's dog to do a spot of dog sitting. So we pretty well drove the length and breadth of Wales (twice).

This morning I was sitting in bed drinking a cup of tea Alex had brought me. I was miles away. All of a sudden I got a sharp dig. "What was that for?"
She had put a request on the radio. I had sat through the dedication and missed every word. I was as I say miles away. It will take a while to live that down.

It does remind me of an incident that happened years ago. I was in a committee meeting with the Chief Constable at the time, Ray White (an inspirational man if ever I met one). It had been going on a while. All of a sudden I heard, "Mark." "Mark."
He had been asking me an question. I came around and had to hold my hands up.
"Sorry Boss I was on a sandy beach with blue skies and rolling surf."
He smiled, but I paid attention for the rest of the meeting.


Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Hard Frost


I love these cold winter mornings. Maybe March is a little bit late for them but hey. This morning on our walk we saw a baby lamb just born and even Jac showed a sympathetic sigh. A cold frosty but clear start to life. Spring is a time for renewal out with the old in with the new.

Of course in this weather the evenings can be even more awesome, literally. We were alongside the sea last night and the sky was, that over used word , stunning. No light pollution just the heavens in all their majesty.
It makes you feel well humble. How insignificant are we in the Universe?

This weekend we have the rugby and I must start a new commission.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Art is a business


The photograph above is of an exhibition in the Swansea Grand. It was a group exhibition when I was doing my degree. Some of my work is on the right. Alex is posing on the left and Jen is the lady next to her. Jen is a very level headed lady who kept me sane during the degree course. She is very talented and does a lot of very precise work.
My one regret during the course was the lack of practical preperation for the prospective artists.I was already reasonably established at the time but I couldn't get my head around the guaranteed failure that was in built in the course.

Probably again just my perspective but if anyone wanted to be a full time artist they needed business and marketing advice more in fact than letting your imagination develop! The course had many good elements but for someone wanting to earn their living as an artist it was incomplete.

Business planning finding a market and producing marketable goods, being self -employed, was not included never mind income tax accounts etc.etc. Of course not everybody who attended wanted to earn a living from art, and some had experience of the world already but for others it was always going to be tougher (or more likely impossible) than it needed to be.

This all came to mind as a result of watching "The Fixer" last night. Alix Polizzi puts to right failing businesses..For anyone running their own business there is always something to learn but it does help if you are pointed in the right direction from the start.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Convoy




I did the still life above some years ago. It is in a similar style to the Victorian painters such as the Clare brothers.


Whenever I see an orange I can't but help remember my father who detested them. During the war he had been on a troop ship in a Convoy. The picture above shows his convoy with Royal Soveriegn (built in 1914 so old in the Second World war). He loaded in Liverpool I believe and then went out across the Atlantic to near enough S. America and back to Capetown, Durban, Arabia, Bombay and finally Ceylon where he was stationed at RAF Gangodawhila.
He told me it was a long time to be cramped up on a troop ship with little food or space.  They didn't eat much but had a load of oranges that came on board and they lived on them. They had plenty of company because as soon as you turned out the lights the cabins were full of cockroaches that scuttled about and fell off the damp walls onto their bunks. Anyway he said he was more fortunate than many but never fancied oranges again.


HMS Formidable in Bombay

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cutting Edge Exhibition?


The other day I went to see an (art?) exhibition. Now I wasn't so much surprised as disappointed. This gallery has had 2 exhibitions in the last few years that I have felt justified the effort of going through the doors. One was okay and the other was a very good exhibition of abstract landscape paintings by an artist from Swansea. I apologise but I can't recall her name.

Getting back to the current exhibition it was predictable in as much that it left me cold. I was not excited by anything cutting edge (whatever that means). There was nothing to excite the senses. A fan going around and the de rigeur meaningless video loop, with assorted other items. Maybe its just me? I do appreciate that there is  a need to cater for all tastes. There again what I have enjoyed at all the exhibitions is reading the acidic humour in the comments book, which for some reason appears to be missing now. I am probably just a dinosaur or as commonly as I was referred to when taking my degree a "stuckist". So I don't suppose the artist would be much offended by my views.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Pilglas in moonlight



I finished the above painting last week. It is of The River Towy at Pilglas looking North in moonlight.
having spent the night on our boat on the moorings on many occasions I am quite familiar with them at all states of the tide.

We watched the game yesterday, Scotland v Wales and will see the England game later today. So a rugby weekend and a few walks. A bit chilly this morning when I walked Jac.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Van Dongen


I like the work of Kees Van Dongen and I have done a portrait of Alex in his style some years ago.
(above).

 He was a bit of a cynic or as I prefer a realist with a sense of humour. He was popular for painting society ladies of which he said," The essential thing is to elongate the women and especially to make them thin. After that it just remains to enlarge their jewels!"

Yes paintings can lie or if you prefer flatter.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Amore


Alex and I have been to Rome a couple of times. The last time we arranged a romantic long weekend seeing the sights and having candlelit dinners. We arranged and paid to be met by a limousine at the airport which is someway from the city itself.
All went well and we collected our baggage and went to the exit. we looked expectently at the uniformed drivers with name placards. No "Cox" there. Eventually we found a large man in a grubby shirt with a sheet of paper holding our name disinterestedly. We were tired hot and just wanted to get to our hotel. He took us out to the car park and got into a Transit van indicating we should put our own luggage in the back! Not the first time we had been in a van but hardly what we had ordered and paid for. Unfortunately we didn't speak Italian and he didn't speak.

 Not a great start to the weekend but we are pretty positive and laughed it off.
We were dropped off at our hotel and later had dinner on the roof garden overlooking the City.
The following day we saw the sights and walked miles which was fine by us. We like to explore on foot. The second night we stood outside the dining room door waiting for the dining room to open. A sign said it opened at 7pm. The door was in the reception area. and we nodded to the staff and smiled. At about 7.15pm I walked over to the reception desk and asked when the dining room was going to open. I was told it is not opening tonight with no explanation. We went out and found a street restaurant which was okay.

To sum up we enjoyed the rest of our stay and I got some sketches done. Come the day of departure we waited to be picked up as arranged, by our friendly Transit Van. The pick up time came and went. I asked the reception if they could phone for me. When I handed them 10 euros they did ring and confirmed the driver would be 5 minutes. 15 minutes later we were getting a little concerned our flight was now 2 hours away. I went to the reception desk again and with the passing of another 10 euros the receptionist agreed to phone again. With that the man arrived. The receptionist made no attempt to return my money and we ran outside and piled into a nice Mercedes. The driver spent the whole journey driving with one hand and talking on his mobile. He scared the living daylights out of me and I have been in high speed pursuits. Alex closed her eyes and hung on to me. We alternated between 90 mph and 0 mph when he had to stop for traffic. We got there and caught our flight. That is probably the most memorable and frightening car journey I have ever had in my life.

Yes I remember Rome. How could I forget.

Anyway the link is Amore  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnoDb0bMQuk



Thursday, 7 March 2013

Strangers in the Night



We had a few computer problems yesterday so I didn't post anything. As I have mentioned before I first met Alex in Edgbaston County Cricket Ground. The picture above shows her as she looked then. A mere young girl. I have no idea what she is doing in the waste bin! The Okey Cokey? .
Anyway the following day we met by a chance in a million in the City Centre and the rest several decades later is history as they say.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Mill Bay

The sketch above was done from our boat. It is of chapel Beach Bay. Jac remembers it fondly.
Whenever we sailed into the Haven it would be the first place we anchored (weather permitting).
Then I would row him ashore in the tender for him to have a comfort break!

Chapel Beach is near to Mill Bay where Henry Tudor landed in 1485 when he claimed his right to the throne.

Last night I had an epiphany moment.  We were watching University Challenge. UCL were against Manchester some of the finest minds in the country (allegedly). Suddenly Alex started answering the questions and getting them right. Now this was one of the most frightening moments of my life. Had an alien being taken over her body?  I sat quietly while she went to make a cup of tea. Ah, she put the tea bags in the wine glasses instead of the cups, all was well, Alex was back in the room!


Monday, 4 March 2013

Sledging in the snow.



I don't pretty much feel the cold, well provided I have dressed appropriately. I grew up in a house with no central heating and ice formed on the inside of the bedroom window in winter. If it snowed my brother and I had to climb in the loft to shovel out the snow which blew under the tiles.

I used to look forward to the snow but it never seemed to work out. My father made us a sledge. Come the snow my brother sister and I would take it to the park half a mile away. There was a superb hill which took you down to the trees and then the lake. Often youngsters could make it right on to the frozen lake.

We had one draw back. Bless her, our sister can't stand the cold. She always wanted to come but after 10 minutes she was frozen and near to fainting. Inevitably my brother and I would have to pull her home on the sledge. She would be shivering and we would be overheating from the effort of pulling up the hill home.

Strangely Alex also hates the cold. She even puts hot water in a  cold drink!


Sunday, 3 March 2013

Simples


Here is a watercolour I did of Alex. Its been kept fairly simple and for me watercolours on the whole work best when done simply. Just blocks of colour sometimes done over a wet surface other times over a dry one.

It was a beautiful sky last night but also a bit on the chilly side to stand around too much. Hope to do a watercolour or sketch today.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Dinner dance


I usually dress quite casually and in old clothes. Quite practical when you are using oil paints most days.
Having also spent 30 years pressing a uniform and bulling boots to a mirror shine it is a nice change too.
I still have short hair which again is practical. When it gets to the point I need a comb Alex gives it a once over with the scissors. The grey hair is a lifestyle choice nothing to do with 3 children and 8+? grandchildren.
I do occasionally dress up as above for a dinner dance.

Anyway the sketch above was done waiting for Alex to get ready it was only a quick sketch to pass the time come to think of it I could have done a full size portrait! Alex says I look like something out of One flew over the cuckoos nest! It is a bit intense. A bit chilly this morning but a lovely sunrise with the moon still out.

Link


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M81ph3BslqQ

Friday, 1 March 2013

Police Uniform



Here is  watercolour sketch of me in uniform during the early 1970's. You may notice there are two unusual things about this picture. One it is of a policeman walking and not in a car. Two I look like a policeman and not a escapee from Hill Street Blues. Sorry I know I live in the past and I add I do have the greatest respect for today's officers who have to put up with so much. I read an ironic headline the other day, "Police Blamed for sinking of Titanic!" Says it all really.

Anyway some years ago when Mid Wales Constabulary became Dyfed Powys Police new uniforms were sent out to officers. This included new helmets with a new name badge. In a small town in Mid Wales manned by the local Sergeant and 2 constable the uniform duly arrived. The sergeant and elder constable opened the boxes and took out the uniforms and helmets. They then obtained a piece of coarse rope and un- platted it. They unscrewed the missing officers helmet top and proceeded to fix the rope through the top of the helmet. By the time they had finished it looked like a plume from the household cavalry helmet.

At 2pm the second officer arrived for duty and was instructed by the sergeant to put on his new uniform and go on foot patrol in the town. They both waited until the second officer went out into the street before falling about laughing. Apparently it looked very impressive except the plume was a little long and went some way down his back. Unwittingly the officer spent the afternoon on foot patrol with his fancy new helmet which drew lots of attention from the public! He only found out when a passing police patrol officer stopped for a second look before falling into fits.
I can't repeat what happened when he found out he had been had.