Saturday, 31 August 2013

Shorts Sunderland


The above painting of a Shorts Sunderland Flying Boat sold a couple of days ago at the exhibition.
I have done several paintings of a Sunderland. I will probably do another one day.

I find that one of the most common questions I get while sat at an exhibition is:
"Are you Mark Cox?"

Quite naturally people wish to speak to the artist and I am happy to chat to them. I decided this year to buy a name badge for Alex and I. All part of a clever marketing strategy designed by Satchi and Satchi (not really). Anyway the label has worked well and more people come over for a chat than ever or ask me to sign cards, prints etc. With this lovely weather I have been wearing the badge on my shirt. All in all the badge has had no downside.

After the exhibition the other day I popped in to Tesco with Alex to do the weekly shop. I noticed a few people looking at me but put it down to paranoia. We got to the tills and Alex burst out laughing. I had been walking around Tesco for 40 minutes with a badge saying Mark Cox Artist on my chest. No wonder I had some funny looks.

Link  (I was lucky enough to see Bob Dylan at the Isle of White Festival oh a few decades ago)  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWxP1kI3UdE

Friday, 30 August 2013

Burry Port


The painting above of Burry Port Harbour was sold yesterday. Burry Port has changed a lot in the last 20 years they have made a great deal of the old harbour and waterfront.  I am currently struggling with our new computer. I gave up with our old one which was 6 years old because it was slow despite adding new memory etc etc. Now the new one is even worse. Yes I do all the maintenance things delete temp files, defrag .... but I could still do a painting in the time it takes to open a program! I suspect the anti virus may be something to do with it but who knows?
It wouldn't be so bad but I don't even like using the PC its just necessary.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Aberystwyth



The above painting of Aberystwyth Promenade sold at the exhibition a couple of days ago. When the children were young we would often take them to Aberystwyth or Borth. Invariably it would be raining but we made the most of it.

On the odd occasion we would wake up in the middle of the night with a collapsed tent and find ourselves lying in pools of water. We were quite adept at taking down the tent in the dark with howling wind and rain. We would then go and huddle into our old Austin Maxi.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Cadair Idris


The above painting of Cadair Idris (Arthur's Chair) was sold at the exhibition yesterday. We had another good day meeting many interesting people including a couple from Sydney with whom we discussed an exhibition of Monet's work. Now I am quite a fan of Monet but I am not particularly keen on the waterlilies series. I accept that it is difficult to assess work of that age when for example the colours have changed over the years and you are also assessing them out of their period context ( ie. how art was viewed at the time and what was the norm). However the waterlilies do nothing for me which is strange as the paintings are all about light and reflection something I have an affinity with.

Anyway we also had a good  discussion with a trawler skipper about the issues and financial problems in fishing. It all makes for an interesting day and passes the time between sales.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Old Friends


Yesterday I was pleased to see my old friend Jen at the exhibition. She came along with her husband John and son Ben. Jen was one of the people that kept my sanity whilst doing my degree in fine art. I haven't kept much from that course although I did enjoy it. I was pretty useless at ceramics and was always at cross purposes with the ethos of the course. I wanted to make useful if decorative items as opposed to experimentation. Anyway one of the things I made and have kept was a ceramic biscuit box in the style of Picasso's cubist period. Not "cutting edge" but I like it and it still performs the useful function of keeping the biscuits for visiting grandchildren!

Alex is still trying to make cards as fast as we sell them not easy.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Field of rape


An enjoyable day at the exhibition yesterday. A nice summers day with lots of people to chat to.
A lovely family from Bridgend bought the painting of a field of rape above. I have to say  I really love the meeting of the blue grey with the yellow on the horizon in this picture. This is what struck me when I first saw the scene and thought I must get this down on canvas.

Tenuous link but a nice song  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKtqTYSOBCg

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Towy Valley


This painting of the Towy Valley was sold at the exhibition on Friday. It shows the view from Drsylwyn castle towards the Black Mountains.

We had a good day at the exhibition yesterday and saw quite a few friends and old customers.
Nice to see Norma and Elsie. Always a pleasure to see David Cowdry with Jill, a great artist who always makes really pertinent comments.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Aberglasney Gatehouse


So yesterday was a busy day, up early finishing packing the van and car then off to Aberglasney. Fortunately our son helped with the lifting and hanging as by 12 o'clock I was worn out. Anyway a very successful day and met lots of nice people.

In the afternoon I sat in the bay window and chatted when people came in or looked out at the Gatehouse when it was quiet.

A watercolour of the gatehouse went. Actually not the one shown above I may have forgotten to photograph it as I couldn't find it on the system.

Hopefully another good day today.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Aberglasney Exhibition


First day of the exhibition and off to a good start. Dryslwyn Castle a large oil  painting has sold.
Always hectic setting up. The worst part is packing the work for transportation. Two frames knocking together can ruin them both. Time and care is well spent ensuring everything is covered.

Anyway if you get a chance pop in and see us and the exhibition in the Mansion House at Aberglasney.


Thursday, 22 August 2013

Sheep in the Preseli's




Yesterday we had the pleasure of a visit by a family who have bought work from us before. They had been to Aberglasney but found that our exhibition didn't start until Friday. Unfortunately they were flying back home on Friday so would be unable to make the exhibition. After a quick phone call we arranged for them to come to the house for morning tea and browse through my works. Not easy with so many paintings and limited space. It was however all quite successful. They also showed me photos of some of my other work hanging in their houses which felt good but quite strange.

Anyway the painting above is one that is now on its way back to Kuwait with them.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Harlech


The above watercolour painting of Harlech Castle sold today. It was one that had been sitting around in my large folder of watercolours that had yet to be framed but caught the eye of a customer.

 It has been a bit of a busy day one way and another getting ready for the exhibition as well as a myriad of domestic chores.

Alex is in full flow making cards just about fast enough to keep up with the outgoing flow together with a stock for the Aberglasney  Exhibition. I haven't checked on the weather yet maybe its best to ignore it and just hope for the best!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Confused DOT Com


One of the nice things about living in a small town is that when you walk down the street you get to talk to lots of people you know. Of course if you are in a real rush it can be a bit of a pain.

Yesterday Alex was in a real rush and of course met everyone she had ever passed by or once sat next to on the bus.

But the interesting thing was she was grabbed by someone we have known for years. The lady in question is an artist and runs a gallery. She grabbed Alex and took her into the gallery to show her. Alex of course was interested but also in a hurry. Then the punch line came Alex was asked if she would like to sell her lovely jewellery in the gallery. Well Alex was quite pleased to be asked but a little surprised as she has never made jewellery in her life.

"Er, I don't make jewellery"
"Yes you do."
" Er, no, I think you are thinking of someone else." She then mentioned a jewellery maker.
"Oh, er, yes sorry!"

Despite knowing Alex for 15 years she had mistaken her for someone else! Nice to know other people get confused as well.

The pen and ink sketch is of the entrance to a Fjord in Iceland.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Akureyri

 
The picture above is from my sketchbook of Iceland. Akureyri is at the end of a Fjord in Northern Iceland and was an important fishing settlement . The museum was really interesting and showed what real hardship the settlers had to endure right up until 20th century. They would go out fishing in 12ft open boats for 8 hours at a time. On one occasion all the fishing boats were lost in a gale and the area lost 160 men. Wiping out virtually the whole male population between 20 and 50.

Today I started a painting of Aberaeron it is coming on ok. I have covered the canvas but it is going to take a while to get it complete. I have a good image in my head of how it should look and its some ways off yet, but on the right track.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

East Angle Bay


The painting above of East Angle Bay sold a couple of weeks ago. It is a lovely spot unless you get caught in sea fog. Quite often we had to feel our way out of the bay in 50yds of visibility and make our way up past the refinery jetties and on to Lawrenny. It meant listening to any traffic movements on the radio and keeping an eye on the radar as well as peering into the soup.

Last night we had friends around for dinner. A lovely evening although I did have to call a halt to my participation at half past ten. I needed to sleep. I suppose the sumptuous food turned out by Alex and the very pleasant wine helped my eyelids to close!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Old Stavanger

 
 
Today I spent the day stewarding tin the gallery well to be truthful I was upstairs and really only had to sit and assist anyone who had any queries. There weren't that many. I got through ok and was pretty pleased.
The sketch from my sketchbook is of the old houses in Stavanger. No room for cars or anything else in this area, so they got over it by digging underneath and having underground parking. It all looks quaint with the red tiles and wooden clapboards but I bet its a nightmare to maintain.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Solva




The above painting sold last week. It is of a little sheltered inlet in Pembrokeshire called Solva.

Today I had to deliver 500 postcards and some blank cards  so that was the morning taken up.
I then took Jac out.  I think he is still sulking from yesterday. I must still be a bit dopey. Yesterday afternoon I had taken him out for his walk but afterwards he was really playing up, stealing shoes trying to trip me up and barking. I thought he really had one on him and was about to take him out again when I realized I had forgotten to feed him! I had been about to feed him and the phone rang, I became distracted and subsequently forgot! He was fine afterwards.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Pembrokeshire Farm


I finished the above painting of a Pembrokeshire Farm (St Davids) this week. I am not sure if the jury is still out on this one. I quite like it myself but the in house expert has just given it nodding approval, of course I  mean Alex not Jac. Anyway its different I don't often use this palette of colours.

We had friends call around the other day. They kindly brought me a get well card and encouragement to get on with  my painting. They left a present which turned out to be a child's magic painting book, you brush on water and the picture appears, along with a more challenging colouring book. I laughed so much I nearly had to go back to hospital. Thanks David and Bethan!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Llansteffan


I did a couple of hours painting today.  Oh and I also made pizza which was interesting. All went ok except the dough was a bit on the sticky side initially. Still they turned out well.
I then succumbed to a couple of hours sleep. I haven't got through a day without needing an extra couple of hours which is quite ironic as prior to my illness I only needed about 6 hours sleep a day in total. Anyway the painting above sold yesterday. So plenty of positives and as I write I can hear the framing guillotine going as Alex is flat out.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Sorrento


I have finally made a start back at my easel. I did the painting of Sorrento today. The photographic image is not quite right (which is why I am a painter and not a photographer) well its not right  on my screen anyway but the painting itself does capture that strong Mediterranean light. I was considering painting from the land looking out to sea with Vesuvius in the background but the cliffs and hotels are iconic and definitely Sorrento so when I picked up the brush that's the way I went.

I love Sorrento. When we went many years ago we landed at Naples. At the time the arrivals was an old aircraft hanger something left over from the second world war. Naples itself is not somewhere I would wish to spend a lot of time either. The Amalfi Coast is spectacular though and I would love to go again one day.

We have the grandchildren again today so getting back to normality.

Link its perfect   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wl861yCyqgg

Monday, 12 August 2013

Newport Pembs



Not much going on today for me but things carry on as usual. The painting above is one of those that sold last week. It shows Newport Pembs early in the morning with the sun breaking over the Parog.
The current in the river can be seen as it turns towards the town.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Unexpected Shower


The above is a watercolour of a ketch off St. Anns Head.

I was looking for a painting I had done of one of our old yachts. It was a lovely sailing boat but the accommodation was a little bit wee. I had to kneel down for the most part or sit. It was what an estate agent would call cosy. The heads (or sea toilet) was located in the forepeak (the front of the boat). There was no head room whatsoever there but there was a hatch. This meant if you answered a call of nature you would sit with your head out of the hatch in the open air facing backwards. Not only must this have looked a bit odd to passing yachts but if I was sat there when we were sailing along nicely and Alex on the helm she would for devilment occasionally round up into a wave and I would catch a bucket full of wave/sea water over my head.

I am still forbidden from starting a painting but the time must be getting closer. Alex is going full steam ahead making cards cutting glass and mounting work.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Synchronicity ?

 
I haven't started to paint yet well not physically. I have a commission to do and have been thinking about that. I have gone for two options and have mentally painted both, still not sure. On the day I will pick up a paint brush and decide.
 
Yesterday I did the post about Legionella. Well considering only about 350 people a year catch it in the UK out of a population of 63million (and most of those catch it abroad), what are the chances that two brothers catch it separately?
 
 In the 1970's we used to do a lot of motorcycling. We would ride all over Europe in all weathers on our bikes having many "adventures", spills and thrills. Yes in those days we could pack our clothes bedding tent and food on the back of a Triumph Daytona. Nowadays we need 5 suitcases to go to the beach. Above is a photo of my brother above with Alex camping in early February in Nurburgring.
 
Anyway I am digressing from my story. My brother shown above is a bit of an adventurer and wanderer in many and all senses. Many years ago around this time he was offered a job lecturing in the University in Tunisia.
He got on his bike with his girlfriend at the time and rode across Europe and caught the Ferry to Tunisia. I think at first the  accommodation of floor, holes in walls and bucket for waste were accepted as interestingly "authentic".  He was less than enamoured however by the needless filth. Food and sewage were thrown onto the street to encourage the flies and disease. All food was covered in flies and meat was generally rotting.  What became even more of a problem was obtaining his pay. After 3 months he had received half a months salary. After 6 months things came to a head he had not been paid his money and was now feeling distinctly poorly. They decided to leave, loaded the BMW 750 and rode to the port. The Immigration Officers would not let him out as he worked for the Government even though they weren't paying him. He had to get the British Consul to come down and get him through. Then the Customs wouldn't let him take his own BMW out  of the country. In the end he had to bribe them with what money he had left to get on the ferry with his motorcycle. All this time he was suffering from a high temperature.
 
Somehow he managed to ride back to the  UK where he was admitted to Dudley Road Hospital with Legionaires Disease. The delay in treatment affected him badly and he was in hospital for 6 weeks.
At one point he was found having walked out of the hospital stark naked wandering down Dudley Road. He still has recurring problems as a result of the disease. If it turns out as suspected that I have the same bacterial pneumonia it will have been quite a coincidence but at least I had the good fortune to be living in Wales with an excellent National Health Service. Incidentally whilst I am sure Tunisia is now a far different place to then I doubt my brother would take the opportunity to return for any money.
 
Link I thought this was kind of appropriate http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60ZfGd3zbvw

Friday, 9 August 2013

Pheonix!


Well okay I am "back in the room" and am able to function on a basic level. It seems I caught a rare bacterial infection whilst away resulting in Pneumonia. The registrar believes it was Legionella and is having samples taken to verify this or otherwise. Call it what you like. It is a nasty piece of work. I had been carrying it several days as it got worse finally hitting me like a steam train. I ended up being admitted to West Wales Hospital with a temp over 40C. So yes I have seen enough hospital beds for a while. I was pumped full of antibiotics and things got pretty hazy after that.

What I can say is that there is currently a huge amount of criticism of the NHS. Well as far as I can see NHS is alive and well in West Wales. The nurses were caring, efficient always on their feet chatting to the patients and ensuring the elder ones of us got plenty of water or fed them by hand if needed. 

The Doctors were brilliant and I can't think of a place that wasn't cleaned every day, beds, rails floors...
I can say that the CDU and Padarn Ward are very efficiently run from this patients viewpoint. (I admit I chose an extreme method to go under cover to obtain this information.)

I can't talk for long as I lose my voice, (Alex isn't complaining) and I am quite weak. I need to sleep for a few hours during the day but every day I am getting better and try a little bit more. I have been told it may take up to 4 weeks for a full recovery, (there's a challenge) I can't see me doing an oil painting for a little while. I did the little sketch above today.

Thank you to all of you for your kind messages and wishes and thanks to all at Glangwili~ West Wales Hospital.
Diolch yn fawr i chi gyd

A light hearted link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I_izvAbhExY



Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Soot and Steam


Mark is currently unable to go online but will resume as soon as he is able.
Alex 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Turf Rooves


In Iceland and Norway the insulating properties of turf are used quite a lot. Although it seems to me less so on more modern houses. The sketch above shows two examples near Olden.

Alex has been working none stop the last couple of days framing and making cards. In between this she has been looking after me. Still GHD today and although I have walked the dog about half a mile.
He is not a happy bunny as normally its about 6 miles. I have been back to bed twice and am considering making it a hat trick.  I have a commission to do and I am hoping to be better soon?

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Tanker Dublin Bay

 
 
 
Through the morning mist a small coastal tanker is outlined in Dublin Bay. Simple but effective.
 
Maybe a bit like me. Anyway I like simple in watercolours as I am always saying and this is literally mix up the wash and cover the whole page before it dries, 60 seconds. It dries in this weather in about 90 seconds meantime I am mixing the purple grey for the silhouette of the tanker. Add that in one go 60 second. Darken the bridge and living quarters before it dries 15 seconds.  Add the reflection 10 seconds. Sharpen the outline and detail where necessary 10 seconds. Finished, just as well as it is now pretty much out of sight.
 
Yes, don't ask, today is still Groundhog Day still go that high temperature and other afflictions but I am getting used to them now!



Friday, 2 August 2013

Stavanger watercolour




We were moored in Stavanger where I took the opportunity to do the above watercolour. The boat is the MV "Sandnes" which used to provide a ferry service to Bergen and back. She then became a training ship and is now restored.

We were moored opposite the German Motor Vessel "Mein Schiff". "Mein Schiff" carries about 1,800 passengers. We left harbour first. Now I am not usually given to great bouts of jingoism. But I really did smile when we left harbour with 2,000 plus Brits belting out Rule Brittania and waving Union Jacks (and also Welsh Flags). I reckon they must have heard it down in their engine room.
The crowd then went into "Land of Hope and Glory". The passengers at the rail of Mein Schiff didn't seem too impressed?

I raised a glass of white wine and smiled. I had earlier spent fifteen minutes sitting on a dockside bollard trying to do a watercolour sketch. I think every one of those 1,800 passengers off "Mein Schiff" must have stood in front of me.There was the whole dockside to stand on and it was obvious what I was doing. It wasn't even an irritant really but I did think "Hmm, they were somewhat rude!" I gave up in the end.

Link as it is British ...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25zynTTl-sU


Thursday, 1 August 2013

Visit to the Doctors.


The picture above is quite appropriate to today. It has been a lovely warm day one of the warmest apparently.
Anyway I relented and went to the Doctors. I like watching people and mentally drawing them.
The people in the waiting room were dressed in shorts sandals and tee shirts even the wrinklies.
I had the strange suspicion they were all staring at me. To be fair I was wearing shirt, jumper, Harris Tweed Coat, and woolen cap. I was still bloody frozen. The last time I went to the doctors they bled you and used leeches so I was surprised to get away lightly. Dr Ruth is the family doctor but it is difficult to see her as she is so popular. I saw another lady who was excellent.
I was shaking too much to paint today. Alex was out regarding commissions so I curled up in front of the TV watching The Ashes.