Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Borth


The above painting is of Borth, North Wales and was a commission a few years back. As we used to live in Welshpool we know North Wales pretty well.
Until last year Alex and I have had a break early in the year up there, normally stopping in our van in Harlech.

I have finished one commission this week, bar any minor changes or problems drying out. I have two more to do.


Monday, 29 December 2014

A day to remember



We don't eat meat a lot but when we do Alex always likes organic if possible so when we had spag bol. the other day with the family it was with  Longhorn Beef from Pembrokeshire. Hence the pic above.

So another Christmas has come and pretty well gone. We had a really nice Christmas day at our son and daughter in laws. It was a farmhouse kitchen Christmas with large tables spread with fabulous food, decorations, a real tree and children running around and my grandfather's clock overseeing it all. I have seen a lot of Christmas Days and this was one of the best, reminiscent of the days when Alex and I took the children to stay a my mother and fathers smallholding on the top of a hill near Knighton. It was an old stone built house with a large beam over the great chimney breast, low ceilings and plenty of character. Sherry and pork pie for breakfast, (yes it is a bit weird, but a family tradition!)  opening presents and then a good walk over the crisp white fields before Christmas Dinner.

On one memorable occasion we had twelve unexpected guests for dinner. In later years my father added a wood burning stove and closed off the large opening to the chimney with a stainless flue going into it. this kept the room snug in all weathers. On this particular Christmas day our son who was about six or seven at the time decided to put some wrapping paper in the burner. He was told not to do it again. Then just as the main course was being put out at dinner he did it again. There was a roaring sound and the stainless flue became cherry red as the centuries of wood tar coating the chimney caught fire.

We had to abandon our dinner and within ten minutes the fire brigade arrived. They apparently had been sitting down to their dinner at the same time and were initially a little out of sorts. The fire was efficiently put out with a lot of water and no damage other than smoke and a wet floor. We gratefully thanked the Firemen and began clearing up.The floor was red tiles so it was a matter of mopping up. Our son kept a low profile, for about ten minutes. Dinner wasn't quite the same cold but it was certainly a memorable day.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Rhossili Bay


The above painting of Rhossili Bay sold last week. A popular view of "Worms Head",  so named by the vikings so I believe, meaning Dragons Head.

Somehow recently I have either ommitted to photograph a couple of paintings or deleted the images of them. One was of Burgess the Jewellers which is closing down after a hundred years in the town. Still it was a busy period so I forgive myself.

I have a half finished painting on the go but have to do some shopping today then watch the rugby.


Friday, 26 December 2014

Gower Three Cliffs


The above painting reminds me of warmer days of the Gower at Three Cliffs. A stunning location where we camped at the top of the cliff looking into the bay. The painting sold this week. I have quite a lot of space on my walls now to fill. I have three commissions to do after Christmas and a fair bit of work for the next exhibition.

We had a lovely Christmas Day with our son and daughter in law. It was an old fashioned Christmas in the farmhouse. Plenty of good food and games including charades and the one where you stick a post it note on your head and have to guess  who you are. Two of the granddaughters gave a gymnastic display using the roof beams and doing every kind of tumbling routine on the floor from backward handsprings to one handed cartwheels. (They are excellent gymnasts).

So finally back home to relax and watch Downton. No thoughts of picking up the paint brushes yet but it wont be long. I am cooking today.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Winter Carmarthen a Black Five Crossing the Bascule Bridge.


The above painting was  a commission for Christmas. It is based on a painting I did before but had sold. It shows a Stannier Black Five passenger train crossing the Bascule Bridge at Carmarthen. It is not unusual for people to see paintings I have done previously and ask for a commission of a similar one. They all tend to be different, wanting something smaller or larger.. and of course they are never exactly the same and are not meant to be.

Anyway I think this is a nice atmospheric painting showing a bygone time. Having a steam loco on it makes it even more appealing to me.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Carreg Cennen and Happy Christmas



The above painting of Carreg Cennen Castle sold this week. A spectacular castle in a beautiful setting.

I was asked the other day who I would most like to meet if I could. Over the years I have dealt with and met a good number of personalities, royalty, politicians and media people.

I have also met a lot of interesting people. Sorry thats a bit unfair. I have a lot of time for Prince Charles ( I am not sure he feels the same about me!) also I couldn't hold a candle to a number of the others too. Of all of them I really liked David Blunkett.

Anyway who would I most like to meet. There are any number of artists who are now deceased Carravagio ( a real bad boy but a great painter),  Augustus John and Ford Maddox Brown to name but three. But I would kind of like to meet John Prescott. Why? Well he is a real character ( see link )
and I am sure he would be very entertaining and could give a very good inside account of British politics.

I am in Origin today Christmas Eve. To everyone who reads the blog, comes to our exhibitions may I wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Link

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Boathouse


The above painting sold this week. A favourite spot of ours. We used to anchor off the boathouse stay overnight and leave with the early morning tide.

The other day Alex went with her mother to The Botanical Gardens to the Food Show. They went to pay and the lady asked Alex if she was a concession.
"Well how old do you think I am?" Alex was to put it mildly very unimpressed and asked.
"Err, 60?"
Now to be fair Alex isn't and doesn't look anything like sixty. It is a good job it was Christmas as the lady escaped pretty lightly.

Today I have a couple of doors to rehang and a painting to deliver.


Monday, 22 December 2014

Winter sunrise Towy Valley


The above painting depicting the sunrise over the Towy Valley in winter sold yesterday. It is a spectacular sight on a winters morning standing on the top of Penlanffos as the sun breaks in to the valley. I was really tempted to keep the painting but I have the image in my head anyway.

Yesterday our eldest daughter arrived with two young children. They are staying with us for a couple of days and have a room in the top of the house. This morning we had to be up early. The carpet man is coming to fit new carpet.  I was out in the dark walking the dogs. I then came back to help Alex empty our wardrobes ( a never ending task in Alex's case). Then we had to take out furniture and lift the old carpet. So it was with some annoyance that we heard the phone ring at five past seven. Alex left me to answer it uttering words something like:

"What idiot is phoning us up at this time in the morning?"

I then heard her laughing. Apparently it was our daughter ringing from upstairs. The door lock had disintegrated and she was locked in with two small children. Probably something akin to waterboarding!

Anyway I did finally agree to let them out but had to remove the doorstop and drive a large screwdriver between the door and door frame. The catch which was only about five years old was in bits, cheap alloy!

Alex has given me a list of jobs to do including repairing the door and catch, so likely no painting today.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Oystercatchers



The above painting sold this week. As I have mentioned I generally only do wildlife as part of a painting not the subject themselves. Occasionally I am so taken that I do the odd one. This is one.

I am off to the Origin Gallery this morning we also have visitors and I have to lift a carpet as we are having carpet laid tomorrow morning. Lots to do must rush!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Sailboat on the Towy


I came across this watercolour the other day when I was searching for a painting. It is a simple little thing showing a sailboat working the tide in the muddy water of the Towy Estuary. I like simplicity, particularly in a watercolour.

I am by nature a pretty calm person. I can only recall two occasions that I have ever lost my temper and panic is alien to me even when I have been afraid. I may be grumpy, well Alex says I am and she's a pretty shrewd judge of character but I am always calm. This has stood me in good stead over the years particularly as a policeman. Karate re-inforced this trait in me. Control is everything in karate. So either I am missing the flight gene or as the saying goes;

"If you can keep your head while all around you are losing theirs, you have misread the situation!"

Where am I going with all this? Well I may be controlled but I am severely tested by the number of phone calls we get for, "Mr and Mrs Jones." Mr and Mrs Jones should be eternally grateful we are fielding all these nuisance calls for them. We actually bought the house of Mr and Mrs Jones 25 years ago. Its not just one company either it is consumer surveys and everything under the sun. We must have the most sold telephone number on the planet. And yes we are registered under TPS.

We bought a call blocker once but it didn't work. I don't get many problems with my mobile. Mainly because I often forget it or it somehow switches itself to silent. Alex has a nuisance call regular as clockwork 5pm to 6pm everyday on hers. Maybe its the North Koreans? I look back to the time when if we needed to call someone we went to a little red kiosk with a handfull of pennies and had button A and Button B to press. Yes all things considered it had much going for it!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Christmas is upon us


Ah, Christmas is upon us. This morning as I opened the door to take the dogs out a pair of bright eyes looked at me out of the dark. The fox then turned and coolly trotted off down the road. The shell ducks have returned to the reservoir and we have long tailed tits and goldfinches on the bird table.

Jac is getting into the Christmas spirit as well. Alex likes to spend money at this time of year(and every other time as well to be truthful). Anyway she has placed the presents in a pile and has been steadily wrapping them each evening. The "little ones" ( 9 grandchildren) take pride of place in her thoughts and each present is carefully thought out. She has bought a little bear called "Oscar" in its own bag for one of them.

Last night Alex was heard to utter the cry of ,"Where's Oscar?"

I looked up to see her holding the empty bag and looking wildly around. Now I am not a genius but there were a only a few possibilities.

1. Oscar had done a runner rather than face his new life (possible but unlikely).
2. Alex had lost him. (Normally very likely but Oscar's bag was still there).
3. Jac had taken him out of his bag and abducted him. (Very likely as he has a habit of taking shoes and other items and burying them outside in the garden).

Alex looked at Jac and he seemed to wither under her gaze and sank further into his cushions on the settee (yes, he is a bit spoiled!). A search ensued and Oscar was located near the back door no worse for his adventure! Crisis over.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Our first Christmas.


This is a drawing I did a long time ago of Alex and our first dog. He was a Welsh Sheepdog cross and was pretty well behaved with the odd bout of devilish. We got him for nothing from a farm near Welshpool.

 When we were first married we had very little, a bed, second hand settee, a table and chairs from the sale room and curtains. No carpet, fridge, TV washing machine, wardrobe....We were also pretty scimpy when it came to food money so meat once a week in the form of sausages etc was always a pleasure. No doubt our dog thought the same.

Alex made a fantastic Christmas cake for our first Christmas and spent some time decorating it. So it was with some trepidation I told her that our dog had stolen it out of the kitchen and had consumed half of it before I could get to him in the garden. Anyway we still trimmed down what was left and re -iced it. The dog survived to steal a leg of lamb we had saved up for and had further adventures including jumping off the top of Montgomery Castle and falling some 60 feet with only a few cuts to show for it.

The old dog died many years ago. Alex hasn't changed much. She's still the boss.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Snowdon in mist


I came across this watercolour last night when I was searching for a painting. It seemed quite seasonal so I thought I would post it. It shows Snowdon in mist from Harlech. I painted it a couple f years ago when we were in our camper for a couple of weeks in early spring.

 I have started a new painting today another commission it will probably take three days to complete in total  as I have to wait for each layer to dry so it may be a week or so until it is finished.


Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Kidwelly Bridge


The above watercolour of Kidwelly sold this week. I have finished one commission this morning. It involved adding text to the work. I usually try to avoid text if I can as it can be problematic. It was fairly essential for this painting and was also in script and pretty small so it involved a lot of heartache painting over the previous layers  hoping not to ruin it. A steady hand and a feeling of misplaced confidence help.
Anyway it went well so a sigh of relief and on to preparing boards for the next two commissions.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Naturally


The watercolour of MS Oldenburg in Lundy Anchorage went last week. It was a reminder to me of happy days sailing in and around the Bristol Channel.

This morning when I took the dogs out (we are currently sitting our daughters dog) the moon was out and Saturn was clearly visible. A nice time of day for a walk.

These days more of my work involves commissions I am not sure why it is going like that but it keeps me busy. One thing about them is the variety of requests you get. I get asked to do a view from a specific place or a place where a special event took place, wedding, engagement.. and also to do the painting depicting a time gone by. Anyway occasionally I get given a photograph and am asked to work from that. I am happy to work from a photograph,a sketch or from life (depending on the practicalities and weather).

However working from photographs is not straight forward and carries real problems for people learning to paint. My advice would be to use it for information only, the relationships and shapes of objects within a chosen scene. Trying to copy a photograph will generally be disappointing. The issue is to decide what colour palette you are going to use to depict the scene you want. What objects to include, and more importantly what to leave out and how you are going to represent that view. Are you going to crop it? Is it going to be a tonal painting?  Further on you may have to decide what to change to make the scene more natural. This is a complicated area so I will give a couple of examples.

Sculptures in the past have made allowances when creating figures as to where the work will be viewed from. A statue in a niche high up will be seen by the public from below. In order to make the figure appear natural they will change the dimensions of the figure to prevent it being fore shortened.
The neck and body will be lengthened outside the real proportions for a body but viewed from below it will appear life like.

When drawing or painting buildings the laws of perspective will dictate that as the height of the building increases so the external lines of the building will taper inwards. Often it is necessary to underestimate this to achieve an apparent natural look.

I can't give any hard and fast rules regarding this subject maybe Leonardo could, (da Vinci not DiCaprio ). It is a matter of experience and interpretation.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Towy Estuary


For obvious reasons I can't always show commissions on here particularly if they are presents. Well at least until they are given. The one above is a view of the Towy Estuary from the Cemetery in Ferryside and is particularly meaningful to the recipient.

The other day my eldest daughter turned up at school to drop off her son. A lady she hadn't met before approached her and said,
"Its nice to know someone else drives a skip as well."
Stunned silence.

It was very icy this morning first thing, so much so that for the first time in about 20 years  I didn't take the dogs out. I thought it would be pretty stupid as  knowing my luck I would probably break a leg or my neck . Anyway I must have annoyed Alex at breakfast as she said,
"Why don't you take the dogs for a walk but leave them here!"

Talking of doing stupid things. I saw George Phillips this week and he said I was always happy to poke fun at myself. Well that's true I don't take myself very seriously. Anyway getting back to stupid things my ageing brain sometimes lets me down. The other day I decided to make honeycomb to put with our ice cream pudding.

I boiled up sugar and golden syrup and added the bicarb. It was all looking good as I stirred the boiling sticky honeycomb with a wooden spoon. It was at this point my brain let me down as I decided to check the taste and stuck a blob on the end of my tongue. Children don't do this at home. A wooden spoon stuck to your tongue with boiling sugar is not for the feint hearted.

I didn't tell Alex as that would have been worse than the pain.
I

Friday, 12 December 2014

Christmas Cheer



The above painting is one of the paintings that has gone in the last week. I managed to finish a commission yesterday. We also went to the post office to post two paintings and got to see our friends George Phillips and Julia at the Ferryman in Laugharne. Great Deli and a place to stop for a coffee.

Anyway always a busy time at Christmas. Must get on!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Prague Tram


Alex and I have been out in Prague for a few days to see my brother who is living out there.
It was cold but full of Christmas spirit. We had a good time going around the markets and being shown the sights. We didn't get to see the cubist museum which was closed (typical). The main museum and gallery was also closed for renovation which was also a pain but beer is 60p a pint so can't complain. Of all the beautiful buildings and sights I only managed a few sketches mainly of people or trams!

There were all nationalities in Prague and most seemed okay other than the odd British stag party. On one day I was a bit dissappointed when we saw a blind man stood at the side of the road clinging to a lamp post waiting to cross the busy road and being ignored by the passers-by. I crossed the road and brought him over and he said "Muzeum"  which I assumed was the underground station and we took him there and my brother put him on a train. My Czech consists of two words but my brother's is better so I hope we put him on the right train.

Anyway I really must get back to work I now have five commissions to do.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

My bus


The painting above is one in my own collection. I did it to remind me of my time as a boy and youth.
The 56 was the bus route from my home the City Centre. The garage was the old tram garage at the top of our road by the Cross Guns Public House. Anyway I spent a good deal of my time travelling on these buses including to school and later college.

They were accompanied by conductors who were in the main humorous and friendly. They used terms of endearment, "Such as, "love", "darling" to opposite sexes and children alike. To me I find it sad that this practice is now forbidden by the politically correct. I was expected to give my seat for a woman or an elderly person and it was always accepted with a "Thank you love,". It was all very friendly and common courteousy was practiced by all.

Yes times have changed and even holding a door for someone now can result in any response from being ignored, to being given a withering look. Ah well different times.

Yes I like my bus. A safe haven. A reminder, as I look back from the ridge to that golden time in the valley of my youth.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A Palette of Artists - Collective name for a group of artists


The above painting is of Cwmoernant Reservoir in Carmarthen and is one of the paintings that sold this last week.

The other day I asked for suggestions for the collective name for a group of artists.

Here are some of the suggestions:

A pretence of artists (mine unsurprisingly)
A virtuosity of artists
A concept of artists
But my favourite was a Palette of artists thanks to Nick O'Brien

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Painting of Gwili railway


The above painting is of the Gwili Railway and is sold. I have a real fascination with steam locos. originating from my boyhood and although I don't sell enough to warrant doing more than the odd picture I do enjoy doing them.

Ah nostalgia! To quote Franklin Adams "Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a failing memory."

Today I have been preparing my boards for two commissions. It may sound fairly boring but there is more to it. The surface you paint on greatly effects the final picture. Do you want a highly detailed painting?  If so you need a very fine finish and I will sand out the primer very flat. In any case I at least triple prime my boards.  I utilise the brush marks in the primer within the painting so if there is a lot of sky my final brush marks may well be horizontal. If it is a rainy scene they may be vertical. They may even be a combination of the two if for example there is sky and  reflective water in the lower third.

You can see why I prepare my own surface for each individual painting in general. As such I need to have already mentally painted it before I even start.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Winter morning Towy Valley


This last week there have been some beautiful mornings over the Towy when Jac and I have been out walking so I was inspired to do the above painting. The hill on the right is Llangunnor and the river bends around in front of the viewer into a large oxbow going back to Tan yr Rhallt.

I have completed most urgent commissions and have two to do with a couple more lined up. So I am pretty much on top of work at the moment.