Monday, 5 October 2009

...and some MORE SUN !

Our second week at the Finca was another very pleasant break. We visited the wonderful gardens with palm trees, waterfalls and Roman remains at the Jardin de Conception just outside Malaga. The sun was at full strength but we settled under the shade and sketched a rather nice waterfall and pool which was quite a challenge as the light was moving as we painted.
Then we set off to Malaga for lunch at a small restaurant Denis found in one of the side streets which served up some very tasty dishes. After lunch some of us went to the Cathedral Square where we had coffee, ice cream and did some sketching while the others went shopping !!
In the evening we got 'Picks' round with his guitar and PA unit for some golden oldies which went on into the early hours. Songs included 'Dock of the bay', ' Midnight Hour' and the one that got us all going 'Rehab' ( backing vocals by the Fincarettes !)
Our boat and beach day was down at El Palo where the plastic chair I borrowed from the beach shattered beneath me sending me and the water container flying !
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At last...SOME SUN !

Thank goodness for the Finca and some Spanish sun! Got off the plane and felt really hot and uncomfortable, but once in the pool and a cooling cerveza and all was well !
Once again Denis got us to some different locations together with some old favourites.
An early walk down each morning to the beach for morning coffee at the Estacion Hostal set us up for the day .
One of the new places we visited was Stephen and Zara's house in Canillas which was an absolute joy to paint...and what a lovely spot. The small white village is very small and quiet and tucked underneath the towering bulk of Mount Moreno at around 8000ft behind it. The village itself is a few thousand feet above sea level and the views of the surrounding countryside are amazing.
We stayed in the shade of their garden for the morning session and had a delicious lunch on their patio, finishing off with our feet cooling off in the pool.
The afternoon was spent sketching at a small bar just around the corner with an ice cold beer in one hand and a paintbrush in the other.
We also got back to Nerja on the coast for a very enjoyable days painting. I set up in the shadow of the Balcon de Europa to sketch the beach and cliffs. The Denis arranged lunch at a local pizzeria which really hit the spot.
These are the sketches I did on those two days.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Wiltshire Villages

The start to the 'Wiltshire Village' painting workshops started off rather slowly as the first afternoon was decidedly dull and damp, so it was studio work to kick off the week.

Tuesday was altogether different. A morning sketch at the little village of Bremhill was overcast then the sun came out and stayed out so the afternoon was bright and sunny.
We set off in search of a 'watering hole' and stopped in the delightful village of Biddestone. I was so taken with it we did our afternoon sketch here on the village green outside the White Horse.

This is the view looking up the main street with the village pond on the left. Afternoon tea and cake, curtousy of Urchfont Manor , and it was back to base for a great evening meal.

After the rather dull and wet day we had on Wednesday, today was really hot and sunny so we set off to paint the small village of Alton Barnes with its Saxon church and thatched cottages.

Having set up in the field opposite a herd of cows decided to take a look and proceeded to block everyones view plus trying to eat my sketchbook and easel.!

Lunch at the Barge Inn right on the canal side then off the hill to the village of Lockeridge where I did this sketch of the road leading into the village. I originally set up on the roadside but it was so hot I had to move under the trees to finish it off.

Preston Court, Herefordshire

After rather a dull start to the morning our painting day with the Herefordshire Art Group turned out rather nice ! The main building , which is off to the right of my sketch, had just completed a two year roof renovation so there was still a lot of scaffolding about.
This is the view as you drive in behind the house with the small church on the left.

After lunch on the lawn I did another sketch, this time from the front of the house looking over the pond. A super venue all round .

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Thursday, 23 July 2009

Kent Boatyard

This morning found us at the Iron Wharf Boatyard at Faversham in Kent for a days painting.
The forecast was not good but we ventured out anyway and as it turned out the day stayed bright and sunny for most of the time so sketching was very enjoyable.
There seems to be a whole community in the boatyard from people working on their boats to peiple living 'on site'.
This sketch shows a couple of the old barges moored upstream and looking out of the boatyard to the estuary mouth.
Sheila came along midday with lunch which went down extreemly well after the mornings efforts.

I finished off the day with this sketch of this lovely boat which belonged to John and was named 'NAMANDA'. She is made of Scots larch on an English Oak frame so she is a very sturdy boat and he informed us he had just sold her. Just as we were packing up it started to's that for timing !

Romantic Rhine Cruise

We started our cruise at Cologne on the Rhine , staying overnight then making our way upstream to Koblenz where we moored up for the night. The weather was not great and subsequently, when we got up next morning it was not a good day for wandering around the town. So we stayed onboard and I painted this view of these lovely houses across from where we were moored.

We were now at the mouth of the Moselle and the next three days would take us up and back along this lovely stretch of river.

This is a sketch of the lovely town of Cochem on the Moselle River. We had moored up for the afternoon and had a bit of time to do a rather less frenetic sketch of this rather commanding view. The sun was up and it was VERY hot and by the time the painting session was done we were well painted out !

The day before we had travelled up the Moselle to Bernkastel where we moored up for the night. I suggested that as we were there for the evening that it would be good to try an evening sketch after dinner. So come 9.15 we all assembled on deck to do a nighttime sketch and come 10.45 we were still at it. And we only stopped then as the bar shut at 11.00!!

Loads of locks so we had the chance to dash off a few quick sketches before we moved on.

The whole of the Moselle valley was a checker board of vineyards which seemed to take up every square inch of hillside.

This is the other sketch I did from the ship at Cochem. A much more simple affair but very enjoyable all the same.

By now the sun was really hot and the paints were drying very quickly. There were loads of people milling about and I have included a few including a guy who parked his wheelbarrow outside the bar with a whole load of flowers on it.!

Next day we headed back down the Moselle to Koblenz then back up the Rhine to the village of Rudesheim passing loads of castles on the way.

Managed to get some lightening sketches done as we sailed by.

Back to Cologne for a very hot afternoon. We walked up along the river bank for a good view of the magnificent cathedral. Right next to a rather large railway bridge there was a flight of stairs which was nicely in the shade and afforded us a rather nice view of the cathedral. So we all set up in various positions up the steps to get a sketch done.

With all its ornamentation this was not a simple subject to tackle. However we all managed to get some rather good sketches done in the time and returned to the ship in good spirits !

That night we were invited to the Captain's dinner which made for a very pleasant evening and a nice way to wind up our cruise.

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Wet and windy Wye ...!

We had a three day break in the Wye valley and the start was a very wet and windy affair. The first day we all went down to the riverside at the Ferry Inn but ended up at Ann's place...thank goodness. No sooner had we all set up and started drawing when the heavens opened and did it rain !
So we moved inside and I completed my demo along with a quick study of painting 'greens' !

Next day wasn't much better. It was grey and cold so we stayed hotel bound and painted all angles of the Old Court Hotel from the inside out.

On our last day the clouds looked really ominous but it was dry so I decided to chnce it and head for Symonds Yat Rock for the great views out across the bend in the River and I'm so glad I did.
The sun broke cover and it got progressively hotter as the morning wore on which meant we all got some rather nice sketches done. After lunch we made our way down to the riverside to paint in the churchyard of St Dudricius and this sketch is the one I did there. Lovely light and shadows and a happy end to our Wye Valley Break.

Friday, 19 June 2009

... and Artists all in a row !

Intrepid painters braving the bitter winds of the River Severn. The sun had just started to break through the clouds...but dont hold your breath !

On the banks of the Severn

It was a rather cold and blustery day when we went to paint down on the banks of the River Severn. A good crowd turned up to paint the views across the river from the Arlingham passage towards Newnham. During the morning session the sun came out and for a while it was very warm and pleasant. It was shortlived and a biting wind picked up as the clouds rolled in. But we are artists and made of stronger stuff, not to be put off by a bit of cold weather !!

Elevenses was a cup of coffee and some homemade brownie at the Passage Inn which went down rather well .

After lunch I did this pic of the river looking upstream ( that's May Hill in the distance) as I didnt manage to get any of the river into my morning sketch. Made up for it here !

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Monday, 15 June 2009

Over to Herm and Sark

Just when I thought my trip to Guernsey couldn't get any better I took the ferry over to the small islands of Herm and Sark.

Herm is a tiny island a half hours ferry trip away and what a super island it is. There are no cars only the odd tractor going about it's daily business. It is easy get around and incredibly peaceful.
I liberally applied sun lotion as I had heard stories of people really getting badly burnt on the island and I have had a taste of that the last time i visited the Channel Islands. Our morning was spent sketching in the quiet bay at Belvoir then back to Lesley, who lives on the island , for afternoon tea and homemade favourite ! Time for a lightening sketch before the ferry back.

Next day we were off to the larger island of Sark. We hired pushbikes for the day to get us across the island to the causeway of La Coupee. I have seen many images of this spot and when we got there it did not dissapoint ! We set up on a bluff overlooking the track and this pic is of that view. Just as i finished my sketch a strong gust of wind blew my easel over and my board and brushes took a tumble over the side ! As luck would have it the only got as far as the track so all was not lost. Back on the bikes to the tearooms at La Sablonniere, a quick sketch and then steady pedal back for the ferry.

Two remarkable islands, well worth the visit .

A Tutor on the Edge ...!

Wher ever my students go...there go I !
This lady perched herself right on the top of the cliffs at La Corbiere on Guernsey's south coast. What a great view though .

Guernsey the Great !

What a terriffic time I had in Guernsey ! The ferry crossing was a little rough and the weather was a bit 'nippy' to say the least . After getting aquainted with the island we arranged a few painting days out on the coast and the weather changed dramatically. It was now wall to wall sunshine and the sun lotion was out in abundance...very easy to fry on the islands !
This pic was done on our first day out to the cliffs at La Corbiere on the south coast. One of the German observation towers can be clearly seen on the cliff top, a permanent reminder of Guernsey's occupation. The island is literally dotted about with all sorts of fortifications both modern and ancient .
An evening out with the 'group' was lovely way to end the day at one of the local pubs.
The second day saw us still on the coast, this time at the rocks at Le Gouffre. The sun was out but there was quite a strong , cool breeze which made it feel a lot colder than it really was. Super spot tho' and the colour of the sea was bright turquoise !
I do hope I am invited back over again...SOON!

Another Great Finca week

Some great weather and some great locations. After a fairly cool start to the week the sun got up and it was a right scorcher ! Beaches, boats and mountains too ! Last time we went to the mountains it was a bit cloudy on the top...not so this time . This is my sketchbook pic of the mountains above Alcaucine in the national park. Sally and Denis put on a really tasty BBQ with all the trimmings which was a welcome break from all that energetic painting .

Another classic day was spent on the coast at Marina del Este with all the rocks and beach bars !
A very hot day with a nice cooling breeze... which was nice ! Lunch was a picnic on the beach.

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Thursday, 2 April 2009

Black Sheep Ahoy !!!

This years 'Great Day Out' with Sheila and Chris from the Leven Arts Society took us into the Yorkshire Dales to visit the Black Sheep Brewery in the lovely market town of Masham ( pronounced Massam !)

From 1992 when Paul Theakston started the brewery Black Sheep ale can now be enjoyed all over the country.

But there is nothing like having a pint ( or two ) of 'Rigwelter' straight from the cask with its crystal clear body and lovely tight, creamy head ! What a delight, they certainly know how to pull a delicious pint 'up North' !

The pic shows our 'taster' tipples and my 'pint' of Rigwelter... couldn't wait !

Got a 'sparkler' from the main man himself so will try and get a pint with a decent head 'down south' but I'm not holding my breath !

Watch this space !

Thanks Leven Arts !

Have just got back from my trip 'Up North' to the Leven Arts society and as usual it was a fantastic few days. Many old faces, and a few new ones, were there to join me on a fun few days of watercolour exploration.

Earlier on in the week I did a demo for the Guisborough Arts of my old favourite 'Rosemary Topping' ( yes the spelling is intentional ! ) and got them fired up for their afternoon painting session.

The venue for our painting days was at the village hall of Ingleby Greenhough at the foot of the scarp of the North York Moors. Last years sessions ended with a terriffic snowfall so we hightailed it up on the Moors to catch some great snow scenes...and wasn't dissapointed !

This year was totally different...our last day was wall to wall sunshine so we were able to get out and do some en plein air sketching which was a real bonus !

We also got to grips with some mixed media , watercolour and pastel , and the results were really watch out next year !

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Monday, 23 February 2009

Grey Day...Great colour !

Last week I set off to Glos on a cold and damp morning to take a workshop with the 'Palette Club'. The subject was 'line and wash' and even though it was grey outside there was plenty of colour going on INSIDE !

I started off with a 'working' demo of a scene in Malta, which I have included with this blog, and everyone followed along doing their own thing but with loads of colour.

Lunch was great ! Homemade soup, fruit salad and a terriffic ginger sponge... even a glass of wine to finish off with !

I finished off the afternoon with a colourful boat demo.

All in all a very pleasant and exciting days painting !

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Exhibition at Ross-on-Wye

This year I am holding an exhibition of some of my latest work plus prints at the Royal Hotel in Ross-on Wye.

It will run from Fri 12th June to Sun 14th June 2009and we will be having a special opening evening on the Friday. If you are not on 'the list' and would like an invite please contact me on

The hotel has been recently refurbished and the present managers have done a great job of opening up the bars along the front of the building which gives great views across the Wye and surrounding area.

I look foward to seeing you there this summer !

Back from SNOW!

Had a good time in Malta but nearly didn’t get back with snow blocking runways and roads and sky news showing bulletins of chaos around Britain ! I did eventually arrive home at 4.30 in the morning rather dishevelled.

Our Hotel in Malta was big and airy and all the staff were incredibly friendly and helpful.
The week started off rather slowly as it rained for the first few days and at times was extremely cold. Our trip to Valletta was a very damp and windy affair and at one point my easel and kit took to the air with one of my brushes taking a dive over the walls Upper Baracca Gardens.

On the plus side , the hotel had reserved the Penthouse suite on the 7th floor for us to paint in during our stay which was a real bonus.
Trips to the villages and a tour of Gozo saw some sun which was a nice change and all spirits were lifted.

The highlight of our stay was our ‘Artists’ outing where we got to see some super subjects and had some lovely weather to boot. We travelled up into the centre of Malta to take in Mostar and the ‘silent city’ of Mdina which was a dream. Then it was down to the coast for some dramatic coastline scenery with the ‘Azure Window’ and the awesome ‘Blue Grotto’ a pic of which I have included in this blog.
The afternoon was spent I the fishing village of Marsaxlokk with its gaily coloured boats and wonderful old buildings and bags of sunshine !

The exhibition we put on for the finale went down very well and loads of people attended.
So its back to the grind…till next time.!

Friday, 23 January 2009

Off to Malta

With all this ghastly weather we have been having and all the doom and gllom with the credit crunch it is nice to know that I am off to Malta for a weeks painting next week. We will be staying in a luxury hotel on Malta's north coast on an all inclusive basis It will be nice to get away for some sun, sea and PAINTING !

I will update you on my return on the weeks highlights plus some of my on site pictures.

If you are interested in joining me on ant forthcoming Painting Holidays please check out my website or email me directly at for further details

I have also included a pic from last years Montenegro trip.

A New Blog for 2009

Don’t hold your breath but this year it has actually happened…I have started to blog !
Last year was a really busy one for me on the Painting Holiday scene and I got to visit some colourful and exotic places, and paint them. As with all my Holidays I take my trusty Sketchbook with me wherever I go and have filled quite a few to date.
I started off the year with a Cruise up the Nile and an exciting trip to Montenegro.

My Andalucia trips saw me back at the Finca both in the Spring and late Summer where we arranged some new trips up into the Mountains and also down on the Coast.
Returning to the Wild Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland was also a treat and we managed to get a lot of painting done between the bouts of ‘soft’ Irish weather. The Grand Tetons was a special trip this year and we weren’t disappointed! We had everything from hot ,sunny weather to a snowfall on our last days. So painting subjects were abundant.
In the course of the next few weeks I will share some of my Painting experiences with you plus some of my recent paintings and sketchbook images