Venice, Across the Lagoon

Misty View across the Lagoon, Venice

A favourite view across the Venice lagoon, with La Dogana just visible on the right-hand side , and Santa Maria delle Grazie in the distance. This was not my photograph, and I am grateful to Pixabay for the loan.

I have included the watery sun appearing through the mist, which probably will burn the mist off later. A useful tip that I read about recently was to take a bottle top, cover it with tissue and press it gently but firmly onto the wet paper. You will be left with a faint sun, which you can adjust to what you want

I used a mix of vermillion and cobalt blue to get this hazy effect, in fact no other colour. You can add more or less of one or the other to get whatever effect you want. The lonely gondola is out early by the looks of things

Just a short post this time, as other things await

Langstone Mill in Evening Glow

A favourite place and a favourite subject. My boyhood was spent in the area, and Langstone was a favourite haunt. There was and is, a lot for boys to do here, bathing and canoeing, digging for shellfish and running from aggressive swans when we interrupted them on the nest. It is an historic place. It was the ancient port serving nearby Havant, the main town about a mile inland. I say ancient. Coal was still coming in here from the north, in the early part of the twentieth century. Today it is just a delightful creek, used by sailors and photographers, and of course painters.

The tower is what is left of the c18 windmill. The sails were removed in the c19, and the building left to rot. The building to the left of the tower was the original grain store, and the one to the far left was the tide mill. In the 1930s the mill was rescued by the famous artist Dame Flora Twort and restored for residential use. The architect was Ernst Freud, well-known for his work in Germany and later in London.

Langstone Mill has a connection with Neville Shute, the novelist, who lived here during the last war, and did some of his writing here. Shute was an aeronautical engineer, and was a director of a company making aircraft in nearby Portsmouth

I have painted this subject many times. On this occasion I tried something slightly different, and used Quinacradone Gold which puts a glow in the sky, which you get with early evening. Then I added the long shadows which hopefully finish the effect

Mont St Michel, Normandy

The island fortress of Mont St Michel

Firstly my thanks to Oska Siobhan photographer in Mont St Michel, for the use of her photograph as reference

We first visited Mont St Michel when our children were small, so nearly fifty years ago, and went back again much later, both times on holiday in Brittany, such a beautiful region of France

Steeped in history, high tide gave protection from would be assailants, whilst at low tide access was allowed to pilgrims to the abbey. The island remained unconquered during the hundred years war despite two sieges by the English. In fact the island’s spirited resistance inspired the French and Joan of Arc.. Louis XI recognised the benefits of the location and turned it into a prison. The abbey was used regularly as a prison during the Ancien Regime

In England we have a look-alike off the coast of Cornwall. In 1067 the Mont gace full support to William the Conqueror’s claim to the English throne. William rewarded this with lands on the other side of the channel, including a small island off the coast of Cornwall, on which the Norman monks built their priory, called St Michael’s Mount of Penzance

Mont St Michel also features on the Bayeux Tapestry. Scenes 16 and 17 show William and Harold there . Harold is rescuing knights from quicksand. This would have been during the period from Harold’s shipwreck on the coast of France, when he was entertained by William

My painting, as usual is in watercolour. Quite a lot of drawing in this one as you might expect

Ephesus and the Cat

Cat in Ephesus

This was our second visit to Ephesus, following in the footsteps of St.Paul. Hot of course, and dusty clambering over the ruins, but worthwhile as this is typically a fascinating Roman city. In the background, the Library of Celsus, which at the time was the third largest library in the Roman empire, after Alexandria and Pergamum. It was built by the son as a funerary tribute about 110 AD I think. A full history can be found on Wikipedia

In the foreground, a handsome cat, one of many feral cats that inhabit ruined cities like this one. In a superior fashion, as cats do, he was watching the tourists, as though he was wondering what they were doing in the heat, scrambling over all these ruins. He was being sensible and keeping still.

I thought he made a good picture, and photographed him against the ruined library. I thought maybe I would paint him, and finally after some years, I have

I think he turned out well, as I am not really a painter of cats

An alternative view of the Grand Canal, Venice

Grand Canal, Venice from the Rialto Bridge

I am indebted to Pixabay for the use of their photograph. I have stood on this spot a few times and looked down the canal, but this picture was taken with a distant golden evening light which is very attractive. I hope I have done justice to this view. Standing on this spot, reminds me of the many little shops, in one of which I bought a piece of Murano glass, which was over-priced , but difficult to go home without something

I love the feeling of depth. Close to us are the embarkment stations used by passengers boarding the many vaporettos which chug along the canal, going to many destinations. In the far distance you can just see the canal bending out of sight. In between are the old palaces now mostly hotels

The sky was always going to be the biggest challenge. I used some cobalt and phthalo blue mixed, layered in orange for lower sky, and back to blue for the lower picture. I had to repeat this twice to get any sort of brightness to the orange sky. Later when bone dry, I put in some red clouds wisping along the top . The orange worked well as a reflection in the water too. As always the camera has leeched out some of the colour. The painting is so much more vibrant. I wish I could stop this happening

Venice continues to be popular, and I never tire of painting her. Just by way of a change I am trying to put together a composition around a cat in Ephesus. We have been there a couple of times. Very atmospheric treading in the footsteps of St.Paul, also very hot and dusty, but amazing nonetheless. On my last visit and just in front of the Library of Celsius, a cat was sitting motionless on a pedestal. There are always plenty of feral cats living amongst ruins. This one somehow added to the spiritual quality of the scene, not Christian, but more like an object of worship in Egypt. Fanciful I know, but that is how the view struck me. I wonder if I can convey that in a painting

Venice: a different treatment of a favourite view

Venice, Early Morning

This is what I meant by an old favourite. The lagoon viewed looking out onto the magnificent church of San Giorgio Maggiore, which I have painted several times before in different lights. I don’t seem to have kept many, so must have been some time ago that I last painted this view, before I started keeping a file of all my pictures. Anyway, this one I was pleased with. The light seemed to work. A misty still morning before the sun broke through, there is very little in the way of colour as yet

I have used mostly just two colours, Cobalt Blue and Cadmium Orange. Here and there they have mixed and produced an interesting grey/green which I rather like and use from time to time. Burnt sienna for the brick buildings in the background, but not much of it

I put this one on social media to get some comments. Someone bought it which is always the ultimate accolade

I am doing a real exhibition this coming Saturday, and it would have been nice to have taken it, but you can only sell a painting once. I am happy with that

A Favourite View of Venice

Gondolas with San Giorgio Maggiore in the background

Probably my favourite view of Venice which I have painted several times before, but not with this lovely misty light, which I shall assume to be morning but could be evening. This photograph I owe to Pixabay and am grateful

This is my finished watercolour painting, or my version of the photograph I should say

Painting of Venice in early light

This was a challenging photograph to work from. San Giorgio Maggiore in the background, shrouded in mist. I knew it well and had painted it a few times. This is a lovely building set on an island and reminds you where you are, almost into the mouth of the Grand canal. Gondolas line up like taxis in the foreground. Drawing them is always fun. They seem to have a twist along the length or maybe that is my imagination. An interesting point about gondolas is that they have to be black according to regulations and yet because they are so highly polished, they very often don’t look black, because of the highlights and the reflections

This fills a spot in my collection. I have two exhibitions planned for December, and I never feel complete without a painting of Venice. Unfortunately having been through my own collection of photographic references more than once, I am sometimes puzzled as to what to paint for a change. This view I have painted before but in bright sunshine, so a misty start to the day is a nice change. Initial response to the painting has been encouraging, so I think it could do well, but I have said that before

We shall see. At the moment I am in different stages of two works, not something I like doing but needs must

Roman Sunrise– a recent painting

Roman Sunrise

A well known view although on this occasion I have to thank Pixabay for the reference photo

I was intrigued by this picture, not entirely by the subject matter, although of course the Basilica of St Peter’s in Rome is an inspiring piece of architecture. It was the early morning light that had been captured in the photograph that I liked which gave a misty effect to the background buildings. The trick would be how to capture that light effect in paint.

I used two colours as a base coat, cobalt blue for sky followed by orange for the middle ground covering the buildings especially and then cobalt blue again. The orange running down into the blue created a greenish colour which worked well as the colour of the river water

For detailing I used some burnt sienna for brickwork and a violet/ transparent brown mix for deep shadow. Did I capture the feeling of a city waking up and starting to get ready for the day ahead? Well, I like to think so, but I will let others judge.

This one was fun to do, and relied on a good reference picture which I found on Pixabay. The photographer was David Cattini

My next exhibition is local in the village of Pirbright, and six pictures of mine have been chosen including this one, so the feedback will be interesting.

Painting again as means to recovery — finished painting of Bosham Church viewed from the sailing club

Bosham Church from the sailing club

It is now some time since I have posted anything, and it is good to be back. It is also extremely good to be painting again. My life for the past ten weeks, has centred round hospital visits and more recently consultations with the physiotherapist. Today I was discharged from hospital so trying to get back to normal after my accident

I started this painting about two weeks ago. It was to replace a gap in my range. I sold two Bosham paintings at my last exhibition in June, which was held in the gallery at Denbies Wine Estate near Dorking. I had a telephone call from a gentleman asking if by chance I had a painting available of Bosham which he wanted as a gift for a friend.. How fortunate. He was prepared to wait and is collecting the finished item tomorrow, so that is good

I have used sunset colours which always work with any subject involving water. The deep reflections are perfect for this size of painting. There are just four colours in the picture, red and cobalt blue, violet and transparent brown

There are more finished paintings to come. Roman Sunrise, which is a splendid early morning view of St Peter’s Basilica, and also the Bridges of Prague, which I am just finishing

Two exhibitions in December coming up so will need plenty. Fingers crossed that strict Covid restrictions aren’t reintroduced of course as they were last year at the last minute. Our infection rate is rising worryingly, with the government trying to avoid taking any action. It is as though they are taking some desperate gamble that herd immunity will kick in which will save them putting any curbs on the economy

Anyway sorry about my long absence. Hopefully I can get back into the swing again.

The Write Escape–an actor’s response to Covid

This charming book will one day be one of those works, which will define a place in history

Three Blind Mice ( but only temporarily)

I was pleased to be asked to provide illustrations for this delightful book, which was recently published. The author, John Griffiths, a well-known stage actor, was playing in the second run of the stage play Three Blind Mice. The first year’s tour had been a great success, and the second tour was well underway. On that fateful night, the audience arrived with their tickets and so did the cast, expecting to perform. They all had to be told that there would be no performance that night or any night. Theatres were closed, the tour was cancelled. Lockdown 1 had begun

The book goes on from there. Actors like John were suddenly unemployed. He was at home, doing all those things he had never had time for, and then what? He did what he had always done and performed. Social media was his platform. There were songs and hymns delivered in a stentorian Welsh voice, boyhood memories and anecdotes from Swansea, poetry readings and many more. They became a regular feature, and people started to expect them. The audience grew. It became viral. Peole suggested that he write these episodes down and so he did. After many months work, sixteen I think, this collection has now been published

I said at the beginning that this book will one day define a place in history. I believe it will. Historians will read it when researching life during the Great Pandemic and how we adapted in order to cope.

Since I started this post in July just before going away, much has happened which has delayed me finishing this properly. In Holyhead Docks we went ashore by tender. Coming down the ramp on to the Quayside, my knee went and I fell on the quayside screaming in an undignified manner but the pain was indescribable. The local hospital told me I had torn the tendons from my kneecap and fractured the patella. Our cruise was cut short and good old Saga sent us home in a taxi. I attended our local hospital and was admitted for an operation to have the tendons refixed.

The operation was more than three weeks ago now and I have had the clips removed . The wound is healing well. My next assessment is on September 9th. I am looking at another 4-6 weeks for full mobility

I can’t even paint which is a pity as I cannot balance

I will finish Write Escape another time

Thanks for your patience