Horsemanship in Hungary

Horsemanship Drawing

I may have said already that, the painting called Wild Horses in the Camargue, I sold recently from my exhibition at the Royal Surrey Hospital. As can sometimes happen, there were two people who wanted that picture, and so, of course, someone had to be disappointed.

I didn’t want to paint Wild Horses again. I always resist doing that as not only is it boring but also I do prefer every painting to be unique. As it happened, on my list of subjects is the one that I have just drawn up. You may remember, a few posts ago, that I wrote about the Danube. One place where we stopped was near the town of Mohacs ( spelling hopefully correct), where we were treated to a wonderful display of horsemanship by the cowboys out on the plains.

I did include the photograph on that particular post, which will show the detail more clearly, but in case not, I can tell you that the rider is standing astride the rumps of two horses at the rear of the team. He is controlling a team of eight horses, and mostly by the sound of the voice, we are told

Anyway, I have said to the gentleman who missed out on the Wild Horses painting, that I would give him first refusal on this painting which I shall just call Horsemanship. If he doesn’t like it, well no harm done, it was going to be painted anyway, and can go towards a subsequent exhibition. If he does take it, then it will be a good deal for us both.

On the subject of exhibitions, the summer exhibition organised by our art club, the Pirbright Art Club, which is held outdoors, had to be cancelled due to very wet weather. We are just setting up a Facebook shop to compensate our members who got exhibits ready and couldn’t show. I believe it is on the Pirbright Art Club  Facebook page now although the three paintings which I have submitted haven’t been loaded yet, and there should be many more submissions to come

I will publicise when it is complete


The Little Frog Painting Finished

Finished Frog

This is the finished painting of the little frog from the Danube Delta. I am generally pleased with the way he has turned out, and certainly something different from me

There was very little for me to add since the last post, just putting in the very deep shadow with Transparent Brown. Also one or two highlights on the water I have added with white gouache

I don’t know if I mentioned before, but two people wanted the painting of Wild Horses in the Camargue. Of course, sadly someone had to be disappointed. However, I am about to start another horse painting which I hope will be equally dramatic, and the gentleman concerned has been offered first refusal

The inspiration for this next painting comes from a photograph which I posted a few weeks back, showing extreme skill in handling a team of seven horses by one rider, standing on the backs of the rear two.  This was actually a photograph which I took myself, when we went to visit cattle country in Hungary, and unusually,  good enough to paint from.

However, many a slip betwixt cup and lip, so we shall have to see how the painting turns out, before we get too pleased with ourselves.

Framed Painting: Fishing Boats at Beer

Fishing Boats at Beer Framed

I framed the fishing boats painting the other day as I said I would. I bought this frame at a craft fair recently, because it was an interesting size and shape. Originally it was intended for photographs, so I have changed the mountboard, for this cinemascope style of painting.

The finish is driftwood which makes it appropriate for any seascape style of painting

This makes number twelve for my show at the Royal Surrey Hospital next week. We set up in fact a week today, so let’s see if we can break my duck. So far this year, this is my worst year for sales ever. Were I just starting I would probably give up!

But no need. I have had record years before and hopefully will again. In the meantime, now I can do one or two little exercises just for fun!

The Basilica of la Sagrada Familia


The Basilica of La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. An amazing structure, quite, or perhaps almost, unique

We have been staying in Sitges for the last five days, enjoying the sun and the warmth, although as our perverse climate would have it, the temperature in southern England shot up to 25c, whilst in Spain only 20c but nevertheless very agreeable.

We took the train into Barcelona, which proved very straightforward, not to mention cheap in comparison to the steep fares charged around the London area. The journey took about forty minutes. I had already bought timed tickets for the Sagrada Familia on line before I left home. What a boon that proved to be as the crowds queuing for tickets when we arrived were formidable

We were, of course, very early, so time for a coffee, and a stroll round the outside of the building, taking in the details. We were last here twenty years ago, and the place, even inside, was a construction site. High up in the heavens magnificent cranes are working with the sensitivity and lightness of touch that you might expect from an artist.

After lunch and another stroll, our tickets allowed us to enter and we went inside. I don’t often use the word “breath taking” but we were looking at a masterpiece.

We associate this building, sometimes called the third cathedral, with Antoni Gaudi, the incredible architect in the Art Nouveau style, who adapted Gothic architecture to produce this wonderful building. He took over the project in 1883, and stayed with it until his untimely death in 1926. During all this time he is also completing other large projects for the Guell family and also for the Church.

So much has been achieved since our last visit. The nave with its paraboloid arches which seem to reach up into the heavens, will be my enduring memory. Colour is everywhere, as the light streams through stained glass. Detail is everywhere, small animals, leaves, vegetation as well as so many human figures representing the Nativity and other stories. Gaudi was devoted to nature. He was also extremely devout, and his interpretations of the liturgy, I found moving. So much detail, too much to record here.

In the cloister which surrounds the building, is situated the museum, now open, which records the timeline of the whole construction period. Gaudi’s models are on show and his drawings, which enabled successive craftsmen to carry on his work. Still much to do, with a projected finish date of 2026. I wonder if I will get back to see that. Could do, I certainly hope so

Wild Horses in the Camargue: Continued


I have started back on the Camargue Horses painting. Bit of a mess at the moment. This is the point where it is easy to lose heart and abandon the whole the thing. However I have always told myself to finish the painting. come what may, and so that is what I shall do.

So far I have masked the edges of manes and tails, as I would like them to appear white and flowing against the dark background. I have gradually built up the dark background using violet and transparent brown, sometimes mixed and sometimes alternately

Soon I shall have to take the masking off, and tidy up those rough edges where I have overlapped with paint, despite all my best efforts. The forms of the white horses will need to be built up carefully, light against the dark and dark against the light

I am hoping too that the light strip around the horses’ legs will look like dust thrown up by the hooves. Hoping is the word. That needs to look convincing.

I received another commission this morning, which is good. It means that I need to clear my easel soon, as there is a deadline. Still, what one might call a happy problem!

Medieval Undercroft in Guildford High Street


Not so much art this time, but architecture. I do say in my profile too, that I am a history freak.

Together with other volunteers, my wife and I take turns to open this gem to the public on certain hours throughout the season. It is one of those local treasures that even local people are largely unaware of. I use the words gem and treasures without wishing to sound melodramatic as English Heritage tell us that this undercroft is one of the best preserved in the country

It is in fact a c13 shop, probably selling wine. That is an assumption but a safe one. We have records of wine merchants in the High Street during the c13 but we cannot make a direct link to this building . But that is what informed opinion believes.

The wine would have come from Gascony in SW France, which was English then, hence the trade connection. Wine would have come through Southampton and then by bullock cart overland to towns like Guildford

Guildford was wealthy in the c13. Wealth was derived from the wool trade and especially the trade in woollen cloth, the Guildford Blue for which the town was well known. The population of Guildford was probably less than 1000 in those days, and most would have been employed either directly or indirectly from the wool trade. Guildford controlled every aspect of manufacture. Sheep were raised on the Downs by the monks at Waverley. Weaving, fulling, dyeing, spinning, carding all were done locally

The processes are remembered in local place names. Racks Close was where the cloth was hung out to dry on “tenterhooks” after dyeing. Unscrupulous traders would stretch the damp cloth and make another metre or two. There are records in the Guildhall of such merchants being brought to book and fined. Finally a lead seal of approval was to be affixed to every roll of cloth that left the town to ensure that standards had been met.

Most went to export, especially to Antwerp which was the staple market, and from there across the then world, Europe and the Near East. The word staple is interesting. From the French word “etaple” meaning “main”. The main market or one of them. That is clear. So that buyers could see what they were buying, a small sample of wool was fixed to the label with a metal pin. The metal pin came to be known as a staple.

To come back to the undercroft, the reason that we are so proud of ours is that it was never restored in any way. What we look at is pure c13. The building is of chalk blocks or clunch which is the hard chalk dug deep from the earth. Guildford is on chalk. It was the only building material at the time. The stones are cut with a precision only possible from a master mason. Expensive to employ so the owner was indubitably a wealthy man. Another pointer to the merchant being a dealer in expensive goods.

To this day the c13 vaults take the weight of buildings above

On Saturday from 12 until 2 we had nearly 40 visitors, mostly shoppers who were passing and had never seen us before. Always their jaw drops as they come in, and they are fascinated with the story. Considering we were competing with the tennis, we didn’t think that was bad

Istanbul,Djakarta and Ouagadougou

Following quickly on from the atrocity in Istanbul, we have further outrages and slaughter in Djakarta and Ouagadougou. Distant places but they affect us all.

These killings are not sanctioned by the Quran or the Prophet. This is the work of a fundamentalist clique who have warped Islamic teaching because of their paranoia. These people are psychopaths. They are hollow. They are motivated by social compliance

They have to be resisted by everyone globally, not just physically. That has to be left to governments. The ideology has to be challenged at every turn, because it is wrong and is not Islam, I am reliably informed

Our sympathies again to all who have suffered from this recent spate of bombings

As a postscript, the painting of the Bosphorus waterfront is still “work in progress” but is taking shape. So far so good

Langstone Harbour : Tonal Sketch

The drawing of the harbour buildings, the mill and outbuildings is done, and lights and darks filled in. I have used ink, as this makes sketching very quick. The cartridge paper has cockled, as I knew it would, but is adequate for the task ahead.

I will transfer the drawing to watercolour paper, and do some experimentation with the sky. The first thing to do, will be to give the whole picture a coat of burnt sienna, not too strong, just enough to give a good base coat. I will mask out two buildings which have white walls in the photograph, and they will give extra reflected light.

That will then have to dry overnight, as there are further washes to go on sky and sea. The second wash must not pick up any colour from the first one, as the effect will be muddy. This is the sketch so far:

Tonal drawing of Langstone Mill

The annual exhibition in Pirbright went collectively well. I didn’t sell any framed paintings this time, but I did sell six greeting cards, so better than nothing. Two of the designs sold were ” Lock Gates/Basingstoke Canal” and the other four were “Cotswold Winter-Snow”, which are both on the web site

I am pleased to say that I have arranged two solo exhibitions for next year. I have booked space at The Guildford Institute from 3rd to 20th May and at the Royal Surrey Hospital from 27th May to 24th June. Both of these are popular galleries, where I have sold well in the past. Let’s see how we get on this time!

I will post again when I have started on the actual painting, which is going to be into next week now. I hope you find it useful, and as I always say, if there is a different method that has worked for you, please tell me about it

Corfu: Shopping Lanes in Kerkyra,continued

From where we finished on the last post, I used Indian Red to paint the dome on the bell tower. The blue sky dropped back, as I had hoped it would. Indian Red is a good hot weather colour, and I echoed its use on things down the lane, like awnings and shop blinds. On the left-hand side is a shop selling garments, and I used some dabs of red to denote red dresses hanging on display.

I finished the detailing on the bell tower so as to give me something sharp to focus on, when working out the detail on other parts of the painting.

I used my favourite warm weather shadow, ultramarine violet mixed with Sennelier Transparent Brown, and put in the shadow on the buildings

I left this to dry overnight, and this is what it looked like the next day

almost there

It was starting to look the part. I drew the figures in again with the brush, as I was starting to lose them

I still wanted some deep darks further down the lane, where the light didn’t reach. I still wanted to try Alvaro Castagnet’s mix of Brown Madder, Cobalt Brown and Raw Umber. I mixed up the first two, and then added Transparent Brown instead, which certainly produced a very dark shadow colour, with which I started to work

Corfu  Shopping Lanes in Kerkyra

This is the painting virtually complete. The dark mix has been used on the deep shadow areas. The figures have been finished, although the foreground figure looks a bit ghostly, and will need some colour after all. Some white gouache has been used to give the allusion of white paintwork on the balconies.

Was I successful in producing something in the style of Alvaro Castagnet? No, absolutely not, but nonetheless I have enjoyed working on this painting, and like the result

Possible framed version

This is what it could look like framed. Some extra colour went into the figures, otherwise the painting is finished

I hope you found this helpful, and by the same token, if you have suggestions for me, I am always pleased to hear