Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Original studies for the RNLI

The big RNLI fundraising project is back, with brand, spanking new, juicy studies available each and every day until Christmas.
These studies are the small originals that I paint every day wherever I am. They are never usually exhibited and act as reference for my larger paintings.
They do however work as a great fundraiser for the RNLI, and with your help last years project raised the RNLI just over £22,000!
Get involved here...

Friday, 13 August 2010

Colour theory blah, blah

I have just received the September issue of The Artist magazine which contains my latest article on all things artistic, my thoughts on colour mixing, Picasso and other paint related matters goes something like this...


On the bookshelf in my studio, sandwiched between Turners Watercolours in the Tate and Banksys Wall and Piece, I have a copy of ‘A Manual of Oil Painting’, by John Collier, published in 1890.
Within the books pages I am given clear advice, “Economy should be studiously avoided in the setting of the palette; there is nothing more likely to give a bad style in oil painting than insufficiency of colours.”
No offence to John Collier, but in my experience nothing is further from the truth.

Colour mixing is such a subjective process. What works for one artist fails for another, and of course each artists approach is unique when choosing a palette of colours.
However, there are a couple of basic fundamentals that can, and do make all the difference when faced with a sweetie shop of paints to choose from.
These fundamentals are: a limited palette always works best and a limited palette always works best.

I always think of painting and colour mixing in a similar way to cooking; as great fun as it might be to create a dish using twenty ingredients, unless you are Gordon Ramsay, it is pretty difficult to pull off anything worth eating.
However, if you concentrate on just a few quality ingredients the task becomes infinitely easier.
The same process applies to colour mixing - fewer colours equals great results.
A palette full of sweetie shop madness equals a disappointing canvas of mud.

As Picasso said in 1966, "They'll sell you thousands of greens. Veronese green and emerald green and cadmium green and any sort of green you like; but that particular green, never."

Well, what colours do you use? I hear you ask.
Very few, usually only Ultramarine, Cadmium Red, Cadmium Yellow and Burnt Umber plus of course good old Mr Cobalt and his lovely wife Mrs Titanium White.
With these few basic essentials I can mix pretty much any colour I need.
You might have noticed that I don’t use black.
This is simply because, for me, black from a tube is pretty full on and demanding, a bit like having a naughty child who has a head full of E numbers.

Instead I like to mix my own black, using a delicious combination of Burnt Umber and Ultramarine.
Of course the mix isn’t a true black, but it is dark.
Furthermore it is rich, deep and satisfying.

You will also notice that I don’t use greens, instead I find it far more interesting to mix my own.

My palette of colours certainly shouldn’t be taken as the definitive list, some artists love green from a tube…as a fellow artist who shall remain nameless says, “admitting that you use Hookers Green from the tube is a bit like admitting that you are an alcoholic, but I use it because its great”.

And of course everyone’s view on colour is unique and personal, “How lovely yellow is! It stands for the sun” – Vincent van Gogh, “What a horrible thing yellow is.” – Edgar Degas or even “They call me mellow yellow...” - Donovan.

After experimenting with colour and refining your palette you become best friends with certain colours, you get to know each other, you get to know what makes the other tick, what you can do with Ultramarine and his friends and also what doesn’t work.
This is priceless practice time, you simply can’t skip the ‘get the palette right’ stage, you’re choice of colours is your bedrock upon which you can build your paintings.

“Colour and I are one. I am a painter." - Paul Klee, 1914.

Mr Klee nailed it with that quote, he knew how colour behaved, how it worked and how it enjoyed mingling with other colours.

When you are as great a painter as Paul Klee, you can of course use as many sweetie shop colours as you like, because purely down to experience, practice and intuition you can control the whole orchestra.

But for us mere mortals, think limited palette.

My own adventures in paint have gone through many stages, from tight oils, using twenty different colours to my current work using only five.
Of course that isn’t to say that I never add or work with other colours.
Sometimes a tiny dash of orange or a blast of pink can revitalise a painting, often the tiniest stroke will lift the painting to another level.
Also, it’s a great idea to change your palette now and again. Introduce new colours and discard others. You will gain much more knowledge of colour mixing and your work will develop along the way.

Recently I have been using a lot of collage, trashy magazine cut outs mainly.
These often abstracted shapes and garish colours give me exactly the unexpected juxtaposition of colour that I crave.
By using this random technique the work almost paints itself and creates it’s own life, it’s own magic.

It is this collage technique that led me to my current blue and pink obsession, as seen in ‘Small Busy Harbour.’
The magic of blue and pink, like the magic of any colour combinations lies in the composition and placement of colour.
Angela A’Court sums up colour placement best…
“Sometimes when I'm having a colour moment I think to myself, okay what would be the most disgusting colour to add here? Sometimes that 'disgusting' can turn out to be 'surprising' and 'completely gorgeous'.”
That statement is so true and works almost every time, just try it, you will be amazed.

I personally have no idea why one colour can transform another, but when it does, it’s like hitting the jackpot.
Even Picasso was puzzled “Why do two colors, put one next to the other, sing? Can one really explain this? No.”

When it comes down to the actual mixing of paint, it pays to remember that it is easy to tone down a bright colour but very difficult to brighten a dull colour, therefore start bright and you can’t go too far wrong.
It is also easy to get bogged down by the whole Hue, Tone, Chroma malarkey.
I’ll tell you about these three muskateers and how they work, but then feel free to forget it all and simply concentrate on experimenting with the three primary colours and their three complimentary colours, as that is all you really need to know.
The colour mix triangle shows the three primaries, yellow, red and blue and also shows when mixed, their complimentary colours green, orange and purple.
When mixing three of the above you can create a myriad of tertiary colours.

But for all you colour theory geeks out there here is my run down:
HUE is basically another name for the actual colour of a pigment.
You might well have noticed the word ‘hue’ used on paint tubes. This is because the term ‘hue’ is also used to show that a colour is not made from the pigments that were originally used for that paint, but equivalents that are either less expensive, safer or more lightfast.
TONE can also be called value and basically measures how light or dark a colour is, just like a black and white photograph.
TONE pays no attention to HUE.
Where Mr Tone comes unstuck is when he is placed against other colours or tones, so for instance, a mid Cadmium red will look darker placed against a pale colour than it will when placed against a dark colour.
Finally, CHROMA which can also be called saturation. Chroma measures how intense the colour is. Chroma is pure, bright colour as opposed to colours that have been lightened with white or darkened.

Colour, colour mixing, colour theory…

At the end of the day colour comes down to one thing, “When I haven't any blue I use red.” – Pablo Picasso.

Friday, 30 July 2010

Explosive elderflower and blackberries

The elderflower champagne is ready.
I know that it is ready because it told me.
Well, it didn’t exactly tell me; it more screamed at me “I’M READY TO DRINK”.
The elderflower champagne screamed in the only way it knew; by blowing the bottom clean off one of the NASA Super Strength flip top bottles.
The studio now smells of dusky, musky booze.
The lady like fragrance of elderflower and lemon belies the steaming, menacing bottles stored ‘in a cool, dark, airy place’, i.e. the studio.

I don goggles and gently touch a bottle, the bottle frowns back at me, “just you try it”, the bottle threatens.
With my left hand, I gingerly pick it up using just an index finger and thumb; if any fingers get blown off, those are the ones to go, I reason.
I hold my breath, the tension mounts, the bottle and I stare at each other intently; a soft sigh of relief, my fingers are still intact.
Gently placing the eleven remaining bottles into a plastic crate, I slowly lift and carry it at arms length, with no sudden movements up through the garden with all the nervous calm of a bomb disposal expert.
My aim: to deposit the bottles into the safety of the fridge with no further damage.
On reaching the fridge and opening the door, all manner of milk, butter, cheese and other ‘essentials’ are turfed out onto the kitchen floor to make way for a glorious shelf of our own garden grown champagne.

Phew, stage one complete.

Stage two, the opening, was carried out with the same diligent measures.

One chilled bottle was carefully taken outside and placed onto the garden table with the greatest of ease. Crouching below the table I reached up, placed my fingers onto the flip top mechanism and; flip; a heady aroma hit me as the bubbly foam gushed from the bottle, glasses were filled and the first sip was taken.
The result was astounding, far and away better than any sparkles that we had ever tasted; fragrant with elderflower and dry with a hint lemon, this was truly the homegrown sparkly wine of the gods.

“Can we try some” giggle the kids, followed by “what is it?”
“It’s sparkles,” answers Tal.
“Sparkles?” questions Katie, “Is that the wine what tingles your tongue?”

Kerry and I drink the first bottle with the last of the garden new potatoes, lamb steaks and the first of the blackberries flambéed in brandy.

Truly a marriage made in heaven.

Well, a marriage made in the garden.

Happy to still have all requisite fingers I finish a large Yacht canvas.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Wendy's Good Shot at Charles

Monday was the day that Charles and Camilla visited Marazion and the whole town took a glorious step back in time to the 1950’s.
Union flag bunting decked the shops and houses, flowerbeds were miraculously weeded overnight, streets were swept and front doors got their once a year coat of fresh paint.
Marazion school children sang traditional Cornish songs at the tops of their voices while their teacher swept her arms and tapped her feet in time to her imagined beat.
I was told a week before about the impending visit by the impeccable town mayor. The town mayor was taking the arrangements extremely seriously and gave due diligence to the role that he had so obviously been placed upon this planet to fulfil.
My instructions were to open the gallery by 10 am sharp and dutifully stand outside with a ready smile and a firm handshake, just in case.
By 10am the town square was packed with people, tourists and locals alike waiting to catch a glimpse take a photo or even speak to the Prince if they got the chance.
I made no effort whatsoever and chose to dress in my usual uniform of scruffy, paint covered T shirt and paint covered, ripped combats.

Needless to say Prince Charles avoided me.

Our mad friend Wendy however did make an effort.
Gloriously bedecked in red, white and blue, complete with a cherry red overcoat that flapped in the breeze like a baby seagulls wings when learning to fly.

Wendy had a plan.
Wendy was ready.

When Charles and Camilla strolled into view, Wendy aided by seven-year-old son Luke and hostages Tal and Katie swept into action.
With Luke clutching a posy of freshly picked sweet peas and his mum with a glow in the dark smile they darted through the crowds, through the tourists and their oversize back packs and on through the security TAG team as if they were not even there.
Before Charles had a chance to escape he was caught off guard, Camilla, dazzled by the sweet peas couldn’t help and Wendy had the Prince in the palm of her hand.
A quick but very gracious chat ensued before the Royal entourage continued towards the beach.
Wendy and her sidekick Luke also headed towards the beach.
Weaving in and out of the crowd like cat burglars they made their way to the Godolphin steps and waited, ready to pounce once again.
This time Charles had even less protection against Wendy’s ninja tactics, “Hello again” she called, “erm, good morning”, replied the future King of England slightly confused.

The Royal meeting finished with Wendy scrambling to the top of Chapel Rock to ‘get a good shot’, (we hoped that she meant a photograph as oppose to the bang, bang variety), as Charles scurried across the seaweed strewn causeway to the safety of St. Michaels Mount.
I immediately start to make a collage using a commemorative Charles and Camilla Royal Visit poster and discarded paper Union flags.
I expect that I will be using them for some time.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Castles, Kippers, Angels and Boots

So I find myself once more travelling North, this time in the company of my friends Mitch and Ian from Three S Films.
We are heading to the North East to film the third in our series ‘A Brush with the Landscape’, and we are all excited.
Mitch is testing me on my historical Northumbrian knowledge while Ian chatters about his beloved mountain bike and scrutinises the road map.
I ignore the backseat road map directions and instead follow the SatNav… recalculating, recalculating, recalculating…
After nine hours of driving we stop to film the opening sequence at the Angel of the North. Beautiful in design and at twenty metres tall and fifty four metres in span, majestic in size. The Angel courted controversy in 1998 when the sculpture was clothed in a Newcastle United football shirt bearing the name of Newcastles football legend Alan Shearer.
After half an hour Police arrived and undressed the Angel.
Still loved and loathed in equal measure the Angel has been voted Britains favourite sculpture and re-named locally The Gateshead Flasher.
Either way, Antony Gormleys masterpiece makes a strikingly iconic welcome to the North East.
This is an area that I am getting to know well, I love the bridges and streets of Newcastle and I have a growing and deep fondness for the wilds of Norhumberland, the huge, spotless beaches, the countless dramatic castles, the windswept coast roads and most of all a fondness for the people.
While at the Angel, children congregate around, fascinated by what we are filming, “We’re filming the opening sequence for the new James Bond film”, I tell them, “I’m taking over from Daniel Craig”, I add; the children scurry off to tell their mums.
A couple of hours further up the coast we finally arrive, tired but buoyant at Seahouses and our chosen pub for the trip The Olde Ship, and what a fantastic choice. The pub is a veritable treasure trove of nauticalia, artefacts from every age of marine history. There are lanterns, models, brass instruments, floats, pots, name plaques, paintings, and ephemera of all kinds propped, hung, squeezed and squashed into every available space.
For a Newlyn boy this is heaven.
We eat well and sample a few pints of the local beers deciding on which will become THE beer of the trip, unanimously we decide on the Farne Ale.

Over breakfast the next day we hatch our daily plan of action and decide that our first filming location should be Beadnell. This tiny village a couple of miles south of Seahouses on the shores of Beadnell Bay gazes south over a two mile long, blue flag beach to the skeletal remains of Dunstanburgh castle.
The cute harbour has an entrance so tiny that only the handful of local Cobles can gain access.
I make a large charcoal drawing of the boats, lobster pots and the massive lime kilns that crown the quayside and consider just how peaceful a place this is.
While chatting to the Parish Council Chairman I discover that over half of the village is now in the ownership of holiday home occupants, and that this is putting tremendous pressure on youngsters from the area.
I am then introduced to the last working fisherman in Beadnell who tells me that he is netting for trout, ‘The problem is though, if I catch any Salmon, I’m not allowed to land it before June, so I am forced to throw them back, dead or alive, now where is the sense in that?”
Before leaving I meet a retired fisherman, he is 85 but looks twice that, with the weather worn, brown, crinkled face that holds a lifetime of experience and memories. Born and brought up in the village, he had seen at close hand the many changes over the years.
“Aye, the beach was once full of Cobles, there were boots as far as y’can see man, boot it all started to goo wrong, and I’ll tell you who was responsible”, he whispered confidentially, “It was that Mrs Thatcher, she was responsible for the loss of the boots”.

Pondering the situation that is repeated all over the English coast we drive the quiet, windswept, sandy coast road, with huge marram covered dunes on our left and fields of intense lemon yellow rape to our right, searching for an access point to the beach below Dunstanburgh castle.
Now Dunstaburgh, although Northumberland’s largest castle, is the only uninhabited, ruined castle and that just makes it even more romantic.
I choose a viewpoint high on a dune above the beach, trying to avoid any stray balls from the adjacent golf course. I paint the stunning view as a small watercolour and recount to the camera the story of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who after rebelling against his Uncle James, King of England was beheaded.
The twist to the story is that King James being particularly annoyed with his nephew hired a YTS executioner on work experience who after the first chop found that he needed to chop again, and again, and again, in fact eleven times in all.
But never let gorey stories put you off your food!
When on the Northumberland coast, however far you need to travel, you must, must make a pilgrimage to the small, scruffy harbour of Craster to sample the kippers.
I queued at a stall for my Kipper in a roll behind a Geordie coach driver who told me where (and where not) to go in Newcastle “Ayeman, the girls down the Bigg Market are right up for it and forward too, they just wanna take you home, and then in the morning kick y’ out – it’s everymans dream man!

I munched on my smokey, fishy delight while watching gulls wheeling and screeching overhead.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Excited cats and rain

It’s a dark, dark start to the day, a spattering of rain, not the drizzle kind of stuff or even the ‘get you wet’ kind of rain, no, this is my favourite kind, the warm, big, satisfying heavy drops; the drops that don’t seem to make you wet or cold, I like to think of this rain as tropical rain.
Tropical Cornish rain threatens, the Paynes Grey sky broods with a heaviness that weighs down the fragile landscape with an impending deluge.
The rain will wash away the hot summer pressure in twelve hours leaving behind a fresher, brighter, lighter Cornwall.
And I hope it does because it’s our daughter’s birthday tomorrow.
Katie will be eight.
And Katie is excited.
You know the kind of excited I mean, that exuberantly, can’t sleep, won’t sleep, manic, thousand words a minute at the top of your voice excited, the kind of excited that gives you goose bumps and limitless energy, the kind of excited that you can only experience at the magical age of eight, well, seven (until tomorrow).
A girlie sleepover with “my bestest friends from school” has been requested.
Katie’s ‘bestest friends from school’ are also excited, and so is Katie’s brother Tal, who although being eleven and therefore far too cool and ‘whatever’ is just as excited as his sister.
Even the cats are excited.
Especially Tabby, Katie’s “awe, fluffy little boy, come ere, awe Tabby just winked at me mum” cat.
Tabby’s sister Teasa is under the impression that it’s actually her birthday, while their older stepsister Lily the Tortoiseshell simply looks down from her drowsy garret with disdain.
I retreat to the sanctuary of my studio to work on a painting of Fowey.

Monday, 28 June 2010

The best cure for post match blues.

Monday 28th June
Another belter of a hot, sunny day and I’m busily being busy painting a study of dog walkers on the beach at Marazion. I am trying to work out exactly how did Turner paint those amazing skies?
This consideration will probably perplex and frustrate me forever, but then again, perhaps its better that way?

After painting, often comes shopping, and in a moment of madness I find myself with my seven year old daughter in Morrisons. Katie always makes it her job to find the various items on our list and this was no exception, until I say “we need some sour cream”, “eeeeeeergh!” comes the screeched reply. “It’s lovely” I reassure her, “where do you think we’ll find it?”
After a moment of consideration comes the answer “in the calcium aisle!”

Unfortunately though not all was joyous at Macey Towers this weekend as yesterday England were completely stuffed by Germany in the knock out stages of the World Cup, so to ease my frustration and as a kind of solace I did what I always do in times of trouble…I made a curry.
But not any old curry, oh no, this is THE curry; decidedly tongue tingling hot, and seductively fragrant.

Try this and trust me, you will not be disappointed.

First and not to be missed out is the good old spicy rub which consists of
2 tablespoons fennel seeds, 2 tablespoons cumin seeds, 2 tablespoons coriander seeds, 
1/2 tablespoon fenugreek seeds, 
1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns, 
1 clove, 
1/2 cinnamon stick, 
2 cardamon pods, sea salt and ground black pepper.

Now simply dry fry the above in a small pan over a low heat until the spices fill your kitchen with an amazingly evocative scent. Then, simply bash n grind with a good old pestle n mortar.

Next the curry paste for which you will need a decent sized piece of fresh ginger, a couple of red onions, a whole bulb of garlic, a big red chili complete with all of those lovely heat giving seeds and a bunch of fresh coriander.
Peel, chop up and blitz in a food processor together with your spicy rub.

In a large oven and flame proof (yes, I have exploded Pyrex pans on the hob) pan, fry the curry paste mixture in a decent knob of butter until it turns golden, stirring regularly. Add a couple of tins of chopped tomatoes and ½ pint of stock. Bring to a boil, and then pop into the oven at about 170 with a tin foil lid for 1 1/2 hours, this will intensify the flavours and scent your whole house.

After the sauce has had it’s 1 1/2 hours blast in the oven pop it back onto the hob.
This is the real fun part; as the sauce simmers you get to decide whether you are feeling veggie, meaty or fishy and you can simply add your chosen favourites to cook in the sauce. I choose some beautiful free-range chicken, which is simply diced and stirred in to bubble away for an hour.

Finally stir in a good dollop of natural yoghurt, chuck over plenty of roughly chopped mint and squeeze in the juice from a lime.

Serve with Basmati rice or even better small, roasted, spiced potatoes.

I promise, this curry always helps to numb the pain of watching how bad England play, well, this curry and a few cold beers.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Swallows and sausage sandwiches (not together).

A bright, then grey start to the day.
Still no sign of our Swallows…Chris Packham on Springwatch tells us that they are late due to the Icelandic volcanic cloud. That the Swallows are flying against the Northerly wind and that it is this that is making them late for their date back at the Cornish lodgings, but I’m not so sure. It seems much more likely to me that the Swallows have stayed in South Africa in order to watch the world cup and will fly back soon after the final.
Answering emails, arguing with HSBC on the phone and clearing the studio ‘once and for all’ while listening to Damian Rice fills the morning.
As I write, I study the Fatsonia Japonica outside my window. It has such an amazing pale lime green stroke lemon yellow hue that I can’t possibly think of how I would ever go about mixing it in paint?
An email pops up on my screen, its from my friend Liz Kessler, now if you haven't heard of Liz Kessler, Liz is the author of the Emily Windsnap series of childrens books and with over 2 million copies sold worldwide and the books translated into 24 languages, I recommend that you get down to your local bookshop!

Anyway - right, that’s it; I bet Liz Kessler’s writing studio is immaculate and gorgeous, so here goes…where is the phone number for Bu-Mar skip hire?

But lunch first.

Up through the garden and in through the decking doors, the house smells like a fairground, all sweet with onion and rich sausages.
So, sticky sausage, slow fried red onion and tomato sauce sandwich it is then, with seedy bread to soak up the juices.
Oh, and a mug or two of tea.

It is warm and dark today; one of those ‘needs a thunder storm sort of days’.

A good day to blitz the studio.

A trip to the dump (maybe more than one) and a trip to B&Q are on the cards, before finally getting down to painting St Michaels Mount for the National Trust project.

An evening of homemade pizza with a rich herby tomato sauce, chorizo, Parma ham, onions and mushrooms; a glass of bitter golden Whitstable Bay and a shared bottle of very cheap but very smooth and fruity Australian Red.

Enjoyed while watching Mexico stuff France, ha, ha, ha, ha, falls off chair laughing.......

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Butterbeans, garlic, mint and words, words, words...

Listening to Baby Birch by Joanna Newsom, parked in the Station car park at Marazion.
Feeling the day begin to warm, the morning sun steams yesterdays rain back into the atmosphere.
Penzance is lit by a Turneresque blast of light while the Mount broods in a sinister silhouette.
All the time the waves incessantly roll in… 7,8,9 repetitions, not big enough to surf and too big to kayak, only the Herring gulls use the beach this morning, scavenging the whipped shoreline.
The powder blue sky is reflected on the surface of the restless, foaming sea.
Dashes of Sienna and Paynes Grey shadows give form to the waves.

Home to the studio for a morning of mounting, wrapping, packing and posting of RNLI studies.

Lunch consists of mashed butterbeans, garlic, mint and olive oil with tiny plum tomatoes, roasted on a glass Pyrex dish so that the intense juices can’t escape.
The mash is spread onto toasted spelt with the tomatoes and accompanying juices spooned on top.
Followed by a mug of tea and piece of cappuccino cake.

The afternoon is spent busily writing an article about using acrylics and mixed media for The Artist magazine while the sun pops his head out, in between dark clouds that threaten but fail to fulfil.

The article goes something like this…


When working on location I am often asked by curious passers by, “Why do you choose to use acrylics in preference to other mediums?”
I always reply, “Because painting with acrylics is like working with slippy, slidey mud. I can spread it around with my hands. Compared to oils it dries quickly, compared to watercolours it dries slowly, it’s tactile, it’s forgiving, I love acrylics and acrylics love me…”
Often the passers by scurry away quickly, other times they simply look at me totally bemused.
But I am now on an excited roll, I go on to say “And acrylics can be over painted, I can work light over dark, I can glaze, I can scumble, I can mix sand, stones, bits of twig, grass, seaweed and earth into the paint; I can carve, I can manipulate, I can spread, flick, drip and splatter the paint”.

“That’s why!” I finally finish.

But, for me that explains the sheer beauty of acrylics; no other medium is as versatile.

One of the other real benefits of acrylics, and there are many, is that you can buy them in all states of viscosity from water like liquid such as Liquitex to thick, buttery, keep your shapeable Artists Acrylic.

In between these class leaders are many other brands and many other formulations, and each gives its own startling performance.

Personally I still love good old student quality Galleria for its looseness, its ‘not quite set custard’ consistency, and its glazing capabilities. Plus when I was a student it was affordable and now it still holds a special place in my heart.

Above all else though, acrylics absolute, top drawer, class of its own virtue is its friendliness towards other media.
For while watercolour flutters its eyelashes and tends to shy away from enjoying the company of full on mixed media, and oil merely looks down from its lofty heights at anything other than the finest Belgian canvas, acrylics creep in through the back door, under the radar and have a wild party with anyone, anything that crosses their path.

Acrylics hold the ultimate open house party, the kind of party that plays its music a little too loud and goes on till the wee small hours.
Acrylics are best friends with everyone; they show no prejudice to MDF, paper, board, canvas, stone, wood or walls and regularly hang out with pencils, collage, rubbish, tat and ephemera of all kinds.

And I love that attitude.

In my work, while concerned about longevity, I am never precious.
The whole ‘though shalt not use white paint when using watercolour’ malarkey never really rang true for me, I prefer and find much more exciting to just get in there with whatever is to hand; hence my paintings regularly are made by a process of collage/acrylic/collage/acrylic/more collage/more acrylic/coloured pencil work/a bit of sand/maybe some emulsion/scratched details/glue/dust/sweet wrappers/coffee stains/menus from the local café/more acrylic, oh, and probably a little more collage, just tiny pieces here and there to finish.

I think that’s about it.

At least that’s kind of how I remember it?

But that’s the thing with acrylics, I can add, and add, and then maybe take away a little, and this helps to keep the painting process exciting for me.
It helps the painting to find its own magic.

If I knew exactly how a painting was going to turn out before I started I never would start. That process would bore me senseless.
I prefer to have a rough idea and then just wing it. Of course this means that over 50% of my paintings don’t necessarily work and are never framed, and these bad boys are usually painted over or generally beaten into submission until they do succumb to the required result.

Working up acrylics into finished paintings using mixed media can be, without wanting to sound too overboard, terribly exciting. Not knowing how the painting will turn out is great, each brush stroke or added item has an element of danger to it.
Will it work or will I ruin it.
Of course it is difficult to ruin an acrylic, as you can easily wash off the offending areas if the paint is still wet or paint over them if it is dry.
Either way when working in such a haphazard way I tend to end up with lots of ‘accidents’, hopefully good ones.
These are the accidents that add a certain something to your work that you could never consciously add yourself.
It is these happy accidents that give the finished work that certain spark.

Take for example ‘A St. Ives Summer’, now for me the areas that I am most happy about are the tiny areas of collage ghosting through the over painting in the sea.
Without that random, sorry, carefully placed collage, the blue harbour sea would be flat and much less interesting.
And by using small cut outs from magazines for the boat shapes I can create a whole flotilla of bright fishing boats complete with names and numbers.
My alternative would have been to slavishly paint every boat.
I must say at this point that I am in no way averse to painting boats accurately, or ‘proper job’ as they say where I come from, and I regularly do, particularly for my yacht canvasses such as Blue Water Speed; but sometimes you just can’t beat the childlike enthusiasm of cutting up paper and sticking it down, just to see what combinations you can come up with.

Another case in point for mixed media would be my painting ‘Paignton Pier’, which without the collaged lower half would be a pretty standard sunrise painting, the kind that you find on a million postcards.
To help raise the painting above being a simple postcard copy I used a piece of swept moulding scavenged from Paignton beach, deckchair fabric and a Victorian letterpress alphabet.
Using these items helped me to convey more of the atmosphere and uniqueness of the seaside town.

The same ideas can be seen in my Brancaster painting.
As my diary notes from the day explain:
“17th March 2010 4.00 - BRANCASTER, NORFOLK
Very exposed, salt marsh dunes, stinging hale – a party of school kids on the beach – millions of razor shells, whelks, mussels etc in the impossibly soft sand. The dark gravy grey wild North Sea seems as though it will swallow you!
Arctic shore – birds, ducks and geese flighting in on the Arctic winds.
Nothing between the North Norfolk shore and the polar icepack.
Bleak isolation.
The wind is made of water and ice, grey/brown and creamy froth.
The sea looks menacing.
Only the ducks and geese can tell you what its like out there”.

Hopefully by using some of the found materials on the day I managed to capture some of that windswept, brooding beach.

Both Paignton Pier and Brancaster were painted as part of a fund raising project that I recently completed for the RNLI in which I painted at 180 locations around the English coast.
In each of the studies completed on location and particularly in each of larger studio versions I tried to use ‘local’ materials to help tie in the essence of each area.
This technique can also be seen used on Hastings and Workington, which was painted on a washed up plank from an Irish Sea fishing boat.

So next time you open your tubes of acrylic paint, don’t be afraid, use the glorious colourful sticky paint with abandon.
Revel in the gluey, plastic qualities that acrylics possess and remember to throw into the ring whatever is to hand.
Your painting will be unique; your painting will be rooted to its location.
Your painting will have a magic of its own…End.

Dinner is a satisfying combination of potatoes baked for almost two hours until the skins are crisp to the point of shattering and the fluffy interior just begs for butter.
Served with an omelette of cheddar and chives, which is filled with cream cheese.
Only peas are needed to finish the dish.

Followed later in the evening by a steaming mug of hot chocolate, made with milk, not water and laced with a generous glug of brandy. All topped off with grated 100% cacao.

Kerry still can’t hear properly, I SAID KERRY STILL CAN’T HEAR PROPERLY, but will hopefully have her ears syringed tomorrow.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010


Before visiting Clacton, the only fact that I knew about the faded seaside resort was that Frank and Pat Butcher from the quality drama Eastenders 'met' at Clacton Butlins.
Now, having visited Clacton I realise that my Frank Butcher story is the only fact that is remotely interesting about the town.
Well, and that the annoying bloke from 'Airport', you know, the guy with the goatie and glasses, is from Clacton.

Monday, 10 May 2010


Harwich, now you're talking.

"Harwich is a town of hurry and business, not much of gaiety and pleasure; yet the inhabitants seem warm in their nests and some of them are very wealthy". - Daniel Defoe

Due to its small size Harwich has a fantastic architectural heritage, and the whole of the older part of the town is a conservation area.

I'm in good company at Harwich as none other than John Constable painted the Harwich lighthouse in 1820.
I choose to paint the quayside.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


In need of some love!...not me, Felixstowe.

Over the last twenty years part of the pier has been demolished due to being unsafe, the 137 year old Railway station has been demolished as being unsafe and part of the beach has been fenced of as being, ermmm, unsafe.?

The B&B’s are boarded up and the hotels either burned down or surprise, surprise demolished.

Seafront parking is 20p for an hour, 50p for a day and £1.00 for the nest seven years.

I did however manage to paint on of my favourite studies!

Friday, 7 May 2010


Lovely, sleepy village – looks like Miss Marple might live here. Great view of the Ness and lighthouse.

Orford Ness has an unusual history having been used as an airstrip testing facility and the site of a scarily powerful radar station during the Cold War as a defence against being attacked by low flying aircraft.

Today it is a nature reserve run by my friends at the National Trust.

Orford village has yet another Adnams pub, millions of day trippers, and the best filling station/sweet shop in Suffolk.

Thursday, 6 May 2010


A gorgeous little town, fantastic, individual shops – loads of space – enormous shingle beach, just huge, great skylines, loads of galleries. I paint the town skyline from the beach.

Met a dog walker from London on the beach at Aldeburgh.

“Lovely innit!?, I come up every weekend, somfin about the place innit?, You from round ere?”

“No, I’m up from Penzance”

“Oh, thass nice too, but there somfin different about the East coast and the West, I fink its that bleedin Norf sea”.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010


Just a fantastic spot, literally a painting everywhere you look, slimy posts, boats, tarred cottages and huts, nets and chains. Daphne du Maurier would have loved it.

I paint from the slippery, mud banks looking down stream using the ramshackle jetties as composition.

Chug, chug, chug of the small fishing boats and crabbers passing by amongst the silent graceful yachts.

Monday, 3 May 2010


Can’t write – so cold.

Bright sun but freeeeeeeeeeezing – beautiful, beautiful town.

A stunning, well used pier, fabulous beach, beach huts, superb houses and cottages, galleries, deli’s, wellies, even the milk bottles left on the doorstep for collection look like a still life.

Southwold also has the most handsome lighthouse right in the middle of the town – and the Adnams brewery – any further requests?

During World War II, Southwold gained the status of "fortified town" due to the cannons on Gun Hill, despite the fact that they were filled with concrete and unable to fire.

Southwold therefore became the target of many bombing raids by Germany.

There is little evidence of Southwolds bombing though, as the whole town looks as quaintly beautiful as a cheap Christmas card (and I mean that in a complimentary way).

Wednesday, 28 April 2010


For those that know Plymouth the only way I can really describe Lowestoft is to say its like Plymouth, but without the post war regeneration.

Poor old Benjamin Britten was born in Lowestoft but escaped to Aldeburgh as soon as he had a chance and Charles Dickens once popped in for a short visit.

Nowadays you are more likely to spot the hundreds of real life Vicky Pollards.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010


Caesars Palace, Pink Flamingo – what a place!

Biggest stretch of sand in Europe, more arcades than anywhere else in the world and more chips eaten per capita than anywhere in Europe – welcome to Yarmouth – home of the teenage pregnancy.

Even out of season the pier still blasts out Destinys Child mixed up with the theme from Blakes 7.

Just ate the worst fish n chips ever to have been put into a polystyrene container. Ate them sitting in the hale.

Other than that I reckon you could spend all day 24 hrs walking up and down the main parade and not get bored.

My fingers smell of stale fish now…Cadburys Crème egg to take the taste away…

…just found the ‘other half’ of Great Yarmouth – it’s excellent – big harbour, cranes, huge tugs, industry, Elizabethan and Georgian buildings, very historic streets.

What a town of two halves – excellent!

Monday, 19 April 2010


Cromer – fantastic – out of season, faded, but with a pier!
I walked out to the lifeboat slip at the end – bloody cold with the stormy North Sea under you.
Nice little town – very olde streets.
Couple of mental old fishermen out on the pier with their enormous rods.
This North Sea really is grey/brown – a nice colour for a period front door – it looks like the sea has been made by Farrow and Ball.

Very, very exposed and isolated – almost looks as if should be in the Mid West or the Outback except for the climate.
Boats in the windswept gardens of ramshackle bungalows, separated from the North sea that wants to eat them whole by a long, straight road – wonder how long that will last?

From the beach (again, impossibly soft sand) you can see the huge wind farm off Great Yarmouth.
Chains, small boats, lobster pots and tat.

Saturday, 17 April 2010


Again, very quiet and peaceful – and again very paintable – superb restored boat.

Everywhere is flint and red roofs, also literally on every doorstep is ‘Uncle Bob’s’, ‘Old Jim’, ‘Nifty Nicks’ mussels, they are everywhere, in carrier bags with an honesty box beside.

Saltmarsh, creeks, dingy sailors, mussel gatherers, seals and seabirds.

The wind bites shrewder than any place in Britain.

Iciest of cold air, geese flighting in.

Monday, 12 April 2010


Very painterly, if you love chains and cranes – rusted chain, engine oil, mud, ducks everywhere.

Curious ducks watching me working.

Very pretty and well used.

Flint cottages and red roofs everywhere.

Slimy posts so beloved of Constable. Wharfs, jetties, lights and markers.

Flint and brick buildings catch the evening sun and glow.

Muddy, complicated approach channels winding through salt marsh – the whole area veined with innumerable creeks.

Friday, 9 April 2010


Very exposed, salt marsh dunes, stinging hale – a party of school kids on the beach – millions of razor shells, whelks, mussels etc in the impossibly soft sand. The dark gravy grey wild North sea seems as though it will swallow you!

Arctic shore – birds, ducks and geese flighting in on the Arctic winds.

Nothing between the North Norfolk shore and the polar icepack.

Bleak isolation.

The wind is made of water and ice, grey/brown and creamy froth.

The sea looks menacing.

Only the ducks and geese can tell you what its like out there.

Thursday, 8 April 2010


Sunny Hunny, you’ve got to love it! – Everything you imagine about an out of season, faded seaside resort, everything closed except – Tesco’s!

Sunny Hunny is an east coast town that faces west and so becomes the only east coast town to claim a sunset over the sea each evening.

Chips and burgers, dodgems and chips, whirly rides and ice cream, groynes and chips...

The North sea off Norfolk is far colder than anything that I have experienced and the sea wind feels as if its peeled the skin from your fingers.

Cold, grey, faded peeling signs – PERFECT – stripy red and white Cretaceous cliffs too, n’ chips…

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


KINGS LYNN - On the banks of the River Ouse faces the mighty and bleak Wash.
I really struggled to find anything that attracted me to paint in the town, let alone write about.
Nothing funny, scary, curious or even remotely interesting seems to have happened in Kings Lynn.
So, eermm, thats all I have to say about the 3rd biggest town in Norfolk.
But tomorrows location is Hunstanton and I have loads to say about that...!

Monday, 5 April 2010


Skeg, Skeggy, Costa del Skeg or Skegvegas... whatever you call it, you spot Skegness from about 96 miles away across the flat Lincolnshire landscape due to the enormous rollercoasters and big wheels on the shimmering horizon.

Skegness was primarily a fishing village until the arrival of the railway in 1875. In 1908, Great Northern Railways commissioned a poster to advertise the resort, the 'Skegness is so Bracing' poster featuring The Jolly Fisherman helped to put Skegness on the map and is now world famous.
The poster, from an oil painting by John Hassall, was purchased by the railway company for just 12 guineas.
John Hassall died penniless.

The first Butlins holiday resort was opened in Skegness in 1936 and is still one of the areas biggest draws, together with the main strip along the beach where a kaleidoscope of neon, advertising, arcades, slot machines, fairground rides, crazy golf, fish n chip shops and dodgy looking bars service the hundreds of thousands of pleasure seekers.

In 2005, Skegness was voted the best retirement town in the UK. It has also been described by Lonely Planet's Great Britain guide as "everything you could want" in a seaside resort.
However in 2008 the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, declared "Stuff Skegness, my trunks and I are off to the sun", bless him.

Saturday, 3 April 2010


While known as a seaside resort, Cleethorpes actually sits on the Humber estuary.
The 'sea' (shipping filled estuary water) at Cleethorpes is actually the mouth of the Humber. This means that bathers are separated from the 'sea' by several hundred yards of 'sand' (mud) at low tide.
The sea front provides beautiful views of the shipping traffic entering and leaving the Humber for the ports of Grimsby and Hull.

Having said all that, Cleethorpes looks great to me – enormous beach – absolutely huge.

Typical fish n chips, rock, arcade place with a small but perfectly formed pier and a squeaky clean beach. Immaculate fresh North sea air, well Humber estuary air and joggers.

All the good bits suddenly take a back seat though when an automatic announcement comes from the car park ticket machine “this is a warning, thieves operate in this area, do not leave valuables on display in your car”

The local council empolys great grass cutters – very neat indeed...

Friday, 2 April 2010


The name Grimsby supposedly originated from the Grim's by, or "Grim's Village".
This is based on Grim the Danish Viking, supposedly the founder of the town, but it really came about due to the fact that the town is just pretty grim.

Today, Grimsby is home to over 500 food related companies making it one of the largest concentrations of food manufacturing, research, storage and distribution in Europe.

As a result the local council has promoted the town as Europe's Food Town for nearly twenty years.

Europe's Food Town sounds great in a farmers market kind of way, unfortunately when you arrive you are greeted by the Findus headquarters, the Youngs Seafood headquarters and every other pre-packed, frozen, boxed, polystyrene, convenience manufacturer that you can think of.

Thursday, 1 April 2010


An awesome bridge - no unnecessary adornments, just a simple, plain suspension bridge, it is breathtaking.

Cue my nerdy bridge bit...

...With a centre span of 4,626 ft and a total length of 7,283 ft, the Humber Bridge was the longest single-span suspension bridge in the world for 16 years, and there is enough wire in the suspension cables to circle the Earth twice.

The views from the bridge down to the Humber estuary and Hull are amazing, the entire area sparkles with light as far as you can see.

Hulls port, coupled with its close proximity to Europe, led to extremely widespread damage by bombing raids during World War II, much of Hull was completely destroyed.
95% of its houses were damaged or destroyed, making it the most severely bombed British city or town, apart from London, during World War II.
Most of the city centre was rebuilt after the war, but as recently as 2006 researchers found documents in the local archives that suggested an unexploded wartime bomb may be buried beneath a major new redevelopment, the appropriately named 'The Boom', in Hull.

Mick Ronson of the Hull band Rats was David Bowie's lead guitarist during the Ziggy Stardust/Diamond Dogs years and Mick also recorded with Lou Reed, Bob Dylan and my old mate Morrissey!

Wednesday, 31 March 2010


An amazing place, desolate and haunting.

Two abandoned lighthouses and one very, very long windy, narrow road(ish) covered in sand – imagine a beach bridle path only half width, with more sand, more wind and the North sea breaking over you to your left and the Humber estuary lapping at your tyres to the right.

Spurn Head is 3 miles long and is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, who maintain the incredible diversity of plant and wildlife with a light touch.

From the end of Spurn Head you can just about make out Hull (not that you would want to).

The Humber estuary is immense.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010


Withernsea is populated by mental boy racers and a big ol’ sea, but it’s an interesting place.

A superb, enormous lighthouse bang in the middle of the town on Hull Road is impressive at 127' tall.

I distinctly got the feeling that the entire town was below sea level so I climbed up onto the dyke and I was right, the whole place should be and probably will be swallowed up by the North sea.

But as impressive as the lighthouse and North sea dyke are, the most interesting fact about Withernsea was its battle with Tesco...

...along the main street are loads of stores including Coop, Lidl and Aldi, in place of the previous independent supermarket, Proudfoot.
Proudfoot, although winner of the Best Independent Retailer Award in 2002, was driven out of business by Tesco.
Following the unsuccessful attempt to purchase the Proudfoot Supermarket, Tesco opened a competing store which originally struggled to attract sales. Tesco resorted to a campaign of price flexing, offering customers £8 off for every £20 spent in their Withernsea branch.
This led to an investigation by the Competition Commission.
After their market share increased, Tesco returned their prices to the national average.

Every little helps...

Monday, 29 March 2010

HORNSEA & the erosion of England

Hornsea is a weird little, run down town, and like many seaside resorts of yesteryear its facilities have been allowed to deteriorate.

Home of the famed Hornsea pottery makers of fantastic sixties ceramics the town does at least have the Hornsea pottery museum, however how long that will last who knows; as despite Hornseas many coastal defences such as sea walls, groynes and beach nourishment the cliff-based shoreline is eroding at one of the fastest-known rates in Europe.

The erosion is at its worst at either end of the main teak promenade.

The cliffs between Hornsea and Spurn Head are being eaten away as a child eats chocolate cake – at an alarming rate. 12ft a year of the rich chestnut mud slides into the North sea.

So dramatically that the local council have built a ‘viewing area’, though how long that will be there for who knows?

Saturday, 27 March 2010


Not much to say about Bridlington except just think of Morrisseys ‘Every Day Is Like Sunday’

Friday, 26 March 2010


You’re first view of the Flamborough Cliffs is simply breathtaking – it helps that they are almost pure white and the sun is glaring off them.

Then look back towards Scarborough and you suddenly realise just how BIG they are – enormous.

Sea birds chattering, sea foaming, gorgeous turquoise water – no wonder so many folks choose these cliffs as their jump of choice.

The cliff top pathway is dotted with poignant small bunches of flowers.

North Landing is home to half a dozen brightly painted small fishing boats which helps to make the cove picture perfect.

Simply a stunning spot.

Note to self: Remember to put the van in reverse when parking at the cliff edge!

Thursday, 25 March 2010


The original seaside holiday hotspot, all on the back of one persons clever marketing of a natural spring near the beach with 'miraculous healing powers'.
Scarborough became an overnight success and is still a great resort especially if you have kids.

The seafront is surprisingly well looked after with re-vamped walk ways and well designed seating, all backed by a rash of arcades and rock shops.

A superbly proportioned well used fishing harbour overlooked by a beautiful bronze art deco female diver.

Yachts, nets and floats and two (count em') superb Blue Flag beaches.

Maybe not the place for a romantic getaway but definitely one for the kids (of any age).

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Tumbling down hill like a pack of badly stacked cards, picture postcard in the extreme. Most of the cottages and lanes are only accessible to those on a diet of lettuce and mineral water. Visitors with a liking for McDonalds should be aware of the narrow lanes.
Red roofs abound as do trinket shops leading down to the sandy/rocky/sandy/pooly/rocky beach.
Found the crazy stone on the beach in a pool – which has this inscription written on it on it in black permanent ink…"If you were here to see me speed writing on stone watching ink dry, waiting for the joke that's never told, would you speak or try to read? Look under and wonder where I've gone?

Tuesday, 23 March 2010


Fantastic town, very historic and upbeat.

Piers, bridges spanning the river Esk, reconstructed Cpt Cook ships, the best fish n chips ever, arcades, fabulous beaches, jet…

The home of Captain James Cook, olde worlde photographer Frank Sutcliffe and Dracula (temporary home).

I only saw one charity shop and at least 274 pubs, 169 restaurants and 4 fish n chip shops, 3 quays, 4 piers, 3 lighthouses…

Tiny alleyways with cobbles and jewellers, little archways to hidden courtyards, a marina, a proper well used fishing harbour with a great fish market, a fantastic iron bridge...

Whitby is like a giant Dartmouth with arcades, the beaches of Newquay and the charm of St Ives with cherries on.

Monday, 22 March 2010


Beautiful town, very olde worlde.
Great looking pubs, restaurants and galleries.
Superb, perfectly proportioned harbour with loads of cobles, (the small fishing boats particular to the North East).

Most houses have the second home look to them with Farrow & Ball doors and wooden decoys in the windows, but don't let that put you off, Staithes is still a working fishing village, well, one full time working fishing boat, instead of the 80 boats working 100 years ago.

Staithes was also the original home of Captain James Cook before he did a runner to Whitby after being accused of having his hand in the till at the local grocers.

I'm in good company painting at Staithes as the beauty of the village was home to a small group of twenty to thirty artists known as the "Staithes Group". The group contained renowned artists such as Edward Anderson, Joseph Bagshawe, Thomas Barrett and James Booth... no I'd never heard of them either, great work though!

The old Post Office woman is a bit grumpy, must be sitting in the shop all day with just me as a customer buying a giant Marathon (sorry, Snickers).

Saturday, 20 March 2010


Hartlepool is famous for allegedly executing a monkey during the Napoleonic Wars. According to legend, fishermen from Hartlepool watched a French warship founder off the coast, and the only survivor was a monkey, which was dressed in French military uniform, presumably to amuse the officers on the ship. The unsophisticated fishermen assumed that this must be what Frenchmen looked like, and after a brief trial, summarily executed the monkey.

Now in 2010 for the first time Hartlepool will host the Tall Ships Race, so beware all French tall ships.

My study is of the big old harbour in the sun, chug, chug, chug of the boats, the smell of diesel and tar.

Friday, 19 March 2010


For a description of Sunderland see 'Newcastle' below and simply change the names.
Also change the football shirts from Black and White to Red and White.
Don't tell anyone from Sunderland I said that though, or anyone from Newcastle for that matter...

Thursday, 18 March 2010


Newcastle is awesome, specially when it gets dark, well, actually, it's just a little scary when it gets dark.
When I'm sitting on the quayside with my paints, dressed like a tramp, painting the amazing bridges, I seem to attract all the nutters; funny that!
Completely full of character, the city, the bridges and the people, a fantastic tonic to make up for my time spent at Amble. (see below). Just discovered the Bigg Market, but as I'm covered in paint and carrying a couple of Tesco carrier bags full of acrylics with pockets full of brushes, I feel that I don't quite fit in?
Anyway enough ramblings...Newcastle deserved two studies, one in the evening on the banks of the Tyne reflecting the neon and street lights and the other in the morning from further down the river.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


ALNMOUTH viewed from the other side of the river looks very picturesque – like a scruffy Balamory, yachts, bright houses, restaurants n pubs but I need to get to....

...AMBLE, a large town at the mouth of the river, looking up towards the very impressive Warkworth castle. I found a sign that states 'friendliest town in the UK', not much sign of that!?
Large marina, small harbour and fearless seagulls watch me paint the fishing boats.

Note to self: Don’t bother coming back.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Small, scruffy harbour, with excellent kippers. Had a hot, buttered kipper in a roll £3.50 very good.
The Glaswegian chef told me that this is as busy as it gets around here – i.e. not very.
I queued at the kipper stall behind a Geordie coach driver who told me where (and where not) to go in Newcastle “Ayeman, the girls down the Bigg Market are right up for it and forward too, they just wanna take you home, and then in the morning kick you out – it’s everymans dream man!

He bought a Kipper roll as well.

Monday, 15 March 2010


A charming little town facing the amazingly gaunt ruins of Dunstanburgh castle.
Consisting mainly of a bunch of holiday homes around a tiny harbour with half a dozen beautiful cobles.
This area really reminds me of Scilly.
The same houses, small quayside and small roads covered in sand and marram grass.
Not cold but windy and grey.
Massive lime kilns owned by the National Trust in which the fishermen store their gear back the tiny quayside.

Sunday, 14 March 2010


Wow, what a lovely place – beautiful village, loads of 1920s houses, fabulous soft white beaches and acres of dunes and all dominated by a castle that puts Windsor to shame. Built of stone almost the same colour as the Alhambra, a honey/pink/rose stone. The best castle I’ve seen.
Gazing out over the crashing waves to the Farne Islands with their gorgeous red and white lighthouse, the home of Grace Darling.
The village is sleepy and quiet – great looking pub/restaurant, menu looks very tempting....

Saturday, 13 March 2010


Grey day, bleak and wonderful.
Wanted to spend more time here but the tide is coming in fast. The sign says to cross until 8.30am and its now 8.10am or Ill be cut off and marooned until mid afternoon – bad timing on either my part or the tides.
Very, very quiet, very long causeway.

Seals calling in the distance...


Driving up from Penzance the radio announced that the whole of England was hot and sunny except the North East.

Arrived to cold and grey after a 11 hour drive, it makes Penzance seem like St Tropez.

Berwick is a very curious place – great Georgian (and older) archiecture, it just needs a damn good scrub. The town is built on more layers than Gormenghast and has more secret passageways, look out points and cobbledy streets than St Ives. Unfortunately 50% of all the shops are closed down, pubs are burned down and the streets run down.

No real sign of life except a non-stop convoy of Chelsea tractors and BMW’s.

The bridges are superb though. The Jacobean bridge catches the evening sun and the honey/rose stone begins to look like a box of crayons left to melt in the sun.

The campsite looks down over the mouth of the Tweed immediately next to the local amateur football ground.

Between shouts of “to me, to me” I hear distant bells – I presume they must emante from the very old, very big church in Berwick, but soon realise that the bells actually come from the Berwick ice cream van doing the rounds on the camp site.

I am overlooking the ermmm ‘lovely sandy beach’ at ermmm ‘Spittal’.

Berwick could be, should be one of Northumberlands jewels.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Read all about it, read all about it!

From an interview with Frank Rhurmund.

GLYN Macey, one of the UK's foremost young artists, recently embarked on a yearlong project to paint some of the most beautiful and spectacular National Trust landscapes.

The resulting paintings are available as signed, numbered, limited editions in aid of the National Trust to help conserve Britain's landscapes.

Glyn's project covers 10 regions throughout the British Isles, including his native Cornwall. "I couldn't wait to get to grips with my home county. The light is extraordinary, and together with the ever-changing colours in the moors and sea, It makes the whole area completely compelling for an artist".

Glyn Macey is no stranger to putting his artistic talents to good use, having completed a major project for the RNLI last year. Painting 180 locations around the English coast, he raised more than £22,000 for them.

Gill Raikes, the National Trust's director of fund-raising, said: "Glyn is a wonderful supporter of the National Trust and he obviously loves the landscapes in our care. His paintings capture the light and perspectives of the rolling moorlands and shimmering waters so well, and I have really enjoyed hearing about how he uses so many different techniques and methods of paint."

Accompanying the paintings is the second DVD produced by Cornwall's Three S Films, from a series of DVDs following the project. It features the artist painting on location at Boscastle, St Anthony Head, Rinsey, Logan Rock, Cape Cornwall, Crowns Mine at Botallack, Godrevy, Kynance, Bedruthan Steps and St Michael's Mount, as well as in the artist's studio.

In the films Glyn explains his techniques and gives tips and advice. This film includes music especially written by Adam Reece, and features the original piano composition First Light, which was recorded at the Parr Street Studios in Liverpool – the studio formerly owned by Genesis.

To acquire one of the limited edition prints or the DVD and support the National Trust at the same time, see where each month 10 new paintings will be posted.

Glyn will also be exhibiting his work at National Trust properties around the UK in 2010.

A preview screening of the film takes place tonight at Penzance Arts Club.