Category Archives: Travels with a Brush
Each year we go on a long weekend trip with some very good friends of long standing. Previously we have been to Ypres, Normandy and Amsterdam and in every location we have had really great weekends.
This year our trip was to York, and we all had a really good time in this very interesting City.
It coincided with some Birthday celebrations for me, a rather big number too!, which added to our fun there. (Thanks friends for the card presents and good wishes!)
It was great to celebrate with such good friends, but in amongst the sightseeing, eating , and drinking I have managed to produce 5 sketch book watercolours which I hope you will enjoy.
York is steeped in history and the City centre is dominated by the wonderful York Minster Cathedral. Nearly are little streets, in an area called The Shambles with excellent restaurants and cafes and shops too.
We visited the very good Jorvik centre with it “time traveller ride” back to the Viking settlement in York, and also the York Castle Museum which contains a reproduction of a street and houses and shops of the Victorian era and many other exhibits too.
We enjoyed the food tin York too and went to two very good restaurants which I have no hesitation in recommending. “Rustique” was outstanding as was “Little Italy”. The staff in both restaurants made our party of 8 very welcome indeed.
We stayed at The Grange Hotel and that was very good too.
So here are those small watercolours produced in between visits and meals over the weekend.
If you haven’t been to York then do so as it has so many great things to offer a visitor, many of which we didn’t manage to fit in on this trip, so we have many reasons to return.
If you do know York then I hope these watercolours will be a good reminder of this fascinating City.
I hope you have enjoyed these quick sketches of great weekend in York.
Normally we fly up and down to the South of France but once a year we drive down and try and see a little bit more of France on the journeys.
This year we had a great time on the Riviera and on our way home spent a couple of days at Lake Annecy at the small town of Talloires on the East side of the lake. What a beautiful place lake Annecy is, and why hadn’t we been there before!
I feel sure we will go back, but maybe next time in late spring when it will be quieter.
So as usual here are some of the watercolours painted whilst at the Coast and a few of Lake Annecy too. The town of Annecy is very interesting as well and we went there by Water Taxi from Talloires which was a great way to travel.
So first here are the Lake Annecy paintings. As you know I have taken to painting pen and ink washes very quickly in a sketch book so that I can produce larger paintings later on in the studio.
So now here are some of the watercolours from our time on the Coast
Here are some sketch book watercolours of the day we spent in Vence. Vence has a lovely old town well worth visit.
(More details on my other blog – http://www.aquarellesdefrance.wordpress.com)
So quite a busy time painting ,sketching, eating and drinking as well as swimming in the pool and the sea. Thank goodness I am retired!
Summer on the Cote d’Azur – just lovely.
Hastings in Sussex is a town steeped in history and a delightful place to visit.
The Fishing Industry was once a major activity in the Town and fishing boats still operate from there, and are still launched from the beach.
One historical feature of Hastings are the “Net Shops”, tall wooden buildings, now enjoying “Listed Status” on the Stade at Hastings.
To learn more about them try this web site ( hastingschronicles.net )which has lots of very interesting details about them, and photos too.
This first quick, 15 minute, sketch shows the Net Stores today with a typical Hastings fishing boat located next to them.
In the 1960’s and before the number of Fishing boats at Hastings was large and although there are a lot of boats there today they are fewer than once there were.
I particularly like the older style of boat which is ideal for my sort of watercolour. They had a particular hull design adapted to being launched from the beach. This painting is taken from a 1960’s photo and shows two fishing boats pulled up on the shingle beach from which they are launched.
RX73 was constructed in 1958 in Newhaven, named the ‘Young Flying Fish’ and is now retired as is RX77 named ‘Andina’ was constructed in Newhaven in 1957. Thanks to GH Clarke for this information, and also to Richard.O.Singleton for the original photograph upon which my watercolour is based.
Do visit Hastings, there is so much to see and do there.
This summer in the UK is proving to be hot and sunny which is great, but before this latest heat wave we were lucky enough to spend 10 days once again in the South of France on the Cote d’Azur.
There the weather too was hot and sunny and the food and wine up to all the usual great standards.
It gave me a chance for quite a lot of watercolour paintings of the area, almost one per day, some from my photos and some from memory too.
I was just trying to capture the light and the summer warmth in that wonderful part of France.
I hope you will enjoy them and of course if you can spend time there do try too one day, you won’t be disappointed.
In the hills not to far away from us is the unspoilt town of Seillans. These two sketches are of the little streets in this very hilly town.
Seillans in Provence . Watercolour 9 by 7
In the summer the Coast is beautiful and the view from the Esterel Coast road across the Iles de Lerin always fascinates me. Here is that view. This road is one of the finest scenic coastal drives in the world!
Occasionally you come across a bay with some fishing boats, an all too rare sight these days so here are a couple of interpretations of those scenes.
Sunsets can be amazing, here is quick watercolour of one.
When you drive around Provence the umbrella pine trees seem to pop up everywhere. This is a painting from memory of some not too far from the Coast.
About an hour from us here in Kent is the lovely old Town of Rye, which is in East Sussex.
Several hundred years ago it was nearer the sea but today it is a few miles inland with river access to the English Channel.
We love to walk round Rye’s quaint streets and buildings and enjoy afternoon tea or lunch there.
Thus it is no surprise that I seem to have painted quite a few watercolours of the Town and the area, some of which I have sold to other folk who also love the town of Rye.
So here are some of my watercolours for you to look at. If you haven’t visited Rye then do so in the future but if like us it is a place that you too enjoy then I hope these paintings will have good memories for you.
The skyline of Rye on it’s small hill fascinates me and the views, from a few different vantage points have been the subject of quite a few paintings.
Here are some.
The Town was once surrounded by a wall and the main entrance to the Town goes through the Landgate.
Here are two painting of that scene, one with some chap like me painting, and another on a snowy day. Unless you are up very early the scene today is spoilt by parked cars, but somehow I managed not to include them!
Inside the oldest part of Rye you will find Mermaid Street with the very old Mermaid Inn. Even if you are not staying there or eating at it do go in and look around. It is quite amazing and the sign outside says “Rebuilt in 1407”. This Inn, once a smugglers haunt is show in this next painting.
Walk down Mermaid street on the old cobbles and read the names of the houses, they too are very intesting.
Rye has an old Castle ,Ypres Tower, with a museum, and a fine Norman Church of St Mary’s. The keen visitor can go to the top of the Church Tower for fine views of the Town and the countryside.
Next to the Church is The Old Vicarage, a lovely old building next to the fascinating Graveyard. Around you are many old and delightful houses and nearby is Lamb house that Henry James once owned, and which can be visited on some days.
Here is The Old Vicarage
There is so much to see you may never leave, but if you do then drive out of the town towards Wichelsea which is another wonderful old Town to visit. On the way you can , if you feel energetic enough, walk to Camber Castle which is nowadays isolated in the fields near Rye. Built in the time of Henry VIII its ruins are interesting and afford more views back towards Rye, as seen in this painting.
The whole area of East Sussex is very interesting with big sandy beaches at Camber Sands and the Military Canal leading to Hythe, and awealth of history round every corner. I hope you will enjoy these paintings.
Sitting here in the UK in what is now rather dreary weather, too wet for golf and my mind turns to Venice!
We have been lucky enough to have visited Venice on a few occasions and each time there is some magical new sight to see.
So going back through the many photos I have taken there I realised I have never attempted to paint a watercolour of Saint Mark’s Square, “Piazza San Marco”. So yesterday I decided to have go at it.
Once when we were there there was a bit of flooding in the Square which does happen quite often so I have tried to convey that in this watercolour. I thought I had better say that in case you didn’t notice!
I hope you enjoy looking at it and just to set the scene here are two fairly recent paintings of The Rialto Bridge and The Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute as well.
Ah, Venice, oh to be there now sipping a cocktail in Harry’s bar!
Summer on the Cote d’Azur, wonderful, hot, busy and just delightful!
The whole area of Provence is such a beautiful part of the world, with great food, excellent Rose wine and just terrific weather. The sea, the sand, the mountains just make me want to paint and this summer I have managed quite few. Not all totally successful but here they are , and I hope you will enjoy having a look at them.
Firstly St Paul de Vence, always busy with tourists but it is interesting to walk through the narrow streets and go into the art galleries.
The second painting is a scene of cafe life in a Provence town as the restaurants come to life in the early evening.
Off the coast of Cannes is the Ile de Lerins, this painting, from a zoomed photo, shows the Abbey on the island where there is a lot of boating activity. It is about a 15 minute boat journey to the island.
I do like to paint yachts at sea and although the sea in watercolour is still a challenge for me here is a watercolour painted whilst in Provence.
The mountains of Haut Provence are always an inspiration, here are two paintings from our holiday, although the scenes are not entirely factual!
For the first time in many years we went to Port Grimaud. This old style but 1960’s marina centred town is an interesting place with lots of Provencal inspired houses around the marina. Could resist a quick painting with our grandkids and family in the little green boat!
Sometimes change of style is worth an experiment, so this last watercolour is a little different from the usual.
I hope that you have enjoyed this and the other paintings in this post. It was so great to be back on the Cote d’Azur!
By way of a diversion I thought I might introduce you to an idea I had some years ago which can add some extra interest to the documenting of your Family History project.
Researching the historical background of your family is fascinating but can produce a lot of data and alas that data, whilst interesting to the researcher, does not make interesting reading for the younger members of your family who may (??) one day, show some interest in all that research. I guess it is not till we all advance in years that the history of our families becomes a bit more interesting anyway!
Just leaving the succeeding generations all the data is unlikely to be a successful strategy so producing some form of booklet or document is most likely to be a more useful hand me down for the future. Paper is not much in fashion these days but a paper book or document, maybe also produced as an eBook as well, is still very likely to stand the test of time.
Even for bloggers like us paper is a good solution for long term storage of all that hard work documenting the past few hundred years.
The heart of your project will probably be the Family Tree but adding narrative to each of the families covered by your research will add some insight of the people in the Tree and their way of life.
I decided that to bring the project even more to life I would include as many photos of the people as I could find but that won’t take you back before the mid or late 1800’s. So to illustrate the histories of the families I decided to add some watercolours of the places they came from, sometimes as they might have been at the time, or just places that they liked to visit. Paintings of the Churches they were married in seemed an obvious choice and where possible the houses they once lived in. Even if these have long been demolished you can sometimes find data to reconstruct the scene, at least to give some context to the narrative. If your narrative can give some insight as to how they lived in years gone by this can be very interesting too.
You will be pleased to know I am not going to bore you with my research data, but here are a few paintings that I have used to illustrate the Family History Book of the 6 major families that it covers.
First of all a couple of Churches painted as near as possible to the way they looked at the time. An earlier generation of my family were married in Minster Abbey on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent during the exceptionally cold winter of 1911. This was the year I believe that Niagara Falls froze over too!
In the early 19th Cenury other family members were married in The Churches of Detling (then spelt
Debtling) in Kent and at Boxley Church, also in Kent
In the late 19th century some of my ancestors lived in the middle house below West Malling in Kent. Here I have tried to reconstruct the scene in 1891. He was the local Weights and Measures Inspector, an inserting job, which invloved testing the beer in the local breweries almost every day!
The earliest record that I have so far managed to find is of a wedding in Lenham Church in 1628. I don’t think they had Linseed growing in the fields then but my painting tries to show it anyway!
Lastly some branches of my family and my wife’s family hail from Northern Ireland.
So here is the Church of St Anne in Belfast where a marriage took place in 1869. The Church was demolished in the 1890’s and the fine (and still standing) St Anne’s Cathedral was built on the site.
And lastly we had, and have, close associations with the whole beautiful Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. This spectacular coastal route has featured in a number of my previous posts. So here is a watercolour of Carrickfergus, the beginning of the Causeway Coastal route and a town with many associations with our families.
I hope you have enjoyed this diversion. Back to more recent travels soon!