Category Archives: Travels with a Brush

A weekend in York

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.

York has very intact City Wall that surrounds the City and York Minster Cathedral. This watercolour shows the The Minster from the wall.

 

This is one of the Gates to the City on High Petergate

York Minster can be seem from many of the little surrounding Streets. This is the view from one of them.

The central Tower of York Minster from The Shambles

York Castle sits on large mound close to the River Stour. Nearby is the York Castle Museum.

I hope you have enjoyed these quick sketches of great weekend in York.

Happy travelling

Brian

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Summer on the Cote d’Azur, and Lake Annecy too!


Hi Everybody

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.

Lake Annecy from the Park in Annecy. Sketchbook watercolour 19 inches by 8.

The view from Talloires across lake Annecy to Quingt and it’s Castle. Sketch book watercolour 9.5 inches by 8.

 

The Old Gaol in the Town of Annecy. Sketch book watercolour 9.5 by 8 inches

So now here are some of the watercolours from our time on the Coast

Boats sailing off St Tropez. Sketch book watercolour from photo taken on the Ferry from St Maxime.

 

Tourettes sur Loup. A more formal watercolour 14 inches by 10.

A Provence Village in the hills. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

One of my favourite places to paint in France! Port de Peche at St Tropez, well away from the Glitz! Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

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.

Happy travelling

Brian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hastings, Past and Present

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.

The Net Shops “Black Sheds” on the Stade at Hastings. Watercolour 9 inches by 8.

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.

Fishing boast on the Stade at Hastings in the 1960’s. Watercolour 14 inches by 10. From a photograph taken by Richard.O. Singleton.

 

 

Do visit Hastings, there is so much to see and do there.

Happy Travelling

 

10 days on the Cote d’Azur

The Town of Correns in Provence. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

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

Seillans. Watercolour 9 by 7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J Class yachts passing Ile St Honorat off the Cannes Coast. Watercolour 10 by 14.

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.

Fishing boats of the coast. Watercolours 14 inches by 10.

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.

Umbrella Pine trees ,Watercolour 14 inches by 10

 

Happy travelling 

Brian

 

The Town of Rye in East Sussex

Sunset at Rye

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.

Storm over Rye

Winter’s afternoon at Rye

Walkers in the snow

Winter evening at Rye

 

 

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.

The Mermaid in in Mermaid Street, Rye.

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.

Rye in the distance at Camber Castle.

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.

Happy travelling

Brian

Back to Venice – I wish!

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!

Happy travelling

Brian

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Piazza San Marco -A watercolour 14 inches by 10 on Arches Rough 300gsm paper

Della salute

Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute on the Grand Canal Venice from the Academia bridge. A watercolour 14 inches by 10 on Arches 300gsm paper.

The Rialto

The Rialto bridge on the Grand Canal in Venice. A Watercolour on Arches 300gsm paper.

My Watercolour Highlights of 2016

Happy Christamas and Best Wishes for 2017!

It has been a great year for us and I hope you too have enjoyed the Year and also this blog.

Retired life is good and our now 4 Grandchildren and their parents are a continuous joy.

In this post I am revisiting some of my favourite watercolours of this year, which have originated in our travels around the World and visits around the UK. I have picked just seventeen, from around 50 paintings completed in the year.

Here is a reprise which I hope you will enjoy. For me this indulgent post is such a great reminder of the year.

I hope that you enjoy the Season and the New Year.

Many thanks for reading my blog, it is your responses and views that make it such fun.

All the best

Brian

January  — Crillon-Le-Brave in Provence

Although we travel a lot in Provence we have yet to visit Crillon, maybe in 2017. A bit of artistic licence in this painting!

Crillon Le Brave

February. The joy of some winter sun in Mauritius and the fun of painting while lying on a lounger at the beach at Le Touessrok Shangi La Hotel!

The Beach at Le Touessrok Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

The Beach at Le Touessrok Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

March.  Painting at home a favourite view from our many visits to Northern Ireland. Fair Head on the Antrim coast seen from the beach at Ballycastle.

Fair Head

April.

Near us in Kent is Rochester and the River Medway. This painting is a “time travel” painting taking us back to 1937 (even before my time!) when the Sunderland Flying boats were being built at Rochester. So here is a Short’s Sunderland flying boat over Rochester.

Rochester in 1937

May

With memories of a great weekend in Amsterdam with friends still fresh in my mind I finished these two paintings of  this fine and fascinating city.IMG_2653

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June

With the arrival of our new granddaughter in May local-ish travel led us to Malden in Essex. This painting , a new size for me is 19 inches by 8, but suits the scene quite well.

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July

Back in France and a chance to paint in the sun , from sketches and photos. The trip from St Maxime by boat to St Tropez is the best way to get there. Lunch at the Mazarin under the green awning and then a painting of this quiet back water of St Tropez. A delightful day out!

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August

More paintings in Provence An evening scene and big J Class yachts in St Tropez harbour.

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September

Two paintings for friends this month, one of Great Dixter in Sussex, and the second of J Class yachts sailing off the Isle of Wight. I am glad they liked them!

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J Class yachts racing at the Isle of Wight David and meg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

October

A visit to Rye inspired this painting of Camber castle, built in the time of Henry VIII but now just a ruin. Rye in the background. Also locally the beautiful Leeds Castle here in KentCamber castle

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November

I like to read the excellent Bernard Cornwell historical fiction books, some of which feature Bebanburg Castle,now Bamburg Castle. Again in the wider format to highlight the vast beach and sky!Bamburgh castle

 

December

This month I have been painting some scenes of Venice from my photos and a painting from a photo taken by Mitch Zeissler ( thanks for the permission, Mitch) showing the Mission Mountains of Montana, which was the subject of my previous post.Della salute

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It has been a busy year painting ( and these are only some!) so I do hope you have enjoyed looking at some of my 2016 efforts.

Seasons greetings and Best wishes for 2017

Brian

 

 

 

 

 

Return to the Cote d’Azur – August 2016

Hi Everyone,

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.

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St Paul de Vence from Vence. Watercolour 16 inches by 12.

IMG_2686

The restaurants come to life!

 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. 

IMG_2685

 

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.

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The mountains of Haut Provence are always an inspiration, here are two paintings from our holiday, although the scenes are not entirely factual!

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Lavender farm in Provence

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Evening at a Provence village

 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!

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Port Grimaud

Sometimes change of style is worth an experiment, so this last watercolour is a little different from the usual.

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The Old Farm

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!

Happy travelling

Brian

Thames Barges and a Sunderland Flying Boat!

I do like to paint fairly vibrant landscapes and seascapes and normally they are watercolours on 300gsm Rough Arches Paper. The first painting is on Arches Hot Pressed 300gsm paper which leads itself to this softer wash type painting.

However this post is just a little different and features Thames Barges, and as an update now includes a  SHORTS Sunderland Flying Boat!

I have included this new painting of Rochester in Kent showing some barges and the scene as it may have been the late 1930’s when the Shorts Sunderland Flying boats were designed and built by the River Medway at Rochester. They were designed in the 1930s and first flew in 1937. Based on the Shorts S23 Empire flying boats, the Flagship of Imperial Airways it was re-engineered for military use, and was used extensively in the Second World War.  777 were produced in the years 1937 to 1946.

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The next painting of Thames Barges is titled is “Waiting for the Tide” and is 16 inches by 12.

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                                                    Waiting for the Tide.   A watercolour.

 

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Barge passing Upnor Castle in Kent

This 3rd painting is hot off the press having been painted recently too! It shows a Thames barge passing by Upnor Castle on the River Medway, not too far from my studio. Again painted on Hot Pressed paper and 16 inches by 12.

The fourth painting is much more in my normal style and is of Barge at Hollowshore, here in Kent in the UK. It was painted a couple of years ago. It is on Rough 300gsm Arches paper and is 14 inches by 10.

Barge at Hollowshore

                                              A Thames Barge at Hollowshore in Kent.

This  painting is of Faversham creek where barges were once seen in their dozens.

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                                                                                             Barges at Faversham

The last  painting was painted many years ago and is on a medium smooth paper and is about 18 inches by 10.

I don’t think I would paint it like this today (busy sky, busy boats and busy sea) but again it is Thames Barges, this time racing in the Thames Estuary.

Kent, The Barge Race

                                                                           The Barge Race.

I hope you like this post and its updates. Thames barges are always a wonderful sight to see around our coast. Alas Sunderland flying boats are now not seen flying but one I believ is in amuseum in Florida.

Happy Travelling

Brian

Enhance your Family History Project with Paintings!!

The Black Arch on the Causeway Coastal Route.

                 The Black Arch on the Causeway Coastal Route.

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!

Kent, Minster Abbey as it would have looked in 1911

Kent, Minster Abbey as it would have looked in 1911

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

Kent, Debtling Church in 1809

Debtling Church in Kent as it looked in 1809

Boxley Church, Kent

Boxley Church, 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!

West Malling in Kent in 1891

West Malling in Kent in 1891

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!

Lenham Church

Lenham Church

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.

St Anne's Church in Belfast in 1869

St Anne’s Church in Belfast in 1869

Northern Ireland,Carrickfergus - Version 2 (Mandy and Drew)

                                                                          Carrickfergus

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!

Brian

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