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.
If like me you have been avidly watching The Players Golf Championship at Sawgrass this pas weekend then you will know all about the famous 17th Hole.
Congratulations to SW Kim on his win and to Ian Poulter and Louis Oosthuizen on coming joint 2nd – great achievements.
Alas I have never been to Sawgrass but if you have ever been golfing in South Africa and have visited Legends Golf and Safari in the Limpopo region then you will recognise this replica hole there with the Entabeni mountains in the background.
Legends Golf and Safari is a remarkable place with a large game park, home to the Big 5, and a signature Championship Golf course. But maybe it is best know for it’s Par 3 hole, “The 19th” , the highest I think in the world , where to play it you have to go up to the Tee in a helicopter and then the green is 400 metres below you and is in the shape of Africa. It is amazing!
We have been lucky to have been there twice and once for the Wedding of our friend’s, and great golfers, Ian and Lynnette which held on top of the mountain by the 19th Tee! A World First and a magical experience.
Have a look at their website. legendhospitality.co.za/
Here is another watercolour of the Mountain from the Lodges at Hanglip, a wonderful place to stay in the Resort.
Golf and Holidays in South Africa are wonderful experiences, if you have been then great, if not get it on the list!!
Almost every year we take a cruise with some very good friends from the USA.
This years cruise had been planned for a while and took us from Lisbon in Portugal around the Iberian Peninsula to Barcelona in Spain.
With interesting ports of call along the way and really good weather we all got a little taste of Portugal and Spain and thus lots more ideas for visits to both Countries.
I have taken to travelling with a smaller sketch book recently so most of these very quick paintings are about 24 by 20 cms, and are intended as the basis of larger paintings in the future. These sketch books made by Khadi papers are nice to use with pen and ink and some watercolour. I am enjoying using them for travel. Most of the watercolours are from my own photos and one or two are from images found in brochures along the way.
Lisbon was our starting point and we had a couple of days there before embarking to enjoy this very interesting city.
One evening in Lisbon we ate in a really great restaurant called “Lisboa a Noite”. It isn’t far from the Gloria or Santa Justa elevators but hard to find. Maybe take a taxi! Well worth the visit.
It is pretty hilly in Lisbon! If a local tells you you can walk somewhere in 20 minutes take a taxi, as a local’s 20 minutes is a lot longer if you are not used to steep hills!!
The trams are great to watch in Lisbon, however rather overcrowded and slow but fine nevertheless. We took the tram to Belem Tower and the Monastery there, and very importantly went to the Cafe called Pasteis de Belem for their fantastic custard tarts. Really delicious.
After sailing from Lisbon we arrived the next day at Portimao. Portimao is a large and very popular beach resort in summer, but for us it meant a trip to the very old and lovely town of Selves.
With a castle at the top it is a delight to walk around and also has a good museum. This view is from the lower town up to the Castle. Just across from our ship we could see the castle at Ferraguda, but we didn’t have time for a visit though. However just time for a quick watercolour .
From Portimao we sailed on to Cadiz in Spain.
The old town of Cadiz is very walkable and flat! It is very interesting too with a great market and a wonderful Cathedral and nearby Church with Processional items that are really amazing.
At the edge of the City the walk way by the sea offers great views. Here are three paintings of Cadiz, painted when back on the ship.
The Playa de la Caleta offers fine views both by day and as the sun sets.
Our next port of call was Gibraltar but alas mist shrouded the Rock all day so no paintings there! However the caves on the Rock and the Town are very interesting and the history of Gibraltar is fascinating. I am not sure about the Barbary apes though!
From there we sailed to Malaga where our priority was to revisit tThe Alhambra Place in Granada. This time we had guide which was great as there is so much to see and hear about. This view tries to show the Alhambra with the mountains behind. Even in April they are snow capped.
After a stop at Cartagena the next day where the Roman amphitheatre is spectacular, we next went on to Ibiza. We hadn’t been there since 1971, but luckily despite major changes to the island the Old Town hasn’t changed and so these two paintings were the result.
Our next stop was Valencia where the Old town was really lovely. This spectacular city needed much more time that we had on a cruise and so it’s a place to revisit one day, not only to see the Old Town but also the new and amazing new buildings there. It is a beautiful City.
Our final destinions was Barcelona and visits to Gaudi a designed Church, and Houses as well as the truly amazing Sagrada Familia. They say it will be finished in 2027, they will have to be busy as it is truly huge!
I am still trying to plan a larger painting of the Sagrad Familia but that will have to be for another time.
So the end of a great cruise and a lovely time with such good friends.
I hope you have enjoyed these little encounters with the Iberian Peninsula
Till next time, happy travelling
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!
All those years ago when I started painting watercolours from our travels around the world I found that small paintings were the thing to try.
Today I still enjoy quick and quite small paintings, even the odd postcard to friends.
Generally my paintings are 12 by 10 or 14 by 10 inches, as that does work for travel very well , and recently I have bought an A4 KHADI watercolour sketchbook for our next few trips.
But recently I wanted to try something just a bit larger, and a little more impressionistic. So I decided to go back to a photo taken a while ago of Florence and this watercolour, 20 inches by 14 is the result.
I am not entirely happy with it , I had a vision in my mind of the finished article which hasn’t quite occurred but I thought I would share it with you.
This view of Florence has thousands of roofs, so the idea was to leave those purely impressionistic whilst highlighting the Duomo and nearby major landmarks.
I hope you find it interesting, and back to more travel paintings in a little while.
I have recently updated my two Travel Guide Books which you can download as FREE pdf files from a page on this Blog.
They are for The Cote d’Azur and The North of Ireland.
I hope you will enjoy them!
During the past few weeks we have been back to the South of France, enjoying there some fabulous September weather and on returning to the UK finding that fine weather here too.
It has given me some time for a variety of subjects, some familiar, some new and some of scenes that I like to paint and hope one day to get it a bit more as I would like it to be.
So I thought I would share these with you , at least you know I have not been idle, even if the finished results aren’t quite as I had hoped!
In France, I found that I had what I thought was a nice pad of watercolour paper, but after finishing this painting I realised that it was not up to the quality I normally use, and so the paper effect isn’t too nice although the subject worked quite well in this format. The painting ,of the Iles de learn off the coast of Cannes, is about 20 inches by 8 so a bit larger than normal.
Whilst in France we were lucky enough to be in Cannes and St Tropez when some of the largest yachts were in harbour for their regattas.
I love the shape and lines of the huge “J” Class yachts and so this next painting of them preparing for races in St Tropez is the result. Not often are the St Tropez quay side buildings visible from across the harbour as large motor cruisers usually block the view, but not this time! Whilst in St Tropez we had lunch at Port de Peche and so here is that little harbour at the back of St Tropez, one of my favourite places in the South of France, and one that I have tried to paint on quite a few occasions!
Back in the UK I spent a day painting “en plain air” at the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex.
More recently I have painted this smaller watercolour of Mermaid Street in Rye , also in East Sussex.
The Mermaid Inn, an old Smugglers Tavern, is on the right and whose sign you can see. It has the wonderful inscription outside which reads “Rebuilt in 1407”. Now there is history for you!
I hope you will enjoy these September variations.
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!
It is well know fact that we English people do love our gardens. Maybe its our generally pleasant, moderate climate, or just our love of things in an ordered way, but gardening is a big thing in the UK.
The Cottage border is just one of the things gardeners love to plant and we are lucky in the South East of England to have some very fine gardens to visit and enjoy. They provide the stimulus to improve our own gardens too, although their beauty is a bit beyond most home gardens.
Two amongst the very best in the South East of England are Great Dixter in E.ast Sussex and Sissinghurst in Kent.
Both can be visited throughout the year but in Summer they are really magnificent with wonderful planting and colours.
In each case there is also fine house to look around too but it is the Cottage Borders that are the really great thing about these gardens.
This post has only 2 paintings, one of Sissinghurst painted a couple of years ago and a new painting of Great Dixter.
I do hope you will like them and if you have the chance to visit either then do so!
Have a look at my site on http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours too!
Last week we had the pleasure of a visit from some very good friends from the USA. It was an opportunity to explore some places in the South East of England that they hadn’t visited before.
One of these was Scotney Castle, today a National Trust property quite near to us in the heart of Kent.
It has a fine Victorian house which itself it well worth visiting as it was lived in by the former owner until 2006 and has all the furnishings and items as it was at that time, a time capsule of two hundred years worth of the family’s history.
However the other jewel of Scotney Castle is the ruined castle situated on a small island in the middle of the lake at the heart of the estate. In spring the walk to the Castle and the surrounding area is bursting with Azaleas and Rhododendron bushes of all colours and fine perennial plants and trees.
It is painter’s paradise and has been the subject of my watercolours before.
This visit revealed some new aspects to me and so this watercolour shows both the Castle by the lake and the Victorian House on the hill above.
The second painting from last year shows another aspect of the Castle in spring time.
If you are in Kent do visit Scotney, it is a truly beautiful place.
I hope you enjoy this short post.