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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

 

Iberian Encounters – A cruise from Lisbon to Barcelona.

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!!

Belem Tower

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.

The Number 28 tram on its way to Lisbon Castle

A Tram on one of the funicular sections of the Old Town

In the centre of Lisbon the streets are often very steep and this painting shows a tram on one of them. I hope to do many more tram paintings from all the photos that I took.

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.

The Old 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 .

Ferraguda Castle near Portimao

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.

Cadiz Cathedral from the promenade.

The Playa de la Caleta offers fine views both by day and as the sun sets.

Playa de la Caleta looking south.

Playa de la Caleta 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.

The Alhambra place in Granada

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.

Ibiza Old Town

 

The view from the top of Ibiza Old Town

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

Brian

 

Escape to the Sun – South Africa and Mauritius

The beach at Wilderness on the Garden Route. watercolour 14 inches by 7.

While the chills of February continued in the UK we have been lucky enough to have been travelling , and mainly golfing, with great friends, in South Africa and then relaxing, with a bit more golf in Mauritius.

The weather, the food, the wine and the people were all fantastic and we all had a great time.

Now you can’t golf all day so I have had a few hours to paint some quick watercolours along the way. For the first time in many years I decided to take little sketch book of 9 inches by 7 watercolour paper to do most of the paintings. The book, made by Khadi Papers proved ideal and not too large to use sitting on the beach too! The larger painting are 14 by 10 on Arches Cold pressed paper.

So here are the best of the  paintings that I produced over the two and a half weeks away and I do hope you will enjoy seeing them. They were fun to produce, often only taking 30 minutes of so. You can see that in some of them!

First of all we were at a lovely Golfing hotel called Fancourt near George on the Garden Route in South Africa. A very nice place to stay and three lovely courses, so we played 5 times there.

In George and in Wilderness on the coast we found stunning restaurants. The Town House in George, probably the best steak I have ever eaten! The Fat fish in George, really good fresh fish and super wine, and maybe the best restaurant I have ever eaten in in our 4 visits to South Africa. It is called Serendipity it is in Wilderness on the coast. Truly magnificent and hosted by the most delightful  Rudolf and Lizelle! Go there is you can!!

Enough of food, here are some watercolours.

The Golf courses provide lovely views of the Outeniqua mountains  so here are my interpretations.

Early sunset at Outeniqua

 

Two holes, 5th Green and 14th Fairway on the Montagu Golf Course at Fancourt

 

The Heads at Knysna  on the Garden Route

 

Boats sailing in the lagoon at Knysna. Watercolour 14 inches by 10

After a week golfing at Fancourt we then drove to Franschheok for a few days before flying on to Mauritius.

Franschheok is a delightful town and in the heart of the wine region of South Africa. We did some tasting, and too much swallowing, the highlight being the small but beautiful Vineyard of Stonybrook. Again lovely meals in Franschheok where all the restaurants we tried were really good. (Ryan’s Kitchen, Grande Provence, and Monneaux)

So time for a few more watercolour paintings there too.

The immense mountains that surround Franschheok. Watercolour 14 by 10 inches.

 

Vineyard and Mountains at Franschheok

And so on to Mauritius. The climate in Mauritius is delightful, hot , sometimes sultry and warm seas to swim in. Once again we stayed at the Shangri-La Le Touessrok which has access to the Bernhard Langer designed Golf Course -Ile Aux Cerfs.

These watercolours were produced there, painted exclusively whist lying on a sunbed!

These sketchbook watercolours painted there from photos or memory.

Boats sailing on the East Coast of Mauritius

Sunset

More yachts sailing!

 

 

 

Yachts on the horizon

And so back home to the UK, but wait , in the meantime Spring has arrived in Kent, how good is that!

Happy Travelling

Brian

 

 

Happy New Year! – A week in Provence and the Cote d’Azur

Happy New Year everybody.

This year we spent New Year and the week around it at Mandelieu on the Cote d’Azur.

Although cold at night the days were warm  in the sun and the delight at being to eat lunch outside, or even at restaurants on the beach in January is great.

I had set a goal of painting a watercolour every day but didn’t quite manage that but here are the five that I did complete in the week.

We didn’t visit all these places and some scenes are from photos, the web and our previous travels but some are the scenes just as they were last week.

Firstly two paintings of  lavender fields in Provence. 

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Lavender fields in Provence. Watercolour, 14 inches by 10.

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Cottage with lavender. Watercolour, 14 inches by 10.

One of the most striking things about the area around Mandelieu and Tanneron are the hillsides that are covered in early spring by Mimosa trees in bloom. The fantastic bright yellow flowers are such a great sight so early in the year. Last week around Tanneron especially there were many trees in bloom.

This painting with lots of artistic licence tries to depict a village in the hills with the Mimosa trees in flower.

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Mimosa trees in flower in the hills near Tanneron. Watercolour, 14 inches by 10.

The road from Cannes to St Raphael is one of the great coastal routes of the World. Do drive along it if you get the chance. With such nice lunchtime weather eating our lunch outside at Agay and Theoule was great fun. At Theoule we sat right by the waters edge at the Marco Polo Restaurant enjoying fresh Turbot in the sunshine.

This was the view of the Ice de St Honorat, (albeit a little bit enlarged!)

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Ile de St Honorat from Theoule sur Mer, on the Esterel coast. Watercolour, 16 inches by 12.

 

Quite nearby is the town of Vence, often famous for its sister town St Paul de Vence. However over the past few years much work has been done to the centre of the Old Town of Vence and it is now a lovely place for a stroll. There is a fine , but small Cathedral and quite a few restaurants and cafes to enjoy too.

This painting is of the a square in the Old Town which I hope you will enjoy.

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In the Old town of Vence. Watercolour 10 inches by 10.

It was a great week in the area and so nice to enjoy some winter sunshine, excellent restaurant food, great wines and good company.

All the best for 2017

Happy travelling

Brian

PS. Some of these watercolours will be soon be for sale on http://www.Artfinder.com. (search for brianswatercolours)

September – Variations

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.

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Yachts racing by the Iles de Lerin. Watercolour 20 by 8 inches.

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.

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“J” Class yachts prepare for the race at St Tropez

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!

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Port de peach at St Tropez. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

Back in the UK I spent a day painting “en plain air” at the Seven Sisters cliffs in East Sussex.

I find it tricky painting outside in the sun but I did manage these two paintings of these spectacular cliffs.img_8459-1

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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!

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The Mermaid Inn in Rye

I hope you will enjoy these September variations. 

Happy travelling

Brian

Sun, Sea and Sand!

Cefalu, Sicily

Cefalu in Sicily

Hi Everyone,

Spring is just starting to make an appearance here in Kent in England.

As regular readers of this blog will know I like to paint watercolours from my photos of  seascapes and so I thought a post bringing a few of my Seascapes together might help me look forward to the warmer and  sunnier days to come.

Going through my paintings archive I discovered that there are many such paintings, too many to put here so I have just chosen some that I painted over the past few years. Most of the painting are 14 inches by 10 and painted on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper.

Mostly they are places I am familiar with but one or two fit into the category of place I would like to visit as they were gifts or commissions.

I hope you like them!

Brian

Orfordness Lighthouse (Pope)

Fishing Boats at Orfordness Lighthouse

 

Bude in Cornwall

Bude in Cornwall

Balnakeil, Durness(Sleight)

Balnakeil Strand at Durness in Scotland

Paphos Cyprus - Version 2

A beach near Paphos in Cyprus

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The beach at Ballycastle in Northern Ireland.

Sandwood Bay(Sleight)

Sandalwood Bay in the North of Scotland

Vias plage

Vias Plage in the South of France

The 6th Hole at Pine Cliffs

The Golf Course and Beach at Pine Cliffs in the Algarve in Portugal.

The Mourne mountains

The Beach at Murlough Bay and the Mourne Mountains in Northern Ireland

Maybe I will do second post on the same theme soon but wherever you are enjoy your travels and the coming of Spring

Brian

 

A Day in ………. Villifranche sur Mer, on the Cote d’Azur

The Quai at Villefranche

The Quai at Villefranche. Watercolour 14 inches by 10 on Arches Rough paper.

A Very Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for visiting my site.

Sometimes in the winter it is nice to look back to days spent in a particular place.

Scanning through my paintings it struck me that this theme would make an interesting theme for a Post and so here is the first one of what I hope will grow into a series of Posts.

When we visit The South of France our home there is not far from Villefranche, about 40 minutes, so it makes a nice day out and a lovely place to sit on the Quai and have a delightful lunch.

The town has a nice harbour, a fine , and huge castle and is in sheltered bay on the Mediterranean.

It has become a very popular harbour for cruises too, but it is much nicer there when the cruise ships aren’t!

There is a lovely small Church  (Chapelle Saint Pierre) which dates from the 16th Century by the waterfront  The inside of the Church has been decorated by Jean Cocteau after it’s restoration in 1957. Definitely worth a visit  before or after lunch.

Villefranche has thus become quite a favourite spot for me to paint watercolours of and so here are some of the watercolours of some recent visits there.

VilleFranche

Villefranche, walking by the Castle. Watercolour 14 inches by 10 on Arches Rough paper.

From the harbour there is path around the outside, the sea side , of the castle which gives lovely views of the bay and of the Town and Castle.

Across the Bay is the very tiny Port Passable , above which stands the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild,  a beautiful House and Gardens open to the public. Nearby also is the Villa Grecque Kérylos. Both are very well worth the visit.

Port Passable at Villefranche

Port Passable at Villefranche.

There is so much to do in and around Villefranche. Access is easy by car or train and I am sure you will enjoy it just as we do.

Happy travelling!

Holiday in France, A Journey in Watercolours

Hi Everybody

We have just spent a lovely few weeks in France, both in Provence and the Lot et Garonne, and a lot of places in between!

Very hot weather and lovely times with friends and family , at the pool, on the beaches, in the mountains, and visiting some beautiful places as we travelled around.

Now back I can get down to creating a blog of the paintings I managed to fit in during our travels, and I hope you will enjoy looking at them. In such hot weather watercolour paintings becomes a bit tricky and speed is really necessary if the paint is not to dry out too quickly. Of course many photos have yet to make it to watercolours but over the next few months I should be able to produce some more!

The Lot and Garonne is a quiet part of France in the South West, not far from Bordeaux in the Aquitaine region. It has many lovely small towns and villages and wonderful rolling countryside covered in farms and homes. It is popular as a holiday home , or permanent home for many UK people who enjoy the relaxed life style of the region.

In the past we have visited this area quite few times and this time  we once again stayed with some good friends who live there all the time.

I have included a painting in this blog from previous visits to give you flavour of the towns and villages.

Of course our first stop was at our usual haunt on the Cote d’Azur where the temperatures were really high. I managed a few paintings whilst there and these are some of them.

Evening in Haut provence

Evening in Haut Provence. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

A Yacht approaching St Tropez. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

A Yacht approaching St Tropez. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

Yachta racing at St Tropez

Yachts racing at St Tropez. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

And so to the Lot et Garonne

Quite near where we were staying is the market town of Villeneuve sur Lot.

It has a good position at the river and this watercolour shows the view back towards the town.

Villeneuve sur Lot

Villeneuve sur Lot

Only a few kilometres from Villeneuve is the small village of Pujols en Haut. This is one of the prettiest villages in the region and maybe in all of France. A good place to browse,have coffee and admire the lovely Village. Pujols was sacked many centuries ago which apparently led to the creation of Villeneuve. 

 

Pujols

International banners flying in Pujols en Haut. Watercolour 14 by 10 inches.

One of the features of the towns in Lot et Garonne is that many are Bastide Towns. They often have a surrounding wall and are laid out in a regular pattern. One such town, and one well worth visiting, is Monpazier, this painting was done on a previous visit but it gives a flavour of the Town Square in the centre of Monpazier.

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The Square in Monpazier. Watercolour 12 by 9 inches.

After visiting Lot et Garonne we returned to Fayence in Provence for another great weekend with friends.

Fayence is a hill town and boasts many fine restaurants nearby. We really love “Temps de Cerise” and “La Table d’Yves” where the food served and the service are just great.

Enjoy your travels

Brian

Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste rises over Fayence in Provence

Fayence. Watercolour 9 inches by 7.

 

 

March in the Peloppones : Golf, Painting, Food and Friends!

Hi Everybody,

Each year we are fortunate to travel overseas for a great golfing week with some wonderful friends.

Over the years we have golfed in South Africa, San Diego, Mauritius, France, New Zeeland and Portugal, and every time we have great fun.

This year was no exception and our golfing group met at the Costa Navarino Resort in the Peloponnese region of Messenia in Greece.

Ian Goldleman who runs Pro Golfing Tours ( www.progolfingtours.com )  creates our trips which include excellent tuition and lots of golf.

The weather this year was a little mixed but we all had great time. Many thanks to Ian for organising everything and Bruce Framer who came along to help us with our golf tuition. Sadly Lynnette Brooky could not be along this year but we look forward to seeing her another time.

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Our Golfing Group

 

I won’t bore you all with the golf outcomes as this is a travel and painting blog after all, however the resort was very nice in a lovely area of Greece. Located near Pylos in the south western end of the Peloppones, it is about 4 hours drive from Athens, and about an hour from Kalamata.

We managed some sightseeing and visits to some ancient monuments in the area too, principally Olympia,  Methoni and Messene. Olympia was very atmospheric and really enhanced by the lovely wild spring flowers.

There are also some very good restaurants around the area and two were really outstanding. In Pylos there is the Taverna O’Koukos, and in Gialova, La Cucina Italiana. Two quite different restaurants but both really very good!

O’Koukos was absolutely splendid and the food prepared and organised by Kosta and his mother Maria was delicious, and served by the terrific Roland! If you are ever in this area do go along there as it is such a treat!

Like all our holidays I took the opportunity to take along the watercolours and managed to complete some pictures, which I am delighted to say our group have now taken home with them!

However I always keep a photo record so here are some of my weeks watercolours.

Nearby to Navarino Bay  is the extraordinary beach at Voidokilia, here painted from an aerial photo and below from photos taken by me on the beach itself. It is an amazing sight and the clear waters are popular in the summer. No swimming in March though!

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The beautiful beach at Voidokilia near Navarino Bay

 

 

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Voidokilia Bay  from the South side

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Voidolkilia Bay from the North

 

South of Pylos there is the quet little town of Methoni. Once an important Venetian port and the scene of many battles. Methoni Castle is vast and at the seaward end has small castle on an island, which can easily be visited. From there the view across to the island of Sapientza gave me a nice back drop for the painting.

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Part of the Venetian Fortress at Methoni.

 

 

Navaroni Bay is protected by the Island of Sphacteria and a string of smaller islands. They can be seen from all over the area but the view from Pylos castle is the one I have used here for this painting.  In the summer I believe there are boat trips from the harbour to the islands which I am sure would be great.

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The islands off the coast at Pylos.

Pylos is a very nice little town with a bustling central square and many restaurants. However  do not miss going to O’Koukos restaurant at the northern approach to the centre of the town. 

Of course our main aim of being at Navarino Bay was to play golf. The Bay Golf Course has many great views of the area and below is just one . Again the islands and Pylos are in the painting but this time from the fairway of the 2nd hole on the Bay Course.

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Pylons and the islands from The Bay Golf Course

 

I have come back with so many more photos that I hope to paint of this lovely and interesting area of Greece but they will have to be for another post.

I hope you enjoy this one and if you have been or plan to be in this area maybe they will serve as reminder of the lovely area and it’s very friendly people.

Happy travelling, (and golfing!)

Brian

 

 

 

 

Cruising in the Adriatic.

Hi Everbody

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be able to go on an Adriatic Cruise with four very good friends.

Before that we had spent a lovely week in Paris in beautiful weather and it was all very enjoyable. Good food, good wine and above all great company just makes a holiday so terrific.

Ile de la Cite from a river cruise in Paris

Ile de la Cite from a river cruise in Paris

Our cruise departed from Venice and visited Ravenna, famous for it’s wonderful 6th Century Byzantine mosaics, Split where had delightful day visiting Trogir, a World Heritage Town, and Split too.

From there we sailed to Dubrovnik, where we visited the old town but as we had been there before also took a trip to Cavtat, a beautiful small village by the sea. After Dubrovnik we sailed on to Zadar, which has a very historic and lovely old town right by the sea. Our last port of call was Koper in Slovenia, and there we took a tour along the coast to Piran, a really delightful town on a little peninsula into the Adriatic. And then on into the hills to Istrian , where we met the local stall holders and sampled there excellent food, oil and wine. Slovenia seems areally lovely place as was Croatia for our earlier ports of call. Everyone was very friendly and we really enjoyed our very short time in these Countries. Good reason to go back for much longer!

Finally we arrived back in Venice and you can never tire of wandering the little back streets and crossing the many waterways cthat make Venice what it is. Away from the main areas it is often very quiet and peaceful and every corner brings a new and interesting scene. The opportunies to paint are everywhere and it will take me long time to try my hand at some of the photos that I have returned with.

That said there was some time on the cruise for a little sketching and watercolour painting and below are some of my attempts. Often done very quickly, so I hope over the winter to revisit these photos and paint some more reminders of our cruise. For those interested the cruise line was Silverseas and the ship the Spirit. All really lovely!

I hope you enjoy these paintings, and if you have been to these beautiful places that they will serve as a reminder, if you have yet to go there I know you will enjoy the whole area of the Adriatic.

Happy travelling and painting.

Brian

Dubrovnik from our cruise ship

Dubrovnik from our cruise ship

A little beach near Dubrovnik

A little beach near Dubrovnik

Cavtat in Croatia

Cavtat in Croatia

Piran in Slovenia

Piran in Slovenia

The Rialto Bridge in Venice

The Rialto Bridge in Venice

Gondolas in Venice. Painted on a previous visit

Gondolas in Venice. Painted on a previous visit

Just off the Grand Canal in Venice. Painted on a previous visit.

Just off the Grand Canal in Venice. Painted on a previous visit.

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