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
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.
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.
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.
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.
And so back home to the UK, but wait , in the meantime Spring has arrived in Kent, how good is that!
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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
PS. Some of these watercolours will be soon be for sale on http://www.Artfinder.com. (search for brianswatercolours)
Places I would really like to visit – An occasional series of Watercolours. Mount Calowahcan — Mission Mountains, Montana.
The vast plains and mountains in the centre of the USA have always fascinated me. In my many visits to the USA I flew over many areas like this but alas did not have much time to vist them in person.
Recently a Photographer and fellow Blogger, Mitch Zeissler, published this great photograph of Mount Calowahcan in Montana.
You really should go and see his excellent photos at his Blog http://www.exploratorius.us – they are always inspiring and interesting.
Mitch has kindly allowed me to “borrow” his photo as the subject of this Post, one of a series on “Places that I would really like to Visit” . Thanks Mitch!
I hope you like it, maybe I will get there one day!