Category Archives: Ireland
Sketching on the Antrim Coast (The Causeway Coast)
i have just finished this large watercolour of Fair Head which I am including in this post for you to see.Based on photos and sketches done last week whilst there.
It is painted in mixed media on prepared canvas and is 60 by 30 cms
Currently for sale on Artfinder
I hope it makes a nice Header for this post
We have just returned from a great few days on the Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland.
We were lucky to have very nice weather and enjoyed our stay at the Ballygally Castle Hotel which makes a good base for visits to the spectacular Antrim Coast.
We had not been to the area for 3 years and as we originally came from Northern Ireland many years ago it is always great to return and enjoy the scenery, food and meeting friends and family.
It is also great to be travelling and sketching again!
Armed with only my sketchbook, a Micron 0.2 mm waterproof pent , a few brushes and some paints I managed over the short time to visit and paint a few watercolours which I can now, hopefully turn into some larger watercolours.
My equipment for those interested.
We also visited a couple o places we had not been to before, and enjoyed some new viewing areas that have been constructed along the Coast Road near Carrick-a-Rede and Ballycastle.
So here are the sketches. They were all done very quickly in the notebook ( Volume 11!) which is just 200gsm paper so not quite so easy to lay washes down on.
This first sketch is of Ballygally Bay, with the Hotel on the far right. The headland looks like a human head profile.
The view in the other direction at Ballygally Bay shows the coast further on too and was from our hotel room window.
Every mile of the Coast road as it hugs the sea is spectacular and on the odd occasion it deviates inland the scenes are great too.
Here is the road leading to Waterfoot Bay and Glenariffe, one of the beautiful Antrim Glens.
From just beyond Glenariffe the view back towards Glenariffe Mountain or Lurig as it is often called is quite amazing. Lurig, with a plateau at its peak is so distinctive. This classical U shaped valley is one of the finest anywhere.
Further along the coast is Kinbane castle which today is not accessible but from a previous photo I have painted this sketch to include it. The view from there of Fair Head is spectacular and also from the new viewing point which overlooks at Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. All along the coast Scotland can be clearly seen, as it is only 15 miles away at the closest point.
This last sketch of this visit is of Fair Head again but this time from the small road that goes to “Marconi’s Cottage” near to Fair Head and just beyond Ballycastle Golf Course (well worth playing!). The cottage is now a contemporary house but has reputed associations with G Marconi when he was experimenting with radio signals from Northern Ireland to Scotland in the late 19th Century.
Lastly here is a recent larger painting of Whitepark Bay and Rathlin island and one of Fair Head from Ballycastle Beach. Both are 14 inches by 10 in size.
It was so nice to be back of this wonderful part of the UK with arguably one of the finest coastal drives in the world!
PS visit my shop on Artfinder for more Antrim Coast watercolours for sale.
Three New Watercolours – Cornwall, County Down and Northumberland
I am always on the lookout for interesting scenes to paint as watercolours and although most of my watercolours use photos that I have taken , occasionally I see a photo that I would like to have a go at painting too.
This has happened twice this week and with time available due to the lock down I was lucky enough to get the permission’s of the two photographers to paint these watercolours. I am indebted for their permissions.
The first one is of a small town in Cornwall, called St Clements, which is near Falmouth.
I saw the image on a blog that I always enjoy reading called Cornishbirdblog.
Even if you don’t live in Cornwall, and I don’t, I would recommend it as it is always interesting to read.
So here is my version of a photo of St Clements and I do hope to visit there one day.
The second one is of a place I do know well, The Mountains of Mourne in Northern Ireland.
I have painted quite a few watercolours of the area before but an evening photo taken by Gerry Judge really caught my eye and so here is my watercolour interpretation of it.
You can see Gerry’s excellent photos at Gerry Judge Photography and I am very grateful for his permission to use the photo as a basic reference for this watercolour
And lastly a watercolour from one of my own photographs, this time of Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland where we enjoyed a short break a couple of years ago. I have tried again to capture that early evening scene of calm waters and an interesting sky.
With several more weeks of this current Lockdown still to go I hope to paint quite a few more watercolours
I hope you will enjoy these two anyway.
Stay well and safe
PS If you have a photo of a favourite place that you would like a watercolour of, please email me at
and send me the photo for an immediate quotation. Turnaround times are very quick, prices include shipping, and many people have been pleased with their new watercolour.
Back in Lockdown! Back to the easel!
Alas as the COVID infection rate has risen in the UK we are, in England, back in a four week lockdown.
At least the sun is shining and so going out for a walk is pleasant, although alas we can’t play any golf.
so this week I have been busy painting a few new watercolours
During October I was lucky enough to have some paintings in Galleries in Tonbridge, the Artspring Galley, and in the Creek Creative Gallery in Faversham. They both were featuring artwork created during Lockdown and being involved was very interesting. My thanks to them for letting me be a part of their exhibitions.
I had lots to chose from to supply to them as I had painted over 60 watercolours during that first Lockdown.
So here are this weeks paintings some of which will be going to a Gallery hopefully in December.
Firstly a watercolour of White Rocks Bay near Portrush in Northern Ireland, on the beautiful Antrim Coast.
I had previously painted this bay as part of a painting and post of the Royal Portrush Golf Course but this watercolour is from just a bit further along the coast at the Bay.
These next three paintings may go to a Gallery in time for Christmas and are quite small compared to my usual watercolours.
They are all A4 size in their white mounts which I have included here.
They were fine and relaxing to paint and so I think I will do a lot more this size.
Ihope you like them
So as Lockdown has started again I guess I will be back painting some more watercolours and sending out a new Post
Take care, stay safe and chill out!
All the Best
A short trip to Northern Ireland
We have just been over to Northern Ireland for two Celebrations.
The first a couple of days at the Lough Erne Resort in Fermanagh to celebrate a couple of notable Birthdays and then to Carrickfergus for a great family Wedding
Both events were really good and the weather was very kind to us too, with sun and warmth as we travelled about.
Just time for a few watercolours and a couple painted before we went as gifts for the Bride and Groom.
Lough Erne is a huge Lough with countless islands and lovely views. We were able to take a boat trip on the Lough and visit Devenish Island with is now ruined and very old Church and Monastery.
At the southerly end of Lower Lough Erne lies the very old and historic town of Enniskillen.
The “Watergate” there is a focal point of the town and this watercolour was painted from photos taken from our boat trip on the Lough.
Around the shores of Lough Erne there are many sights to see and this cottage scene is typical of the scenery.
The Wedding was held in the lovely statley home called Magheramorne House, quite close to Larne and not far from Carrickfergus.
This sketch of Magheramorne House will remind the Bride and Groom of there Wedding day there as they start their new life together in Carrickfergus.
Everybody wishes them All the Best for the Future.
So a very enjoyable week on this beautiful part of the UK, and many more photos to paint in the future
UPDATE! Shane Lowry wins The Open at Royal Portrush!
Readers of this post will have seen images of my watercolours of the North Antrim Coast of Northern Ireland before.
Shane Lowry the brilliant Irish Golfer has just won The Open Golf on the Dunluce Links of Royal Portrush Golf Course on that beautiful coast.
Congatulations to Shane and all his team!
The Open was last held there in 1951 and for it to be there once again is a great achievement of many people over many years.
I could not help wanting to post some watercolours of the coast of Antrim and to start with a new painting of the 5th Green on the Dunluce links which is right next to the shore. This hole is next to White Rocks bay and is often called that. It is challenging like the whole course and this weekend I am sure we will all see much excitement on the course from all the world class golfers assembled there.
But Portrush is only a part of the wonderful coast line that starts in Carrickfergus and stretches all the way to Donegal. Here are selection from the many watercolours that I have painted over the past years. The whole coast is such a delight to visit due to it’s proximity to the sea, the wonder of the Antrim Glens and amazing places like the Giants Causeway and the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge, and its many excellent golf courses.
And when you have seen all the sights you can happily retreat to the Bushmills Inn for great food and drink and good company.
Enjoy watching The Open, I will!
Return to the Antrim Coast
This summer we will be back in Northern Ireland for a short holiday and a family wedding. We are very much looking forward to it.
It will be great to be back to a place where so much of my early life was spent and where such great memories abound of people and places.
We will spend some time on the wonderful Antrim Coast and it’s splendid scenery.
Recently I painted yet another watercolour of the scene from Ballycastle Strand across to Fair Head and so that triggered me into doing this post which unashamedly uses watercolours painted over the years of this stunning and very scenic part of the world.
If you haven’t downloaded my free guide with watercolours for Ulster then please do so either using the link above or via the iBook store.
This is a much shorter version of some of the paintings from that book.
The Antrim Coast road starts in Belfast but very soon you arrive in Carrickfergus with its great Norman Castle.
After passing through Larne the road takes you to Ballygally where the road is right next to the sea and Scotland seems so nearby across the water.
A little bit inland from the coast the remarkable trees near Armoy are a good diversion and if you are a Game of Thrones fan they feature in that programme as The King’s Highway.
On the way visit Ballintoy, and Murlough Bay, also used in that series.
Further along the coast is the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge and of course the famous Giants Causway with its incredible hexagonal basalt columns.
There is so much more to see on this great Coast so do take the time to visit there.
We will enjoy our next visit and if you can plan a visit to this delightful part of the world which you will enjoy.
Enhance your Family History Project with Paintings!!
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!
Two weekends in May
Our travel recently has been a bit hectic and May has seen us spend two lovely weekends in two very different places.
First of all we spent a few days in Northern Ireland catching up with family and friends.
Some time too for touring around and just a few hours to create two watercolours.
Firstly we visited a very nice Farm shop and cafe in Hollywood called McKees, and from there we had a lovely view of Scrabo Tower and the Mourne mountains.
I could not resist trying to reproduce the scene in this watercolour.
Another day saw us travelling to Newcastle, right next door to the Mourne Mountains. Just north of Newcastle is Murlough Bay and in this nature reserve there are lovely walks that take you down to the sea. This watercolour is that view, the beach and the Mourne mountains sweeping down to the sea.
With many more photos taken over the weekend I now have lots of ideas for more paintings, and an update to my Ulster guide book.
Just one week later we were off to the coast of Normandy in France with some friends. Our main aim was to view the Landing Beaches, Museums and Cemetries associated with the Normandy landings of June 1944. The invasion of France in 1944 heralded the final winning phase of the war in Europe which ended 70 years ago. The sacrifice and endeavour of the brave soldiers, sailors and airman can be felt as you walk and visit the sights in this area.
We managed to see a lot in a few days and enjoyed Normandy, it’s people, food, cider and scenery.
So just two watercolours so far but more to follow as we managed a visit to Honfleur as we travelled back to Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
From the beach at Arromanches you can still see the mannificent artifical harbour created in June 1944 and some of these colosal structures are shown in the painting.
Inland just a few miles away is Bayeux, famous for the Tapestry but a really lovely town with a wonderful Cathedral.
This mill wheel and the river are in the heart of Bayeux with a view across to the Cathedral.
If you ever can, do visit Normandy and the landing beaches. They are amazing memories of a crucial time in the ending of World War 2.
A Week in Northern Ireland-Visits to the “Game of Thrones” Locations
We always seem to be on the go and last week we enjoyed a lovely visit to Northern Ireland, for many reasons one of our favourite places in the World.
It wouldn’t have been authentic if the sun had shone every day , but in mixed weather the countywide was beautiful and we managed to tour around, visit friends and family and also visit both familiar and new destinations.
Some of these were the locations of scenes from the very popular TV series Game of Thrones.
We have not been devotees of the series but seeing locations known to us in dramas is always fascinating, especially when they have been “catapulted” back , many hundreds of years, to become the land of Westeros
So this post features some places that can be seen in the series. These are my interpretations of the scenes, and of course are not as accurate as photos but they are all original!
We stayed in delightful new cottage/apartment in Holywood (http://www.holywoodhill.com), which we would also strongly recommend if you are planning visit to Northern Ireland. Holywood is a nice small town only a few miles from Belfast with galleries,cafes,restaurants and shops and makes a good base to get around the Province.
Eventually I will update my guide book to Ulster with these destinations but for now I hope you enjoy seeing them in the blog, together with one or two other places that we visited .
Happy travelling and enjoy the Summer, if it ever reappears!
When you are on a roll!
I had such nice comments about my last post, “A New Venture” and the guide book to the Cote d’Azur that I thought that I should follow this up quickly with the second book in the series.
This new book is about Ulster, the most northerly Province of Ireland and becomes number 2 in the series “Travels with a Brush”. I hope you will like this one too. It is dedicated to my Mother in Law, Sadie, who died last year and who loved this beautiful part of Ireland, especially the Antrim Coast which is the first Chapter of the book.
I am waiting for the book to appear on the Apple iBook store but for non iPad users there is a PDF version at the top of this post which can be viewed and downloaded.
Once again all comments would be most welcome as that will help me with updates and subsequent volumes in the series.
I hope you enjoy looking through it and if you haven’t been to this part of the world, put it into your future itineraries!
Happy travelling and painting