Category Archives: Travels with a Brush

A place,a Painting, a Drink and a Platter. Number 2 The Côte d’Azur

 

In the first one of this occasional series of posts I remembered visits to Australia.

In this the second of the series it is the turn of The Côte d’Azur and Provence in Southern France.

This spectacular part of the world has always been one of our most favourite destinations with the mountains, sea and a wonderful coast. That is before we even start to think of the food and wine.

For an artist it is also a place of wonderful light and clear air, dazzling azure blue seas and marvellous towns , villages and mountains.

I have painted hundreds of watercolours of the region so it  is tricky to pick a few but here goes.

  1. St Tropez

St Tropez has it all, a bustling harbour filled with huge yachts, tiny streets and many boutiques, markets and crowds in the summer. The best way to get there is on the Ferry from Saint Maxime, the journey alone is great!

This first watercolour shows St Tropez with yachts racing off shore

 

View over St Tropez . Watercolour 14 inches by 7

Away from the busy harbour with the vast yachts is the tiny port of La Ponche.

With a  group of restaurants at the entrance the harbour and beach  has not changed in many years, but alas the fishing fleet is no longer there. We love to have a simple lunch there at a restaurant called La Pasquier et Mazagran of a freshly made omelette and frites, some crusty French baguette and a carafe of lovely local Rosé wine. Inside the Restaurant it is like stepping back in time, or outside on the terrace the shade of the awnings is very welcome.

La Ponche old fishing port at St Tropez. Watercolour 14 inches by 10

2. The Perched Villages and Towns

From Eze via Vence, St Paul de Vence, Bar sur Loup, Toutettes sur Loup, Gourdon, Montaroux, Callian, Tourettes, Fayence,S eillans and on toward Bargemon the Perched villages and townsof this area of Provence are wonderful.

House perched on Cliffs, Narrow winding streets, bars and Restaurants in abundance. Small and large Churches and  fine views across to Cannes ,Nice, and The Esterel peninsula.

There just isn’t time to explore them all now so here are just three for this Post.

1 Gourdon

Gourdon and the view towards the sea. Watercolour sketch 19 inches by 8

Gourdon perches on a cliff edge with its Chateau and intesting shops ,perfume distillery and restaurants.

The road up is steep but wide and the views across to the Esterel and Nice quite amazing..There is good restaurant , La Taverne Provencal, looking over the view where we have enjoyed nice lunches too, and the panini in  a  little cafe on the main street are delicious too. 

2. Fayence

Our favourite restaurant for many years was La Table D’Yves in Fayence but sadly it is now closed.

However Fayence and the area have many nice restaurants and our favourite these days is very good Le Moulin De La  Camandoule which is is really terrific and has a lovely oustside Terrace to enjoy . Great menus especially their vast, and slightly wobbly,  Cheese trolley and Dessert Souffles are all excellent. The view of Fayence from the terrace is lovely. A great place to stop and enjoy Lunch or Dinner. Or stay as they have rooms too.

Fayence from the Moulin de la Camandoule terrace. Watercolour 12 inches by 10

3 Sellians 

The next village to Fayence is Sellians

Very old, with narrow winding streets. We ate some while  ago at a Restaurant called Chez Hugo (chezhugo.fr) where I enjoyed a terrific Squid Bourride. With its flavours of Cumin and Spices, it was a special plate of food. 

So much did I enjoy it that I have developed my own recipe for it!

Rather different but I like it!

Here is the method.

Part boil a handful of new potatoes. 

In an oven proof casserole fry, in olive oil with a pat of butter, sliced Shallots, about 6, with two sticks of chopped celery, 3 cloves of chopped garlic and a tablespoon of cumin, some chilli flakes, a good pinch of salt and coarse black pepper, about 12 turns of the grinder. 

When softened but not too brown add  a large glass of white or rose wine and the same about of good stock,chicken or vegetable.

In another pan fry the medium sized squid, or five small ones,  which has been chopped in bite sized pieces and dusted with flour until just going slightly brown. Add this and the halved potatoes to the casserole and pop in the oven at around 160C. If is seems too dry add a splash of water. Cook for 25 minutes and serve immediately with crunchy bread and very chilled Rosé Wine.  Voila!, Bon Appetit!

With so many great places on the Côte d’Azur to visit I think we may need a return visit later on in this series!

Next time this series will take us to the USA and a few destinations there.

Happy Travelling

Brian

 

 

 

A Place, a Painting, a Drink and a Platter.

Hi Readers

This new occasional series of posts picks out some wonderful places that we have visited in our travels, drinks we have enjoyed there and some memorable meals.

As you know I love to record our travels in watercolour and so this series will feature watercolours painted during those many years of travel.

It will cover a good number of Countries, but we have to start somewhere and so here is the first post in this series , featuring a a few parts of Australia.

Golden Skies at Sydney Harbour Bridge. Watercolour 18 inches by 8

  1. Sydney and Watson’s Bay

Sydney is one of the World’s great destinations. Its location , Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House are only a part of the great cultural attractions of this City.
Savour the great wines, enjoy the scene and the food all around the harbour and the City.

However my choice for this first entry is just in the outskirts of Sydney at Watson’s Bay, approached from the Bay on one of the Ferry boats this headland town boasts one of the finest Fish Eateries, Doyles!

Get a balcony table and enjoy the great fish and chips,( we ate Kingfish) enjoy a lovely glass or two of crisp unoaked Australian Chadonnay. The views are great and then reboard the ferry and tour the whole of the Bay.

Watson’s Bay near Sydney. Watercolour 18 inches by 8

2. The Barossa Valley

Many years ago on a visit to Adelaide I had the chance to spend some time in the Wine region of The Barossa Valley. A recent article in the newspaper had me looking back at my notes and photos and this led me to produce this watercolour painting , a Pen and Wash sketch.
The wines in the Barossa Valley are great, some legendary, and on that visit I  enjoyed some Old Vines Shiraz and a great Australian “Barbie” .
Australian bred beef is terrific and we naturally had some wonderful steak and some Kangaroo too. The visits to the Wineries were very good. The scenery all around the region was lovely. I hope  my watercolour captures a small part of this great part of South Australia.

The Barossa Valley. Watercolour Pen and wash Sketch 10 inches by 8

3. The Blue Mountains

Not many hours from Sydney are the beautiful Blue Mountains. A great place to stay and visit with sweeping vistas in all directions. The steepest train ride anywhere too I seem to remember.

We stayed at Katoomba and enjoyed great hospitality and food. One really memorable dinner was in Leura , at a restaurant called Silk’s Brasserie where ate great beef tenderloin and had some of the best food and service possible.

I see it has moved now from Central Leura to Silvermere in Wentworth Falls, it is great to see they are still doing well. And of course our meal was accompanied by a lovely Australian Cabernet Sauvignon!

The Three Sisters Rocks at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Watercolour 18 inches by 9.

Next time we will reminisce about the Cote d’Azur in France.

I hope you have enjoyed this first post of this new series.

Happy travelling

Brian

Watercolours of Scotney Castle in Kent, UK

Azaleas in late May. Watercolour 14 inches by 12. 2022.



Hi Everybody

i really enjoy painting watercolours of Scotney Castle in Kent throughout the year, it is one of my favourite subjects as every time I visit there is something else to see.

The header watercolour is the most recent of a series of watercolours and it tries to capture the intense colours of the Azaleas and Rhododendrons that are so prolific there.

So I have gathered together some of the many watercolours that I have painted over quite  long time and I hope that you will enjoying seeing them.

If you have never been to Scotney do try to get there one day, it is delightful and there is so much to see there.

Firstly two tall watercolours.

 

Rellections at Scotney Castle 2 Wtaercolour 18 inches by 9. 2021

Refections at Scotney Castle Watercolour 18 inches by 8.2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter at Scotney Castle Watercolour 12 by 10 inches 2019

Scotney Castle Reflections 3. Watercolour 14 inches by 9. 2022

Colour at the pond. Scotney Castle 14 by 10 inches. 2020

My first large watercolour of Scotney Castle !6 inches by 12. 2016

I hope you have enjoyed seeing these and that you will return to my Blog soon!

Happy Travelling

Brian

PS. Why not visit my shop at http://www.Artfinder.com/brianswatercolours.

Watercolour Paintings there can be shipped immediately and there is no extra charge for shipping.

Or email me a brian@brianswatercolours.com

 

 

 

Sketching on the Antrim Coast (The Causeway Coast)

UPDATE

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

Hi Everybody

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.

Daniel Smith watercolours in a travel box, Escoda travel brushes, and my 12 by 9 sketchbook.

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.

Towards Glenariffe mountain for Waterfoot Bay

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.

Fair Head and Kinbane castle. In the background is Rathlin island the the Scottish coast.

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.

Fairhead from the road from Ballycastle showing “Marconi’s Cottage site”. Scotland clearly visible on the horizon.

 

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.

Early morning at Whitepark Bay on the Antrim Coast with Rathlin Island nearby. 14 inches by 10 on Arches 300gsm paper

Fair Head from Ballycastle Beach

 

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!

Happy travelling

Brian

PS visit my shop on Artfinder for more Antrim Coast watercolours for sale.

http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours

It’s 2022 where shall we go?

Happy New Year!

Well lets hope it is  — for us all.

A return to travelling , meeting eveyone, ditching the mask and returning life to normal. It it too much to ask?

Alas it may be but we can only plan and dream, and we do have some plans to look forward to but I wont tempt fate by talking about them yet.

So today a couple of watercolours to welcome the New Year, painted this week between Christmas and New Year of the English Lake District, one of the few places we did manage to go to in 2021.

I was amazed to find that I have a ready painted 18 sketches and watercolours of the region since travelling there in June 2021. I guess that is because we really enjoyed the area, the people and the food there, and the scenery is stunning!

Although in June it was very busy with all of us Staycationers!

These two new watercolours are of Buttermere and the beautiful waterfalls at Aira Force near the shore of Ullswater at Glenridding.

The climb up to the top of the bridge shown in this watercolour is about  150 metres which was for us quite an achievement!
But the circular walk is really a lovely experience and well worth the climb.

The falls drop about 20 metres and the roar is terrific.

The second watercolour is a larger work of Buttermere Lake, still in the Lake Dirsict but a little futher west of Ullswater.

It is very famous for  Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks and the area has always been a popular place for painters and walkers with the mountains coming down to the lake.

This is a more traditional watercolour of Buttermere , this time in more Autumn hues and is 50 by 30 cms and is painted on Arches 300 gsm watercolour paper, my favourite watercolour medium.
It is for sale on Artfinder as are many of my watercolours.

Buttermere in the Lake District. Watercolour on Arches 300gsm paper , 50 by 30 cms. Fleetwith Pike to the left and Haystacks Fell to the right

 

I was prompted by our lack of recent travel to tally up the Countries that we have visited over many years, and I was surprised to find that it came to 57 different Countries. Mind you as there are over 190 Countries worldwide there is still plenty of scope for more to be added, let us hope we can!

Of those  57, I have painted watercolours and sketches of 45 and many are in this Blog’s archives.

In the mean time stay safe and well and enjoy wherever you are.

As we have found over the past two years there are many fabulous places in your own area and Country to see and explore.

Very Best Wishes for 2022

Brian

http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours

or contact me at

brian@brianswatercolours.com and i will happily take on commissions for watercolours that are special to you!

It is what I really love to do!

Watercolours on Canvas, something new for me

Hi Everyone

By using Daniel Smith Ground it is possible to paint watercolours on stretched canvases , which for me anyway is something new and quite exciting.

So far I have just painted two and I am fairly pleased with the results.

It is quite different to painting on paper and can give a modern approach to hanging watercolours.

I would welcome you feedback on this new approach.

Here is the first one, both are 24 inches by 12 in size so large by my normal standards.

“Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland in the glow of the evening” painted from sketches and photos taken there a few years ago.


And the second on is of Sunset at Blakeney in Norfolk, which is a scene I have painted and sold before.

Again 24 inches by 12

Cambridge and Ely sketches and large watercolours too!

Hi Everybody

We have just had a couple of days in Cambridge and a lovely afternoon in Ely.

Ely is a delightful City with a truly magnificent Cathedral and right next to it there it a great cafe called Julia’s Tea room, very nice soup and scones for lunch!

The whole city is very nice with walks and old houses, including Oliver Cromwell’s to see.

So just a couple of quick sketches to turn into larger watercolours back in the studio.

Ely Cathedral from outside the City. Pen and watercolour sketch 9 by 7 inches. Another view from the river. The Cathedral dominates the City from every angle!


It turned out to our surprise that it was Cambridge Half Marathon weekend , and no I wasn’t entered! It was a bit disruptive and due to COVID or just making life easy many Colleges were closed to visitors which was a great shame. However we were able to visit Kings College and King’s College Chapel which is fantastic with such amazing stained glass windows and a rich history. There are so many great sights outside of the Colleges too so we enjoyed outr time there.

Here are two sketches , one of King’s College and Chapel and a view along the River Cam with some inevitable punters gliding along.

Pen and watercolour sketch of King’s College from the river bank. And a view from one of the many bridges of Colleges’s and Punts.

 


We also has a superb dinner in a family run Italian restaurant right by the river edge called Mimosa. Really superb and they made us so welcome. A great find. Good Tapas lunch too in La Raza on Rose Crescent. The best meat balls bravas I have ever had!

Since returning I have painted two larger watercolours and so here they are. They don’t fit very well with the Cambridge and Ely theme but I have really enjoyed painting something a bit bigger and  bolder than normal.

Firstly a view of the Norfolk Broads called “Big sky over the Broads” Large, by my standards, at 21 inches by 9 and another of a view across the North Downs in Kent in the summer, bright fields and another big sky. Also large and bold!

I hope you like them

A large watercolour 21 inches by 9 on Arches paper. “Big sky over the Norfolk Broads”

Across the North Downs in Kent in high summer. Watercolour 21 inches by 9.

They are both on Artfinder (www.artfinder.com/Brianswatercolours)  if you think you would like to hang them in your home!

Now with a third jab received travel seems a bit nearer, let’s hope so!

Do stay safe and well

Brian

Faversham – A gem in Kent

Hi Everybody

Faversham in Kent is a very old, and historic town well worth a visit.

Mentioned in the Domesday Book and settled for many centuries Faversham was a favoured town as far back as King Stephen in the early 12th century. He  established Faversham Abbey and Faversham has for centuries been an important seaport and market town. Once a centre of the explosives industry and still the home of a major UK brewer , Shepherd Neame

Today Faversham has many charming old houses and a thriving market as well as a Quay where barges and other craft can be seen.

It is favourite place of mine to paint and enjoy the quaintness of the area, including the nearby marshes and the creeks leading out to the Thames Estuary.

It has a fine local Art centre in Creek Creative ( and a very nice cafe too!) and shortly Faversham will be hosting a exhibition called ” Home is a Feeling” at which some of my artworks will be on show along with many items created by local artists and crafts people.

Here is the flyer for it

So today I have included some of my watercolours of Faversham which I hope you will enjoy. If you get a chance do visit Faversham and enjoy the town , it’s Quay and the excellent hostelries and shops to be found there. 

Barges at Standard Quay in Faversham Watercolour 15 inches by 11 on Arches paper

Market day in Faversham. Sketch 11 by 8 inches

Oare Creek near Faversham

A Barge at Hollowshore near Faversham

Faversham Guildhall and Market. Sketch 11 inches by 9

Boatyard at Oare Creek near Faversham. Watercolour 14 by 10 inches

Evening at Standard Quay. Watercolour 14 inches by 10.

I hope you have enjoyed these watercolours of the Faversham area and that you will find the time to visit this very interesting town.

Happy travelling

Brian

 

Travelling again – Touring around Yorkshire

Hi Everybody

I haven’t posted for some weeks now as somehow now that our lockdowns are gone and life is returning to normal, albeit slowly, I have found that we have been quite busy which is great!

However recently we managed to spend  a few days in Yorkshire, based in nice Hotel called Sandburn Hall and from there were were able to make a few visits to various places in the East of the County.

Yorkshire scenery is lovely and the coast is great with various villages and larger towns to explore.

Days spent in York are rewarding too and although it is busy City there is so much to see.

In this post I have included some new watercolours and also some from previous visits to the County. I hope you like them and that they remind you of the area, or inspire you to visit Yorkshire too.

In the south east area of Yorkshire lies Flamborough head, with it’s lighthouse and cliffs. This view is of the bay there from the cliffs .

The Bay at Flamborough Head. Watercolour 46 by 23 cms.

 

Further north is Robin Hood’s Bay, This very pretty village is at the bottom of the cliffs and it  is a steep! walk down to get there. It seems even steeper on the way up.

Many years ago I went to a workshop by Charles Evans, a fine watercolour painter and this painting, more in his style was the result of a great day with him.

Watercolour of Robin Hood’s Bay , painted during a Charles Evans Workshop. 45 by 30 cms.

 

Here are two of my watercolour sketches of Robin Hood’s Bay.

Robin Hood’s Bay. Watercolour and ink sketch 31 by 23 cms.

A side street in Robin Hood’s Bay. Watercolour and ink sketch 23 by 26 cms.

 Even further up the coast is the fishing village of Staithes. This watercolour from last year tries to capture this pretty village, which is once again at the bottom of a very steep hill!

Staithes in North Yorkshire. Watercolour sketch with ink 26 by 23 cms.

Turning inland towards York reveals the varied scenery of Yorkshire, the Moors and then the softer farming countryside as we headed for York. 

No visit to Yorkshire is complete without visits to some of Yorkshire’s Stately homes and this time we were able to visit Castle Howard, Beningborough Hall and Nunnington Hall. 

Unfortunately Castle Howard interior was closed as a film was being shot there, but the garden and grounds are spectacular and so here are two quick sketches of the view across the lake and the gardens near the Castle.

Across the lake at Castle Howrd. Watercolour Sketch with ink. 26 by 23 cms

The view of Castle Howard from on of the flower gardens. Watercolour sketch 24 by 24 cms.

In York there is so much to see and it is a sketchers paradise, but also there are some great Restaurants and Cafes to enjoy. Two are our particular favourites. Rustique, a great French style bistro in Castlegate, and Little Italy in Goodramgate. Both really good and very welcoming. 

Here are a few sketches of York from our previous visit which try to capture the interesting scenes around the City.

York Minster from Low Petergate .

York Castle

“The Shambles” in York

Petergate in York

York Minster from the City Wall.

Finally a trip to Harrogate is always for us a must, with its elegant buildings , beautiful parks, great shopping and above all, Betty’s Tea Rooms!

We were lucky as the queue was only 25 minutes( it can be much  longer!) and as always it was a great coffee, scone and cake event. If you are there do visit this beautiful Tea Room in a very elegant building.

This quick sketch will serve to remind us of a great few days in Yorkshire. 

Betty’s Tea rooms in Harrogate. Sketch 26 by 23 cms.

Wherever you are stay safe and if you are now able to travel again do enjoy it!

Best regards

Brian

ps Don’t forget to post my shop on Artfinder (http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours)for many watercolours that are for sale or contact name about any that you see here or elsewhere on this blog.

 

 

The Lake District – Studio Watercolours

Hi Everbody

Over the past while and both before and since our recent visit to the Lake District I have been painting fairly large watercolours in my studio of the area.

Some are based on the sketches in my previous post but others are from photos of the area.

One, of Scafell Pike has already been sold, but the others are all available, so do contact me if you think one would go well in your home.

Also recently I sold a painting of The Mourne Mountains with all four seasons on the one wide watercolour.

This has encouraged me to try another, This time of Derwentwater and so this is the first of the Studio Watercolours

Four seasons at Derwentwater, in the Lake District. Watercolour 45 by 20 cms on Arches 300gsm watercolour Paper.

This next watercolour is an impressionistic watercolour of Buttermere, a beautiful Lake in the area.

Buttermere. Watercolour on Arches paper . 33 by 23 cms.

Next the sold watercolour of Scafell Pike, quite impressionistic too.

Scafell Pike in the Lakes. Watercolour on Arches paper 34 by 23 cms.

In Ambleside the House on the Bridge is one of the famous sights of the Lake District.

Here as a studio watercolour.

The House on the Bridge in Ambleside. Watercolour 34 cms by 23.

Near Ambleside is the beautiful Langdale Valley and the Langdale Pikes. Here is a watercolour of the scene at dawn as the sun breaks into the valley.

The Langdale Pikes and Valley at Dawn. Watercolour 42 cms by 30 on Arches paper.

And now Ullswater as the evening sets in

Sunset in the Lakes. Watercolour 45 by 20 cms

This next watercolour is again of Derwentwater but now in full summer, just as we saw it.

Reflection at Derwentwater. Watercolour 54 by 25 cms.On Arches watercolour 300gsm paper. The largest of this series of watercolours.

And lastly Stockley Packhorse Bridge

Stockley Bridge in the Lake District. Watercolour 34 by 23 cms on Arches paper.

I will continue to paint more watercolours from my sketches in the Studio of the Lake District but this is the work so far.

I do hope you enjoy them , it is a wonderful area to visit and to paint!

Happy travelling!

Brian

 

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