Category Archives: Travels with a Brush
I have just been lucky enough to have spent four and a half days at a workshop led by the great Australian Watercolour painter, Herman Pekel.
The workshop was held at The White House Hotel (stayatthewhitehouse.co.uk) at Sussex Farm near Burnham Market in North West Norfolk. The Hotel and the organisation of the workshop were superb and I would strongly recommend the Hotel for guests whether they be painters or not. The accommodation, food and the ambience of Sussex Farm are really fantastic and we all really enjoyed being there.
The workshop was run by Big Sky Art (bigskyartcourses.com) who are brilliant at organising the time there and the facilities at Sussex Barn are very good.
However the star was Herman Pekel who did many demonstrations indoor and out and is a complete inspiration to the watercolourist.
He is engaging , and easy to be with, and full of helpful advice and he puts enormous energy into the workshop.
His ability to see the key aspects of a scene for a watercolour are terrific and watching his demos before then attempting the same scene are very inspiring.
I wanted especially to try to paint bigger and bolder and to learn how the brush marks and tone are so important to the finished watercolour.
Can I turn it all into practice now that I am back in my studio? I hope so even if only some rubs off after this one workshop.
Big Sky Art arrange for dinners at the White House Hotel with Big Sky Art founder, Janie, and the workshop attendees ( who were all delightful) and the tutor. This is a great benefit to understanding composition, the painting process and the big issues, as well as being great fun!I
I have tried to be brief here and so here are some of the paintings that I managed to finish during the workshop. I would like to acknowledge Herman’s help in bringing them to a conclusion.
Obviously there are no originals by Herman on my Blog, but they were all quite brilliant.
I hope you like the look of them as they are for me a small step towards being a looser, more brush stroke driven artist.
Apart from everything else just being around North Norfolk is great, the countryside, towns and the shoreline are all very inspiring to an artist. No wonder so many great artists have been drawn to this area. Now Herman has been there too, with a band of keen followers and students!
I find the East Sussex town of Rye a favourite location for painting my watercolours.
I have done quite a lot and many have appeared on the blog over the years.
So here is another one,Rye from the marshes looking across to the harbour and town.
I hope you like it, it was fun to paint it!
Last weekend we enjoyed watching the amazing Master’s Golf on the TV from Augusta. As ever it was fantastic spectacle, and made even more so by Tiger Woods once again winning the Trophy.
While watching I sketched these three small watercolours as the scene of the course with the Azealeas is as always so wonderful to see.
These are simple line and wash watercolours, each one about 9 inches by 8 and on Khadi watercolour paper in the sketchbook.
It could have been one of my ” Places I would like to be” posts and maybe one day we will visit there to see the beauty of this golf course at first hand.
I hope you like them , and if you play golf that the quality of the play from the Professionals will inspire your game too.
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.
We have just returned from 10 days in Mauritius, we think of it as a paradise island, especially in January when the UK is cold and the weather is so fabulous in Mauritius.
We returned again to the Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort , on the East coast at Trou D’Eau Douce, which we really like, and where as well as great facilities and beaches there is the very challenging Ile au Cerfs Golf Course to play.
I have never played golf anywhere except there that requires a lovely 15 minute boat trip to get to the course, it is really a great experience.
There is something very special about painting watercolours whilst sitting on a sun bed on the beach, but some of these watercolours were done like that from photos or memory as well as painting the scene right there on the beach.
They are all quick works, about 9 inches by 8, (they have to be with such hot sun!) and are in my Khadi Papers travel sketch book. They will provide the basis for larger watercolours to be painted here in the studio now that we are home.
Wherever you look in Mauritius there are little boats moored or sailing out fishing. They provide endless opportunities for sketches even if they were just a fleeting scene viewed as you drive by.
Anyway they were all fun to do and I hope you like them.
Mauritius is such a lovely island with delightful people who are all very friendly and helpful. They have a great multicultural population and although the locals all speak Creole to each other almost everybody speaks both French and English as they are the languages taught in the schools there.
With it’s large rainfall but beautiful sunny weather too it is a very green and lush island where the main crop is sugar cane, which you see everywhere you go and as well as exporting sugar the rum made from it is very good too!
So here are the watercolours from this trip.
Now we are back in the cold of the UK, but with great memories of yet another wonderful trip to Mauritius.
If you are regular viewer of this site then my thanks for your continued visits, comments and likes.
If you are new here then you are most welcome and I hope you will find some watercolours that interest you.
It has been a busy year with a fair amount of travel to many lovely places and I hope that the Posts that have resulted from these travels have been of interest to you all.
Our visits to South Africa, Tenerife, France, Portugal, Devon and around our lovely County of Kent have given me many opportunities to paint and sketch, and to meet other artists too.
We hope to travel quite widely in the New Year and especially our planned Rhine river cruise at the end of the summer will take us to many new places in Europe and the opportunity to paint some watercolours as I go.
To end the Year I have included above this winter scene of Horsmonden in Kent, which I have just finished painting today. Although we haven’t had any snow as yet, it seems seasonal to paint a winters scene and to use it to wish everyone my Best Wishes for the Christmas holidays and the New Year.
I have a few ideas for posts in the New Year and so I hope before long to be posting again.
In the mean time, Happy Travelling!
It was a fairly quick trip this time but the weather was fantastic
Mid 30s so in between sorting out a few things we were able to relax and enjoy the sun,the wine and some great meals out with friends and ourselves
I can’t recommend The Camandoule and Table D’Yves highly enough if you are in the Fayence area, they are both great restaurants and always worth the visit.
As always when we are away there was some time for quick sketches in my sketch book, now at volume 3!
Here they are and I do hope you like them
This really quick painting of watercolours appeals to me a lot as I can travel light and paint quickly even in the hot sun.
Plenty of time in the studio for larger artworks for the web sites too, when we are back home.
When we are in StTropez I am alway transported to the town as it was in the early part of the 20th Century. Here I have tried to recreate that scene,so different from today, but it must have been an amazing sight to early 20th Century painters when they went there for the first time.
Lastly a scene in;the heart of St Paul de Vence, the little but very famous hill village on the Cote d’Azur. Full of art studios and galleries there is a lovely view at every corner,and this is just one of them.
So a busy week but a few watercolours too.
Do go to the Cote d’Azur, it is one of the really special places in the world and always rewarding to visit.
if you have enjoyed seeing these sketches do go to my site on Artfinder
You know that you have chosen the right restaurant when the food is delicious and the view terrific.
So it was last Sunday at the Restaurant of Le Moulin de la Camandoule , L’Escourtin.
The weather was lovely and our table on their beautiful patio had a stunning view of the old town of Fayence high above us.
A great meal in a restaurant that I would highly recommend if you are in that area of Provence. So naturally I took some photos and here is the watercolour painted later that afternoon of the view of Fayence.
Our week, based in Mandelieu, gave us other opportunities for some good meals in restaurants, especially also La Table D’Yves, also near Fayence, and some time to meet friends and enjoy the beautiful coast to Agay along the Esterel coastal road. It is a really spectacular drive and in Agay lunch at La Belle Vie is always good. The now disused lighthouse at Agay can be seen for the beach there and this watercolour is from a close up taken with the camera of the little harbour near the lighthouse.
We didn’t visit St Paul de Vence on this holiday but the scene from the approach to the town is one I love to paint. So here is a new version painted this week.
Some years ago we bought some lovely watercolour prints by an artist called Padia. Here is my interpretation of one of those watercolours. With another painter called Cybele they had a shop called Les Deux Ateliers in St Paul. Cybele still sells mainly beautiful oil paintings from her Gallery there today and it is well with a visit.
Here is my interpretation, painting this small watercolour has also helped me learn some new techniques too.
Lastly we nearly always visit Antibes. With a lovely Old Town and a big busting port there is always lots to see.
Here is a watercolour of the view from the walls of the old Town across the bay toward the mountains.
I hope you will enjoy these new paintings.
Another lovely week in this really beautiful part of France.
To contact me send an email to
NB Some other watercolours can be seen on my shop sites at
The sun is shining ,the warmth of the Spring has suddenly brought on the Bluebells in the woods in Kent.
Some years the cow parsley masks the Bluebells but not this year, this is a great year for them.
Recently we visited a friend’s beautiful garden near Hawkhurst in Kent and by the pond in their garden was a lovely wood full of bluebells
i couldn’t resist having a go a painting them and here is the result. Bluebells have unique colours ranging from Blue to Violet which is quite a challenge, but no matter the accuracy the memory will remain of that beautiful scene.
As many of you know we also live to play golf and we are lucky that our golf course has woods with bluebells too.
So here is another painting from a year or two back with a scene on the course with bluebells in the woods.
If you do have a chance to get out into the countryside to see the bluebells then do try to go at this time, if not I hope you will enjoy my attempts to capture their beauty.
NB Some other watercolours can be seen on my shop sites at
It is a long journey to Capetown from the UK, but well worth it to enjoy the warmer weather of March and to experience great food, stunning wines and wonderful hospitality.
We have been before and each time we have a lovely holiday there with very good friends.
Our primary aim is to find some sun to play golf in but the overall experience is always great.
Eating in restaurants is a delight with very, very good wines at affordable prices and super food and service too.
I would especially mention three restaurants from this recent visit which were very enjoyable.
In Constantia “95 at Parks” was very good and most accomadating.
In George the Restaurant called “Fat Fish” where the quality off the food and the service is great.
In Wilderness there is a real “Star” of a restaurant called “Serendipity”. It has to be one of the most enjoyable places to eat that I have ever experienced in South Africa. Lizette and Rudolf take delight in describing their food and they and their staff produce food of the highest possible quality in their lovely Guest House and Restaurant. I think you get the picture – Go There !
We started our holiday in the Western Cape staying at Steenberg Vineyard near Constantia. A great location for visiting Capetown and the area.
From there to Fancourt in George for golf and the lovely scenery of the Outeniqua mountains. The golf courses at Fancourt are really great and in beautiful condition.
So along with all this eating and drinking and golf I also managed to fit in time for a few watercolours. We that is what this Blog is all about after all!
Here ore my efforts, some just quick sketches in the notebooks and other larger paintings.
I hope you will enjoy them all
NB Some of these watercolours can be seen on my shop sites at