It is raining again!
During this dreary winter in Kent there have been quite a lot of opportunities to paint in the warmth of my studio!
Here are some recent works including one larger than usual watercolour.
Of course we did manage a trip to Madeira which was in a recent post which we really did enjoy as well.
This scene is one of my favourites and has also been popular on Artfinder.
We love Provence and this bridge reminds me of so many great times there.
And more locally –
And lastly a recent watercolour,the largest that I have ever attempted.
This is of Salisbury Cathedral when the Meadows by the River Avon are flooded, as they do twice a year.
With thanks to Rob of Robert Franklin Photography for his permission to use his excellent image.
The watercolour is 40 inches by 12 , by some way the largest I have painted. The watercolour is painted on 600 gsm Arches paper for stability. Very exciting to produce!
I hope eventally to produce some high quality smaller prints from this original watercolour.
So pretty busy of late and now looking forward to spring, some sunshine, and some outdoor painting.
Don’t forget if any of these images catches your eye some are available for sale on http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours.
Prices are reasonable and delivery fast!
With cold weather in England a week in Madeira sounded great and so we went for the second time to stay at the lovely hotel we stayed at last year, Quinta da Casa Branca. It is a really nice place to stay, with beautiful grounds and fine food and wine.
For me being in Madeira it is a great opportunity to tour about a bit and then paint watercolour sketches of Funchal , and the island.
I only take a 300 gsm sketch book, a small watercolour palette box and half a dozen favourite Escoda brushes. All easy and light to carry.
Some of these sketches are almost new versions of last years watercolours but there are quite a few new vistas and views of some of our favourite spots.
Whilst it wasn’t quite as sunny as last year we did manage to sit by the pool and read and paint, whilst sipping Portuguese wines, and some lovely Madeira wines too.
The old town of Fuchal has a lot of interesting painted doors to see and a lovely squares and a very yellow Fort by the sea! We also enjoyed a tour around the Wine Lodge of Blandy’s Madeira Wine Company. A good tour and of course some tasting as well.
I have included a sketch of the Fort from last year’s visit as now the castle is shrouded in scaffolding and screens.
Along the coast from Funchal the towering cliffs sweep down to the Altantic ocean, this scene is very typical of many views as you travel along the roads near the coast on Madeira.
Here is another coastal view with some of the red rocks that can be seen around the island on show as well.
We didn’t take a trip up to the central mountains as the clouds seemed to covering them , but in a brochure I found in the hotel there was a photo that I wished I had taken so here is my version of this cloudy mountain scene, and to whoever originally took it, my thanks.
I make no apologies for more watercolours of the small town of Camara de Lobos, which is quite near to Funchal.
Sir Winston Churchill’s favourite Madeiran painting spot is such a terrific place to sketch and paint that I have included a few new ones and a a studio watercolour painted after our previous visit.
This watercolour can be found in my shop at http://www.artfinder.com/brianswatercolours and I hope to add some more based on the sketches in the next few weeks.
Madeira is delightful destination from the UK , with no time shift even. Great Portugeuse and Madeira wines, very tasty food and really welcoming people wherever you go. Whats not to like!
We will be back!
I love to paint watercolours and I am pleased to say that there are quite a lot of people that own my paintings around the World.
I really enjoy hearing that they enjoy the places depicted which may be their favourite places, or reminders of holidays or places that they would like to go to.
But not everybody has room on their walls for larger pieces and so I have started offering smaller versions of some of my larger watercolours, even some tht have been sold in the past.
They all wiil appear on http://www.Artfinder.com/brianswatercolours and are I hope will be very affordable.
Here are some recent ones for you to see
And an even bigger one of this same scene, this time a Watercolour on a Primed Canvas which is good to use for really large watercolours
So if you notice any more of my Watercolours that you think you would like to buy a smaller version of on Artfinder.com/brianswatercolours, just send me an email and I will endeavour to paint one and put it up for sale.
The joy of visiting South Africa is terrific and we long to return there as soon as we can!
It is a wonderful place to stay, with great friendly people, delicious food and some of the World’s finest wines. Now that is a recommendation!
Here are a few specific spots here that we love, starting in Fransceok, about an hour and a half from Capetown.
The accommodations in and around Fransheok are very good, and it is a lovely town surrounded by mountains and Vineyards. We really enjoyed staying at the Franschoek Country House and Villas, where the rooms are delightful and the food and service is great. We took a great half day wine tour that they organised for us taking in some really excellent local wineries all run by the nicest of people.
We really love Thelema red wines but there are so many great wines to choose from all over the area. One small but brilliant vineyard was Stony Brook and a wine there called The Max, wow!
Restaurants in Franshoek are all good but we did enjoy an evening especially at The Restaurant at The Grand Provence Estate, but everywhere we ate was terrific. If it is special occasion I cannot recommend highly enough a great Jewellers Shop in Franschoek too. It is called Tracey’s Diamonds! Just the most helpful people.
Wherever you look the scenery is stunning ,so here are few of watercolours of the area and the distinctive houses..
THE GARDEN ROUTE
Travel East from Capetown and head for Hermanus(enjoy lunch at “Burgundy” restaurant if you can), from there you will be beginning the beautiful and spectacular Garden Route. It is a long journey to George and beyond and there are many diversions to extend your journey but it is very worthwhile and from George the coast is beautiful with great places to stay and see.
We love staying at the Fancourt Hotel, but then we are golfers and it has three great courses and views to make them very spectacular to play.
From George Herolds Bay and Knysna are not to far and Wilderness beach is amazing.
We have eaten a few times at a fabulous restaurant at Wilderness called “Serendipity”, one of my all time favourites, well worth a visit.
CAPETOWN AND THE CAPE
There is so much to see and do in and around Capetown, including the must do visit to Robben Island and to find out more about the life and legacy of Nelson Mandela, the father of modern South Africa.
There are great restaurants too, at the Waterfront and all around the area. We especially liked “96 Winery Road” at Somerset West where the Kudu and Steaks were amazing and great value too.
A visit to the Cape area is well worthwhile , maybe to see the Penguins at Boulders Bay or to see the Twelve Apostles Mountains towering over Camps Bay
South Africa is vast and a superb holiday location,. I haven’t even mentioned the Safari opportunities, more of that some other time.
It is hardly the weather for outdoor sketching at present here in Kent so here are three quick Pen and Wash watercolours in and around Canterbury in Kent, all done in a few idle moments over the Christmas holidays from photos in my library.
With them come my Best Wishes for the New Year too!
Regards to all
Continuing with this food drink and place theme this post covers my visits to Venice and the Veneto region, and the most southerly part of Italy, the wonderful, Sicily.
As every region has such great specialities I just can’t cover them all but in these lovely places we have had such great times, drinks and food. And of course that special Italian hospitality and warmth of the people themselves.
First lets stop off in the VENETO and VENICE.
On the coast towards Trieste stands the lovely Miramare Castle. Commissioned by an Austrian Archduke it is resplendent with beutiful gardens and flowers. It is a truly delightful place to visit and then if you can, travel to Trieste and eat in one of the many restaurants or cafes there by the waterfront. There you can taste the local San Danielle Proscuito with some local Veneto wine. Trieste was the main port of the once Austro Hungarian Empire and didn’t become part of Italy until after the end of First World War in 1918.
And so to Venice itself. Oh. what wonderful place, where every corner you turn is a great vista and the back streets and canals are a painters’ paradise.
It has been hard to choose which of my many Venice watercolours to include but the choice of food and drink was easier as one special Restaurant really stood out for me in Venice.
Just off the Riva Degli Schiavoni, in a small side street called Calle del Pestrin, is the excellent Restaurant “Corte Sconta” . Great fresh sea food and a very nice place to eat. The Vongole was superb, well worth the walk along the Riva with the spectacular view above and below. More local Veneto wine too, or Prosecco!
If you plan to stay on The Riva degli Schiavoni then try the “Locanda Vivaldi” with its traditional Venetian rooms and a great location.
This watercolour was painted from a photo taken as we arrived by water taxi to stay there!
In Venice the trip down the Grand Canal is amazing with fine views and if you can visit the Fish Market then do! From there walk back slowly down the side streets until reach the Academia Bridge. All just amazing!
And so to finish this section on Venice here is St Mark’s Square from a Vaporetto, but don’t forget to buy your ticket before you board!
Down South to SICILY
Italy is a Country of so many regions, customs ,food and wine, and the wonderful scenery.
On the Mediterranean’s largest island all of these can be found in abundance.
We have enjoyed Sicily a lot and Taormina is a great place to stay and admire the views and the food and wine. I was first introduced to Pasta Norma there which was and is great! But also the fresh Ocrobus grilled is superb and this I really did enjoy in Taormina. If you can try the wine “La Segreta Nero d’Avola” from the Planeta Winery, very nice indeed and available in the UK
From Taormina the sight of Mount Etna steaming , or even erupting is amazing. Try to take trip up to the top if you can and feel the hot earth beneath your feet!
Here are two more paintings of Sicily too.
There is so much more to say about Italy but I will leave Rome,Puglia and the Amalfi coast till another time
Some of these and many watercolours are for sale or just to see on my site at
Today we remember those whose sacrifices both in that War and since have enabled us to enjoy the freedoms we have today.
We will never forget them.
I am reminded of this in the personal sacrifices of members of my Wife’s family in 1917.
We have visited Ypres twice in recent years following the final days of my Wife’s great Uncles who were killed at Passchendaele in 1917. Visiting there was a remarkable and very moving experience.
We will always remember the great sacrifices made by so many over 100 years ago and since, in too many conflicts.Their sacrifice gives us all the freedoms we enjoy today.
For this post in this series on food and drink and scenery we are heading off to Northern Italy, well a few parts of it anyway. In Part two we will visit the Veneto area and Sicily.
Lago di Como
Our first stop is the beautiful Lake Como, a truly magnificent area of Northern Italy.
The sparkling waters of the Lake , which is surrounded by impressive mountains and then by the shore there are many delightful towns and villages.
We most recently stayed in Cernobbio where the town nestles against the southern end if the lake.
One evening we ate in a really very good and ever so friendly restaurant in the town called “Osteria del Beuc”. Amongst a delightful selection of food we enjoyed some great lake perch,lightly pan fried and really great.
We washed it down with some excellent Gavi di Gavi chilled white Italian wine.
It was a memorable evening enjoyed with great friends and we ended it with a stroll by the lake.
The next day we went in a motor launch along the lake, taking in the sights and lunching at Bellagio, a really lovely town, only rivalled in the area by Varenna.
There are so many great sights along the Lake with many famous gardens and Villas.
Here are some watercolours of Lake Como, a place we look forward to returning to.
Just the word Tuscany brings back wonderful memories of holidays spent in the lovely part of Italy.
Everywhere you turn in Tuscany there are great scens to savour, let alone the food and the stunning wine.
It is a region we love from the treasures of Firenza to the towers of San Gimignano it is all very stunning. Not to mention Pas and Sienna to!
One town I have loved to paint in is Lucca with such an iconic oval Piazza surrounded by cafes and restaurants. I am pleased to say that quite a few people around the world have original watercolours, each one different naturally, of this scene.
Just to sit and enjoy a coffee and watch the world go by is enough there to give you a great sense on calm and pleasure.
The towers of San Gimignano are really quite amazing. Although many have disappeared the are still a lot to admire.
Over 500 years old in many cases they dominate this delightful town with its many restaurants, and even more tourists!
One real food highlight there was a gelato enjoyed in the main Piazza with the towers all around us.
Here are a few more watercolours of Tuscany which i hope you will enjoy.
In Part Two of this post we will visit Venice, and the adriatic coast before travelling down south to beautiful Sicily
i hope you are enjoying this very selective visit to Italy and much as I am
A Place, a Painting, a Drink and a Platter. No 3 The USA
For such a huge Country there is often some similarity in Restaurant menus from California to New Hampshire, or Washington State to Florida.
But thank goodness there are many local specialities and difference too, and in this short post we can look at a few of my favourites plates of food. If I mentioned all my favorite US meals we would be here a long time!
After our last post visit to the Cote d’Azur these are somehow heartier fare, which can mean large and delicious portions!
So let us start in Seattle
1. SEATTLE IN WASHINGTON STATE
Seattle, is a big City and is to me somehow dominated by three things, Mount Rainier, which seems massive even though it is 60 miles away. The Boeing Company, a place I have visited at lot, and Microsoft, maybe its their hardware and software you are using to read this.
Of course Seattle is much much more that these three things and for me my post item is Clam chowder. Whilst more often associated with New England it is also great on the West Coast. Sometimes served in a huge crusty loaf this hearty dish, together with the wonderful local Salmon and Mussels bring back mouthwatering memories of the area.
One favourite place where i enjoyed all these food items was Arnie’s at Mukiteo. A few miles north of Boeing’s huge factory, where I did spend a lot of time some years ago.
After the great Clam Chowder, you can take the short ferry ride across to Whidbey Island and enjoy the Mussels from Penn Cove and explore this unspoilt and delightful place.
Travel north on the island and you can return to the mainland via the bridge at Deception Pass. It is a lovely trip. Oh, and if possible have the the locally brewed beers with your meal, very good!
2. SAVANNAH IN GEORGIA
The quaint streets of Savannah and the strange Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss give Savannah a timeless quality.
We stayed in one of the “Historic Inns ” called “The Gastonian”and enjoyed it a lot and we were made very welcome.
However our food highlight was dinner at a great restaurant called “Elizabeth’s on 37th Street” where all the courses were very good but the first course was outstanding. It was a meat stuffed local Vidalia onion covered in a delicious sauce. It was terrific and an everlasting memory of a great City.
3. New England
The whole area of New England is a wonderful part of the USA to visit.
We have been there quite a few times and enjoyed it every time.
New England seems to abound in great food and wonderful hospitality.
On of our favourite places to stay is Captain Lord Mansion in Kennebunkport which is just great, but maybe my most memorable platter was in the small town of Belfast where I enjoyed the most fantastic Lobster Roll.
Of course this is a common item on menus all over New England but that one does stick in my memory! And naturally washed down with locally brewed beers, of which there are many.
it is an area where I have enjoyed painting and sketching so here are few watercolours to end this post
From Boston to Halifax there is so much to see and do!
Next time lets head to Italy,the home of great food, wine and scenery!