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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
Next time we will reminisce about the Cote d’Azur in France.
I hope you have enjoyed this first post of this new series.
After what seems far to long, due to you know what, we have just returned from a lovely holiday in France with much of our time spent back on the fabulous Cote d’Azur.
Driving through France in June in very hot weather was very beautiful with the Flowers, Lavender fields, Countryside and Mountains all sparkling in the Summer Sun.
Overnight in Vienne , about 10 miles south of Lyon, was an opportunity to eat in a local Restaurant ,Le Bar a Vins des Saveurs which was very enjoyable and worth seeking out. It is near the Roman Pyramid , quite spectacular ,a Roman column in a town of many Roman ruins.
From Vienne we set off for The Cote d’Azur and on the way passed many fields of lavender and the hills and farms of the Rhone Valley
Here are two larger watercolours of that route
Our destination was Miramar, just outside Theoule on the Esterel coast and about 12 miles from Cannes.
This is the view from our terrace of the bay at Miramar, tranquil sea, and the red rocks so prominent on this part of the coast. And hot too, every day over 30 C!
We love to travel on this spectacular coast road and this next painting is of the beach at Agay, quite near to San Raphael. Hot again!
It would really not be a visit to the Cote d”Azur for us without wandering around Antibes. This lovely old, yet busy, coastal town is a great place to wander.
The view of Antibes from the nearby bay is a very famous one painted by me and many others over the years. This is a new version.
This little Antibes street caught my eye as we walked around.
We moved for a few days to new accommodation near Mougins, another pretty hill village north of Cannes. From there the view of the mountains is great, here is quick sketch of the scene from the walls of Mougins.
The centre of Mougins with it’s many restaurants, cafes and houses is a delight to wander around. Here is sketch from a welcome seat in the shade
One of our favourite places in the area north of Mougins is the spectacular hill village of Gourdon. Small but always worth a visit. This is a watercolour from a few years ago which gives an impression of the position of this amazing perched village.
Up in the mountains this cottage farm gave me an idea for quick sketch of the typical Provence scene
Whilst at Mougins we played some golf , even though it was very hot!. From the Course the view of the houses and hills nearby, gives, I hope and idea of the local scenery.
Our return journey to the UK was via the lovely lake side town of Aix les Bains and there the beautiful Lac de Bourget. From a boat trip on the lake this watercolour seemed appropriate for the final watercolour for this post.
Of course I have come home with many photos and ideas for more watercolours of France and our great holiday. I will post those when I have managed to do a few more.
We will never tire of the Cote d’Azur, one the world’s most wonderful holiday destinations. If you know it well I hope these will be a reminder of it, if you haven’t been there, then GO!
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.
In 1983 we enjoyed a holiday in Crackington Haven in Cornwall. Our children were quite young then and after the sandcastles were built, the swims over, and the games played I decided to have try at a bit of sketching, – I had never tried before. 1 year later I had started painted holiday watercolours.
So here we are in 2021 nearly 38 years later and there have been many watercolours produced since 1973 and a fair few of Cornwall. If you follow this blog you will have seen many of them!
I fact I notice on my stats that over the past year there have been over 9000 views from 76 different countries around the world –Thank you for looking!
These past weeks we have also been enjoying a Rick Stein series on Cornwall on the TV and so these things have brought me to doing a post of some of my Cornwall watercolours, some old, and some new which I hope you will enjoy.
The header is one of St Ives , one of the most famous of Cornish towns, and like many parts of Cornwall a haven for artists.
Toward the most westerly parts of Cornwall is Cape Cornwall and this watercolour tries to capture the Cove and Cape Cornwall from the Kenidjack valley as a storm brews over the sea.
Not far away from there is Priest’s Cove (accessible from the Cape Cornwall Car park) where a few fishing boats still go out to sea.
Also on the North Cornwall coast there are many ruins of Tin and Copper mines , some right at the edge of the precipitous cliffs. Here is a watercolour painted recently of the Crown Engine houses at Botallack Mine.
You can also visit the Levant Mine and beam engine a little further north and see a working Beam Engine there. Amazing for any engineering fans!. After passing or stopping in St Ives the coast will eventually lead you to Hayle and eventually Newquay.
Further on is Bedruthan steps with great coastal views and then Padstow, a great place to have a meal or sit by the quay, as we did, and enjoy a traditional Cornish Pasty. The passenger ferry crosses to Rock but to drive round to Rock and Polzeath the road takes you via Wadebridge.
At Polzeath there is a great beach which is a favourite place for surfers due to the excellent waves coming in from the Atlantic.
And a bit further on the coast is Port Quin and then the famous Port Isaac, well know as the setting for the TV series of Doc Martin.
Further up the North Coast, beyond Crackington Haven is Bude, a larger summer resort again famous for the sandy beaches, and I seem to remember very good ice cream!
Leaving the North coast behind the South Coast of Cornwall is equally appealing, with quaint fishing villages, much history and beautiful coastal scenery.
A few places that I have painted watercolours of are here now and all are well worth a visit if you are there.
St Clements is near to Truro on the River Tresillian. I was introduced to it by another blogger who produces a great Blog about Cornish History and Folklore ( Cornishbirdblog.com The Cornish Bird) and this watercolour is, with permission, from a photo from that blog.
The south coast has so many great places to visit but here is just one real favourite of ours, Mousehole, tricky to park at though!
Lastly for this post about my Cornwall watercolours is a view of St Michael’s Mount, where today there is the choice of ferry or a walk across the Causeway at low tide.
This watercolour tries to capture the scene as people arrive from the last evening ferry.
I have only been able to give you a flavour of the “Delights of Cornwall “here but it is a great County of England to visit. In many ways it is unique and has the most stunning coastal scenery and lovely towns and villages to spend time in..
I hope you will be able to visit there and that we too will once more be able to go there again.
Happy travelling — when you can!
Stay safe and well
I love to paint watercolours, and I have always been fascinated by this medium.
Whilst I get great pleasure trying to paint big and bold watercolours I often find myself returning to where I started , using a pen and wash technique.
The sheer pleasure of the pen marks casually laid on the paper which may or may not be important later on is such fun and then applying washes of watercolour over it in a not too rigorous edgy manner is very exhilarating.
Maybe I am easily pleased but this process, which has to be pretty speedy, has been the backbone of my watercolours for many years and I hope will continue to be so.
Pen and wash can be in my sketch books, or slightly more formally on Watercolour paper, I particularly like Arches watercolour blocks which are so great for use when travelling!
Let’s hope we can travel again soon though!
So here are some older and more recent Pen and Wash watercolours which I hope you will enjoy.
These first three were painted just this week from photos of previous visits and that is often how they happen. When I can in love to sketch on the spot but that is a luxury which I can’t do at present of course.
Two scenes for Yorkshire first
And now a recent painting of Mousehole in Cornall and one of the River dart in Devon
A few on place in Provence
And a quick trip into Spain and Portugal
An finally , for now at least, a few of both Canterbury and York
I hope from these you can see the reason why I enjoy Pen and Wash so much. Immediate , Colourfull and fun to do!
Stay safe and well and maybe this year we may all get to travel again.
Happy New Year to Everyone, and thanks for reading my Blog!
Let us hope that 2021 turns out better for us all than 2020. I am keeping my fingers crossed!
Alas I doesn’t seem that we will be travelling soon so some virtual travel will have to be the way forward for now.
I painted 116 watercolours during 2020 and I am not planning on stopping this trend for this year.
For many years when I was working I travelled extensively on business and went to Seattle many, many times working with Boeing of various airplanes programmes, most notably the 777. I usually stayed at Bellevue but whenever there was some free weekends I took the opportunity to travel to the coast and the islands or into the Cascade Mountains. The scenery of the Cascades is amazing but the one site that dominates all is that of Mount Rainier. Although 60 miles from Seattle it looms large and is a spectacular site even from a distance.
And so painted from some of the many photos that I took in those days ( I rarely had a sketch book with me) I have any last painted a view of Mount Rainier. This painting shows haw due to it height Mount Rainier keeps a snow covered top all year. It is possible to drive right up to 6000 feet there but this watercolour is from one of the approach roads.
We have visited many mountains over the years and way back in 2003 I painted this sketch of Table Mountain at Capetown in South Africa.
This mountain dominates Capetown even more that Mount Rainier does in Seattle but it is a very amazing site from across the bay.
Also near Capetown are the 12 Apostles Mountain range and here is a painting again from some years ago of these spectacular mountains above Camps Bay in the evening.
Even further away from the UK is New Zealand with some of the most amazing scenery we have ever
Here are just three watercolours, the first of Mount Tongaringo in the North Island and the others from the South Island.
I hope that you have enjoyed this first part of my Mountain Travel Post. I will be adding more on Part 2
Stay safe and well
This will be my last post of 2020 and it will be a year I am sure we will not look back on happily.
There have been many lows but some wonderful highs such as the achievement to create new vaccines so quickly and the care so many have shown to others in such troubled times.
My watercolours have been a wonderful visual journey to get me through these lockdown days and during the year I have painted well over one hundred watercolours of many places around the world as real travel has had to be replaced with fantasy journeys to places that we love or would like to go to.
To all of you who have taken the time to look at these posts, my grateful thanks, and I hope that as 2021 arrives we can all look forward with more optimism to a better world.
And so it was that over the holidays I was talking to a friend about Norfolk and it spurred me into action to do one of these “Places I would like to be” posts. I do plan to go there in 2021!!!
With travel a distant memory it would be good to be in Norfolk for it’s lovely countryside, coast, big skies and amazing sunsets. Not to mention the food and yes, Norfolk wine too!
So here are some watercolours painted over the past few years of Norfolk and they will help me and I hope you to reminisce about or if you don’t know the area to get on to your list!
Let’s start on the coast where the lovely beaches meet the sky
On the North coast lies the picturesque town of Balakeney famous as one the best places to try crab rolls and sandwiches. Blakeney is apopular harbour town with many boats and yachts moored there ready for the incoming tide.
Here is my watercolour of the harbour, a great place to sit and watch the world go by!
And one of some boats waiting for the tide
To the east of Blakeney is the pretty little town of Cley Next The Sea, with is equally famous windmill which has been the subject of paintings for over two hundred years.
Here is one of my watercolour but in the style of the very famous watercolourist, Edward Seago whose paintings of the British coast and Europe too are all really wonderful. I really admire his work done in the 20th Century.
And here is another of the Cley Windmill but in my more usual style
In 2019 I was lucky to go to a watercolour workshop held at The White House Hotel at Sussex farm, with Herman Pekel, a fantastic Australian watercolour painter and we painted around the Burnham Market area , a very pretty town and with great places to eat and drink too!
These are some of the watercolours I produced during that week with his help and guidance.
And lastly a dawn seascape at Sctby on the East coast of Norfolk
I am sorry this has been a long post but anyway I hope you have enjoyed this glimpse of Norfolk and that you have a Very Happy 2021.
Around Broadstairs in Watercolours
A couple of years ago a venue for the Sky Arts Landscape painter of the Year competition was Broadstairs in Kent, and I was lucky enough to be selected to paint there on that day.(I didn’t get selected for the final alas though!)
Although we had been to Broadstairs before that from then on I have enjoyed visting this picturesque seaside town, and painting watercolours from various photos and some sketches.
So I have collected a few in this post which I hope will encourage you visit to our sandy beached resorts on the Kent coast.
Just North of Broadstairs is Botany Bay and these next two painting are the views , south and north at the Bay.
So there you have a few views of this rather quaint Kentish seaside town with strong associations with Charles Dickens too.
In the mean time Best Wishes for Christmas and let us all hope that 2021 will turn out to be a better year that 2020.
Stay well and safe
PS. If you would like to buy any of these watercolours of any other from my blog please just contact me at email@example.com and I will respond with availability and price very quickly. A good many paintings have already found nice walls to hang on around the world so please check with me. However if already sold I am always happy to paint a new, original and unique version just for you. I don’t sell copies but I can provide Canvas style prints of most of my watercolours.
Payment can then be easily made by PayPal and courier delivery, usually only taking a few days, will follow. Prices will include the shipping to anywhere in the world.
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