In Derbyshire lies the English Peak district.
An area of great classical English country beauty with rolling hills, interesting towns, famous historical Country Houses and , in the High Peak some really spectacular scenery.
So for a few days we stayed in a great Hotel, The Cavendish Hotel at Baslow, It is very close to Chatsworth House and whilst based there we toured around this fine part of Central England.
Good and generous food portions and really delightful scenery abound and so it was a nice opportunity to do some sketching and painting of the area.
As we were so close to Chatsworth we spent some time there both inside this extravagant home of one of England’s historically richest families and in the countryside of the Derbyshire Dales.
If you haven’t visited this area it is very well worth doing so.
Derbyshire and the Paek District has some wonderful Pack horse bridges and waterfalls. Here are Sketches of two of them to give you some idea of the great scenery to be seen in the area.
Whilst in the Peak District one the best places to visit is the Hope Valley and Castleton. Castleton is a nice small town nesting below Winnats Pass with lots of pubs and coffee shops. It is also the home of Blue John Jewellery which is mined just outside the Town.
From Castleton the drive over Winnats Pass is amazing and for those with better walking capabilities than I it is a wonderful hiking area. At the top of Winnats Pass the scenery is really lovely with Mam Tor and the high peak area really delightful.
This sketch tries to capture that panorama there but you reall have to go there to experience the spectacular nature if the area.
We visited the very interesting village of Eyam. There in 1665 plague struck and the villagers virtually sealed themselves off to await their fate, and thus not infect others. Many died both there and right across the UK and Eur0pe. In Eyam there is an excellent museum with great details of the history of that time and a lot of very interesting information about the village and the plague.
Quite close to the M1 in this area you will also find Hardwick House, the former home of Bess of Hardwick and the creator of Chatsworth. Another great house to visit and get the feel of Elizabethan 17th Century England.
We enjoyed our time in The Peak District a great deal and will return there again to explore more of the scenery, towns and villages of the area.
It was great to spend a week visiting friends and family in Northern Ireland and revisiting many great locations there, luckily I was able to fit in a few watercolour sketches along the way!
Readers of this blog will be familiar with how much we enjoy the North Antrim Coast and the spectacular scenery there.
Even the drive from Larne to Portrush is spectacular with the Causeway Coastal Route hugging the coast for so many wonderful miles.
We based ourselves this time in a great house rental in Whiteabbey (Abbeyselfcatering.co.uk) which I would strongly recommend as it’s location, near to Belfast and Carrickfergus is a great touring base for all of Northern ireland.
Whlist in Northern Ireland there wasn’t a lot of time for painting but I did manage a few “en plain air” sketches which are in this blog and were painted during out visits to the areas.
Firstly, The Giants Causeway, sitting on those famous hexagonal stones, and dodging the showers gave me time for couple of quick sketches .
And also the next bay with the amazing rock formations –
It is a busy place and pre-booking is well advised as coach loads of visitors, some from cruise ships, go there to marvel at this natural phenomenon.
Just a few miles further down the road is the famous Carrick -a-Rede rope bridge which is some 98 feet above the rocks below.
Here are two sketches one on cartridge paper which will give you some idea of the Bridge.
In the great seaside town of Ballycastle is one of the finest beaches you will see with the backdrop of the cliff known as Fair Head. This has been one of my favourite subjects over many years and here is a recent quick watercolour and a studio watercolour painted before this visit.
Of course for me a trip to Northern ireland would not be complete without a glimpse of the Mourne Mountains 30 miles south of Belfast. No time for a sketch so here are two studio watercolours of these beautiful mountains above Newcastle and Murlough Bay.
And lastly a semi abstract watercolour of the same scene painted a couple of weeks ago.
This was a short but lovely visit to Northern Ireland with is wonderful scenery, people, food and drink. ( Yes, I did manage a quick stop at the Bushmills Whiskey Distillery in Bushmills to collect some supplies!)
I hope that you will enjoy these sketches and watercolours.
If you would like to see more please download my free Guide Book to Ulster which you will find in the Header to this Blog, or search of for the book on the Apple iBookstore.,where it is also free.
Some of these and many more of my watercolours are for sale on http://www.Artfinder.com/brianswatercolours
I have been experimenting with some watercolours that have some abstract ideas in then and I have really been enjoying the challenge.
Whilst trying to preserve lanscape and seascape ideas these paintings have a bit of abstraction about them and I hopw you will like them
They are fun to produce and they can also be upscaled as Giclée prints to create large centrepiece paintings up to 1 metre wide and this is an exciting prospect too.
Hre are some recent ones for you to see and any of your thoughts would be appreciated.
I hope you will enjoy these
We have just returned from two lovely weeks holiday in Provence, one of our most favourite areas in the World.
We drove from the UK in leisurely style stopping twice on the two long journeys.
Alas we hasd a lot of thunderstorms in the afternoons and evenings whilst in Tourettes, near Fayence in Provence, but that didn’t stop us enjoying it all a lot . It did curtail eating dinners outside in the evenings though which we were very surprised were occurring in June. Storms often seem to be more common in August and September after a long hot summer.
I was able to do quite a lot of painting watercolours which of course I really enjoyed.
Below are my efforts which I hope you will like.The string of hill villages and towns from Vence to Seillans and beyond are are delightful, lovely narrow streets to wander through, and so here is Tourettes where were were staying in a lovely traditional home with views of the countryside.
Close by is the village of Callian. These fortified towns are very old and each one is well worth the visit. In each you will find cafes, boulangeries, and restaurants with delightful local produce to enjoy.
Non more so than Seillans where the restaurant “Chez Hugo” is very good and the setting of the Restaurant “La Gloire de Mon Pere” is depicted below.
Nearby too was Fayence where in the square by the Église Saint Jean Baptiste are Cafés and Restaurants , and many more further up into the town.
Further north from Seillans and Fayence is the fine town of Bargemon
Here is quick sketch of the shoppers there.
Of course whilst in the Côte D’Azur we could not resist a trip to St Tropez, using the ferry from St Maxime. We were very lucky to see a large yacht race going on in the waters just off St Tropez too and here is watercolour of the scene as we entered the harbour there.
In St Tropez there are so many great scenes but this new one is from the Quad towards the Church. The church is a great landmark from all around.
This is a watercolour from a previous visit but as it one on my all time favourite scenes to paint I could not resist including it here
And one more, a back street with lovely restaurants at the rear of that famous Church
From St Tropez, after lunch in Le Mazaran restaurant, (with the green umbrellas above and great omelette and chips, washed down with local Rosé wine) we took the ferry back to St Maxime and then we drove all the way round the coast back to La Napoule via St Aygulf, Fréjus, StRaphael, Agay and Théoule sur Mer on the wonderful Esterel coast road, surely one of the greatest coastal drives in the world!
being on the Côte D’Azur is never complete for us without a visit to Antibes and so we also went there once again. With the great castle opposite Antibes is a lovely town to visit and enjoy a coffee ,or lunch in one of the many eateries there.
We really do love Provence and the Côte d’Azur, and no doubt we will be back again in the future
Until then I hope you have enjoyed these few watercolours of this wonderful region of France
The woodlands at Bates Green Farm at Arlington in Sussex are famous for the intensity and the vast amount of Bluebells there in the Spring.
I am most indebted to Alison Cotton , a local Sussex Artist and Watercolour tutor, for arranging this lovely day there in what turned out to be perfect sunny and warm weather!
Phillipa, from the Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen prepared a really tasty lunch of Asparagus Quiches, amazing salads and a Rhubarb crumble for the eight of us which was all really delicious.
Having the extensive woods all to ourselves was amazing and we all really enjoyed watching Alison’s demonstrations and trying hard to capture the colour and the masses of bluebells , with the trees and dappled shade of their surroundings.
I was pleased to have had time for three watercolours 14 inches by 10 and to have time to take many reference photos for the future.
So here are my efforts. Painting watercolours “en plein air” is always tricky but in the warm dappled sun it was nevertheless a great experience.
My thanks to Alison, Philippa and everyone that made the day so enjoyable. Maybe a return visit to paint the woods in the Autumn would be a good chance to sample more of the great food from the Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen and enjoy more painting in Arlington Woods.
I have alway been interested in painting larger watercolours but only now have I really got round to giving it a go.
After the recently posted Salisbury Cathedral watercolour, shown again here, I have been painting a few larger more impressionistic watercolours either at 78 cms width or 95 cms width.
Here are the two new wide paintings , the first one on Saunders 600gsm paper which is very heavy and takes lots of water very well.
The second was painted on heavy wallpaper lining paper and although I was sceptical if it would take watercolour at all it has turned out fine and the paint dried nicely on this fairly smooth paper.
This paper is many times lower in cost than watercolour rolls of paper and so I will try it again.
Both are as you see semi abstract Fen like scenes and I have been pleased with the interest shown in this style which is for me a bit of a departure from the norm!
This week i hope to be away painting the Bluebell woods in Sussex and this may also give me an opportunity for a really wide watercolour too. If so I will post it here soon
Any comments gratefully received!
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!
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