A great painting day in Arlington Bluebell Woods in Sussex
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.
Larger and more impressionistic!
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!
Large and Small watercolours for sale on Artfinder
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.
A Place, a Painting ,a Drink and a Platter. No 9 South Africa
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..
If you can drive over the the Franshoek pass Route 45 , or take the road to Thelema Vineyard and visit Stellenbosch Town.
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.
The Town of George boasts some great Restaurants too, two of our favourites are The Town House, and Fat Fish.
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.
Pen and Wash sketches of Canterbury
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
A Place, a Painting, a Drink and a Platter. No 4 –Northern Italy!
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 Few days in Delightful Bosham
Bosham in West Sussex is really a small and delightful Town. It has a really lovely Harbour and is a great place to spend a few days Walking and also visiting the surrounding area, especially Chichester, which is a lovely Cathedral City and well worth a visit.
This was also a great opportunity to paint some watercolours and to enjoy good food and accommodation at “The Millstream Hotel” in the Town, a few minutes walk from the Quay.
In this flatfish landscape the sea rises quickly to engulf the shore road and the cars parked there! Don’t leave your car for long!
It is painters paradise and we luckily had good weather so the opportunity to paint “en plain air” was very welcome
We also visited the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum, where many historic buildings have been gathered together as a village with demonstrations and lovely Sussex Weald Countryside to enjoy.
Here are the watercolours that I managed to paint whilst there, which I hope you will enjoy.
On our visit to Chichester we visited the Cathedral but also the lovely Deanery Gardens and this row of old houses caught my eye in Canon Lane.
We really enjoyed our few days in Bosham and I am sure we will want to return to the area again.
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.
- 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.
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.
A Place, a Painting, a Drink and a Platter.
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.