Thursday 16 March 2017

Laugharne Laugharne Land

A few miles south of Carmarthen in welsh Wales, the ancient township of Laugharne. Sian and I with Rosie the puppy put into Browns Hotel in the High Street. The town snoozes in the warm afternoon sun.

This town and Browns, in particular, has a famous son, Dylan Thomas. Round the estuary headland looking out across the River Taf is his home and the Boat House where he would write.

Reading Room Browns Hotel
This is Dylan’s town, he and books, literature abound. Our room has books including The Letters of Dylan Thomas an engrossing book that I order up online. There is also a reading room in the hotel, where I sit to colour in the day’s drawings.

Stepping out at dusk to walk with Rosie there is a hardly a sound except for a noisy rookery, birds screaming for a seat at the bar.

Before breakfast a stroll down the High Street reveals much lovely late-Georgian houses; testifying to previous prosperity and some of which is being slowly restored.

Looking out from our breakfast it is close as it gets to it being busy, the morning school run. 
It is St David’s Day – all the school children wear daffodils or tiny leeks.

We relish an all day walk around the town and that part of the Welsh Coastal Path that wraps around it. Warm spring sun, deep lanes festooned with Snowdrops, Celandines and Primroses. As we skirt round the estuary the Oystercatchers’ call drifts up through the woods and Mrs Sheep guides her lambs high on a ridge above.

We break our walk for excellent tea and scones (warm from the oven) at the Dylan Thomas Boathouse café. Judith who runs the place also offers us samples of a lime drizzle cake she has just made in practise for the Mothering Sunday menu.

A steep decent finds us back in the town and ready for the final leg, Coast Path again towards and up Sir John’s Hill. The path is precarious and much mud. We make it and down the other side and into the town and Browns. This is the way good walks should finish. I lay plans now for a return visit.
Across to the other side   Oystercatchers Cry

Sir John’s Hill    by Dylan Thomas

Over Sir John's hill,
The hawk on fire hangs still;
In a hoisted cloud, at drop of dusk, he pulls to his claws
And gallows, up the rays of his eyes the small birds of the bay
And the shrill child's play

The Parlour of the Thomas' Home

The Estuary

Supper time in Browns Hotel

Tuesday 14 March 2017

On the 275 to Oxford: Great bus journeys of our time

All aboard the Oxford Flyer

Mike and I sat towards the back of the Red Rose operated bus from High Wycombe to Oxford. We imaged this part of the bus to be analogous to business class.  The bus departed dead on time. No announcements from the flight deck about delays.

We sat back with a sense of well-being for the seventy or so minute journey. It was a sunny day going there and back. The route took us along country lanes, past villages and farm shops, through Police Speed Check Areas, was all enchanting.

The bus squeaked throughout the journey, like a chirping sparrow. Fellow passengers dozed, tapped on laptops, and engaged the driver in conversation; the lady in front of me was deep into her puzzle book.  

The return journey, leaving Oxford at 14:30, was as exciting. It was the same route and several of the same passengers. The lady, now sitting several rows in front, was on a fresh puzzle.

Bike City

A flight of Victorian fancy

Arriving back at the  High Wycombe bus station we disembarked, thanked our driver, commenting on the number of greetings he enjoyed for people en route. He told us he’d been doing the same route, each day for the last six years, a fine example to public service.

Oxford: Mike’s alma mater and lunch in Morse's pub

Once in the town Mike, a trencherman of some merit (recently having has a successful stall in Borough Market) wasted no time in guiding me through Oxford Covered Market.
Oxford Blue cheese was purchased.

Wandering further we popped into Mike’s alma mater, Keble College.

A remarkable piece of architecture, the work of one man, William Butterfield (1814-1900) a Gothic Revivalist. He is well known for his use of polychromic brick materials, and Keble is an excellent example.

I had visited a gem of his, St. Anne's Church, Dropmore, Littleworth Common, Buckinghamshire (1866) on only a couple of weeks back. 

Leaving Keble, turning right and right again took us straight into the arms of The Lamb and Flag, an establishment that has enjoyed much custom from Mike and his fellow students some year back!  Interestingly St John’s College owns the pub.  Numerous episodes of Morse have included its comfortable bar.  Mike and I each enjoyed an amazingly generous Ploughman’s Lunch.

The day was a fine adventure and thanks to the good advice from the Oxford tourist information office (now called the Oxford Experience) we explored onward bus options. Soon we might find ourselves in Cheltenham.

Friday 10 March 2017

The Girl in a Kenzo Coat

A remarkable coat came into my carriage on the way back from art school last Saturday. An exquisite piece of tailoring, probably by Kenzo.  Only had moments to dump my kit on the carriage floor and make this drawing. Colour added later.

Thursday 9 March 2017

A new language in the playground - Central St Martins #3

My painting course: a new vocabulary

LADIES MARKET HONG KONG: Initial drawing to which collage is added
Right from day one with words from Roger Gill our tutor. 

Roger is an artist and tutor who works in London and who has exhibited in the UK and Europe. He teaches a number of drawing and painting courses at Central Saint Martins - Roger's work?  See

The words – recorded from three weeks back and repeated for my assistance

Risk  - take them

Decisions – make them

Composition  - being mindful of where the figures or components full on a page/canvas

Tone – thinking in tones is better than thinking in line – line OK to get started

Rhythm – look for the rhythms in a painting and consider the value of repeating them

Essence – the something one is trying to access or capture

Observation – deep looking into the subject or work, observation leads to involvement = better picture making.

More collage to explore composition

Oil sketch to which colour will be added next

Tuesday 7 March 2017

Break time at School - Central St Martins #2


Men of Sussex: Initial drawing

Second drawing 

Drawings copied and collage added to explore idea of looking through a window

Oil paint sketch - blue foundation to which colour added later

Week 2 and we are develop paintings from sketches, photographs or found images, experimenting with a range of image manipulation techniques that artists use for translating these sources into figurative work.

I chose two subjects, a busy shopping area in Hong Kong and closer to home, fishermen on our south coast; coming home and selling their catch.  So, unintentionally, but thinking now the twin themes in all my work, 'metropolitan' and 'the sea' bubbled up to the surface!

For both I worked up preliminary drawings, joined pieces together.

 - Moved both on with the application of collage and then two quick oil sketches that will be worked up in oils as a next stage.