Wednesday 29 December 2021


It was some weeks back  we were given a link to watch a particular piece of dance performance.

I eventually got round to watching it and realised that the dance artist, Jo Shapland, was the very same person whom I’d been drawing during our class a few days earlier. And the exercises we were set included drawing her whilst she was dancing and doing the same without looking at our paper.

From a web link available below ‘Swyn-gân / Summoning, by poet Clare E. Potter and dance artist Jo Shapland, listens deeply to instinctive and mystical aspects of communication, how body, land, the nature speak. Jo also made the film. 




Plethu/Weave saw four dancers from National Dance Company Wales and the four dancers independent sector, partnered with some of Literature Wales’ commissioned poets to create short solo performances during lockdown.


Link to a remarkable film also

Dancing with Jo, across this first semester - here are the drawings....



Sunday 26 December 2021


Most of our workshops at art school conclude with a tsunami of links and suggestions of artists we should investigate and through this enquiry determine the his/her importance and relevance to one’s own work (practice). Note the use of the word ‘practise’ to imbue the practise of painting and related active with supplementary airs and graces.

Henry Moore was called out a couple of weeks back. My diligence led to this: 


Drawing to Sculpt.

Henry Moore was a sculptor passionate about drawing.  In the online the archive of his work, there are 1678 landscape drawings. 


He works in charcoal, wax crayon (wax resist) watercolour collage. When the ball point pen was available that was a favourite.


Moore has been drawing in sketchbooks throughout his life. He takes these drawings into printmaking as well as sculpture. He led the post war sculpture revival. and he has always looked carefully at his drawings to see how they could become sculpture.


His leitmotif is the reclining nude.  It is easy to see how he draws parallels with reclining nude and the landscape. There was an interesting passage in a BBC film about him [details below] where he takes a drawing by Albrecht Durer and sees lines on that drawing becoming landscape.


BBC film was shot in 1978 interview with John Read. In the film we see his landscape drawings, use of wax resist, as he walks us through his sketchbook. Moore has been a constant drawer working away at ideas.


The countryside was always hugely important to Henry Moore. Exemplified by a series of drawings of tree drawings on blotting paper. He looks at tree roots and says they look like figures “tree trunks are human, almost” 39:09 min into the BBC film*.


Aside from being one of  the most important sculptors of late 20th century his drawings are a rich resource. 


Drawing from nature makes you look more intensely” says Moore in his interview 


The Henry Moore Foundation is embarking on an exciting new project to publish Henry Moore’s entire artistic output in one comprehensive and illustrated online catalogue.*/objects?filter=department%3ADrawings



*The Lively Arts - Henry Moore at Eighty (1978 von John Read) (engl.)

9 Jan 2017

moriundmori - Kunst-Dokus

Henry Moore gives a private viewing of his sketches.

BBC 1978, Producer: John Read. 

First Broadcast: 30 July 1978


Importance and Relevance, oh yes…

I am much in tune with Moore’s dictum ‘Drawing from nature makes you look more intensely’. I always have, 

I walk past trees and see their roots and I am smitten by the need to draw them. 

Seeing trees and other forms akin to the human form is a great start point for developing a visual language.

Tuesday 21 December 2021


30 October 2021,  tidied up 21 December 2021


Well, it was a bit of a funny start...

Coming onto a degree course*, painting, drawing and printmaking, with little or few qualifications at the age of 68. 


Now I have been exposed to all kinds of weird stuff: dancing art, art that uses various parts of the body to make itself manifest on paper (a link a tutor sent round). 


There is a desire to move us to abstraction.


And we are s t r e t c h e d!

Now the instant response is not to do same old, same old, but using materials that I used to hate which now I love: charcoal and chalk and Conte crayon.


Because these materials are much more expressive, they focus on tone and shade which are the fundamental principles of great drawing and painting.

What am I getting through these materials (charcoal and chalk and Conte crayon)? The confidence to work at speed. Applying pressure to the material gives different result, using the edge of these materials makes different marks. I have flexibility and options.



*Yr.1 BA (Hons) Fine Art/ Painting, Drawing and Printmaking

Saturday 18 December 2021


Joy to the World

Proclaims the Bishop of Oxford’s Card, above a Christmas version of an illustration I did earlier in the year, on a visit to Church of the Holy Family Blackbird Leys, Cowley, Oxford.



Dearest cousin Wendy and I sought this church out. I’d made a drawing at the time. The vicar of the church had it made into greetings cards. Full story: >>


The Bishop’s Executive Assistant approached me about their office using my illustration for the official Bishop’s diocesan Christmas card and wondering if I could make it more Christmassy?


Being up to my eyes in preparations for the first semester assessment at Carmarthen School of art (yr.1) I suggested that they might use local resources available to their office. This they proceeded to do, local graphic design elves were deployed, and the outcome was joyous. Literally. 


800 were popped in the post by m' Lord Bishop


And I received a handful complimentary cards (with posh envelopes) and the feeling that I have in some way contributed to Oxfordshire’s Christmas.

The original sans the festive cheer 

Sunday 21 November 2021


Do you remember when we had relatives that dutifully presented us with our materials either at Christmas or on our birthdays?


Familiar names even now… Daler, Rowney, Windsor & Newton and Reeves.

Each gift a treasured possession. And we thought at the time hugely expensive. 

Most of these brands have now been snapped up by a holding company in France carrying the name ‘Windsor and Newton’


Ordering your paint brushes now? for example, the names are a much more exotic…

Zhu Ting


And my personal favourite....

Keep Smiling

It must have six weeks ago when a tutor had us make our own brushes. 

My Brush Set 

Sarah Lees had us scouring the campus looking for anything which we could possibly press into service to create a 'brush' and make a mark. And the results were beautiful. 


I’ve kept mine and I use them for their unique lines and shapes. 

Diolch Sarah.

A small example of output 

Enjoy Sarah's work here and in several galleries across West Wales


Thursday 18 November 2021




Up and out of Laugharne

It was gloriously sunny all day yesterday. In the afternoon I decided to take a break from study and get out and enjoy the fresh air. 

I cycled up and out of Laugharne (thank goodness for the electric bike). And then along the busy road to St Clears and forked left onto what is known as the old Saint Clears Road.


Only  two cars past me the entire time I was peddling down the road.


It was absolutely glorious in the late afternoon sun (3:30 pm) and two very distinct views: the hillsides to the west of me dark is coal and illuminated by a high sky, and to the east of me the green fields was lit up so it was almost broad daylight.


I stopped to make a drawing looking east to a farm called Cresswell. 


Across the fields

A road to one's self

The delightful chapel 

Across the fields I heard the  lowing of cattle in the farm’s yard. Not another sound, except a Robin close by.


I’d forgotten my water bottle for painting, a nearby puddle provided me with some.


Along a little more I came across a delightful chapel, lovingly restored and fell into conversation with a couple just getting to the car having place flowers on her mother’s grave. 


This is the land of impromptu conversations, freely given and taken.

Monday 4 October 2021



The busy A4066 is the road out of Laugharne onto the A40 (Carmarthen-Fishguard). 


My bus uses it every day (except Sundays). I wanted to spend more time looking at the exquisite views to the east that you glimpse only fleetingly from the bus. So I decided that I would venture out taking the bus out of Laugharne and getting it to drop me a mile or so up the road at Cross Inn.


Most of the 2.6 miles has no footpath by the side of the road. I wore some hi-vis and fearless faced the oncoming traffic art bag, with board and paper and crayons in one hand.

The other hand was free to give a thumbs up approbation to each car as it passed.


The countryside is wonderful. The ribbon of the Afon Taf is only seldom out of view reflecting as it did yesterday the grey skies above. Further still and above the river is a ridgeline of hills which were shrouded in mist. Pylon’s march across this calm landscape. Close by, their offspring, the telegraph poles, taking their wares to the farms and houses hereabouts. 


Breaks in the hedgerows, entrances to fields, provide wonderful views out across the landscape and the opportunity to use the top of a five-bar gate as an easel on to rest my board.

Telegraph poles, taking their wares to the farms and houses hereabouts

In these same hedgerows are the first signs of autumn. Plenty of blackberries, purple scabious, a few yellow dandelions, tangles of old man’s beard, the skeletons of cow parsley, the seed heads of verge-side grasses and other colourful berries all are on parade.


I make several drawings, having forgotten my pen, my mark making was bold and colourful.

The skeletons of cow parsley

I cross the Taf, the bridge is quite narrow for a pedestrian and a car. Drivers avert their eyes.

Into St Clears and outside St Mary Magdelene I enjoy a good drink of water and soon the bus home pulls up for me.


Once home I add some detail to my work. It is a great way to recall the excitement of what I have seen and the realisation that wonderful scenery can only be enjoyed on foot.

And along the way...... 

Friday 1 October 2021


Soon on the bus and Autumn is here 

An iPhone essay in modern transport.


Taking the 222 bus from Laugharne to get into Carmarthen School of Art, each day, is a real treat. Likewise, the journey home.


There is no occasion when I do not discover another detail either of the landscape or on the places we pass.


I am now getting to know the drivers. As I board the bus I distribute cheery greetings, in a uncontrollable urge to ingratiate myself with the driver and fellow passengers. Plus ça change. And my tactic is beginning to work. I am best buds two drivers and I now enjoy a good josh*. Passengers (albeit limited numbers) acknowledge my boarding


At home on any front lawn
Being the season of mellow fruitfulness, the hills and valleys are doused in mist. Farms emerge like ghosts, sheep and cattle are walking spectres. After leaving Laugharne we hurtle down the busy A4066 to St Clears. Woosh and we are over the Afon Taf and into the town. Stop three times, scoop up people and join the A40 heading east.


More heart-stopping landscapes.


The bus changes down a gear, indicates and we are heading of the main road towards Bancyfelin.

‘Despite having a population of fewer than 300, two of the current Welsh Six Nations squad, scrum-half Mike Phillips and centre Jonathan Davies, come from the village.


Source: Davies’ younger brother ‘Cubby’ now plays for Wales. 


Every time we drive past the sign to Bancyfelin I shout to Sian, Foxy (Jonathan Davies) and Cubby Boy and Mike Phillips. The bus passes The Fox and Hounds pub in Bancyfelin, which has reason to be proud. The landlord and his lady are the parents of Foxy and Cubby Boy!


Sun across the fields 

And back onto the A40 again East and we are nearly into Carmarthen. Exit left into Johnstown. Johnstown is a suburb of Carmarthen.  Here I push the bell and alight from the bus and prepare myself for a walk up the vertical hill that Google says 8 minutes it takes mmey 10. 

But it is worth it!



Strange things along the way 

Journey's end 


The Route Planner 

Sunday 19 September 2021


One of the wonderful places about any School of Art is the print room. And the print room at Carmarthen School of Art is no different. It is stocked with some remarkable pieces of equipment some of which are quite ancient but still working well. Experts coming from time to time to adjust and tune press rather like a piano tuner!

A thing of beauty....


And on the Access Course we get to work in here EVERYWEEK. This is paradise, taking me back to three intensive years of monoprint 2010 – 2013 working with the late Christine Lock in Marlow.


Among Carmarthen’s print room treasures are two Albion presses.


The Albion press is a model of early iron hand printing press, originally designed and manufactured in London by Richard Whittaker Cope around 1820.


Albions continued to be manufactured until the 1930s. They were used for commercial book-printing until the middle of the nineteenth century, and thereafter chiefly for proofing, jobbing work and by private presses.


After Cope's death, Albions were manufactured by his heirs and members of the Hopkinson family trading initially as 'Jonathan and Jeremiah Barrett' and later as 'Hopkinson and Cope', who are said to have improved the design. From the 1850s onwards Albion presses were manufactured under licence by other firms, notably Harrild & Sons, Miller and Richard, and Frederick Ullmer Ltd. a joy forever


Their distinctive shapes are aesthetically beguiling, quite lovely and their finial tops and crowns are an absolute delight. The embellishments, casting and design breath-taking.


Pressed for time? Discover more about printing presses here

Friday 17 September 2021

JENGA JENGA: Acting against 'anonymity and repetitiveness'

56 Leonard New York is also known as the Jenga Tower. It is another exciting example of affordable housing, overlooking the Hudson River. Eight hundred and twenty-one feet (250 m) tall, its 57 stories are served by 10 elevators.


The building in this drawing is from a photograph by PJ Lehrer’ looks like a teetering tower of perspex boxes.


Further investigation shows it was designed by my favourite Swiss firm of architects, Hezog + Meuron. Their considered description for the building is found here.


From which this lively narrative is taken:

‘Together these different strategies – considering the tower from the inside-out, responding to local scales, and maximizing the potential of local construction systems – produce a building where only five out of the 145 apartments are repeated. Furthermore, no two floor plates are the same, giving those who will live in this project their own unique home characterized by distinct moments of individuality within the overall stack’.


The building’s foundations were laid in 2008 and by the end of 2013 over 90% of the 145 apartment’s were sold. Priced between US$3.5 million and US$50 million. These condo’s range in size from 1,400 to 6,400 square feet (131.7 to 594.6 m2) and include two to five bedrooms. All come with private outdoor spaces.


The building’s back story is nicely introduced in Wikipedia

Tuesday 14 September 2021


'I take this pic often as I approach the city.  It's like looking for the skyline when I come in from the airport or through the tunnel from NJ.  I like knowing that I am almost home. :-)'

PJ Lehrer

From a photograph by P J Lehrer

The Q runs to and from 96th a ritzy looking new station on the Upper East Side of (Manhattan) and takes you all the way down to Coney Island and its entertainment and beaches.  

from Wikipedia :)–present:_Extensions_to_Astoria_and_Second_Avenue

The tracks cross the East River on the Manhattan Bridge. A service has been running since 1878, The Q service proper started in 1920.


There are plans to take it up to 125 St. in East Harlem giving people here a direct train to the beach within the next five years!

The great notion, reflecting on the Q train and its stops across the city,  is it like being back in New York.

Discover more NYC here

Sunday 12 September 2021


September 6,8 and 10

Oh! I am here. Beginning to finish what I started in 1974.


I am on the Art Access Course at Carmarthen School of Art.

“The Access to Higher Education qualification is a course tailored for adults who wish to return to education. Maybe it is time for a career change or maybe you did not have the chance to go to university due to family commitments.” (‘adults’ their italics)


Access, rather like a Foundation course, the equivalent of doing three ‘A’ Levels in one year. Says the man who left school with six all of GCEs all at grade six.  The program runs for one year, three terms, three days a week.



Here’s our room, say ‘Hi’ to everyone. 

Grab a desk, 

grab a chair, 

find yourself a drawer in one of the Plans Chests. Make sure you label it.


Our tutor throughout this year is Sarah, she is an established practising artist too.


Across the day we get the skinny* on the course, how to be successful, what’s expected.


In the morning also a spirited introductory presentation to us and the Foundation Course group from the Heads of the School, Jamie and Amelia.  All the opportunities, growth, and values of the college are laid before us. Go for it being their key message.


This term, as far as I can figure, we are doing six modules from now until December 17, Ceramics, Textiles, 2D, Drawing, Print Making, and Communication Skills.


Exhausted, at lunchtime I wander into the print making studio. Wow! Loads of presses including two Victorian flights of engineering fancy; Albion presses, early cast iron hand printing press and still going strong. I meet the Head of the department and am determined to spend a lot of time here across the coming weeks.


Cutting out like Matisse; across the afternoon we work with coloured paper, scissors and glue to create art. Moderate success for me and the activity got us all thinking!

Making like Matisse




We are in the life drawing studio (huge) and with a table-top still life set up. We are drawing from about 10:30 through 3:30 This is the activity that makes us strong. Paper, charcoal, pens and paint. We are left to our own devices with Tutor Sarah coming round to encourage and suggest. 

I suspect this a just a gentle warm up to some hard-core drawing instruction just around the corner. The tip of a hard and disciplined iceberg.  


Come 3:45 I walk down the hill (one which is vertical by the way, when I walk up it in the morning) and catch my bus home to Laugharne at 3:55.

The Big Draw

Wednesday: Drawing and Painting




Ceramics introduction from Head of Department Tom Fisher. 


He dances us around this kingdom, showing us his riches, riches that we will, after next week enjoy every Friday morning. 


His message is totally clear: turn up, tune in and hand your assignments in on time and we’ll all be good. Phew.


Like every organisation in the known world, we have an IT ‘platform’ on which we will run our lives here. 

Folks it’s all on Google. So, we have a session learning the digital ropes according to Google. I stray into doing one of the online assessments, politely called ‘Number’ and the results from this throw my childhood struggle with math back into sharp focus.



Facilities and mindset**...

The facilities, studios, the kit and wonderful tutors all in place.

Mindset: have a go, there’s loads of support, the facilities are there to be used. All the lecturers are there to teach and coach – so go stretch.



*Skinny: US, informal.: the true information about someone or something that is not known by most people.


** 'You don't object to our using of the expression 'mindset' do you sir? Mr Hector doesn't care for it. He says if he catches any of us using it he'll kick our arses from bollocks to sundown sir' Alan Bennett – The History Boys.

Saturday 4 September 2021


 July 13 Friday

We cross over into Pembrokeshire, near Neath, specifically to Crunn’s Farm where T&J have chosen to make their home. 




Crunn’s is a lovely old farmhouse with a barn adjacent. The latter goes by the delightful name of Pretty Penny Barn.  They are good neighbours up in the Badlands of Buckinghamshire and have chosen to be our neighbours in West Wales too. 

Crunn's are only about 30 minutes drive away so bound to be lots of adventures across the coming years. By my count the place is blessed by five separate garden areas to the front, back and sides of the property!


And o’ my! 

From the house The Preseli Hills, known locally and historically as the Preseli Mountains, shimmer. And you can look across the eastern Cleddau valley to Llawhaden Castle a fortified Bishop’s Palace.

Early morning from Crunn's looking East


I made it quite clear to the new owners that it is my intention to spend much time here drawing and painting. Come late Autumn when distracting foliage is less evident there will be much to paint!