Saturday, 27 November 2010

Studio space.

It will be another week at least before I'm back in Wales and then it will be time to get ready for Christmas. Finding a new studio is definitely a priority in the New Year. In the meantime I'm in London reading about snow in Montcuq and snow in Wales and hoping that when this cold spell passes we'll have a mild winter!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Leaving Montcuq

It's time to leave France and head for Britain.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010


For the best Cahors wine..

The Rocking Horse.

Café de France

Café du Centre

Nostalgia is setting in. It's early morning and I walk around the village taking in the important bits. Friday nights always spent at the Cafe du Centre; enjoying a drink in the sunshine outside the Rocking Horse on market day and then there's the wine shop which has all the best Cahors wines. Under the chestnut tree at the Cafe de France we spent all the early days, before the house was habitable, making plans and dreaming of how it would be.

Friday, 29 October 2010


I went to shop in Cahors early one morning. A student demonstration was planned for that afternoon and I knew the place would get busy. As it was I had the space and time to take a number of photographs but it was only this one that interested me.

Thursday, 21 October 2010


It's Autumn and the colours around me are breathtaking but still I'm obsessed with taking photographs of the sky. The fields which were covered with sunflowers in July are now reduced to stubble. The colours are muted and streaked with black. The trees and bushes lining the roads are extraordinary in contrast. Pinks and reds, bright blue berries, all shades of yellow and dashes of orange. I am frustrated because my paints are packed away and all I can do is store these images in my head and hope to carry them with me back to Wales. I've tried taking photographs but I just can't seem to capture the vibrancy of the landscape on film.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

New paintings

After the Rain.

Summer Breeze.

Walking on Sunshine

Reasons to be Cheerful.

Lazy Afternoon.

I have completed six paintings in the four months I have been here. A lot of time went into each canvas and that in itself is very satisfying. When I look at them hanging on the wall now I can remember the events of the summer and enjoy the memories they evoke.
By the time I leave in November they will be dry and ready for framing.
Now my paints are packed up and I've moved the studio table onto the terrace so that on the sunny days I can breakfast outside for the remainder of my time here.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Yesterday evening.

Yesterday I wanted to capture something of the evening just outside my window. It will remind me, when I leave here, of the changing colours of the leaves and the blue sky above the roof of the house. The colours are there in my paintings but back in Wales in the depths of winter I need to know that here, in October, the sky really was that colour.

I have learned a new word -autan - it's the wind that blows around the house hurling pots from terraces. It's a hot wind and this is the strangeness of it. I expect any minute to see a sand storm!

Friday, 24 September 2010

First fire.

Big storm last night with violent thunder and lightning and copious amounts of rain. It's still raining and although it's not cold I'm staying in beside the fire!

Thursday, 16 September 2010


View from the studio - France.

Yesterday it was so hot we went swimming in the lake to cool off. Today it's cooler, raining and the sky is misty but I'm working on a painting which is full of sunshine. I know the weather will gradually change this month with colder mornings and evenings but my head will still be full of sunny images well into the Autumn.

A small mouse has been sharing my kitchen for some weeks now. He hides behind the woodpile and darts across the floor. A friend managed to capture him once and put him outside - I hope he escaped! It's only a field mouse and very sweet but I bought some poison in the end. Yesterday I found two small bodies in the middle of the kitchen floor. Not nice and very sad but I had no way of knowing if "he" was really a solitary friend or if a whole family had decided to settle here. I wasn't very keen on that.

Sunday, 5 September 2010

The Tower across the road.

The Tom Jones moment has passed and thoughts of South Wales fade as the sun gets stronger and the colours on the palette become sharper and brighter.
I'm back to Stan Getz and occasionally Django Reinhardt but most of all now I rely on the radio when I'm working.

The work is slow because each painting is taking me longer to finish but I'm quite content to keep going! The colour of the sky changes constantly with a variety of different shades of blue and the warm grey limestone walls never fail to attract me. Then there's always that tower just across the road that I can't seem to escape from.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Work is suspended for the Vide Grenier.


Rue Droite.

Today the village has been taken over by the annual boot sale. It's hard to step out of my door without trampling on people putting out things to sell on my steps and hanging clothes from my shutters. I retreat to my friends and neighbours in Rue Droite who are also taking part and sit with them for a bit watching people sift through the goods. Every street in the old part of the village is awash with bric-a-brac and further down into the square the Sunday market carries on regardless.
Work is out of the question so after meeting up again for lunch in Rue Droite I go for a swim in the lake with a friend.
When I get back everyone is packing up to leave and there's a young man asleep in my garden.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Tom Jones

Most years it's Brubeck, Coltraine and Billie Holiday with Bob Dylan as a constant but this year I've been listening to Tom Jones as I paint. It suits my mood but I would have a job to say why. The gentle hills around Montcuq remind me of Monmouthshire and Tom Jones reminds me of the boys I grew up with in Pontypool. Maybe there's the answer! My heart is never far from South Wales.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Swimming, walking, painting.

Across the lake - Montcuq and the tower in the distance.

Walking on the plateau

The Lake, Montcuq.

They say that to get to know a place you need to walk it. I have had a home here for 13 years but it isn't until this summer that I have walked the countryside around Montcuq. I have seen it from all angles with the tower an unmistakeable landmark in the distance. The climb out of the valley is steep and the paths rough with stones. It's usual to come across stone houses hidden by dense foliage but one day, at the top of one winding path, we came across a chateau so grand but with an air of decay which only added to it's allure. Two cups and saucers on a small round table in the courtyard, a silk dressing-gown tossed over one chair - it was easy to conjour up visions of the long, languid days spent here. Suddenly, a young pretty woman calls from the balcony reminding us that we are now on private property so we leave. I am facinated by this place and the people who live here. Later I discover that an old french family the de Roaldes live in what is called the Chateau de Figeac.

When it's too hot to walk I go with a friend for an early morning swim in the lake. Too early for the families who crowd the beach during the day - we have the lake to ourselves. It's a great start to the day. Then I paint; my head full of images but still dominated by the tower which is always present and which continues to appear on my canvases in one form or another!

Friday, 13 August 2010


On the rare occasions I wake at 4am it's always worth it for the smell of fresh bread from the two bakeries in the village. Daylight starts with a fine mist which hangs over the valley. By the time the village stirs the sky is cloudless and very blue.
The fields of sunflowers which dominated the landscape when I arrived have now lost their colour. The vast areas of bright yellow have become muted shades of green as the plants dry ready for harvesting. I'm using a lot of yellow and blue in my first painting here - hardly surprising! I've been working on it for weeks and I don't think I'm any closer to finishing. It happens always with the first painting as I try to set aside images of South Wales and work hard to capture the spirit of this landscape and what it means to me.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

View from my studio in Wales.

My small garden draws my gaze throughout the day. It's unexceptional; no flamboyant swathes of bright colours only subtle greens, some of them almost grey. I'm drawn to the random shapes of the plants, nothing has been planned, it's all accidental. It's a gentle image but never dull. I keep looking.

At the end of the garden there is just a touch of the exotic. The poppies!

Monday, 31 May 2010

New paintings

Weekend Away oil on canvas 60x80cms

I have three paintings for the Summer Exhibition. In the next couple of weeks I'll get them framed and delivered to the gallery. That leaves me a month to pick up fresh supplies of paints from London and sort out my affairs here before setting off for France
I am already thinking of my studio there and the ideas I have for new paintings.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Tangled up in Blue.

I'm working with the radio on constantly, following the Clegg/Cameron negotiations. It's unsettling! The painting I'm working on will be finished in a few days. It won't reflect the political turmoil but it will remind me of these few days everytime I look at it in the future. So far it's untitled - now there's a thought! "Tangled up in Blue" courtesy of Bob Dylan might be just the thing!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

One day I'll have a magnificant studio.

I am in serious need of a new studio. Today has been frustrating because there's so little room to move around in. I dream of space........lots of it!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Sunshine at last!

It's South of France weather and the colours on the canvas reflect this.
I'm working on two paintings for the Summer Exhibition.
One is leaning against the wall in the studio. I can see it wherever I stand in the room. It needs more work but I need more time to study it.
I have started working on a smaller canvas and already my palette has changed in response to the sunshine outside. The shift to bright, vibrant colours is liberating and the marks with the palette knife become freer and confident. I'm thinking of the studio in France where I will be in a few months time but right now it's good to be in Wales with the sun shining.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Driving west

From time to time I take paintings from Cardiff to St Davids Studio Gallery in Pembrokeshire. The drive takes in this stretch of road. It's almost always deserted and a great place to stop for a moment to just gaze at the sea.

St Davids Studio Gallery, Nun Street, St Davids has been showing my work since 2004. The gallery carries a selection of my work which changes throughout the year.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Thoughts of Montcuq

Hill Village. Oil on canvas 36x26cms

When I answer the phone this evening I hear a french voice and I'm immediately back in the village. I listen hard as he tells me the news. I want to know everything. The days are getting warmer he says and I now feel it won't be long before I am back. I tell him the paintings are on show in Cardiff and he can see them on the gallery website. He knows these paintings almost as well as me. He called in most days and took a look as I was working on them. The call ends but the images of Montcuq and long, hot sunny days linger.

Sunday, 28 February 2010

All The Things You Are

All The Things You Are is currently on show at the Albany Gallery Cardiff until 6th March.

Cardiff Life is running a full page spread of this painting. It's in the current issue - out on Saturday. It was good to pick up a copy in the restaurant over lunch with my family in Cardiff Bay and see it there. I think they have a made a great job of displaying it and of course it's a good advertisement for my work. Very happy with that!!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Old friends

What an amazing thing.... I've had a letter from a girl I knew when I lived in Rumney. We were young, our children very small and we became friends. Our lives revolved around toddlers and babies and an assortment of pets. She made collages using wallpaper. She would send for books of wallpaper through the post. I was painting in oils. One day we took our paintings on a bus to a meeting of Cardiff University Arts Group. They had a system of artists lending their work to the university to hang there for a year. I remember I lent two - one chosen by the student representative to hang in the student lounge and the other by the Psychology Department. Such good memories. We both moved with our families to different parts of South Wales and the link was lost- until now! No longer girls, for certain, but I bet we still have art in common. She has traced me through the gallery!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Gorky, De Stijl and Cy Twombly

We went to the Tate on Saturday; walking across the bridge from St Pauls, dodging the crowds and then entering another world - of painters from the past. Arshile Gorky first and then Van Doesburg. It's not possible to take it all in but the images stay and prompt thoughts that linger and make sense. Cy Twombly is another matter - just a floor above are his Bacchus paintings. I'm thinking about them as I sit and drink coffee, saving them for another time. More exciting today is seeing my small grandsons run endlessly up to the top of the ramp in the Turbine Hall and run full pelt back down again . Simple pleasures!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Blue skies

I picked up the Western Mail to read on the train one Saturday morning. When I read the preview of the exhibition at the Albany Gallery Cardiff I had a smile on my face for the rest of the day! If you want to take a look - click on the image.

You are my sunshine

I can't be doing with the cold days of February. Better to remember the explosion of colours, the sun and the heat in France last summer that gave birth to this painting.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Welcome to my Blog

Opening night at the Albany Gallery. It was a great evening. I was sharing the exhibition with three other painters. I already knew David Knight but I met Paul Sims and Jon Thompson for the first time. I have huge respect for their work and the paintings worked well together. The Albany Gallery did a great job in advertising the event with a spread in the Western Mail and an advert in the Daily Telegraph where an image of one of my paintings shared space on the page with an account of the auction of Giacometti's L'Homme qui Marche. How cool is that!