This post is made up of random thoughts, paintings and photographs.
Over the years I have painted countless watercolour portraits in many different countries. In this post you will meet some of my friends from Wales.
Rain over the Brecon Beacons – watercolour/gouacheWelsh mythology is deep and rich. It consists of both folk traditions developed in Wales and traditions developed by the Celtic Britons elsewhere before the end of the first millennium.
Welsh mythology and history were recorded orally by groups such as the druids (derwyddon). Although much oral contact has been lost or altered as a result of outside contact and invasion over the years, the good news is that the Welsh language is now taught in all schools…and all signage through the country is written in Welsh.
Ancient standing stones and burial cairns can be found all over Wales….including Crickhowell.Ley Lines are believed by many people to be a series of metaphysical connections that link a number of sacred sites around the world. Essentially, these lines, form a sort of grid or matrix and are composed of the earth’s natural energies. Where Ley Lines intersect, there are said to be pockets of concentrated energy. I was shown a Ley Line map of Wales and on it many lines cross and intersect around Crickhowell. When I first moved to Crickhowell and was living with my cousin and family I met Ken and his dog. Every morning we would meet up and Ken would tell me about his life growing up in Wales
I painted this portrait of Ken about twenty two years ago and taped our conversation as I painted. I did this with many of the older people in the town. The tapes are a living history of the area and life way before the internet.
watercolourDuring my return visits to Crickhowell I stay with my dear friends Sally and Gareth Reese. They live high up above Crickhowell at Curlews overlooking the Usk Valley and Glen Usk Estate – it’s a wonderful place to be and paint. Over the years, I have painted all their children and now am beginning to paint the grandchildren….
Painting at Curlews – overlooking the Use Valley and Glen Usk Estate. There are waterfalls all around Wales…wonderful for dipping into during hot weather. – and of course lovely to paint. Llantony Priory – not far from Crickhowell, is a beautiful place to visit and paint…another place packed with history and atmosphere. There are so many ancient churches, holy wells, standing stones and burial cairns…Beth Harrison came to my cottage about 20 years ago and sat for me.. Beth’s family who are close friends of my cousin and PJ, were very kind to me when I first moved to Crickhowell.
What I love about these informal portraits is the intimacy. During the process there is such a deep connection between me the artist and the sitter. Portrait of Lizzie Wilson – artist, good friend – one of the most gentle, kind people I know. Beautiful bluebell woods that can be found around Wales – this one in Crickhowell.
The perfume of the bluebells, along with birdsong open us to a deeper sense of reality…far removed from our every day 21st century lives.
Mrs Jones who was always surrounded with numerous dogs, horses and cats…baked cakes and bread all day – a wonderful place to visit.
Although Mrs Jones had a twinkle in her eye, she was tough and determined. She would walk the dogs, (maybe eight of them – none on leads of course) through very narrow country lanes and if a car dared come behind her she kept walking at a very slow pace….I am smiling as I think of her:)Watercolour from Bluebell Woods above Standard Street looking down the valley to Crickhowell. A recent picture of Cousin Lyn in front of a large ala prima (painted all at one time) oil on canvas that I painted of her 25 years ago at Ty Gwyn. Note Bumble is on the wall next to her.My friend Heather with one of the ancient Yew trees that are found around Wales.
Anyone interested in learning more about these ancient natural monuments might refer to my friend the artist Janis Fry’s books – they make for fascinating reading. ‘The God Tree’ is a good place to begin. My Mother sat for this portrait at 43 High Street Crickhowell soon after my arrival. I am pleased to say that she enjoyed visiting Crickhowell and made some good friends like the wonderful Maragret Williams and Marion Fewster. They are gone now, but never forgotten.
watercolour of my Mother.During a service at St. Edmund’s Church a christening was being conducted at the font which happens to be in a darker corner. I remember looking back at the font and seeing that the baby seemed to be glowing. I rushed back to the studio and painted this large watercolour/gouache. A very quick sketch of my friend Heulwen – (a beautiful Welsh name.) Heulwen and I are part of the Griffiths clan – (you see the name all over Wales.)
My grandfather’s name on my Mother’s side was Henry Christopher Lawson Griffiths. A musician, he came from Leominster – about 30 miles from Crickhowell just across the border into England. As a young man he hiked the Malvern Hills in the footsteps of Elgar, and of course the Black Mountains.
Beautiful ethereal mists over the valley….When this happens it really is magical. This was taken from Curlews, Sally and Gareth’s house. One of many paintings from Curlews…watercolour/gouacheI can’t finish our VIRTUAL visit without mentioning Christeve the Cat
Here she is as leaving the front door of 11 Mill Street where she and I lived very happily together.An illustration from the little children’s book I wrote entitled ‘Christeve the Cat Finds Her home’. She is of course surrounded with hummingbirds:)
When one of my American friends who visited frequently kept saying that Crickhowell reminded her of Brigadoon and that she would call it The Magical Town of Crikadoon, the name stuck.
I hope everyone has enjoyed the trip. I can see that artists who have been following me have made some wonderful sketches which I will show here next week.
Lechyd da….and don’t forget to Warm up:)