Tag Archives: magical town of crickadoon

Painting the Male nude

I am sure it has been noted that I haven’t shown any male models.

I have nothing against the male form, to the contrary, it can be very beautiful, however it is my opinion that the female form offers more scope.

When I do paint the male form, I often focus on details….or as you will see from the following images, I enjoy observing the strength of the neck and head.

rapid watercolour – Boathouse Studio P1160934 The nude first became significant in the art of Ancient Greece, where athletic competitions at religious festivals celebrated the human body, particularly the male, in an unparalleled way.    The Greeks considered them to be the embodiments of all that was best in humanity.

The ancestry of the female nude in art is distinct form the male in that it embodies the divinity of procreation. 

Moving forward it is Michelangelo’s ‘David’ created between 1501 and 1504 that to this day is the embodiment of the sublime male form.

Reclining male – rapid watercolour – Boathouse Studio – rapid watercolour


Twenty minute study – Richmond upon Thames studio P1160957

The strength of male arms – Boathouse studio


Dancer – Paris, France – a superb model – twenty  minute study


From the ‘Nudes in the Parish Hall’ Series, Crickhowell, Wales.    This model was superb…He and his wife often modelled together which was great.      rapid watercolour and pen P1160975

Kingston upon Thames Studio – rapid watercolour and felt tip pen P1160967 A Bientôt

Creativity: the key to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being

“It is my belief that the creative process in all its many forms is the key to physical, emotional and spiritual well-being”  The first time I drew from a life model was in 1962 when I was sixteen years old.     Once I became comfortable with figure/life drawing it quickly became one of my great joys….the place where I learned to see. Twenty minute watercolour from Boathouse Studio1397165_10152080311495396_774838983_o Throughout my career, wherever I have travelled or lived I have always tried to connect with a model or life group. When I moved to Crickhowell, Wales (The Magical Town of Crickadoon) in 1993, unable to connect with a model or life group, I started my own.    At that time the vicar of St. Edmund’s Church, which sits in the middle of Crickhowell was an artist, and backed the idea wholeheartedly.     I rented the parish hall once a week….hence the name of the series of paintings.   Nudes in the Parish Hall.  Rapid watercolours painted in Hay-on-Wye, Brecknockshire, Wales.     Another excellent group P1160978 I find that when I am drawing or painting a life model all feelings of stress and anxiety are removed.   It is a like a long meditation.    Good for body and mind.  Often when working in large unheated studios I would start the day feeling cold and uncomfortable.    However, as I entered into the zone of creative focus, all physical discomfort would disappear.    During these long painting sessions, (especially when working on huge murals), I felt no physical discomfort.    It was only when I stopped working and returned to the real world – that I would feel utterly exhausted and yet satisfied. Twenty minute post – Boathouse Studio. – watercolour P1160924 It was Picasso who said that artist’s spend much of their working time removed from their body – which in turn removes all the stresses and anxieties that come with day to day living – something I completely agree with. Rapid watercolours – Kingston upon Thames studio.  P1070127 I would recommend that anyone with an interest, whether abject beginner or more seasoned artist join a life drawing group.      In today’s world where so many have been desensitised and are plugged in 24/7 to some form of technology, it is a wonderful way to re-focus, and at the same time release stress and anxiety.  I love red hair….and so this model in a Richmond upon Thames studio had great appeal.  Rapid watercolour/gouache P1100780 A Bientôt

Time spent with cats is never wasted……

Last Friday, I featured Jack Russells….today cats.

I am an animal lover, but have to admit that there is nothing quite like the love of a cat.    The following cats have all played a part in my life…….

Sun Spot – watercolour – Petuli


Christeve the Cat who came to me during a violent storm in the Magical Town of Crickadoon on Christmas Eve – 1996.    

Christeve with hummingbird – watercolour


I met this little calico cat when painting in Conca dei Marini on the Amalfi Coast.    She visited me every day…..

Detail from large oil painting…..

1654643_10152278515330396_130277338_o-3Tushy and Mushy were my favourite studio cats.    Brother and sister, they came to me via a student in the United States…..when just six weeks old.     



Given that it is Friday….time to hang loose like a cat….



Have a wonderful weekend….

A Bientôt

The Garden

It’s that time of year when the sap has begun to rise and thoughts of Mother Nature’s bounty come to mind.

My little cottage garden in the Magical Town of Crickadoon (Crickhowell, Wales)  til August 10 1037

After having lived and worked in the States for twenty eight years, In 1993, I returned to Crickhowell, Wales to stay with my cousin and her family.

Crickhowell is a small market town which sits in the Usk Valley where the Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains meet.

During the twelve years that I lived and worked there,  I designed a small cottage garden, which gave me immense pleasure and taught me a great deal.

I saw this picture in a magazine and used it as the template for my garden….


The plot behind the cottage was small and had laid fallow for twenty years.    The first thing I did was to clear and dig the garden over….and then lay flag stones.


Friends with established gardens gave me cuttings, and slowly but surely, the garden began to take shape.


Before my eyes, I watched the transformation from uncared for patch to a place that welcomed birds, bees, butterflies, cats and humans.

Note Christeve the Cat climbing the ladder which took her into the neighbour’s garden:) Image

Growing a garden from scratch requires commitment and patience, however  the satisfaction gained is enormous…

As the garden began to mature, I was able to throw open the french doors and have all my senses fed, whether I inside or out.

Scan 109

When I moved to London in 2005, I was very sad to say goodbye to the garden, but at the same time grateful for what it gave me.

Clearly the hummingbirds were weaving their magic.


A Bientôt


The original ‘selfies’

Although self portraits have been made by artists since the earliest times.     It wasn’t until the Renaissance in the mid 15th century that artists can be identified from their self portraits.

With better and less expensive mirrors many painters and sculptors tried some form of self-portraiture.

Along with the two large paintings that arrived here on Monday, came a small self portrait that I had forgotten about.

Painted on January 3rd 2000 in the Magical Town of Crikcadoon,…I used acrylic on canvas for this self portrait, a medium I rarely ever use, however it does work well for quick sketches.


On the same day, I painted three self portraits….As you can see in this second painting, I have used the same palette and am wearing the same hat…


So why is it that every now and then, I paint myself?

There are several reasons, but most importantly it gives me the opportunity to really ‘see’ and understand myself more fully which leaves me better informed and sometimes quite surprised:)

For much of our lives we tend only to look at the vaneer….how we are perceived on the outside.    However when I paint a portrait of someone else or myself, my goal is to get beneath that vaneer and hopefully capture the essence of my subject. 

Rapid watercolour/gouache self portrait also painted on January 3rd 2000.


I am also often asked why people are not smiling in their portraits.    Try to hold a fixed smile for twenty minutes or more…..what happens is that the face becomes contorted. 

As my title suggests…..self portraits are the original ‘selfies’ – 

May the magical hummingbirds be with you today.



A Bientôt

Christeve the Cat Finds her Home – Day 3

Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with hummingbirds weaving their love, this true story is told in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.



The morning after Wise Owl’s visit, the Little Cat woke to hear Rooster calling his morning song…..

He called……’Come play with me all day long’


After a wonderful day of fun and play, Little Cat fell into a deep sleep. 


Little Cat woke from her dreams to find Rooster singing away…..and surrounded by beautiful hummingbirds. 


Sitting next to Little Cat in the tree was a Red Robin as sweet as can be.

Robin told the little Cat that she would never be alone, because hummingbirds were alway near, helping her to find a new home of her own……


Next morning, Red Robin called to the Little Cat….’Can you see, can you see?’


The Little Cat could see that the magical Town of Crickadoon was completely covered in snow!

Everywhere the Little Cat Looked, there was a very special glow…..


The story will be continued tomorrow…….. 



A Bientôt


Christeve the Cat Finds her Home – Day two

Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with hummingbirds weaving their love, …this true story is told in the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 



She spent most of her time sitting in a tree where she could see a lovely little cottage, which looked as warm as can be…..


When she looked the other way, she could see the golden lights from the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 


During the long dark nights, every little noise gave her a fright……..and sometimes she cried.


But something inside of her always knew that there was nothing to fear…..and that help was always near. 


One night when the winds began to roar and howl, the Little Cat had a visit from Wise Owl.     Wise Owl told the Little Cat to be patient and trust.


He told her to close her eyes and dream of the beautiful hummingbirds that protect all who live in the Magical Town of Crickadoon. 


The story will continue tomorrow……



A Bientôt


Christeve the Cat finds her home….for children of all ages.

With Christmas just around the corner, it’s time to tell the story of Christeve the Cat and how she found her home with Janet the Artist in the Magical Town of Crickadoon.


Based on a true story, Christeve the Cat who was lost and alone, found her new home with Janet the Artist on a stormy Christmas Eve in 1996.     In the story Christeve was guided to Janet by magical hummingbirds.

The story will unfold each day until Christmas Eve – So let us begin…… 

Sitting between mountains and watched by the moon, with hummingbirds weaving their love,  this story is told in the Magical Town of Crickadoon….


There once was a cat, lost and alone….she needed to find a home of her own. 


She was a calico cat, which means that she is white, yellow and  black….


Here is her front….


And here is her back……


And here is one of the Magical Hummingbirds that helped Christeve on her way. 


More tomorrow………



A Bientôt




At last, some seasonal weather….

Yesterday, it was announced that this past year has been the warmest ever on record for the UK….and indeed it has been incredibly mild.     However, we are now in for more seasonable temperatures…which I, for one am very happy about.

During the twelve years that  I lived and worked in ‘The Magical Town of Crickadoon’ in Wales, I walked in the surrounding hills just about every day….and would love donning one of my wooly hats and warm jackets to go off and commune with nature.

Rapid watercolour self portrait painted in January 3rd 2000.


One of my new years resolutions will be to do more of this…….

Even though it is winter and the cold weather is upon us….the Hummingbirds are still weaving their magic in distant lands.




A Bientôt










The gift filled with simple and profound wisdom.

For my 60th birthday, almost nine years ago…….my dear friend, Rosie, gave me the book Buddhist Offerings 365 Days by Danielle & Olivier Follmi.

It’s a book that I always keep at hand, for its simple and profound words of wisdom.


Most of us have spent our lives caught up in plans, expectations, ambitions for the future, in regrets, guilt or shame about the past.    To come into the present is to stop the war.  From Buddhist Offerings. 

This is a rapid sketch which I began by sketching over an old painting…one that I didn’t like much anyway….such a feeling of freedom:)


True love for our neighbours will be translated into courage and strength.   The more we develop love for others, the more confidence we will have in ourselves.   The 14th Dalai Lama. 

Because I am working over an old painting, I am using watercolour and gouache….Remember, watercolour is a transparent medium and gouache is opaque.


Without the rigidity of concepts, the world becomes transparent and illuminated, as though from within.   With this understanding, the interconnectedness of all that lives becomes very clear.     Sharon Salzberg


During the 12 years that I lived and worked in the Magical Town of Crickadoon, which sits in the Usk Valley between the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons….I studied the play of light upon the surrounded hills.


Have a beautiful weekend, filled with colour and of course magical hummingbirds….




A Bientôt