Black is back: I refer to the songster, out there singing in the rain. There’s no more uplifting thing in the world to me than the blackbird’s return each year. Though I probably look a pretty mad figure if the neighbours saw me, sat out there in the rain literally soaking it up. Never mind. This is the best time of year, as the plein air season arrives. Also, cannot wait to see how my young hawthorns respond to the annual pruning. Buds about to open, very exciting indeed!
Speaking of exciting, I’ve done some demos at art groups over winter, and this is one of the most enjoyable things I do. Okay, it is partly *completely terrifying* too, but the pleasure is in meeting people and talking about the watercolour experience, and trying to explain why I can’t stand still whilst painting.
I’m looking forward a lot to my painting holidays this year in the same way, the first of which is based in Wells and nearby Somerset villages. This is 6th – 9th of May, so not far off now. Below is a painting from when I visited Wells in May last year, painted in the attractive Vicar’s Close. We’ve got great locations to take inspiration from over the 4 days, out there in peak birdsong time too. There are a few spaces left if you’d like to join me for this.
(Right-click this link for another tempter, Nunney castle which we might go to:
For bookings and full details please see Alpha Painting Holidays’ website:
Or contact Matt and Gill at Alpha: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. +44 (0) 1934 733877
Of course don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like further information too.
New demo video on Youtube:
I recently took inspiration from a visit to see the starlings murmurating on the Somerset levels, to produce the painting at the top of this page, and also this one. I filmed the latter and it is now available on Youtube, here:
[Inserted update –
Please see also new Videos page on my website.
Exciting news for me, I’ve now got my first ‘proper’ instructional video available to buy, or hire, right now!]….
I’ve not been lucky enough with weather yet to get out painting. I nearly did though, and visited Yatton church. Following a morning demo at a village nearby I managed to get there, having long planned to, but sadly it rained continuously as I arrived. I will return soon hopefully, as I love the interesting spire which I first saw from a train. So many great locations are visible from trains, which you can’t always get to. This church is visible rising up out of the ‘North Somerset levels’ as it is on a small area of raised ground. I did this one quite quickly from a photo:
Having a clear out of old paintings I came across the one below, of a scene in the Valencia region of Spain. I did my first painting holiday out there a few years ago, and this painting was actually for an article which never happened. It was to be in the SAA’s Paint magazine, and was done using a ‘limited edition’ range of Winsor & Newton colours, called the Twilight range. But having written the article, Winsor & Newton pulled the release of the colours. Then they changed their mind again and said they’d go ahead. Then they pulled them again. Then my article was finally cancelled. Then, they finally released the paints! I kid not. (Although there may have been yet another pulling/releasing – I lost count of the times but I remember it was pretty unbelievable.)
‘Sale item of the month’
I’m not sure if I’ll make this a regular feature, but I may do.
This month, and only for the month, the following painting ‘Sparrow gang’ is available to buy for a reduced price of £150 including postage (to UK – please enquire for postage cost to EU or rest of the world).
Another French field
This painting was from photos taken during my time in France over winter. I do like a bit of dreary weather as you know, and a good bit of rough pasture. Spot the cows if you can.
And finally, I wanted to end on an uplifting note, and this month I have been lifted up by the following things, which I can recommend checking out, if you’re so inclined:
- The wonderful 1973 documentary film, (available to buy on DVD – but a dodgy but watchable version is on youtube…) ‘Too long a winter’, and it’s companion ‘A winter too many’ (from 1989), featuring the inspiring Hannah Hauxwell. Movingly filmed and set to perhaps my all time favourite piece of music. I’ll let you discover the rest.
(None of this is about painting, by the way!)
- The music and fun of Fred Wedlock. A Bristolian, Fred sadly died several years ago. Funny folk music, I suppose is what it is, or ‘scrumpy & western’ as he was sometimes known (along with Adge Cutler & The Wurzels). There is a website where all his music can be bought in various old-school formats. No doubt you could find him, including his ‘hit’ ‘The oldest swinger in town’ on youtube. (Please don’t judge me entirely by his sense of humour!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3qETkabJTU
- The book, ‘Happy’ by Derren Brown. Brilliant. I only wish I had a memory for what I read in books!
Have a good month.