Painting and Gardening

Recently I’ve been thinking about what I feel are parallels between painting and gardening. I have a reasonably sized garden and like to leave it a little ragged around the edges. I’m not one for manicured lawns, or formal, regimented flower beds. I prefer to leave some of it uncultivated and allow nature to do its own thing. We are told that this is a good thing for insects and wild life. For instance, it is fashionable to grow wild flower meadows to attract bees and other insects rather than mowing grass to within an inch of its life. But it is also the aesthetic that appeals to me. I like to see how nature goes about reclaiming its own.
What is this to do with painting? Well, I would like to adopt the same philosophy when I paint. I must admit this is a challenge for me. I find it difficult to let go and allow paint to do its own thing, to accept ‘happy accidents’ and let them be. To simply enjoy oil paint for its own intrinsic qualities. It doesn’t come naturally to me to relinquish control in my painting as I am more than happy do in my garden.

The above are recent underpaintings – that is to say, the first monochrome stage in the development of a painting, where I work out the composition, the main blocks of dark and light and intermediate tonal values. There’s a rawness about them that I like. I like that the artifice is visible – you can see the brush strokes, the unmodulated lines and edges, and the lack of fine detail. My natural tendency is towards ‘higher resolution’, as it were, to go in with a small brush and add detail ad nauseam, and tidy up lines and smooth out areas of colour. In doing this, the initial energy of the painting slowly but surely drains away.

The challenge for me is to retain this initial freshness into the final imageā€¦

Posted in Art, Painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Afternoon light at Three Cliffs Bay

I finished this painting yesterday based on my experience of a walk last week at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower. It was an unseasonably cold day, with a shower of rain never far away. I did some quick sketching, and took photographs. It was too chilly to sit for a long time.

Oil painting on canvas board, 40x40cm (16x16inches).

Posted in Gower, Painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solitary Winter Swimmer at Langland, Gower

I’m currently working on a series of coastal paintings that focus on clouds. I am enjoying exploring the subtle greys and the rhythms of the ever changing cloud formations, attempting to re-create the atmosphere I experienced on that particular day. This is Langland Bay on the Gower Peninsula in south Wales, a popular venue for surfers and, increasingly, all-year-round bathers.

As usual I have several paintings in progress at any one time. This is the first that I’ve finished. It’s 12 x 12 inches oil on canvas board, and like all my paintings is for sale. If interested please contact me at

Posted in Art, Painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Two contrasting paintings of sand, sea and sky

These are two recent paintings of basically the same subject matter of sand, sea and sky. In the one above I have used a rather ‘sweet’ colour palette of greens, blues, mauves and ochres, whereas the one below is rather more ‘gritty’ and restricted to a few mostly earth colours. I actually prefer to work with a restricted palette, and I also prefer to paint the coast during the winter months when the colours are less saturated, more subdued. I like playing with subtle variations of greys. The winter months generally provide more dramatic skies and more turbulent seas that evoke the old Romantic aesthetic ideal of the Sublime – that aspect of nature which we admire but of which we are in awe.

Both pictures are beaches on the Gower Peninsula of south Wales. The one above is of Caswell Bay and the one below was inspired by Langland Bay.

Both are painted in oil on canvas board, the top one is 32 x 46cm and the bottom one is 30cm square.

Both these oil paintings are for sale, enquiries to

Posted in Art, Painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Low tide, Three Cliffs Bay

A bright but windy day at Three Cliffs Bay, Gower. This was an abandoned painting from a few years back that I decided was worth repainting yesterday afternoon.

Oil on canvas mounted on board, 29 x 30.5cm

Posted in Painting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

South Gower coast, morning light

Looking down from the cliff tops at the south Gower coast with Tor Bay in the foreground and the Great Tor proudly jutting out into the Bristol Channel. The tide is high with the cliffs silhouetted against the morning sun.

An oil painting on canvas board, 12 x 16inches

Posted in Art, Painting | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rhossili village from the cliffs

A view of Rhossili village, Gower, from the cliffs. Low sun on a winter’s afternoon. I was particularly interested in the visual rhythms set up by the geological folds in the limestone rock.

An oil painting on canvas mounted on board, approximately 44 x 46 cm.

Posted in Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A day of showers and sunshine at Rhossili

A Day of sunshine and showers at Rhossili on The Gower Peninsula, south Wales. The tide is out and the prevailing westerly wind is carrying the clouds across the downs. I love it walking these cliffs when it is wild and windy – as it so often is!

A 30 x 30cm oil painting on canvas board.

Posted in Art, Oil painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Sker House, Porthcawl

“Sker House is a historic building in Wales. Originally built as a monastic grange of the Cistercian order over 900 years ago, it is situated just outside the town of Porthcawl, near Bridgend. Little remains of the original structure and it was completely rebuilt in the late sixteenth century. Its residential form appears to have been determined by the preceding monastic grange. The house was made famous as the basis of R. D. Blackmore’s book The Maid of Sker.” (Wikipedia)

The house has been owned since 2003 by Niall Fergusson, the distinguished British historian. A few years ago, I attended a talk he gave about the house and how he and his family came to settle in Porthcawl and restore the Grade 1 listed building. This stimulated my interest and prompted me to make this painting.

A 30 x 30cm (12 x 12 inches) oil painting on canvas mounted on board.

Posted in Art, Oil painting, Painting, Wales | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Silvery light, Three Cliffs.

I have used a slightly cooler palette for this painting, replacing Cadmium Red with Michael Harding’s Amethyst, a rich, transparent red purple.

For those who are interested my palette for this painting comprises: Amethyst, Raw Sienna, French Ultramarine, Alizarin Crimson, Yellow Lake and Titanium White… mostly Michael Harding Artist Quality, handmade oil paint – expensive, but well worth it!

30 x 30cm Oil painting on canvas board.

This painting is available to purchase. Contact:

Posted in Art, Gower, Painting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment