Maybe it’s the time of year; approaching winter solstice, summer so far away. I spotted some old photos of balmy days in France. Enjoying a drink, chewing the fat and watching the world go by. This was the combination of a cafe and town scene.

It took me a while to knit together. I took an outline sketch with me to the pop up gallery on Friday and with only 22 visitors was glad of the puzzle to occupy my day. I only finished it this morning, on Sunday. It’s highly probable I may make further changes, but at this moment I am happy with it. I hope it brings you all a spot of warmth and anticipation at this time of year and as it a confection of images, it truly is a Fisherman’s Tale.

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I was looking to do an abstract inspired by the gorgeous colours of a Corsican summer and pulled out a painting I had completed a few years ago of a corsican hill-top village. I got quickly sidetracked and thought I could improve on this old painting so set about repainting much of it. The result is disappointing, no progress here, though I did get some ideas for colours and textures for the abstract. For the record the original I painted over is shown below.

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I have been struggling of late, painting. In the last couple of weeks I have abandoned three paintings. One I have restarted and the other two await the gods of inspiration to call – they appear to have a number of house calls.

In situations like this I like to take a break and mess around, hence the sketch above of the shady alleyways of Villefranche Sur Mer on the Mediterranean. I loved the yellow building, the shadows and the washing and painted it in an hour and a half – trying to focus on simplicity, as if I was on the spot. It was good therapy.

Another one was a painting I had posted before of the Strand near the waterfront in Liverpool. I found it in a pile of paintings and thought that it could do with some tweaking. So here it is duly tweaked.

I liked the unsubtle juxtaposing of the warm and cool colours and the buildings disappearing into the hazy sunlight and carbon monoxide.

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Out of necessity, perhaps, there have been a lot of watercolours on my blog of late. Here is a pastel of a long distant holiday and a view over morning still fields as I cycled on my way to collect some baguettes, oh, and a pain au chocolat…

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Returning home from the French Riviera, I was trying to find some source material to continue my series of local paintings but they seemed to be hiding from me. Instead of turning the place upside down I found an image I liked from my trip and proceeded to paint to calm my nerves. Menton, and many of the towns on the riviera,  have shady passageways which suddenly spill out onto sunny courtyards and squares and you get this great interplay of light and shade. This was one such scene as I descended into the old town on Saturday.

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Yesterday a walk around Castellar a 15th century village perched up in the mountains above the coast. We couldnt get to the Italian border ( which is very close)  as there are now armed troops preventing migrants moving into France from Italy and they dont take too kindly to tourists with cameras – so much for Schengen.


The previous day we had a holiday from the holiday. So we had a wander around town and visited the museums. This view is from the cemetery looking east from Menton over to Italy – painted whilst we waited for the museums to open.


The day before the holiday from the holiday we visited another hill-top town called Eze. Here is the view as I waited outside the church for the others to arrive. It was unfortunate that wave after wave of tourists arrived from a cruise ship at the same time. Tourism on an industrial scale.

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Well, decamped to the South of France for a few days walking. It is walking in a group so I dont get much time for painting, but this is what I managed to do, by sprinting ahead  and carving out some extra time. The sketch above is of Sospel bridge in the mountains above Monte Carlo. The building on the bridge is an office for the tax man who charged medieval passers-by who mainly who came by  with salt for sale in the mountains.


We walked along the coast on the first day. Whilst the rest of the group munched their sandwiches I painted the view through the trees to the sea below.

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I started a version of this last week whilst on duty again at the exhibition I was part of. I don’t think it is as successful an image as the painting I did of the dog walkers on my last stint at the gallery, but I do love the impatient anxiety of the woman trying to catch the waiter’s eye and the nonchalance of her husband, given charge of the lapdog.

In the gallery I followed my sketches and did  a version of this but by the middle of the afternoon I realised I had the scale wrong. So the painting displayed above was one I did at home. The half completed first attempt is below. As you can see I beefed up the figures and pulled in the scene.

As for the exhibition. In the end I sold 3 paintings which was a good result as far as I am concerned. Today I entered 4 paintings for a juried exhibition, so I wait to hear the decision of the panel’s deliberations,

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I must admit to losing interest in this painting midway through, though I do love the cluster of readers under the umbrella. I noticed that there were a lot of these small libraries on beaches in Normandy, France. This was in Fecamp and there was one in Etretat. The hut had the label:  Lire a la Plage and people came down and read in the sunshine. It seemed amusing to see people fully clothed clustered in a group reading, ignoring the temptations of the beach.

I may have another go, focussing on the people and  cutting out the bulk of beach and cliffs, though the shadow of the cliffs gives a good counterpoint.

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We only went for a few days to Dieppe, mainly to pick up some cider and salad dressing and allow for my wife to use a bit of the French she has been working on all year long. This sketch was done by a small village stream whilst we rested during a walk we did, picking up a grande randonee (long distance walking track) out of Dieppe. We didn’t have a map so it we didn’t know where it was going. I had hoped it would take us along the cliff-tops, but it veered off  into the country and took us here instead.


As the wife went to the market I took a few minutes on the beach, as the mist started to come in. Just enough time to get the distant cliffs before they disappeared.

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