I had to sit looking after a painting exhibition today in town. Footfall has been slow, despite being in a prominent place in town, ( I really fear for all the small traders) and this week, the third occasion, I decided to take an easel and paint in the window to try and entice a few in. Up until now I have worked at the back of the shop on a table on some small scale stuff.

Well, today we got twelve punters; most were painters and I gave advice on painting to a couple. No sales. I think this was the lowest number ever – and we’ve done this for a number of years now. Anyway, this was the painting I did as I stood on my lonesome. It is a scene from Sucre, the Judicial capital of Bolivia, where small enterprises still thrive. Long may it continue.

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Back to the Bolivian Altiplano  and the flamingos that inhabit the lakes. As the morning  sun burns the mists away it also warms the birds enabling them to move and start feeding on the algae which colour the lakes.

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Having been playing with ink on my life drawing, I started using it on some watercolours to give them some real tonal range. This one was inspired by my recent trip in Bolivia. Driving through the desert of the altiplano and seeing the dusty collections of buildings around a mine shaft in the middle of nowhere you wonder about the riches in the ground.

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The hotel we stayed in at Sucre, Bolivia, seemed to have been transported from Morocco. As the town was built by the Spanish it is not surprising to find a Moorish influence. The cool corridors interspersed with the light courtyards, painted blue exuded a solid permanence against which the human form seemed fleeting. I tried to dissolve the figure into the light and shade as she made her way across the courtyard.

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Continuing  south towards the  Chilean/Argentinian borders we climb up to 5000 metres. Here there are signs of volcanic activity with geysers and boiling mud and towering volcanoes. There are multi coloured lakes, some fed by hotwater  springs. Flamingos of various hues feed off the algae. They freeze in the cold nights and need the warmth of sun to bring back circulation to their  legs so that they can become mobile again . I did this whilst the driver slipped off for brunch. It didn’t stop him from joining us for lunch, later along the trail.


There are no roads on the Bolivian high plain. The drivers seem to navigate between landmarks.This was a view out our hotel done just before sundown. The hostel was absolutely in the middle of nowhere. Unable to use a hairdryer to dry off my paint, I couldn’t include much detail, just capture the vista of siennas . The marks are tyre tracks left by 4x4s. Even without roads there were speed limit signs- though I didn’t see many speedcops, besides there weren’t many places for them to hide.

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When we arrived at the salt flats in Uyuni in southern Bolivia I wasn’t that impressed. I did some of the sketches below, where the expanse of salt can be seen in the background, surrounded by distant mountains and vast tracts of land. However, venture out onto the flats in the evening where the water just covers the salt bed. The wind drops and the vivid colours of sunset start to fire up . Suddenly you are surrounded with colour as it is reflected off the now still water. Distant mountains seem to float in space as do the people around you and their 4x4s. Yeah, it was very impressive.



We stayed in a hotel just outside Uyuni, just on the flats. I painted this sitting outside the hotel, sat with my back to a rock. It became a bit uncomfortable, so I looked more closely at the rock. I realised the whole hotel sat on an old coral reef. Quite remarkable when you consider you are at 12,000 feet above sea level


This was the view from the back of the hotel. Tracks seemed to go from nowhere to nowhere across the vast expanse of the Altiplano.

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After moving over to Bolivia from Peru across Lake Titicaca and then on to La Paz we eventually arrived at Sucre. Like most things in Bolivia everything seems to come in twos and I was told that Sucre was the capital of Bolivia, but the role seems to be shared between La Paz and Sucre, with Sucre now being the judicial capital. There are also two flags, the old one and a new, rather fetching,chequered one which reflects the ethnic diversity of the country. From the hotel roof you could see the bell towers of two of the many churches. As the sun set I painted the  scene.


The town square in the pleasant city of Sucre has plenty of statues of local and national worthies like any square in Bolivia. It is a busy haven away from the traffic. As I sat here and painted one of these worthies I had many traders trying to sell me different things from balloons to a shoe shine,  despite the fact that I had  selected a seat with an enormous puddle in front of it.

Like Cusco in Peru, and I suppose most of the towns and city in the region, the town has a  lot of Spanish  influences, but our hotel went a little further, having the feel of a souk, displaying a Moorish feel  with flower festooned courtyards with running water and a fabulous roof area. I started to paint a group in the main courtyard, but they upped and left, but, doggedly, I completed the sketch which gives a feel of the place.


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