Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Self Imposed Isolation

Two weeks after our return from Vietnam, the country is in virtual lock down because of the Corona Virus. Hotels we stayed at in Vietnam have closed. two weeks later and I think we would have had a very different holiday. Still, best not to dwell on that but just to hope that it doesn't knock those lovely people too hard, same goes for the rest of the world.

Meanwhile we are advised to keep social distancing and to avoid unnecessary travel. Now this is where being an artist is an advantage. We can easily work from home or find an isolated spot to go and paint.

I have decided to use this time to try and get to grips with water soluble oils. I have had some that I was given ages ago. When I first got them I topped up with my favourite colours and gave them a go. Couldn't get on at all, so, put them on the shelf to gather dust.
Recently I have become more concerned about the use of solvents and also have been inspired by the lovely paintings by my friend Valerie Pirlot who only uses ws oils. so, I have dusted them off and been playing .
The main thing I've had to bear in mind is that I am playing, not trying to produce masterpieces -(mind you, it would be good if it happened)

This is the first effort. I set up a still life using a lovely colourful pot that I bought on holiday. Was actually quiet pleased with this. I found that I had all the colours I needed too

This picture was taken from a photo taken on the beach at Hoi An. The beach was a stone's throw from our hotel, I only got the chance to walk there on the last morning as we'd been so busy. I could have spent the whole week painting there if I wasn't with Frank & friends (didn't take paints for that reason)
Got on quiet well with the mixing here too

One of the highlights of the holiday was a three day cruise on Halong bay. Again this was taken from a photograph. I am finding that the paints are not drying as quickly as my regular paints so started using a drying medium. This is fine when I remembered to use it but I found that it does make the paint a bit slippery. Even using softer brushes I couldn't layer up the paint so I resorted to using a pallet knife. I like the effect it has given.
The little junk with red sails was a real gift

This 12" x 12" painting I really did struggle with. It started off ok with thin layers but as I built up the thickness, I could not get the effect I wanted on the daffodils. The paint got very slippery. The yellows I have are not opaque so added white which wasn't the colour I needed. I also couldn't get the light shining through the trumpet of the right hand daffodil because adding white flattened the colour too much.

I shall persevere as Valerie did say it took her quite a few paintings before she got used to them. Meanwhile, I shall just have fun and not worry too much about the results. Click here to check out Valeries' materials list if you are interested in trying them. Her website has  some useful information as well as showing her lovely paintings

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Vietnam part 2

I am now sitting with my suitcase packed waiting for transfers to airport for flight home.
We’ve hardly had time to breath We seem to have been none stop since I last wrote . I’m having to look at my photographs to remind myself what we’ve been doing.

Thursday 27th February
Tour of Hanoi
First stop was to make our own lanterns. This I have to say was a brilliant experience and great fun. We were all very pleased with our results
Frank concentrating on his lantern

Next was a walk around the old quarter including visit to traditional Vietnamese house and of course the  obligatory temple. Traditional lunch in a nice courtyard and then wandering old quarter again. A trip to the tailor where the chaps got measured for jackets and a couple of shirts.
Evening visit to the night market which was a bit disappointing, all the same tat everywhere so went to famous Morning Glory restaurant. Very good food and we had table on roof terrace overlooking the river.

Friday 28th
Picked up by Vy, the guy we met in the restaurant a couple of nights before. Took us to My Son. There were originally 75 temples here but now, after Vietnam war, only 25. An interesting, informative visit which included a cultural show. Saw several bomb craters
Temple at My Son
Vy dropped us in town to collect the clothes we’d had made. The finish and fitting was fantastic. Also, very reasonable. As we left , there was a huge commotion just down the road, a shop owner was trying to get a big snake out of his shop with a stick. Poor thing was darting all over the place, no idea where it would have gone to next so we moved on.

Hoian Street 
Stall at night

In the market 
We were sorry to leave Hoian, I think it was one of the nicest places I’ve visited, our Hotel was particularly good and right on the beach, sadly we didn’t have time to relax and enjoy it as there was just too much to see

A walk on the beach on our last morning

Saturday 29th
Flew from Da Nang into Ho Chi Minh city
Very impressive views as we flew in
Approach to Ho Chi Minh
Our hotel was a 45 minute drive from airport. After quick shower went out to explore. Quickly found the market. You really have to haggle there. Bought some silk fabric, still not sure if I was ripped off.
Back for a shower and then off out on a Vespa tour.

Vespa Gang
It’s been  over 50years since I was last on a Vespa! Apparently there are 8,000,000 motor bikes/mopeds in this city and they all seemed to be right along side, coming at us or driving across the front of us. A bit hair raising but great fun. We stopped four times for drinks and various local foods ending in a night bar with live music. A fabulous evening

Sunday. 1st March
Tour of the city
First, the Old Post Office and reunification Palace
Reunification Palace
The palace was rebuilt during the 60’s as it was bombed during the Vietnam war. We visited the bunkers that still has all the communication equipment

Old Post Office
Next was a trip to the Cu Chi tunnels, fascinating place with hundreds of miles of tunnels that housed the fighting Vietnamese during the Vietnamese war. Great hardship and courage for these lovely people.

a cross section showing the different levels and escape route at low tide into Saigon River

Life in the jungle
Entrance to a tunnel

That was a fascinating trip and gave you a lot to think about. So, back to the city and a wander round a few markets.

The streets was so busy here lots produce spilling out onto the roads. Trip hazards everywhere. Health and safety would have a field day

This was a wholesale market so we we're
 pestered to buy stuff which made a nice change

Next day was a two hour trip to the Mekong delta where we boarded a boat to take us out. We dined on board and had a few walks round local villages. I had a chance to make the rice pancake, a skilful job. Then a trip in a little boat rowed by a local lady.

My attempt at a rice pancake which we then ate with a delicious sticky ginger, chilli and mango mix

Delicious meal of 'elephant fish' which we wrapped in pancake with herbs, lettuce and then dipped in sauce, spring rolls, noodles and vegetables and a selection of fresh fruit which you could dip into 'chilli salt'

Holding on tight, also surprisingly windy
Altogether it was an amazing trip. Very quiet compared to what it should have been due to people not travelling because of the Corona virus. China borders were closed and a great deal of precautions were being taken everywhere. This in great contrast to our arrival home where no-one wore masks, washed hands or took temperatures. I would go back to Vietnam any time. We loved it. I am now off to make a book of our 600 plus photographs

Friday, 28 February 2020


Not a painting trip but a trip with Frank and friends. It would be a wonderful place to paint, maybe a bit tricky staying out of everyone’s way as it’s so busy.
This is such a wonderful country with such friendly happy people.

First stop was Hanoi
Saturday 22nd February
Arrived at Sofitel after 24 travelling, had quick shower and then out to explore. Needed to eat so found a Sky Bar. Was hoping to see a good sunset but the sun just sank and it got dark. A lovely light though.
Happy Hour at Sky bar

Fresh Fish anyone?

A walk along the railway line

Mobile fruit shop

Water puppet show

A short trip on the local train
It had to be done 😁

Fabulous views over Hoian from the sky bar

The local butcher

We enjoyed wandering the old quarters which were about half a mile from hotel. The street food was very good but mostly ate on the roof tops. Went to Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and gardens. Took rickshaw ride round old quarter,  great fun. We learnt how to cross the road, there are mopeds, scooters and bikes everywhere, they don’t stop so you have to just step out and walk slowly across as they drive round you. A bit worrying the the first few times.

Halong Bay
Monday 24th February
Next stop was a cruise around Halong Bay on an Azalea ship. There were only 28 of us on board. Rooms were surprisingly spacious.
Azalea Cruise ship

Our cabin

A view of the bay
We were three nights on board. We had a couple of trips to Cat Ba island. The first was to caves high up. We climbed loads of steps, the caves were only a metre high in places. I wish we had known but we managed ok. Another trip via the tender was a village, nothing exciting but still quite interesting

Wednesday 26th February
Hoi An
After flight from Hanoi to Da Nang we arrived early evening at Boutique Hotel Hoi An.
Fabulous place. We ventured out for a meal at Red Chilli, recommended on Trip Advisor. We weren’t disappointed, the meal was fabulous. There were a big crowd of Vietnamese tennis players booked in. We were warned it could get noisy - it did. They were all lovely and kept coming to say sorry for the noise. Even bought us beers. It all added to the great atmosphere.
 One of the guys was a tour leader and we arranged for him to take us to My Son in his car.

RedChilli restaurant 

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Time Flies

So much has happened in the last year and a bit that I couldn't possibly put it all into a blog without writing a book.

A recent trip to bath to see Peter Brown exhibition
L-R Valerie Pirlot, Mo, Maria Rose & Haidee-Jo Summers

First and foremost was the loss of our son, Nathan. A year last November he was diagnosed with stage four cancer. He was so brave and stayed strong and positive until the end. He contracted pneumonia and was unable to fight it off and died at the end of May last year, the day after his wedding anniversary. I am fortunate that his lovely wife and three young daughters live close by . He was so proud of those girls and he lives on through them. I won't go on about how I feel as this isn't the purpose of this blog. All I will say is that, no parent should have to go through the pain of losing a child at any age.

Nathan 1975 - 2019

The last post I made, way back in 2018, was leading up to the British Plein Air Painters exhibition at The Menier Gallery. I can report that this was an overwhelming success. Over 60 paintings were sold and feedback from the public was very positive. I thoroughly enjoyed working with such a brilliant group of artists. We hung the show ourselves and the feeling of camaraderie as we worked together was wonderful

Yours truly in charge of the wine

What a line up!!
L - R Chris Robinson, Roy Connelly, Tim King, Tony Dakin, Haidee-Jo Summers, Adebanji Alade, Micheal Richardson, Disy Simms-Hilditch, Valerie Pirlot, Maria Rose, Mo Teeuw, John Walsom, Andrew Roberts, John Stillman, Karl Terry, Trevor Chamberlain, David Pilgrim, Ben Hope, Adam Ralston, David Curtis, David Bachmann, Peter Brown
missing were Richard Pikesly, Ken Howard and Fred Cuming

So great was the success that I am pleased to announce that there will be another exhibition this year at The Mall Gallery. Plans are already afoot for promotion and we have a great team working on our social media pages and website

Here is our lovely poster designed by Valerie Pirlot

We have a great programme of events planned and several painting days where any artist can turn up and paint along with some of the group members. 
here is a list for your diary.
You will find a list of participating artists on our website 

Painting days

Saturday 18 April - MANCHESTER
Wednesday 29 April - SOMERSET BathThursday 14 May - DORSET Mudeford Quay
Saturday 13 June - NORFOLK Morston
Tuesday 11 August - LONDON Richmond

Saturday 30 May - OXFORD
Friday 26 June - SUFFOLK Southwold
Saturday 4 July - LINCOLNSHIRE Stamford
Saturday 25 July - NORTH YORKSHIRE Staithes
Saturday 22 August - EAST SUSSEX Rye
Saturday 12 September - LONDON St James Park

I hope to get to as many as I can and will post pictures here.
I do hope that you will be able to join us, just turn up on the day with all your painting gear and do come and say hello.