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Friday 30th June 2017Ruffside Farm

 I'd like to share this painting, 'Ruffside Farm' and the first part of the poem accompanying it, written by my friend and poet, Noel Connor, for 'In the Pause of Passing.' It seems to be a poem partly about adapting to and surviving difficult times...

I Grew to Love

I grew to love that tree,
solitary, thick skinned,
clenching itself
to the stony ridge
behind the house,
muscling into the wall.

Young whippersnapper
it defied each winter,
leaned when to bend, to lean away
when the wind demanded,
to grow slow and hard-hearted,
a gnarled knowledge
shaping to survive,
knotting itself to the landscape...



Thursday 29th June 2017Teaching in France - Seventh Time

 Holiday coming up for my UK students and a real change of scenery for me - I have just been invited to teach in Correze, France, for the 7th time, staying in this beautiful chateau, 31st July to 9th August. Alison and my sister Lynn and other helpers will be holding the fort at the Prudhoe gallery for me - looking forward to the journey.

Thursday 29th June 2017Three Years in Prudhoe for the Gallery

Three years ago, I picked up the keys to the gallery, then washeteria, and slept on the floor on a mattress. I celebrated with today's students and a bottle of Prosecco. Very happy with how those three years have gone - and grateful. May celebrate a little more tonight ...

Thursday 09th February 2017An Inspiring Weardale Farmhouse

I painted both 'Window' and 'Tree House' after discovering this derelict farmhouse in Weardale, near St John's Chapel - the two windows are upstairs. 'Treehouse' is the window on the farmhouse's left and 'Window' is on the right. You can see the photos I took originally of the farmhouse below in the collage, and the actual paintings above. 
If you look to the top of 'Window' you will see that it has its very own natural Velux feature! It's one of the watercolours that I enjoyed painting most. And I also like the poem that Noel Connor wrote to accompany 'Tree House' in 'In the Pause of Passing'.  I have copied a short extract below. If you look closely at the painting, you will see the details he is describing:
'...Jam jars on a window-sill
preserved in watercolour,
no more than berry-stains on paper,
a still life ripening
on his autumn easel.'

Thursday 21st May 2015Teaching in Correze - Towers, A Locked Library and an Addams Family Window.

Teaching in Correze held a few surprises for me this May. The teaching was the main purpose of the trip - my sixth visit to this beautiful area of France. Staying in the stunning Chateau de Beaufort is always good for a twist or two in the tale - in the shape of a 'secret' library this time. I find doors, windows and ... bread ovens in every corner when I travel - and this May, I found a couple of candidates!
The primary reason for my visit was that I have a longstanding teaching arrangement in the village, La Roche Canillac. Kevan Myers, a British poet now living in France, is just one of a group of people in La Roche who is working hard to make this beautiful village an arts' magnet and my teaching is a part of that mission. My courses were well attended by French, Dutch, American and English students, I enjoyed working with them, and it’s possible I’ll be back there in August of this year. It was interesting that Kevan chose a painting of High Force to promote the watercolour course – an iconic Teesdale scene that is very dear to me personally.


I was also lucky enough to meet the director of the Rive Gauche gallery in nearby Tulle who took a liking to my Northumbrian originals and took eight of them to display, and also some of my Indian prints.


One of the highlights of my visit was that I got to stay in the stunning Chateau de Beaufort near to the salle polyvalente where I was teaching in La Roche. With a swimming pool, lake nearby and an almost secret, locked library in its tower, it was a superb place to stay in and to explore.


Another highlight was that I found two windows and a bread oven near to the village that would be perfect for me to paint, so I returned several times to get photographs of them at different times. I never change the interiors I discover, but I do take many photographs to ensure that both colour and light are ripe to show the window, door or oven at its best. The bread oven has been used thousands of times by villagers, which has created a worn and wonderful patina I'd love to capture. And one window reminds me of the 1960s Addams Family TV series, it's so festooned in spiders’ webs. - a painting waiting to happen.


Wonder if I’ll have captured it on paper by the time I return?




Posted on May 21st 2015 on 03:42pm
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