Friday, 31 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#12)

Nafplio, 2.9.87
(Fine point and coloured markers in A5 sketchbook) 

Moving on a year and onto the Greek mainland. Nafplio was briefly the capital of modern Greece following its liberation from the Ottoman Empire. I enjoyed my stay there which came at the end of a period of island hopping, but the trip was a difficult one for various reasons and I managed only this sketch. 

I didn't much care for the coloured markers - I found the colours crude - and didn't use them again. 

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#11)

Akandia Boatyard, Rhodes, 27.9.86
(Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook)

Going south east from the Old Town there are three harbours, the last of them being Akandia. There's a large boatyard at Akandia and I thought it might be interesting to find some boats to draw. Instead, I found myself fascinated by this old converted lorry.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#10)

Hidden fortification, Rhodes 
(Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook)

In 1309 Rhodes was occupied by Knights Hospitaller and under the rule of the newly named Knights of Rhodes the fortified city walls were built. That appears to be one of their crests on this underground entrance I found in the moat. With no torch, I decided going in wasn't an option.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#9)

Thunderstorm, Club Elli, Rhodes. 23.9.86
(Fine point marker and grey Magic marker in A5 sketchbook)  

To the north of the Old Town lies Mandraki Harbour and at the far end of that  is this building, Club Elli. It's still something of a nightspot, I understand. I'd been thinking about drawing it for a few days when suddenly I found myself caught in a thunderstorm. Sheltering in a doorway, waiting for the rain to stop, I figured now was as good a time as any to get the club on paper.

When I'd finished the drawing, it was still chucking it down, so I walked back to my apartment in the rain. The rain was warm and, dressed as I was in shorts and a t-shirt, I didn't mind getting soaked. And as is often the way of things in the Aegean, before I got to the apartment the sun came out and I was almost dry by the time I arrived.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#8)

In the Moat, Rhodes, 17.9.86 
(Fine point marker and grey Magic marker in A5 sketchbook) 

Before leaving on this trip, I'd been reading Drawing with Markers by Richard Welling. As a result, when I went into the moat again, this time I was armed with a grey felt tip in addition to my fine point. I was quite pleased with the result at the time and I continued to use this combination, off and on, for some time to come.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#7)

Rhodes, 16.9.86 (Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook) 

It's 1986 and I'm back in Greece, this time on the island of Rhodes, a new destination for me. I was there for three weeks and for the first of them I was on my own. Plenty of time to get some sketching done, I told myself, and to a certain extent that proved true.

I managed to find an apartment in Rhodes Old Town (something I was glad of when I saw the rather soulless concrete New Town outside) and spent a great deal of my time wandering round the moat inside the town walls. It was quiet there and mostly deserted and that's where this first Rhodes sketch was done.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#6)

On board F?B Lemnos, 28.9.85 
(Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook) 

This may have been done on the ferry to Paros from Naxos (in which case I did no more sketching on that trip) or on the ferry back to Piraeus and ultimately home.

At home I attempted to make a painting from this sketch, but again it didn't work out and was destroyed.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#5)

Naxos Alley, 27.9.85 (Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook)

Done the same day as the previous sketch, this was also in the winding passageways of the kastro (old town) of Naxos. The island was once under the control of the Venetians and the kastro has all the hallmarks of the alleys and passageways of Venice in miniature.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#4)

Naxos Doorway, 27.9.85 (Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook)

I was beginning to take more time over these sketches and you'll see here that I'd added a few colour notes. When I got home I made an attempt to make a painting from this sketch, but in 1985 I simply didn't have the experience or technical ability to pull it off.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#3)

Kiosk, Naxos Harbour (Fine point marker in A5 sketchbook)

The second of my sketches on Naxos.. It eventually led to a small painting, although in titling it, it seems I moved it to Paros.

Kiosk on Paros (Oil on board, 6 x 4 ins)

Friday, 10 August 2012

Very First Sketchbook (#2)

Monastery above Naxos
(Fine marker and grey Magic marker in A5 sketchbook)

Let's return to this occasional series. Moving on from Athens by way of a ferry from Piraeus, I found somewhere to stay in the kastro at Naxos. Walking out above the town, I made this quick sketch of a monastery. It's rather crude but effective I think.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


My good friend Paul Mingard, who, with his wife Christina, runs Hawthorn Cottage Industries, posted this lovely review of my show on Facebook.

Went to see Harry Bell's exhibition Town & Country at Newcastle Arts Centre. Not enough people were there though. Harry's paintings of Newcastle show his love of the city. His vision is romantic and optimistic without ever becoming sentimental. The paintings of the station at night really capture the feelings of anticipation and expectation you get when leaving on a train, or arriving home after a trip. His city is not the traditional one of Newcastle, 'Fog On The Tyne' and all that. It is very much a post-industrial metropolis; people hurrying for the metro; shopping and hopping on and off buses. It's a shame Newcastle doesn't love Harry as much as he loves the city. As a postscript the paintings of old hedges and walls made me want to go and study them for myself. He notices and records things we see, but don't observe.

Paul Mingard (9 August 2012)

Don't forget to check out Christina's fine paintings on the Hawthorn Indutries website.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Solo Show Photographs

End wall

I called in to Newcastle Arts Centre yesterday to see how the solo show looked devoid of private view crowds.and to take some new photographs of some of the works hung. While I was there, I decided it might be good to take a set of photos round the room. I may have missed a couple, but most of the show is shown above.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gate Reflections

It was a lovely day in Newcastle today, thankfully free from any rain and bathed in sunshine. My attention was caught by these reflections in The Gate, reflections that only become evident when the sun shines like that.

Monday, 6 August 2012

The Wooden Spiral

The Wooden Spiral (Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 ins)

This is one of the paintings included in my exhibition currently running at the Newcastle Arts Centre. It's quite an old one - from 2004 - and for a while I was uncertain whether I would keep it at all. Recently, however, I took it out of the rack, gave it a bit of a tidy up. and decided I actually do like it. There's a more subdued lighting in it that suits Newcastle rather well.

The subject, in case you don't know Newcastle, shows at the left  what was built as The Oxford Ballrooms but has over the years had its name changed to reflect the need for something new for the yoofs. You may have heard of Thomas Heatherwick: he's the man responsible for the cauldron at the Olympic Games, one of his better efforts. In Newcastle he persuaded the Council that it would be a good thing to lay a pretend carpet of tiles made from crushed blue sherry bottles. the result was not the bright blue carpet he intended but a rather dull grey landscape. A little more effective was his cladding of a functional spiral metal  staircase in wood panelling. That's what you can see at the right hand side of the painting. It leads through a barren land of empty office buildings to a bridge over the Central Motorway - not one of Newcastle's highlights.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Cambridge Folk Festival

I never found out who they were.

Keb Mo

Who knows?

For our Xmas present last year, Pat's son and his partner gave us tickets to the Cambridge Folk Festival this July. A long wait for a Xmas present to come to fruition, perhaps, but well worth the wait.

The tickets we had were for the Saturday of the Festival and when we got there the band shown in the first photograph were playing. I never found out who they were, but I made my first attempt at photographing the acts then. I soon came to realise that for decent photographs you needed to be much taller than I am, so these are the only shots I came away with.

I discovered that standing up for the best part of elevn hours is not kind to my back, but eventually I found ways of coping with that and the sheer amount of music we saw made it all a great experience:

Fay Hield and the Hurricane Party
Tim Edey & Brendan Power
Keb Mo Band
The Unthanks with the Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band
Nanci Griffiths
Roy Harper
... and finally - The Proclaimers. Who knew The Proclaimers could be so great!? Naturally, this is what they finished their set with:

Saturday, 4 August 2012


Lincoln Cathedral

Boats at Brayford Pool

High Bridge, Brayford Canal

I spent a few enjoyable days in Lincoln last month and thought you might be interested in one or two photographs I took there.

I liked Lincoln a lot and it was fun catching up with an old friend I haven't seen for twenty years or more. The visit was in the nature of a reconnaissance trip to check out potential hotels for a reunion of friends and in that it was very successful. I'm really looking forward to next year's event.