Thursday, 22 May 2008


This was our last day in Puerta Pollensa so we took the bus to the main town of Pollensa, about 5 kilometres inland. I love this town with it's narrow streets and old buildings, a fine piazza in front of a small cathedral. But what I like most is it's artistic atmosphere. This ancient town has become over the years a centre for the arts with working artists, writers, and musicians. There are many galleries which I like but my favourite place is the Club Pollensa
( ) where generations of artists have met for years and has developed a rich and still active festival life for itself. I love to walk in the main door and feel the atmosphere, imagining what it must be like to be part of it. Around the walls hang some terrific artwork none better than that by an artist I like very much - Dionis Bennassar ( ) He lived and worked through my favourite artistic period: the 1950's and 60's. After lunch in the cool interior bar I wandered around stopping at this little watercolour painting of his and made my own copy in pastels:

Pastels on ingres paper, 15x22cm: Although I could find no title for it I would call it "The Dance". I like the way the figures have been treated as simplified shapes brought together in a semi-abstract manner.

Leaving the Club Pollensa we made our way up through the town stopping firstly at the studio of an artist I met a few years ago on a previous visit: Matthias Schürle ( Happily he was still there and the door was open, so I walked in and re-aquainted ourselves. Matthais's work is fascinating and nothing like anyone elses that I have seen. Quite idosyncratic. He paints in oils but it looks like encaustic with a very smooth glazed appearance. His subject matter is also very strange but you could never accuse him of painting for the masses. And good on him. I'm happy to report he is well and still working though I'm not sure who is buying his work to keep him alive. A pleasure to meet him again.
After exchanging business cards I continued along heading towards the an galleria where I met and spoke with another artist all those years ago: Marquet Pasqual ( Unfortunately Marquet wasn't in this time but I spoke with the gallery owner who took my card to pass on my good wishes to him. I love Marquet's work. It is figurative and lyrical. The last time we met our initial difficulty was that he only spoke Spanish and I know nothing apart from ordering coffees or wine! I found a way round this barrier by communicating in Italian, which as a latin language is very close to Spanish, so we could make ouselves understood.
Finally, on return to Puerta Pollensa, I went down to the beach for a bit of snorkelling, and afterwards, while soaking up the last rays of the sun, I made this little pastel painting:

Pastels on paper, 30x22cm: "Sierra del Cavall Bernat"; purple in the distance with it's ragged edge it makes a great backdrop to, and protects, the beach and bay.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Pine Walk

Having just finished an excellent meal of homemade pappardelle pasta with salsa bolognese and dos copa de vino (blanco e rosso) I am at one with the world. I cast my eye around and this is my (slightly softened) view from under my white canopy:

Pastel on ingres paper, 300x22cm: "The Pine Walk"; So called because all the way along this winding path of broken paving stands these tall conifer trees leaning over to one side with age. The question is: Can I still call this 'plein air painting'?

Here's the actual painting location: the empty table on the far left waiting patiently for me and my good wife to amble in for lunch. No that's not her lying flat out on the sand in front before we went in!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Cala de San Vicente

Day trip to Cala de San Vicente - a very attractive village set at the end of a deep inlet with some fine looking hotels and excellent resaurants. There are two small beaches divided from each other by a high rock outcrop and on each side flanked by these towering peaks. The beach scene featured below is the nicer of the two beaches with a small, clean, stretch of sand and straw canopies to provide shade for the many young families enjoying themselves:

Pastel on ingres paper, 30x22cm: "On the Beach at San Vicente"; painted directly while Jacqui was burying me up to my neck in sand - Oh what fun! My only regret was that I hadn't brought my cozzie and snorkel so I couldn't go swimmin' with the fishes. That was for another day. And talking of fun these two were having lots of it cavorting around the beach with their beach-ball:
Pastels on ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Beach Ball"; This was just a 'snapshot' of the two figures as they ran around the beach laughing and shouting with each other.

This small painting can be purchased in my shop here at Etsy:

Pastel on ingres paper, 30x22cm: "Col de Cornavacas"; After a fine lunch at a first class restaurant overlooking the bay I made this painting while letting two glasses of vino blanco softened the afternoon into a very pleasant memory. Directly opposite me was this imposing mount rising above a dense belt of pines and giving strong backdrop to a group of white plastered houses and small bar. What a brilliant situation for a quiet drink overlooking the cove and let the day drift by!

Monday, 19 May 2008

The Pass of Boquer

First day out sketching on my lonesome, walking through the countryside towards the pass of Boquer valley. Rising up before me is the impressive start of the Sierra del Cavall Bernat with the opening cleft in the rocks, on the left, that lead through the valley towards the peaceful Bahai de Boquer:

Pastels on ingres paper, 30x22cm: "The Pass of Boquer"; Bare ocher and siena rock breaks out of dense scrub gathered around it's lower slopes with the pass opening like a gateway carved out of the rock with one stroke of some gigantic chopping knife. A screen of ancient pines marches down the slope marking off the mountain from the flat grass and wildflower fields. Overhead a large raptor drifts in the light breeze; it looks like a Buzzard but doesnt have a buzzrds pale markings on the underside, so it could be Eleanoras Falcon which are very common in this area.
Along the narrow lanes, growing out of the stone dykes are these wonderful cactoid plants with their flaming torch flowers:
Pastel on ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Cactus Flame"; It's as though their organic life cannot be contained, bursting out exuberantly in apparent haphazard fashion making the most wonderful abstract shapes.

This small painting can be purchased in my shop at Etsy:

Sunday, 18 May 2008


Hola! Here I am back again from my sojourn in the Balearics with an all-over sun-tan and empty pockets! My one week in Puerta Pollensa, northern Majorca, was brilliant but certainly not long enough. By midweek I was just getting settled into a more relaxed, warmer, way of life, strolling around in open-toed sandals and shorts all day long, when it rushed to an early end far too quickly. Still, after a slow start, I did get some pastel drawings done starting with these two looking down on the apartments pool: I could dive straight in with a backwards triple somersault - if I only had the nerve!

Pastel on ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Poolside Lounger"; it looks inviting, doesn't it - after the heat of the day, hot and sweating from laying about in the sun, to plunge into a clear blue private pool, swim a few dozen lengths, then back upstairs to my little balcony and a couple of copas di vino blanco to salute and say farewell to the setting sun.

Pastels on ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Our Poolside Partners"; With occasional shade from overhanging palm leaves these two blue loungers became our part-time welcoming companions later in the afternoon after fine days walking in the surrounding countryside or along the esplanade looking for a nice restaurante for lunch, or visiting nearby towns and villages using the excellent public busses. You need somewhere to rest your weary limbs and not too far from the pool to re-invigorate your muscles before the sun dips over the yard-arm. Then it's time for cocktails!

This small painting can be purchased in my shop at Etsy:

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Calder Water

Another fantastic day here in Scotland - you would almost believe that summer has finally arrived! Took myself off for another days Plein Air pastelling this time at one of my favourite locations: Mossmulloch, near Strathaven. Very few people pass by, only the occassional cyclist and farm trucks piled high with sheuch! Otherwise it's painting to the sounds of lambs calling for their mothers, larks ascending, and an invisible frog serenading me from the other side of the burn. First painting is of the Calder Water winding it's way down through gentle folds in the landscape:
Pastel on ingres paper, 22x15cm: With clear blue skies above I can respond directly to the reflections in the water with my favourite blues. From the same position I just turned 90degrees to the left and I see the riverbank cut away with pebbles and rocks exposed:

Paste on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: A bit more naturalistic but made using a limited palette of blues, mauves, and green. Further up the burn there is a small tributary where Mallard Duck hide from spying eyes and a farm bridge is constructed from old rusted steel girders and wooden handrails greyed with age and weather. A Buzzard mews above:
Pastel on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: I'm distracted by a huge insect that crawls across my page and gives me the heebie-jeebies! Therefore I paint this fairly realistically with my mind on self preservation rather than creating my other world. Pastel on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: A dark pool where the water slows to an apparent standstill but the wind ripples across the surface reflecting the blue sky above. Last year's docken still stands red, and a fish quietly rises to take a Mayfly.
Cutting this short to rush off to watch the Mighty Glasgow Rangers play Motherwell. Back later to finish!

And here I'm back again happy to report that the Gers won 1-0. An ugly win but another three points on the board!

This last painting is my impression/expression of the river rushing and tumbling between constricting rocks on it's mad dash to meet the River Avon a few miles further down the glen. Here I'm almost looking down vertically on top of it and kept from falling in by two sheep and a lamb hanging onto my braces! (you can tell by now I've had a few glasses of Guinness to help with the narrative!)

The first, second, fourth, and last painting above can all be purchased in my shop at Etsy:

Friday, 2 May 2008

Tales of the Riverbank

Typical Scottish weather - one minute summer, and the next back to winter! Set off this morning for another session at Chatelherault Country Park with the sun spreading it's glory all over Central Scotland, but by the time I had parked my car and walked down to the river, setting up my plein-air work-station on a footpath that runs through the woods alongside the River Avon, the heavens had opened up with a heavy shower of hailstones. So one thing I've learned today is that pastels and hail don't mix too well! Sheltered for a while under some overhanging rocks until the shower passed over, then on with the work. Started with this small sketch of a tangle of trees screening the river below:
Pastels on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: "River Sketch"; working on neutral tinted paper just placed random patches of colour. I am always fascinated by the vertical tree elements standing in front of the horizontal flowing river with blue sky reflected in parts.

Pastels on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Weir"; another small sketch this time of a fast flowing weir and some Rhoddy foliage in the foreground. Then moving on you turn a corner and this is what you find:
Pastels on Ingres paper, 30x22cm: "Bluebell Woods"; covering the slope are swathes of purple-blue flowers on bright green stalks and leaves in amongst these slender sapling trees (with the occassional rotten, fallen, tree-trunk). Some subjects require to be painted differently. This view demanded that I paint it more impressionistically with dots and dashes. Perhaps this is what comes of looking at Vincents' paintings the other day! Another shower stops me mid-flight and I have to cover my board and take shelter under the bough of an Oak. Moving on, following the river upstream, I come to the place of my original intentions: Cadzow Castle. Set up my workstation for the fourth time and set to work: "Man at Work" (taken by a very obliging squirrel). Pastels on Ingres Paper, 43x30cm:"Cadzow Castle"; not much of it left now but the castle originally dates from the times of a "semi-fabulous prince by the name of Caw" (well that's how the Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland describes him in their publication of 1880).The castle was a royal residence in the times of Alexander II, and III, and passed, in the time of Robert the Bruce, to the family of Hamilton. It stands on a rocky outcrop 200ft above the River Avon and even in it's decrepit state is an impressive sight on the skyline.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Dark Pinewood

If you go down to the woods today you might come across a path like this with dark pines reaching high above you on either side with a shaft of sunlight cutting through to light your way and if you look hard enough you will see that all is not gloomy but rich in deep colour:

Pastels on Ingres paper, 15x22cm: "Dark Pinewood Path".