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The Rajah’s Birthday


by Frank Brangwyn.

Brangwyn was very largely self taught. His early work, influenced strongly by the Newlyn School, was bold and striking though restricted in palette.

It was not until he was introduced to Orientalism that his paintings bloomed into intense light, colour and warmth. He travelled to exotic locations in Asia and Africa, once working his passage as a deck hand, pursuing the wondrous imagery of the mystic, far flung places he new would capture the imaginations of his admirers.

Working as a designer and illustrator alongside his “regular” painting, he also produced woodcuts and work in stained glass etc.  for installations as well as various other media.

In this piece we see Brangwyn’s marvellous sense of design and pictorial structure just beautifully. The chattering, dancing, playing mass of moving bodies is set perfectly in the foreground to frame the stately glittering ceremonial elephants striding slowly behind. What a wonderfully effective contrast.


Here’s my painting.


This is called “Rhododendron with Woodpecker”, a much cooler scene with very little chattering and dancing. It was very interesting, though, framing the bird with quite a dense collection of leaves and flowers.



On the lake in the Bois de Boulogne


By Berthe Morisot.

This charming and deliciously creamy piece is by one of the most famous female Impressionists.

Morisot was instructed by Corot and under his guidance, took up plein air painting. At the age of 23 she was invited to exhibit two paintings at the Salon de Paris. She became close to Edouard Manet (actually marrying his Brother, Eugene) and they clearly began to influence one another’s work. It was Morisot who persuaded Manet to begin painting outside, a defining method of the Impressionist circle.

Morisot painted from her everyday experience and her subjects varied widely; her sensitivity and light, loose touch always in evidence.

Look at the rhythms in this piece. The paint strokes from one hat to the other done almost in one lick of the brush. The zigzag smears on the water and the young girl’s sleeve. The swan necks and the woman’s. The mirror placement of the two figures. These are all delightful things.


My painting is called Colour of Spring IV.


Needless to say, this is the fourth of my paintings with the title Colour of Spring.





by Abbott Handerson Thayer.

Just a vase of the things but blimey, what a wonderful painting this is. The fine balance of tones – petals, leaves, glaze and background is masterful.

Take a look at the top rose, it is almost the same colour as the wall behind it but with skillful brushstrokes it is made clear. The blooms have real substance, they’re full and round for all the subtlety employed here.

Just admire, also, the highlight on the ceramic. A few nicely placed smears and dabs and it’s all there, alive. Thayer knew his colour. As a matter of fact, he was also a naturalist and he wrote a book about camouflage in nature.

Also a portrait artist, Mark Twain and Henry James sat for him. He is best, perhaps, known for his “ideal” depictions of women, often in flowing robes and even supplied with angels’ wings.


Todays offering from me is a cat portrait I was recently commissioned to paint.



She is called Belle and was a great pleasure to paint.



by Alphonse Mucha.

To many, Mucha was the Father of Art Nouveau – the great Fin de Siecle art movement which fanned out from Paris in 1895 to conquer the world of design and style.

Here is a detail of one of his many lithograph designs. You can immediately recognise the beautiful-girl-with-stylised-floral-and-curvilinear-forms that so characterised his commercial work of this time.

Sounds like I’m running it down. Nothing of the sort – I love it. His sense of decoration and line in graphics are second to none in my book. Although his work admirably fulfilled its commercial role, often as advertising posters or book illustrations, to me, it carries a refined and delicate artistry which stands apart from its first intentions.

My painting is a landscape.


This is called Let Evening come after the beautiful poem of the same name by Jane Kenyon.

The poem is like a sigh and it seemed to suit this picture well.

A fisherman in Valencia


by Joaquin Sorolla.

Look at the energy in this painting. The young fisherman striding along drenched in hot sun and sea wind. The children bobbing and laughing in the surf. He’s calling out loudly to someone or just dazzled open-mouthed by the bright water. So many of this little known Spanish painter’s pieces are set on the hot seashore of his place of birth. They are brilliant in sunlight and show workers, full-sailed fishing boats, bathers with glinting, wet skin, ladies strolling in pure white dresses. Parasols, sunhats, big fat fish and cattle. All on the beach and bathing in water or true, beautiful light.

Below is a pretty sunny day in St Ives. This one is called Bamaluz beach, a commission I did a couple of months ago. You can just make out a seal enjoying the sun from the water.


Holy Cows


By Brian Blood.

After working in advertising and design for many years, Blood moved to San Francisco to teach and paint in his plein air impressionistic style, rendering his bold landscapes of California and elsewhere.

He’s still there today giving workshops and is now much sought after by collectors.

I had a little difficulty choosing one of his paintings as he is consistently outstanding in his output. His cliffs for example show a grasp of the huge bulk and erosion-moulded quality of rock that stands as a good lesson to all of we Cornish artists who think we know everything about depicting coastal scenery. His mellow-lit trees and meadows are warm and dreamy and his cityscapes are vibrant and exciting.

This one is just a gorgeous, eye-catching piece, so here it is in all of its amber glory.

Here is my painting for this post.


This is At the corner of the Digey.

This time of year, the shadows are long and stretch up the sides of adjacent buildings in the tightly-packed streets of St Ives giving some lovely shapes to work with.

They also move fast, so you have to be in the right place at the right time.

The Lady of Shalott


by John W. Waterhouse.

“The harmony of the willow-green, darkened with rain and closing day, of the shadowed white of the dress, the black prow, and the grey light afloat on the water, has the cool open-air unity of French naturalism… It is art which for its appreciation needs at least a capacity for realising the alliance between our thought and the romantic vision gathered in literature from Homer to Tennyson.”

So wrote R.D. Sketchley in 1909 in the Art Journal. And who am I to argue?

Waterhouse was certainly a big fan of Tennyson. His copy of the collected works has sketches for paintings on every blank page. This romantic scene, first shown in 1888, shows the moment when “She loos’d the chain and down she lay.” So off goes the Lady to her doom.

This is one of the most popular of Waterhouse’s works and the tranquil and tragic beauty draws us easily in still. As well as the figure, I like the brooding, foreboding countryside, the embroidered material, dipping in the water and the last candle about to blow out. See the two Martins threading through the scene to the left? The poetry comes off the page and continues on the canvas.

Here’s my painting for today.


We saw this handsome Barred Owl while we were in Canada recently.

They are usually a bit shy and easily frightened off but this one was happy enough gazing down on us from a branch no more than 20 feet off the ground. He had no concerns, even when a Steller’s Jay had a go at him.

Portrait of Henry James


by John Singer Sargent.

Sargent is my favourite portrait painter. His consistency in producing  ‘living’ representations of people, not only flesh with weight and beauty but with remarkable fidelity to his subjects, sets him apart in my opinion.

This portrait was painted in 1913 to celebrate James’s 70th birthday. When James saw it he said that it was “a living, breathing likeness and a masterpiece of painting”.

This is a good example of Sargent’s great skill in applying thick, broad strokes of paint with astonishing accuracy.

Here is my painting for this post.


This is The rose bower.

A satisfying one to paint as it was quite hard but came out OK. My main objective was to model the roundness and solidity of the subject convincingly. I played with the lighting on various areas until it looked as I had more or less intended.

Sappho and Alcaeus


By Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

This dreamy scene depicts two of Ancient Greece’s lyric poets at an odeion – built for musical performances-on the island of Lesbos.

Sappho gazes attentively as Alcaeus recites to the music of a lyre-like kithara.

Alma-Tadema made a great reputation and a fortune for himself as a painter of such ancient scenes. The Victorian collectors lapped it up and rightly so, Alma-Tadema was probably the finest at such depictions. His compositions are masterful and often highly complex and his painting of details such as marble, fur and folded and hanging clothing are superlative.

He travelled extensively to gather reference for his work. He visited the ruins of Pompeii whilst in Italy and also went to Egypt as well as using numerous museum visits for his scene-building details. He produced over  four hundred paintings in his sixty productive years and, to me, this piece, painted in 1881 is one of his best but, having said that, there are scores more I frequently find myself staring in wonder at.

Just exquisite.

My offering this time is a garden scene.


This is called, simply enough,  Swallow and roses and was once part of a pair, but one has sold, leaving this bird flitting about looking for his mate.

This was actually quite a hard one to paint as I had to form the masses of roses largely from my imagination-actually great fun when it works out all right.

If you’re interested, you can see the other one on my site at

The Dream


by Marc Chagall.

Chagall is best known for his joyous paintings of love and folk life. His happy childhood in Belarus, the memories of his father, his uncle and other family members, show clearly throughout these warm and whimsical expressions.

His work often includes domestic animals, remembered figures and fantasy figures as well as biblical references and these interact in surreal, celebratory or intimate ways bringing to mind the fairy tales and fables which we all carry with us from childhood.

Family and romantic love win out against poverty and struggle. Colour seeps out through the greys.

My painting is called Late sun over the harbour, St Ives.


I like to think of this as a cheery picture. It certainly was a warm and beautiful day.

If you’d like to see more, please go to