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Old boatyard

The boatyard painting hanging in my brother's apartment

The old boatyard painting hanging in my brother’s apartment

As I have said in the description of this painting in my Portfolio (see under Marine Art), it was painted as a birthday present for my brother who lives in north-east France. The bright Caribbean-style colours I usually use were not appropriate for his apartment so I muted my palette to tone in with the surroundings and chose a subject that would be both restful and right. As I live on a small island, the old boatyard with the sea in the background seemed to fit the bill.

I’m afraid I was rather rude about a painting that used to hang in the same position: it was very dark – blacks with a touch of burning red – and I found it jarred with the rest of the room and I was quite surprised that my brother and his wife liked it. Anyhow, I promised to paint one to replace it, which I did and managed to get it to him (rolled in my suitcase with no damage at all) in time for his birthday. All he had to do was to re-stretch it and hang it – and the result is shown here. And the old boatyard is also a constant reminder of Antigua, which he continues to visit regularly.

I liked the finished article and I think my brother and his wife did too: they were the ones who would have to live with it. So I am pleased with my efforts, which have inspired me to paint other subjects than the old boatyard (or even perhaps repeat it) using the same rather muted but pleasant tones.

48×60″  122x183cm

Acrylic on canvas

The dogs and cats of Antigua

The Inaugural Meeting of the Dogs and Cats of Antigua

The Inaugural Meeting of the Dogs and Cats of Antigua

The dogs and cats of Antigua is actually the name of a newly-formed group for the prevention of cruelty to dogs and cats on our island and their protection where possible (neutering etc). Fortunately there are quite a few of us dog and cat lovers ( I myself own five dogs, three of which are rescue dogs) actively promoting this worthy cause. The first meeting of the members of the group prompted one of my friends, Clare, to suggest that a cartoon had come to her mind…and the drawing here of the Inaugural Meeting of the Dogs and Cats of Antigua was born!

I am donating the framed original to the group for a fund-raising auction. We are also producing a limited edition series of prints, signed and numbered 1-50, mounted in a standard frame size (11×14″ 28x35cm) which are retailing at $US 50 each, and a series of greetings cards of the same image, blank inside, with envelope, which are $US 5 each. All proceeds will naturally go to the dogs and cats of Antigua (email me at [email protected]).

Scout, Fiver, Ladybird & Felonius

Scout, Fiver, Ladybird & Felonius

Meanwhile I am continuing with my series of small original watercolors of other dogs and cats of Antigua (8×10″ 20x25cm, mounted 11×14″ 28x35cm standard frame size). The one with the two dogs and cats was done for my dear friends Dee and Ed, who are nuts about their dogs Scout and Fiver and their cats Ladybird and Felonius.

The others, in the same loose style, show dogs and cats enjoying Antiguan sunsets; they are of two cats together, one single cat and one single dog. Other combinations offer interesting possibilities which I might just explore next! I do so enjoy doing them….variations on the theme of the dogs and cats of Antigua!

Whilst on the subject of cats and dogs, this is a reminder that I love painting people’s pets, particularly dogs and cats. They don’t have to be from Antigua – they can be from anywhere – and I work from high res photos emailed to me by the various owners. Examples are shown elsewhere on this website. They can be in in watercolor or acrylic on canvas panel and the resulting paintings are shipped by FedEx. I tend to work on paper or canvas panels 12×16″  31x 41cm, which is  a standard frame size but can go larger or smaller on request.

Sunset in Antigua; feline delight

Sunset in Antigua: feline delight

A solitary dog watches the sun go down

A solitary dog watches the sun go down

Two cats enjoy the sunset in Antigua

Two cats enjoy the sunset in Antigua

Rum & fish mural at Papa Zouk

Mural at Papa Zouk, Antigua

Mural at Papa Zouk, Antigua

I have just completed a hefty rum & fish mural at Papa Zouk – the best rum shop in Antigua.

Founded many years ago by the unlikely combination of two Germans, it is today even more popular having survived a recent fire that nearly demolished the original premises. Run by Bert Kirschner and his wife Faye, I first featured this little rum shop in my Cool Caribbean Cocktail Book in 2007 with its recipe for P’tit Punch, its delicious if rather lethal signature cocktail. Papa Zouk also serves amazing whole grilled snapper and a variety of other fish dishes including my favorite, the bouillabaisse soup. The meal can be nicely rounded off with a taste or two from Bert’s wide selection of rums.

Papa Zouk, off Dickenson Bay Street, St. John's, Antigua

Papa Zouk off Dicknson Bay Street, St John’s, Antigua

The decor is simple but comfortable, the theme being fish and rum related. The tablecloths are made from the vibrant Antiguan madras cotton and there is the original gravel on the ground in the first section of the rum shop itself. There are five communal tables and a section of small tables for couples, and the atmosphere is always very friendly and buzzing….reservations are definitely recommended!

The rebuilding  after the fire took place just over the last month or so and in order to replace a fish market scene that they had cherished, Bert and Faye asked me to paint a mural, incorporating the details of their lost painting. Fish and rum were naturally the main ingredients of this new image, which I enjoyed doing whilst listening to the zouk music that features here every night.

Tired but happy after finishing this rather mammoth work, I was delighted to be treated to a P’tit Punch on the house!

One of the communal tables with its madras table cloth

One of the communal tables with its vibrant Antiguan madras table cloth

Bert as he appears in the Cool

Bert as he appears in my Cool Caribbean Cocktail Book published in 2007

Mural

Mural

Bert and Faye

Bert and Faye behind their colorful bar

A complete makeover

This gaming table has just undergone a complete makeover!

Designed by the late, great, Amos Morrill, it was built for a couple with a house here in Antigua in 2006. You can see that it is an ingenious design: the top is actually a lid –  turn it over, and it becomes a chess board; remove the lid completely and the table becomes a backgammon board.

Green table top

Green table top

I had already done a mural in the house (since painted over) and Amos asked me to paint the table in tones of green. Thus the table top was a complicated pattern of tropical leaves and fruit with a tiny butterfly, lizard and frog almost hidden in the foliage. The rest was painted in various tones of green with a “sponge” background effect in the game areas.

The decor of the house had recently undergone a complete makeover and the table (like the mural) no longer looked good in its new surroundings. The table also needed a complete makeover and the owner suggested re-painting it in tones of blue. The design I did for the top took into account the fabrics used for the furniture and the owner agreed.

Green chess board

Green chess board

Green backgammon board

Green backgammon board

Blue table top

Blue table top

Blue chess board

Blue chess board

These  “before” and “after” images show a complete change of style as well as color. The new design is in harmony with the rest of the decor

and blends in well. The only thing(s) still needing to be changed are the chairs used round the table – they are a beautiful dark green with green-pink

Blue backgammon board

Blue backgammon board

fabric cushions. They went well with the green version of the table but now look completely out of place and unfortunately cannot be painted to match the table. But the owner has great taste and I am sure she will find some suitable substitutes quickly!

By |January 8th, 2015|Around the house|2 Comments|

Small Caribbean watercolors

P1020681 P1020682 P1020683 P1020678 P1020679 P1020680 P1020685This is a series of small P1020684Caribbean watercolors on Arches or Lanaquarelle acid-free paper. In them, I try to capture various aspects of the  fauna and flora that surround me here in Antigua. The tiny jewel-like humming birds, the numerous and chatty  yellow-breasted bananaquits and the stately brown pelicans on the Caribbean Sea are examples of the tropical birds I see every day.

The bananaquits are pictured with hibiscus and bougainvillea, typical of this island. The humming bird hovers next to allamanda.

Orchids are very much considered tropical blooms and grow well in the Caribbean; I absolutely love them (even though I don’t seem very good at taking care of them!).

The small Caribbean watercolors themselves are all approximately 8×10″ or 20x25cm;  they are also available mounted 11×14″ or 28x36cm with a double white acid-free mat – which is a standard frame size.

The brightly-colored transparent watercolors are the ideal medium for tropical scenery and the Caribbean in general and Antigua in particular.

Caribbean Mural in Bristol, UK

Preparatory watercolor sketch of the Caribbean mural

Preparatory watercolor sketch of the Caribbean mural

Caribbean Mural

My friends Anji and Rick had wanted a Caribbean mural for their apartment for some time. Frequent visitors to Antigua in the Caribbean and owners of several of my paintings (see blog on Anthuriums), they learned I would be in Bristol in July 2014. Would I be able to paint their mural during that period? They sent me photos of their sitting room, where they wanted the Caribbean mural, and I painted a watercolor incorporating their furniture and the mural which I emailed them for their approval. The theme and colors were loosely based on a watercolor of palm trees by a sea shore that they had bought from me last time we met in Antigua. They were happy with my proposal and we were all set to go! Their sitting room was put together by Anji, who designed much of the furniture herself. The mixture of textures and colors produced a beautiful harmony which I didn’t want to overwhelm with the mural: the idea was for it to blend into the background. The sofa itself is already a work of art in its own right!

A work in progress

A work in progress

I used a large spirit level for the various sea horizons and a step ladder for the sections of the wall slightly out of my reach. I was delighted to discover that the paint used on the walls was perfectly amenable to my signature drips. The acrylic paint was heavy body Liquitex diluted with water to give a pastel effect but highlighted with accents of brighter color.

Part of the mural with the door open

Part of the Caribbean mural with the door open

Part of the mural behind the sofa & hidden by the open door

Part of the Caribbean mural behind the sofa & hidden by the open door. Note that the two formerly  noticeable wall control switches are now disguised as part of a palm tree!

The rest of the mural showing the sun-like clock and the banana palm on the far wall by the window

The rest of the Caribbean mural showing the beautiful  sun-like clock and the banana palm on the far wall by the window.

I think we were all pleased with the results. And it was really good to catch up with Anji & Rick again.

Banana palm: note the lizard on one of the leaves!

Banana palm close up: note the lizard on one of the leaves!

Caribbean mural with the door closed and Anji's gorgeous sofa!

Caribbean mural with the door closed and Anji’s gorgeous sofa before putting the rest of the furniture back.

By |August 21st, 2014|Around the house|0 Comments|

Black Mouth Cur & Vizsla

Dee & Ed's kitchen window with the Black Mouth Cur & Visla triptych!

Dee & Ed’s kitchen window with the Black Mouth Cur & Vizsla triptych!

Black Mouth Cur & Visla

Scout is definitely a Black Mouth Cur; Fiver, one of a litter of 16 Black Mouth Curs, was the only pup with no black mouth or underbelly. The breeder said that a grandparent was a Vizsla, which is probably why she seems more Vizsla-like than Black Mouth Cur. None of which really matters as the owners, Dee & Ed, adore both dogs. They recently bought a house in San Rafael, California and Dee sent me a photo of her kitchen window. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have one of your 6×8″ acrylic on wood paintings here? Preferably blue to match the fence outside?” she asked.  Somehow I was attracted to 3 photos she had posted of her two dogs and thought they would make a great little triptych rather than just the one. Also, the colors I would use would blend in better with the kitchen itself rather than the outside fence.  Two of the actual photos themselves were not good, so I took the best bits of them and together with the one of the two of them with their backs to the viewer, made them into the triptych I had in mind. The photo here of their kitchen shows them hung. We were all happy with the results! Dee & Ed are great friends: we first met them here in Antigua when they rented our apartment nearly 10 years ago, and Ed came sailing with us in the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta. The next time he sailed with us, we asked him to prepare the crew’s food. He is a brilliant chef by profession (currently working at Perry’s Inverness Grocery at West Marin). Dee is also a dab hand in the kitchen but spends most of her time running and managing Angel Island and other outlets belonging to the same company. They love Antigua and if & when I make it to San Rafael, I am to paint a mural on the blue fence to remind them of the beautiful island!  We look forward to their next visit here in Antigua… and to sampling more of Ed’s delicious food!

Visla (Black Mouth Cur?) Fiver

Vizsla (Black Mouth Cur?) Fiver

Scout & Fiver

Scout & Fiver

Black Mouth Cur Scout

Black Mouth Cur Scout

By |August 20th, 2014|Around the house|0 Comments|

Wedding fun!

Wedding fun featuring a forester and a surfer!

Wedding fun featuring a forester and a surfer!

Wedding Fun

Wedding fun was on the agenda of Kate & Dotty’s wedding plans. The wedding was to take place in July at the Magdalen Centre, Chard, Somerset (in England). This is an idyllic countryside retreat (or  holiday centre) which also incorporates a working organic farm. The theme was fun and relaxation, so Kate and Dotty wanted to include some games and fun items. One of these was the board shown here which I painted for them in acrylic just before the event. Kate is a forester for the Welsh National Trust, whose t-shirt is depicted as well as the chain saw she uses to cut down  & trim trees. The protective clothing – heavy boots, thick trousers (pants) and gloves are also featured.  Pine trees make up the background with a few bemused Welsh sheep in the foreground. Dotty’s job did not lend itself to wedding fun,  so she chose windsurfing, which she loves. The rash guard and bright board shorts typify her personality, with the white-capped sea in the background.The lobster clutching the surf board line is included because “a lobster mates for life”! (” The Lobster” is also Kate’s pet name for Dotty…). The wedding guests were delighted with the choice of games and many posed with their faces in this board.

The wedding was a great success, lasting three days. The weather was glorious and the food and company excellent. We drank amazing organic wine and danced to music old and new. We all had wedding fun!

Rescue cat Eli and his portrait!

Rescue cat Eli and his portrait!

Wedding Present

For their wedding present, I painted a portrait of their lovely rescue cat, Eli. He is pictured here next to his portrait (acrylic on canvas,  28×35.5cm).

 

Polo: Caribbean-style

P1020266

Polo Caribbean-style on Charlie

Polo:  Caribbean-style

Polo was part of my life from the age of three to twelve. I enjoyed my weekly ride on one of Billy Walsh’s polo ponies. He owned The Equestrian Club (close to the famous Ham playing field near London, England). Over 30 years later I once again enjoyed the instant canter from a walk at the squeeze of the knees. This time it was  on one of Howard Boulton’s ponies in Venezuela. The Venezuelan ponies are small & nifty, like the Argentinian ones that Billy Walsh liked so much.

Here in Antigua, where I now live, there are no polo ponies.  However,  there is an active polo season on the Caribbean islands of Santo Domingo, Barbados and Jamaica (which boasts one of the oldest polo fields in the world, founded in 1892).

Polo is still very popular on these islands and competition remains fierce despite the considerable expenses involved in this somewhat elite sport. It is, however, wonderful to watch and is an occasion to dress up – particularly for female spectators – although a pair of flat-soled shoes is required for treading in the divots when required!

This watercolour painting (12×16” 31x41cm) depicts a Jamaican polo player on his nifty pony Charlie: polo Caribbean style. It was commissioned by a friend as a birthday present for the “man who has everything”!

A little bit of Tuscany in Bristol, England.

Mural - Tuscan themeMural seen from above 2My best friend in Bristol has a lovely apartment in Royal York Crescent, Clifton (where so many scenes from Jane Austen scripts are filmed). This beautiful Regency terrace is built on two levels: the upper level, pedestrian only, is accessed by steps or slopes at either end; the lower level is on the road, where the entrance to my friend’s apartment is. Hers is known as a “garden flat” and can be viewed both from the door below, through the grill, or much more clearly from above, looking down though the railings next to the entrance to the apartment above her, on the pedestrian level.

Garbage can 3Garbage can 2The main alcove wall of her garden was white and bare and uninteresting, so to brighten it up, I painted a Tuscan mural on it (we also thought her garbage can was very ugly so I gave it a bright, floral treatment). The mural (and garbage can!) is clearly visible to pedestrians above and it attracts a lot of attention from passers by, who even stop and take photographs. Once it was included as a clue in a treasure hunt, much to the amusement of my friend, who saw many viewers making a hurried note before dashing off to the next destination!

By |November 27th, 2013|Around the house|0 Comments|
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