Stories behind the paintings

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

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.

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 Canine Christmas Gift

Stewart, Teddy, Samson & Delilah

A canine Christmas Gift: Stewart, Teddy, Samson & Delilah
Acrylic on canvas panel, 16×12” 40.5×30.5cm

A Canine Christmas Gift

In October 2012, Don & Judy Klovensky,  a charming couple staying at Sandals Grande Resort and Spa, Antigua, came into the Art Gallery there and bought one of my paintings (the gingerbread house shown here – a typical example of local Caribbean architecture). They admired a painting of two dogs which I was working on and wondered if their Mother/Mother-in-Law’s four beloved dogs could be painted for her as a canine Christmas gift? Upon their return home, they emailed me a number of single, separate images of the dogs, all rather small and very low res. However, following their approval of the initial group sketch I did, putting them all together, I completed the painting in acrylic on a canvas panel and FedExed it to them in time. The dogs’ owner was absolutely delighted, particularly as the eldest, Stewart, died shortly afterwards.

Gingerbread house

Gingerbread house
Acrylic on canvas, 36×24″ 91x62cm

Oscar and Felix: Antiguan Dogs

Oscar & Felix

Oscar & Felix. Acrylic on canvas panel.
16×12” 40.5×30.5cm

This painting is of my neighbour’s dogs, father Oscar (on the right) and son Felix.

Oscar was a very adventurous dog and sometimes turned up unexpectedly in our garden. We could not figure out how he got in until one day, his owner saw him climbing a tree next to the fence and creeping along a branch that leaned over into our yard. Sadly Oscar died recently at the ripe old age of 14. He is sorely missed and his portrait, together with his son, hangs above an old photograph of the owner’s parents.

Oscar & Felix Portrait at home

Antiguan dog

Yula with her portraits

Antiguan dog Yula with her portraits

Antiguan Dog 

Antiguan dog Yula is typical of the type of dogs generally found in Antigua. The black muzzle and tan coat seem to be the basis – with origins both varied and intriguing.  Yula also has lovely white markings and a feathery tail. She was adopted by a couple at the Mill Reef Club, Antigua, who absolutely adore  her playful but very gentle nature. She lives in their beach front house and loves the sea, which features in the paintings of her. I did two watercolor portraits of her – one full size and another of just her head (both can be seen in the Portfolio section of this website, in the category Dogs & Cats). She is pictured here with her two paintings behind her on the couch.

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