Waterlilies This painting of waterlilies, in acrylic on canvas 18x18", was part of a small exhibition held at the Mill Reef Club in Antigua in February 2015. Five artists took part, including my Antiguan friends painter & sculptor Sallie Harker and potter Sarah Fuller. It was just for an afternoon, and 10% of the proceeds from sales went to the local dog shelter, PAAWS, and was organized by fellow dog-lover Bettina Stelle. The inspiration for this piece on waterlilies came from my friend Carrie's beautiful garden, where she has a lovely lily pond in an old copper. Coppers were used way back in the sugar industry when the economy of Antigua, like so many other islands in the Caribbean, relied on sugar cane production (the proceeds of which contributed largely to paying for the Napoleonic wars in Europe, but that's another story!). These days many of them are highly decorative lily ponds and their scarcity makes them very much in demand. The painting caught the eye of a couple of visitors to Mill Reef, who hesitated between this painting and another, a watercolor. But as the waterlilies had more meaning for them, as they also had a lily pond, and were something they could relate to, they contacted me after the event upon their return to Florida, and said they had to have it. They received it safely via FedEx and were delighted with it (despite an unfortunate minor mix-up regarding speed of delivery...). Waterlilies framed I am delighted to say that the frame they chose sets the painting off perfectly. The colors and texture are exactly right for the waterlilies. I think that the way that a painting is [...]
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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. 48x60" 122x183cm Acrylic on [...]
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 (11x14" 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 firstname.lastname@example.org). Scout, Fiver, Ladybird & Felonius Meanwhile I am continuing with my series of small original watercolors of other dogs and cats of Antigua (8x10" 20x25cm, mounted 11x14" 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. [...]
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 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 [...]
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 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 backgammon 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 fabric cushions. They went well with [...]
This is a series of small Caribbean 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 8x10" or 20x25cm; they are also available mounted 11x14" 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.
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 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 Caribbean mural with the door open [...]
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 6x8" 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 [...]
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! Wedding Present For their wedding present, I painted a portrait of their lovely rescue cat, [...]
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 (12x16” 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”!