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Monday, 28 May 2012

Heated Beer Garden!

The Kings Arms in Hawkshead proudly boasts a heated beer garden! This week however a bigger draw was the shade and maybe air conditioning would have been more appropriate.

So the Japanese Lake District week came to an end in the same way as it started, with clear blue skies and hot sunshine. I wonder what odds the bookies would have given?

Everybody had a good time and The Lake District has gained new fans and they want to come back. I just hope they don't expect wall to wall sunshine on the next visit!

The reason The Lakes are so beautiful and green is that there is lots of RAIN.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Cat Bells. Derwent Water.

 Some of the Japanese chose to paddle in Derwent Water but the rest came to the top of this much used view point above the lake. Yet ANOTHER sunny day! Most guests do not believe it rains here! Cat Bells is a sharp steep little hill and as you can see from the state of the path, very popular, not surprising given the magnificent view of Derwent Water and Keswick.
The name Cat Bells comes from a corruption of the old Norse language meaning Home of The Wildcat.


Friday, 25 May 2012

Castle Rigg Stone Circle.

We took the Japanese to Castlerigg Stone Circle just outside Keswick. Although not very high the circle affords a superb 360 degree view of many Lakeland mountains.

The stones were erected about 4500 years ago by prehistoric farming communities.

Naturally our Japanese friends took LOTS of photos.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Wood near Hawkshead. The Lake District.

I sat and painted this picture in the beautiful spring wood we walked through on the first day.

Meanwhile the main party of Japanese visitors opted for a gentle day after the strenuous effort of the previous day. They took a boat trip across Coniston to visit Brantwood which was the home of John Ruskin. From the adjoining restaurant terrace there is a magnificent view down to Coniston Water.

My day was quite solitary and in two hours of painting only one man with his dog ventured past along the path in the painting.

Over six million visitors visit The English Lake District every year and yet it is still quite possible to be alone.

Tomorrow we will have the obligatory trip to Hilltop the home of Beatrix Potter now owned by the National Trust. We will definitely not be alone. It will be swarming with Japanese coach parties! They are bused into Bowness take a boat over Lake Windermere visit Hilltop and return. That is all most see of this amazing National Park. Our group will feel quite smug as they have already seen more than most tourists.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

A Hard walk. Weatherlam.

 The luck of the Japanese continues with the third day of glorious sunshine.

The whole party climbed Weatherlam from Coniston. It is a hard walk especially going down but we had rewarding views of Langdale valley, Windermere Lake, Coniston Water among other things. Two ladies were very tired but all but one made it all the way to the top.

Afterwards we had tea, cakes and ice creams in Coniston and boy did it taste good.

First Walk. On Latterbarrow.

More than Beatrix Potter.

Monday, 21 May 2012

First Walk. Latterbarrow and Bluebell woods.

 Our Japanese visitors took so many photos on this glorious first day. As you can see these woods are so delightful. It has been such a cold wet spring but the upside is that wonderful spring green has been prolonged.

I don't think any of us expected to wake to such a day, after all yesterday was cold with a cutting northerly wind. However this is The English Lake District and days like this when they come have a special flavour.

This first days walk is relatively gentle as Latterbarrow although a really excellent viewpoint is not too high. We have a gentle walk to test the walking caperbilities of our guests as later walks will be more demanding. From the top of Latterbarrow there are good views of Lake Windemere, Englands longest lake, actually only about 10 miles.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Lake District Japanese Week

So here we are again, the sixth annual Lake District house party. We are eleven, eight Japanese and three Brits.

The intention is to show Japanese visitors that there is a Lake District beyond Beatrix Potter and Hilltop, That the Lake District needs more than one day to appreciate it's beauty.

This picture is on top of Latterbarrow near Hawkshead where we are based, and no I have NOT doctored the photo, that REALLY is sunshine. Can you spot the Brits?

Glen Affric. Finished

So this is probably the finished painting ( if there is such a thing as we artists can't resist fiddling ) and thank you for the suggestions everybody. Thank you Graham, the change to the area in front of the loch was spot on. I am not happy with the pine tree but no point in trying to change it now.

I am now in The English Lake District and it is JUST BEAUTIFUL, the spring greens are stunning. So now I am stretching paper for another painting.

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Glen Affric Scotland painting

 I have worked a bit more on this painting. I have added another Birch tree on the right and a few pine trees just below the first ridge.

It has been pointed out to me that the tree on the left is too strong for the trees on the right? I kind of agree but it could be like yin and yang? the softness of the Birches complimenting the power of the Pine.

Someone else said it would make two pictures?

So leaving the physical picture whole I have digitally separated the painting. What do you think the pine tree only or the birch trees only.

Actually separating the two halves has shown me something else which could be improved!

Friday, 18 May 2012

Clear Vision

After days of relentless rain, grey skies and cold I woke this morning to a cloudless blue sky.

One of the objectives of Buddhism is to see things as they really are. However how do you know what is reality?

Good question; if you accept we all create our own reality by the quality of our mind then we are all seeing things differently are we not?

This morning I went to the meditation sanctuary at The Findhorn Community to attend a Thich Nat Hann meditation group. The meditations were wonderful, sitting meditation, walking meditation and then sitting meditation again. As the day was so superb with amazing clarity the walking meditation in the original garden was especially penetrating. The blossom on the fruit trees, the flowers, the bark and moss on the tree trunks stabbed me into awareness.

However after the meditations John the leader read out the five training principals. Now I am aware of the five precepts but have never heard them expressed in such a way before. I have read many of Thich Nat Hann's books and found them to be gentle and inspiring. John explained that some people at Plum Village (The Thich Nat Hann community in France ) had decided to apply these precepts to contemporary life. For me and several others in the group these precepts in this form closed down the expansive liberation which was originally intended.

As an artist I love to look at things closely and I know that since taking up art after my business career I find myself really looking at everything in a new way. That is my reality but is it the ultimate reality? I don't have the answer but I would say if someone else is trying to impose their reality on you and it does not feel comfortable it is not the right reality for you.

Glen Affric. Scotland

Advice needed from all you experienced and amateur artists.

This is stage one of my painting of Glen Affric, one of my favourite Scottish Glens. I am not sure the colours in the foreground work with the middle distance towards the Loch. It can easily be changed. My feeling is that the foreground should be more blue and the middle distance a lighter blue green tinge.

What do you think?

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Barton Turf. Norfolk Broads.

This is a little corner called Barton Turf just off Barton Broad.( Broad is a type of Lake which was formed by human peat digging. The Broads lie in an area of wetlands fed by four rivers and is an area of outstanding natural beauty.)

On my recent trip to Norfolk I visited to lay down a sketch to paint. When I was a lad, many years ago, I used to fish here. I was delighted to find it looked just the same, a sort of time warp. I was taken back to that magical time. Watching my fishing float on the tranquil water was a meditation. It was a connection with the unseen reality beneath the opaque water, another world and the pregnant possibility that I could connect with it. In those innocent days everything was fresh and new and that little world was full of life, rustles in the reeds, splashes, plops and busy Moorhens and Ducks gliding by.

However of course nothing does stay the same. The two workmen in the foreground were busy renewing rotten staging. At least I was outlasting the staging but if it is true that all cells in our bodies are completely changed every seven years then I have been renewed at least seven times since being here.
It was raining so no painting but it was so peaceful I was happy to be there.

Maybe this scene can be the basis for a painting although it is a bit fuzzy.

What Men Need. Part Two

This is my friend Jeff. He hasn't got a shed ( see previous post ) but he does have this nice little conservatory where he likes to sit and have a quiet smoke.

I am not sure if it is an escape or banishment! The rest of the house is non smoking.

The plants look amazingly healthy don't they?

Monday, 14 May 2012

What Men Need

Apparently what men need is- space- somewhere to go that is entirely their domain. According to a survey ( who on earth commissions these ) the most popular place to get this space is the humble garden shed!

I really don't know if this is true but I do remember as a small boy gathering with friends in a neighbours garden shed. We would sit round a candle smoking cigarettes made from a type of weed. They tasted TERRIBLE but we thought we were awfully daring.

Recently I visited my family in Norfolk and I saw the shed in the photo and thought it did look quite enticing, dressed in green paint with a neat corrugated roof. I thought if I did fancy escaping to a shed one like this would be nice!

Do you know anyone who uses their shed for - space? 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Blue chicken with tomatoes

This is a fun painting to cheer up a large cottage kitchen. It is quite large being 39cm x 27 cm in a ivory mount with a black lined edge. The frame is in natural wood and measures 62cm x 51cm. The background is watercolour and the details in acrylic. You can buy this original painting on line for £200.00 post free by going to my web site.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

The English Lake District

I had a good day out in The Lake District with John Rickard. John manages my art web site and we have become good friends. He also guides for us during the annual Japanese Lake District week which Kunie hosts.
We climbed Harter Fell ( pictured ) from Eskdale descending to Hardknott Pass where we watched cyclists trying to cycle up without dismounting. Some of them were real athletes and were probably training for the up and coming tough round Lake District cycle race. Hardknott Pass is INCREDIBLY steep and very narrow. Some cars barely made it up and going down is hair raising.
On the way down we stopped to look at Hardknott Castle a high and exposed Roman Fort. It was built about the same time as Hadrian's Hall to the north. It is very exposed and I wouldn't have liked to be a Roman Soldier stationed there! If you are interested in learning more about this Roman Fort here is a link to Roman Britain.

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Blue Moon

This is my second version of this scene. This is much larger than the other and is more blue. I used Windsor Blue and Paynes Grey only. It was an exercise in water colour washes. Oh and a touch of Titanium White Acrylic. The stars were depicted by splashing masking fluid onto the paper before applying the blue wash.

The size is 39cm x 30cm and is for sale fully mounted and framed for £200.00.

Does this price seem reasonable? Edvard Munch's The Scream has just sold for $119.9 million! You may feel more peaceful with my picture on your wall?

If you would like to look at some more of my affordable art for sale go to 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Exit Life

Risk : no risk concept for your financial investment Stock Photo

After Simon Yate's lecture mentioned in the previous blog, John and I were chatting about the risky nature of his (Simon's) life. From that we talked about our own lives and the part risk played in defining our most ' alive ' moments. Here is the poem ( or is it prose? ) that John shared with me. I suspect this is quite an old poem from the ' stiff upper lip ' period as now it is quite fashionable to show emotion and sentiment. However it contains the truth. Also from a Buddhist perspective it is the refusal to accept that life is changing and flowing that causes suffering. So I say take a risk and live.

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas and dreams before the crowd is to risk their love.
To love is to risk being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But the greatest hazard in all life is to risk nothing.
The one who risks nothing, does nothing and has nothing - and finally is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrows,
But he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow or love.
Chained by his certitude, he is a slave; he has forfeited freedom.
Only one who risks is free.

Author Unknown.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

The Void

Autumn in Oppland, Norway - Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life/IN
On Friday I went with my friend John to Inverness to hear a lecture by Simon Yates. Simon Yates has explored and climbed in some of the most remote and hostile environments on earth. He also is notorious for making the horrific decision to cut the rope supporting his fellow climber Joe Simpson who had fallen and was dragging Simon to the edge of the cliff on a South American peak.
Joe survived against all odds and the story inspired a book and film called 'Touching the Void '

On the way home we discussed this and our points of view.
John yesterday gave me a poem entitled ' Risk ' which I think sums up our talk and I will publish it in my next post.