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Posts tagged ‘North Wales’


Colour Grab

I know the title of this painting would indicate I’m a little out of synch with the seasons but it was the use of colour that grabbed my attention.


This is an oil painting by Howard Coles called ‘Autumn Woodland’. His usual subject matter is landscapes and seascapes in North Wales.
Here’s his website -


Happy Amateur

Spent a few days with artist friends over in Ruthin, North Wales. Must be honest, they’d stayed in their caravan – a.k.a. ‘the love tin’, while we’d stayed in some luxury at the nearby Manorhaus Hotel. The awning of the caravan served as a very useful informal art room and shelter from the rain outside.

Here’s a pen and ink sketch of some trees in the distance that I did after a hearty lunch.


And at the entrance to the farmer’s field was this unusual tree – we decided it should be called the candelabra tree for reasons that might be obvious.


I’m currently reading The Yellow House by Martin Gayford – based on an intense 9 week period Vincent Van Gogh spent in Arles in Southern France with fellow artist, Gauguin. You may care to check out this review –

Now I’m no Van Gogh or Gauguin – merely a happy amateur – but I do get the appeal of a special location for painting and drawing – and this area around Ruthin is the area that works for me. Here are a couple of shots to give you the idea.


A virtual deluge the evening before had left the grass looking particularly lush.


The speed of the brook also testifies to the previous night’s weather.

Finally, one more of my pen and ink sketches – this time looking out across the farmland to the hills in the distance.




Clocaenog Forest lies high above Ruthin in North Wales and in yesterday’s heavy rain it looked particularly remote and atmospheric. I painted this view looking across from Clocaenog as the conditions worsened. It was a pen and ink wash with rainwater for effect!


Artstuff 1

Detail from a watercolour sketch near Ruthin, North Wales – and a charcoal sketch of an apple tree in the garden. I make no claims for their merit.


Threatening Skies – Vale of Clwyd

Dropping down into the Vale of Clwyd in North Wales I could see the skies looking very threatening and heavy with rain. Couldn’t resist pulling in to take this shot. Look closely and you can just see the sheep grazing in the foreground.


Japanese Style in Wales – Part One

The Japanese Flag is currently flying in North Wales.

At the Ruthin Crafts Centre to be precise. To celebrate a stunning exhibition of Japanese arts and crafts simply called Japanese Style. Among it’s main exhibits are an incredible collection of Japanese cloths and silks that combine traditional and contemporary skills and designs.

The range and variety of textures and designs was quite breathtaking. The work is by Nuno textiles and is overseen by it’s artistic director, Reiko Sudo. As the exhibition guide says – Reiko Sudo and her design team create some of the most innovative cloth being designed and produced in the world today. Who am I to argue?

Some designs were very striking …

while others displayed the Japanese eye for delicacy and subtlety …

The exhibition thoughtfully provided small samples of the cloths and silks to study up close and to feel.

Meanwhile, the main pieces were hanging eerily around the gallery.

This was one of those exhibitions that you really need to see for yourself but I hope these photographs give a decent impression.

I’ll be posting again shortly – this time covering the ceramics and wood carving skills on display. Meanwhile here’s a link to the Ruthin Craft Centre –


Anglesey Sparkles

From the gleaming waters of the Menai Straits to the bright blue skies of Beaumaris, the island of Anglesey off the Welsh coast sparkled in the Spring sunshine. It was great to be back on Ynys Môn to give the island it’s Welsh name. Or Mam Cymru (Mother of Wales). Anglesey is also currently home to Prince William and Kate Middleton – the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

I’ve been visiting the island one way and another for many years now. We used to sail from a mooring further round the Menai Straits out past Beaumaris and beyond Puffin Island. These are some of the most treacherous waters in the UK. The renowned 17th century English poet, John Milton, wrote an elegy called Lycidas, in memory of a close friend who’d drowned in an accident here.

Beaumaris has some beautiful properties and the small town is undergoing something of a quiet renaissance. Palm trees testify to it’s mild climate. It even has a castle – the last of the great Welsh fortresses built by King Edward I and begun in 1295.

Still only April and some of the shots I was taking were more reminiscent of the Greek Islands rather than North Wales.

Further around the coast was the tiny headland of Penmon with it’s ancient Celtic Priory and stupendous views over Puffin Island.

Before taking a look at those views, here’s a look out across the Menai Straits from one corner of Penmon.

And here’s one more.

The great American artist, Edward Hopper, known for his iconic paintings of lighthouses, would surely have relished this shoreline.

This next shot shows the lighthouse, strategically situated to prevent vessels from entering the treacherous passage between Puffin Island and the Anglesey shore.

Now for a close up of the lighthouse itself standing proud in the Irish Sea and guarding the shipping lanes to Liverpool. Hard to believe that busy port city is only a 90 minute drive away.


Landscape Sketches

A couple of weeks ago I drove over to North Wales to start some preparatory landscape sketches with a view to having a first go at oil painting. Started to review some earlier sketches, too, and found these. It’s the view from Thurstaston on the Wirral. The name Thurstaston betrays the Wirral’s Viking origins by the way!

The view looks out across the River Dee to Wales and out into the Irish Sea. Wide open skies above as the photo below shows.

I like to try a quick sketch first to try to get a working sense of the shapes, shadows, and outlines. Then have a go at a more detailed sketch.

Noticed that I was mainly using pencil in my sketches at the time, whereas now I’m using charcoal much more.


A Welsh Country Lane in Winter

Postponing the Ruthin Crafts Centre – – always worth a visit – I wandered not too far off the beaten track and down a country lane in the shadow of the Clwydian hills and Moel Famau. The day was crisp and cold and the sky a beautiful blue.

The colours were intense and rich in the late afternoon light and the shadows were long on the ground.

There were wide panoramic views to be had as well as some interesting and abstract detail in the hedgerows.

Great clarity in the close ups.

Really like the way these twigs in the hedgerow are framing the shot. How did they know how to do that?

A little further down the lane was a rusty corrugated iron shed that was covered in ivy. Time for that green filter. Here’s the result.

It was really starting to get cold now. Like the way the blue filter seems to give a sense of the chilly conditions. Time to head to the craft centre in Ruthin, just a few miles away, for a warm cup of tea!


Destination – An Anglesey Beach in Autumn

Next time having an actual destination in mind from the start might help. That’s not to say a long, ambling drive through North Wales wasn’t worth the extra miles. The itinerary’s either quite impressive or foolhardy depending on your point of view, taking in Ruthin and it’s fabulous Arts Centre, the Denbigh Moors, the stunning terrain of Snowdonia, Porthmadoc, and finally over the bridge to Anglesey.

   Here’s the Denbigh  Moors looking more welcoming than usual without mist or rain. And it was still only 11.30 in the morning! Quick stop and coffee to go from the petrol station and on towards Snowdonia.

Been this way many times before, taking a right into the Llanberis Pass. Not today, though.

Off the beaten track and a long drive through breathtaking scenery towards Porthmadoc and the coast. Have to say, the latter was disappointing, and moved on quickly via Criccieth (I did say an actual destination from the start might have helped).

Some great views of the sea here though. And I never knew Criccieth had a castle, dotted in on the coast between it’s better-known neighbours, Harlech and Caernarfon.

Caernarfon wasn’t going to figure on the drive today, however.


These are two shots of Snowdonia just before heading off for Porthmadoc.

But Anglesey had a beach in store that rounded off the day perfectly. And a chance find, too.

Aberffrawe Beach .. on the west side of the island. And still not the easiest to get to. First a long walk out across a sandy estuary and then suddenly, the sea.

Perfect skies added to the drama of the place. And only the seagulls for company.

One day this is exactly the sort of place I’ll walk the three labradors I’ve promised myself – Buddy, Champ and Brando. Well, either here or on a Mediterranean or Californian shore – who knows?

Beachcombing for driftwood over and just a few more photographs and time to head back.