Art Holiday Accommodation in SW France Details

Thursday 24 December 2009


This is Henry and Joey. They live in Australia. And that's one of my paintings between them. It's of a red brick railway station on the Melbourne suburban network.
I painted a lot of buildings when I was in Australia, and one of them even won a prize in 1997 - the Applied Chemicals International Acquisitive Prize for a watercolour of a Victorian factory building in Melbourne.
But I didn't win a prize in South Africa when one of my large nudes in a Pretoria University exhibition created a controversy. A screen had to be erected around the painting to prevent it being seen by the South African Prime Minister John Vorster who was visiting the uni. I always had trouble working out whether this display of bigoted Calvanism was because he'd never seen a nude women or because he didn't like to see women in the nude.
However, this kind of silly narrow mindedness was not unique to South Africa, and when I worked at Myer in Melbourne in the 1980's, a copy of Michelangelo's David on display in one of their windows had to have a fig leaf applied to hide his genitals before he was considered sartorially acceptable.
Anyway there's nothing controvercial about railway stations so Joey and Henry won't be needing any screens or fig leaves (I hope).

Monday 14 December 2009


This is Heather's Van Gogh just before a few last touches and before applying the varnish. It's the last in this series on 'what goes into a painting'.
(En passant, painting in acrylic is like producing a painting in plastic - it is very durable, and after varnishing it should even survive a nuclear holocaust).
The next time you'll see this 'Vincent' copy will be when it's on Heather's wall. She's sending me a photograph and I'll post it as soon as it arrives.
'A +' as they say here to confuse the Anglo Saxons.


One is fairly used to the popular press generating emotional and emotive headlines to deride and condemn art, artists and exhibitions. These cheap shots and easy laughs are part of how headlines are used to sell newspapers - and, more importantly, I believe that most readers understand that they're there for light relief - and to generate a 'bit of a laugh'.
It's all a matter of taste (and personal perspective), I suppose, but I believe that the other side of the coin is where more serious journalists produce what are presented as more thoughtful citicisms and reviews of artworks and artists who, in my opinion, are the equivalent of the emperor who wasn't wearing clothes.
During my ten years in France, I've written to the UK Guardian Weekly fairly regularly, and, someone there likes what I write because they've published eighteen of my letters to date. (I must admit here that any criticism of the Royal Family or Tony Blair gets in quite regularly).
'So what?', you're probably saying.
Well, the point is that they DIDN'T print a letter I wrote in a fit of exasperation after reading what their art reviewer wrote about a recent exhibition at the Royal Academy in London.
British Artist Anish Kapoor is a very well regarded British artist and it was his 'work' that was on show. This consisted of a 'train' with a 'canon' that the artist constructed to run on rails through several rooms in the gallery. The gun was used to fire a compound of sticky red material (crap?) that stuck on the walls and high ceilings. The result was, apparently, art.

Here's what I wrote to the Guardian Weekly:


What on earth should we tell children, casual visitors or even art devotees who read the likes of Adrian Searle’s article on Anish Kapoor and then visit the Royal Academy?
That art criticism is just another form of fiction? Or that so much contemporary art is merely a very expensive game with taxpayers’ money? Or that journalists and artists - like bankers and politicians – have made an art form of taking the public for fools?
Perhaps the short answer is for them to be encouraged to read Hans Christian Anderson’s ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ before, during or after seeing the exhibition. In art terms, the moment of revelation - when the kid realizes that the emperor is naked - would be just like us coming to our collective senses and realizing that so many famous artists have no talent. And that when we read about art, talk about it and pay good money to get into exhibitions, quite often there’s simply nothing there.

What do you think?
All responses will be acknowledged - please write to me at:

Tuesday 24 November 2009


As you can see from these photos, if you choose to paint using a this kind of impressionist style (well, historically speaking, Van Gogh was a post impressionist, I suppose), but, anyway, in either style, the canvas is covered with several layers of small brush strokes. The French called it pointillism, and we now use that word too. These points of usually very pure paint (i.e. unmixed with other colours) juxtaposed next to each other create a shimmering visual effect. Without bashing you over the head with too much colour theory, this is partly because your eyes are 'mixing' the colours in your brain to blend the colours and this causes the mild dazzle.
In the first photo above, I have repainted the compositional outlines that I had originally done in pencil. And in the second, the end colours are taking over from those in the underpainting.
So now it's starting to look like the Van Gogh original. But still not much sign of peach blossom.
And there's quite a bit to do still, so keep watching this space.
A tout a l'heure.

Thursday 19 November 2009


More pics from my pristine studio.
The first shows the composition being 'blocked in' with a pencil.
The second is a basic underpainting where I'm trying to establish the mood of the painting.
There's not much more to say at this stage.
A bientot.

Monday 16 November 2009


For quite a while I've been thinking about showing what goes into a painting.
And now's my chance, because Heather - who lives in Cape Town - has asked me to do an acrylic along the lines of Van Gogh's 'Peach Trees in Blossom'. Van Gogh painted this work near La Crau at the western end of Provence (known as the Var) in 1889.

So, this posting shows how I get started, and if all goes according to plan, I'll post more photographs as the painting develops.

Unfortunately this first part is the boring bit, but, except for watercolours, it's the background - literally - and it's what goes into all the paintings I produce.

1. A shot of the raw canvas taken in my orderly, neat, clean and tidy studio.
2. The raw canvas is sized (twice) with a fairly thin undercoat.
3. Then I add a thicker undercoat (in this case cadmium yellow).

Still to come in this sequence: The outline of the composition comes next. And then I start the underpainting. After that I add layer upon layer of pointellist pigment.

Keep watching this space!

Wednesday 4 November 2009


Here's a rough translation of what the French invitation says:
"We've been in France for ten years now so, to help us celebrate, come and get pissed with us on Friday night."

Friday 23 October 2009


Dear Martin or Steven,

I know you're both sitting next to your telephones just waiting for me to ring. Unfortunately I've lost your private contact numbers, so here's the information you've been waiting for.

A film script of my novel "Coup de Grace" will be available in book form later this year - or early in 2010.

But in this three act adaption, many changes have been made, firstly from the precise screenplay format that is required by you film industry professionals - and secondly to the story line which has been fundamentally modified.

The most important of these alterations is the ending. I felt the need to change this quite dramatically for a film script, in order to make it more visual - and it now has a completely different denouement from the one in the book.

I only realized afterwards of course, that once you take a hatchet to a novel with the intention of removing large chunks of it, there are many unforeseeable consequences.

For one, the story went off in a different direction, and this required the elimination of several major and minor characters who appear in the novel, as well as many of the incidents that I had used in an attempt to create the ‘spirit of place’ in France before, during and after the two World Wars.

However, when this was done, some holes were left in the narrative, and I immediately saw that I now needed to add several new scenes, and introduce a few more characters, both for continuity and to propel the story forward.

At this time, I also became interested in the ‘heroic’ nature of survival, and some of the traits of the two main characters have been swapped.

I hope the result of these alterations will make this version more readable for those not associated with the movie industry.

I have been working on the novel and the screen versions of Coup de Grâce ever since I arrived in France ten years ago. The idea first came to me when I stumbled across a roadside memorial near my home in a small town in Gascony. It marks the spot where a young boy was shot by the departing Germans a few months before the war ended, and I felt perturbed that such barbarity could have taken place in this idyllic part of France just over sixty years ago.

But a glance at the headlines or TV news on any day will remind everyone that this kind of savage act is still endemic throughout the world.

Although this book is a work of fiction, everything (well almost) is based on actual events. It is graphic and crude and violent, and it contains, I hope, not a jot of romanticism.
Several of the incidents were described to me by older French people I have met - some are taken from descriptions I have found in resistance museums and on war memorials - and others are from books, magazine and newspaper reports I have rooted out.

The twin themes of the story are, I suppose, collaboration and resistance. These are complicated issues, and there were many shades of both. For those of us - like me - who have never lived in an occupied country, they can be especially difficult ideas to unravel. But through some of the fictionalized events described, I hope I have been able to provide an insight into how complex and dangerous the dark years of Nazi occupation were for the people of France.

However, although my sympathies are categorically and wholeheartedly with the French, it would be folly for anyone to believe that evil attaches itself exclusively to one side in any conflict.

In war there are no winners, and in Coup de Grâce, good does not triumph over evil - the price for treachery is seldom exacted - and brutality is meted out equally on both sides in the struggle for Liberation.

Without belaboring the point, I hope the unrelenting anti-war theme, as well as the idea that prejudice is universal, both come through loud and clear.

Finally, I must add the warning that this play based on my novel, and it will not be to everyone’s taste. Strong language is common in the dialogue, some of the characters express decidedly anti establishment views, and there are several graphic sexual scenes that some readers may find offensive.

But I guess you've both used a bit of all of these elements in most of your movies.

Please go to my website to find out where to send the thousands you're going to offer me for this script.

Gros bisous.


Wednesday 21 October 2009


The printer has just notified me that the novel I've been working on for about ten years will be available shortly. (I'll post further information on how to get hold of it as soon as I have the specifics).
Above is the front cover that I designed, which as you can see, is based on a Nazi recruiting poster. I've added Charles de Gaulle's symbol of a free France, the Cross of Lorraine, which was used by the French Resistance - as well as an SS symbol, because the notorious German division Das Reich also plays an important part in the story.
This is not a book for everyone.
Coup de Grace is a book about war - and the dreadful, bloody and barbaric things that happen in war are presented in the bluntest manner.
Many of the characters express decidedly anti establishment views.
Strong language is common.
There are several graphic sexual scenes which may not be to everyone’s taste.
And the overall theme is decidedly and unashamedly anti war.
As I've said above, some people may have problems with this book, but for those of you who would like to make up your own minds, more information will be posted as soon as I have it.


It's mid summer and the sun beats down creating wonderful contrasts between the dazzling light and the inky black shadows. The amazing gothic church St Jean-Baptiste dominates the medieval village.
On the right, you can see the imposing Mezin Marie, or town hall.
The baker Manaberra is on his way from his oven to his shop. He's been baking bread since before midnight.
This view of Mezin is now high above the harbour in a high rise in Kowloon because a few years ago a couple who both live and teach in Hong Kong bought this painting for their appartment.
If you'd like to paint this view, why not consider an art holiday in France.
For more information, please send me an email.
(Click on "Contact Us").

Sunday 11 October 2009


According to a French historian who visited us one day, our home in Mezin, La Petite Galerie, was built at about the same time as St Jean-Baptiste, the village church. Probably at the beginning of the 12th century. This makes them both about 800 years old. And it makes them both examples of ROMANESQUE architechure.
At the risk of seeming pedantic, the Romanesque period lasts from the middle of the 10th Century (around 930-975, depending on which part of Europe you are in) to the beginning of the 13th Century. Most guidebooks will provide those interested with the basic features to look for when identifying Romanesque church architecture: a central nave with isles, barrel vaulted roofs (on most early examples), the development of clearstory lighting (sometimes spelt "clerestory" just to confuse you) to light the nave, and the transition to the Gothic when the rounded arch (copied directly from Roman originals - as in Rome in the days of the Romans) became pointed (in order to more effectively overcome the problem of supporting the enormously heavy stone roofs).
When travelling in France, however, one needs to be careful about the English translation of the French word for "Romanesque", as it is often mistranslated.
In Britain, Romanesque is usually simply described as "Norman".
But in French the style is known as "Roman".
Unfortunately, this word is often incorrectly translated into English as "Roman", making English speakers think about the Roman Empire, a period at least a thousand years before the Romanesque period.
In French, the word for this period (when Charlton Heston was racing charriots around the Colluseum and where Christians were fighting lions when Charlton wasn't using it) is Romain.
The painting above is a view of St Jean-Baptiste from my studio window. The guy in the bottom foreground is the baker who bakes his bread in the Renaissance buliding (Wow! Now we're on to 15th Century domestic architecture) opposite La Petite Galerie. He's asleep on a bench outside his oven - because he's been hard at work baking since before midnight.
If you'd like to do a painting of a view form my studio window, please contact me at:
(Click on "Contact Us").

Thursday 8 October 2009


We wanted to go to the north coast of Spain for an end of summer break. It's only a couple of hours away from us, but El Tiempo said it was raining in Euskal, which is what the Basques call the Basque country.
So we wen to the Med, which is a bit further, but well worth it for the wonderful sun - which is almost guaranteed in that part of the world.
On the way we went to Collioure in France (where the Fauves painted) and then on to the Port de la Selva, just across the border in Spain. Here we discovered the amazing Monastery of St Pere de Rhodes. Although it's close to the coast, it's so high up that if you stand on your tippy toes you can see the Sydney Opera House in the far distance.
Pictured above you can see: my pen and ink interpretation of the nearby chapel, as well as one provided by our Canon.
(Can you guess which is which?)
We also visited Dali's house at Port Lligat near Cadaques.
Needless to say, we stopped off to pick up some wine every now and then.
I wondered why the campervan was so sluggish coming back, but when we got home we counted the bottles.
Total 117.

Tuesday 15 September 2009


During the summer there are lots of lizards in our garden. The children love them - they are quite harmless - and they keep the insect population under control.
In Australia, snakes and lizards are popular subjects in traditional Aboriginal art - and anthropologists have pointed out the so called "X-ray" tradition of painting, which shows the insides of the reptile.
Anyway, I just felt like painting the inside of a lizard one day, so I painted one on our outdoor table. You can see the skeleton and the outline - plus the traditional "dots" which form the background..
So now there's another lizard in our garden.

Friday 11 September 2009


The brief was remarkably brief.
This is what they said:
“We’ve just stripped and refurbished our apartment in the centre of Toulouse. It’s mainly black and white. We want something abstract and colourful. On three panels measuring just over a metre by half a metre.”
He is French and she’s Australian and they met in Tasmania before moving back to France.
Abstract is not something that I’m that enamored with, but after wrestling with the three paintings for about three days, this is what came out in the wash.
Hope they like it.
For more paintings of Australian themes, please go to:

Tuesday 8 September 2009



In a few days time we're off to Spain again.
We love it.
We love the country, we love the Spaniards, and we love their wine.
Our plan is to start at St Jean-Pied-de-Port (where the pilgrims on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela assembled prior to their assult on the Pyrenees).
Then we cross the mountains just like the pilgrims did – only we’ll be cheating – we’ll be in a campervan.
Then we're off to La Rioja the great Spanish wine area SW of Pampelona.
I intend to spend a few days painting the villages around Laguardia.
Before we start on our way back home to France, it’s on to the norh coast of Spain for a last swim before the winter.
The beautiful Basque fising village of Getaria is where we usually head for.
But there’s a chance we’ll get to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim again as well.
If ‘yes’ I’ll post another blog about our second trip to this great museum.
But in case we don’t, here’s something from our last visit.
Lynne hates spiders, no matter how large or small, but even she had to admit that Louise Bourgeoisen’s huge spider "Maman" outside the Guggenheim is well worth…
Well, get on with it - well worth what?
Well, well worth walking under, I suppose.
(You have to admit that not many people can claim to having walked under a spider).
For no obvious reason I've also included a spider I drew on Borocay a few years ago.
A bientot.

Friday 28 August 2009


Monet’s contribution to ‘modern art’ is immense.

He was one of the founders of Impressionism, and, as Post Impressionist Cezanne is said to have said: “Monet is only an eye, but my God what an eye.”

In his later life, Monet painted a series of approximately 250 paintings of water lilies, some of them huge, and in 2008 one of these paintings, “Le bassin aux nympheas”, sold for almost £41 million at Christie's in London.

More’s the pity then that his waterlilies have, for me, been debased and turned into the most boring paintings ever created. This is probably due to their gross over exposure and commercialization. In gift and souvenir shops they’re everywhere. One finds them on Christmas cards, place mats, coasters, calendars, diaries, prints, mugs, posters, aprons, T shirts, wallpaper and, no doubt, underpants.

Where are all these rambling thoughts going, you’re no doubt wondering?

Well, there is a connection.

We went to see Monet’s supplier of water plants – Latour-Marliac - at the nearby village of Le Temple-sur-Lot.

It’s a great place to visit and the historic connection to the famous Impressionist is impressive.

You’ll see copies of Monet’s invoices, a replica of his Japanese bridge at Giverny, and of course, millions of water lilies.

Then there’s a giant Amazonian water lily. This species was named after Queen Victoria when the first European grown specimen was given to her. It only flowers at night and the leaf reaches 1.5 meters in diameter.
There are examples of Tintin’s Blue Nile lotus, a pool of fabulously coloured Kois or Japanese carp, and a large bamboo collection.

I managed to do a quick sketch of a huge water lily, but pen and ink doesn’t do justice to these delicately coloured flowers, and I was rather disappointed.

Then I remembered that several years ago, I had also painted a water lily. It’s at the top of this page and it went to London as an anniversary gift.

If it reminds anyone of Monet’s water lilies, and if you ask, I’ll do another one for a lot less than 41 million – euros or pounds.

For more on my flower paintings please go to:

Wednesday 26 August 2009



The great Romanesque Basilica in Toulouse is well worth a visit weather you are a believer or not.
It was built in the 11 century partly in honour of the saint (who was martyred in the year 250 when he was dragged through the streets by a bull) but also because of the rise in numbers of pilgrims who were on their way to Compostela on the Via Toulousana.
It is the largest romanesque church in the world and a monument to the technical skills of the masons and architects of the middle ages who designed, planned and built this magnificient building.
The picture shows the problem I had getting the slightly leaning octagonal Toulousian tower and the nave and crossing onto one page. Eventually I gave up and did them on two pages which are shown here together.

Thursday 20 August 2009


Fources is an unusual village.
Firstly it is amazingly beautiful. But it's also a round bastide.
Whereas bastides - or fortified villages - are usually square or rectangular - Fources is round.
In April it becomes even more beautiful when the Fources Flower Show swamps the whole village in spectacular floral colour.
Anyway, as Thijs and Jan were still away on their walk in Spain, the ladies decided to give jam making a break, and to take time off to paint again.
So here are Anje, Ineke and Jose doing a water colour painting of the medieval tower and gateway that leads into Fources.
Another watercolour souvenir to take back to Holland.
If you'd like details about painting at Fources, please send me an email at:

Tuesday 18 August 2009


My studio at La Petite Galerie is on the third floor of our house which was built in the 12th century - at the same time that the wonderful church of St Jean-Baptiste was started in the middle of the village.
There is a great view of this gothic marvel from my studio window, and I've painted it many times.
When we first moved into Mézin about ten years ago, when I was working on a painting on canvas, for some unaccountable reason I started cleaning some excess blue paint off my brush onto the door leading from the top landing into my studio. Then when I'd finished with another colour, yelllow ochre, that went onto the door too. Then something caught my fancy in what was a bit of a mess on the wooden panel. Luckily I was able to turn it into a coloured sketch of St Jean-Baptiste. (Lynne still thinks it's a bit of a mess, but I've grown to quite like it - and it certainly avoided a wanton waste of paint).
You can see other versions of the church in Mézin by clicking on the link below. Then go to "French Paintings."

Thursday 13 August 2009



Some chose to walk. Some chose to paint.
Those that wanted to walk, had walked many times before. To Compostella. But this time they wanted to take the coastal path. So we took Thijs and Jan to Irun in Spain to get them started. It will take them two weeks, walking about 20 to 25 kilometres each day.
While the men are having a good time, the ladies wanted to paint a pigeonnier.
So first we found one we liked, then we walked across a field of lucerne until we had a good view.
Then we started drawing and painting. And a few hours later José, Anje and Ineke all had a pigeonnier to take home from Mézin as a souvenir.

Friday 7 August 2009




Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far that you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti 1830 - 1894

Saturday 1 August 2009


Forget about the the King Brown, the Taipan, the Copperhead or the Death Adder, these days most Australians agree that their most dangerous viper is the One Eyed Trouser Snake. I think it was Phillip Adams who coined the phrase (or it may have been Barry Humphries), however, as some people reading this blog might be of a tender age, I'm not going to elaborate on this subject.
Rather I'm just going to show you one of the ensuite bathrooms in our house.
For some reason I can't explain, when Lynne left me alone for a few days and went off to visit her mother, I painted snakes all over the walls.
She hates them, but most kids love them.
But I must admit that some adults come back from using the toilet (bathroom in America) with puzzled looks on their faces.
What do you think? Not about the bathroom - what's the most dangerous snake in the world?
If you want to see a painting of an Australian snake on canvas, click on the link below:

Wednesday 22 July 2009


Our friends Yvonne and Irving live a very beautiful part of Shropshire near the border with Wales.
Yvonne has not been well lately, so I painted these hibicuses on heavy card for her. They're from our garden at La Petite Galerie.
Today they went off to her with La Poste.
The caption reads:

Pour Yvonne
We think of you often
Gros bisous
Ray & Lynne

If La Poste and the Royal Mail get their collective acts together, the painting will be with her in a day or so.
When it does, the painted flowers should last a little longer than the real thing.

You can see more flower paintings at:

Friday 17 July 2009


I have always considered American artist Chuck Close's portraits literally overwhelming, and inspired by these huge paintings, I started doing several quite large portraits of my own.
When I was living in Australia, Terry Lane came to our home in Frankston, and I did his portrait over several days.
Because I had no record of it, I asked him to email me a photograph. This is what came back: 'Herewith one fabulous portrait, much admired by everyone who comes to the house. Also effective burglar deterrent.'
At about the same time, I painted another Melbourne radio personality, Doug Aiton. He used it on the cover of a charity Christmas carols CD. When I went into our local record shop to get a copy, I had difficulty finding it amongst the mass of CD's.
But I was reassured by an assistant that they definitely had it in stock.
'I specifically remember checking it in', she told me, 'it's got this absolutely appalling portrait of Doug Aiton on the cover'.
Burglars can now see Terry Lane at:

Thursday 16 July 2009


In 1962 I passed through the Costa Brava on a six month hitch hiking trip that took me from London to Johannesburg. In those days, long before the mass marketing of cheap package tours, traveling along the Spanish coast was like being in paradise. Not so today.

Almost forty years later we had a family gathering of the clans to celebrate my sixtieth birthday and we chose Cadaques. It’s still a great place. But not for long.

It’s relative isolation and the torturous road to the coast have protected the village from development for longer than most parts of the Costa Brava. Unfortunately, the tell tale signs of change are apparent everywhere. The most ominous of these is the large scale housing development and ubiquitous building cranes to the east - on the way to Dali’s house at Port Lligat.

Perhaps one small positive result of the international financial crisis is that these projects will be arrested. Time will tell.

Salvadore Dali is probably Cadaques’s most famous son, and he painted this beautiful Mediterranean port many times.

Vicky and Matt, who live in Toulouse, both love Cadaques. So they commissioned a triptych for the apartment they are renovating.

The embryonic early stages of it’s development are shown in the photos above. Each panel is 110 cms x 50 cms. The bottom one shows a very rough painted sketch (which looks almost as messy as the studio where the pic was taken). This is the 'just to get the basic idea' down stage. Then next is probably when I was about half finished. And the third is when I'm heading for home - but you can't see this one on my blog.

Anyone who lives near Mezin in southwest France can see the original in an exhibition above the tourist office.

But anyone who wants to see the finished 'Cadaques Triptych' should click on the link below to go my online gallery.

Tuesday 14 July 2009


As I said in a previous posting, I painted this aboriginal inspired snake after a guest at La Petite Galerie asked why I only painted my snakes on doors, walls and tables.
The Vasarely-like colours and the pointillist style both contribute to an obvious and attractive visual dazzle.
You can see lots of other paintings at:

Monday 13 July 2009


For some reason that's completely beyond me, just after we arrived in France, I started to paint snakes. I painted them on tables. I painted them on walls. And I painted them on doors.
Although I quite liked the pointillist dazzle that is set up by the dots of contrasting and complimenting colour, I never thought any more of them. (I was, however, sometimes conscious of the startled looks on people's faces when they came back from one of out guest bathrooms that's encrusted with snakes).
And then one day, an American guest - Joan Rushton - asked if I'd ever done a snake on canvass.
My turn to be startled. I could only answer "No! And don't ask me why."
So, to make amends, I'm about to start a snake painting on canvas.
In the meantime here are some of the snakes on doors at La Petite Galerie.
Here's the link to my Online Gallery where you can look for my painting of a snake.

Thursday 9 July 2009


Well, after many years of procrastination, I've finally changed my "why do something today when it can be put off until tomorrow" philosophy. On one matter anyway. My online gallery.
So, if anyone is interested, as of today, 8 July 2009, you can see my paintings ONLINE.
And if you are really interested, you can look at all 88 paintings. (More to be added soon).
Those of you who are really, really interested can EVEN BUY PAINTINGS ONLINE.
Please tell your friends by forwarding this link

Saturday 13 June 2009


Here's a recommendation for anyone traveling in France. Buy a copy of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, available in English as The Most Beautiful Villages in France. Make sure you and always have it with you. If you don't, you could miss out on several gems in country piled high with precious stones as far as tourist attractions are concerned. We have an old copy which was printed in association with The Readers Digest. Most of you will remember The RD, which is still one of America's largest selling monthly publications, and, at one time it was almost the only thing to read while waiting for the doctor or the dentist. Some of you may remember it's reputation for hounding subscribers to the grave - quite often literally beyond the grave. (New subscription material would arrive for many months long after the addressee was dead).
The point of this rather garbled introduction is that, when traveling in France, these beautiful sites are sometimes the best option when looking for overnight accommodation. So you need to know where they are.
The two above are Larresingle (in the Gers) and Vianne (in the Lot-et-Garonne). Both are nearby, but if you are ever nearby, don't stay in either of them. Rather come to us at La Petite Galerie in Mezin. And we'll take you there and show you around. We could even go there to paint if you like.

Friday 12 June 2009


To coincide with a televised mass in St Jean-Baptiste a few years ago, I decided to mount an exhibition of paintings and drawings of churches. When I looked at the material I had amassed over the last ten years, I was amazed to find that the tally was well over sixty works with some kind of religious building in them. The point is that it’s almost impossible to paint or draw anything in any village in France without a church appearing in the resulting composition.
St Jean-Baptiste is a fine example of France’s rich heritage of medieval church architecture, which ranges from small Romanesque chapels to Great Gothic cathedrals like Chartres or Notre Dame de Paris.
I can see the church quite clearly from my studio window on the third floor of La Petite Galerie, and I have painted the view across the roofs of Mezin many times in watercolour or acrylic.
Coming from Australia, it constantly amazes me to think that the church is 800 years older than the oldest building in the antipodes.
If you’d like to paint or draw the view from my studio window, why not consider an art holiday chez nous?
For more information please send an email to:
(Click on "Contact Us").

Tuesday 2 June 2009



On a recent holiday in Tassie (2009), I went back to draw again at the exact spot at the old convict settlement of Port Arthur where, in 1989, I’d painted a water colour study for a work I had in mind.
This was eventually worked into the much larger, acrylic painting of my family (above). As you can see I incorporated the colour sketch of Smith O’Brian’s cottage into the composition, along with a nude “painting of a painting” I had done of Lynne when we were living in Johannesburg, and I also added portraits of my three kids.
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Please forgive the following homespun philosophical musing on painting and drawing nudes. (So, if you don't like reading about or seeing nude paintings, please go to another listing).
Along with portraits, they are my favorite subjects.
But not that easy to achieve. There are lots of practical problems for the artist.
You can imagine the local's response to an elderly (some would say "old") Anglo Saxon male trying to mount an exhibition of nude paintings here in Mezin, an isolated medieval village in La France Profonde. Whether I tried to exhibit male, female (or like the coiffures signs that advertise "mixed") nudes, there is every possibility of finding myself shunned - even ostracized - by the wonderfully warm, welcoming, but very conservative villagers.
(Just bye the way, these attitudes are by no means restricted to country people. When I was living in Melbourne, there was a huge outcry when the National Gallery of Victoria wanted to show some of Robert Mapplethorpe's internationally renowned nude photographs. And when I was working at Myer, the huge Australian department store group, a Biblical David hid behind his proverbial fig leaf when, in a small version of Michelangelo's famous sculpture, he found himself being stared at by shoppers when exhibited in one of the Bourke Street store's windows.)
Without wanting to make a meal of this subject, there is also the problem of finding a model. Lynne has posed for me ever since we first met - clothes on and clothes off - but now refuses to do so for so many reasons. But I don’t have the time or space to list them all here. The point is, if I risked casting a wider net and tried to find a male or female who was willing to pose for me in the nude, I believe the brouhaha it would cause amongst the locals could get me drummed out of town definitivement.
So, with not many options, but using my imagination, I produced this (rather androgynous looking) female nude.
If anyone cares to comment (or you would like to see more nudes I’ve painted) send emails to:
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The same applies if you would like more information on the "learn to paint and draw" holidays we run in sunny southwest France.

Monday 25 May 2009



I live in France.
I flew to Tasmania with Lynne in April 2009. It took two days. I nearly died of jet-lag.

French Admiral Bruny d'Entrecasteaux left Brest in September 1791 to look for missing French explorer La Perouse.
Off the coast of Van Diemensland the French fleet was hit by a storm and driven into an inlet which Bruny named Recherche Bay. It was April 1792. The voyage had taken OVER SIX months.

In his log he described Recherche Bay as "a lovely harbour at the end of the world."

We drove from Hobart to Cockle Creek on Recherche Bay which is as far south as you can go by road in Australia. Bruny was right. It's seriously lovely. A sign tells you that you are closer to Antartica than Cairns in Queensland.

We found a whale. It's life size and made out of bronze. A statue of a three month old Southern Right by Steven Walker.

In Hobart' National Gallery we found the statue of Big Mother by Patricia Peccinini, on loan from the Penny Clive collection. It's made out of silicone, fibreglass, leather, human and animal hair.

Bruny died of scurvy in 1793.

Unlike the French Admiral, I survived the trip, and we're now safely back in Mezin, France.

Thursday 14 May 2009



Jim's 2009 Watercolour Painting in France group produced an amazing output.
Several members managed well over a dozen paintings and drawings in one week!
The weather turned hot and we had to look for venues with some shade nearby. But there's always a surfeit of subject matter when painting in Gascony, as you can see in the photos of our last few days before le retour to America.

Plans are already afoot for next year's trip. Will you be there?