Art Holiday Accommodation in SW France Details

Monday, 22 December 2014


Anyone who's bored with these portraits and my ramblings should maybe skip this post.
However,  continuing on with alleviating the boredom of winter, I decided, just to be a little bit different, to change to mixed media portraits to while away the hours. 
So here's another icon of twentieth century art. 
'What?' I hear some people say. (Someone even said, 'What crap!')  And, 'What's so good about Andy Warhol?'
Well, think about it this way. Anyone who's able to change the way we ACTUALLY SEE, must be someone special. 
This is what I'm getting at:
If anyone says Elizabeth Taylor or Marilyn Monroe - or even Chairman Mao, I think we remember Andy Warhol's huge, brightly coloured silkscreen paintings - rather than the person themselves. 
Anyone disagree? If 'yes' please send me an email. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


OK, OK, I know he's supposed to have invented 'scorched earth' warfare and burned the city of Colombia to the ground, amongst other disreputable acts, but remember that he was a soldier - and that's what soldiers do - they kill people (usually, but not always, the enemy) and do bad things.
My point is that I don't know much about him at all, and I certainly don't know enough about the American Civil War to work out whether the Yankees or the Confederates were the good guys or the bad guys. (While I'm writing, I've had a flash of inspiration and worked out that they were probably all bad guys.)
So the only reason I chose him as a subject is that he has the most AMAZING face.

Friday, 12 December 2014


Continuing on with my theme of escaping the rigours of a northern hemisphere winter, here are two portraits of Abe Lincoln that have helped me wile away the December days and nights. 
(That's all I can think to say about them.)

Thursday, 27 November 2014


They admired each other - apparently.
If anyone wants them, please scroll down to the post below this one for all the details.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014


What do artists do in the wintertime.
Instead of hibernating (which is what smart people do), I've been painting portraits.

Over the past few weeks I’ve produced a series of military or political figures, including Napoleon, FDR, Churchill, Lord Nelson, General Mcarthur, General Patton, the Duke of Welling and others. Several of them are published on this page. 
The only reason I chose any particular character was because he, or she (Thatcher and Joan of Arc are both on my ‘to do’ list) had an interesting face.

So, they are all painted from photographs and, (BEWARE, here comes the commercial), they are all FOR SALE.

Here are the details: each painting has been done in artist’s quality watercolours on high grade 300 gram paper. Each painting is signed, dated and embossed. They will be sent out in sturdy cardboard tubes, and the price - 150 Euros - includes postage, insurance and tracking details. Oh, and the panting, of course.

Please email me if you’re interested.


You can see more paintings here:

Sunday, 23 November 2014


Three Great Paintings at the Pink Polygon

Congratulations to the curators of London’s flagship contemporary gallery for bringing us this magnificent exhibition of cutting edge art. Despite the controversially high entrance fee, the intellectual return you get when you see the works is quite amazing. Fortunately this has also cut down on the crowds of philistines one usually encounters when this kind of event is free — those masses of uninformed visitors who are so obviously out of their cultural and creative depth.
       On a recent trip to London I was one of the privileged few invited to a private viewing of the paintings on the Pink Polygon’s latest show. They are, without exception, masterworks of twenty-first century art.
       Unfortunately space and copyright restrictions allow me to show only three examples (If you haven’t yet noticed them, for goodness sake take a look at three masterpieces at the top of this page).
       Jack Delbos’s huge canvasses “evoke a fleeting glimpse of movement through the landscape, while also conveying their own vivid presence. The viewer is encouraged to enter into the emotional content of the work through thoughtful and open-minded observation.”       The other large colour field painting shown above is by the emerging Chinese artist Poubel. He describes his work thus: “The majority of my paintings are landscape inspired. I work from either my photographic records or from memory, applying layers of colour to express objects, movement and light. My method is very time consuming and it takes many months to complete a painting because of the multiple layers of oil paint applied to each work and the constant working back through the layers, resulting ultimately is a surface with few textural marks. Titles are also very important particularly when abstracting work; the title can be the only thing that links the artist to the viewer and my titles only hint at the subject matter of the painting, giving the viewer the freedom to come to their own understanding.”       The piece de resistance, however, in this magnificent show is Kopoor’s abstract masterpiece. Here’s how he’s described his own work: The content is there in a way that’s more surprising than if I tried to make a content. So, therefore, the idea that subject matter is somehow not the same as content. Then, in a different sort of way, moving from matte surfaces to shiny surfaces. In terms of the fact that the traditional sublime is the matte surface, deep and absorbing, and that the shiny might be a modern sublime, which is fully reflective, absolutely present, and returns the gaze. This feels like a new way to think about the non-objective object.”

Oh well, I hope by now that everyone reading this post will have spotted that it’s all unadulterated crap. There’s no such place as the Pink Polygon — but sadly all of the artist’s comments are genuine. (The words have been taken, unedited, from commentaries living professional artists have provided about their own work.)       And, even more sadly, one of the photographs above is of a real work by one of these highly acclaimed artists — it’s worth thousands — well, perhaps “worth” is the wrong word, but it sold recently at Christies for 54,000 Pounds. The others are: a photograph of a fading poster taken in the village, and a painting by my two year old grandson.
FREE COMPETITION       The first person to post the correct answer to this question on this blog will win one of my original A4 size ink drawings of a village in this part of France. (All you have to do is say: Kapoor’s painting is number 1, 2 or 3) The drawing will be posted to the winner in a cardboard tube — if they want it that is. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Jack with two portraits of Jack he found in my studio (one, as you can see is unfinished).

Saturday, 20 September 2014


This is how to prepare for an exhibition:
1. Get briefed by the art teacher - and have a few drinks in his studio while you're about it.

 2. Then get out and do the hard yakka.

3. Very soon, the galleries will be falling over themselves to get at your paintings.

Winifred, Colin, Geoff, Georgie, John and Sue preparing for their exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014


The Bells and the Williams are from Worcester in the UK. They stayed at La Petite Galerie for two weeks just as summer was turning into autumn, but the weather was just about perfect.
Here you can see them:
* working away at their paintings
* the results, and 
* a shot taken from a spy camera in the air (sent, we think, by the Tate Modern).

Friday, 5 September 2014


Exactly a year ago we were walking in the Pyrenees with the Stephens in torrential rain and perpetual cloud. All we saw was our boots.
This year it was just the opposite as you can see from these pics of some wild mountain sheilas that were taken in the Gorges de Kakouette and Gorges d'Holzart.


For several years now, I have been using photographs as an adjunct to painting portraits.
It solves all kinds of practical problems.
For example: time.
A quick snap and the model’s involvement is over. And who these days has the time to sit in front of the artist for hours — or even days —  of dreary posing?

Well, there’s always been this nagging doubt teasing away in the back of my mind. And then one day a visitor to my gallery bluntly posed the question critique: “Isn’t using photos a bit sneaky. You know, a kind of cheating?”
So I did some research.
A quick troll through the web revealed some interesting insights.
Throughout time, artists have used mechanical devices.
For example hand stencils were used on aboriginal rock art and palm and fingerprints on Paleolithic cave paintings.

The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and many other early civilizations all used geometric instruments to develop their theories, architecture and art, and by the time of the late Gothic period, mechanical devices were being used almost universally.
The physicists Falco and artist Hockney recently published their theory that admirably demonstrates that advances in realism and accuracy during the Renaissance were achieved with curved mirrors, and devices like the camera obscura and the camera lucida. Their studies focused on artists like Vermeer, Jan Van Eyck, Caravaggio, and others. (I should hasten to add, however, that all this is not to say that countless great artists achieved amazing realism without resorting to mechanical and optical aids.)

Jump to the twentieth century and countless artists were in on the act — widespread use of contemporary technology like slide projectors and computers is now commonplace amongst serious artists.
Pop sculptor Donald Judd had all of his work commercially produced from his sketches by artisans who were experts in various phases of metalwork. Needless to say this was not new, and sculptors have always used foundries (invariably factories producing commercial metal objects in large quantities) where experts carry out the preparation of moulds, etc, and the highly technical aspects of the actual casting, and the artist, once he has created his design, merely (if that’s the word) oversees the project.
Andy Warhol emphasized the point of artists being involved in certain of their work at arms length by calling his New Your studio The Factory and his huge silkscreen works now attract huge prices for works that are, essentially, silkscreen prints produced by an army of helpers in the same manner as much commercial colour printing was done at that time.
Jeff Koons’s work is a variation on this theme using a huge staff that he supervises. But the concept, known as art fabrication, is taken several steps further. Koons has access to specialized machinery, technicians and the experienced staff necessary to execute particularly complex projects. Under his direction, all kinds of designs are created and then produced in a wide variety of factories.
Hockney himself has used photography and computers widely in his work and even when Paris was the centre of the art world, Picasso and other cubists stuck photographs onto their collages.

So, what’s the conclusion? Well, if anyone’s still reading this stuff, you may be wondering where it’s going so I’ll get to the point.
All I want to say, can be said in one sentence: if artists like Vermeer, Hockney, Warhol et al, can use mechanical aids, so can I. I feel it’s quite legitimate for me to use a photograph from which to paint a portrait. And that’s it really – end of diatribe.
Well almost, because, finally, here’s an example of what I’m getting at. Adrian is an old friend who turned seventy recently. I wanted to paint his portrait as a surprise, so I found and downloaded a photograph from a directory of London QC’s.
This is the result.
If you are interested in having your portrait painted from a photograph, please send me an email.

Friday, 29 August 2014


Most people know Aberhonddu as Brecon,  a Welsh market town at the foot of the Brecon Beacons, famous for its cathedral.
That's where Dave, Babs, Sue and Nana come from.
They had good weather, saw all of the local sights, including several night markets, which they loved.

Here they are at Sos night market 

And here they all are with the product of an afternoon's painting. 

(Probably soon to be snapped up by the Brecnock Museum and Art Gallery).


Adrian is having a big one.
And a big celebration to go with it.
If he was a judge in France instead of England, he'd have the guillotine out, waiting for anyone over .05 after his party at Laportaine, who comes up before him.
This is his prezzie from us.
Hope he doesn't read this blog before Sunday to see what he's getting. 
When he turns 70!

Saturday, 9 August 2014


James, Jeanette and Ethan are on holiday from West Yorkshire.
They flew to Paris, hired a car and drove down to the southwest.
Here they are hard at work painting en plein air at the nearby medieval bastide of Fources.

And here are the results of their endeavours.

They fly out of Toulouse on Sunday. 
There will probably be an offer for their paintings when they get back - from the Salts Mill Gallery in Bradford.

Friday, 1 August 2014


Roger, Ann, Thomas, Edward and Suzanne. They're come all the way from Horsham. And here they are, hard at work at Fources in the Gers. 

They didn't believe they could paint. 
They told me so several times. 
And my reply was, as always, that ANYONE can  learn to paint and draw. 
Of course, very, very few individuals will ever draw like Michelangelo or paint like Rembrandt, but everyone, yes EVERYONE can learn to paint and draw.
And the photo above proves my point.
And now it's up to them to decide whether to continue painting when they get back home - to find out if there's a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt hiding inside any of them.
Bon voyage!

Friday, 25 July 2014


Well, it's mid July and almost mid summer here in southwest France, and the weather is, as you'd expect, just awful.
So when it's really cold and rainy, what does one do? Watch the Tour de France of course. 
And here we are, halfway between Condom and Nerac in the pouring rain. 

This week's competition is, wait for it: 'Spot the Aussies'.

This pic might give you a clue. Which one is the real dinky die, ridgy dige, true blue, fair dinkum, dead set Aussie?

Answer: the only real Aussie in both pics is the yellow thing on the flag.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

LYNNE SAID: His head's not that shape anymore.

She went on: You've made it look like a football! He doesn't look like that at all these days.

That's why I've included the words
"One year old JACK"
in the title.
When he was a year old, I thought his head did look like a football.

Friday, 11 July 2014


Here they both are. The one who wouldn't sit for me, and the one I painted from a photo.
One of them's  off to be hung. 
(But just for the vernissage de l'Exposition de Peintures organisée par l'Office de Tourisme du Sud Albret.) 
Please get in touch with Ray if you'd like a portrait of someone done on this scale. 


Karen and Alan live in a super, old but beautifully renovated house deep in the forest in SW France. 
They wanted two large paintings for their lounge. 
Here's what the brief said:
Two scenes of London - Piccadilly & Whitehall - painted in the style of Claude Monet's The Rue Montorgueil, painted in 1878.

Well, it took a while - mainly because we were away (in Australia and Vietnam) for five months, but at last they were ready, and here they are in situ.


Just to show that it's not all play and no work on holiday in SW France, here's proof.
Kif and Anna with their noses to the grindstone. They're busy with their masterpieces at Fources, a medieval town - that belonged to England in the middle ages. It's just a few kilometers from La Petite Galerie. They're from Australia, on holiday with their kids Theo and Poppy, who we'll no doubt meet in a later post.

Hard at work at the nearby village of Fources

Waiting for a call from David Walsh - these would both look great at MONA.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014


Here's a photograph of Jack with a painting of:
26 JUNE 2014"

Tuesday, 8 July 2014


I decided I wanted to do another one. A portrait of Lynne, that is.
But she won't sit for me. "It's too boring, and you always make me look so miserable."
Luckily I'd taken this picture of her at Mona in Hobart, which is in Tasmania, which is a state of Australia, which is a long way from here. On one of David Walsh's chairs. Against a red wall.
So, here's what happened:

Stage 1
I asked:
"So what do you think Lynne?"
Lynne said:
"You've got so much to do Raymond. You don't have time for this kind of thing. And where are you going to hang it, anyway?"
In the hope that I'd get a morsel of encouragement from another quarter, I emailed pics of the various stages to each of the kids.
Here's what Justin said: nothing.
Here's what Vicky said: nothing.
Here's what Paul said: nothing.

Stage 2.
Here's what Lynne said: 
"Why do you always make me look like a fucking monkey?"
Here's what Justin said: nothing.
Here's what Vicky said: nothing.
Here's what Paul said: nothing.
In the hope that the morsel of encouragement would eventually be forthcoming,  I emailed the kids:
"Hey! Don't any of you like my fucking painting of your mother? I'd love to know what you think - one way or another."

Stage 3.
At this stage, I said to Lynne: "I'm going to enter it in the Mezin exhibition."
Here's what Lynne said:
"Oh, for Christ's sake don't be stupid! You can't put something like that in a village art show."
Here's what Justin said: nothing.
Here's what Vicky said in answer to my email designed to solicit a morsel of encouragement: 
"Not particularly.....just not my style!!!!."
Here's what Paul said: nothing.

To keep up to date with this 21st century family saga, please come back for more.
And if anyone sees David Walsh, please ask him what he thinks about his chair.