Some more photos from the Basque country. Château Abbadia, completed in 1884, is a neo-gothic building built by the eccentric Eugène Viollet le Duc; he was a scientist who was passionate about the Middle East. The decor was heavily influenced by his many travels to Africa and Arabia. The interior decor is rather similar in style to that of both Cardiff Castle and Castel Coch in Wales.
The exterior sculptures remind me of those of Cardiff Castle where stone creatures from the animal kingdom “leap” over the boundary walls, appearing to flee the castle grounds, beautifully carved, they have great presence. It was obviously the fashion of the time, inspired by the import of exotic animals from far away lands, no doubt. Here, at Château Abbadia the carved animals are embracing the building itself. some are a bit clunky, particularly the snails.
A crocodile welcomes you at the entrance:
See the serpent , mouth agape, hovering above the entrance:
A dog reposes as sentinel at the door, a toad gets ready to leap:
A snake climbs to the ramparts:
A giant snail crawls along the balustrade.
(One day I will sculpt some animals for our house.)
Inside, the atmosphere was of sumptuous gloom; dark colours and heavily draped curtains added to the spooky feel. I took some photos but the gloom was too pervasive. This one was best : looking up the staircase.
A couple of paintings completed recently. First a colour sketch, (18×24) :
then a larger one painted from it 30×40:
A couple more colour sketches, 18×24 :
2 paintings from the daily painting project (18×24):
Finally, I am trying to get back to my original way of painting, when I was in full-time employment working for the Welsh National Opera Company. I was able to paint in large format at speed, racing the clock, this skill was perfect for working in theatre/opera. I feel as though I have been tightening up over the years and losing the freedom of using accidental marks and expressive brush strokes. The more I try to free up , the tighter I get, so sometimes I feel like Alice Through the Looking-glass. These are early days yet!
The following are on paper, approx 1m x 80cm.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
It’s Graham’s birthday today as well, we were hoping to go out for the day, to Château de Commarque for a picnic, but, Ha! wind, hailstones, non-stop horizontal driving rain, have put paid to that!!