More from the Basque Country, and some paintings.

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 :

IMG_8337 IMG_8342





2 paintings from the daily painting project (18×24):


IMG_8332 IMG_8340


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.


IMG_8336 IMG_8335

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!!


9 thoughts on “More from the Basque Country, and some paintings.

  1. thank you Liz, fascinating and encouraging thoughts to go there… one day!

    love your work, the colours feel wintry with a touch of spring :-))


    Sent from my iPad


    • Thanks Judy, you say the nicest things! I hadn’t thought that, you are right, it is totally subconscious; I am drawn towards those colours, I must be mad…’d think I would use the warmer end of the spectrum this time of year!

  2. Your paintings are beautiful, Liz. How you can look at those interiors and call them ‘tight’, I have no idea. I need to be there to tell you otherwise. (Artistic solitude, while necessary, can be short of feedback.)

    The top one I find particularly gorgeous. I love the intensity of the colours… that delicious slab of salmon pink carpet… and the freedom of the application of paint. Yes, you’re marshalling the forms so that they capture what’s required, but it’s a million light years away from tight.

    The ones measuring 18 x 24 are wonderful, too, perfectly capturing the sense of shady interiors on bright days, and they are cram-packed with beautiful mark-making.

    Peter and I live day to day with a small oil on canvas you made while staying at Penparc Cottage in 2011. It’s a view from the cliff path between Aberporth and Tresaith, and only the other day a friend visiting us pointed out how beautifully your loose brushwork coalesces into what we recognise as rock and vegetation and summer grass, with a few brief foreground ‘sgrafitto’ marks incised through to the canvas to suggest the glitter of sun on long grasses. Masterful!

    You have not lost any skill at suggesting much with deceptively little. Brava, my friend. Beautiful painting flows from your fingertips.

    • Dear Clive, thanks so much for your feedback. It is praise indeed when it comes from you. Your support is important to me as you know, and you can lift me from the depths of despondency by just one word of encouragement.

      I am so pleased you see what I’m aiming at, for the struggle I have at the moment is the following : while I feel that  some of my colour sketches are successful, the minute I try to pin them down and make a formal painting from them, I seldom achieve my goal, for I “tighten up”. This could possibly be a question of format, as the sketches themselves may remain small,  intimate and fresh, yet the same image scaled up loses that feel.
      You would think , wouldn’t you, that if anyone could scale up a painting , it would be me with my experience of painting back cloths of other peoples’ designs in the Opera company.? Why doesnt it work for me? Must I try to be more objective?

      Then I think : when is a sketch not a sketch, but an artwork? Do we need these constraints?  After all, anything goes these days, to the extent that if an artist calls something art,  it is considered to be art, whatever it is. ( this reminds me of the advert from the seventies when a visitor to an art gallery thought the fire bucket was an artwork!)  Perhaps I should have also posted the paintings I consider to be tight, but I didn’t because I was dissatisfied with them.
      Maybe this is fodder for another blog post, hmmmm…..thanks againxxL

  3. Great paintings Liz; those last two, the 1m x80cm ones, are an absolute delight for me, you paint with such delicacy and freedom but manage to keep hold of the forms you’re depicting, and you do it beautifully – it’s an inspiration looking at these!

    • Thanks Phil, you are really kind to say so. Often I have such doubts, not whilst I am playing with colours but afterwards, when I emerge from whatever place I have been. I enjoyed painting these. Trouble is it has turned cold again, and being a whimp I have abandonned my lovely big studio and I’m back in the house with my paints, where I have had to scale down in size, otherwise Graham might object….. I cannot wait for the Spring and have more space to paint in!!

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