Monday 31 October 2016

Back in the world of where in Ramsgate Margate or Broadstairs did granny live the new old directory project is now producing new local publications, plus four old views of Ramsgate.

Although there isn’t much point in learning about where you family lived in Thanet in 1900 unless you have read some of the books about Thanet in 1900, rather in the same way as there isn’t much point in knowing that Granddad was a costerman if you don’t know what type of apple costards are, there comes a point when some of us want to know the place in that other country sometimes called the past.

Anyway here in my bookshop some of the people who work here have been engaged in the business of turning frail and tattered Thanet directories into usable booklets that list local residents for that time.

Alternatively you can come to my bookshop in Ramsgate to do your browsing and buying.

If however you have developed serious inertia here are four old postcards of Ramsgate which you may be able to click on and expand.

The last trading hour in bookshops just after the clocks change to GMT is usually very quiet as customers internal bookshopping clocks adjust, so there was some irony in putting out Eugen Ruge’s “In Time of Fading Light” away today, see

Sunday 30 October 2016

Ramsgate Festival of light 1949

I’m not sure how nighttime colour photography worked in 1949, but is seems to be mostly going over the photos with some sort of dye.

This part of this post is in response to a post on the We Love Ramsgate Facebook group

The things I do. Well there you go.

The following is from the mayor’s speech given at the switching on ceremony:

“For many years Ramsgate has offered to its visitors all the usual amenities expected of a popular seaside resort, at the same time preserving the natural characteristics with which the town is endowed.

“Our first “publicity officer” of Victorian days – the artist Frith – saw to it that our sands were made famous the world over.

“Our Royal Harbour, now nearing its bi-centenery, has long been, and still is, a joy to those who love the sea and the little ships – so immortalised in 1940 when the little ships came to Ramsgate to play their gallant part in the evacuation of Dunkirk.

Happy Holiday Ingredients.

“Our promenades, parks and cliffs have a special appeal.

“We cater fully for our friends who prefer the popular outdoor sports, be it bowls, tennis, hockey, cricket or football.

“We boast of our bracing air and our southern aspect. The hospitality of our people is proverbial. In fact, we claim all the ingredients of a happy holiday.

“And so, perhaps, we could have rested on our laurels, assured that our visitors would always come to us.

“But, if I may say so, that has not for many years been the attitude of the local governing body and other who have laboured for their town. It was, therefore, not altogether a surprise that with the advent of the Festival of Britain we should consider in what way we could utilise the charming setting of our harbour and the sea front to give enjoyment in a worthwhile fashion, to provide something new that would attract visitors from near and far, and enhance our reputation as a holiday town.

“This Festival of Light is the result.

“We have the glory of sun by day. We shall now have the beauty of light by night.

Ten Miles of Wire

“Aided by specialist firms, we have created the Festival from a blank piece of paper over many months. The Festival cannot be seen as a whole from any one point. Some ten miles of wire and 25,000 lamps have gone to make up its sections and we have still a little more to come.

“We may ponder over the beauty of the waterfall at Madeira-walk, or search out for our amusement our Alfie up to his many pranks; Mary, Mary, like perhaps so many of that name, quite contrary; the Pied Piper; the animal and bird sanctuary about our waterfall, or the West Cliff gardens, and such features as the monkery and others too numerous to mention at this moment. We believe that children of all ages will spend happy hours among these amusing and in some cases very artistic features, many of which are being seen for the first time.

A Co-operative Effort

“May I say here that the Festival of Light is a co-operative effort. During the autumn I approached a group of traders, mainly on the sea front to contribute towards the substantial capital expenditure involved in the scheme. I met with most enthusiastic response, and they have promised no less than £1,500 a year. With that great help, the council decided to go ahead, realising that the Festival of Light could be an annual attraction which would make Ramsgate the Blackpool of the South. In fact, in the years to come, Blackpool may even be known as the Ramsgate of the North………………..”

I have been around the area today mostly buying books for my bookshop, I eventually wound up in Canterbury and did a bit more to my watercolour sketch of the cathedral through the window of Chocolate Café.

I will endeavour to more Thanet paintings but with the cold weather coming on it’s difficult to find places to sketch from.  

Here is the reference picture for any aspiring critics

Technique wise it's basically sketch it in faintly with a thin brush and then keep spodging a bit more on until it looks ok

Saturday 29 October 2016

Four old postcards of Ramsgate, a bit of sketching in Canterbury and some thoughts on armed police, well a bit of a ramble

Not particularly good postcards these but I am doing the good the bad and the ugly, so these fall into the not too bad unless you expand them bracket.

My plan today was to do another watercolour sketch of the inside of Canterbury Cathedral, however I got confused in amongst the tracery and gave up.

Off to Chocolate Café and a recovery pen sketch

Followed by this one which is the start of a view of the cathedral through the window and so far I am fairly pleased with the way it’s going.

I have been meandering in and out of the cathedral since the 1960s and as far as I remember in the 60s and 70s, outside of service hours it was pretty much deserted, whereas nowadays the number of tourists makes the background noise level such that I often resort so earplugs if I am sketching in there.

What hadn’t occurred to me is that it is a target in this modern world and we seem to have gone from hardly ever seen the police there to police armed with automatic weapons and pistols.

I am still not sure how I feel about this one, it takes a bit of getting used to, I can see the repost to any query being. “Would you prefer inadequately armed police?” I wonder what other people think about this one.

There is a certain irony in looking at the books that went out in my bookshop today and seeing the catalogue of a Ramsgate gunsmith has sold again, see

Friday 28 October 2016

Ramsgate in 1947 and Café Rouge at Westwood Cross pictures

You know what life’s like, someone shows you 1947 guide to Ramsgate but you replaced your phone two days earlier and you haven’t mastered the camera that well.

Anyway I did manage to copy a few pages and hope to find my own copy so I can copy it and add it to my range of local book. 

I have also added four Ramsgate postcards and the beginnings of a watercolour sketch I did at Café Rouge at Westwood Cross this evening

you may need to click in the pictures to expand them

Here are the books that went out in my bookshop today as you see a fair amount of local history, which is encouraging.

Camera and brush in Canterbury

There are several ways of approaching watercolour paintings of buildings and I suppose the most reliable would be pencil then pen then rubber then wash.

By this I mean you do a pencil sketch and by the process of rubbing out the bits that looks wrong and putting them right you then get something you can go over with a Pitt pen or some other permanent fine liner pen. All you have to do then is rub out the pencil and colour the sketch in with very diluted watercolour.

However you go about it with watercolour very thin or diluted tends to produce the best results.

Another technique is drawing a feint pencil sketch to guide your brush strokes, B hardness pencils or harder don’t smudge much when you get their marks wet and once the paint is dry a lot of the pencil will rub off if you want it to.

These are all good techniques used by important artists I don’t think there is any such thing as cheating in art, just different techniques –it’s the results that count.

Back in 2011 when I first started drawing and painting I used all of the above, however recently I have been painting just with a brush in watercolour. There is no way back in any real and useful sense with this method, basically I paint something, looks at the mistakes and then go back and paint it again.
You can see from the photo I still have some way to go with this process, the cathedral is a rather demanding model, with lots of complex shapes which really lend themselves to the rubbing out method.

I think this applies to modern buildings as well to an extent, I had a go at painting a bit of the University of Kent from the Gulbenkian Theatre Café yesterday. It’s fairly easy to express the look and feel of modernish campus buildings with photographs, but watercolour is another matter.  
Personally having had a difficult time in educational establishments I don’t necessarily feel particularly comfortable on campus. Something like a concentration camp survivor going on holiday to Butlins is as close as I can get. With a painting I hope to express something that wouldn’t be found in a photograph, so I think I will need to have various attempts going back and painting there to get this one how I want too.

On to the photographs of Canterbury, once again taken with my new and very cheap mobile phone an OUKITEL K6000 Pro. Now with addition of A Better Camera App, the main advantage of the app being that I can set the phone’s camera focus on infinity. This means that in strong light everything more than about 3 feet away is always in focus and in poorer lighting conditions everything more than 6 feet away is in focus.

The cathedral with its difficult lighting and some outside shots pretty much straight into the sun seemed to be a good place to better learn a new phone camera, so here are the photos.