Tag Archives: Dhows

A History of Art in Three Colours

Sur, Oman, famous for Dhow Building

Sur, Oman

I’ve been watching with some interest “A History of Art in Three Colours” on BBC 4 on Saturday evenings. The first episode, narrated by Dr James Fox, looked at the way gold has been used in art over the centuries. Last Saturday it was the turn of the colour Blue.

The programme began on the Venetian Lagoon and told the story of how the precious stone Lapis Lazuli was brought 3500 miles across the Mediterranean from a land that is now Afghanistan, to the edge of Europe. The Lapis Lazuli was ground to dust and the precious powder was then purified into a pigment which could be painted with. The colour blue was to transform the world of art.

It’s a colour which I’ve used extensively throughout my 32 years as an artist but none more so in the last 5 years when I have been painting on location in Oman. In 2007 I visited Sur for the first time, a coastal town renowned for its building of dhows. From that trip I produced this small original watercolour which I’ve reproduced as a limited edition print. I remember the day as being incredibly hot and the sky being a very intense blue as I sketched the dhows not far from the  spot where I’ve painted the old watch tower in the painting above.

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Painting of Dhows

Arabian Dhows on Gold Leaf

Dhows, Oman – Oil on Gold Leaf

There’s a story on how I ended up doing a Painting of Dhows on Gold Leaf. In 2010 I was involved in a painting of a very large Biblical scene which was to go in a church building. It was a massive project and painting, executed on 5 panels of gold leaf in oil paints. I had several small boards coated with gold leaf to experiment with and decided to do my own paintings on this unusual and expensive surface.

I did two quite different scenes, one of the Grand Mosque in Oman, the other of some Arabian Dhows at low tide in Sur, Oman. I sold the Grand Mosque to a client in Oman, however, this one of the dhows is available to purchase. Other original paintings and prints of the Gulf can be seen on my website.

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Dhows, Calm Waters

Dhows, Calm Waters

Dhows, Calm Waters

I recently received an order from a client in the USA for 15 copies of this limited edition print titled “Dhows, Calm Waters”. The painting was inspired by some sketchbook studies I made in watercolour of dhows in Kuwait when I was there in January 2009.

Since I first visited the Gulf back in 2007, I’ve been attracted by these ancient Arabic sailing vessels which grace the waters around Oman, the UAE, Kuwait and beyond. Silk dhows were known to travel to the Far East from Africa. Indeed, The Jewel of Muscat is a reconstruction of the Belitung Shipwreck, the wreck of an Arabian dhow which sailed a route to China around the 9th century. I saw the Jewel of Muscat under construction in Oman and at rest in harbour before its masts were fitted in 2009.

At the Creek in Dubai, one can see dozens of dhows being unloaded, their cargos ranging from fridges to food. Seen from the top of a nearby hotel, it makes a grand sight, especially towards the end of the day when the sun is setting. I have a number of sketchbook studies of the view below which I intend to re-create one day as a studio painting. Watch this space!

Sunset over Dubai Creek

Sunset over Dubai Creek

 

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