Fort Khassab Musandam Oman
oil on linen 2002
In 1989 my agent in Torquay, Colin Stodgell, invited me to paint the first of over 100 commissions for the Diwan of the Royal Court of the Sultanate of Oman. Between 1989 and 2013 I completed 116 paintings for the Royal Court.
British painters were the preferred artists for the various themes the Royal Court commissioned: still lifes, landscapes, maritime subjects, birds, horses, etc. My artist friend Ian Southwood was occasionally commissioned to paint still lifes of Omani themes.
In 1990 the Diwan invited me to visit Oman to record and photgraph the forts and landscapes in the country. During my stay I had the use of government Toyota Pancheros (chauffer-driven!) to go anywhere; a day out on a Royal Oman Navy launch to photograph the coast near Muscat; and a flight on an Royal Oman Airforce plane to Salalah in southern Oman where I stayed in the royal palace there for three days.
I had the freedom to travel wherever I wanted but maps of the country at that time were difficult to come by, and tourism was in its infancy. I managed to acquire some secret army maps of the country so I had to be discreet when using them.
Muscat Harbour and Royal Palace
egg tempera on paper 1993
The Diwan commissioned me primarily to produce oil and watercolour paintings of the many forts that feature in the Oman landscape. These were built by the Portuguese in the 16th-17th centuries as part of the Portuguese Colonial Empire. Their historical importance is recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
I also painted some of the fascinating landscapes: mountains, wadis (rivers) and cliffs, often including wildlife and birds, and palm trees which I became very adept at painting.
In 1992 I painted three very large egg tempera panoramas of Muscat Harbour for the Royal Yacht Zinat al Bihaar. These were approx 36” x 60” painted on whole sheets of the largest Arches watercolour paper made.
I painted Omani landscapes in egg tempera whenever I could as the qualities of the paint are very sympathetic for replicating the texture and colour of sand and stone.