The Flying Dutchman – Watercolour on HP Paper

This was inspired by Wagner’s opera Der fliegende Holländer although the myth of a ship that can never go home existed long before Wagner made it popular. The ghost ship sometimes appears out of the mist or suddenly on a clear day. People, trapped on board, call out sending messages to folks in the living world – but these people, in the real world, are long dead. Spooky – what? Most people, in the north and west of Europe, will empathise with this tale being superstitious “maritime folks”. The painting is part of a series I did for a friend who wanted to illustrate the tale for some young schoolchildren, the reason it’s not in a Moleskine. Hope you don’t mind.

Although I don’t understand many of Richard Wagner’s works I think some of the music, especially the great overtures of Tannhäuser, Die Meistersinger and, especially Lohengrin are inspiring. I used to time myself, going to work in the morning, by listening to some of these overtures. If, for instance, I could get to my school before the opening to Tannhäuser was finished then I had made good time on the motorway. Mind you, some people are less enthusiastic about his operas. One once said Lohengrin started at 7.00pm and you looked at your watch, three hours later – and it was only 7.30pm.