Sunflower soldiers in the fields of France

impressionistic painting of sunflower in field detail of a paintingSunflower – what does that mean to you? Perhaps you enjoyed the Vincent film last year? You may travel to France for a holiday or to a second home passing the sunflower fields which nudge the roadside. For me it is visits to friends or to Le Mans or the Tour de France in July when the sunflower fields are coming in to bloom.

The tall sunflowers stand in rows like soldiers. Their lines slightly wonky as the tiller will have hit the odd stone or bump. Perhaps the driver got distracted by a crow or buzzard. The tall strong stems may have more than one flower head. Different colours sometimes creep in with an antique burnt umber mixing with the bright yellow.

detail of an scrylic impressionist painting of sunflower in a field with green trees and blue skyAt the top of the field are the farm buildings. A line of trees partially hiding the farmstead. A stunning bright cobalt blue cloudless sky which is seen so often in France during summer.  No sign of airplane trails or birds as all is hot and still.

Standing under the heads makes me feel like a flower fairy. The pom-pom style of some of the flowers like teddy bear heads. Watch the fields as you travel back and forth to notice the sunflower heads will have followed the sun during the day. Each one competing for the warmth and light to ripen the seeds that will go off for food production.

Hellanthus – the sunflower

This painting is Field of Sun  III as  I’ve painted these beautiful flowers several times. A watercolour resides on a wall in France. Another watercolour is in Essex given as a prize for a Crohn’s and Colitis UK regional raffle in 2012.

This acrylic painting is  strident. The colours are bright. There is an energy in the brush-stroked sky and the sunflower heads beam out. They are well named.

impressionist painting of a sunflower field in France

Field of Sun III £190
46 x 35 cm
Acrylic, brush application A2 (59.4 x 42 cm) acrylic paper

Parting the waves; French KOM storms it on Bastille Day

photo KOM spotted houseIt’s like a parting of the waves as the leading group pedals hard up the stage climbs. The fans have been up early to grab a spot. They have cycled or hiked to their place by the roadside . The circus has been through. The gendarmes try to hold the crowd back as the circus comes to town. The course car leads through the spare neutral bikes car.

The fans have re-grouped after the first posse of gendarme and press motorbike riders. Holding up their mobile phones, flags and posters, the fans ripple back. The riders, team cars and motorcycles go through.

Every once in a while a maverick will chase the riders up the climb. The more reckless (strangely often dressed in a mankini) will run in front of the motorbikes hoping to be caught on camera. There’s a lot of yellow caps for support of the maillot jeune. Here too there are also white caps with red dots for the King of the Mountain.

Parting the Waves.

The painting I have created for you is to celebrate Warren Barguil.  He became the first Frenchman to win a Tour de France stage on Bastille Day in twelve years. It was the shortest road stage with three climbs. It was lucky Stage 13 for the Team Sunweb rider as he held off Nairo Quintana, Alberto Contador and Mikel Landa in the final straight. The first stage win of his Tour career.

A case of earning your spots rather than your stripes, Barguil had been wearing the distinctive jersey, Maillot a Pois or King of Mountains, since he first claimed it on Stage 9 and held on to it. By the time he won Stage 18 his nearest KOM rival could not make up the points lead he had opened up. He was tenth in the overall GC classification. His tenacity and push saw him also hold the Combativity Award for 2017. Sadly he was dropped by Team Sunweb during the subsequent Vuelta over alleged differences on tactics.

acrylic painting of tour de france rider for sunweb Barguil KOM by kathryn sassall

Parting the Waves £790
80 x 60 x 2.5 cm
Acrylic on Canvas

The painting overlaps the edge by a couple of millimetres, and then the rest of the sides are painted in chalk-white paint.

The Great bears down on Bern; green jersey winner Tour de France 2016

Green jersey winner 2016 Peter Sagan takes his third stage win arriving at the home of the bear pit, Bern in Switzerland a whisker in front of Kristoff. Certainly, a tour year to remember for Peter Sagan, as after a third place on the first stage, and a win on the second stage he claimed the first yellow jersey of his career.

Confident and eloquent in his speech, maybe the Cantona of cycling? “If I lose yellow, I have green. If I lose the green jersey, I have the rainbow jersey.” Peater Sagan,  declared at a press conference during the 2016 Tour de France.

We are artists

After Stage 11 he’d pulled off another fantastic sprint to upset the then yellow jersey wearer Chris Froome’s plans. When asked why he said “We are artists”. So he seemed to deserve a painting to capture a moment in such a strong year and for his wonderful words.

Sagan is shown moving towards his 3rd stage victory in Tour de France 2016, on the 16th stage, finishing in Bern, Switzerland. He beat Norwegian Alexander Kristoff by a whisker. The photo finish camera seemed to be particularly busy during this Tour.

2016 – a very good year

The Slovakian, riding for Russian team Tinkoff, ended the tour with a second place stage win behind Greipel, which meant Sagan was the green jersey winner for 2016. On the 10th stage he had finished second, but it meant he also won the combative award for the efforts he had put in.  So for Sagan 2016 was a very good year.

Peter The Great Sagan painting by Kathryn Sassall

The Great Bear £790
60 x 60 x 2.5 cm
Acrylic on canvas

The painting overlaps the edge by a couple of millimetres, and then the rest of the sides are painted in chalk-white paint.

It’s all in the elbows

photo tour de france start limoges

Various parts of a cyclists body endure stress and tension throughout the several hours of a race including the elbow. The arms often spend their time locked with the elbow joint open. Ligaments stretched.

It’s a long old day ahead when you’ve got 221.5km to do and jut over 13 kilometres of that is pavé or cobbles plus a few category 4 and 3 climbs. However there is no room for the tentative here. It’s attack, attack, attack. Keeping yourself on the crown of the cobbles for one of the cleanest lines at the highest speed you can maintain. Using the hips to steer to keep the bike in flow as moving the front wheel into a dip or verge may just tip you off.

Riders will often use the big chain-ring to help with chain tension. Vincenzo Nibali dominated in 2014 knowing that by picking the line, and being ahead you maximise your chances of getting a clear ride. Nothing worse than having to pick your way around riders who’ve fallen.

It’s good to keep looking ahead at where you want to be. Trying to keep those who are challenging like Cavendish behind you there can be a bit of jostling. Made even more difficult in the heavy rain and winds which are also trying to move you off course.

Elbows may also come into play when a rider wants to make their presence felt. They can be used to widen the body by pushing the arm out so that another team’s rider must go wider.  Nibali is maintaining his position out front moving his right arm out to warn Cavendish that he knows he’s there. The painting is from Stage 4 of the Tour de France 2015 on the cobbles.


“Elbows’ was in exhibition at Greenstage Gallery during hArt 2016 with noise inspired works by Ed Ball.

Created on 50 x 100 cm primed canvas on stretchers with Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.

Teamwork tour de force

photo sprinters le dorât tour de france 2016

The Tour de France is a tour de force of teamwork.

From the start to the finish the riders are working for the benefit of their lead rider – the one who is most likely to get the yellow jersey.

The team is shaped around that leading individual. So if they have one pronounced talent the team will be built to support them in the weaker areas. For Team Sky in Chris Froome they have a strong all-rounder who has won all the jerseys.

Working together the team will shield him from cross-winds and other riders as required. They’ll support him to create the pace he requires even if it totally exhausts them.  Teamwork pulls the stage plan together for the best result for the pursuit of the yellow jersey.

It must be a moment of huge relief to be freewheeling downhill under control before those legs have to start powering again. Heads down, apart from one, just taking a sneaky peek.


“SkyFall’ was in exhibition at Greenstage Gallery  during hArt 2016 with noise inspired works by Ed Ball.

Created on 50 x 100 cm primed canvas on stretchers with Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.


Swish – Whistling in the wind cycling hard to the end

swish sagan wheel photo tour de france 2015

Whether you think of “swish” as agitation or you recognise it as that hissing whistling noise as something flies by then you’ve got the essence of this painting.

Towards the end of Stage 12 Tour de France 2015 the sprinters were hurtling towards the finish line. Cavendish, Greipel and Sagan slipstreaming each other with 300 metres to go.

As the Tour de France develops the riders get used to working with each other and against each other as required. The closer the finish line is we see more agitation as the effort is harder and the lead riders are now on their own pushing hard.

This stage was actually a stage that favoured the rouleurs. The 195 km from Lannemezon to Plateau de Beille suiting riders who turn a big gear for a long time on flat terrain.  Lots of whistling along as the wind catches the wheels.

The movement of the riders set off against the deep crowd. Fans wearing Tour de France jerseys, team caps and shirts enjoying the sun and the spectacle. A lovely blur of colour for the riders as they flash by. 


“Swish’ was in exhibition at Greenstage Gallery during hArt 2016 with works by Ed Ball.

Created on 80 x 60 cm primed canvas on stretchers with Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.


Bike history in the making

montage of oil paintings of tour de france and tour de yorkshire

From the moment they took to the time trial track in the Netherlands at Stage 1 the members of bike team MTN-Qhubeka started a new chapter in the history of the world’s biggest bike race. Merhawi Kudus (youngest tour rider in 2015) and Daniel Teklehaimanot became the first black Africans to compete as part of the first African team in the Tour.

Having created their own race in response to the Giro d’Italia, there is a bike racing pedigree of over seventy years in Eritrea. The area is high and therefore it encourages strength and endurance riders. Ideal for tackling mountains. From Eritrea, Daniel Teklehamanot became the first African rider to wear the King of the Mountains jersey on Stage 6 of the Tour de France 2015.

The stages are mixed and the King of the Mountain competitors often pace themselves to attack those moments rather than taking the stages pushing themselves up out of the saddle to keep the motion. Those moments of elation when they crest the hill. It’s been a battle for the team and it’s riders to get it’s place on the tour. The athletic prowess and professionalism of the riders will hopefully see them continue to win jerseys, points and stages. The team also gives back to the country of origin, through the Qhubeka foundation, a charity that helps provide Africans with bicycles.

This painting celebrates the success of the riders and the team. Showing the effort required to be at the front and having got over the hill.


“High Noon’ was in exhibition at Greenstage Gallery during hArt 2016 with the works of Ed Ball who also responds to noise.

Created on 80 x 60 cm primed canvas on stretchers with Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.


Sprinting speed and swinging fortunes

green jersey sprinting caravan car tour de france photographThis is the sprinters moment. The bikes are waggling wildy from side-to-side. The power in the sprinters legs pumping the pedals. The strong arms locking to keep their bodies low and aerodynamic. No more looking back. Sprinting flat out. It’s head down to get the bike to the line first. Sprinters doing what they do.

None of the lead-out men were in the last 300 metres. It was up to the fan’s favourites. No sign of the Shark of the Strait, Nibali defending his title, but André Greipel was looking for and found his opening to the left of the road. Swinging across the other riders shifting away from the other competitive sprinters. His upper body strength and his style of riding earning him the moniker “Gorilla of Rostock, he was sprinting powerfully to ensure he stayed in the green jersey.

Acknowledged by fellow riders as a gentleman rider, this does not mean he does not want to go all out to win. By using his powerful muscle and his head Greipel beat the green jersey expert, “the Hulk” Sagan, and the “Manx Missile”, Cavendish. This was the Gorilla’s second win of the 2015 Le Tour de France on stage 5.


“Gorilla Sprint’  was in exhibition at Greenstage Gallery during hArt 2016 with the work of Ed Ball which is also influenced by noise.

Created on a 80 x 60 cm primed canvas on stretchers using Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood.


Sprinters – blink and you’ll miss them

sprint board drumming by fans photo tour de franceIt was to be a difficult day where it was hard to organise a chase. The sprinters were keen to increase their points. The Flame Rouge left behind, they hurtle towards the line. The crowds are cheering. Boards on the roadside being drummed by the fans who’ve stood in the wind and rain for hours. Sprinters about to have their moment of glory.

Mark Cavendish, Peter Sagan and André Greipel all wanting to make the line first after 189.5 km of hard cycling from Arras Communaute Urbaine to Amiens Metropole. Others dropping out as they supported their GC riders and tried to avoid the many crashes that occurred along the way.

In the rough weather the fans stayed by the roadside and waited for their favourites. The rain fell hard. The winds blew. The sprinters grouped and re-grouped. And then they were there and in the blink of an eye – gone – as they flew on to the finish of Stage 5 of Le Tour de France 2015.


“Blink’ was in exhibition during hArt 2016 at Greenstage Gallery and SOLD at the Affordable Art Fair, Battersea in November 2016.  Created on 80 x 60 cm primed canvas on deep stretchers with professional Daler-Rowney acrylics.

Limited Edition Prints:

I’m sorry you missed the original. Professionally printed in two sizes to suit your wall space (or budget). Click the button below, thank you.



Gonna rain on your triumphant parade – Arc de Triomphe


It’s an iconic moment to see the teams finally on the Champs Elysee. The Arc de Triomphe in their sights. Riders are given a chance to mingle and chat before the final race and sprint of Le Tour. Breaking out the champagne en route, the Tour de France winners line up for photocalls as they ride to the last start. It’s all part of the last day. The final highs for the yellow jersey and  the sprinters after the three weeks of intense energy and focus.

Generally the prize-winning jerseys have been decided in earlier stages and the team prizes won. So it is either a glory run for home for the maillot jeune – yellow jersey – or a final push to gain the last sprint win and moment of visibility on TV and beyond.

This stage of the Tour de France is good for fans as the cyclists go around the same route several times. Prior to which, for the last two years, the women’s race has also taken place.w This has brought extra excitement and a few spills and thrills. It does like to rain on this parade! After the muscles are warmed-down, the injuries iced and the tales of Le Tour given over to the media corp it’s at last time to party.

This is the first in a number of works to capture those moments of camaraderie, emotion and the end of all that team work. Bobbing heads and teams in waves come along the tri-coleur festooned avenue. The Arc de Triomphe providing a unique turning point. In the distant background, through the arch of the Arc is La Defense, in all its shiny splendour.


Painting “Arc I’ SOLD £890 50 x 100 cm
Created with primed canvas on stretchers, Winsor & Newton water-soluble oils, thinner and linseed oil, framed in white-limed wood by Apple Store Gallery Framing, Hereford.

“Rain’ is a 59 x 59 cm acrylic painting on canvas in a white frame.A moment from the Tour de France 2013 Ready to hang.