Friday, 26 September 2008

Still Rumaging

It's like when you go up into your granny's loft and find all sorts of rubbish (which you see as delights) and think "This is amazing - I could do something wonderful with this!" and then you get it home and sure's rubbish! Well here is the latest 'delight' for your delectation:

Neocolour II on paper 29x19cm: "The Claw"; Struggling to give it a title so just plumped for 'The Claw' because my imaginative way with words has just deserted me. Not enough wine, that's the problem! Excuse me while I get a amongst yourselves.....Right I'm back. So what do I say of this? Actually I think it's one of the best so far (but don't dismay - there is better to come, I promise). Or is that my other delusional self talking? The truth is I'm a bit freaked out at the moment. Not just because my better half is due back from vacation tomorrow and I've still got a mountainous amount of housework to get stuck into (more later) but I see I have now got TWO followers to this blog and I'm panicking! "Help Ma Boab" as Oor Wullie used to say [ Oor Wullie is a fictional Scottish boy whom I grew up with, and was always getting up to high-jinx, but still consider my ultimate hero (not withstanding Homer Simpson, Pinocchio, and Plug {see previous posting:...}) (Note to self: must get a keyboard with more styles of parenthesis). Back to panic: Now that I know people are not only reading this rubbish but actually looking out for it gives me the heebie-jeebies. What if I let them down? What if they eventually see through it and think I'm a tit? What if I get another glass of wine and don't give a damn? What if I get back to the plot?
The plot: These attempts at abstract art seem to me to be pretty poor when I see what my other abstractionist heroes (previously mentioned) get up to. Theirs' (I was reading a book about puctuation the other day and I hope I understood enough to get the apostrophe in the right place there) (I love parenthesis because I can wander off and have a discussion with myself while you lot wonder what's going on!) where was I?... ah yes: theirs' is a much free'r expression which one day I hope to emulate. These images that I am presently coming up with are, I hope, simply the precursers of better things to come.
Housework: (Told you I'd get back to it!) Since 'She Who Will Be Obeyed" returns tomorrow I've got to make sure everything is ship-shape and Bristol fashion. I've done two washings so far, hung them out, and taken them in. Done a big ironing, and now I'm about to clear all the bottles and cans lined up along the mantlepiece after a whole week of partying (those of you who didn't manage have only got yourselves to blame - you were invited), wash every plate and pan in the house that seems to have found it's way into my sink (pretty sure the next-door neighbours dishes are in there too!) and clear all the paintings that I've got lined up on the living-room floor in preparation for the big submission (which is still a secret and don't say a word because I haven't told you about it yet). The one thing I absolutely will not do is... the hoovering. Why? Because she will only do it again anyway! Keeps her happy.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

More Musings

Working up a storm here with more musings from the inner recesses of my mind:

Neocolour II on paper, 29x19cm: "Blue Ridge"; It didn't start with mountainous thoughts just a quiet meditation on how the pastel moved in my hand uninhibited.

Still on a craggy theme out came this crack in the space/time continuum:

Neocolour II on paper, 29x19cm: "Fissure"; Only joking - it's got nothing to do with the 'space/time thingy..' just me dreaming and having a lark at my own expense :o)

Putting these images down onto paper gives me a real up-lift as though I have found a voice which is just my own. Life couldn't get any better. And on top of that, after all those years in complete ignorance, I have just recently found "The Simpsons" and laugh out loud at it's truth and idiocy. Not only do I find I have a real affinity with Homer but also a great affection for Marge, whom I quote here: "Most women will tell you that you're a fool to think you can change a man. But those women are quitters!"

Talking of which - you'll be glad to know it's only two days till my darling wife returns from vacation and she'll sort me out again!

More musings tomorrow,


Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Subconscious Musing #7

Still musing on what goes on between my ears!
Musings #2 to #6 scared me a bit and therefore not willing to impose these images on an unsuspecting public. So I jump forward, and backwards at the same time. What fun - it's like a game of hopscotch or an episode from Dr Who. This image came out of my subconscious a few full moons ago but kicked about in an unfinished state until today (what do you mean "still looks unfinished to me!") I'll have you know that this took many hours contemplation, some green for the iris, and a bit of red for the eyeball to say "IT IS FINISHED!":

Acrylics on primed cardboard, 40x50cm: "Icon"; Don't shoot the messenger. I only report what is revealed!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Abstract Notions

Every so often I go looking for something else. Sometimes when I'm posting stuff on Flikr I come across either new artists or old contacts/friends who have highly a developed sense of the abstract, for example: maryannwakeley (who has also just started a new blog which you can find here:; annabarne ; hiroshimatsumoto ; and leekaloidis . The problem is, however, that these artists appear to paint from somewhere deep down, somewhere that I seem to be unable to find. And it drives me nuts. (well a bit more than usual!). But it doesn't stop me trying. Here is one such attempt:

Acrylics on hardboard, 61x39cm: "Subconscious Musings #1"; Well the image has to come from somewhere so why not my subconscious. There's all sorts of things going on in there it's just a matter of digging them out! One of my favourite films is "Pollock" with Ed Harris playing the nutcase... sorry, the great man himself and the best scene of all was when JP was in his bare barn studio with a length of canvas rolled out on the floor and a can of household paint poised over it waiting for inspiration...waiting...waiting (wait for it....) and it comes (phew!) in the form of a drip from the can - splorp...splorrrp...dribble, dribbbble, wheeeeeech.......and the rest, as they say, is history! His history, not mine. The best I can do at this moment in time is to guddle around my own subconscious and (apart from the broken bottles and wee motors a' crashing [as my mother used to say]) and try to make something of what I find.

Don't try to analyse it. There is no rational. All is chaos!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

The Firth of Clyde

My wife and her sister, Anne, have taken the ferry over to Arran for a whole week on holiday and I am on my lonesome! Apart from having an empty for the week I am able to do just as I like without reference to anyone else, except the cat! So mine's is an empty for the week and you are all welcome to crash out and party with me. The only proviso I got when Jacqui left was to not bring any more cats into the house! But do I ever listen? NO!!! The party starts tonight, so get yersel's up here and don't hold back.

Meanwhile, for my first day of "freedom", I took myself along the coast to Portencross, near West Kilbride, and went wandering along the beach. And here's what I found:

Pastels on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Sailing on the Firth"; The sea was alive with small boats dotting here and there, some with their spinnackers out like galleons in full flow, and others with them folded but still skiting along at a rate of knots!
Then, after a long wearisom treck along the sands, watching the black-headed gulls and the oystercatchers, and the gannets diving into the sea in search of mackerel, I sit myself down on a sandbank and watch the tide surreptitiously creep in, each wavelet seeping forward, covering the sand, and let the afternoon wash over me:

Pastels on Ingres paper, 22x15cm: "Across the Firth"; The colours are there if you have eyes to see. I am drunk with the brilliance. I never want to leave!

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Food is always a subject close to my heart and on today's menu is Fish Pie. Well not the pie itself because that would be gross, and in any case long gone tho' not forgotten, but the fork-I-ate-the-pie-with. That's the same Fish Pie, by the way, I ate with such satisfaction at the weekend when we stayed late on Rothesay for dinner.
Imagine the scene: we've placed our order from the Specials board and eagerly await it's arrival. The sun is dropping down below the distant hills and the warmth of a fruity Shiraz is warming my cockles. And there it is right in front of me:

Acrylics on primed plywood, 45.5x30.5cm: "Fork"; It's strange, isn't it, that you can travel all over the place searching for subjects to paint and then there it is staring you right in the face! But then food and all that is related to it has a special, magical, meaning. It's like having fairies at the bottom of your garden only much more exciting! Salute alla forchetta!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Sailing Down The Clyde

Following my Grand Day Out I managed to have a couple of Grand Days In! The results of which are these two yachting images (among other stuff):

Acrylics on primed hardboard, 42.5x61cm: "Spinnacker 1"; During our ferry crossing from Wemyss Bay over to Rothesay on Saturday we passed this lone sailor far out in the Firth scudding along to a merry hornpipe. How much I wished I was him with the wind in my sails and only dolphins for company...or so I would have it but then along comes another one chasing my rudder and trying to beat me into port. The race is on:

Acrylics on primed hardboard, 61x41cm: "Spinnacker 2"; This yacht has bright bands of colour on his spinnacker sail and a mean look as though nothing will get in his way and he intends to win this race come hell or high water!

Painted over two days both of these images were developed from distant photographic views, the smell of salt water in my nostrils, and the wind blowing through my ears because it can't blow through my hair any more as I don't have any!

You know it's funny, when I write the word 'yacht' it still takes me right back to my primary school days when I was learning to spell. We had just spelled this word pronounced as 'yawt' and were asked for any other boats or ships. I had my hand up in a flash offering another sailing vessel called a 'yach-t'! Ho ho ho what a tit! I've never changed. Still hopless at spelling. Thank goodness to Google. Where would I be without it!

Saturday, 13 September 2008

A Grand Day Out

There are some compensations to turning 60 - it's not all greying hair and teeth falling out, failing eyesight and getting measured for a zimmer frame (don't be cheeky - in my case it's only the grey hair!) here in Scotland we "Senoir Citizens" also get free bus travel and cheap-rate rail fares. With that in mind we were up with the larks yesterday and setting off for a trip "Doon The Watter", which is a term we use in Glasgow for going on a ferry trip across the Firth of Clyde to either Dunoon or Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. These two destinations were extremely popular around the turn of the 20th century up until about the 1960's when the advent of cheap air travel to Spain and the Balearic Islands turned these resorts into sad decline. Rothesay is, however, still a favourite place for us to visit. We went there on our honeymoon in 1971, and have been going back every year since. This is a view from the ferry top deck overlooking the tiny marina towards the town frontage:

After walking around the town to re-aquaint ourselves with our favourite haunts we headed out along the shore towards Bogany Point at the entrance to Rothesay Bay. It was out there that I came across this small boathouse jutting out from a cleft in the rocks and surrounded by gorse bushes and trees:
Pencil in Moleskine sketchbook, 19x14cm: Starting with some tentative marks testing my mood for drawing, I quickly realise I'm feeling bullish and get steamed in! Moleskines, however, have a life of their own - so here's my "Tip of the Day": Instead of just opening the sketchbook and starting to draw it's a good idea first to wrap the the elasticated band around the end of the book or it will conjure an escape from your hands and concertina out till it lands at your feet! Right, that bad boy goes back in the bag and out comes a spiral-bound ingress sketchbook and my box of pastels. Time for colour:

Pastels on Ingres paper, 30x25cm: "Boathouse"; Apart from the eminently suitability of the subject for pastelling I was attracted by the colouring with it's slated grey tiled roof, those painted blue slatted gates, and the corner of a bright orange plastic upturned boat.

We continued on our walk over Canada Hill and back down into the town where we slaked our thirst with cold pints of beer and dinner in a small family-run restaurant which offered us an excellent fish pie made entirely from local catches. Then it was back on the last ferry and heading home tired but happy. This shot was taken as we gently sailed back across the Firth with the sun going down over Toward Point and the hills of Bute Island:

It was unusual for the water to be as calm as this and the scene reminded me of a song my father used to sing by Robert Wilson, which goes like this:

"At hush of eventide/ O'er the hills beyond the Clyde/ I go roaming to my haven/ Down in the glen".

The words and music were by Harry Gordon & Tommy Connor, and was typical tartan Scottish pap, but I loved it. Still do. You should hear me sing it after a few - I can bring the house down. Literally!

Then it was onto the train and heading back to Glasgow as darkness deepened. This lady with extraordinary straight white hair sat in the seat in front and to the right of me occassionally turning to speak to her companion, so this sketch was made over about a half-hour period from momentary glimpses as she turned to her left to speak:

With her severely cut bob haircut and dark set eyes she looked striking but a bit fearsome too!

Monday, 8 September 2008


This blog's in severe danger of becoming a weather report! Yet another dreich day in the West of Scotland with heavy downpours all afternoon. The rain batters off the flat roof of my studio so hard and loud you'd think it was going to come right in and wash everything out into the street and down the nearest stank! (Scots for rainwater sewer). So I think I'll use watercolours to stay with the day's wet and watery theme.

The other week when my double-glazing fitters arrived I chopped down some gladioli which were planted right under the front window before they were trampled into the ground as I knew they would be. I kept them in a vase for over a week and each time I looked at them said: "I really must draw/paint these before they fade". But never quite got to them. My wife was asking me for days if she could throw them out yet since they were totally wilted and sad. I gave in at the weekend recognising the opportunity was gone. However, the idea was firmly planted in my head and yesterday when I was up at the supermarket I picked up these two bunches reduced in price to £1.50 ($3) each. It was only when I got home that I saw from the recipt that the checkout boy had only charged me for one bunch. I thought he looked a bit dozy that morning!

Watercolour on paper, 56x76cm: "Red Gladioli"; Started with watersoluable colour pencils on a full imperial sheet of not paper. This is the first time I have painted in this way on a full-sized sheet feeling that I needed a bit of elbow movement to capture these long spikes.

Watercolour on paper, 56x76cm: "Yellow Gladioli"; Same process as the last since I felt in the mood!

Right now I'm off to Flickr to post these as "Gladioli for Dame Edna"!