venice watercolour



Lets kick!


This was a while back when I trained at my first Tae Kwon Do club. The club was an old boxing gym that the instructor had taken over. He got some of the students to decorate,wire and repair the place a little. I was handed a paintbrush. I painted a sign and then I got this piece of hardboard in front of me, 4′ by 8′, and a brush and two pots of emulsion. This is a picture of the instructor doing a flying kick………..

I don’t know where this is now  I just found this photo of it but I quite like the dynamics. ( the photo is from an old slide so very slightly overexposed and a bit marked.)

Kitchen studio

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI set up the easel in the kitchen for an hour the other afternoon. Some fruit on the worktop and brushes balanced near the toaster I managed four very speedy sketches on small square canvases.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Some fruit of my labours

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo a fruitful hour was had (enough already !)

Afterwards it was just a matter of clearing up and getting rid of the smell of white spirit. I then cooked some minted lamb chops which changed the kitchen back to its usual purpose. Amazing what can be created in a small space one rainy afternoon…………

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Pablo Picasso

old stuff from the eighties

For ages I have had a box of slides of old work that I did after I left art college and it was work that I thought I could maybe be a bit more realistic and relevant with.  Recently I found a cheap machine that puts the slide images on to the computer. The slides were a bit dirty and dusty and the images a little jaded but it was fun to see the work and remind me of that time. I don’t think any of these works exist any more, maybe a couple do but there is a small story behind each one……



This was an old jeweler who worked at the back of a tiny shop in Gilmore Place. His son worked at the front of the shop and he let me take some pictures of his father when I asked if I could. He seemed to work in quite a dim and cluttered area but I was pleased with the image and I painted it oil on board and got it framed.This was mid 1980’s. I didn’t prime the board and the colours eventually went darker I remember….I think I was too shy to ever show them the painting so it stayed in my house stacked somewhere.



This was an actual commission I got to do a pastel portrait of someone’s five year old son, pastel on sugar paper I think. They seemed to be pleased with it but I should think this child is a grown up now…..



This is a piece I did still at college inspired by a trip to Venice. This was oil on canvas and I remember consciously using a more chunky style of brushwork.

So three very random pieces of work which all they have in common is a personal trip down memory lane……. 🙂

one shot two ways

As I walked past this house in Milan I could not help but wonder why someone had gone to so much trouble to paint the perfect shutters on the wall. I was quite intriqued.I was pacing along and couldn’t really stop long so took a full shot trying to get the whole scene in from across the road.


Then I took the second shot  which was to kind of reinforce the first shot and a zoom in on the neatly painted shutters. No works of art but presumably broke up what someone had thought was a bit of a boring wall.


All very clean and neat. A tromp l’oeil……

Tales of goths and poets; Julie and Julia

I returned home to Edinburgh and  went to rent a room in a flat belonging to a French lady and her two daughters.

Francoise worked and her two daughters went to school .

The girls were outgoing and slightly goth, only mildly so although at the time I thought they were more extreme. They spiked up their hair, wore DM’s and black eyeliner and torn jumpers and hung out with friends who were similar.

I did some paintings and drawings after they let me take some  photographs of them, the older girl dried and spiked up her hair and I did a couple of drawings I liked. The younger girl, Julie, sat for me and I did some small acrylic paintings that I found again recently although they look relatively tame.

Old work can make you cringe a little and be hyper critical but at the same time it is a record of that time and it brings back those specific days in your life.

I was free and had a whole life ahead of me that I did not know.


After a year and a half I moved away.

A few years later I met the younger sister on a bus again and  I had my first child in a sling in front of me. She had calmed down her image and her hair was longer. She cooed over the baby.

I think she must have whispered secret goth things into his ear. Little did I know then, that in his teenage years, this baby would do the whole eyeliner, roc boots,long black coats and chained trousers thing….

This flat that I had stayed in with Francoise was four floors up and was a two storey flat. The front room was a circular turret and it was in Leamington Terrace. The Scottish poet Norman MacCaig lived on the first floor. I passed his door a lot but I think I only ever saw him once .

I hadn’t quite got au fait with the Scottish poetry scene beyond Robert Burns and I am not that much more knowledgable now just more interested. Every now and then his name crops up and I wish I had known a little more. More recently I clicked on a book on Amazon and got a hefty volume of his poetry through the post. I am reading some and it is easy and gentle to read. I am trying to find the one we looked at when I was at school……. In the meantime here is a bit from one of his ….’ Aunt Julia’

......She was brown eggs, black skirts 
and a keeper of threepennybits 
in a teapot.

Aunt Julia spoke Gaelic 
very loud and very fast. 
By the time I had learned 
a little, she lay 
silenced in the absolute black 
of a sandy grave ......