You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Hurrah for the direct labour force of Shetland Islands Council! The joiners arrived first, and, in a short space of time, repaired my leaky bathroom window. One of them left this verse:-

The joiners were very late
So they upset Mr Tait
Let's hope they find the right solution
Before he starts a revolution!

The plumber arrived just as I was penning this rhyme of gratitude to the housing department of the council:

Let joy and thanks be unconfined!
You have restored my peace of mind.
My bathroom window's watertight
And everything is now all right.
Well, everything except the plumbing,
But Hark! I hear the plumber coming!
Thanks are due to Mr Hughson
For making good this restitution
And thank him also for his ode -
I'll keep it next to my commode
To remind me of his labour
Given without fear or favour.
I'm grateful for the sweat and strain
To make my bathroom dry again.
I wish you all good health and cheer
A happy Christmas and New Year.

And I'm happy to report that my taps and outlet pipes are all working beautifully again. Let's hear it for the direct labour force of Shetland Islands Council!

Sunday, 21 December 2008


This week, I completed two paintings which are shown above. One was a commission, which I spent most of yesterday evening wrapping, ready for placing into the hands of Royal Mail first thing tomorrow, for onward shipment, by special delivery, to the Western Isles. My wrapping consists of copious quantities of bubble wrap and polystyrene sheeting, which protects the work from the roughest handling in transit. Thanks are due to Lloyds TSB, who supplied me with the bubble wrap, which I had spotted on their premises earlier in the week! It had arrived there around some kind of unit, which workmen were installing at the time I was there. I had promised to deliver the painting by Christmas, and I've made it - just.

The other painting is of the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland's cargo vessel "St. Rognvald", built in 1955, in heavy seas on her route between Aberdeen and the Northern Isles. This will be offered for sale at my exhibition, at Shetland Museum, which starts on St. Valentine's Day next year. Both these works are also on my website, of course.

I have continued work on the other paintings, at least one of which should be finished in time to illustrate my next post. My nephew Kenneth helped me to saw up hardboard (a task which is much easier accomplished by two people) on Monday, and, with one of the cut pieces, I started the "St. Sunniva" (II) commission, mentioned in last week's post.

Several people have called to buy prints during the week, including a couple who visited me yesterday and reported large crowds at the Toll Clock Centre, where I had been displaying my work on the previous two Saturdays. Perhaps I should have been there too, but each day I spend there is a day lost to working on my other artwork projects and, as I've stated elsewhere, I've paid my outstanding bills now, which was the main object of the exercise in the first place. Also, I'm running low on stock of some my prints now! I'll have to replenish them in the new year. Perhaps I'll have my own line in Christmas cards for next year - this is one of the many projects I have under consideration for 2009.

I hope you have a happy and peaceful Christmas.


On what has been a blustery week here in Shetland, I managed to complete all the tasks I'd set myself at the start of it, including the completed artwork, which I will describe under another heading. As the gales blew, and the rain fell horizontally, I banked money, paid my bills and got all my Christmas cards posted in time to beat the Royal Mail's deadline. I attended my physiotherapy appointment on Thursday, and promised faithfully to do my back exercises, a discipline which has sadly lapsed over the last two busy weeks. I had a few pints of lager on Tuesday and Wednesday, whch is really hitting the town for me nowadays!

I visited my mother at Whiteness on Friday, and found her as well as can be expected, given her lack of mobility. I plan to go out there to spend most of Christmas Eve and Day with her, and render what help I can with the preparations for our usual family feast. No doubt many of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren will join us for what, I hope, will be the usual merry occasion.


Desperation to get my bathroom watertight and fully functional again drives me to publish the following ditty, penned by my own fair hand.


It is the season to be jolly
With lots of mistletoe and holly,
But I am in a state of gloom
Because of things in my bathroom.
My window leaks in lots of water
In a way it never ought'er.
When I have my pony and trap
The water rains into my lap.
As one who rarely ever complains
About the taps and, yes, the drains,
Which aren't really draining right,
And when I turn the tap off tight
It turns itself back on again.
It really is an awful pain.
A strange sense of impending doom
Steals on me in the smallest room.
I wonder what next will befall
When I must answer nature's call.
I need a joiner and a plumber
Preferably before next summer.
Repairman, please give me a reason
To have a joyous festive season!

In anticipation of a result from this piece of delightful doggerel, I have been cleaning my bathroom, living room and kitchen, which are now so dazzlingly bright, I am wearing shades as I write this.

Sunday, 14 December 2008


Once again, I have no new paintings to illustrate my post. My work progress on the five paintings I have under construction has continued, and I made good headway on the Harris commission, which I had promised by Christmas, to the necessary neglect of the others.

I received another commission yesterday, and stressed to the man who placed it that it wouldn't be ready in a hurry. I'm looking forward to this one, of the second vessel in the "North Boats" fleet to bear the name "St. Sunniva". She was a steamship, built around 1930, single funnelled and painted white, had a clipper bow, and was well admired by the seafaring cogniscenti of the day. She met her end during World War II, while on admiralty service off the east coast of Canada, and was lost with all hands. I hope I do her justice.


I have never been able to work satisfactorily on an easel. I found it far too yielding as I pressed my attentions onto it. My skies and seas are done with fairly violent brushstrokes, which made the thing retreat before me. To prevent this, I used to jam one of my legs behind it, which just made it bend over under the weight of my brush hand, so I put my other arm behind it to counteract this. My easel and I became engaged in a rather grotesque foxtrot around the room, until we found ourselves wedged in a corner, normally next to the door, where I belaboured my canvas until someone entered the room and knocked both of us over.

I finally gave away my easel to someone who could treat it better, and, since this unsatisfactory relationship, I have always worked flat on a table. This can affect the vertical dimensions of my artwork, so I have to watch out for this.


One of the nastier Shetland gales blew up on Friday, and continued to blow for most of Saturday, driving a large number of fishing vessels into Lerwick for shelter. The storm was accompanied by heavy rain, and I had serious doubts about the wisdom of carting my artwork down to my stall at the Toll Clock Centre. With the help of my sister Mary and her trusty Volvo, however, I did, and very glad I was that I had done so. A regular stream of customers, no doubt grateful to be out of the weather, visited my stall to buy prints, many of them taking their purchases to the nearby Camera Centre to be framed. My neighbouring stallholders also reported brisk business, and it was with a sense of satisfaction, as well as relief, that we packed up our remaining goods in the late afternoon to head homeward through the tempest. That will DEFINITELY be my last stall of 2008. Mind you, I said that last week.....

Now, on Sunday morning, I'm watching, through my window, the fishing fleet heading out again, battling through the still-heavy sea to get probably their last catch of the year. The sight of these boats plunging and risng through the swell is what first inspired me to put brush to canvas, and has continued to do so through the ensuing years.

Sunday, 7 December 2008


Progress continues to be slow on all my painting projects. I mentioned the seasonal light, or lack of it, in previous posts, and the situation will not begin to improve until the end of January. The world-famous Shetland Up-Helly-A' festival usually marks the first noticeable lengthening of the day, and I look forward to it eagerly.

I have no new commissions this week, and I'm having enough difficulty fulfilling the ones I've got. I completely obliterated the work I'd done last week on the Isle of Harris painting, and I've started it again afresh, this time making the background land features smaller, and the shoreline higher up the picture. I did a little more on the other four works, and I like the way the "Utopia" work is progressing. I think this will be a very nice seascape someday, possibly by the end of this incoming week - who knows?


A fortnight ago, after I'd spent a day, in sub-zero temperatures, trying to sell my prints and postcards to a non-existent clientele at the Toll Clock Shopping Centre, I swore I would never darken the door of that place again. Which is why I set off there again yesterday to have another attempt. This time it was different though. There was no snow, the roads were clear, and a goodly number of eager shoppers were thronging the centre. I sold lots of prints and postcards, making the effort of getting my stuff there and setting the stall up well worthwhile. I met many old friends, including my neighbouring stallholder, jeweller Sue Hudson, and made many new ones. Perhaps the highlight of the day was selling a print to our MSP Tavish Scott - I'm very pleased about that! And now I'm thinking about next Saturday - should I?.......


My mother was due home from her fortnight's respite care on Monday, so I took a break from the tedious business of artwork creation, and went out to Whiteness to see that everything was ready for her arrival. The weather was fair, if a little chilly, and all seemed well at the house. A warning had gone out previously about an interruption to the water supply that day, but, if it happened, I wasn't aware of it. I advanced the central heating, saw that she had a supply of essential food and drink, and busied myself with a few small jobs around the place. She arrived in the afternoon and my sister Mary arrived soon afterwards. I made us a meal, and, while I washed up afterwards, Mary filled the back of the car with rubbish which had been left in the garage from prior home improvement projects. In the evening, we left our mother well settled in to home life again, and called along the Rova Head dump, to dispose of the contents of the back of the car, on the way back to my flat. I just hope and pray that my mother manages OK at home, with no mishaps.


Now this is embarrassing, and I feel such a fool. I think I've discovered the reason for my discomfort round my midriff and the base of my spine - my trouser-belt is too tight. Oh, the shame of it! All I've got to do is slacken off my belt, and the pain decreases. Never mind if my strides fall down, my agony has abated. I have ordered two sets of braces from a reputable company, and I look forward to an unconstricted future in which joy is unconfined.

As a consequence of this revelation, and a foul temper on Thursday morning, I cancelled my physiotherapy appointment that day, feigning sickness.