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, 29 September 2009


In what was an unplanned closing ceremony for a beautiful summer, the last two cruise ships of the 2009 season arrived almost together off the Bressay Lighthouse at 7 o'clock on the morning of the 24th September. The ships were the lovely "Marco Polo", Clyde-built in the late 1960s as the "Alexander Pushkin" for Russian owners, and the more modern and much less aesthetically pleasing "Silver Cloud". The "Marco Polo" was making possibly her last visit to Lerwick, as she is soon to head for the breakers' yard. I'm having difficulty dealing with the thought of anything so lovely being destroyed.

Also on the 24th, I completed another artwork, my first finished painting for some time, due to the colossal amount of detail I included in the scene. I wrapped and posted it to my client in Provence yesterday. Meanwhile, I've started work on a new picture of Boyndie Bay (next to Banff), hoping that I can reconstruct an evening in late June, and going against all my principles of not trying to recreate moments in time in the process. I've also been continuing work on the Fordyce village landscape and the commissioned work of the Whalsay seine-netter "Orion" in Lerwick harbour. I should have the last-named finished over the next week or so.

The end of September means that my web-hosting bill for the year falls due for payment, so I duly stumped up yesterday, leaving it till the eleventh hour as usual. My web designer is promising me a major e-commerce update to the site, which is going to greatly enhance its selling capabilities. Anything which improves my chances of selling artwork is much to be welcomed, as my prints haven't exactly been flying off the shelves these last few years. I'll believe it when I see it! Please feel free to visit the website Your comments would be most welcome at Have a nice week!

Sunday, 20 September 2009


There have been odd goings-on in Lerwick this week - more than usual, I mean. These involved a Norwegian film unit, whose activities have been made even stranger by the cloak of secrecy which has surrounded their enterprise in my town. From little snippets of information I have gleaned from some of my spies, it appears that the project is connected with a television programme whose target audience is mainly young Norwegians. Could it be a Scandinavian version of Hollyoaks?

Whatever the nature of their onscreen output, they caused the main shopping thoroughfare of Lerwick to be closed off for a while on Wednesday (as if the long-suffering pedestrians and motorists needed any more street closures - the town is practically paralysed with roadworks at the moment!). The sign of the iconic Lounge Bar was obliterated with another on which the enigmatic caption "Kim's Bar" was displayed. Who's Kim when she's at home - or more appropriately, abroad?

All appeared to be going swimmingly for this intrepid production team, until the Norwegian sail-training barque "Statsraad Lehmkuhl", carrying about 200 schoolchildren, hove into view and duly tied up at Victoria Pier, a few yards from the film crew's sphere of operations, and spewed her youthful payload into the middle of whatever scene was being filmed. If I know teenagers at all, it wouldn't take them long to fathom out what was going on, thus completely scuppering the best-laid plans of this illustrious OB undertaking.

By the time I arrived, around tea-time, at what I was surprised to observe was Kim's Bar, for my weekly quota of amber nectar, there was no longer any evidence of anything out of the ordinary having taken place, other than the sign itself (which the barman told me he hadn't yet been bothered to take down!). The street had long since been re-opened, and the film crew had, as far as I could gather, left the islands by plane. The "Statsraad Lehmkuhl" sailed in the evening, not to return again until next summer, and this latter-day Viking invasion was at an end. I wonder when the programme goes out - can I get Norwegian TV on my computer?

Sunday, 13 September 2009


A steady stream of ships has been passing by this morning, providing maritime enthusiasts like me with some eye candy, as these vessels made their way towards Lerwick harbour. They included the cruise ship "Tahitian Princess", making the second of her two scheduled calls this season. At least the weather is dry and quiet for her passengers, mostly Americans of advancing years, although, this being the Sabbath, there will be few shops open for them to browse through. I expect that none of them will make it up to the Tait Gallery, as few visitors ever do. I have considered renting a small shop on one of the main thoroughfares of Lerwick, but rates are far too prohibitive.

The first big gale of the autumn arrived on Tuesday afternoon, a full fortnight earlier than normal, and finally blew itself out in the early hours of Wednesday morning, although the wind remained at near gale force for most of the day. I heard no reports of any serious damage, either at sea or on land, although the roads around town were liberally strewn with small branches and twigs from bushes and such stunted trees as can find a foothold here. The saying goes, as regards climatological conditions in Shetland, that it consists of nine months of winter and three of bad weather. It's going to be a long hard one, as the thingummy said to the whatsisname!

I've made the usual slow and steady progress on my three current art projects - the two commissions, which I hope to have finished by the beginning of next month, and the one, done with nobody in particular in mind, of Fordyce village, on which any headway at all is proving difficult to achieve. I sent off to Jackson's Art supplies for more canvases and daler boards - I think these arrived yesterday when I was out, as the postman left notification that a large package had been taken back to the depot for collection by me there. I phoned them, apologised for my earlier lack of presence, and asked them to deliver it again on Monday. I am grateful for their acquiescence to my request. I also received a new (to me!) and cheap kind of art carrier, of A1 size, from another supplier, which disappointed me. It had no expanding gusset, as I had been expecting, so it will only accommodate two standard-sized paintings. As a result it will be of limited use when transporting artworks to and from exhibitions. Fresh supplies of paint and brushes also arrived, along with my new suit (which will rarely ever be on my back, but I couldn't resist the bargain!), which means that a conspicuous dent has appeared in my bank balance this week. I'll never get rich at this game!

About a month ago, I enrolled in an evening class called "Build Your Own Website", which should have started next Tuesday evening (this incoming week). I received notification this past week that the class has been postponed until the 27th October, "due to the illness of the tutor". I regard this particular tutor as a friend, and he has added his name to a growing list of people I know who are more or less seriously ill at the moment. I just hope they all make good recoveries. While I'm on the subject of education, my nephew Kenneth has been accepted for his degree course in accountancy at Robert Gordon's University in Aberdeen. Well done to the young man - I hope his studies go well for him.

My sister Mary and I took a run out to Walls, on the west side of the Shetland mainland, to visit our mother at the Wastview Care Centre, where she is enjoying two week's respite from the struggle to live at her home. Praise is due to the Islands Council for providing such wonderful places, although keeping them staffed is a constant concern. Mother was looking well, as she was again yesterday, when my oldest sister Thelma and I paid her another call. On the way there, we visited the family home at Whiteness, to water the greenhouse plants and see that the place was all right in mother's absence. I took some pink roses out to Wastview; I hoped, in so doing, to contribute a little to the ambience of the place, but I'll probably give them all hay fever and greenfly. On the way back to Lerwick, we called along the farmer's market at Tingwall Hall, where I bought some sausagemeat from the Scalloway Meat Company stall. I had it for tea last night, and it was, quite frankly, as bland and tasteless as the stuff from other suppliers at present. What happened to good spicy saucermeat, eh? Has it been another victim of galloping European over-regulation?

One of my favourite TV presenters is Jonathan Meades, and I was not disappointed in his programme on Aberdeen, which went out on BBC4 on Wednesday evening His quirky, erudite and knowledgeable presentation, on the architecture and layout of the Granite City, was both amusing and informative, and I enjoyed it very much. I look forward to more from him.

I had my weekly quota of three pints of lager on Thursday at tea-time. I consumed the first noggin at da Noost, which was very quiet, and the other two at the Lounge, which was much livelier. There I met a number of people whom I hadn't seen for some time. Old habits die hard - after my drinks I went straight to the Red Dragon takeaway, where I got my carry-out of roast duck Canton and egg fried rice - yum! My mouth is watering as I write this!

So that's been my past week in a nutshell - not a bad one, all things considered. Every day I made some progress on some project or other, some days on several. I have heard that the opening night of the Musa Art Cafe Coast exhibition was a very busy affair, but I have received no word of any artwork sales. Neither do I have any news to give you about any forthcoming exhibitions, but I hope this situation will change soon. Watch this space, and have a nice incoming week!

Monday, 7 September 2009


A beautiful Shetland summer seems only a distant memory, as the islands have been soaked regularly in conditions portentive of the approaching autumn. The first severe gale of the season is due to hit us tomorrow evening, so hatches will be battened down urgently during the day. One of the largest cruise ships to visit Lerwick, the "Crown Princess", is due to leave Bergen tomorrow, calling here, on her way to the Faroe Islands, on Wednesday. Personally, I think she'll stay put in Bergen.

Tonight is the opening of the Musa Art Cafe's Coast exhibition in Aberdeen. It takes place on the eve of the big oil expo which opens tomorrow in the city. I'm not holding my breath, but certainly the economic conditions seem right for such an event. Wish me luck and a few sales.

Another one of life's landmarks hove into view this week. I am now eligible for Shetland Charitable Trust's Christmas grant for pensioners and disabled people, and I received the application form on Friday. Casting foolish pride aside, I duly filled it in over the weekend, and delivered it, along with a couple of credit card payments (there's a connection there!), into the capable hands of Royal Mail this morning. I can't afford to turn down offers of money - there's a recession on.

I had a haircut on Tuesday afternoon. This is only an occasional experience for me, as I am equally happy tousled as tidy. I feel grateful for the fact that I've still got a generous quantity of "mooskit" locks which, strange as it may seem, are still substantially (and naturally!) the same colour they've always been. I only wish the rest of my body was as healthy as my hair, which is the object of envy on behalf of my peers, most of who are either as bald as neeps or whose follicles are producing only grey or white growth. So it was with a sense of deep thankfulness that I instructed Katrina Gifford to give me a serious trim.

When I emerged, duly shorn , from the hairdressers, I decided to celebrate my new-mown light-headedness by quaffing a couple of noggins of lager in the nearby Lounge. Unfortunately there were uncannily few customers at the bar - I've never seen the place so quiet. Perhaps the clientele were still recovering from the Blues festival which had taken place over the weekend just past. In a previous existence, I would have participated fully and enthusiastically in this event - now I can't be bothered. I'm becoming a recluse - I suppose it's better than a social pariah!

My family are well. My mother went off for her fortnight's "holiday" at Wastview Care Centre in Walls today. My oldest sister Thelma called on me this morning for elevenses and a natter. My middle sister Mary was a welcome visitor yesterday, bearing, as she was, a bag of potatoes from her garden at Strand. Yum! My youngest sister Angela has sent the first two email despatches of a new term, describing life as a teacher in the European compound at Al Khobar in Saudi Arabia. I gather the weather is pretty hot there just now, and she makes frequent use of the swimming pool. I'm looking forward to my Aberdeen-resident brother Peter Arthur paying us a visit next month. We're pretty close as a family, and enjoy sharing each others joys and sorrows.

I continue to make slow progress on my two Lerwick Harbour commissions and my "stock" painting of Fordyce village. Sometimes I wish I could paint faster, eschewing all my fussy detail in favour of large fields of colour, like many of the "modern" artists. But, I suppose, it just wouldn't be me. My previous attempts at styles such as surrealism have been greeted with howls of derision, as was an exhibition of flower and cat paintings I held in the Shetland Museum about fifteeen years ago. As I've stated in previous posts, it's tough being an artist!