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

Sunday, 20 December 2009


My final Toll Clock Centre trade stall of 2009, which was not particularly successful in terms of sales, took place on Thursday. Many people passed by, few stopped to look, and even fewer bought. My neighbouring stallholder, who was selling Shetland sheepskins (beautifully prepared) had a much more successful day.

The commissioned painting of the Buckie seine-netter "Chrysolyte" is finished, and will be the last artwork I complete in 2009. It marks the end of a fairly successful and very enjoyable year for me, and who knows where 2010 might take me? Somewhere pleasant, productive and profitable, I hope! May your year be equally so.


When I got back from my Monday trip to Whiteness, fairly late in the evening, I found, waiting on my doormat, amid the usual assortment of cards and catalogues, the letter with enclosures which I have been earnestly awaiting for the last two months. My compensation cheque from Parcelforce, for the non-delivery of the Provence package, had arrived at last. Mind you, they hadn't paid out on the £12 insurance - but, I think that this story is one that I'll leave now, with its happy ending unadulterated!


Shetland is blanketed in a thick covering of the cold white stuff today, and it all looks very beautiful. The Met Office is not predicting an early quick thaw, and a white Christmas is a distinct possibility. Children are out on the Knab with their sledges, and those grown-ups whose duties demand travel are struggling through the conditions as best they can.

One such group of dutiful strugglers is my mother's helpers, who brave whatever the elements throw at them to give her the necessary assistance in getting to bed at night and up again in the morning. I never lose an opportunity to praise them for what they do. Without them, my mother would be in permanent residential care, and I don't think she's ready for that yet - she's only 93, after all!

My mother lives in a beautiful location, at Whiteness, on the west side of the Shetland mainland, about eight miles from Lerwick. Her house sits among the remains of an old crofthouse, on the side of a green hill, with a commanding view over the head of Stromness Voe and the Loch of Strom. Between the two bodies of water, the main road crosses a bridge, as it threads its way westwards through the hills and voeheads which form the more distant elements of the panoramic vista which can be seen from the house.

One snag about it is the non-classified "home-made" access road which connects the house to the main highway. It is precipitously steep in its middle section, and this presents problems in snowy or icy conditions. I paid my usual visit on Friday (my mother returned from her fortnight's respite "holiday" on Monday, when I was also there) and, in addition to my usual Whiteness "routine", I put a generous quantity of salt on the road, in anticipation of the wintry weather forecast for the weekend. I believe that this remained effective until the dry drifting snow set in late yesterday morning. Now anyone who has to pay a call there just has to leave their vehicle at the foot of the hill and walk up through the snowdrifts - and this is what the helpers are doing night and morning. I raise my glass to them - or I would, if I had one handy. I think the last time I had a glass in front of me was a week past Tuesday!

Sunday, 13 December 2009


I am a self-employed artist, and, for more than a quarter of a century, I have been single. This means that I am self-contained, self-obsessed and self-catering. This also means that I am a painter, accountant, filing clerk, computer operator, receptionist, despatch room clerk, cook, kitchen porter, chamberpot (or should that be chambermaid?), cleaner and general fac totum. I sack myself frequently from these posts, but I usually find that I have to be re-employed in the same positions later. You just can't get the staff these days.

There are certain things which I am obliged to delegate to more skilled individuals, however, and, on the afternoon of Wednesday 2nd December, I found myself having my locks trimmed by a hairdresser who was suffering from a dreadful dose of hiccups. "I've - eek - had them all day!", she confessed ruefully. I was glad she was using nothing more dangerous than a comb and scissors. Had she been operating a razor, the scene would have resembled a Sweeney Todd film set. The poor girl was probably sacrificing her digestive system in a futile and pointless attempt to reach a dress size zero. I suggested peppermint, but this probably came too perilously close to eating something for her liking.

That same afternoon, I posted the first batch of Christmas cards for this year. These were all going to destinations outside this country, and today I plan to get the task up to date with the ones for UK addresses. The Christmas spirit has yet to kick in for me, and I don't suppose it will in the same manner it used to in the days when I was a choir member. The weeks leading up to December 25th were marked by increasingly frequent practices of the music we were to perform on the day, and these are happy memories of unselfish times for me.

My greatest achievement of the last two weeks has undoubtedly been the successful creation of my first meat roll, to the recipe which my mother used to regularly present us with a really tasty and substantial meal. It required the use of a mincer and pudding steamer, both of which I had acquired over the past few weeks. However, I discovered that I didn't have a saucepan big enough to hold the steaming bowl, so I had to scrounge one off my kindly neighbours downstairs! For a first attempt, the result was truly a masterpiece! My next acquisition will have to be a 26cm saucepan, as I can't always rely in the charity of others - I wonder where I'm going to find space to store it!

My mother comes back from her occasional fortnight's respite care at the Wastview Centre tomorrow, and I intend to be at her home in Whiteness, to see that the place is warm and to greet her on her arrival, as I usually do. My present main worry is the long-range weather forecast, which is predicting cold weather and wintry showers for next week. I must be in a minority of people (as always) who desperately do not want a white Christmas, as this would inevitably mean transport problems for the carers on whom my mother relies for her continued wellbeing. I'm afraid that Bing Crosby's dream is a nightmare for me!

I hope all your dreams are sweet ones this week!


I sent the package, containing my French-resident client's painting, again on Monday 30th November. For you few patient, long-suffering followers of this journal, this is the one that was originally posted on 28th September, had its adhesive address envelope torn off somewhere in France, and was eventually returned to me on 24th October. Fearing the consequences of the threatened postal disputes in France, as well as the UK strikes, and, after consultation with my customer, I held back from attempting another delivery until the coast seemed clear to do so ("Fair stood the wind for France" comes to mind!). (Let's face it, the postal services are bad enough when they aren't on strike - MEEEOW!).

So, great was my delight when when I received a phone call, on Monday, from my satisfied customer in Provence, who was "enthused" (his words) by the painting. I am less than enthused, however, by the response, or lack of it, from Parcelforce, to my claim for compensation for non-delivery on the first attempt. So far, they have not even acknowledged receipt of my fax. I wonder how they respond to letters from lawyers!

A message from a second, and equally satisfied, client came by email from my "patroness" in Surrey, who is pleased with the painting I sent her as an emergency replacement for a flood-damaged work from another gallery (see last Sunday's post). Good! I love hearing from happy people.

I have held stalls at the Toll Clock Centre these last two Thursdays. These have been long, cold, dreary days (from 10am to 8.30pm), which have yielded some success in terms of sales of my giclee prints, and therefore must be recorded as successes. Here I must express my grateful thanks to my sisters Thelma and Mary. The first-named brought me a welcome cup of coffee in the late morning, and "relieved" me for a few minutes, so that I could make a pit-stop. Mary brought me a much-needed fish supper at tea-time, and helped out with sales and transport in the evening. My last stall of 2009 takes place next Thursday, by which time the Christmas shoppers will have a sense of urgency about them (I hope!). I devised a new system of transport for my goods, involving bags and cases with handles (rather than cardboard boxes) for ease of carriage. I also put price labels on all the individual prints, rather than relying on signs for this. Next week, I plan to take my Vistaprint lawn sign with me, to stick on the wall behind me. This will give a better indication of what is on display. Many people, walking past quickly, mistake my paintings for photographs, one of the pitfalls of being a photorealistic painter, I guess!

Another complaint, with regard to my content, is that I don't have paintings of Unst, Whalsay, Burra, Muckle Roe, or Brae on display. This, along with Christmas cards, is an omission I intend to remedy for next year - I can see a lot of landscape works being done in 2010.

Regarding actual "easel-work", I have almost finished my Buckie fishing-boat commission, but have abandoned all hope of finishing my tall ship "stock" paintings before Christmas.

Sunday, 6 December 2009


While people have been suffering heartache and material loss as a result of the recent rainstorms in many parts of Britain, the bad weather drove an unexpected piece of business my way. A gallery, in one of the locations so affected, had some artworks damaged, and one of these paintings had been previously chosen, by a lady in Surrey, as an anniversary present for her husband. On being informed of the catastrophe, she went Googling for a replacement, and I was the lucky painter who secured the commission. My gratitude for this windfall (or should that be rainfall?) artwork sale, is only tempered by my empathic feelings for the suppliers of original choice. I hope they were well insured.

It's an ill wind that blows nobody good - so goes the cliched proverb. While flood victims are phoning insurance companies, plumbers, joiners, plasterers and other skilled artisans, occasionally we artists get emergency call-outs too!