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, 7 February 2010


On Tuesday morning, with a spring in my heart and a song in my step (or should that be the other way round?), I was descending the stairwell steps, when I went over on my ankle, and sat down rather precipitously on the stairs, realising that I had injured myself. I got up and carried on, rather gingerly, to the shops, as had been my original intention, but, by the time I got home again, it was clear that I was in for a painful few days. I surveyed the damage, which did not seem extensive, and carried on with the artwork I had planned for that day.

I now have two commissioned paintings on the "stocks", both with March deadlines, so I will have to work with a certain degree of urgency to get these finished on schedule. The most recent is a view of "da sooth end" of Lerwick, and it is to incorporate the "Lodberries" (stone buildings with their foundations in the sea!), the "Swan" at her old berth, and the replica Viking longship "Dim Riv" at her mooring. I had earlier applied the "stage 1" paint to the canvas, so I drew out the buildings, using my own "stock" photographs, and another printed from the Shetland Museum website, as guidance. This took most of the day, and I retired earlier than usual to bed that evening, in hopes that this might help my now painful and swollen ankle. It didn't really. I couldn't find a position which could ease the pain at first, although it began to subside in the "wee smaa ooers", and I think I actually slept for a couple of hours before morning.

On Wednesday, the pain was definitely easing. I made minor corrections to the drawing of "da sooth end" and began to apply the stage 2 paint to the work. Here I should explain that there are clearly defined stages to my paintings - procedures which I have come to adopt over the years. Stage 1 is simply the application of a rough layer of paint over the surface, which I effect by squeezing mixing white paint from the tube onto the board or canvas, and brushing it in roughly, with a little colour (blue-grey, for instance). In the case of hardboard, I whack it all over with a "fist" of cloth afterwards, to create a kind of texture, and leave the thing to dry for a few days. This is the most energetic stage of the process!

Stage 2 happens when I have drawn out the background to the work (all my drawing is freehand) in the case of a landscape, or a seascape with shore features behind it. I put in the cloud and light details in the sky, and do a base coat on the rest of the picture. At the end of stage 2, the sky should be, to all intents and purposes, finished, although I might go back later and alter bits I'm dissatisfied with.

Stage 3 is resolving details of land, buildings, trees etc. in the background, and beginning to suggest foreground details on top of this. Stage 4 sees the completion of the main features of the painting. The last two stages can involve a great deal of detail complexity, so they take a lot longer than the first two, but all are equally important to the final work.

On Wednesday afternoon, I attended a long-standing appointment at the Lerwick Doctor's practice, for the purpose of arranging NHS chiropody to the corn on my right little toe, which has proved bothersome over recent months. Treatment on the NHS has to be referred by a GP, and this was the purpose of my appointment. I mentioned my ankle, in the passing, to the doc, but it was getting less and less painful, so I decided it didn't merit an examination, although it was still a little stiff and swollen.

On Thursday a thaw set in , with rain during the morning, and the hills turned from their early pure white to the colour of juvenile seagull plumage by afternoon. I completed the stage 2 on the Lerwick "sooth end" painting, and attended to other pressing tasks. Late in the afternoon, I took a taxi down to Commercial Street (my ankle was continuing to improve) to collect a prescription, top up my mobile phone credit, buy some more corn cushions and, when all was obtained, have a couple of pints of lager at the Lounge, where I was served by the redoubtable and amiable Derek Hendry. On the way home, I called at the Happy Haddock chip-shop, where I bought a chicken supper for my tea - very nice it was too. I then carried on with the work on my new website Links page, which hopefully will be on view to surfers soon. When I had finished this, I washed my hair - I am very grateful for my mop of mousy locks. Most men of my age either have no hair at all, or have had it turn a different hue over the years.

Friday is always mother's day for me. I engaged the services of Ertie Burgess to take me out to Whiteness in his taxi, collecting fish and mother's pension and shopping on the way. At Brugarth, I attended to my usual tasks there - making lunch, tea and coffee, washing up, checking out the greenhouse and helping with any other little tasks that needed done. Mother goes in for her "official" respite care period at Wastview Centre on Monday. By the time she comes out again, it will be late February, and , hopefully, most of this particularly vile winter will be behind us then. Back home, I put my plan to make a meat roll for weekend meals into action. This took me about two hours (it would probably take a "proper" cook about half an hour!) and I hope the taste will justify my time and labour on it!

Yesterday dawned beautifully mild, dull and damp, and I turned my attention to the other commisioned painting, of the marine wildlife cruise boat "Dunter III" off the cliffs of Noss. I completed the stage 2 work, firming up the sky, drawing out the boat itself, and applying a rough base coat of paint to it. The meat roll, which I'd left steaming for three hours, wasn't bad, but it lacked the piquancy of those my mother made us in years gone by. It needed a certain je ne sais quoi. My taste-buds did not go into a series of somersaults - they merely nodded their heads thoughtfully and appreciatively. Should I have used more smokey bacon? Put in a little sage maybe? Seasoning (my mother never put in seasoning)? I must do better in future!

I hope the incoming week leaves nothing to be desired for you!

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