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, 25 July 2010


I have more clothes than will ever be on my back (or other bits), so, when I go on one of my occasional shopping sprees, with the associated emetic effect on my bank accounts, it is usually for non-sartorial items. The binge, in which I indulged my democratic right as a consumer (don't start me on the consumer society!), earlier this week, included the purchase of medical remedies, paper bags, maps, books on social media marketing and ink cartridges for my printer (rather an expensive item!).

The maps are utter self-indulgence for me - I just love browsing through them. I'm an artist, producing paintings, prints and all sorts of lovely things, but the only things that adorn the walls of my studio are maps, a calendar and a year planner (rather bare of events this year). The medical remedy is a supply of Jointease tablets, probably a palliative, but my joints always seem to feel stronger when I'm taking the stuff than when I'm not.

The other items are connected to the business. The ink cartridges are self-explanatory. The books on social media marketing are for study with regard to making my blog, website and artistic efforts more visible to the online public. The paper bags are for issuing to the public with their greeting card and postcard purchases from my stall at the Toll Clock Centre. In a way, this reflects my over-cautious mentality. Whenever I am confronted with a situation which I am uncertain how to deal with, I prowl around the outside of the problem for some time, before I take the plunge, metaphorically speaking, and tackle it, frequently with more disastrous results than if I'd just waded in as soon as I was aware of the issue! So it is for me with the greeting cards - I have the customer presentation issues all sorted before I've even designed a single card. It's odd - I know!

This frequently happens halfway through a job too, and it's true of the large painting which is progressing nicely on the easel in the back room, despite the fact that practically everything else seems more attractive, as a work option, than working on IT. Whenever I need to put in a painting session on the monster work, all of a sudden dish-washing, filing, cooking, cleaning and computer work seem to be things that I'd rather do!

This commitment aversion and over-cautiousness also explains the ridiculously low scoring rate with the opposite sex during the latter half of my life. I've lost all my IMPULSIVENESS! It is a true saying that faint heart never won fair lady, and, at some point during the 1980s my get-up-and-go got up and went, taking all my bollard-pulling power with it. Now, in my encroaching twilight years, I am left with only memories which are fast fading to sepia......

Enough of this morbid reflection, and back to the present - quick!

This week I finished the smallest commission I have undertaken to date - a tiny painting of the SS "Clermiston". I was able to get it into a large mail-lite envelope, along with its extra bubble-wrap and 1-inch polystyrene sheet as backing. I'll be posting it tomorrow morning, before I head out to Whiteness to prepare for my mother's homecoming from her latest two-week spell of respite care at the Wastview Centre in Walls. She'll be 94 on Friday, and my sisters are planning a family get-together for the occasion. I know that nothing pleases her more than having her family round her. However, I'm very happy to leave the planning to my siblings.

All the best to you and yours!

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Two or three weeks ago, I mentioned my plan to produce greeting cards, featuring my artwork, to sell in the run-up to Christmas this year. I've taken this a couple of tentative stages further now, having saved a few images into a "cards" folder, using Photofiltre, which is an ideal package for this purpose. It has the advantage, over such sophisticated applications as Paint Shop Pro, that it's free, and it does all the clever things that I need it to, such as size reduction, cropping and adjustment of colour and brightness. I've searched the large number of paintings in my Tait Gallery folder, and cropped out parts of some of these images to use as card designs. I'm also hoping to have these cards available in the Products Database of the new all-singing, all-dancing website upgrade (which is still in the making), and I've emailed my web designer on that subject today.

Progress has been steady (how often have I said that in these posts!) on the painting commissions, and I've just about finished the smallest of these, the tiny picture of the SS "Clermiston", on which my client's grandfather served as crewman. I probably won't display it here, or in the website gallery, simply because of its diminutive size and odd shape.

The subject of the big canvas, taking shape quite nicely on the easel in the "back studio", will regrettably not feature on website or blog either when it is finished, for a different reason entirely. It is because I am closely following a painting by another artist (who lived about 200 years ago), in this work, and I fear reprisals in the form of nasty letters from copyright lawyers. In fact the same could apply to the third commissioned work, which is an eagle's eye view of a certain cruise ship. The photograph, on which I am relying for my details, could only have been taken from an eagle or an aircraft (probably the latter!), and could well form part of the cruise ship operator's advertising copy.

You can't be too careful these days. Have a nice week!

P.S. My web designer thinks the cards are an excellent idea for an item for sale on the website, both singly and in sets. Now all I've got to do is produce them!


I turned 62 summers (and a few hard winters, especially last one!) on Friday - not really an occasion for celebration, merely a reminder of the ever-swifter passage of time. I received a card depicting a young lady (who, I am sad to say, just looked impractically dressed as far as I am concerned nowadays) from my brother, and more circumspect ones from my mother, sisters and one of my many nieces. On the morning of this momentous day, I got soaked on my way back from Alex Morrisons shop, where I'd dutifully gone to buy my Shetland Times, and found myself wondering, having read it, if it was worth getting wet for! I found an email from Philips in my inbox, offering me their felicitations and £10 off any purchase over £100 from their products range. This was sweet of them, but I didn't take them up on it, and duly got on with my scheduled tasks for the day, more or less as planned. As I recall, this went rather well that day.

The big birthday present had arrived (rather presumptuously!) earlier in the week, in the form of a 3-drawer filing cabinet! My family have always given practical presents, and they knew that I had been considering the acquisition of such an item for some time. I had been reluctant to pay the substantial sums of money which such a piece of furniture (in a decent finish) would cost to be delivered to me, but I was getting round to paying it anyway, when this timely present arrived. I'm very grateful, yet again, to my family, who have been so supportive over the years.

Support has been the watchword between us, especially over the last few years. We have formed ourselves into a fairly efficient unit, each of us ready to slot him/herself, at a moment's notice, into whatever role or function might be demanded of us by whichever situation. This was particularly true of some of the scenarios which faced us during the snows of last winter. Looking back, there was a providential element to some of the "support solutions" which presented themselves at crisis points. For instance, the schools were closed on the day that a foot of snow needed to be cleared from the "Brugarth Brae" before my mother, due back from a respite care stay (which could not be extended) at the Fernlea Centre in Whalsay, could gain access to her home. The school closure meant that a team of fit nephews, nieces, grand-nephews and grand-nieces were available, and the clearance, which would have been impossible for me on my own, was done in an hour, and another serious problem was solved (and a lot of fun had in the process!).

But I have reflectively digressed from the subject of this post, which is my birthday on Friday. The best present I could possibly receive is for everyone around me to keep well for another year. That, and a few more painting commissions, would mean another happy return of the day in 2011. By then, I'd also hope to have next year's Catterline exhibition in an advanced stage of completion, and my new state-of-the-art website upgrade operational. But that, as they say, is another story.

Sunday, 11 July 2010


There's a photograph, in the "Times Past" section of this week's Shetland Times newspaper, of a crowd of people gathered at the head of Lerwick's Victoria Pier, witnessing the arrival of the brand-new state-of-the-art "St. Clair", the third vessel to bear that name for the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company Ltd (quite a mouthful, isn't it?), who ran the lifeline passenger and cargo transport link between the islands and the mainland at that time. I was there in that crowd - somewhere! My father and I had risen at some ungodly hour of Friday July 1st, 1960 to drive from Sandwick to Lerwick, in our recently-acquired Wolseley 6/80 (PS2012), to see this splendid ship docking at the end of her maiden voyage from Aberdeen. I would have been just 16 days short of my 12th birthday, and I was as mad about ships and boats then as I have been ever since.

Later that same decade, the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Company was taken over by Coast Lines (which at least involved less breath in pronunciation). They, in turn, were absorbed into the massive P & O network (co-founded by a Shetlander!) during the 1970s. The third "St. Clair" was the last purpose-built vessel on the route until the arrival of Northlink Ferries and their large ro-ro ships in the early noughties. She was also the last side-loader on the route, the two subsequent "St. Clairs" (both acquired second-hand to operate on it) being ro-ro ferries. Consequently, she was the last "north boat" to use Victoria Pier as her base for loading passengers and cargo.

She did this twice a week, arriving at Lerwick on Tuesday and Friday mornings, and sailing on Tuesday and Saturday evenings. Seeing the "St. Clair" off on Saturday at 5pm was always quite a social occasion, with people coming down, from all over the islands, to wave goodbyes to departing family and friends, or just to enjoy the moment. Little did anyone in the crowd, on that bright summer morning in 1960, even dream that daily sailings would be a reality, from another part of the town, within thirty years, or that you would be able to drive your car on and off the boat within seventeen years.

I can remember little about how I felt about the new ship as I watched her dock. I was probably just as interested in the drifters, which would have been coming into the harbour in numbers at the same time, this being at the height of the summer herring fishery. I probably would have been reluctant to join my father in the Wolseley for the fifteen-mile journey home, leaving all these lovely boats behind us. The sights, smells and sounds of the fishing industry have filled my senses pleasurably for as long as I can remember.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


The title of this post doesn't refer to progress on my artworks, which is steady, or my website upgrade, which is still on hold, or indeed any other aspect of my pitiful existence. It simply means that I am struggling to find anything remotely interesting to say about any of it. I even went through this week's Shetland Times newspaper, in search of an article I could put a personal slant on, but I came away with nothing but a headache and severe depression.

I've been working on three commissioned paintings this week, one a massive canvas of a sailing ship, another of an eagle's eye view of a cruise ship, and yet another one of a steamship, which, at 16.75 x 9 inches, needed a small piece of hardboard to be made even smaller for it. I brought the old handsaw out of its retirement in the meter cupboard to do the job. With regard to the big job (120cm x 100cm), I am starting to get concerned about how I am going to get it wrapped and taken to the shipping company for onward transport to north-west England, although this part of the job is still some way off.

Talking of transport, I sent a painting and an A3 print to North Tyneside on Tuesday morning, and have been told of their safe arrival, which is a relief. I haven't tried to assemble my greeting card display units yet, but I am looking forward not one tiny bit to trying it soon. For someone who is passably good at painting, I am remarkably useless when it comes to all kinds of 3D work. Even my wallpaper is covered in blood. Does anyone else remember a crafts project, which all p7 pupils at my school had to do (around 1959), called Jimmy Rabbit? It was a grey and white felt animal which we had to stuff and sew together, and, while all my classmates (especially the girls, of course), were making a beautiful job of theirs, I was producing the most evil-looking beast that the eye of man had hitherto beheld. Both its eyes were in the same half of its face, some of the stitches were half an inch long, its stuffing was coming out in several places, and it was heavily stained with my sweat and blood. It looked like a bit of roadkill!

Apart from that, there's little else to tell you about. The weather has taken a turn for the wetter and windier, as we're into a track of Atlantic depressions now. I was praying for weather like this last winter, when we were getting nothing but northerlies and snow. I was able to get a few hours in at my mother's garden again on Friday, clearing a bit more undergrowth from the front border and planting a few more pansies. I also set a couple of slug pubs and filled them with snakebite, which the slimy invertebrates are very fond of - they die happily by the hundred in them. The people in the Whiteness shop had raised eyebrows when cider and lager were included in my teetotal mother's shopping list! Talking of drink, I had a few pints of lager at around teatime on Wednesday, when I paid one of my occasional visits to da Noost and the Lounge. Very nice it was too.

Cheers! Have a nice week!