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, 31 August 2010


The latest product from the Tait Gallery is A5 (when folded ) greeting cards featuring my artwork. The cards are blank on the inside, making them like larger-than-usual notelets. They carry a short description on the back, and are available at £2.00 each, plus 50p postage, or £7.00 + £1.00 p & p per set of four.

They will be available through the website ( from Monday 6th September), or just drop me an email with your contact details ( I look forward to hearing from you!


Well, really! The BBC came out with some distressing news one evening last week, namely that grumpy old men are between the ages of 35 to 54. How they arrived at this postulation is not clear to me, as they did not explain the reasoning process behind it. However they came to this position, what it means is that I am now old enough to be A GRUMPY OLD MAN'S FATHER!

As if that wasn't distressing enough, the large painting, on which I have put in a summer's labour, failed it's first client inspection, and it is now back on the easel for remedial work. I'm particularly annoyed about this, as I was convinced that I'd made an excellent job of it, and I am not sure exactly what I have to do to make the picture more acceptable to my customer, who, of course, is always right. He reckons that I have not quite got the details of the 18th century American warship (which is the main feature of the painting) correct, and, not being an expert on the navies of this period, I am left without a definite idea as to how to proceed from here. I suppose I'll just fart around with some of the angles and colour fields, and hope that I hit the spot with some of these footerings. And if, on the second presentation in about three week's time, my efforts have again been found wanting, I'm going to have to admit defeat, give the man his deposit back, and put the whole wasted summer down to bitter experience. I don't want to do the artistic equivalent of running on the spot, sit-ups and squat-thrusts for ever - I'm 62 now, my health isn't what it was, and I have other clients waiting.

Not that all the news has been bad this week. I spent most of Sunday morning wrapping the painting of Johnshaven harbour (above) for the journey to its new owner in Cornwall. The same customer has commissioned another work, and I have continued to make progress on the other two commissioned works "on the stocks". These are both looking pretty good now.

My web designer is coming to visit me tomorrow, and the purpose of the call is to make the new website ( upgrade live. And then what a wonderful new spectacle will unfold before your eyes. One of the problems with the old system was that the sold and unsold works were lumped together. This will change with the new one, I hope from tomorrow, and I also hope that you will visit it. Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, 22 August 2010


Yesterday afternoon I put the finishing touches to the painting which has been occupying the easel in my back bedroom (which has been functioning as a side-studio) for the past three months. At 47 x 39 inches, it is too big to be accommodated, along with all the rest of the paraphernalia, in my living room, which is also a main studio, office, dining room and the place where I watch television, read and generally loaf about, as well as entertain the odd visitor.

I acquired the easel specifically for this job, as it's too big to work on "flat", which is how I do my other smaller paintings. It has been a useful exercise getting familiar with this mode of operation, which I haven't used since my art college days (and that's a VERY long time ago!). I think I'll do a few more using this method now - I have one particular work in mind.....

In an earlier post, I described how much trouble I had getting a mainland supplier to send me a canvas of a suitable size in a usable condition. Their packaging was woefully inadequate, and twice the thing arrived holed. At the third attempt, and three weeks after the first order, a package arrived undamaged, and I was able to start work on the masterpiece.

On the first two occasions they told me to keep the damaged canvas, despite my protests, and this has created its own storage problem. My rooms aren't big, and two large useless canvases take up a lot of space. I offered them to Shetland Arts (they'd be OK for such temporary uses as stage scenery creation), but for the last three months they've remained on my premises. Then, last week, a council skip appeared in the car park across the road, so I took the two ungainly objects, negotiated them downstairs, and was making my way towards the skip, when a couple of workmen claimed them for their children, who would, they thought, find them useful to learn to paint on. Needless to say, this delighted me. With a bit of Mepore adhesive bandage tape covering the holes at the back, the canvases would make superb temporary painting surfaces. There would be other possibilities too. Anyone who was good at joinery could make new smaller frames, cut up the canvases and create new good permanent surfaces therefrom.

Once the painting, which is of an 18th century man-o'-war in a gale, has dried, I'll take it out to the back of the house to photograph it, and then begins the task of wrapping and packaging it ready for its journey to Cheshire. I have already established that it's not too big to send by Parcelforce, which is a lot cheaper than most independent carriers. I have acquired a large roll of bubble-wrap, and tomorrow I intend to visit my local builders' merchant for a sheet or two of 1" polystyrene sheeting. This, together with the cardboard in which the virgin canvas was wrapped, and copious quantities of parcel tape, should provide enough buffering to protect against the bumps and scrapes of the delivery process.

I'm not sure if I can display the "big picture" on this blog or on my website. I was commissioned to do a fairly fathful copy of a work by an 18th century artist and, although there are important differences between the pictures, I risk being taken to task by copyright lawyers, should I put the painting on public display. This disappoints me, as I seem to have put very little by way of new work images on this blog lately, for various reasons. As well as possible copyright issues, clients are reluctant to have their commissions put on display before weddings, birthdays or anniversaries, for which the paintings are presents, have taken place. I am quite used to working under such cloak-and-dagger constraints!

Sunday, 15 August 2010


The large (50" x 40" approx.) painting of an American man o' war in a gale is almost finished now. I hope to put the finishing touches to it tomorrow, and I hope my client thinks as much of it as I (and my visitors) do. I'll know quite soon. I finished the eagle's eye view of the cruise ship ten days ago, and it is now in the hands of another satisfied customer, I'm happy to say. I've resumed work on the commissioned painting of the ferry "St. Clair" leaving Aberdeen, with Girdleness lighthouse in the background. I had held back work on this while I attended to more urgent jobs. I've also started a painting of a snow scene in Unst, for a charity raffle and to be the front image for the same charity's Christmas cards.

Talking of cards, the ones I'd ordered from DCS in Devon arrived just over a week ago, and to say that I am delighted with them would be to understate my feelings. If I was fitter, I would have been jumping for joy when I opened the package containing them! By contrast, the ones I got from a better-known printing firm were half the size, dearer, carried the firms advertising, and were without cellophane wrapping.

One of the reasons why I was unable to post to this blog last Sunday was that I spent the first part of the day wrapping a painting for sending through the post, and the second half trying to do a group image of the cards to upload here as a single JPEG file (or something similar). Blogger, however, was unable to accept the file types I was able to produce using Open Office, so, in the end, I would have been better off just concentrating on a normal post. One lives and learns - none more so than me! Have a nice week.


As long as there's a breeze blowing and the sun is out, things aren't too bad. But, at this time of year, as soon as the wind drops and the sky clouds over, out they come in their multi-millions - the midges. They don't usually trouble us here in the middle of Lerwick, but stray towards the town boundaries and they will soon make their presence felt.

My old friend Stevie Shirmer paid me a call yesterday evening. He had been eating a fish supper down by the harbour, and he was very much aware of the little blighters there. Perhaps these were emigres from Bressay, just across the sound. No doubt the good people of that island were glad to be rid of a few of them.

Stevie is over here, from his present home in Switzerland, to take part in a fencing event at the sports centre, and to visit as many of his friends as possible during his short stay here, before he begins his journey home on the ferry tonight. (I had no idea that he even participated in the sport, let alone that he was an instructor). We sat and yapped for the best part of two hours, during which I gathered that he has gleaned more knowledge of the goings-on around the islands (some of which I am glad to be ignorant of) in a couple of weeks than I have as a permanent resident. I must get out more, I suppose.

Also visiting the islands are my youngest sister Angela, her husband Nigel and her daughter Elanor. I spent some time with them at my mother's on Friday, when I produced lunch main course for the five of us, which consisted of my usual fried whiting in batter, accompanied by peas, potatoes and melted margarine. Angela made one of her gooseberry crumbles for dessert - it was indescribably delicious, and I'd cheerfully kill for it. It's a toss-up whether sticky toffee pudding with ice cream or fruit crumble with custard is my favourite sweet course. In the case of sticky toffee pudding, the ones I had last year at the County Hotel in Banff rank as just about the best I've paid for (but none come close to the standard of my sister Mary's, or, I'm told, my niece Julia's!), while the one I had at the Cocket Hat in Aberdeen a few months ago was definitely below standard. The problem with any of these scrumptious desserts is that I tend to be paralysed for several hours after eating them. All I could do for the rest of Friday afternoon was sit and grunt. And it's not as if I had nothing to do.....

Friday, 13 August 2010


I received an email, from a local hotel, which went:

Dear Tait Gallery - sole person,

"August is the month of meteor showers
If you have a celebration....instead of flowers
Why not treat him or her to a night for two
With these special offers we have for you?"

Dinner, bed and breakfast for two persons only £130 per twin or double room, or book two nights for a combined cost of only £250 per twin or double room.

I replied thus:

What's all this about a sole person? Does this refer to my taste in fish, or my single marital status? Does the fact that I'm a sole trader make me a fishmonger?

August means that summer's waning,
Where did May to July go?
Soon the gales will be a-blowing,
Followed next by winter's snow.

You can shove your Perseid showers
Underneath your bain-marie.
I'll be dining on my ownsome,
Hard-boiled eggs for one, for me.



Fortunately they have a sense of humour, and seem to enjoy my curmudgeonly outbursts. They replied to this effect later.

You gotta laugh - I guess!

Sunday, 1 August 2010


My lower back trouble returned with a vengeance this week, and this has had a predictably adverse effect on my enjoyment of life. My bed has ben transformed from a source of peace, rest and surrealist dreams into a symbol of fear, dread and discomfort. I hope the pain and stiffness goes as quickly as it appeared last Monday when I was picking some of the bumper crop of blackcurrants at Whiteness.

Work has gone on as usual, however. My client in Arbroath is delighted with his miniature of the SS "Clermiston", and his cheque arrived in the post, as promised. I have almost finished the eagle's eye view of the cruise ship, and the large seascape is nearing completion on the easel in the back room. I have resumed work on the painting of the ferry "St. Clair" (IV) off Girdleness lighthouse, a commission which has a November deadline, so I shelved it while the more urgent jobs got done.

I've ordered my first batch of greeting cards! I chose a firm, based in Devon, called DCS, who quoted me a very reasonable price for the job. I'll report on the quality thereof when I receive the cards, which are coming, complete with cellophane wrapping and envelopes, sometime soon - I hope.

Talking of greeting cards, my mother received a lot of these on Friday, when she reached the grand old age of 94. As many of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren as could attend, did so at Brugarth early in the evening, to be fed with bannocks and sandwiches with various fillings, jam tarts, chocolate crispies, melting moments and a "Happy Birthday" sponge which my sister Thelma had baked and skilfully decorated for the occasion. My mother sat happily in the midst of the eating, tea-drinking and merry-making which always attend our bashes, and no doubt everyone was thinking the same thing that was going through my mind, which was that it was so good to have her still around. The place where she lives is so beautiful too, and I hate to think of a time, which will come all too soon, when Brugarth will no longer be the venue for such parties, and someone else will be living there. Mother's age and mobility issues will cause all this to happen in the not-too-distant future, and I'm torn between keeping this in my mind as a kind of defence, or dismissing the thought completely.

Enough! The present is enough to cope with! Have a good week.


I was grateful to my nephew Kenneth, who is up here for a long weekend, who offered to run me around the various places I had to go to on Friday morning, saving me a small fortune in taxi fares. I had to get fish from the shop at Sound, my mother's medication from the Scalloway pharmacy, my own medication (the blue ones are best this week!) from Boots and mother's usual pension and shopping from the Whiteness shop (not necessarily in that order).

While I was in the various buildings, collecting whatever had to be collected, Kenneth sat in the car reading the Shetland Times, which goes on sale throughout the islands on a Friday morning. When I emerged from the last (and lengthiest) of our stops, he said that if life in Shetland is as depicted in our local newspaper, he is glad he stays in Aberdeen. He says the Shetland Times portrays life in the islands as much the same as anywhere else, with its drug, drink, domestic abuse and general crime problems. It is Shetland's uniqueness which makes it an attractive place to stay, and, if it is becoming like everywhere else, he doesn't want to live here any more. Now, how much this is due to media portrayal and how much to the present nature of island life, I don't really know. I certainly don't recognise the Shetland which I see on a daily basis reflected in the pages of our local paper, so Kenneth seems to have a point.

Here we have to face two unfortunate facts, namely that good news doesn't sell newspapers, and that Shetland now has serious drug and social problems, which are affecting the lives of many young Shetlanders in particular, and consequently the columns of our local rag. I have a suggestion!

Most of the chatty bits of news (much of it good) from around the county have been hived off into sections headed "South Mainland Notebook", "North Mainland Notebook", "Isles Views", "Views from the Scord" (Scalloway), and sections on archaeology, the arts, wildlife and an amusingly ill-informed fishing and marine column, as well as regular features on religious activities, cooking and news from the SWRI branches. There are probably others I've neglected to mention, for which I apologise, and I mustn't forget the large sports section at the back. Why don't they do the same with crime? Shove it into its own compartment, and anyone who isn't interested in the minor misdemeanours of the local crackheads and bampots can ignore it, as most people outside the "catchment" areas do to the district news columns. There you go, petal! Once you put a problem into its appropriate box, it won't hurt as much. So it can be with Shetland's burgeoning social and crime issues (the causes of which are too complex for this blogger to address here).

As the folk singer John James neatly puts it:

Put a little label on it
So you won't know
Just what it was that frightened you so!
I said, put a little label on it
And give it a name
Then everything can go on just the same.

That's all, folks!


India and Pakistan have only recently achieved an uneasy peace in the dispute which has been raging, at times more or less violently, over their territorial claims to Kashmir, since Britain's colonial adventures in that part of the globe ceased over sixty years ago.

So it was with mouths agape and eyes popping that the world witnessed our clod-hopping new PM, colonial foot planted firmly in imperialist mouth, choosing India as the venue to issue a firm telling-off to these damned natives in Pakistan, who were just not playing the game properly. "Harbouring nasty people within their boundaries while claiming to be allies in the war against terrorism is just not good enough - don't you agree, Indian politicians?" Thus any diplomatic progress in that region, over any disagreement on any matter whatsoever, over however many years, is now at threat.

Now they're burning effigies of DC (who is obviously taking George W Bush's strategy in world affairs a stage further!) on the streets of Islamabad and other Pakistani cities, and any progress on co-operation on matters of terrorism has been nullified at a stroke. Well done, David! I think I'll pop down to the Lerwick branch of Effigies R' Us and get one to burn myself.

Talking of gunboat diplomacy, I see that Iceland and Faroe have held two brawny fingers up at the EU over their mackerel quotas for this year. Hurrah and well done! They're doing what Britain should have done decades ago, especially over our whitefish quotas. Now all sorts of sanctions are being threatened against our Nordic neighbours. No doubt Britain will support these, as it supports every other mind-blowingly ridiculous edict to emanate from the undemocratic plutocracy which is the EU.

As things are, our fishing industry has been decimated, with the tacit collaboration of our negotiators, over the last twenty years, while, year after year, our pathetic politicians have still returned from meetings with the clueless and mandate-less bureaucrats of Brussels with ever-decreasing quotas and disregarded representations (especially from Scottish representatives, who are ignored as a matter of EU policy!).

It is time to join with Iceland, Faroe and Norway (not an EU member state) to formulate a sensible system with regard to what can or cannot be caught where and when, and regain control of our own waters. Then our fishing rights will no longer be a bargaining chip at the gaming table of European big business, but will be properly regulated in the interests (long and short-term) of the nations inside whose territorial waters the fishing stocks are located. Then fishermen of other nationalities who want to catch fish in these waters will have to negotiate with US!