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, 31 October 2010


Sad, isn't it? The only post I could I could manage to put together last week was an apology for the errors in the previous one! I'm studying my diary (life's book of original entry!) carefully this time, so that such factual inaccuracies can be avoided for this post. Some of these entries are quite amusing. Here's one for the afternoon of Monday 18th October:-

Clutching my urine sample, I took a taxi (heavy rain falling!) to the Lerwick Doctor's Practice for my routine periodical check-up appointment at 3pm. The practice nurse was running late with her appointments, so I waited for 40 minutes before my name came up on the screen, by which time I'd practically fallen asleep. My blood pressure is as it should be, she took a blood sample (to test for cholesterol levels, it emerged), and she accepted my urine sample (which had miraculously survived the afternoon's proceedings thus far) with what seemed to be an unnecessary degree of gratitude. She dipped cotton buds in it, and did little tests on it (for what I didn't inquire, nor was this information forthcoming, so I presumed the tests were negative). I took the opportunity to weigh myself, and I tipped the scales at 12st 7lbs (I still think in old money, and fortunately the device was able to translate for me!), which is 7lbs too much, although the nurse didn't seem to be too concerned about it. A weight-loss programme is called for - ugh!

Some of my diary entries are unpublishable, and it's just as well they are practically unreadable too (my handwriting has gone downhill over the years). I could be sued for something, in these days where unnecessary litigation is the only growth industry in Britain. Most of the scrawled jottings are just plain boring - the minutiae of a professional artist's daily routine are as repetitive and dull as those of a filing clerk (probably more so!). What I cooked for lunch, what was in the post, who visited, which places I visited during a trip out to the shops, and what I did to whichever painting, the process of the creation of which is much the same for every work. And, of course, the weather - it was blowing a hooligan yesterday! I see I've lost one of my few blog followers, which is rather disppointing, but not surprising!

I enjoy my life as a self-employed oil painter. It will never make me rich, but it just about pays the bills for a single 62-year-old chap with needs to match his modest income. I wake each morning with a feeling of pleasurable anticipation over what the day ahead might hold. When my brother was up here on holiday recently, he told me about a colleague (in a previous job) who used to throw up his Sunday lunch when he thought of the working week ahead of him. What an existence! To work long hours at a job, just to put food on the table for you and your family, while hating the work so much that you couldn't digest the food anyway - there's something seriously wrong there. And how many other people are doing the same thing?

I no longer spend a fortune on wine (or rather lager!), women and song, so I live comparatively frugally. Probably my biggest outlay is on stuff for the business itself. And since I've saved virtually nothing, my work is going to be my old age pension, for as long as I'm able to do it. I have considered taking out one of those over-50 insurance plans just to provide for my burial, but I'm a conscientious objector to that most cynical of form of business, so I guess I won't bother. A pauper's grave will fit me just as well, I'm sure. They could put me in a black bag and chuck me over a cliff somewhere, but I expect that will upset the environmentalists, bless them!

All of which jolly stuff seems to have taken me a long way from the subject on which this post began, namely the factual inaccuracies (and apologies therefor) of previous posts. I hope there won't be too many of these bloopers in future, but you never know, do you? Have a good week.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


That's what comes of trying to put together a post from different scraps of disjointed prose! I have now corrected the Tardis-type chronological error in last week's posting, regarding the despatch and arrival of the large painting to Cheshire. Sorry about that - it will probably happen again.

Another senior moment from the Artistic Curmudgeon!

Sunday, 17 October 2010


The best news of the past two weeks came on Monday 4th October, when my client rang to tell me that he was pleased with the large seascape (at my second presentation) and that his cheque would be in the post later that week. I told him, when I had come down to earth again, that I would let the work dry for a few days, then get it in the post to him at the beginning of another week.

Here's where my family and my artwork come together, as the painting, at 47" x 39" x 2" deep, is too big for one person to safely handle in the wrapping process. My brother was up on holiday this week, and he agreed to help me with this delicate operation, which took place this last Tuesday afternoon. The packaging involved a couple of layers of bubble-wrap, outside of which were two sheets of 1" polystyrene sheeting (one each side), outside of which were another two layers of bubble-wrap. Then the cardboard outer protection went on, secured by copious quantities of parcel tape. I plastered "Fragile" stickers liberally over it, and attached my previously-prepared "Documents Enclosed" adhesive envelope. My brother reckoned the package was now well-nigh impregnable. I wasn't so sure, but it was difficult to tell how we could have reinforced it any more, so that's the way it went next morning. The post office counter assistant assured me that it would take 48 hours from Wednesday morning, but this turned out to be over-optimistic, as it took until Monday to arrive.

Work has been steady but slow on the commissioned painting of the Helford river in Cornwall. Calm water is always tricky to portray, and I won't be satisfied with the work until you feel you can dive into it for a swim! I've hardly touched the "stock" work of Gourdon harbour, but I'll be able to make better progress on it, and other works, now that the big job has finally been completed and despatched.

On the printing side. more greeting cards are on the way, and I've been replenishing my stock of giclee prints for my forthcoming stalls at the Toll Clock Centre. More of this in about a month's time. Very soon I'll have to turn my attention to decision-making about which magazines and newspapers I'm going to advertise in, in order to catch the eager eyes of the online Christmas shoppers. One tragic sales scenario which has yet to befall me is running out of stock - I'd sooner print too much than too little.

Here I am, preparing for another Christmas sales campaign, and it seems such a short time since the last one. According to the Met Office, the weather is to take on a rather Christmassy feel over the next few days. My sister Mary managed to get a flight out of strike-ridden France yesterday, after a few days holiday there. She was at Birmingham when I phoned her this morning, and she hopes to be back in Shetland on Tuesday morning. I fancy she'll find it a bit chilly after the Basque country. Winter draws on, I guess! Have a good week!


I must apologise for not contributing a few lines of prose, of whatever quality, to this blog last week. I have been rather busy, and, looking back over the past two weeks, I seem to have remarkably little to show for my industry. Twice during that time, I have sat down of an evening in front of this clipboard (on which I write my notes for these posts) and twice I have fallen asleep and woken up with a start, with scarcely a line written.

I think such occasions are known as senior moments. Although I'm only 62, I'm starting to make little blunders which I can only attribute to slight faculty-loss, such as going shopping for toiletries, without my glasses, and arriving home with a bottle of conditioner instead of shampoo. As a result, the other night, I was standing at my kitchen sink, scrubbing my hair desperately and vainly in an attempt to get a lather going. It's a wonder I have any hair left! Whatever conditioner does to a fellow's locks is well and truly done to mine now!

I'm starting to mislay things as well. The other night I found myself in need of my pastry brush (for cooking purposes, I hasten to add!), which is normally among the miscellaneous culinary weaponry in the side compartment of my cutlery drawer, and it was not to be found. That and a medium-sized black-handled vegetable knife seem to have become the latest victims of my absent-mindedness.

I've got an appointment to see whatsername at the Lerwick Doctor's thingummy tomorrow afternoon, to have my blood pressure checked. Perhaps I should mention whatever I was talking about earlier to her. I've got to take a urine sample with me, and I'm wondering what to transport that in - they're taking the whatsit, aren't they?

Sunday, 3 October 2010


While I much prefer summer to winter, I don't think I suffer from seasonal affective disorder (even the name doesn't make much sense to me). The long hours of summer daylight translate into more time at the easel, resulting in greater daily productivity, and the more work I get done, the happier I am. My mood varies according to the light conditions (leaving aside work output for now), so I think I will own up to a kind of weather affective disorder, or possibly gloom-induced depression, which is a strange expression indeed, come to think of it. Enough!

Monday was bright and sunny, with light winds (good mood weather), and I took advantage of the conditions to put some good work into the big man-o'-war painting. I put the final details into the masts, hull and rigging, and did a bit more on the sea around the ship. My sister Thelma came along for elevenses, which presented her with problems, as she had just had a tooth extracted (by her dentist, I hasten to add!), and the local anaesthetic was causing her to dribble a bit.

I phoned the people in charge of the Toll Clock Centre, to be told the bad news that I was too late to get Saturday slots for my stall in the run-up to Christmas. I settled for Thursdays, same as last year, from mid-November onwards. How early do I have to book to get a Saturday spot, for goodness sake? I received a quotation from DCS Printing Services for the production of greeting cards for the local branch of a well-known charity. I relayed this information to my sister Mary, who is the local organiser for the charity.

Tuesday saw the arrival of the last and largest cruise ship of the season. When I got up for my bath, at 6.30am, the "Grand Princess" looked impressive and luminous in the early morning half-light, filling a large section of my view of Breiwick Bay, as she came to anchor off the Knab. The wind rose during the day, and the sky clouded over ominously in the afternoon, but the rain held off until evening, so those of her 2,200 passengers who went for a run ashore would have had a decent day's sight-seeing. The port authority representative, who came on Radio Shetland that evening, was spinning the usual yarn of how important cruise ships are to the local economy, and I take issue with this. Apart from the port authority and the bus companies, which section of the local economy is benefitting? Perhaps the odd knitwear outlet might see some trade, but not much else. Very few cruise ship passengers buy anything from local businesses.

I worked again on the big picture, tidying up a few lines and angles, and doing a bit more on the sea in the immediate vicinity of the ship. Thelma arrived for elevenses again, and we had our usual natter about life, family and music. I made kedgeree for my lunch, and remembered to put out my bin-bag for collection, before taking a walk down to the corner shop for essential foodstuffs. I then worked on the Cornish scene painting for a while, although my heart wasn't really in the task. The sky was clouding over and the GID was coming over me again. And this continued into the evening, which should have been spent working on SEO projects for my newly-upgraded website (, but little of this was attempted or achieved on Tuesday.

Wednesday was dull, wet and increasingly windy, and I struggled with the light to get more done on the big seascape during the morning. In the afternoon, I started on a new "stock" work, a picture of Gourdon harbour based on photographs I took on my last little jaunt to the mainland, back in April. That now looks like being my last trip of the year.

Mary arrived after work, and we took a run out west, first stopping at her home at Strand for some of her delicious risotto before setting out again in the gale-driven rain to visit our mother in the Wastview Care Centre. She seemed to be well and enjoying her respite care period, and I enjoyed getting away from the flat, with all its paraphernalia of life as a self-employed artist, and breathe some unpolluted air, despite the atrocious weather conditions.

Thursday was the deadline which I had set myself (and was foolhardy enough to declare to my client) to have the work finished on the alterations to the big picture. I just about made it (I think) and phoned him with an upbeat progress report (I don't know who I'm trying to kid - him or myself!). I fully expect him to reject the work again, when I get it photographed and emailed to him in JPEG form, possibly on Saturday, if the weather allows (it's still pretty dismal and blowy today). This project has blown large holes in any confidence in my own ability I may have previously had.

I made a big pot of scotch broth on a lump of brisket I had found at the Whiteness shop when we called there on our way to Walls yesterday evening. Mary and I enjoyed the stuff, which is very tasty, but tends to have side effects which match the weather - wet and windy! In the afternoon I worked a bit more on the Gourdon harbour painting, the drawing of which is quite tricky. It's a very simple composition, but all the more care has to be taken over laying it out. In the early evening, I phoned my brother Arthur, to wish him many happy returns on his 60th birthday. Time marches on - for everyone.

Friday dawned bright and breezy, and my mood was more upbeat than it had been all week. The wind increased steadily during the day, and was touching storm force by late evening. I watched fishing boats heading for the shelter of Lerwick harbour during the morning - they'll be glad of the lee it affords. I went out early to get my copy of the Shetland Times, and spent my morning coffee break, along with hundreds of others around the islands, poring over the pages of this institutional publication!

I took the big picture off the easel and put it on my living-room radiator, to accelerate the drying process. I spent the rest of the daylight hours carefully examining it and doing little bits of "snagging". The thing takes up an awful lot of room, and will look good in a much larger space than is available to me in my little abode. As the wind whistled round my top-floor flat, I spent the evening attending to domestic and administrative tasks.

Saturday morning was bright and clear, with only a fresh southerly breeze after the previous night's gales, which did some minor damage to Mary's polytunnel at Strand. I had determined to plant some flower-bulbs at Whiteness when I go out there on Monday, so I took a walk down to the garden shop to get some of these. Last autumn I had deliberated upon doing it, ended up not doing it, and regretted my inaction since. Thelma popped along for a cuppa, before she headed out to our mother's to do some preparation for her return on Monday, so she took the bulbs and an old earthenware casserole pot (which I intend to use as a planter) out there with her.

I had arranged for Mary to give me a hand with photographing the big picture, so I prepared a meal of fried fish for the two of us, which I timed pretty well, considering that I only had an approximate time for her arrival. The digital operation was successful, with a few good JPEGs to show for it - these will form attachments to my next email to my client. Mary headed off to effect polytunnel repairs with her neighbour, and I settled down to an afternoon of work on the Cornish painting. Progress is slow on this one, as the colours and shades of this remarkable scene are very subtle, and take a bit of getting. With a quiet ensuing evening (I had considered going for a pint or two, but couldn't be bothered - changed days!), so passed a reasonably succesful Saturday.

This morning, I listened to the service on radio 4 before going for a walk down to the Co-op to get electricity meter tokens, as my power was about to go off. Remarkably it still hadn't done so by the time I returned some 40 minutes later. I had several emails to send before I could address myself to the task of writing this blog post. Tomorrow, I'll be heading out to Whiteness to see that all is ready for mother's return from respite care. If I have time, I'll plant the flower-bulbs too. I desperately need some good news this incoming week, and I hope yours goes well too!