Sunday, 27 February 2011
I reckon that's the number of times that I've made alterations to this painting over the six years since I first produced what I thought was a good representation of the MV "St. Clair".
She was completed in 1960 by the long-since-closed Hall Russell's shipyard in Aberdeen. She was the third ship to bear the name for the North of Scotland, Orkney and Shetland Steam Navigation Co. Ltd., and she turned out to be the last before this firm was taken over by Coast Lines Ltd in the mid-1960s, and this company was absorbed into P & O Ferries early in the 1970s. She was also the last side-loader on the route (the next "St. Clair" being the first ro-ro ferry), and consequently she was the last ship to use Victoria Pier for loading and discharging of passengers and cargo. I took my first trips to the mainland as a student on this ship, and I have many happy memories of wild nights on board.
The painting has spent most of the time since 2004 on the wall of the Lounge in Lerwick, and every time I looked at it, I knew that it needed more work done on it. The fifth, and, I hope, the last, changes were made to it about a week ago. I altered the sky, the angle of the horizon, the distant Sumburgh Head, and the sea behind and in front of the ship this time. I've been looking at the work off and on for the last week, and, for the first time, I have a sense of satisfaction about it. I hope and believe there will be no sixth amendment to this particular painting.
Wednesday, 16 February 2011
Yet more obsequious hand-wringing after the manner of Charles Dickens' character Uriah Heep (as illustrated by my drawing of my impersonation of the revolting chap!) is required. I just keep making mistakes and, unlike most of today's politicians, I'd prefer to admit to them! They usually end up costing me money too.
After telling you about my brilliant scheme to prevent ridging to my canvases being caused by the edges of the stetcher frames, using draught excluder strip, I invested in a couple of rolls of this product, only to discover that it was far too narrow for this purpose, and it was also self-adhesive, which is not a desirable property for my purpose either. So, another £7-odd wasted, unless I need a draught excluded at some point in the future.
Back to the drawing board, to coin the popular cliched phrase! I googled condensation sponge strip, and up came (amongst other things!) Drip Strip! Eureka! I bought some, I've tried it, and it works! It'll work even better when I refine the technique of applying it a bit.
More apologies for late posting, but I had to prioritize tasks, such as hanging my Lounge Bar mini-exhibition, which had been removed so that the pub owners could redecorate the place. I also had to update the website with recent works (http://www.tait-gallery.co.uk/), which is now done - I think! Uploading the images, creating thumbnails, using the Image Manager and doing all the necessary hyperlinking is tricky for an internet comparative newbie like me.
As to current artworks, progress is much as usual - slow but steady! I've begun modifying one of the Lounge mini-exhibition items. It was of the third ship to bear the name "St. Clair" on the Aberdeen to Shetland cargo/passenger route. I'd depicted her with Sumburgh Head in the background, but I'd made the land too close up, and this had been irritating me for years, so at last I'm doing something about it. I plan to work at this today. I'm working on another historical Shetland fishing boat commission, and I've begun a largish (40" x 20") painting of the Mearns, near Luthermuir, in April, when fields of daffodils can be seen giving the landscape striking bands of yellow against the dominant dull browns and greens. My next exhibition at the Creel Inn, Catterline, later this year, is the intended destination for this
The days are visibly lengthening now, which is good for artwork production, although the weather is certainly not improving. We had storm force winds bearing rain across the islands for most of Monday, although yesterday was bright and mostly dry, if a little windy. The Met Office are forecasting snow for today. It's all part of the rich tapestry of life on my native islands, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Have a good week (what's left of it!) and I'll try to do better with my posting schedule in future!
Tuesday, 8 February 2011
Here's the latest work to become part of the "stock" at the Tait Gallery. It depicts workboats and pleasure craft at their moorings in the inner harbour at Gourdon, on the east coast of Scotland just south of Inverbervie. This painting took a long time to complete, as it was always competing for time with concurrent commissioned works.
I've devised a cunning plan to solve a ticklish problem I've been confronted with of late. It concerns the cheaper range of ready-made stretched canvases which are obtainable from all the best art materials suppliers. Ridges keep appearing in the canvas at the edges of the stretcher frames, caused by the tension in the material easing when brushwork is applied vigourously to the surface. The solution is so simple that only a numpty like me could have taken as long to fathom it out - draught excluder strip! You know, the kind of old inch-wide spongy stuff which used to be sold in rolls, and which my Dad used to lay on the sills of the old single-glazed windows to collect water caused by condensation, and which could be wrung out and replaced as necessary (the strip, that is!). The technique, as I envisage it, will be to place the strip along the back of the stretcher frame, close to the offending edge, with perhaps a little light adhesive to secure it, and tuck in the loose edge underneath, thereby cushioning the edge which causes the ridging. It sounds wonderful in theory. I expect to make my appearance on one of these awful DIY TV programmes soon. People have often suggested that I take art classes, but with much Uriah-Heep-like hand-wringing, I have explained that I have no teaching qualification and that I have learned all my skills in the school of hard knocks and split ends.
Of course, in these modern days of double-glazed windows, such products as I've described above are now largely redundant, but there are still a few online retail outlets which sell it online. (Mind you, when you google "sponge strip", you get some interesting results!) There you go, Petal! - yet another exciting piece of improvisation from the brilliant but tortured mind of your friendly artistic curmudgeon! Another thing - if I spent a bit more money on better-grade heavier canvas, the ridging problem would not be so acute. As my old Aberdeen mill foreman used to say; "Aye, Jimmy - if ye buy cheap, ye buy dear!" (I seem to recall he was referring to footwear at the time, but never mind).
My apologies for not posting on Sunday as usual. That day I had decided to spend a day of frantic effort to get some cleaning done in the flat/studio (conditions must have been bad before even I had noticed them!). By the time I had hoovered, wiped, dusted, sprayed, scrubbed, washed and dried my way through most of Sunday, I was mentally, physically and emotionally drained, not to mention reeking of Mr Muscle. I was incapable of composing a half-decent blog post, but my cooker, bath and sinks were gleaming!
All the best from a pristine (I wish!) Tait Gallery.