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, 10 June 2012


I've got big ears.  They stick out a a grotesque angle from my head, and, whenever I get a close haircut, the silhouette of my bonce bears a remarkable resemblance to a prestigious golfing trophy.  I can wiggle my lugs about, and I've considered the idea that, if I could develop these muscles a bit, I could train them to become midgie repellant flaps during summer walks.

It would indeed be a good idea to find an alternative use for my ears, as I have been profoundly deaf in the right one since I contracted mumps at age 11.  "Eh?  What?", I hear you gleefully reply (everyone does it, and everyone finds this an equally apt and amusing response!).  True, I need to wear glasses for reading and writing nowadays, so it's always handy to have a place for the legs of these to sit on.  Otherwise, I could as well have followed Van Gogh's (or was it Gauguin's?) example, and cut the ridiculous appendage off.

I made the discovery that I was deaf in one ear by the usual revolting schoolboy habit of "fiddling with my bits". I noticed that, if I stuck my finger in my left lughole, I could hear nothing at all, whereas if I did the same with the right one, everything sounded normal.  I pondered this issue for a time, before broaching the subject with my parents.  Medical appointments were made and kept, and my father and I appeared at a consultant's surgery in Lerwick one fine morning.

I forget the exact location where the consultation took place - I think it may have been the old Gilbert Bain hospital, which is now the local funeral director's parlour.  My father and I were ushered into a room which seemed to contain little else besides a huge bank of electronic equipment, before which sat a tweedy version of Star Trek's Uhura (complete with sensible shoes!).  I was duly wired up, with earphones, to this massive apparatus.  The equipment bleeped, whistled, "tooed" and farted away as the woman twiddled with her knobs, and if she had informed us of the approach of klingons on the starboard bow, I would have been no less clueless as to what the object of this exercise was.  My father may even have leaned over and informed me, in conspiratorial tones, "It's life, Jim, but not as we know it!".  At the end of it, the specialist had to inform me that I was profoundly deaf ("Sorry, YOU'RE DEAF!") in my right ear, and there was nothing they could do about it.

Needless to say, I have been stone deaf in one ear all through the ensuing half-century.  In previous posts, I have touched on the embarrassments and general bothersomeness of hearing in mono rather than stereo.  I got used to it, and even learned to turn it to advantage on some occasions.  I consider myself lucky - it could so easily have been both ears!

I did get hot under the collar when a certain scientist, whose name I've conveniently forgotten, produced a theory, based on the scantest of evidence, that there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.  His publication was meat and drink to the media, who go into a gleeful feeding frenzy over such scary stories (the truth or otherwise behind them completely immaterial), and the rate of uptake of the vaccine plummeted.  There are no statistics available as to the number of children who are now profoundly deaf through contracting mumps as a result of this journalistic coup.  As always, the people who caused this scare aren't hanging around to admire their handiwork, now that the theory has been discredited.

Stanley Baldwin was quoting his uncle Rudyard Kipling when he delivered the famous phrase, "Power without responsibility - the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages."  He was referring to the press barons, melords Beaverbrook and Rothermere, at the time.  Plus ├ža change!  Eh?  What?

Tuesday, 5 June 2012


The latest creation to appear in the Tait Gallery is a landscape depicting the area around Voe Pier in Shetland.  The picture incorporates a fair number of features, but I hope it doesn't look too crowded with detail.  In the back of my mind is the notion that I might enter this into an art competition, run by the Oldie magazine, which, it is proposed, will provide an antidote to the kind of charlatan-produced ordure sponsored by Charles Saatchi and his ilk.  I have no expectations of winning, but at least I will have entered something which reflects the spirit of the contest.

The trouble with the competition is that I'm only allowed to enter one work for it, otherwise I might have hedged my bets with a seascape (which best reflects my normal artistic output) and perhaps a harbour scene.  There would probably be far fewer seascape entries (we nautical painters are much fewer in number than workers in other genre), but the chances are that the judges will have had unfortunate experiences (if any at all) with lumpy seas. This may well cloud their judgement as to depictions of it, leading them to a bias in favour of landscapes, portraiture and still life.  I've only got one shot at this, and I'm thinking of entering the painting shown above.

The painting is of Lower Voe, viewed from the pier, looking roughly north-eastwards .  I used one of my own digital images of the scene, and I've added a couple of children playing in "da ebb" and a few lobster creels, "burrups" and netting to replace the stack of yellow fish-boxes which was in my original photograph of the scene.  I thought that the bright gold would be too much of an eye-pull from the rest of the picture.  I've taken a small amount of artistic licence, therefore, but it is still far from having Saatchi inclusion potential - it doesn't smell!  I'll leave that element of ambience to your own sensual memories and fertile imaginations!

Whatever happens to the original painting, it's going to be available shortly as a giclee print.  Come along to my Saturday stalls at the Toll Clock centre here in Lerwick (starting on 23rd June).  They'll be for sale there in A3 and A4 size, along with many other good things.  See you there!