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, 23 March 2014


The first "Earl of Zetland" was launched on the Clyde in 1877.  At only 186 grt, she wasn't big, but she provided a lifeline service for the next 60 years, ferrying passengers, cargo and livestock between Lerwick and the north isles of Shetland.

In 1938, she was replaced on the route by the new "Earl of Zetland", but, on the outbreak of war the following year, the new ship was commandeered to perform Admiralty duties.  The old "Earl" was brought back into service on her old run for the rest of the war years, skippered by my uncle Adam Tait for this part of her long career.

My painting shows her steaming south through Linga Sound in a fresh northerly breeze.  The viewpoint is from Whalsay, looking westwards.  The original painting, with A4 and A3 limited edition giclee prints also available, can be purchased through the Gallery Shop pages of my website


Before my mother moved into the Overtonlea Care Centre on 30th April 2012, I'd scarcely been down the road through Levenwick since my youth (and that's a long time ago!).  I have vague childhood memories of family picnics on the sandy beach below the hill.  From there we looked right across the bay at our home in Sandwick - it was far quicker by boat than by car over the miles of winding road along the hillsides.

There was one other occasion, back in 2004, when I visited my web designer, Roy Longmuir, at his home in Levenwick.  It was an exciting time for me, as we were setting up my website and The Tait Gallery was going online for the first time. The photograph of me on the home page article "About the Artist" was taken that day at the front of Roy's house.

The view in the painting shown above is from a little further down the Overton road, looking towards Sandwick, which has changed practically beyond recognition since my formative years.  One of the attractive things about Levenwick is the predominance of old -fashioned white-washed "but-and-ben" houses which still cling to to the steep hillside, and the more modern dwellings seem to be placed so as not to detract too much from from the traditional flavour of the scene.  In other parts of Shetland, building has been much less sensitive in this way, with clumps of wooden kit houses and glass-and-concrete monstrosities dominating the landscape.  I've grown rather fond of Levenwick, and not just because it is now my mother's home.

The painting, and limited edition giclee prints (both A3 and A4) are available through the Gallery Shop on my website

Monday, 17 March 2014


Osteoporosis?  Cervical Spondylosis?  Osteo-arthritis?  Something else equally horrible?  I don't know what the medical term for it might be - all I know is that it is a pain in the neck, and I've had it since last summer!  It's been a right old nuisance, affecting my artwork, my writing and practically every other sphere of activity in which I indulge.

For some time leading up to last summer, I'd noticed that my neck became painful when I was working at waist-height while standing.  Things like washing dishes, setting up my stalls or preparing food seemed to bring on an ache in the back of my neck.  When this occurred I would sit down for five minutes, the ache would go away, and I'd carry on as before - you know how you do!  But then, at the beginning of July, things changed.

After clearing up from one of my Saturday stalls, I developed serious pain, along with extreme stiffness, which meant that my head was pointing downwards most of the time. I had difficulty lifting it up, and I couldn't raise it at all when walking.  I went along with my head in a ridiculous stoop, unable to see much more than ten yards ahead of me..  When I first presented my problem at the Lerwick Health centre, the doctor told me there was little that could be done about it.  He couldn't prescribe anti-inflammatories for the pain, as I was already on medication for hypertension, and he gave me a programme of neck exercises, supposedly to make my neck more supple.  Surprisingly he didn't even suggest an X-ray.  I continued to look at my feet as I walked, now utterly depressed at the thought of my condition possibly being permanent.  Life continued to be a pain in the neck!

Even shaving was a problem - I couldn't get my head raised sufficiently to get the electric razor underneath my chin.  I went to see the chiropractor, and, through him, I paid for my own X-ray.  This showed a bit of wear and tear on the spine, with a couple of discs getting spongy, but little obvious damage in the neck area.  The chiropractor beat me up on a regular basis, but this only had the effect of shifting the pain around, as did the sterling efforts of the masseuse, who also had a go at solving my problem.  I now dreaded going to bed at night, as the first five minutes after my head hit the pillow were excruciatingly painful, before the pain settled down enough to allow some fitful sleep.

The doctor had reckoned that the pain was due to my work practice, and this may be true.  Most of my painting is done while seated at a table, with the canvas lying flat.  Certainly, holding my head concentrated in one position for some time, whether painting or writing, made my neck very stiff.  I tried a table easel, but this made very little difference.  It was the tension in my neck, as I held my head steady to concentrate on the brushwork, which seemed to cause the pain and stiffness.  All attempts at artwork now ceased.

What is normally a rare treat for me, and an opportunity which only comes my way once every five years or so, took place on the first Saturday in August.  I'd been invited to be one of the panel of arts and crafts judges at the Voe Show.  The weather was beautiful - breezy and sunny - and what should have been an absolute delight was completely spoiled by my pain.  The three hours of deciding what should get the honours among the many excellent exhibits was done through a dark veil of my own discomfort, which I was trying my best not to transmit to my fellow judges and helpers.  It made a chore out of what is usually a pleasure and inspiration.

In September, having had two months of barely tolerable pain (and a growing waiting list of unfulfilled painting commissions), I decided to have another go at trying to get someone interested in my condition at the Lerwick Health Centre.  And this time I met a doctor who took immediate command of the situation, and my life changed almost instantaneously.  She prescribed me an anti-inflammatory which was not in conflict with my other medication, and which substantially reduced the pain within a couple of days.  She put me in touch with hospital physiotherapists who helped me further..  She entered into an in-depth investigation of my problem, taking blood samples which revealed calcium deficiency, amongst other things, and which a daily intake of Vitamin D is now addressing.  I am now back doing artwork, and my embarrassing waiting list has diminished greatly.  Some of my recent efforts will be appearing here in the coming days.  It's so nice to be back!

The neck is still a bit stiff, and I'm having a bone scan at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary next month.  But the stiffness and pain are getting gradually less and I now hold my head up in public when out walking. I can look straight ahead of me, and round and about me, once more, and life is getting better again - yippee!

Sunday, 16 March 2014


The Fraserburgh dual-purpose boat "Girl Olive" (FR369), rigged for drift-net fishing, leaves her home port to look for the herring shoals.   She holds the record for the fastest build ever of this class of 70-foot vessel. From the laying of her keel in early November of 1952, it took only six weeks to launch her fully-rigged. She sailed the same day, and landed fish that night!  Nowadays it takes that long to undergo the regulatory inspections!

This commissioned work was for a client in Australia.  I completed it finally in October, after a few months lay-off due to being poorly.  More on that subject shortly!