Friday, 30 July 2010

Bass Rock

Had a nice trip to North Berwick with my dad yesterday. It was hot and sunny... we had a Luca's ice cream! Here's a sketch of Bass Rock.

Continued my running recovery with Tom's great session at Meadowbank, He got us to do a pryamid of 400 - 800 - 1200 -600 -300 for the main set. Totally nackering, but you feel good afterwards.
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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Firth of Forth from East Lothian and Fife

It’s good to be back into some training. The Achilles is still niggling away but I have had several runs, mostly off road and the injury is steadily improving. Went to Tyninghame beach yesterday morning and ran through the woods and on the beach with Harvey in beautiful conditions. There was a bright clear light bouncing off the sea that can only make you feel good. Later went over to Fyfe and had a good look around Pitenween (home of Daniel Defoe and Alexander Selkirk… the inspiration for Robinson Crusoe.) The harbour area on a sunny day looks similar to a Mediterranean fishing village… very attractive. Later tried the famous Anstruther fish and chips… fabulous, they are definitely worth queuing for.

The Pitenween arts festival is on 7 - 15 August and will be well worth a visit. Scotland really punches above it’s weight when it comes to writers and artists. This stretch of coast along Fyfe is bristling with artists and galleries. Elsewhere the Glasgow boys at the Kelvingrove museum and the Glasgow girls at Kirkcudbright are both inspirational exhibitions I would like to visit.

Here are a couple of paintings of a recent visit to Whitesands, East Lothian



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Monday, 26 July 2010

Harvey Here #8

I decided to get a sketch of me relaxing in my bed, so I commissioned Ray to do it, woof, woof.

He did a couple of cartoons too. arrf

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Went to see ‘Inception’ the other night. Leonardo Di Capro and Gordon Joseph-Levitt (late of 3rd Rock from the Sun) starred. The film is a real brain twister, in the same league as ‘The Matrix.’ This sci fi story takes us into peoples dreams where architects design cities based on their imagination. The main characters go into the dreams to steal information or plant the seeds of future decisions the person will make. But what you can do once, why not do twice or even three or four times? The film takes us down to dreams within dreams within dreams and asks the question of how do we hold on to what it real. There’s a danger for those involved that they will lose it and they nearly do. Overall, I would guess that the most impressive aspect of the film is the special effects. I particularly liked Gordon Joseph-Levitt doing a 2001 type weightless dance as he tied up the cast and ushered them into a lift.

On Tuesday night I went along to the summer series race between the local running clubs. It was a 3.4 mile run along the west beach  of North Berwick. I had missed the other summer series runs due to injury and it was great to be in amongst the runners again. I was given a very generous handicap and got back first, but I’m not kidding myself. I still have a sore Achilles and I have lost a lot of fitness. Nothing for it but to get out there on a regular basis.

I have found out how to trim photos on the scanner, so here is my first self portrait, fully trimmed.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

New toys

I got a couple of new toys recently. Well they're not really toys... more like painting aids. I bought some water soluable Stabilo pens and a water brush pen. I can use them for making colour sketches, which is great because they are easy to carry around. Here is a little test sample from  my sketch book.
... Looks promising

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Sketching people

I have been practicing drawing people. Until recently my attempts had been in pencil, but I did two sketches with a pen on the bus during the running trip on the West Highland Way.

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Wednesday, 14 July 2010

St. Mary's Church, Haddington

Quite pleased with the way today went. Decided to finish off a painting of St. Mary’s Church. It had been hanging around for quite a few weeks since I last had a go at it. As with most of my painting projects, there was a fair bit of experimentation to get the effects I wanted. A number of things had to come together. There is a very dark sky and a snow covered scene. There are also red/orange spotlights on the upper parts of the church which contrast nicely with the sombre colours of the scene. One of the big challenges was getting the proportions right in what for me is quite a big painting. I did it by dividing the water colour paper into quarters so that I could judge the relative distance and size of the different parts of the church; even so, it was quite a challenge. I used wet on wet for the sky and quite a lot of the church including the spotlights.
When I had finished I went along to IKEA and bought some mountings and frames. There weren’t any the right size for the St. Mary’s picture, so I got a cheap frame without any mounting. I was pleased to get a few frames and mountings for other paintings, which fit fine. Here is St. Mary’s Church.

Tonight I went for a run with the club and the Achilles survived, it’s still not right, but seems to be holding up… it’s great to be out running again.

Friday, 9 July 2010


Here are a couple of water colour paintings I did this year at my painting class with Sheena Phillips

Thursday, 8 July 2010

His illegal self by Peter Carey

Continuing my occassional reviews of the books I am reading here is 'His illegal self by Peter Carey.'

Peter Carey is an Australian living in New York and a two time Booker prize winner. I have read two other books written by him (Jack Maggs and Theft – A love story,) they both have an Australian flavour to them.
His illegal self, although starting in New York is mostly based in Queensland. It’s about a boy whose parents are hippies and revolutionaries. The courts decide to put him in the care of his eccentric granny. The story is about a trip he takes to find his father, with someone he thinks is his mother.
Written in the third person, past tense, Carey captures the intense feelings and relationships between the boy Che (Jay) and his supposed mother (Dial) in the humid conditions of Queensland bush. The hippie community include a few eccentric characters who come over well in the story. This is particularly true of Trevor, who is a sort of feral human, living off the land.
Carey uses rich description and evocative metaphor to build his story. An example on the first page – ‘You were some kind of lovely insect, expected to know things through you feelers, by kaleidoscope patterns in the others eyes, or the last page, - ‘What happened to the boy in that moment felt as if it could be measured with a twelve inch ruler, a sharp searing pain that somehow did not hurt.’

A good read and recommended.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tumble turns

Still not running due to an Achilles problem. I’ve been doing some swimming and have been out on the bike, which has kept me reasonably sane. Last night I went along to the Tranent swimming club, Masters section. I usually go to this on Mondays because the coaches are helpful. It also means I do breast stoke and back stroke as well as the usual front crawl, this believe it or not is a good thing!. Last night the session was early, due to the summer holidays. I got there at 7 pm and the pool was full of minnows and no masters, so I joined them. The kids are so fit, it makes you get out of breath watching them. The warm up was swimming different strokes around the pool, yes, around the sides and widths. We then practiced tumbles turns (not my best activity.) Then it was how to push off from the wall in breast stroke. The best was still to come – two x 20 sets of tumble turns across the widths. This was followed by swimming underwater for one, then two, then three widths. I was pretty waterlogged when I got out, but those tumble turns will either sort out my technique or kill me!

I have been visiting Butterdean woods with Harvey quite a bit lately. It is a great wood, with lots of native trees in it and some good paths. Here is a sketch in fineliner ink.

I have also sketched my dad recently, here are two of them.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Harvey here  #7
When Ray went away to Cuba he didn’t take me with him, grrr.
I went to stay with Skye at Innerwick, woof.
I was there for two weeks and had a great time play fighting with Skye, woof, woof.
The garden at Skye’s house is very easy to get out of, so I went exploring quite a lot. Skye’s owner tied me up, but I showed them, I chewed through two leads… who’s a clever boy then?
When Ray got back he took me camping on the coast between Gullane and Yellowcraig, arrf.
He did a painting of the scene and I chased the waves. Ray laughed at me when I got scared by the big waves, grrr. We slept in his one man – one dog tent, woof.
The only trouble was that a north wind blew up and we were both cold, grrr
We got up early and had some fun running around the beach, woof.
I’ve not been staying in the car when Ray is at work because it’s too hot, arrf.
Sometimes I stay in the house and other times I can get into the garden, I’m always pleased when he gets home from work, arrf, woof.
This week we have been going to Butterdean wood and exploring the paths. It’s great there, I can run around following all the scents woof ,woof

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Two excellent authors living nearby!

It’s unusual to have spoken to the authors of the books I read, but two recent reads have turned the unusual around. Mercedes Claraso, is from Catalan and has lived in Scotland for many years. I know her as a member of my writing group in Dalkieth. She writes wonderful poetry and it adept at writing short stories which get right into the psychology of the characters. She has written and published several books and I had the good fortune to read The Hawthorne Hedge. It’s a story of two men’s lives - Alan and Peter, both losers in their own ways. They, their families, wives and lovers are richly revealed and help the protagonists understand themselves and they reach some kind of redemption. Very well written with a certain ‘old fashioned feel about it.
I’ll be back for more of her work.

The Art of Friendship is written by Erin Kaye who comes from Northern Ireland and now lives in North Berwick. We have a mutual friend and shared some emails recently. She has written several novels – all published in Ireland. This is the first book published in the UK. It is set in N. Ireland (Ballyfergus – Larne) and is about a year in the life of four girl friends. At the start of the book, I thought I was in for another ‘bad mother’ story in the vein of ‘We must talk to Kevin’ (which I had read recently.) However, this was only one thread in the plot.
The story gives a rich portrayal of each friend’s character, their secrets and the problems they face. Erin sets up a series of difficulties and the friendships are threatened. By courageously facing up to the problems, they are overcome and the friends make up. This book is a real page turner, Erin pulls you in and keeps hold of you till the end.