The Pink Guitar – 11 November 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe day started with a final attempt to cover the rogue canvas in glory, if not paint. I took Scamps advice and ditched the greens and greys and went ahead with bright reds and oranges. I also did most of the work with a painting knife rather than brushes. A much better, looser result. Not brilliant, but an improvement on what was there before.

Today we went to Glasgow to buy a new dishwasher. Nothing fancy, just a simple machine that will wash dishes without bells or whistles. I don’t really care, just as long as it does its job and protects me from washday red hands.

Had lunch in Pulcinella and although the service was slow, the food was good, and that’s what matters. Coffee in Cafe Nero later, then we had to pay the exorbitant parking in the Concert Hall. I only wanted to park, not buy the building.

Getting ready to batten down the hatches for the first storm of winter tomorrow. Oh what fun.

Walking to Twechar – 11 August 2015

Today I burned Ecto.  It is no more.  Spent almost an hour writing up this blog and when I published it, all that was published was the title.  Back in Ecto, the page was also totally blank.  Ecto is shite.  Last updated 5 years ago, the author isn’t interested in progressing it, just interested in making money.  I can’t believe I actually spent money on it.  I would not recommend it to anyone.  I’m now looking for another blog writer that actually works.  The best one I’ve found is made by Microsoft and won’t work on the Mac.  Such a pity.

DSC_3267- blog--223The day started well.  Not the brightest, but at least I got a painting done.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWent for a walk to Twechar along the railway and got some photos of a common blue butterfly.  Not much else worth photographing.  Came home and had a look at the Strawberry Vodka.  It will probably be ready to drink tomorrow.  This is the synopsis of the day which was going well until now.

Tomorrow is another day.

The Far East – 8 August 2015

DSC_3219- blog--220We travelled to the Far East today. To Kirkcaldy, where the good weather was allegedly to be found. It was indeed there. It’s a long time since we’ve been to Kirkcaldy. It’s gone a bit downhill since then, but so have a lot of Scottish towns. There is one place in Kirkcaldy that has remained constant, and that’s the Art Gallery. It’s changed its name to Kirkcaldy Galleries, but the paintings are still there and still worth a visit. Scamp wanted to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland which coincidentally is on display there, and I wanted to see the SJ Peploe paintings in the gallery. The tapestry takes up three rooms in the gallery and is quite interesting, but we both agreed that although it is an impressive body of work, it is quite dull with a distinct lack of colour. Now, this could be due to the poor lighting in the rooms as the display is not that well lit. Unfortunately, because the tapestry takes up so much display space, the paintings have suffered and especially the Scottish Colourists. They are now reduced to only one room in the gallery and at that, some of the best pictures remain in DSC_3224- blog--220storage. At least we know they will be restored to their former glory soon.  After the gallery, we drove to the parking place beside Morrisons and walked along the coastal path to the old castle to see the seals. As usual they were there basking on the rocks in the sun. We took the much quicker, but less scenic way home and allowed Bombay Dreams to provide dinner for us. It rained as I went to pick up the dinner.

That was summer.

A silly mistake – 30 July 2015

This one was 1/200 @ f9 ISO 250. In other words, Normal.
1/4000 @ f9 ISO25600. The grain or digital noise is obvious ;-(

For a few months now I’ve been setting my camera to Manual exposure, choosing a shutter speed around 1/250th and an aperture of around f9, then allowing the camera to choose the ISO to achieve those settings. I’d used it on the Nikon first because the E-PL1 didn’t have the ability to adjust the ISO in camera. When I got the E-PL5 back in early June, and after researching the ‘hidden menu‘, I found that it could do what the Nikon did. Since then, I’ve used the manual mode almost exclusively. Today after a morning of success and failure in painting, then digging up our tatties (just got enough for two dinners – not good) I went out on the bike hoping to get close to nature and get some photos of ‘beasties‘ using the E-PL5 with the Pano lens and extension tubes. After dosing myself with

The lacewing was ISO 8000.   Acceptable, just.
The lacewing was ISO 8000. Acceptable, just.

insect repellant – a strange thing to do if you are hoping to get closeups of insects, but it keeps away the biting insects … sometimes. The first two or three shots were fine, then I must have accidentally changed the shutter speed from 1/250th to 1/4000th. This gave an underexposure of over 4 stops which meant the camera compensated by increasing the ISO proportionally. Silly Boy! The result of this is that the grain/noise on the shots was a lot more than normal, and I do mean a LOT! The shutter speed has now been returned to normal and I’ll be more careful in future.

Sorry JIC and others, I should have posted a technospeak alert! 😉


Other than that it was just a normal day, but at least there was no rain and for a while we got some sun. I don’t think it will be like that tomorrow, so I grabbed the sun while it was there. Oh, one last thing. Had a starter tonight of Black Pudding Pakora. Don’t, just don’t. It’s not a lovely, lovely thing as John Torode would say.

A trip to Decathlon and Small and Often – 23 July 2015

A 365 is sometimes a pain and sometimes a pleasure. Sometimes it contrives to be both. I enjoy the regime of having to take a photo every day. Recently I’ve been reading a book

“Daily Painting: Small and Often …” by Carol Marine. Her idea is that you should try to paint a small painting every day – much like a 365. I don’t think I could tie myself to the one-a-day routine, but certainly one a week is do-able. and I’m happy to try it in the coming weeks. I used to find that on days when I couldn’t paint, I could write code – just BASIC mainly, but occasionally assembly language for the old Z80 chip. Similarly, on days when my coding became heavy, my painting improved. I think it’s to do with left and right sides of the brain. One side is supposed to control the analytical skills and the other the creative and artistic abilities. It seemed to work for me and now I’m beginning to think that way again. Photography is not Art. Let’s not kid ourselves, photography is 99% technology now. With programs like Lightroom, Aperture and Photoshop, there’s very little creativity. You only have to look at some of the crap on Flickr, 500px and similar image promoting websites – I’m not even going to suggest you look at Facebook or Instagram! – to see what I’m talking about. So… I’m going to try to produce one painting per week. It may appear here or it may not. It depend on whether I like it or if it is a Learning Experience.

Today I went to Decathlon at Braehead to spend the last of my gift voucher. It’s taken me a long time because there was a lot of money there and I didn’t want to squander it on just anything. I’m taking longer and longer to think about these things now. I intended to buy, amongst other things a saddle bag for my bike. The bag I chose was priced at £7.95. When I went to the checkout, the assistant told me it was £9.95. I told her it was priced at £7.95 on the rack. She got another assistant to check the price. He came back and checked it on a computer and confirmed that it was £9.95. When I asked him to show me where he got that price on the rack, he couldn’t. None of the codes on the prices matched with the item. I asked him how I could tell what price it was and he admitted I couldn’t tell. It had to be checked at the till or on computer. This seems a really stupid way to run a business. I can now understand why Decathlon at The Fort had to close. It also explains why people wander round this store looking bemused. I don’t think I’ll be back in the store, I’ll go somewhere sensible like Halfords or Evans, but think about this idea. Put prices on things. I know it takes away the mystery, but it makes buying things much easier.

Scamp had asked me to get some handmade chocolates on the way home as a present for a workmate’s 25th wedding anniversary. This means that I also have to buy Scamp someOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA really good ice-cream and Edinburgh Rock for myself! On the way to the shop in Muirhead, I stopped to take a photo of these petrol pumps in a disused petrol station. I’ve passed them many times and always meant to take a photo. Today I got them, because if I didn’t, one day I’d pass and see the bulldozers flattening them and the photo would be gone. One of my mantras is :

Take the Photo then make adjustments.

Today I took the photo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALater in the afternoon I was at the architecturally challenged Cumbernauld Town Centre also known as Castle Greyskull. It’s a dreary place that really needs to be torn down and started again, but all they seem to do is add bits to it and shore up the bits that are falling down. It makes a good subject for an HDR grunge photo.



Take the Photo

Burds – 19 July 2015

Despite it being colder than normal last night, I was too hot and couldn’t sleep.  So about 4.00am, I got up and had myself some cereal for a very early breakfast then went back to bed.  Even at that early hour, the birds were singing.

Finally woke around 8.30am and made real breakfast (more cereal) for us both.  While I was waiting for my tea to brew, I threw out a couple of stale slices of my lovely homemadeDSC_2969- blog--200 bread, for the birds.  This immediately attracted the corvidae population.  These scavengers are really taking over this year with crows, ravens, jackdaws and the ubiquitous magpies which I detest.  This is the first year I’ve seen so many of them.  They seem to arrive in masses to roost on rooftops all around us and, of course, grab any food that’s going.  I’m thinking of making a cage DSC_2966- blog--200that will cover the bread scraps with a mesh big enough to allow the smaller birds through, but prevent these black rogues from stealing any.  One of them sidled along the fence until it was within snatching distance, or so it thought.  Thankfully, I only have to grab the door handle and they are off on a sortie around the houses before returning for another look.  Actually, I don’t mind them as much as the pigeons.  The crow family are at least wild.  The pigeons live in a pigeon loft a couple of streets away and if left to it, can hoover up a whole loaf in no time.  Big fat rats with wings.  Not the brightest lights on the tree either.  My brother used to shoot them with an air rifle and said it took two or three slugs before they noticed that they were dead!

After the pigeon and crow watch, I restarted my painting, this time with oils.  I just painted on top of the acrylic (which was on top of a watercolour!)  As far as I can remember, you can paint oil on top of acrylic, but not the other way round.  If I get up tomorrow and find that the whole thing has slid down off the easel onto a pile on the floor, I’ll know I’ve got it wrong.  Anyway, I think it looks better and it’s has a much more tactile painting with oils rather than painting with acrylic – it’s like painting with soft butter – a strange analogy, but that’s the way I see it.

Salsa in the Garage tonight and it was really good and very hot.  We surely lost a kg or two at least.  Lots of people from our class there as it is Fair Monday tomorrow and the STUC is closed.  So no salsa classes this week unless we go to help with the beginners on Wednesday.  We’ll see.

Hoping to try out the bike carrier tomorrow if the rain stays away.

An abstract day – 5 July 2015

By the time I got up this morning, our visitors had gone. Back in to Glasgow to get the 10 o’clock bus back to Skye. We had all had a good time last night comparing cruises and places and generally P7050037- blog--186.jpg discussing the folk we’d met and marvelling at how people become so used to the food and the luxury of a cruise, but still find something to criticise. As Murd said “These people are eating far better than they would at home, but they’re still not satisfied.” It’s so true. I think that’s what’s wrong with the world today. No matter what we get, we are never satisfied.

Fred and I were booked into an abstract art class in Cass Art today. Abstract is not my favourite art form, in fact I haven’t tried it since I was at college at least. We got to mess around – probably not the best P7050047- blog--186.jpg terminology – with a variety of media from thick body acrylic to very liquid acrylic ink and taking in spray paint along the way. I can’t say my final piece was in any way planned. Can you plan an abstract? I suppose you must have some idea of what the final creation will look like or feel like, but I was just splashing paint on to see what transpired. It was an interesting couple of hours and although there were only three of us in the group, our ‘creations’ were quite varied. I was the least skilled and it showed. I did manage to get paint all over my hands and a couple of blobs on my jeans. If I’d thought about it I would have realised that this was a situation that required old clothes. Anyway, we had a good time and I was really impressed with what Fred produced. He said he didn’t plan it, but I don’t believe him. He’s done this before. I’d go back to another of their classes even if it’s quite a blatant attempt on their part to sell you stuff. The enthusiasm of the tutors keeps you interested.

When I got home, the good weather of the morning had gone, washed away by the rain. We watched the F1 Grand Prix from Silverstone. In the boring bits, and there were a few of those, I watched the rain. I also watched a couple of old crows sitting on the roof opposite us, thinking, well at least I was in the dry.P7050056- blog--186-1.jpg

After dinner when the rain had stopped and the sun was setting I ventured out into the swamp that is our garden and got a few shots of the rambling rose at the back door. I liked the way the raindrops were hanging on to the rosebuds. The raindrops acted like little lenses distorting the sky and clouds. Quite impressed.

Rainy days and Mondays – 1 June 2015

It actually started out quite clear and not all that windy – no rain at all. Looks like the weather folk got it wrong again. Got up and did some washing – yes, I can work the washing machine, I just can’t or won’t DSC_2612- flickr-152.jpg grasp the technique of ironing. Breeze was getting up, so I hung out the washing to dry. My talents are almost endless these days. The sun came out for a while and I took the DSC_2619- blog-152.jpg opportunity to grab some shots of the azellia’s that are in full bloom just now. The red ones are Scamp’s favourite flowers in all the garden. The blue one is a new plant for this year. Not many flowers, but it’s early days.

My head was not in a good place this morning for some reason. Just felt a bit down. Later I remembered why. Tomorrow is a fasting blood test, so that means nothing to eat after 9.00pm and only water to drink. How is a man supposed to exist on that? I just keep thinking that after 9.10 tomorrow morning, I’ll be back to a sensible diet. Where I can eat anything I like – in moderation. Moderation being a country I’m usually a stranger in. I hate the fasting for the blood test. I always feel hungry just after the curfew time, no matter what I eat before it. However, it has to be done I suppose. I did a small preparatory sketch for a painting of Trumpan. It’s a view I’ve done before, but in acrylic, not watercolour. Still impressed with the water brushes and the new artist’s quality paints.

Today being Monday, Scamp had her ladies round for a practise, so I vamoosed in the general direction of the gym for an hour. That sounds really good, but it’s half an hour in the gym and half an hour in the steam room and the sauna, with maybe a splash in the pool to loosen up in between. When I came home I just had time to bring in the washing before the heavens opened. By the time we were going out to Glasgow for tonight’s classes, the rain was torrential. Black clouds clogged up the sky and the breeze had strengthened to a gale. Maybe the weather folk weren’t so daft after all. To cap it all, two hours later, when we were driving home there was a beautiful blue sky. Still a bit cool, but dry and the wind had disappeared again. It really is crazy weather these days, but it’s Scotland – Four season’s in one day.

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When we got to the house, I saw this big giant snail. I don’t know where this guy overwinters, but he arrives on our doorstep – literally – every year around this time. He’s quite a big fella now and he usually has a tryst with a lady snail in the flowerbed. Unless this is the lady snail …

Just as I am finishing off this blog, the wind is getting up again and the rain is starting to hammer on the windows.  I really should listen to these weather folk.  They do know what they are talking about.  Off to bed now to dream of steak pies and pints of beer and other stuff I can’t have until tomorrow!

An Uneventful Sunday – 31 May 2015

I’d hoped to get out cycling again today, but the weather was against it as predicted by the weather report last night. High winds, gusty high winds which is worse and squally rain. Up at 8.00 to put on my dinner – pork osso bucco in a red wine sauce. Why such an ungodly hour of a Sunday morning? Well, it was so it could be slow cooked for about 6 hours. After that, I did a bit of painting. Just a couple of sketches. See below. I don’t see them setting the art world afire with their beauty or demonstration of skill, but they’re mine and I’m quite pleased. I’ve seen fit to display them below. Please don’t download them and colour print them. Giclee dear, giclee. Printing is for letters and spreadsheets.IMG_2576-Edit- blog-151.jpg

Dancing later this afternoon at the Garage and for once I really did enjoy it. On the way to the Garage, I passed this lane and decided to add it to my album entitled “Peein’ up closes and lanes” on Flickr. The title comes from “The Copper’s Song” by the late Hamish Imlach. Just another wee bit of nonsense. When we came out, I saw a better shot, but there was a bloke pacing up and down the lane and I didn’t want folk asking any awkward questions. “Here mate, whit ur ye daein’?” “Is that a camera or a fone?” “Gonnae gie us yer fone mate or dae ye want me tae gie you a dooin?'” It is Glasgow after all and Rangers had just lost an important match to Motherwell, so discretion is the better part … etc. the photo needed a bit of post processing, it being from an iPhone, not a ‘real’ camera. Did levels and stuff then used Sergé’s settings for shadows and highlights. Then I noticed that the sky was plain white. Chopped a bit of believable grey cloud from another photo and pasted it in in Photoshop. Looked much better then.

Got home to much more peaceful weather and even a bit of late sun. First of June tomorrow and snow predicted for high ground. Oh dear!

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A day at home, playing nurse – 24 April 2015

It was a misty dreich morning, so rather than go out for a walk, I attempted what is probably my first pen and wash drawing in forty years.  It won’t be my last I hope.  Next time I must ignore the dreichness and go out and paint in the wild “plein air” as we artists call it!

Then Scamp arrived home early from work feeling ill which is very unlike her.  She was eventually encouraged to go to bed and sleep it off.  So although the weather was improving, I thought I should be a good nursie and stay home to look after the invalid. She’s much better now and happily watching Masterchef.

I spent most of the afternoon playing around with blogging software and am presently writing this on Mars Edit.  It’s not my favourite, that certainly goes to the Mickysoft one.  Although it’s not supported any longer, it’s simply excellent.  I’d have liked to trial Desk, but it needs OSX 10.9 and that’s not going to happen yet.  I’ve still got Blogo to test, but hopefully that will be soon.

Anyway, it started raining in the late afternoon, so although Scamp was back on her feet and looking a lot better, I couldn’t be bothered getting all dressed up to get some foties, so I took some in the garden – in the rain.  That’s what gets photogs a bad name!

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Raindrops on a daffodil leaf.

Panasonic 45-200mm + 16mm+10mm ext tubes.

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Raindrops on tulip petals.

Panasonic 45-200mm + 16mm+10mm ext tubes.