Thursday, 24 January 2013


When I'm not working I make do by browsing through paintings, remembering when and where I painted them. They belong to other people now and this is a curious feeling.

 Main Street. Oil on canvas

New Day Dawning. Oil on canvas

Shelter from the Storm. Oil on canvas


Snow gets in the way.

It's over a week since I was at the studio and in that week I've watched the snow falling, gradually going and then falling again. It's lovely to look at and I've enjoyed the spell at home. But now it's getting frustrating and I'm ready to get back to work. Before that happens I have a spell in London, picking up more paint and maybe getting to see the Manet exhibition which opens on the weekend. The reviews have been glowing and there's a lot of excitement around the exhibition. It's here until April and the most sensible thing would be to wait until maybe the crowds will be less. I have a feeling that won't happen and I'm not sure I can wait.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

February then March

January will soon be at an end but before that happens there is a ray of sunshine. Next week my grandson who lives in Germany is 6 years old. The youngest of 4 grandsons (by only three months) he is a treasure.
Then February starts with rugby. In two weeks it will be the first game in the Six Nations Championship and I will be glued to the television. Then we're close to March and St Davids Day and daffodils but not before pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. Why am I wishing my life away? 

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Oranges and sunshine

The smell of oranges which lingered for a number of days in my house has now gone. All the marmalade is made.
With snow outside and freezing temperatures, I am watching images of the South of France on the TV screen, bright blue skies and brilliant sunshine. I'm following the lives of painters who moved from Paris to live in the South at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century. All the painters who mean something to me - Cézanne and  Matisse amongst the many. I see the way the light in the South, the colours and shapes and the beauty of the Côte d'Azur changed the way they painted and I share the facination and love they had for the place. I see the trees laden with  bitter oranges growing in the bright sunshine of Nice- the Bigarade oranges, the French equivalent of Seville oranges. 

When I was young I stayed a few times in Dundee with a boyfriend who was a student there. I remember the smell of oranges from the famous Keiller factory. The story goes that in the 18th century a Spanish ship carrying a load of oranges from Seville got into trouble in a storm around the coast of Dundee. Keiller bought up the oranges which would otherwise have perished and his wife made them into marmalade. That was the beginning and it's hard to believe that in the 21st century marmalade is still going strong. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

It's cold outside.

I've been circling around work, not really doing anything. I called into the studio for the first time since Christmas yesterday to check everything was OK. I moved a few paintings around and sat and gazed at the canvas finished in December and still on the easel. Today I'm meeting a friend in the coffee shop below the studio - another painter. Together we manage to motivate each other so that's a start. If the snow, which is threatening in some parts of the country, moves in this direction going to the studio will be not be pleasant, so, whilst the sun is shining I'll make a pact with myself to go to the studio everyday. In truth it's the cold which holds me back - warm house, cold studio - best just to get on with it and think of warmer months to come. In Marks and Spencers yesterday they were selling daffodils. That doesn't seem right to me and although I hovered on the point of buying a bunch I couldn't do it. I'll wait until Spring is in sight.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Maybe the last time.

It's getting towards evening and I'm getting tired of the sight of marmalade. Maybe this is the last year. The gin bottle has been put away and I've turned off Adele - all I'm good for is collapsing in-front of the TV. I still have 7 pounds of oranges left. Maybe I could stick them with cloves and make them into pomanders but the number of friends who want to hang an orange in their wardrobe is probably not that many.  The painter friend who has come to depend on my marmalade for his breakfast everyday has said in the past that my marmalade making is better than my painting. I hope he's joking otherwise he doesn't to get any more.


I don't know if making marmalade is a chore, all I know is that for the brief time that seville oranges are in the shops I am driven to buy them. I often have to search hard and phone around to find them.
I put it down to the colour. The sight of them on my table is magical and for a day or two they are decoration, like a bunch of flowers; but no flowers at this time of year have this bright, clear colour and after the decorations of Christmas these fill the space until the daffodils come. But then I worry about them shrivelling up and wasting and I'm too frugal to let that happen so Sunday (today) I'm devoting myself to marmalade making and listening to the radio. I just have to take a photograph before they disintegrate and lose their shape and colour.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year Resolutions

The best thing about January has to be the New Year Resolutions. In fact it's the only good thing about January.Trying to match the realistic things with the reckless, I've decided this year to do it with a friend over dinner and some wine. This way I can introduce a bit of fun and maybe my intent will last beyond the end of the month. Given the gloomy economic news and the cold damp weather of January it's time for a bit of frivolity. Looking back over last year I find in my diary a splurge of social gatherings in January 2012 and realise it's the energy overspill from the pre-Christmas parties. It's a pity that by February the social mood is waning.
I definitely need to better in 2013.