Sunday 25 January 2009

The old Smile

22nd January 09

Not so cold this week, and although I'm prepared for the rain, it's the wind that's the problem. Great Pulteney Street (behind me) always seems to create a wind tunnel effect. I've got nothing to weigh the easel down and every so often a gust catches the painting and the whole thing threatens to blow over. It could be worse though - maybe it's the lamppost in front of me (strangely missing from the painting) helping to break the force of the blasts.

The door to the newsagents on my right squeaks (nay squeals) badly as it opens and closes. It's the old Smile shop - now there was a good name for a friendly neighbourhood newsagent - it enticed you in - 'Hey, look it's the Smile, let's go and buy something!" beam, beam. Not quite the same anymore ... a few bits of bad press, a few shops forced to close and bam! it's out with Smile and in with McColls and its sophisticated 'Boozebuster' slogan. Yep .... not quite the same.

The milk delivery van does me the courtesy of of parking further down the road and not blocking my view - Thanks, Mr. Milk Delivery Man.

Next comes the DHL man in his DHL van and he is not so considerate. Half my view is obscured. 'EEEEER', into McColls he goes,  'EEEEER', and out he comes again. Great, he's leaving, but no, he sits in his van for a bit and then, 'EEEEER', into McColls and 'EEEEER', out again. This time he's done and so am I.

What's written on the Painting Ben?

Well, I'm glad you asked. Initially, I started to write the whole blog on the painting, but this quickly became impractical as well as taking over the painting (check out to see what I mean). I've moved towards just including a few extracts, so ...

F.Y.I. baby*:

"A little old lady come up and we start talking. Just before walking away she announces, 'I love Bath!' Well, YES, little old lady, so do I." taken from last weeks blog.

*Don't know why I wrote, 'baby' there, slightly off message, slightly bizarre and can you see me making a pretend gun with my hand and a 'clack, clack' noise in my throat. Cheesy, unnecessary and definitely doesn't go with the little old lady.

Sunday 18 January 2009


Damn - not a good start to the day. Stupid me - not thinking and I opt to take my daughter to school instead of my son and as a result I'm driving in the opposite direction to where I want to paint AND it's raining (forecasters are wrong again if only by a few hours) and all my rain gear is in the studio which is on the other side of Bath again AND it's rush hour and by the time I finally get everything sorted and find a place to park I'm nearly an hour behind plan and pretty steamed.

I'm painting near Pulteney Bridge and I'm amazed at the number of bendy buses that go back and forth across the famous historic landmark. I realise that the prohibition of cars generally has got nothing to do with preservation, but merely one of the many tactics employed by the town planners to make it as hard as possible (for artists) to get from one side of Bath to the other.

The extra effort to get the wet weather gear was, however, worth it as the rain continues to mock the forecasters. I haven't got the right palette for rain, but it's not coming down so hard that I can't get away with it and I realise I'm starting to enjoy myself despite the odd mumbled curse as I make the wrong brush stroke. I'm round the corner from my Mon - Wed office in Laura Place and thinking of them beavering away in an accountancy like fashion helps to cheer me up. It's Friday, I'm out painting and there aren't many places I'd rather be.

A little old lady stops to say hello and we have a brief chat and then she announces in a tourist drive kinda way although I can't see her wearing the t-shirt, 'I love Bath', before moving on.

Well, YES, little old lady, so do I.

Sunday 11 January 2009

Guitar Dreaming

I've been trying to teach myself to play the guitar for the past year now. I've got to be honest, I'm not making great strides forward, but this week I had my first ever GUITAR DREAM. In it I was being mentored by two rock guitar gods and I was (obviously) fantastic. We were jamming and hanging out and I was asking lots of deep penetrating guitary questions. Next thing the dream shifts a bit and I'm walking around strumming an acoustic when I start singing and playing a totally new original song. I got too excited at this point, woke myself up and spent the two hours before the alarm went off trying to think of the next lines. It was only then that realisation dawned - the music was remarkably similar to 'Sandy' from Grease and the lyrics were a load of pants - still it was damned exciting and I took it as a sign from some higher power. Destiny awaits ....

(you can tell how rubbish the song was as I can't bring myself to relay it to you here)

Enough of that, back to the art.

Friday 9th January.

Blog, blog bloggety blog, what's the point of the blog? Well bugger me and shiver me Mr Jesus H effin Christ alive timbers it's cold and you can bet whatever's dear to you that I would not be out here painting if I didn't need something to write about for the blog. It was -8 again last night and I don't think the temperature has gotten above freezing as I stand here trying to paint on the corner of Queen Square. Brrrr

I've not got long before my fingers and toes will start hurting so I work as quick as I can. I started this painting a couple of months ago and the shadows are slightly different - the wall on the right is in shadow so I'm going to have to come back again in a few weeks when the sun is higher in the sky to finish it.

I like it when the school kids go by - not the teenagers - they're too cool for school (get me with my hip happening down with the yoof lingo) - but the younger kids as the whoop excitedly along the lines of ...
"Look there's an artist!"
"Wow, an artist ... what's he doing?"
"Let's have a look."
"Wow, that's bitchin'!" (where did he get that? he can't be older than 7 or 8)

The class walk on by and I'm left smiling to myself - not sure they know what they're talking about, but the compliments don't hurt.

I'm right - I don't last long, but in my defense the painting has moved forward and the end is almost in sight.

Sunday 4 January 2009

Back on the Blog

It's been a little under a year and I find myself inexorably drawn back to the blog. It isn't big and it isn't clever, but I find myself needing the discipline of the weekly confessional to help drive the paintings forward. Like some furtive flasher I've had a taste of it and now I can't resist the urge to burden the world with my ramblings - just one more, it can't hurt, surely, and if I'm quick and I do it in the dark, I won't get caught - no one will ever know ... 

I have no pretensions that this is anything other than for me, so I apologise if you were looking for something more. It's just too easy to let the days and weeks slip by without making that trek into town and standing in front of the easel in front of the public in the freezing cold. That said I've not been out painting this week and therefore there's no new picture to post - I could burden you with everything I've done since the last blog, but I'll settle for the portrait of Jim and Charlie. For anyone who may vaguely recollect previous blogs when I accosted a regular passerby while I was painting on the street and asked if I could do his portrait, voila the results.

No new paintings then, but I post this anyway because I am New Year Resolved and, well, we'll see how long it lasts.

P.S. For all previous blogs check out