Tuesday, June 19, 2012

White chrysanthemums 2

White chrysanthemums 2, oil on card, 13.3 / 11.5 cm

Painted over a couple of days, and something of a struggle.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

A drive to Urubici


 Urubici: looking up a street, 9am, oil on card, 12 / 14 cm

Landscape overlooking Urubici, oil on card, 13 /13 cm


Street, Urubici, oil on card, 13.3 / 9.5 cm

 Five from Urubici, with wristwatch for scale.

I spent a day or so painting in Urubici, a place I love, and which seems happily free of Florianopolis's trashy Barbie culture.

The curvaciousness of the landscape invites Art Noveau designs.


Monday, June 11, 2012

White chrysanthemums

White chrysanthemums, oil on card, 12.5 / 15.5 cm

Another in the occasional still life series. Flowers are surprisingly costly here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

The Jubilee Day

It's night. We stand in the black sodden garden, brought there by wailing.

I wear had an overcoat over my pyjamas, muddy rain seeping into my slippers.

Lawrence has come out too.

On the ground is is a wet figure, kneeling, weeping, over his hole.

 "What is the matter with James?" I ask

"It is his hole. It has become wet", says Lawrence, matter-of-factly.

"Why didnt he bring the hole inside?" asks a female voice- Teresina emerged, in a damp nightgown.

We stood pondering Teresina's suggestion and James's mental condition.

After a while we realise there is nothing we can do and return to our beds. I sleep heavily. In the morning we sit at breakfast, looking from the breakfast room to the garden where James's form still huddles by the hole in the garden.

"I dont think he is all right," says Lawrence.

So we file down to the hole. There a wire leading from him back to the house, and we hear the quiet birring sound of a hairdryer. He is drying the hole.


It is the day of the Diamond jubilee. We hoist a Union Jack on a tree. The staff found it in a cardboard box a little tattered but a Union flag nonethless. Nick Parker climbs up to perch in the tree beneath it.

We stand in a ring, quite solemn. Make a speech, says Lawrence, nudging me.

"Wonderful Queen," I say.
"Yes, congradulations Elizabeth!" say the others.

The staff bring some wine and we get drunk. Everyone is very happy. Rain speckles our faces.


This  is another in the series of related stories, which can be found using the label, " The Beasties".

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Driveway on the way to Cacupe


Driveway on the way to Cacupe, oil on card, 12.5 / 14 cm   SOLD

I have been looking at the Scottish Colourists, and am trying to transform myself into one, at least for the time being.

I've been painting tonally for years and it's exciting to change to work from the basis of colour.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Autumn, Florianopolis

Autumn, Florianopolis, oil on card, 14.5 / 12 cm

Brighter colours.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Guarulhos, travel

Nocturne: Guarulhos airport, May, oil on card, 12 / 9.3 cm

Well, this above is the last of from the Chilean trip. The next trips are within Brazil, to Ribeirão Preto in the interior of Sao Paolo state, and to Recife, in the north-east.

In late September comes a three week stint in Italy: Rome, Orvieto, perhaps Puglia and Lucca.

Beyond that I am not sure. Chile has inspired me to visit more of Latin America, specifically Bolivia and Peru, but the Summer months (Novemeber to February) are wet then.

Ergo, I might find myself returning to Montevideo, and looking around Uruguay and Argentina. The main thing is to go somewhere which is sufficiently different from here for me to experience a "jolt", which means, principally, somewhere that isn't tropical.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Flowers from Santiago, Travel


 Flowers from Santiago, red background, oil on card, 12 / 14 cm   SOLD

Thanks to the rain, I stayed in and painted these flowers in the hostel..


Travel is largely detestable, as, of course, might be said about life in general. It is valuable, I find, to hold in mind Thoreau's wisdom: "the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation". One would prefer not to be one of the mass, of course, but I guess there is consolation to be found in knowing that one is not alone.

Travel offers a different version of detestableness, in which the loathsomeness of the overfamiliar and routine are replaced with the hatefulness of what is strange, dangerous and or merely foreign. The traveller also has to endure a sense of passivity and gratitude for not being robbed and raped at every street corner they pass (though it is true that in compensation we gain a corresponding sense of relief: "super, the ATMs work", or "we managed to find the hotel", "the bill's correct, we did have two beers!", as if these are remarkable).

I tend to take the view that the nastiness of the unfamiliar has at least the virtue of being interesting and therefore life affirming, whereas the vileness of the routine is frequently life-reducing, in that often something eminently likable- say the view of the sea from the top of Hanover Street, Edinburgh- becomes, by visual ennui, robbed of charm- much as love affairs become rotten in the forced, relentless proximity of marriage, and ones object of desire transforms inexcorably from prince or princess into banal but necessary irritation.

On a more practical note, the British Foreign Office has a wonderful site in which they publish information about foreign states and any incidents of note to those intending to travel to them- in other words a litany of official harassment, terrorism, crime and war.

 This site serves to confirm the usual prejudices about "abroad": to generalise: Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian - fine, ditto Northern Europe; latin - probably ok; anything else be wary.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

Valparaiso, Chile


 Valparaiso, Cerro Bellavista, oil on card, 11 / 9 cm  SOLD

A smallish town, a port, dirty but striking with good old architecture and fine views from the hills above: in short a good painting city.

I spent most of my time in the lower commercial areas of the city and painting some of the many, impressive stucco 19th century very brightly coloured. There are many pleasant squares, though everything is in need of renovation and the whole reminds me very much of decaying Brazilian port towns that I've been to such as Pelotas or Laguna. The port area is very much Tom Waits territory, like so many ports, that air of dilapidation, which at times is very beguiling, at others merely squalid.

 Valparaiso, waterfront, oil on card, 14.5 / 10.5 cm

Of Whistler I see just a little sign:

 Valpariaso, the British Arch, oil on card., 14.5 / 11cm

I didn't work as large as I'd anticipated. For travel the intensity of that postcard size is quite ideal.


Saturday, June 2, 2012

Santiago, Chile

Nine from Santiago

I've  been pleasantly surprised here  The city is quite elegant, not too large. The architecture is perhaps a little anytown, with little that I can see that might not be found in any other capital: neo-classical and eclectic late nineteenth century with non-descript modern filling in the gaps, but it is generally well maintained with little mess or graffiti, and the city is well planted with trees.

Santiago: Palacio de Bellas Fine Artes: the blue umbrella, oil on card, 14.5 / 12.5 cm

The people seem pleasant enough, pleasant tempered and gentle,dark haired, round faced. I detect a latent conservatism to them. The school girls wear rather odd over socks over their stockings as part of their winter uniforms, but I can't see other notable idiosyncrasies. There some soldiers on horseback in olive uniforms- elegant.

The city is grid  plan, with occasional crookedness.  I stayed in Bairro Brasil, close to the centre, much peeling nineteenth century and some elegant or fashionable bars, though in the main the city is old/fashioned feel, so that shop displays are quaintly, sometimes sadly simple and the concept of self/service seems unknown, so goods are kept behind a counter and you have to ask for what you want from an assistant.

It rained continually for my first two days, making painting trying. On the third, however, it was dry enough to climb Cerro San Cristobal and look down.

 Santiago, from above, oil on card, 14 / 13 cm


Not long ago I received some criticism, that the paintings were grey, and that I was "timid with colour". Like most well directed criticism this stung, and instinctively I resented it- it is so often the case that  I, perhaps we, resent and reject criticism most when it is justified.

But with a few days on I decided to try to face the challenge of the criticism, and I have been using colours with more boldness, and less concern that the effect might be vulgar.

The hostel has some wonderful flowers, and I`ve been painting these, in a sort of impressionist style, trying not to over mix the paints and using lighter  grounds. They are brighter and more cheerful. I shall post these these later.

Santiago, Praca Brasil, a red umbrella, oil on card,  oil on card, 13.5 / 11 cm  NOT FOR SALE

Friday, June 1, 2012

Back from Chile

16 from my Chilean trip.

Back after a week escape from this little apartment, from teaching English and rotting. 

Overall, I'm very happy with the trip. Chile is beautiful and fairly well organised. Santiago is elegant and comfortable to work in: Valparaiso is rather slummy, but is full of architectural interest.

 It was a pity that it rained so much on my first couple of days, restricting me to working from cafes or  the eaves of buildings, but I was able to do a couple of still lives on the worst days.

I stayed in hostels, which offer the strangest of communities: gap-year British teenagers, American and Canadian loners, Australians on extraordinarily long world trips, Germans sitting alone, and a fair smattering of friendly French. The atmosphere is very friendly: easy come, easy go.

I feel sufficiently inspired to contemplate a longer trip to Bolivia.