Saturday 23 September 2017

Friday 22 September 2017

My Dad's Diary: Mon 22nd September 1947

"Very windy.

Spent night in house."

Thursday 21 September 2017


(acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 in)

Although I know the beginnings of this painting lie in a sketchbook drawing done in a wood quite a few years ago, it seems to have taken on a life of its own when developed in paint. A life of its own in the sense that it rather puzzles me: what does it mean? Does it mean anything? Something in my mind helped it to come to fruition and I can see a certain vague personal symbolism there, but maybe I'm not supposed to delve too deeply.

Whatever, as the kids probably no longer say. I like it and I can tell you what it doesn't mean: I'm definitely not finished with the Path Through the Woods.

My Dad's Diary : Sun 21st September 1947


Usual Sunday."

Wednesday 20 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sat 20th September 1947

"Bought new inflator - 6/6d.

Spent afternoon with Doris at garden."

Tuesday 19 September 2017

General Dealers

General Dealers
(acrylic on board, 10 x 10 in)

Well, nostalgia isn't such a bad thing after all. I'm rather pleased with this and may consider doing more, if I can find material I like.

Working with acrylic is certainly interesting. I had intended to hand letter the shop signage, but a memory surfaced of a big binder of Letraset I had stored away and I dug it out. Sure enough, there was a sheet of white Letraset Printpak so I decided to see if it would apply itself  to a surface of acrylic paint. "GENERAL"went on nicely, but I hadn't counted on the age of the Letraset. It seems after forty years or so, the carrier film becomes very friable and as I started on the word "DEALERS" I found the plastic film simply breaking up as I rubbed on the lettering.

The result is as you see it, rather patchy and broken. I figured I'd have to try to repair it with a pen and acrylic ink, or at a push, a Posca Pen, but the more I looked at it, the more it looked appropriate for the signage of an old corner shop. So it's staying.

My Dad's Diary : Fri 19th September 1947


Monday 18 September 2017

Sunday 17 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Wed 17th September 1947

"Rec'd word from Pagan re allotment.

Fine day. Broke inflator."

Saturday 16 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Tues 16th September 1947

"Very heavy showers.

P.O. withdrawal £2.12.2.

Received two overalls."

Friday 15 September 2017

Thursday 14 September 2017

Path to Mystery

(acrylic on canvas, 8 x 8 in)

Although I have umpteen paintings on the go at the moment, my Regular Reader will be familiar with my reluctance to finish them.  There are certainly two in the series of Path through the Woods paintings to finish. Soon, Real Soon Now.

While working on one of the unfinished paintings yesterday, I was reminded of an old sketchbook drawing and decided to see if it might be adapted to this series. The A4 drawing, done in charcoal and pastel on a painting trip in 2003, always seemed to have a sense of mystery about it and although some of that mystery has been lost in the transposition to paint, I hope enough of it has remained.

My Dad's Diary : Sun 14th September 1947

"Windy but dry.

Usual sort of Sunday."

Wednesday 13 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sat 13th September 1947

"Very heavy rain in early morning.

Sunny in afternoon.

Took Doris to see The Red House at Gateshead Odeon."

In The Red House, starring Edward G. Robinson, "An old man and his sister are concealing a terrible secret from their adopted teen daughter, concerning a hidden abandoned farmhouse, located deep in the woods."

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Food Station

Food Station
(acrylic on canvas, 8x8 ins)

This painting has been sitting propped up in my studio for months. My Regular Reader will remember it began as a sketchbook drawing done in Durham Market Place:

Some time later, I tried making it into a painting, but didn't like how it was looking and put it to one side.

A bit later, I decided to get rid of the buildings in the background and replace them with a big sky and some sea, but even that didn't satisfy. Today, for some reason I can't honestly bring to mind, I saw the picture and immediately thought of bunting. So that's what I added and to me it's the perfect answer to a very problematic painting.

My Dad's Diary : Fri 12th September 1947

"Dull but dry.

Heavy rain during the night."

Monday 11 September 2017

Pharmacy Jar

Pharmacy Jar
(acrylic and collage on board, 9 x 9 in)

Finished. I've worked on the Mediterranean buildings outside and fiddled with the olive branch. I'm happy with it, if not completely satisfied. I'm never that.

WIP : General Dealer

General Dealer (WIP)
(acrylic on board, 10 x 10 in)

That nice lady who got scrubbed out has gone home for her shopping bag, changed her coat and reappeared in the picture. More fiddling here and there, and the picture has moved along reasonably well.

My Dad's Diary : Thur 11th September 1947

"Very dull days. Still no rain. Overtime every night.


Mother and Winnie leave for Edinburgh today.

Slight rain during night."

They'd have been going to stay with Grandma's half sister, Jessie, in Edinburgh. Here's a photograph of the two half sisters together in 1954, Gran on the left.

Sunday 10 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Wed 10th September 1947

"Very dull days. Still no rain. Overtime every night.


Doris went to doctor's about bad back."

Saturday 9 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Tues 9th September 1947

"Very dull days. Still no rain. Overtime every night.


Very windy."

Friday 8 September 2017

Cynical Nostalgia

General Dealer WIP
(acrylic on board, 10 x 10 in)

Paintings of nostalgia sell well in the North East; raggy kids playing football in the back lane, men in caps and mufflers going to the match, smoky chimneys, that sort of thing. There are several artists round here who have made a very good living out of pandering to the public desire for things they think they remember fondly. 

Me, I've always avoided painting pictures like that. I paint what I want to paint and mostly that doesn't include the Tyne Bridge or Memories of Old Gateshead or even Flat Caps and Whippets. I've often threatened to produce a series of Flat Cap & Whippet Pictures just to see how they'd do, but the will wasn't really there. Learning recently that one of the most successful painters of nostalgia is seriously depressed because he doesn't want to paint Men Going to the Match or Smoky Chimneys by the Docks ever again but can't stop because he needs to make the sales, definitely strengthened my resolve.

Until today. Gateshead Art Society has a programme (that I have a hand in deciding) to give members a prod in creative thinking should they need it. Quite often, unless it's a talk or a video, I go my own way and just get on with whatever I'm currently painting. This week, however, I noticed that the suggested activity was "PAINTING FOR POSTER COMPETITION". This is to remind members that someone's painting will eventually be chosen to appear on the poster for the club's Annual Exhibition at Xmas, so making a start on something suitable might be a good idea.

Now I've never been on the poster, so it suddenly came to me that I might as well have a go. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But what to paint? Recently I've been storing photographs of old bits of Gateshead, mostly now demolished. This is the sort of subject matter the great Norman Cornish specialised in, though in his case it was his home town of Spennymoor. While I hate the painters of nostalgia who aren't even old enough to remember anything of the things they paint, Cornish lived that life and I respected his right to paint what he knew. Well, I thought, I was born and brought up in the Gateshead that no longer survives and I have clear memories of it, so maybe I have the right to paint a little of what I remember too.

And so today I started this Work in Progress, using an old monochrome photograph of a shop on Tower Street. Colour added from memory, and yes, that blurred shape was the figure of a woman carrying a shopping bag. She turned out to be in slightly the wrong position, so had to be scrubbed out. She'll go back in once I've made more of the building and the snow (added to the scene because it's Xmas).

During the coffee break, someone asked me about the painting and all I could think of was to say it was "cynical nostalgia". It seems I haven't forgiven myself yet.

My Dad's Diary : Mon 8th September 1947

This appears across the entries for the next four days:

"Very dull days. Still no rain. Overtime every night."


"Very windy."

Thursday 7 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sun 7th September 1947

"Dull today.

Went for walk in afternoon.

To Mother's at night."

Wednesday 6 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Sat 6th September 1947

"Dull day, but still no rain.

Took Doris to Gateshead Odeon. Lost her gloves."

Tuesday 5 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Fri 5th September 1947

"Harry is now 19 lbs 8 ozs.

Very light shower during night. Hot & dry during day."

Monday 4 September 2017

Norma's Circle Book

My latest pages and additions to Norma's Sketchbook Circle book. This time I used a combination of collage, acrylic paint (both direct and pressed onto pieces of paper, then cut out), rubber stamps, washi tape, packaging tape and sticky shapes.

More on the Jar

Pharmacy Jar WIP
(Mixed media on board)

Slowly, slowly, I'm moving this Jar painting along. Not much to say about it at the moment, but I like the way it's going.

My Dad's Diary : Thurs 4th September 1947

"Still dry but cooler.

Still on overtime."

Sunday 3 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Wed 3rd September 1947

"No rain.


11 hours of overtime due - 27/6."

That's £1.35 for working 11 hours overtime! To put it into context, the back pages of the Diary show that on 4th September, he was paid a week's wages of £4.13.11 (£4.65).

Saturday 2 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Tues 2nd September 1947

"Still hot and dry.


Harry cut his second two teeth."

Friday 1 September 2017

My Dad's Diary : Fri 1st September 1947

"Still no rain.


1st year's increment due from today."