Copy of red dress 1mm

Our dog disappeared last week. It was my fortieth  birthday.  Big party. I was given a painting by Mark Rothko (Mark Rothko was the painter; I was given it by Tom Roger. Sir Tom ). And Monique arrived.

Was all that last week? When you’ve been ill for almost a year your short-term what’sit begins to go.

Some weeks are like that – one damned thing after another. Yes, it could well have been last week. But perhaps not. When you’ve been ill for a long time your short term your memory begins to go. A blessing in disguise really. Mental litter most of them.

I can remember this morning clearly enough. Up with the milkman. Went for a swim. First one there. Very echoey. Twenty lengths. Backstroke and crawl.  Backstroke and crawl. Could have done another thirty. Must be getting stronger. Stingy eyes though. All that Chlorophyll.
Then a massage. Yes, then a

Had a coffee somewhere. Read a paper.  Floods in China and bush fires in Australia. Funny that.

Came home.

Ah yes, came home and on the way listened to Edwina on the car radio. She brought up that old chestnut about us all being able to remember where we were when Kennedy was assassinated. Kennedy who? I asked her then switched off  the radio before she sent me to sleep. .

When I came home,  as usual I hung the keys on their hook, picked up the mail from the hall table, went through to the living room to have my first drink of the day.

I sort the ones I’ll read immediately from the ones I may read later. ( I’m talking personal letters. Business letters are dealt with by my secretary, thank God.)

The week before last?

Yes the week before last a letter arrived not so easy to categorize. A French stamp. Vaguely familiar hanswriying but  I couldn’t make out the postmark. I remember thinking I’d put it with those maybe to be read later. Behind the clock. But it disturbed me. So I didn’t put it with the others. Letters that disturb me I put anyoldwhere and in most cases that’s the last I see of them. And so it was with the French letter.

And then I got the phone call. From Monique. She had expected me to meet her at the station. Where was I?

I was stunned by her. So was Roger. He didn’t even bark when she came in. Went to his basket and tried to make himself invisible. Monique, on the other hand, couldn’t have made herself  more at home.  While I ate, she moved around, picking things up, putting them down, not necessarily in the same place. “Aren’t you having something?” I asked. She indicated with thumb and forefinger just how small her appetite was. Pausing in front of  the Rothko,  she straightened it, took a step backwards and asked if it was real. ” As real as you are, ” I told her. ” It’s called ‘Green on Blue’.

“What does it mean?” she asked as if everything had to have a meaning to exist.

Then the next thing I remember was…….I can’t remember the next thing I remember…..but Roger was gone. And so was Monique.

Funny that.

I never saw either of them again.



This is a photograph of a rocky beach on Iona. ‘Cathedral Rock’ was the name given by two Scottish painters -Cadell and Peploe – to the rock formation on the left. I had a problem finding this place – none of the local shopkeepers, people at the Abbey, beachcombers seemed to have heard of it or perhaps they had a different name for it.


This is how Peploe saw it and painted it.

” In Cathedral Rock, Iona,  Peploe combines his skill as a draughtsman with pure colour. Cathedral Rock rises on the left. He suggests the fall of strong light with whites and pale pinks, while the jutting forms are outlined with blue brushstrokes. The deep blue of the ocean can be seen in the distance and the changes in tone and gentle movement are suggested with orange shadows.”

And this is how Cadell saw it and painted it.

” Cadell first visited the island of Iona, off the west coast of Scotland, in 1912. Thereafter he returned frequently, often in the company of Peploe. Cadell felt the light was of the same quality as that in the south of France. Like Peploe, he found the tranquillity of the island a welcome break from his life in Edinburgh. His canvases of island scenes, painted in bold colours with block-like brushstrokes, were easy to sell when he returned to the city. ”

A magic place, Iona.

Looking at Pictures

I like looking at people looking at pictures.

I was taking a sneaky photo of this man with his orange cap (held behind him as if he was in a church) looking with some reverence at a Cadell painting because I could see a link between his orange cap and the Cadell picture on his left called ‘The Orange Blind’ when I heard a click behind me and there was this cheeky woman taking a picture of me taking a picture of him…….
cadell maureen 1

>and then when I photographed this woman partly because of her pink jacket and partly because of the way she was standing that suggested cross purposes, I was tapped on the shoulder by a curator who wagged his finger at me and nodded reprovingly at the camera, making me feel like a naughty boy.
That’s just one of the problems in photographing people – another one is do you blatantly ignore someone’s possible resentment when you take his/her  photograph?

What’s the point?


but what’s the point of this photograph?
For me there is the point that I went there for a picnic some years ago but without that personal factor the photograph has limited impact.
I fiddle around with it and produce the oil painting effect below which I quite like but which, like its parent photograph, has limited impact.
Similarly with lots of photographs/paintings I fail to see the point – like an unfunny joke.
What then is the factor that makes buyers bid millions against each other to possess a Monet or a Corot?

Painting and Photography

This is a photograph I took early morning while waiting for my coffee…

Sort of like Manet’s painting of the bar at the Folies-Bergère only without the barmaid. And without the mirror. And without the customers. And without the ambiguities. And…..
It’s a photograph. It’s nothing like Manet’s painting.

What if I play about with the photo, zoom into the barman making my cappuccino?

Okay. Makes me notice the barman at least.

What if I take another photograph when more customers have arrived, get some figures into the barscape…?

Better?  Better……mirror reflection on the glass table….solitary refelective woman in the foreground…..busy baristo in the background….interesting woman entering left behind the flowers…

What if I focus on the woman in the foreground?

Interesting. Like the question that floats up when you see the barmaid in Manet’s painting, what’s she thinking about? She contrasts with the busy barman. And the flower and the vase in the foreground are attention-catching..

Or the woman behind the flowers on the left – what if I play around with her…?

Interesting. Certainly plenty of ideas for a few paintings there….

if only I could paint.