Tuesday 23 July 2024

23 07 2024

 Nature diary got enough entries for July so have turned with enthusiasm to writing my long-promised book. So enjoying it!! Hard though, and word count tragic. I'II be dead before its finished; ironically. Touching up latest painting cautiously in passing.  

Thursday 18 July 2024

18 07 2024

 Rather pleased with this, after the recent obsession with Adorno - though it fits no bill nor resolves anything, merely one idea being abandoned after another leaves a negative trace. 

Early morning vision of a squirrel. 

Coming to grips, a tiny tiny tiny bit, with the Gaza picture.

Sunday 14 July 2024

14 07 2024

baby redstart, flew into studio and too clueless to get out. But then he did so this may stay unfinished


Saturday 13 July 2024

13 07 2024

Dont know the name of this flower but loved it as a kid so in keeping with my remit have to draw it; boring. Will do what I can and stop.
Was so pleased with my big black beetle and managed to splatter it with pink paint, which has ruined it for me... bah.

 It's the season: adolescent birds fly in and cant get out. Yesterday morning was trying to get this redstart out, eventually successfully though covered in cobwebs. One of my favourite birds so will have a go at him/her today.

Having cancelled my autumn tour - Oxford residency, German conference - I'm focusing more. Got myself out of going by hearing Stafford say, profit from my mistakes; since all he ever wanted was to 'stay put' [ listed as his hobby on Whos Who] I can get that. 

But what else? What were his mistakes?

Tuesday 9 July 2024

09 07 2024

Able to hit the studio - Toms gone (alas) Have been interrupted by Daniel who persists in not going away - I was fairly vile so suspect he'll go elsewhere for help next time. He's overstayed by 11 days now and says he MAY leave next week. How did I fall into this?? Bob warned me and is rather smug.

There are two more guests here but so far not too disruptive. Friends of friends. Next to arrive is Bobs family and we like them.

The trouble is, I work from home and I don't have a protective team.

Have decided - and announced- I wont be taking up the Oxford residency, nor going to the conference in Berlin. Terribly miserable about it. Feels like acknowledging my life is over...

Monday 8 July 2024

08 07 2024

 I've categorised this as a dead mouse but I guess it could be a baby rat, who knows... and I can't bear to draw the sand martin found in the street in a cloudburst, drowning and knocked out of its nest. Brought it in, dried it out, fed it. It made it through the night and seemed anxious to fly away so I hurled it from the studio with a prayer - this time of year as heart-breaking as any other. 

Friday 5 July 2024

05 07 2024

 Spent my birthday, yesterday, making sandwiches - which was a great pleasure, calming and engaging. Had a v long bath and then a party. Which went well, Bob hosting and caring for the guests and musicians, while I sat behind a gate with Jamsie steadily drinking. Nice.

Woke up today to a change of game in the UK - Tories out, uncertain ones in - and a letter asking to use my portrait for the cover of a feschgrifft which should probably remain unnamed as it might be a surprise to the honoured one. Pleased and surprised. Did it even look like him??

Tuesday 2 July 2024

02 07 2024

 Frazzled and unable to work; too many people, too much to do. Actually I'm much calmer than I was, realise that I cant expect to do much now for weeks as more people arrive and stuff has to be addressed. Instead, I can think and garner ideas. Breathe in, breathe out.

Got photos of June's pictures so that's done. But photos lost in virtual world. Moth, Frog, Fruit. Darting marks at a dead mouse as I pass...

Friday 28 June 2024

29 06 2024

fabulous frogs, bewitching - cant draw them at all! Enamelling only route and Im not starting that. Fiddling with watercolour as I go...
ditto whatever this weird fruit is.

Still got Bobs niece here - her partner arrives today - plus Daniel turned up without passport and dosh, needing administrative skills I do not have. 
Accordingly hassled and fretful.


Thursday 20 June 2024

20 06 2024

Back from La Folie at Puilaurens, where a good time was had by all. Lots to see and to think about. Work banal except have learnt to cut lines in paper with penknife, which directs the flow and density of watercolour.


Friday 14 June 2024

14 06 2024

 Totally lazy morning since yesterdays work is so dull. Followed by a lazy afternoon, on the terrace in the sun reading Berlioz's Memories. Poor man. Though enjoy his irascibility. 

Tuesday 11 June 2024

11 06 2024

 That's not what I meant at all, that's not it at all...

So spent the day cleaning up, pottering with half baked unfinished bits, wondering what I'd save if push comes to shove.

Rather floating on the euphoria of painkillers.

Have to trust what I know of the process.

Sunday 9 June 2024

09 06 2024

 creaking along here.

Bought standard 300gm watercolour paper - 30 sheets - at 1.50 e per sheet. Not ideal but at least cheap. Feel compromised by choice, dosh, circumstances. Wrong decisions, poor project. 

Yuri gone, Bob kindly took him to the airport which is why I could get to buy paper. Miss his erudition and kindness. 

Three days clear before a young niece of Bobs moves in with us for a month. Charming child, of course, though I'm slightly concerned that I'II end up baby-sitting; no idea how capable she is.  Bob is pushing off to England for some of her visit. 

Thursday 6 June 2024

06 06 2024

 It lacks lustre, for sure, but it does the job. Now in an odd position: started this diary for many reasons but one was to use the paper left me by Bernard. Now that is all but gone. The point was not to die leaving fabulous unused paper. But but but now to finish the damn thing I have to buy more and so revert to earlier problem.


Think I'II just change paper and finish up differently. Since I envisage the end product as photographed then size and texture are academic (---) except its all quite different.

Bernard would unhesitatingly buy more. For sure.

Friday 31 May 2024

31 05 2024


horrible and an enormous labour. Two reasons; one, the little spiders on the bridge are worth noting and two, it'll fit well in the set. Which now numbers 60.

Sleeplessness, arthritis and angst dog me. New oven being fitted by non-professionals. Hoping and not-hoping it'll finish me off.

Monday 27 May 2024

28 05 2024

Still - god, how long now? - been fiddling with Peters 'portrait. With luck the sudden red will resolve. Should invite him back for a last, really, sitting.
Heres the old studio, crumbling away. Will have to take it down, the nostalgia too ridiculous.

Caterpillar, baby bird and cat from Rennes-le-bains. Cut the bird from the failed drawing and glued it. 

And here a hoopoe from Belpeche. Stumbled into the entire town mourning the death of an infant, a child, driven into a plane tree by her grandmothers loss of car control. Never been around communal grief before, silent and profound. The hoopoe flew into that. Then we scattered the ashes of Diane at Pech-Luna, where the hare appeared.


27 05 2024

 Montpellier a blast - though lost a day en route attending another death ceremony, for Diana at Pech Luna.

Spent a day in Musee Fabre. Recharged, back at the easel now. Drawing too. Useful break.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

22 05 2024

 Made such a pigs' ear of the cat and blue tit that I'm actually going to have to junk it - and that took all day. Such precious paper! Will turn it over and have another go.

BUT I'm away now - bus to Limoux, collection by old mates, night in Belpeche; tomorrow train to Montpelier for 2 days questing art.  

Will carry totemic drawing book.

Monday 20 May 2024

20 05 2024


 Finished - the river in spate - which has taken a  couple of weeks, adding tiny strokes as and when. Looks like it was bashed off in moments. At least, I hope so! Spate is a sudden and dramatic thing. Pleased with it.
These are in process, both occasioned by being in Rennes les Bains. Bloody cat and tiny tit, hopefully it survived; and sad caterpillar, picked up off a cement path. Carried it to greenery so hopefully that survived too. No doubt both will serve as lunch for something later, sigh.

Shaking from suppressed ideas. Or more probably from a pain au raison and strong coffee (bad night)

Sunday 19 May 2024

19 05 2024

 Extraordinary coming together of packing materials, painting and transport. I asked for help via Facebook, and got it! Two nice big packages, nice fit for the pic,;  and Cen and Annette are going north Wales-ward tomorrow, through Shrewsbury which the buyer lives. Did I say?? Can't remember... sold The Dragon Killing St George , 100 x 100 so a challenge to pack and move.

Completely delighted, a welcome hug of encouragement.

Friday 17 May 2024

17 05 2024

 Day off yesterday!! Cabin fever been an issue, despite the space and light. Bunked off to Perpignan, 7.50 bus to Quillan, 8.20 bus to Perpignan. Two hours through the mountains, across the plane... worth it for the trip. Stumbled into the Centre d'art contemporain, (from now till the end of the month open Tues to Sun, 11.00 - 17.30) and the work of Sylvie Dubal , 1937 - 2021. Felt an immediate affinity. 

She draws with fine pencil, carefully, lots of birds; she incorporates herself, reminding me of the cybernetic dictum that the observer is part of the picture.

Plan to introduce myself into the nature diary drawings. Of course the artist is implicit but I want me to be explicit.

should have taken better snaps... but her old self, white-haired and bunned, hand held out to heron, will remain with me. Though since its been so very long since anyone else's work excited me, I might go back and photograph it properly.

We have classic themes in common too, the three fates, the christ(ine) lots of words. 

Thursday 9 May 2024

09 05 2024

 Expo up and, as they say, mixed. 

Turns out there was no actual physical space for me or Catherine to show or work. Not especially bovvered, I prepared to exit. Then I was given some tables, a sort of cube of them, 4 standing back to back. Quite intriguing - also impossible to use for hanging my stuff on.

Went to my stock and found a load of framed drawings left over from another show (Quillan), plus an accompanying catalogue left over from another show (Deptford); flattened the tables and bunged out the frames. Ditto for Katherines small paintings - she was away and I was in loco p for the work.

The poor and desperate woman who has instigated and is organising the thing found two spaces for two paintings either side of the stage, looks OK, and Katherine has made it back (Florida to Esperaza by public transport) and likes it all.

Only got to do the guest bedrooms for the funeral mourners, ETA Sunday,  and do the work undone for Cybersoc now... Oh and attend the mayors opening at 4.00 today. 

Tuesday 7 May 2024

07 05 2024

 Been resting, I suppose; not doing much anyway. What I was working on was boring me.

Got a couple of notions and was about to resume, when Phil, bother-in-law, died. Feel obscurely guilty since I'd been working on death; did the webinar about the afterlife (rather well, I thought, though no one else seemed to like it -) and was considering the Kiss of Death as a motif. 

Now tied up with the funeral and arrival of family.

And today starts the Artists a reconotrer - just about to start the hanging, for me and Katherine who is not back from Florida yet. Actually appreciate the distraction and Ive been given someone to help me -

Tuesday 30 April 2024

30 04 2024

 I've finished making notes for my talk on death; I'm about to start on the tax returns.

Got to paint a banner for the art show, held over the ascension in the MJC.

Cleaned some brushes.

Its a full life.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

25 04 2024

 Ducklings; running on water, it seemed. The Mama was steering them down to the heronry so doubt that they are still with us. 

***Note to self: The 25 nature diary drawings are under the mattress on the studio day bed. Couldn't find another flat surface to store them on.  Room for more. Though at current rate there will be just 50 pages to explain the cycle of life here and my engagement with it. Oh well and a hey nonny no -

24 04 2024

 managed some exercise this morning, glory - been too crippled since moving next to studio and exercise machine to have a go. Not sure if its worth it, if one should lie down and accept the inevitable, but I doo feel somewhat friskier.

- not apparent in the drawing.
This morning, there was a young nuthatch in the garden. Not sure if I can do it justice. Meanwhile, ducklings.

Thursday 18 April 2024

18 04 2024

 Bugs in water. Have to draw standing up as back bad, a new pain in my catalogue - constant and unattractive. Enjoyed the drawing though.

Wednesday 17 April 2024

17 04 2014

Abandoning this, secure in the knowledge that my skills are not up to getting it right. Though its chiefly the smell l wanted, hot sun on emerging figs. 

Working on larvae in the Aude now.

Sunday 14 April 2024

14 04 2024

Should probably tweak this but I've released him back into the wild...
So very lovely! 
Got others on the go so he'll  have to stay, despite unhappy likeness to '50's cartoon character whose name I've forgotten.


Saturday 13 April 2024

13 04 2024

Not lacking models at the moment, loads of birds, fish, flowers - and a ginormous moth which I'm currently about. Only need cartridge paper for that and couldn't find any; then uncovered an old portfolio with a SEALED packet of 25 large sheets. 
Already got marks on some of the pages.
Weird, some sort of invitation to incorporate.


Wednesday 10 April 2024

10 04 2024

 Somewhat belatedly, decided to improve my health. This involves moving bedrooms. The new bedroom has an accessible shower so I can stand under hot water and move in the mornings, arthritis being what it is. Next to that is an exercise bike, so I can improve muscle function. 

So far, preparing new bedroom is killing me :) Had to clean and prepare. Tomorrow will do bed and start schlepping stuff. 

Managed to finish this en passant -

Saturday 6 April 2024

07 04 2024

No idea what this is about except perhaps that my continued efforts to suspend scepticism have lead to a dawning of kitsch. 


Friday 5 April 2024

05 04 2024

 Miserable about my poor skills, ineptitude, slight vision.

On the other hand, there's a glimmer...

Alarmed at the angst this nonsense is requiring.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

02 04 2024

cleaned studio - a bit - finished two nature drawings... would like to say I'm on a roll but l'm not.


Friday 29 March 2024

29 03 2024

 Not finished and TOO HARD. This critter flew onto my bed when I was thinking about nature and nature diaries so obvs had to use the thing. Using the wrong paper. Moved onto cartridge which is a big error; it is unhelpful and unforgiving. Might start again but I let the wasp go.

Thursday 28 March 2024

28 03 2024

dedicated to Zarathrustra
More habitat going up in smoke. 


Wednesday 27 March 2024

27 03 2024

dead birds done... though this may not be the photo of the finished piece, think later I took oil paint to the beaks to bang up the colours. They are mostly charcoal, conte, chinese ink and watercolour. The next is already watercoloured and I plan to draw, pencil, all over it today. 
And here is a little provocation found on the parapet of the river this morning -


Tuesday 26 March 2024

26 03 2024

finalized the kingfisher and the roosting cockerels
now cracking on with dead birds. Getting back into my art head, as it were, despite visitors and poorly spouse. Everyone makes concessions for me -!


Thursday 21 March 2024

21 03 2024

Decades of drawings finally binned.  It's done, done and dusted... could even walk across the room, sit at the drawing table and draw. Slightly light headed with this freedom.

That's not to say I can use it, of course; roof menders, meals to be prepared, stuff. 

Have agreed, health permitting, to be resident artist for WOSC at Lady Margaret Hall in Oxford in September. This minutes before drawings turned up from the Burnside Conference in Greenwich, the first time I'd done it: didn't bin them anyway. 

Wednesday 20 March 2024

20 03 2024

Still binning stuff. The sheer volume is depressing. Here's Dave in his yellow braces, drawing me from the look of him, and David Walsall from the '80's. 
Its all hideous of course but I did get better, somehow....
After this last big batch has gone to the tip - and some storage bags gone to the garage - I can start cleaning. Oh goody something to look forward to.


Thursday 14 March 2024

14 03 2024

 a shoal of palette knives... these plundered from Patricia Malfis studio. You never forget another artist when you use their tools. I still use a couple of splendid large bristle brushes that belonged to Edward Seago, given to me by his partner after his death. 

Was about to list others and realise I'm in danger of becoming a death cult.

Studio work continues, bafflingly daft. 

Monday 11 March 2024

11 03 2024

 Shopping morning... then working in studio, so good though still clearing as I go. Just an extra layer of chaos. I like chaos.

Saturday 9 March 2024

09 03 2024

Finally, really, truthfully finished; the flags of warring nations conclude it. What a palaver!

And this too - filled a too-big gap with the words from Isaiah, in French.

Tiding as I go. Relieved that Bob will be back tomorrow, he can manage all the stuff I can't, poor chap.

Despite a sense of anaemia - intellectual bloodlessness, what's that called? -  lots of ideas.