Feline Focus

Feline Focus
My latest puma, July 2016


Beloved companion to Sarah, Nov 2015

Window To The Soul

Window To The Soul
Watercolour Horse, June 2015

Sleeping Beauties

Sleeping Beauties
Watercolour Lionesses, Nov 2012


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."

"Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others."

Groucho Marx

Snow Stalker

Snow Stalker
Another snow leopard - my latest watercolour offering - July 2013

30 October 2018

Artistic Interlude

My latest watercolour painting - September 2018

I painted this picture at the end of September - so before my wappy paint-researching-and-buying spree, and after the post in which I announced that perhaps I hated painting, because I certainly don't seem to get a great deal of joy out of it.

It took me five consecutive days to complete, painting for a couple of hours each morning.  I set no goals, other than to simply paint.  I let it take me as long as it wanted to take, and I took my time and slowed the whole process down.  I also kept it simple, using only three colours - burnt umber, raw sienna, and French ultramarine blue.  

Nor did I have the stress of trying to match my colour scheme to that of the original photograph, because the photo was in black and white. And, for once, I didn't confuse matters for myself, and drive myself into delirious indecisive distraction, by referring to all of the accumulated printouts I have of innumerable paint colours and possible mixing combinations.

I have to report that, remarkably, all these conditions together appear to have worked to produce a miracle, and I actually enjoyed this painting experience.  It seems that giving myself the freedom to voice the disquieting thought that I might not like painting after all, allowed me to make a shift from my entrenched position - hopefully not just temporarily.

I also spent less time criticising what I was doing, or the end product. In fact, I actually really like this painting.  It represents a deliberate change in the way I'm trying to paint now - more flow, less rigid control; layering and mixing paint on the paper rather than in the palette; choosing colours I like, rather than trying to replicate those of the subject; trying to paint what I see and feel, rather than the pull of photorealism, and trying to paint what I think I should be seeing.

All of which is quite remarkable for me - the woman for whom change comes at the speed of a tortoise wearing concrete boots.  It's only taken me about seven years of painting to start to break free of the rigid rules I've been confined to trying to follow.  Hopefully it won't take that long for the next change!  

I guess if I stop trying to follow what other people say and do (with my dodgy autistic interpretation skills), which is what has impeded my progress, and trust in my own ability and God's guidance, then I might evolve a bit quicker.  I surely can't get any slower - other than to come to a complete standstill.   

27 October 2018

Iceberg Ahoy!

What I spent five hours doing with my paints instead of painting.  Plus a sample selection of my new paints.

It started with a discount voucher: which happened to be contained within a catalogue.  Two things I have a difficult time resisting.  Add in the fact that it was the biannual art supplies catalogue from Ken Bromley’s, promising a five pound discount IF I spent fifty-five pounds, and that it happened to coincide with my recent desire to extend the range of paints which I own, and I was basically sunk - Titanic, meet iceberg: Lisa, meet paint.

To elucidate further, this means that I have just spent at least two weeks, that’s TWO WHOLE WEEKS (even I cannot quite believe it), trying to decide which new watercolour paints to buy.  

How, in the name of Van Gogh, does a person take so long to make such a decision?  I mean, we’re talking paint here, not whether or not I should have a kidney transplant.  It defies belief; it defies logic; it defies the nature of time, space, and the laws of physics.  But defy all those things I have done, because that’s what I do.  Just don’t ask me how - I’m as baffled as you.

It wasn’t my intention to take so long - but then, as I am slowly learning, nothing I intend ever actually translates into action.  In fact, you can guarantee that the moment anything even vaguely resembling a desire or intention escapes my subconscious and manifests itself either as thought or word, it will sink without trace.  Like the Titanic (I think I see a theme here).

My actual ‘intention’ was to briefly (I obviously have no grasp on the meaning of the word brief) peruse a few art sites with which I’m familiar, in the misguided belief that they would aid me in simplifying and clarifying what to choose.  Already I begin to see the flaw in my argument.  Why would I need someone else to tell me how to choose paint?  It’s not like I’m a complete novice anymore: I know the kind of colours that I like; I know the kind of paintings that I prefer doing.  

But no, all of that knowledge goes out the window because, you see, it’s not about the paint colour - it’s about the pigment.  (Yes, that was just the tip of the iceberg.  No, I couldn’t see the rest of it, hidden beneath the sea of paint waiting to sink me).  And for that I needed an ‘expert’, which required more research: which translates as more time spent on the internet.  Hence two weeks of “research” - more commonly known around here as another obsession.

So, I may not have been doing a lot of painting (nothing new there then), but I now know an awful lot about paint and pigment.  Of course, I can barely recall most of the details, given that I’ve saturated my brain so much that most of it seems to have dribbled out of my ears.  

But I did eventually buy some paints, and then proceeded to avoid actually using them for their intended purpose.  Instead I spent two days ‘testing them out’, and boring myself into a near-catatonic stupor in the process - because, once again, I’d read a load of advice from a bunch of non-autistic artists, all saying the same things about how useful these exercises are to the improvement of one’s art: which translates in my mind as “it’s what ‘proper’ artists do”.  

Oh God, when will I learn that I come from a different ‘planet’, and what works for them doesn’t work for me in quite the same way!  Ah well, it’s done now.  Next I just need a few new brushes...  Oh lawks, I think I see another iceberg looming. *scrambles for lifeboat* 

14 September 2018



“It slowly surveyed the whole field, and then decided to plan out a nice, relaxed day for itself.  A little trot later on, it thought, maybe around threeish.  After that a bit of a lie down over on the east side of the field where the grass was thicker.  It looked like a suitable spot to think about supper in…
An excellent plan.
And the best thing about it was that having made it the horse could now completely and utterly ignore it.  It went instead for a leisurely stand under the only tree in the field.”

I came across this particular quote this morning as I was reading this book (well I wouldn’t have found it had I been reading some other book, so that’s a bit of a redundant statement, but anyway…), and felt it described so perfectly and succinctly the particular way my brain works when it comes to the issue of planning that I just had to share it.

I try to make plans.  Sometimes I make them complicated, with a long series of instructions to follow.  Sometimes (though, admittedly, not often) I make them simple, using a short suggestion.  Whichever way I try, the inevitable result is the same - I, for some unfathomable reason, end up completely ignoring them and doing the opposite.  The minute I form any word or thought which vaguely resembles some kind of plan, guideline, or even a nebulous desire as to what I’m going to do, or want to do, then I can basically kiss goodbye to seeing it come to fruition any time within my conscious present.

Which basically seems to mean that in order to get anything done I have to be in a state of unconscious awareness (or conscious unawareness?) of what it is I’m trying to achieve, because my brain appears to be wired to purposely contradict my instructions.  It “thinks” it knows better than me.  And perhaps it does?  Perhaps, like the horse, I should simply go with it - enjoy myself making a plan, and accepting that at the end of what is essentially a pleasant bout of idle daydreaming I’ll simply discard it and do something else.  The horse seems perfectly content with this idea, so perhaps I  would be too if I simply embraced it, rather than agonising over why this happens, and trying to force it not to do so.

Lesson for today - nature has many lessons to teach us especially about going with the flow, and even horses have wisdom to impart.

(And before anyone feels compelled to point out that horses don’t think like people, and that the horse in this book is not real but a figment of the imagination of Douglas Adams, I know.  Thanks.  I’m literal, but not quite that literal.  Well, not all the time, anyway…)

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
An experiment in watercolour and gouache

Quotes Quota

"Do you believe in Magic?" asked Colin.

"That I do, lad," she answered. "I never knowed it by that name, but what does th' name matter? I warrant they call it a different name i' France an' a different one i' Germany. Th' same thing as set th' seeds swellin' an' th' sun shinin' made thee well lad an' it's th' Good Thing. It isn't like us poor fools as think it matters if us is called out of our names. Th' Big Good Thing doesn't stop to worrit, bless thee. It goes on makin' worlds by th' million - worlds like us. Never thee stop believin' in th' Big Good Thing an' knowin' th' world's full of it - an call it what tha' likes. Eh! lad, lad - what's names to th' Joy Maker."

From 'The Secret Garden', by Frances Hodgson Burnett


Copied from photograph of the same name by Roberto Dutesco

Quotes Quota

"There is no way to happiness - happiness is the way."
The Dalai Lama

"If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

Malcolm X

On The Prowl

On The Prowl
Watercolour tiger

Quotes Quota

"What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step."

"There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind."

C S Lewis