What Santa Left Under the Tree (aka the Joys of Books at Christmas)

Christmas Art Books 2017

The joy of printed books, with paper pages to feel, hold, turn. The quality of the printing, the weight of the paper, the style of the binding. The typography, page layout. Joys before reading starts.

Fiction books filled with imagination. Non-fiction books filled with things to be learned and discovered. Art books opening with a creak to release that new-book-ink smell. Books to read from cover to cover, others to dip in randomly. Joys of deciding which book next.

For me, Christmas is synonymous with books, a pile of treasure. Some I’ve mentioned to the in-house-art-critic, others are a surprise. They’re bought across the year and saved in the Christmas box. This is what I’ll be reading into next year:

Christmas Art Books 2017 Stack

Top to bottom (affiliate links):

For studio cats, it’s a simpler joy:

Christmas Art Books 2017 Cat
Studio Cat Graphite testing the theory that you can absorb what’s in a book by putting it under your pillow and sleeping on it.


Studio Cat Help

Studio cat Ghost has been helping me with the ‘admin’ side of getting ready for my exhibition at Skyeworks, all the things that need to be done besides the ‘fun’ bit (creating the paintings vs painting edges, varnishing, adding d-rings and wire, photos, price list etc). His favourite role is photography assistant, providing the white for checking contrast.

Studio Cat and Roses Painting

Studio Cat Realities

Know all those photos of artists in their studios with serene studio cats sleeping on a chair or cushion that get shared around the web? Well, I’ve tried telling Studio Cat Ghost, but he prefers a more active, investigative role. and clambering over canvas.


Sorrow and Creative Block

Thus Nature sorrows, and forgets her sorrow ;
And Reason soberly approves her way :
Why should we shut oor een against to-morrow
Because our sky was clouded yesterday ?

Non Semper Imbres by J. Logie Robertson

Feeling blueThe thought of starting a new painting becomes a munro to cling my way up, scree to negotiate, rather than a path to skip along past the buttercups and foxgloves. Colours seem murkier, brushes harder to clean, compositions falter, tones become darker and darker. Guilt at not creating, not being sufficiently productive, enters the room, stirring up the sediment of doubts and uncertainties. The b-word — block — raises its unsettling head. Sorrow saps enjoyment from the things I know I thrive on doing, drains energy and motivation, seeps into thoughts in unexpected and untimely ways, digs up things that were put behind and clouds the view.

This is not the first time, nor shall it be the last, because that’s how life goes. I know to expect to not feel like creating, to get frustrated by the results far too quickly when I do start. I know it shall pass, not to beat myself up about it. Time rounds off the edges like a river rounds stones in its path, water rushing determinedly and unstoppably towards the sea. Self Portrait from early 2000s

Behind every silver lining there’s a cloud. Behind every cloud there’s another silver lining. Behind the clouds and silver linings are thoughts of iridescent titanium white, interesting greys for clouds, blues for seascapes, that perhaps it’s time to finally try painting that little fishing trawler on the wide open Minch because I’m messing things up anyway.

There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance paint.

Stealth Studio Cat

Stealth Studio Cat

Stealth Studio Cat

Footnote for anyone who’s in the “it’s just a cat” category: It is and it isn’t. It’s also about all the events from all the years this particular cat lived with us, all the family members, both feline and human.