Trying to Get My Ducks in a Row

Sometimes real life feels like I’m walking through a metaphor. In this instance, about getting my ducks in a row.

Try as I might, there’s invariably a duck that’s not co-operating.

But occasionally it does happen…

And just as I think I have, the moment passes.

I saw these ducks (shelducks) at Skateraw, a little south of Dunbar in the Scottish Borders, last week, along with oystercatchers, a heron, and a skylark.

Here’s a quick look around Skateraw, with some of the birdsong, and wind (video link).

Thanks Ma!

It’s Mother’s Day in the UK, which entails squishy sentiments, flowers and chocolates. My Ma is all the squishy stuff, and then some. She may never have instilled her love for laboratory chemistry in me, but the many things I did get include curiosity, a love for reading and finding out, to knit and sew (by machine, not hand), paints/paper and letting me put up art exhibitions in the house, pyromania, cheating at board games, choosing a road simply because you haven’t yet been along it, going to see what was over the next hill, to laugh at yourself, and to prioritise coffee and cake.

That’s my Ma on the right, and her sister on the left. Edinburgh Castle above, Eilean Donan below. Neither shot was posed.

The Dinosaur’s Brain Rock

The in-house art critic and I went to a favourite piece of seaside yesterday during a break in the stormy weather, enjoying the tranquillity and gentle sounds. There’s this black slab of rock that I think looks like fossilized dinosaur brains. We talked about how it would’ve been an impossibly big dinosaur, the speed the rock must have cooled at given its grain, why this slab is horizontal compared to the vertical hexagonal columns on the hillside, how the hexagons were formed, about intrusions and conglomerate, and how had I managed to resist picking up that stripey pebble. This is my favourite photo, so colour-coordinated with my favourite bit of rock, they seem one. (And the skew horizon is inadvertent, not a metaphor.)

If you’re interested in the ‘real’ dinosaurs of Skye, this book is available from Skye’s Fossil Museum:

Photos: My Snow Day

Woke up to a world of white, to the view being transformed into almost monochrome, shades of “interesting whites”. And silence as the wind has dropped. After giving the studio cats breakfast and putting the kettle on, I went out to enjoy that crunch-crunch of snow underfoot. Friends who lives in latitudes where you sit in snow for months will have to indulge my excitement as it’s rare for me to have it at garden level.

Looking northwest towards Camus Mor
Wider angle on the same view
Looking west
These pawprints most likely belong to Buffycat, who likes to be outside in all weathers
The sea turns the most beautiful colours under snow showers; this photo doesn’t do the blues and turquoises justice. A real-life Mark Rothko colourfield in blues.
Guess it snowed from the west last night.
Bracken is such a beautiful colour this time of year.
Creeping thyme

Searching Intensively for Cauliflowers

Sign that reads this path is dangerous
Sign that reads this path is dangerous

I never delve very far into the data that my WordPress website software collects automatically (via though inedible “cookies”), because, you know, only so many hours in a day and I’d rather be painting or writing. But I do look at what words people have used on search engines that have led them to my website because I find it intriguing. (And before you jump into the search box on my site with weird search strings, these aren’t included in the stats, only those in search engines such as Google that have led to someone clicking across to my website.)

Excluding anything with my name, here’s a list from this year, starting with those that seem to be looking for homework answers:

  • ____________ is the inclusion of the same or like elements in a composition art
  • what is your first impression on the painting of van gogh impressionism
    (leading to this article)
  • list the elements of composition
  • three parts of composition in space are?
  • drawing composition odd vs even
    (see my rule of odds)

Paint manufacturers ought to take note that there are numerous about broken paint tubes and caps:

  • ways to save oil paint if it breaks
  • how to repackage broken paint tubes
  • how to perserve acrylic paint with no cap
  • cap of my oil paint broke
    (you’ll find my tips here)

Some are looking for techniques and how-tos,

Getting quite specific on occasion:

One puzzled me until I did the search myself and discovered it was a Monday Motivator:

Some I know didn’t give the person the information desired because they weren’t after the art meanings of words:

  • what is the compostion of gorse

Whatever you’re looking for, do remember that you’re welcome to email me and ask directly. It’s not bothering me, it’s not wasting my time, I’m not too busy (which isn’t to say you’ll get an instant response), and it’s not a stupid question.

I have also created a Q&A section on my new Discord forum/message board here. I know, it’s yet another thing to join and learn to navigate, but back when I wrote the forum was a friendly, safe place to ask and share, and I made many friends, so I’m going to see if 2021 is the year we rediscover the joys of a message board. At the moment I’ve just poked around at the written aspects of Discord, but there are also video and voice options. Fingers crossed that my fibre broadband connection does indeed happen in January so I can start exploring these.

Isle of Skye road sign: falling rocks

Photos: A Few Moments of Calm

This time of year, this far north (57°N), the sun sleeps in late (sunrise today 08:58), doesn’t stay for long (sunset today 15:40), and doesn’t get very high in the sky. It makes seeing sunrise/sunset easy, and for a moodiness during the day. Driving around the “north end” this morning to see a friend, I stopped a few times to snap some photos.

First the Trotternish Ridge, looking south:

Then reflections in a little loch:

And then low-tide reflections at the beach at Staffin:

Interrupted By a Caw

I was at one of my favourite, albeit rarely sketched, locations…

… absorbed by the colours and textures …

… and that blocked-up door …

… when I was startled by a loud, single “caw”, from above me. Glancing up, there was a crow sitting on the top of the wall, looking down at me.

I’ve probably watched too many programmes where birds are harbingers, but right now the photo below feels like it’s the image for the cover of a book I will one day write with the art and poetry from this year that I’m not yet ready to share.

Photos: Colours of Autumn

A stroll down the road to the postbox this morning became a stroll in the colours of autumn, of greens giving way to yellows and browns, of moss clinging to fenceposts and dead branches, and reflections in the surface water on the road. Steps taken amidst small joys.