23 April 2017


Bob Carver's minus an apostrophe and an ampersand
Condemned prisoners are sometimes asked to select the final meal of their lives before execution takes place. What would you pick if you were in that position?

For me there's no question about it. It would be cod, chips and mushy peas with a slice of bread and butter and a pot of tea. Manna from heaven. Ambrosia of the gods.

Yesterday, before watching ten man Hull City beat Watford by two goals to nil. I went into the centre of Hull to visit The Ferens Art Gallery. Hull is currently Britain's "City of Culture" and The Ferens has some excellent work on show.

Afterwards, I wandered down Whitefriargate towards the fruit market and upon a whim I decided to have an early lunch in Hull's most famous fish and chip restaurant - the legendary Bob Carver's. And this was the beautiful scene that greeted my eyes before I picked up my knife and fork:-

22 April 2017


You will probably not have heard of the man on the left. He is called Alan Knight and he lives in Anglesey. It took him years to get back to the thing he always loved - Art.

Shirley and I went to see an exhibition of his paintings at Oriel Ynys Mon - the main exhibition centre on  the Isle of Anglesey.

We were struck by his work in oils. So vibrant and swift and nearly all clearly done with palette knives. 

To the right there's a close up corner of  his urgent technique as seen in a typical painting. Up close it seems rough - as if just clarted on to the canvas but stand back from it and it looks like a vivid, believable sky, filled with physical energy.

Even though visitors weren't allowed to take pictures in Oriel Ynys Mon, I was very naughty and snapped the following two pictures. If I had had a spare thousand pounds on me I would have loved to buy one of them to hang on our front room wall:-

I visited Alan Knight's website and found him saying this about his painting:-

"After trying various techniques and mediums down the years I eventually discovered that knife painting in oil best suited my temperament. I want a result quickly, in one session, and knife painting enables a speedy process. I’ve found that deliberating over a work and being too hesitant always produces a lifeless, uninspired result. Having the confidence to abandon one's inhibitions and paint in the white heat of inspiration and excitement does not come easy. It took me years to untangle myself and begin to relish and enjoy the pleasure of painting and to forget about the finished work, just to enjoy the process. I tend not to think too much when I paint.

I take inspiration from the visual world. When outside I can see paintings everywhere. Back in my studio the process begins of transforming, distilling what I have seen into an original, personal vision in oil paint. In the end it’s a question of feeling and response."

Though I am using watercolour, I wonder if I could take a little of Alan's approach into my own painting. He scorns the idea of "deliberating" and "being too hesitant". Perhaps I should swig a few glasses of Irish whiskey before putting brush to paper... or more likely I could never approach things in quite the same way as Alan. Oils are so different. You can scrape oil paint off or paint over something you have done. Much more room for amendment. But as I say, a little of Alan Knight's approach probably wouldn't come amiss.

21 April 2017


Regular visitors to this blog will recall that for a while I was focused on painting foxes. Well it seems that somebody else has a fox fixation and has also been trying his hand at fox pictures:-
It is the latest artwork by The 45th President of the United States. To see more of his distinctive creations, go to Trump Draws on Twitter.

20 April 2017


I'm starting to think about painting landscapes. See the photograph above. I took it from the northern shore of The Humber near Hessle Haven. Beyond the old jetty you can see The Humber Bridge arching gracefully across the river. It was opened in 1981 and at that time was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It remains an iconic structure linking Yorkshire with northern Lincolnshire. 

I have travelled across it many times but when I was a schoolboy in Hull, the only way we could get across that mile-wide river was by steam ferry. Lincolnshire was a faraway world like Narnia, inhabited by strange folk known as Yellowbellies. Little did I know back then that I would end up marrying a Yellowbelly!

Below I have used picture effects in "Word" to create a new version of the picture in which only a handful of shades have been used in what is called a "cutout" style. I think it is handy to have a look at the picture this way because it helps to overlook superfluous details and get right to the heart of the picture's basic structure and the different layers of light and shade.
Perhaps I should have checked out this version before my first attempt at the composition. I am not happy with what emerged. Sometimes I can be far too timid with my use of colour and I know that I need  to force myself to be bolder. Anyway, this was my first attempt:-

19 April 2017


When riding a motorcycle it is important to wear a helmet, This will protect your skull if you come off the motorbike and headbutt a tree or the surface of the road upon which you are travelling. But if someone has borrowed your helmet - what should you do then?

A motorcycle is intended to carry either the driver on his/her own or accompanied by just one pillion passenger. However, some say there is better safety in numbers:-
Here in Britain thousands of car drivers have been fined by the police for not wearing seatbelts. Of course these are not necessary on motorbikes as motorcyclists are all extremely careful road users:-

18 April 2017


As an unashamed Americophile, I am proud that this blog receives lots of visitors from The United States. In fact "Yorkshire Pudding" frequently attracts more American visitors than British. My independent tracking system has even discerned that over the weekend this blog received three late night visits from the Mar-a-Lago estate at Palm Beach, Florida. This is Donald Trump's "southern White House". If my suspicions are correct I would just like to say to the 45th President - you are not welcome here you sporran-headed twerp!

Given the number of American visitors, I think it is an opportune time to provide a free English language lesson. As you may appreciate, I am such a generous fellow! Over the years I have noted a multitude of glaring errors in American use of English. Across the Atlantic Ocean, our shared and precious language has been on the slide for ages and it's nigh time that our American cousins were gently put back on the rails with advice about English from the very home of English - England!

So my American cousins, please study the following chart in order to learn some of the errors of your ways. As soon as you have mastered the correct vocabulary you should begin employing it in everyday communication. Too long hast thou erred - I urge thee to  return to the path of righteousness!
Depending upon response to this post, let's just think of it as Lesson One. There are numerous other lessons waiting in the Yorkshire Pudding pipeline!

16 April 2017


I don't know if the following dining scenarios are unique to me. Please consider and advise.

1) You sit at a restaurant table and soon afterwards a smiling member of the waiting staff arrives with a menu. You choose what you want to eat and then you wait... and wait. Finally someone arrives to take your food order but you just lost half an hour of your life.

2) The food order has been placed. And then  you wait... and wait. How long can it really take to plate up the dish of the day? There was time to visit the supermarket to purchase the raw ingredients and then to cook the dish of the day from scratch.

3) The meal has been eaten and you want to pay the bill but no matter how hard you try to catch the eye of the waiter or waitress, nobody spots you. It does not seem to cross their minds that having finished you want to pay your bill and leave. You wait...and wait and then when in exasperation you get up to visit the person on the till they say "Oh we'll bring your bill over in a minute"...but they take a further ten minutes.

Waiting around in restaurants can be like a form of torture. I hate it.

In a Turkish restaurant in London two years ago we waited one hour and forty minutes for our food order to arrive and last week in a country pub-restaurant on Anglesey we waited a full hour for our main course to appear. This is what I wrote about the Turkish restaurant on TripAdvisor:-

When I was living in Thailand, the restaurant experience was always very different. Your custom was appreciated. The menu appeared quickly. The order was taken quickly. The food order appeared quickly and payment was quick and efficient. Another thing about dining in Thailand was that it was not their national custom to leave tips. You just paid up and left. All this expectation that we should leave a 10% tip is baloney to me. I only leave tips when I think that the service has been better than average.