Friday, 14 December 2012

Christmas Promises

This is a bit of a rant, written about this time last year.

Really, the stuff they use to catch your eye on the front of magazines these days is unbelievable.  Truly unbelievable.  And I don’t mean the magazines on the top shelf, either.  That’s a topic for another day.  Maybe.  No, I mean all the promises they give you, shouting in block capitals, red letters, bold typescript.  Some real ones on a magazine I actually subscribe to (but won’t be for much longer) actually say “668 ways to celebrate” and “48 fab new festive recipes”.  Perhaps you can guess which edition these were in.  Just in case you’ve not twigged yet, also included were “Turkey and all the trimmings in just 2 hours!” and “5 minutes to fabulous”.  Indeed. If only it were that simple.  I thought it took at least a week to recover from a facelift?  And surely it takes 24 hours to defrost a turkey?  

So, these promises got me thinking.  Of some alternative, equally outlandish ones.  That promise the earth and deliver nothing.  Or just make us more stressed than we were before we read them.  Some I came up with were “999 presents for you to buy in 30 minutes!”  “88 ways to get rid of bingo wings!”  69 reasons not to get out of bed in the morning” “24 lists to help you plan each hour of the day” and “3 minutes to spare? Ideas to fill them!”

What was most enlightening was comparing the cover stories of the aforementioned magazine with the December issue for this time last year, of a well-known men’s magazine.  The words “festive”, “turkey” and “celebrate” were completely absent.  There was only one tiny reference to “Xmas”.  In fact some of the headlines were “53 tips for building beer-proof Abs”, “Burn Fat Fast – lose 2 inches in 3 weeks!” (although that might put some guys off if they didn’t read it properly), “Sex on Demand! – Get What You Want Every Time”.  The two most amazing claims were – “Sleep Better, Live Forever” which I thought was a tad of a big promise, and “How to make £250,000 in just 10 months”.  The only teensy festive reference was “Free!  Her Xmas Gear Guide – Save Time and Effort Getting it Right”.  Well, that just about sums it up, doesn’t it?  She’s busy making 48 different festive concoctions in the kitchenette and he’s out buying her something to wear on the back of his motorbike/inappropriate underwear/a new box of tools in as little time as possible before dashing to the gym to tone his beer-gut, spending an hour on the phone talking to some weird person about making pots of money and then going to bed at 7pm so he’ll never die. 

So, what are the messages being received in these two cases?  As I see it, and you may see it very differently, I realise, women are being told to slave their butts off over the festive period while men are allowed to completely ignore it, save a quick dash to the shops on Christmas Eve to get some “gear” for his other half.  Although how men who read these magazines actually have other halves, is beyond me.  Ah, there’s the rub.  They probably don’t.  That’s the point.  They are for single men, who go home to Mummy for Christmas, since she’s been out and bought her magazine (or maybe her daughter-in-law gave her an annual subscription to it) and has made all those scrumptious-looking things that there are pictures of inside.  In between the pages of beauty advice and health problems and adverts that look like real articles, but are not.    And there’s that word “gear”.  I don’t know about you, but it conjures up drugs to me.  Either that or leathers for wearing on a motorbike.  It just doesn’t sound much like something a woman might like to receive – like a piece of art, a booking for a spa mini-break, perfume, chocolates, something tasteful to wear or even a beautiful piece of jewellery now, does it?  No.  But maybe that’s manspeak for those things.  Who knows?  I sure as heck don’t.
And now a calming photograph from when it was snowy last week.

Friday, 21 September 2012


It's been a busy but enjoyable week.  I don't want to spend much longer on my computer, so this will be short and hopefully sweeter than the plums on my plum tree.
I've met lots of interesting and interested folk; everyone has a story to tell. We are all innately fascinated by each other, I think.  That's about it, really.  Many little seeds have been sown - ideas for stories and paintings and projects.  And ways of doing things better next year.  People have come and admired things that I have made, and that feels good.  It is good to be adding to the sum total of human happiness.  This is, someone once told me, what life is all about. 

Thursday, 20 September 2012


Today has been spent out and about, looking at art in all its guises.  I just noticed that word "spent". It really has been spent, hasn't it?  Gone forever now.  I'm happy to say I believe I spent it fruitfully, which is not always true.  May that be a lesson to keep with me.  That all sounds very serious - maybe because I am tired after my day gadding about the countryside.  I went prepared today, with a picnic lunch. 

I went south today, heading straight for Old Portlethen, where it did what it said on the tin.  A warm welcome awaited (as it says in the catalogue) at the home and studio of David and Jane Pettigrew.  Over a hundred pieces of artwork adorned the walls of their home and studio, as well as the corridor that joins them.  They obviously work quite happily in the spaces within their home.  I know that I am not tidy enough to be able to do that.  We spoke for quite a long while, about materials and methods, Italy and Manhattan, washing and textures.  Have a look at the website and you will understand why washing (as in washing-line) featured in our conversation.  Before I left, we went to look out over the sea from their cliff-top perch.  What a magical place to live and work.

Stonehaven is always a good place for a picnic and today was no exception.  Everyone else seemed to have the same idea - the esplanade beside the excellent fish and chip shop and tempting ice cream shop was chockablock with cars.  I regretted not taking the dogs with me for an outing, as I would then have had a brisk walk along the beach.  As it was, I slothed in the car, munching and listening to the radio. 

Gallery at Fifty Five has not been open very long.  It is on the main street in Stonehaven.  Three painters are exhibiting there just now; one is the gallery owner, who paints in watercolour.  The other two were very bright and vivid, real splashes of colour.  There is such a variety of work on display during NEOS.

Thereafter I zoomed down the coast road to Catterline, to the Old Schoolhouse.  Combine harvesters worked away in the fields as I sped past.  Again, a wide range of work was on show.  I don't know about you, but I prefer to wend my own way through an exhibition and don't particularly like being told which "end" to start at.  Nor do I like heavily scented candles filling the air with a smog of perfume.  But that's just me.  I'm sure loads of people love it.  Perhaps it works in the same way as having background music playing.  If there is a familiar tune playing, or one which evokes good memories or assocations, is one more likely to make a purchase? Maybe it works the same way with our sense of smell.  Interesting.

The Phoenix Hall at Newton Dee has several artists exhibiting together.  I could not recall having seen any of Catherine Imhof-Cardinal's work before, but I was very taken with it.  So much so that I bought a book about it!  Chatted with Alison Davidson about her work, too, and discovered that she runs classes locally.  Debbie Neill is also exhibiting there - I studied her paintings with interest, as I've signed up for one of her workshops next month.

The last stop of the day was at Mill Farm, near Kemnay - Susie Hunt's studio, where a talented group of folk are exhibiting together (and having a rare old time as well, by all accounts).   Here I was offered a very welcome cup of tea and even a fancy piece (or two).  That's something I have been doing - offering a cuppa and homebakes.  It usually goes down a treat.  I know from my touring experiences, not just this year, but over the past few years, that it is really tiring trekking round the countryside looking at art.  Yes, it is.  Really.  I know that my senses get overloaded, especially the visual, so regular sustenance is required.  (How does that work, exactly?).  That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it.  The only problem can be that, having partaken of sustenance of a liquid variety, loo stops are inevitably required.  So, when planning your NEOS route, do try to ensure that both of these needs are met.  Preferably in the same location, without having to pay 20p (as I had to do; Stonehaven, you know where you are!). 

So, the last stop.  Lots of chat with Morag McGee, who explained how raku firing works; I want to see it in action now, having smelt a piece that was done yesterday.  I should have worn my "Fit Like" earrings that I bought from her last year... maybe that would have been a bit obvious.   I sifted through a box of lovely pen and ink drawings by Gabi Reith and found a beautiful one which appealed to me straight away. "Posh Bird" came home with me; I will need to find a suitable frame for her.  There's also lovely jewellery on display in the studio, from fused glass to acrylic and found materials.  And some interesting photographs.  Just as well I haven't started my Christmas shopping yet.  But some seeds of ideas were planted.

The light today was not as fantastic as two days ago, so I took very few photographs.  This was what caught my eye just a little way up a farm track not far east of Dunecht.


I like to think that was my sixth venue of the day.  The smell of the freshly cut wood was amazing.  If only these were scratch and sniff photographs.  While I was packing up to leave the track, a chap arrived in dark coloured estate car and parked a little way further up.  I wondered if he was going to tell me off for lurking amongst the woodpile.  I had been very careful not go to near, heeding the warning signs not to climb on top of them.  But no, he proceeded to shin over the wall and up on to the pile of thickest trunks.  He took out a tape measure and measured at least one of them, lengthwise.  I didn't like to stare too hard.  He looked as if he knew what he was doing, was meant to be there.  Probably a forestry chappie, I thought, though he wore a navy fleece, not a dark green one.  My mind set to wondering; perhaps he was going to hollow a canoe out of one of the large logs, and needed to know if it was wide enough?  Or was he a log rustler?  Is there such a thing as a log rustler? And are they called that? 

Enough already.  It's been a long but interesting day.  Plenty of food for thought.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


I can't believe I just wrote one sentence in my previous blog post and then ran off.  How rude.  Today I am determined to write a proper blog.

Yesterday I took the day off from manning The Cabin to take a tour round some North East Open Studios venues.  I planned my route quite carefully, trying to take account of driving times and distances, and also to plan some refreshment stops.  I still took a snack box with me, of course, in case of emergencies or paucity of coffee shops.  When I got home at 7pm, the snack box was empty.  More due to my lack of good planning than anything else. 

I always underestimate travelling times and had also completely ignored the possibility that the northeast countryside would be at its most enticing on a sunny September afternoon.  My first stop was at a venue nearby, with many talented artists all exhibiting together.  I stopped to chat, making acquaintance, gleaning information about art classes and workshops.  It is always interesting to hear how others have arrived where they are today.  It would be lovely to meet up with some of these folk throughout the year, to continue these conversations.   I even bought something.  I may tell you later what it was.

Onwards to a village hall in the bowels of the country, to view paintings by a local art group.  A range of work was on view, along with some fascinating scupltures, based mainly on boulders sifted from farmers' fields.  This visit was followed by a hare northwards across the countryside to a wee place that I've only been to once before, to catch a friend's exhibition before closing.  She had just sold a painting, and had sold several in the past few days, so was feeling happy.  Luckily there was a tea shop next door with homebakes on offer and a very cheerful girl serving at the counter.  She was doing so in between giving loving "bosies" to a tiny person who I assumed was her nearly-new niece.

Between these visits I stopped several times, once backtracking completely and parking at the edge of a stubble field.  The sky was so entrancing, I'm surprised that no following vehicles reported me for erratic driving.  On a day made for dawdling, I seemed to encounter more than my fair share of impatient drivers, who drove right up my backside (not literally).  This meant that pulling over suddenly when I spotted a field or cloud or building that was of interest was completely impossible.  So, I stopped a few times, in safe places, and took photographs.  Here are a few of them.


My last port of call was to a little coastal village that I have not visited for a long time.  It is not so little any more.  Houses seemed to blanket the fringes of the place, which were now darkly solid.  I talked photography for a while at a venue which I had not planned to visit, then wandered to the harbour, camera in hand.  Again, the sky was full of movement and life.  Clouds, dark and grey and menacing on one side; fluffy and white and shining on the other.   Skeins of geese passed overhead more than once.  The boats in the harbour waited patiently for the tide to turn.  I turned and came home.

Monday, 17 September 2012


The time is now. It is Day 3 of North East Open Studios and things are quiet enough for me to write a wee bit here.
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Thursday, 13 September 2012


I have been busy getting things ready.  It's amazing how long everything takes, especially when you've become unaccustomed to working to deadlines.  I ordered some greetings cards a week or so ago - they arrived the other day, so it was time to sit down and put them into little cellophane sleeves, to keep them nice and clean while potential customers riffle through them next week.  No, next week, that day after tomorrow!  That's when North East Open Studios starts.  In case I hadn't mentioned it before.  Here's a couple of my cards - both of watercolour paintings by yours truly.

The next thing to get done was to get rid of all the junk - sorry, artist's materials - from the cabin/shed in the back garden, which is our venue for the week.  Again, this has been quite a slow process, as I kept finding things that I didn't know I had, or things that I had thought were lost forever.  I seem to have quite a lot of paper.  I do have a bit of a thing for paper, or rather stationery.  I can never have too much of it.  I really should just use it all up, paint things or write things on it.  No need to buy any for a while, anyway. 

Saturday, 8 September 2012


I am in the throes of preparing for North East Open Studios, a fantastic event which is in its ninth year. It is a collective of artists, makers and craftspeople in the northeast of Scotland, who work together to promote their work by opening up their studios to all and sundry for nine days in September. The process also involves the production of a lovely wee catalogue, containing details of all 285 participants. This super publication is free (yes, Free!) and has been distributed far and wide in the past couple of weeks. Here's what it looks like, so you can keep your eyes peeled for copies lying around the place.

The bleeper is going on the cooker to say my spaghetti is cooked.... to be continued...

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Country shows

I love going to country shows.  The people there are real people.  Real, grounded, earthy people who work the land.  They raise animals, plough fields and grow crops, out in all weathers.  I have sometimes thought I would like to live this kind of life, but I don't think I would have the stamina for the 4am rises to milk the cows or check on the sheep, or all the jobs I imagine a farmer must do. 

Attending a recent show forty miles out of Aberdeen, the place was heaving with folk out for the day.  Men in tweeds and flat caps leaned on shooting sticks and watched the hunting horses in the ring.  Little girls in jodhpurs and riding boots, neat pigtails tied with red ribbons, bobbed along on gleaming ponies.  In between munching on burgers and chips, or licking ice cream cones, of course.  There did not seem to be much else to eat other than burgers.  Luckily they were rather tasty ones. 

There were also some rather lovely vintage cars on show.


Wednesday, 29 August 2012


No sooner did we have a glimpse of summer, than autumn put in an appearance. These jewel-like plums have been gradually swelling over the past couple of weeks, ably assisted by all the rain we've been having. Leaves on the geans have also started turning colour. It will soon be time to turn the clocks back!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The Small Things

This heart-shaped rubber band has been lying on the pavement just up the road from my house for about a week now. I kept seeing it and thought about taking a photo several times. Today I did, and here it is.
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Tuesday, 31 July 2012


I'm concentrating on marketing at the moment, tweeting and posting on Facebook and even making more of an effort on here. Not that this is very interesting in itself. I'm hoping that maybe some Scottish photographs might sell better across the pond (in the USA). Have a look here - scottish art and see what you think - there might be an image there that grabs your attention, or reminds you of a holiday you once had, or just appeals to you in some way. Scotland is pretty photogenic, I believe.

 Enjoy looking and thanks for visiting!

Just posted this one - here's a sneak preview - birdie footprints in the sand...

Monday, 30 July 2012

Seashore Photographs

I am very fond of the sea. It draws me to it and I love taking photographs of it and beside it.
You can see more photos I have taken here - seashore photos

New camera

I am delighted to have acquired a new (secondhand) camera recently. It's really an early birthday present (thanks, OH), but I just had to try it out to make sure everything worked OK. ;) I should be able to zoom in on things a whole lot better, maybe even play about with some fancy effects. I don't intend to get technical though, just hopefully get some good shots...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


I recently signed up to Fine Art America to see if I can sell some of my photographs to the folk across the pond. Part of me feels as if I am selling my soul, another part says that this is a sensible thing to do if I want to make some sort of income from this creative process. I don't intend to change the type of photographs I take or post to the site (I now have a collection of more than 50 photos on the Photo4me website), so I think I feel comfortable reaching out to this potential new market. Just hoping it doesn't increase the contents of my spam folder, however. This will be monitored closely. Here's a link to the photographs of Scotland (including mine, I hope!) that can be found on the Fine Art America site: scotland photos

Monday, 23 July 2012


An unusually clear view of Slioch taken on the way east and homewards last Saturday. The bend in the road along Loch Maree side...
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Magical view

This was the view west out into the Atlantic from our secret picnic spot last week.
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Monday, 14 May 2012

Cherry blossom

The weather recently has been very mixed. That's putting it mildly. There has just been a violent hailstorm clattering on the roof, demanding attention. The other day, it was all blue skies and cherry blossom. I thought you'd prefer the latter to the former.
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Monday, 7 May 2012

Trying to link the blog to Twitter. I know I shouldn't try things out live, but here goes! Also am guessing that the button should not go right slap bang in the middle of the page. Do I care? Maybe a bit.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Spring barley

Lovely walk along the old railway line today.

I've just signed up for a photography website,, as a place to sell my photographs from, including canvases.  Someone I know sells their photos there, so it seems like a good idea.  Maybe I should have done a bit more homework, but it was a carpe diem moment. 

You can find me on the site at

Although I am waiting for my first three images to be approved.

Onwards and upwards.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Sketching & photographs

I went on a trip up to Collieston this afternoon; it's on the coast about 4 miles north of Newburgh, which is itself about 12 miles or so north of Aberdeen. It's a wee fishing village, complete with harbour, cottages and a bit of sandy beach.

The sun had finally come out, so it was a good chance to get some photographs of somewhere scenic, and different to where I usually go. I can't remember the last time I was there. It's well looked-after. There are public toilets down at the front. There's parking to the north of the village, with a footpath that takes you round to the harbour (or you can park there, I found out afterwards). I sat on a bench on the approach to the pier and sketched for quite a while. I tend to be a bit too ambitious when sketching; should try and concentrate on one small area in future. I end up having to draw about twenty houses, where a couple might be better. I took some photos too. It was lovely and sunny, but pretty chilly in the wind.

Two sketches later, I walked round to the south side of the bay, along the front of the village, complete with upturned rowing boats, creels, little sheds and bright pink and orange buoys dotted about the place. I meandered down to the shore, peered into some rockpools and took some more photos, this time of the rockpools, a series of waves coming into a sluice in the rocks, and the clouds scudding past the top of the cliffs overhead. Among other things. One more sketch from the south side of the bay, then homewards, as it was really chilly again, the sun having gone in. The cliff face by the car park caught my eye; lovely colours and textures - warm red sandstone with what I believed to be some fool's gold in it.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012


I was about to take a photo of some buildings, when this pattern on the street caught my eye...

Monday, 23 April 2012


It seems that there are pictures everywhere - you just have to look for them.

Saturday, 21 April 2012


I like the patterns found in dry stone walls. Here's a photo to show what I mean.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

photobox gallery

I am currently considering the best way forward for selling stuff.  I need to concentrate quite hard and think it through carefully, but am finding that quite difficult.  The trouble is, I have various things going on, on the web, and I really need to rationalise it all.  So, should I bring everything into one place, i.e. set up my own website?  Maybe it would help if I made a list:

Currently, I use/have a presence on :

Facebook (but a personal site, not a business one)
Twitter : @jenniferjwatson
Flickr (photos of paintings)
Tumblr (just a tryout, really, as above)
Photobox Gallery (photos, available as prints of various sizes) :
Blogspot (here!)
Creative Cultures Scotland
North East Open Studios
Scottish Craft website (just joined, will see how it goes) :

Looks like it's time to go for it...  will let you know what happens!

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

recent work

I have been experimenting with gouache recently.  It comes in little tubes (well, my tubes are little, anyway) and is more opaque than watercolour.  Or it can be.  Watercolour can also be used fom tubes, but I have always the used the blocks, the kind that are kept in a tin that folds up.  Forgive me if I am rambling a bit, I have had the flu for what feels like forever, but is probably only about three days.  So, with gouache, you can get more intense colour, and can put light colours on top of dark ones (which is not possible with pure watercolours).  But what does the viewer of a painting care about all that?  They just want to see what the end result looks like - so here you go - a brightly coloured macaw, who I quite like the look of, and a dilapidated window. 

Tuesday, 14 February 2012


I have just discovered what fun this can be.  It is also rather engrossing, distracting and takes more concentration than you might expect.  I was keen to recycle some old Christmas catalogues which were lying about the place, but in a constructive way, rather than putting them out in the white canvas-type bag on the street on a Monday morning. If the truth be told, I missed the recycling slot this week, so that added to the reasoning, in some strange way.  Flicking through, there was quite a lot of red in evidence (yes, I know the one shown above is blue, but it was attempt #2), so I cut out lots of little squares and made a patchwork pattern with them.  I was pleased with the result and took some photos of it.  Oh all right then, here is the red one too. 

Funnily enough, it seemed to develop a Valentine's theme all of its own (the little hearts were Christmas decorations originally).  Now I'm off to find some greenness in old magazines, as St Patrick's Day is coming up. 

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

shed painting

Well, that's my painting off to Aberdeen Artists' Society for their exhibition that opens on Saturday.  The exhibition is called "Watch this Space" - I'm hoping there will be space on the walls for everything that's submitted, and that my shed (above) gets a good spot.  In good light, at eye level, visible from the street would be fine, thank you. 

Friday, 3 February 2012

red phone box

I think I may branch out and include phone boxes in my "shed phase".  I posted this wee sketchy painting on Facebook the other day and loads of people liked it - some even made nice comments about it!  Something to ponder; shame my mind flits from one idea to another like a demented bluebottle.  I need to just get down to doing one thing until it's finshed.  But what is finished, when it comes to a picture or painting or set of paintings?  Ah, my mind begins to wander again, you see, and then I'm off on another directionless ramble.  Enough already.  Another day, another painting, hopefully.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

another shed

A short post today - a photo and a few words

I love the ramshackle appearance of this one.  It may be the subject of the next painting.  It was described as "hallyracket" by someone the other day.  Great words, both of them.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

shed sketches

As promised, here are a couple of sketches I did the other day of some sheds at Footdee.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

shed phase

I seem to have entered a shed phase.  Or maybe I am just acknowledging it now; I think I have probably been in it for quite some time.  Last week, as the last of the January afternoon light was disappearing (at about 3pm), I made my way to Footdee (or Fittie, as it is known locally in Aberdeen) to take some photographs. 

I had known it was cold outside, but was not prepared for the chill that seeped into my very bones as I walked slowly around taking photographs.  This is the nature of taking photographs, I have found - you can't walk briskly, stop and take a few snaps and then march on again.  It takes time.  One has to browse, to look, to peer, squint, looking upwards and downwards and sideways.  Especially sideways.  If you are wanting to capture any half-decent images, I mean.  I was collecting images to paint later; that was the aim.  The light was rather ethereal; there was a misty white glow about it, which I did not really see at the time, but is quite vivid in the photographs.  Not vivid, that is the wrong word. 

Since I have been very remiss about blogging in recent times (for the past three months!), I think I will share the photos I took for the next wee while.  Maybe with some comments.  I started a painting (watercolour) of one of the photo above today, at the lovely class I go to out at Udny Green.  I may share it once it's finished - who knows?