the autumnal feel of August

if I may quote a good friend – with early darkness, the evening chill and the morning freshness of a September camping morning, when it all dries up by lunchtime.

we go all too quickly from this golden field

to this brown one, as the autumn barley is gathered in and the stubble is turned over by the cultivator.

and the rowans always seem too early with their red berries.

and as I remember how last year in Norfolk the first week in August was a blazing heatwave, we went swimming at Gunhill dunes at 8.00 am and poor Bims got heat stroke walking back to the car even at 9 in the morning. We are both grateful for cooler temperatures here in Scotland, making post-breakfast walks possible.

although here in East Fife we have not had the monsoons that have afflicted Angus and more westerly parts of the Central Belt, this morning it has been tipping down since daylight and I have to be strategic about picking a place to walk that will not result in this –

after plunging through this

beautiful as it was, now the Ceres Moor path has been mown I can do a local walk with dry legs and more or less dry boots.

Bims snatches sunbathing moments on grass that is too battered to call it a lawn, and anyway I do no-mow May, June and July!

as a dark cloud threatens rain. the sunflowers need it. I have set up an irrigation system for my new flowerbeds but one in the shade – too shady? – doesn’t seem to need it at all now there has been some rain –

the first one I made has full sun and gets dry very quickly. the rain we have had brought things on by leaps and bounds, but these prairie flowers are very slow to fulfil the seed packet promise. I now have yellow petals on three of these coneflowers, and one has started to open the pollen and nectar producing florets on the cone.

I hope to see rudbeckia flowers out soon

and love in the mist. meanwhile the runners are covered in red flowers and have a few inch-long beans – and I propagated them indoors! I suppose one blames the cold May and June we had.

I have been catching up on the house. I had two of these glass panelled wood doors hung instead of the solid doors, to allow light through from living room and kitchen into the hallway, and had not got around to painting them to match. also the skirtings got very knocked about when the joiner had to take them off to fit the laminate flooring. the colour is Little Greene Paint’s Rubine Ash, and I’m using their water-based primer/undercoat. it’s great as it doesn’t drip at all and covers really well. the only question is what is the easiest way to remove the plastic film that protects the glass when I’ve finished. the hall is looking very smart now all the scrapes, and Bimba’s claw scratches on the front door, are covered over. obviously I will have to continue touching that front door up though.

I have still managed to paint in the studio, finding up small surfaces to work on, some older and some just bits of cardboard from Jackson’s Art materials packing

I’ve been using some of these line drawings made on walks to inspire more linear elements in the paintings recently

as well as the spatula for broad mark-making

and here

this is on a block of tropical hardwood I’ve had knocking around for twenty years. some effects are easier on a panel rather than canvas.

the barley fields and some gold paint have inspired a stream of little paintings

this on a canvas covered board

on ply board

layering gold, colour, and gold again

and messily, on the slightly ridged surface of the cardboard box I cut up and gessoed. all fun and nice little paintings. I’m thinking forward to Open Studios. we are doing one weekend only, in October.

I’m seeing some field edges that I assume haven’t been sprayed – this a rape crop –

it reminds me of this section of a painting

and is probably a may-weed

and a wheat field with such poor growth on the edge that I walked through its gaps instead of the long grass and thistles of the path, full of these flowers on the corner where it meets the road.

the walk from Dairsie around Craiglug to Craigsanquhar and Pittormie continues to inspire me. the combination of the crags and high hill shapes with the dotted trees and gorse battlements, and the lines of field boundaries

plus the little distanced livestock figures

and the great hedgerows along the edges of tracks

this small painting (40 x 40 cm) has the feel of all that, for sure.

just to be inconsistent, this pair making a diptych, are less tied to a particular place, but more to writing I’ve been doing about the area, and there is text half hidden

crow steps – they are the mock-gothic stone steps on so many farmhouse gables around here.

Constant Billy – the name of a traditional Morris dance tune. dance has been a bit of a theme in some of the poems, and Crow Steps refers to that as well as the architectural detail, and simply the number of crows here – well they are corbies of course, figures of doom, following battles and shepherds. Bims regards them as an excuse to leap about and bark.

this Phacelia Tanacetifolia with its interplanting of red clover as a cover crop, or a nectar crop, along the edges of the barley next to Ceres Moor path still has much of summer about it.

I keep at it with these small boards – 15 x 20 cm or thereabouts, and some smaller

and the pocket sketchbooks

I am trying to document them

and have written  about the first one in a page on my website, but to do all of them is a huge undertaking.

currently in the studio. no idea where this is going. it’s the last big piece I have from the roll of canvas.






  1. Another lovely set of beautiful photos of your area and all the inspiration you get for the detail in your paintings – we are living your life with you – it’s great!

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