So the last time you heard from me I was out for another visit to Cyprus on the 14th March. It is Now the middle of October and for all you know I have been held hostage there ever since…

Blogging is quite a fun commitment, but has to take second fiddle to living a real life. In this age of Facebook, Youtube, Myspace, FLICKR, perhaps everyone now feels the urge to make sure they update their pages to ensure that their friends, family and colleagues know that they are living a life. I started my blog when I had taken time out of a full on work life when I was living in Hastings over 4 years ago. Back in those giddy days, I got anxious if I did not update my blog two or three times a week showing off my new drawings and paintings. It was fun and a nice way to reacquaint myself and anyone who was interested with being an artist once more. But like all those ‘fresh start’ diaries I am sure we all started in our youth, the novelty wears out and you start to wonder what you are doing it for. Mostly vanity really – or just showing off.

Anyway – I have two choices. Close it down and be done with it and just get on with the rest of my life or give it yet another go. Hmmmm I am still deciding. If I knew there were thousands of you waiting on bated breath for my next utterances things might be a tad different I guess. Or perhaps there will be generations of artists and academics in the future who will digest and my every word when I am long gone. As I say it is all just vanity.

OK! Here is what I will do; I will write an update once a month summarising what is going on in my world. If I get the urge to write out with these times, then what the hell! Fair enough?

But first I need to provide a summary of the last 6 months – of course I do. So let me try.

March 2008.
My short stay at the Cyprus College of Art in Lemba came to an end. I made around 30 small gouaches and watercolours of varying quality. It was bizarre being there in the early spring when it can be cold and wet. I had a hired car which I accidentally left the handbrake off on a hill when I parked it. It rolled down the hill and only a curb saved it going into a large gully. Phew.
On my way home to Edinburgh I stopped by Hastings to visit my sister Claire and her family. Short but sweet! Thus ended my holidays!

April 2008
Back to work at eca and the long haul towards preparing for Summer School 2008. My ability to paint dried up as I become immersed in this. Once I let go of this, I was ok – but it takes a while to adjust and I never learn that. So life became fairly routine – busy at work, relaxing and functioning at home and not much else in between. Oh, my portrait of Catie I made in January was rejected from the BP portrait award so I plonked it into the Aberdeen Artists at Aberdeen Art Gallery, where it did get an airing at least.

May 2008.
Much the same as April really; planning Summer School, a bit of teaching and not much else to talk about.

June 2008
Things got particularly frantic at this point. Not only was the Summer School looming large with much to, I was planning and preparing a teaching visit to Tallinn in Estonia. I was to teach one of my week long courses for ‘lifelong learners’ at the Estonian Academy of Arts and run a weekend workshop for their Art Lecturers in peaceful seaside town called Haapsalu. Tallinn itself is a wonderful place and the people I met, both staff and students were generous and charming. It extremely nervous about the whole affair, but it went extremely well and the students loved the class. So thanks to Anne, Katre, all the students and staff I encountered.

July/August 2008
In my job, you either totally immerse yourself in the Summer School at eca or you sink. Therefore, for most of these weeks in the summer, I am doing little else — teaching, preparing, hanging exhibitions, running workshops, sorting out teaching spaces, hospitality – I could go on. This year, for a number of factors was particularly onerous for me. So I just have to accept that I cannot make art at this time of the year. We did on occasion venture to an Edinburgh festival exhibition or fringe event.

September 2008
Some deserved time off work. A trip to the Isle of Skye at least got me making some work from direct observation (see Skye 2008 in Picture Galleries), but I doubt whether I will develop a body of work based on this. Although it was fantastic to drive through to the West coast highlands – such a long time since I last visited these parts. On our return to Edinburgh, I made a series of small observational drawings of locations in Edinburgh. I developed some of these in small gouaches to test out whether this was the direction I wished to pursue. But, I still had the nagging doubt that I had not fully developed or resolved my work based on the Wellington Place flat. So, as with the same time last year, I made another series of directly observed oils. Some are small and very loose and some have a figurative dimension added as I was painting. I am really enjoying the direct observation and I can thank Catie for this, who has even influenced me to make some oils outside.

October 2008
Despite being back at work at eca, I have managed to continue to make some progress in the work. I also am preparing the work for a show of a selection of my Cyprus pictures at the University of Chichester’s Otter Gallery in December – but more about that in another blog entry.