A new chess board

Our dad gave us a chess set when we were kids. Somehow my brother got the board and I got the pieces. Several decades later I’ve belatedly treated myself to a new board to replace the crappy, cardboardy thing I got from who-knows-where. The new board even has the letters and numbers to assist me when I’m following the games of the grandmasters – cool!

Son, next time you’re over from Berlin, we must have a rematch!

[Note to self: Next time I take a picture of a chess board, ensure the pieces are lined up properly in their squares…]

Painting kite flying

After my last painting I wrote that it was my final artwork until I’d worked through some of “Acrylics for the Absolute Beginners, by Charles Evans”. Well that hasn’t happened – I’ve never been very good at RTFM.

So here’s me at work, the laptop casting Steely Dan to the speakers, the iPad showing the photo I’m attempting to approximate, and the work in progress. Below is the finished painting. I confess that I’ve digitally brightened the image as my painting was, shall I say, subdued. I’m reasonably happy with it.

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

These are my final artworks

These are my final artworks until I’ve worked through at least some of “Acrylics for the Absolute Beginners, by Charles Evans”. Why? Because I’m struggling to figure out what to paint. When you don’t have the basic skills, you’re limited in what you can achieve. This morning’s efforts are the two cards for the little ones and this bizarre effort. I’ve no idea what the thing is in the top right. I think it started off as a bird! I should have painted over it and put in the sun or an aeroplane! Oh well, watch this space.

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

A life of games

Childhood

I was mad on playing football as a young kid. I considered myself a star dribbler in the junior school playground. At senior school I once played matches for the junior, middle and senior teams, all in the same week.

I even had a trial to get into the Southampton schoolboys team (was it Southampton West or East? – I can’t remember). I was rubbish on that day and my football playing days came to an end when Saturday matches clashed with doing a Saturday job.

That’s me, with the ball

College days

At college I played an awful lot of bridge. I fondly recall playing well into the early morning with only a break around 11pm, to re-energise with chicken and chips from the chippy around the corner. Once we tried playing in the evening in a pub but some grumpy sod complained and that was cut short. Oh happy, wasted days!

In my last year at college I discovered badminton. I remember beating the class instructor in my very first game. My interest in badminton was to continue for many decades.

Twenties

During my first career job I took up chess, having learnt to play at a young age. I still have my first chess pieces, which were a present from my dad. I played at work during the lunch break on a rather nice portable set that I treated myself to. Games stretched over several days and me and my colleague would sometimes play over the phone (each with our own board). I somehow accumulated two more sets, presents I think, so a total of 4 of sets which I still have, though I haven’t played for many, many years. I’m hoping that I may be able to interest one of the little ones in the near future.

I also played a bit of badminton, in church halls with low ceilings.

Thirties & beyond

After a bit of a gap I eventually resumed playing badminton. For a couple of years I was hooked on playing singles against a much younger work colleague. For a long time he was unable to beat me, but given the closeness of the games it was inevitable that eventually he would. From then on the games were pretty evenly matched and the spoils shared.

I began playing mixed doubles with work colleagues, and this was to continue for some considerable time. My time as a badminton player came to end when for the second time in two years I tore something at the back of my leg (first the right then the left). The experience was so painful and distressing that I decided I didn’t want a repeat of this injury.

Regrets

I wish I had put more of an effort into playing tennis and also table tennis. I’ve played a little, and I love these games. I’m clearly a missile-over-the-net person!

The NotAnArtist resurfaces

It’s been over a month since I last had out my acrylics and it was probably about the same time that I last sent cards of my paintings to the two little ones. So here are two more efforts by yours truly, NotAnArtist.

I’m very aware that I’m not really progressing, despite have bought or been given some cheap art books such as How to Draw Anything, Acrylics in 10 Steps, Painting With Watercolours, Oils & Acrylics, Read This If You Want To Be Great At Painting, and finally, How to Draw Anything. The trouble is I have no discipline and I’m, and have always been, a lousy learner. I’m not sure what the answer is….

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

2 paintings in one day!

The kids sent me a WhatsApp image taken from their trip to the seaside and I tried to paint something similar. Here is my effort. That was done in the morning and in the afternoon I decided to carry on and came up with a second work. The subject wasn’t quite what I intended- let’s just say it evolved into what it is!

You can see my artistic development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

Father’s Day

Father’s Day this year passed off without seeing my daughter and with seeing my son off at the airport on his way back to Berlin. My daughter usually gives me a card like this year’s card and always manages to write warm words about how wonderful a dad I am. Thank you, kid. On the way to the airport I reminded my son that it was Father’s Day. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad”, he said! Ever since he’s been living in Berlin he hasn’t been doing cards – birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day. That’s OK, son…..

Several decades ago I made a decision that Mother/Father’s Day cards were a marketing thing by the card industry and that I would stop sending a card to my mother. I seem to recall this didn’t go down well with my mum and I reverted to going with the flow in subsequent years.

Not David Hockney

I have a copy of a David Hockney painting, “Red pots in the garden”. My latest project as not an artist was to paint it – see below for Hockney’s original. I’m OK with my effort and I enjoyed doing it. You can see my development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

In the style of David Hockney
Red pots in the garden, by David Hockney

Cable guy

Three months before I was due to leave home and embark on college life in Middlesbrough, I took a temporary job in a cable factory at Eastleigh, near Southampton. The job was a clerical one and my office was to be a small, blue shed inside the factory. My task was to deal with a huge backlog of paperwork relating to goods received and issued. I had to enter the details of each movement into an appropriate page in an appropriate ledger. What a nightmare! A vast number of screws, nails, nuts and bolts, in a multitude of sizes and type. More often than not the description in the paperwork was insufficient to correctly identify the appropriate item in the ledgers. Having exhausted the patience of my supervisor with my numerous requests for help, I ended up making educated guesses. I’m sure the resulting records were hopelessly inaccurate. The records for the cables themselves were easier to match up and thus probably more reliable, though I do vaguely recall doing a stocktake of the large reels of cables and discovering mismatches between the records and the reality.

While working at the factory I met my first girlfriend (if I exclude SW at infants/junior school!). M used the perfume Memoir Cherie – I sometimes think I can still sense the smell, decades later. We would catch the train (steam?) into Southampton and in those days carriages had corridors, and compartments with blinds. Taking M home there wasn’t much light in the compartment as the train passed through a long tunnel leaving Southampton station, and it was there that the delights of innocent snogging began. M was to cause me much heartache as we attempted, and failed, to continue a relationship when I went off to college. The Beatles’ song Hello, Goodbye always triggers memory of the break-up meeting, just before Christmas. <sobbing>

I had my first pint in a pub. I think it was probably the day I had an interview for the job. Fish and chips and peas, and a pint at the Railway Inn (?). Happy days.

Kitchen window view (approx)

Another dead afternoon so why not have another go at not being an artist? Here is my preparation – note the image on the laptop as it’s my kitchen window and is my intended subject. I’m not happy with my effort, but that’s no big deal. It’s the taking part that’s important, eh? My non-progress can be seen on the page NotAnArtist.