Saturday, 16 October 2010


My mum and dad were going to Bury St Edmunds, where we used to go every Easter when we were young. They asked if there was anything we'd like them to bring back.

"A brown duck with a long neck," I said.

They came back yesterday evening.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


I was sending a client a note explaining roughly how much time I was spending on work for them. Maths is not my strong point, but I got there eventually. 

She phoned this morning, saying "I wish I had as many days in the year as you do."
The email had informed her I was working 1,190 days per year.

Just think of all the work you could get done!
Though they do say work expands to fill the time available.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


I like deadlines. So often with my work the nearest I have to a deadline is 'as soon as possible'. But that really doesn't motivate me. I faff around doing nothing, or just can't get my head round what I'm supposed to be doing. As I've been doing all week.

But then I'm given a deadline. It's concrete; I'm aiming at something.
Now I can work.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

A novel way of stretching watercolours

When you paint on paper, it goes wrinkly. There is a proper way to avoid this when painting watercolours: Before painting, you soak your paper in water, which stretches it, and stick it to your board with gummed tape. In the morning, your paper will have shrunk tight and flat, and you can now paint your painting.

The problem is the time the stretched paper takes to dry. You can't finish one painting, go and trace the next and start painting it immediately.

So I have developed a system which seems to work (The management takes no responsibility for damage to paintings or any other unforseen circumstances :-) )
  1. Trace your picture to your paper. For a large painting with lots of wet washes, you'll need something like 425gsm paper. A smaller or drier one can be done on 300gsm, which is rather easier to trace onto.
  2. Stick your paper to the board with masking tape. This will keep it flattish. Enough to paint on.
  3. Paint your picture.
  4. Damp the back of the painting with a sponge. Make sure no water gets on the front. And don't over-wet it, esp with thinner paper.
  5. Place it on one board, and put another board on top. You could pile up several, with paintings in between. Put big heavy books on top and press for a while until flat.
  6. Tape paintings to board with gummed paper tape and leave to dry.
  7. Cut off board - one perfectly stretched painting!
You may be able to get away without step 5. In previous projects I didn't use it, but it wasn't working this time. Thanks to my dad for suggesting it, as I was in a slight panic.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010


A person living in the stone age wouldn't have known he was living in the stone age. He would have believed he was living in modern times. We believe we are living in modern times. Time will tell.
from 'Ug' by Raymond Briggs
*may not be word for word, as it's from memory