Consuming and Doing

Yesterday I bought some art.

Nine or ten years ago I bought a painting by Isobel Henihan. It’s a lightship moored in Dun Laoghaire harbour beside the lifeboat.

I loved it then and I still love it now. I particularly love the reflection of the lightship on the water and, of course, the Dun Laoghaire connection. I kept a look out for Isobel’s paintings since then but I understand that in the intervening period she was kept busy with motherhood.

She’s recently become active again with what I think is a new burst of energy and confidence. I follow her on Instagram and so I get to see new drawings and paintings as they emerge. (She follows me too and has been very generous to me with her likes.)

Late last week she put up a small painting that I fell in love with. It’s a view from Sandymount Strand across to the Pigeon House chimneys. It’s got great movement, energy and freshness and the sky is boldly represented. On Saturday, I went to the Doorway Gallery on South Frederick Street (another place with an emotional resonance – it’s where my dad’s office was) and bought it. No hesitation. It’s even more dramatic in real life. It’s currently with Bernard of Terenure Framers, but here’s a pic of it.

I also bought a print yesterday and you’ll see a recurring theme here. To me, the Pigeon House chimneys are Dublin, much more than any other structure I can think of. And it struck me recently that I don’t have anything on the wall that features them.

Susan Early is a print artist that I like. Many of her themes resonate with me strongly: Dun Laoghaire, lighthouses, Sligo. I bought one of her prints a year or so ago. It’s of the five lighthouses one passes leaving Dublin Port: North Wall, Poolbeg, Bull Wall, Baily and Kish. I love her detail and sense of atmosphere.

This is what I bought yesterday …

Happy with my pictures

Today, I tried a little crochet with string …

Used puffy paint (not very well) on a pebble …

Made some things out of air dry modelling clay I bought yesterday in Sostrene Grene …

Later I’ll try to remind myself how to play the guitar, something I’ve been a bit lazy about recently.

Who needs wool?

Granny squares, Christening shawls, baby hats. I think crochet has an image problem.

How about crochet for men? Using man materials. Man-chet. Rrrrrrr!

I had some paracord left over from a previous knotting project so I had a go at crocheting with that. The hook isn’t quite big enough but I persevered. It’s not any particular thing but I think it looks pretty good. Easier too, to find the holes through which to push the hook.

Tick. Tick …

Ticking over. Making stuff. Drawing. Dreaming. Keeping busy. That’s important. Keeping busy.

Carrying on crocheting. Getting the hang of the hook action but dealing with the ends of the rows is a bit of a nightmare. I’ll get the hang of it in time, I’m sure.

In Vienna, near the Hundertwasser Haus, there was a shop with some very cute ornaments hanging on a piece of beautiful Indian embroidered patchwork.

I’m having a go at the birds …

I’ll paint it when it’s dry.

Then. Teabags and pens.

That’s all.


This morning, I was reflecting on beta-blockers. They were referred to in the book I’m reading at the moment, as having been prescribed to counter feelings of anxiety.

Some years ago, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure. I was prescribed some medication designed to lower it. The medication made my ankles swell up and, when I reported this to my GP, he reduced the dose and prescribed beta-blockers to be taken in addition. Previously, I had only heard of beta-blockers as something that snooker players took to help steady their cue hands. The combination of medications was effective in lowering my blood pressure and I thought nothing more of it.

This was around 2015 and I did notice subsequently that I had slowed down a bit. I didn’t seem to have much energy. I’d fall asleep in front of the TV or find myself staring into space in work. I put this down to getting older.

Following a procedure to address some atrial fibrillation I’d been having, another doctor altered my prescription in late 2017, lowering my dose of beta-blockers. Well, my goodness, it was like being poked in the face with a sharp stick and I haven’t looked back. The fog of indolence lifted and I felt as if I had twice the energy that I had before. And so it is to this day and hopefully for the foreseeable future.

There ARE downsides. Too much thinking, sometimes obsessively. Not enough sleep. Some anxiety and hyperactivity. Occasional frustration and impatience. Stressing over unimportant issues. Throwing things and shouting (but not at other people, I hasten to add). Putting the energy to good use by, for example, engaging in creative stuff, helps to counteract some of these, however. I rarely achieve calm though, unless I become absorbed in an alternative activity. That can get a bit wearing, to be honest, and occasionally I crash.

That’s got nothing to do with the stuff I’ve been doing in the last few days. I just wanted to get those thoughts out of me and on to a page.

I saw this on Instagram and decided to have a go. I drew a heart shape, some leaves and flower shapes, cut them out with a sharp knife and laid them on top of a contrasting background. Quite a nice effect and easy enough to do.

In the last post, I mentioned that I had made a bags of a macrame bracelet. So I made another one. I kept away from the superglue this time and so the slip knot slips in the correct manner.

I haven’t done any wood carving for ages. One of the reasons is that I’m not very good at sharpening tools and some of them are a bit blunt. The guy who runs the firm I bought my carving axe from, Robin Wood (yes, I know!), suggested making sanding/sharpening blocks out of wood and very fine gauge sandpaper. I bought the sandpaper in Halfords ages ago, but I only got around to buying the wood to make the blocks with on Friday. So I made the sanding blocks today. Here’s the process …

Yesterday I popped into Evans art supply shop and bought a few tubes of Holbein Acryla Gouache. Just black and white. One of the properties of gouache is that, once dry, it can be reactivated very easily by water or other paint. One consequence of this is that if you paint a light colour on a dark background, the paint can mix and become muddy. Acryla gouache doesn’t reactivate.

Finally, on holiday, I started doing some sketches in a journal I keep to record the arty stuff I been doing. You’ll have noticed the lined paper on which some recent paintings have been done. I like doing this. Much of the art I’ve done over the last year is scattered randomly in my attic so doing them in the journal keeps everything in order and means I can track my progress, in painting anyway. Also, it makes the journal more interesting to review.

Here’s today’s page, with the writing ‘artfully’ blurred.

This morning, as well as thinking about beta blockers, I thought, pretty randomly, about the chef Ken Hom and wondered what had become of him. In the gym later, I happened to glance at one of the few remaining TVs and, what do you know, there he was, cooking stuff. I wrote about co-incidences recently and paying attention to them. There was the weirdest string of them at the start of last week. Too complicated to explain but ultimately, positive.

I’m off to adjust my chakras.