The spirit is willing but the skills are weak. They’ll get better. I know they will. A bit of discipline and plenty of practice. I’m a bit disappointed that this is not better than it is but I know what’s wrong with it.

This, I like. It’s not an original idea. I’ve seen roses done this way before. This particular working is copied from Gemma Black, a calligrapher who puts her stuff up on Instagram. The only change I made is to paint it with gouache on black paper. It could be neater but it’s grand.

I did my fingerpicking practice on the guitar and, for the first time in a few months, I played the ukulele. It took a while to get the chord fingering right but after a few songs I was flying. It made a nice change from the guitar.


Went down the rabbit hole of the internet this morning. Knots, macrame, mandalas, doodles, tangles and … tribal motifs from south America. I like them and I put a few simple ones on pebbles this evening.

Yesterday, I painted a lighthouse. It was dreadful – flat, lifeless, one-dimensional, insipid and dull. I’ve never been good at buildings.

With a bit of discipline, maybe I could be better. Some years ago, my step-mum, Jane, bought me an architectural primer with lovely hand drawn illustrations. So, what I’m going to do is try to draw and paint one a day, just copy them from the book, to get used to proportions, shapes, colours, shading, perspective. This should help me in time to draw and paint real buildings.

Here’s number one …

I’m not aiming for photorealism, and I don’t want to be prissy, so a little wonkiness is OK as long as it’s clear what it is and it makes visual sense.

The other thing I’m doing at the moment is teaching myself to fingerpick the guitar properly. Again, I think discipline is the key. I can do simple arpeggios but I’d like to try something a little more complex and fun. So, using a guy called Matt Smith on YouTube as my teacher, I’m learning Travis-style picking, named after Merle Travis. It’s not that complicated at its most basic but it takes a lot of concentration to get the right fingers plucking the right strings in the right order. I aim to spend about 10/15 minutes a day, to start with, just plucking away using a C chord and concentrating on getting it right.

That’s all, folks.


Still working on this …

You know, at some stage, I’ll get it right. That stage clearly hasn’t been reached yet. No worries. There are elements of each of these that are OK and I’ll keep going.

In the meantime, a musical interlude …

If you’re a regular visitor to YouTube, you’ll know that the comments under videos are often negative and tedious. The comments under this one are an exception. Click through and you’ll see.

I made a list today of creative things I’d still like to do. Some old, some new, some old with a new twist. It’s a long list and it still excites me.


I’ve written before about my inability to make watercolours work for me. I won’t give up on them because I love some of the effects you can produce with them, especially at the delicate end of the spectrum. I tried a thing this evening and I thought it was going to be OK but it turned out looking so crap that I won’t even put it up here.

I ended up just doodling and playing with water and pigment.

A friend sent me a YouTube link on acoustic guitar playing and it’s made me more determined than ever to learn to finger pick. I’m just going to choose a style and go for it. I reckon 10-15 minutes a day over the summer should give me a good start.

Speaking of acoustic guitars, the same friend brought me to a gig in Whelans on Tuesday. A band called Tir na nOg. Pioneers of a kind of progressive folk with an Irish flavour in the 1970s, out of the same sort of stable as Scullion. I can just about remember them. Two members, Sonny Condell and Leo O’Kelly, both in their late 60s. They played some beautifully mellow melodic music – very calming. Nice guys and lovely musicians too with amplified acoustics, using alternative tuning.

I need to go here …