East Neuk

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‘East Neuk’. Mixed media on canvas .60x60cm. A painting I returned to today and finished. Looking north to a line of beech trees and the sky after a rain shower.


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The incinerator, scrap yard and dog shit bin. Three ways of getting rid of waste. Met a man from the factory down the road sitting on a school chair directing the lorries in between reading his Tele. I sat behind him drawing, promising to leave him out of the picture. A driver had given him a peach which he handed to me as he didn’t like them. He enjoyed banter with the drivers, laughing and flicking the ‘Vs’. The wind picking up, a family stopped and we had a blether about the lack of benches. Fish jumping in the burn and grasshoppers singing.

Summer morning dookin’.

A perfect day for getting wet as it happens. We went along to the back of the industrial estate behind Sainsburys with the hope of cutting up and pulling out a fallen willow tree that was blocking the burn. Jane, Catherine, Kevin and I put on waders and took to the water with bow saws. Had a great time, falling in, clearing the rubbish and sawing our way through the tree. I got to drive the minibus too which was a hoot and after much discussion on the way back the bus was nick named ‘Dick’ by Catherine. Much laughter, particularly from the women.

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Beneath the A90…..

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The Dighty flows under the dual carrigeway here. Meet Yvonne whose sons girlfriend is an artist living in Buckie. Tells me she has lived next to the burn for 30 years. Lycra sweaty runners pant heavily as they pass. The sun is hot today. Ragwort, butter burr and rowan trees heavy with berries. A man walks over to me.He introduces himself as Joe, an artist from across the way. A sculptor. He shows me how to hold a pencil and asks me lots of questions about my composition. His little dog rolls in the grass, has a poorly paw. Joe lived in Berlin for a while.The council grass cutting tractor mower is getting closer, think I should move…….I walk back to the car at Morrisons. I think I am in love with this car park. It is huge, and there is something about the optimism that planned this space that I like as I look out upon acres of white painted boxes meant for cars and their shopping. The heat of the car interior blasts me as I open the door.

Drawing walk.

A drawing morning with Gillian and David. Blue sky and hot sun. Beautiful. Butterflies, thistles, Himalayan balsam. Brown trout, and a buzzard. Hopscotch chalked onto the pavement, boys on their bikes on the BMX track, oh and during the morning a fridge freezer was dumped in the burn.

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Group drawing of the burn. A great morning watching how others see this place I draw so much. Thankyou.

This place….

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An afternoon with Kenny and Stevie. Hiya Kenny. Hiya Darlin’. Kitchen cupboards in formica orange. I think its 1974 again. Cheery. Back gardens, washing on the lines. Cup of coffee and a chat. So yous movin ? To Fife I say. Drawings, guitar, how hard is a B minor chord, and the memory of his Dad singing a happy song as he mowed the grass. I ask to borrow a song for my book, something of his, and he sings a few lines, quietly. So, what makes a good painting ? Its having the eye , the way you see things, he says. He likes my drawings, thinks they say something. In walks Stevie, a cousin from London but now of Laurencekirk. Asks why I am here and we talk about favourite artists and carry on looking for the answer to what makes good art. Tours of Deeside, chaffeuring the rich and famous. Little dog curled up on my knee.The sea, caravan holidays and Montrose beach. I leave with more than I came with. As always in this place.


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I popped into the mobile library parked behind Happyhillock Road and chatted to the librarian about memories of  summer holidays and fishing for sticklebacks in the river. I still remember how it felt to get stabbed by the jabby spiny barbs on their backs.