A stout cloth and a full bottle of Mr Muscle

Sunday July 3, 2005

Talking with one of my neighbours this evening as she got back from walking her sweet little Yorkshire Terrier and doing my best to ignore the plastic bag of dog poop that dangled from her hand, I learned that the nice white house along the lane has sold, and that all the signs are there to indicate that the new people have moved in.

This is good news. Now there are only two houses for sale along the lane, ours, and the one belonging to the local couple who want to buy ours. Come, friendly buyers, and snap one of them up. Either will do.

I’d been out watering baskets and containers, and wondering if the former are going to survive until the weather cools down, and rains. I think there’s too little compost in them to hold sufficient water for the plants they support. I’ll pop out again in the morning and give them another drink but the poor things are looking awful parched. Hanging baskets are good, but the best way to keep them healthy and happy is to have them as large as you can manage, and to suspend them by chains on brackets from whence they may be lowered into a large container of water to soak for a bit before being wound back up again. If we go for this kind of planting again I’m going to urge that we dip deeper into our pockets and do the job properly.

This is the second garden in a row which has been given the cheapest possible treatment, to aid in selling houses. I’m no longer convinced that this is an altogether satisfactory approach.

Earlier in the day I was sitting contemplating the oil sketch I made the day before yesterday, and being far from pleased. I know what I was aiming for, but I failed to achieve it. Now, one of the advantages of painting in oils, on good, sturdy surfaces, is that if you really don’t think it is worth keeping, you don’t have to. Providing you act before the paint is dry, that is.

So, I took a pallette knife to it, scraped all the paint off, and then wetted a tissue with thinners and wiped the canvas as clean is it’d get, leaving a surface all ready and willing to take another painting just so soon as I feel in the mood.

Do you know, the subtle, streaky surface is far more appealing to me than the painting I’d removed? I can see several pictures in it. Perhaps this is an approach I should explore more thoroughly.

For some days I’ve had a reproduction of a painting by Pissarro on my desktop. It pleases me. My motivation was to provide inspiration but, in fact, it’s done the opposite. I look at it and wonder if I really want to add to the countless number of landscape paintings that’ve cluttered the walls, attics and basements of the western world since Pissarro strutted his stuff.

In fact, I wonder what it is exactly that I do want to paint. I don’t have that problem with pen and watercolour. Oils, though, probably because I secretly consider them the only really grown-up medium, that’s another matter, needing a lot of thought.

Ah well. I have the time for thought. Between deep cleaning the house, that is, room by room, in readiness for Graham’s return. Mind you, the kind of thought I need to do is similar to the deep cleaning process I’ve been applying to the house. I didn’t find too much in the way of dust and cobwebs in the house but my mind, well, that’s another matter. Wherever I look in my mind I find accumulations of dust and festoons of cobwebs. Needs a stout cloth and a full bottle of Mr Muscle, does this mind of mine.


Stickford, Jul,'05
My desktop


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