Pandemic Ponderings #23

Beware the simple task!Painting the decking is a simple task, it usually takes me a day of moving stuff, cleaning, painting and moving stuff back. In normal times getting supplies is a simple matter of going to the local industrial estate to click and collect.We were fooled by two half full cans of our favourite decking paint in the shed. Two of them should have rung alarm bells but it didn’t. Given the luxury of time the deck painting this year has the added glamour of a borrowed power washer, a scrub with soap and some gentle moisturising.With two of us painting this was going to be simple. We would each start at opposite ends and meet in the middle.All went well, the sunshine was fabulous and we made good progress. The paint looked a little different from what we were painting over but we were confident of drying resolving any concerns. Drying did not present us with a gorgeous dark charcoal. More like the charcoal of a barbeque, multicoloured from white to black.The decking paint possibly from two different summers had not overwintered well. On reflection our decking takes a tin and a bit to give good coverage. We had used the partial left over tins left from two previous seasons. Loads of time made us hugely tolerant. We would just consider this an undercoat.In Britain DIY businesses are running click and collect services during the lock down so buying a new supply of our regular Decking Paint shouldn’t have been a problem. Well that was a rabbit hole I hadn’t expected to disappear down for quite so long.Locating the paint was easy enough on many sites but having it in my basket and purchasing it any time before Christmas proved to be impossible. It seemed a multi grey deck would be the look for us this year. To say nothing of the stern warnings about my frivolous purchase being way down on anyone’s delivery schedule. In the face of such opposition I gave up.Our town has one of those huge, cheap outlet stores for food and many other random things you didn’t know you needed. We were in there for some essentials when Charcoal decking paint from an unknown brand grabbed our attention.So cheap we couldn’t not buy it. Two tins so we could use the same technique of both painting at the same time. Not all Charcoals are the same, this one was quite a vivid, lively grey. Not our thing at all but needs must and we finished the job, same technique. When we met in the middle we matched. Then the internet got involved. What you need with grey decking apparently is a ‘ pop’ of vivid orange. Asking an artist for vivid opens up a world of tangerine/orange/ yellow/red or in our case some old theatre prop paint in fluorescent orange. Swifter than you can say Seedless Jaffa an old fruit box that we use as a garden coffee table was turned into a fluorescing creation of truly orange vibrancy.In a heartbeat the decking was restocked with chairs for five people , the vibrating orange table and various planters. Not only that but the cheap out of town store had forced us to buy solar panel Christmas lights, so at night we twinkle,and like something from science fiction the fruit box glows.The simple job took 4 days …

Some days…

Not so long ago my creative life was hiding behind a busier life. Until recently I worked in the Cath Lab of a busy London teaching hospital. At times it was 24 hours a day. The team I worked with saved lives, sometimes in controlled but dramatic and messy circumstances. Mostly we were successful , other times we weren’t. Art and creativity happened on my days off.  If I had a creative block there was always an entirely reasonable excuse given the pressures and hours of my day job.

Three months into my year of not doing the day job I’ve hit creative block without having a decent excuse.

So here are my not so decent excuses.

#1 The weather

#2 My iPhone camera is playing up

#3 The dogs are playing up

#4 Can’t really be arsed

Faced with zero creative energy I did what many creative people do, I tidied my studio. Surfed the net. Ate chocolate. Bought some new pens on-line.

The turning point came when my phone unfroze. I wrote an article that was overdue for a local magazine. When I looked for the photos I needed to send in with the article , I discovered my phone had taken a crazy abstract image when I had dropped it in the woodpile, which is why it froze. The only portion of this picture that I recognise is a portion of a decking offcut. Beyond that I’m mistified , but I love the image.


After finding this I was inspired to get back to finish painting the picture that I had planned for the day. I had been printing in the studio so there was no alternative to painting outside in the rain. The painting only needed its top coat so I figured rain was just another fluid to add to the already eclectic mix of mixers . The painting is another one featuring litter and pollution in a harbour . The bright colours are created by the reflection of an amazingly clear blue sky in May.  I get the pollution effect by mixing paints and pigments with a variety of clear fluids so that they attract or repel each other. Today the clear fluids were the unavoidable rain, lube, saline, gin and acetone.

IMG_0454Now the studio is completely unusable. This will take days to dry and is in the centre of the now tidy floor.

Creatively damp from painting in the garden I took the grumpy dogs for a very wet walk, happy in the knowledge that even if I could be arsed tomorrow there is nowhere left to be creative . Who needs good excuses?