Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Learn to Win

I am sure I am not alone in being caught up in the drama of the olympic games. Have been a runner and competed in many events, I feel I can almost be in he minds of those competing. Ok I started to late to be competing at the level of an olympian . I did though take part in many marathons. On the start line there were those other runners whom I had beaten in the last race, or they had just beaten me. They were there to be raced and to race again. Then of course there was the clock. Was I going to better the time I had last outing? Was I going to get a PB (personal best)? 

I have remained a very competitive person. Even at my age, before this operation that has meant I cannot run, if I saw a runner in front of me on my morning run, I still tried to catch up and maybe pass. Did not seem to matter that they were thirty years younger than me.  Maybe this is why I am suffering now?

I did though learn some lessons, that can be taken into other fields of life, even into art.

 1. Expect to win.
       Know in your heart that you are a winner.

  2. Let your expectations show.
       Express no doubts, let your competitors and your friends know  that you have none.

  3. Work, practice, work, and practice some more.
     At the top of his field, the athlete can still be seen training - even if he's just          won.

  4. Dress and act like a winner.
       This is a part of keeping yourself in a winning frame of mind.

  5. Have a sense of drama - don't create it but know it when you see  it.
       You don't have to seek out publicity, but know how to accept  and use it when it comes to you.

  6. Know that there is always room to grow.
       Being the best does not mean you can't be even better.

  7. Hang with the winners.
       They understand the pressures and situations in which you will  find yourself.

  8. Put yourself in situations where you are not known as a success.
       May be difficult, but this helps you to stay real.

  9. Value and protect your free time and do what you enjoy.
       The discipline of being a winner needs a safety valve from time  to time.

  10. Remember those who need help.
       Somewhere, someone helped you - be willing to give back.

May the Chi be with you and may you feel at the end of the day that you have given of your best and that it has been a good day.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Inner Wolves

When you are sitting about for the majority of the day. There is so much time to allow the inner wolves to take over and destroy your thinking. What do I mean by the inner wolves? Let me share with you a little story. 
An old Grandfather, whose grandson came to him with anger at a schoolmate who had done him an injustice, said, "Let me tell you a story. I too, at times, have felt a great hate for those that have taken so much, with no sorrow for what they do. But hate wears you down, and does not hurt your enemy. It is like taking poison and wishing your enemy would die. I have struggled with these feelings many times."

He continued, "It is as if there are two wolves inside me; one is good and does no harm. He lives in harmony with all around him and does not take offense when no offense was intended. He will only fight when it is right to do so, and in the right way."

"But the other wolf, ah! He is full of anger. The littlest thing will set him into a fit of temper. He fights everyone, all the time, for no reason. He cannot think because his anger and hate are so great. It is hard to live with these two wolves inside me, for both of them try to dominate my spirit."

The boy looked intently into his Grandfather's eye and asked, "Which one wins, Grandfather?"

The Grandfather solemnly said, "The one I feed."
                    I do so like this story, I just hope I am feeding the correct wolf.
                    Today I have posted my latest painting with a few changes I made yesterday.
                    The picture sadly might not show it to its full. The sails of the boat in the centre
                    has real gold leaf on it and in reality it catches the light and the eye.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentines Story

Can I begin by thanking those who have taken the time to read my blogs. 
It is always best to do what you know to be right, honest and true to what your head and heart tells you. This is true in all things, but possibly even more so in matters of the heart. Yes of course I am aware that today is Valentines Day, so of course I am going to be romantic. Love can overcome all things, but it cannot flourish in the midst of untruths. Let me explain with a story based on a true experience.

John stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way along platform 6 of Waverly Station.. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose.  
His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in the Carnagie Library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in a town further up the coast. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. 

The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. John requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like. 
When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at platform 6 Waverly Station Edinburgh. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.
I'll let John tell you what happened:

A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be, grateful. I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment.  
"I'm Lieutenant John McEwan, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?"  

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!"

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive. "Tell me whom you love," says the well known saying, "And I will tell you who you are."
         May your heart be touched with Love this day and may you share your love with those
         who touch your life this day.

         Todays artwork was my latest abstract commission. 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Carrot, The Egg and the Coffee

I promise not to keep going on about recent hardships and adversity but I really do feel I need to share this thought today. Yesterday I managed to walk a number of steps without the use of my crutches. These steps were slow and not without pain, but the sense of achievement at the end was wonderful. Buoyed up by this I rested and later managed to climb the stairs and go to the toilet and back down without the crutches. Yes maybe I did do a bit too much but I wanted to try.

I saw my chair as the carrot urging me ever onward.  Then somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered something about a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean. So hear it is that story with a very meaningful message.
 A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.
 Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word.
 In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl.

 Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me what you see. "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied.

 Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg. Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma.

 The daughter then asked, "What does it mean, mother?"  Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity -- boiling water. Each reacted differently.

  The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak.
 The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became
 The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.
 "Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?"
 Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?
 Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat?  Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial
 hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?
 Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water,  the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it  releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things  are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

 When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest, do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?
 May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

 The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. 
The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

The artwork used today is my most recent painting. Using a lot of texture. I like it because it reminds me of the runs I did daily and it is the first painting I have done for some time.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

He Only Had a Typewriter.

For the last few weeks or so I have been bemoaning the fact that I could not paint because of hospitalisation and then the pain of trying to stand or sit at my easel. Truth to be told I was suffering from a bit of the poor me's. How easy it is to feel sorry for oneself when things are not going your way. 

I have had to accept that I may not run again, and that has not been easy. If I can walk I should rejoice. I cannot move around as much as I want, but I will be able to do given time and healing.

So in the midst of all of this I read about this artist. Paul Smith.

He lived at Rose Haven Nursing Home ( Roseburg , OR ) for years. Paul Smith, the man with extraordinary talent was born on September 21, 1921, with severe cerebral palsy. Not only had Paul beaten the odds of a life with spastic cerebral palsy, a disability that impeded his speech and mobility but also taught himself to become a master artist as well as a terrific chess player even after being devoid of a formal education as a child.

"When typing, Paul used his left hand to steady his right one. Since he couldn't press two keys at the same time, he almost always locked the shift key down and made his pictures using the symbols at the top of the number keys. In other words, his pictures were based on these characters ..... @ # $ % ^ & * ( )_ . Across seven decades, Paul created hundreds of pictures. He often gave the originals away. Sometimes, but not always, he kept or received a copy for his own records. As his mastery of the typewriter grew, he developed techniques to create shadings, colors, and textures that made his work resemble pencil or charcoal drawings." 

This great man passed away on June 25, 2009, but left behind a collection of his amazing artwork that will be an inspiration for many.

Now is that not something. An example to us all, and to me in particular. Stop complaining about how life is and make the very best of what we have.  How I would have loved to have known this man I am sure he would have been such an inspiration.

I have added no artwork of my own today I leave that to Paul.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014


I am sure everybody knows this painting, it is so very well known. Hands are very difficult to paint so I thought I would have a try at painting my version of Durer's hands. There is nothing wrong with learning from the masters, either in art or in thinking. I spend some time each day listening to the words of the greats of thought.

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen! In order merely to keep food on the table for this mob, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighborhood. Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by laboring in the mines. They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honored position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfill his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will support you."

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated over and over, "No ... no ... no ... no."

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver-point sketches, watercolors, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, long ago, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

There are some things that others do for you that no words can ever express your thankfulness. Artists are so fortunate that they can express there inner feelings in what they produce with their hands.

Monday, 10 February 2014

What I Have Learned.

Having spent my life since the 20th of December either on crutches or in a hospital bed, I have had a great deal of time to think and consider. There is nothing more than the thought that you just might not make it to make you realise what is and what is not important.

I am aware that I have done a blog like this before, but trust me there are changes in here from my reflections.
I've learned - That you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is be someone who can be loved. The rest is up to them. How wonderful to know that you are indeed loved. 
I've learned - that no matter how much I care, some people just don't care back. We have to accept this is the case. 
I've learned - that it takes years to build up trust, and only seconds to destroy it. So put your brain into action before your mouth. 
I've learned - that it's not what you have in your life but who you have in your life that counts. 
I've learned - that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better know something. 
I've learned - that it's not what happens to people that's important. It's what they do about it. When down, get back up. 
I've learned - that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life. 
I've learned - that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them. Oh how important this one is. 
I've learned - that either you control your attitude or it controls you.  
I've learned - that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades and there had better be something else to take its place. 
I've learned - that learning to forgive takes practice. But how important it is. 
I've learned - that money is a lousy way of keeping score. 
I've learned - that sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry, but that doesn't give me the right to be cruel. 
I've learned - that true friendship continues to grow, even over the longest distance. Same goes for true love. 
I've learned - that maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had and what you've learned from them and less to do with how many years you've lived. 
I've learned - that you should never tell a child their dreams are unlikely or outlandish. Few things are more humiliating, and what a tragedy it would be if they believed you.
I've learned - that no matter how good a friend is, they're going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that. 
I've learned - that it isn't always enough to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself. 
I've learned - that no matter how bad your heart is broken the world doesn't stop for your grief. 
l've learned - that just because two people argue, it doesn't mean they don't love each other and just because they don't argue, it doesn't mean they do. 
I've learned - that sometimes you have to put the individual ahead of their actions. 
I've learned - that you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret. It could change your life forever. 
I've learned - that no matter how you try to protect your children, they will eventually get hurt and you will hurt in the process. 
I've learned - that your life can be changed in a matter of hours by people who don't even know you. 
I've learned - that even when you think you have no more to give, when a friend cries out to you, you will find the strength to help. 
I've learned - that writing, as well as talking, can ease emotional pains.
 Even the worst experiences in live have lessons to teach.

Todays artwork is a pen and ink drawing I did recently and a very good friend bought it for his dear wife.  It is "The House of John Knox" situated in the heart of Edinburgh.