Sometimes in my life surprising gifts are given. I remember my paintings being ‘out there’ in some gallery miles away for flipping ages doing nothing, it seemed, and then, just when I needed a lift, encouragement, a gift, it came; always a surprise. There I was, ferreting about for enough cash or whatever wherewithall I needed, thinking How Can I manage This, and with stealth and whilst I was looking the other way, in came the gift. Somebody bought a painting!
Of course, there are those of us who just know their paintings will sell wherever and whenever they hang them in white-walled galleries anywhere in the country just because they have a following; because someone loves watercolour landscapes, or elephants or canoes with bears in or cows with attitude, but I never had that following because every painting was in a different mood, employing different hues, tones. shapes. Hence The Gift.
It seems to me, now that I look back across the years, my eyes moving in fast-forward but backwards that there is a plan here. Not mine, I hasten to say, because I am like a chicken most of the time, grubbing in the dirt for whatever I’m looking for, picking over the stones and bones of life to find some nugget that will make me rise up and shout ‘Aha! and find me later relating this moment as an epiphany, and one that has altered from that moment on, my whole direction in life.
When Spring comes every year bless her old heart, she sort of spits and spurts, gives a little and then withdraws for many see-saw weeks. One minute, cardy off and all that white flesh revealed for a couple of afternoon hours, the next she churns up snowdrifts that stop us going through Glen Coe. One minute we are bringing out our daisy-festooned frock, the next snarling our way back into that frightful blue jumper, covered in pulls and paint marks and fighting off chillblains beside the woodburner. We go from hot stews to no thanks I’m not hungry and meanwhile the salad vegetables, hurriedly ordered by an over-keen grocer after two days of warmth, moulder into bronze on the shelf and end up smelling something rotten in the wheelie bin. And when she comes, Spring, she causes me much unrest. All the birds are building nests and not overthinking anything at all. The sun shows up the domestic slut that I am, and the windows look out onto what looks like fog. Any visit outdoors would sort that in a nanosecond. At Tapselteerie the begrudging Spring Clean would have been well and truly done by now, but given choices, as I now have, there is no such thing.
And with this Spring, there came a gift, unexpected, unsought, random and wonderful. In the ordinariness of any life, there are stars.
There are always stars.