I signed up for a couple of Christmas Fairs this year. Last weekend I was at the Aboyne Playgroup Fayre in the Victory Hall in Aboyne. I am pretty much a novice at setting up a table, but tried not to let it show too much. I have a list, which helps. It means I don't forget vital things like table cloths, sticky labels and pens and a flask of coffee. Actually, there was free tea and coffee for the stall-holders at this event, which was great. I managed to make not too bad a fist of setting out my stall, in the end (you can judge for yourself - photo above).
I'd been assigned a table at the top of the hall, next to the face-painting. It was fun to watch a series of children be transformed into dogs, butterflies and (a sign of the times) angry birds. More fascinating, for the people-watcher that I am, was to see the personalities of these small beings, already well developed. The confident ones strode up to the chair, sat patiently while the art was applied to their little visogs and then picked up the mirror to admire the results. The shyer ones had a small motif drawn on their arm or hand. And the shyest didn't want their faces painted at all. Or perhaps it's not shyness; perhaps it's just the difference between extroverts and introverts. The sparkly blue butterflies went out into the world (or hall, village, Deeside) saying "look at me, I am pretty!", whereas the unpainted ones did not wish to draw attention to themselves. Perhaps they feel beautiful enough as they are.
Santa's grotto was behind me on the stage, so I did not get a chance to observe the small people there. But I could see the steps leading up there. Again, it was fascinating to see what went on. The small people who dragged mummy or daddy up the steps, desperate to tell Santa their wishes. The mummys and daddys trying to persuade their offspring to to go and visit the man in the red suit with his long white beard and big black boots. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I'm sure there were a few tears in that grotto. But hopefully more smiles than tears.
This Sunday I will be at Redwood Winter Fair in Echt Village Hall from 10am - 5pm. (The Fair is on both Saturday and Sunday, but I will just be there the one day). There will be face-painting, I believe. Hope to see you there!
Last weekend I discovered that it's not easy to take photographs with gloves on. The air was chilly, as one would expect at the start of February in the Scottish Highlands. The pale turquoise soft wool gloves I received as a Christmas present nearly worked, though I struggled to take the lens cap on and off. Still, some photographs were taken; more "source material", as I have come to call it, for my boat paintings. And also some photos which I think work well just as they are - like the ones above. They are bits of a boat which has been lying on top of the harbour in Gairloch in Wester Ross for quite a while now. It's a great subject - I've taken pictures of it before. I love the peeling paint, where layers have come off to show what lies underneath; the corroded metal, like verdigris - perhaps it is.
Before Christmas, at a little fair where I was showing some of my recent work, an American lady asked me why I was painting boats. I hadn't really thought about this; I like them, the shape of the them, the colours. But it is more than that. I only started to discover the answer when I told them that I used to sail. And now I have thought about it some more and these memories have come to me.
I used to sail a lot when I was young. I sailed at school, in the sailing club; in a dinghy, on Linlithgow Loch, on summer evenings. And then we sailed as a family, a wee blue wooden dinghy to start with, then a slightly bigger boat, a cruiser with an inboard engine and bunk beds, a gas stove for making toast and tea and heating soup. We sailed on the Firth of Forth during term time and then on the west coast of Scotland during the summer holidays The boats were towed north and then south. Long days were spent trekking the trailer down the shore, waiting for the tide to come in, floating the boat off and then mooring her safely in the bay. I was never so keen on sailing in the cruiser. There wasn't the immediacy, the closeness to the water, that one felt in a dinghy. The sound of the water lapping at the bow, the feel of the rudder in my hand, the tautness of the sheets, held against the wind. Watching the luff of the sail for any flapping, indicating that you were sailing too close to the wind. Or the homemade woolen telltales tied to the stays, showing exactly where the wind was coming from. All these memories, there in the back of my head; there whenever I paint another boat. There is more about this in there - more for another day.
I am at my first fair. I was going to say craft fair, but it's not. It's Voluntary Service Aberdeen's Spring Fayre at Easter Anguston, just west of Peterculter on the outskirts of Aberdeen. There are about 10 of us with stalls - with everything from fused glass pendants to pegbags, inflatable hammers to daschund cushion covers.
It is proving to be an interesting experience. I am learning a lot and my smile muscles have not had such a good workout in a long time. Meeting some lovely people. A grand day out so far, in spite of the rather changeable weather. I'm quite proud of my stand - simple but effective was what I was aiming for. Some sides for the gazebo might be a useful addition for next time - luckily there were only a couple of showers and I was able to move everything into the middle to keep dry. Also, a banner saying who I am. Onwards and upwards!