Window – Clement McAleer

Northern Irish painter, Clement McAleer, has done a lovely series of paintings, themed as windows.


“Glasshouse Shadows” 


“Attic Room”

The attic room reminds me of a poem by Seamus Heaney – another wellknown Northern Irish man – who wrote about something as mundane as getting a velux window in his study.  (At the moment, I can’t locate it to pass on to you, unfortunately).





Cartoon view of Medieval Art

Roz Chast takes us through her favourite type of art at the Met – Medieval paintings.  She has a distinctive eye and commentary.


Roz brings her humour to the pictures and a strong sense of where the artist is not quite sure if they’re good enough to draw certain parts of the picture – and how they cope with that.

The general effect is of going around a gallery with a witty companion who makes you snigger and yet wonder – but not be overawed by the art – to still see it as paintings done by humans, with very ordinary human concerns, as well as a sense of the exalted (most art of the time illustrates religious, biblical themes).


Quirky Ceramics Painting

Enjoying the work of James Ward, aka Jimbobart particularly on plates:



… and there are doormats… a welcoming masked panda or a vaguely threatening cat (“I’m so sorry Mr Bond, but my villainous sidekicks must kill you – it’s in their job description”… is what I imagine him saying)


Jimbobart’s works are available to purchase in Liberty’s London or online, on his website  They are quirky, without being at all cloyingly sentimental – there’s a kind of a feel of “The Wind in the Willows” book here.  If you fancy purchasing some for someone else, who has a particular animal they like, his work features cats, dogs, badgers, pandas, brown bears, foxes, penguins, otters – some in underpants and cape, others in full human well-dressed clothing (see “Mr Geography Teacher” stackable coffee cups).


my very favourite plate (although let’s be clear, I’m not the biscuit bandit in the house – cake yes, cheesecake definitely – but biscuits not so much


Creative Takeaways

Obviously, we’re not all skilled graphic designers, but we can still be inspired by Jimbobart.  Here’s a wee video of how you can do some personalised ceramic designs with a ceramic pen, design and carbon copy paper.  Inspiring…

NB: For designs to put on plates and bowls to eat food from, you will need to research which products can be used in this way.

Painting and Party

And for truly simple, fun handpainting gifts try booking a session at a paint/glazing pottery studio, where you can book the time, buy the blank ceramic of your choosing (plate or jug or bowl or mug etc) and they will supply all the paint and materials, fire your finished piece and have it ready for collection a few days later.  If you enjoy this – and it is totally absorbing and therapeutic for even the stressedout – you could also choose to do some pieces with a friend or hen party or kids’ birthday party.  (For the unconfident artist, they do have sponges which you can dab in paint and apply).


Above are some home pics from a friend’s birthday party, where four school friends who now meet up infrequently got the chance to meet and catchup chat while making.


Cooking and Art

Cooking with J W Turner, Rachel Khoo composes a pickled treat.

Sitting in the gallery, she sketches ingredients suggested by the picture, works on them in her kitchen – and eats the result (see video by Tate Galleries, below)


Creative Takeaways

Having watched the video – is there a favourite picture/painting you have?

How about sketching what ingredients the picture suggests to you – and then experimenting with them, to see what it produces – as Rachel Khoo does?


*Well-worth viewing TV prog

The excellent documentary on politics and painting: “Andrew Marr on Churchill: Blood, Sweat and Oil Paint” is being repeated on BBC i-Player at the moment.  It will be of interest to art historians, researchers into WW2 and people who, like Churchill, are keen amateur painters (he painted over 500 canvases) or, like Andrew Marr, recovering from a stroke.  Another reason to watch it are the exotic locations revisited by the programme – including one particular favourite, the former home of Coco Channel on the Riviera (then owned by Churchill’s literary agent).

I reviewed this programme previously – my conclusion being that it is well worth viewing: it brings history alive, transports the viewer to different times and places and is well-researched, with interviews with Churchill’s grand-daughters, the son of his bodyguard, his cataloguer.  His painting accompanied him through a life of much variations: early promise, political wilderness, depression, leading a nation through a World War, diplomacy with other world leaders, acclaim, and into his later years through illness and strokes.  One of his grand-daughters describes it as “a life-saver”, the other as a “pleasure” also.

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If you’d like to see my comments previously – type in “Churchill” on the search box on this site, and go to the former article.

If you live in the UK, are a TV licence payer, and want to see the programme, you can do so here:


Creativity healing


detail: photo by Marvin Lynchard, of soldier using art therapy

Just read an excellent article on the website about how creativity is a natural way for the brain to help process trauma.  Trauma by its nature is overwhelming – so the brain cannot deal with and store what is happening in the usual way.  With normal events, memories are stored using words:


“This makes it easy to recall and describe memories from the past. However, because traumatic events are processed when under extreme distress they cannot be properly assembled together and remembered as a coherent narrative, and so are stored in non-declarative memory, which operates unconsciously and is not processed in words.”

Creative arts have been observed to be helpful in particular situations: creative writing with refugees, drama with soldiers and photography with mental health of HIV/Aids affected women.

What do the creative arts offer?

  • help to people to remember and process the events
  • help the recaller distance himself/herself a little from the trauma to creatively share the experience with others
  • may help reconnect cultures divided by violence (e.g. drama)
  • it is often nonverbal, so aids those who struggle to find words for their emotional reactions
  • help without drugs and medicinal side-effects
  • an accompaniment to word-based listening, where appropriate

The article I read was mostly about the works/writings of Professor Bessel Van der Volk and his book “The Body keeps the Score”.  Catch the article, written by Senior Lecturer in Abnormal/Clinical Psychology, Bath Spa University at:



I’m on the Riviera…..

with film star Richard E Grant.  And the painter Matisse.  And a BBC camera crew.

As you’ve probably guessed, I am watching a BBC Arts documentary – “The Riviera: a history in pictures”.  (We have only seen episode 1.  For UK viewers, episode 2 is on Monday at 9 pm, BBC4).



Joyfully, our companion/presenter/guide, Richard, is obviously glad to be there in the sunlight (he has holidayed there over many years) – and explains how the South of France coastal landscape influenced the artworks painted there by Renoir, Monet, Cezanne, Cross, Signac, Matisse and Braque (co-creator of Cubism with Picasso).  Richard is not only pleasant company, he has really done his homework well and unfolds an insightful story of art.

Through what he says, you can see the influence of the particular light and harsh rocks landscape on the way these painters made art.  And you feel like you’ve been sitting in sunshine, with a delightful, charming and witty companion.