Sunday, 5 June 2011

Jimmy. Have You Sent A Message From The Other Side?

Title: Jimmy and the orphans. By John Bain 2010.
Occasionally, and without knowing why, I am inspired to start painting a picture with only the vaguest of an idea in my mind. Possibly brought about by something from my past. Or seen in a film or on television. Maybe something I have read has triggered an image in my mind. Something seen or read about. Apparently forgotten, but stored untidily in the hidden depths of my memory.
As the idea in my mind grows stronger it gradually reveals it's content to me. At this stage I will squeeze a colour onto my palette, thin it down, and using a brush begin to roughly layout my design. This has to be done quickly or I will get bogged down in the small details and the image will start to lose it's hold on me. I do not allow myself any reference guides once I begin painting. Which explains the somewhat out of perspective size of the baby lambs. I just think a certain naivety adds to the charm. At least that is my excuse and I am sticking to it!
In a short and frantic painting session I will have mostly completed what I set out to do. Which is to transfer the picture in my head onto a canvas. After a bit of tweaking I will soon know if I have achieved my objective.
This painting, done at the end of last year, and which I present for you to see today, is one of those which pleased me. At least in so far, as the small amount of satisfaction I allow myself to have with my work.
There was a familiarity in this painting, that puzzled me. Had I actually painted something which had already been done? Had I plagiarized someone else's work?
Eventually the answer struck  me. I had painted a portrait of Jimmy, my Mums new husband. My step-father. The background too is familiar. It is Bennachie! The mountain range, nearby the croft we lived on in Scotland. All totally by chance. A picture painted from inside my head. Very strange feeling this. I absolutely had no idea that I was painting his portrait. But there was no doubt in my mind. Even down to the cap on his head, the finished work was Jimmy Mackie. Crofter, Quarryman, Freemason and amateur wrestler.
A man I liked. A man I hated. A man I came to love and understand in turn. Sadly this revelation of my feelings towards him came too late. Jimmy was in the terminal stages of cancer when I began to view our relationship in a different light, and knew that he was, under a brusque and hard exterior, an inherently good man.
These days I am honest with my feelings. I will express them openly. Sometimes I am sure, to the embarrassment of the recipient. But if I like someone they will be informed of the fact. If my initial impression of a person is not a good one I give myself time. My instincts have been so wrong in the past. Dismiss someone too soon and you could be losing a potentially good friend.
Here endeth the lesson. One of the benefits of having been around a long time. You can get away with sermonising occasionally. Just don't overdo it!


  1. You have a way with words and the brush.

  2. John, I didn't know you painted. My... you are a creative soul.
    The mind is something isn't it?

  3. Hi John, I have been away from blog reading for a few days, so there was much to catch up on. This post and the previous ones describing how you came to be with your mother and stepfather, Jimmy, provided quite a lot of background information. I agree with your comment about first impressions sometimes being the ones that stick with you.

  4. I knew you liked to paint but I had no idea that you are so talented. The story of how you came to paint it is not so amazing to me. I think our experiences and feelings come out in a variety of ways. You are fortunate that you have the ability to save the results to enjoy.

  5. WOW, an author and artist! That must be a fun way to paint, just to get an idea and go with it.

    You know, if any ladies from that dating site don't go for you, it's their loss.

  6. Hope I don't cause any embarrassment but I would just like to say that I like you all very much. x

  7. So when are you going to do a Sedge & Jon portrait? You could probably earn some honest cash offering to sketch at open mic! Loving your work, sir!