Blinded by the light

My dad looked at one of my paintings and said ‘the white needs to be whiter’.

I rolled my eyes.

I understood what he meant but I know that it was not possible to make the white any whiter than it already was, but I could make the surrounding area of the white darker.

You see, the brain plays tricks on the mind and assumes that the white is whiter when it has something darker to contrast with.

In many ways you can also play tricks on the mind by doing the same thing with anything. You’ll feel richer when you surround yourself with poverty, and you’ll feel happier when you have gone through a sad spell. You’ll feel that you can conquer anything when you set lower expectations.

Everything is relative.

We seem to have an inbuilt function in our head that tells us that we must strive to be better than we were, we are constantly looking to improve ourselves or at least maintain our standards, and eventually this catches up and makes us feel miserable.

I used to run the Parkrun and I was utterly useless with average times of 40 minutes per race. I tried to encourage others to run with me, or at least run pass me, and they insisted that their running days were over and they couldn’t run as fast as they used to. I promise you that they would have easily lapped me several times over. However they were comparing their times to what they used to do and I had no comparable times to compete with.

I know that as I grow older I will lose a lot more. I will lose my sight, my ability to think as quickly, my ability to be as changeable and adaptable. We will suffer with a lot less and our standard of living is expected to become worse. Fuel prices are going up and the cost of living ever higher with less and less income to support me in my old age.

So it’s important to remember that it’s still all relative and I have to remember that I cannot compare what I will have to what I once had.

My happiness depends on it.

1853 Gallery, Salt Mill, Saltaire, Yorkshire

Someone had remarked that some of my paintings were painted in the style of David Hockney. That was quite an honour, especially as I have heard that one of his paintings was sold as the most expensive piece of art by a living artist. In truth, I’m sure that all paintings look familiar in their unique ways but I was very flattered by his comparisons.

I don’t know much about David Hockney. I had to google his name, and I only found out recently that he was born and bred in Bradford.

It was a good excuse to spend a little time at the 1853 Gallery located in the Salt Mills in Saltaire, Yorkshire, where they hold the world’s largest permanent collection of David Hockney’s work.

Salt Mill, Saltaire, Yorkshire
1853 Gallery

I can safely say that Bradford is very much my spiritual home. I was born in the district, brought up there and went to four different schools in the area. Although I do not live there anymore, not since I was a little boy, and I have very few memories, I still get goose pimples and flash backs whenever I am nearby. I have long lost my Bradford accent but I am strangely drawn to anyone who has one. As there’s something brutally honest and gritty about it.

The Bradford district will be my point of reference as to who I was and where I am from. In the last year or two, anything Bradford seems to have brought some sense of purpose in my life and I am grateful to God that he’s guiding me to whatever that end goal may be.

Matt Barlow, the CEO of CAP, gave me a wonderful analogy. As I was describing my life and my excitement of working in Bradford, he summed up my experiences as a ‘factory reset’. Whenever something has gone wrong with your computer or device, it’s possible to fix the problem by setting the computer back to it’s original ‘factory settings’.

God has guided me back to my ‘factory settings’, and it’s comforting.

The People’s Painter

The Mercer Art Gallery in Harrogate is running an exhibition on the work by William Powell Frith. He’s well known as ‘The People’s Painter’. The exhibition runs until the 29th September.

William Powell Firth

I was struck by this painter’s storytelling abilities through the painted medium. These are paintings from a period which we may not have a lot in common with, especially when we consider how much has changed nearly 200 years ago.

However there were these series of paintings and drawings towards the back of the gallery that was much more human in nature titled ‘The road to ruin’. I found myself staring at this one picture.


From the painting titled ‘Struggles the first thing I noticed was the lady from the left holding onto this piece of paper looking rather distressed. It was also clear that everyone in the picture was also affected and clearly anxieties were filling this picture.

Seeing pictures like this had put my life into perspective. I wasn’t going through what these people were going through. I was immediately filled with a feeling of empathy and that guilt of staring into these character’s lives whether they were real or not.

I’m grateful I am not struggling, but also slightly disturbed that I understand that it’s all too easy to fall into that situation.

Dancing in the rain

The Harrogate International Festivals (HIF) is underway with events popping up everywhere around town.

Despite the rain which was forecasted there are people holding onto their umbrella and having a good time. I can imagine that attendance is probably lower than expected because of the weather but the atmosphere was still positive.

The main attraction today was the Carnival which lead crowds to the Valley Gardens for more activities, but there’s another non-HIF event going on at the Crescent Gardens which some people may have missed.

On the band stand were musicians from the USA playing their part with the festival despite the main attraction being around the corner.

HOPE NOW is a charitable event sponsored by a number of local churches and lead by what looks like the Calvary Churches. All for a good cause as donations go towards sponsoring Ethiopian Orphanage.

On the fence..

I was unemployed in the month of September 2018 and was looking for ways to make good use of my time. Rosemary was kind enough to offer some chores for me to do around her garden.

She had an unfortunate situation with her backyard, a tree had split and fallen over her hen house. It needed cleaning and the fallen branches needed pruning. I spent a day or two tidying up and it was then that she asked if I could paint her fence.

The fence was originally blue and I had painted it yellow. The colour had blended a little and at times it had looked a little green. While I was painting I said to Rosemary that maybe I should paint something on it, like a chicken. She thought it was a good idea.

It was May 2019 when she asked me to paint a mural on her fence. She asked if I could paint something woodland, with bluebells. I added a few little birds that can only be seen close up and it turned out quite well.

Drawing on the Grace of God

I have tried to represent Jesus through many of my paintings such as in landscapes, sceneries and even painting Jesus on the cross. In the end no single painting would represent Jesus completely.

After thinking hard about Jesus I painted Mother Teresa, and it was soon after I had finished that it occurred to me that I would never meet her and so it didn’t feel complete. So I decided to paint portraits of people I have met.

In many ways, painting portraits of Christians that I know well is like painting what I felt represented Jesus through all of the good deeds and actions carried out by all those I have painted.

I am drawing those that represent the grace of God.

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