Let’s Rid the Internet of Kittens

What is it about the internet and kittens, for goodness’ sake? There are far too many pictures of them.

Okay, that’s too provocative. Let’s move on.

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She Who Dislikes Being Referred To This Way has been away for a few days. I had presumed that I would sleep better without the snoring, and the duvet being constantly pulled off me, but I was wrong.

For some reason, I’ve not slept particularly well at all.

Perhaps it was the wild parties I’ve no idea why not.

I had intended to begin a painting, maybe even get it finished, but although I carefully planned said painting, even finding a few resource pictures to use, once I sat down in front of the paper, it just refused to happen. My mind went completely blank and my enthusiasm kicked the wall sulkily for a few moments and then ran out of the house sobbing.

Oh well, back to the writing.

I did have a few ideas for short stories and, because I know how to use my time both productively and wisely, immediately started writing two of them, as well as continuing with both the novels I’m writing. That’s what you’re meant to do, right? Isn’t it?

Oh, and a poem.

And, of course, I need to do research for all the various Tales In Process. Isn’t it amazing what a little bit of research throws up?

Here are just a couple of little snippets, a few gobbets of curiosity, that I have come across recently while researching topics in medieval Persia and India, for use in my #1 Novel In Progress, The Assassin’s Garden.

All of the prostitutes in Fatephur Sikri, India, during the short time that it was Akhbar’s capital, were kept in an area just outside the city called ‘The Devil’s Quarter’.

You do get sidetracked, of course, but perhaps that will be an integral part of the plot? Possible spoiler alert?

I wouldn’t like to say.

And at one point, there is a long journey undertaken in my book, by caravan.

‘Caravan’ is a Persian word, I discover. That seems appropriate. In some parts of Persia they would travel by day and rest by night.

In others, the reverse was true. Something to do with the temperature, I expect.

In the nineteenth century, there were caravans that existed just to transfer corpses to holy cities for burial. These disappeared in the early twentieth century, largely due to better understanding of how diseases spread!

And, obviously, I mean the caravans that are chock full of camels and traders and an ill-assorted collection of ne’er-do-wells, not the wretched giant metal boxes blocking ninety percent of our roads as soon as the weather shows even the faintest promise of a few hours of sunshine.

But enough of caravans, for now, I’ve got some words to beat into shape.

Oh, and there are still people who would prefer pictures of kittens?

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‘Mr Business Brain’ or ‘Trying to blow my own trumpet without ever having learned how to’.

In today’s alternative ‘Alice in Wonderland: ‘When I use a word,’ Trumpty Numpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less’.

Lewis Carroll obviously saw this fellow coming.

Just thought I’d share that with you. Anyway, back to the task in hand. After two ridiculously hectic weeks, I now have to do my best to catch up with everything. Onward!

***

I don’t have a business brain.

I look at my clutter of short stories and paintings, my carvings and photographs and think ‘I should be able to at least make a bit of a living out of all of these.’

ladakhi door 2            001

But I don’t. And then I wonder ‘how on earth I am going to do it?’ and go ‘aaargh!’ and run off into the distance.

It really doesn’t help.

And so, if I had to have made a New Year’s Resolution this year, it would have been to sort all this out. I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore it for any longer.

To begin with, then, how about attracting new blog followers?

Dressed in a loincloth and brandishing a spear (not a sight that sensitive readers should try to picture in their minds), I go charging out onto the lightly wooded WordPress plains, hunting new blog followers.

‘Aha, there’s one!’ I think, spotting a potential follower grazing harmlessly beside the River of Inspiration. I sneak up on them, then hurl a ‘follow’ at them, hoping that they will respond in kind.

Er, no.

It’s just not me, unfortunately. As I have mentioned in the past, I find it incredibly difficult to blow my own trumpet. And I will not ‘follow’ someone just for the sake of getting a ‘follow’ back. I do understand that anti-social media make up the platforms I have to work with, but for some reason I have not yet got my head around using them properly. So for blogs, I shall carry on as I always have. I don’t hunt for followers, I let them find me. Then if they follow me, it is presumably because they like what I’m writing.

Of course, they might simply be after a follow in return, but that won’t happen unless I like what their site does.

I do need to be more professional, though. For a start, then, I have begun to properly update the information on each site I use – such as the ‘Author Profiles’ on Goodreads, Amazon and LinkedIn.

So please feel free to connect with me on those sites – Goodreads LinkedIn. I promise I will put up more book reviews on Goodreads, and try to work out just what the hell LinkedIn is for.

mosque      untitled-grayscale-01

I shall sort out the prices on the paintings and photography websites.

What? Oh, Paintings and Photographs – thanks for asking!

Making Friends with the -Crocodile

And I need to find new ways to promote my novel Making Friends with the Crocodile. 

And then, there is this blog. I must regularly update the information on the ‘About’ page and the ‘My Writings’ page.

Do I need to simply be bolder in my approach to all this? Should I put a ‘shop’ on my blog?

I don’t know. But, learning how to properly use the limited anti-social media I reluctantly and sporadically do take part in (other than blogging), is a priority for me.

But I’m damned if I will ever use Twatter, though.

More Random Stuff; this time, Artworks

Creatively, for me this week has been rather a damp squib.

I have managed a little writing and research on ‘The Assassin’s garden’, but I’ve not had a very good week, one way or the other, and am just not up to writing a blog today.

So, the easy way out.

This is a somewhat random mix of some of my paintings from the last 10 or 15 years.

rock-no1

An oil pastel painting of a rock structure a few miles away from where I live – it looks to be a heavily abstracted painting, but is actually reasonably accurate!

 

chestnuts

A watercolour – chestnuts in autumn.

 

summer-medway

A chalk pastel – alongside a nearby river, The Medway, in summer.

 

nepalese-village-door

Another oil pastel – a door in a house in a village in the Khumbu region, Nepal.

 

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Charcoal on paper – Musician.

 

dusk

Acrylic on canvas – Dusk.

I think that’s suitably random; I’d be surprised if anyone could find a theme there, other than ‘paintings’.

Have a good weekend, everyone.

‘Hello again!’ *waves frantically*

Stuff gets in the way of life, as usual.

I just seem to have had no meaningful time available for the last ten days or so, which means I’ve missed putting up a couple of posts, as well as not being able to go off and read and comment on other folk’s posts. So today I’ll catch up with as many as I can, and post a few updates on my own projects. This has prompted me, however, to make a decision to change slightly how I use my time blogging.

Instead of nipping back frequently to check for replies to my post, or to my comments on other folks posts, I’m going to attempt to go on just once each day and deal with everything. I never have been very good at self-discipline, and I know that the way I use my time on the computer leads to my getting far less actual writing done than I should.

Prevarication, you could say.

So…firstly, I have received some lovely reviews for ‘Making Friends with the Crocodile‘, which rather makes it all worth while! I hadn’t realised how important the reviews would feel, but they do more than the actual sales figures to make me feel good about the book.

So a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ to those who have written those reviews!

Next, some of you will probably have noticed that I now have a link on my sidebar to a site where I sell photographs.

Panorama 1b

Bob Ramsak, a gifted photographer and reporter who blogs at ‘Piran Cafe‘ – http://www.pirancafe.com/ recommended this site, and I have begun to upload a few photographs there over the last few days. Hopefully, I will get a whole load more up in the future, especially ones that I have put up previously in this blog, but there are some forty or fifty up at the moment to start with.

I do not know how their particular algorithms work, but it seems likely that the more ‘views’ a picture gets, the more likely it is to feature on the front page of searches. I noticed that when I browsed the site, the pictures that came up first when I did a search, were the ones that had had a large number of views. Of course, I also realise that it is possible that the reason that they have more views, is that they come up first in the searches.

But if any of you have a few moments to spare, I’d be hugely grateful if you went and had a look, and then clicked on a few photos. The address is https://www.picfair.com/mickcanning

Finally, I also have a site where you can find a lot of my paintings. This is also on the sidebar, and is https://www.artgallery.co.uk/artist/mick_canning

taklamakan

But that’s probably more than enough self-promotion for today!

I had contemplated blogging on the EU referendum taking place tomorrow, but there is so much vitriol sloshing around at the moment that I’ve decided to keep out of it, at least on this blog.

And so I’ll leave it there, and come back with a brand new sparkling and shiny post in a few days time.

Unless more stuff gets in the way, of course.

By Popular Request (2)

First of all, a huge ‘thank you’ to all of you who contributed to the comments thread on my post earlier this week, ‘Religion or Philosophy.’

I thought it made it the most interesting so far, and all of your comments certainly given me much food for thought about what I had written and my feelings around the subject.

So, today, a couple more paintings. I didn’t paint much when I was in Oman, apart from a few sketches and watercolours, so these ones were worked much later, from some of the photographs I took.

It is in the desert that I have been most aware of the contrast between light and dark, and that is something that I wanted to bring out in these paintings.

P1050093

Oman #1 Acrylic on board. 24 ins x 36 ins

There is something about ruins, by their very nature, that is stark. They have been shaped by human hand, but are now broken. Designed and built for a purpose, but now with that purpose gone. There is a sadness, or at least a feeling of melancholy.

There is a sense of emptiness, which is frequently a feeling that comes upon the traveller in the desert.

And in the desert, there is not that softening growth of ivy, for example, to soften the harsh and fractured edges of ruins.

P1050094

Oman #2 Acrylic on board 37 ins x 23 ins

The second painting, Oman #2, was also an exercise in the use of triangles in composition.

Chinese New Year

Well, a couple of days late, but that is just typical me, I’m afraid. So, Gong Xi Fa Cai, everyone!

Of course, It’s a good excuse for me to show off a couple more of my paintings.

chinese new year 1

Chinese New Year #1

Chinese New Year 2

Chinese New Year #2

Both paintings are 24 inches by 18 inches, and are acrylic on board.

The last time that I took part in Chinese New Year celebrations, was when I was staying in Kolkata in 2013. Until then, I had not realised that there was such a large Chinese population there. I was staying in a small guest house some way away from the main streets, and heard the sounds of drumming from outside. When I went to investigate, I found a group of almost 100 young Chinese, all dressed in red T-shirts with their names on the back, a number of dragon and lion costumes, and a good supply of cabbages and coins. I wandered around with them for about an hour or so, as they went from house to house, dispensing good luck.

I think it is fair to say that it was an unexpected treat.

By Popular Demand

A few weeks ago I put up a couple of pictures of paintings that I had made of Indian subjects, and a number of readers were kind enough to say that I should put up some more.

Today, then, a couple more.

ladakhi door 1

Ladakhi Door #1

Doors are a favourite subject of mine, and this one is from a monastery in Ladakh, Northern India. Ladakh is sometimes known as ‘Little Tibet’, and in some ways, now, it could be said to be more Tibetan than Tibet. Historically, it has been a part of Tibet, and I have an old book of a journey that was taken in 1904, ‘Through Western Tibet’, by Jane Duncan, a doughty traveller, which places Leh in Western Tibet, although I am not certain of exactly where the border lay then.

mosque

Mosque

There was quite a bit of artistic license employed in the making of this painting. It is based on a mosque in Bopal, but I have never been there, instead relying on photographs. I have made no attempt to depict it accurately, but instead I interpreted it to create a totally new aspect.

Both of these paintings are in acrylic, on canvas, and measure 24 inches by 36 inches.

A bit of paint splashed around

A different sort of creativity, today. I paint, at times, so here are a couple of my paintings that were inspired by my trips to India.

bihari door

This one is of a door on a house in the North India state of Bihar.

 

india #1

And this one a more impressionist rendering of doorways, arches and windows.

 

Although writing has always been the primary medium through which I have tried to express my thoughts and feelings, it was my first trip to India, 28 years ago, that persuaded me to try to paint seriously. Although I have done little in recent years, I still dabble on occasions, and suspect that it is only a matter of time before I begin work on a new painting.