~ Experiences, Projects & Jottings of Painter Jan Clizer, Specialist Painter of Scottish & Celtic Music Subject Matter ~

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Tourist Woes

Arbroath Abbey Ruins, Arbroath
Aye, September in Scotland was a decidedly FAST-paced trip.  Purposely intended.  So much yet to see and experience...the 'J. Clizer Scottish Experience Bucket List' shows no signs of decreasing. Conversely, it's getting longer, so on and off the planes, through security and border checks, off to the bus, onto the train, and a lovely couple hours riding to Inverness. Oddly, it was uncommon clear weather...on the Amsterdam-Aberdeen plane I'd easily picked out favourite spots & familiar landmarks while flying north up the coast from below Montrose.

Waiting for the bus across the Moray Firth north to Culbokie, I happened on a surprisingly common and sometimes touchy occurrence in Scotland:  an outlander trying to communicate with a local, NEITHER of whom spoke intelligible English!  The (rather pushy) Japanese tourist wanted to get to the Loch Ness tour boat on time, and the 50-something bus driver, whose first language was decidedly Gaelic, was at wit's end to get the tourist to understand there was no boat today; high winds had cancelled the scheduled sailing, and there was NO way the (effing) bus would be stopping at the desired quayside landing. Voices became sharp as hands waved, neck muscles bulged, and, recognizing a couple explicit Highland epithets, I stepped in and was able to clarify things. The bus driver, having discovered an ally, shared several such incidents of late and his opinion of foreigners (myself excluded, of course), as his blood pressure returned to normal. The irritated tourist stalked off into the driving rain muttering....I suppose about the inconvenience of gale force winds and stubborn Scotsmen.   Hilarious. All in a day...! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Travelling Tips....

Hardware Store, Callander
What to do when time is limited on a Scotland or UK trip?  Jog, don't walk. Pretend you're training for (in my case) the senior division of a marathon back home.  Crisscross the landscape from event to destination and back again, and nap...on the train (darn, hate to miss even a BIT of scenery!)....on a park bench in the lovely autumn air with knapsack propping you at side, book stood up lap, & hat pulled low, so passers-by can't tell if you're snoozing or furthering your education.  And lastly, get food to go:  delicious scones with fruit (forego the butter....there's already enuf in them to sink a battleship); lovely hot cups of strong coffee & tea to warm the hands; the best bacon roll in the area from personal recommendations of locals...Scottish soul food!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Hands Up for Trad Awards!

We just finished voting in the US....now it's time to vote in Scotland!  The MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2012 is on. The aim of these awards is to highlight Scotland's wonderful traditional music in all it's forms, and to create a high-profile opportunity to bring the music and music industry to media and public attention.  You can easily vote for your favourite artist, group, composer & etc. at the following link:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Degrees of Change

   Overheard at breakfast this am:  "It's 42 and 36 degrees in Paris today....London, 39 and 32....Copenhagen, 30 and 23."  That was my 90 year old mother giving the weather report.  Not here in Idaho....not from her home county in eastern South Dakota, but in  European cities.  It's always been so in this household.  And the auld wrinklies cannot comprehend why my innards keep pushing me to get out and explore this big wonderful world??!!

    Exploring being on hold however, preparations for next weekend's annual CDA Art Association's Artist Showcase in the Plaza Shops, downtown Coeurd'Alene are underway.  Both mom and I will be exhibiting paintings, and I will have a good selection of prints and cards available.  I will be sharing some of my favourite Scottish tunes on fiddle Friday night, 5-7ish, and Saturday 12-2pm with CDA's newest Scots music group, Nine Pint Coggies.  Amazingly, we've got three gigs on Saturday.....and I'm heading to an evening of ballroom dancing in Moscow thereafter.....my cup runneth over with culture!!  Hope to see all you locals at the Shops sometime during the weekend - it's an excellent community oriented event, with lots of interesting artists to chat with and observe at their craft, and a wide variety of good work to view, contemplate and purchase.  Hours are 10-8 Friday, 10-6 Saturday and 10-5 Sunday. 


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Painting Between the Lines

  Everpresent in our lives, lines do many things, both for and against us....fill in space when drawn side by side, mark out boundaries and edges, lead our eyes around the page where we want them to go.  I am dealing heavily with boundary lines these days, as I make decisions daily:  how long should I in good conscience leave the parents on their own today;  how much time do I have to do ____ before I'm needed at the house; how much energy do I have left for my own pursuits today?  Makes one value most minutes of the day, and be mindful how they're used.  The increased discipline is making it possible to slip a bit of drawing and painting in each week, so the end result is favorable!

"Gan 'Aim" oil on antique Scottish linen - $625 framed, $400 unfr

   "Gan 'Aim" is a special work to me.  Plockton Harbour on Scotland's NW coast is the place, visited in blustery October when the wind whips up 'dirty' storms instantaneously, and just as quickly everything drops to silence and calm.  A yachting and artist mecca in the high season, it's lovely and peaceful this time of year, with all but the hardy having 'gan aim,' and the fresh seafood in the local eateries is, well, absolutely the best!!

  This painting is done on antique Scottish linen sheeting purchased in Cromarty from a local Ross-shire estate, and gifted me by a fellow artist.  Amazingly tough is linen.  And an inspiration to feel the texture, observe the flaws and wonder at it's substance after decades of use.  A privilege indeed to bring shape and form of this beauty spot in Scotland to life as I painted on it.  Thank you, Ian!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Revisiting Drawing

   With things becoming just a wee bit more routine the past couple months, I've been gradually working in a bit of !!!!TIME TO PAINT!!!!   What a concept, eh?  Speaking for myself, a good portion of life has been spent learning to discern what I really wanted in life, and now that knowledge has surfaced, I really appreciate the importance of a Moleskine, Filofax, or some other such planner.  Just because they usually have black covers doesn't mean they're about serious things!  Mine's full of jottings, goals, and highlighted notations of blocks of time that can be set aside for the 'good stuff.'


Although painterly creativity essentially screeched to a standstill the past year (I'm STILL attempting to get salvaged supplies and materials unpacked and organized!), a wonderful opportunity to pursue increased knowledge and skill in drawing materialized.  It's now been a year of early Monday mornings, finding myself waking up to premier wildlife artist Joe Kronenberg's teachings in the style of the 19th Century French Realists and enjoying a delicious cup of coffee in the studio of fellow artists Craig and Rose Tedmon.  Can't speak highly enough of all three of them!  Think I've only managed to fully complete one assignment during the year, but the information, practice, and camaradarie with them and fellow-students are priceless.  Drawing is DEFINITIVELY the foundation for good art.

Friday, March 23, 2012


  A multi-faceted term is the word 'grounded'.  Describes this painter's current situation to a t.  The pondhopping bohemian lifestyle I thrive on screeched to a temporary halt late in 2010 due to elder parents' needs.  Felt like I was back in school, being punished and grounded for something I hadn't done. 

 And the 'impossible dream' I'd held for decades to have a place of my own to create and live has materialized.  My studio was flooded in July of last year, resulting in four months of tent camping in a friend's yard in Coeur d'Alene.  Got a bit nippy in Oct.!!   Desperation for winter housing led to talks with the parents, and an agreement was reached to renovate the 18'x24' barn on the property for a studio/living space. 

Work began 1 Oct, and I moved in mid-Nov.  Work has been done on weekends and evenings, and there's still a good deal to go, but even in it's unfinished state, it gives me a comforting sense of being 'home.!  Yet another form of grounding it is.....knowing there's somewhere I can return to from wherever I've been, and finally be at HOME.  Aye, I'd prefer it was near a beach somewhere in the Western Islands, but for now I'll be quite content for the wee pasture and lovely views here while I'm painting Scotland on my canvases!