Gravy Trains and falling leaves

It’s been far too long since my last blog but life has an irritating habit of getting in the way of writing for pleasure !

On the South Coast, it’s officially autumn, leaves on the trees are turning yellow, red and orange. However, for the last couple of days, the sky from my studio window has remained a sultry leaden grey.  A chilly wind has been battering the leaves of the trees but largely speaking most have all hung on for dear life ! Traditionally the run up to Christmas is my busiest time of the year and so far 2017 is no exception.

In Britain our lives are regulated by the seasons and the media does it’s level best to encourage us to spend our money – I try not to ! Almost every month there seems to be some worthy cause, Halloween, winter sales, Christmas, post Christmas sales, spring sales, Easter, etc etc. As a student, followed by working in advertising, the retail industry and latterly in education there seems to be no escape from the vagaries of the seasons. Most of my varied careers have been in relative comfort, inside and not outside facing the elements head on or battling to sow crops, only to have them ruined by floods before they can be harvested. My heart goes out to fishermen and farmers who soldier their way through hideous weather conditions to make a living. Of course there are thousands of jobs where working in extreme conditions are the norm but with fluctuating seasonal weather patterns it must be hell predicting the future.

When I was at school I ran the weather station and every morning, come rain or shine, I would get in 30 minutes before the rest of my peers to measure the nights rainfall, minimum and maximum temperatures, barometric pressure, humidity, wind direction and strength plus I would also look around and try to identify and record the type of cloud cover. All this was written down religiously and I used to enjoy comparing our local weather with that around the rest of the country.

It’s strange how some hobbies turn into careers and others seemingly pale into distant memories. In another life I would have chosen to be a meteorologist, zoologist or botanist but instead I preferred creative outcomes to scientific ones ! My first thought was to be an artist, then I dallied with the idea of teaching art or woodwork, then it was furniture design that caught my interest and finally I thought I’d like to design interesting architecture but I would never have got the necessary grades in A level Maths – so back to plan A and I signed up to go on a 1 year Foundation course in art and design at the Ipswich Art School, where I had previously attended a pre foundation class every Saturday morning from the age of 15. At school I was a crazy mix of being good at academic subjects (easy in a Secondary School – yes I failed my 11+)  AND creative ones. I was dire at sports – apart from sailing and long distance running but although I would have probably enjoyed being a professional yachtsman or yacht designer that didn’t happen either !

So returning to the seasons, it’s getting colder and flowers have turned into seed heads – many of which have dispensed their prodigy upon the soil already !

The autumn is when I step back onto the gravy train. I didn’t do any teaching over the summer – apart from a few private classes but September marks the return of routine.  In addition to my independent teaching I am back at the University of Portsmouth, where I teach undergraduate computer games students the basics of image creation : 7 weeks of intensive figure drawing is followed by 5 weeks of Composition, Colour, Environments and finally Developing a Concept Character and poster for a fictitious game.

So that’s three nights of the week plus a whole day on Friday – and then the remainder of the week I am being creative in one of three studios, ArtSpace Portsmouth, HOTWALLS OR printmaking at home.

I had intended to launch this post after adding a few images but they will find their way onto the DRAWING section of the site. I had also intended to publish the post after due care and diligence BUT I accidentally pressed publish – so some of you may have seen an earlier (now deleted) version !

Well ill it’s back to printmaking for me now !




About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator


  1. Ishbel Askew

    whew…. reading about all this work makes me sooooo glad i’m retired and can spend all day in bed reading the Guardian or the odd blog or wander around Dartmoor, wherever the spirit takes me! re your meteorologist aspirations – we spent last sat. at the Met Office (Exeter, nearly on our doorstep – one of their open days) – awesome – you missed your calling! Anyway Chris, nice to hear what you’re up to and don’t work too hard!

    • Hi Ishbel – it’s lovely to from you ! I envy you living so close to Dartmoor – still we have our bolt hole in Suffolk and the weather is nearly always good when we go up there for the odd weekend. Your day trip to the Met office must have been good – I guess they don’t look outside to see if their piece of seaweed is damp or crispy any more ! I still enjoy looking at the clouds and working out where the next wind shift will come from when sailing but That’s the extent of my meteorology skills these days ! Incidentally I did take this afternoon off – then I thought I’d get the belt sander out and strip and stain a floor (like you do) ! Cheers 4 now and enjoy the autumn walks – and the winter ones too ! C

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