When I visit the seaside in the
motor home I usually sleep in the small bed above the front seats. I read until
I fall asleep but I sometimes lie in the darkness looking out of the window across
the sea. No matter which coast I'm on there're usually vessels on the horizon. Before
getting into bed I often throw some bread, rice, pasta or cheese up on the roof
†which seagulls spot the next morning. They
thud onto the roof and walk around inches from my face. Sometimes they break up
the cheese by hammering it with their beaks. The gulls wake me up and often I
just lie there looking out at the vessels. The big tankers are my favourites
and I thought I'd paint one on the distant horizon.
In the summertime it's getting light at 4am. Sometimes
it's light enough to see what kind of vessels are passing by and if one is mammoth
I go to www.vesselfinder.com. It identifies
anything bobbing about on the sea. Categories vary - fishing, chemical tankers,
passenger ships, military, private yachts, etc. The colours tell you what kind
of vessel it is (red is military - not many of them) and you can tell from the countless
cargo containers (yellow) just how busy the oceans are. When you click on the
vessel you see its destination, size, nationality and weight. Some of these big
boys are 230m long. Sometimes vessels drop anchor for the night and switch on powerful
lights. Through binoculars I've watched people doing maintenance, driving fork
lift trucks and even playing football.
The big cargo carriers are like small towns and the
big tankers are like football pitches laid out together. My favourites are the
oil tankers seen off the bay at Scarborough and they're carrying new oil from rigs
to refinery plants in Britain/Norway. The biggest tanker ever made
was the Knock Nevis built by the Japanese and it was the largest moving
man-made object on Planet Earth. It was longer than the Empire State Building
and it weighed 260,000 tons (sadly it was damaged in the Iran-Iraq war in
I thought I'd commit a tanker to a bit of wood in
the form of acrylic paint. One summer's day I was parked in Scarborough and was
woken up by voices at about 3:45am. I park near a bench and when I tweaked the
curtain aside I saw six people warming up for a jog and sitting on the bench putting
their trainers on. They soon went and after a wee I lay on my tummy in bed and
watched the sun slowly rise over the horizon. There weren't any tankers on the
horizon but four or five fishing boats leaving the harbour. I wasn't going to
paint a tanker but back at home I saw some footage of Alan Whicker
grilling John Paul Getty about not enjoying his billions. When he said he loved
the sight of a new tanker he'd bought I thought I'd paint one.
Here's a small abstract painting done with a
knife while watching television. I didn't know where to start but knew I would
end up with a frame which would represent the small bed window in the motor home.
I smeared some dark colours around the side . I wanted to try to somehow
capture the sky early or late in the day and smeared on some earthy shades in
the middle. In one photo you'll see
Heinrich Himmler with his beloved daughter Gudrun on the television. He
idolised her, took her on official duties, wrote to her every week when away
and regularly had her flown from Munich (where she lived with her mum) to his offices
in Berlin. Itís odd to think the main architect of the Holocaust who idolised
his daughter could exterminate millions of other children. Himmler killed
himself with cyanide aged 44 and Gudrun died in 2018 aged 88.
Anyway here's a wee painting. I'd have completed it
in one sitting but it got dark and you can only do so much by torchlight. It's
quite simple but so am I - I can't even fix a lawnmower, have never used a
corkscrew and still pretend to shoot baddies with an invisible gun. I put the
painting into a frame from Pound-Cave and now it's dry and ready to post to you
for £2882. In the world of adult films a "supertanker"
is a grossly overweight woman with big fleshy flaps.
Working in the dark with a torch...
The scene in mind, taken from the
bed window in the motor home...
The Queen Elizabeth passing