I turn up at noon expecting to see lots of progress given the 11am start. But I am the first to arrive, so that is a bit of a downer. All I have that's new to look at are the head dresses that Carmel painted on the figures just before she went home yesterday afternoon.


But just as Kate and I are talking about our disappointment into Mark's video camera, the door opens and Emil Thompson walks in. Emil is doing the MFA in Art, Society and Publics part-time. He doesn't usually paint but he tells us he is looking forward to painting today. He wastes no time in making an impact with solid colours boldly outlined in black. Paul Klee: is that the reference? Or is it a Pop Art thing? My God are we in for a 'History of Painting' day?


I get down a personal history reference while I still can. (Actually, it's a 'history of pop music' reference as well, so I shouldn't even pretend to be anti-art.) Applying pencil to thinnish streaks of white paint that have dried overnight, I write:
'I fell in love with the dreams of children.'

This is a lyric from a song by the Jam, circa 1980. I played all my old Jam singles last weekend having looked up 'Eton Rifles' and read about the furore a few years back when David Cameron said it was one of his favourite songs. Cue outrage from Paul Weller, singer-songwriter of the Jam, who wrote the lyric after watching those on a Right to Work march being jeered by public schoolboys while passing the gates of Eton College, the former school of the Tory Prime Minister.

I caught a glimpse of the dreams of children,' is a line from a much less political song than 'Eton Rifles'. One that has been going round my head since the beginning of the paintathon.


'I sat alone with the dreams of children
Weeping willows and tall dark building,
I've caught a fashion from the dreams of children
But woke up sweating from this modern nightmare...'


Emil has carried on with his distinctive painting. And as for me:

'I caught a glimpse from the dreams of children
I got a feeling of
But woke up to a grey and lonely picture
The streets below left me feeling dirty, and...

OK, that may be enough Jam (if not try this). Let's get back to our daily bread. I mean the paintathon.

Kate and Emil are hard at contemplation and application...


But to tell the truth, I'm at a bit of a loose end now. Temporarily, it seems I have shot my bolt. Thank goodness for new paintathon blood, then. Though Jonathan Baxter, who has joined us, is slow to get stuck in.

"Why should I engage with this exercise?" he asks Kate.

"Because I asked you?" says Kate, only slightly intimidated by Jonathan, who is one of the tutors on her MFA course, and one she has a lot of respect for.

After a few more philosophical questions and down to earth answers, Jonathan sees a way in which he can commit himself. Kate must be in the painting. He asks her to stand by the canvas and he paints her silhouette.


Jonathan then shows interest in some work that Emil has brought along. Poems which he has sourced from various places (books and websites), printing them onto metal plates which he then sites at geographic locations in Dundee mentioned in the poems.

Jonathan takes the first line of a Don Paterson poem that Emil has appropriated and makes his own site-specific tribute, writing around Kate's silhouette:
'It's here I would have come to pass away.'


Meanwhile, I seem to have got a second wind. Influenced by Emil's solid colour and bold encircling line aesthetic, I've placed a yellow oval and a pink shape in the centre of the picture where the boy once was and no doubt will be again. Not that I'll be putting him back in a more realistic fashion, as realism is so YESTERDAY. On this scale, other people (such as Sarah Gittins, Lesley Kamel and Kathryn Briggs, who have just arrived) may be able to achieve realism. I can't.

Kate asks us to stop painting for a bit and to take part in a group crit. A bit early for the new arrivals perhaps (who seem to have been indulging in a bit of face painting), but then there is never an ideal time for these talking shops.


So what do we have in this paintathing?

Emil seems to have saved the goat - through patient use of masking tape in order to achieve straight lines - by surrounding it with a dusty orange. Lesley must be pleased about this as overnight she has done some research into goats, and is confident of improving the shape of the head! Meanwhile, someone (it's impossible to keep up with everybody's contributions, though that's something that Mark's film may throw light on) has been tampering with the face of the figure that Lesley was most concerned with yesterday. What had been a strong sketch is now weakened through the addition of detail. But I suppose we have to take two steps back before taking three forward. Which brings to my attention that all three faces are now in a transitional state.


Jonathan likes the fact that the image is now less 'postcard' and more 'history of painting'. I suppose he is referring to the layers of abstraction and text that have been added. The painting has gone from attempted realism to post-modernism with a few nods to high modernism
en route. But I have loyalty to the postcard (just as I have loyalty to that 7" single by the Jam), so I stick up for the postcard's sender. In the middle of some group discussion involving Emil, Mark, Lesley and Kate focussing on the word ''alien' (what is an alien? Someone who is outside a particular group?), I suggest that the outlined figure evokes Gaga, the sender of the postcard.

"It's here I would have come to pass away."

To pass away some time in her prime? To pass away entirely at the end of her days?

I can almost hear Jonathan replying on behalf of the history of painting:

"It's here I would have come to pass away."

(To pass away entirely? Or to evolve into something else?)

"Thanks for the post-card, grandma. Just remember, anything goes."

Lada Wilson, who like Kostas and Emil is on the MFA Arts, Society and Publics course, has popped in. She is working beside Kate, her range of dots might be referring to the huge print of the postcard that Kate has had made and which is hanging in the adjoining space, fixed to the wall by about thirty tiny magnets along its edge.


Lesley - wearing the same orange that her goat is surrounded by - has got in between Lada and Kate long enough to modify the head of her - our - goat. So we're all over the grey moon about that.


Kathryn is working on... I'm not sure what Kathryn is working on, whether it's a child's dress or the bright and sparkling rug that Kate was working on earlier in the day.

At approaching 2 o'clock there are as many as six people working on the canvas. Emil goes away for the day but Lucas comes back to see how things have progressed from yesterday. Amidst a lot of coming and going there is plenty purposeful-seeming activity.


The photo above is the last one I'll take on day 2. I have to leave at two pm in order to take my father out for a drive in the country. The elderly have dreams too. Or at least they like to sit in cars gazing into the middle distance as if their lives were all in front of them.

"It's here I would have come to pass away. Everything to live for; nothing more to be done."

Before I go, I ask Kate to take a photo of the painting at the end of work/rest/play. And here it is.


At home in Blairgowrie, I email Kathryn, who I didn't get a chance to talk with earlier, asking for a quick
resumé of what she got up to in the last hour. She generously writes back:

Hi Duncan! After you left I added something of a black coat with white trim to the boy in the middle, painted some green under him, added charcoal hatch marks to the tress on the left hand side, and wrote something ("there's a hole in my heart where my childhood used to be") in the yellow circle on the bottom right.  It was an intense experience!  You could feel the concentration in the air.  I especially loved Kate's use of the giant brush with white paint, "editing" out the bits that she wasn't feeling.  Editor in Chief :P

When Kate gets home, I download the photos onto my computer and take a close look at the yellow ochre circle in the bottom right of the painting. Sure enough, Kate's editing brush has cropped the romance out of Kathryn's sentence, just as her brush removed one of my 'dreams of children' lines not one single second after I'd stood back to admire it.


There is something sad about 'used to be'. And it's not hard to see why. It's another way of saying dead. Like Gaga: writing postcards to her ten-year-old grandchild one day, buried under a mound of earth the next. At least that's how it may seem to Kate.


The idea of goat. Is that where this picture has got to? The idea of goat in the mind of the goatherd in the mind of Lesley Kamel in the paintathon of life.

'Are we human or are we goatherd?' as the Killers might put it.

I see that Kate has also taken a photo of Sarah with her feet where my feet and Beth's feet were yesterday. In the paddling pool. Well, we children need to cool our feet after a hard day spent herding goats in the Swiss Alps.


Kate tells me that tomorrow Jonathan and Sarah are off to North Wales for a fortnight's holiday. They are going to stay at Borth-y-gest which is where Kate used to go for summer holidays with her family when she was seven, eight, nine years old. In particular she remembers the Bobbing Boats, a café where she would go on her own for an afternoon tea that would cost five shillings. She loved it because the two women who ran the shop (one tall, one short; a lesbian couple, she now realises), treated her like any other customer.

Everything was perfect, and Kate loved her afternoon teas at the Bobbing Boats.


I think she enjoyed day two of the paintathon as well. Surrounded by friends and everything imperfectly perfect.

It's 11am on day three by the time I finish this text while sitting at my computer in Blair. Kate's studio in Dundee is 40 minutes drive away. I'm late, I'm late for a very important

Thanks to all today's participants. If anyone wants to add or omit anything let us know and it will be done.