Thursday, 1 December 2016

Greetings Cards

I'm not an excessively PC type of person, but I don't send Christmas Cards to non-Christians. Not because it would offend them but because it seems inappropriate. By the same virtue, Muslim and Jews in my family don't send me Ramadan or Bar Mitzvah cards.

My way around all situations is to get my own cards printed and write in the appropriate message and/or greeting.

This year I've used my pen and ink drawing of the North Portal of Cologne Cathedral for the card, which is a risk as it has to be reduced from an original that I drew of 20 inches high and 11 wide. 

I was quite pleased with it the product, including the logo on the back.

My logo comes from my original Pen & Ink drawing of Vincento Lunardi who was the first person to fly in England (not in Britain, as James Tyler beat him by a couple of weeks when he flew in Scotland).

One of my long term hobbies is the protracted writing of the biography of Vincento Lunardi and James Tytler (which I doubt if I will ever finish, but love doing). 

I 'got into' these two champions of flight when I was commissioned to design a set of Philatelic First Day Covers for the 1984 bicentenary of Flight in the UK.

Which was the only time my artwork was reproduced on silk

Monday, 28 November 2016


Although technically it isn't the best portrait in the world, I'm really happy that I've captured the real Giselle in this painting.

There's a certain amount of unfortunate camera-glare which lightens the whole thing.

Trying to get a photograph of her is difficult, because she usually pokes her tongue out at the last moment; you can see were here son (Topgun) gets it from See him here 

                                                          'Jimmy West' (Giselle)                                         John Simlett
Acrylic on Linen Canvas
18 inches x 14 inches

Wednesday, 23 November 2016


I decided to paint Giselle in Acrylics, it allows me to slap on paint without worrying: with oils I'm still finding my way and am more considered in the work.

                                                                       'Jimmy'                                                  John Simlett
18 inch x 14 inch
Acrylic on Stretched Linen Canvas

I'm almost tempted to leave it here - it shows her as she is: totally in control yet a wild and free spirit with an outrageous sense of humour

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Back To Portraits

I shall be painting my #3 granddaughter next: Giselle, author, mother of 'Topgun' (Logan) and Billy (Koby). She's also my best friend in the world. I used to call her Jimmy, then she grew up into a girl and stopped sawing wood.

Notice the Simlett eyes! 

I shall use Golden acrylics to form a Zorn Palette 

Titanium White, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Burnt Umbra and Mars Black
The most important tool in my studio is the Pipe Wrench which I use for opening tubs and tubes that have their lids stuck in place

I can't get on with my boat building because of the weather. An Atlantic storm with a North Easterly, which also kept the ferry from Ireland from docking here - It had to steam to sheltered waters up the coast. 

The Ferry Beating a Hasty Retreat from docking here in Fishguard

Thursday, 10 November 2016

On Crossing The Bar

Twilight and evening bell,
   And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
   When I embark;

For though from out our bourne of Time and Place
   The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
   When I have crossed the bar.

Pat and I will not be able to attend the Remembrance Day Service this year ... it's too far and we are too old. Nevertheless, to commemorate those that gave their lives in World Wars I & II,  and those that sacrificed their lives since, in order that we can live in a free world. I republish the comments I made over the years ... including those to my little brother, who I once taught to walk and talk. 

We spent Remembrance Sunday at a Pig Farm in the wilds of North East Yorkshire. Here my Squadron flew Halifax bombers in World War 2, when the farm was RAF Station Melbourne. 

The average age of the aircrew then was 22, and over the 3 years they were here, one out of every three crews were killed. 

Because World War 2 started for Britain in 1939, many other nationalities, such as Americans, Australians, Canadian (a lot of these) volunteered to join the RAF, and many ended up on 10 Squadron. So we were remembering them too, as part of our special 'family'.

10 Squadron is always known as 'Shiny Ten' and this is reflected in the memorial.

We turned up at 10 in the morning, last Sunday. The oldest were 92 and the youngest 6 months. We paraded our Association Standard (our colours). Here the escort were Tom and Doug, both 92 and from the same Halifax Bomber crew. Doug, nearest the camera, was the pilot (DSO, DFC & bar)

Number 10 Squadron is still operating, and currently flying  the new 'Voyager' Airbus down South in Oxfordshire, mainly flying to Afghanistan these days. They sent a detachment together with the Commanding Officer and the Squadron Colour Party

We gathered around the Memorial and Remembered our fallen Brothers-in-Arms.

There was no aircraft available for a Fly-Past, but last year they flew over a VC10 on which I have over 5000 flying hours

We then went to the pub that the War Time Crews used - The Plough in the village of Allerthorpe. It is stuffed full of the wartime memorabilia of 10 Squadron.

The years rolled back and soon we were ALL there and had a ball. We ended with the Loyal Toast, and took a few moments to say goodbye to our 'mates' and they went back to their rest and we went back home.

Lest We Forget

I took a moment to toast my 'baby' brother Colin, who died a year ago almost to the day. He would have been of great use in the Philippines at the moment, hanging from the helicopter and saving them from the sea - the job he did for over 25 years in the Royal Navy.

Colin Simlett 1948 - 2012
Helicopter Crewman Royal Navy

My little brother, Colin, spent a lot of his life, risking his life, to save other people's lives. A Royal Navy Helicopter Crewman who hung from that cable in the worse  possible conditions and rescued countless people in despair..

I told him he should have joined the Air Force, "You've always wanted to fly, for goodness sake!"
He told me I should have joined the Navy, "You're a bloody Shipwright, for goodness sake!"

We both did the opposite.

They once landed in the field behind my house. First we knew was a knock on the back door. There was Colin in all his flying gear, Helmet with visor down, Immersion suit, Life Jacket etc... "Excuse me, we've lost our map, could you give us instructions on how to get to..." Great sense of humour.

Cheers Colin, Happy Landings Mate... leave a drop of Scotch for the others ... 

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Getting the Models!!!

Getting models to sit in a set pose, when Topgun is the model in question, can be impossible.

The haircut must have left him 'light-headed.'

We're just back from France where we have been visiting #2 son in Toulouse. We drove up into the Pyrenees mountains - which separate France from Spain - and then down to the Mediterranean coast ... visiting a few vineyards on the way ... hic! A great time was had!


Monday, 17 October 2016

'Brotherly Love' WIP

Onward and upwards. Every now and then we have strokes-of-luck: take for example the day that Topgun (Logan) decided to give his baby brother, Billie (Koby), a quick hug. Their mum caught the moment on the camera of her mobile-phone (cellphone); nothing posed ... pure spontaneity.The scene therefore is totally natural. 

For the first three or four months of his life, Billie didn't exist in Topgun's eyes: he ignored him. Soon, however, his warm nature showed through and if Billie cried, Topgun would stroke the baby's hair and sing quietly to him. For his part, Billie loves the heck out of Topgun, and it shows!

The only change I have made to the reference photo is Topgun's hair, which was still wet from the shower and plastered to his face.

The canvas is 30" x 20". Although the background looks white it is Titanium White with a touch of Terre Verte (a dark green). I use acrylic paint for this as it dries quickly; the portrait will be in oils using a Zorn Palette.

Why Billie? Well when my granddaughter told me she was going to have a little boy and call him Koby, I misheard and thought she said Cody. My mind automatically makes associations (which often surprise me) and came up with Buffalo Bill (William Cody). Only a short step to ..... Billie.

.... and the boat-building? Having spent a month sandpapering the hull to get rid of the surplus glue and Epoxy resin filler, I am ready to move on to the next stage. Not straight away though, as we will be off to Toulouse in France next week to visit #2 son for a few days.