RED – a red pastel for Remembrance Day



Nothing ventured nothing gained.


It’s the 11th of November in a couple of days time and in thinking about Remembrance Day, poppies and their redness came to mind, and I thought about Rothko and his red paintings as written about in my blog a couple of weeks ago and since I haven’t been able to get my teeth back into larger work yet, I decided to play around with red pastels on red paper and see what happened.


Well, this just goes to show that not everything painted turns out to be as I’d wish it and I pondered whether to show you the disaster or not but since this is a blog about my life as an artist, which means not just the good stuff, I decided to gulp down my pride and reveal the mess to you. It made me doubt my abilities as a painter but before I could sink into that quagmire, I said, Hey tomorrow’s another day and there could be wonderful things around the corner. I’ll either spray the heck out of it and keep going or just wash the whole thing off (trying not to think of the amount of pastels and $ that are going down the drain!). And you know what? It’s just good to be in my studio doing anything. And Cam, my honey, assured me this was so.


 Artistic failure may be labours lost but is life lived.

– Ian Semple


So here it is in all its glory – red and more red.


AHHHH…the blank canvas so to speak, where anything is possible


OKAY, a good start. I was thinking about the red of poppies and blood and of the darkness of death and destruction (began to add darker pastels at the bottom)


MORE RED…and I’m kinda liking it…but maybe a should have stuck with the abstract look rather than letting those poppy shapes slip in….


RED disaster…..gone too far…looks all the same….looks cheesy….went over the top….I quit!


I’ve failed again!

– Vincent Van Gogh


He who is discouraged after a failure is not a real artist.

– Auguste Rodin


SO WHEN you’ve failed, you have nothing left to lose so late this afternoon, in disgust, I dragged red and more reds over the whole thing and….well….maybe there’s something to salvage from the mess. I’ll see in the hard light of day.


To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail… failure is his world and to shrink from it desertion, art and craft, good housekeeping, living…

– Samuel Beckett


And here’s me working on second in a series, a teaser for you. Now that was a better day!!


NOT red!!


Remembrance Day


And because Remembrance Day is around the corner…I offer you the two poems from World War I that have stuck with me from school days:


Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)


Suicide in the Trenches

I KNEW a simple soldier boy

Who grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,

And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,

With crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He put a bullet through his brain.

No one spoke of him again.

.     .     .     .

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you’ll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)



And just because it seems fitting, have a look at the humorous but incredibly sad last scene of the last episode of Black Adder Goes Forth. Do you remember the series?


Thanks for spending time with me.


~ Gail

2 thoughts on “RED – a red pastel for Remembrance Day”

  1. Heather and I really enjoyed the third picture down and the included video. Thanks again for including us on your journey. Love S

    1. So glad to finally hear from you Sandy!

      It’s funny how risk and pushing the boundaries are all part of an artist’s job. Sometimes though, you go too far and boom, you spoil something that was actually looking quite good. The trick is then to either keep going and see what happens (and discover whether you can make an improvement) or abandon the project and move on to the next one.

      Glad to have you on my journey.

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