Retirement for me began in October 1993, which started with a holiday. There was never any doubt about my being active following a busy schedule at the labs. After a short spell consulting for Nortel Canada, which involved continuing with some of the work we had been undertaking in the Acoustics Lab and relating to the ITU Study Group XII, I was able to spend more time on some of the things I really enjoy doing. The garden has seen a lot more of me as has music, (piano, organ and accordion). However the hobby that was resurrected was watercolour painting. This something I have always done along with sketching when on holiday, but I can also remember when in school, doodling away with a pencil on any scrap of paper that happened to be there, when I should have been listening! It often involved the front end of steam trains, ( e.g. the Flying Scotsman) with the smoke billowing out of the funnel, a blackened boiler and as much three dimensional detail as I could manage in the time! In those days we took General School Certificate and I managed a credit for Art, at which I was well pleased!

So in retirement proper, art became not exactly a passion, but a regular activity since the late 90s. I joined the art class, appropriately named Art à Peel, run by Jim Peel which is held in the St John’s ARC (Art and Recreational Centre) in the retired St John’s church building in Old Harlow. The building itself has had several additions, making it suitable for all manner of purposes from dancing classes, music concerts, wedding receptions, art classes, Choral Society rehearsals and etc. The long Annex running the length of the church is ideal for hanging paintings when several artists and art groups have their exhibitions. We have at least 2 exhibitions each year as do other groups. Most of my paintings are landscapes, usually of a scene from some holiday location. Mostly the painting is created from one or more photographs taken at the time usually composed with a view to making a watercolour creation later. Occasionally I will sit and sketch in pencil then take that back home, ink in the essential pencil marks and then add watercolour. There is one example of this technique in the 2018 calendar, August, entitled “Spindrift” drawn at Wells next-the-Sea.

Which brings me to our calendar that we try to produce annually, and as exhibited this evening. Our aim is to try to arrange for each artist to be included. Therefore about 48 images are reproduced postcard size which enables us to put 3 or 4 on a page of A4. I was asked by one of our QCC members what was involved in producing the calendars. The annex below gives the main details of how it is put together.

Some of my paintings I use to produce greetings cards or notelets and some examples of these are shown in this mini “Exhibition”. I do the artwork using a desktop publishing program, Serif PagePlus and print them on our home computer, using card, usually 160 g/m2 .

ANNEX – Producing the Art à Peel Calendar

Our Art à Peel Calendar is all done “in house” and the only thing we out-source is the printing thereof. When I say “in house” we all provide original works of art, usually broken down roughly into the 4 seasons, which I photograph throughout the year using my Canon and daylight, but not sunlight, in order to obtain digital images of the paintings. (If one had the intention of producing a calendar of photographs, that stage would be unnecessary as the images would presumably already be digitised ready to go into the next stage).

I have a desk top publishing program called Serif PagePlus and another Serif PhotoPlus. These I use to ensure the photos taken are properly rectangular with 90 deg corners and that the image is bright enough and has the contrast we are looking for and that will reproduce on the printed page as realistically as possible.

The Calendar program comes with PagePlus and we chose a double A4 presentation with the images in the upper A4 page in landscape mode. The lower page holds the date information and gives room to make notes on particular days as necessary. The two pages are joined with the binding spring which enables one to flip over the pages to change months etc.

Arranging (using PagePlus) the images, of the artwork in our case can be a little tricky as usually some are landscape but some are portrait in aspect. We tend to put 3 or 4 pictures of our artwork on a single A4 page per month. This way the artwork images end up being roughly postcard size which is adequate for folk to see the composition in sufficient detail. Just below the image page, right at the top of the date page, we give brief information about the titles and authors of the images immediately above.

For the front cover page, we usually choose a particularly striking painting, one not included within the calendar. Also another on the back page, as a backdrop for some information about our Art club and who to contact for more information, etc. The name of the printers also goes on the back page with their contact information.

Once we’re satisfied with the layout and composition of the whole thing, a hard copy is often printed for someone, or ones, to look over in detail for any errors. Then if all is well I’ll produce a file using PDF in printers’ mode and Email it to our printer. We have had great satisfaction using Hertfordshire Display plc, who are at 51 High Street, Ware, Herts, SG12 9BA, Tel. 01920 461191, Email;

We like to get the cost down to below £4/calendar so we can sell them for £5 and make a profit of about £1 which goes to St Clare Hospice. If we order about 150-200 those aims are met. Most years we are able to give a donation of about £200-250 to St Clare’s. These printers have been so cooperative in the past and I am on first name terms with a couple of them now, after 3-4 years doing the calendar.