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8th April 2014
From Facebook
I'd like to raise a cheer for two of my favourite female historical fiction writers. Manda Scott wrote about the great Celtic warrior Boudica (no, Auntie, not Boadicea, that was just a spelling error). She has written four books that I know of about the lady; Dreaming the Eagle, Dreaming the Bull, Dreaming the Hound and Dreaming the Serpent Spear. Plenty of blood, sweat and gore a la Bernard Cornwell, but also mysticism and spooky stuff about dreaming the future, hence the titles. I know she is into dreaming, herself, in a big way. My second author is the delectable (look at the flyleaf) Robyn Young. Her background is music promotion, economics and she has a masters in writing. She has written a trilogy about the Crusades and the book I'm currently reading - Insurrection, about Robert the Bruce and his eventual triumph over Edward 1st. Like Manda Scott, she writes about the grime, aggression and passion of Medieval war and politics as if she'd been there, but of course she adds a feminine element which in my mind makes the book totally unmissable.

12th April 2014
'Grey recumbent stones of the dead in desert places,
Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
Hills of sheep, and the howes of the silent races,
And winds, austere and pure'.

Part of a beautiful evocation of the moors of Scotland by Robert Louis Stevenson, and a reminder of why we like to huddle together in our cosy towns.

31st July 2015
On reading about the protected and celebrated lion in Zimbabwe, known as Cecil, killed by a grinning fool of an American dentist.
From Facebook
I start to despair. Will we never learn? I've said it before - when they go, so will we. The great American, Chief Seattle said, well over a hundred years ago, that if we kill off the animals, Man will die of 'a great loneliness of spirit'. He knew we cannot survive outside of nature. If we have the arrogance to believe otherwise, we will go the same way as the dinosaurs. We will be the dinosaurs, and our economy and our art and our science and our intelligence will not save us.

James Collins

May 21, 2013 at 11:50am ·

Today I caught mouse no. 12. I think he actually waved to me through the plastic trap. I'm thinking of starting a mouse diary. You know - 'Mouse the 14th. Went shopping. had friends round. Mouse the 15th. Rained all day. Got rid of empty bottles and cardboard'.That sort of thing. It's actually not my idea. It's from the wonderful 'Confessions of Zeno' by Italo Svevo. In his case it wasn't mice, but 'last cigarettes'. For anybody who wants a funny and endearing summer read, it's available on Amazon.

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4th November 2016
This is my nod to our ancestors. When Picasso first saw this beautiful cave painting, he said 'We have learned nothing', which is Spanish for 'How beautiful and skillful'. You can see
that this horse is galloping. The left leg is forward and the rear right one is back. This is not how horses were depicted when galloping until photography (Hi John Worsfold) in the early 20th century, settled the matter. The master who painted this horse 40,000 years ago, give or take, knew how a horse moves. 'Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose', which is French for ' We have learned nothing'.
Horse by James Collins BA
FacebookCollins Prints

Cloudy Leopard.. My friend John Worsfold, who supplied the original photo tells me this incredible looking animal is not in fact related to the leopard, which I find hard to believe, but is actually the only remaining relative of of the ancient Sabre-Toothed tiger, which I find easy to believe! In any case I'm indebted to John for the source photo. Ps. I asked John Worsfold how he got Mr. Cloudy to pose like this - did he poke him with a stick or what, and he said no, he just invaded Mr. C's space a little unwisely.

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14th March 2017
From Facebook
One of my very favourite writers has been the American mid-twentieth century writer William Faulkner. He wrote of the relations between the people of the South - Negroes - blacks as we say now - whites and Indians (now Native Americans). He also wrote about the shrinking of the wilderness (see his short story The Bear) at a time when that wasn't even thought about. In his acception speech of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1950 he gave this (for me) thrilling and spine-tingling message, which we in this dis-illusioned and battered time, must cling to; "I decline to accept the end of man. I believe that man will not merely endure. he will prevail".

30th June 2017
From Facebook

Today we lost our Oscar. He had nearly 15 years of happy life.I did this drawing of him with his daughter Lillie some time ago. This is the day all dog lovers dread and all dog lovers know is coming. It's the price you pay. Love you, Oscar, where ever you are. xxx


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James Collins

July 11 at 11:47am ·

Oscar chases sticks, Lucy likes carrots and Lillie is away with the fairies. In memory of dear Oscar, who is, I hope, still chasing sticks Somewhere. xxx

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24th July 2017
From Facebook

I wrote this in Facebook exactly a year ago and they repeated it yesterday, so I'm glad it's not lost.

Here's the thing. I have long thought the gods have something special planned for me. I know everyone thinks that about themselves. After all nobody would put themselves in harm's way by going to war, and possibly not even get behind the wheel of a car without a belief in their own invincibility. Illogical yes, arrogant even, but aren't they two of the defining characteristics of our befuddled species? Well, back to the thesis. I have proof that the gods have their eye (eyes?) on me. The hell you say. Ok, not exactly proof, not in a court of law, but I'm convinced. Ladies and gentlemen, I have coincidences. They follow me around like a baby goose follows its mother. They flutter at my bedroom window at night like lunar moths trying to get in (thank you James Thurber, for that image). Unfortunately, like dreams, they are easily forgotten. I really must start writing them down. What prompted this diatribe was the latest in a long line of coincidences...

Last week I was talking to Karen about country singers (no, not country and western, Grandad - country). Anyway, I mentioned that in an essay I'd once written I borrowed the opening lines of Twelfth Night to describe the distinctive cadence of a country voice. In the opening scene Orsino remarks 'If music be the food of love, play on' and goes on to say 'That strain again! it had a dying fall' which to me perfectly describes country music. Anyway, Karen was suitably unimpressed and we went about our business. Later that day I was driving back from Elgin, listening to Radio Scotland when they featured a Scottish actress talking about her favourite speech from Shakespeare. Yes folks, you're ahead of me - it was the speech about the 'dying fall'. What are the chances? Anyone out there specialise in probability theory? The
point is this happens to me all the time and as I said, I don't usually bother to make a note of it. Maybe I should. Are you listening, Jung? Synchronicity is alive and well.

13th September 2017
This is the intro to 'Scottish Pet Portraits', which is about to be scrapped in favour of my new site 'James Collins Illustrations'.

Scottish Pet Portraits
Welcome. Here's how my pet portrait site works. I hope you enjoy it

Scotland is famous for its many breeds of dogs, both pets and working dogs. There is the wonderful Border Collie, admired all over the world; the Rough-Haired Collie, popularised by Queen Victoria and originally a working dog, but now mostly a pet, the tough Border Terrier and the Cairn Terrier. There is also the Shetland Collie or Shelty, a barky but feisty little relative of the Rough Collie.

Apart from the Wild Cat, (definitely not a pet!) Scotland has produced the Scottish Fold Cat, with its forward facing ears, probably to keep out the wind. Also several horses; the impressive Clydesdale and the diminutive Shetland Pony.

In Scottish Pet Portraits you can find a selection of some of the paintings and drawings of dogs,cats and horses I have been asked to produce in the last ten years or so, plus the occasional house, car or landscape commission. Many of my customers are from my home country of Scotland but I also get commissions from England, and the occasional order from Ireland, America and Australia.

I work in watercolour, gouache, pencil, pen and ink and lately in pastel and coloured pencil. I feel lucky that I am able to combine my main interests - art and dogs, but in my galleries you can also see pictures of cats, wild animals, boats, cars and houses.

If you would like a painting or drawing of your dog, cat, horse, or even your house or vintage car, just send me one or more photos by email or post. The better the photo the better the result will be. You're welcome to ring me on 01309 641556 or 07981 041158 to discuss the project.

I can usually finish a picture in about two weeks. I'll need a deposit of 20% and you'll receive a proof to OK before you pay the balance. The artwork will arrive by guaranteed post the next morning.

Some of my work is available as A4 and A3 prints on Facebook. Collins Prints Also see my other art website Pet Portraits UK or visit my Facebook page Collins Prints


'About me' from the same website.

I have been a musician and artist, man and boy for, well, a long time. I was born in Dunfermline, Fife, in Scotland, but lived most of my life in the south of England. Having returned to Scotland some twelve years ago to make peace with my celtic side, I thought I'd see if I could earn a living as a pet portrait artist, and to that end I taught myself how to design a website, after which I set up shop ( alright, it wasn't as easy as I'm making it sound but I got the idea in the end). I now have three websites, two centred on my pet portrait business, (the other one being Pet Portraits UK) and one featuring essays I've written over the past dozen years or so, called Scottish Essays.

I live in the north of Scotland, on the edge of the Highlands, with my wife Karen, our daughter Abi, and our three dogs, Oscar, Lucy (Goosy) and Lillie, all related. I play guitar like a ringing a bell, I'm pretty good at chess, and pretty bad at snooker. I read a lot, mostly historical fiction and cop thrillers, as in Michael Connelly, and I love my dogs.
I also love Johann Sebastian Bach, some jazz and rock, and country music.

If I could have my life over, I would probably live in a log cabin in Alaska, and get to know the wolves, except then I would never have known Karen and my daughter Abi. And J.S. Bach. And Martina McBride. Oh well.

James Collins
Scottish Pet Portraits
01309 641556
See me on Facebook at Collins Prints

5th November 2017
Just saying...
There used to be a large sign as you left Tesco in Elgin, maybe there still is. It stood between Tesco and 'The biggest Funeral Director in Elgin'. It read 'Goodbye and thanks for shopping with us!' I always hoped it belonged to the funeral parlour.

1st. September 2020
Requiem for Susan.
'This view of Findhorn Bay was commissioned by a delightful old lady called Susan, as a surprise for her daughter, who lives in London. The delightful old lady was very pleased with my painting. So pleased, in fact was she, that a year later, bless her, the painting is still on her wall. I'm not sure her daughter even knows about it.'
I wrote that two years ago. Susan died six months ago, just before we were hit with covid 19. I walk my dog through Dyke cementary, where she is buried, every day, and still the only sign of her passing is a small piece of plastic with her details on it, stuck in the grass over her grave...
I expect her daughter now has the painting.

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