The Art of Derek Dohren

painting, writing, photography


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Into the Alhambra

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 19, 2010 at 3:24 PM

I finally got inside the Alhambra on Sunday, courtesy of Charley. She is over for a visit and purchased tickets for us both as a forthcoming birthday treat. It was amazing. The photos don't really do it justice but I'll post a few anyway...











Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 13, 2010 at 4:46 PM

Shocking news. We had an earthquake underneath Granada on Monday measuring a whopping 6.2 on the Richter Scale. It was very deep underground so no surface damage was caused.


News link here...


I missed it and can only assume that at the time the quake struck, just after midnight, I'd passed off that particular seismic tremble as one of the kids upstairs going for a midnight poo.



All change

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 12, 2010 at 8:48 AM

The painting's taking a back seat again as other matters come to the fore. I have an increase in TEFL work, and am dealing with a subsequent increase in travel time and lesson planning. Bizarrely I find myself scheduled to teach on six days a week for the next five weeks (Saturday being my day off). It's actually one lesson a day, except Monday which will be two, and the total amount of hours isn't great but of course each day is impacted and broken up.


Some of the lessons are late morning, some late afternoon, some early evening and I'll need to get my head around the new routines quickly. For instance a round trip to one of the neighbouring villages for a one and a half hour lesson can still eat four to five hours of my day if I don't swap buses efficiently. I need to work the timetables to my advantage but of course it's not always possible. At least I don't have to get from one village to another on the same morning or evening.


If I had enough cash I'd buy myself a scooter, but it's not an option right now.


Of course, this work is important. The injection of cash will be a life saver for me. Even so, the frustrating part is that the workload arrives right at the time I was putting together a plan to run some art classes. I feel these classes can be a much more enjoyable, and yes lucrative way for me to make a living out here and I'm anxious to start the ball rolling before I lose my nerve.


Here are a couple of photos from the two art classes I ran last week.


The top picture shows the students on day one while the second picture shows the finished paintings from our trip out into Granada.


Anyway, for now I'll have to content myself with backgrounding all the logistics of how I'm going to run these courses. I can work on gathering more of the hardware I'll need, nail down a price structure, and think up how I'm going to lay out and then distribute my advertising flyers.


So it's all change again. It seems to be the way of things for me out here.

La Zubia man lodges complaint

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 10, 2010 at 4:16 AM

ESPN news


Police in a suburb of Granada were this morning investigating a bizarre incident that has left an octogenerian English gentleman dead. The man, a former ground floor resident in an apartment block in La Zubia, had earlier raced upstairs to his neighbour's apartment and barged his way in.


His surprised neighbours told police that he appeared to have lost his temper and was rambling incoherently. And they should know.


He dragged each of the family members personally, one by one, around to every item of furniture in the apartment, asked them IF. THEY. WERE. HAPPY. WITH. WHERE. EACH. INDIVIDUAL. ITEM. OF. FURNITURE. WAS. Then nailed each of the furniture items to the floor using 12 inch nails and his own fists.


"Hewasveryangryandwasshoutingandsteamwascomingoutofthetopofhishead" shouted all of the family at the same time to our news reporter.




The incident ended tragically when the man apparently rammed 6 HB pencils up his own nose, gnawed off his left arm, and with his right hand ripped off his own head before jumping off the balcony.


Police have noted the complaint but say the matter remains a 'domestic issue' and no further action will be taken.


** Note **

A lot of the above is not true yet. 

On the up at last

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 8, 2010 at 4:19 PM

Work and promises of work continue to be offered and withdrawn. As it stands I’m on the threshold of a very busy period and for the next 6 weeks will be working a 6 day week (including Sundays). On the other hand it’s possible I’m not. It really changes from day to day, even hour to hour and until you’re sat down with a student anything can happen. I’ve now lost count of the number of ad-hoc jobs that have come my way and of the number of various leads that have fizzled to nothing. Still the more that gets thrown your way the greater chance you have of something sticking. It’s a case of ear to the ground and trying to make as many contacts as possible.


On the face of it things look good right now, certainly in terms of me being able to actually earn as much as I’m spending (for a month or two anyway). After that, well who knows?


The most exciting leads of all continue to be the non-TEFL related opportunities. My art class students are all primed for ‘Part 2’ of their class tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to seeing this develop into a long term project. We will hit the streets early on (weather forecast is set fair) and I’m expecting to see three mini masterpieces produced before lunch. I’m formulating an idea to set up classes for English speaking holidaymakers, or locals for that matter, and feel there’s a niche there to be grabbed. We’ll see and there’s things I need to work out.


I’m also involved now with a startup magazine that’s aimed at the English speaking community. It’s called ‘Granada Insider’ and is a monthly publication. I’ll be writing some pieces for it.


None of which means I’ve given up on the Spanish. Far from it but while that remains a work in progress I need to do what’s necessary. Selling some works of art on a regular basis would give me a multi-pronged income stream, albeit an erratic one, but that’s better than a no-income stream. I can’t afford any more fallow months.


Carnage at the Nuevo Los Carmenes

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 6, 2010 at 5:43 PM

A quick word about the Rojiblancos. A splendid 5:1 victory over league leaders Melilla was gratefully witnessed on Sunday lunchtime. Dave and I sat in the top tier of the roofless stand, under two hours of glorious sunshine, and revelled in Ighalo's magnificent hat-trick and another double from leading score Tariq (all for just 15 Euros).


Pick of the bunch was Tariq's first. A simply towering header, lashed into the net with no messing about. It was like watching what you always imagine Peter Crouch can do but can't. 


If Billy Reid's reading this - either of these lads could do a job for the Accies. They know how to put the ball in the onion bag - repeatedly. And they're used to wearing the red and white hoops so it's a no-brainer Billy. Whip the cheque book out you tight get. It's the least you can do for giving away James McArthur in the summer (probably).


Only downside was severe sunburn to the face and to the top of the napper.


Promotion beckons.


Here's the table. I've no idea if any sort of formatting will hold up. They show points first, then games...


pos equipo        ptos  j     g  e p  gf   gc


1     UD Melilla     63  32 18 9 5 43 28



2     Granada        60  32 18 6 8 65 34





Soy un Profesor de Arte

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 5, 2010 at 4:46 PM

I taught an art class this afternoon. It was great fun and a 100 times better than teaching English. My students were all excellent and enjoyed themselves. They are all now stealing themselves for day two of the course which will take them out onto the mean streets of Granada for a cityscape later this week! Bring it on!


We started the lesson painting colour wheels and touched a little on some colour theory before loosening up the artistic mood a bit more by experimenting with different sized  brushes and knives.

The class then went on to paint their own gardenscape paintings (photo above) and produced a wide array of beautiful pictures. A great afternoon!

Cumbres Verdes

Posted by Derek John Dohren on April 2, 2010 at 4:23 PM

Some photographs taken from a recent trek into the Sierras to the small village of Cumbres Verdes.


Semana Santa

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 31, 2010 at 12:50 PM

cold sun and green skies flying

when you pass this way I know I'm dying

not just typing ceaseless words

I don't make this noise to curse

my sense of apathy, abstracted commentary

in tumultuous waves tossed up aplenty

you don't know the words I'm slaying

I don't have to because no one's paying

to me the slightest bit of attention

so bend and twist you force of dimension


forgive him if he drinks too much

better he drinks than he thinks too much

this painting wraps a finger of hope

the best of things fits me to cope

well maybe that's so, I hear

selling you wares unawares where you dare

were you really stringing along that line

and hanging them apart sublime?

I never realised the cold sun and skies

where always so green as your eyes


time flies slowly but sand falls quick

through the eye and heralds a new day sick

adorning a family neighbourhood

acute in folding paper, card, canvas and wood

troubled with experience of sand and blood

caskets of vermillion and yellow oxide

trembling fingers holler to one side

retreat in my harness now solidly blue

In all honesty what now would you

have me do?


hills of suede and icing sugar

spread with palette knife, fried in butter

the fisherman's catch in tethered rock

tableau of stone in shattered shock

in vitriolic fervour of frustrated happening

under rotted bridges and ragged scattering

going internal please curdle and jam

that passage through arterial dam

in muddy flows your concrete complexion

drops from a veldt of absent affection


catedral sits in sickening rock

borne on the hands of a quivering flock

to buy a place in heaven with Him

and sidestep that unholy din

too late to know what can't be known

when you've realised you've turned to stone

the route to safety already blown

away and yet seek tether and groan

fastidiously you do shudder and enter

that contract with the absent mentor


Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 27, 2010 at 6:46 AM

The other day I was wandering down the Calle Pablo Picasso in La Zubia when I chanced upon a strange sight. The Coviran was open. Unusual during opening hours on an ordinary week day. The ridiculous supermarket is usually shut and, like one of those rare enormous exotic orchids they have in Kew Gardens that only bloom for just micro seconds once every 12 years (and emit horrible odours in the process), you have to be luckier than Lucky Luke McLuck, winner of the Luckiest Man in the World competition 1992 (even though he never even entered that year - so lucky was he) to find the thing open. I went in to have a look see. Having just gone up the hill to the SuperSol (always open, come rain, shine, holiday, fiesta, siesta, blah-di-blah) I was anxious to see if stuff was any cheaper in the Covvy.


Problem was I have no idea how much stuff costs in the SuperSol. I just put the usual 5 or 6 items in a basket and hand in a massive bank note, never look at my receipt, and frankly wouldn't stop shopping there anyway even if I found out I was being ripped off because I'm not one for changing routines that have become 'safe'.


I've always wanted to shop at the Covvy. They sponsor Granada FC so I'd feel I was doing my bit for the * Blancorojos by shelling out some of my diminishing cash reserves but the powers that be don't make it easy for anyone to actually get in. I did see it open once, not long after I arrived in La Zubia and I went in and and bought some stuff. I thought nothing of it. I never realised at the time it had only opened because of a rare (and largely unheralded outside of the astronomical world) alignment of the heavenly bodies, that had seen Orion's Belt shoot right into Uranus resulting in a rising full moon. So unremarkable did it all seem at the time I took it as de-rigeour when the fruit and veg girl heaped scorn on my custom and gave me a bag of unsalted cashew nuts instead the half a pound of grapes I'd carefully pointed at. Fair enough, I thought, but it occurs to me now that should the Covvy only open to a rarified timetable the staff probably don't get much practice.


Tomorrow, I'll go the SuperSol. They know me in there and now ensure they have ludicrous amounts of change in the till at all times. I checked Old Moore's Almanack and the Covvy's not due to open again til 9:17 on Friday October 7th 2019 when a particularly auspicious conjoinment of Saturn's rings, the Paps of Jordan and Simon Cowell's teeth comes into being. They'll be having a sale though so best get there early. Be quick about it too because they'll close again at 9:23.


* It might be Rojoblancos. I can't be bothered looking it up.


Disclaimer: Some of this is made up stuff.

Painting the World

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 26, 2010 at 12:53 PM

So I got involved with Paintmap.


It's an organisation that has set out to try and put together a slightly alternative map of the world. You home in on an area using googlemaps and the landmarks of that particular global spot are revealed through the eyes of artists.


It's a fascinating way to see the world.


There's a link to the site here



Sold, to the American lady!

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 25, 2010 at 7:37 PM

I got a sale in Granada tonight. On a whim I went along to the Puerta de Elvira and strung my paintings up between two lamp posts in front of the arch, pretty near to the spot I painted the view from. I didn't bother arranging the prints this time and decided to give it half an hour to 45 minutes just for the experience and hell of it.


I was far more exposed to sudden police incursions than I had been on Saturday and sure enough, as I was setting up, a patrol car passed by, literally inches from my pitch. The two cops inside didn't seem the least perturbed by the sight of me tying string around a lamp post in front of one of the city's well known beauty spots, so fine. I carried on ...


It was turning dark and the the arch was as lit up as in the painting I made of it. I was well pleased.


What I hadn't bargained for was the wind. The paintings were blowing up and over the string I had them hanging off and I was worried they were going to rip and tear.


Anyway, time passed with little or no interest, save for a couple of nice comments, and I began packing up. I left the Puerta painting till the end, just in case, and as I was about to pull it down I got chatting to an American lady who expressed some interest in it.


In the end, she bought a mounted print of the painting. Not bad considering I didn't even have the prints on display. She said she didn't have enough cash on her to buy the original. But, she was happy, and so was I. A sale's a sale.


The police issue was also less of a worry. I reckon 5 or 6 cars drove up, clocked what I was doing, and moved on uninterested. So maybe it's not such a problem?




The La Zubia Redemption

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 21, 2010 at 6:18 PM

I was spaced out for three days last week with cranial abnormalities. I had acute something, which had been caused by a tiny scrap of anchovy residue - no more than 3.7 pico-nano millimetres in surface area, being lodged behind a pre-molar. This trapped but gorgeous fragment of ocean life had initiated an osmotic process by which my brain suffered a severe 'hydro-infusionamo tsunami-poco' (Spanish term) rendering me incoherent, and to all intents and purposes, dead for a few days.


In laymen's terms, the steady and unstemmed leaching of industrial quantities of salt from the anchovy fragment nearly caused my head to explode. I was one of the lucky ones.


The docs (gotta love them) advised me that to avoid future repetition I should brush my teeth better.


I celebrated my release yesterday with a couple of culoperros in El Rincon. I made sure I chewed them properly and  swallowed cleanly. It would be more than a tad embarrassing to be incapacitated for the same reasons again next week.


Of course, this is all tosh, though some people still believe the stuff I write is true.




As a further treat I watched my DVD copy of the Shawshank Redemption last night. The moment when Andy emerges from the 500 metre pipe of poo remains cinematic gold, surpassed only by the ending, when Red walks along the beach at Zihuatanejo (I Wikipedia'd it - you can never make the name out can you?).


I've taken on board some lessons from the film to help me deal with the strains of life in my apartment.




When my noise loving neighbours upstairs go into a chair dragging fest I will imagine them as no more an irritant than when Bogs (in Shawshank) tries ineptly to give me one behind the laundry room. An episode of metallic droppings from above will be akin to a month in 'the hole', survivable by one's ability to replay the memory of beautiful music in one's head throughout, thus rendering the period an actual interlude of welcome pleasure. Listening to 'them' rabbit on about whatever it is they rabbit on about will be no more than a severe beating at the hands of prison screw Byron Hadley, a man who will ultimately get his comeuppance (and will cry like a little girl when getting it).


The best bit will be when I come to leave and Warden Norton puts a gun in his mouth and a bullet through his napper. That'll dovetail nicely with me setting a fecking bomb off in the kitchen as I walk out the door of this place for the last time.

On the Streets of Granada

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 21, 2010 at 5:55 PM

A big part of my move here to Spain was to try and make a real go of becoming a professional artist. Big dreams I know, but in for a penny, in for a pound. I figured it was time I tested the water.


So on Saturday I ventured into the city to try and sell some paintings on the streets. I was nervous as a kitten and had to fight the flight or fight reflex as I approached my designated area of most opportunity. I'd staked out this area of pavement for a week or two and had chosen it as a likely location due to the heavy footfall and wide open feel it offered. I was encouraged to see how mobbed with people it was as I made my way towards it.


Alas, as I approached I could see two police officers on patrol. The African lads who sell handbags, umbrellas, jewellery and really really bad quality DVDs were picking up their stuff and moving as the cops swaggered arrogantly down the walkway, batons dangling menacingly from their holsters.


I doubled back and sat on a nearby bench to spy on proceedings and soon plod was off, elsewhere. The African lads, old hands at this cat and mouse game, laid their wares out again. My chosen spot still lay vacant so I traipsed on over and began unloading my kit. I tied a length of string between a lamp post and a tree and began hanging my paintings off it with bulldog clips. I then laid a small blanket on the ground and arranged my postcard sized prints and my pricing details. I was thrilled when a middle aged couple strolled over to ask about one of the paintings - I had barely finished setting things out - and the gent was very complimentary to me. 'This will be great' I thought, but really, that was as good as it got.



I had a few people show interest, and got some good comments, but no sales.


I was so nervous about the police that I couldn't really relax. A couple of the African boys came over and we shared a handshake and a word of cameraderie but I never really ever felt comfortable. An hour or so later the two police officers returned and we were all forced to pack our things up and go.


Then it started raining and that was that.


Lessons learned:

I think my display was a bit confusing. I had too many cards detailing different prices and so on and I also think my postcard prints were a hindrance. No one wants a print - they want an original painting. I only had 5 originals on display and need at least twice as many. I need to get better and more efficient at producing quicker, smaller, paintings. It was a great experience though. Selling stuff on the street feels such a raw and engaging thing to do - not that I actually sold anything of course!


Puerta de Elvira, Granada

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 18, 2010 at 5:26 PM

Apologies for the lack of updates. An appalling internet connection here is making life difficult. I don't know if things will improve any time soon but each attempt at doing anything is painful so I'll keep it short.


Here's a recent painting. You can see a fuller version in the 'granada' gallery. It's the Puerta de Elvira. At the weekend I'm planning to try and sell some of my art on the streets in Granada. We shall see.


Granada Hoy

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 12, 2010 at 6:08 PM

My Spanish is still very weak and will remain so for some time but I was perusing the local newspaper rag this evening when I chanced upon the personals column. Not something you want to be seen reading when you're in a public space I suppose but given the fact I didn't know what anyone who happens to be looking over my shoulder might be saying or thinking I didn't much care.


There's a female student, somewhere local, staying in an apartment and looking for free secks (I have to mispell owing to the officious nature of firewalls in certain company premises). Maybe something's gone west in translation but I'm finding it hard to interpret  'busco se_x_o gratis'  any other way. Sounds like a game girl then.


It's an odd country.


I've noticed, and indeed commented on, a refreshing lack of political correctness and state nannying around these parts. It's great. But I can't help thinking something's not right. There's no apparent watershed when it comes to news items. It's not unusual to see se_x stories (sorry again) plastered all over the early morning telly coverage, nor is it a shock to see scenes of horrible violence interspersed with light hearted stories of oddball characters or cats stuck up trees on the early evening news magazine shows.


You can flick through the terrestrial tv channels and jump between soft porn ( very soft) and kiddies cartoons. Many would say 'so what?' and I've no real comment to make other than, well, it just seems a bit odd.


There's a catholic culture here that seems to permeate society -  but it's purely cultural and not in the least bit religious. They're very conservative on the one hand yet they seem so lax and liberal in many other ways. They have their festivals and processions but none if it seems to be about what these things were originally about. It kind of looks to me like how morris dancing in England must look to foreigners or how quaint the behaviour of druids at Stonehenge looks (ok I know there are probably loads of druids who are deadly serious about their activities)  but even so.


For those north of the border I suppose it's akin to the differences between catholic and protestant communities and how, even now, some people would still have you believe it's about the finer points of Christian religious doctrine when we all know it's merely a lazy, tired old cultural hangover from olden days that seems worth perpetuating somehow. 


It's as if a particular face is shown, and has to be shown, to the rest of the world while the country just gets on with being - well, itself I supopose.


This is Spain. I don't really think they care whether you get it or not. And that's the bit I like. They don't really care what people like me think. I'll keep trying to understand though I may steer clear of the personal ads for the time being.



Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 8, 2010 at 6:31 PM

Noise from the upstairs apartment continues unabated. Their inventiveness never wanes though it has to be said the old staples remain at the heart of things. The 'dropping millions and millions of tiny pieces of metal on the floor' game is still the most popular. By comparison the mindless 'dragging of chairs from A to B' remains clearly second rate entertainment and stays confined to the hours of 2am to 4am.


In fairness to them though, they're not averse to new ideas. Astonishing new games have appeared this last few days. Currently popular is the 'bouncing something hard and bouncy off the floor' game, and most intriguingly is a new game they only started a few days ago. I call it the 'scraping mud off the bottom of a frying pan with a blunt pencil' game. Obviously, they try and play it as noisily as they can but they only seem able to keep it up for a few hours at a time. Clearly it's not an easy game, not like the 'hammering' game or the relentless thump thump thump game they enjoy so much, particularly during siesta.


Erm, in other news: I watched Wigan v Liverpool tonight. Somebody shoot me now. Is this what it's come to?


I met a chap yesterday in Granada at one of my friends' house who, after half an hour or so of chat, thought I was Scottish.


We are due for below zero temperatures on Wednesday night.


I'll be getting a cat. My friend Chris's cat had four kittens yesterday and one of them has my name on it. I'm calling him Ramon. If he turns out to be a girl it'll have to be Ramona.

Salty Towers

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 5, 2010 at 7:27 PM

As everyone knows, your average one and a half inch anchovy contains more salt than is present in the whole of the Dead Sea. Eat more than six of the blighters in a single calendar month and you're likely to die horrifically from osmosis before your stomach can be pumped.


A more splendid footstuff then could not present itself to the tapas bar owner here in Andalucia. That 'free' tapas is handed out in this part of the world is a given, but clearly, bar owners have to make a living. The truth of it is a little extra is bunged onto the price of your booze and though it feels like that plate of delicious grub you get handed is free - well, you know in your own heart there's no such thing as a free lunch.


Which is rather where the anchovy comes in. It ain't no coincidence that many of the splendid tapas dishes that find their way to the gormless foreigner's table contain a dead one of these magnificent creatures. Eat one of those suckers and within 10 minutes you've a thirst on you that'd see the whole of the Dead Sea drunk dry. Order another drink, and what do you get? another plate of anchovy based tucker.




I don't blame the locals for doing it. And I love anchovies as much as the next punter, but if there's one thing we all know, an anchovy and beer based hangover is something to be avoided at all costs.


It's bad enough when the hangover is down purely to anchovies, but when beer's involved it somehow seems a tad worse. So it's with a certain regret I type these lines. I've had a quantity of beer and achovy vignettes this evening. I'm a bit scared to go to bed to be honest. I've lowered the Andalucian water table before retiring to the onion bag in a vain attempt to ward off severe salt poisoning but I fear it's too little too late. I feel I've already osmosed part of my upper digestive tract.


I've even attempted to compensate for the salt overload by downing a quantity of chocolate - but that's like going to watch Hamilton Accies because you know that tomorrow you have to go and watch Rangers. It's pointless and ineffective. You'd be better off just going to watch Motherwell and be done with it.

Eaten but not forgotten

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 3, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Here's the still life that got eaten.


It's not quite finished yet - there's still a surviving apple in the fruit bowl.


Anyway, just back in from another epic night out tramping the villages of Andalucia. Another missed bus, another 3 mile hike home through the foul weather. Still, one has to laugh.

I did catch 20 minutes or so of the France v Spain encounter. Not that I was ever any great lover of them but how sad is it now to see France? They are a bunch of crap has-beens.

Living is easy with eyes closed

Posted by Derek John Dohren on March 3, 2010 at 6:10 AM

A few quickies:


I got my NIE sorted last week and maybe forgot to let you know. It was only slightly painful and I got the distinct impression I was fast tracked a bit because as one of the clerks in the office said conspiratorially to me "you're one of us" (I assume he meant white European - oh dear).


Today's weather forecast cheerfully states Granada has a '100% chance of rain". I like the way they don't sit on the fence.


I set up a fantastic still life scene yesterday in the apartment. It was made up of a couple of apples, a pineapple, a hunk of bread, with some cheese and olives, and a bottle of beer. It looked so good I ate it before I had a chance to paint it. Happily I did take some photos beforehand and have produced something worthwhile. I will post up the painting when it's complete.


Last night I walked 6 miles to the wrong village, then another self correcting 3 miles to the right place to go and teach someone at short notice. Thankfully I had left in time to allow for such a situation. I missed the last bus home and had to walk back - 3 more miles. In short, I left the apartment at 18:40 and got home at 23:30, nearly 5 hours of which all but an hour and a half had been spent on foot. Still, I got 14 Euros so no pain, no gain.


I was pretty wasted by the time I got in. The best part of the day was hitting the sack though I foolishly finished off the remainder of the pineapple (from the earlier still life) before I retired and then immediately wished I hadn't.


Anyway, I have to practice my Beatles songs for tonight so farewell for now...


Oh, and I can confirm it's just started raining.