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The Art of Derek Dohren

painting, writing, photography




Posted on April 20, 2010 at 9:03 AM

Though I continue to have no joy getting a foot in the door of the language schools in the area (though in truth, I haven't tried particularly hard) I have six regular English students I am privately tutoring now and am giving out eight lessons a week. The best aspect of this is that each of the students is at a different level and each one is requiring a very customised type of lesson. I am sticking to very little of the lesson formats taught to me during my formal training though much of what I learned in terms of teaching technique has been vitally important.


My student demographic ranges considerably too - in age from 11 to late 30s, male and female, professional and student, elementary to advanced. It's certainly extremely invigorating for me to have to get into the correct mindset prior to each lesson. I am involved in a real mixed bag of lesson routines. One student has business oriented lessons; another requires help with an English fiction book; one works as an interpreter and wants to brush up a knowledge of English language idioms; one is a mathematics teacher who wants conversational English; one is a fun loving child who, at his parents' behest, I will take on an excursion into the hills next week; and the other is needing help with essay writing. Never a dull moment.


Generally I am in awe of all of them. Not only do they speak far better English than I do Spanish, they are juggling heavy committments elsewhere and are clearly very bright and able people and extremely motivated. I'm humbled when I see the effort they put into everything they do.


For the time being I cannot advance my plans for the art lessons as I feel I need to give these English students my fullest attention. It's the least they deserve. In four weeks time I will lose two of them as I am acting only as a temporary fill in teacher for them. Things will then ease but of course I will need to replace the income, and then some, accordingly.


The thing is I already feel I will miss those two students and I also feel a growing attachment to the others. I have learned out here though that things change, and change dramatically, so I'm trying to expect the unexpected. I've no idea at any point, beyond a week or so, what I'm going to find myself doing. It's as refreshing as it is worrying.


Into the Alhambra

Posted 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 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.



La Zubia man lodges complaint

Posted 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 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 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 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 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 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

Sold, to the American lady!

Posted 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?




On the Streets of Granada

Posted 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 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 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.


Chocs away

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 4:01 PM

Having abstained from much frivolity over the weekend I ventured into Granada this afternoon to view the League Cup final and down a couple of sherbets.


Is there any sight more depressing to a Liverpool supporter than Mickey Owen in a Utd shirt? It was enough to make me want to vomit.


As it turned out, even more depressing was the sight of him in a Utd shirt and scoring in a cup final. The little twerp.


It was enough to make me buy a chocolate pastie on the way home (for those north of the border - a chocolate bridie). Still, 'twas a Euro well spent.


It dawned on me as I carb-overloaded on the homeward bus journey that the Scots have missed a trick with the choccy bridie.


Surely a deep fried version would fill that empty niche for the discerning drinker who, while still wanting his sugar, monosodium glutamate, E additive and saturated fat fix, is also wanting to cut down on his salt, sawdust, chemical fertiliser and remnant animal body parts quotient intake? It ticks the boxes.


It's a bit of a no brainer and if I was still in the UK I'd be sorting out my paperwork for an appearance on Dragon's Den.



Latest painting

Posted on February 28, 2010 at 3:55 PM

I completed this today. Not sure it's what I intended but I do know it's done and finished. It's a view of the Constitucion from high up in the Albaicin.


Todos vivimos en un submarino amarillo

Posted on February 24, 2010 at 3:49 PM

I don't think it's a secret that life's a struggle at present. Everyone speaks a different language, yet everyone seems to understand one another except me. Money continues to hemorrhage (correct spelling according to my dictionary but it looks so wrong) and work still lies thin on the ground, though I have doubled my private pupil total to two. So, if I were to double that again next week, then again the week after ...


I have to stay positive of course and with that in mind I can report that the painting juices are flowing again. Here's the cathedral, based on the photo I took the other day (just below this entry in fact). I felt 'in the zone' painting it and feel encouraged I can do more work like this that is hopefully commercial enough to bring in a few Euros. This is viewable in a bigger format in the gallery section ...



Also my Wednesday evening student is keen for us to sing Beatles songs next week. Yes the very thought would ordinarily fill me with horror, but being paid for it kind of softens the blow. She convinced me that singing is the best way she learns and having bought the line I suppose it's best to be singing half decent, grown up tunes, with no one looking at me. My task, should I accept (and I kind of already have) is to provide a translation into Spanish, just for the record so to speak, of whatever songs we sing. I'm thinking we won't be doing Oh-Bla-Di Oh-Bla-Da and I'm praying she doesn't read all about me and John, Paul, George and Ringo on a certain other page at this site else questions will be asked.


My other pupil lives in the Sierras, in a place called Monachil, a stone's throw from yer real proper mountain ranges. It's a few thousand feet up and a distinct degree or two cooler up there. One thing that struck me on my first visit was just how rubbish the whole Spanish rural/wilderness scenery is compared to what you get in the good old UK. Scotland's relatively tiny little glens and lochs knock spots off this place and all Scots should take comfort from the confirmed proof that size isn't everything. They may have the big mountains here but you have all the style.


Granada photographs

Posted on February 22, 2010 at 3:55 AM

I spent much of the weekend, camera in hand, wandering around the city centre taking some photographs. Here are a few.


The Cathedral as seen from the Gran Via Colon.

The Jardines de Triunfo

Puerta de Elvira

Looking down Constitucion from the Albaicin

Loren, Sara and Dylan

2-1 to Los Malafollas

Posted on February 15, 2010 at 4:07 AM

A splendid evening's entertainment was had at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes where Granada hammered league rivals AD Ceuta 2-1 (courtesy of a dodgy penalty). Official attendance, 'approximately 9,000'.

New signing Collantes (10) challenges for the ball.

Still freezing

Posted on February 12, 2010 at 2:32 PM

Well I finally moved into the new place late last night. By the time I'd handed over the requisite two months worth of rental cash, signed the contract and decided upon which room I was sleeping in it was already way past midnight. The apartment seemed freezing despite the alleged efforts of the wall hanging air conditioner thingie and a rather lame electric heater which was sat, Andalucian style, under a coffee table which in turn had a heavy velvet cloth draped over it and reached down to the floor (the idea is you sit around the table and pull up the velvet cloth over your knees, thus exposing your legs to the warmth under the table). It sort of works but screams fire hazard to me, or at least, badly burned legs hazard.


Anyway I turned in and suffered a night of unbroken misery. I was going to sleep in the second room and leave the master bedroom alone but at the last minute decided to switch. That was when I discovered the master bed to have unwashed bedding. No thanks.


So I camped down in the smaller room with the single bed. When I woke, confused and in pitch darkness, I was frozen to the core. I got up, switched on another electric heater I'd found and tried to bed down again. Still frozen. So I got up and put a third layer of clothing on. I was then just about warm enough to get some kip but far from comfortably.


I left the apartment this morning with a big shopping list. I had absolutely no food in and lacked most basic consumables. I got as far as the cafe on the corner (about 20 yards) and decided to detour in and have breakfast - as many others seemed to be doing. So that was pleasant enough. The telly in the cafe showed scenes of snowbound Bilbao and temperatures in some Madrid area mountain range of -7. A small item of news then followed showing some CCTV footage of a group of youths kicking another one senseless in some Spanish town somewhere during the eary hours of some night (presumably recent). It felt more like home by the minute.


I then found an excellent Chinese store where I was able to buy some light bulbs, an iron, a kettle and a spanner. I needed the spanner to take two of the legs off the table with the velvet cloth. I needed to take the legs off the table with the velvet cloth so I could move it into another room. I've decided to move the table with the velvet cloth into the room I'm going to use as an art studio. I'm moving the table (without the velvet cloth) into the room I've decided to use as an art studio so I can use it to paint on and to rest my stuff on. I have removed the velvet cloth as it's nasty and fairly useless but now I'll need to buy something cheap and nasty to throw over table so I don't get paint on it.


Well then, blah blah, I made two trips to the Chinese shop, none to the food shops and within the hour was in the Wallace with Chris who'd shown up with some lame excuse but had freely admitted he wanted a hamburguesa.


When we came out of the Wallace it was snowing and it was freezing. All the shops were shut because it was siesta time so I decided to walk to the mini shopping mall (it's pretty rubbish) about a mile or so out of town. I knew they had a Vodafone shop there and .... Is this boring?


I'm bored typing it.


When I came out of the mall the snow had reached blizzard proportions.



Cars with snow on them.


I got back to the flat looking like a snowman. I dumped my food bags and checked on the washing. The machine had finished so I opened the door and was greeted, rather disappointingly I felt, by a massive tidal wave of water that gushed all over the kitchen floor, a drowned sock left hanging limply over the lip of the opened hatch.


So that's a malfunctioning washing machine and dodgy electrics already discovered (the electrics all tripped out this morning - reason unknown).


All in all an odd day. There are many things I'm not happy about with my apartment but I suspect many of them are down to simple unfamiliarity with things. The cushions will have to go and if the weather doesn't pick up serious consideration will have to be given to purchasing one of those industrial gas burners that shoot massive flames out the back.

They may take our lives...

Posted on February 11, 2010 at 12:28 PM


pero jamás nos quitarán la libertad!


I spent the day in La Zubia prior to moving my stuff into the new apartment. I wanted to get a feel for the place, have a wander about, and suss out the bus routes etc. Inevitably I went into the William Wallace for a bit of lunchtime tapas.


I am proud to say that I did my fellow Scots proud and ordered a rather ambitious sounding Harmburguesas William Wallace to go with my second glass of wine. It felt good to play my own small part in reinforcing the globally held view that us Scots are brought up on a diet of lard, fat, lard, alcohol, sugar, ciggies and fat.


When it arrived the layering of the burger appeared as follows:

(from the bottom up)




some kind of mayo






a fried egg



Obviously, taking on so much lettuce at lunchtime was a struggle but in true Wallace style I just got on with it. The two rather fey yet delicious free tapas I had downed beforehand slightly took the edge off proceedings and somehow made this magnificent culinary gut fest taste not quite as good as it ought. I put it down to being out of practice and to being too exposed to all this foreign muck.


Still, when I had finished the gourmet dish and made my first attempt at bipedal movement I discovered with much satisfaction that a layer of  congealed saturated fats had set into concrete from my legs upwards. A job well done then.


To appease my Scouse and English leanings I rounded things off with a nice pot of tea and gave consideration to doing a runner. The genius of the Hamburguesa however was to render any sudden movements impossible. A magnificent tribute to the great man. And some say he died in vain.


What greater legacy could he have hoped for as Longshanks prepared to rip his belly out on the scaffold all those years ago?


Mel Gibson my ass.