3 (not so) wise men and 5 golden (red her-)rings


Lord Peter (Death Bredon) Wimsey.

Today is Christmas Eve. I was going to go skiing, but we’ve had no snow this year. A tragedy, as I was looking forward to finding a ski-lodge fling. But to be honest, fate, like the weather, has been fickle of late and I’m not sure things would have worked out.

The very nice doctor I met at the farmer’s market, eventually saw me my gran’s Depends in a bag in the trunk when I went to stow my purchases — and that was that.  When I picked out my tree, I met a great guy, who tripped on the long trail of twine used to tie trees to car roofs. He ended up being taken to the hospital with a broken nose. And finally, there was the corporate research librarian I met at a friend’s party. Perfect in every way, my friend said. Except she didn’t know his main interest in life was his graphic novel collection, followed by the fact he was a juggalo.

Needless to say, I’m spending today decorating my tree and listening to carols, to be followed by watching Holiday Inn, and later on this evening I’ll be curled up by the fire, sipping madeira, and finishing Dorothy Sayers 1931 book Five Red Herrings, which is about 3 of my favorite things: Galloway, Scotland, painters, and murder.

It’s fun to read a book about things one is highly familiar with and catch all the little details that others (especially modern day readers) will normally miss.  I suppose it is strange to say I’m familiar with 1930’s painting techniques, but there it is, I am. In fact, if you pop over to my indraanderson.wordpress.com site, you’ll see it’s true.

I just finished re-making a book called Painting A Portrait by de Lazslo the work of Britain’s most famous portrait painter in the 1930’s, Philip de Laszlo. There’s  a free downloadable PDF of both the original work and the new book. For the new version, I completely reset it and added copious color pictures and notes to help modern artists understand his then common technique.

I’m not far in to Sayers’ work as yet, but I’m already wondering, “where is the dead man’s tube of blanc d’argent or zinc white?” It’s not on the list of paints Wimsey finds at the site of the accident/murder, which leads me to believe it isn’t the site of the murder. No one can paint without white. It’s the one color one must have no matter what subject matter is being painted or what style one paints in.

Also, copal medium was found at the scene. It’s used in painting, but also in varnishing. Could it be that the still-wet artwork on the easel by the dead Campbell was simply varnished by the murder to appear wet, rather than painted at the scene to imply the alla prima painter was alive? We shall see.

My money is the on the wife of one of the other artists, so far. But I’ll know the truth by Christmas.

And for those of you following the blog, yes, Der did complete his house (a Christmas miracle!). It took many friends, favors, neighbors, work contacts, my parents, and a massive “Winter Solstice Party” that ran from Friday night to Sunday night with “unlimited beer and food.” But it happened.

His parents will be stunned. I know I was! I guess that good luck Parisian door knocker I had copied by a metal artisan friend really did the trick.*


*The rooster is a symbol of resurrection, and exactly what Der’s house stood in need of!

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