November Update

There was no update for October as I was in the middle of a six-week trip to Europe.

About half-way through the trip I developed bronchitis which stayed with me to the end of November at which point I caught Covid on my return to Brazil. All of this despite being fully vaccinated for Covid and flu, and wearing masks during my trip. In many locations I seemed to be just one of a very small minority using a mask. C’est la vie!

My trip was the first post-pandemic opportunity to visit my family in various parts of Europe. Without going into full detail I can summarise the trip: visiting Sicily, the Scilly Isles, Bristol, Weybridge and Franconville; seeing my mother, four of five daughters based in UK/EU, all six grandchildren, and my brother; and capturing a host of images to add to my stock portfolio or for use in painting studies.

December activity is likely to be minimal in view of the holiday season, post-travel admin, and planning for 2023 projects. There will be something to report.

In the meantime … happy holidays. Have a great Christmas and New Year.


September Update

King Swallowtail

While September was a busy month it was not really productive in respect of design, painting or photography. A lot going on with my principal focus on planning my trip to Europe. More on this subject next week.


The King Swallowtail (Papilio thoas) became a subject in my watercolour journal after I found a caterpillar, commonly referred to as “bird poop caterpillars” in view of the camouflage appearance, feeding on my recently planted Common Rue (Ruta graveolens) plant, known in Brazil as Arruda.

I let the caterpillar feed, despite concerns about the arruda, but the caterpillar failed to complete its transition to the chrysalis stage. Two more caterpillars appeared though one was attacked by ants and died in the process of converting to the chrysalis. The third made it and now sits protected from attack in a glass jar. It is expected to turn into a butterfly any day now.

I managed to paint both the caterpillar and the chrysalis:

The orange “horns” are not ordinarily visible in the caterpillar but, when threatened, the two balloon-like elements rush out of the caterpillar’s head and scare off any bird considering a snack. The “horns” then deflate and disappear.

The chrysalis takes 10-15 days to mature, so any day now!

The Rockpooling Project

I haven’t added more work to the project but I shall be visiting the Scilly Isles in November and, weather and tides permitting I hope to participate in a Safari, take lots of photos, and build an image bank for painting once I return to base.

Product Design

The 2022 Christmas card design is now available in my Zazzle Store both as a greetings card and as a pattern for my paper party plates.

Alan Skyrme Photography

My PicFair site has not been updated for quite a long time, primarily as I haven’t had the opportunity to travel. After my forthcoming trip to Europe I expect to have enough new material to put up for licensing on Picfair and Alamy.


My ETSY store, Pipira Rosa, has about 50 items on sale. The digital downloadable prints will be on sale even while I travel but the physical products will be removed while I am away.

I shall upload new products after I return from my trip, ready for Christmas!

While in UK I hope to replenish my stock of watercolour paints and papers.

Thanks for following

Travel – Woohoo!!

Outdoor space under a vine-covered pergola (in my mother’s garden, Erice, Sicily

The little shady spot, in the photo above, is going to be where I shall sit painting, drawing and writing under the shade of the grape vine for a short time in the six-weeks that I shall be travelling.

This is the first time since the start of the pandemic that I have been able to travel and I shall, in effect, be re-tracing my steps to where I was before corvid began.

I used to be able to travel frequently (for many years I was aboard an aircraft at a rate, on average, of one flight per week) but my logistics planning skills hadn’t been forgotten. In truth they slowed a bit but part of that slowness was due to a degree of anxiety and depression: the anxiety caused by a tight budget and the depression (albeit slight, as I have regular ebbs and flows) as a result of the financial situation and the realisation that I need to sell more just to be able to visit by family in Europe. Boo hoo.Poor me. Life goes on so stay strong.

Apart from visiting my mother and most (hopefully all) of my many beautiful daughters, and my grand-children, I shall be writing reviews of my travels, as I usually did in the past. This includes quite a bit of photography, so there should be some food reviews and images to publish. I have, for budgetary reasons, had to limit the number of hotels and meals I can include in my trip. I expect to lose weight!

I will be taking my paints and watercolour journal with me so expect to have material to produce some paintings on my return to Brazil. One important thing to do on this trip is to buy watercolour paints and paper. My stocks have been in short supply for most of this year, hence I have not been particularly productive.

My ceramic tile designs have been quite successful so, while in Sicily, I shall be looking for inspiration and hope to release a new range or two when I get back.

The travel arrangements include:

  • 10 flights
  • 7 buses
  • 5 trains
  • 2 boats (ferry)
  • metro and taxi
  • 3 hotels

Although much of the accommodation will be with family I would, in the past, have added 5 hotel stays to ensure I stay well-rested and healthy! I doubt I will cut back in future so shall plan and ensure I have adequate funding for the entire trip. Being frugal is one thing but health, especially at my age, is just as important.

Thanks for following.

I hope my next few travel-related posts will be entertaining!

Time for Change – update

This is the first update on my review of alternatives to Meta apps (Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp) that I mention in my 17SEP22 post. Once I have completed all reviews I shall post a summary.

So far I have looked only at apps as potential replacements for Facebook. The review of Instagram and WhatsApp alternatives will follow in due course.

I found just four options: Diaspora, Ello, Minds, and MeWe. I wasn’t able to test Diaspora as it was, for me, too complicated. Here are my findings:


Diaspora (

The app was identified as an option after doing a Google search. However, after checking with Apple’s AppStore I was unable to find a link. Another Google search found the link I have provided above but, as the site blurb indicates, one needs to either create or join a pod. Too much* tech for me to deal with so despite the positive notes regarding decentralisation, freedom and privacy (issues that Meta product suffer from) this app is not for me, nor likely to be for any of my contacts.

(* Although I say “too much tech” I have had involvement in computing since the mid 1970s so it isn’t that I don’t understand, its just that I want simple apps that deliver everything I need on a plate with minimal effort on my part!)

Ello (

I joined Ello a while ago, when the germ of an idea to cut loose from Facebook took root in my head. To be honest I am not sure if this will serve me as a Facebook alternative as Ello is designed specifically for creatives. While I will probably use Ello in place of my gallery (Alan Skyrme Gallery) Facebook page I can’t see me escaping from my main FB page as it is the principle means of staying in touch with friends and family scattered across the four corners of the world.

Using Ello

Once one has downloaded the app and subscribed (and set up ones bio) it is possible to post images, comments and tags in much the same way as with instagram. The number of views, likes and comments are shown and it is possible to repost images or take other action such as copy, print or pin etc.

Users are urged to invite contacts to help grow the network too. I shall post my profile at the end of this post in case any readers are interested in looking at my Ello account or in joining.

I have just one picture uploaded on Ello so far, a test, which has had 550 views, though no “likes” no comments.


I will certainly continue to use Ello, and will probably delete my Alan Skyrme Galley FB page, though not the main personal page (at least not yet).


This app was described on the Simply Computing site as follows:

“Minds is a somewhat anti-establishment Facebook clone. The network is free-speech oriented with no censorship. New users can take advantage of the “migrate from Facebook” function. Saavy users can also generate income via their social networking by getting monthly support for monetized posts and/or ad sharing.”

First impression

I had a quick look and decided that it didn’t really appear to be an FB clone. Facebook is used by lots of people to post their thoughts or experiences of the day and to get feedback from their friends. At leats that’s how I use it. Minds seemed, at first glance, to be more of modern version of an old style bulletin board (the sort of thing that one accessed via dial-up modems 30 + years ago).

Using Minds

Downloading the app from the Apple Store was simple. Setting up an account was also easy: email address and password initially (the email address is validated as part of this process) and then more info to get started with posting:

  • Tag selection – a minimum of three hashtags to get started
  • Set-up channel – a bit of an odd name but takes you to an area where further info is added: Display name (confirmation of the initial set-up name). This can be changed. Bio – I provided my basic bio. Avatar – I uploaded a photo of me that I have used in other social media.
  • Verify uniqueness. This is a contact phone number. I added mine, waited for the verification code to arrive but nothing happened. I tried again a couple of times. I then tried with a different number but received an error message.
  • Create post. East enough. Similar to FB. There is a limit of 5 hashtags that can be included. There may be a text limit too but I haven’t tested that. The photo I included in the post was one I had recently posted on Instagram.

Posting allows the user to earn tokens, though I presume it occurs only if all of the above fields are completed so I may not be eligible until the phone number is verified. However, I seem to have exceeded some limit or other and trying again has not worked (I added the 9999 sequence merely to hide my actual phone number, for illustration)

I found some interesting discussions, with the usual irrelevant posts by folk wanting to offer sex, but most of it USA-centred subjects. I posted one of my bird paintings (Pied Kingfisher) which attracted 6 views in just over a month. No comments received. I note that even “boosted” posts have varying degrees of success (views).


Not for me. I see the appeal of this channel but it really needs my contacts to subscribe and follow me to generate more followers. So, thanks but no thanks.


I downloaded MeWe from the Apple Store and set up my account with email and a password.

At first glance it seems to be a good FB alternative – similar in appearance and functionality – though there are some Premier (ie pay) functions that I have yet to see any reason to part with my money (I assume to avoid ads).

So far I have made one post but too early to say if it receives comments or “likes”.

More on this when I get a bit more experience

Still to be done!

I am about to start travelling so doubt I will be able to post regularly until I return, though I shall try to post even just a short note each Friday.

The plan is to complete reviews of the following whenever I get a chance:















Thanks for following. I shall be travelling next month but will post a summary of my plans later today.

Time for Change

In my 12th August Latest News post I mentioned my plan to undertake a search and review of alternatives to Meta apps ie Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. My initial thought on this was triggered by the countless ads, irrelevant posts and recommendations to be-friend people I either do not know or with whom I have no interested in connecting. I also noted a tendency to push FB posts from Instagram accounts that I follow. Why?

I don’t have a huge following on Instagram but, while I enjoy looking at posts from a wide range of instagrammers, I have been content to post my own work in the hope that a few people may like it. But those instagram accounts have little to do with my personal Facebook account, and my “Gallery” Facebook account is used by me merely to reach a few people who do not use instagram.

Until recently I had a couple of other instagram accounts, for my nutrition and consulting businesses, but I deleted those during the early part of the pandemic as I retired from both of those work areas. More recently I created two new instagram accounts; one for my photography and the other for my design work. Things were going reasonably well till, out of the blue, Instagram told me my photo account had been blocked for transgression of some rules. As I pointed out to Instagram, I had NOT broken any rules as, at that point, I had only just uploaded a handful of photos. I had not solicited any followers and in fact had not yet confirmed my email address so the account was not even fully functional. I really have no time to waste in discussing such matters with social media providers so my plan to exit Meta has been accelerated.

Having now undertaken a search for alternatives apps I found a few that I thought would be interesting. In the last couple of weeks or so I downloaded the following apps (or I already had them) and will undertake a review of each, focused on how suitable these apps are to me.

I had hoped this review would take a few days but, as is too often the case, I became embroiled in other tasks – including an overdue plan to travel!

So, just to provide some feedback, here are the alternative apps that I will be looking at. I doubt I shall complete them before the end of September, nor even before I travel, so I will publish by thoughts as and when they become available.


Diaspora (

Ello (

Minds (

















I have not looked into Twitter replacements because (a) I don’t use it much (b) it isn’t part of Meta and (c) it’s been subject to a takeover by Elon Musk so the outcome of the change in ownership may be either positive or negative but, in any case, (a) is an over-rider ie I don’t use it much though perhaps I should.

I doubt I shall be able to commit to a specific schedule but will attempt to post some progress every Friday.

Thanks for following

September already!

2022 – Robin and Friend

Towards the end of each year, since 2019, I have created a Christmas Robin greetings card design. On waking yesterday I realised it was September and therefore time for my latest design.

The drawing above is the 2022 design.

The previous years’ designs are below.

The designs, in addition to greetings cards, have been applied to paper party plates, napkins and other products via my Zazzle Store – Alan Skyrme Design Studio.

I have a collection of paper party plates etc as well as wall art and other collections. Worth checking out and worth watching for Zazzle offers that are often significant discounts.

Thanks for following.

Latest news

Clover flower

I ought to have provided an update on my productivity for the month of July but as it was almost zero I failed to do so last week.

There were a couple of paintings I managed to create in between other stuff that kept me away from my easel, one being a clover flower on 1st July.

Much of the other stuff was little more than journal painting. The fact is I have run short of watercolour paints so no way to produce much unless its predominantly blue, such as the Purplish Jays I painted at the end of the month.

A pair of Purplish Jays

The other bird portraits I completed were a pheasant, that was having a dust bath, and a Toco Toucan.

Toco Toucan
Ring-necked Pheasant

Until I can get hold of quality watercolour paints I will limit myself to design work and painting in my journal.

Social Media

Having created a new instagram account for my photography I discovered that Meta had blocked my account for, so they say, infringing some rules. Given that the account (shootinages2022) was operating for just a day or two after confirming my email address, with about a dozen photos uploaded to kick off the account, I found it odd to have been accused of something I hadn’t done. So I deleted the account and also deleted my design studio account. I will keep my watercolour bird account until I find a suitable alternative app.

I am also reviewing my Facebook and Whatsapp accounts with a view to moving to apps that offer a similar service. Facebook has been particularly annoying of late with, on one occasion, a total of 25 posts of ads or irrelevant suggestions between posts of friends.

So all Meta apps are now under review. I have found alternatives and plan to test them in the next few days.

I shall publish the results here, hopefully at the end of this month.

Have a nice weekend and thanks for following.


Black and white abstract pattern necktie

Having spent a good deal of my life wearing a suit I collected quite a number of neckties. A few were lost though, for the most of those, I still have a mental picture of their designs. The ones still in my possession are celebrated in one of my Pinterest boards.

One tie in particular, I recall, was given away to a total stranger while I was in a bar filled with World Cup semi-final supported in 1998. The bar was in Curitiba, in the south of Brazil and Brazil made it through to the Final. It was an exciting game, made more exciting by the exuberance of the Brazilians cheering for their team, plus of course a certain quantity of alcohol being consumed by all. A guy next to me commented on my tie so I simply removed it and gave it to him. It had a yellow/gold background but I don’t remember the design or the designer.

The tie above, was designed by me. It is a design that I have had at the back of my mind for some time but, as I no longer wear suits very often, I have not felt any urgency in having it join my collection. That said I expect it may be with me before the end of the year.

This tie can be bought via my Zazzle store. Watch for discounts!

Thanks for following

Another brick in the wall!

Faux brick ceramic tile in midnight blue

The latest addition to the Alan Skyrme Design Studio, store at Zazzle is a set of ceramic tile designs that are designed to make an impact in a home or office environment. The faux-brick design is available in 7 colours though custom colours can be created on request.

The tiles are available in Zazzle’s large size (6 inches square) only as the small size (4.25 inches) does not suit the design. They can be produced in the smaller size on request.

I have 88 ceramic tile designs on sale – varying by colour or size – which will increase to 100 designs in the next month.

My tile designs have found buyers in several states in USA and in the UK while other products have been sold in Canada and Europe.

Aqua blue, dark brown, green, dark blue, pale yellow and brick red.

Zazzle regularly offers great discounts so its a good idea to look often, especially if you are looking for great home design products.

Thanks for following.

June Update

Jaguar (Pantera onca) 30cm square watercolour on paper

Hard to believe that half of 2022 has disappeared already!

June has been a fairly productive month, though still room for improvement. Planning makes a big difference yet one would think that I had not been planning this year. I have plenty of experience in strategic and operational planning in my previous career which has not gone wasted. There are other issues at play but I seem to be overcoming them slowly but surely.

So what have I done in June?


Over 40 paintings completed in June. Most were bird portraits but a few other subjects completed to mix things up a bit.

The Rockpooling Project

Almost complete. I let the two most challenging subjects to the end and, to be honest, I am not sure if I will complete them in a hurry owing to the complexity of the creatures: two types of sea urchin – spiky little monsters!

Among the 8 or so illustrations that I did complete in June are:

Product design

At the end of May I had 325 products on sale. During June I added another 50 taking the total up to 375. Among these were Sicilian style ceramic tile designs in shades of blue (six of these each in two sizes) based on designs I had already created.

Next Month

July is not expected to be quite so productive as I have a ton of admin and personal issues to deal with. I hope to arrange to travel … though there are a few dependencies … so all a bit uncertain.

I have a long-standing project to deal with too, which involves preparing at least one book for publication. I started the project a long time ago with the intention of publishing at the end of 2020! Maybe I can publish it this year.

Thanks for following.

Feel free to follow me on Zazzle (and take advantage of promotions to buy!!)