Category Archives: Uncategorized

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.

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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!

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March discount at Zazzle

There is a 25% discount across all products on Zazzle. Check out mine and use the code MARCHSALENOW to get that discount!

I have 175 products on sale having just removed over 25 last week. Every once in a while I refocus my product range before adding more – a Spring clear-out.

Checkout my calendars, tote bags, cushions and mugs.

With spring, and summer on the way, time to think of tee-shirts and picnics. I have a range of “Vegan” themed products as well as picnic paper plates, napkins and napkin rings.

Hurry! Sale ends soon.

Alan Skyrme Design Studio

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February Update

Tourist Centre, Natal

In contrast to January, a fairly productive month for painting, February has been less so with only 5 paintings completed. The main reason for this was a shift in focus to conduct some overdue photographic maintenance.

Watercolour Paintings

Just five pieces completed: a Mexican Grackle, a bird that I saw daily while living in Mexico City a few years ago, and a Burchell’s Coucal, a bird seen on visits to Kruger National Park, South Africa. The other three were head shots on 12 cm x 15 cm sheets: Yellow-billed Hornbill, Little Bee-eater and White-crested Helmetshrike.

Mexican Grackle
Burchell’s Coucal

The 15 x 13 cm watercolour “headshots”:

Acrylic Paintings

I completed three pieces, of which two on heavyweight (1125 gm/m2) paper and one on canvas.

While I enjoy painting on the heavyweight paper I find that the advantage of this support, ie for packing and mailing, is outweighed by the quality of the paper which is inconsistent and seems prone to damage from dampness. Canvas supports, while needing more specialised packing, is more expensive to mail which impacts on the sale price. Longevity is important when investing in artwork so I shall, in future, paint and sell acrylic on canvas.

Black-necked Aracari
Southern Lapwing
Goliath Heron


I have 160,000 images in my stock archive that have been captured since 2003 when I moved from film to digital camera work. A small percentage of these is on sale via Alamy but I need to:

  • manage my archives (and back-ups)
  • separate commercial images from reference images and delete the rest
  • place more images for sale via Alamy

This is time-consuming work but will allow me to reduce the expense of archiving. My initial target is to remove 50,000 images. Adobe Lightroom Classic is my main digital assets management software but it is becoming too heavy for my old Mac and I cannot justify (or afford) to replace my hardware.

Fuchsia splendens (two versions)

Fuchsias are lovely flowers. When I lived in England as a child we had fuchsias growing in the garden. I enjoyed bursting the seed pods when the flowers had moved on. We also had various varieties in our garden in Sussex where I lived before moving to Brazil. Interestingly Brazil is where these plants originate so I was pleased to find wild specimens in the Atlantic Rainforest when I lived in the south of Brazil.

I painted the watercolour version last week. The flower appears like a ballerina or a skater in a spin. Painted on A5 size water colour paper.

The second version was painted yesterday, clearly with more detail and a fuller composition. I wanted to focus attention on the same flower that I painted in watercolour so the other components of the picture were muted in detail and colour while the background was un-detailed – simply using an out of focus colour pattern that I saw in my reference photos. The photos were from the flowers in what was my Sussex home.

The canvas was 50 cm x 40 cm with a coat of gesso that I had put on at the weekend.

I enjoy painting with acrylics though get more satisfaction from watercolour as it is a less forgiving medium to paint with. I plan to do some more acrylic painting this week – both on canvas and on watercolour paper.

Check out my instagram images!

Acrylic landscape

Riverside house, Belem

My latest acrylic painting on 20cm x 30cm canvas.
The scene is of a typical riverside house, with boat parked in front, on a tributary of the Amazon near Belem, North Brazil.
The trees are acai palms (Euterpe oleracea) the fruit of which is a staple of the folk in the region but is now a popular health food around the world.

I started the painting by putting a gold ochre and cadmium yellow wash over the whole canvas.

Once this was dry I sketched the scene before blocking in some basic colour to see how the picture might look.

I then worked on the trees, followed by the houses and then the boat and foreground.

Visit Shoot Stock to see more paintings.

Carnaubinha Beach

Carnaubinha beach, Rio Grande do Norte

The beaches of Rio Grande do Norte in the northeast corner of Brazil were once busy with tourists. In recent years, though, violent crime has has an adverse impact on tourism and while now the dreaded virus keeps everyone locked indoors.

Carnaubinha is a small village next to the town of Touros, where I used to live. There is a small reef just offshore which is visible at low tide.

I painted four views, each on A3 size paper, in watercolour. The one above is a view towards Touros with the lighthouse just visible at the end of the beach.

Bar on the beach, Carnaubinha

The second painting is of a bar where beachgoers are able to quench their thirst

Fishermen’s huts, Carnaubinha

The third painting shows the simple wall-less huts used by the fishermen to store and mend their nets. The view shows the Touros lighthouse in the distance.

Fishing boat and coconut palms

The final painting shows one of the simple boats, barely more than a raft, on its side next to one of the larger fishermen’s huts that is used as a restaurant when the area is not in virus lockdown mode.

More of these scenes planned!

Alan Skyrme Gallery on Facebook

Shoot Stock

Swallowtail Butterfly

Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machao)

Old World Swallowtail (Papilio machao). Watercolour painting on A3 paper.

This is one of about 20 species of butterfly, including 4 species of swallowtail butterflies, that are regular visitors to my small (2 m x 2 m) flower patch.

I used salt to create a speckled effect on the wings. The difficulty of working with salt is that it soaks up both water from the painted area and moisture from the air which results in a long drying time – a day or so if it is humid. I used a hair dryer to speed up the process, scraped away the crystals with a small blade, then brushed the residual dust and tiny crystals till the paper was smooth to the touch. I don’t use salt often but sometimes it provides a perfect texture for the subject. The grains I used on this occasion were fine. I have used coarse sea salt crystals in the past for a painting of a Hoatzin head, and a couple of other birds.