Painting starlings

I've begun painting again with oils on canvas. I'd almost forgotten how great is the feel of the stuff - well mixed linseed oil, genuine American turpentine, pigments squeezed straight from the Winsor and Newton tube.

Subject puzzling you? It was prompted by a passage in a recent chapter of my on-line novel in progress, The Book. Teenager Jamie is out fishing a sea loch with Ben, his father, and old boatowner Donny MacLean. Young Jamie is rowing back in  ...
Hundred metres left to go. Jamie said, ‘Mister MacLean, you’ve seen the starlings, haven’t you? On Springwatch or something? We don’t have TV here but I’ve seen them. Thousands and thousands all flying packed close together, wheeling about in the sky making kinds of abstract patterns? They turn like they were all part of one single flying creature but they are not, they are all individuals so there must always be the one who has to make decisions, decide to turn first. All the others follow of their own free will, almost instantaneous. If they didn’t do it together they would collide with each other. But you can see there’s always one that breaks away and he or she takes others with him - or her - to make their own patterns.’
‘Starlings?’ The old man shook his head, puzzled. ‘The laddie talks in riddles, Ben.’
Ben grinned. ‘Sometimes I think the riddles make more sense than anything. As he says, somebody has to make the first turn. Things do change, Donny. Here or anywhere.’
‘Oh yes. But forget about the starlings before we hit the jetty,’ Donny said, not unkindly. ‘Stop rowing now and ship your oar. Ready the painter.’

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