Sporting Distance

I originally posted this some time ago, and honestly thought that we might be getting out of this business by now, but we seem to be having to continue the effort to be sportingly stand offish.

Stay safe.


I recently posted a short video of me drawing. The clip was done on time lapse so it looked quite speedy, I draw fast but not that fast! So here’s another with the drawing in real time. Here’s the drawing as it was finally used, though come to think of it, although this is the final I might well have done it again after, so this may well not be the one in the film, if you get any drift.

And here’s the movie. It’s not Cecil be De Mille but I am working on my production values. I’m hoping this works but will persevere if it does not. I hope you find it diverting, I’ll be trying more of these very soon. Thanks for visiting.

Digital progress, or is it?

Here we have the original pen and ink drawing with no digital faffing about, just a scan or in this case two scans and the two joined together as you can probably see in parts. Striving to add colour without losing the feel of this original I have divided it into areas and then added colour, rather like a painting by numbers, then to get away from that I have washed over other colours in photoshop to make it feel less antiseptic. But now I’m sceptical about antiseptic. I’m not anti sceptical, in fact I’m all for it. Stop!!!

Here’s the colour version. Like all my drawings it is never finished so I may torture it some more before I say it is finished.

I never really liked adding colour to my drawings. You can take this as a sort of excuse, but the bit I really like doing is the actual line drawing. I tend not to agonise over it whereas when it comes to colour I really do start to get art bollox leanings, muttering things like: “Has it lost it’s energy?” by which I really mean” Is it crap or not?”

I’ll let you be the judge of that, for my part I just don’t know. I find it useful to wander off and come back later to look at it. If I get that slightly warm feeling rising up the back of the neck, I just know it’s not doing it for me Doctor.

Cheerio. See you later.

I think I’ve caught “artbollox” Doctor…

Every time I go out on a simple country walk I’m looking at the angles and searching for valid images that juxtapose with shapes and I’ve even been known to use the words: texture and validity.

Sounds like a serious case of artbollox to me. You need to cut down on places that might over stimulate your artistic tendencies. Have you been near someone who might have passed this on to you.

I’ve not been within 2 metres of anyone since April, apart from other people in my bubble.

Is anyone in your bubble of the tendency to talk incessantly about composition and mark making?

There’s Paul, it must be him. He claimed to be just a run of the mill cartoonist with no artistic leaning at all really, but lately he keeps talking about doing some proper drawings and I hear he’s been reading books on Van Goch. I’ve not been within 2 metres of him but I have noticed that he goes into strange reveries about cloud formations and light in the leaves lately when we go out for the odd walk. He also takes pictures with a camera.

You could have caught it off him, even two metres away. Especially if you listened to what he was saying and more to the point understood any of those art bollox words. like “juxtapose”, or worst of all “valid statement”. Your symptoms point to an early outbreak, tell me, are you considering investing in a new camera or anything like that? Up until now have you called your pictures snaps and been content with the images taken on your phone. Are you now referring to your snaps as photographs or worse: images. Have you been known recently to drop to the ground to get the right angle for a particular shot. Are you hyper critical of what you now call “my work”?

Well, Yes, and Paul’s even described what sort of camera I might like to look at.

Might that be a DSLR? If so this is getting more serious.

Yes. Should I be worried?

Well, I’ll need to run some tests, but although it is serious, that is indeed most of the problem.You are taking seriously everything that you might have made light of before. You may be even designing your food, it’s another symptom. Decorating food with micro salad and suggesting “assembling” a dish with tweezers, rather than just putting it on a plate. Not something you would formerly have done.

Other symptoms are saying things about the “spatial qualities of a room”* when there’s nothing remarkable about the room you happen to be sitting in.

You need to put your feet up, get in some ordinary food, like a steak and kidney pud and tinned custard, and try not to go too near anyone spouting this “art bollox” nonsense. You’ll soon feel better.

There’s a vibrancy and energy in this rendition by Van Goch, the juxtaposition of the two trees and the layered paint makes for a really pleasing whole, but is there evidence of the tortured soul in the frenzied application of the medium? It’s a significant piece in every respect.

  • “This room has great spatial qualities

This unforgettable statement was made at a Central Manchester Police Station by a dear friend of mine when he and two other art student friends were making a statement to a very dour detective back in the 60s. We were there as the other three had been threatened by thugs at our flat in Manchester, and I was there because they were looking for me at the time.( I’d gone home for the weekend) It was all to do with a dodgy property letting agency who had found a property for the four of us to rent. They were after money that we did not believe we owed.

Long story short, nothing much happened and fortunately none of my friends suffered more than an abiding dislike of letting agents and their large hairy friends.

We were sitting in front of dour detective in complete silence looking around this very dull room when Bryan came out with his unforgettable phrase. The detective stopped his painful longhand and said: ” What was that you said?”….Rather bashfully Bryan spoke out again ” This room has great spatial qualities”…..

Dour detective looked down at his longhand and just shook his head from side to side and muttered ” bollox” to himself.

French Beach in Summer

Here’s the line drawing.all hand drawn. The sky did look a little like that except I knew I was going to make it blue in the final… and here’s the digital colour version. This is in South West France, lovely place. More of these to come in the next few days. Au revoir!

Severn Meadow

Something that will hopefully cheer you at the start of a wet week here in the UK. This is taken from a walk some time ago by the River Severn here in Gloucestershire. I took a photograph and then created a line drawing. My plan, such as it is, is to convert the line drawing into a colour image digitally without losing the atmospheric feel of the original.

There are times when I manage to kill if off completely, which to me is a side effect of digital imagery. Much of it loses its ‘feel’. Hopefully not the case here, where this summer meadow near the river buzzed with wildlife and insect life, the latter doing their best to bite us as often as possible.

When I’ve finished any of these digital images, and I’m really never sure that one ever really finishes them, I think that I should be perhaps trying to do the colour without resorting to staring at a computer, but I never really have got the hang of applying colour for real, so you’ll have to just deal with the digital.

Thanks for dropping in.

Drawing a cat in a hat at speed…

With the new lockdown imminent then one of the outlets for my “Books for Children Project” will be closed. The books have been available at the Longfield shops in Cheltenham and Stroud and as these are considered non-essential shops I’m assuming that they will be closed from this coming Thursday.

So I’m making extra efforts to sell the books from my website.

You can buy them from here using PayPal and I will send your ten pound donation to Longfield, or you can get in touch and arrange to pay them direct.

Longfield do a brilliant job looking after people at the other end of life to my prospective audience for the books. For a reminder about what the books are about then please take a look here.

They make a brilliant little stocking filler for small children. I hope you enjoy my little video.

Here’s how the drawing in the little movie looks in the final book.

Vancouver Island

This is one of many landscapes I’ve been doing over the past few months. This is on the very west coast of Vancouver Island not far from Tofino. This is a large drawing and in it’s first stage at present, just Indian ink on paper. From here it can either get better or worse. If it gets worse I generally just rip it up. Over faffing can foul it up, and I am prone to over faffing, both in life and in what might be laughingly called art.

We visited this area some years ago now but the memory of this area stays with me. My cousin and I reducing each other to tears of laughter when reminiscing about our various family tales.

Whilst on this beach a sea eagle swooped down and grabbed a fish from the sea, I kid you not. Oh for those wide open spaces at the moment.


On a day when the clocks go back here in the UK here’s what we have to look forward to when they go forward again. These bluebells are in Derbyshire in the Derwent Valley. On a grey day we forget how bright things can be and without sounding ‘preachy’ how bright they can again. Nope! That sounded ‘preachy’, but there it is.

What would you use in the rain?

What sort of question is that to put to a sixteen year old? It was at the time of my school French aural examination and the examiner put this question to me just to test how I would pronounce the French word for umbrella. ( Look it up! )

I was non-plussed, searching my limited head dictionary for the right word, or more to the point, what the hell he was talking about. He understood my plight and looked at me eagerly willing me to both understand the question and to speak the official answer.

A sixteen year old, even in the 60s, would not be seen dead using an umbrella. In fact we’d not use anything. I did eventually find the word and passed the test, but I’m still non-plussed.

Almost as stupid as the careers master at my school who in desperation after an hours grilling of my somewhat unresponsive brother, recommended him to be a careers advisor.

He’s still telling that story too.

“Looks like you get the eccentrics”

This was the polite way that I was told that I had drawn the short straw when I worked for the printers. In actual fact I did not mind in the least. I got the clients that no-one else wanted, or would prefer not to deal with. In the ten years that I worked at the print company my cartoon work was mainly on hold, but I collected more inspiration there than in many previous years.

The gentleman had a slight midlands ‘brummie’ burr to his voice and he asked me if we could do Christmas cards and could I come and see him. ” Where are you?” I asked not unreasonably. “Straight down the M5, not far, he responded”. When I got there the gentleman lived in what used to be a cottage hospital. For a hospital it was small, for a private house it was huge, and there was only him living there. I was invited in and we sat around the dining table in the kitchen. As I recall he was pretty clear on exactly what he wanted on the card and we did a pretty good job for him, but for an eighty quid job it was a lot of time and trouble. “Sprat to catch a mackerel” I hoped. I was not wrong.

We’d got on quite well and he was more than happy with his cards. “I’m going into antiques and I’d like you to come down and discuss doing a book for me” was my next call from him. ” I’ll get on to the M5 then” I said,”milk no sugar please”.

Since my last visit he’d had the place renovated even more than the previous time and it was full of antiques of all sorts. He’d had it all photographed professionally and wanted the whole thing made into a full colour book. The place looked amazing, it was like walking into a film set with him as the star turn.The mackerel had landed. He was again very pleased with the result and we did indeed do a great job on his book.

The thing about eccentrics, especially the wealthy ones, is that they flit from one thing to another in very short order. Within a year he’s given up on the antiques, got rid of them I know not how, and his next project was to become the lead singer in an African Band and to start a new African Record Label. He’s had a trip to Africa and he’s hoovered up new inspiration, he even claimed to be a Masai chief and had the outfit to prove it.

The house was still in relatively good order but he’d ploughed up the brand new driveway by driving a mechanical digger across it to make a pond in the back garden in the shape of a map of Peru. ” Why Peru?” I asked, ” because I like Peru Paul” he responded. He’d been there as well as to Africa but it was in Africa where he met a bunch of musicians and was convincing them to record with him as lead singer.

This was about where our relationship petered out. He wanted us to do work on the look and style of his new record label and he was very particular. He expected us to understand everything that he wanted and when things went even slightly wrong he expected me to sack the person responsible, without understanding that I had no power to do that and would not have done even if I had that power. I was politely shown the door from this cottage hospital house, with it’s Peruvian garden pond, as yet unfilled, and his collection of all sorts of artefacts, including a large collection of old packaging, these two pictured here are two of my favourites. He allowed me to photograph them in the days when we were on better speaking terms.

So here was my departure from one of the greatest eccentrics that I had to deal with. ” People call me eccentric Paul” he said to me once ” but I don’t mind, as I think eccentric means free spirited”. I was not going to argue with him.

I hope his spirit wanders free and that he’s out there making great African music.

Incidentally Leichter Blending Powder is Theatrical Make up, how very apt.