“My paintings are like your soup”


A day out to visit one of my very favourite people and an artist who should have more recognition of her work. Sally Williams has been an artist all her life and a friend for quite a while. She lives out of Gloucester in the countryside and we decided to visit armed with soup. I explained that the soup that I’d made was a one off, an original. In other words, she’s be unlikely ever to taste it again. ” Why’s that, what’s in it?”. At this time of year the main ingredients are the bottom of the fridge and anything else I can find, I replied. “So  bit like my paintings then?” she responded. Hardly I said, the only real link might be that they are both one-offs, and in the case of your paintings “originals”

She’s a child of the Severn and this river has, with other parts of this area, been her inspiration and it literally glows out of the paintings. The area near Purton where lie the Purton Hulks is a favourite spot.  I’ve written about this before but it bears another look: On the banks of the Severn…


The inspiration for the painting above may well be from
this beached ship here, a photo I took myself in 2013.

Here’s another gem, this time it’s gateposts. I took these pictures of Sally’s work just today and only on an iPhone, and it does the iPhone credit that it can capture some of the feelings of the paintings, but they really need to be seen to be fully appreciated.


I was also really taken by this one below with the verse from an Ivor Gurney poem, incorporated into the painting. The verse sort of sums up what Sally’s passion with the Severn is about, and it’s not just the River, it’s the meadows that surround it and the feeling in the air. It is really a relatively undiscovered area of the country in many ways. Slimbridge, where the famous Wetlands and Wildfowl trust have their patch, is well visited but the surrounds such as Purton and further up river Epney, are quiet little places. No wonder Ivor Gurney loved the area so much.

More about Ivor Gurney



Last but not least is what inspired our visit to Sally today, apart from soup. Her Christmas card featured a lovely painting. We were so glad we’d seen the real thing as well as the printed copy. Again this is a one off, a soup that cannot be revisited once cooked. Lovely work, if you want to see more take a look here: Sally’s website

If perchance are thinking of making any resolutions in the New Year then let one of them be “I will go forth and buy an original painting” and forget about the soup.


A big thanks to all who have bothered to visit my blog over the last year, and I take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy and peaceful  New Year.

Long trip…


There must be someone in the local council, or is it the County Council, who’s keen on cycling as they have approved another record breaking short cycle route right here. This one goes from where I was standing for the photo to that carefully placed double white line where any cyclist must give way to ‘traffic’ from the right. By the time whoever has got on their bike they will be braking to stop at the other end. It’s unlikely that the wheel will go full circle. A fine example of the idiocy of local government when they spend money on getting some poor chap to paint the road and draw a bike , so that no-one is in any doubt that this is a bike lane. They could have spent the money on street cleaning, man with brush type thing, so that we don’t break our necks on the leaves and fag ends left in the road.

Stand up whoever is responsible, Gloucestershire County Council look after the highways and Cheltenham Borough Council look after the street cleaning, neither of them covering themselves with glory here. Plonkers!


Rare breed spotted in Hackney


This is a very rare breed that does not seem to exist in Cheltenham but seems to thrive in Hackney in East London. “Man with Brush” used to exist in large numbers countrywide, with the country versions as well as the town breeds having areas to look after day in and day out. The result as illustrated here is a clean street. “Mother bird” collects the assembled droppings collected by “Man with”, as it is termed in shortened version. In many areas “Man with” has been dispensed with. The result is that droppings are left in corners where “Mother bird” cannot reach or can’t be arsed.

It is rare to see “Man with” and Mother bird” operating as successfully as these two seemed to be doing in Hackney and all credit to Hackney Borough Council for their visionary breeding programme. Love Clean Hackney

It would seem that the “Man with” has been reintroduced in the Hackney area and it is hoped, that it will breed successfully and will result in fewer visible droppings countrywide.

I managed to get this grainy shot this morning, so to illustrate the breed in full high vis plumage here’s a drawing so that you too can spot one, hopefully in your area in the coming year.


Rude Olf

I’m used to taking direction and recently was shown a drawing by someone who I think might become one of the Big Life Fixers. The Big Life Fixers

That is someone who can see that he can make life better for people, and in this instance it’s for Rudolf. Poor chap has been used to delivering pressies for all these years and in the freezing cold to boot, it’s no wonder that his nose gets red, and probably very sore.


Original Concept drawing from Freddie Burgess

Young Freddie Burgess has done a brilliant concept, that is that the red nose should be used as a hazard warning light and in this super drawing he’s also put in a device for making sure that Old Rudolf does not get troubled by traffic coming from the rear. So he’s added a clever device to direct following traffic around the sledge. He’s also had the perception to make Rudolf less than cheerful, in fact he’s portrayed him as he probably is. A rather grumpy fellow, well you’d be if you’d been without these brilliant inventions for decades. So he’s called him Rude Olf. Which could be a Swedish name perhaps, so perhaps from now on he won’t want to be rude to anyone and can be simply called Olf.

Like a lot of brilliant concepts it’s sometimes helpful to get the original thoughts worked up a little and as this was something that I used to do a lot in my early days, that is visualise someone else’s idea. I’ve taken the liberty of doing just that right here and here’s my version of Freddie’s drawing. I’m hoping he will approve, but you know what designers are like.rude-olfcol

Can I take this opportunity to wish anyone who has visited my site in the last year a very Happy Christmas and Peaceful New Year


Walking for talk’s sake…

There’s more too it than you think and less than you might sometimes expect. That’s the sort of nonsense I talk after a good walk, that’s ended at a pub. Anyhow, my chum Robin, chose to chauffeur me out to a place I’ve never been before, the Cheltenham Canal. Apart from the pleasure of the drive in his spectacular vehicle with buttons for everything, we had a brilliant sunny day and a good walk to look forward to.


Robinus Burtonicus in it’s natural habitat.


It’s a fact that if one earns one’s living in a career where most of the time you sit behind a desk and listen to nothing much more than Radio 4 and your own record collection for company then there is a tendency when let out to talk too much. I was once described as ‘garrulous’ in a school report and asked the teacher what it meant, he simply said ” You talk too much Davies”. He was a religious education teacher and I’d have thought he could have been a tad more Christian about it. I was not particularly wounded by his comment, as it was plainly true. The Games master’s report for PE was something that did hurt when describing my athletic prowess in gymnastics: “Tries hard, fails miserably”. Anyway, as someone who talks too much I’m typically going off the point.

Suffice to say that Robin and I had chosen a golden day to visit the area. In the distance the Malvern Hills were as clear as crystal, May Hill in the other direction looked closer than it was from us, and the light on the fields and water was simply golden.


There be yonder Malvern Hills

Sodden underfoot from a lot of rain that we’ve had recently, it was a great day to get out and chatter. I was able to recycle stories of hearing a sedge warbler on a similar visit further down the Severn Estuary and mistaking it for an HP Deskjet Printer re-charging with expensive ink, whilst Robin patiently listened to me like a kindly doctor.
Is that a Sedge Warbler or what?

There was much dancing from clump to clump of slightly dryer grasses to reach bird hides to view loads of ducks and other such birds peacefully going about their business.Trouser leg bottoms were beginning to act like a fairly sodden wick and rising damp was likely to become and issue.

The Fulcrum of the walk was the pub at Wainlodes, which Robin, who’s something of an expert on local folk history, gave me the true meaning of the name, whilst I just thought that Wayne Loades was a fork lift truck driver. I’ve had a bit of a thing about unusual names recently.

It was the Red Lion at Waindlodes that was our target and well worth the walk. The food was excellent and the service great too. If you feel like a good walk and some great food and beer, I’d certainly recommend this place The Red Lion




Striding across fields we came across this fine set of potential cricket bats. How do they make willow into such things? Who thought that might be a good idea in the first place.


Perhaps being cricketers they were expecting rain and knew that willow was a good plant for damp areas. I’m sure if there’s a folk song about it Robin will either find out about it or already know it and belt it out right there and then. He is, after all, a quarter of the Gloucester Diamonds folk ensemble and is naturally good at belting out a song. He sang a couple on the way back in the motor and it was quite unlike a computer printer charging up, or even a Sedge Warbler. Good day, good talk, good food, try it yourself when we next get a sunny day.

The Gloucester Diamonds Facebook Page





Trapped in a Post Office queue with a bird…

Woolworth’s used to make all their profit at Christmas and I’ve no doubt that the Post Office do very well at the same time of year. Let’s hope they can keep going, unlike dear old Woolies. They seem to be trying all sorts of things to keep their heads afloat and at present are blessed by the simple fact that people still want to post Christmas cards. My local Post Office was rammed the other day when I chose to post a small parcel.

The main post office sold off their impressive building in the centre of the town and took some space on the first floor of WH Smiths, so when there one can indulge in some revolutionary activity as they even have books displayed on the ‘queue maker cage’ . They are usually the books you would want to turn as well,that is the so-called best sellers that are always 50% off. Do they ever sell any of these tomes at the price inside the dust jacket ( if they have such a thing ). For more about book shop revolution take a look here:

It’s a sort of revolution.


However, this time, knowing that the W H Smith main branch would be mega rammed, I chose a small local branch. To while away the time I was able to look over the magazine section right next to me, and came across this brilliant title.


Poultry posers! Brilliant. I bet the editor thought of that one on the way into his swish editorial office on his Southern Region train. On second thoughts, both those might be fiction. That is :swish office and a train on the Southern Region.

As someone once said of my drawings and cartoons ” Who buys this stuff?” Well someone must and to be fair, you can sell almost any magazine with a bird on the cover. At least they had the good grace not to feature a turkey, but then it is the January Edition.




Who chucks the rain down?

My son, who did philosophy at University, came out with this question when he was about 3 or so. When he’d only just learnt to talk and walk really, so the signs were there very early that he was going to be doing a lot of thinking. He certainly did not do much sleeping and I recall with a shudder the long nights of questioning. Including the one where he admonished me for going ‘off piste’ when reading Postman Pat, telling me that Mrs Goggins could not possibly be a bank robber, “it just did n’t add up”.

I recall this as I’ve been busy trying to draw rain. I’m in the middle of a series of drawing about the British and it has to feature rain in quite a few of them. It’s one of those dilemmas where you do the drawing. Get it to a certain acceptable stage, and then look at it and ask yourself. “How do I put the rain on here?” Not just a light shower, a continuous downpour. Just like we had here yesterday. Should I just scribble over the entire drawing in a moist sort of way, or add it with white flecks of paint and hope for the best, knowing of course that any mistake or unsuccessful attempt will render the drawing almost useless and will have to be done again.I’m working on it by just thinking about it.

Joe answered his own question with his own answer at the time, but looked at me for confirmation as I was looking so bemused “Perhaps it’s Boris Becker Dad”

Perhaps it was.


This is one of the drawings in question and it’s part of the series of drawing based on the British, this one is titled:
“The Optimism of the Camper”

I’ll be enhancing or ruining this drawing in the next few weeks, if it goes well I’ll publish the final.

It’s based on fact, that’s me hammering in the tent pegs on a windy and rain beaten slope somewhere in Devon, wondering why on earth anyone thought this might be a good idea. I’ve refused to go camping ever since.

There’s more to this story but best not to tell that here.


Bloggomania and cow gum.


I’m moved to draw the above by postings by this chap which are well written and entertaining, worth a look. Jon Beckett

I’ve been busy re-discovering fun of glueing. It may be worth recounting here exactly how I do my drawings. They are drawn straight onto layout paper which is kind of paper that will allow you to see the page below, not tracing paper but similar but a lot more opaque. So quick first rough is done on this and then the second done over the first and so on until I get to the final drawing. So it’s done in layers, a sort of photoshop type of working that I’ve been using for years. All those years ago photoshop was just somewhere you could buy a camera.

My methods are born out of doing layouts and visuals for advertising in my early days and storyboards for tv commercials. The paper is cheap and the method of working is good with markers as layout paper is made for markers. Once the final piece is done , I’d then glue this layout paper to board, this was later changed to paper as the drawings would need to be rolled onto a drum scanner. In those days all I did was the final drawing and the only equipment I needed were the pens ( I use something called a Pentel Sign Pen, not expensive ) and the magic markers ( which were and still are ). I no longer use magic markers as most of my work is black and white, anything with colour on it will have been done digitally these days. Today, one is expected to scan one’s own work, and of course to produces digital files to supply the artwork. When I tell people that I used to send my original drawings on the train to be collected by the client at the other end, they give me that quizzical look as if I should be looking for my carer.

Below is the first rough for the drawing above, in this case, simple idea and drawing and I have drawn that doctor patient thing a few times in my career, so no messing. One rough and then the final from it.


The glueing of the final drawing was usually done with “Cow Gum”. It was not as some people might think, made from cows, but was invented by a Mr P B Cow. It was essentially a rubber solution glue which one spread over the back of the paper, and if you wanted a very firm hold over the receiving card too. Placing the final piece onto the receiving card could be tricky as any misplaced paper would stick quite firmly and air pockets could be a problem but practice made perfect and most things could be repaired.

Cow gum no longer exists, it was replaced to a great extent by spray mount adhesive, which used the same sort of adhesive: sprayed! This was supposed to be progress, but of course health and safety soon got onto the idea that this might not be that healthy and someone else invented glue booths to take excess spray away from your nearest and dearest, or anyone in the wrong place when the button was squeezed. I dislike the stuff, lamenting the demise of Mr Cow’s fine product, itself no doubt a major hazard of some sort, as were those magic markers. A few hours working in a windowless room with cow gum and magic markers and you’d think you’d been using magic mushrooms.

Well, good news, thanks to the internet I’ve found a replacement product for Cow Gum, and it’s called Studio Gum! It has the same sort of design on the tin and I’ve been joyfully mounting a load of drawings this week. Cow Gum used to give off fumes and was best used in a well ventilated room, this new stuff is just as noxious! I’ve had to choose a dry day when all the windows could be open when applying the solution.This new stuff performs very much like the old cow I used to use, so now am working on a series of drawings that can be properly finished off at last. One of the key things about cow gum was you could make what was called a ‘cow gum rubber ‘ by spreading a bit on a window and then just rolling it up, this is then used to take any excess gum off the drawing or surrounding paper, that’s what that big lump of stuff looking like ectoplasm is on top of the tin!

I’m hoping to put together some little movies in the New Year to demonstrate my working methods, so that others can try them out. “The Joy of Cow Gum”, I bet you can’t wait.





Ooooer what a kerfuffle…


Seems like the Turner Prize has manufactured a bit of a ‘kerfuffle’ yet again. I think that if no one took any notice of them they would consider it a failure. Politicians sticking their comments in are only good for the news about it. The public, we the great uninformed, get to show our outrage, contempt, shock, horror,  curiosity, admiration, and in my case envy, at what they have been allowed to do. Strewth, I wish someone would give me a few thousand quid, a large warehouse and ‘people to help me bring my vision alive’ that I’ve drawn on the back of an envelope. I’d love it. I’d talk all the ‘art bollocks speak’ using the word juxtaposition juxtaposed with just about everything, and leave the public gasping at my daring and skill.

But that’s the point is it not. The fact that they have the freedom to do this stuff is the essential thing. The fact that a lot of it is just ‘art bollocks’ is the price of freedom.


I’ve called this one “Drawing a blank”

It’s one of the drawings that will be in my exhibition in August of next year,
I’ll post details nearer the time.
Thanks for looking in.

Tim Bird

Well there are people with unusual names but it is odd how they seem to get work which suits them. I was reminded of this when this morning I had an email from my phone suppliers signed by someone in sales called Samantha Honey. What a great name for someone in sales. It could have been better, Beatrice would have suited her well.

There are times when ideas come a little thin and enthusiasm for an idea gets above its worth.I’ve generally no idea whether this is the case with any ideas. I go off them and then later find them unreasonably amusing and carry on with them again. This is the case with Names. I did a series of drawings on this subject some time ago and then an email reminds me that it might not have been as bad an idea as I originally thought when I abandoned them. Digging them out yesterday, the drawings need finishing but I’m re-envigorated to do so.

I have an exhibition coming next year in August and with a bit of luck I’ll get them into that, together with other random ideas that will hopefully seem worth it. Unless I go off the idea altogether again and do something else.

Here’s a sample of one of them. This is Pastor Al Dente, of course!pastor-aldente2

Tim Bird used to be the tree officer in our local town.


Just seen this in the Park and thought it well worth adding, what a wonderful name. I bet he was a lovely gent, and he probably deserved to live till 90.fullalove


” That’s the sound of the man working…


…on the Chain Gang.

I’ve been reviewing, it’s that time of year. I took this bit of video in Gloucester where they repair and refurbish boats and ships some time ago. This one is a fine tall ship. I was struck by the fact that these guys were chipping away at a chain! How much more interesting if they’d got a bit more of a rhythm to it. Perhaps they could have done it to the sound of the Chain Gang as sung by the great Sam Cooke

Sam Cooke

. I think the ship is called the Kaskelot, and it’s worth looking at the site from the link below. Re-caulking is what the chap by the ship is doing, that is hammering in bits of rope that are in between the boards that make the hull, there’s much more information on the link that will give all the interesting details about how it was all done.

There’s more information right here: The Kaskelot

As you can see I’m trying my hand a little videos, I hope you enjoy them.