Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven.

Here’s another of my drawings from a photograph taken on a superb trip to the very West Coast of Canada on Vancouver Island. In Canada the Group of Seven is a much lauded collection of artists from the early 1900s and Tom Thompson was said to be a member of the group. Although you can see from the link that he died, quite young and in mysterious circumstances before the group really was formed.

Of all the works in the group I was really taken by his beautiful atmospheric landscapes with the strong graphic style. Visiting the area that he painted one could easily see how he must have been inspired by the landscape. There are few places where the landscape is more ‘atmospheric’ than the west coast of Vancouver Island. One view can take in crashing waves with a sea mist and an eerie light. Thompson managed to capture the essence of the place. My humble drawing is my own attempt to catch it. In this case I did venture into colour and you can see the result here

Perhaps I’m very slightly influenced by the fact that my own grandfather was also called Tom Thompson. He was something of a pioneer of colour photography in the North West of England, but made his living working for Pilkington’s Glass Works in St Helens. There would have been another subject for an atmospheric landscape, but not quite so healthy.

Juxtaposition, not a word to be used lightly.

It’s one of those words heard a lot on arts programmes on Radio 4 when worthy people talk about the very latest art, and it’s a word I try to avoid as it always reminds me of, those arts programmes on Radio 4.

So I’ll just use it once in relation to this drawing which is, like the others in this series, taken from a photograph when on our travels. This one is in Crete and is of a fishing boat with a broken down factory in the background. I wonder what the factory did with its tall chimneys and a solid stone wall around. I doubt that the fishing boat had been in the water for years, parked on the side of a road near the port.

I thought that the juxtaposition of the boat and the factory in the background made for an interesting image. There I’ve said it now, is it not time for the Archers?

Here’s the original photo

Ring of Bright Water

This is the second of my series of black and white drawings and is where Gavin Maxwell wrote the book of the name. We went there as part of a walking holiday, and this, like all the drawings in this series, is from a photograph taken at the time. My memory of the place is of almost copmplete stillness and peace. Difficult to imagine anyone living there really, and it must have been tough.

Like the first in this series of drawings this has yet to reach the colour stage, and in some ways I’m loathe to bother, or should that be ‘lazy’ to bother. I’m good at that. Lazy that is. I can put off a task that will take minutes for weeks. When I worked professionally drawing to deadlines I’m proud to say that I rarely missed one, but my own self imposed deadlines woosh past me at an unalarming rate.

To see more of my work, where I have been adding colour then please take a look here where you can also fund my drawing habit by buying a print. Thanks for visiting the beach today.

A drawing a day for a week, plus back story.

This is the first of a series of line drawings done in last year and intended as a bit of a departure from my cartoon stuff. See how I hesitate to call it “cartoon work” in an effort to make it sound less than it is. Cartoon work is work, but it’s hardly coal mining. Any sort of drawing is a kind of therapy as most people who do it will tell you. So I’ve been in therapy since the age of about 7.

This is Beaumaris the home town of my late father and it’s in North Wales. It’s on Anglsey, an island often left off the map of the UK for reasons of artistic laziness. The map makers just could n’t be arsed to do that fiddly little bit on the top left corner of Wales and no one would notice would they?

I did a few of these line drawings last year with the intention of then colouring them to make into prints. You can see some of them here . This one is still a work in progress and I’m not sure if it will make the cut, or I may have another go at it. I do them under the name of Edward Davies, which is my serious artist’s name. It is my real name, taken from my Uncle Edward, who was a doctor and helped deliver me all those years of therapy ago, but it generally resides beween Paul and Davies.

The colour is added digitally and I try as best I can to make them look like it’s not! I find that digital work can have a bit of a flattening look, almost atiseptic. I’d like the final thing to have an energy and immediacy that the line drawings have.

I’m hoping that posting these will encourage me to finish them. There will be one a day for a week. Feel free to comment, I hope you like them. If you don’t then please don’t tell me, or I’ll have to go back into therapy.

“We’ve had nothing more frightening than a VAT inspection”

These are the words spoken by my brother at our father’s funeral that have stuck very close to me. What he had to face is in this image. That’s him under the black dot. It’s quite a famous photograph from the invasion of Normandy and was taken in June on the outskirts of Cagny and features the advancing Guards Amoured Division that by September the 2nd was liberating Brussels.

On my father’s left is another Davies who sadly never made it out of Normandy. The officer pointing is Major Syrett, killed the day after this image was taken.

Our father was one of the few to survive this trip, and lived until he was 93.

I found the image in a book some years ago when Dad was still alive and I was about to go on a holiday to Normandy with the family. I wanted to know where he’d been so took a little trip around the area. I bought the book before we went and showed it to him and pointed out the image. ” That’s me there” he said calmly, and proceeded to name many of the others in the picture. I found that the image was in the Imperial War Museum Collection and got in touch with them. They printed some brilliant copies from the original negatives for me, which are now treasured by the rest of the family.

I asked him to describe the scene to me at the time, and he said: ” Well, apart from the lovely sunny day, what you don’t get from this is the noise, there were shells firing all the time, it was all pretty frightening”. Unlike my brother and I, he never had to go through a VAT inspection.

Here’s where it started really.

I went to art college before they became polytechnics and then university wishing to go into advertising as it seemed to be populated by cool people. While in my humble job in advertising it became the habit of friends to ask me if I could “do a leaving card for so and so cos you can draw a little bit”. I did loads and when I was made redundant I seem to remember that I did my own.

I loved doing the cards, as it gave me the excuse to be rude to some of the humourless people ( very few ) and to celebrate the ones I liked.

I ended up drawing for a living as advertising would not have me back after redundancy. So they all did me a bit of a favour. I don’t do many cards these days, and only when I want to. In today’s case my erstwhile client Robin is celebrating a birthday. He was such a good client to work for we became good friends, and he has been loyally buying my stuff for years. He’s got more of my work on his walls at home than I have.

Happy Birthday Robin!

Time to consider an alternative to candles?

Rats rejoin a sinking ship

I don’t do a lot of political cartoons but the unseemly scramble for the leadeship of a party that is sinking, or at least heading for the rocks was too much for me, and I suspect for most of the population. Whoever gets to captian the battered vessel has some navigation to do.

Artists work for no money, but then it’s fun is it not? Scoot!

I suppose I should have known at the time. It’s not the first time someone has said ” I’ve got this great idea for you, but you’ll have to do the drawings for free”. Perhaps I should have walked then but I took it all on with my usual enthusiasm. Hours of unpaid work. But then drawing cartoons is not really work is it? Aaaaaaargh!

I did the drawings and then waited to make my fortune from the entrepreneur who started me down this path to penury. Greetings cards were all that came out of it and I saw not one bean from the project.

It was actually a good idea. If you’ve not experienced the world of scooters then prepare to be surprised. Those little scooters that kids fly around on are brilliant bits of very strong engineering and kids of all ages are wont to do stunts and tricks on them. Locally there’s a “Scooter Park” where they can zip up and down ramps and come to as little harm as possible. As part of my research into the project I went along to take a look at the place and watch the little demons buzzing around like angry wasps, doing all sorts of tricks and flips. It was a bit like skateboarding with a wheeled plank. Some of these scooter riders are tiny, others look like they might just have left home. They even have World Championships for this sort of thing. Check it out from the link.

Anyhow, going through some recent history I came across my artwork for the cards. I have now decided to exploit the idea myself a little more and these drawings are available as prints. For me, these days they are unusual, first of all because they are in colour. Rare for me to do that these days, and secondly the subject manner is off my usual patch of crumpled adults. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed doing them. “Scooterists”, as I call them, buzzing around the page. If you go and buy a print for your scooterist you run the risk of making me think that the whole thing was a good idea in the first place. Scoot!

How would you like it Sir?

barber

My almost 3 year old twin grandsons dislike having their hair cut. I was reminded of this when this drawing popped out of the archives. It’s from the book Some Missing Persons writen by my late friend Gordon Thorburn, with added contributions from myself as the drawer and the provider of inspiration. This particular chapter bewailed the passing of the traditional barber. It’s well worth a re-read from this link.

I know I’m not supposed to like my own drawings but this is a favourite, not least as it was done years before the twins popped out, and the small boy looks quite like both of them. I like too the barber himself. I drew him from memory. I was uncarcerated in a boarding school for some years and they employed what appeared to be ex servicemen with a cruel streak to drive clippers over our heads so that we looked like corn fields just harvested by a rusty combine harvester. I think we all hated it. As they were also probably on piece work there was no inane barber chat, just the smell of hair, DNA and barber’s bad tobacco breath. So none of that “What’s on for you today?” or “Something for the weekend?” ( Not that we had any idea at the time what the last phrase meant but heard it now and again when we had proper haircuts at home, down the local barber.) Local barber was, of course, quite different to the scissor brothers at school. My own described himself as an “Entreprenewer” and he drove an e-type jag, a car of sublime beauty. He planned to open a nightclub in Skemersdale just outside Liverpool ( an area at the time of such poverty and desolation that a night club seemed odd even to me ), and as far as I know he may well have done. He specialised in beatle haircuts popular at the time, something the Scissor brothers at school would have had a minor turn if they had been asked to perform one.

I was reminded by the drawing too of the inside of a barber shop, with the faux leather banquette seats where were seated in line with the other males wanting haircuts. No female ever entered this area and my drawing is a tad inaccurate as the seats would have been in almost constant use, and as polished as a brilliantine salesman’s suit. Haircuts were all that was on offer, although there were basins, I can recall no one having their hair washed.

I had my own sparse locks trimmed just the other day, by a local woman barber. I got the ‘haircut chat’, but no mention of the weekend thank goodness. There were still tins and bottles of pale green liquid trying to be like the old days, but it just was n’t the same, again thank goodness!