Knight’s Sword: how to keep your distance

I never thought that I’d still be using these drawings after so long, this was done in the last lockdown. I hope that this will remind people to keep their distance and stay safe.

Robin’s Walk

This drawing is from an image taken by my friend Robin. I hope I’ve done his image justice. The walk is above the River Severn quite close to Gloucester. From the top of this hill is a view down to the Severn and over to the Boat at Ashleworth. The Boat being a pub right by the River, which is frequently flooded, so it is then the Boat in the river.

The walk starts at the Red Lion at Wainlodes, just a little further down river. It’s a lovely walk, try it if you can. If you look carefully at this you’ll see that I had more than one attempt at the sky, and you can easily spot the cut mark where I’ve patched in a more recent attempt.

Hope you all have a good week and that you all stay safe and apart!

French Still.

Now you might think this is a reference to my wish that we were still members of the European Community, which is my wish but that aside it’s about this drawing. This van and the detritus around was located in the south West of France, and I spotted it whilst on a short walk in the area. It’s a farm and the van looked like it was pitted with rust and there were large containers and lots of pipework on the back of the van as well as in the buildings. Spotting the farmer wandering across his yard with his back to me. He stopped at the corner of a building and I saw my chance and asked him in my best ‘O’ level French if he’d mind me taking photographs. He answered me when he’d stopped peeing, and I clarified that I’d like to take pictures of his farm and not of him, that would have been a bit weird. He waved a go ahead and I asked him what all this stuff was around his yard and he explained that it was his mobile brewery. This explained the staining on the van, caused by the alcohol in the air. If you ever get the chance to visit a whisky distillery you’ll see trees nearby with what look like sooty bark, this is caused by the alcohol in the air.

The area grows grapes for cognac and the French like to use all the bits that are left over, to make additional products and that is what he did, taking his van to various fairs and events. I cannot imagine what it might have tasted like, or what sort of lightproof blindfold the authorities might be using to take no interest in his activities.

I know that in matters like this they don’t pay much attention to the odd illicit still. The local supermarket also hosted an old Renault van on some days that cooked home made pizza from a wood burning oven in the back. One could feel the nuclear heat emanating from this pizza parlour from several cars away in the car park where it sensibly located itself next to the petrol station.

I wonder if the farmer is still making his liquor, and if the pizzas ares till warm.

This is one of a series of quite large drawings done over the last few months. This is A2 and is Indian inlanders and pastel, on layout paper, glued ( with the modern equivalent of cow gum ) onto white board.

I shall post a few of these in the coming weeks. They are all in black and white, I might run to colour sometime in the coming year, but don’t hold your breath.


Number 1 in this year’s New Year’s resolutions is not to make any resolutions. So there we are, that’s that taken care of and we can just get on with it. Whatever ‘it’ might be.

I’ve been doing a lot of drawing in the various lockdown incarcerations and if you are foolhardy enough to visit me here then you are likely to see quite a few of them. After all, what’s the point in it if you don’t show people. For those of you who are curious about how I put them together then here’s what I do. I take photos, quite a lot. I choose which I am going to draw when I get home. I’m sadly not one of those people who pack the sketchbook and take it with me on my walks.

It generally does not need to be a fine sunny day to take the pictures, but it helps.

In the case of my landscapes I draw with pen and ink straight onto board or layout paper. I draw with a dip pen and a bottle of ink handy. I draw with the nib any way I please, occasionally upside down, that’s the nib not me. I’m not very kind to my pens and they take quite a lot of punishment. I sometimes use the wrong end of the pen to plough through puddles of ink, it’s all a lot of fun and mess. I also use a selection of exceptionally cheap brushes to make the odd mark.

This is a preparatory drawing, ink on board.

I don’t try and distinguish between the foreground and background areas, knowing that I’ll look at knocking back areas later can easily be done. So I might draw cloud formations as big black blobs when I know they are to be white or much paler later, when they go to colour. All colour is done digitally later. I have an ambition to do some colour straight onto the paper in the coming year, but it’s not a resolution. I have a toothbrush that I use for some areas of black ink here and there if I feel like it. I don’t use it on my teeth later, honestly.

If the drawings done on card straight off, then I might faff about more with it with Dr Matins White Paint. If it’s done on layout paper I’ll glue the drawing to white card with studio gum ( today’s equivalent of cow gum ) making sure that I open the window as it’s pretty heady stuff.

This method has the advantage of being able to edit areas of the drawing with a scalpel. Nurse! Curtains. Swann Morton scalpel, 10a blades, great for cutting paper. I’ll show in a video in time.

So that’s about all the hand done stuff. The drawings are then scanned. I’ve recently bunged up a large pinboard that I’ve had for years, in my studio, so that I can photograph the work instead of trying to join it all up from 4 separate A4 scans in the case of the big drawings. I’m planning to do loads more big drawings, but again this is not a resolution, it’s a plan.

This is a bigger version, original is A2. Ink on layout paper then glued to board. Soft grey pastels added after some faffing with Dr Martin’s White paint. I might put some colour on it, ‘might’ being the operative word.

Random Twinkle

It’s that time of year when you put out a few lights to make the place look marginally less grey and depressing. We have a set of those lights and looking at the instructions there are multiple choices of light display. Tonight I’ve put ours on “Random Twinkle”.

We could all do with more random twinkle.

Here’s a little video from some time ago, with my friend Robin adding the little song. Great to see the leaves coming down in these beautiful beech woods in Gloucestershire, they drop with almost a random twinkle.

Charging Santa

I was recently commissioned to do a drawing for a Christmas card. Not unusual for this time of year. I do one for a local haulage company and have done for years, that one is done and dusted. This was for a small marketing agency. He wanted to feature the imminent arrival of the vaccine that will hopefully get us back to a new normal in time.

This drawing was my first idea and in common with many of these projects, these days I always send off the first idea to test the water. This is the result of years of doing loads of ideas for clients only for them to choose the first one that hit the paper. I recall in the 80s doing a load of drawings all night trying to get something acceptable for an ad agency campaign that they needed the next day. I delivered the drawings the next day, bleary eyed and unsure which they would choose. They chose the very first drawing that I’d done the night before. I could have gone to bed.

So below is my own very first scribble of what I had in mind.

Next is the one that I sent to him to see if he would like me to go ahead.

We went in another direction but I chose to do the final drawing anyway, I’d use it myself.Here’s the line work for the final colour drawing…

And here’s the final colour drawing.

I hope you have enjoyed my blogs over the year, I’ve certainly enjoyed writing them. I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas time and that the New Year will bring us all better times.

Supermarket stare, version 2

I post this almost every Christmas, we are at that stage but this is particularly apt this year.I personally have not been in a supermarket since the beginning of this business, and frankly have not missed it, but I do recall the feeling of approaching the checkout with none of the items on the list but loads of “Justins”, they being the sort of thing you buy just in case. They usually reside in the back of the cupboard for the next year, when you buy another supply.

Supermarket Stare

It’s changed. When it used to be that men were allowed out with a list, or worse, without one, to get the last minute shopping in, or to buy something for a loved one, they get that faraway stare like a rabbit in the headlights. Nowadays it’s an illuminated stare as they look at a screen and understand little about what they might get. They will, however, be unlikely to forget the beer.

Tea shirts? Kettles on!

I’ve done a collection of tea shirts. That’s t shirts on the theme of tea. They might make a half decent Christmas pressy for the tea drinker in your life. There are also others available and I’m working on other collections, getting my head around the whole thing, slowly. It keeps me off the streets. Some have drawings on them but for the time being most of the shirts are designed with type in mind and in the case of the tea shirts- tea drinking types.

You can find them here

Please take a look sometime, perhaps whilst sipping a cuppa.

Well, it’s better than staring at a blank piece of paper, I suppose.

The T shirt are very environmental and all produced in the UK. They can be shipped everywhere and the ones that I have bought seem to be of excellent quality. Not a bad price either. I’m unlikely to get filthy rich on the proceeds.

Take a wander around the site from here. Go on!

In need of modernisation.

There used to be an estate agent who told the truth. He made a name for himself by describing properties exactly how they were. I sadly forget his name, but he satirised his own profession by describing properties that were obviously in something of a state.

For the one above he may well have said ” In need of modernisation” but he would have also said ” and four walls plus a roof will help complete this possibly stunning property with views over where the Germans scuttled their fleet at the end of the First World War: Scapa Flow.

This picture was taken when we went on a walking holiday in the Orkneys some years ago. Delving into “art bollox speak”: the skies are as much of the landscape as the land, ever changing and casting en ethereal light, bright sunshine or a dour Scottish mist like an old highlander in a really bad mood.Rain generally arrives at you horizontally, like a power shower head that’s freed its moorings and cannot be controlled, there seems to be no off tap.

Try it.