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.

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.

Robin under the bridge

A very early folk song sung under a bridge on a canal near Chalford in Gloucestershire on a bright November day, about a week ago.