Haircuts, the Hackney way round.

Only men get a haircut, women have their hair done. I did a load of drawings of men’s haircuts some time ago, and here’s a chance to describe how I came to this stuff. Some people can turn off here as I’m about to describe how I did the artwork. I can hear the snoring from here.

I did a load of small drawings within about an A4 area and then scanned them into the mac on high resolution. I had a plan. What I wanted was a certain quality of line. “It’s only a cartoon. Get a life” I hear you say.

So, if there are any of you left out there, I then put these drawings individually, each separate face, into Illustrator. Now,  this is a bit of software that I am not desperately familiar with, but I am learning. I find it fiendishly difficult, much preferring Photoshop. I swear I heard a yawn from the back there.

Once in Illustrator I got the software to trace the line. It will do that! Then save it as an illustrator file. This is a vectored file, meaning it keeps that line quality and will not pixcelate.

Are you still there?

Well, I don’t care if there’s no one there. There’s usually is no one there so it’s nothing new.

I then open another piece of software – In Design. I know that if I create an a2 poster in this and drop the drawing in there, being in Illustrator, it will keep its line quality and won’t break up.

Right, I know you’ve all gone now, so I can get on with it.

I make a pdf from the In Design file and of the highest quality.

I drop the pdf back into Photoshop and then ‘flatten’ the image.

I can then add to the drawing in Photoshop, especially in the hairy areas!

Well done, you got to the end and you now know one of my trade secrets. A journey somewhat similar to getting to Hackney by SatNav. There are areas you go through that you think must be wrong, but you get there in the end anyhow.

Here’s a sample of one of the drawings. Was the journey worth it? Sometimes it’s the getting there that is more important than the destination.

That’s  my excuse.

Believe it or not, you can get prints of these on Red Bubble, and even have them printed on mugs. See them all here: Red Bubble





Looking at paintings, David Hockney and the exhibition “two step”


It’s all culture here at present. Last week a trip to London, to see Jasper Johns amongst other things and a visit to the National portrait gallery to see what was on there. Neither disappointed, though the permanent collection of portraits of the Royals are curiously dreadful. Appallingly sycophantic stuff. There was however an exhibition of portrait drawings from the renaissance, which were brilliant in every respect. Having those faces from so many hundreds of years ago looking back at you was quite something, and you could get close. One had to deal with the “exhibition two-step’ of course which is a sort of dance step where you avoid others also trying to look, with the occasional murmured “sorry”. Perhaps they should put little footprints on the floor to help.

This week it’s the “LitFest”, as we call it here in Cheltenham. I went to a talk by a couple of David Hockney ‘people’, that is people who’d made books and programmes about him. Chaired by Will Gompertz, the BBC arts correspondent who looks like everyone’s favourite history teacher ( The History Teacher ), it was an entertaining and absorbing hour. Is it a coincidence that this Will might be a teeny weeny bit similar to the Will in W1A, the BBC series about the BBC? ( Will at the BBC )

The talk was not quite absorbing enough for the bloke sitting next to me as he promptly fell asleep. Perhaps he books these tickets for a bit of peace and quiet. Hockney is one of the great drawers too.

More tickets booked for this culture fest in the coming week, and a trip over to Tewkesbury to see my chum Alan Blethyn’s exhibition. I hope he gets enough visitors that they need to do the exhibition “two-step” too.

I might even do a bit of drawing myself.



Eels and custard.

Eels and custard

A trip to London to see Jasper Johns, Graham and David. Jasper is, of course, the famous American painter. Graham and Dave were at college with me when Manchester was still black with soot and there existed Colleges of Art instead of Universities. We lived in Rusholme and that is exactly the opposite to what we did. We rarely rushed home as the flat was, as I described it to my father at the time ‘spartan’. Graham recalled that there was one plug that did not appear to be connected to the meter, under his bed. So almost every appliance we owned ( not that many in those days ) was then connected to the magic plug. Happy student days. One of our neighbours was Joe Wilson, whose room next door was no less spartan. He’s a well-known painter in Ireland now, take a look at what he does: Joe Wilson  Lovely atmospheric paintings, with massive energy. See what I wrote about him before here: This will take your mind of it…

The rest of us? Well if you are reading this then there’s a clue to what I do in my domain name, David was one of the very top people in advertising creative circles, and spent his life in the business. Graham, who did sculpture at Manchester became a teacher, and is a keen fan of Gilbert and Sullivan musicals as well as having a background in sports. I remember him as a cultured inside right, but I have no memory of his singing. He was also basketball referee! He looked hardly any different to when I last saw him nearly 50 years ago. Whatever he’s been taking then let me have some.

We had a very pleasant lunch close to Picadilly in Central London at a place called  “Brasserie Zedel”, it’s worth a trip to it and not expensive, especially if you stick to the set menu. Recommended. Where we ate.

After lunch, it was back to Hackney for me and as I walked down a nearby street there was this sign. Fortunately, they have labeled the pans. One does not want one’s eels floating in custard. Not the sort of dish they serve up at Zedel.It’s my ambition to try out the jellied eels at this place but this was just not the right time. For those not in the UK, jellied eels used to be a common dish especially in the East End of London. This place has been there for many years and is now surrounded by smart coffee shops and trendy bars. A bit of a fish out of water one might say, or even an eel out of jelly, or perhaps a pie out of custard. I’ll be sure to report when I’ve tried them. Perhaps I’ll get Betty to write a review Become Betty  She’s an American who writes about food, and I have been known to comment on what odd things they eat in the USA. Here she can get her own back on me.

In Hackney on such a bright blue afternoon I could not resist this sign. The guy in the picture reflected how I felt after a near perfect day. Jasper Johns might have made a painting from it, if we’d invited him.







Jasper Johns must have been a gardener.

Or at least a man with a shed.

For those not of an artistic persuasion, you should know that Jasper Johns was, and perhaps is, a great American artist.He’s still with us! I recall in my late school days loving his work. As I understand it he went out of favour later on in his career, though I claim no special knowledge. He has an exhibition on in London at present at the Royal Academy, so I presume that those in the flow of these things, consider it’s time to resurrect his reputation.

Jasper Johns Exhibition at the RA

I am going to go along for old times sake, and to take a look at the people looking at the work. Great place for people watching.

There’s something slightly ‘up cycling’ about his stuff to me. He makes common objects into things of beauty, but then I think many common objects are. Perhaps it’s just that he makes us look, or at least helps us look. The RA says this about his stuff: “His treatment of iconography and appropriation of objects, symbols and words makes the familiar unfamiliar, achieving this through the distinctive, complex textures of his works.” Anyone know what that means in plain English?

I was reminded of his work as I strolled back from my allotment. There I was “appropriating objects”. Perhaps he was a gardener too?


Jasper Johns: Ventriloquist, 1983.


Paul Davies: Sheddist 2017

September sun and the secret dahlia…


I’m very proud of my home-grown sunflowers which are still flowering and look spectacular in the September sun, don’t try saying that without your teeth in. I was less pleased with the dahlia ( singular ) bulb that I had bought early in the season, at some expense. But then yesterday, there it was in all its glory. Not a mark on it. It obviously likes to bloom in private. Hope you like it too and that it cheers your Monday like it cheered my Sunday.