Monday, September 24, 2012

I got shortlisted!

I need your support.

I entered my painting 'Waiting for Leo' in a competition. It's been shortlisted as a potential winner. The public vote decides the winner. The outright winner of the competition gets representation by a major gallery, which, as you can imagine would be an incredible thing for me.
So, what I need is Votes, votes and more votes.

So, if you would be so kind, could you click on the link and give me your support. Also, it would be amazing if you could share this link any way you can to get the best support possible.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

More Doggie Doings

My previous doggie designs for Heritage Crafts have been so well received by the cross stitching world that I've been asked to provide more. We seem to have settled into an alternating pattern of cartoon and more realistic. Here are some recent ones - appearing at all good needlework outlets soon.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Doggie Doings

My pals over at Heritage Crafts asked me to come up with some cute dogs for them to use for cross stitch designs.
It's interesting and challenging designing images that will be reproduced in cross stitch. The resolution of the final image can be as low as 11dpi. Yes, eleven dots per inch. I think the average Heritage kit is 14dpi, which can still be quite unforgiving for twiddly images and any fine detail can be lost in converting a design. Heritage do amazingly well with most of my stuff and manage to be quite faithful to the original. Here are some recent images, two of which I finished today. I don't know if or when they'll appear at a craft shop near you, but I can let you know when I find out.
These have all been produced in watercolour. The largest being 'Double Trouble at around 5"x7".

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pig on a Trampoline

This is an idea I had, a series of images of a pig at the top of its bounce. I drew about a dozen poses, some more absurd than others, before arriving at just these three.
Before any porcinologists tell me, I know, pigs don't bend that way. Well, my argument is, a trampoline can be very persuasive.
The lack of eye contact is intentional because I want the viewer to remain disconnected with the pig. It's as if we've just turned a corner and happened upon her, gleefully bouncing away in her own little moment of joy. She'd never know if we simply, and quietly, back away and leave her to it.

This idea led to a concept for a children's picture book. Hopefully I'll get round to that one day.

Pig on a Trampoline - three pieces, each 408 x 231mm
Acrylic on 140lb Saunders HP Watercolour paper

For those that way inclined, here's a closer look at of one of them.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

John Bradbury takes a nap

John Bradbury. 297mm x 420mm Oil on board.

In April of this year, taking advantage of a gathering of classic car owners, I went in search of people to paint. It was getting late in the day and the spring sunshine had worked its magic on this gent. I took a few reference shots and here's the resulting painting.

John Bradbury is a retired Army Pilot from Tunstall, Stoke on Trent and a thoroughly nice bloke.

As with a lot of my work, I will often have a favourite portion which pleases me more than the rest. In this case, I'm particularly happy with John's earlobe and his shoes - especially his left one.
Mister Weston - detail.

This is about as tightly rendered as I like to paint for my own pleasure. To give you some idea of scale, the head on the original measures 42mm from crown to chin (that's an inch and five eights in old money).

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Good Stick

What every boy needs - a good stick.
Approx A5 Pen & Ink and watercolour.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The long wait

The painting 'Bere' I completed in December 2010 is almost dry. This might explain why so many artists in history died penniless. It was because their work wasn't dry until years after they were dead.

I know I could've accelerated the process with medium, but I wanted to know how long it would take without any artificial intervention. Too long!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Doodles before Bedtime

Quite often, the last thing I'll do before I quit for the night is pick up a pencil and see what comes out. Invariably I'll draw faces. A loose line will suggest something, like a wisp of smoke, and I'll allow that shape to come together. Once I see a face emerge, I might set it a challenge, like convey an emotion or a word.
Sometimes I get involved and settle in for an enjoyable little scribble.

These two came to me before bed last night. Enthusiasm and Mild Disdain.

There's no psychoanalysis here. (maybe there is, but I just don't recognise it). Just doodles.

Some people drink cocoa.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Live by the sword, die by the sword, paint by the knife

As an exercise, I reproduced 'Bere', a painting I finished on Boxing Day 2010.
This time I restricted myself to only working with palette knife and no blending. It meant the marks had to be more considered in both value and placement. This was done in acrylics because I didn't want the exercise to last a lifetime. The original oil painting I did around Christmas is still too wet to varnish.
Call me impatient!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Character Assassination

Source Internet Development wanted a slimy sales character for their website to show the type of sales person to avoid. When you think about the many, many hours spent at lifedrawing classes, trying to achieve anatomical accuracy, the most expressive stuff is usually the least naturalistic, and the most fun.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting for Leo

One morning last spring I was in the Museum Quarter of Vienna waiting for the Leopold Museum to open. On a bench nearby, a splash of colour surrounded by dull stone, was a girl asleep. As soon as I saw her I knew I had to paint her. I took several photographs from different angles, moving around quietly as to not disturb her.
I have no idea who the girl is. I went into the gallery and didn't see her inside and she was gone when I came out. Maybe Leo arrived.

'Waiting for Leo'
Painted in oils on wooden panel 450mm x 660mm

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What I did on my holidays

A couple of years ago, check further down this blog, I attempted to pick up where three years at art school failed - I tried oil painting. I spent the two weeks of the Christmas holiday 2008 getting to grips with oils, mediums (media?), surfaces etc. Suffice to say I made a few mistakes. However the veil of mystery fell away from my eyes and the belief that everything oily was alchemy and guaranteed to confound me was gone. Last Christmas, I did a little exploratory painting too. So, this year, using the excuse that it was now a tradition, I flung myself into painting.
You might recall a project I mentioned a while ago where I simply had to paint an image I'd seen by the French photographer Virginie Dubois. I'd been working on the final piece a couple of times towards the end of last year. Well, I finally nailed it on Boxing Day.
I'm pleased with the result. This is the biggest oil painting I've ever undertaken - it could be argued that it's the first proper painting since everything before it started out as simple sketches or exercises.
I deliberately avoided any mediums and all paint was mixed straight from the tube with no oils or accelerators or chemical jiggery pokery. The paint is quite thick, so I expect it to take a good six months to a year to dry enough for me to varnish it. Until then, it's a devil to photograph. Here's my attempt to do just that.

'Bere' Approx 900mm x 600mm.

As soon as I'd put this piece to bed, I sped on with another and have managed to take it pretty close to completion before having to get on with regular work. I'll hopefully have that finished fairly soon and I'll show you when I'm done.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Annual Soap Box Derby

I don't know if young people today would even know what a soap box is since soap these days comes in special pumpy bottles and I don't think it matters anyway since carts that are designed for rolling downhill probably don't incorporate soap boxes. They're more likely to be built using carbon fibre and kevlar with laser beams and genetically modified plastic.
Whatever. This year saw the first of what is hoped to be an Annual Soap Box Derby in the town where I live. Surprisingly it happened without being stomped on by Health and Safety maniacs in hi-vis vests and hard hats. Good luck to them.
Yesterday, to help out with next year's promotion, I did a little pic. I don't know if it'll be used, but it was fun to do.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mono Oil Painting

Occasionally I see an image that I feel compelled to paint. Such a moment came recently in the form of an image by French photographer Virginie Dubois. Apart from some illustrations from my days in advertising, I've never really painted in black and white, so it's going to be a departure for me. Virginie has kindly given her blessing for me to do my thing. So I immediately walloped out this small 200mm study in oils. I'm planning to do the final piece about 900mm, eventually.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tiddles - Tobogganing Champion

Non cat owners may not be familiar with the behaviour referred to as 'toboganning' where a cat will drag it's bum along the carpet. I've noticed only one of ours do it and never see her do it on concrete or dirt, so I assume it's flooring-dependent.
An alternative caption is 'Tiddles is so clever, he can even sign his name' but it's a bit wordy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Exploring faces

Given the option, I'd always opt to draw or paint a characterful face than one considered pretty or beautiful. There aren't enough interesting faces in the world and too many beautiful ones.
Admittedly, for me, capturing a likeness littered with landmarks and recogniseable idiosyncrasies is easier than capturing featureless beauty. Perhaps that's why I enjoy it.
As a little departure this weekend, I dug around in my heap of interesting faces and drew with the intention of pushing the features more toward caricature, yet keeping the values of my photographic reference. It was great fun, especially relaxing not having to strive for a likeness and simply drawing for the sake of enjoying the process.

This is Sian.
A5 size, pencil on plain copier paper.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Storyboarding etc.

I've been trying to find time to work on my next book, 'Hamilton's Hiccups'. When I originally knocked the principles of the story together in note form, it felt fine, if not a little bit leggy. Since 'Hamilton' is going to be a picture book, it means the lengthy adventure I'd blocked out has to be brutally manipulated to fit the industry template of 32 pages told in approximately five hundred words.
Take out two pages for front and back cover, one for the title page, then there are the endpapers and legals. That leaves around a dozen or so spreads to introduce the character, set the scene, tell the story in a (hopefully) entertaining way, and wrap things up all nicely. It's a bit like starting with a freshly felled tree and hoping to shave it down to a nice tidy chopstick.
It pays not to get too emotional at this stage and apply the simple rule: If in doubt, cut it out.
So, that's what I've been doing - hacking, chopping, cutting and shaving the story - I've not even begun writing the text. Balancing words and pictures. I've made and obliterated seven or eight 32pp mockups so far, trying to pace the story within the parameters. At the moment, my tree is more approaching the shape of a baseball bat, but I'm getting there.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An Illustrator can be too versatile

My portfolio stretches back over quite a few years and there are styles of illustration that, whilst they did the job at the time, don't represent how I'd approach them now. I need to cut out the dead wood and give a clear view of my current work. Anyone with too many styles and no distinct 'handwriting' will not spring to mind when a particular art editor is looking for an illustrator. If a job requires a 'Steadman' or a 'Grimwood' those artists will be called on to do their thing. I need to become a more clearly defined 'me' so commissioning editors etc. can see who I am.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tiddles Art

I finished three Tiddles pieces this morning. This is my favourite.
Without cats of our own, I'd never get that sound right.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A Litter Sketch

I was putting some ideas together for my chums at Heritage Crafts yesterday and this kind of popped out. Not really appropriate for being turned into a cross stitch picture, but worth sharing.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Say Hello to my little friend

In the future, when health and safety issues result in the banning of contact sports, robots are created to replace humans in the sporting arena. These robots are programmed to be brutally competitive and ruthless in their aims. Everything was going well, until one day, one of them found a gun...

Inked line, digitally coloured.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Character Development

This is Millicent, she's far from innocent.
I tried this without the purple eye shadow (not on me, you understand - purple isn't my colour) but it made her face look washed out. Maybe she's just raided her mum's makeup collection.
I don't have a name for the mouse. What name would you give a 'moustronaut'?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I'm in!

After moving my drawing board into the new studio and building some Ikea furniture, I've started working in there proper. Slowly arranging my space so it feels right.
I decided against installing my huge drawing board. At around 1500mm x 1000mm, it's a bit of a monster and I'm unlikely to do any art larger than my regular board, which is half the size.

If I need to produce anything bigger, there's plenty of space for an easel.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

From lively pencil to colourful art

I've not posted for a long time. My apologies. It's because I've been slaving away on designs I'm not allowed to show you. You probably thought I've been sitting on sunny riverbanks, dabbling my toes in the inviting waters while sunlight reflected from the ripples sends sparkling patterns across my face. This is England in February. Don't be daft!
Something I've been working on over the last few days is a series of illustrations for publication in the summer. One of the images provides an interesting comparison between the first scribble and the final piece.

I like the energy in this first pass. You can see how I was searching for the poses of the characters.

In the final piece, (well, almost final, it's not been approved by the client yet) while it might do the job required of it, I feel in converting it to vector artwork, it loses that lovely whooshy energy of the first sketch.

Even though the tiny pencil drawing is only 70mm wide, it's the one I'd rather hang on my wall. Maybe it's just me, but art produced via computer, no matter how incredible it is, will never have the same appeal to me as something produced by traditional means.

Monday, January 4, 2010

My Garden Studio Takes Shape

Since the components for my self-assembly garden studio arrived in early December, the weather has been too grim, wet and cold to do any assembly. My brother in law and I grasped the opportunity for what seemed like a string of rainless days (OK, a couple of showers slipped under the radar). The important thing is the bulk of the assembly is done and I now have a box with a roof.

There's still quite a bit of work to do and I don't expect it to be ready for a few weeks but it sure is looking good. I'm really keen to get in and start painting.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Adobe Illustrator, for a change.

The second part of this week was spent working on schematic diagrams for a new client, a sports equipment supplier. The idea is to show the layout and sequence of various pieces of apparatus and youngsters doing whatever activity is required for each piece. However, that could’ve been the pitfall. As soon as you start drawing children, you have all of the complications associated with covering all the bases – gender, race, hairstyle, fashion, disabilities, etc., etc. So, to prevent the whole project disappearing under tokenistic obstacles, I came up with a purple figure without gender or features. The ideal solution. Quite an adventure really, drawing something innocent instead of a cat doing bad things to a mouse, a hamster or a goldfish. It’s also nice to use the clean precision of Adobe Illustrator after so long using traditional artwork.

Still plenty left to make next week an adventure.

Monday, November 2, 2009

My food gives me the runs

A suggestion by Jon Blackford of Heritage Crafts led to this image.
I've always enjoyed puns and wordplay, so the combination of words and pictures afforded me by the adventures of Tiddles allows me to have a little fun.

It's like something from 2001 a Space Oddyssey

Like the black monolith in the film, but grey and lying down. Oh, and it's in my garden.
Taking off the timber shuttering from the concrete base for the new studio - I understand the term is 'to strike' - I'm impressed by the result. This doesn't mean a departure to my regular work. No monstrous pieces of concrete will be littering my portfolio, but it's good to do something I've never done before - and it come out OK.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Garden Studio Project

I confess, I'm no gardener, so the sympathetic clearing of the area at the back of my garage to accommodate the new studio was hard work, especially since Dawn pointed out several plants that needed saving. Here was I ready for a slash and burn session but thwarted by having to keep some plants alive.
Anyway, three weeks ago, all cleared, potted, transplanted and a layer of beautifully broken paving slabs as hard core, I laid the concrete with the assistance of my brother in law, Chris. I needed to have the base complete because the building, which arrives in sections, was due for delivery this week and the base needs to have hardened enough to take the build.
All went surprisingly well.
The next stage is to remove the timber 'shuttering' from the concrete. That'll be a tense moment.

The layer of hardcore ready for concrete.

Two weeks after laying, the base looking good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Creative Hinckley Website

The Creative Hinckley now has a proper grown-up website.
It's even got a picture of me somewhere in there using my jolly smiley face.

This is only the first phase of the website. The next step is to include individual showcases of all of our members, thus showing the breadth of creative talent pulsing and throbbing in this area.
It's going to be an exciting site. Come and visit us to see what we're up to.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Worrier Done Good

The little painting I put into the open exhibition at the Ten2 Gallery was voted by the visitors to the gallery into joint third place.
It's the first time I've put any of my personal art out for public consumption and to be voted on at all is a nice feeling.
I'll have to find a space to hang the little fella now. Bless 'im.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A Studio in the Garden

For a long time, I've lamented the fact that I don't have enough room in my tiny studio to set up an easel or to have unfinished oil paintings hanging around for fear of smearing them as I move around. So, I've taken the bold step of having a studio in the garden. In a few weeks I'll be taking delivery of a wooden building to use as my studio. I'm going to keep any technology in the room where I am now, but move the majority of the messy and space-hungry art making operation into the garden. This will allow me to work closer to my wife Dawn as she works in her glass studio a few yards away. How romantic.
For several days I've been preparing the site with clearing plants and bushes, digging out soil and breaking up concrete for the foundation - all very physical.
Hopefully, it'll be operational by the end of the year - fingers crossed.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Studio Space Gathers Pace

The conversion of the Victorian hosiery factory into a hub of throbbing creativity is gathering pace. The project, or at least the renovation of the building, is scheduled to be complete late spring or early summer 2010. The development of the creative community won't end there, it'll roll on like an unstoppable leviathan. Ooh, that sounds too much like a game trailer.
The interior of the building , decades of paint and factory crud, is being sandblasted away to leave a clean interior - a blank canvas if you like - to accept its new role.

Also this week, the website for Creative Hinckley was launched.
This is phase one. The second phase will have individual pages for members allowing them to show their work, talk about themselves, run their own blog and eventually to sell their work from the site. All very exciting stuff.

Next on the agenda is to get the branding going. We have a name for the building, so we need to work on an identity. More of that another time.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Chum Don Coker

Don Coker, a friend in Columbus, Georgia, after many years working in the newspaper business as caricaturist, illustrator, art director and designer, recently found himself out of work because of the global economic downturn. He now finds himself with time to develop a business as a freelance illustrator/fine artist. As part of the process, he's taken up something that I'd love to have the time for - he's going to paint a face a day - every day. Take a look at his blog at:
He's already done some fantastic little paintings and each one is for sale - well, an artist has to eat, right?
I like sites that get updated regularly (yeah, OK, my isn't updated as regularly as I'd like but hey...)

Anyway, go and have a look at his stuff - often.
He's ridiculously talented and I really can't understand why the penny-pinching newspaper let him go.

By the way, that's not him in the picture.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Private View

Last night I attended a Private View at a little gallery where a piece of my work was accepted for inclusion in an open exhibition. I mentioned a while ago about how I'd never put anything of mine forward for an exhibition - it never really crossed my mind. So, for the first time, a painting of mine is on the wall in a gallery, for sale and everything. It'd be rude not to go along and see it 'working'. Clearly a very popular moment for many people. It was a bit of a squeeze.
Too many people in not enough space isn't the way to appreciate art. Still, my lovely wife Dawn and me hung around and eventually the crowd thinned and we could get a better look at everything.
My little painting, 'The Worrier' (I won't bore you with another photograph - see previous posts) resplendent in sumptuous gold frame looks just fine among the bigger kids in the playground. I'm proud of the little fella. If anyone just happens to be passing, feel free to call in and see 'The Worrier' here:
Everything in the exhibition is for sale and there are some excellent pieces.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A Wet Weekend

I spent last weekend in Cornwall with a group from the TVR Car Club. I enjoy camping, so jumped at the opportunity to spend a few nights under canvas. It gave me the opportunity to spend a day with my good friend, artist Patrick Woodroffe. Patrick was a very busy illustrator when I was cutting my teeth as a designer and illustrator in the seventies and eighties. I always loved his work, so it was fantastic for me that we became friends. You can see some of his work here:

We spent the day catching up and walking around his home town of Falmouth. Lovely, lovely man.

Here also is a pic of some of the twenty or so cars that travelled down for the weekend. Mine's the dirty one in the foreground.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Working away on the computer today, I a tiny movement out of the corner of my eye.
On my windowsill I have several mugs with pens, pencils, brushes etc.
A tiny black parasitic wasp (I assume, I'm no entomologist) about 5mm long, carrying something bulky, disappeared into one of the caps I put over some of my steel nibs to protect them, and me from getting accidental tattoos.
I tapped the pen holder and the bug flew out of the open window. Curious I lifted the lid to expose the nib to find about a dozen stunned aphids stuffed into the hollow at the base of the crowquill sized nib - food, I assume for the wasp's babies.
Some of the aphids were black and bloated, so I guess they were the ones with the eggs already inside.
Now, I'm an easy going guy, but I can't tolerate wasps nesting inside my tools, so I tipped the stunned aphids out of the window and their inevitable doom.
Am I a bad person? I think I can live with myself.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Furry Feline Fun

Even though I feel I'm racing ahead of a tidal wave of work and conflicting deadlines, I still like to squeeze in a quickie if I can. My chums at Heritage Crafts wanted to extend their range of feline embroidery designs, so on Father's Day last Sunday, I whacked out this shape in pencil and coloured it up in Photoshop over the next couple of days, snatching time between surges of other work. I would one day consider a more complex version of it and probably introduce a few more cats, perhaps in pen and ink. This version is deliberately quite basic because the image is always further simplified to be able to reproduce it in cross stitch.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Just because you have a key, doesn't mean you get the treasure.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fat Chunk 2 - Zombies Now Available

I'm one of the sixty or so artists contributing to the Fat Chunk comic anthology.
This, the second issue, has a zombie theme and one of its many pages has a piece by little me.
Apparently it's now available from comic stores and assorted outlets that peddle comic type stuff.
It's good to be involved with something like this that is so different from my regular work.
It's always good to wander off the regular path to smell the flowers.
Anyway, if you want to sample the delightful combination of zombie and comic - and can live with something that only has one page of me in it*, go and grab yourself a copy of Fat Chunk 2.
Go on, it's only little, I'm sure you can find space for it.

*I don't want anyone coming to me and complaining that they dashed out and bought it on the strength of wading through tons of my work - I contributed one page, that's all, but there's lots more pages of icky gooey zombification from heaps of talented artists from all over this lovely little planet of ours.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Something to worry about

A few months ago, during my first foray into using oils proper, I did a thing called 'The Worrier'.
Looking at it again, I realised that the subject hasn't got anything to worry about, so I added a few shadowy figures in the background and I'm pleased with the effect. The characters can represent anything the viewer wants - I won't make any suggestions. I think it's down to the individual to decide.
Here's an updated version.
In support of my local art materials supplier, I'm considering putting this tiny six and a quarter inch square painting forward for their summer exhibition. The problem is, the paperwork asks for a selling price. I'm terrible at putting a price tag on my work, so any suggestions are welcome.