Monday, September 22, 2008

Hamilton's Head

At any one time, I have several books in varying states of development. One that I'm currently working on is called 'Hamilton's Hiccups'.
Hamilton is a dragon who, as you probably already guessed, has hiccups, and asks the help of his friend, Tilly, to cure them.
To help myself with the illustration process, I sculpted a maquette of Hamilton's head.
It's so much easier to draw something in front of me than to try and imagine how he might look from any angle. The body will probably never appear in the same pose, so I'll draw that out as I go along. Meanwhile, here are a couple of photographs of Hamilton's head.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


There are two kinds of tasks in life - 'Got to do' things and 'Want to do' things.
The key to a happy life is getting the balance right.

I had a letter from my accountant last Friday. In it he asked for my accounts for last year. Gulp! I'd completely forgot to do them and I was three months late. I've been too busy doing the things I wanted to, that it completely slipped my mind. Well, that was pretty much my weekend sorted. Crunching numbers and shuffling paper. Not the most fun I've ever had, but I got it done.

In this case, my 'Want to do's got in the way of my 'Got to do's and I suffered the consequences.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

No Fish

Brilliant! No nasty fishy burps from my Sainsbury's Crumpets.
They must've changed the recipe.
I'm now looking forward to my breakfast in the morning.

Over recent days I've been practicing drawing characterful faces. For some reason they've been coming out long and thin, but they've been fun to work on.
I decided I'd like to add some colour digitally and wanted to try an idea I had.
When I paint with acrylics, I lay down a block of colour of the darkest tone of the subject, then progressively bring the tones up to the highlight - the opposite of working in watercolour where white paper is progressively overlaid with colour to arrive at the darkest tone.
I wanted to try the acrylic method digitally.
I scanned my drawing and created a separate layer in Photoshop to apply colour and went for it.
I deliberately kept the brushwork loose because I was just doing this to explore the process and didn't want to overcook it. I like art that keeps a look of energy, which is often lost on highly finished pieces.
I started a few days ago and showed my progress to my good friend James Ryman ( At the time I'd used a purple secondary light from the right of the image and he advised I make it warm. So, tonight I continued with the image, taking James' advice. It works. He's called 'The Worrier' for obvious reasons.
I'm pleased with the result and will definitely explore the method further - when I get the opportunity.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fishy Burps

I've just had two very nice crumpets for my breakfast.
While I stood in the kitchen, munching away, I looked at the list of ingredients printed on the side of the wrapper.
There was nothing in the list that might help me with a question that has bugged me for years - Why, if I eat crumpets for breakfast (or any meal, for that matter), a matter of hours later do I start burping fishy flavours?
I love eating fish, but I can confirm that no fishy substance has passed my lips for a while.

Let's see what today holds.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Free Biscuits!

Working from home is an odd existence. These days I seldom need to leave the house for business. I might have to walk 100 yards to the Post Office to send parcels etc., but other than that, I call someone if I need materials and most of my communication is via email.
So, it's all too easy to detach myself from the world and scratch away in my little bubble of self-containment.

A while back I saw an article in our local newspaper about a group of local professional creative folk who were working together to develop an old sock factory and turn it into a 'centre of creativity' and they were having a meeting to launch the scheme. I was intrigued. You mean there are other creative people in this area? They must have their own bubbles of existence, or maybe mine is double insulated. I decided I could do with getting out of the house for a while, besides, there was the added lure of a drink and some food, so I went along to see what kind of biscuits they had.

The meeting was interesting. There were far more and diverse creative people in my area than I'd expected. To cut a long story short, I put myself forward as a potential member of the committee. Me! I've never been on a flippin' committee in my life. Committees are what grown-ups do. Organised, rational people go on committees to be rational and organised.
The aim of the group is to bring together all threads of the local creative community and and use the old building as a place to do it. Proper community spirited and all that. A proper adventure outside my little bubble to be sure.
The food was nice too, but no biscuits as I recall.

The first committee meeting I attended turned out to be at the studio of a photographer I'd used many years ago for some work I needed for a brochure. He was a fellow committee member and our common involvement with photography proved a good icebreaker.

My first contribution to 'Creative Hinckley', for that's the name of the project, was to propose I did a corporate ID with which the group could represent ourselves.
The existing one had been put together by a member of the committee and it needed a little help.
Now, it's been a while since I did any ID work, but it's something I've always enjoyed, so I rattled out some ideas and Lo, we now have a logo.
Interestingly, a colleague on the committee showed my work to someone who needed an identity for another project, so I was asked to do something for that too. What's more, I got wonderfully positive feedback from him. It's always nice to receive a good response to stuff, whatever it is.

It's been really refreshing plunging back into the world of people. I'm even looking forward to the next committee meeting. At the last one we had chocolate biscuits!
At the first one I went to there was cake too!

I'll let you know how things go - outside my bubble!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I can do horses!

If you're familiar with my biography, you'll know I grew up with the notion that I couldn't draw horses. Well, wonder of wonders, I found out after all this time that I can draw horses!
I had a request from the charity Riding for the Disabled Association (RDA) if I could produce a piece of artwork for this year's Christmas card. They sell the cards to raise funds for their very worthy cause.
I have to admit, a shudder ran down my spine at the thought of doing anything equine.
My belief that horsey art was simply beyond my capabilities must've become so deeply entrenched over the years because I'd never actually been called upon to do any.
So, I looked at a horse or two and started sketching out ideas - Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, it needed to be cartoony and, hopefully, funny.
I sent off two drawings as proposed designs, and waited.
The reaction was that the RDA liked both ideas and they would like to use one now and the other for next year's card. Brilliant!
Chuffed to bits, I completed the artwork and sent it off to the printers.
Samples and a letter of thanks arrived this week and I have to say, I'm delighted with the result.
As an extra way of the RDA raising some funds, I donated the artwork for them to sell. That'll be on eBay during the first week of December this year, so look out for it. I hope it goes to a good home and manages to raise a few pounds for the charity. After all, it's a very important piece of artwork for me - it means I can now say "I can do horses!"