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.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Time Flies

Time flies - that sounds like an insect that I need to incorporate in a story or something.
Over the last few weeks I've been swamped by requests to produce some good old-fashioned graphic design work on the Mac. Having been working mainly in illustration and writing for the last seven years, it's been quite refreshing to do the kind of work I carried out for over twenty years. Meeting deadlines and delivering stuff on time has meant I've not had chance to work on any of my own projects.

One interesting development in recent weeks - my book 'The Boy with an Axe in His Head' has finally found its way into Waterstone's stores. Due to an administration hiccup, they were prevented from placing orders for the book.
All sorted now and the orders are coming in weekly.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


May already!
We had a meeting recently about the building that is being converted into a centre for creative excellence. The work is progressing well. The building is being made weatherproof so the interior work can begin in ernest - good old Ernest. At the meeting we were specifying details like how many electrical outlets to go in the workshops and where the radiators should go in the gallery space. All very exciting.
The project has also been cut. It looks like the handover will be late spring, early summer 2010, so it's full steam ahead.

I did some schematic diagrams in Google Sketchup to help the members of Creative Hinckley understand what's going where in the huge space. All the colours overlap, but this might give you some insight into the scale of the project.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mary had a zombie

When my pal Jamie Smart asked if I'd like to contribute to the comic anthology Fat Chunk, I thought it an ideal opportunity to air an idea I had. A zombie version of the poem Mary had a little lamb.
It was this idea that led to the 'My Little Zombie' project I have in development, but this was a chance to share the idea in its essence.
I'll keep you posted of when the anthology is published. Meanwhile, here's Mary.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Feline Foibles

Our cats Tom and Poppy often bring us presents. I wonder how they decide which portion to eat for themselves and which to give to us.
Another thought I had - if cats rather than humans had evolved to be the the primary species, would they do something about their washing habits? Ewwwww!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bumper Sticker Tiddles

A more compact approach - well, it saves me having to draw all those toes.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Covering all angles

Using Super Sculpey I blocked out a maquette of Tiddles' head for when I need to draw him from anything other than full face. The first attempt looked fine from the front, but the profile looked like he'd had an argument with a wall, and lost.
Since I'm only using this as a rough guide, I'm not going to get hung up on the detail, but it has to be worth a coat of paint, surely.


If I'm going to bundle Tiddles up and present him to people, he should have a logo.
I tried a few images of cat flaps, paws and shredded fabric, but in the end, settled for this.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Tiddle in public

A client, Heritage Crafts, asked me to spend a day on their exhibition stand at a trade show this week. I've done 'live art' sessions before, but they are usually spent at an easel with pencils and acrylics. The images I wanted to work on at the show were extending the range of Tiddles images. Tiddles art is coloured with acrylic inks with linework in black rollerball executed on the level because of the flooding of ink washes I like to employ to avoid too flat colour.

The day went well with people stopping by to chat and to see the images take shape.
I was pleased to leave with a couple of pieces to add to the Tiddles collection.
I'm hoping to expand the range with a view to getting Tiddles on greetings cards etc., but to do that, I have to make the images 'event specific', like birthdays, anniversaries etc.
More things for my 'To do' list.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

For me? Thumbnail

Found it underneath some drawing board debris. Crikey, look at the size of that head!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

For me?

It was my friend, Gemma Wegner's birthday on 31st January, so I did her a bit of art to mark the occasion.
I had no idea what I was going to produce until I scribbled out a quick thumbnail sketch, which is now buried somewhere on my drawing board.
The finished piece was done in pencil and watercolour at A4, perhaps one day I might have another go at it in a different medium.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Believe it or not, until a few weeks ago, I'd never seriously used oil paint. Way back in Art School you'd think would be the obvious opportunity, but no. For me, any painting or drawing was done in acrylics or gouache, pastels, chalks, pencil, ballpoint pen, but no oils.
I've travelled the varied road of a creative career and produced a huge range of images and for some reason I never got round to experiencing oil paints.
Maybe two years ago, I decided I should give them a try, because, lets face it, oils have been the medium of choice for some magnificent art. So, I researched - possibly a little too much. I bought a range of what I thought I'd need, but that was when the confusion set in.

So far, the only liquid/medium I'd added to my paint of the moment was water. Suddenly, here was such a bewildering array of oils, turpenoids, dryers, retarders and accelerators that it made my head spin. Alchemy! That's what it is. I was confused and confounded. Which is the right combination for me to use? I studied books on the subject and not one book agreed with another and each went into greater depths of how to triple filter this and distill that. I just wanted to make some coloured marks on a canvas or board to see what it was like!
That was the crux. In any other endeavor, I'd pretty much waded in to see what happened. I should just do the same with oils. I spoke to my good friend James Ryman, a seasoned user of oils and also took the advise of Rose Allinson, my local art materials 'pusher' and educator, and using a combination of linseed oil and turpentine or Liquin as a choice of mediums, I got down to it.
I decided to dedicate my Christmas break 2008 to sampling the process and, even though the results will never grace anyone's wall, I really enjoyed the process.
I had three images on the go using a different approach to each.
Interestingly, the one I found most enjoyable was the more loose, slightly impasto style furthest removed from what I'd consciously produce.
I'll definitely be doing more with oils, once the deadlines and pressure of paying bills backs off a little.

The Minnie Mouse image is from a photograph on Deviantart, the face of the politician is from a newspaper image and the worried guy is from one of my sketches.
I make no excuses for quality or style - here are the results.
Minnie - 6.5"x7.5"
Politician - 10"x8"
The Worrier - 6"x6"