Saturday, September 10, 2011

Wave Hello ... Say Goodbye ...

This is my very last post on this blog.

It has been very good to me this past four years but it's starting to go all wonky and haywire and it's becoming too hard to maintain. I think the problem lies in the fact that it's gone through three migrations of Blogger and there's just too much data stored here.

So, say goodbye to this site.But say hello to this site!
Yup, a whole new blog, fresh start etc etc.

I will be carrying on with the 365 Doodles project right up until December 31st. And expect all the usual rubbish that I would have posted to this blog.

Think of it as a regeneration.

365 Doodles - Day 252

Cloudy cider, coloured pens and odd requests by Twitter chums often result in doodles like these.

Blame Esme Tearle (@esme_etc) - she asked for them.

Friday, September 09, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 251

More sketchpad stuff. Two different doodles of the same cartoon. Like the idea - haven't nailed the caption yet.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 250

Day 250! Feels like some kind of major milestone. But then, again, it means I still have another 115 doodles to post on this blog before the year is complete. Criminy.

Today's doodle was drawn in the Dog and Duck pub in Soho yesterday after four pints. That's my excuse. Plus the fact I had my mitts on a brand new fat Posca pen.

And on the subject of doodles ... the Doodleshare Project has moved on and the very excellent Moose Allain has added his unique touch to the piece:

It now moves onto the next artist. Am loving watching it develop and was delighted to be a part of it. Want to follow too? Click here occasionally.

The Angry Art Challenge - The results!

A HUGE thank you to everyone who took part in the Angry Art Challenge I set a few days ago. The response was amazing! And from such a diverse crowd too, pro artists and dabblers alike. I was particularly chuffed by the number of entries from younger artists. They were so creative! Here's a short video of all of the pieces that came in before the deadline. A few more have floated in since.

I'm currently working on a book that, unfortunately, I can't explain in its entirety yet as I don't want some smartarse to take the idea and pip me to the post (that's happened before severa times - see older blogposts)! What I can say is that I wanted to prove a point; that given limited resources - basically stuff lying around the house - anyone can make art. You don't need expensive oil paints or yew easels. You don't need a university education. All you need is inspiration, determination and the confidence to 'have a go' and enjoy doing so. Judging from what you all sent me, you had great fun!

Thank you so much - I will be contacting you all shortly to get your addresses so that I can send you your paltry reward: an original doodle by me.

And if all goes to plan (and my excellent agent is successful), some of these will end up in the finished book.

This was fun. perhaps we should have another challenge soon ... ?

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Curry and Prince Charles' willy

An interesting and inspiring day in London today. After a splendid lunch time pint or three with my old mucker Huw Williams, I grabbed my chum Naomi Stolow and headed over to Shoreditch to have a look at the Heroes and Villains exhibition being staged at the VZ Gallery in Cheshire Street by the collective known as Hero of Switzerland. This did mean a pleasant walk around the side streets near Brick Lane and being treated to some fantastic street art. And an excellent curry at the Bengal Cuisine restaurant.

The exhibition was superb. Esme Tearle (below) and her partners in crime, Ben Randall and Dan Button have got together an eclectic mix of pieces by artists including Adam Graff, Arina Orlova, Ben Carr, Charlie Mellors, Chris Nunn, Dale Lewis, Fay Heffer, Guy Jarrett, Jess White, Kate Merry, Paul Bommer, Phil Calver, Rebecca Markless, Russell Taysom, Ryan Button, Sebastien Dehesdin and Simon Cheadle. Here you'll find all manner of heroes and villains including Churchill in a Batman outfit, Zippy driving a Dalek and even Prince Charles and Camilla as some very saucy DC superheroes.

Do go along and have a look if you're in the area. The exhibition is on until the 14th September.  
RSVP on the Facebook event page or follow the guys on Twitter for updates @heroswitzerland.

365 Doodles - Day 249

Nope. Not a clue.

It was in a sketchpad.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 248

Today's doodle is my submission to the Horses with Hands riding Bicycles art project run by the Heroes of Switzerland art collective. Here's the blog where you can see, yes, pictures of horses with hands riding bicycles. What larks!

It took me almost exactly seven minutes (I timed it) from start to finish and was drawn in one take using a Stabilo Point 88 pen (fine 0.4) and then badly and hastily coloured with Posca pens.

Tomorrow I'm visiting the Heroes' latest exhibition in London here. Looking forward to it hugely.

Ignorance may be bliss, my friends

I was watching an episode of The Joy of Painting on TV last week - do you know the show? It seems to constantly pop up on one lifestyle channel or other and features Bob Ross showing you how to do an oil painting in half an hour. The shows are nearly always 15-20 years old and Ross himself died in 1995 but their popularity remains undimished. Part of the reason for this is Ross himself, a gentle, permanently smiling man with a voice like a soft drawer-closer gadget and an afro that Shaft would envy. Anyhow, I mention this because I was struck by something Ross said during one show; so much so that I wrote it down. It was this:

I got a letter from somebody here a while back, and they said, 'Bob, everything in your world seems to be happy.' That's for sure. That's why I paint. It's because I can create the kind of world that I want, and I can make this world as happy as I want it. Shoot, if you want bad stuff, watch the news.’

I'm researching a book at the moment that relates to art and decided to use it as a quote. But then the more I read it, the more a deeper truth started to emerge. I realised that, if I looked at my life, almost everything that makes me sad or angry or frustrated and impotent happens somewhere else. And it's nearly always something that I have absolutely no degree of control over either like war or crime or politics or showbiz. So, just as a thought experiment, I asked myself how I would feel if I only looked to my own immediate environs. No newspapers, no TV news, no reality shows or docusoaps. I suddenly found myself in a surprisingly happy place.

We've become informaniacs haven't we? That bastard box in the corner of the room has turned us into news junkies. I actually know more about what's happening to the US economy, the revolution in Libya and recent football transfers (even though I loathe football) than I do about events in the village I live in. For instance, there was a fete on Bank Holiday Monday but I didn't know; there was probably a leaflet through the door at some time but I presumably binned it while watching some programme about the effects of Facebook (which I don't do) on the Middle East (which I've never been to). It's a shame really because I went to the fate last year and it was fun if a little dull (see here). I blogged about it at the time and made the observation that it was weird walking around a supposed 'village fete' and yet I didn't know anyone there. A year later, I'm now asking myself whether I should form an exit strategy for current affairs and an entry strategy for local affairs.

I grew up in the 1960s and 70s, in an age before computers, 24 hour TV and mobile phones. I was in Cornwall, miles from 'the action'. We didn't even hear about events in the next town or village unless it appeared in the local paper a week later. And, I can say without any hesitation whatsoever, I had a brilliant childhood and teenage. No worries, no hassles, no bullying. And I'm convinced part of that is because everyone knew everyone else. There was a real community. That still exists in pockets all over the UK and I LOVE reading local newspaper headlines from places where bugger all ever happens locally. If you've never visited the Angry People in Local Newpapers blog, go and visit now. Now! You'll be glad you did.

So, starting today, I'm going Cold Turkey for a week. I won't read a national newspaper or watch the TV news. I will only watch TV shows that are inspiring, funny or completely factitious. I have turned off my RSS news feeds. I will not visit any newspaper sites. I will limit my involvement on Twitter to pesonal matters only and not get involved in any kind of debate that does't directly affect me where I live. I will read community leaflets pushed through the door and attend some local events. I will read and buy the local paper.

At the moment I'd rate my personal happiness and satisfaction as about 6/10. Will it rise or fall in a week?

It'll be interesting to see.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Saturday, September 03, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 245

Today's doodle is my contribution to the Doodleshare project initiated and devised by Ben Cameron. Basically, a big sheet of paper travels between a whole bunch of contributors who all add a doodle. Here's mine (and Ben's to the left):

Here's Ben's blogpost that launched the project. And if you want to follow the progress of the sheet as it picks up more and more doodles, check in here every so often.

What larks!

Friday, September 02, 2011

The Angry Art Challenge!

Okay people of Blogtown and Twitterville ... I have a challenge for you.

At the moment I'm working on a TOP SECRET project. It's a book. It relates to art and artists. But it is TOP SECRET. So don't try to winkle any more information out of me. My lips are sealed. With epoxy resin. Now, for this TOP SECRET book project, I need some illustrations. Most importantly, I need a range of illustrations. And they don't need to be created by professional artists. In fact, it will help my project immensely if I were to get a range of different people - some professional artists, some amateurs, some hobbyists and some who reckon they'll never be artists - to contribute. The ones I choose will end up in the book. If you fancy getting involved, here's the brief:

I need you to create a work of art called ANGER. This is me being angry a little while ago after the Twitter Joke Trial. Grrr. That'll help set the tone.

I want you to imagine that you've been asked to take part in an exhibition about the Seven Deadly Sins along with six other artists. You've all picked your subjects at random and you have ANGER. Okay so far? Right, here's the twist ...

You can only use any or all of the following reasonably common household objects:

· Paper or card of some kind.
· An ordinary pencil (it will probably be an HB grade but any will do).
· A ballpoint pen – it doesn’t matter what colour.
· Some Plasticine or similar modelling clay (or marzipan or putty).
· A potato.
· Cocktail sticks.
· A sharp knife of some kind.
· Scissors.
· Glue.
· Paper clips.
· Paint or ink of some kind – decorators house paint/emulsion is fine.
· A glossy magazine.
· A newspaper.

The only rules for this challenge are that (a) you come up with the concept yourself, and (b) you must complete the piece of work by Midnight on Wednesday 7th September.

ANGER! Grrrr.

I have deliberately limited your materials and your time for a good reason. Necessity really is the mother of invention and the less you have at your disposal, the more inventive you become. Think about those TV cookery shows where contestants are given a limited range of ingredients. If you’d said to them ‘Use anything you like and take as long as you like’, I can guarantee that they’d fall back on a tried and trusted recipe, one they know well with likely success. By restricting their choices, they are forced to become more creative.

So ... are you up for it? All you need to do is create your work of art and email me a photo or a scan by Midnight on Wednesday. There's no age limit - you can be six or 666. My email address is I'll send an original doodle on a postcard to everyone that enters. And some of them will end up in the book.

Which is TOP SECRET, if I haven't mentioned that before.

Ready ...? Runaround now!

365 Doodles - Day 244

More sketchpaddiness ... but with a theme today. When my grandkids were staying recently, they were always asking me to draw stuff. I responded by getting them to draw stuff for me - it's a great way to encourage them. Then I (foolishly) claimed that I could probably draw most types of animals from memory. The kids' response was to shout out the names of every animal they'd ever heard of in the expectation that I could doodle them. I just about managed to keep up and here's one of the pages that resulted:

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised that they knew what a platypus and an echidna are.

Go kids!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 243

A couple more pages from a sketchpad. Goodness knows what a psychoanalyst woud make of it all ...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 242

Today's doodle is a character I created for a strip in a magazine for Brunel University many, many moons ago. The strip only ran for about five weeks and I sadly don't have copies of any of them (though I remember them well enough to re-draw them I guess). I do have these sketchpad pages though. And at least one gag has been preserved! Say hello to Dirty Trunker.

365 Doodles - Day 241 - Update!

I don't know what mysterious or alchemical process he used but an old mucker of mine called Tony Evans has actually found the pet shop whose signage I did back in the late 1980s. Here it is, as it is now, in Windermere Road.

I say mysterious because even I couldn't remember what road it was on. The man must have sold his soul to the Devil. Or Tesco. (They're interchangeable these days.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 241

Here's an old piece from around 1989. I got asked to paint a shop sign for a pet shop in Wembley (I lived there at the time) that specialised in aquaria. The limitations I faced were: (a) I had to use the existing board, (b) I had to paint over the name of the previous owner and cover an unsightly paint splash in the centre of the text, and (c) I had to include a whale (I have no idea why). What emerged was this very odd and unprofessional looking shop front.

Still, it's always nice to tackle a larger job. I love doing murals. I wish I got to do more.

Monday, August 29, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 240

Some sketches for a possible commission piece. I like the idea of the jockey having been thrown over the horse's head and now hanging by the reins. Ha!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 239

Some better photos of the Junk Owls today.

Plus here's a cartoon I did a few years ago to commemorate a friend's cat. Not my usual kind of piece but I quite enjoyed it.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 238

A very strange self-portrait from 2007. Very strange.

No stunner at Stonor

I went to Stonor Park at Henley-on-Thames this morning to the annual Chilterns Crafts show. I go most years and quite enjoy mooching around the marquees (especially the food hall) and chatting to other artists. It's usually a good indicator of current trends in the arts and crafts community. And it often sparks my creativity and gets the juices flowing.

This year was strangely disappointing though. There's usually some new innovation or unusual new twist on an older craft to get excited about ... but not this year. It ws the same old jewellery, metal sculpture, pottery and paintings. The show was top heavy with clothing stalls including leather goods that clearly were not the work of the swarthy gentlemen selling them. I started to get a sinking feeling when I saw one lady painting landscapes with household emulsion that were all about technique over content and who was selling them signed and framed for £20-30. No passion. No soul. No story. What hope is there for us artists when this mass-produced stuff is so affordable?

That said, there was some exceptional artwork on display. There was glassware by Cornwall's own Jo Downs. I love her stuff and own several pieces. Visit her site here. Eli Ofir's House Portraits showed some exemplary pencil work and an interesting selling point in his signature skewed perspectives. You can see his work here. Lovely stuff but I wouldn't ask him to draw my three bedroomed semi even if I could afford him. He's strictly a posh house owning client kind of a guy. Also way out of my price league were Bruce Aitken's amazingly beautiful wooden clocks. Definitely my favourite thing at the show. Here's the website. Just how gorgeous are they? I also loved the sensuous curvy wooden lamps of Christian Wallis (see here). I'd have one in the house tomorrow if I had the pennies.

The Chilterns Craft Show has traditionally always catered for an audience that either has money or big gardens. Not everyone has the room for a life-sized metal warthog or the spare cash to buy a handcrafted £2000 clock. But this year the show featured a lot more affordable items and while many were genuinely lovely, there was a lot of obviously mass-produced stuff. That, to me, is not what a craft fair is about. It lowers it to little more than a car boot sale or a weekend market. So I'm hoping for better stuff next year. And better weather! The sun was gloriously hot at times but only in the gaps between the torrential rain squalls.

Oh and one more tiny niggle ... if you're going to charge the public £6.50 per head at least give them the little guide booklet for free. It may only have been an extra 20p for a single folded sheet but I found it hugely irksome to shell out further. Next time, charge me and £6.70 and say that the booklet is free. I'll still feel that the entrance fee is overpriced but at least I won't feel so ripped off.