Tuesday, May 31, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 151

Meet Deathpig - One of the villains who turned up frequently in the Domestic Science Man and Duncan Disorderly strips that I wrote and drew in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Here, he has turned the Moon into a pyramid in order to turn all the world's milk into yoghurt. True.

Monday, May 30, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 150!

Yes! I've reached 150 days in my plan to show you 365 slices of my psyche during 2011. Following the four pages of my Duncan Disorderly strip yesterday, here are three more.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Saturday, May 28, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 148

A panel from a page of The Highly Unlikely Adventures of Domestic Science Man, a strip I created in the 1980s and subsequently drew over 200 pages of. It was very silly. I may post a few pages this coming week.

Friday, May 27, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 147

A doodle from a few years back that demonstrates what I thought about a certain insurance company that did to me what the dog is doing to the rug. Someone smashed up my car. They were unemployed and broke and the car was parked on my drive. The insurance company stated that if I made a claim I'd lose my 'no claims' bonus. So I had to either take out a private prosecution against someone who couldn't pay, lose my bonus or pay the repair bill myself. Whichever way you look at it, the bulldog wins. Sigh.

I changed companies. But they're all as fecking bad as each other I'm afraid.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 145

The King of Zog - sketch for a children's book by Terry Bergin that may not happen now due to the fact that the publishing world is now run by accountants. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 144

A couple of T-Shirt designs today both available here on my Redbubble account.

Laurel and Hardy somewhere over the Dark and Tainted Rainbow

Words cannot express how much I love this. Huge thanks to my buddy Huw Williams for bringing it to my attention. What is so extraordinary about it is just how well the dance movements fit the lyrics ... 'Once I ran to you, now I run from you' ... Of course, it's all massively coincidental.

It reminded me of that old urban myth about Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon album synchronising with the MGM film The Wizard of Oz. To quote from my own book Joined-Up Thinking:

'Those who ‘know’ will tell you that if you start playing Pink Floyd’s album on the MGM lion’s third roar and watch and listen to both simultaneously, a remarkable series of coincidences occur. For example, the film changes from sepia tone to colour upon Dorothy’s arrival in Oz. This synchronises almost exactly with the start of the track Money. Then Glinda the do-goody-good witch appears at the same time as the line ‘do-goody-good bullshit’ is sung. And during the guitar solo, the Munchkins’ dance routine seems to follow the various tempo changes and the soldiers also appear to be marching in time with the music. Watch the two together and make up your own mind. The film is much longer than the album, of course, but aficionados will tell you that you have to play the album three times through. They claim that the synchronisations still occur on all three playings.'

You can read a lot more about 'The Dark Side of the Rainbow' by clicking here. Oh and buy my book of course. Meanwhile, enjoy this small part of the myth in action:

The original, better quality YouTube clip can be watched here.

Arty Update

Two things to tell you all about. Firstly, a selection of my original paintings is now for sale on my website. Click here or on the kid in the red boots at the top right of this page for more details.

Secondly, I've put together a first portfolio book of my artwork. It has 30 pages, mostly in full colour and is landscape A4 size. It contains more than 50 illustrations and paintings. Click here for pricing and order info and to see a full preview. Meanwhile, here are some sample spreads to give you a taste.

Baby needs shoes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

I like to have fun

A brilliant montage of 1980s dating videos. Joy.

365 Doodles - Day 143

A Christmas card design from last year. The theme was 'All I want for Christmas is ...'

My answer was 'depth perception'.

Art House

Over the years I've gathered an eclectic mix of artwork, bric-a-brac and gewgaws. And following a discussion about this magpie tendency I thought I'd post a tour of my personal art gallery. Let's start in the garden with two life-sized African bird statues made from recycled cars.

There's also a surrealist mermaid sculpture by Gary Pollard, the man who sculpted Yoda for the Star Wars films and most of the creatures in the Harry Potter films.

Moving inside, we'll start upstairs with these two signed prints by Govinder Nasran who died tragically young ust a couple of years ago. The dog is called Mr Whelks and the cat is called Mr Cockles. Both are very limited edition (60 only) artist's proofs and I'm glad I bought them when I did as you can rarely find his signed work for less than £500. You'll meet Govinder again when we move downstairs.

Walking downstairs we pass this print by Cesar Manrique, a Lanzarote-based contemporary (and friend) of Picasso whose work can be seen all over the island. You can also visit his house and studio. I fell in love with his work on my first visit to the Canaries and have been back many times since. Ah, if only it was an original ...

And on another wall of the stairwell is this wonderful batik I bought on a visit to Sri Lanka. I managed to blag a tour of the silk factory and saw how it was produced, woven and how the batik was created using inks and hot wax. It's a wonderful skill. This piece is about six feet high.

Moving into the lounge, we start with an original animation cell from the 1990s cartoon series Count Duckula, made by Cosgrove Hall - the same people who created Dangermouse. Below this is a cartoon of me by my late father Myghal. It captures a moment in the mid-1980s when I was visiting my native Cornwall with two very young children and Dad couldn't believe the amount of paraphernalia I had to carry with me.

This next print is a very early hand-coloured piece called Puffin/Nuffin by Simon Drew. I met him on the Scilly Isles in the early 1980s when he was just starting out as a pro artist and I loved his work immediately. I got him to sign it and have taken great pleasure from it ever since. Simon now owns his own gallery in Devon and is also sold at the exclusive Chris Beetles gallery in London. Hanging below that is a ceramic tile piece by Cesar Manrique.

Here's a photographic print by Staffordshire artist Peter Fellows called A walk on the beach. I love this one because the beach in question is Godrevy in Cornwall, a place that holds wonderful childhood memories for me. I love the fact that it takes a moment to spot the people and get the actual scale of the image.

Now we come to the star of my 'collection' if we can call it that. It's a signed and limited edition Beryl Cook print called Elvira's Cafe that I was bought for my 40th birthday. I've always been a huge fan of Beryl and was lucky enough to meet her during an exhibition at the Portal Gallery in London. She was one of the jolliest people I've ever met and couldn't understand what people saw in her work. she told me she painted for the pleasure of painting and actually hated letting any of them go. Necessity forced her to eventually as she was running out of room in her house in Plymouth.

This next piece is a curious collaboration between me and the sculptor Sophie Thompson. The skeleton is by Sophie. The frame above it was made by me from Cornish driftwood I'd gathered and contains a photo I took of one of Sophie's fish sculptures.

Some 3D work now with two Govinder Nasran sculptures called Elvis and Bandit, both signed artist's proof.

And on the mantel you'll find a Poole Pottery vase I bought because the colours were amazing, a wonderful bronze field mouse sculpture - sadly I have no idea who made it - and a robin milk jug by Anthony Theakston.

At the risk of becoming boring, I'll stop now and leave you with a small collection of some of the wooden sculptures I've picked up around the world. The frog is from Lanzarote, the Buddha is from Sri Lanka, the elephant is from Egypt and the group of Guineafowl (my favourite) came from Kenya.

I have a lot more pieces of a art to show you, some on the wall and many many more still rolled up in tubes or sandwiched safely within sheets of card. Maybe I'll do a Part 2 blogpost sometime soon?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 142

A colour study for a possible painting done in the 1990s. Because I was so rubbish at painting, I never got around to doing it. The triangular balloons were inspired by theories I'd read about how the lines on the plains of Nazca were created. In the early 1970s, an idea surfaced that maybe the ancient South American Indians had discovered ballooning centuries before Europe. In 1975 Julian Nott and Jim Woodman built a balloon using only local materials and based it solely upon images of what appeared to be balloons found on rock drawings and pottery fragments. It happily flew over the Nazca plain with the two men seated on a wicker 'saddle'.

Nott repeated the feat in Peru in 2002 with Peter Cuneo. See website here.

The tetrahedral shape of balloon has now become quite popular so the painting doesn't have quite the quirky factor it once had. I still rather like my idea of the upside down rigging though!

Tetrahedral balloon images taken from www.skychariot.com

Cheesy fonts and situation comedies

I spend far too much time in pubs. That's a fact that becomes obvious when you meet me in the oh so substantial flesh. I am now so round and dense that I'm forming my own gravity well. But the pub is important to me as it is the hub of social activity in villages and small towns. These bloody youngsters are slowly destroying them, sadly, with their cheap Tesco vodka and binge drinking culture. For my generation, the idea was to go out and have a good time and if getting slowly bladdered along the way made the experience more fun - great. Now, it seems, the whole reason for going out has been reversed; the aim is to get drunk as quickly as possible and then, hopefully, have a good time. Judging by the numbers of under 20s pushing prams around my High Street, the plan has backfired more than a few times.

For me, part of that 'having fun' business has always been drinking games from the energetic delights of 'Bunny' to more cerebral affairs such as 'Actor or Biscuit' or the excellent 'Cheese or Font'. Never played? Come on then, have a go. You tell me whether the following are cheeses or typographical fonts:

Bandel, Livno, Granjon, Folkard, Oltermanni, Rokpol and Tengwar Noldor.

Tough isn't it? (Answers at end of post.)

Playing silly pub games actually led to writing my first book, Joined-Up Thinking, which grew out of challenges that my friends and I would set each other to find connections between apparently unrelated facts.

Another constant source of entertainment - certainly among blokes anyway - is the discussion of Top Five and Top Ten lists, a habit made famous by Gary and Tony in the sitcom Men Behaving Badly. And, coincidentally, I recently found myself discussing my Top Five favourite sitcoms. It was surprisingly difficult to choose them. There have been so many wonderful programmes made. There was also a sub-discussion about what actually constitutes a situation comedy. Take something like Blackadder for instance. Sitcom or comedy play? What about Cold Feet or Ripping Yarns? By definition, sitcom is 'a genre of comedy that features recurring characters in a common environment such as a home or workplace, accompanied with jokes as part of the dialogue'. That would mean that Fawlty Towers is but Blackadder with its ever-changing cast of characters, possibly isn't. Ebeneezer Blackadder is very different to the Prince Edmund in Series 1 who is, in turn, very different from the Edmund in Series 4. Baldrick goes from being quite bright to a man who uses phlegm for frothy milk, and Percy vanishes while the actor playing him re-emerges as Captain Darling. Meanwhile, the 'situation' that the comedy takes place in changes every series.

Yes, we were probably overthinking the issue but we were around four pints of good bitter in by now. Anyway, after much discussion, I settled upon what I consider to be my Top Five sitcoms.

My Top Five (in no particular order) are: Arrested Development, Fawlty Towers, Frasier, Father Ted and I'm Alan Partridge.

Possibly controversial choices there? Maybe. But you have to draw the line somewhere. I could so easily have included Bottom, Dad's Army, The Young Ones, Black Books, Blackadder (if allowed), Coupling, The Office, Phoenix Nights, Peep Show, Spaced, Hippies, Steptoe and Son, The Thick Of It, Testees, Better off Ted, Curb your Enthusiasm, 15 Storeys High ... but, in the end, I went with the five sitcoms that have made me laugh the most.

What are yours I wonder?

Cheese or font answers: Bandel (Cheese), Livno (Cheese), Granjon (Font), Folkard (Font), Oltermanni (Cheese), Rokpol (Cheese) and Tengwar Noldor (Font). See? Not so easy is it?

Saturday, May 21, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 141

A digital doodle - well, photo manipulation - for a friend whose Husky was five years old today. Happy birthday Rocky!

Friday, May 20, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 140

Character sketches from a fish-based King Arthur book that, like so many things I get involved in, didn't happen. Shame. Would have been a fun one to do. Sigh.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Some more satisifed customers ...

Here's 'Sheep Dip' in its new home with the famiy of a Mr Mark Sunner. And here's a shy and retiring Mo McFarland with the sea monster sketch I auctioned for charity a short while ago.

It's always a pleasure to see my pictures where they're now going to live. That's why I do it; for my pleasure and for wahtever pleasure I can give others.

Ooh ... I've gone all gooey now.

365 Doodles - Day 139

A couple more sketchbook pages from the late 1980s. Pen sketch and coloured ink sketch for same picture.

There's no such thing as 'less serious' to the victim

I'm not a great one for political blogging, preferring the immediacy of realtime debate on Twitter. However, I do feel it necessary to write a short piece about Ken Clarke's insensitive comments yesterday on the subject of rape. It's a subject close to my heart as I have a number of dear friends who have suffered the ordeal of rape. I also, while working as a cop, dealt with many rape victims and offenders. I feel that I am qualified to comment on the situation even if it is only to offer my opinion.

The issue revolves around Clarke's comments that no one convicted of a 'serious rape' would be released as quickly as those guilty of some 'date rapes'. The inference was that some rapes are therefore less serious than others. His comments, not surprisingly, caused an immediate furore and immense anger among rape victims, female and male. I jumped on the bandwagon myself, calling Clarke insensitive only to be rebuked by some people who insisted that there were degrees of seriousness in rape cases. This is the issue I'm going to address here. I'm anxious to clarify my position.

There is no escaping the truth that, from a third party perspective i.e. police, judiciary etc. some rapes look nastier than others. Many are accompanied by violence while others happen when the victim is actually unconscious. When it comes to sentencing, the circumstances in which the assault took place should quite rightly be taken into consideration. However, the seriousness of rape has a lot more to do with effect than cause. For the person experiencing it, the degree of seriousness is entirely personal. I've known women spiral into depression and alcoholism after a 'date rape' (I hate that phrase) in which they got so drunk that they were unable to prevent a man taking advantage. I interviewed a woman who was raped by her uncle - by force but without further assault - and she committed suicide just a few days later. Then again, I've met women gang-raped at knifepoint who admit that while it will always leave them with mental scars, they have nevertheless learned to cope with the memory and live reasonably happy lives. So which is 'serious' and which is 'less serious'? Things are further complicated by legal definition. Rape is different from serious sexual assault; rape involves inserting the penis whereas serious sexual assault involves fingers or other items. Rape is seen as the more serious offece in law and yet I've met men and women who have endured the most horrifically brutal sexual assaults sometimes for hours on end without it being technically classified as rape. Is this any less serious than Ken Clarke's 'serious rape' or 'date rape'?

I don't think that Clarke should be sacked. He's one of the few Tories I've ever had any time for. And he is right in that sentencing should be based upon the features of each individual case. Brutality, torture, mental cruelty should all add weight to a sentence. But the starting point must always be that all rape is serious to the victim. By all means bolt extra penalties and punishments on but never suggest that some people will get off lighter for doing a 'less serious' rape. There's no such thing for a victim. As a QC and Justice Minister he must have known this and I'm sure that he personally doesn't view any rape as less serious than any other. If he does, he doesn't deserve to hold the position of public trust that he does. However, to say what he said without considering how his words could be interpreted shows a degree of political naivety that surprises me. His words were ill-considered and insensitive.

I do applaud the fact that he has apologised. Let's hope that he and his colleagues think before speaking in future. Wishful thinking perhaps.

And, as a barrister friend has just commented to me, what gets lost in the whole guilty/discount debate is that these measures are only necessary because we can't fund the prisons.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 138

A couple of pages from a sketchbook when I was developing the Krane comic character for my independent comics imprint back in the mid 1990s.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making an exhibition of myself

Don't you just love that picture? It's a portrait of comedian Bill Bailey by a local artist from somewhere near where I live. It's warm and naive and funny and I love it. And it's extra funny now thanks to this brilliant photo by my friend Mark Page.

It's one of a hundred or so pieces currently on display at an open exhibition of artworks at the Octagon Gallery in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. The artists range from amateur dabblers through to seasoned pros whose work sells for thousands of pounds. And this year, for the very first time in my life, I'm exhibiting some of my paintings.

The laughing kid in the Sou'wester and big red boots is one of mine. And you may recognise six of my smaller canvasses in the photo below that. They include my take on Edward Lear's The Owl and the Pussycat and my 'Miaowsterchef' cat.

This giant piece, a view of Westminster Palace and the London Eye from the Hungerford Bridge is one of several pieces on display by renowned artist Robin Eckardt who can count people like the BeeGees among her client list. You can visit her site here.

There's a wonderful range of work on display in watercolour, oils, pastels, silk paintings, pencils, ceramics, metalwork and other media; something for everyone and most of it quite affordable. The exhibition runs at the Octagon Gallery, Eden, High Wycombe, until Saturday 21st May and entrance is free. If you're passing by, do pop in and say hello.