Sunday, July 31, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 211

This is Dead Astaire, a painting I've completed in the past two days. My original inspiration was this sketch:

I did it during a live sketching session at the Alt Wycombe Festival earlier this year. Of all the sketches I did, I only kept a couple. This was one of them. I guess it was inspired by the people around me dressed, as they were, as zombies and goths and festooned with extraordinary outfits and amazing tattoos. Anyway, I transferred the drawing to the canvas and, this time, decided to do something a bit different and paint a coloured background. Lots of reds and yellows to make it look like the fires of Hell.

I needed to apply a couple of coats to get the depth of colour I wanted:

Then I began blocking in the figure using raw white and black:

Then I started to build in the shading:

I then realised that his lower jaw was completely skew-whiff (is that how you spell it?) and that his left foot looked like a baguette. So I painted those areas out with white matt emulsion (great covering power) and then repainted the fiery background. Then I repainted the jaw and foot. Hey Presto! The finished article.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 210

I finished my Humpty Dumpty Eggy Soldiers painting a couple of weeks ago (see here). Or, rather, I'd got to the point where I wasn't really happy with it but knew that any more tinkering would probably spoil it. So I put it away and it's been glaring at me from the wall every since. So yesterday, I picked it up, summoned my courage and attacked it.

I'm now happy with Humpty's outfit. I'm still not entirely happy with the horse but it's the first one I've ever painted so I'm willing to let it go. I'm calling this one done.

Things that went well? Learning about colour mixing made the brick wall work (and was carried over into the Trick or Treat! painting I did afterwards. Changing the peasants to soldiers made it a funnier gag. Was very pleased with the eggshell tones and the 3D effect of the broken egg top. I also liked the bread!

Things that didn't go well? The buggering horse, of course. Also, the soldier on the right is pretty poor. His hat is too big and, considering where his feet are, he should be in front of Humpty, not behind. Let's just say he's leaning back shall we?

Overall? I'd give myself 7/10 on this one (where 10 is how I saw the picture in my head).

Friday, July 29, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 209

Some of the monster doodles that led to yesterday's Trick or Treat! painting.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Step inside Love ...

Want to see where I paint and draw all of these pictures and write my books? Oh okay. But, if you did, you could go and visit the website of online arty magazine Creative Boom because they profile my studio today.

Do visit their site and have a poke around. It's a really interesting magazine. I've been dipping in for a month or so.

Meanwhile, here are three of the shots that didn't make the cut.

So ... what's your creative space like?

365 Doodles - Day 208

So here it is, the finished Trick or Treat! painting:

And, as usual, I thought I'd provide another step-by-step guide. It all started - as things so often do - with a small sketch in the corner of a page in a sketchpad:

So, to begin with, I sketched the picture directly onto a canvas with a hard pencil (that won't show through the paint) and played with the composition until I was happy with it. I then used a half-inch flat brush to do a quick under-painting in Venetian Red.

My usual first job is to 'get rid of the white'. In this instance I wanted a brick wall effect and that meant making each brick a slightly different colour. One thing I've learned this past year is mixing colours (this is a really good book on the subject). And a golden rule is that if you make a variety of mixed shades and tones from the same three or four colours, they'll look right side by side even if they're all very different. All of the bricks and the mortar colours were made using black, burnt sienna, white and yellow ochre. The bricks were painted first, then the mortar. Then each brick was shaded using watered-down Winsor and Newton nut brown ink.

I then blocked in the monsters, the doorway, grass, path and Trick or Treaters. However, I then realised that the main monster looked more angry than scared so I had to do some repainting. If he didn't look scared, the whole joke of the piece would be lost.

Having sorted that out, I put a wash of orange ink over the monster to bring all of the colours together. Then I began to work on the window monster who also had to look scared.

A major bugger-up meant that I ended up lowering the hem of the devil's cape! I painted in the details of the remaining figures and added highlights with Posca pens. Then I called it done.

Things that went wrong with this one (apart from the devil's feet)? The only thing that really bugs me is that the light should be streaming from the monster's doorway to create those shadows behind the kids. But, on the whole, I'm quite pleased with this one.

I'm so proud of my heritage ...

... but there's nothing Cornish people like more than a good laugh. I loved this spoof by Colin Leggo of the the BBC 'Scottish' advert for T in the Park.

Wonderful! Oh and if you didn't see the Scottish original, here it is:

(Thanks to Bryan Panks who found 'Cornish' and told me about it).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 208

I'm not a designer but, because I'm a bit arty, a lot of my friends and relatives assume that I can turn my hand to anything. I SO can't. That said, I have designed a few logos for people and here are three.

I know they ain't great but, as I said, I'm no designer.

100/100 for good cause

Yesterday evening I went to the Biscuit Factory in Shoreditch, East London, for a private view event to launch The 100 Project.

The 100 Project is a charitable initiative that aims to nurture creative talent by putting 100 young people from the east end of London through a term at The Prince's Drawing School. The project has artists of today kindly donating work for auction to fund the artists of tomorrow. A few of them were there, demonstrating their skills with some life drawing of a faerie queen. With a bird.

Fifty two artists donated work this year and one piece will be auctioned every week for a year with a starting bid of £100 on each. They include some very big hitters including Pete Fowler, Jon Burgerman, David Shrigley, Alison Carmichael, Milton Glaser and Damien Hirst. Also among them was my good friend Mr Bingo. He's not pictured here due to camera shyness.

It's a very worthy cause and I was happy to support it. It was also nice to mingle among other people for whom art is the most important thing in their lives. It invigorated me; or maybe that was simply the fact that I was old enough to be everyone's dad and I was feeding off their energy like some osmotic enthusiasm vampire? Whatever the answer, I am all fired up again.

Now ... should I also let my beard grow to verdant Victorian magnificence? It does seem to be de rigeuer among this set. And it did the Impressionists no harm. Where's my smock and beret ...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 207

As you know, I've been teaching myself to paint. It's tough to lose the black outlines when you've concentrated your efforts of the past 30 years to illustration work. Anyway, this was my first attempt to paint from around 1994. As you'll see, I failed. I eventually couldn't hack it and out came the pen for the floating boneless people.

Monday, July 25, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 206

They don't get more up-to-date than this. Drawn this evening and finished in the last ten minutes, here's a pic I've done for my political blogger and actor friend Alex Andreou.

It's a sheep in wolf's clothing that's in sheep's clothing. Don't ask me ... that was the brief! I just draw the pictures ...

My top five best worst movie Monsters

I'm painting a monster at the moment. And, as is my wont when painting, I play a lot of terrible B Movies in the background to keep the mood appropriately silly. My knowledge of shite movies is fairly encyclopaedic although sites like and Rotten Tomatoes are regularly visited to learn more.

Today I thought I'd highlight five of my favourite bad monsters, mostly made of chicken wire and sponge rubber and on a budget of nothing. They are a joy to behold.

5: The Green Slime (1968)

A colour film that has the dual delights of very poor camerawork and the funkiest theme song ever (hear it and see some clips here). This was an American/Japanese crossover film made in Tokyo and was described by reviewer Howard Thomson like this: 'The dialogue is wooden, so is most of the acting by a cast including Robert Horton, Richard Jaeckel and Luciana Paluzzi. And a dull and obvious romantic triangle continually squashes the terror potential at the ripest moments.' But hey, that theme song! 'Greeen sliiiiiiiiiiiime!'

4: The Giant Claw (1957)

In one of the most muddled attempts at a science-based monster movie ever, we find Geoff Morrow - later to appear in the brilliant This Island Earth - as an electrician fighting a monstrous anti-matter bird from outer space. The scene where it treats a train the same way a robin would treat a worm is, well, a treat. You can watch the whole movie for free here! I strongly suggest that you do.

3: Creature from the Haunted Sea (1961)

The first of two films in my top 5 directed by the genius that is Roger Corman. Certainly the cheapest monster in my selection, he seems made of cardboard, packing tape, two ping pong balls and gloves with knitting needles attached Freddie Krueger style. It's hilariously bad. Watch the climax of the film (the best monster bits) here or, if you don't mind a five minute ad intro, you can see the whole damned mess here for free.

2: It Conquered the World (1956)

Roger Corman film Number Two. Lee Van Cleef and Peter Graves tackle a mindbending super butternut squash from Venus. Watch the final five minutes here. Look closely and you can actually see the point where Lee Van Cleef thinks to himself, 'Did I really need the money so badly?'

1: Robot Monster (1953)

What money-savvy visionary came up with the idea to mount a diver's helmet on a gorilla suit and add some wires? Voila! Instant alien overlord! Ro-Man Extension XJ9 - known simply and bizarrely as 'Roman' for most of the film - is overseeing the elimination of the final 8 survivors of humanity. With the aid of a machine that blows bubbles and advice from an identical roman called 'The Great Guidance', he slowly kills off the hu-mans until finally defeated. Then, we find out it was all a dream. Or was it? Yes, probably. Made in just four days on a budget of $16,000 Robot Monster is a joy from start to finish. Watch the trailer here.

So, that's my top five. But I must give an honourabe mention to the infamous 'carpet monster' from the 1964 film The Creeping Terror.

In this oddest of films, the monster is a Chinese New Year Dragon type affair quite obviously operated by several burly chaps. In fact, their shoes emerge from under the creature's belly at several points in the film. But the greatest oddity is that the director Vic Savage decided to have a narrator speak over most of the film instead of allowing us to hear the actors' voices. Savage was a psychotic and manipulative conman who'd escaped from prison and persuaded people to fund his appalling film. It's such a bizarre feature that there is soon to be a documentary-film released called Creep! that tells the whole astonishing story (trailer here). I hope it's as worthy a tribute to bad film makers as Tim Burton's wonderful Ed Wood was.

So ... what are your worst movie monsters?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 204

After the events in Oslo and the news that Amy Winehouse has been found dead aged just 27, I find myself unable to post anything jolly. With famine raging in Africa and the whole phone hacking scandal getting larger and more Watergate-ish every day, the world seems unremittingly cruel and sad.

So here's a doodle from a happier, less-complicated and innocent time. It is, in fact, the oldest drawing by me that still exists (that I know of). Drawn when I was six way back in 1967.

It occurs to me that when I drew this there was no internet, no mobile phones, no 24 Hour News Channels, only three TV channels and local papers only reported events that happened the week before. Very little of the outside world affected my life. Life was an adventure; I was thrilled by the novelty of each new discovery and I looked to the future with a sense of wonder. Everything was going to be brilliant.

It still can be of course. Let's all wish for happier days to come.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Doing something small but positive

I'm auctioning this original painting for the East Africa Famine Fund. Please let people know. Or have a bid yourself. I've started low.

Thank you. Here's the ebay link again. I know times are tough but watching your kids die of starvation is tougher. I can't sit by and do nothing.

A valid point? Or a step too far?

This is Peter Brookes' cartoon from today's issue of The Times:

I'm not a political blogger but I am a cartoonist and I know what Brookes was trying to say here; that while we're all focused on the News International scandal we're missing the truly horrible famine disaster in Africa. However, the cartoon was published in a News International paper and, I'm afraid, in the current climate, it just smacks of a cynical attempt to deflect attention away from themselves.

It's absolutely right that we should be looking at world events as a whole and paying the greater attention to those that are most important. On Twitter this morning, some people drew parallels between Brookes' cartoon and Kevin Carter's iconic vulture and starving boy photo. Carter was both lauded and treated with disdain for his shot and, to some degree, it cost him his life. But this is different. If the cartoon had appeared in a publication not owned by Murdoch, it would have been valid. As it is, being told to look away by News International just comes across as tasteless and crass. I guess it's the price we pay for the lack of sub-editors these days.

We could take the view that any publicity for the disaster is good publicity. It's hard to argue with that. But I can't help feel that News International might be able to do a lot more good if they made the famine in Africa a front page story across all of their titles, rather than just allude to it in a cartoon. Then, Murdoch or not, I would applaud them.

365 Doodles - Day 203

And the final of the five cricket position prints: Cover, Deep Cover and Slip.

Hope you enjoyed them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

365 Doodles - Day 202 - Painty Bonus!

I finished a new painting today. It's an unusual one in that it's two paintings in one. I've called it But is it Art?

As so many paintings do, this one grew out of a doodle in one of my many notebooks and sketchpads (what in flying feck is going on with his legs?). As for the canvas, that started life as a terrible kitten painting I bought for a quid in a charity shop. I couldn't resist. Plus, it was quite a good quality canvas for £1. It would be wonderful if someone X-Rays it in centuries to come and says, 'What the Hell is that underneath? It's horrible!' Of course, they might also say that about the painting on top too ...

First of all I gave it a coat of white acrylic gesso and then covered the canvas in a mix of white and cerulean blue. Then I pencilled the figures in.

Meanwhile, I used a pile of paint dimps (the same things I used when making Cobblepot the Snowman - see here) to create a small abstract painting. That was an interesting process in itself as I was keen to place the various pieces of dried paint into an aesthetically pleasing design.

I then finished painting the two art critics using acrylics and Posca pens. I got to meet the wonderful Camila Batmanghelidjh last year and the female figure was definitely inspired by her fashion sense. The male figure has echoes of Mark Heap's Brian character from Spaced. I loved that series.

Finally, I cut a white card frame for the abstract painting and stuck it to the canvas. Voila.

Fun to do and it only took two days.