Friday, 31 October 2014

Friday, 3 October 2014


Old newspaper used to insulate the minor bird cage. Got an air mail letter from California today. Rare thing to have the pleasure of receiving a hand written letter, the date and everything. There were three stamps illustrated with birds on. A Mountain Bluebird, a Western Tanager and a Painted Bunting.  I painted a budgerigar once. 
In the corner of the stamps were the words 'forever U S A'.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


Recently, went to a boxing contest. I imagine this is a form of reportage drawing. It just wasn't done ringside. 

Dear David,

I really enjoyed reading your interview. Too bad it missed the eternal question "How do you consider yourself? As an illustrator or an Artist?" We want to know!It surprised me to learn that Otello was intended for "young audiencesat the base.

So, is there à n
ew book coming soon? We want to know!

Red corner. Blue corner. Serious? Out for the count. Red corner. Blue corner?  HaHaHaHa.

New book? At the moment, at present, no, no new book. Too many books in the world, too many picture books, too many recipe books, too many celebrity bios, too many charity shops. It's difficult to dispose of your old books, to donate them to cancer research. To make space for more new books. Can't have too many books...... press flowers. I remember I used to go to the library, get my ticket stamped. Pay the fine. In Twickenham Library I lived, eleven to twenty eight, read about Turner. At fourteen found a book about Timothy Birdsall. A book of David Hockney drawings overdue by forty years. Can't remember any poems, learnt by heart. Muscle in the brain. Exercise, unfit for poetry, out of breath, must do more paragraphs. More laps. More trees.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014


A bird solo accompanies me from the Heart of Midlothian. 
Gian Carlo Menotti lived at Yester House, Gifford east of Edinburgh. Menotti planted me in Spoleto 1992, 1993 and for an encore in 1998.
A fine example of the mediocre early morning 'live' drawing abandoned in a fit of failure and frustration. What not a masterpiece, Maestro? How many visits does it take to Spoleto, dozens......? Over a period of six years, total number of drawings: 1. One. This noble effort.1998. Cut his hands off. Stick his head in a bucket. Wait, wait I was under a lot of pressure. I felt obliged to draw some architecture. I did two operas. I did an exhibition.  I did some interviews. I played baseball, okay it was softball, with the Americans at 2 in the morning in the piazza with the Duomo as a magnificent backdrop.I was being a Maestro. Big deal. Where did it all go wrong? Anyway others have drawn the Duomo di Spoleto since and before, there must be a billion notebook leaves of pencil scratchings superior to mine scattered throughout the solar system. But now sixteen years later my fine line unravels in front of me and ties a large knot and lynches me.

Just to illustrate my point. Look at this Ellen Bell drawing. How to capture a likeness. This is how I saw the cathedral in my mind before I was committed to paper and blunted my 404 nib. Sob. 


Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Hearts One.

Edinburgh street sketcher 1990. So as well as the scrap paper sketch pad I began to fill, I progressed to the larger scale stuff. A selection of which I've found and spent too long scanning the damn stuff to post on this blog...anyway,

I got bored drawing the statue when I was interrupted by 

 this character asking for spare change, well at least that's what I thought he said. I remember him swaying under the influence and getting impatient with how long the drawing was taking, I was paying him the minimum wage probably. Looking at it now it's dangerously close to a self portrait.......

I remember thinking how difficult it was drawing the castle with my puny pen and ink, and my feeble effort  needed a subject to illustrate the scale of the view. There was a group of teenage school kids joking around just along from me and I struck up a conversation with a couple of them, and I convinced one to pose for me for five minutes. I imagine I was considered suspect. A perv. I showed them my previous efforts and Sally volunteered to be drawn. Twenty four years later I am exhibiting Sally's portrait on the net, no one's safe....wonder where she is now? How have the intervening years treated her. Did she vote YES? Did she draw a cross next to NO? 

Perfect models. Better than statues. 

Short lived reportage artist career. It's a matter of being obsessed,  driven, putting yourself out on a limb and taking risks - getting out of the house and not waiting for the invite.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Hibs One.

In the olden days. Handmade sketchbook from scraps. An attempt to be a 'reportage artist'......a selection. Two days on the road for Conde Naste Traveller magazine. Did I really use a dip pen and dip dip dip it in the ink in public. I did. Better than sat at a desk. Better than any camera. Don't know if  the magazine ever published any, I did about 30 drawings for them to choose from. Different today.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Lord of the flies sixty

Found image from a tumblr or Pinterest site 2012. I admire the improvised book mark. I imagine the original drawing is with the publisher or perhaps in the hands of the author's estate, in any case there was a rough sketch which I cannot find, for this in my opinion 'safe' option, which predictable was chosen to decorate the cover of the modern classic.

Today Wednesday is apparently the 60th anniversary of the publication of Lord of the flies. And I came across a couple of other roughs, so I might as well display myself here. Commissioned sometime in the early 90s by design company Pentagram for faber and faber. Could never stand that black band plastered across the page carrying the title and author's name. I drew quite a few of Golding's covers for a time. I don't think my versions lasted very long. Was the classic illustrated cover for Lord of the Flies  Paul Hogarth's? Which I believe my drawing took over from. Still it's an honour to be associated with such a piece of literature. Did Lord of the flies for my CSEs in 1968.........