Wednesday, 29 February 2012

GAME: Extra Time.

Two Minute Garden Observation 7.45am:2 moorhens, 2 wood pigeons. 9.30am:One hour walk. Pale grey sky. Still. Damp. Quiet. Tractor spraying chemicals in an Eric Ravilious field. Rabbit carcass hanging in a tree. Dog shit liberally decorates the lane. Syria bombs it's own people. The Hunt exercise 71 hounds. The Whipper-In operates with three Lurchers.I complain I have a history. They ignore me I am a Townie. I've lived here seven years. I watched My Dog Tulip on the laptop yesterday evening. That too focusses on dog shit. The author's Alsatian and it's defecating. Tulip's menstrual cycle. J.R.Ackerley's obsession and intimate relationship narrated by Christopher Plummer. The animation in places was beautiful, I was coiled in envy at fleeting moments when it touched spasmodic heights of masterful genius and then dipped back to the average. The shapes of the humans the balance of the relationship with the landscape, townscape, the interior detail, the period feel, the colour, the tones and the segments of simple but hilarious 'notebook' sequences. But the human character's features were sloppy too loose not defined enough for my taste. Bestiality? God knows what kind of success in terms of viewing figures and income it made.I drifted in and out of dreamland as the Mac toasted my lap.I guess ultimately I found it boring, despite the inventive and free animation of Paul and Sandra Fierlinger.....despite the manic irritating musical soundtrack.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012


After all this time I never learn. Experience. A deadline of enormous distance. Trails behind you. Alongside you. A dancing partner. A slow waltz. In the cupboard. In the hood of your coat. In the ink bottle. In the television schedule. In the prayer book. In the shed. In the vegetable patch for a head. You follow the instructions. The auto-pilot has gone out. You perform at below altitude. You have to be told. Observations are offered. I know. I know. And then you do it. You meet the deadline. The anonymous client says they are pleased. Grateful they can fill a hole. We've flipped it they say. To make it work on the page. I've had busier times.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Boy on a bronze rocking horse.

Sat in my studio. Music. Birds. Dog asleep. Dog scratching. Scratching my head. Avoiding stuff. Editorial job driving me nuts. Drive to Folkestone and back. Back at the desk I draw stuff. And as I attempt the feeble drawing of Marie Colvin based on a Sheila Masson photo in yesterday's Guardian - the computer throws up the ironic soundtrack as I am inking the final pathetic marks What A Wonderful World followed by Walk On The Wildside..........War artist? Blubber artist. Soft boiled artist soft boiled doodler nothing else, all pen and no ink.

Monday, 20 February 2012

Big nose drawing No.7,939 maybe

Talking to myself. This is my sketchbook. What have I got against sketchbooks she asked. You mentioned you don't like sketchbooks...why is this? (I lose them)
Do you always begin a project with observational work or do you often rely on visual memories?(I rely on a deadline-I am losing my memory.....also I need to book an appointment at the opticians)
Do you think that observation is essential to the creation of a successful picture book?(It helps. Wit also helps, it also helps to have a good idea. It might help to hang onto the shirt tails of a mega block busting selling author). In the meantime you just have to keep doing it. Every day. Lalalalalalalalalalala.

Friday, 17 February 2012

A week's a lifetime I missed Poland.

I've let it slip. The snow has melted. The ice thawed. Dory Previn passed away. Didn't realise she was as old as 86! A friend of mine also died this week. And I've been swallowing night nurse day nurse. So before I loose my grip I just want to add that 8 days ago I witnessed a vibrant Cambridge MA childrens picture book exhibition at Foyles Bookshop London, which is also now history. It will resurrect at The Ruskin Gallery next week I think. An impressive and enthusiastic speech by Walker Books Deidre McDermott and Ben Norland prior to the awarding of the inaugural Sebastian Walker Prize, promoting humour as the vital ingredient within the mix. Among the faces attending were Geoff Grandfield, Penny Holroyd, David Lloyd, Rod Hunt, various publishers and vultures and let the feeding frenzy begin.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

The English Difference

I should have spent the last 3 hours drawing some wine tasting characters but I've been totally sucked into designer Mike Dempsey's blog which was mentioned in the current issue of Varoom. Dempsey was commenting on the dismal design in recent years of the Radio Times and other magazines that once were held up as examples of great editorial design and content. I'm hooked. Check the site out there's some classic examples of illustration dotted throughout as well as Dempsey's excellent film reviews and stacks of other design and architecturally related material.
The English Difference was published in 1974 and Dempsey writes about the influence of author John Gorham and other artists featured in it's pages. The book was heavily thumbed in those days by yours truly and was a source of inspiration. Nowadays it's in a bookcase gathering dust. Cover artwork by Tony Meeuwissen.

Books I Wish I'd.....

Another cute dog. Shortlisted for this year's Waterstones Book Award. Marta graduated last year from the Cambridge MA Book Illustration Course. The studio is warming up. My fingers are frost bitten, my dog is in the house.