Sunday, 25 March 2012


Preston. To talk. Stuttering. Stammering across a memory stick. A studio stuffed full of the new guard. The bold and the brave. A genius in every other row. On my return - The dog gave me a half hearted reception. It wasn't interested in my other life. It didn't want to listen. It wanted to go for a walk. He's affected deafness. I am full. Stuffed with inspiration. Must pin it down. Time for work. My head loaded. Affect amnesia. I've been to the river and I've swam to the other side.............upstream and against the tide. Cheer leaders and connoisseurs: Steve Wilkin. Andy Bainbridge. Ben Casey. Fiona Candy. Tommy Shaughnessy. Steve Royle. Rob Ball. Peter who was 50 yesterday. Ghosts. Port and Brandy. For starters. And three modest sketches on the Frankie Laine. Admit One. Tickets Please. Front two carriages only.
'You seem to have a lot of anger in you?'
It's an act.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Keeping your pencil sharp:

It was me. I said don't use a pencil sharpener. Use a scalpel. It does become a problem at airports nowadays. At the check -In. I say but the blades are separate from the handle. At the X-Ray machine conveyor belt in my bare feet and belt-less trousers, braces optional, aftershave in a see through bag. I say but the blades are separate from the handle, it's the tool of my trade. Vital for my craft. So they say OK. And I board their craft for a flight for the other side of the world. Meanwhile tweezers are confiscated.
I do confess that I have grown accustomed to a little metal pencil sharpener that I purchased in a Warsaw art shop in February 2011. Must be my age.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

It was Daumier:

Don't trust history. Don't trust me. Don't trust memory. It was a Daumier. Not Goya. Even better it is Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. I imagine Collee cast me in the role of Panza. A beautiful choice of image to polish my vanity. Dr. John Collee went on to write the novel Paper Mask, for which he also wrote the screenplay for the film version. He also wrote the screenplay for Master and Commander. The Far Side of the World. Pretty damn good film. Meanwhile I went onto .......doing more illustrations.

O B S E R V A T I O N :

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The Observer 1990 - 1992

One of the first miserable efforts. I found it demoralising. 1990.
1991: (A personal favourite.)
Easter drawing 1991:
1992: My daughter was late for school that morning as I stuck her hands in a pot of red paint to assist in producing the image. I think Monday 's were the deadline. Everything left to the last moment.
February 1992:
1991: Raymond Briggs phoned me about this drawing. He asked me what paper I used as he was impressed with my sensitive handling of watercolour.
1991: Wouldn't be allowed to draw this now.
1991: Later used for a cd cover without my permission - it's reproduction on the cover was first class. Took some tracking down to get the bastards to cough up. Cannot remember the name of the band I know they were a favourite of John Peel's.(Bang Bang Machine).

I had a small exhibition with the shitty title of No Man Is An Island at the AOI gallery near Goodge Street London in the autumn of 1989. I remember Gary Powell and Jake Abrams helping me to hang the thing. At the Private View I vaguely remember Jean Christian Knaff. I remember Dave Ashmore art director at The Observer Newspaper or Telegraph with Graeme Murdoch and Steve Stafford and another art director from the Observer Magazine. This is over 20 years ago....there were bunch from Walker Books too and Brian Love. Anyway I remember thinking it was lot of work and effort for fuck all. The bloody ego of seeing your work in frames on a wall, together up to that point. So what.
Chris Meiklejohn did acquire a large original charcoal portrait drawing of Bob Dylan that had been commissioned by the Observer Newspaper earlier that year. Meiklejohn was an agent who ran a very successful commercial illustration agency, we had met by chance on holiday a couple of years earlier, we both had a regard for each other although we were opposite poles of the planet. He got in touch with me out of the blue 3 or 4 years ago just to berate me for not being as successful as Banksie...............the man has a point.
So a few weeks after the exhibition the anonymous art director from the Observer Magazine who I had met at the show phoned me and asked if I might be interested in illustrating a new medical column to run on the back page of the magazine for the first 6 weeks starting in January 1990. Graham Mitchener told me I would be the first of a rota of artists used...........and a fee of £250 per drawing as it was only going to be used at a couple of columns wide and about 2 inches high - bloody small in other words. So I said yes. For 6 weeks my miserable efforts ran in the magazine, the printing was awful mainly because the originals were so damn huge, and the reproduction was so small. It used to take me just as long to package the things up for Red Star (a British Rail courier service) as to draw the sodding stuff. I was looking forward to the end of the stint when I received a postcard with a Goya reproduction decorating it's front from the author of the pieces John Collee ( a rare thing to have feedback and contact with the writer) stating how brilliant my drawings were and that he was going to write less copy in future so allowing more space for my work. (crafty move less words same money). And subsequently Graham Mitchener phoned to say they were going to run the current drawing bigger like nearly half a page and I could continue doing the page for as long as it lasted and do whatever I wanted. Still £250 quid though. So I said ok. I can't ever remember faxing them roughs. I would get the faxed copy and react to the text. In nearly three years I think I had only one negative response from Graham about a drawing and he still ran it. One drawing made the letters page of the paper forcing an apology from the editor of the paper, and I have to confess it was a misjudged drawing although graphically sound. I would get a sack full of mail(well for an illustrator) over the 2-3 years I illustrated the column suggesting I must be on drugs or alcohol to produce such juvenile immature and disgusting images that would be more at home in The Sun or the waste bin.It was just the adrenaline rush of a deadline and Collee's slant that drove me and the fact that the art director had total confidence in me. Excavating some of these sample from the garage is depressing and there was a lot of mediocre guff produced I would estimate for every four drawings done there might be a decent one.
It was while I was at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 1992 that I got told that the fax that I had just received for the next illustration was to be my last drawing for The Observer. Sorry.
It was a great frantic period. Shame I've never really moved on I've been stuck in the same trough ever since.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Take Care When Cutting Any Sealing Tape:

In the morning's post(mail) handed to me by a breathing semi living postman in a van who doesn't appreciate Dexter's machine gun barking, this cd. A response to the Dog - a follower's gift to me to replace the absent vinyl. ... I am touched. I am lifted. I am grateful to Marius Blankenburger the third for this gesture. Despite no comments there is life out there someone is watching.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lee Ford asks for my working drawing practice statement - Part 2
This morning, this bright shiny morning looking out the window across the farmer's ploughed field I spy a buzzard going about it's life flying backwards and forwards between two trees. I'm not very good at trees. I don't very often draw trees I don't paint them. Don't climb them. David Hockney would appreciate this copse. He'd study this section of the field. Observe the seasons. They are not Horse Chestnut. Not Oak. Not Plain. Could be Ash. But I am certain it is a buzzard. It is a bird of prey. It is twice the size of the largest crow. It is not a heron. It has a dark topside and a mainly white undercarriage. It sweeps the sky. I watch for about five minutes. I am honoured. It is a rare this neck of the woods.

I email some images to illustrator Lee Ford, very good illustrator and graphic designer(name checked and mentioned in an earlier posting and the most hit upon posting on this Dog Blog)......for his exhibition of designer and artist's 'working drawings'at The London Gallery West 23 March - 6 May 2012 featuring Henrik Drescher, Alan Fletcher, Abram Games, Ken Garland, Milton Glaser, Saul Steinberg to name a few.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Michael Nesmith:

Bought this Michael Nesmith LP about 1974/5 from a wallpaper shop in Twickenham. In 1993 it was stolen by a gang of burglars. The record just happened to be left on the turntable of the stereo system they carried away into the night. They were probably Ultravox fans........I was distraught at the theft of this chunk of vinyl - especially the final tracks on the flip side The Back Porch and A Fruit Jar Full of Iced Tea and Prairie Lullaby. If I think of The Monkees I am always transported back to the Chemistry Lab of my Secondary School. Why?