Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Anime

Not quite in the style of anime, but partly influenced by that style of illustration. This is just an experimental sketch in preparation of something better.



Sunday, 30 October 2016

Apple Picking

Amongst other things, I enjoy doing cute illustration work. I have along way to go to match the skills of a previous work colleague but I try and have ago every so often. This picture is an iPad sketch for my new booklet of illustrations.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

New book of illustrations

I am currently working on a new booklet of illustrations which I hope too get printed at the beginning of December. Last year's book on Croft Castle was such a success for me from a creative point of view that it was difficult to know how to follow it with another. I placed the idea at the back of my mind until a work colleague asked when I was going to do another book. This fired me up to get something done and I am now working on an A5 book of black and white illustrations and photographs. Again, it is a bit of an experiment and a bit of fun for me. If I consider it of wider appeal then I may offer some for sale.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Hitchin

One of several ipad sketches made in Hitchin today.



Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Hopton Castle

A quick sketch from earlier this month of Hopton Castle in Shropshire.



Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hop Picking

I have never had a liking for beers or ales but, after a recent trip to Kent, I have developed a taste for it and will happily sample any that come from small local breweries. 

Hop picking machines have to be one of the most amazing pieces of farm machinery and it is interesting that, although the company that made them ceased to exist many years ago, the Bruff hop picking machines are still going strong in remaining hop farms.  My Mother worked for Bruff in Suckley, Worcestershire, for a year or so when we lived nearby for a while.


I have always loved the smell of hops and several family friends in the past have been hop growers. Two farms I visited frequently as a child were in the Teme Valley east of Tenbury Wells. Back in 1990 I painted a picture for one of the farmers but I haven't got a copy of the original. I do have a copy of an initial picture I created (shown here) but I had to re-paint it because the farmer didn't want the name on the apple box to be visible. I have searched high and low for the photos I thought I had taken at the time but can't track them down. Trying to capture the scale and perspective of the huge machine was rather difficult and I couldn't get it all in. The other pictures here are photo-collages of a hop picking machine at the other farm that I took in October 2001. Again, the pictures don't quite get it all in and miss out all the adjoining drying kilns.













Hopton TItterhill



A conifer plantation: tall maturing trees, widely spaced with little to impede a walk through the towering silent softwoods. No breeze, a soft overcast light.  I can hear a buzzard (or some bird of prey), small birds, an occasional distant car and some mountain bikers whose voices echo across the hillside. I sit on a carpet of pine needles and small wood sorrel plants that cover the ground like a dusting of green snow.

I like sensing the three dimensional space that surrounds me. Although I am just sitting with my back against a tree I focus on objects around me and try and imagine what they feel like with respect to temperature, moisture, texture etc and their place in the landscape. It is as though I am imagining myself being everywhere around me and not just within.

I have written before about finding space, peace and separation from technology in places like this over the years so I am trying to find new things to write about. With quick fleeting visits to these places that isn't always easy.

Over my life I have explored many woods like this and, generally they are quite safe places as long as one takes a few precautions. Forestry tracks can suddenly stop in the middle of nowhere or deviate from maps so having a good sense of direction is important. Fortunately, in this area of the country there aren't any vicious wild animals or venomous snakes that can cause harm. The only things that really worry me are ticks. They aren't too prevalent around here as in some parts of the country but I always check myself over when I get home. I was never too worried about falling branches until I watched a tv programme about american loggers who had armour plated logging machines. So far, in 50 years, I have never had a branch fall next to from high up and I generally avoid woodland in strong winds. Oh, and it is generally a good idea to avoid wood ants and gamekeepers.


Hopton Castle



It is 7am on a Saturday morning in early September and I am parked at Hopton Castle in South Shropshire. According to the information board this is thought to have once been a high status tower house rather than an actual castle due to rather undefendable position in the bottom of a valley. It is cloudy wth a slight drizzle with mist on the hills. Pigeons coo around me. I hear the occasional tit, crow, wren, chiffchaff and cow. A stream gently murmers nearby.

I didn't enjoy the drive up yesterday afternoon as motorway congestion held me up for an hour but once I was near Tenbury Wells I was happier. The hop harvest seems well underway with tell-tale tractor tracks of the rich red soil mark roads leading from the roadside hop yards to the picking machines.

Up on black hill near Clun I stop at one of my favourite views for tea. After a glorious summer of warmth and sunshine I seem to have travelled up here to see the arrival of autumn. Here, the hills of the Welsh border stretch out westwards into mix of rain bearing cloud and mist. It is surprisingly windy up here and the car is buffeted by the gusts and my gas stove struggles to heat my beef casserole. On my way up here I didn't notice any uncombined fields. Here though, on a nearby hill about a mile away, a green combine slowly completes one final field under the threat of the looming dark clouds. Nearby the road is lined rowan trees laden with deep red berries and there is a beautiful mix of dead grasses, docks and other foliage along the roadside.

I spent the evening just listening to the wind around me in the trees where I had parked up for the night. Just for a few hours I can create a space where I can forget about time and the pressure it places on my daily life and work.

The rain arrived sometime in the middle of the night and once the dawn arrived I moved on to Hopton Castle from where I could begin my day.


Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Sketch

I liked this two-tone hair colouring. I thought it looked very autumnal.


Sunday, 4 September 2016

Cathedral of trees

I wrote this back in May when I was visiting Croft Castle. It was meant to be part of an illustration project but that has yet to materialise as I have moved onto other things. I had forgotten about it until now.


Cathedral of trees
Evensong: choirs of birds
I dance in the aisles

Here, ancients sang songs
Distant hills silhouetted
Golden sun setting

Stretching out my arms
Fingers touch gentle sounds
This land of my dreams

Dusk buzzard circling
Yellowhammers and lambs; calm
Long valley shadows

Slow, silently, step
Woodland senses awaken
Others show themselves


Saturday, 3 September 2016

Car Sales


Framed picture given to a friend. Approx A5 size with paper cut and layered elements.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Cat and shed

Working on a few experimental pictures. Still very much in a development phase.


Sunday, 21 August 2016

More cutting...

A quick bit of cutting out this evening before bed.


Saturday, 20 August 2016

Papercraft

Some more paper cutting - trying out a new knife I bought today.


Friday, 19 August 2016

Leaving card

Someone in the cafe is leaving today.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Birthday card

Birthday card design for someone. Pen and ink illustration with layered card elements on printed background pattern.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Tomatoes

It is now quite common to find heaps of sewage sludge piled in the corner of fields awaiting future spreading. As it has all been processed only a faint residual whiff hints of its human origins. I passed a large heap today and was amazed to see it covered with a huge mass of tomato plants. Perhaps, of all the seeds we regularly eat, these pass through our digestive tract undigested and the find themselves in a nutrient rich environment in which to grow. I am reminded how nettles are an indicator species of human habitation in that they too like nutrient rich soils derived from human or animal waste. I am not quite sure if I will be going back in a few weeks time to gather a tasty crop though!




New beginnings?

It feels a long time since I have sat in a field, or anywhere in the countryside and just had a quiet time. I have cycled up onto some nearby hills on a cloudy and warmish summer morning. Many of the fields have been combined and I have just seen a farmer drive round one field checking whether some wheat was ready to harvest. It was and a Class Lexion 770 combine appeared later on much to my delight.

It is quiet. Apart from the usual distant background hum of planes and cars the most immediate sounds around me are an occasional fly, a few birds and crows and the rustling of maize leaves in the breeze. There seems to be lots of tiny spiders everywhere.

Having just returned from a week in Kent it is refreshing to be back in some more open countryside. Kent felt rather claustrophobic with high hedges and tree-enclosed winding roads. I didn't feel I got to know the landscape much beyond various National Trust gardens and a few beaches. Rye was very picturesque and I would like to go back there again.

Strange though it may seem, one of the most inspiring things was looking through the window of an art gallery in Cranbrook that had unfortunately closed a few minutes earlier. There I saw some artwork that seemed, at last, to instil in me a vision for where I could take my own personal artwork. I also saw some interesting art in a gallery in Rye. What I need to do now is to settle down and get a few things worked up and then see how they develop and what reaction get. I am excited as I have had a few false starts in the past few years. Now I have something that I am sure I can truly grab hold of and hopefully I will add a bit of a craft element to my artwork as well which could be fun. Things often take time with me. I have to be patient and then things are shown to me at the appropriate time. I will post something when I am ready.



Thursday, 4 August 2016

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Garden Scene

Something vaguely based on Hidcote Manor Garden in the Cotswolds.




Friday, 22 July 2016

Red Roses

Bright red and black rose patterned blouse.



Thursday, 21 July 2016

Scribble

An exercise in loose scribbling. This has a certain quality about it I like.



Tuesday, 19 July 2016

More sweet peas

Another quick sketch of sweet peas in the garden.



Summer Skirt

An attempt to redress the imbalance of too many grumpy old men amongst my drawings.


Monday, 18 July 2016

Sweet Peas

A very messy drawing of some sweet peas. Didn't quite know what I wanted do do, where to start, what brushes to use, how it should look or whether I really should have done something more interesting like reading a book.



Sunday, 17 July 2016

Poppies

The garden has settled down after all the upheaval and landscaping earlier in the year. Many of the flowers are now in full bloom. With a rare warm evening today I actually sat outside to draw one of the many poppies that I have left to flower rather than remove them as weeds.



Saturday, 16 July 2016

Clouds



Perhaps I am just naive in wishing for a vaguely utopian lifestyle. I know it is unachievable but I do try my hardest to be positive, appreciative of fun and laughter and always trying to look on the bright side of life. I am not a social partygoer or the life and soul of conversation though I do enjoy being around people. I value people and do my best to get on and build relationships even if they are just superficial. I aim to be happy and content knowing that I have a faith that requires me to try and improve the environment around me. It is hard work and I know I get it wrong at times because I find it hard to do.

This week I wondered if there has been an external metaphorical dark cloud of negativity that has been following me around for many years. I could almost say that something has been trying to thwart my positive efforts - particularly in a work setting. I am not going to give details but I feel as though I don't often seem able to have people around me whom I enjoy a positive and uplifting rapport. I can only name a couple of people or so who have been a huge positive influence on me and really fired up my energy levels. At the moment I feel I have a challenge on my hands to get rid of this cloud or at least reduce its influence on me. It is so easy for me to be dragged down by the influence this cloud has and I just wish it would blow away. I know I shouldn't allow the thoughts and behaviours of others to influence me but that is easier said than done. I am wondering what to do.



Friday, 15 July 2016

Facebookless

Facebook has always been a source of fascination. Here, regular details of Friends activities can be found with interesting images, photos, videos, quotes, jokes, thoughts and so much more. Great. I could spend hours weaving through what other people have been up to. I enjoyed posting a few pictures every so often and hopefully guiding a few people towards my blogsite and exploring things further there. However, I began to wonder whether this constant deluge of information was actually useful to me.

I was listening to a snippet of Radio 2 the other evening where a lady was being interviewed about the book she had written on introverts and extroverts. Maybe I need to acknowledge more the introvert side of me for a while and not try to force my self to feel that I have to conform to the social media expectations I had placed upon myself. Give it a break. Why not allow myself some freedom from the online chattering of others and focus on what I think and not be influenced by what others think. Find some release from the digital addiction from news and communication that pervades everything around me.

A couple of nights ago when trying to get to sleep my brain was churning over the pros and cons of ditching all the newsfeeds from my 'Friends' for a couple of months. I hardly use Facebook, but even so, the thought of doing so seemed rather frightening and very unsociable. Now I have taken the leap of faith and it is bye bye Facebook - no posting and no reading until October 1st, 2016. Then I will review the situation. I keep encouraging people to look at my blogsite rather than rely on Facebook posts so now that is where I will be devoting my attention. There will be my place of expression and I would rather a few valued people followed me rather than a hoard of people I hardly know or who show no interest in me.

Right then. Off I go.





Coca-cola

For me, drawing has to be fun. If I manage to draw a picture that makes me smile then I feel it is a success. The portrait here may not be an exact representation of the subject, but something made me work very quickly and play with various brushes on the ipad. I may not always be able to comment on what pictures I post because sometimes things appear that may just be inspired by a line, a scribble or a fleeting glimpse of a foot, nose, gesture or pose.


Lips




Thursday, 14 July 2016

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Sketches



Some recent iPad sketches.


Sunday, 26 June 2016

EU Referendum

Ask a group of people a question about which there is no clear answer and I am sure the result would be a 50:50 split either way. Which is what we have. They might just as well have asked all those who work in my office which seemed fairly split down the middle. If people are complaining about bias toward certain groups of people voting particular ways then that is what you will get with a simple yes or no vote in a democracy.


Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Developing...

I have been spending much time recently drawing in my good old fashioned sketchbook. I am working on character development as well as trying some urban sketching.

A Place and a Song

Walking over the downs and through the woods. A warm, but overcast summers day. A rare chance to be outside in the countryside this year - it is very welcome. Many walkers are on the hills keeping to well worn paths and following the tread of others. Off the beaten track I scramble up into the wood to join the deer and silence. I sit and sketch an old beech tree then wander on through through various old mixed woodland and newer conifers. I follow the paths made by deer until I find myself at a lower corner with fields and my destination beyond.

It is just a corner of the wood, nothing visually special. Just trees and elder around me, dog's mercury on the floor and a couple of badger setts. Forgot to look at exactly what trees were there.

Even after nearly a week I am still thinking about this place. It was like walking into... well, I don't know what. I was just captivated by a sense of place. It caught me unexpectedly, as though I had entered a room that held something of great beauty, awe or wonder. Or was it just peace? I can't really explain it. But I left with something that I have not been able to let go.

********

Late evening on the campsite. The evening light is giving way to darkness. Noise all around: Friends beside me talking, children shouting and running around, people having fun, the hum of cars on the main road. My attention is caught by what was probably a song thrush singing in a tree. It's melody piercing the space around it. Bold and clear it sang - too loud and strong to be a blackbird or a robin that far away. I wonder if anybody else noticed it. I thought about interrupting the conversations around me to point it out but decided it wasn't worth the effort.


Friday, 3 June 2016

Sketches

Some quick sketches today in a Sainsburys cafe somewhere.





Thursday, 2 June 2016

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Quotes

The following snippets of conversation were overheard from a table next to me in a cafe recently. It is always fun to go somewhere where there are interesting people to draw and listen to. I could create a picture from each of these quotes!

'I cut the hedge using scissors yesterday.'
'I'm off the Met (opera).'
'I'd prefer a nice soothing requiem.'
'They've got a penguin pie.'
'You always have such lovely dresses.'
'Oooh, I love scallops.'
'The Venerable Bede is my favourite author.'
'I must take these glasses (spectacles) back to the church.'
'Our grandson has named his cat Orion.'
'She said "our child's a boy, he does NOT read beatrix potter!"'
'I've got sixteen starlings.'



Letchworth sketching trip

Had some time to spare around Letchworth yesterday so did a bit of scribbling in various places.







Friday, 20 May 2016

Lines

Just playing around with some linework.


Thursday, 12 May 2016

Dog

A bright and bouncy fluffy dog seen at lunchtime.


Sunday, 8 May 2016

Robin

A robin seemed to ne following me around the garden today. It was often perched on a fence or nearby tree and would dart down to the ground every so often to presumably catch a little snack. This isn't supposed to be me bytheway. It was the hottest day of the year so far today and a coat would certainly not have been appropriate in the heat. Took three car loads of rubble to the dump, built a small stick wigwam for sweetpeas, moved the swing, fine tuned the placement of a few plants and watered all the new plants.