Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Orbits - 39

Right,first of all you'll notice that I've not apparently made a lot of progress since yesterday.However, I've been refining the the surface of the planets and trying to give a more rounded feel..i hope to complete this task this evening...the effect is I hope to give greater depth and a sense that the smaller planet is nearer to you.
On the way to collect my son Will from his friends house earlier, i had a flash of inspiration...it's rare that a formed image pops up in my mind...so I'll be getting the ideas down in sketch form later.Can't wait to show you what I saw!
Tomorrow: Dressing Miss honey!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Orbits - 38

I'm still working on the big planet...it's quite a large area of the picture so very boring to do...(note to self:..make next picture really complicated!!) plus we had a guest for the evening so lots of talking ensued especially after I found out our guest played a fairly major role in 'Resurrection Of The Daleks' (one of my favourite Doctor Who series).

I've finished the artwork for Mikado (Below) too which will be off to the printers tomorrow to have text added . This a rough version but gives you an idea of what it will look like..text will go directly below the word 'Mikado' in the box and down the page to the left...you get the idea..I'll print a copy of the finished piece in due course!

Sunday, September 28, 2008



Here for your delectation is a track by Elbow....never heard of them?...well click on the clicker and sit back to let this wash over you. It's taken from the album 'The Seldom Seen Kid'2008.

I was moved earlier today by a remark my son Sam made...(bear in mind he is only 16)...he related something he'd read and thought good. "when you discover that adults are imperfect, then you are an adolescent, when you forgive them for it, then you are an adult"..I'm truly and often moved when my son speaks to me like that....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Orbits - 37.

I'm reading a great book at the moment which is slowly asserting itself into my thinking,I love it when a book lives on in ones thoughts past putting it down. Im reading 'Passion' by Jude Morgan (also the author of 'Girl With The pearl Earring) it is about the great romantic poets: Lord Byron ..Keats and Shelly...and is told from the point of view of the women who knew them as lovers and partners.

Last night Iattended the opening celebrations of 'Quad Derby'....a brand new arts centre for the county which boasts gallery, cinema and British Film institute media archive. There was a parade throuh the city streets of giant insects followed by a girl hanging from a baloon and firework display. See below!

all the insects were pedal powered and full articulated limbs..

The largest of the insect invaders was this wonderful Praying Mantis which roamed amongst the crowds spewing clouds of co2 gas!

Behind the Baloon Lady (Helliosphere) can be seen the new Quad building opened Friday 26th september.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Orbits - 36

Another body reshaping for Honey and work has started on the big planet and it's little friend.you can also see the reduction of the lightning. Would you believe i've spent around 135 hours so far on this picture?...If I am honest with you, I'd admit to making a mistake when I decided on the size of the composition...it could have been much smaller I guess. Still, I learn with each new project!..I'm beginning to work on ideas for what comes next....I had planned something to include in this picture originally, but altered my plans when i added 'Honey' to the mix.So expect me to reveal my next project when this one is done with!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I am a thespian.

Here's a view of me you haven't seen before!..and yes..that is a ponytail! Today I worked my first contract for PRP or Professional Role Players. In a much needed bout of responsibility, I went to earn some money. I was employed to act as a person at an 'Incapacity Benefit' assessment. I played someone who had been off work due to neck pain and hearing problems...I was assessed by a trainee assessor who was in turn being assessed via video link by their course assessor.In all I had to act my role four times. This was therefore my first ever paid acting role!! The photo shows me reading my book 'Passion' in the kitchen of the assessment centre in Stoke On Trent. So that accounts for the lack of work done on my picture today...still, it means we can eat for another week!

Back to my 'day job' tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Orbits - 35

This photo is already out of date as I've reduced the amount of lightning.You'll also notice a reshaping of Honey's body since yesterday (if only it were that easy in real life!)...I'll get around to dressing her soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Orbits - 34

I've tweaked the face a little more around the eye brows and mouth today and worked mainly around the lighning on the horizon and the planet directly behind the Raven..I thought i'd just show you for the first time the relationship in the composition between 'Honey' and the Raven.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Orbits - 34 Honey part 3

At the end of a concentrated session, I think I've reached a satisfying effect.(I've included the pencil drawing before any dots were applied) I have deliberated over almost each and every dot on her face. There are more to go, but I've had enough for this evening. when you see the portrait in the context of the whole picture, you'll see why it had to be right...if this had gone wrong..the whole picture would have been ruined....more tomorrow!

Orbits - Making Honey part 2

I decided to revert back to the lower hairline..but something isn't quite right..it feels awkward in some way..never mind, press on...
Now i've established the fringe and overall shading around the eyes, I still think there's something wrong. I decided that the problem is centered around the mouth. Cue finely chiseled eraser and careful erasing!

Redrawn and inked in, the new mouth and cheek outline looks good I think..I've also lowered her brow slightly..this shows you that even despite the many sketches i've made prior to executing the final image, I still rework things as I go along. I'm off to get my daughter from school now...I should manage a little more on this later...

Orbits - Making Honey. Part one.

I think i'm a total 'headcase' sometimes..that is until I researched the work Leonardo DaVinci did before he completed the famous Mona Lisa.The are many many versions which he painted, at a glance all very similar..but unmistakeably the same woman.I wrote a few days ago about my fascination with a certain type of face...and believe me..I sketched it hundreds of times..literally!..but never quite turning out the way I imagine it.I actually quite find it quite exciting and frustrating in equal measures.One day I perhaps might achieve what I'm imagining..and until that day..you'll have to put up with stuff like this!
So..why Honey I hear you ask? Well, the sketches that lead up to what you see here were as I've said, many. But the one that came before this looked uncannily like a character seen on a British Soap called East Enders.My good friend and EE fan Devilmood agreed with me. The sketch above doesn't look like her now..she has evolved..and as you will see, she'll evolve some more.

It's imperative to get the eyes right..in my original sketch, she was looking out at the viewer..but as I drew her, she seemed to turn her eyes away..I like it when a picture develops in that way.

Having established the main features I decided it was time for a break and a tuna sandwich...already her hair line has altered...i might reestablish it to match the first drawing later...or maybe when I go back upstairs to work, she'll have changed herself..now that i'd like to see!....join me later for the next part.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Marx Brothers...

As a life long fan of the Marx Brothers movies..I thought it about time I posted a couple of clips. Since I'm recovering from my friend Jake's 40 th birthday party last night and I'm not intending to do any work today,so here are two clips....the first one features my favourite Marx..Harpo.A short and very well known visual joke.The second is a little longer, and features Groucho in particular...Their surrealist and anarchic comedy was a particular favourite of Salvador Dali (who famously painted a portrait of Harpo)..and even today in the world of CGI and the search for the solution to 'Uncanny Valley'...the wonderful cinematic bank vault that is the Marx Brothers will enrich our lives forever.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Orbits - 33

Friday, September 19, 2008

Orbits - 32 Maria's finger.

I'm pleased with the outcome of the Raven..now i'm extending the clouds and lightning across the horizon. This morning I posted an email off to my friends on Facebook( look me up if you're on Facebook)..(I have a myspace page, but my computer crashes every time i log on to Myspace ..so I very rarely go there.) and explained that my blog was not only a way to show off my work each day, but a way to see into the life of an artist. I'd shown my son a post by Maria in which she had written about her finger..a warning to the squeamish..it's not a pretty sight!I was wondering why she would want to post such an horrific picture. but to Maria, it's a very important thing..my fingers are important to me and if I had had to have an operation on them, I'd be unable to work.Maria must be in so much pain and discomfort..I totally understand her desire to share this with her readership..I understand her a little more because of it and in some way, it's a privilege to share someones pain..even if it is from a distance.

When I write that i'm having a terrible day..I've not had a holiday in over a year and I'm ready to pack up and head for the hills...I'm sharing my pain too...that you might understand me a little better...I think we bloggers are inclined to write only the good stuff not wanting to become drains on our readers time or feelings.But the truth is, we are all a mixture of good things and bad things..we each are somewhere on our journeys..sometimes in the sun..sometimes in the rain...by sharing where we are, we invite others to share where they are too, and to realise, it's OK to admit you're finding life hard, only than can we help each other.

Sermon over...I'm off to cook our evening meal now....now, where's that bottle of wine?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Orbits - 31 where the Raven flies...

Yesterday I wrote about the time and effort i'd put into readying the sketches for the female figure to go in Orbits.Well I'm happy to report this has been done, and i've transferred the sketch to the main picture. however, I'm not going to show you that today, instead i'm going to concentrate on the Raven you see here. It's relevance to the composition is vital I believe, but you shall judge for yourself. (it also connects with a previous work entitled 'Spirit')

Ravens have always had a significance in many societies down the ages...superstitions and folk law have grown up around this large intelligent bird.But it is only that...a bird.Any connection to magic..portents and fortune is non existent. the bird has achieved it's notoriety purely because of it's size and beauty.It stands out..!

Over the centuries, the Raven has been named as a portent of good fortune..good health..a foretelling of death and decease...the keeper of the crown and monarchy as it resides in the famous Tower Of London..legend says that if the Raven leave the Tower..the monarchy will be lost..But for the sake of this picture, i'm turning to the North American Indians...their Shaman would consider (along with other things) that the Raven represented a way to see the truth..a way to reveal that which is hidden and to unravel the complicated nature of secrets. The meaning of this will remain a secret to me (unless you want to try and coax it out of me!)..as I prefer you to create your own interpretation.

Things are likely to become ever more tangled as I proceed...did I just write 'evermore'?..maybe I should be quothing "Nevermore"!

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The crucible of creation.

I have nothing that I am ready to show you today. ...I have worked ALL day on the sketches for the female figure in my picture...I think I am finally ready to transfer her to the main piece. Instead, here's a picture of me in my little light filled haven...my crucible of creation.I am at my happiest when I'm creating..today has been a bout wrestling with that creation...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Orbits - 30 The silence is deafening.

Not a good day in all today...I've reached the stage where I need to commit the next figure into the composition.I've been working on sketches for a few weeks now but have been unable to create the face that I really wanted...I've wrestled with countless sketches today.Althrough my life i've had a particular fascination with a particular type of female face..it's never been a 'chocolate box' beauty, I actually prefer quirky intelligent unusual faces.I can trace the origins right back to around 1967 (when I was 6!!) and a particular TV show called Doctor Who. The female in question was played by actress Wendy Padbury...and was companion to the second Doctor played by Patrick Troughton..to my six year old sensibilities there was no erotic connection, just an aesthetic beauty. The character Zoe Herriot was from an alien planet..she was the female equivalent of Mr Spock...logical and intelligent...but she also screamed a lot as was the order for female supporting roles in those days.

There have been others, Gabriele Drake, Anne Diamond (yes you read that correctly!) Maria deMedieros to name a few who've had the same 'air'.So I decided that this is what i needed to aim for...however, I purposefully decided NOT to use the faces of these people , but draw my own interpretation...I've finally arrived at an acceptable version, but below you can see some of the reference I've used today for the overall style especially her hair....iconic silent movie actress' Louise Brookes, and Lilian Gish have helped. Tonight I hope to finalise the figure and transfer the sketch to the main drawing....I guess this is what could be called the make or break critical phase!...more tomorrow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Orbits - 29

You know..had i known that i was going to take so long on this piece, i think i'd have reduced the size of it...i've just passed thew 100 hour mark today..( about 2/3 finished)..the rest shouldn't take too long though. I'm seeing different things each time I publish it..it's unintentional but if you look at the big Lighthouse , there is no real reference point to tell you how big it is...are the small ones far away or are they really small?(like the bees )...I quite like that (and it's an excuse for any technical shortcomings on my part!).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Spring and Autumn

It was my daughter's 8Th birthday yesterday..along with a few of her friends we trooped of to the local Ten Pin Bowling alley and Pizza Hut. Today, friends of ours gave Annie this lovely bicycle. Here she is pictured outside our house prior to her first ride...she rode beautifully and spent the rest of the evening going up and down the street.

Earlier we had noticed Ambulance and Police outside a house at the end of our street..my boys went down to find out what was happening as the ambulance seemed to be outside a friends house.Indeed it was..the sad news returned that the father of their friend had died suddenly ...later whilst i stood marveling at Annie cycling against my stopwatch, the young man from down the street came to talk to me..how unutterably sad it is..I could only tell him I had walked the road of bereavement several times before, but words are still hard to find that convey what one wants to say...My good friend Margret across the road also lost her Mother a few weeks ago .... again words have failed me....I know that each time some one confronts the loss of someone near, I also have to confront yet again the pain that is always there...perhaps I've not resolved the grief process..

Today Annie cycled the street in her spring time years..whilst another left this world at the end of their autumn....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Orbits - 28 Ship ahoy!

Here the daisies run out..and a distant container ship is struck by lightning....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Orbits - 27. Happy 2nd birthday!

Dancing For Beginners is happy to announce it is two years old today!

It's hard to believe that it's now two years since I started writing this blog...amazing..how can time go so quickly?I actually remember sitting down in this exact same seat I'm in now and thinking.."what shall I call my blog?"..after all, there are so many out there..how can mine stand out from the crowd? This was a misleading thought however..it is the content an d presentation that gains a readership.....a 'readership'..is that what i wanted?..did I want hundreds of fans logging on to hear my words of wisdom and humour as i reveal the truths of the universe?...did I want to be a modern day guru?...or was it merely a way to electronicify my daily diary?.....well for a start that didn't work because I still put pen to paper every night to record my thoughts and the days events...secondly I found that because one publishes a blog..it doesn't mean anyone will read it! and thirdly..I don't have any answers or wise thoughts...the universe continues to elude me and perplex me.

Any of you who has learnt to dance can testify...in the beginning the steps have to be studied..often in the presence of a (hopefully) competent teacher. You try out the steps..maybe to some music...and low and behold...you fall over ..your skills resemble Bambi on ice after too much whiskey on ice! But it gets easier...then there is more to learn...and so on. I think of life in the same way...the more we learn..the more there is to learn and therefore we are all always beginners.
It quickly became obvious to me that since I was an artist..I had a window through which I could share my work with my readers..who then asked about my technique...I there hit upon the idea of presenting a day-to-day update of the progress on my current piece of art. This has proved to be popular and has even influenced others to do the same which is great!
I couldn't end this post without mentioning probably THE most important benefits of blogging....it's you the reader...!!! I have made some incredibly deep and important friendships.Without resorting to embarrassing speeches ..I thank you...
But a special big love goes out to some pretty special people, with out whom i would have given up a long time ago: Preeti,Devilmood,Julie,Bobkat and Tysonice.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Orbits - 26

As a further note to the previous post (Madonna and Child)..it was pure coincidence that the comparison between the two photo's and the numerous M&C paintings of old came to my notice. The giant array of magnets that mark the 'business end' of the Hadron Collider indeed looks like a halo...the discussion as to weather we really need to find out if 'The Big Bang' can be recreated is not for these pages as i prove my ignorance and shortcomings all too easily..I am just wondering what my Darfur starvees would make of such a contraption when upon their knees sit the emaciated children of a yet another cataclysmic humanitarian tragedy.

Madonna and child

*These two photographs came from somewhere on the net..the Hadron Collider and starving victims of the conflict in Darfur. Go figure!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Orbits - 25

Monday, September 08, 2008

Orbits - 24

It's great to be able to get back to work at home today...all kids off to school and college so I had time to get down to some serious work.I've added the lighthouse directly to the right of The Starman and started on the continuation of the storm clouds..it was also necessary to put my pictures back up on our walls which are usually quite bare during an exhibition.. i'll get some more work in tonight I think.

Incidentally, has any noticed the new gadget Google has made available?..you will see in the top left hand corner of my blog an indication of who 'follows' my blog...it's connected to Google Reader...if you're a regular reader of my blog..why not register as a follower?..also create your own list of followers on your own blog...

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Orbits - 23 End of the exhibition....

I welcomed over 220 visitors to my exhibition today..thankfully the sun shone for a time and the trail was quite busy.I am amazed at the possitive comments everyone makes about my work..many don't realise (until I tell them!) that the work is all created manually and not on a PC...again the surreal and 'Little Nemo' drawings were the target for most praise.
The following photos were all taken by Jan..I'm wearing my 'Starman' hoodie and feel a little less 'normal' looking than yesterday. I like this picture...

I'm working on 'Orbits' during the day and demonstrating the process as I go along.

Jan has captured the atmosphere of the venue perfectly here..rustic and kind of magical...I kept expecting Gandalf to pop his head around the door to take me away to find some treasure!.....if only!
Finally..this is the view from where I have been sitting looking out over the hills of Derbyshire.They say " If you can't see the hills, it's raining...if you can see the hills...then it's about to rain"....I don't believe a word of it...for me it ended up being a wonderful and special time....made even better by the visitors who spared the time to chat and encourage me....if that's you...a big hug and kiss to you...if you want to see more...look me up on Facebook and lets be friends!
See you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

I am not a man..I'm a number!...Orbits - 22

In between visitors i managed a couple of hours on my picture...I'm nearly half way finished!I really love demonstrating the technique to those visiting the exhibition...

Here's me..the proud but ever so slightly grumpy artist...you might recognise some of the pictures surrounding me...amongst the most popular during the day were 'Spirit' ..'L'inat'tendu'...'Ball Of Wool' and the 'Little Nemo' collection!(seen directly behind me in the above photo)

I told you I was a number!...Number 65 to be exact..There are aproximately 100 artists exhibiting over the weekend...venued in all sorts of places including private homes...pubs..churches..halls...shops etc...

The weather was terrible most of the day..standing outside my venue..I turned left and this is the view...one thing that never fails to amaze me is the dramatic skies the peak district causes.

Here's a view of the eneven floor which just adds to the charm....make sure you keep your eyes open or you'll be falling for me!...But wil I catch you in time?

Here's where I sit and work...and the first thing visitors see when they arrive..hopefully I won't scare anyone off!
I've met some really good people today...it was a pleasure to meet so many who had braced the elements and took time to visit. See you all tomorrow!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hanging in a damp barn.

The rain poured all day, we drove through floods and blocked roads to reach 'The Barn'.An electricity supply has been kindly donated by the next door neighbours and lights courtesy of Tim .The owners had very kindly installed a double layer of batons all around the walls for us to hang the pictures from...although we were also able to put nails directly into the walls .Here we've just finished bringing pictures in from the car..it was raining heavily so everything got wet...
..especially Jan!She's hanging the first picture 'Absurdities'...I've tried to include more of my more surreal subjects in this exhibition as the festival attracts a more discerning and serious viewer. Of course I'll be selling prints of all my most popular drawings but also offering an ordering service whereby customers can buy a print of any of my pictures (as long as they are prepared to wait a few days!)

Despite the 26 years I've producing these pictures...I'm still fairly new to the commercial side of the work..and with very limited funds at my disposal it's tricky to know which pictures to invest money for printing ...it's very much a trial and error matter.

Not using the flash shows how dark the Barn is...We intend to install the lighting tomorrow morning, set up the prints for sale and find a level enough area for my table to work at.
It took the best part of two hours to hang the show, which is quick compared to some we've done..when we left, we had to take some of the pictures off the wall because rain was leaking through!!I've no idea how many people will come to see me..the rain is forecast to last all weekend. So...it's all a bit of an adventure really...tune in tomorrow to see how the first day went!
For those who want to view the festival site...go here