Friday, February 27, 2009

Cello - 33

I've introduced the first section of the viaduct..I've not decided what will be visible beyond it yet. Work on the commission piece I told you about has now reach the final stages...I should have it finished within the next few days. then I can devote my time fully to pushing this picture on..progress is painfully slow as I only work on it during the evenings for couple of hours leaving the main daytime hours to the other piece. The only analogy I can think of to describe working on this picture is like free wheeling down a very long hill on a bicycle but with the brakes constantly applied when all the time you just want to let go.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Cello - 32

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Cello - 31. Hong Kong Jan.

Here's how i've progressed with the rather stylised Dandelion field..eventually this will extend out across the whole width of the picture. It's intricate and time consuming work, but once the viaduct supporting the train and the moonlit sky are introduced it will look OK.

Below is a picture of Jan standing overlooking Hong Kong Harbour yesterday. She returned safely this morning exhausted and full of stories about how well the role players had been received.There will be more visits to Hong Kong in the future in the same capacity and a possible visit to Afghanistan in a couple of years for similar work.(ooeer!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Satin tights,satin capes and satin line coffins.

As I write this..Jan is flying back from Hong kong, so you'll be able to get an update tomorrow of Cello. you'll also be pleased to hear that the secret commission I've been working on is nearing completion, so you'll be able to see that very soon too.

In the meantime, another foray into the world of childhood television memories.Well, the first clip is a teenage memory, and a very fond one! I debated as to weather I should tell you this, but what the heck?!..I own all three series of Wonder Woman on DVD..(picked up very cheaply because no one else likes them!)

The other two are self elplanitory....brilliant...enjoy!



Sunday, February 22, 2009

Take the last train to Neptune.

OK..continuing the 'interesting things you didn't know about me' theme, I'd like to share two very different pieces of music which though a millions miles apart in sound, are intrinsically important to me .As an seven year old school boy..(way back in 1968) my ears were already focusing on music. I remember the Beatles releasing songs..Penny Lane..Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds etc.But it was two different origins that gave rise to the way I listen to music today. the first was school..or rather the morning assembly.We'd all troop into the school hall in line to sing hymns , hear a story and celebrate any birthdays. but as we filed into the hall, there would be music played on a record player..usually classical it was often dull and boring. But to my ears, 'The Planet Suite' by British composer Gustav Holst immediately had me in it's spell. you must also remember that the NASA missions to the moon were gaining momentum and the first moon landing was only a year all things spacey and science fiction were of the moment.

I've picked Neptune The Mystic, to present to you today..eerie, atmospheric, ethereal and when the beautiful women's choir come in towards the end it sends shivers up my spine.To this very day it the most listened piece of classical music for me which continues to inspire me.

The second piece is 'Take The Last Train To Clarkesville' by The Monkees.Why don't I chose a Beatles track yo umay ask?..Well, the studio bosses got it right when they marketed the Monkees as a television show.The first real manufactured Boy Band.Every Friday we'd sit in front of the TV to watch the latest hilarious adventures then go off and play at being The Monkees..(I was always Davey Jones!)

So, put together the mix of classical and pop..and you get progressive rock/art rock...the music I listen to today.So, here are the videos for delectation.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Equivilant Vlll By Carl Andre

Had a phone call from Jan today telling me she'd worked a 12 hour shift doing role play. However, they had managed to get out of the Hospital and go down to see the bay and the skyline of Hong kong.

I said yesterday that I'd like to introduce you in these posts (since I can't show you photos of my work as the camera is with Jan) to music, art and stuff you probably wouldn't expect me to like.Having visited Tate Modern in London last week, I was able to view close up, one of my all time favourite pieces of modern art. The photo above shows 'Equivalent Vlll by Carl Andre...When it was exhibited way back in 1972 for the first time, it caused a lot of controversy.."This is not's just a pile of bricks...."was the comment on most people's lips. I chatted at length with a visitor to one of my exhibitions who told me that my work was "proper art..not like that $*%£"%$ pile of bricks "I asked the person what they meant..they then went on to describe in detail the 'Pile of bricks and how it had shocked the world and caused everyone to talk about what art is'...I asked him when had he first heard about the 'Pile of bricks'..he said "ooh, way back in the 1970's" I went on to remark "and you're still talking about remember it..." I went on to explain that 'Art' comes in many guises...that it inspires..shocks..causes debate, and affects how we are and how we view the world..and in doing so is a relevant and valid piece of expression.

The bricks..120 of them sit within a roped would be so easy to tread on the bricks..but a sign warns you not to..and nobody did.This is also a startling piece of conformist behaviour and social convention . You cant tread on have to walk around sits in a large room and one cannot ignore it...

Now I wouldn't (couldn't) have in my home..but I'm very thankful that it exists..along with many other ground breaking works of art that shock and continue to stir up public debate over what is art, what constitutes good art...and how do we view ourselves in relation to art.

I love this pile of bricks..I told my family it was the one thing I liked best at Tate Modern..they were surprised..are you?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Puppini sisters.

Still haven't managed to figure out that camera of Annie's..and missed the wonderful work done by a very nice man called Brian from Derbyshire Tree Services. He and his team came along to reduce the size of my enormous Willow it's looking rather bare and sad, but will fill out once spring comes along.

Today I've worked on both my commission and Cello girl..both of which are progressing nicely.So here is a video or two. I've decided that perhaps I'll set myself the goal of telling you things you regular readers don't know about me over the next few days. These two videos are of a group a lot of my friends wouldn't think of me liking. They're both by The Pupinni Sisters, a close vocal harmony trio ( think The Andrews Sisters)..the first song introduces the girls on a TV show I've never heard of ('The View' airs on ABC in America I think)

The second is a song called 'Spooky' and is by way of wishing Julie a very happy birthday for Saturday. If you're reading this..look out for the Skellys ..they reminded me of your embroidery!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Half way around the world...without me.

You see...the problem is this. Jan left today to work in Hong Kong for a few days, she's an actress and has work doing role play in medical/psychiatric settings and has been working regularly for a consultant in Oxford here in England. The consultant is involved training Doctors in Hong Kong and needed a small team of role players to work there.So Jan being his main contact in Derby was asked to assemble a team of actors. Annie and I dropped Jan at the Station this afternoon...anyway, I digress. the problem is that I let Jan take my camera with her. therefore you will have to forgive me if I don't manage to get any pics up in the next few days. Annie had a camera for Christmas, so I might be able to learn how it works. the meantime, maybe i'll post lots of 'Dad Rock' for you to listen to! mwahahaha!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cello - 30. Trip to London Tate Modern.

I must be suffering with some kind of visual dyslexia because over the course of the five weeks I've been working on this piece, I couldn't tell that the proportions of Cello Girl's lower right leg were totally wrong ( why didn't you tell me?). When this happens to any artist..the agony of knowing it's wrong just will not leave you until it's either corrected or the whole project is scrapped and restarted.Yesterday I went along with my family to visit the Tate Modern Art Gallery in London, and the whole time I was there, I felt this 'agony' of knowing my picture was so wrong whilst my eyes and senses were filled with hundreds of the most amazing and famous works of art that were so right....mostly.

Thankfully I have had time today to address the problem and though it's not entirely apparent here, I've lengthened her leg a little and bulked it out so that now I feel happy once again. I was also able to complete Skeleton girl's boots and start the long and complicated task of adding the grass and dandelions.

Below is a view from one of the galleries at the Tate is strictly forbidden in there, but I justified it because I wasn't photographing any of the art works. This picture shows the view along the Millennium Bridge over the River Thames towards Saint Paul's Cathedral.
The gallery is set with in an ex power station on the South Bank...on a grey day like yesterday, it looks dour and forbidding (see below), but is full of thousands of pieces of the most influential modern art works from 1900 onwards . The majority of the exhibitions are free and will take the serious art fan a whole day to view...Sadly I didn't get the chance to spend the time I wanted. but I was impressed with what i saw especially works by Miro,Magritte, Picasso,Mondrian, Paul Nash and Jackson's always good to see 'Wham' by Roy Lichtenstein in it's massive glory.There was far far too much to remember..but the whole experience brought home to me that art affects the whole influences thinking and political thought and helps make a community into a culture.

The worst part of the visit?..I tripped and fell down some stairs in the main hall.I hurt my back and shoulder..but hobbled on in the name of stupid machismo and pride.(what a fool is a man?)

I love travelling on London's underground..yes, even in the rush fact even more so as you feel yourself drawn into a seething mass of bodies each with their own story..loves , losses and disappointments, dreams and desires.Below a quiet moment ..that's me and my younger son Will in the mirror.

We ended the day in Camden Market..a huge sprawling alternative community of fashion shops and ethnic food. I thought I was pretty unique with my rainbow jacket, but with a few yards I'd seen them on sale on a few stalls.I could have spent a fortune...but I don't have a fortune, so I bought incense sticks and some hippy sunglasses. We all went to eat at a Cuban restaurant before returning to the car and driving home.

Monday, February 16, 2009


I thought, that if i was really clever, i'd assemble all the photos of frosty and produce an animation, but in reverse seeing him gradually rise from the ground.Sadly that is beyond you'll just have to imagine what it might have looked like!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cello - 29 Boots and stool

I've reached as far as the boots without addressing the ground current thinking is to have a grassy meadow with dandelions ...but there are plenty of other elements to take into account first...


The end is in sight for poor old Frosty...Annie kindly replaced his eye and carrot yet again...with temps forecast around 10 degrees tomorrow....please check back to pay your last respects!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Cello - 28

I've started work on the stool and finished the stockings...I've found suitable Granny boots too for Cello Girl.

Frosty..."I'm melting!"

Be my Valentine.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cello - 27 the Stool.

As you'll see by all the rubbing out and redrawn pencil lines, I'm finding the flippin' stool a bit of an annoyance.The right leg looked OK when I drew it, but seeing it enlarged here I see it needs another redraw..well perhaps only the top bit.

I spent time today putting together an application to exhibit at a local Arts Festival..then spent about an hour driving around in the dark trying to find the correct address to deliver it to tonight as today was the closing date for applications.I eventually found the place and handed over my papers. I exhibited last year at the inaugural Willington Arts Festival.This year events are spread over two weekends in April/May.I should hear sometime next week if I've been accepted.

Frosty..Friday update.

So Frosty's now getting his own posts!Well lets face it, he's not looking like he's going to be around for much longer!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cello - 26 'Frosty's alive!'

I think I've got the hang of this pattern now. i like those spiders as well!
Well, i stuck his little carrot back, and this is Frosty today...he's not melted much because it was well below zero last night..So i think Frosty will live for another few days. I had quite an spooky experience last night...I couldn't sleep, so I got up to make myself a drink , which was about 2:30am..although the moon was past being full, it still lit up the garden which was shrouded in frost.There sitting in the middle of the lawn glowing coldly was Frosty..but as you often get in that half light of a waining moon,nothing seems very real....did I see him move ?...had he been playing on the slide...the swing...?Perhaps when I'm asleep he waddles ET-like around the garden chatting to the foxes and cats? Of course, I just might have eaten just a little too much cheese before bedtime!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cello - 25 . Frosty's demise

I did say i wasn't a fetishist..but I must be...What progress you see here is around three hours of work this evening,The pattern of flowers is now coming together, once i've completed the patern i'll darken the whole area, ...I've reached her knee..that's where things could start to go wrong (this was also true of my atempts of seduction in my teenage years!).So i've finished work for today...I've already spent around 5 hours on my commission piece earlier. Another development that i should mention: I had originally intended lots of long grasses and mist around the girl's feet..but i love the shape of the stool to added (it needs lots of refinment to it's curves yet), so it means I now have to put shoes on their i'm opting for Victorian 'Granny Boots'...more on that another day!

Meanwhile 'Frosty' continues to sub,it to the elements...I gave him a bit of a remodel (see below) but...
The weather continued to stay above freezing..he now looks a little startled...I replaced the carrot after the photo had been taken. Join me tomorrow to see if there's anything left!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cello - 24 Lace Stockings

You know, on the face of it, this exercise would appear to be the work of a fetishist.Believe me, it's fact what you see here is part of the process I go through to a lesser or greater degree for the whole of my compositions.Too many times I've had well meaning observers point out some basic flaw in my pictures that i always as far as possible, try to achieve a level of accuracy that I at least feel comfortable with. With the world of copyright being such a minefield, I avoid copying like the plague and aim to produce all my pictures with as much originality of source as possible. For the purposes of this post, I'm showing the process of designing and transferinmg my own designed pattern to the lace stockings of Cello Girl.Above, i use some designs of black lace as a guide to drawing my own..on the sketchbook page, you'll see my pencil drawings, i opted for the curly roses..I then made a tracing of those roses.
The actual pattern seen here was much too large for transfer to the main drawing, so I used the above photograph..cropped it down and increased the contrast.

I then pasted multiples in decreasing sizes onto a page ready for printing.At this stage I had no idea the scale that I required for the pattern so I wanted plenty of choice.

I chose a scale I was happy with and traced out a series in pattern.I then transferred the pattern to the main drawing..the challenge now of course is to extend the pattern as it stretches over her knee..this I'll attempt tomorrow, the effort you see here is not good.

Now you might (but more likely not!) be wondering what happened to the snowman Annie and I made last week..well, the snow is all but gone, but our frosty friend still stands in grotesque posture where we built him...with his carrot sticking up at a jaunty angle!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Cello - 23 Burlesque,life love and death...

Looking for textures and patterns:

The fasteners on the suspenders of the girl with the skeleton are butterflies..the stockings are spider webs. So it seemed an interesting idea to make Cello Girl's fasteners out of spiders and the stockings with a pattern of black roses.

I was quite struck by the burlesque show we attended the other night. Not purely for the aesthetics but the concept..I'd never dream of going into a strip seems so seedy and ...well,clinical (don't ask me why i used that word but it seemed right). But Burlesque seems to exist on a very different plane of artistic being. It is fairy tales for the adult..I can only point you back to Grimm's Fairy Tales in which the magical comedic and beautiful appear with the dark, horrific and terrifying. The mixture,like real life, seeks to not only remind us of our mortality, but also of our immortality within our dreams and desires, our aspirations. It takes us out of the ordinary and presents us with another world of possibilities and fantasy.

Having spent a night in such a wonderfully shadow filled Technicolour cavern of beauty, you'd expect the exit from the theatre to be dour cold and empty.But you'd be wrong...burlesque presents us with a reality that affirms life alongside dreams and fantasy. It tells us that we are human...we will one day perish..but life is for living and love is a many faceted jewel for us all to share...and we carry it in each of our selves if we only took the time to discover. Of course it might just only be about watching pretty women take their clothes off and I'm just deluding myself!

Blimey!...I didn't plan to write that, but that's the effect it has had on me.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cello - 22 Hurly Burly burlesque.

Jan and I went to a burlesque evening last night in Derby.It's the second time we've been to the event which is run bi also gave us the chance to take a couple of friends along .The evening started with a singer called Des O'conner (no, not that one!) who played his Ukulele. singing some gloriously outrageous songs, he was an instant hit..then we were treated to a contemporary dance version of 'Little Red Riding Hood' which was full of dark menace and had a great twist at the end. Then a selection of burlesque dancers lead by Cherry De Ville. I particularly liked a dance on the theme of the Tooth Fairly which was wonderfully dark and menacing and performed by the stylish and beautiful Beatrix Von Bourbon. A wonderful sure you'll see the results of the inspiring performances affecting my work here!

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Cello - 21 High Speed Train close up.

Here I've begun to to fill in the side of the train..I have photos of this locomotive , but none in moon light, so I'm hoping the effect I want works..the tricky bit however is how much of the railings I allow to be seen..would the shadow of the train obscure them completely?

I've left highlights on the railings, but I'll decide at a later date weather to darken them any more. the problem with using a train like this of course is you get very little impression of movement...I'm planning on adding exhaust fumes coming from the top.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Cello - 20

OK..this should cause you Freudian Analysts something to chew over, or to suck on; whatever the level of analysis you want to delve into :-)... a train will once again pass in the background...Here you can see the basic sketching of the 'Intercity 125' which I've purposefully chosen to be in it's inaugural livery seen back in the late 1970's..that being a significant time in my life. trains have always figured highly in my life and imagination. My current plans as far as this piece goes, is to have a moon up in the sky (hence the 2 pence coin) and the windows of the train to be glowing in the gloom....I think the train will also be on a bridge, but I've not decided yet...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Snow man...

I've not got any real progress to post this evening..Annie's school was shut this morning so we spent time making a'll find this hard to believe, but my first son was born in 1992..and since that time I've been promising to build a snowman when we have enough snow to do so...well, today was the day!...back to dotting tomorrow, but here's a track by my favourite band's called snowbound and it's about a snowman.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Cello - 19

Progress as I've said so often is slow on this piece because of the commission I'm working on..I've also had to do some medical role play today at a local hospital for some medical students (should have asked if I could borrow a skeleton whilst I was there !) the girl with the skeleton is secondary to the main focus of the picture: 'The cello girl'..but they in turn reside in a dramatic landscape which has yet to be revealed...stay tuned folks!

In the mean time, if you're new to my blog, why not take a trip to the section Finished pictures where you can see some of my..well...Finished Pictures!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Cello - 18.

I really wish i could show you the piece I've been commissioned to do as it's very intricate and along the lines of 'Ball Of Wool'.Hopefully I'll finish that within the next few weeks! So I continue to press on with 'Cello' which is slowly beginning to evolve some interesting symbols and ideas. I particularly like the relationship between the butterflies and spiders, fragility and danger!
With much of the snow gone today, the hill where Annie was sledging yesterday resembled a frozen mud slide this morning. Strewn across the field were plastic sheets..road signs..broken tea trays and a canoe!..the remnants of which you can see in the photo to the right half way up.

- 0 -

As a postscript to todays post, I've just received a comment from a young lady living here in England who is the most wonderful pen and ink artist...I've just got back from visiting her blog and was blown away by her monochrome drawings. the thing that excites me more above anything else is that she also uses the same Dotting technique as I. If you get time, have a look over at Christine Farmer's'll not be disappointed!

Monday, February 02, 2009

Snow pics

A view of my back garden

Outside my house!

A tree in the park

The top of our avenue with Annie and I arriving home from out sledging in the park

Annie just out from school

It was all downhill from here on in!

Home at last!

Of course as Julie commented..this is only a dusting...but it's the best we can hope for here in the middle of England and I for one think it's brilliant!

Cello - 17.Snow and trees.

Firstly, my apologies for the rather garbled madness of yesterdays original post (which has now been rewritten!) excuse was a rather cheap whiskey...or three. But, back to today, seems one drop of snow is all it takes to bring the country to it's knees. this morning the news came that ALL bus services in London had been cancelled due to the weather...airports shut..trains were delayed or cancelled...schools closed...roads blocked etc... but you guessed it..I love it.I wonder around like a little kid full of excitement as the snow piles up...I'm off to collect my daughter from school shortly..I know she'll be itching to make a Snow Man when we get back. I walker her into school this morning when the snow wasn't very usual I passed trough Rykneld Park and so took a couple of photos....hope you like them..?