Sunday, October 31, 2010

White Ladies

Just a short note to let you know that things didn't progress very well with my work today on White Ladies, so I will be restarting.Sadly I had no more paper, so couldn't restart today, so I'm off into town early in the morning to buy some and then it all begins again. Regular readers will know to expect this chain of events.

So apologies if you're awaiting the next instalment. I don't mind admitting that I find restarts terribly frustrating,but in assurance, I can promise that when I eventually do find my way through it, it will be the best version! 

Friday, October 29, 2010

White Ladies - 3

There's always a point when I'm drawing a face that I've made up when it takes on it's own expression..she started off rather Myra Hindley'esque, and has now softened a bit..I'm trying not to make her into one of the 'Oops Girl's' as my friend DM wonderfully referres to them as. She looks a bit cheesed off here..lets see how she develops tomorrow!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

White Ladies - 2

 The pencil drawing above just prior to work starting on inking. Below you can see that some features have changed  in the process. This is usual and is actually fairly straightforward at this point. Many of you will remember that previous works have undergone drastic remodeling at this stage. I've tried to learn from those incidences by planning ahead and being sure of what I want to do. I've often hurried myself to go into production purely for the sake of being in production of a dotted piece. hope I've not spoken too soon, but things are progressing well at the moment!

Here you can see the forming of the hair...texture is important to me, and in this smaller format, i'm keen to produce something that will be appreciated close up and at a distance. I can see there is some unevenness in the arc of the hairband...things like this only become apparent for some reason when I want to show my work or if i've previously stated that i'm happy with it...I'll sort it tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

White Ladies - 1

I thought you might like to see the final pencil drawing before I do any dotting. Here she is, I hope to make her smile a little more 'knowing' and her eyes a little more guarded. But for now I'm happy with it..

Monday, October 25, 2010

Development - 8

I was out for most of the day earning money in my role playing guise.Again it was towards the training of benefits assessors who will ascertain the validity of Incapacity Benefit claims. I like to think it will help towards the training of astute assessors who will be able to bring help and support to the genuine claimants and prevent fraudulent claims from the greedy  and corrupt.

I have therefore not put in the length of hours I would have liked. but anyway, here's a poor resolution image of the individual drawings I have rendered for each of the tennis girls.I'm looking forward to starting dot work on the dark haired tennis girl first.See you tomorrow!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Kittens again...!

 I've spent a really good afternoon drawing. work on 'White Ladies' is progressing well towards the dotting stage. I've been designing dresses and hairstyles today...they'll have to stay under wraps until tomorrow. Because I thought I'd give you an up date on the kittens. Above is's odd seeing a tailless cat. He's quite adventurous and has started lapping milk.
 Above is 'Wriggle'..she's going to move to her new home in a couple of weeks, and is almost as fearless as Bumble, but not quite. The last two are again of Bumble...they're a total joy to have around the house at the moment!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Development - 7 Giving beauty a face.

I developed one face, and then traced and retraced it until I reached the dark haired face in the middle...I'm not totally sure about her hairstyle, but I'm a step closer to a final version. I like to produce many faces on tracing paper so I can try as many in the composition to see which one works better.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Development - 6

A bit of a fragmented day...I had to go to Ikea this morning to help look fir various things. It was nice...especially the breakfast. But it interrupted the way I get ready for work in the day. I did manage to trasfer the tracings to the final paper today ( see above )...but this is only the you know there are probably months of work here. I've purposefully chosen a smaller format to work in to reduce the time involved. But in my heart of hearts, I just want to go bigger...who cares if it takes a year if I'm producing what I really want to? For now however...'White Ladies' will begin!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Development - 5

The time is drawing very near when I shall begin the actual dotting. Although I am at my happiest when I'm producing the final piece, I find great satisfaction from assembling my ideas in the way I've described over the last few days. It's a journey of discovery and  is all part of the process. Below you can see something that I like to do occasionally when I'm not sure about figure placings.I took a series of 3 photos of the Tennis Girl line and if you look closely, you can see various faces on tracing paper that I've drawn I try different ones out and also add in a cut out drawing of The Mad Vicar. I'll now be able to sit down with my pencil and fiddle about with each image adding in various details.

I shall be considering weather to have the Mad Vicar in front of or behind the girls...the looks on their faces will add to the story behind the characters . In the meantime, I've prepared a tracing f my drawings which I will use to transfer to the final paper.Below you can see the basic outline of the figures displayed against a white back ground....they are ready to be transferred. They will need feet adding at a later date...the faces can be added later too.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Development - 4

This evening See's me having spent the day working purely on securing the composition, Here is a photo I took this morning which shows my sketch of a clergy man holding a model of a space shuttle.I've used this sketch to produce a more accurate and slightly differently posed drawing (to the left). He will be featured in the final piece. I'm reluctant to show you what I have for the whole as it will probably change.I have also drawn the faces for the tennis girls  which as you know usually change considerably before I'm happy with them. But all in all, I'm feeling pretty positive about things this time around. I'm aiming to transfer the drawings to the watercolour paper I'm to produce the artwork on by the end of the week!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Development - 3

 Here you can see the line-up I'd originally created last week. However, I had come to several problem areas, namely the arm possitions and hands. It wasn't looking good, so I decided that to move the girls a little further apart would perhaps rectify the problem.So slightly overlaid in the above picture are tracings of two figures with the extra spacing.
 Above is a little more clearly still needing to be done on the hands. It's at time like this that I wish I had some live models to work from...all my problems would be solved !
Above I have transferred the new tracings to paper for more working.(not that visible until I overwork them in pencil, but if you enlarge the image it might be more apparent!) The hands are the major concern right now.I draped a shirt over the end of my bed and stood so that I was visible in the mirror. I lifted the material as if it were the hem of a tennis dress, then observed the position of my hand...reached over and drew what I saw remembering to 'feminize' the proportions of my hand so that it looked right.I've been working on these drawings all day and i'm fairly satisfied that i'll be able to proceed to the art paper later i the week. Next up is to finalise the faces of the girls facing the viewer....shocked...down turned...passive....laughing...?

Monday, October 18, 2010


Ok...seeing as you found yesterdays post too's a sure fire winner....Kittens! They reach four weeks old tomorrow and are beginning to venture forth from their cardboard home.

Today was fragmented due to us looking for new chairs for our sitting room ...we also had a new stairs carpet laid. There seemed to be interruptions all day, so work has not been prominent. I have however spent time working on redrawing the positions of the Tennis girl's arms and hands. Lets see if I can bring you some better development tomorrow!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A feast of Tennis Fashion - 1950s - 1980s.

Forgive my indulgence, but i've been looking at some of the images in my collection and online and have these gorgeously beautiful examples of tennis fashion. It's not comprehensive in any way, and the criteria for choice is my own . But I hope you'll see that ladies tennis was once not the corporate controled buisness it is today but many of the top ranked players attracted the attentions of some of the best designers around. If any of the images shown here are to your knowledge an infringement of a known copyrite law, I shall very happily remove them or credit the owner.

I've written about her before, but here (above) is the famous 'Gorgeous' Gussie Moran.American famed mainly not for her game but the attentions of photographers who gathered in their hoards to photograph her then incredible daringly short skirt and lace trimmed panties. The whole ensemble was the brainchild of Ted or otherwise known as 'Teddy Tinling.  During WWll, he was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Intelligence Corps in Algiers and Germany.But it was his links to tennis and an interest in fashion that eventually lead him to design outfits for all the leading players of the day including Chris Evert, Virginia Wade, Anne Jones, Maria Bueno, Rosie Casals and Evonne Goolagong to name but a few! Below you can see him posing with some of his 'Ladies in white' as he referred to them as.
Well known for his use of newly discovered man made fibres such as Dacron, his designs made use of intricate cut outs, Rhine stone,lace, flowers and even feathers.He often lined his creations with brightly contrasting silks which would only be seen when the player in question was playing.

Below you can see some lovely shots of Brazilian Maria Bueno..I'll leave the statistics to those who know them, but Maria was a top flight player of incredible athleticism. Fairly classically cut dresses were often embellished with embroidery all hand sewn.

 Throwing the ball at to serve, she would open like a cross between a Lily and a ballet dancer as her skirts and lace spread out like the petals of a delicate flower.
 But non can compare to the absolute grace and achievement of Chris Evert(below) an interview she told the reporter that the girls on the circuit would each compete for the most ruffles on their butts! Chrissie wins every time! But the beautifully cut edging to her dress is wonderful too with small cut out details...I used this edging for the tennis grace in my last picture!
Teenager Tracey Austin burst onto the circuit in the late 1970's. Famously wearing pigtailed hair and braces on her teeth, her dresses were provocatively innocent to begin with..You can see below an example of red gingham!
But as she began to win more and more, the dresses became ever more detailed. I love the examples seen below here variously coloured diamante and applicate flowers.

 Finally, a couple of wonderfully over the top creations. Left is Britain's Virginia Wade, and on the right, Italian Lea Pericolli whose eccentric style saw her wearing baskets of flowers, feathers and brightly coloured linings!

I don't think there has ever been two diametrically opposed things as the sweat and physicality of a professional sport, and the dainty feminine lace and embroidery of high fashion. But the evidence is here for you to see.Of course, new fibres have been developed, fabrics have become easier to produce...styles have become sadly more functional as the decades have worn on and the dictates of sports wear manufacturers and endorsements have frozen out  individuality .

Modern day female players still have dresses made for them by their sponsors..but are you still talking about the dress Jalena Jankovic wore to Wimbledon last year?..the dress Venus Williams wore at the US Open?...I thought not.there will always be a special place in my affections for that gorkey bald ex army designer whose deft touch and craft made beauty and femininity run hand in hand with professional Tennis.

I now need to decide wheather to make my tennis girls as individual as the players I've loved for so long, or not...either way, i hope you've enjoyed my little guide to a long lost style!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Flash - ah ha !

It's funny how things occur...I was listening to (please excuse me) the sound Track from 'Flash Gordon' by Queen on my headphones and I suddenly have a vision of a character I will possibly add behind the row of tennis girls...I've sketched a few ideas, but not sure yet....might show you next time

Friday, October 15, 2010

Development - 2

I've laid out the various components in the process I described yesterday for you to see. At the top left is the original drawings in the A5 to that is the enlarged scanned image...then the tracings of that image, and finally at the bottom the assembled row or Ladies made by transfer of the tracing repeated in order. The next phase is then to fairly accurately establish the lines and a basic idea for the arm and hand placings.Once I've progressed with the anatomical proportions to my satisfaction, i'll be able to add clothes. I have been looking at the hundreds examples of tennis dresses online and am now at a stage where I need to decide if each girl will wear identical frocks or do they all have very individual looks.That's something I will sleep on tonight.( Nice dreams are made of tennis girls! lol...)

My next and biggest decision is to go on with the picture without placing me in the foreground. Of course in reality I'd love to be surrounded by a group of gorgeous tennis girls all lifting their skirts, but believe it or not, my work is not about ego boosting or wish fulfilment. I would feel uncomfortable placing myself in the scene for that reason. Maybe I'll change my mind's my prerogative to do so ...but it makes for more interesting development I find because although I am the creator of my work...what I place in the picture also has an influence on how it relates to the rest, and sometimes what seems right in my mind, turns out to be wrong on paper.

see you tomorrow!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


This is the way I like to work...I put down my original ideas in my A5 sketchbook and then scan them. I take tracings of the scan then work over them in free hand.When the sketch is fully developed, I then take another tracing for transfer to the paper for dotting. This is where I find myself at the moment. By creating two linked figures, I can then repeat them to form a line...they will at that stage be all very similar...I need to decide if I'm aiming for uniformity or give each figure distinct differences.

Currently I'm of the opinion that I'm going to leave the self portrait out of the composition..this might change as I develop the idea further but I'd like to consider populating the picture with other things too ...current potentials for considerations are pigeons..sparrows, crows, butterflies etc... Whatever I decide, you can see and follow the development here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


I enjoyed the Three Graces...I particularly enjoyed the lifting of the Tennis Girl's today I've extended the idea into a sort of choreographed line of Tennis girls all lifting each others dresses. I'm interested to see how I'll deal with the entwined arms. The whole line crates a pattern which will echo the regular poles in the iron fencing seen in the background of yesterdays Arboretum photo.As I always say, "early days yet" before I settle on a theme, but this line up seems to be full of interesting structure..I've drawn up a few mocks with me on the bench and the railings in the background...I might share a few of these tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Posing in the park.

Went out to the Derby Arboretum this afternoon to get some photos of me sitting on the very same bench I used for one of my pictures a couple of years ago. I wanted some of me sitting there for possible resource for my 'Ladies in White' concept. I'm just little wary about the ego overtones placing myself in a picture with a group of beautiful tennis girls'! I'm sure I'll get over it !

On a slightly less positive note, you might recall that I'd contacted a printer requesting the image and text for publicity material for 'HMS Pinfore'?...I've still heard nothing. tomorrow is the deadline for submission to the City wide publicity. If it fails to arrive i'm going to have to do some serious apologies. Hopefully I'll have good news tomorrow regarding this....but don't hold your breath!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Priorities and time

There are certain things jostling for my attention that seem to take up my time. My main aim today was to get down to sketching some ideas. It's odd, but I can have a whole series of ideas which seem attractive and don't repeat too closely what I've done before, but by far the most successful route is when an idea comes along and becomes an's inescapable and only the rendering of it can bring satisfaction. I seem to be experiencing the later., and it does have some similarities to 'Graces'. Early days yet however!

Then there's my new phone which learning to use is demanding a certain amount of time...and I also had to respond to some emails from a publisher regarding my artwork for HMS Pinafore, which I worked on a couple of months ago. The publisher wanted the original text and images, but I didn't have them, of course the printer took possession of the artwork, then the client ( I thought) retrieved them when he collected the posters etc made from the artwork. however ( bear with me, I'll try not to be too long!!) the printer was and did retire at the end of last month and kept the original artwork.The client forwarded an email to me with contact phone numbers to which all records and unfinished jobs had been transfered...this was to a print firm in another town. I contacted the company and asked for 'Rob'...the man who answered told me Rob was on holiday in Scotland somewhere. "When do you need the material for?" he asked " Wednesday" I replied.

I hope he manages to contact Rob and get the info emailed to me in time of all the publicity for the show will not be included in all the advertising brochures etc that circulated through out the city. Oooer!

I'll return o my sketchbook and have plans for a photo shoot tomorrow...

more next time!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The time inbetween.

Hello...I thought I'd let you know that I'm enjoying a weekend of nothing much at all.Saying that, yesterday turned out to be fairly busy in a nice way. Jan was of working in another part of the country, so I took my daughter Annie to her dance class. It is run at DEDA, which is the Derby Dance centre.Annie has been going there for a couple of years now. Dance has always been in my life as an interest mainly casually, sometimes as an activity,My Mum was a dancer and won many medals for ballroom. she was also invited to work at the famous Windmill theatre in London.Sadly her Father would not allow her to follow her dream and instead she had to earn a wage typing at a local army base in Chilwell Nottingham.(That's where she met my Dad by the way, so fate was working away to a good end!).

I love to watch 'Strictly Come Dancing (Dancing with the stars)/Dancing On Ice etc on makes my spirit soar to see someone who can dance in a way that makes it look as if they could take flight at any moment.I also enjoy ballet and burlesque...but as you know, I particularly like the exuberance and panache of the French Can can!

after the dance class, Annie and I walked into town to have lunch together.We settled for eating at the cafe on the balcony in derby's famous Market Hall.We felt very naughty as we shamelessly ordered two servings of 'Chips and cheese'!!All washed down with a steaming hot mug of tea. After that we decided that we should walk home to appease our guilt and our rather full tummies! We wandered around a few shops..I particularly like looking through the rows of DVDs and CDs in the HMV Shop. I rarely ever buy my music and movies from a shop outlet now preferring the vastly reduced prices online. But it's still special to browse the shelves.

We next called in at the Virgin Media Shop where I at last signed up for a mobile phone contract. I've always had a PAYG mobile and make very few calls. But the deal I decided on gives me unlimited Internet access with a nice little Black Berry phone! Also free calls to all Virgin mobiles.(so if you're a Virgin member in the UK, let me know and we can then chat for free!) I'm afraid my ever aging brain isn't as nimble as it was, so I spent the rest of the day trying to understand and setup the phone.I've now conquered it's more basic functions and have downloaded my favourite TV theme tune to use as a ring tone.Little success's like that please me no end!

In other news, the two little Kittie's are growing strongly and are now nearly three weeks old...must take photos to show you! I'm also planning to start sketch work on my new ideas. I've returned many times mentally to the theme of 'The White Ladies' a sketch of which I published a while ago...this theme inspires me... I also have a well formed concept gained on one of my walking sessions a week or two ago.I need to develop it more in the sketch book. I also have a rather exciting commercial commission to produce before Christmas...I'll tell you more when I can, but it's a book cover!

I'm also currently working on an explanation of the symbols and meaning of 'Three Graces' which I finished on Thursday.It's taking longer than I thought because it's more complicated than I thought! Rest assured, i'll let you know when it's done. For the time being however. I hope your weekend where ever you are is without trouble and finds us all ready for the challenges of what ever awaits us in the week to come.

Blessings and peace to you....Niall. x

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Three Graces - finished!

Three Graces 2010
61.2 x 45.5 cm
335 hours 5 Mins!

Well here we are, begun earlier this year in April, the finished three Graces is ready to be framed. This is probably my most personal piece yet with many hidden messages and meanings. If you'd like a written explanation, I might prepare an email that I can send you, let me know if you're interested!

 My current exhibition is now at it's end.It's been a relatively quite week and has been part of a learning experience. Once again people are more interested in my more surreal pictures of which there are no prints available. I have therefore once again failed to break even with my finances.

I shall return to the gallery tomorrow to take my work down, then enjoy a couple of days relaxing.I need to seek inspiration for the next piece. I have a handful of ideas all jostling for first place, but so far I am not fully convinced of the one I want to commit time to. One thing I am sure of is that i'll stick to a smaller sized composition next! I'll write more about the ideas I have next time. until then, thank you for your continued patience these last few months...and I'd like to mention how important all your comments have been in keeping me focused on completion.

Below are a few closer shots of the finished 'Three Graces' all the images are copyright to me and are not to be reproduced for any reason without my written consent.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Three Graces - 88 Exhibition day 5

Still not finished. spent a good amount of time talking to some very interesting visitors. It is a great privilege sometimes to talk to individuals who are not only interested in my work but are also knowledgeable about art in general. One such couple were so encouraging and interested, I'll hopefully be keeping in touch with as they left me feeling understood and valued.
Above you can see me nearing the end. The last act of any picture I create is to dot around my pencil signed autograph, then when I've reached the finish, I erase the pencil leaving the signature clearly visible. I still want to add more texture to the lamb's fleece. I will also work on Tennis girl's hair and hair band. Then I'll be just about done. This will happen tomorrow which will also be my last full day of exhibition this year!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Three Graces - 87 Exhibition day 4

You can see a close up here of me working on the final stages of the grave stones. It felt odd to be working on this side of the page again, I've not done so for a couple of months!

 Here you can see the nearly completed area of work today...I've done additional work on the grassy area and included some shadow to show the base of the tree trunk. Of course once i've added in one shadow, it soon becomes apparent that it should continue to other parts of the picture. Pretty soon after I'm reworking the entire lower section of the picture.

It is entirely possible that i will finish the picture the latest it will be Thursday.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Three Graces - 86 Exhibition day 3

The drive to the gallery today was wonderful. Mist clung to many of the valleys. I have a 17 mile drive up through the Derwent Valley..trees are beginning to turn golden, yellow and red and it's frustrating that it's so difficult to stop safely to take some photos. I'll try to do this if I can leave early one morning. I have a very lovely place to sit and work in the gallery where I can greet visitors , talk about my work and demonstrate the technique. I actually only had only 15 visitors and sold one small print...but as always some stimulating conversations.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Three Graces - 85 Exhibition day 2

The rain poured, and it poured and it carried on until mid afternoon. I began to think no one would turn up. but they did, and it was great to see so many visitors. It also was good to meet Ex-Scotland International /Birmingham City/Notts Forest/Derby footballer Kenny Burns too. I was able to spend nearly six hours working on the lower part of the space Shuttle which is enshrouded in's a case of constant reassessment and development as I gauge the correct density of the mist..i'm hoping to introduce shading to emphasise strata's of mist stretching across the scene...that will have to wait until tomorrow now!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Three Graces - 84

It looks like the ground is sloping here, but it's just the photographer that's sloping! I'm fairly pleased with the way the graves fade into the mist..and I should be able to complete the Space Shuttle tomorrow if all goes well.. Was nice to see my friend Alison and her son Josh today at the Mill..thanks for your custom and it made my day to have you there.
For some reason I look rather senile in this photo...but don't worry. Later on I was wheeled away, put into a disposable nappy and fed gloop before being put to bed by a very kind nurse.Hopefully they'll let me out again tomorrow!