Thursday, 19 April 2012


Typical April showers today, hail, torrents, sunshine and spring chills.

Still it's been productive for me as I've had a whole day to pace myself over my new drawing, which I've temporarily called 'Contrary Motion'. The title's vaguely recalled from a piano tutorial piece - I tried teaching myself keyboard a couple of times and both times ran out of steam or time. Maybe 3rd time lucky some day, who knows?

Anyway here's some detail of my work in progress...

My shoulder and neck, which have been giving me real pain since last October, have been better of late. I don't know if it's the effect of visiting my GP and the GP offering to refer me to hospital for pain management (just the though that someone cares a little often helps with pain, and vica versa, so I find) of if it's the Glucosamine I've been taking (I can't swallow the tabs so I crush the up and hide them amongst my food. My tastebuds find them out though. Oh, they taste horrible!) or whether it's just the milder weather. I'm also doing simple exercises when I remember and or feel the need. I try to take breaks from my drawing, and today my motivation has been a) to hoover and b) to edge a little closer towards clearing the ivy and brambles which have overrun our shed. Hopefully eventually I'll find some way of re-covering the roof. The wind tore the felting off a few years ago and it's a very very sad sight now. Saggy in the middle like a gone wrong cake.

I find that if I parcel what I want to do up into bite sized chunks my energy goes further and I'm not in pain so much.

Anyway, I bit off quite a bit of my drawing today, ably assisted by Radio 4Extra: More Titanic, a history of childhood and Slipstream. Here's how far it's got me.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

A very subtle contrast

I'm close to finishing Rhododendron Frame, which is my provisional title for my latest drawing. As usual I'm pleased with parts of it, and not pleased with others. I like the thundery background and the drama of the blossom contrasted with the slightly contorted branches of the rhododendron, but I guessed I'd have problems with the expanse of dead leaves on the left middle ground. It's pretty bland and it's been a struggle to keep forground from sinking into it or being confused with it. And now, I'm fiddling, of course, in an attempt to regain some of the drama of the contrast between ink and paper which has been lost a little partly because of my greasy hand passing repeatedly over the paper, and partly because of various ineptitudes of execution. I have sped along with this one though begining it the first week in March, so at 6 weeks it's almost sketching speed for me.

I depressed myself thoroughly this week by attempting a brilliant idea I had and instantly failing. So, in order to try to keep my spirits boyant, I've begun another pen and ink drawing on my 'behind bars' theme. I am thinking more and more that I must try and stretch myself, or even revisit other media, but it is simply more convenient for me at the moment, with my time constrained by full-time work, to keep ploughing the same, or developing the same, ground.

I began this one by marking in the barbed wire fence in Payne's Grey Acrylic Ink then working the rest of the drawing in Indian Ink (back to Windsor and Newton for this one). The Payne's Grey doesn't really look much different to the black ink though. A very subtle contrast.

I've been listening a lot to the Titanicfest provided by BBC radio this week. The sinking of that great ship of inequalities, of hope and old fashioned Edwardian decorum still fascinates, as much for all that it embodies of the struggles to come within the next few years, as for morbid fascination. Though morbid fascination is, I admit, pretty potent stuff.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Turning over a new (and another new) leaf

I'm using my new Kandahar Ink for this drawing. I haven't been able to get any of this ink for years now, and I was chuffed when I found some on-line. But it doesn't seem as black as I remember it.

Maybe it's just me.

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Sleepy and busy bees

It's been a lovely spring like day today and G & I drove to Lower Brockampton, a beautiful NT property in Herefordshire. It was really quiet, I took lots of photographs and my shoulder, which has been causing me problems since last autumn, felt a little easier at last.

It's so difficult to get away from the din of traffic, even on NT properties. But there were moments today where the traffic dimmed to a distant drone. Even busy bees could get some sleep, like this one I noticed curled up fast asleep in a daffodil.

Yellow really was the colour of the day.

I'm progressing on May Gate at last. I hope to finish it this week.

Saturday, 3 March 2012


I'm really happy that my drawing Private has been accepted for the Open All Media exhibition at the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists's gallery near to St Paul's Square, Birmingham.

The exhibition will run from now until Saturday 24 March.

Hopefully I'll get to visit it soon, and I'll post a blog about it.

Work in progress on my latest drawing, which I've provisionally called May Gate, even though the horizontal barrier isn't a gate at all but a 2 bar fence.

G and & I drove up to Hodsock Priory today to see the last of the snowdrops. This is an anniversary visit for us, as we went there 2 years ago almost to the day, just before I began my job at the library. 2010 was a very severe winter, snowy and bitterly cold. 2012 has been much milder and so the snowdrops are really almost a thing of the past already. The daffodils are begining to bloom though, and the crocuses are beautiful in all their pastel colours. It is really a spring garden, rather than a snowdrop one by now.

Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I've just finished Private and here it is...

It's my first exploration of a theme I'm hoping to explore more of fenced in spaces, of areas of abundance restricted or curtailed in some way by human intervention.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


The Waterside Open 2012 begins today.

I've had Listen accepted.

I'm very pleased!

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Ink & Steel - Publication

I've finally managed to publish the booklet of my exhibition Ink & Steel on-line. It's available to read on the amazing Issue website.

I must admit that I only discovered this website yesterday, after a few weeks faffing about with the Word file of my publication, trying to find ways to PDF it for free (and then discovering after all the effort that the version of Word I have has a save as PDf option. Boo hoo for all that wasted time and effort.

But it wasn't actually wasted, as while searching I found the Issue website, which basically allows anyone to upload a document from a variety of forms (I published mine from a PDF) and then publishes it as a slick on-screen publication, like the one used by Art of England.

It looks great, I think. Even though I've chosen the free option, so there are a few ad's, but they don't interfere with the publication, at least it doesn't seem to me that they do.

Anyway, here it is. Ink & Steel - the on-line ebook.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Thoughts of Spring

Despite the wintry weather today my thoughts have been of spring. I've begun a new drawing based on a photograph I took a couple of years ago...

I made a 30 second sketch to remind myself of how I want to interpret the light and shade in the image, plus a few notes to remind myself of a theme I intend to pursure over the next year or so...

...of fenced in spaces, nature held in check behind a grid of gate or netting. Though nothing really holds nature in check, she will always get her own way in the end.

I've had this theme in mind since last year and took a few photo's in preparation. There's a fence at the bottom of my more advanced work in progress. I feel like I've been working on this one for half my life. The pine needles have been a real headache. Aptly, post Christmas.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


A belated Happy New Year to anyone reading this blog!

After a rest over Christmas and the New Year I'm thinking of projects new and capping off projects old.


Here's my first work in progress of the new year. It's the piece I began just before Christmas, and it's provisionally called Private. It's a pure pen and ink piece on heavy grade watercolour paper, which is really nice to work on. I'm using larger pen nibs for this piece, partly because I want to progress this work as quickly as I can, I think the quicker I can get a feeling of having something under my belt the stronger my chances of actually achieving anything new this year. Also, the darker, bolder marks lend themselves nicely to the dark swirling lines and forms of the pine tree. Spiky and yet inviting at the same time. I like contradictions.


I was so pleased with Ink & Steel, and relieved that I'd managed to take something through from planning to exhibition stage. This may seem like a small thing to some impartial onlooker but it was significant for me, for a number of reasons.

I had some really nice feedback on the exhibition, but I was anxious at the end of it, that I had to close my exhibition on the morning of the 10th December instead of the end of the day. I really couldn't time it otherwise, and if I'd have known I would have put 9th December on the poster rather than the 10th. What made it worse for me was that I was told that a lady came in to see my exhibition after I had taken it down, which worried me no end as I really don't like to disappoint anyone.

So I had this idea, that it would be nice to make an on-line version of my exhibition, a kind of belated programme, which I will put on my website as a PDF to download and browse at leisure.

I've begun this now, and hope to have it up on my website, all being well, in the next week or two.