Friday, 23 November 2012

Drawing again into wax on a metal plate

I have not made an etching for years. Almost two years ago now I bought a few zinc plates and coated them with hard ground and did a few below average doodles at home but never bothered to get them etched and left them. Recently I've been concentrating on pretty much just one project, a new book, and felt that sometimes I really needed to get away from it (before my head exploded !) and have a rest by doing something completely different, so I started to have another go at those etching plates. They're only quite small, about 6 x 9 cms and I usually work on them through an illuminated enlarging lens.

Using just a dressmaking pin, masking taped to an old pencil, the line you draw is incredibly thin, the minuteness of it all is enticing and you can get quite lost in it's intricacy !

Writing has to be made back to front, something I'm not bad at except S's !

Now for the technical bit ! After you have made your drawing the plate is ready to go into the acid bath to be etched, but prior to this you can paint any parts you don't want etched with a stop out varnish solution. I don't tend to do a lot of this, I see the drawing as a whole live performance with none of the mistakes edited out.

The acid eats into the plate only in the parts where you have made your drawing, where you have scraped away the waxy coating and exposed the metal itself.

The wax coating is removed and the plate is ready for printing but that's another story !

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Location:King's Rd,London,United Kingdom

Monday, 19 November 2012

The wonderful micro world of mark

Yesterday I went to the small Cotswold town of Burford to see an exhibition of paintings by Mark Rowney.

He creates beautiful little worlds of wonder for us to delight in!

The window in front of his little work desk looks out across a vast panoramic hillscape known as Weardale in County Durham, this gentle artist knows the names and ways of all the plants and birds and creatures and loves them all, he's a bit like an acrylic paint bearing St Francis !

He's showing at the Brian Sinfield Gallery for the next few weeks.

Location:St Barnabas St,London,United Kingdom

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Five oh !

I can't think of a lot of cool things to say in favour of turning fifty (as I did myself last week)....except getting a beautiful one off portrait necklace from jewellery supremos Tatty Devine !

Thank you so much Rosie and Harriet !!!!!

Location:Ebury Square,London,United Kingdom

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Laura Carlin

Like her namesake in the movie 'Scum', Carlin truly is the daddy ! Well the daddy of beautifully painted hand made ceramics !!! I knew of her beautiful drawings for quite a while before I met her when I was dishing out top prize for best illustrated book at the V and A illustration awards for her really, no, incredibly good version of Ted Hughes' classic 'The Iron Man' (do please check it out!).

Anyway this morning started a weekend long show of new ceramic pieces at 54 Rivington St in Shorditch.

What can I say? The woman is a genius and actually I got quite emotional at the sheer creative outburst if it all !

Below: Naughty girl

I wouldn't mind but she's clever and hilarious to boot ! Recently I had to follow her on stage to talk about my work at a symposium on the role of sentimentality in illustration (yes ! You heard right !!!) held at Somerset House, obviously she had bewitched the entire audience and I only just about stumbled through my talk by referring to her every 20 seconds !

How great is this lion !

"Who's the Daddy ??!!!"

Location:Pimlico Rd,London,United Kingdom

Ebury park day for night

Outside our bedroom window there is a small square public park, on the opposing side of it there has sprung up a large building site which is floodlit around the clock dramatically backlighting the trees which at night are usually shadowed in darkness, a beautiful effect that we never see except perhaps when it has snowed !

Location:Pimlico Rd,London,United Kingdom

Every Saturday morning I buy eggs from the farmers Market down our rd, the Belgravia farmers Market, (the subject of which deserves a much bigger post all of it's own !), today's batch were particularly wide ranging in tone and color.

Location:Pimlico Rd,London,United Kingdom

Sunday, 2 September 2012


Today is the last day of a long holiday. One of the nicest days was when me and Lorna drove across Kent to visit the small village church of Challock. I had been looking for somewhere new to go and the only words that caught my attention were those saying that the church had painted murals that were 'interesting', that was enough for me.

Of course it was a great surprise that two of the three sets of murals were painted by John Ward, an artist that I love fir his pen and ink illustrations. The church in Challock is in a bumpy field about a mile away from the actual village and we had to go back to the village post office to collect the key, a huge old thing !

The first mural was made in the fifties to celebrate the queens coronation and the second to celebrate the millennium. One mural is quite Stanley Spencer-ish in feel as it depicts Christ riding into Challock on a donkey, not Cookham nor even Jerusalem. What is so special is that all the people in the crowds surrounding him are all real portraits of people from the village immortalised on the Walls of their own church, it is a very special thing.

Even the local W.I. Are there to welcome the messiah with a refreshing brew from their tea urn!

I like to think that the teddy bear the little boy is holding is the likeness of the actual bear, why shouldn't he be immortalised too.

John Ward is buried in the churchyard, but he turns up again a couple of weeks later when we visit Scotney castle. Framed on the Walls are some beautiful illustrated thank you letters he wrote to the owners, very reminiscent of the beautiful letters written and drawn by Edward Ardizzone, he was obviously a very welcome house guest.

Monday, 9 July 2012

New tiles !

Although I was spectacularly rubbish at all science subjects in school I'm really trying to make up for it by having the periodic table of elements fired on tiles in our new bathroom, they compliment nicely the kings and queens of England poster in the studio loo !!

Friday, 6 July 2012

Degree show delight

Beautiful ceramics I saw last night at Kingston illustration degree show by Louise Madzia.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Take stuff and leave money

A few years ago in the summer holidays me and Lorna went on holiday driving around the Isle of Wight, all over the island we found little boxes of fruit and veg outside peoples front gardens, sometimes with a little box to leave money in and sometimes with a handwritten note saying 'help yourself'.
It's a good, simple trusting thing.
Lorna made a cool collection of photographs of them.
So it was pretty damn excellent to stumble across this box of plates last week in Rye.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Flowers from the garden

We've never had a garden until now. With our flat we have a small yard attached that I do nothing but Lorna does everything to keep it looking beautiful. This year there has been a great crop of roses and I cut a few to put on our bedroom window, a simple act that I'm shocked at how much it made me happy !

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Pig foot scraper

When my two daughters were little girls I used to walk them to school the same way every day, one of the daily excitements was when we walked past one house that had a pig shaped boot scraper in the door step, we used to point and shout "pig! Pig!" as we passed it. A simple pleasure that I had forgotten about long ago until last week I rode past that house on my bike and there he was still, ten years later, hopefully delighting some other young children every day.

"PIG ! PIG!!"

Sunday, 1 July 2012

I bought these little lucky cats in Kobe in Japan. Now they live in Rye in Sussex in England where they nap and stretch and wave to people through the window.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Yellow's dead!

My favourite cycling jacket has passed, the zip has finally broken beyond repair. We had some great rides together my old friend, I took you on and off thousands of times and each time was as sweet as the first time. You kept me warm and dry year after year, I am bereft.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

David Shrigley at the Haywood

I have been to see this great show twice in a week now. On the second visit I noticed half a dozen things I'd never noticed the first time.
The thing that always shocked me when I went to art school was that the people who were taken seriously by the tutors were the people that acted seriously. The people who were funny and modestly were depreciating about their work weren't. Work with humour always came second to serious work, I thought it all was a crock of shite then and I still do now.

This brilliant and hilarious show is equally as serious as any I have ever scene, it deals with life and death and everything in between in such a fantastically thoughtful and inspiring way that you can't help but leave the show thinking 'I must make my work better' I can't think of a better thing to say about it.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

John Ryan - Great name, great guy !

I went to a great exhibition today at the art gallery in Rye showcasing the career of the illustrator John Ryan. To tell the truth I wasn't expecting anything special but it was brilliant ! He was famous I suppose for the children's tv show 'Captain Pugwash' and 'Mary, Mungo and Midge', made in the seventies these programmes were very basic animations, as you can see in the picture above they were more like puppet style moving animations, the cardboard levers at the bottom operating a very simple movement of a limb or a door opening etc.

The show has lots too see in it and even if it wasn't free to get in would be good value for money! He is a brilliant draughtsman and is a wonderful observer of detail. It's not what you would call high art but it's lots of fun (which is much more important!) you can imagine the smiles and laughter that must have accompanied the making of the work displayed here, much as I imagine how Oliver Postgate filled his days.

Lorna said that she always thought that 'Mary, Mungo and Midge' was very exotic because it was set in a tower block and she only lived in a little house.

The exhibition does not allow photography and the pictures here were taken surreptitiously, this is one of my great pleasures in life these days, getting away with a few forbidden snaps - oh the joys of middle age !!!!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

On Friday I had a day off work. The previous night I had been to a talk by the designer George Hardie at the Artworkers Guild, George was being made the master of the guild for this year but the retiring master in his speech urged people to visit the John Martin exhibition at the Tate before it closed on Sunday.
There are two Tate galleries in London, the Tate Britain and the Tate modern. I very rarely visit the latter and visit the former quite a lot - I guess mainly because it's within walking distance of my flat, laziness being the foundation of my taste in art. Honestly though, the Tate modern is just too too crowded and the galleries are horrible ! Having said that 'the weather report' installation of a giant halogen lamp recreation of the sun in the turbine hall was one of the best show/installations that I've ever seen.
John Martin was one of those quite obscure Victorian artists that I always felt that I had discovered all by myself, and as such his strange apocalyptic world appealed to me all the more. I went to the show slightly begrudgingly knowing I was going to have to share my secret discovery with the masses. Well they are welcome to him, it was nonsense. Admittedly it was all stunningly realised but still nonsense on an incredibly grandiose scale. Of course you have to put it in the context of his period etc etc but I just can't be bothered with all the heaven and hell stuff, life's too short already. It was good to let him go and clear some space in my head for some other rubbish. Goodbye John !

I went for a further nose around the rest of the galleries and happened upon a small exhibition by the photographer Don McCullin, here was the real apocalypse unfolding before me in my own city, in my own lifetime.

In fact these pictures were taken in a street in London only a few hundred yards were I used to have a studio.

My favourite photograph by Martin Parr has always been this one taken from behind the counter at a ice cream/chip shop at the seaside (I think it might be New Brighton - the resort that services Merseyside) with this poor pissed off girl left on her own to service the relentless, surging tide of ever needy humanity. And there she is now hanging up on a wall in the Tate gallery. The new Mona Lisa.