Thursday, 30 December 2010

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Mari Wilson-Shoreham By Sea

Half-Time Walked out. Went for a pint. Cry Me A River...

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Beehive as tall as my face: 1982

Today I've chain-sawed large lumps of tree - before splitting the logs with an axe. It was dusk before I stacked the logs in the wood shed in an arrangement that satisfied my soul. Sad.
Tomorrow we travel to Shoreham By Sea in Sussex. On Saturday Mari Wilson performs at the Shoreham By Sea Art Centre. In 1982 the girl was retro, I fell for the tongue in cheek image, the fake glam, the joke. She reminded me of a girl I once knew, an older girl from my juvenile past.  I dug out the records yesterday and was sadly unimpressed. It was the image. I've got her autograph somewhere. Cry Me A River is better performed by Julie London  

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Lee Ford asks for my working drawing practice statement............

Click the first sentence for more information:
The exhibition features drawings by Abram Games, Alan Fletcher, Milton Glazer and Saul Steinberg not bad company to be keeping.

I don't really have a typical working drawing practice it's a cocktail of desperation, panic and discipline depending on the subject, the right nib the thickness of the ink the sharpness of the pencil the size the texture of the drawing surface. Sometimes - I wake at 6am. Shower and get dressed. Make a cup of tea. I read the brief. If there is a brief. I go for a walk maybe. I make a cup of coffee. Prepare some  toast and honey and banana. I read The Guardian. I look out of the window. I check for emails. I sit in front of the computer. I throw some darts. I watch the last quarter of  hour of Bargain Hunt. I have lunch. I shoot some rabbits. I pluck and gut a pheasant. But today I have been in Cambridge giving students the benefit of my experience, I should listen to my own advice. Re-visit childhood and play. Make a mess.

Eyes down looking......... any line - blank sheet of paper  if it's an ink drawing I dip my nib into the bottle of black ink, if it is a pencil drawing I sharpen my 2B pencil with a scalpel I start with the eye if it's a portrait, and it might turn into a cat if it's not a portrait of Colonel Gaddafi.  I fly by the seat of my pants.

Othello was a large blank sheet of paper, my brain was blank. I had never seen the play had never read it. Watched an old video, a blacked up Laurence Olivier and a stagey Desdemona impersonated by an actress too old for the part. I drew in ink a small rectangular box and I sort of doodled a stage. I wrote the word Othello, that settled me down, I had begun. Alongside the first box I drew a second box and I repeated the act of doodling a stage and added a kind of boxing ring to it. I then typed the name Othello as it is a play and I glued the type-written Othello to the doodle. I drew the next identically shaped box alongside, doodled the same stage and filled it in with black tissue paper,'it's a dark play'. I realise as I am trying to describe this form of alchemy that I add droplets of humour into the mix, is this an attempt to jolt me into life, is it a ploy to avoid being considered prententious? Bit of both maybe...........I feel it is a mistake to analyse my work it's like giving secrets away, I will lose it,I've summoned up a curse, the talent to draw without a safety net is a curse anyway.  I'm blessed.

So I continue and I discover before the play begins within some early dialogue that Othello and Desdemona have been married in secret,something to dip my nib into, a simple wedding portrait. And on it goes across the top of the sheet. A line of separate simple drawings a storyboard evolves. Improvisation. I make it up as I go reading the text and reacting. A tennis match with the Bard of Avon. Inspired by Shakespeare. New balls please. The challenge of using the remaining space across the sheet of cream paper as I fill it in with my line adds to the pressure, but by now a kind of a adrenaline is flowing through me pumping around my furred-up veins from my pea- brain through the network of an anatomical chart down my arm into the inkwell and  spilling it's guts and turning a sheet of paper into a drawing that could be worth something. I make a living. 11 sheets and six months later and with painted portraits and added improvisations Othello kicks me into touch. On completion the printer then makes the request to cut up the sheets of paper in two with a surgeons precision - to fit the art onto their scanner, it is 1997. But it is the storyboard that ignites the project.

Walking the Dog. Drawing from memory ancient and modern:

Improvisation a memory snapping the pencils as I draw from the depths of the bowels of a deranged sentimental disillusioned illustrator.  I bought a cheap 10 inch square shaped sketch book. On the first page I lettered the title, the title was 'How To Be A Cartoonist'.The publisher told me to block it in, I had shown him a manuscript. I blocked it in page by page it was about 40 pages in before I reached the point of the beginning the original manuscript. It was a 40 page run up. I drew as I walked I drew as I went. I would tell myself at 8am I'll do a couple of hours before I start work. I would sometimes start at the top left hand corner and draw a little man in a hat, I would add a wire-hared fox terrier,Dexter. And take them for a walk. Drawing exercise. Like scales.Practice makes perfect. I made a cover for the sketchbook I papered it over with an image of a contact sheet of a carcass of a sheep trapped and contorted in wire fencing with the doodles of the man walking his dog, like red indians circling a stagecoach. It became book. Then it would be 2 in the afternoon, and I might've completed a double page of the walking man and his dog walking back and forth crossing the gutter summoning up the ghosts of his past through drawing.  And then if it was a Tuesday. at about 10 am a draft of Marcel Berlin's Guardian piece would land in the in tray, never straight forward, challenging current affairs serious and trivial. The Guardian's deadline was usually about tea time five-ish the same day. It was not unusual for the dog to keep me on the leash of a 2b pencil until 3. Dan Franklin the publisher had ideally wanted a 120 page 'graphic novel' he got a 300 plus page notebook on drawing. The artist recovered.

Walking the Dog was a compulsive pencil confessional a revealing one dimensional segment of the artist. The power of drawing. The police should use the technique as an investigative aid, an eye witness prompt.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Ich bin Inglander?

Forty seven years on and it remains in the memory and I've no idea why this typing is automatically underlining itself and in the colour purple, why doesn't it go the whole hog and come out vivid green: JFK / Dallas / Doctor Finlay's Casebook: Kennedy once delivered a famous speech in Berlin. I delivered some books on Friday to The International Youth Library in Munich now their library holds sixhundred thousand and five 'picture'books.And then I gave a talk but not in the German tongue I am ashamed to say. I am from an island race and hallo is the same in German as in English.
Professor Dr. Jens Thiele from the university of Oldenburg (who once wrote 2 in depth critiques of Bully and Little Robert for a major German broadsheet newspaper) and Claudia Soffner (the letter o should have those two little dashes hovering above it's head)of the Internationale Jugendbibliothek both invited me to take part in their forum alongside Atak, Chen Jianghong and Yvan Pommaux and others last Friday/Saturday. Germany takes it's illustration seriously,five hours on the subject on a Friday night is pretty serious I'd say but in my own way I bring the level of intellect down to low-brow but I think the punters liked the delivery, publisher Kluas Humann of Carlsen Verlag of Hamburg in the audience, he published the former alta ego's Silent Night in Germany, that sold about 2 copies, Germans take Christmas seriously Klaus admitted and my Silent Night was too much of a comic take on the subject: I liked ATAK'S work and delivery his subversive humour shining through even though it was in German. I must learn to paint - there was a showing of some animated films including the 15 minute The Lost Thing and with hindsight I was more impressed with Sean Tan's film The Lost Thing than I let on. I can be a mean spirited bastard sometimes. Some of the images were breath taking the painting the texture the drawing the observation sublime........but I didn't care for the Thing I suppose. In answer to Prof. Thiele's 'Did you enjoy The Lost Thing?' I answered feebly that yeah it was ok but it reminded me of the Yellow Submarine, the Prof. retorted no more like Bosch's The Garden of Delights.........High brow wins. Anyway I don't suppose Mister Tan gives a flying .....what Hughes thinks. I admit it has grown on me it will probably win an Oscar. Good breakfast the next morning and an unexpected brief encounter which diluted my thick head. 

Monday, 8 November 2010

Flood Damage Continued/Car Boot:

Art Critic Robert Hughes: The New Yorker 
Steven Spielberg: Premiere Magazine 

This looks like actor Ricky Tomlinson, but it's not. Can't remember the magazine but I enjoyed stubbing out cigarette butts on the drawing. 
A really good piece (of writing) in Esquire describing  a rare piece of inspirational song making. Written by musician and producer Joe Henry. But I'm getting to the stage of memory loss and for the love of me I haven't a clue who I was portraying I know the face emerging from the end of the saxaphone is comedian Richard Pryor (the name just popped into my head at the moment of typing) but the sax player? John Coltrane ...I don't think so - any suggestions if anyone is out there?  It's ORNETTE COLEMAN: I managed to answer my own query that's an odd word 'query' not very sexy. Another drawing playing with fire. 
Wilhelm Busch the original comic strip artist.....

Sunday clearing out the garage discover more mouldering damp samples of work and among the spider droppings was a rotting plastic bag stuffed with old magazines/books. Some samples of The Wilhelm-Busch Museum's beautifully produced house magazine 'SATIRE'. The museum is situated in Hannover and is dedicated to illustration believe it or not. A friend was staying the week-end recently and she made the observation that Rin Tin-Tin was like Dexter (my wire-haired Fox Terrier - visit his facebook site - ) Puzzled I corrected my visitor, Rin Tin Tin was a  German Shepherd, an Alsatian, nothing like Dexter and then the dollar dropped, she of course meant Tin Tin's terrier Snowy. Worth a drawing. The other selection of damaged goods are pages from the past from the New York agent's Gerald & Cullen Rapp promotion of their artists. For a number of years I was repped by them, they tracked me down in about 1997 they said I was 'HOT' I had I think 3 full page illustrations appear in American magazines that week so they swooped. Although I am still sort of with them in a relaxed arrangement I feel as if I was probably a disappointment as far as my earning power in the intervening years but I probably helped them attract the more 'radical artiste' to their stable, or maybe not.........Anyway the garage is a bit clearer and I made about fifty five quid at the car boot, about as lucrative as an illustrator. I think I should take a change of direction in life and set up as a market stall holder selling music related gear and junk and second hand illustrations or maybe not.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Audrey Niffenegger meets Dexter Fox-Terrier

So Dexter gets an invite to attend the judging of The Jonathan Cape/Observer Graphic Novel competition, official mascot? Ice breaker? Substitute for a personality.....................what a laid back calm dog you have says  a fellow passenger on the London train, while the announcer announces for the third time 'we'd like to apologise for the delay, a foreign body is being scraped up off the track and we will be on our way as soon as possible.........' my fellow passenger is a tall attractive mature woman cloaked in black, reading a battered, brown, brittled-paged classic Penguin paperback edition of Brideshead Revisited. An omen? 
Dexter and I are the last to arrive. The judging is in progress, it feels like an examination room, we are introduced to our fellow judges Dexter lapping up the adulation flowing in his direction. After the brief introductions and offer of tea and biscuits (where's the wine? It's a Friday afternoon) I was expecting a leisurely, possibly lengthy, maybe controversial but serious debate, eyes on storks, provocative discussion on the exciting possibilities in the comic book genre. Oh well -  eyes down looking it's serious stuff.  
 This competition proves how difficult this art-form is to carry off, a short graphic story is a tough brief to answer. Nothing shook me, nothing really excited me, most of it mediocre. I am a sucker for good draughtsmanship, the quirky, the personal, some humour, not much evidence here - wit is a vital ingredient in my book.........
So it came down to four or five contenders and then that short list was short lived and it came down to two finalists. I confess that I am not a great authority in the world of the graphic novel, but the winner with it's dark menacing humour beautifully executed was (the more I think about it)probably derivative not particularly unique and maybe even it's storyline influenced from another source. It looked like a graphic novel, it will reproduce well too, 2 reasons why it was the winner: What do we know-another committee on a diet of tea and biscuits. With hindsight it was all a bit rushed and disappointing. I can't help thinking that two or three of the Cambridge students I saw the day before have missed a trick here by not entering some of their work from the Childrens Picture Book MA Course, for one, their short story ideas are more sophisticated than the majority of entrants on display today. 
A pretty feeble response to a difficult competition maybe the art schools of Britain weren't aware ? Still Dexter met Audrey Niffenegger, and rode the underground for the first time.  

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Matt Harvey: P O E T

The poet in performance at the Battersea Arts Centre. Friday September 24th. 2010. 
one of Matt's Poem's title: THWOCK. Starts Bounce bounce bounce bounce........a crowd pleasing act of genius.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


ALEC: The Five O'Clock Shadow. At 5 am his wit was as sharp as his razor should've been. Made a good cup of tea. I can almost smell the nicotine........
FRED: True comic genius.
CHARLIE SMART: Smart in uniform - guaranteed to laugh at all your jokes.
MARVIN: Taught me the ropes - bloody bonkers but impressive sideburns.
PANCHO WEST: 'Be that as it may' would prefix most of Pancho's sentences. Arsenal supporter and owner of a vast selection of biros. 
PETER: A photographer in a previous life - like I was an illustrator in mine...............
STEVE: The Union Rep. He was often supporting my defence regarding my unpunctual time keeping. 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Equation: The Kitchen Tapes March 1999

Tonight I found in an old shoebox a batch of video cassettes a couple of them containing footage of the band Equation between 1997 and 1999. In 1999 I was in Devon to photograph the band,featuring Sean & Seth Lakeman to use as design reference for their new album The Lucky Few. I took along my video camera and filmed them playing a track called The Prize in the kitchen of the family home. It was the first time I'd heard the song - excuse the amateur camera work but I think it is evocative. So I dig out the CD a/w as a result...............first time I'd been given a free hand to design a CD package in partnership with Ben Casey's design group The Chase. Geoff Travis of Rough Trade was a very encouraging force.  

Friday, 23 July 2010


Found these specimens deep in the gut of a file stored in the laptop. They are the only record I have of the sketchbook that was lost on Saturday February 13th 2010 somewhere maybe possibly Sutton Surrey. I have often said how I don't use  sketchbooks, there is always the fact that they become such a precious object in themselves and you can become crippled by their demands. Originally this book was bought to take with me on a trip to South Korea in 2006. It features a lot of material and memories from that trip and kick started me to using and enjoying the practice of carrying a sketchbook. So it's a kind of poetic justice that it did become a precious item and I lost it. In these examples I can see the nervous mediocre attempt of the first sketch- but my confidence growing through the next four. The artist Louise Bourgeois said something like 'when a spiders web is destroyed ......the spider spins another web. Must buy another sketchbook soon. In the unlikely event anyone should happen to come across the lost Hughes book of sketches I offer a financial reward and a bottle of Monkey Shoulder.

Monday, 12 July 2010


Another day another illustration frustration I think I've lost the art of it. I read - they read we beg to differ the editor and the plumber.  I must learn to draw it better I must pay attention in class.No penis please remove the penis. I am a prick. Must keep my pecker up. Waiting on another decision.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Bird Spotting:The Goldfinch (with infestation)

Another bird crashes into a window. Sad.

Answer to the question:

David Hockney-Peter Blake-Push Pin Studios-Egon Schiele-Edvard Munch-Paul Klee-Maurice Sendak-Diane Arbus-Lucian Freud-Francis Bacon-Hans Holbein-George Grosz-George Herriman-George Remi-Popeye The Sailorman-Winsor McCay-Tex Avery-The Beano-The Dandy-Michael Sandle-Richard Avedon-Rebecca Horn-Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth-Wolf Erlbruch-Picasso and the birds in my garden.

Bird Spotting: Another Great Tit - RIP

Crashed into a window yesterday.....

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Tyne:Dogger: Northeast 3 or 4.

German Bight: West or northwest gale 8 to storm 10, expected imminent.........
Three Poodles: Etching 2000. Flood damaged discovered Monday. Teach me to store my history in the garage.Font sizeDundee Cat: Etching 2000. Flood damaged discovered Monday.

Attention all shipping:
Neil Young at Hyde Park: June 2009 - storm that day too.