Distracted. I ought to be at the desk earning the rent. Maybe it's the temperature. Feverish. Below zero. Zero drawing. Be more use, more productive stacking logs. Lighting fires. Shovelling coal.
Wednesday, 31 December 2014
Thursday, 25 December 2014
Monday, 1 December 2014
There's a theme, there's a thread. Up on the couch sunshine.
Friday, 28 November 2014
Friday, 3 October 2014
Old newspaper used to insulate the minor bird cage. Got an air mail letter from California today. Rare thing to have the pleasure of receiving a hand written letter, the date and everything. There were three stamps illustrated with birds on. A Mountain Bluebird, a Western Tanager and a Painted Bunting. I painted a budgerigar once.
In the corner of the stamps were the words 'forever U S A'.
Thursday, 2 October 2014
Recently, went to a boxing contest. I imagine this is a form of reportage drawing. It just wasn't done ringside.
So, is there à new book coming soon? We want to know!
Red corner. Blue corner. Serious? Out for the count. Red corner. Blue corner? HaHaHaHa.
Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Gian Carlo Menotti lived at Yester House, Gifford east of Edinburgh. Menotti planted me in Spoleto 1992, 1993 and for an encore in 1998.
A fine example of the mediocre early morning 'live' drawing abandoned in a fit of failure and frustration. What not a masterpiece, Maestro? How many visits does it take to Spoleto, dozens......? Over a period of six years, total number of drawings: 1. One. This noble effort.1998. Cut his hands off. Stick his head in a bucket. Wait, wait I was under a lot of pressure. I felt obliged to draw some architecture. I did two operas. I did an exhibition. I did some interviews. I played baseball, okay it was softball, with the Americans at 2 in the morning in the piazza with the Duomo as a magnificent backdrop.I was being a Maestro. Big deal. Where did it all go wrong? Anyway others have drawn the Duomo di Spoleto since and before, there must be a billion notebook leaves of pencil scratchings superior to mine scattered throughout the solar system. But now sixteen years later my fine line unravels in front of me and ties a large knot and lynches me.
Just to illustrate my point. Look at this Ellen Bell drawing. How to capture a likeness. This is how I saw the cathedral in my mind before I was committed to paper and blunted my 404 nib. Sob.
Tuesday, 30 September 2014
Edinburgh street sketcher 1990. So as well as the scrap paper sketch pad I began to fill, I progressed to the larger scale stuff. A selection of which I've found and spent too long scanning the damn stuff to post on this blog...anyway,
I got bored drawing the statue when I was interrupted by
I remember thinking how difficult it was drawing the castle with my puny pen and ink, and my feeble effort needed a subject to illustrate the scale of the view. There was a group of teenage school kids joking around just along from me and I struck up a conversation with a couple of them, and I convinced one to pose for me for five minutes. I imagine I was considered suspect. A perv. I showed them my previous efforts and Sally volunteered to be drawn. Twenty four years later I am exhibiting Sally's portrait on the net, no one's safe....wonder where she is now? How have the intervening years treated her. Did she vote YES? Did she draw a cross next to NO?
Perfect models. Better than statues.
Short lived reportage artist career. It's a matter of being obsessed, driven, putting yourself out on a limb and taking risks - getting out of the house and not waiting for the invite.
Friday, 19 September 2014
In the olden days. Handmade sketchbook from scraps. An attempt to be a 'reportage artist'......a selection. Two days on the road for Conde Naste Traveller magazine. Did I really use a dip pen and dip dip dip it in the ink in public. I did. Better than sat at a desk. Better than any camera. Don't know if the magazine ever published any, I did about 30 drawings for them to choose from. Different today.
Wednesday, 17 September 2014
Found image from a tumblr or Pinterest site 2012. I admire the improvised book mark. I imagine the original drawing is with the publisher or perhaps in the hands of the author's estate, in any case there was a rough sketch which I cannot find, for this in my opinion 'safe' option, which predictable was chosen to decorate the cover of the modern classic.
Today Wednesday is apparently the 60th anniversary of the publication of Lord of the flies. And I came across a couple of other roughs, so I might as well display myself here. Commissioned sometime in the early 90s by design company Pentagram for faber and faber. Could never stand that black band plastered across the page carrying the title and author's name. I drew quite a few of Golding's covers for a time. I don't think my versions lasted very long. Was the classic illustrated cover for Lord of the Flies Paul Hogarth's? Which I believe my drawing took over from. Still it's an honour to be associated with such a piece of literature. Did Lord of the flies for my CSEs in 1968.........
Tuesday, 9 September 2014
Walking the dog: 2009
Silent Night published 2001.
Otto's Trunk drawings on cardboard offcuts. 2000
Questions:Would you say that there are consistent themes within your work? If so, what are they?
NO. ARE THERE? MAYBE. THAT'S FOR THE PSYCHIATRIST TO FATHOM OUT.
To what extent do you think your work is influenced by your real-life experiences?
WALKING THE DOG (JONATHAN CAPE 2009) WAS AN ACT. IT WAS BASED ON REAL LIFE BUT IT'S STORY TELLING - IT'S BENDING AND DISTORTING LIFE. IT'S AN ACT. IT'S ALSO GETTING PAID FOR SELF INDULGENCE. A MATTER OF SURVIVAL.........
Do you think any autobiographical elements in your work happen subconsciously? Or are they a purposeful choice on your part?
What is your opinion of autobiography within illustration? Do you think it is necessary? Inescapable? Self-indulgent?
SELF INDULGENT. UNNECESSARY.
If you do feel that your stories come from a place of real-life experience, how do you then make them “child-appropriate”? Does your audience dictate what you show and how you show it? How?
MAKE THEM CHILD APPROPRIATE? - I COLOUR IN WITH CRAYONS. I DON'T HAVE AN AUDIENCE. MY THEATRE HAS CLOSED DOWN AND IS A BINGO VENUE.
What is the most difficult project you have ever done? Why?
ANYTHING I'VE EVER DONE IS DIFFICULT. NEVER EASY. IT'S ALWAYS HARD TO START. WORKING FOR THE FOLIO SOCIETY FOR EXAMPLE, IS DIFFICULT. THEY THINK I AM INTELLIGENT I GET CLASSICAL ROMAN AND GREEK LITERATURE TO DECORATE. BUT I SHOULDN'T MOAN, I AM FLATTERED THAT I GET THE OPPORTUNITY TO DECORATE THE FINE PAGES OF SUCH INSTITUTIONS AS THE FOLIO SOCIETY.
THATS THE TROUBLE WITH DRAWING HONESTLY ON YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, IT'S NOT CLEVER AND IT SENDS YOU UP A CUL DE SAC, DON'T LET ILLUSTRATION BE THE THING THAT DEFINES YOU. DEPRESSING THOUGHT. HARD TO HANDLE WHEN YOU ARE LOST IN A CUL DE SAC. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT TOO AND THE STREET LAMPS ARE FLICKERING.
THE CURRENT 'PROJECT' (SELF INITIATED, FOR GOD'S SAKE) IS DIFFICULT BUT I AM NOT EXPECTING SYMPATHY. STILL THE GRASS GETS CUT.
LESS STRIVING..............MAYBE THAT'S THE WAY?
Is it important to you that your work should teach the reader something, or communicate a message? Or is the aesthetic of your work the primary concern? (for example, do you come from an idea first, or decide that you want to write a book about a bear and wait for the story to shape itself through your drawing?)
HOW DID YOU KNOW I'VE WRITTEN A STORY ABOUT A BEAR?
ANYWAY TODAY I MAKE IT UP AS I GO ALONG.
14 YEARS AGO I CAME UP WITH SANTA CLAUS AND A SMALL DOG. AND THEN I BUILT A WORDLESS STORY AROUND THAT SITUATION. (SILENT NIGHT -ATHENEUM BOOKS 2001)
BULLY (WALKER BOOKS 1992)WAS SUGGESTED AS A THEME BY AMELIA EDWARDS AND DAVID LLOYD EDITOR AT WALKER. IF I WAS SERIOUS ABOUT ILLUSTRATING CHILDRENS BOOKS I WOULD HAVE TO WRITE MY OWN. IN THEIR OPINION,WRITERS WERE 'SCARED' OF MY ILLUSTRATIONS! I HAD JUST HAD A SERIES OF DRAWINGS REJECTED BY AUTHOR MARTIN WADELL FOR HIS SCRIPT 'WITCH GIRL' ONE OF MY DRAWINGS FEATURED A PLAYGROUND SCENE, THE BACKGROUND SHOWED A BOY PULLING A GIRL'S HAIR.AFTER ABOUT THREE YEARS WORK,I HOPE WE COMMUNICATED A MESSAGE THAT BULLYING IS EVIL AND ISN'T SOCIALLY ACCEPTABLE. BULLY IS THE ONLY BOOK THAT EVER EARNT ME A ROYALTY, AFTER ABOUT SEVEN YEARS AFTER PUBLICATION I GOT MY FIRST CHEQUE FOR NINETY POUNDS. IN TOTAL IT PROBABLY EARNT ME ABOUT ELEVEN THOUSAND.
IN OTTO'S TRUNK (SANDY TURNER, HARPER COLLINS 2001) THAT FEELING LIKE A MISFIT IS PART OF GROWING UP BUT THERE IS LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL BLAH BLAH BLAH - IT WASN'T A DIFFICULT BOOK TO DO. I THINK IT WAS DONE START TO FINISH IN A WEEK. WELL OK A MONTH.........UNLIKE BULLY. IN THE PAST I NURTURED THE AMBITION TO WRITE, ILLUSTRATE AND DESIGN A BOOK IN A WEEK. NOWADAYS I'LL BE LUCKY TO PRODUCE ONE MORE BOOK BEFORE I SHUFFLE OFF MY EARTHBOUND SHELL. .............THAT GIVES ME ABOUT 10 YEARS? A SOBERING THOUGHT.
How does your work differ when you are illustrating someone else’s story? Are you more or less attached than when you also are the author? Do you find the quality of your drawing is better or worse?
DEPENDS. SOMETIMES THE DRAWING IS BETTER SOMETIMES WORSE. IN THE EXCEPTIONAL CASE OF OTHELLO (ALIBABA VERLAG 1997) IT WAS SOMEONE ELSE'S IDEA THAT I SHOULD ILLUSTRATE OTHELLO, ABRAHAM TEUTER HAD HAD SOME SUCCESS PUBLISHING A FRANZ KAFKA STORY AND THOUGHT IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO HAVE OTHELLO DONE AS A PICTURE BOOK. I FAILED ON THAT COUNT AS THE INTENTION WAS THE CHILDRENS BOOK MARKET. I WAS INSPIRED AND UN LEASHED BY SHAKESPEARE, BUT THAT WAS PROBABLY BECAUSE HE WAS DEAD AND ALSO I WAS ON A HIDING TO NOTHING SO I FELT I HAD NOTHING TO LOSE BECAUSE YOUR SHAKESPEARE SCHOLARS WERE GOING TO DISLIKE MY INTERPRETATION ANYHOW........
I am particularly interested in your children’s book alter ego, Sandy Turner. Can you explain a bit about why you chose to publish your children’s books under another name? And do you find that you approach work differently when you are working as Sandy?
THERE HASN'T BEEN A SANDY TURNER BOOK SINCE 2005. SANDY TURNER WAS KILLED OFF NEARLY TEN YEARS AGO. SOAP OPERA STUFF. MY MEMORY TELLS ME I USED ST AS AN ESCAPE FROM 'TYPE CASTING'. I WAS FRUSTRATED IN THE NARROWNESS OF MY WORK. BUT ORIGINALLY I WAS FORCED INTO A CORNER OVER A DRAWING FOR THE NEW YORKER WHICH HAD BEEN CENSORED WITHOUT PRIOR CONSULTATION BUT THEY STILL WANTED TO RUN IT, SO AFTER A CONVERSATION WITH CHRIS CURRY THE ART EDITOR I CAME UP WITH A BLAND NAME FOR A BLAND DRAWING. I'VE TOLD THE STORY MANY TIMES IT WILL TAKE TOO LONG TO REPEAT HERE. ANY HOW A DAY AFTER PUBLICATION A NEW YORK LITERARY AGENT GOT IN TOUCH ASKING TO SPEAK TO SANDY TURNER. SANDY TURNER WROTE AND ILLUSTRATED 5 BOOKS IN 3 YEARS. I ALWAYS LOOKED AT IT AS IF I WAS WORKING FOR A BRAND. LIKE LAURA ASHLEY OR CATH KIDSTON OR MARKS AND SPENCER. I WAS WORKING FOR SANDY TURNER. IT'S A JOKE. BUT IT ENABLED ME TO GET AWAY FROM THE SO CALLED SATIRICAL DARK EDGY WORK AND HAVE SOME GENTLE FUN - AND I LOVE WORKING IN PENCIL. IT'S ONE THING TO CONJURE UP AN ALTER EGO AT THE END OF A PHONE IT'S ANOTHER TO WALK INTO A ROOM STUFFED WITH STRANGERS AND HAVING A NAME TAG PINNED TO YOUR BREAST. THINK IT THROUGH BEFORE GIVING YOURSELF AN ALTERNATIVE IDENTITY.
Saturday, 6 September 2014
"This year's exhibition is a radical departure for me. I have recently been fortunate to inherit a beautiful house (with a large studio) in the Alpes Maritimes in Southern France where my partner and I now work during the summer."
Opening paragraph from an artist's statement in the Artworks Exhibition 2014 catalogue at the Private View last night at Blackthorpe Barn, Rougham near Bury St Edmunds.
Wednesday, 13 August 2014
Monday, 11 August 2014
Wednesday, 6 August 2014
Thursday, 31 July 2014
This was enormous. For an illustration drawn in ink. Bigger than Tracy Emin's 'Iconic' unmade bed. Bigger than Shoreham By Sea's aerodrome. Bigger than Shoreham By Sea. Had an aircraft to itself. In fact this was the aircraft. It glided across the pond to Entertainment Weekly magazine in New York. Across the Atlantic Ocean. Ink and watercolour and a stamp. Non - porno. No commercial value. Protected. Wrapped in layers of stiff cardboard. Strapped with reels of gaffa tape. Sealed with wax. Sealed with glue. Transported to America. A shadow over Greenland. Newfoundland. Bigger than a flying fortress. In 1997. Big. Too big for the studio. Courier couldn't stick it under his arm. Impossible to fold. It took hours just to build an envelope to put it in. Label it Fragile. Before the scanner. Took it to Ron the printer in the high street to photocopy it in twenty six parts. Ron would out moan me for the gold medal. Probably fed the fax machine to show the art editor it's progress in instalments. Two rolls of fax paper. I took a polaroid of Elton John singing Candle in the wind at Princess Diana's funeral on the television for reference. Didn't get paid as much for it as Tracy Emin's 'Iconic' unmade bed. The original piece now hangs on a wall near Preston in Lancashire. Had to demolish the lobby to get it in position. Diversions on the A59. Had to close the country lanes to traffic to transport it to it's new home. Near The Inn at Whitewell. In the Ribble Valley Lancashire. In England. That was the nineties. Since 2005 when I converted to digital, it's all digital delivery. It's all memory stick, no fragile labels to stick. A59? It's all less than A3. If I had any work. That's history. Bye gone days. Anyone for golf. Anyone live in the East? Fancy a weekly walk, chasing a little white ball with a set of sticks. Putting the little white ball into a hole eighteen times. Handicap? I was an illustrator.
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Tuesday, 22 July 2014
Tuesday, 15 July 2014
Scorch. Hot. Sweaty. To the rear of Goodge Street tube station. Excuse me....... can you tell me where Tottenham Street is? The middle aged armed policeman replied Tottenham Court Road? The middle aged armed policeman replied to the sweaty cretin standing alongside his response vehicle. In the intense mid afternoon heat I tweaked the end of the middle aged coppers nose and smacked the middle aged chump about his thick middle aged head as his younger colleague located my intended destination on his mobile phone. (My mobile phone of course is on a protest go slow and is currently as much use as a choc ice in the pocket). I was less than a 100 yards from my destination, still it was a brief illuminating detour.
Empty gallery. Had to ring a buzzer. Almost gave up when a friendly face let me enter to stare at the walls for my own personal private view. Drops of sweat staining the gallery floor forming maps of exotic warring territories dripping new borders - which was kind of appropriate as I was marvelling at self described mapmaker Katherine Baxter's small but extraordinary exhibition. And she uses a Rotring pen.........
Dexter was hysterical when I arrived home. It's tragic. It's official, Dexter is senile. Me as well. Cooked a burger. Swigged a lager. Green salad. Coleslaw, chips. Sat outside. Felt exhausted. Opened the post. Folio Society send me some Juvenal postcards and an empty paged Juvenal hardback book with nice ivory paper with a suggestion I can make use of it as a sketchbook. Nice thought. I won't though. I have two more just like it already. A Mark Twain and a Robert Graves. Unmarked graves more like.