Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Thoughts on my drawing.

Slumber
‘Slumber’ Pencil on paper. Dec 2016

Once again, I have to confess to neglecting my blog. I’ve been busy teaching and drawing, and, more recently tidying up and paring back this website that I felt was becoming something of a beast that needed taming.

Like I say, I have been drawing; lots and lots of drawing whenever time permits. Drawing has dominated my creative output recently. It’s trumped my lettering and collage efforts. It’s been a really useful year for me. Having neglected drawing for many years—far too many years—I find it odd that I did for so long. Anyhow, as the old saying goes, the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago; the next best time is now. Never has a truer proverb applied to me and my practice. No looking back, then. I’m just moving forward and going with the flow.

The process of drawing and the rediscovering certain tools and revisiting others has also led to my exploring new(ish) themes of that I can connect with and that have some visual potential to me. Recently, my lifelong interests in both factual history and folklore have been a point of exploration. I’ve been drawing those who keep certain ancient traditions alive, and who reinterpret them for a new age, such as Morris Dancers and their musicians. These have simply been portraits. In recent weeks I am wanting to explore themes that draw upon more imagination such a folk tales, myths and legends.  I’m having fun reading these tales and planning potential compositions and finding the process of drawing a wonderful escape from the often overwhelming speed and chaos of life. 

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Hello!

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 12.28.03
Some of my recent creative trials and explorations, all of which can be seen via the links above.

 

It’s been a while since writing any posts. However, despite this, I have been busy studying, drawing, making collages, lettering and, as ever, teaching. The blog will likely take on a more visual form from now on; populated with work and work-in-progress.

The site has had something of an overhaul. Nothing particularly slick, just a fresh theme, fewer pages and links and the addition of a Tumblr link as well as the Instagram feed. I want the site to have a more pared back look, and one that focuses a little more on my creative activity rather than those of others.

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Monday, 7 December 2015

E. H. Shepard. War Drawings

The E.H. Shepard exhibition at London’s House of Illustration is simply superb. Most of us will be familiar with his Winnie the Pooh drawings, but I, for one, knew little of his output beyond this. I was simply amazed at how effortless his work appeared to be in respect of creating beautifully fluid lines that captured human form, manner, and mood so accurately and so gracefully; even those sketches dashed off under the conditions of war. I was always taken by Shepard’s ability to capture so much with so little, evident of the Pooh drawings, but one can easily see how this skill was something developed early in his career. A beautiful and poignant exhibition.

HOI1 HOI2 HOI3 HOI4

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Sunday, 8 November 2015

Victorian Illustrated Letter

Recently I acquired this little Victorian illustrated letter where images are used to replace words. Dated 1861, it’s addressed to one James Nood? 130 George Street, Edinburgh and is titled ‘The Picture Letter by Catherine Sinclair’. This was a letter for children to enjoy and I recall things like this being published in children’s books and magazines even in the 1970s. I’m not so sure that today’s children would agree that the bird hunting cat should be hanged for his actions nor the poor bull being shot!  My understanding is the the letter also served as its own envelope, hence the address written on it.

Scan 1a Scan 2 Scan 3

 

Friday, 9 October 2015

AOI World Illustration Awards, 2015 at Somerset House

 

© Phil Wheeler – Biodiverse
© Phil Wheeler – Biodiverse

Today’s visit to London’s Somerset House was essentially a day for thinking about all things Illustrative. On what had to be one of the most glorious of October days we went to the AOI World Illustration Awards 2015, previously known as ‘Images’.

The mission: We wanted to point out to our students that Illustration can be many things and that it comes in many forms. That might sound like a fairly obvious thing to say, but I am still slightly surprised by just how many people say that they can’t draw and therefore they’d be no good at illustration. There seems to be a preconceived notion that all illustration is based on being able to draw like an Old Master. Of course some form of ability to draw is useful—and it could easily be argued as being essential—and I would never play down the benefits of the ongoing practice of observed drawing, as this is a way to noticeably improve ways of seeing and recording; to develop a style of visual voice; seek visual themes of interest and discover what tools and materials you respond to and enjoy using. Even the benefits of casual doodling can lead to many a new idea. I could go on.

This year’s exhibition was a true smorgasbord of illustrative voices and we simply let the students explore the exhibition set with a task of writing their own review using some prompts for discussion. The feedback was great and it was interesting to see what styles of image making were attractive to individuals and the ensuing points of discussion.

I found the exhibits were excellent as was the variety of styles present. I was particularly taken by the illustrations of João Fazenda that were centered around Japanese folklore (immediately below). The echoing of traditional Japanese artistic simplicity came through and both the lively quirkiness of the images and the wonderfully  simple colour combinations worked so well as a striking collection.

© João Fazenda – Japanese Folktales
© João Fazenda – Japanese Folktales

I was also struck by the incredible paper constructions by both Gail Armstrong and Sam Pierpoint, that latter producing the most incredible skull of waves crowned with a ship. Entitled ‘El Jimador Skull’ this formed part of a contribution to celebrate The Day of the Dead. As well as the compositions I find the engineering simply fascinating.

Andy Ford’s ‘Cel-EGG-Rities’, painted eggs of celebrity faces were simply brilliant, as was the use of Twitter that helped to generate suggestions for them. (See John & Yoko below)

For both technique, message and depth of meaning many were drawn to the poignant works of Olivier Kugler whose illustrations drew attention to the plight of Syrian refugees and their ability to live through adversity. The simple style of drawing and colour, peppered with hand rendered typographic messages gave a sensitive and personal voice to the topic.

In short, I found the perfectly curated collection simply brilliant. The quality of work was incredible and as a means of introducing some of our students to the wider world of illustration it was great. To round the day off we issued each student—tutors too!—with a blank postcard and asked for the card to be illustrated with an image or text of their choice; simply something connected to their day in London. The cards came in and we posted them as the 9th October was World Post Day and perfectly timed with our illustratively themed day.

The exhibition ends  1 November 2015. Anyone with a passing interest in graphic arts should not miss this exhibition.

#sampierpoint #illustration #papercraft #skull #paper #design #somersethouse #worldillustrationawards

A photo posted by Tim Bones (@mrtimbones) on

#illustration #eggs #lennon #yokoono #johnlennon #somertsethouse #worldillustrationawards #andyward A photo posted by Tim Bones (@mrtimbones) on

#worldpostday #postcard #illustration #curiouseventsday #thegraphicdesignproject #westkentcollege

A photo posted by Sancha de Burca (@sanchagdp) on

Friday, 28 August 2015

Mail me Art: A Mail Art Project

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Recently I’ve been trying to find time to indulge in independent, creative projects. Teaching for three institutions and having three young kids doesn’t leave much time for doing my own thing and so I’ve been seeking ways to incentivise me to get things done, I’ve also been discussing with one or more of my students the issue of trying to capitalise on finding time and seeing what one can achieve within a very limited time. I have been extolling the aims of this video by Cy Porter on the theme of Littleing it to Death by which Porter outlines tackling potentially larger projects by approaching them by do a little each day. So now practicing what I’ve been preaching I’m looking to do something each day. This little effort was a entry for a Mail Art project for Mail Me Art which “is a project that has brought together an international community of artists and illustrators, amateur and professional alike, through art in the form of mail.” This took about 2.5 hours and I left it until the day of the deadline. If I’m honest with my own critique, the composition isn’t great, neither is the lettering but I’m pleased with the doodle-like technique that emerged and the some of the mark-making. I really like the concept of mail art and hope to do more of this.

Reference: http://www.mailmeart.com

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Graphic Design Show 2015 West Kent College (University of Kent)

Another great year for our HE Graphic Design & Illustration students at West Kent College (University of Kent). Well done to all. Here a a few of the works exhibited along with a brochure put together by yours truly.

Brochure Graphics Spread
Click to view document (if using a Flash incompatible device click the PDF version below)

West Kent College offers a range of creative Higher Education courses including Graphic Design validated by the University of Kent (West Kent College):
http://westkent.ac.uk/university-courses-in-kent/he-art-and-design.html
http://www.kent.ac.uk/courses/undergraduate/additional/#!k-college

Images from clockwise:
Hayley Eldridge, Hayley Eldridge, Fred Sirman, Hayley Eldridge, Matt Wyles, Dave Sexton.

 

Friday, 1 May 2015

Pick-me-Up 2015 at Somerset House

Pick me up 1

Once again we took our students to the current offerings of Somerset House’s Pick Me Up, Graphic Arts Festival. I really wanted to see something different, something inspiring, something to amaze me and I came away feeling mostly flat. The ‘festival’ seemed to have lost its buzz and its edgy excitement . There was little of any substance but then that’s partly what Pick Me Up seems to be about. (No, it’s not me getting old, many of my students felt the same way.) Even the exhibitors appeared to have lost their zest for the occasion, looking quite glum and crestfallen. I suspect that there were fewer exhibitors this year and that made it feel emptier.

Pick me Up is a niche happening. It’s a mixture of the zany, the quirky, the colourful and the cheerful. Typically you’ll see cartoons, surreal and abstract prints and alphabets and much of it now looks like a reproduction of each others style and a rehash of much from previous years, only now it’s looking a little like a tired clown. Pick Me Up appears to have become increasingly safe in churning out pseudo-cheerful work with little to say. Imagine a nursery school with a letterpress, good paper stock and plenty of day glo colours only far more strained in its results. Well, with the few exceptions that’s Pick Me Up 2015. There were some noticeable strong participants and their differences in both technical skills and content made them stand out. My favourites by far were the sensitive and lively drawings of Zoë Taylor and wonderful paper-crafted works of Hattie Newman. Both were a real delight to find.

Visual work aside, the range of speakers this year was good and I was lucky enough to hear Lucienne Roberts and Rebecca Wright of ‘pioneering publishing house’ GraphicDesign&  deliver a great talk on graphic design.

In recent years I have genuinely enjoyed much of what has come out of PMU and the associated genre of art that has emerged. I particularly like the way in which many of the PMU creatives are doing things for themselves, on their own terms and in their own way, however, I can’t help yearning for something fresh or perhaps more importantly a more diverse range of styles. Contemporary graphic art is so much more than what PMU has come to represent. A little substance goes a long way.

PMU_2015_2
Lucienne Roberts (L) & educator Rebecca Wright of GraphicDesign&
Out students taking part in using coloured scraperboard at the Blink Art stand
Our FE & HE students taking part in using coloured scraperboard at the Blink Art stand
Hattie Newman
Hattie Newman
Hattie Newman
Hattie Newman
Workbook of Hattie Newman
Workbook of Hattie Newman
The work of Kate Hudson
The work of Kate Hudson
The work of Kate Hudson
The work of Kate Hudson

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Ladybird by Design

Things to Make, 1963, G. Robinson. (c) Ladybird Books Ltd, 1963
Things to Make, 1963, G. Robinson. © Ladybird Books Ltd, 1963

Like the many thousands of British children who, like me, grew up reading Ladybird Books in the 1970s—and the decade either side of this—can doubtless recall a certain fascination with at least one Ladybird title. For me it was the beautifully realistic and slightly unnerving illustrations by Robert Lumley for The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Like many Ladybird titles the illustrations were engrossing. They were images to be pored over, and as such many remain as indelible memories.

Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion is exhibiting  ‘Ladybird by Design’. Containing some 200 original artworks the exhibition is a testament to Ladybird’s commitment to publishing illustrations of the highest quality; images that would help with learning by being both descriptive and well made. They are realistic yet somehow convey so much more than any photograph might. Yes, the content often depicted a somewhat idealised view of the world, and it is easy to criticise some of the content for being being middle class and for having very gender specified roles, but judging by the stream of visitors that I have seen on my visits the exhibition it’s easy to see that these books are held in firm affection by the nation. Of course, I say that with some bias as one of the many who associates these books with part of my childhood. Seeing these illustrations again, and in the context of having trained as an illustrator and now teaching the graphic arts made me appreciate these wonderful books and their images more than ever. It perhaps also suggests that illustration, often viewed as a lower art form, can rival the interest generated by many ‘fine’ art collections. The exhibition runs until May 10th.