BLAKE AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY



Recently a kid in class asked me why I wasn't as famous as Quentin Blake. I'm not as good, was my initial reply, but then not wanting to squish the compliment I noted that Blake is a lot older than me so maybe I will be by the time I'm his age. If anyone overheard, I'm not as delusional as that sounds.
Of course, my style owes plenty to Blake, especially when drawing at speed or intuitively. Unsurprisingly, as I often copied his pictures from my Roald Dahl books growing up. Replicating them mark by mark with colouring pencils; perhaps missing the point of the lovely loose expressions of his squiggles and blots, but never mind, I'm sure those efforts helped me able to give simple expression to characters.

If you pop in to the British Library, you will find a corner currently given over to some new portraits of Dahl characters by the master illustrator. I never can resist the chance to see his work up close. Something about seeing the actual ink splats, marks and lines up close that I'll never tire of. The reminder of  childhood. Looking at them with my 6 month old daughter made me eager for the day we can read the books together. 

I couldn't tell you my favourite Dahl book any more than I could tell you my favourite song, but these new portraits bring them all to life again. As Blake says in his introduction, they have been treated here as if they are real people - which to many of us they are.



MYA PROJECT


Here is the artwork I produced for the LP release of Italian artist MYA Project. 
The music is available to listen to here, described as alternative electronic/acoustic pop.
Please purchase and support independent music if you like what you hear. This debut release is on Milky Bomb Records, for whom I previously created the artwork for their compilation LP.
Creating an image that should somehow represents a sound can be difficult, trying to retain a sense of your own style but still complimenting the artist and the music. And you never really know if you're successful or not. 

KNOW THYSELF



All sorts of oddities in the current exhibition at the Wellcome Collection; a stuffed badger curled in the corner without explanation, video of Ming the tiger who lived in a New York apartment, the bill of a platypus ripped off in disbelief, diagrams of a dinner held in a Crystal Palace dinosaur, a 3D printed extinct lion's skull, various taxidermy efforts and dioramas.
I could go on, and maybe I should, because there were lots of lists, catalogues, and encyclopedias. The first edition of Carl Linnaeus' aesthetically pleasing Systema Natura was on display.
Also lots of lovely old illustrations and artefacts throughout to pore over.
A video installation of a modern fable narrated by an endangered amazon parrot, connecting the Big Bang, Om, the Great Silence and man's search for intelligent life in outer space via the Arecibo Observatory summed up the exhibition. Both were oddly profound, poetic, intriguing and inspiring.












READ, DRAWN & POSTED


At some point last year I started to draw the author of each book I finished reading. A reason to draw more faces and a record of my reading habits. Might be interesting to see the variety, or not, of my habits. Usually I have no idea what the authors look like, searching for their image can change my perceptions in the same way as finally meeting someone only previously encountered on the phone. You don't look like the face your voice painted in my head, I often think.

No hiding of any garbage I read, similarly no edits or re-drawing and no discarding. These are quick doodles. Surnames removed when posting on Instagram, the idea not to be cartoon, caricature or realistic portraits of great likeness. Just faces*. Some are simply bad drawings; hopefully the better examples will hide the weaker ones rather than the converse. Part of the process, for me, is to see what works about the faces I draw and why.

The first 16 are above. Quite a few big hitters there, (Orwell, Nabokov and Greene). Looks like I stick to what I know the older I get. Either a worrying sign of growing conservatism or an admirable display of ever more discerning taste. 

I don't expect anyone else to be that interested in what I've read, but I would be interested if other people did the same thing (illustrator or not). It could be like a survey done in a world where doodling book worms are forced to work in the National Statistics office, and we can extrapolate data like 'ooh, there's someone else who has read that book' and 'Kenneth Grahame is surprisingly tricky to draw'. It probably needs a hashtag, but that's basically admin so I'll leave that until the unlikely event of someone joining me with this idea. 


*I've left in the book titles, so the curious can find out who they are, as well as often giving the drawings an accidentally enigmatic title.