September 28, 2004
MORE FROM THE BIG DRAW
Here's another sketch wot I did earlier and a couple more photos so you can feel the atmosphere of that vibrant Sunday afternoon in Trafalgar Square.
Kids and parents happily drawing but the Dad in orange has had enough. Top left corner is a bit of the stage where eventually the giant Hay Wain-by-numbers was installed. In the centre is the National Gallery, sporting a banner: Art on the Square, join the party. On the far right is a Persil (the soap people) tent - they were one of the sponsors and supplied free art materials (more clothes to be dirtied then washed whiter than white). Don't be cynical, it was nice of them.
September 27, 2004
THE BIG DRAW
Wonderful day yesterday in Trafalgar Square.
The Big Draw event took place and I was there along with hundreds of people all raring to have a go at drawing. What started out a few years ago as a tentative initiative is now an annual event everywhere in the U.K. and yesterday it took over Trafalgar Square. Tents all over the place in which children and adults were given art materials and challenged by a huge variety of creative projects.
Best of all, from my point of view, was the space where some of my cartoonist heroes took turns drawing on a paper wall. I did a quick sketch of the great Gerald Scarfe then boldly asked him to autograph it, which he did with the immortal words:
"This is me". The proof is on the left. He also said "It's very good. I need to get a haircut". I am chuff chuff chuffed.
Below is Scarfe in the flesh, not at all fierce like his drawings but no doubt the avuncular appearance is deceptive.
Later there was Martin Rowson (below right) another of my favourite political cartoonists, and the endearingly quirky Steven Appleby whose photo I didn't get, alas. There was so much to do and see, I wanted to be everywhere at once.
Dominating the square was a giant stage with a backdrop of numbered rectangles which, at 7 pm, would be filled with a re-creation of Constable's The Hay Wain, in sections painted by 150 artists under the direction of the ubiquitous Australian Rolf Harris.
There was a lot of loudspeaker hoopla about this cleverness but it wasn't really my scene so I moved on into the National Gallery where the atmosphere was electric and eclectic. Workshops had been held throughout the day and there was a sense of ease and freedom not usually associated with the great museums. I sat in front of Allegory of Love III by Veronese (circa 1528-1588) and did this drawing.
I'd forgotten how enjoyable it is to draw from works of art, Now I've tasted it again, I'm coming back. Maybe even once a week.
It's so exciting to choose a masterwork and dive into it as if into a swimming pool, paddling around in its ambiance, making it your own.
I have no idea what's going on in this painting, it's totally absurd, but I like the shapes.
What is the big bloke saying? "Are you going to spend the whole day in bed or what?"
Trafalgar Square at dusk on the Big Draw day.
September 25, 2004
Last night as I sat typing an email everything suddenly went dark. No, it wasn't darkness in my head but in the whole house. I looked out the window and there was darkness in the whole neighbourhood as far as the eye couldn't see. A power cut, a major major power cut, the second one in recent weeks.
Felt my way to the kitchen, located a couple of candles in a drawer, lit them and put them on the windowsill. People were doing the same thing in other houses and in the pub across the street. The warm glow of candlelight and the sense of going back in time to pre-industrial days could not wipe out the panic I felt, almost like a bereavement. Not for the loss of my fridge, central heating, hot water, washing machine, dishwasher, CD player, fax machine, radio, television, toaster, food blender, hairdryer, vacuum cleaner.
But my computer! Light of my life, home of my blog, home of my friends' blogs, window to the world, essential tool for my current artwork, extra limb I cannot do without now that I have come to depend on it. What if it was all gone? What if I could no longer talk to you and read you and be part of this cocoon of cyber friendship all of us have created? What if power cuts become the norm, getting longer and longer, finally abandoning us entirely to the dark and cold and our own out-of-practice resourcefulness? Yes I know it would serve us right for our wastefulness and greed and selfishness and indifference to the lives of millions of people on this planet who have never enjoyed what we take for granted. But how would we cope with it?
PS: And they can't take the scanner away from me. The printer, OK. But not the scanner.
The power came back on in about an hour. Last time it was gone for only fifteen minutes. I'm starting to draw plans for a candle-powered computer. Going out to buy a stack of candles now.
Kathryn Petro has done a lovely labor of love, a "quilt" made of links which would be great to snuggle under during the next power cut. Except that I won't be able to see it then.
September 19, 2004
GHOSTWRITER COMES TO TOWN
Demian Stimson the Ghostwriter came to London in the flesh this weekend and honoured our humble home with his true to life presence, herewith recorded for posterity.
I'm glad I've met him before fame and fortune get their claws on him as they surely will, given his unmistakeable talent, charm and wit.
In my photo he's a dead ringer for the young Charles Aznavour which is weird because Aznavour ressembles some of my family. Are we related? Quite possibly since rumour has it that Dem is descended from French nobility - maybe a touch of Armenian got mixed in somehow. See the title of that LP? Bohemian Bumbler or what? Now he'll have to do a karaoke doodle on Feelings.
We had lunch at the excellent and unbelievably cheap local Italian trattoria whose name I keep secret - it has enough customers already. You bring your own booze and Dem insisted on buying an expensive Spanish red wine. The bottle alone was a work of art and I took it home after we emptied it. Dem would then have liked to visit the London Eye but Natalie put a stop to that, forcing him to eye her "Art" instead. Since I was given no time at all to impress Dem I just did a little dance to that Leo Sayer 45 rpm again.
The day went all too fast and we said farewell in the tube, Dem to see friends in Kent and I to the BookArts Bookshop in Hoxton to hear my friend Mike Weller read or rather, perform, from his newly launched cartoon version of Beowulf, the likes of which you have not seen before and most certainly should see.
(That's my drawing of the bottle of Faustino I )
September 16, 2004
MAN IN THE MOON
Sometimes I have nothing to say but still want to put something on the page so I've decided to do a quick daily something on the Wacom. Here is today's offering. I have no idea why he appeared.
Some new pages have been added to the gnovel.
September 15, 2004
Some of Natalie's ART IS NOW FOR SALE
It's on this new page so have a browse around and then give us your money. She wouldn't phrase it so bluntly but I tell it like it is. We need cash, the sooner the better. Because we're worth it. You know it's true.
September 14, 2004
I've started taking a short course in animation once a week for 10 weeks in a film and video workshop not far from where I live, well equipped with Macs and rostrum cameras etc. It's terrific and completely free - how amazing is that? We're working with Adobe Premiere and creating simple stop-motion animations, moving objects around on a board under the camera. Today was the second session and I can see clearly that I will become hooked on DIY animation. And then.....Who knows?
September 12, 2004
I picked him up this afternoon at a street party on the street where I live. A child was getting rid of him along with dinosaurs and other passions he'd outgrown. I can't believe this 12 inch hunk is now at my service. I've already demanded lessons in how to rollerblade along life's ups and downs with an expression of benign indifference. Haven't managed it yet but how about that uniform?
Below is a glimpse of the street party, a delightful neighbourhood effort repeated every year about this time. There's home-made food, music, raffles, take-whatever-you-want tables of discarded objects, and entertainers on stilts. I'm going back after this to see what else is going on. Action man is staying in and cooking supper.
The new link on the left, btw, NdA Art for Sale is not yet operative. But don't put your chequebooks away, it will be ready soon.
I haven't mentioned the new Blogs Illustrated ring started by Vitriolica because the link is right up there where you can't miss it but I must mention it anyway because it's such a good idea and has taken off like a rocket. We are the illustrated bloggers and nothing can stop us now.
September 8, 2004
NAKED BLOGGERS UNITE
Kevin made a comment at Vitriolica's about naked blogs and suddenly it serendipitously combined in my mind with Dick's request for pictures of the spaces where bloggers blog, a request originally made by Ms.Candide. I decided to participate by revealing everything.
Now I'm inviting you all to post pictures of yourselves naked at your stations. Let us show the world our true colours. Announce when you've done it so we can all gawp and gasp at your full, fair and balanced nudity.
Here I am at my desk with the beloved Mac G4 tower by my right foot and the Mitsubishi monitor calmly glowing. On the wall are various artefacts and knicknacks by Natalie, on the left are scanner and printer, on the right a telephone. It's a warm day. Any questions?
September 6, 204
Out to dinner with friends last night at a Greek restaurant, we were waiting for a table when a stack of plates piled on a shelf adjoining my elbow suddenly crashed to the ground, most of them on top of my Birkenstock sandalled left toe. I may or may not have been responsible for the crash but in any case, crockery was smashed. My toenail too, not quite smashed but spouting blood. Now here's the meaningful part:
What did the Greek restaurant owner do? Berate me for clumsiness? Present a bill for smashed china? Call an ambulance? Wring his hands and tear his hair? None of those. He fetched a bottle of his best whisky and poured a generous amount on my toe. Then he offered me a stiff brandy (to drink). When I asked for a piece of garlic - my favourite antiseptic and blood stopper - did he laugh or raise a skeptical eyebrow? Not at all. The garlic was immediately brought and I applied it contentedly to my drunken toe which of course instantly stopped bleeding. We were then given a table and various goodies on the house. An excellent evening was had by all.
If I ruled the world, nationalism and patriotism would be abolished. Instead there would be universal respect and enjoyment of every culture's individuality, their different ways of thinking and behaving, their unique approach to life. There would be no flag-waving fanaticism, no "my country right or wrong". All the different cultures of different places on the planet would meet in sport and arts and educational events and in joint projects for the betterment of the quality of life for all.
My toe is fine.
September 5, 2004
MYSTERY TORTURE EXPLAINED
Since nobody offered an answer to the question or expressed any interest whatsoever (sob) in my predicament, I am now forced to explain.
The incident which I described below in mind-numbing detail took place at a Neurological Hospital in London last week. I was referred there by my GP after a couple of spells of scary dizziness compelled me to overcome my natural aversion to going anywhere near medical premises. It's not that I have anything against doctors as such - most of the thankfully small number I have personally needed to consult in my life have been perfectly acceptable. It's just that the whole medical edifice seems to me full of cracks and cobwebs. No, I won't rant on this subject.
torturetests I endured were in aid of determining whether my hearing and balance bits are doing their job. Apparently, they are - or at least they were until the tests. The end result is the same as it was before the torture - i.e. nobody knows why my dizzy spells occurred: " It could be anything ". The good news is:
" Your blood pressure is that of a teenager ".
September 3, 2004
CAN YOU GUESS WHERE THIS TRUE TORTURE TALE TOOK PLACE AND WHY?
(Answers in Comments, please)
You are strapped into a large armchair which sits on a raised platform inside a kind of canvas tent. Electrodes are attached to the corners of your eyes and forehead after vigorous rubbing of your skin with a gritty substance. This is carried out by soft spoken, cheerful attendants. You are instructed to sit still and keep your eyes focused on a tiny light which will appear in front of you when the curtain is drawn.
The striped shower curtain thing is then pulled shut and darkness surrounds you, total absolute coal black darkness. A red dot of light then starts hopping around in front of you - left, right centre, slow, fast, fast, slow, slow. The jovial voice beyond the shower curtain commands you not to move your head, keep staring at the light.
After an indeterminate period of dot-hopping, the chair in which you sit starts spinning to the right. The voice tells you this is happening but you can't hear. You now understand why they strapped you to the chair: it's to stop you from running out of the building screaming. You are totally disorientated but are told to keep focusing on the red dot, then at the spot vacated by the red dot when it's switched off. The chair now begins spinning to the left. You try to remember tricks the heroes of spy movies use to prevent being brainwashed but your brain has successfully been washed squeaky blank. The lights are turned on and you sit obediently waiting to be told what to do next. The shower curtain now begins to spin round and you realise the purpose of the black stripes: they are there so that you must stare at them as they whirl around you, thus polishing off whatever's left of your reason. This goes on for, oh, some time.
Then suddenly it's over and the charming attendants are unstrapping you and leading you into another room where a new, equally charming attendant invites you to lie down. You offer no resistance as he places a tray under your left ear and squirts a vast amount of cold water into it. He too tells you to stare at a red dot on the ceiling and asks, " Are you dizzy yet?" In fact you are sickeningly dizzy and the dot is swinging out of control. Satisfied, the attendant repeats the cold water process in your right ear and observes you intently as your eyes lurch nauseously all over the ceiling in the opposite direction. He leaves the room, telling you to have a little rest. When he returns, it is with very hot water to squirt in both ears, one at a time. The dizziness is even worse but apparently this is the desired result. You are too blanked out to see if the attendant is taking notes. Thus ends this report.