I’m a Denizen

I did a guest blog post for a site called ‘Picture Book Den’ a couple of weeks ago. You remember. . . hah, course you don’t 😉

Anyway, the post went down well, and I have been asked to join the select band of eminent and widely published Children’s Book writers that make up the site’s admins and regular posters. I have graciously accepted the offer of course.

So now, and henceforward, if you visit the site you will see my name on the important list just under the banner at the top, and if you click on said name you will be spirited straight to the ‘about’ page where you can marvel at the wonders there revealed concerning who I am and what I do. That is, if you weren’t fully clued up on my wonders already.

It will be nice to feel like part of a community of writers. Writing and illustrating is an isolated profession, we all beaver away in our own little bubble.  (which makes me want to draw beavers in bubbles but I shall restrain myself) This relative isolation does have it’s advantages of course, like not having to commute anywhere, and not being required to deal in or with office politics etc, so it can be a perfectly pleasant way to exist, but not all the time. It can be isolat-ing as well as isolat-ed. 

So being able to connect with people who know what I am talking about because they do the same thing as me will be a refreshing and valuable thing too. I’m pleased 😉

That being said, as I will be posting there four or five times a year at least I had better start working out what to post about. . . hmmm. .

Oh well, if all else fails, draw rabbits. . . in shades. . . that’s what I say.

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Stuff and things and things and stuff. .

I’m having an ebay posting fest right now. I have what I guess you could call a comics ‘collection’, all of it in boxes in the garage. As I haven’t looked at any of it in years hardly, I decided to declutter and sell it if I could.

I’m starting with the American comics I accumulated in the late seventies. Not sure why really as I am not a great fan of American comics generally. I did grow quite fond of the work of Jack Kirby however, he has a simple dynamic style and takes strange liberties with the human figure, not always successfully to my mind ;-).

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So I spent a fair bit of time photographing around 100 comics (just for starters!) bringing them into Pshop and saving as jpegs. I’ve put about thirty or so on ebay over the last few days and have sold about fifty percent, so I’m quite pleased. I will be doing this for the next few months at this rate though. . . At least I get to recycle all the Amazon packaging and jiffy bags I hoarded for just such an eventuality!

Apart from that I’ve been hacking out rotten wood from a window frame and making good again. . . making a wood panelled wall effect using MDF and those thin edging strips you get from DIY shops. Looks bloody good actually ;-). Sorting out all the accumulated free copies of my books that were in boxes in the attic in order to give them to Primary Schools locally, putting up shelves in my studio to put the rest of them on, taking some crap from out of the garage down to the dump, putting bits and pieces on freecycle and getting the car MOTed.

So nothing creative to blog about.

So here’s a drawing of a cat.

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Chaotic Trees

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I’ve been pointing my camera at bits of tangled undergrowth and mad strips of hedgerow for a few years now. Most people don’t get it. But then most people don’t get a lot of things. It’s not compulsory 🙂 But if you were wondering why I bother, read on. . .

I am evidently finding something that fascinates me enough to keep exploring the subject, but what that something is, isn’t easy to define. However, I’ll give it a try.

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I love the way the seeming linear madness resolves itself into a kind of crazed but beautiful compositional whole when photographed. I like the feeling of arrested movement, like a frozen explosion, or like a wave caught at the moment of breaking. I like the complexity of the overlapping lines, never allowing the eye to rest. I like the way the viewer isn’t allowed to relax into resolving the image into some kind of familiar woodland scene, although what is in the image is familiar, just unregarded. I like the negation of depth and the emphasis on pattern. I like the sheer tangled vitality of it all. . .

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The act of framing, the act of choosing what should be framed and from where, turns what others might regard as an unstructured mess into a statement about nature, about beauty about photography and about me.

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I don’t want to find something beautiful and photograph it. I want the photograph to be the thing of beauty.

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Hope that helps 😉 Not that you were fretting about it or anything.

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All photos taken with a Fuji X100 with a Nikon WC-E86 wide angle adaptor.

The Wonders of Old Book Covers – Trash in The Attic

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I’ve been sorting through the boxes of comics and books in the garage with a view to sticking a lot of them on ebay. The idea of photographing them all and listing them one at a time is daunting, but if I divide the task into manageable chunks it should be doable.

Who knows, I might get a bob or two out of it. Considering a lot of the stuff I bought was in the region of ten or twenty pence I might just get me money back 😉

I’ve started the process anyhow and so far I’m enjoying it.

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You see, the reason I accumulated a lot of this stuff in the first place was for the artwork on the covers. You know the kind of thing, hand painted dramatic scenes from cheesy, hard boiled detective fiction, based on cheesy American films. Garish and overblown, but often beautifully drawn. It had a sort of kitsch value for me at first, but now I have a much more genuine admiration for it. And if I don’t admire some of the genre, I have an affection for it. It’s stuff that my parents would probably have thought of as a bit naff, and therefore not something I would have been exposed to as a kid. Which is probably why it had an impact on me when I did discover surviving examples lurking in junk shops and suchlike places when I was a feckless Art Student.

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I love the boldness and the often clichéd, but unashamedly so, drama. As time goes on I like these book covers more and more. At least if I photograph them all I will have something I can look at on screen, which makes the images a darn site more available than them being in a box in the garage or the loft. And it means I can share them with you lucky people!

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As you should have noticed by now, dotted throughout this post are some great covers from a really cheaply printed series, The Sexton Blake Library. Captured before they completely fall apart. No date inside, but looking on ebay at similar ones they might be from the thirties and forties. The clothes and hairstyles seem to suggest that.

Anyway, enjoy. . .


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I want to be a Commercial Artist. . .

And ‘I Want To Be. . . An Eagle Book of Careers’ is here to encourage me. from about 1962 I would guess. There is no date in the book. There are all sorts of careers featured. I will scan and post requests 😉

‘I want to be a Miner’ being possibly the most ironic. . .

careers1careers2careers3I must develop my personality and try to make my designs more splendid. . .

A wonderful word, a Valerie Singleton, Blue Peter word. there are not enough splendid things in the world these days.

My old art teacher at school used to wear a velvet jacket and a bow tie, maybe he was at Art School (approved by The Ministry of Education) with young Adrian here.

And when was the last time you called anyone ‘sir’?

Picture Book Den

The Picture Book author website that I wrote a guest post for a few weeks ago, called Picture Book Den has an interesting post from author Pippa Goodhart, featuring a character I invented.

In my post I mentioned how sometimes I come up with a drawing of a character that arrives with no story attached. Usually the concept and the character arrive in my head together, as a kind of package, or the drawing of the character suggests the story. I gave an example, a cute character called Small Bear, who I just couldn’t get a suitable story idea for.

Pippa, with my blessing,  based her blog post on the thought process she would go through to create a story based on that character. The post is a very interesting insight into how a writer’s mind works, and into the creative process involved in producing a story for a children’s picture book.

Here’s the direct link – The ‘Small Bear’ Challenge

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Small Bear