Tuesday 24 July 2012

...HAG 6 and the kiss of life drawing...

Hi, and welcome to one and all. 
Our sixth meeting saw the appearance of not one or two but three (or maybe four if you count Tom, who was persuaded to join in with a drawing), new attendees/members. 
A big hello to Sarah, Bette, Linda and Tom. 
This week as well as the all-encompassing mahonia still life with vintage (60s) ceramic Stergene flask, some of us also bravely ventured into the realm of life drawing.

The table arrangement making full use of the lighting at stage right.

Since it was my idea I felt obliged to strike the first ten minute pose, which I felt I did with confidence. Although as ten minutes turned first into fifteen, and then twenty, the rifle I was holding began to rotate as it became heavier - I was relieved of this heavy burden by a concerned member of the group. Ann I think or perhaps Jean.
At 35 minutes - phew! - I triumphantly left my post. At first glance it was clear that the drawings had captured my riveting gaze and iron grip. Congratulations also to those for whom this was their first attempt at life drawing. I'm always pleasantly surprised when, after having said they haven't done this or that before, someone turns in an informed and successful drawing or painting - brilliant!

Ann's dynamic pencil drawing of my first pose.

After a well earned break for tea and biscuits - of course,  Ann assumed her position in the spotlight and on the staircase for her ten minutes of fame. I noticed various members switching from still life to life drawing and vice versa - and back again in some cases. 
I'd like to think the class is as versatile as you want it to be. And please if you have any suggestions, just let me know - I'm sure we'll try anything once, and twice if we like it. 
There were times during the meeting that I was sure that Chango - as he wandered from still life to staircase - would inadvertantly become part of the life drawing study. Anytime your ready Chango. 
Ann maintained a steady and almost effortless pose as she approached forty five minutes, placing me if not to shame at least to second place. Hmm, can you practice posing? I guess dozing off doesn't count...

Jean's all encompassing mahonia - watercolour.

Above is Jean's interpretation of the mahonia still life - a case of someone having said they haven't done this or that before, and then turning in an informed and successful drawing or painting - brilliant! 
And not for the first time. 
Thanks to everyone for attending, producing great work, and helping clear up at meeting's end. Keep up the good work. If you get time - even ten minutes - fill a page in your sketch book - black technical pens are ideal for this, or even a biro. 
Cheers and see you all on Monday the 30th July. 
There may or may not be more life drawing, but there will be hats! 

Thursday 12 July 2012

...the Replacement Heroes - ZORCH!...

While attending either the Bristol or Birmingham Comic Convention a while back, Dave Evans of Futurequake Press offered me a third script to draw. Thanking him I asked what it was about - he said '...you know - giant monster/reptile causes chaos in Chicago, hero and his mentor enter the fray to confront threat and eventually defeat villain'. 
Again, I said thanks - but have you got anything else to draw, I don't know if I fancy superheroes? Yeah, and me having drawn only two short stories up to this point - whaddaya talking about?

'It Came From Somewhere...' page 8 Story Michael Moreci, Art Andy Scordellis, Letters Jim Campbell

As it happens writer Michael Moreci had created 'The Replacement Heroes some time ago and had pretty much consigned them to comic script limbo, until I turned up with thumbnails and sketches. If I remember correctly just as we were getting the Futurequake strip going, events at the time pushed this script back into limbo.
The event in question was the 'Reading with Pictures Anthology' project. 
Michael explained the 'Getting Comics into Schools, and Schools into Comics' ethos of 'Reading with Pictures' and asked if I was interested in getting Butch and Talbot into the book of the same name. Of course I said yes, and with the help of the editorial team, letterer Jim Cambell and colour artist Chris Beckett, we produced the 5 page 'Civic Service' which became The Replacement Heroes first appearance. 
Time passed and Michael and I eventually returned to the production of the story now called 'It came from somewhere...' 
Good or bad, the considerable length of time between the strips I draw normally shows a huge jump/improvement in quality compared to the previous strip, which at the time is always your best work - well that's the general idea. 
Following a rewrite or two, the dialogue was added to the finished inked pages by Letterer Extraordinaire Jim Campbell. Owing to just too many good stories, the strip appeared in a later copy of Futurequake than planned. Unexpectedly Butch and Talbot were to confront their reptilian foe in the final story in the book, which lead to Editor Dave asking me at the last minute if I could provide colour artwork for the last page. 
Of course my first reaction was panic. 
Sure I can mess about in photoshop, but had no idea how to colour a comic page. I had to remind myself that for my illustrations I do work in pen & ink and watercolour. 
It's obvious - copy the line artwork to watercolour paper - paint - scan - job done. 
And thanks to the Queen's own printer Dolphin Graphics for a great scan, and Jim for relettering page eight - we made it to the last page in time proving that every cloud has a silver age lining.

Wednesday 11 July 2012

...town hall, town square, town where?...

Pen & Ink commission work very much in progress... 

'Downham Market Town Hall' at Festival time - pen & ink

When asked by client to Kelly Todd to reprise my original 'face on' drawing of Downham Market Town Hall at festival time - only this time to include the sideways perspective - I naturally said yes. I'd drawn the hall, the square and the famous clocktower several times in the past - including Captain Downham and Mr Fentastic - so why not?

Preliminary pencil sketches featuring the Clocktower.

I'd emailed Kelly photos of the Town Hall from a variety of views so that she could decide which appealed to her the most. Having scheduled a site meeting on a rainy Saturday afternoon, as we stood in the archway of the Swan pub looking across the square - I'm sure the conversation went like something like this - 
me - '...so how do you like the look of the Town Hall from here?' 
Kelly - '...I really like it, particularly the way we can see the side of    the Town Hall...' 
me - '...Great - I agree...' 
Kelly - '...I'm thinking, although it wasn't part of the original brief, maybe it would be nice to include the Clocktower...' 
me - '...sure, why not...?' 
Kelly - '...and maybe the fountain as well...' 

Preliminary pencil sketch of Town Square.

You guessed it - this is where I went into overdrive... 

me - '...OK, I can see the sense in that. I think we should extend our view so that we can provide the appropriate environment for those landmarks. By adding the buildings to the left of the square - William Brown and Johnsons Cleaners, and the shops to the right as they recede from Key-Lets at the front down Bridge street passed the Crown Inn and into the distance, we can draw the viewer into the square, past the various foreground, middle and background elements, and create a complete experience. 

Kelly Todd's Town Square, in historic Downham Market - pencil and pen & ink...

Kelly - '...that sounds great...' 
me - '...I think it's going to be a longer and larger commission than expected though...' 
Kelly - '...that's OK, do you know what would be really great...?' 
me - '...'
Kelly - '...if as in your previous drawing, you could include the festival flags...?' 
me - '...no problem, another element to make the finished drawing more interesting and enhance the feeling of perspective...' 
So in the space of a few minutes an A3 commission of the Town Hall grew into a pen and ink drawing of the entire square just over twice the size - including Bridge St. 
I always like a challenge. 

Watch this space to see how an A6 pencil sketch grew into an architectural drawing and finally a pen and ink illustration!


This just in from the Lynn News news desk...

Myself and eight very talented artists.

2012 Jubilee & Olympics Mural.

2011 Jungle Mural.

Many thanks to Lynn News Photographer Alan Miller for photos.

...me and Lazarus and Lee...

 Pamphlet/poster for Comic Art Exhibition 'AAARGH!' - the ICA London 1970

'Aaargh!' pretty much sums up my feelings that Saturday in 1971 when I realised I'd missed the opportunity the day before - to see none other than Marvel Comics writer-editor-art director, and Jesus of Cool himself - that undeniably irrepressible man - Stan Lee! 
Aaargh! was also the name of the comic art exhibition held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. That's ICA for you acronym lovers. England was always a little way's backwards in regards to comics distribution, so you never really knew what was happening in 'real time' Marvel New York. 

Avengers 84 - Big John Buscema and lush inks of Titanic Tom Palmer

So long as Annihilus was in the Negative Zone and  the Green Goblin was in upstate New York the Marvel universe would be rockin'.
Unfortunately while Marvel's heroes and villains were all where you'd expect them to be, the man who helped put them there was not. 
'AAARGH!' reflects exactly how I felt when I read in Stan's Soapbox that none other than Jack Kirby - co creator, visionary and founding father of Marvel Comics was leaving. 

New Gods 1 - Jack and Vinnie

This also explains why the exhibition displayed alongside current Marvel original artworks such as the fabulously lush splash page to Avengers 84, Jack Kirby's unexpected and for me hitherto unheralded artwork for his new cosmic series at DC Comics - New Gods 1! 
As a young almost fourteen year old this was completely out of left field, and as much as I soaked up the golden glow of this good old Kirby/Colletta artwork - from which parallel comic universe the hell did it come from??! 
This was a conundrum of cosmic proportions which for me, and many english fans would not be answered until months later when we stumbled across Kirby's Fourth World DC titles in whatever newsagent we could find them in. 
But that's a story for another day.

Stan & Jack & Joe - 'Nuff said!!

When by chance I was surfing the net and read that, more than forty years on, none other than Stan Lee was appearing at the London Super Comic convention in February - I knew what I had to do. 
They say a picture is worth a thousand words - here's one worth ten thousand comics - with my smiling self, son and comic con companion Laz, and finally - 'Just a guy named Stan!' 

From the ICA 1970 to the SLCC 2012 - Andy, Stan and Laz

"Nuff said."

...Babylon and on...

Well needless to say I have framed and mounted artwork, cards, calendars, prints and bookmarks on show and for sale at the Craft & Design Showcase - please do go along and have a look - it's a great venue, and being beside the award-winning Peacock's Tea Shop and Ely Marina doesn't hurt either...

And what a great looking poster...

...you wear the crown...

Almost there - students adding final brushstrokes.

Year 6 students upped the artistic ante as we approached the end of week deadline - or lifeline, as they go on to spend the next two weeks at the High School prior to returning as Year 7 pupils in early September.

And we're done!

Early Friday morning the great unveiling took place in Hilgay playground. Teacher - and essentially Lady of the Mural - Teresa Murawski, welcomed the parents to the school, and proceeded to recount the creative journey from initial sketces and ideas to finished acrylic and marker artwork. 
Teresa conducted the the presentation admirably, and was extremely generous when it came to thanking me for my own contribution and efforts. I felt a little overwhelmed on the third 'hip hip hooray' and am very grateful for the vouchers for local art shop 'Framin' Art' and also the signed card and gift from Year 6. 
Students proudly posing while taking instruction from off-stage photographer Alan Miller.

It being a little too early in the day for me to communicate with any more than a handful of people I mumbled my thanks and explained that the students had all the talent and team work, and all I did was steer them along the way. 
Particularly since without the efforts and organisation of Teresa Murawski and her fellow teachers, there would be no Year 6 Jubilee/ Olympics Mural with or without my help - three more cheers please.

Admittedly - having diverged so much from last year's painted style of mural - it was as much try it and see for me, as it was for the students - who took it all in their stride and rose to the challenge admirably.

Photographer Alan Miller joined us later in the morning to take photos of the kids and this year's mural for local paper The Lynn News, and posterity of course. 

Final signed version of Hilgay School Year 6 Jubilee/Olympic Mural 2012.

On Friday afternoon the students completed their end of year Jubilee/Olympic mural by 'signing' it Hollywood style - with their handprints! 
But not by pressing them in cement on the pavement, but by pressing their patriotically painted hands onto the mural margins, drawing around the coloured hand shapes, and then finally signing their names beside the handprints.
 Congratulations on a great job well done! 
Three cheers for Year 6 eight Mega Mural Artists Supreme!! 

One of eight certificates awarded to Year 6 Muralists.

And following the execution of the last few handprints, I couldn't resist taking the following three photos, for whose title I am indebted to Gary Bird and the Gary Bird Experience...

 'You Wear the Crown...'

I don't know what next year's mural will look like or what it's theme might be - but I do know there'll be teddy bears...

Monday 9 July 2012

...Castle Acre Makers Summer Fair...

Join us for a great day out in Castle Acre ast mosaic artist Carolyn Ash holds her Summer Craft Fair at the old Castle Acre village hall, nestled amongst the trees overlooked by the castle remains. 

There'll be a colourful and eclectic selection of handmade art, ceramic and fabric products on display and for sale, alongside homemade cakes, food and refreshments.

12th Century walled Norman castle ruins at Castle Acre.

Castle Acre takes its name from the walled castle built in the 12th-century by the Normans. 
A rural village in north west Norfolk, it lies four miles north of Swaffham and to the west of the A1065 at the point where the river Nar is crossed by an ancient route known as the Peddars Way.

Castle Acre Village Hall.

Thursday 5 July 2012

...painting by Year 6 numbers...

Previously - original artwork was blown up to two metre square, marked on the back with charcoal and traced carefully onto the painted wooden boards.

First third of drawing being traced onto painted boards - amongst steady stream of tea and biscuits.

While the pupils addressed all linework with equal verve and enthusiasm, where ever there appeared a problem on the horizon, or more accurately the students were all drawn out, I was ready and willing to step into the momentary breach. Here I am adding additional aplomb to the Globe Theatre - if only! 
God bless you William Shakespeare.

Applying finishing touches to Globe Theatre.

Pupils each redrew their own characters and buildings with a variety permanent markers. Once these were all in place, the mixing and application of acrylic paints - first a light wash followed by a heavier opaque mixture - began.

Acrylic colours mixed by budding muralists...

After a few days the pupils had each tackled their own Olympic figure, bringing a strong individual style to their own work, and retaining much of the original drawing quality!

Olympic characters  - painting nearing completion...

Most students were happy to stick to their original idea and would develop these further. 
One student chose to go a whole different route and bravely relegated his footballer to the substitute bench and brought on instead a sportsman of a different stripe entirely - an exciting BMX cyclist who showed us his best side riding into centre stage from the bottom left.

This year 6 student shows us a canvas painting of her grandad's work.

This pupil gives us a proud glimpse of her drawing origins while showing us a canvas of a rabbit painted by her grandad.

Final details going into Union Jack and first details for Queen's emblem.

Slowly but surely -  although in some cases quickly and boldly - the students brought their respective personalities to two dimensional life. Returning to their subjects time after time to refine and add further detail where and when required.

Artwork continued at back of class, while frontwise pupils studied maths and english.

The students worked very well together on the mural, exhibiting a fine sense of team work, great timing, and cameraderie throughout. Very well done! 
The mural and the muralists progressed artistically and admirably.

Wednesday 4 July 2012

...me and mine, and Chango makes nine...

A big welcome back to Linda who rewarded us all with goodie bag of Italian chocolates which we dutifully passed around a thankfully smaller group this evening. 
And no chocolate alarm bells rang  - or any other for that matter - when our newest member arrived paw in hand with his owner - Jinx. I can only say that the almost unexpected entrance of the irrepressible Chango was - had we started drawing and/or painting - a showstopper! 

Chango taking a well earned break.

Chango's presence throughout the evening, whether he was flybusting amongst a muffled cacophony of paws banging and buzz buzzing, or dozing serenely beside Becky and Ray, was an absolute delight and inspiration. So much so that I think Chango might be joining us again on the 16th July when we tackle our life drawing theme. He is now officially on the register.

Plunge into the potted dimension of Marie's purple pansies.

Well done to all who took on Marie's extremely complex pot of ever growing pansies, amply contrasted by the chrome and black of the tea urn and burnished aluminium of the metal kettles. 
You'd think with all my restaurant experience I'd be able to remember how many teas and coffees to make - oh well, I think the jam tarts saved my bacon. Any volunteers?

Staircase put to excellent use as tea station.

Apologies to everyone for my ineptitude in the use of my son's camera - particularly since all I had was my finger on the wrong button! Could happen to anyone - though I did seem to make a big fuss of it...anyway we have pix aplenty.

Did anyone notice I didn't dispense many words of graphic wisdom this evening, fortunately Ann stepped into the instructive breach...

Vivien's preliminary approach to tea urn.

So next meeting, with our mini staircase in place again - for those who want to take part -  we'll be posing for five or ten minutes. I'm sure I'll be doing a passable impression of a man sleeping when it's my turn. Wake me up when it's time to go go...

And way to go Ray, with those paints. You're braver than me. 
Took me years to start attempting to use colour. 
And then I went into the restaurant business - anything to get out of painting.

'Is my time up?'

Monday 2 July 2012

...I say charcoal - you say digital...

...so when it came to transferring the full size drawing to the two metre square board we had a choice whether to do as we did last year and cut out the separate shapes, blu-tak them in place and draw around them, adding the interior details by eye afterwards, or - tackle the future by going back to the past. 

When I was at school the standard practise to trace something on to another surface was to rub a soft pencil on the back of the drawing, turn it right side up, position it accordingly, and redraw over the original drawing thereby transfering it to the paper/surface beneath. 
OK, it's 2012 but why not give this tried and trusted method a go? 

Using  a window as makeshift lightbox, charcoal was applied to the reverse of the drawing...

With a little anxiety - after all this might not work, and I'll have made a mess of the large master print - I forged ahead covering the all appropriate areas with charcoal - I was ten again. Have faith!

...and to all three sections of the blown up print.

Thankfully traditional and digital worked well together - getting charcoal on the back of the High School Print Centre's super large copy of the original design (a big thank you to Helen), meant we could successfully trace the whole drawing faithfully onto the mural boards, thereby saving me getting egg on my face.

With the final drawing in place on the boards the students were invited to  draw over their own olympic character and London landmark in permanent marker pen, thereby retaining there own style throughout!

All the drawing groundwork is now in place - Year 6 just need to paint it... 
Watch this space.