This is the beginning of my front room. Or, main living area as the tv programmes like to call it. Having spent the last few weeks clearing out and re-arranging furniture, I now have to decorate. So far, all my colour chart collecting and rug searching has come down to this; one day soon, I'm going to have to paint the ceiling.
This month, I had to paint doors for the gazette. I wandered down George lane and snapped the ones cited in the column (apart from the one in Alice in Wonderland). I wanted to include our NatWest bank door, just because it's grand. I was going to use them all, but then things like colour, format, detail, available space, all tend to make those decisions for you. Magazine page in Editorial.
Back in my own hood this month. As a frequent visitor to Redbridge gym in the High Road, I didn't have to go out of my way for my references. Gym machines aren't simple things to draw. I was thinking of doing a whole line of them, but then I thought, maybe not! Also, the thing about visual gags, is that you only need enough to set the scene, make the point, and fill the allocated space. Even though DD loves to get involved in the latest 'go to' places, she still belongs to that old school world, with her '60's thermos and original label knitting wool. Gazette piece is on the Editorial page.
The November December edition isn't out yet, but as I was sitting here I thought I'd get the preliminaries in early. So, here we have sugary fatty food vendors making a killing (so to speak) outside the local blood testing facility. More imaginary work again, and I kind of feel this has a Richard Scarry's Busytown vibe going on, but without the animals of course. A fond memory of my children's book collection, some 25 years ago. Happy times!
This edition has been out a couple of weeks now, so I'm afraid they've all gone! I didn't have to stray very far from my photos for this one, apart from designing DD a new coat. The big puffy sleeves, and the bow, I think are currently very fashionable. Everything else is just as it is. After a very nice chat with the tailor, I was told I could draw whatever I wanted.
I don't normally show the original original scribble, because, as you can see, it's just that. Top left was done whilst trying to figure out a word in Wordscapes, which was BACON. Fortunately, I have a piano of the sort that may be found in a bar, so I thought it would come in handy for this little scenario. This month, I fancied lightening my style, and only used a minimum of black outline. A step out of my comfort zone for this sort of work, but I feel better for having moved on.
In the familiar surroundings of George Lane. I got the idea quickly but then I was lulled again into the false security of thinking that the actual illustration was also going to be quick. The post office was the biggest offender this month; the window proportions. The painted image is pre photoshop. The finished piece with the text is on the commissions page.
For this month's South Woodford Village Gazette, I didn't have too much inventing to do as I was given a leg up by the Woodford diaryist of a photo of the tattoo parlour in George Lane. At least, that's what I thought. I needed pictures to put on the walls. And as DD is old school, I wanted the sort of designs that were around in the sixties. I don't know if anyone actually had a Russian Doll tattoo, but way back then, I thought they were the coolest thing around.
Had to get this one done before Christmas, and as you can see, was out in the shops before the end of the year, last year that is. If you know George Lane, there is a yawning gap between Lily's Indulgence and a Barnardo's charity shop, which used to be occupied by a watering hole called Red Mantra. I decided to fill it with something a little more grand, that ties in nicely with the NatWest branch opposite. The curved balcony I nabbed from a drawing I did aeons ago of the Ivor Novello building at 152-160 Wardour Street, and the steps were based on an old country pile I found on the far reaches of Google. I was going to add pineapples on top of the pedestals, but that would have just been silly.
Another complex scenario which the accommodating editor has to work his way around. Although these drawings come out of my imagination, encouraged of course by the text, they are still based on real life. I still have to do find a willing participant to get hands and magazines right, adapt furnishings found in Images to suit, and ultimately convince the reader that this is all perfectly normal. Best bit this month, the old school infra red.
Fun with London Urban Sketchers in the rain today, except I drew this from inside Cambridge Circus' McDonalds. I thought I'd go for the quick style, which would have been okay, but as I was having a good chat with my friend, this took just as long as my usual work. The words at the bottom are from Rae Morrison's song, wafting over the airwaves while I finished my cappuccino.
This month was all about staircases, random objects, and trying to get DD full face, teetering downstairs. Creating your 'person's' face in different angles, whilst retaining their characteristics, is a dedicated, practical, and conscious task. As I once read, if it isn't instinctive, you have to learn it.
Very exciting this month to be featured in Leopard the London Assay Office's newsletter!
This delightful piece of brickwork is immediately left of the Mayflower pub, at number 117. Drawn on site, plus a few of the top bricks painted in before we retired to the pub for the customary discussion. Also, got to have another go with the latest addition to my paintbox, a 5ml tube of buff titanium, by Daniel Smith. Just the right colour to use as the base for London stocks. Everything else is varying degrees of hookers green dark, indigo, paynes grey, cadmium red pale, sepia, ..... you get the idea.
Click for a bigger picture
Funny how the drawings one thinks are going to be a piece of cake, end up being anything but. 'South Woodford station maybe?' said the editor. Oo fab, I'd drawn the outside a couple of times before, so I was sure I could adapt one of those. After realising my mistake, I armed myself with some photo evidence and got down to work. The ticket barriers, ironwork, the underside of the roof, and how it all fits together. This is what drawing does, it makes you take notice. Even down to the holes in a Wilko laundry basket.
Click to get a bigger picture
This little Georgian pile used to be a grocery shop, not originally, mind you, just in the sixties, the 1960's that is. Google images came to the rescue as usual with references for shop fronts of bygone days, which believe it or not, I can still remember, and the fabulous shopping bags, string, woven plastic and wicker. Those large oval baskets where still in use in the 70's, accompanying their smock coated, granny booted, diamante hairgripped owners at Watford Technical High School.
Here we have another adventure from the lady in red, the joy of waking up to a giant scone. As you see, I sometimes have an interesting space to fill, so furniture arranging and scale was a big issue. Filling up with extra tables and chairs was an option, but as these illustrations operate on the gag style, using only just enough elements to set the scene is essential. Eye level and standing point give a credible view; it doesn't matter how wacky the subject is, the actual space has to look feasible. Until the next one!
This months, apart from hunting down references for pedestal side tables and winged armchairs, this illustration was pretty straightforward. As the familiar sight of the roundabout got a mention, I figured it was daft for me to re-invent it, as I already had a suitable drawing I could get some more use out of.
Saturday was an Urban Sketchers day, so I headed down to the NHM to my beloved mineral room to squint at the fabulous specimens in their glass cases. For my next three gem cards, I want to do opals, tourmalines and beryls, and I fancied including some crystals and a massive. This sort of drawing is pretty intense, partly because these objects were rather small, and because crystal growth is relatively new to me. As usual, angles and proportion are very important, and to get an accurate representation, one must pay attention to them. Click on any of them to get the full picture.
There is the stretch one has to do before the pencil layout stage, drawing the background to fit the space allocated, designing figures, which here included research on barristers' wigs and robes, and getting poses right. As usual, scissors, a glue stick and tracing paper where very much in use. I ink with Carbon ink because it's totally waterproof, so I can paint without any fear of vile smudging. I like to have an edge I can work to, or from, as I see fit. You can click on the images for a bigger picture if you like. Will appear in the next issue of the South Woodford Village Gazette.
Redbridge Lakes for the Sept/October South Woodford Village Gazette. Apart from the lady and mushroom group, the rest was painted from references I found on Images. I even had a fabulous time doing a coloured pencil study of the hunting Robertson tartan! Mainly because that was the one we had when I was a child, but also because I needed something which would pick up the colours in the rest of the piece, without it taking over.
Even though it's time for the next editorial job, here's the last one. I know these pictures don't make a deal of sense unless you read the piece it was about, but suffice to say, it was about hebe plants and going to the tip. The styles I've used before have been pretty much different, and I've had a free rein on my approach. All very nice, but I had come to realise that there was a certain lack of continuity, and that was making me uneasy. With this illustration I feel I have hit the spot, can reproduce the look, and incorporate the red clothed writer into whatever situation she finds herself. Click if you want a bigger picture.
I really didn't think I'd have to wait until the end of May to get back to my beloved theatres, but I did. When it comes to the cold, I rate at the weedy end of the scale. The Duke of York's is the other theatre in St Martin's Lane which has delightful iron work across the front. Not having drawn these for six months, I was a bit concerned I might suffer from 'first night nerves'. As it turned out, having got the position and proportions of the pillars right, it all came flooding back, and I hadn't forgotten my lines afterall!
This is the one in King's Cross. I did want to draw far enough down to get the lovely red sign in, but as usual the paper I had was too small. After an hour and a half, the sun was setting, and the nip in the air had become prominent. Time to leave. I meant to do something small, quick and cute, but unfortunately, drawings, like roads, are often paved with good intentions.
Processes behind the things I draw. Mostly editorial work here.