Thursday, 30 January 2014

Nearly There...

My Earl of Rone puppet is very nearly done, I just need to paint his string of ships's biscuits and hang them around his neck. I made him some nice crude, little hands out of cut down bamboo skewers wrapped in a bit of mod-roc. I like the feel of them for him. I've fixed his hood in place and made him some legs. I might not attach them, for now i'm going to just use a couple of safety pins to see how i feel. It's nice that they are stiff enough to just stand up by themselves under his costume, for display purposes. I found the perfect stand for him in an old 99p mug tree with a few of the pegs cut off, i might customise it to feel a bit more like woodland.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Damien Jurado - Metallic Cloud

Bought this fine album recently and i love this track. He's got a great voice, it just always works for me... and as proof, his Saint Bartlett album is my most played on my itunes, apparently... and by a good margin. I guess i never realised just how much i liked it!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Building The Earl

I spent odd moments over the weekend developing the Earl of Rone puppet. I managed to complete his head and found some cushion covers which work well for his costume material. His hood (think i might need to re-work that) and body is cut and part sewn. Just need to figure out arms and hands, legs and feet..... then put it all together. It's getting there, somehow i'm bumbling my way through it!

Polyfilla over a paper pulp and polyfilla mix. features very roughly placed. There's a polystyrene ball at the heart of it, with the finger hole scooped out.

Roughly sanded the polyfilla and added a base coat, a nice deep red. The Earl is coming!

Main coat of paint applied, his expression is formed and the surface has just the right quality i was after.

The final paint job. I thickened the red stripes on his cheeks, gave the eyes some life and a few other subtle touches.

A quick test of the fabric i found whilst out at the weekend, £1.50 cushion covers in a charity shop.

Here he is with his finished head and a rough hood and body, just to get a feel for where i'm at with him now.

Below, was how his face was initially going to look, a bit more sinister and aggressive. I just tested it on his head before the polyfilla coat went on. It's funny how things change as they develop and grow, taking on their own character. You can never quite plan how something is going to want to be. As i worked his face up, he just naturally softened and he developed a slightly glazed/ shell-shocked look. A man lost in the woods, a deer in the headlights, a desperate man (the most dangerous type?). This is his calm...

Friday, 24 January 2014

The Puppet Begins

I started forming the head for my Earl of Rone puppet last night. Very crude form at the moment, but even this much has given me ideas about how i want his final eyes and mouth to look. He obviously still needs that distinctive angular nose too. It all needs a coat or two of polyfilla, my medium of choice! I want the surface to be semi smooth, but pitted, that's why i've gone for this rough paper pulp base layer.  I want it to feel like an old punch and Judy puppet, that's seen a bit of wear and tear. I've decided that i want him to feel like he's been hiding out in the woods for years and years. We'll see how he ends up, but i'm expecting he'll look a bit desperate and maniacal... like he's gone feral! Well, wouldn't you?

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Bunraku Theater

Clive shared this over on his Artlog and it was new to me.. and totally incredible, in both the skills involved and the sheer beauty and quality of the puppets.

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Complete Set - Murder Mysteries For Kids

I realised today that I never covered the rest of my book covers for the Poppy Fields murder mysteries by Tanya Landman. I have yet to see the last 5 in print, but they're all out there. It was a fun project to work on and I was quite surprised that I was allowed to show an old lady with a bullet in her head and a severed arm! Anyway, this set seemed to set a Universal ball rolling and since then I've been doing the Nick and Tesla books (currently working on book 4) and also the new Hank Zipzer books with Henry Winkler, aka the Fonz! I'm fully in the pre-teen fiction world ! They've all been a lot of fun. I've also done a couple of other covers for the same market, but I can't show those yet. Here are the five new covers and then the others, just to show them all together.

I think this is my favourite

Monday, 13 January 2014

The Malvern Tavern - Detective Work

This is a painting i bought from a junk shop or boot fair, down here in Hastings, a few years ago. It's been on the wall at my old studio and recently in the house, but i decided i wanted to see more of it so brought it down my new studio today. We were talking about it in the studio and decided to see if we could track it down in the real world, where was this pub? There wasn't much to go on just the name and year it was established, there was also a small inscription. Isn't the internet amazing, it would have been a tough task before, but within 3 minutes we had found it mentioned on a blog about Notting Hill, west London and there it was.... demolished!

... but there the journey sort of started. This is the page i came to Notting Hill Nonsense, last post 2007, this post a couple of months earlier, thank goodness! The painting is inscribed "To Riggs on 16-5-2005 JB", i never really imagined ever discovering who Riggs was or JB. I always imagined Riggs to be a long serving landlord and JB, obviously must have done time and presented this upon his release and return to his favourite watering hole! (it has something very 'prison art' about it!)

Anyway, the truth. It turns out The Malvern was bought by a Riggs O'Hara, actor and theatre director. It says in this blog post that Riggs was Irish American brought up in the Bronx and came to England with the cast of Guys and Dolls and just never returned! In fact we found mention of him on a Marc Bolan website as befriending a young Marc for a bit in his early career, indeed speculation that he was the basis for Bolan's Wizard! Marc moved in with Riggs and fellow housemate, actor James Bolam (of Likely Lads fame). This made me wonder if JB is James Bolam himself.. it kind of works, but the writing doesn't fit with the actor and the JB on the painting is crude, not an aging actors monogram. I like the idea of it though, so that's how it will be until proven otherwise.

Riggs, or so it says here, bought the pub in 2003 (having not served a pint for many years) and then in 2007 it was demolished to build some rather terrible apartment block called The Picasso, hmm. He then ran a theatre company somewhere near this site, but as for all the 'facts' i've put here, i'm not really sure. This hasn't all been checked out, i'm just laying down what i've stumbled on, probably perpetuating myths!!

The funny thing is this pub was at the end of the road where my Grandad was born and raised!
 I know, of all the pubs! He and his brothers could well have drank there. He later lived just the other side of the railway tracks on Southern Row, where my mum was born and grew up. It's right in their neighbourhood... and now it's on my wall. Something must have drew me to it. Don't pass by things that 'speak' to you. It might mean nothing to you now, but there's often a reason. The Universe certainly seems to be joining a lot of dots for me this last year or so. I'm kinda coming to believe that if you open your eyes and start to see and follow connections, things seem to slot together very weirdly. Coincidences? just paying more attention? only noticing the things you want? who knows, but give it a whirl, open up. If you start to turn down a street, but then remember you were going a different way, don't turn back, carry on, follow that path. Be intuitive, listen to your gut. It works in weird ways. Even if you're not doing anything, there's often a good reason that will become clear and you otherwise would have wasted time and energy on a wrong step. I keep reassuring myself that this is why my pottery has stalled and in years to come i'll understand why i stalled for a while (or what seems like for ever, if you are me!) Who knows what the stories are behind all the other paintings i've found? This one has certainly made for a fun day of discovery... and if Riggs wants his painting back, i'm not sure i could give it!
A young Riggs in Promise Her Anything, and as theatre director.
(There has been a development in this story since i started writing this, but i will save that for the next post! It's a funny old world.)

Thursday, 9 January 2014

A Great Find...

Came across these great needlepoint/tapestry (what's the difference?) printed canvases in the run up to Christmas. I love them just the way they are and they made a perfect gift for Jakki. No perfume and jewellery for that gal, well not from me! ; )

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Another Salvation Mountain Print

Another year, another Salvation Mountain print! (it was a Christmas gift for Jakki). It was going to just be a simple 2 colour deal, but then the pink and blue came in, much nicer. I plan to do more of this limited colour work this year, but having now said it i probably wont at all! Although there are a lot of religious references here, I always see the mountain not in religious terms, but in one man's belief in something...and what that can achieve. Having a vision and then getting it done. Love that mountain!!
Happy New Year Leonard!

Sunday, 5 January 2014

New Year, Simple Goals

.... but not necessarily achievable! Ha, that's a good start! I'm just trying not to kid myself and you'll discover why once i get to the last one!

• My main goal is to make ONE pot that is actually fully functional, glaze staying on and everything. I've had to let things slide with the pottery due to the sheer volume of work this year, alongside having a family! I'm going to step it up this year though, even though I'm still stupidly busy. Going to start with the kiln and finally get it converted to a digital controller, it will give me a lot more scope to play around with temperatures and soaks etc. Needs to be done. Then i need to look again at glaze and try another batch, just in case i mixed it wrong (I'm fairly sure i triple checked every step). I may look at other glaze options, but i do love those lead based glazes.

• The next aims are to just be more local, buying local, putting money into the small shops and not the lazy option that just sucks all that money out of the community it serves, sending it off to head office and all the shareholders. Screw them. I will still be walking the supermarkets though, but if i can reduce my use i'll be happier.

Also just tuning in a bit more generally to my community and making the effort to get out to all the great events this town puts on. Sometimes i close that front door of mine and just want to hole-up, but i need to show my support by getting out to them.

• This next one is going to be a challenge, but i'm starting small... even though the problem isn't!
The problem is dog sh*t and this town has a real problem with it. Too many irresponsible owners. I'm not sure how i can reduce it, but it's worth a try. I'm focusing on 3 or 4 streets that surround the school over the road from our house. As it has long stretches of fencing and walls, but no direct residents, people find it a good place to let their dogs go... regardless of the fact it's a primary school with lots of young kids. I know, you just can't get in these peoples mindset can you?
Anyway, i've discussed it with Mark and i think we can have a bit of a multi-pronged approach. One will be to provide bags somehow, so no one gets caught short and removing one easy excuse. I have another plan, which will use my drawings to try and bring everyones attention to it at least. It's going to be ongoing. Some efforts will be false starts I'm sure, but i think it's time to do something. You can shrug your shoulders for so long and say "what can you do? they won't stop"... or you can try. At least make them very aware that they know exactly what they are doing when they don't bother to clear up after their dog.
i may be using this character to help me with my mission

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Gandhi

wish me luck!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Xmas and into 2014

Well, that sure flew by. Had a very nice quiet little Christmas with just the 4 of us. I'll have to catch up with my wider family soon. Thought I'd post a couple of photos of our Christmas day visitor, our friend Thad Skews... or Optimum of the Universe, as he was for this performance! 

He volunteered to do a select group of mini house gigs on Christmas day and i took him up on one of his slots. It was really nice, he just played 4 songs, shared a bite and a drink and then he was off to his next gig just around the corner. A Christmas troubadour, a wandering minstrel and a very lovely and generous idea of Thad's it was (he's a real lovely guy). Thad normally plays as Unicorn Dad V Robot Dad.... and mostly in costume, but for these he was working without... except for his mask of himself!... just to give him some protection : ) Tennessee enjoyed trying it out for size.

Optimum in action

Tennessee trying Optimum on for size.

I think they were enjoying themselves?

I like these tree decorations that Jakki made a couple of years ago
out of party glasses and cake decorations. Much better than a posh bauble.