Sunday, January 31, 2010

a brilliant leonard cohen quote...

... which i just found on david dark and sarah masen's blog...

[hat tip to derek]

avatar refusenik

so yesterday sue took the boys to see 'avatar', and whilst joe really enjoyed it, sue and eddie came back less impressed.

i didn't go - despite nearly everyone i know telling me that i have to go see the thing, i'm just not interested in seeing it - for a variety of curmudgeonly reasons...

1. it's a james cameron movie, and he made titanic [possibly the worst movie that i've ever seen]
2. it's in 3D, and i resent the way that they screw extra cash out of you on the back of that.
3. the story is crap. even the folk who've raved about it have said that the plot is predictable and a bit rubbish. and that the dialogue is really clunky.
4. it's too long - 2 hours and forty minutes for a story that could be told efficiently in 90 mins max.
5. the minute everyone starts raving about something, i instinctively set my face against it. and yes, sometimes that's stupid and means that i have to eat my words or that i come to things really late [eg 'spaced', 'father ted', van morrison, bruce springsteen...]
on the other hand, when the hype dies down, i sometimes get to feel quite smug and justified... :-)

meantime, i recently got a copy of file magazine. it's a twice-a-year publication and i love it - you get a big-format magazine [printed on lovely newsprint] and a dvd with three hours of music videos, short movies, documentaries and lovely visual things on it - all kind of art and design-related. this latest issue has a documentary about polish poster designer on it, and it's really interesting [no, really!] - one of the things that the interviewees say is that under the restrictions and censorship of the soviet era, the poster artists produced their best work - it's the idea that work done within tight boundaries and under constraints requires greater creativity and is more ingenious and heartfelt as a result...

also amongst all the other stuff on the dvd are a couple of brilliant little low/no budget short movies - 'jade' and 'after tomorrow' - which i absolutely loved... fantastic, taut storytelling - gripping and really engaging, the sort of films that stay with you for a while afterwards and get you thinking and re-thinking stuff.

all in stark contrast to the bloated, cash-drenched blockbuster excesses of stuff like 'avatar'...
i know which i prefer...:-)

bus trip no.6

made from drawings done on a trip into town to see 'the lone and level sands', a community play in leeds parish church.

simon hall was there, and gave me a lift home [one less journey to document - ha!]

the text is getting better on these, and i'm not really using a scalpel or knife to cut the lines dead clean now, just the lino tools, which is good i think.

i drew a load of windows this time [i like the architecture in leeds - when you start to look up there are some amazing and very lovely details and designs going on, often in unusual places]
i wanted to sketch some shop fronts too, but the bus was moving to quick and whereas i used to be able to look at something and fix the details in my mind's eye very quickly [drawing them immediately afterwards] i'm out of practice these days and need more time to draw that sort of stuff...

the bus stop was interesting - illuminated inside, with a shadowy figure heralding the bus from the doorway. the guy in the hat was a well-wrapped-up workman in harehills. there's also an asian guy in a cap [again, well protected against the cold] and a youth who hung from the dangling hand-support things, both passengers on the bus.

the bus itself is ok, possibly not as well-executed as the headingley single-decker in no.5 though...

i'm a lot happier with the inking on this one. that's very definitely improving now...

and it was very, very cold.

Friday, January 29, 2010

more bus stuff...

three more bus trips, two more prints.

i realised that i should probably be adding some info about each one of these as i go - if only as a memo to meself as i try stuff out and work out ways of doing it better.
[with that in mind i've gone back and updated the previous couple of bus-print posts with some additional info...]

i probably should've thought of this earlier, but it struck me that one trip into the city centre equals two bus trips - out and back.
so this print is my solution - divided into the two journeys, bus trips 3 & 4.

i took eddie into town to see the wonderful paper cinema. that's eddie top right. to his left is the bus driver who struggled to add up the fare and fixed us with a rather fierce glare as we exited the bus.

the homeward journey was wet, and i drew another, friendlier bus driver [bottom right]
the guy in the middle was a bloke at the bus stop who very politely let us on ahead of him.

i obviously need to be a bit more thorough in my proof-reading before i start cutting the lettering...:-)

i'm also wrestling with the balance between being very precise and tight, and making the lines clean and very 'graphic', and letting the cutters dictate a bit more for a rougher sort of look...

i'm also struggling a bit with the ink and the printing - i'm using water-based stuff and don't have a press, so it's all done with hand-held rollers and the back of a spoon. where there are larger areas of black it's proving really hard to get them dense and solid without losing the definition of the finer lines...

bus trip 5 is more successful i think. it's got a lot less areas of black in it - partly because this was a daytime journey, and partly because i wanted to get away from some of the problems i was having with over-and-under-inking the lino [this one was much easier to ink and print]

it records a trip to the bowery in headingley to meet with some of the advent exhibition artists.
i'm very pleased with the lettering top and bottom and the bus.
the little images = a couple of blokes i saw in moortown, some workmen chopping trees on the stonegate road, the hand of a very camp bloke in dark denim and a white baseball cap, a woman in wellies and a parka running with a slightly reluctant dog, a tree with interesting bark, a jewish bloke in one of those very distinctive hats, a well-wrapped-up woman with her ticket in her mouth who took ages to sit down, and a guy who got on and proceeded to have a ticket-waving rant at the driver for no obvious reason.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


i just found this wondrous blast from the past on youtube - utter genius...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

bus trip 2

text is better, and the layout too.
need to work on the printing - maybe getting a bigger roller would help...

definitely an improvement though :-)

this was a very quick journey - just back from chapel allerton. normally i'd have walked it, but the icy conditions were a bit too treacherous, so i took the easy option. the ipod woman was sat in the mother-and-child seats with her kid in a pushchair. the woman in the white hooded thing was someone i glimpsed from the window - the sketchbook drawing of her is quite pleasing with some nicely drawn lines, but it doesn't really translate well here into simple shapes.

and i fell over whilst trying to draw the bus stop.

Monday, January 11, 2010

new project

so, here's what that project [see previous post] is all about.

the plan is that every bus trip i take in the next few months i'll draw stuff that i see from my seat.
then i'll come home and make an A5 linocut based on those drawings...

and i'll make 13 prints from each cut [because the 13 and 13A buses are the ones that get you into the city from here...]

and i'll post each design on here. whether they're any good or not... :-)

last year @ greenbelt billy childish was excellent, and he talked about the way that he doesn't think of his work in terms of success and failure; more about learning and moving forward...
so i'll be doing this bus thing in that same spirit [i hope] of learning and having a go.

here's the first one. there are obvious things wrong with it [i need to work on the lettering for starters, and the drawings i did on the bus weren't great to be honest, and the printing is a bit ropey, and the composition could have done with more thought and and and...] but hopefully as i do them there'll be some progression in the drawings and the design, and in the execution of the lino cutting and printing...

this was my trip back from the city centre after a weekend away attending greenbelt programming meetings down south...
the guy top left had a chat with some other bloke waiting at the bus stop - i was planning to leave some white space above him so that i could pencil some of that conversation in, but decided against it in the end.
the thing bottom left is the sign on top of the bus stop. and in the middle at the bottom there, that's my reflection in the stairwell partition thing.

[and if you'd like one any of the prints as i post them up here, they're available for 20 quid each - p&p included... just email or leave a comment and i'll get back to you]

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

on the desk...

some test prints for a possible project/thing i've been thinking about.
these are all lino prints of folk i've seen either on or from the bus in leeds.

they're pretty small - about 4 by 7cm - and they're cluttering up the office a bit so if you want one, email me your address and i'll bung a randomly-selected one back in the post...

[the numbers refer to the bus route i was travelling]

also on the desk [and all over the floor, bookshelves and other available worksurfaces] this week has been this model crayfish. shhh don't tell anyone but it's a very belated 'thank you for letting us have our holiday in your house' present to claire's mum and dad [we stayed there in may, that's how belated it is...] - wind the handle and he waggles his claws and his tail in an animated fashion. [he was going to have long wire antennae too, but health and safety fears took over when i nearly poked my own eye out cutting the wire...]

Friday, January 1, 2010

my dad... blogging his paintings here...

though i suspect his postings may be even more sporadic than mine :-)