London Riverside

The last few touches are being gently hammered out with a brick on publication of Heavy, but in the meantime, here is a lovely digital artwork of the Eastern end of the Thames in London, which took me absolute months and made Photoshop shit itself more times than I care to swear about.

If you’d like to see it at a larger size (and I advise that), go here and also look at the stuff you can buy it on, because I have to go and pay someone to drill more holes in my wretched teeth and my bank account is crying.

[ART] Bloomsbury Colouring Book.

And by “book” I mean “page”.

Phew, look at that. It’s summer! The sky is full of SCREAMING BIRDS and the sun has found the one part of my body I didn’t aggressively spray with Factor 50, and it has burnt it. My mouth, it has burnt my actual mouth, which is what happens when you and your idiot friends decide to go and feed parakeets but you also really feel the need to drink two bottles of wine and half a bottle of gin, break your flipflop and also give yourself a grass rash that makes you look like you’ve lost a fight to an entire battalion of angry domestic cats.

So while the world catches fire, blows itself up, crashes down around my ears, and murders people with vans outside my friend’s flat (ah, London in 2017: an endless roulette of “oh shit what particular area of my city has become a trending hashtag on Twitter today?”, and that is why I am not going to get very far on giving up drinking this year…), I’m gamely trying to squeeze as much fun as I can out of whatever time I have left on this terrify earth. Tom of Finland documentaries, live broadcasts of sad plays about AIDS, panel talks about London history, and a punishing amount of fruity cocktails feature in my near future, always assuming that we don’t get hit by an asteroid or anything (the way this year is going that’s a possibility).

Also, making art, because that’s what you do in times of strife. Admittedly, I think you’re meant to make political art, but sometimes you also need to colour in a cityscape, right?


You can buy this on a whole bunch of stuff.

Or you could, I guess, print it out and colour it in. I mean, it does look like you ought to be able to. Although ideally I’d prefer it if you bought it on something and thus funded my extravagant lifestyle of going to £12 panel talks about Peter Ackroyd books like the London-obsessed gay nerd we are all very, very aware that I am.

Thank you.

Dinnertime

“Aren’t you meant to be plotting a novel right now?”

Shhhhhh.

“Don’t you have a manuscript to edit?”

I just finished a pass, let me have five minutes.

“You’ve had rather more than f–”

Shhhhhh.

I made an art. You can buy prints, if you are absolutely desperate to own a print of a bowl of rice rather than an actual bowl of rice. Personally, I would rather have the rice, but I’m very hungry. This particular rice was consumed after an exhaustive examination of the Tate Britain’s long-awaited & hotly-anticipated Queer British Art: 1861 – 1967. I should probably have an opinion on that, on here, at length, but to be honest I feel that drawing a bowl of rice is less contentious and contributes more to the world than me bellyaching about minor details in what is, regardless of my fussing and personal preferences, a splendid step in the right direction regarding the inclusion of queer history.

New Design!

I  haven’t used my WACOM in a million years because, uh, it broke.

Then a friend very kindly gifted me a replacement which is BIGGER and BETTER and WIRELESS and DOESN’T WORK BECAUSE THE BATTERY IS DEAD and I don’t have a DC in cable to charge the battery…

But while I waiting for my finances to recover sufficiently (don’t pity me, it’s my own fault for buying a bike and some accidentally expensive Japanese groceries – unless your pity takes the form of Free Money) to buy a DC in cable & adapter so I can actually use my damn thing to draw in a medium that allows more than my regular forrays into “doodling cartoon cats on my work notes”, I have a lot of vector elements, and an idea for a tattoo.

What I don’t have is free time, so it took me an embarrassingly long time from conception to execution, but it’s here now. I will be tattooing it, but I see no reason other people can’t adorn themselves and their belongings with it:

All of the above and many more, including other designs of mine, can be purchased at my Redbubble account. You can also buy it, and a number of other designs, at my PAOM page!

 

Cartooning: can you do it without being able to draw properly?

Sources, drawn from my own attempts, paired with my own total inability to master the art of drawing anything even slightly realistically or consistently, point to no.

faun0

So I’ve been trying to get this blurry little geezer nailed for a while. I’ve about mastered his proportions, so that his arms and legs won’t, hopefully, shrink and grow all over the place unless it’s for Looney Toons effect (rather than just my inconsistency). I mean, as you can see from the picture, I’ve mastered what they ought to be.

faun1

And I figured out early on that faces more complicated than some dots in an oval were going to end up looking terrible. I’ve already managed to muck up his antlers there too.

faun2

And any time I try a more adventurous pose I lose my courage, knowing full well that, drawing straight into pen, I will make a horrible mess, but beginning with pencil I’ll become unnecessarily fussy. Sometimes “know thyself” isn’t much help without the knowledge of how to change thyself.

faun4

Theoretically providing some kind of narrative context ought to help, but this is me, and it mostly just illustrates the problem with my handwriting.

Colouring, now, I can do:

fauncolour

Well, colouring I can do digitally. Or I could do, until wild driver drama and inconsistent micro USBs of an older generation meant I couldn’t connect my WACOM to any of my machines any more, jerking me back to the unthinkable Stone Age of track pad colouring, and while The Resident Australian’s felt tip stash is impressive, I’m not really a traditional media person. Too easy to screw it up.

So I’ve tried widening my focus with other nascent characters:

bear1 bunny1

… maybe not …

Or even abandoning this style altogether and just crapping out a sequential story as smoothly as I can to prove to myself that it can be done?

laurapage1

(Click to embiggen this if you are enough of a masochist to want to do that).

Again, not what you’d call A Roaring Success. I have twelve pages of this script and it takes me all night to draw six panels.

My guess is that learning to draw Properly teaches you how to draw a consistent line that goes in the direction you intended it to, for one thing (a writing analogy: I have quite frequently tried to make a story go in one direction only to find that it has no interest in that, or that the person I thought was the protagonist was in fact not, or that the person I thought was telling the story was being told it); just as in writing you’re encouraged to learn how to write about events by writing endless tedious accounts of things that have Really Happened with different perspectives and different styles (and gosh did I resent that at university), in art I guess the value is in continually sketching, from every direction.

So I’m pretty impressed by the people who apparently have the time for both.

faun3

Kew Doodles, or Kewdles, Possibly.

On the 11th – and not the 10th, as I wrote on all the pictures – the Resident Australian and I went to Kew Gardens on our annual pilgrimmage to look at bluebells, and as has become traditional for the first or second week of May, it pissed it down at lengthy intervals. During odd moments of sunshine and longer sessions trapped in various buildings, I joined said Australian in attempting to chronicle the world in pen.

(I also took a shit tonne of photos but photos of a place everyone else has been to, taken on a bad cameraphone, do not benefit anyone).

mangaka

Top: during a rare moment of sun, the Temple of Aeolus, atop a small artificial hillock. Built during the Enlightment, when the fad for neo-Classicism was correspondingly at its height, and one presumes every sod and fool wanted a fucking ha-ha.

Middle: The view of a small, rectangular pond at the back of the Princess of Wales Conservatory, which is a magnificent glass toblerone full of varying habitats; it will surprise no one to learn that the Resident Australian, whose cactus obsession becomes ever-more pointed (Sorry) with each passing day, jammed herself into the desert at the front of the building while I made tracks for The Bit Where The Frogs Are.

We stayed there for lunch:

(The orange stuff on the round things is masago, capelin roe; the round things are quail egg onigiri and I am justly proud of them – the vegetable maki rolls somewhat less so).

Bottom: There are many wonderful things in Kew Gardens (go! It’s nice! Take an umbrella!) but sometimes you have to accept that being able to self-serve as much clotted cream as you want is going to be the highlight of pretty much any day [You can take the boy out of Devon, etc]. I did at least exhibit the self-restraint of drawing my tea before I ate it, in part because the rain had started coming down like the wrath of God at that point and it was clear we weren’t leaving the Orangery any time soon.

I’d estimate that’s a roughly 1:1 ratio of scone to cream, there. Providers of cream teas in the London institutions which I regularly patronise please take note: this is the correct ratio. Not “Oh lord why must we waste our precious cream on these plebs?” and putting out a hotel buffet butter pat of trembling, terrified cream to smear regretfully over five miles of week-old scone. I’M CALLING YOU OUT, BENUGO. FIX YOUR TEAS.

… While I’m digressing, angrily, on the subject of cream teas:

Benugo’s cream tea, at the V&A, taken at the end of April in the company of the American Academic. I mean, the tray is pretty but does this look decadent to you, Benugo? The point of cream tea is that I’m meant to feel guilty for at least a month afterward.

A notable mention goes to the Stables Cafe, hidden in the basement of the Stables Market in Camden; not only is the decor fantastic and the welcome genial (and often accompanied by live piano), the cream tea as pictured here costs a whopping £4.50, rather cheaper than elsewhere. Do not be fooled by the demure shot glasses (and occasionally egg cups), that is entirely Sufficient for such tiny scones.

Back to the art.

fineline

We fetched up in another small neo-Classical location – this one with Walls and a Door – as the heavens opened with more vigour than ever before and made an effort at turning the Mediterranean Garden into the gardens of Atlantis. We were shortly joined by one (1) worried Scandinavian mother of an extremely new baby, and a soggy but exceptionally friendly robin, thus setting the scene for a potential End of the World Survivor Movie, in which the robin and the baby are the only people the studio isn’t allowed to kill.

The tree above, in rather less stumpy fashion, was in a pot just in front of where I was sitting.

Surprisingly, membership for Kew is entirely covered by five visits to the gardens in a year. I feel maybe, if I took out a membership, and went often enough, I might manage to once again go on a day when there isn’t a thunderstorm.

Persistence: Only Available At 5am When I Have No Choice

Sometimes the flow of work at my workplace doesn’t keep pace with how quickly I process it and by “sometimes” I mean “often”. Unfortunately by 5am I’ve also lost the ability to form sentences and can’t productively use the time to work on book projects, and I can’t look at hardcore pornography because I’m at work.

Recently I decided that I’d try copying a painting by one of my (current) favourite painters, Newlyn School artist and Notorious Heterosexual Henry Scott Tuke, whose primary fodder of sun-kissed naked boys viewed from behind is mysteriously not banned by my workplace, on the grounds that if it’s rendered in paint it’s not pornography.

Now there’s a good reason my tag for attempts at freehand lineart on my less official blog is “derek can’t draw”, and it’s also fairly self-evident. I hear that practice makes perfect, but I also hear my dear chum Jamie McKelvie’s complaints about sciatica brought on by endless drawing and think that art is entirely Too Dangerous for a fragile flower like me, and stick to lifting heavy things in the bathroom instead.

Being for all intents and purposes nailed to my bastard desk for at least another hour with nothing else to do I thought I’d take my life and back muscles into my own hands and give it a try anyway:

brush pen

My brush pen had run out. Under normal circumstances I would take this as a Sign From God that it is not to be, but alas God is going to have to signal a bit harder (say, for instance, by letting me go home) under conditions like these–

what

Merciful fucking Christ, have I always been this bad at art?

(Yes)

no

I made an attempt to block it out with a wee figure in the corner but as you can see this did not help in the slightest.

getting worse

Trying to go for something more stylised and less naturalistic is not helping. It’s getting worse. It’s getting worse the more I do it.

Look at that leg what is happening to his leg?

am i on acid

The point at which sleep deprivation and hallucinogenic drugs become a very similar experience: the arms are improving (for a given value of improving) but the legs are making me concerned that I’ve experienced neurological damage and just haven’t noticed yet (Will Graham, I am coming for your crown). Do I have encephalitis or am I just incredibly stupid?

Don’t answer that.

style

Experimenting with an edict from friend Kev about letting “mistakes” become part of your style, as well as with a slightly better block-out. Not worried about club foot, jug ears, crab hand, or banana fingers, but that leg. It’s broken. There’s a gravitational issue going on – his arm’s supposed to be resting on his knee and there’s this smashed noodle happening there instead.

frustration

Frustration takes hold. None of these poses are right. There’s a distinct, leggy problem occurring and re-occurring, like someone has lost his grip on anatomy and probably shouldn’t be trying to draw at 5am after about 260mg of caffeine anyway.

anatomy

This calls for drastic measures. Fling open a new tab. Find some anatomy guides. This one was of the musculature of the leg (and leg bones), in case this is not clear from the gargoyle scratchings I committed to paper.

Commentary written on my drawing is fairly standard practice: earlier in the night I tried to redesign a character and every sketch was accompanied by criticism from the drawings themselves and protests that they wanted to be left in peace.

femur

The thigh bone’s connect to the shin bones and the shin bones are connected to the heel bone and the heel bone rests on the ground, Derek, because you’re not a horse.

see through

Making the body see-through to get an idea of where all the limbs sit helps, as does temporarily changing to a different pen.

I mean look, his elbow’s bulbous but at least his leg’s not broken any more.

combine

Combining with the character redesign. The leg is still fucked but eh. How much more can I do?

gravity

After all, until I can get the hang of the line of gravity in a figure anatomy is going to be a dead duck anyway.

Redbubble expansion!

More products available with more designs! Let’s have a look at what I have for you, shall we?

First, I’ve been doing some more logo work for ease of embroidering.

And you can get it on anything:

The tile is available on everything, including clothes, bags, duvet covers, and hardcover journal:

The Miffy Faun has made it onto a variety of items, including skirts, bags, journals…

What if people just didn’t know how much you loved cute things and music? Solve that problem with this:

If you’ve ever thought you’d like some of my line drawings on stuff:

Jonah, Levi, and The Real Greek are now available on most items. Mythologically our old friend Cernunnos can be found:

Just casually classing up some notebooks and whatnot.

Hyacinth and Apollo? You can even wear them on your legs.

 

Devoted to the god of wine? Aren’t we all! Show your affiliation:

More of an Icarus fan, with undertones of Batman? How often do you hear that sentence?

Still not sure people know you’re mad about music?

Pirates come in many forms.

More eclectic than all this?

What about Rocky Horror Pop Art Michelangelo’s David? On leggings?

Perhaps you need a memento mori: The skull always grins because death always wins. Now you can remind everyone else.

Also if there’s anything else in my portfolio you like the look of and want to see on a specific product Redbubble offer, why not drop me a note and I’ll see what I can do?