A place to put things




I am a multi disciplined artist working primarily in a 2d visual format. Here are some things I've done; a little peek at the swirling, ceaseless, ideas maelstrom. If you will.

You are cordially invited to take a look.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Zen and The Art of Sketchbook Maintenance; about flow state, doodling and staring at fires

Today's pictures are all elaborate doodles, whereby I'd stopped trying to think too much and let the subconscious do the driving. Just scribbling a line or two, until some hither to unseen form apears, doing its own thing, quite independent of me!?! This doodle induced mental state makes me happy. I'm sure we've all to less or greater extents indulged in this pass time.

In fact we need these simple everyday things to keep us sane; exercise, trees, friends. We all know this, everyone's herd the maxim "its the simple things in life that make you happy" yet day to day we all worry about money and dream of the things we would do/get if we had more of it. What is success? What's happiness? And if its the simple things in life that count why cant we just concentrate on them?

One simple way  to loose all the wrong minded detritus of a high pressure, high demand, petulant society, besides doodling, is to stare at a fire. Its better than TV, free, relaxing and will clear your thoughts. But its not time wasted, its meditation; your brain needs this like a computer needs rebooting.

Another way to get of the mental treadmill of anxiety, is to try to achieve a state of flow. Id explain it in my own words but wikipedia quoting this dude; Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (A Hungarian Psychology professor and chief proponent of flow theory), does it better:

 "it is a single-minded immersion and represents perhaps the ultimate experience in harnessing the emotions in the service of performing and learning"
So get really into doing something you like and get the best out of the moment you possibly can. How often do people talk of wanting to live in the moment as if its an unattainable thing, yet all they have to do, is choose to do, something...

For me, making art takes me to this life affirming state and makes the madness of modern life a little more bearable. I'm afraid I cant tell you what it is you should do. You will just have to work it out for yourself.

Well I do apologise for such uncalled for philosophical ramblings (this was supposed to be about sketchbooks!), but I do have one more thing to add, a quote from our friend Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and this could apply to a successful sketchbook or philosophical take on life:

"When people restrain themselves out of fear, their lives are by necessity diminished. Only through freely chosen discipline can life be enjoyed and still kept within the bounds of reason."

Stay twisted kids!

Monday, February 11, 2013

The monster progress: Pan, the Smiths, the Devil and the scatterbrain mind

Front and back covers

The monster progress!

This is a joke about so called progress. Progress in the modern, western sense of development and economic expansion, progression of the human race ( new hope/overpopulation) and the progression of thoughts in my head, that inspire and drive me forward yet overwhelms me and consume me. 

Woodford Halse a small Northampton village that my Dad and family live in.The fact there is a post card for such an
innocuous place makes me smile. :)

Oww! These thoughts are wonderfully painful!

Its this, mad, seemingly direction less progress, that fuels many sketchbooks, as they become mental dumping grounds to the manically scatterbrain creative. Yet as random idea bounces of random idea, real form develops and a dialogue of sorts can start rising out of the murk.

The pages here have come about as I've gone through old loose sketches and started cutting them out and re-pasting them within the sketchbook. This process sheds new light on old thoughts and arranges new juxtapositions.

The forlorn devil character came about when thinking of the origins of the Lucifer's goat look. There are many possible influences to the devils aesthetic, though a prominent and long standing influence can be found in Pan. Pan was I wild deity of Greek antiquity. A deity of music and fertility, famous for his sexual powers. 

So take the lovable, frisky rouge that is Pan and overlay this with generations of Christian guilt. No longer wild naked and free but clothed, shamed and passive. If you want people to feel guilty, to stop having so much fun and gets some work done then you make fun sin. The devil is the master of sin and he has to be one evil, scary mother and you already have that well known goat imagery...

Snap forward a couple of thousand years and the devil/Pan is down on his luck. He still enjoys a drink but is far from free. It seemed only fitting to marry this image with that of a glossy fashion shot of London with the frivolous London eye, amongst the grey financial austerity of a capital far removed from nature.

Thus appeared this painting, via Greek antiquity, Christian guilt and London vogue, oh and some Smiths lryics for the title: 

Heavon knows Im miserable now

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Skethces of Mali, acompanied by some some political ranting

Today looking at pictures from Mali I feel I should talk more about what's happening there now and less about the sketching, so for those interested here are some thoughts:

These pictures date back from four years ago when I was in Mali as part of an overland trip from the UK to West Africa. When I was there it was a safe country to visit and full of open and generous people.

Here are a few sketches of everyday life from a time, that though not long ago, I fear is quite different from now.

Now the country is in a state of turmoil, there is talk of long term U.N involvement. Like the war on drugs the war on terrorism, is actually a war on people. Nothing stimulates the growth of extremist groups like declaring war on them and using brutal force.

They say that U.N forces are necessary to protect us; not just the people of Mali but the people of the world from this global threat. The right wing extremists and the Muslim extremists are two faces of the same violent coin to busy declaring war on each other to see the irony of such an ill-founded engagement.

The Tuareg who live in the desert have often been in a state of rebellion in northern Mali. They hold themselves independent of any country and have been at odds with the national government's of the Saharan countries. The exception to this relationship has been Libya and the Gaddafi regime, Gaddafi offered support and championed the idea of an Islamic pan Saharan state.

The end of the Gaddafi regime and resultant fall out has led to Tuareg refugees returning to Mali. The increasingly unstable situation in the desert attracting many extremists. This is happening at a time of global recession, mass protest movements around the world and the revolts of the Arab Spring. In such times there is often a polarisation of factions, both sides becoming more extreme.

Many around the world have been calling there governments to question, a sense of egalitarianism bringing unity to differing creeds. Others have sort a return to religion or conservationism. I'm sure many will see the events in Mali as yet another dangerous African country going to pot and dominated by backward religious nuts. Many in Mali may also look to the warmongering West as a bunch of morally backward peoples here to bring yet more misery.

The real struggle against terrorism is the struggle of rationalism against a culture of fear. This is a battle against the haves and the have nots in which you, I, or the average man or woman from Mali are all in danger of becoming direction-less pawns in someone else's game.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Travels In The Far East

These pictures date back to a time eight years ago when I was happy, naive and foot loose. I had just traveled across Russia, taught English in china and arrived in Hanoi, Vietnam. This was a dream come true for me. I was constantly confounded and inspired by my surroundings and had the time to take things in and importantly go out and sketch the world around me.

I drew this scene in a cafe. I felt the guy taking the call looks just like gangsta don receiving bad news, while the guy with his back to you is the greasy lackey. Sketching on site really trains you to be observant and to be fast in capturing the action.

I don't carry a sketchbook around with me nearly as much as I should, despite the fact I often encourage others to do the same ( its easy to give advice, harder to follow!). When I'm traveling however it seems the most natural thing in the world to explore, observe and sketch!

I had lunch in a quite restaurant ( its cheap in Vietnam I don't normally do such things!), after serving me the staff seeing as it was hot and quiet decided to take a nap. Which afforded me this beauty of a scene, imagine them doing this in an English restaurant! Note there are no chairs, you sit on the floor.
In fact I have met many people who have complained that when they are away they do things that they don't normally do, yet when they return full of confidence and new found energy they are quickly cowed down by old inhibitions. The weight of normality constraining there once free spirits

So in conclusion, always carry a sketchbook, embrace you're freedom when you can. And err, here's a picture of a fountain.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


I  Drew these after watching the Norwegian  film Trollhunter (Trolljegeren in Norwegian ). Which is a great and unique film, shot in a "found footage" mockumentry style (like The Blair Witch Project, but not crap), it has a wry sense of humour, covers Norwiegan folklore and has Trolls in it! What more could you possibly want?

As for the whys and wherefores of drawing a load of Trolls? Trolls like dinosouars, aliens and robots are fun! We all need to play and have fun in our lives, even our professional ones. In fact, all animals need play; they learn through play; we all learn through play.


Sometimes the most profound discoveries and breakthroughs have come about by somone who wasn't doing what they were suposed to, becuase they were too busy pratting about ...

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Some beautiful mental ramblings

I sometimes run in an out of favour with sketchbooks. Well I never fall out with them, I've never had an argument with a sketchbook, not even when at my most demented. I do however attack them with greater or less zeal as time and mood permits. This sketch book was produced in a period of sketchbook renaissance, for me, following my picking up of a street art sketchbook showing many artists hidden doddleing's. From here I started looking at other such titles (graphic designers sketchbooks, comic book artists sketchbooks) getting massively turned on by the idea and falling back in love with the sketch book-artist relationship.

Reading this back and seeing phrases like; "argument with a sketchbook", "I do however attack them", "turned on" and "falling in love" I realise the novice psychiatrist may conclude that I am positive insane. I realize sketch books are not people. OK. They are however beautiful mental ramblings as fascinating as the people who make them...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

This is me reaching out.

Making more contact with the wide world, via the medium of blog.

For the next seven days I will upload a page or two from one of my sketchbooks with a little commentary. Some times the most interesting things are the back stage goings on; the alchemical inner workings of personal practise. Sketchbooks are all these things made manifest.

Todays offerings are pictures from a sketchbook that I took around India.

Above is is a collage of random bits and pieces that I found day to day on my travels. Bright chaotic and idiosyncratic, the sketchbook brings back memories and inspiration long after returning home and reflects the nature of the places I visited and my reactions to them. The crazy colourfull mess of India stays with me, the visual notes infroming later work or being a direct template for paintings.


This was painted after climbing a mountain in the Eastern Ghats. All on my lonesome, the inacessability and alien grandeaur of the place had a powerfull efect on me. I don't paint outdoors nearly enough!