Sunday, May 30, 2010

Bio-diversity day at the Smithy

A soggy wet day & back to the Smithy. A quick re-cap for folks, this is the Heritage Centre that I used to run, due to problems with the committee I resigned & walked away. The committee imploded, the building & grounds have been trashed through neglect & I've been having big problems for the last 5 years with this 'charity' as I still own the workshop building on their land. Flash forward > a new committee, a new name, new organisation have taken it over ( some are still the same individuals ), new momentum to fix things up & move forward. 

So to start things of on Saturday 28th a Biodiversity event was planned to kick start a few things, a wild life garden being created . Tom and Leslie Kilbride from north Applecross coast were showing how to create rope, fibres, dye & much more from nettles. The nettle rope was brilliant!
 Paul Swan, our local flora & fauna expert was there with one of his popular 'wildlife' quizzes, " is it a dinosaur bone?".
 Rich and myself were starting off the mosaic panel that will go on the building end wall, there will be three panels showing images from various ages representing History & natural Heritage of the area. We making the mosaic from Glass shards, recycled from the 'Shards' -Stained Glass company based up at Arrina. This techinique is one which I started using many years ago when I had loads of this scrap glass which I also used to melt into my pottery. I ran many workshops in making these mosaics and you see other people now producing them locally.
The event was busy with a steady flow of people coming in out of the rain all day, local and visitors. It certainly shows that the Smithy could be a success again in the future with everyone pulling together.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

heritage mosaic

I am doing a large interpretative mosaic for a local project. This is the layout for the first panel of three, I've roughly clumped the content into three ages, ancient ( this one ) , old, and modern. having enough Glass shards in nice colours will be a challenge. each panel is 61cm x 122 cm. Another challenge will be weather proofing it. On Saturday I'm doing a workshop to tie in with a biodiversity thing & will start this one off .

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bristol Comic Expo

Friday 21st May we headed off to The Bristol Comic Expo. We look forward to this event as its the first one on the calender after the burn out that is Hi-Ex...

talking of Hi-Ex we got Dates organised with Eden Court last week - its 26th 27th March 2011, put it in your diary's NOW. I've also taken over web duties for now so, thats going to be fun..

talking of fun, Bristol.. the volcano was behaving itself we tore ourselves away from work, flight no problems, a nice warm Inverness to ...bang! a sauna of bristol- Scorchio! It got to 29 degrees over the weekend. mmm you can imagine how that smelt in a crowded room full of comic fans, yes.

This Con has scaled right down the last couple of years & is now divided into to venues, 'small press' and...'comics stuff' with different sets of organisers. Its great for us to be able to enjoy a con without the hassle of organising it, to stay up all night with the big boys and schmoooze all day. We both had various editors to talk to and projects are flying around. It was lovely for me to go to a discussion panel where one of the projects I'm working on was being talked about, it makes it seem more concrete.
Susanne & Sasha at Time Bomb comics

I'd re jigged my port folio just to show some recent illustrations and colouring work, less is more. All artists are self effacing, so when I say my strip work isn't strong enough, folks think I'm just being me guys! compared to the talent thats knocking on the big editors doors I have some work to do yet before I find my niche. Although theres always a wide variety in the small press scene where I could sit... problem is it doesn't pay, so onwards & upwards. Enjoying Colouring though, more my comfort zone!

I attended some other panels out of interest and with my Hi-Ex hat on, we want to cook up some web-cast, digital comics, pod-cast mix for Hi-Ex 2011 so I enjoyed the 'digital comics' and 'podcast' discussions. As always Al Ewing on the 2000ad panel was highly entertaining, although Tharg couldn't make it due to his skin shedding, but Al was able to channel Tharg through his shriveled head skin...thats Thargs head not Al's.

The legendary Pat Mills talks about his work on Requiem & European comics scene

One of the things I love about these events is being able to talk art with other artists, oh joy! what pens to use, what ink, colour inspiration, resources & references and of course the struggles of deadline, freelance time management and being perpetually broke. I think I'm slowly synthesizing all my recent art frustrations into some semblance of a direction...maybe !

info;  The Eagle comic awards are now open for voting ( Richmond's comic Futurequake is up for one again ). I will be on the international judging panel for a new initiative to encourage new talent as part of the 'Eagle initiative' details to follow.

Eddie ( Com.X ) and John Higgins ( Watchmen ) relaxing during a lull 

There is also some great courses happening at Dundee in computer art, concept and comics art, this is the future folks ! they are tutored by friends of ours & highly recommended.

I'm afraid I failed to get any great photos, too much going on.
meanwhile this week;
I have to get a pin up done for Richmonds 'Turning Tiger' collected edition.
Design a LARGE interpretive mosaic panel, which starts at a workshop on Saturday, bio-diversity & heritage.
Crack on with colouring 'Slaughtermans Creed' a comic which will be released on PSP first.
and do some of my own work before I go Maaa-aaa-aaaD !

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Angus Puff the book launch.

Angus Puff is a fire safety Dragon. I have worked at ' The Skye & lochalsh Young Carers project' for a few years, a dynamic project which offers real support to Young carers on Skye & in Lochalsh. Wearing both my hats, I created links with the Fire & Rescue service a few years back, this partnership has flourished and with input & ideas from the projects Art worker Caroline Deer, Angus Puff was born. He started off as a garden sculpture & the children wrote a story for him. I was asked to illustrate the book under the children's direction. I had to change the initial design as he looked too ' gay' , yes equality & diversity has yet to reach the Isle of Skye.  The Fire service has published the book which will be given out to Highland schools & may even go much further afield. 
Saturday 15th May was the projects anniversary & the books launch. The Assistant Fire Chief David Gill along with many other speakers "VIP's" gave the book their endorsement and support.
Once all the important people had done their speeches, and had their presentations - I did a drop in 'How to draw dragons' workshop, carried boxes and moved chairs. I'm good at carrying boxes.

One parent came over to comment about how they liked the books illustrations, which I drew, this was very nice of them & cheered me up.

 It was also lovely to eat cakes and to see the Young people I'd worked so intensely with, all growing up a pace.

now I'm busy with the next project, turns out I'll get a creator credit with this one, apparently this happens sometimes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Eddie and my picture

Those of you who know me might have noticed that I am a bit of a complete Pearl Jam fan-girl. I didnt particularily grown up with them, they were over there doing there thing, and I was out there struggling on in the wilds, often with little in the way of music, means to play music or people to introduce me to music. But then came the internet, and decades to catch up on. Pearl Jam became my allies, my sound track through tough times, Eddie became a role model for someone who can go through a world of blackness & then channel it into a creative force, still hanging onto to life and love, open about it, dealing with it, helping others, with rage and attitude. There is a lyric for everything thats happened to us. Seeing them play for the first time last year with my youngest daughter, london 02, second row mosh pit crush, was an incredible cathartic emotional experience, we both cried a lot...and screamed. and I had a moment with Eddie during the song Alive... a song in particular which has meant a lot and kind of summed up the feeling at a time, when...well... Alive its an important song for Pearl Jam, and for me personally.
So the PJ fan club runs competitions, this one was for up to 3 entrys, on board paintings about PJ songs. The one above is the song 'Given to Fly' which is about not giving up, taking the hardship & " he still gives his love he just gives it away, the keys to the locks on the chains he saw everywhere ". I thought it was pretty crude, that there board is hard to paint on.The 3 winners were announced a while back, but I was just So happy to think that I'd given something back for the music & that maybe Eddie had seen it, its connecting across the barrier of fame & distance. But then today I got this photo in the post, with a letter saying this had been one of his top ten favorites. WOW. emotional.  I think whats important for me is that anything is possible, that one isn't stuck on one side of the fence, we can be who we want to be, get our work out there, make those connections, the barriers can be got around.
 Right next stop, going surfing with the boys, selling the movie rights, and having a holiday some time... okay okay maybe not everything is possible.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

3- 2- 1 and SCREAMMMM

This rather Rocking gentleman was to be one of the reinvented Viking God set. I started off with Thor smashing a guitar but he looked more like grandad chewing his own arm off, so I stood him up straight ...this primal howl is what I could happily do after a frustrating few work weeks!  anyway we're going to go back & start again with Thor and a hammer or guitar or something, and I'm looking forward to starting some lovely goddesses...although I'm not sure how to modernise a distaff... those Viking ladies are all a bit too domesticated for my liking.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Birch Trees

Day 6 of the Open Studios Exhibition, busier, election day seems to have bought people out. Not getting much work done as a result. Heres some birch trees, also working on an illustration & landscape painting.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

drawing in the dark

day Five of the Open studios week. Things still very quiet compared to last year's event in June. Still lovely to see the visitors that have popped in. While manning the fort I've been playing catch up, this panel is from a sample page which I finished today & sent off to the writer, another page from an earlier chapter to do & then fingers crossed the editor gives it the green light.

Monday, May 03, 2010


some slow progress in the painting room today. Heres a couple of wee things. Sailing boats because they are popular & I'm working up to big canvases. The Hare because I'm in a Hare mood, after digging out some Hare sketches I did last year for an illustration, they are currently hopping about the house ( through the medium of blue tac ) and are asking for me to draw them into a story. They keep reminding me about the viking goddess and local witch stories, its all very spring fertility pagan myths, but they will have to wait- bread & butter art must be done first !

Also today, inked up a comic page , progress with a painted illustration ( creepy ! ) and pondered Thors manly action pose some more. details to follow.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Here be dragons

This Dragon lino print was done when I was around 15, thats nearly 30 years ago folks! The thin paper has yellowed a lot. My parents recently found it, a coincidence as this month see the launch of a childrens book I illustrated for a Young Carer / Fire service project about a Fire Safety Dragon.

meanwhile; Day one of the Highland Open Studios Week , this is when the Artists of Wester Ross are opening their doors to the public. Typically, I got up early to get everything ready and signs out- but got a fire call out instead. No problems though as the first day was a slow starter last year too. Had first visitor and sale though so all is well.

more photos later. details here

Open Studios week.

I've been busy this week setting up for the Open studios week exhibition. Last year was held at the Fire station and was a great success, It tied in nicely with the firefighter theme of most of my work last year and the unusual location drew in plenty of people, and importantly donations for the Firefighters charity. This year I've been painting a variety of subjects, and ironically time spent doing work for the Open Studios committee and designing a trail leaflet for the local artists has left me no time to paint or prepare!

The Fire Station would have been more difficult this year as we have a lot of new equipment, including a new digital communication set up which requires the Fire Appliance to remain on charge at all times, leaving No room for exhibiting. I had provisionally organised another venue, but realised at the last minute that I simply have too much work on to up sticks for a week, and no time to prepare the venue. So this year I am exhibiting at home, its far from ideal as there is no parking space and no access for people with mobility difficulties, and of course my boisterous dog. Hopefully we can work around these things & some folks will pop by. Its always great to see the work out of bubble wrap and on a wall, it helps make sense of it all seeing it together. I am also looking forward to being stuck at home manning this exhibition for the week and hope to get caught up on lots of work. My Framers, Geoff & Ann did an amazing job at turning around lots of frames in 3 days this week, they are Brilliant !

Happy Beltaine ! XX  Hope to see some of you this week.