Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Victorian Kitsch

'The Happy Couple'. paint drying now. the second of the 'vintage' themed paintings. Here is a tidied up photo of the previous one. These are heading to The Beauly Gallery for their Christmas show.

Family portrait 1

I've been struggling to find much painting time, one job after another keeps piling on!  one of the galleries Christmas shows theme is 'Vintage' so after watching tonnes of Sherlock Holmes ( the 1980's Jeremy Brett version ) & looking at loads of old photographs, this is the way I'm playing it. Does it work? is it kitsch enough ? lots of gold & copper & thick shiny varnish too. Another one in the pipeline. What a foxy fox.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Octocon part 2

Octocon was 21 years old this year so there was balloons, sweets, cakes with candles, singing, speeches and all traditional birthday goodness. Above is this years Octocon committee chair and organising all-overseeing-person Gareth who kept things running slickly with his charming Octocon minions.
John Higgins, Sally Hurst & Leonia Carroll get creative on the party table.

Leonia & Patricia light the birthday cake candles while Micheal supervises.

The irrepressible John Vaughan demonstrates a kick boxing anecdote on reluctant victim James Brophy.


" Pitches that failed " with Ruth F Long, Richmond, Derek Gunn, John Higgins. Some stories about pitches that shouldn't have failed, those that should never have been pitched, and the joy of rejecting the rejectors.

12noon, " the exquisite corpse" after the horror of last year, yes they wanted us back again, Myself, Richmond, Alan Nolan, James Brophy, with musical accompaniment from Danielle Lavigne . Its basically a comic jam, where you can't see what was drawn or written before, in front of an audience. difficult!
brilliant artist Alan Nolan and his very polite rude gesture.

Richmond 'I've never drawn a cartoon in my life' Clements supplies the cruel plot twist.

and this is the sort of bleak tragedy that unfolded. The art work is all up here.

 Excuse the blurry picture, this is the panel introducing the new Irish full colour comic anthology 'Lightning strike'  Rich is writing a story about Brian Boru for it, I'll be colouring it. lots of other rising comic stars are will be involved. on the panel, Ciaran Marcantonio, Eoin McAuley, Richmond and Daryl Cox. The enthusiasm of these guys is very impressive, its going to be a cracking publication!

" Comic book creation for beginners " Eoin McAuley, Barry Keegan, Richmond ( were there any panels he wasn't on ?? ) and Ciaran Marcantonio discuss the basics of how to get into comics and how comics get made.

Guest of Honour John B Higgins, rounds up the closing ceremony with a heartfelt speech about what a brilliant convention Octocon is.

If you want to be part of the action fr next years Octocon buy your membership early to get the best deal !
 But never fear we will be poaching some of these good people for Hi-Ex 2012 ! 

Octocon part 1.

Octocon is the Irish National Sci-Fi convention. Myself & Rich were honoured to be invited back this year as guests. The convention is brilliantly organised, friendly and a whole load of fun. Guest of Honour this year was John B Higgins ( Watchmen, Dredd, Razorjack etc ). As ever the weekend was a whirlwind of talks, meeting new people, catching up with friends, meals and laughter. I'd love to have more time for in depth reviews of occassions like this as some of the discussion panels can be very mentally stimulating and are worthy of more than a passing comment. However time is not my friend, so here is a round-up in two parts with photos!

First panel on the Saturday 11pm was "Answering Tharg the Mighty's call ". Richmond with his 2000ad fanzines editorial hat on, Mike Carroll, Sally Hurst and John Higgins who have a strip in the current Judge Dredd megazine as well as many previous strips. The panel talked about how to pitch to Tharg and the massive influence of 2000ad on the comics industry now and historically.

At 12pm I ran a workshop on 'How to draw demons and Monsters'- of course the joke being that i never draw demons & monsters & have always chosen to stay in the 'light' with my art!  I enjoyed doing the research for this workshop however & who knows what nasties I may unleash!  First I did some quick ideas storming with the participants;

Then we cut straight into drawing with piles of wacky photos for references, the great thing about scary beasties is that there is no need to get hung up about technical things like symmetry, perspective or anatomy, i prefer to get pencils on paper as soon as possible. Everyone came up with crazy and wild creatures!

Here's my doodle, i might run him through photoshop sometime for extra grossness.

Next up; no stranger to drawing monsters and everything else, John B Higgins gave an illustrated talk about his work, assisted by the lovely Micheal Carroll.

Then at 3pm. a rather lively panel, which i have no photographs of being on it myself. This was " 'Women in sci-fi/ comics/ fantasy panels'- Do they ghettoise women?". The discussion was moderated by Maura McHugh, we also had on it Ruth F Long, Sarah Rees Brennan, and in the name of equality James Bacon.  At conventions there tends to be loads of discussion panels on a range of subjects, mostly being discussed by an all male or at least majority male guests, then a token panel for women will be stuck in the middle ' women in comics etc ' . We looked at whether this is a true representation of the industry's gender balance, lazy convention organising, why this happens, what to do about it, how to move forward. It was interesting as we had two convention organisers on the panel. It appears upon discussion that women guests are more reluctant to put themselves forward to talk, that when women do speak out they are often silenced. It was very disturbing to note how still in this day and age that women creatives who speak out, express opinions and blog about things are subjected to death and rape threats as a matter of course. Little wonder we don't pipe up so often as our male counterparts! How can we build up other women's confidence to express themselves in public? Ideally all discussion groups should have a completely random gender mix, but it soon became clear that we are a log way off from that with a whole raft of gender based cliched assumptions about what we like to read and write still out there. There is much work to be done ! ( team Hi-Ex have duly taken a note of this ! )

4pm both myself and Rich were on the " Maintaining and Online community " panel along with Micheal Carroll and Sarah Rees Brennan. This was an interesting overview of the heady, rapidly evolving and weird world of putting yourself and your work out there on the internet, how to juggle personas, time management, boundaries, pseudonyms, trolls and stalkers. Answers on a postcard please !

6pm, " Humorous Writing" with Ian Sharman, Richmond, and Alan Nolan, dealing bravely with the problem that dissecting humour is seldom humorous- but they still were, extra brownie points for all those books they managed to plug.

We were feint from hunger by this point so missed John Vaughan's famous vault of Horror. Now dear reader I suggest you take a break and put the kettle on while I blog up part 2 of Octocon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

CD art 5 & 6

artwork 5 and 6 for Inchmore Gallery's Christmas CD art show. 12 x 12cm. mixed media on watercolour paper.  Price will be £30 each. commissions for Christmas considered to suit various budgets, a range of original artwork is also available directly from the artist, payable in installments if required. mail me for details. 

NTS strome castle event

NTS ( National Trust for Scotland ) organised an event for The Highland Region Archaeology fortnight at our local Strome Castle, Wednesday 12th October. I was called in at the last minute at do some Pictish Facepainting. I don't have any pictures of the resultant little Picts, as of course thrusting camera's in children's faces is a little rude. Strome Castle isn't a Pictish site, but we certainly had Picts in the area a few hundred years before, as evidenced by the carved stone at Applecross.

I wasn't sure what to expect or if many folks would turn up, I did expect it to be cold and wet, so layered up accordingly. Instead it was a beautiful warm sunny autumnal day, lots of people turned up, local and visitors. It was quite gorgeous to sit in the sunshine with the smell of the wood smoke, chatting to folks, practicing my terrible Gaelic & enthusing about our local history.

Monique Bervoets from Sallachy who was over with her willow weaving, helped people make willow ornaments.

Margaret Beaton came over from Applecross to let people do some spinning.

Ossian from Strathcarron, entertained folks when explaining some sword fighting techniques and let people try on a plaid.

Re-enactor Gordon Mackintyre was on hand with Viking, Pictish and later historical period costumes, artifacts, and weaponry.

Event organiser Gavin Skipper from NTS was doing dyeing on the shore with berries and local plants.

oatcakes baking on the shore, folks got to churn their own butter and eat them with elderberries. Yum!

conservationist Barbara from Lochcarron who works for NTS showed people how to make oatcakes and historical style food.

The event culminated in the telling of the battle of Strome castle story, by Local Historian Helen Murchison. People divided into the two clans of the MacDonalds and the MacKenzies, wearing Tartan swatches donated by the Lochcarron Weavers - Ossian and Gordon then  fought the final battle on their behalf.

The event was really enjoyable and very inspiring how much local knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm there is.  I think we don't need lots of funding to make things start to happen around here, just some positivity and people working together!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

community art group

Tuesdays in lochcarron we have a community art group. It used to be an art class which i taught through the councils community education budget, but that budget like so many others disappeared. So the previous students now meet up every week and encourage each other along.
It is 10.30 to 12.30 every tuesday in lochcarron church hall, £3 each to pay for the hall hire. Folks sometimes bring along home baking to go with the tea & coffee. Anyone is welcome anytime. ( yes that is my father upon the left ! )

Sometimes i feel I should stay at home and do 'work', but not only is it important to support community groups- but it is also important to actually socialise with live human beings! Where else could i debate the topics of the day with some a diversely opinionated group of people ?   Oh, okay the internet, but joking aside. Its good to get out there and mix with people in 3D , we seem to be loosing the art!

I've been frantically priming some small canvases for work that needs to be finished this month. I want a smooth surface, i don't mind irregularities, but i don't want a grainy dry texture, i want to be able to paint and draw with fine pen on these, so i've layered up with emulsions, sanded down between layers and finally used my hands to get a mice finish, polishing it off with water- much in the same way i used to get coarse clay to burnish nicely. I've now started building up some colour, very messy and expressively, the fine details will come out of the mess, ...i think. I have a rough idea of subject and composition but i like random paint marks to dictate the exact layout. Time is running out though & many other things are happening!

Monday, October 10, 2011

CD sized art #2

the next 3 CD case sized pieces of art for Inchmore Gallery Christmas exhibition. 12 x 12cm mixed media. these will be selling at £30 each.

Friday, October 07, 2011

CD case sized artwork

 Here is a 12cm x 12cm piece of artwork for Inchmore Gallery's Christmas show
19th November 2011 - 8th January 2012 - WINTER EXHIBITION and "CD Collection".
 I have 5 more pictures on the go. more details of the exhibition to follow.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

more animal art.

I've managed to do another couple of small animal pictures in between other jobs, These sell out faster than i can produce them so message me if you want to buy it or to commission one.

A Wolf. 17cm x 11cm mixed media on thick card. he is a bit bigger so I'm looking for £17 P&P included. 

a Hare. Mixed media on thick card, 15.5cm x 9cm . The other wee wolves are all sold, who wants this one for £15 P&P inc 

meanwhile recent work that i can't show you is:
The colours i did for 'Band of Butchers' .
The cover painting and comic strip for a concept exhibition that will be going to Brussels.
The halarious photo reference photos myself and Rich did last night for a secret project ( I'd be a terrible cos-player I would just giggle the whole time ) .
The artwork i did yesterday for another persons comic project with one of our characters.
I'll share all these as soon as I can.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Glasgow march against cuts 1st Oct

I do try to keep this blog for Art mostly, and save the politics and opinions for facebook and so forth, However, the problem with this is Art is all about reflection what is within and without. The artist is a social commentator, communicator. My art comes from me, the whole me, what i see, hear, think, feel. Whether the art work is a painting of something which I have seen ( almost journalistic? ) or something impulsively created from my subconsious, or a symbolic dream like scene, its all about the world about and me within that world of others.

While my work is not often overtly political, all things ultimately are political. 

My work in the Fire Brigades Union is overtly political of course. I became active in the union because a) i believe in the over arcing principals of  collectivism, and trade unionism. b) because there was and is many many things which make being a fire fighter more miserable, difficult and dangerous than it should be. Many of us often consider handing in our badges and pagers, but since becoming a union activist I at least feel I can work towards trying to make things safer and better for my colleagues and our communities. In some ways it is career suicide, it is very stressful and an awful lot of grinding hard work. I may be tough enough to be a firefighter, but I am still an oversensitive and emotional artist, lacking the thick skin a politician can require!

( a previous painting of mine of FBU members on a march ) 

So what makes the endless and seemly unsurmountable fight for social justice, a progressive society and safe workplaces worthwhile? The camaraderie and support of others, union, united, solidarity, together we stand!

Saturday 1st October in Glasgow was a March organised by STUC ( Scottish Trades Union Congress ) to protest against the public sector cuts in the UK under the current coalition government. Some unions are moving towards united strike action this winter.

I left home in the highlands at 5am, drove 65 miles to the train station at Inverness. Met up with my Brigade Union officials Marty & Deryck. The train journey's were a good time to catch up with lots of current difficulties and problems in our brigade area. Glasgow - FBU office a cup of tea and meet up with some other fire fighters and the regional ( scotland ) officials.

Some of these regional Officials are heading to Palestine tomorrow, using their own time and separately raised funds to take fire appliances and equipment over there. I have no end of admiration for what they are doing and the difficulties they face politically from all sides both at home and over there in undertaking this mission, good luck to them !

Then to the March in the POURING rain.

It was nigh on impossible to keep the camera dry, we were soaked to the skin very quickly.

The Highlands and Islands representatives manned the FBU banner.

young & Old braved the weather to show support.

some flares were lit briefly casting some light into the dark grey rainsoaked streets

Tony Benn was the speaker. It was brilliant to hear him and his perspective after all his decades of campaigning. Estimated numbers at the march were 15 000 which was good considering the awful day!
The BBC covered it a bit here.

So what is the point of these Marches?
 to show the strength of feeling to the powers that be, to draw peoples attention to the issues, to disrupt things, a show of strength, to energize and motivate people, to bring us all together ?  prehaps a little of all the above?  I had a fantastic day out, despite all the travelling and being wet all day, doing a 20.5 hour day, it has given me a much needed boost to keep going, both politically, personally and artistically. Unionism is all about diversity, it's amazing how much of a boost it is to be embraced into a movement and yet valued as an individual. All different all equal.

If you've never marched before or think its all a bit too militant, its not and it IS great fun. Now let's get out there and fight the local and international injustices of incompetent management, corporatism, capitalism and consumerism!