Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Costume Life Drawing Class

Today I managed to put pencil to paper and do some sketches. From some photos.

this is a talented artist Ruth Brain, who has some fantastic frilly frilly dresses.
and this is Ossian MacUrchin, who regular blog followers may recognise from the Strome Castle Historical event photos I took.

Why was I sketching folks in great clothes? as a warm up for this:~
Which will be at The brilliant Greehouse in Dingwall on Tuesday 13th December , 6- 9pm

Life drawing is a vital discipline for anyone wanting to do figurative art, illustration or comics. One of the problems is getting nude models, another is that not all amateur artists are entirely comfortable with nudes, nor the venues, and lets face it in the North Highlands its way too cold!
Traditional Life Classes are good for understanding the muscles and skeleton fits together up to a point, but illustrators like me need dynamic poses, and action rather than relaxed reclined poses, i need to know how clothes hang, how hats sit. So I'm hoping that this class will appeal to all the closet cosplayers in the north, and be something different to get the budding artists and illustrators out on a winters evening. It should be a lot of fun!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Fair at Kelso-Ceilidh Barn.

The 'South West Ross Arts & Eats' 2011 Christmas Fair is underway, its on until Monday afternoon and has a mass of delicious hot food and snacks, foodie gifts and art work. Last year it snowed for a few of the days we had it on, sure enough tgis morning the snow had crept down the mountains- you can just see it to the left of photo below the clouds. The building there the the New lodge, the fair is in the Ceilidh barn next door. Here is more information on the Northings website. The event raises monies for the Hospice.

here is my wee corner display.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tree house programme date announced

Ta da! the public's first official sighting of the Lochcarron Treehouse. ( Copyright (c) SKY1 2011 )
The programme will be aired at 8pm , Monday the 12th December.

It is hoped that we will get a venue so we can watch it together as a community- plus raise some more pennies to purchase the Kirkton woodlands as the next phase of this community project to build a sustainable community here.

Here is the logo I designed for the Lochcarron Treehouse.

We now have a facebook page HERE.
and we are working on a website right now.
workparties of local volunteers have been going on a regular basis to do the bits and bobs of work that the Highland Council require before they'll issue a building warrant. Fingers crossed we'll be able to use it soon, we've had lots of enquiries.

( p.s. this is my personal blog not the official Lochcarron Tree house blog I'll post a link to the website as soon as it goes live )

Leeds Thought Bubble 2011

I feel my blogs are becoming just a blurr of blurry photos and inarticulate keyboard thumpings, i was here, i did stuff... never time to process one event before the next hits!

Meanwhile, this weekend myself and Rich headed off to Leeds Thought Bubble sequential arts festival ( thats a grown up work for comics and cool stuff ). Two days travelling each way for us! urg!  We had our own convention organising hats on as well as creator hats on. Rich does a few comics that were on sale there, i had drawn a strip appearing in a comic called Something Wicked ( by FutureQuake pubs ). We both had worked on strips for a book being launched ' Tales of the Fallen ' part of Barry Nugents Unseen Shadows universe ( a trans media project ) .

We'd volunteered to help the organisers. It was brilliant fun! there is a great atmosphere there and masses of people came for the weekend event which was a cumilation of a weeks events, workshops, talks, conference, competition, film screenings and happenings. We were on guest liaison detail and queue wrangling with the loads of other brilliant friendly and professional volunteers in our coveted red t-shirts.

Manga cosplayers were out in force, some great costumes, and some...brave ...costumes.

2000ad themed canvases were getting painted by a selection of artists throughout the weekend.

Friday night there was a pre con reception, which was a great chance to get together & meet collaborators old and new. Above is Sarah McIntyre and Gillian Rogerson. They have a fabby new book out 'You can't scare a princess' and Sarah's children activity area was pirate themed this year.

Sarah was kind enough to take & send us a rare exclusive photograph of myself and Richmond together captured in the wild.
Saturday night at the after party we got grumpy that the music was too loud to allow conversation, but just prior to leaving thought we might as well join in, so disco'd the night away with the young folks. It was great fun!

blurry pic across one of the two halls.

There was a panel to launch our anthology book ' Tales of the Fallen'- Rich hosted it, on the right, Barry Nugent in the middle with the hat on is the editor/ original creator/ boss , to his left writer Cy Dethan ( who i coloured ' Slaughtermans Creed' last year with )

Left writer Dan Thomson who wrote the story ' band of Butchers' that i coloured, Martin Conoghan ( whom i have drawn a strip with for ' Spirit of Hope' , and writer Peter Pogers. sat next to me were artists Steve Penfold and Rob Carey ( who very very kindly gave me a couple of brilliant inked pages that i'd coloured for the book ). What a great team and happy Unseen Shadows family! 

Its always weird seeing your work projected big. here is one of the pages from 'Band of Butchers' that Rob drew and I coloured ( of course the photo bleaches it out ) There has been some great feedback from the panel and great sales this weekend, apparently the team enthusiasm and passion for the project comes across. yay!

I was on roving mike duties for the 'women in comics' panel. It was a rather positive up beat discussion, prehaps the days of exclusion can slowly start to be behind us? although there are still plenty of publications which are boys only cliques... we'll work on it !  Some of speakers on this panel were brilliantly inspiring! 

The canvas artwork progresses.

The hall clearing away was exhausting! but then we were done- a billion chairs stacked, tables folded, boxes lugged, stressed exhibitors packed up, rubbish cleared! hurrah for a blurry Red army of helpers, with the lovely Lisa organiser (in denim).Thanks to all for making it so much fun.
Hopefully some snowed in winters evening i'll get time to back track and write more about some of the projects people are doing, great discussions and actual interesting stuff.

Must dash, i have an exhibition to put up now......

Pepper spray meme

Following outrage of the Pepper spraying of UC Davis Students ( USA ) during an occupy movement sit in
 ( video here ). An internet meme has sprung up featuring the Lt Pike who casually walked down the line of students and sprayed them in the face. Of course its not funny, but ridicule has always been a great way to combat brutality and bullying. Here are my contributions.

what a bad bad man!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Womens STUC conference 2011

The Fire brigades Union Scottish women's committee delegation to the 84th Womens Scottish Trades Union Congress Conference. This was my second conference and was as ever an inspiring & stimulating event. It can be emotional, some of the issues being discussed and the stories we hear are distressing. the plight of families when a parent is in prison, the horrors of human trafficking and the sex trade in this country, the oppression and harrassment of women across the board. It is good to get together with other like minded women and be able to talk about these things without being silenced, criticised  condemned  or sneered at.

Yvonne from the FBU gives her speech about the terrible things happening in Columbia to Women activists and trade unionists. they will be imprisoned, tortured, raped and even murdered in front of their children simply for doing things that we take for granted in the UK. Justice for Columbia is an organisation which works to help these women, and campaign to save their lives, raise their individual profiles and assist them in prison. The WSTUC voted to support this organisation in this important work.

the conference was at the Glasgow Concert hall this year, this was the 84th Womens STUC conference.

Colleen from the FBU speaking about the disproportionate affect the government cuts are having on women. We suffer a triple whammy, public sector jobs are mostly women, are lower waged to start with, loose benefits and child allowance, are mostly the ones in caring roles, women are the domestic organisers and budgeters so the VAT hike affects households, women have a loss of support services like childcare, community services, carers support services. Poverty has been proven to raise domestic violence against women as there is more stress in the home, but now shelters and organisations like rape crisis are also having their funding cut, the list is endless. However trade union women are strong and organised and are not about to accept being pushed back 30 years, our sisters fought long and hard for the rights we do have and we are not about to let them slide.

the campaign of the STUC against the westminster government cuts focuses on the alternatives, many people believe that the cuts are necessary to solve the deficit that was made by the MASSIVE banks bail out. however if the unpaid corporate taxes were claimed it would easily raise more than all the pensions cuts and public sector cuts. the amounts being clawed out of the public sector purse are tiny compared to what is getting spent on things like wars, bailing out the banks, keeping corporate tax lower. The cuts are ideologically driven to push the remains of the welfare state and public sector into private corporate hands, to keep the wealth and profit in the hands of the 1%. this country had a bigger deficit after the war but investment in a welfare state, jobs and housing bought the economy back. this is what is needed again- while the rich need to pay their fair share. The UK is one of the most unequal countries in the world. ( I have the stats somewhere but not to hand )

Baroness May Blood spoke about how she formed the Womens Coilition in Northern Ireland, set up things like integrated schools, and when attending a parliamentary meeting in the old days with Ian Paisley , was asked to 'go and make the tea love'.

The FBU delegates

a fringe meeting on Monday evening about the pension cuts & day of action on the 30th. the women delegates were joined by some of our FBU regional officials. The FBU is still in talks with government  so has not felt it appropriate to ballot for strike action yet, but fully supports all the other unions planned strike action and will be supporting at the picket lines and rallys across the country.

Nicola Sturgeon, talking about how the westminster government has forced their hand in Holyrood over the pensions cuts. If the scottish parliament do not enforce the increase in contributions ( to go to the deficit not into the pension schemes ) the Scottish budget will be slashed by 8.4million per month by london. Scotland can't afford this. She made the argument that we need to be in control of our own finances to better stand up against this sort of thing. She also said that a Scottish hospital would be privatized over her dead body. 

me speaking about the Fire fighter pension cuts. basically they want us ( like all other public sector workers ) to pay more, work longer, and get less. The problem with the fire service is, do you want a 60 year old coming to rescue you when you phone 999 ? do you want a 68 year old manning the call centre at 4am ?  I am only 45 but the job already gets physically tougher every year, i don't know if i can manage another 10 years to the retirement age of 55. certainly not another 15. there are no redeployment opportunities, and if people have to leave the service early due to ill health the government savings will all be lost on sick pay, they will not be able to afford to have enough staff for fire cover.  I could go on!. I did a lot of homework on this!
However i did not enjoy doing my first conference speech, burning buildings are easy compared to that nerve racking experience !

Friday, November 11, 2011

Christmas cards available

I also have these Highland-Russian Connections charity cards i designed for sale at £1 each.  

 Or i have packs of 10 cards, 5 of each of the designs above. For £4.50. These have been produced by Asgard Crafts.
Mail me at pottery@balnacra.com if you want to order any of the above. Postage charged at cost.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

clearout wordpress art sale tea-for-two wet varnish

My 'studio' is really just a spare room of the house with very little natural lighting. I haven't had time or energy to go in and clear it out since the mad massive amount of work I threw into the Vysotsky project in the summer. Most people have to juggle the work /life balance these days. My recent problem has been the voluntary community work verses art / paid / own work balance, 'life' is the price i pay for choosing self employment over waged employment. But all this being chased by various committees day & night for 7 days straight just got a bit much so i dug my heels in this weekend, ignored the task list and cleared the studio for fun and recreation.
and thats not the worst of it! oh the shame!

I also had an art clear out as usual, i offered some up for cheap grabs there & then on my facebook page, worth 'liking' if you want to grab bargains when i have one of my sale impulses.

Some got sold, some got donated to a community shop. That's not to say I won't have one of my art bonfires again next bad mood! 
I've still got some of these Ram hand done wax relief prints ( its like lino prints but carving into wax, my invention as i ran out of lino )  if anyone wants one for £5. £2 p&p limited edition of 25.
So once i'd cleared some space, i was all inspired to crack on with painting again. 
First there was a days training in Wordpress run by PAN Promoters art network.   I was there with the Highland- Russian Connections charity, but the wordpress way of building websites will be brilliant for many of these community projects that i'm up to my eyes in, including our own Hi-Ex Comic Expo site, which is half way set up now as a wordpress.org site. 
here's myself the other Highland-Russian Connections ladies and our tutor for the day- Thanks to Elena for the photo.

back home & to painting in a hurry to get a painting finished for The Dornie Schoolhouse Tea room and gallery Christmas show, the theme is Tea for Two. I finished it in the small hours ready to get delivered by Rich heading that way today... except the over the top kitsch glossy varnish i'd applied hasn't dried yet. oh well, looks like i'll be driving that way myself this week then.
here it is .

Its very shiny with gold & copper paint so looks different in different lights.I'll photograph it better, when and IF it ever dries !

a couple of other bits of news but that's enough for one day !

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Some of us in the local Fire brigade form the local Guy Fawkes Society & run the community Bonfire night and firework display every year. This year seemed to have a theme- with all the global protests and people adopting the V for vendetta masks as a symbol of resistance against oppressive governments.
   If you havent already seen the film of the book here is a wee clip, it's brilliant;

of course the film comes from this book;
 more info here, but take my word for it, its genius.

When i first started hanging out with comic creators i didn't really know who was who and hadn't read much outside of 2000ad. So I was at Bristol Comic Expo and went into a bar with some folks and was sat next to a nice gentleman in a white suit. He asked to see the sketchbook full of fan sketches I'd been collected and asked if it was okay if he did one.

It was of course David Lloyd who I am happy to know much better now. He is not only a wonderful artist, and a gentleman, but very active in promoting comics education.

So today I ended up late to go down and help build the bonfire as i was too busy online debating aspects of Guy Fawkes night and the protest movement. Some people marched on parliament today wearing these masks, it wasn't quite the same outcome as in V for vendetta. But its a start!
(BBC picture )

When i got to the bonfire site I had the task of unwrapping , stacking and ordering the fire works for the display before myself and 3 of the other firey's lit them. Imagine my amusement when i saw this firework;

I didn't get a picture of it going up or any particularly good ones of anything as I was too busy running around with a port light in a sea of nostril searing sulfur. I've been doing this too long I'm getting ambivalent about exploding things.

How does this relate to my art? Everything is art! all people are political animals, all people are creative. communities, history, culture, societies, our festivals they are organic and evolving, who knows which creative spark may start the next revolution ?