Saturday, February 25, 2012

What I think I do - meme ( artist & Female Firefighter )

These were my contributions to a meme that hit Facebook. I would have liked to done more but these memes grown tired very quickly. one of the funniest was ' Comic creators ' "what I wanted to be " was a picture of Stan Lee, all the other boxes were a very tramp-looking bedraggled homeless person - which is about right.

Pictish animals with under 5's !

I've not been blogging much lately as I have been working silly 15 / 16 hour days glued to photoshop to try  & get the Bayou Arcana project in on time.

Spending today out and about on East coast doing a couple of workshops with my lovely daugher helping me out for work experience was a rare treat !
I'll have to blog another time about this project and what is all about but in the meantime I basically did some Pictish animal painting with an under 5's group and an after school club. An adult ( not from Scotland ) asked today what 'Pictish' was. That too is a blog that will have to wait another day!

Basically I explained it to the younger ones by showing pictures of local standing stones and the animal carvings on them, talking a bit about people who lived in the nearby castle in the olden days and how they liked to make pictures of animals. Its a matter of drawing out an awareness of cultural and natural heritage in a here and now context. I also had reference photos of local animals to compare with, 'What kind of animal is this ?' 'WHALE!'   erm... nearly .  It was very interesting when i tried to get the littler ones to do spiral patterns, they mostly came out as circles. I wonder if any developmental psychologists have explored things like this, when does the hand eye coordination learn how to increase and decrease movements like circles?

meanwhile photos !

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Into the Woods

This is a lovely alternative Fairy tale book, edited by Stacey Whittle. 'Into the Woods', is available here to buy . Here is a review by Geek Syndicate.  Forbidden Planet has also covered it HERE.
It has some great and spooky stories by some established and some up and coming artists and writers such as Conor Boyle, Sara Dunkerton, Ollie Masters, Matthew Gibbs, and many more cool people.

My contribution is on the back cover and inside leaves, Stacey wanted something less scary and more traditional Fairy story. Its based on one of the Stories called 'Amber and the egg', illustrated by the very talented Bevis Musson.  Its about as princessy as I've ever gotten.  sugar overload!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Wildlife tracking talk

Nae Funding

some great articles on BBC online about Scottish comics, Hi-Ex and some of my work is featured. Hi-Ex 2012 is fast approaching, and once again it looks like we can't get any funding and It's going to be a very stressful time pulling this together in the next few weeks, all on a voluntary basis, just the two of us while trying to deal with deadlines, jobs, debt, my politicking and the usual shenanigans. Still hopefully the enthusiasm and joy of other people will provide us the usual momentum to get through it with a shred of sanity.  It is really sucky, as we offend guests by not inviting them, but i also feel it is really cheeky inviting guests when we have no funds to pay for them. Plus we have a lot of schools and libraries asking if we can bring guests to do signings or workshops, which is of course one of our aims, we hear all these great stories about young people being inspired, starting drawing or reading or taking an interest... but no funding. Can you sense my frustration?

Meanwhile talking of funding, i have been repeatedly submitting an application for the visual artists award which comes from creative Scotland via the highland off shoot, Hi-Arts. The money is to help artists go to residencies, put on exhibitions, and attend international art symposiums. When i went to the symposium in Russia there was no funds available. I have NOT been successful in my application four times now. This time i rather cheekily listed, not only all that I have been invited to, and what and why I am doing it, but also listed the international events, festivals and symposiums that I have been invited to and have been UNABLE to attend due to lack of funding. I would get depressed and assume it is because my art is terrible ( lets face it 99% of creatives are neurotic about this anyway ), but the fact that i keep getting the invitations and positive response from people flies in the face of that. Perhaps my applications are rubbish? despite this paragraph sounding bitter and angry, its not. I've been ducking and diving, shifting and adapting as a full time artist/ maker now for 23+ years I'm still here, and I will be here, creating away, long after the funding bodies, the quangos, the fashions, the concept of the week and pet projects are but a footnote in the Highland archive.

here are some angry young women characters of mine.


Monday, February 06, 2012


'Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent.'
Martin Luther King, Jr.

I keep coming back to the notion of freedom of late. Its quite a big topic, personal freedom, a nations freedom, freedom of speech, free markets, free economy, free west, free expression. A line from a song keeps going around and around my head, ' Your freedom just ain't free'.
 I can't find out who it was that said 'your freedom is never free'.
there is different ways that this can be interpreted, our current freedom was paid for by the blood of our forefathers in wars against fascist, nazi's etc, women's freedom to vote paid for by suffragettes, there has always been oppressors and always freedom fighters. Looking into the history of the notion of freedom, it seems to be very much on the lips of the american forefathers, massively important during the civil war, then later on cited as the primary reason to invade other oil rich countries and take away their freedom.
We are consistently told how free we are in the west, how lucky we are, how superior we are to other countries in the freedoms we enjoy. I'm not so convinced our freedom is free.
Can i say what i want when i want? Can i paint what i want, eat what i want, live where i want, work at what i want, study what i want, express my feelings?  As long as we conform, don't speak out, don't rock the boat, buy at tescos, watch TV, wear high street fashions, wear a size 8 - 12, paint a celebrity flavoured smile on, aspire to be like the rich people and don't make a fuss. Yes we're pretty free. Of course given the civil liberties in some countries we are much better off, most of us have healthcare, education, power, roads, sewage systems, water and some sort of housing. This is provided, go out & try to produce it yourself, go off grid, and see how long you stay free, before health and safety, environmental health, planning social service, public order acts etc kick in. No, we are free to consume but not to produce or be self reliant.
Other countries look to us and think we are oppressed, we look at them & think they are oppressed. We are all toeing the line we are told to, all sold a false notion of how much better off we are than 'them'. When i visited Russia, I was astounded and enraged to find how free i felt there, how for the first time in my life it was okay to be me, it was acceptable. We've been spoon-fed so long we don't even see how sheep like we have become in the UK. Unless of course you are rich, then eccentricities can be bought. The rest of us have to shut up, watch our backs, blend in with the crowd, heads down, grey and banal, unless we want to be picked on by peers, bullied, harassed, victimised, blamed, vilified, ostracised, driven out and put down. It's clever stuff, we don't need the state to oppress us when we've been trained to turn on each other so much, minority groups and freaks picked out, categorised, branded and labelled by the tabloids and marketing men, exploiting the human need to hate 'others' the different ones, the 'not us'. Aye we're free, just be free quietly, and do what you are told okay?
Freedom can be a lonely and rocky path.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Three Craws

Here is last nights 'doodle'. this was being done at the same time as drawing some cowboys talking.
 'This whole world's wild at heart and weird on top'.
It was another 3am night. It just seems to be the only time i can relax into my own space. I often toy with ideas of a studio away from the house, or shifting the computer into a room where i can shut the door...

However, someone asked if i plan these out , so here is the process;
impulsive scribble
bung in a background, i have a load of these on file from previous paintings and use them in comic colouring etc.
Dig out one of my tattoos for inspiration.. and think about this one too...
 then root around in spotify for some strange new music like this ( below) and headphones on...
ARGH! the video is even more bonkers and there is a crow in it, good thing i didn't watch this last night ! Nice beards ladies.

and then i look at the stars outside, eat beetroot and crackers and tip toe to bed.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012


Imbolc, Imbolg, Brigantia, Brides day, St Bridget... 1st of February.
stepping aside from the personal journey and what the day means, and means to me this year, forgetting for a moment the way the stars twinkle through the trees in the small hours between the worlds of winter and spring...

Art wise I'm very frustrated as so many paintings cluster to get out but i am under a mass of pressures, from a mass of directions, doing quick digital 'doodles' seems to be one way of allowing stuff out whilst not neglecting all the more mundane and administrative real world chores, chasing debts, pushing projects and fighting for paid work. I'm taking the pressure off by calling them doodles, by setting time limits, by not taking it too seriously & fretting about neat lines, lovely textures and nice marks, by doing them sat on computer inbetween doing all that other work, rather than dragging myself away to the easel where i'd get lost for days. They may be ropey, but smothering that creative energy completely, smothering all the real stuff away inside, is no healthy thing for any artist. Something like this below starts to happen!
This was Monday, by Tuesday the Imbolc drawing at the top. These images are all about my personal stuff yet they seem to fit with the significance of the dates, are we so swayed by the cycles without? I wonder what would come out if i did one everyday? setting myself a challenge like that is probably yet another pressure i could do without though!
I'm also chewing over some themes of 'Freedom', ironic that i don't have the freedom to blog / draw those up either....