Showing posts from 2008

My Christmas

Was frankly a bit of a flop. The family travelled up country to spend Christmas day with my mum. Unfortunately my wife and son caught the Flu and spent much of the time in quarantine. There is a nasty cocktail of viruses around at the moment, including the Winter Vomiting Bug, Flu, and Australian Flu.

Also my brother who was at the Christmas meal was there with his latest girlfriend and her teenage son and daughter. As nice as they are, it was hard to totally relax in the company of people you have only just met! But irrespective of this, my social skills did seem alarmingly bad. I used to be really good at joining in on conversations where the subjects didn't really interest me. But on this occasion I seemed to lack enthusiasm. Have the years of isolation taken thier toll on my ability to interact with my fellow humans? I fear this is the case.

2009 needs to see me loosening my shackles. I am going to go forth and meet new people. Trust that opportunities will come my way and foll…

I've seen the future...

...and it's made out of wood!

One of my few GCE's was in woodwork. I never thought I would lift a chisel again, but I have seen some amazing sculptures in this medium which have inspired me to give it a go.

I will still work with clay but wood offers different challenges and oportunities. I had never really given the medium much thought before because it looks difficult to work, and once material has been removed there's no going back, so there's little margin for error.

Clay allows for spontaneous self expression whereas wood requires planning.

There is much folklore relating to wood and the trees from which it comes. It is said that the 'properties' possessed by a tree of a certain type can be passed on to a limb taken from it. This is only the case if permission is obtained from the tree first. This is why wands or staff's have different energies depending on the wood from which they are made.

Quick sketch of statue 1

This is the first of the sketches for the miner monument. I will try a few different designs, some just standing and others in action before creating a model of one of them. I have not used any reference so I would hope that the anatomy and folds in the clothing etc will be much more realistic in the finished model. I, like many sculptor's prefer to just get on with the sculpture instead of making loads of sketches. The actual model will have more accurate physical features, down to veins and wrinkles.

I guess the town's committee, who are asking for submissions, want to glorify their mining history. The research I have done reveals that mining was hard work, hazardous, involved children aged 12 and below, and meant a life expectancy of 30 - 40 years!

I did consider featuring a father and son but I'm not sure they want that aspect of mining to be represented.

A miner would have to spend up to 2 hours climbing down wooden ladders just to get to his place of toil. And he would …

Is this the one?

When I had my consultation with a medium, she told me that within six months I would get an offer of a lifetime. Sounded a bit far fetched to me. But yesterday in the paper there was an article calling for submissions by local sculptors. In a local mining town there has been a fund raising campaign for some months now to errect a statue in tribute to their mining heritage.

They had a model of the sculpture and were trying to raise £50,000 for the commission of a bronze. I assumed that the person who made the model was their chosen artist. But apparently there had been doubts expressed about the suitability of the proposed sculpture, and I presume this has had an effect on the fund raising.

Some years ago, in fact less than two years after coming to cornwall, I won a college competition to design the Trevithick Day Bicentennial brochure. The day celebrated the invention of the first steam powered carriage and the life of Richard trevithick, a pioneer of mine engine technology. …

Early Stages sculpture WIP

I don't normally like to show stuff before I've finished it but here you go. The figure is nearly there in terms of the pose and I have started to work up the creases and folds in the silk. This is realy an exercise in anatomy and drapery.

The clay is Beau Touche, a wax based material which is quite firm and makes modelling less 'spontaneous' than water based clay.
Terracotta is much easier to work but I haven't got any at the moment.

I liked the idea of draping a nude figure with silk. I thought that it would allow you to see the anatomy but at the same time leave something to the imagination. Not being able to see facial features also engenders a sense of mystery

Eggs In One Basket

I've decided to devote all my time to sculpture for the next few weeks. I have been experimenting with a type of plastiline clay which has wax content. It is a bit firm but it allows me to create different forms with little mess until I get properly geared up to use proper clay.

I'll post a couple of models in their early stages of development today.

The area of interest for me in sculpture is mainly the figure. It occurs to me that this has been the case with my illustration work. Backgrounds don't really interest me. They give scale and context, but hightly detailed environments are beyond me.

I feel the need to change the look of my blog again. It frustrates me that I haven't found a look which satisfies me. I'll give it another go soon.

Here We Go

Finally after years of avoidance I am embarking on my career as a sculptor!

I have plenty of sketches of possible projects but I decided to start off with something freehand. I'll try to post an image tomorrow.

Challenging times

My son has a cough and has been off school for three days. He is in his final year and is behind with some of his subjects, (as was amply conveyed to us at a parents evening tonight!).

My eldest son wants to study Optometry, and because of the lack of universities teaching this, the entry standard is higher even than that required to study medicine. Therefore he needs two grade A's and a B in science A levels to get in. He is strugging with one of the subjects and his stress levels are creating a tense atmosphere. With two adolescent sons in the house there is a tsunami of testosterone smiting everything in its path.

Today, the Head of the school where my wife works announced that their jobs are in jeopardy due to a budget shortfall. So as she is the main income earner of the house, this could be a serious problem, especially as my work has dried up.

It's at times like these you really appreciate having a friend nearby whose shoulder you can cry on and unburden your problems on -…

The Actual Final Version of My 2008 Xmas Card

Although I envisaged her arm being hidden by her body, I thought maybe it would look better if it was visable.

Final Version 2008 Xmas Card

I thought I'd have a go in watercolour as it is a less arduous method for me. I may tweek it yet. I'll leave it for a couple of days and see if it still looks ok:¬)

It actually looks ok in a test print. I'm hoping the conversion to CMYK won't kill it though.

Xmas 2008 mock-up

This years card is running a bit late. I have decided to do it in watercolour instead of 3D. Not because I'm short of time, but because I feel like being self indulgent.

This is a mock up. The fairy and background will be watercolour. I will have to adjust the lettering, move some snowflakes about and crop it in a bit, to give the fairy more prominence.

Focus Pocus?

I have codgetated for sometime on what I should focus on careerwise. I have even gone to the point of consulting a psychic to help me decide.

While there is a demand for my plasticine illustrations there is no choice to be made. But during a lull the question emerges again.

Last time I spent weeks learning digital 3D, (not wasted time, as it came in handy for the last few commissions). But is this what I really want to be doing?

The other day I sat down to start work on the front cover of my book. I gathered the materials necessary but I couldn't gather the enthusiasm. I'm excited about the book but I'm not sure about the medium for the illustrations.

Commissioned plasticine illustrations will always command 100% of my enthusiasm, every ounce of my ability, and desire to please and fullfil the clients brief. But when it comes to a personal project, It's hard to find the motivation.

My Agent said he rather liked my recent watercolour illustrations. This is encouraging to me…

Making A Space

There is a lot to be said about Feng Shui. Even if you don't believe in the idea that energy flows around the home, (not sure I do), you must go along with idea that if your house is a mess then so can your mind be. On a purely psychological level a messy space isn't conducive to an ordered mind.The house has been neglected so i have a fair bit of clearing away to do. If I was just dealing with watercolour it wouldn't be such a problem. But I have camera/studio equipment, computer disks, plasticine, props, paints, etc to sort out.

My mind has been a bit unfocused of late in reaction to being busy, then not. And as I have decided to get back into meditation, I am creating a 'sacred' space to act as a kind of altar/focal point. I will gather together the things that inspire and motivate me.

As mentioned in a previous post I am going to start off with a candle meditation, (from the Australian meditation society), then I am going to try the first stage of the Holosync …


Computer Woes
I have had a hell of a time with software failures. The day really was a right-off thanks to the foibles of Vista.

I just bought a new Samsung media player to serve as a mobile electronic portfolio. It has a 3 inch screen and bluetooth. So if I ever get caught out without my portfolio, I can nip into my local chemist and print off some images using one of those instant developing machines.

The trouble has been with the software that came bundled with it, which hasn't been playing nice with Vista. The player is ok with music and picture files, but it is very fussy about the video files. They have to be just the right size, extension and codec to work. In the end I found an excellent program for converting all types of media. It is called 'MediaCorder' and it was free! and unlike most things that costs nothing on the net, this worked like a dream.

A lot of my software is a bit long in the tooth but even the most recent versions have had arguments with Vista. Often …

Beware Of The Slump!

I can feel the hot breath of the Slump on my neck. The dreaded post-commission Slump is creeping up behind me and is intent on dragging me back to its lair. It has been sneaky this time. It has waited, trying to lull me into a false sense of security. It is cunning and devious and knows my every move. I don't know if all illustrators have their own personal Slump. Mine is purple and green and belches noxious fumes through septic pores which punctuate its hirsute body.

But this time I am ready for him. I know how my mind can react to such extremes of activity and non-activity. I have decided to surprise the 'Slump,' in the way a good commander of an out-numbered army would, by doing the opposite to what's expected. I am going to face the situation with serene acceptance, (with the help of my much neglected meditation practise).

A friend of mine 'Blue Beetle' has delved into meditative/brainwave 'therapy' to get into deeper meditative states with programs s…

This Is It

...the last of my commissioned pieces. These are some of the plasticine illustrations to go on flash cards for Macmillan Books. I'm hoping more briefs will be offered to me.

I have been working for Macmillan for the past few months and up until now work has been steadily coming in. I am expensive for educational work, so I'm not sure their budget can sustain employing me. But who knows what's round the corner.

Chinese Snow And Ice Sculptures

I came across these amazing sculptures after I signed up to This is a great resource for finding the unexpected on the internet. When you sign up, you create your 'preferences' ie interests and hobbies, and add a simple browser bar to your web browser. When you hit the 'stumble' button you will be presented with a webpage related to one of the interests in your preferences.

This sculpture is the centrepiece of the Ice And Snow Festival, held annually in the northeastern city of Harbin, China.
Called Romantic Feelings, it is an amazing 115ft high and 656ft long - the largest snow sculpture ever created.
It was made by joining together 15ft square blocks of natural ice and snow, taken from the nearby Songhua River, which have been compressed to withstand blows from hatchets, saws and shovels.

Pictures courtesy of the Dail Mail

There are also incredidible illuminated Chinese ice sculptures on this site

picture cour…

Samhain, a second bite at the cherry

Samhain, (pronounced 'sow-en') marks the beginning of the Celtic New Year. It gives me a chance to make some new New Year resolutions, or reaffirm ones which fell by the wayside since January:¬)

Midway through October I stopped consulting my Tarot cards. It was becoming obvious they were a bit fed up with me. There comes a time when push come to shove you have to make your own decisions. I vowed to give them a rest until after Samhain.

A sceptic might say that any meaning that Tarot cards represent can be construed to fit the question asked. This is simply not true. Sometimes, the cards revealed bear no relevance whatsoever to the question asked. This could be down to lack of experience in reading them. But at the end of the day they are there to help me, and there are enough 'straight talking' cards available to give me a relevant answer. So if the cards thrown up are ambiguous it's normally because they are tired of me asking the same old questions.

I asked a questi…
This is Lanyon Quoit. The legend has it that King Arthur used the stone top as a dining table just before his last battle. The Stones are originally part of a bronze age burial structure over which the earth and turf covering have eroded.

Many of these burial sites have legends relating to giants. There often seems to be a certain amount of truth connected to these stories, as bones are often found indicating the deceased were well over seven foot in height.


...this is the last of the illustrations for this brief. Clara dreaming of dancing mice from the Nutcracker.

Making a character look pretty in plasticine is a bit of a tall order but I hope I managed to pull it off.

Soldiering On

This is the last of the watercolour illustrations for the current brief.
I enjoyed being a conventional illustrator while it lasted:¬) I was trying out Hahnemuhle paper as it is whiter than the Saunders Waterford I usually prefer. The gelatine sizing will take some getting used to, but it was ok. I prefer to let the watercolour and paper to work for me by using wet on wet techniques. So it will take me some time to get a handle on drying times etc of the new paper.

I found it a lot easier to judge how long it would take to produce an illustration in watercolour than with plasticine. Things were almost sedate. I printed the rough directly onto watercolour paper, applied the paint, scanned the image and emailed the file to the design studio. Producing an illustration in plasticine involves do many stages, I have no idea how long an image will take to produce. And the process takes a lot more out of me.

I don't think I will get much watercolour commissions but I will use the medium to p…

Before I had kid's...

...I used to dance a lot in clubs. Unfortunately that boat has probably sailed. I do miss strutting my stuff;¬) so I have been looking for an alternative outlet for my pent up funkiness. The best alternative I can find for people like me who would look a bit sad in a nightclub is latin dance. I was browsing through Youtube and found a precident for moving from funk to latin and this track kind of bridges the divide. It was originally sung by Bill Withers in the 80's and is given a Latin twist.

A Couple More Loose Ends

This brief has dragged on a bit. The illustrations which were dropped from the original commission turned out out to be required afterall, except for one. My agent had sent an invoice for cancellation which amounted to 25% of the original fee, (to cover work carried out on the roughs). So he then had to send another job sheet to cover the other 75%. But the publishers had combined two of the original illustrations into one. This is out of order as in the original brief two separate illustrations were requested. Also the brief had asked for all images to be created in pen and wash but now one of them is required in plasticine.

Basically this is a real mess. The Nutcracker illo in the previous post was the one illustration which was actually dropped, but in the confusion I painted it and sent it to the design studio. I felt a bit of an idiot, but in light of the fact that the Publishers had duplicated artwork numbers and combined others it was bound to happen. Especially with my numeracy…

Nutcracker Prince

This is the Nutcracker. In the opera, Clara is given a Nutcracker for Christmas from her grandfather Herr Drosselmeyer. The Nutcracker prince comes to life to fend off the mouse king and his army from attacking her. As it turns out she smacks the mouse king over the head with her shoe when he started to overcome the prince.

...I for one have learnt not to get involved with a woman and her shoes;¬)

Japanese Mask

The Publishers asked for a evil king's mask from a Japanese theatre. The slight problem is that there is no such thing as a Japanese King. Japan had emperor's. And also there isn't an evil king, only devil like masks. Most Japanese masks have passive expressions. Their purpose is to obscure the actors facial expressions so that only there gestures can convey the emotion of the part.

Good And Bad

I have to get these 'new' illo's finished as well as the flashcards by the end of the month. One of them involves plasticine, (I wasn't aware of this), but the others are pen and wash.

This is the first time I have been asked to do an illustration in a 'normal' medium. I am quite excited about this, though I had written them off in my mind when mistakenly my agent told me they had been cut from the brief.

I'll post my efforts here. I am a bit out of practice with watercolour so I'm hoping it will all flood back to me, (scuse the pun):¬)


Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, I get an email friday night from the design studio asking for some missing illustrations. A couple were just files they couldn't download from the server I uploaded the illustrations to. The others, however, were five illustrations which my agent told me had definitely been cut from the brief. In fact he had told me he had charged them a cancelation fee!But instead of the design studio saying 'sorry there's been a bit of a mistake here,' they just give me a list of missing illustrations, and suddenly it's my problem. Especially as they tell me they are now needed urgently!

Now what? a small question and answer session:¬)

Where do I go from here?

...not sure exactly. But now the Red Riding hood brief is out of the way, and just five farm animal flash cards for the 31st , I have to start thinking about where I go next.

How was the deadline?

The last illustration commission was bordering on the excrutiating in the end. The deadline had already been extended from the Friday to the Monday and I still had five illo's to get finished. I told the design studio on Monday that I need another day. They told me I had to get them finished by Wednesday. I had loads to do. I still had to model some rabbits, so I hastily recycled a chicken into a bunny and photographed it in a few different poses :¬)

It took until 2am to get the last illustration finished. It didn't end up as I would have liked, but by that time I was getting desperate.

I was under pressure, but not quite to the point of losing it.

But overall was it enjoyable?

My only motivation was to please the people commissioning me... and the money. But in ter…

Tunnel Vision

At the moment I can't see past my current deadline. I have less than a week left and still countless illustrations to go.

I have 2 or 3 or possibly more business ideas which I can't think about at the moment but will get some attention in a couple of weeks. My main worry at the moment apart from the deadline, is how I will react immediately afterwards. For me there is always the coming down feeling after the frenetic activities involved in meeting a deadline. It's hard to wind down as all the thoughts which have been pushed to one side start to trickle back into my forebrain. I have no idea whether I will get a feeling of relief or regrets about how I could have done things better.

...that is of course if I do manage to meet the deadline.

Cornish Landscape

Views from the top of a sacred hill here in the far West of Cornwall. This is probably the most inspirational andmost special place to me. I spent the evening lying on the grass looking at the sky:¬)

My local harbour and artist colony St Ives.



Apennine - Giambologna 1570

River God - Giambologna 1575Philip Jackson Modern day

Australian artist Peter Schipperheyn.Modern day


And so she comes to dream herself the tree,
The wind possessing her, weaving her young veins,
Holding her to the sky and its quick blue,
Drowning the fever of her hands in sunlight.
She has no memory, nor fear, nor hope
beyond the grass and shadows at her feet.
- Hart Crane, Abstract Garden, 1932

And so she turns inward on herself
The breeze caressing her, brushing her smooth skin,
Her bright face gazing still. The wind
whispering darkly secrets of her past.
She has no thought nor cares, nor words
except to gently brush away the petals falling on her heart.
- Ken Morrill, Under the Tree

Split personality

I was tempted to call this blog 'All About Me' or 'The center Of The Universe' or some such, seeing as it is going to be selfishly devoted to me and my attempts to succeed as a sculptor. The 'Split personality' is the illustrator on the one side and the sculptor on the other.

The aim of this blog is to keep a door open. A door of opportunity, held open just enough to allow a sliver of light to pierce the darkness. When the time is right I hope to escape through this door and fulfill what I believe to be my artistic destiny.

I've always loved an overdramatic opening:¬) yet compared to the trials and tribulations of some people I know, it's self indulgence to the nth degree. But having said that sculpture is important to me.

This blog will concentrate on things that inspire me artistically, include some preliminary sketches and eventually images of actual sculpture.

Sculpture was my one escape. When I was a kid I used to retreat to the sanctuary of the art ro…