Monday, 30 August 2010

In the Zone

The I-pod continues to revolutionize and isolate in equal measure. Where as you would never really see a business person with a CD player or a radio plugged in, now everyone is at home rotating through their entire music collection in the 8.45 rush hour mush.

You just plug in. scroll through, and disappear.

Now that would be something, if you could actually physically vanish when you plug into one of them. Like Frodo wearing the Ring.  Internal Vs External space. Being in two places at once, no hassle. 

I won't be throwing mine in Mount Doom any day soon.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

After sleeping on the ferry...

On the ferry to Dublin a few years ago. Liverpool Football club were playing, but don't ask me who ( someone, somewhere !), and the ferry was full of red shirted supporters, Dads, daughters, mates. Their red bloomed all over the place, spreading out across bagsied window seats, pulsing through the aisles of the duty free, clotting up the edges of the bar. I was on my own, so had all the time to kill, and read, mostly, but did do this sketch of one of them, passed out on a table in the lounge.

Eventually his mates came and roused him, and they all sat arguing penalties and injuries, until we shouldered our way, juddering, into Dublin harbour.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Music for birds

Soho square.

This guy, in his army green sweater, somewhat full of himself, playing his guitar for, I assume, the pigeons.

He was on the bench just inside the gate on the Charing Cross road side. I did several of him, as he was settled there for a while. And you get to wondering about back story. All the guitar shops are just around the corner, has he just brought it, and is breaking it in ? Or one last tune before he sells it ? Or maybe he has just had it restrung ( my lack of knowledge of guitars painful there, think I am confusing them with tennis racquets ) Or is that pure conjecture, based on my always ferocious desire for narrative ?

The Background Extras in your story are the Undaunted Heroes of theirs.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Already a distant memory x 2

That hot spell we had last month seems ages ago at the tail end of this rain soaked August.

Caught some people cooling off in a fountain, sitting inside the basin, leaning back against the edge. But who would have thought that it would all have passed before I got around to putting them here.

Had issues with the bloke's head, two different sizes going on at once there.

Loved this guy's spine. And very pleased with the shape of it in the sketch, the line of the vertebra.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Another yellow moment

Another one of the yellow sketches, but wanted to give this one it's own posting.

When I scan stuff I have to give them labels so I know which one is which, but am starting to run out of options, having already used things like 'glasses' or 'paper reading' or 'on train'. So I give them the first things that comes into my head as the scan loads.

And this one got called 'two weeks'.

Because it reminds me of the disguise Arnold Schwarzenegger wears to get through Mars' customs in the film 'Total Recall'. You know the scene ? Where he is dressed as a woman, with loads of scarves and stuff, and the mask he has on goes wrong, and all he can answer to the guard's questions is "two weeks, twoooo weeeeeks, twwwooo wweeeeks".

( Do the mouth movements with me )

Which, on reflection, is not the most flattering thing to label this poor lady as.


Wednesday, 25 August 2010


That must be one hell of a book he's reading !

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Lizard tattoo

A lovely hot day.

This guy had a small lizard tattooed on his shoulder, and it looked like it was basking in the sun. But I didn't spend that much time on drawing it as this was one of those rare sketches where I managed to get the whole pose in. And the line enjoyed the mobile on his belt more. And the bottle of Coke.

His foot is getting a little confused with an aborted sketch of another person. Maybe I should have cleaned it up a bit, oh well.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

265 - another blimey !

After this there are only 100 sketches to the end. The distance markers at the side of the road are bouncing by now. Blogs grow up so fast theses days.

Sat opposite this couple in Leicester Square, as they shared a carton of noodles. They both knew I was sketching them, but made no move to talk, or ask anything. It was like they just gave me their permission with smiles, and carried on picking out the water chestnuts for each other.

Which was kind of sweet, and a little yucky.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

261 - 264 YELLOW pages

Have fallen behind, and realised that a catch up post would not only get me back on schedule but would get me to 264, which means tomorrow's post would be...

So, with that as incentive...

Have a tin trunk I got from my Grandfather that I keep 'useful' stuff in, ( and in my job, 'useful' covers just about every piece of crap you can think of ). Was reorganizing it all and found a sketchbook I had forgotten about. 

Somewhat pompously called a Fabriano artist's journal, ( but I won't hold that against it ), the paper is smashing, and in really strong colours, and I must get another one as it was a joy to sketch in.

Oscar Wilde was supposedly holding a copy of The Yellow Book when the Police came to arrest him at the Cadogan Hotel.  As if, in the face of what he knew was to come, and had refused to run away from, he was still going to maintain a certain degree of quality nonchalance. Yellow does that to people, it arms them against storms.

( I know this mainly because I made the copy of The Yellow Book Stephen Fry holds in the film " Wilde" ).

But the scan isn't doing justice to the yellowiness of these pages. It's AA van yellow, kid's drawing sunshine yellow, dribbly boiled egg yolk yellow...

You could cut some soldiers and start dunking.

And if anyone knew about dunking soldiers it was Oscar Wilde.

Friday, 20 August 2010

The eternal agony of the urban commuter

On the platform a while back, early morning rush hour, one train had been cancelled, and another was late. I was using the time to sketch this commuter in her wraparound shades.

The platform announcer stuttered into life, and said "the next train will arrive within the next ten minutes".

And the man standing next to me huffed his exasperation, " they make it sound like it's a bloody bonus ! "

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A right 2 bare arms.

The titles are getting a bit desperate now.

Liked this guy's arm, but didn't get it right first time, so the many lines sort of get the wobbliness of that Cardiff train ride last week. Somewhere in there is the right shape. 

Honest Injun !

Never get upset when the first line isn't right, just draw another over it. Sometimes, if you get so the wrong lines annoys you, then you can shade them out, or add a little white over the ones you think wrong, but in my ( sketch)books it's all valid. Sometimes the wrong line helps the right one work. 

I think it takes a while for your eye and hand to 'tune' into what you are drawing. I always use a few sketches to get to know the shapes of a subject, to get a feel for where the line wants to go. You wouldn't expect to drive a new road first time as smoothly as you would the tenth time. Drawing is no different. Too many people sit down to sketch something, get disheartened by what they draw first off, and think the worse. Trust me, no-one draws well the first few sketches, in fact, if they do their work is probably a bit soulless. Drawing isn't about skill ( this is just a byproduct ) it is about seeing and (hopefully) understanding, and deciding what interests you, and having a laugh in the process.

This one was done much quicker, as he wasn't going to hold this pensive pose for long. He moved his hand from his forehead to his chin just as I began, hence the top false start. Like it better than the first, but think the two seen together make a whole. Think I got the arm right first line, which just adds fuel to my theory.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Looks a bit like...

This woman caught my eye, French, or at least can read French as she was idling through a copy of Sante magazine, and had the most voluminous pashmina imaginable, I think everyone on the train could have been wrapped up in it.

She looked a lot like Alex Kingston, or rather, Alex Kingston looks a lot like her. And my sketch isn't doing her justice.

And then she did that staggering thing women do...

...she put on eye make-up in a moving vehicle !

Seriously, I don't know how you can take something that's thin, pointy and covered in gunk within ten feet of your eyes when your world is lurching left and right. I once saw a woman putting eye pencil on whilst driving ! Sharp stabby things and sudden movement around vulnerable sight organs, never a good mix in my head.

I'd take my hat off to ya gals, if I wore one.

Saturday, 14 August 2010


This is a case of mistaken sketchdentity. Liked how this guy's cord jacket rucked up behind him. And this other guy in the next seat obviously thought I was drawing him instead and was all over the place,  checking on me again, and again, trying to see the sketch and being all round weird.  I thought he was going to insist I showed him my book, the way he was almost about to speak, then changed his mind and huffed into another position his seat. Managed to not make eye contact, which would, I think, have been fatal, but took more effort than the drawing did.

He also had the most voluminous carry on bags full of heaven knows what. 

Can you imagine if I had tried to sketch him ? Aside from his fidgetiness making him wildly unsuitable...

And the funny thing is, my real subject seemed completely unaware of both of us, and never even looked at me once. Which, given the piece of extemporary theatre going on either side of him, is astounding.

Ha !

Friday, 13 August 2010

Back ( and deal ) breaker.

Look at him, look at him ! How can he treat a book like that ? Evil. Evil. Beware evil.

I have a friend who claims a book hasn't been read until the spine is as broken as a new recruit's boots(slash)spirit. For me it's grounds for divorce. In the courts, right now. No repeal. Hang man, thumb screw, ducking stool, Michael Buble...

Thursday, 12 August 2010

252 - 253, There, And back again.


Thought I would get a load of sketches done yesterday, with five accumulative hours on various trains, but hardly anyone sat near me, and the main train was so shaky that the few I did do have a certain 'look'.

The first one here, was on his phone, telling someone he was running late and that he " can't really find the effort to care anyway". He put his tie on reluctantly as we pulled into Reading, and ( I want to write 'with a sigh' ) got off.

The second was obviously a Lawyer, with TWO cases full of, well, yes, cases. Stacks of folders and pink tape tied bundles. She rattled away on her laptop for the whole journey, and, ( I wasn't eavesdropping so I don't know the context, honest ) rang a friend to chat, and said she was thinking of going dressed as an orangutan. 

Two people moving across the surface of the planet. A to B.

And me, or course.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tootles lives

On the Northern Line yesterday, a Mum reading to her toddler. The book was "Tootles the Taxi" which was a seriously old and much loved Ladybird book, patched up with silver duct tape and thumbed to sticky oblivion. I'm guessing it had once belonged to her, or the Dad, as the illustrations were very outdated for today's pre-school market.

The kid loved it and followed every word and picture intently, even though it reflected nothing of what he must know of the city above us. The illustrations showed near empty streets, the hero taxi still had the open side door for luggage, and all of the men pictured wore hats. ( There we go again Sue ! )

I remember once meeting the illustrator who had the job of updating the pictures for the "Topsy and Tim" books. And how, in some of the originals, the adults ( mainly their Uncle ) where shown smoking !!!

Anyway, very pleased with the Mum, but can now see the little boy's arm is way out of proportion, too much elbow. 

So it goes.

Naomi quits Villa

Or something like that.

Monday, 9 August 2010

More knuckles

From Trafalgar Square, which is an excellent place to catch people, loads of seating opportunities, and you can stand up on the top level and pick your people.

And everyone seems inclined to linger there, so brilliant place.

This guy was leafing through a tour guide, couldn't see what language it was in so no clue there, but getting ready to SEE he was. His girlfriend/wife/significantation was rummaging for something in her satchel and talking 90 to the dozen, and, as is the universal way, he was nodding as he read. And you know he wasn't massively hearing a word.

If you ever want evidence that parallel universes can exist side by side, just watch a bloke (non)listening to his other half.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Supermarket lunches.

Two work mates sitting on the ( somewhat dry and dusty at that time, but by now hopefully rain relieved ) grass in Hanover square one lunch-time. And another plastic fork.

How did we get to be such alfresco grazers ? We roam the great Plains of Sainsburys, we pick our way through the forests of Waitrose, to forage and gather our daily ciabatta.

I know I use my local Tescos like a larder. And go there almost every day to decide what to eat. I would undoubtedly waste away if they closed down. It would take a considerable amount of time, but waste I would. In the end.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Leaning back, laughing

Sometimes someone just sits in a pose that you know you have to get, and you know they aren't going to stay in for very long. This Guy was making full use of having all the seating to himself, and the way his arms stretched back from his torso was brilliant. Every thing just flies onto the page and ( hopefully ) makes sense. 

And then they move, and the moment is gone, and you usually look at the drawing later and it is nothing that you wanted to say, but, occasionally, it plays along and catches it enough to make you smile to yourself. This is one of those.

Quite pleased with his knuckles... you know, circle, circle, circle, circle, done.

Friday, 6 August 2010

246 - T shirts and Monarchs

This guy was on the train coming home from the Prom last week. He was very tall and thin. His t-shirt was printed with the whole tuxedo and bow tie image, but I didn't draw that in. Would have looked odd.

Look at how I ended up drawing his fringe.  It looks like the squiggly bit of Elizabeth the first's signature, the one she used to put on all the posh documents, not the one she used to pay the gas bill.

Useless information of the day.

A 246 is a staggered block used to put under the legs of chairs to raise them up into frame when filming someone at a table. So called because you can raise the chair by 2". 4" or 6"

Oh... and... and... apparently, this is my 200th post ! Whoop de whoo.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Oh look, this one is dated !

Must have been feeling very grand that day ! Me and Rembrandt, eh ? What are we like ?

Sunday, 1 August 2010

August - Moon watching

Was lazing in Green Park with a friend, and the moon was already high in the afternoon sky above Whitehall, all transparent and matte paintingy, and we were watching it ( not that it was about to do anything watchable ) and talking rubbish.

And it is always amazing that, when you look up at it like that, that there is essentially nothing between your eyeball and the surface of the Moon at that moment in time. Nothing. Just distance and atmosphere, and someone is now going to tell me all the rest of the stuff that is technically between me and the Moon, and I'll give you a guess how far I would want to throw them...

Big fan of the Moon on The Mighty Boosh too.

Big fan of the Moon all round.