I’ve known Renita for a while now. Originally from America, Renita now lives in Wigtown, which the book town in Scotland, with the most stunning views across the estuary. When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” [...]
My dear daughter is studying furniture restoration and needs a sofa or something similar to work on for her third year, next year. I’ve been looking around for a while but not found anything until yesterday when I saw this wonderful, dropside chesterfield in an auction.
I asked the auctioneer what he thought it might make and he said anything from £10 to £100 – depending on whether two people wanted it badly.
I got there too early today and stood around (after my sausage sandwich and coffee) waiting for my lot to turn up, looking at the other punters, wondering who I would be bidding against.
It was the last lot in the room. The Auctioneer started at £100. No one starts bidding that high – he’s just letting us know what he thinks it should make. Then he worked his way down to see if anyone would bight, £80, £60, £40, £20. “Come on!” he implored, “someone start me of at £20!”
Then he stared straight at me, he knew I was going to bid. His eyes twinkled as we played the game of chicken – then he smiled and said – “Okay start me off at £10″ – I’ve been here before and got what I wanted for £10 when I could have chickened and gone in a £20. Always wait to see what the others will do and how serious they are. I knew I was prepared to go to £60 and if pushed, I’d probably have gone to £100. In the end, someone else joined in and up it went.
As you can see, I got it. Several people asked what I was going to do with it as it was going to cost so much to fix up and reupholster. I told them I had that sorted with my daughter.
In the end the bidder who I beat, helped me get it into the car, which was very sporting of him, I thought.
As you can see, the cats love it already. It has a nice sunny position for them. The sides have a pull cord that lets them fall down in stages so it can become a day bed. It’s going to look lovely.
Oh yes! How much did I get it for in the end? £35, which I think is a bit of a bargain!
Hey! If you read this blog often, you may well be into drawing, so why not have a go at entering the inaugural Derwent Drawing Prize?
The Prize is open to all living British and international artists over the age of 18 years old on 1 July 2013 and there’s a total of £8750 in prize money. Closing date is 11:59PM ON 1 JULY 2013.
You can use any pencil including water-soluble, pastel, graphite, charcoal or colouring pencils on any 2 or 3 dimensional support.
1 July 2013: Deadline for entry
15 July 2013: All artists notified of first stage selection process
w/c 9 September 2013: Delivery of work
16-21 September 2013: Exhibition opens to public
18 September 2013: Private View and Prize Winners announced
October – December 2013: Exhibition tour
The work selected for exhibition must be available from September to 31 December 2013.
Let me know if you win!
I went to Brussels in Belgium on the Eurostar Train this week and I took my sketchbook with me. I thought it was a great way to share the experience with you as it is a record of my thoughts and things that catch my eye as I go along.
I was visiting the British International School in Brussels, which is in a wonderful old house full of Art Nouveau and Art Deco details. I had a great time there meeting the children, who come from all over the world, telling them stories and showing them how to draw stuff!
Thanks to everyone at the school for arranging the trip and making it both possible and memorable.
I was really pleased to be contacted by Paul on YouTube today, who asked me what I thought of this video by Myron Barnstone, who teaches drawing at the Barnstone Studios, which I’m sorry to say I’d not come across before. Myron so perfectly encapsulates my thoughts about drawing and art teaching, I really wanted to share this video with you too.
I was lucky, my very first teacher, when I was 18, sat me down and showed me how a pencil works and showed me the shapes in the things that I was drawing. I only had that teacher for five or six months, but he literally changed the course of my life… in one lesson!
After school I went into a small print shop where I pretty much had to work it out myself. I learned a huge amount about type and the technicalities of Letraset and and wonderful machine called a headliner that produced crisp type on a strip of photo paper. All the time I was drawing and teaching myself with books from the library, trying stuff out. I then worked with a sign writer who really did instruct me. Like Myron says of his students in this video. I still feel him breathing over my shoulder as he points out where I’m going wrong all these years later!
Later I I worked for the land registry and had very strict training in watercolour wash techniques, which have stood me in good stead ever since.
Art college was three years of working it out myself. We received no instruction at all. In fact I often had to teach the skills I’d learned in the real world to my fellow students and on a couple of occasions to visiting lecturers! Our Lecturers “didn’t want to spoil out raw talent,” so they gave us a project and went to the pub for the rest of the week. Looking back, we floundered. Most never bothered coming in to college – there weren’t any classes to attend and if a lecture was arranged we’d got so out of the habit of attending no one ever went. It must have been soul destroying for the lecturers.
Myron is right. If you are serious, learn and get trained somehow. Then rebel after you know what you are doing and add your bit to the world of art and it’s body of work, but if you just rely on talent, you have a very long and hard and lonely journey ahead of you.
I thought I’d share this video of a local space mission that took off from my home town of Coleford in the Forest of Dean. You can see my house (and the rest of the town!) as the payload lifts gently into space.
I had an email this week asking me for a bit of advice about self criticism. This is really hard to deal with and the harder you are on yourself, the harder you get. Its a vicious circle that gets worse and worse. Harsh del-criticism is a really bad habit, just like crack cocaine or smoking. the more you do it the more the habit gets ingrained into your daily routine.
Snapping out it is hard. Its a 24 hour a day battle against something that doesn’t want to go away. Don’t be hard on yourself. look always for the positive and ask that critical voice if it has anything constructive to say. If it hasn’t ignore it and then look for the positive in your work or the situation you are in. Criticism is a waste of time unless it adds something. if it doesn’t add, don’t do it and ignore the little voices in your head – and the voices of others who don’t understand or maybe don’t have tour best interests at heart.
When I’ve performed at the festival, the children have all been whipped up to a frenzy by Renita, who welcomes them in and “settles them down” with songs about stinky things and choruses that end in “Eeeeuew!”
Renita has begun putting stories on YouTube for all to share. Here is one that has so many Ps in it I’m surprised we can still see through the lens of the camera by the end of the story.
Checkout her YouTube channel here and make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss any new stories!
This is part two of my interview with World Famous illustrator, Alex Brychta, who has illustrated over 500 books for the Oxford Reading Tree. If you are under 30, you probably learned to read with Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy the dog. In this video, Alex shows us how, through 30 years of practice, he swiftly lays out a page ready to do the ink drawing.
We discuss various techniques, but Alex photocopies his ink drawings onto conqueror paper and then stretches the paper onto drawing boards by moistening the back of the paper and sticking down with gummed paper tape. I do it dry with masking tape – you can see how in this video.
Alex scans his own work with a high end scanner and makes final corrections in Photoshop. the he sends digital files to the publisher.
Sit back and relax and learn from a master and his years of experience.
Meet World Famous Illustrator Alex Brychta, who has illustrated over 500 books in the Oxford Reading Tree!
If you are under 30 you probably learned to read with Alex!
I had the pleasure of visiting Alex at home last week and talking to him in his studio about his amazing career in which he has illustrated over 500 books for the Oxford Reading Tree.
I first saw his work back in 1986 when I first went to Oxford University Press and a green and innocent young illustrator. While I was there, they saw my Lydia books, which were made up into dummies, and said they thought they’d fit in with the ORT. They showed me the first ORT books, which hadn’t yet come out, so I was sworn to secrecy!
Alex has been drawing Biff, Chip, Kipper and Floppy ever since and is now helped by his father and and old friend who has learned Alex’s style so they can keep up with the schedules.
There will be more next week when Alex shows us some of his techniques
Have a look inside my latest sketchbook. This is one of my small sketchbooks that I carry around with me if I’m going somewhere. It’s a Moleskine sketchbook with nice watercolour paper, But I didn’t do any water colour in it! all drawn with Rotring Tikky Graphic pens.