Monday, 13 December 2010

December so far

Okay, I thought I'd try to catch up and say exactly what I've been doing so far this month:

On the 2nd December I found myself fighting the snow in Elland, Yorkshire at a corporate event which went very well. Nearly got stuck in the snow on a side road though.....

The 3rd December found me at the Royal Welch barracks in Chester working at one of their NCO's events - great fun!

The 4th December saw me working in Manchester for British Gas at the Manchester Ramada Hotel which was a great night.

On the 7th December I was actually working at a restaurant in Knutsford (hoorah!) at a private party where I THOUGHT I had to draw 28 people in total and so I'd allowed myself three hours. When I arrived at the restaurant I discovered that I had a total of 32 guests to draw and I drew the lot (in VERY cramped conditions) in under two hours.......not bad eh?

The 10th December saw me working in the morning for a recruitment company in Central Manchester (I did a similar event for them last December but this was at their new, swisher offices) and then I had to drive down to London for an evening event at Gresham College for a Patents Company which was great fun but a totlly knackering day as I didn't get back home until 1:30am-ish!

On the 11th December I worked for a call centre company (Moneypenny) at an event in Wrexham. I only had to do two hours (although I was booked for 2 - 3 hours) and, even though it was during the meal, I still managed to draw 36+ guests! I must be getting faster at this malarky!!
I should really make an effort to take some photos at some of these events.
In the meantime I'm working through a great pile of studio work.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Teapot in Bristol

I found this beauty while travelling in the Bristol area recently but it's actually not a product of any local factoriy. It was in fact manufactured by a company based in Manchester call Mann, Webb & Co in about 1842. They were a rather unique company in as much as they were tea importers as well as pot manufactures and were very successful until the late 1860's. I really like these pots as you will notice the fancy flags or banners visible on the upper level of the structure - these were the (original) tea advertisements for the company's tea importing side of the business and the company greatly reduced the purchase price in exchange for displaying the banners on a permanent basis.
This pot is a beautiful design in as much as the tea compartment was quite large (the windows in the upper area are 'level guages' and not windows for looking out of!) and the living quarters were really very comfortable even for the large families of the day. The little structure on the side has often been mistaken as a common garden shed but was actually both the coal bunker and tea caddy. Not many of these 'caddy bunkers' have survived.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Sketchbook stuff

I've been very remiss recently by ignoring my blog - shame on me I hear the cry! So here are are couple of images from my sketchbook.

This is an image of a 'friendly little chap' and below

is your typical iPhone user!

Friday, 5 November 2010

Shrewsbury cartoon

This cartoon was an idea for last year's Shrewsbury Cartoon Festival which I originally drew to A4 size and it was'nt selected. At a later stage it was thought that we should have more A3 cartoons displayed and so I redrew it to A3 size - it sold believe it or not!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Computer crash

We're having work done on the house, there are electricians present and they want to turn the main power supply off - hang on, I need to turn my computer off! No problem is the reply from the ground floor and I notice that my computer is usefully telling me that I should NOT turn off just yet as it is updating important software.......the screen goes blank as the computer turns off. Did it update properly or did the pesky electricians turn off the power too soon? Yep, you guessed it - they screwed up my operating software and so out comes the old back-up system while I try to find someone to fix the main system for me. You'll be pleased to hear that it's now well again....
While travelling around (with sick computer in tow looking for a computer A&E) I came across this beauty (below) nestling in the corner of rural England and it is an interesting follow-on from the last pot house I detailed in my last posting. Although this was built by a Staffordshire factory (according to the hallmark in 1836) it is another great example of an early eco-pot. Like the pot in the previous post, this baby was designed to collect rain water which would run down the lovely red and green striped gullies (seen on the outside of the upper part of the house) to be collected at the base (in a tank found just above the living space) thus creating its own water supply. A really clever idea but it had a major flaw - the external water running down the outside of the pot would quickly cool the brewing tea inside. Not good especially when you would obviously need tea during a rain storm. Not many made. Poor show.....

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

An interesting example

I found this baby while on a recent holiday in Kent. It's not a British construction at all but was manufactured in Bombay (now Mumbai of course) in around 1810 by a company owned by Sir Abraham Roberts (no relation) who was a colonel in the East India Company at around that time (obvioulsy a bit of a side-line). Bombay at this time suffered from poor water (a piped supply was introduced in 1860) and so Sir Abraham thought that he would build a construction that would catch it's own water supply (hence the odd funnel shaped structure on the top) and he intended these to be produced as housing for those Brits who couldn't funtion in the summer heat of Bombay and who headed for the much cooler hill stations in the Himalayas (probably Shimla). There are suggestions that Sir Abraham put his own money into this venture as he understood that Arthur Wellesley (later the Duke of Wellington) was interested in such a structure as he was known to suffer fron chronic diarrhoea brought on, it is thought, by the poor water in Bombay. It is not known whether the Duke of Wellington bought such a structure but they were manufactured in large numbers and this one was obvioulsy ultimately owned by a very wealthy family as it was transported form India to the UK at some time in it's life!
I have shown the structure from the rear as I particularly like the beautiful rear windows which offer the occupants a lovely view. You can just imagine the views from them when housed up in the Himalayan mountains......

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Rocket Man

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a big smile but those eyes.... like little coals.... a quick caricature of the man.

Friday, 17 September 2010

More teapots

This teapot probably dates from around 1790 and is definitely pre-1820 as there are no hallmarks of any sort on the structure (hallmarks were introduced in 1820!). It was most probably manufactured at one of the famous Derby factories and these pots were highly successful due to the spacious accommodation, large tea capacity, along with excellent construction, insulation and durability.
You will notice the large window next to the spout which many people thought was introduced so that the occupants could look through while the tea was being dispensed but of course this is quite incorrect. The window was infact impossible to view through from within as this was the tea compartment! It was intended for viewing from the outside so that the viewer could determine the tea level within the pot - an early example of a level guage in these structures.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Sketchbook sharing..

I've been fairly busy recently with live events and studio work etc and so I thought I'd put up a few pages from a sketchbook. The first image is a quick sketch of the view from my bed - this is how I started the day or did I end the day by drawing it......erm....

The next image is just a page a general doodling:

Friday, 10 September 2010

Theatre Poster

This is a recent threatre poster I was asked to design for the Alan Ayckbourn play, Table Manners, a play from the Norman Conquest trilogy.


Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Tudor Teapot

This is a very rare teapot - it's rarity is not due to the lack of numbers produced (in fact over 1,000 of these were produced over a three year period) but to it's longevity. They were manufactured in Derby by Hardwrights & Co who were at the peak of production in the 1850's and were considered groundbreaking in their designs. The Tudor Teapot was the first to introduce chimneys (the heat from which helped retain the temperature of the tea and those living within) and, of course, as the name suggests, they were constructed using timber and thus adding to the general insulation. Please note the distictive 'ball and claw' feet.

There was, however, a serious design fault where the timbers would untlimately suffer from wet rot and the handle would fall away from the main building. This would result in the structure crashing to the ground and thus crushing (and usually killing) the occupants. The manufacturers eventuallty ceased manufacturing the product - a very early case of Health & Safety amongst these factories.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Non-selling cartoons

As a cartoonist you never know whether a cartoon is going to sell or not. Sometimes you think that at least you'd be able to get it into a cartoon exhibition or something but the cartoon I drew a few years back never saw the light of day. So below is the little beggar for you to see.....

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Now that I'm back

I've been away for a few days taking a well deserved break from work and spent a few days at a brilliant B&B down in Kent called The Linen Shed - take a look at this reveiw:
Anyway, since I've obviously not been doing much work I thought I'd share some previously drawn images with you. The first is a simple set of drawings from my sketchbook:

Not sure what I was trying to do but it just shows the doodling stuff I trun out these days.....
The image below is one I produced as a wedding present for a happy couple - I hope they liked it!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Hugh Laurie caricature

This is a quick caricature of the actor Hugh Laurie in his role as House. It always amazes me that this is the guy that has that amazingly stupid looking face when acting in Jeeves and Wooster and the Blackadder series and looks so completely gormless and yet when he plays House.........must be an actor or something....oh, hang on....

Thursday, 19 August 2010

An unusual find

When I first saw this teapot I found it confusing as it suggested a persian origin but then I realised that the green larchlap towards the top would suggest a Dutch manufacture. The hallmark on the bottom immediately told me that it was manufactured by the well known craftsmen, the Van Corag brothers, who were at their prime in the mid 18th Century when their factory was based in the outskirts of Amsterdam (it later moved to larger premises in Haarlem). They were well recognised for both creating the perfect internal facilities for tea infusion while still maintaining very spacious living quarters. I believe it was the Van Corag brothers who first introduced the the two way 'frogget' valve which enabled the boiling water (essential for the perfect brew of tea) from scolding those living below. The only other interesting fact about these brothers is that, although they always agreed on the the design of the main body of their structures, they could NEVER agree on the handle and spout and so they designed these individually. One brother was gay and so it was suggested that he always designed the handle but this isn't documented in the factory records.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

More photos

I thought I'd share some photos taken of my recent work - they're of various guests at weddings or dinners etc proudly holding up their caricatures for the camera. I hope you can make out the caricatures:

Some people tell me it's very intimidating having me look (stare!) at them as I draw their caricature but I thought I'd share this last photo with you showing how intimidating it can be for the caricaturist!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Wedding caricatures but not as we know them....

I was recently commissioned by a bride to be to draw a caricature of both the bestman and usher (from photographs) which is not very usual as I normally draw them AT the wedding itself! Anyway, I'd been working on a new technique (for me anyway) where I don't draw any prelimenary pencil lines but put the black ink down straight away and if it works i.e. I think it looks like them, I put the watercolour wash on. The results are below and yes, they only wanted black & white images rather than full colour:

This was the bestman

and this was the usher.....

I've been trawling through the teapot temple images again and I came across this one:

You'll notice that there's been a bit of damage to this teapot between the junction of the spout and the main body which has obviously been very badly repaired. That'll greatly reduce the re-sale value.....

Monday, 16 August 2010

Busy weekend

It's been a busy weekend working at weddings etc and so I thought I'd share two emails I recieved last week from a bride's father and the lovely bride and groom themselves who's wedding I recently attended. They said:

"I'm Clare's dad. May I, on behalf of myself, my wife and family, say how much we enjoyed your company at Clare and Paul's wedding. Your caricatures are absolutely marvellous and provided us with a really entertaining evening which everyone loved. So, thank you so much for making it special."
Paul Commane

"Myself and Clare have just returned from honeymoon, and we would like to say how much we enjoyed you being there on our wedding day. So many people have told us how great you were and how pleased they were with their caricatures. We also really love the one you did of the two of us! Thank you so much again.
Clare and Lee Palmer"

wich was all very nice!

I don't know where these images come from but here are two more from my developing Teapot Temples series:

I think there's a bit of a chinese thing going on with this one:

Monday, 9 August 2010

Loose style

I was booked to work at the Reebok Stadium over the weekend where Bolton Wanderers had organised a per-season Family funday for their fans. After drawing something like 30-40 caricatures at the stadium I had to get myself over to their Training Ground where the staff and players were holding a barbeque. I'm not a football fan per se but I did recognise the striker Kevin Davis and the Bolton manager Owen Coyle when I drew them. I just wish I'd taken my camera with me for a souvenir photograph!

I may have mentioned before that I've been trying to create a looser style when producing studio caricatures. I do this by drwaing the caricature directly in pen and ink (using no pre-drawing with pencil for example) and if it doesn't work then I have to start all over again. As an example I tried to draw the the football manger of Fulham (now Liverpool) Roy Hodgson and my first attempt is below:

The thing about caricaturing is that soemtimes you really can't tell whether it looks like the person or not when you're drawing it - you have to leave it for a while and come back to it to look with fresh eyes. In this case at the time of drawing it I thought I was close to a good likeness and coloured it up before leaving it for a few hours. When I revisited the image I realised I hadn't 'got' him at all and so I drew him again. Below is the second version:

I think this one is a much better likeness.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Live v studio work

When you work as a live caricaturist you're expected to draw as many caricatures as possible in the alloted time and so, over the years, I havel become faster at drawing caricatures. All this means is that those watching me draw see me produce a finished caricature in about 3 - 4 minutes. The idea then sometimes pops into their heads that I can do the same if they show me a photograph of someone. "Can you do one from this photo on my mobile phone it'll only take you a couple of minutes?" They sometimes get very irrate when I say I can't because it's not the same thing at all. What people don't realise is that a photograph is only a two dimensional image while a real face in front of you is obviously three dimensional. What people don't realise is that it can sometimes take a couple of hours to draw a really good caricature from a number of photographs (please note not just one!). So that you can see what I mean I've posted below a photo of a man I was recently sent with the words "Please draw a caricature of this chap and if it's any good we'll book you for an event".

Not quite the same thing at all but anyway you can immediately see that the image is not terribly good i.e. not very good resolution and looks quite blurred. Anyway, I realised that there was no point trying to produce a typical studio caricature and, since they were considering using me as a live caricaturist, I thought I'd have a go at doing it in my 'live' style. It took a number of attempts and took considerably more than the 'live' time of three to four minutes!

I don't know from the photo whether he has red hair or not but I added that after sending it off to the client. Did I get the gig? I'll let you know.....

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Robbie Coltrane

This is a recent caricature of Robbie Coltrane. Don't ask me why I decided to put him in a tutu but there you are.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Robert Green

This is a caricature of the unfortunate England World Cup Goalkeeper, Robert Green, who blotted his copybook by conceeding a very silly goal during that game against the USA. Anyway, this caricature was drawn straight onto paper, with black ink, followed by watercolour (no initial pencil work) in an attempt to keep the looseness of the line (ooh, err!).

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Riverboat event

This was a photograph taken at a recent works event held on a riverboat in the Midlands which was actaully great fun. It's always great working with another entertainer at an event and this time it was a young magician called Ben Hanlin. I was booked to work for three hours but since the boat trip was for a total of four hours it was difficult to get a break. I eventually had to take a 'comfort break' and was just washing my hands in the lavatory when one of the (female) guests spotted me and shouted to her friends "This is where he is - he's in here.......!" Her friends did work out (eventually) that it was not the done thing to crowd into the gents so stood outside the door waiting for me to emerge.........that's popularity for you that is.....

Monday, 2 August 2010

Studio work

It's been another hectic weekend with caricaturing at weddings and private parties etc but, in the background so to speak, I've been working on a series of four, A5 colour drawings for a client, as a form of storyboard for a wedding gift for a lucky couple. It's quite demanding to put such a detailed image into such a small space like this (well, it is for me) but it was quite fun. Below are the resulting images.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Group caricature

I've been working all over the place since Friday - Cambridge, National Game Fair at Alcester, wedding at Wrenbury Hall, Nantwich and a corporate event at Wolverhampton Racecourse! So, just to show you some studio work, below is a recent group caricature I was commissioned to do.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Another teapot

Here's another strange teapot that, with the best will in the world, would be quite impossible to make or build.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

AV Referendum

I wonder if this will be the scene witnessed across the UK when we all wait, with bated breath, for the televised results of the coalition Government's referendum on AV voting system?

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Monday, 19 July 2010

Weekend madness

It's been a very busy weekend (700+ miles travelled!) and so I thought I'd share a few images with you from it. The first photo is of my old friend (the relationship is old, not him!) Harry Robson, magician extraordinaire, who worked with me at an event in Saltaire, near Bradford. If he looks tired it's becasue, even though this photo was taken at the BEGINNING of the 5 hour event, Harry had been working the previous night in Eastbourne - what a tart! Anyway, it's always great working with Harry as it's always a good laugh and we both have a great time with the guests while working! He also kept the massive queue I had all day entertained so thank you Harry......

Now, you'll notice the big screen behind Harry? - this was used to project the digital caricatures I was drawing that day. I produced full colour caricatures (which people could see being drawn on this huge screen) which I could then drop onto pre-drawn bodies of their choice. See a few examples below:

This fella wanted to be Darth Vader (obviously!)

While this lady opted for Catwoman!

But life is full of suprises doing this job and this little lad (about 5 years old?) wanted to be drawn as ballet dancer! I think living in Yorkshire and watching Billy Elliot had been too much of an influence on the little chap and I hope this image doesn't come to haunt him in later life! The guests were given an A4 colour print of their caricature and the files were later saved and were burnt onto a CD for the client to distribute to their guests later. If I do digital caricatures at exhibitions etc then the files are saved as the stand visitor's email address so that the company running the stand can email the images to the visitor later.

Another gig was at a wedding in the Midlands where a groom from Mauritius was marrying a Russian lady which made for a really brilliant day's celebrations. The bride was a stunning looking young lady and all her Russian female friends were all blonde, leggy and stunning looking!! Hard work my job y'know, really hard work....... See for yourselves from a photo of the happy couple below.

It looks from this photo as though it was only them at the wedding but behind me was the bar where the 90-odd guests were all cheering while watching me draw them.....

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Image or caption?

When thinking up cartoon ideas (and I'm sure most cartoonists do this) I think of the situation or gag, come up with a suitable caption and then envisage the final artwork. If the image doesn't work then you try it another way and usually you get the image right but sometimes, just sometimes, you have to let the gag go because you can't come up with a suitable image i.e. it just desn't work. Then it's the caption's turn and I find that I usually stick with the very first caption I come up with. I was talking to one well known cartoonist who told me that they NEVER use the original caption and always fine "tune it"....
When drawing or doodling in a sketchbook on the other hand the image obviously materialises first and I start playing the 'think of a caption' game to suit the image. These are never good enough to sell but I find it an amusing pastime. So, I drew the image below one day and came up with the caption "When a chimney sweep cleans his teeth". Not hilarious, obviously, but quite a humorous image. It could also be called "When you push things too far!"

Then I started to analyse the gag itself (always a humour killer this one!) and wondered whether a chimney sweep would actually clean his teeth this way around i.e. wouldn't he do it the other way around? So I came up with the image below:

NOT a humorous image - quite obscene actually but I do prefer the drawing!

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Two judges

The drawing below is of two judges at a livestock show and I thought they'd make an interesting image. Although they're wearing bowler hats you somehow suspect that they are not city types!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

More silliness....

I've always liked drawing old buildings and I certainly drink a lot of tea and so it's not so suprising that I come up with an image like this while doodling in a sketchbook.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sketchbook image

I thought I'd dip my toes in the seemingly warm waters of blogging and, albeit deep waters, I've decided to show examples of some experimental work from my sketchbooks. Caricatures (well, in my case anyway) have been the result of re-working the image until I think the likeness/caricature is correct but it often unfortunately results in a 'dead' image where the life seems to have been wrung out of it - it's lost it's spark! Live caricaturing forces the artist to capture the likeness in a matter of minutes but I think it also has a liveliness to it and so I thought why not try this in the studio? So, below is an example of a caricature drawn without any initial pencil work i.e. it's drawn straight onto the paper and if it doesn't work then start again! It's a caricature of the pin-eyed BBC's Political Editor Nick Robinson. It's caricaturing by the seat of your pants......