Monday, October 20, 2014

the ghosts of night, the dreams of day

Had a lovely day yesterday, drawing for the love of drawing rather than for work. I always love catching up with Urban Sketchers Yorkshire, my sketchcrawling buddies, too. We spent the day at the National Emergency Vehicles Museum in Sheffield. It was right up my tree. Loved the subject matter. I could spend another day, or ten, there. And, maybe even a night; apparently there are many ghosts in this former police and fire station. If you believe in that sort of thing, of course. I don't but I'm willing to have my mind changed.

 There was a very specific colour scheme too. Reds, blacks and a little yellow were the colours of the day. I managed to not take seventeen pencils cases, which is an achievement for me, and narrowed it down to just the three sketchbooks. I always try to take some tools that I wouldn't normally draw with at home. I try and play a bit more on sketchcrawls. It feels like the right place to do that as you often encounter subject matter you wouldn't normally choose to draw. The red Bingo dabber was an inspired choice of pens.

 Here's something I've noticed during October, as I'm participating in Go Sober For October, I do a lot more with my weekends. It's much easier when you're not factoring in a 'big night' or a hangover. That's just another benefit to being sober; doing more stuff with your time. Just look at how my blogging has increased in the last month!

 The museum holds a vast range of fire service related memorabilia that had previously been sitting in attics and local fire stations all over the county and amongst the exhibits were prisoner files from the last century. I found these the most fascinating of all, and below are my drawings of some of the mugshots from around the 1940s. It's funny how just by drawing somebody, spending that time studying someone, you can feel a real connection with them. I don't just want to now more about the faces I drew, I feel an empathy, sympathy, for them. Protective towards them even, like I knew them. I guess what I'm trying to say was that I was touched by them. Maybe I do believe in ghosts.




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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

the changing man

Here's just a little (it's all relative) something I knocked up in my sketchbook.
The story of the drawing goes a bit like this...
Sometime back in May I went to my friend, and Dr Sketchy partner, Lara Gothique's fabulous vaudeville extravaganza (I do love that word, extravaganza. In fact, I love both of those words; vaudeville and extravaganza) called Cupid Stunts. I sketched the whole show that evening. I came away with a load of drawings. Over twenty quick sketches.
One of the fabulous artistes that night was a Victorian strong man called Sir Leopold Aleksander. I got a good handful of sketches of him. They were pretty much all as below - simple line drawings.
Over the last couple of weeks, as I have been living a life of sobriety, I seem to have a bit more time on my hands in the evenings. Time to do the things I've wanted to do for ages but not got around to because wine got in the way. Time to go back through my sketchbooks and rework some of those quick sketches that needed a bit of the AJ treatment. So that's what I did with the, now, tattooed gentleman above, and, at some point, will do with the sketch below. Sure, they don't exactly look like the Victorian gent, but that's what happens when you a) sketch in the dark and b) complete the illustration using only your memory and a lot of imagination. And, that's what I love about drawing.
Thanks to Sir Leopold for the use of his body(?!)
Thanks to Lara for her fabulous show.
And thanks to Go Sober For October for giving me the headspace to draw instead of drink wine! 
If you can spare a bob or two please donate to my sobriety challenge. I am raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support. The most worthiest of causes. You can do that HERE.
And if you'd like to see a vaudeville extravaganza, and are in Sheffield next weekend (a long shot, perhaps), Lara is putting on another. Check it out HERE. Take your sketchbook!

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Nora

 Hi folks, I have a small, limited edition, set of these bag and badge ('button' in the US?) sets for sale.
The tote bags feature my illustration of Nora Hildebrandt, the original tattooed lady, on the front and back.
 The badges feature a couple of examples of my drawings and a couple of examples of my lettering work.
Also, I'm making a donation, from each set sold, to MacMillan Cancer Support, who I am fund raising for this month - by being sober!
 
You can get your paws on them HERE. Merci!

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

and i say, it's alright

I always think that as long as I come away from a day trip or sketchcrawl or Dr Sketchy or any sort of drawing event or opportunity with one 'good' drawing, or, at least, one drawing that I like, then I'm happy with that. That's all I ask for. Just a memento of the day.
 By the time I was leaving London last week I still had nothing, apart from a few prosaic, pretty average drawings of people on the train there, and it was getting dark. I'd gone to the city with a drawing in mind. There's a sculpture I wanted to see and I'd packed the yellow and orange pens especially for it. But, our time there went so quickly that I didn't even get to see or draw it. But, that's okay, that's another trip
 .I didn't want to leave though, not without something, a souvenir, to take home. So, just before I caught my train back, I dived into a café on the corner of Tottenham Court Road for a cuppa and a draw.
 I missed my next train home. So, I had an extra hour to spend drawing the souvenir shop on the opposite corner. I got another cuppa.
 Is it a 'good' drawing? Do I like it? Not really. It's alright. Ish. But, I feel like that about a lot of my work. I need to close the book and put it away for a while. I almost always feel differently with time between it. Who knows, I might even like my souvenir from London in a few months time. Right now I doubt it, but you never know.
 And here's a couple of prosaic, pretty average sketches of people on the train...

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

i'm gonna clear out my head

Another good reason for participating in Go Sober For October is that I'm not just kicking the booze for a month - or, who knows, maybe longer (one day at a time and all that) - but I'm also giving the elbow to another habit; the fags. You know, I never smoke unless I've had a drink. Never. It doesn't enter my head to. I never want a cigarette when I'm sober. It repulses me.
 Then I have a drink. Then I can't get enough of the fags (might have a different meaning in the US??). I'd smoke two at a time if I could. All willpower, self discipline, whatever, goes out of the window. I crave dirty tobacco. In the freezing cold and pouring rain, I'll stand outside the pub or in the back garden. It has to stop. It will stop. It has stopped. No more.
 Another damn good reason for taking up this challenge. So, yeah, I'm going double cold turkey. And, if that ain't enough reason for you to donate/sponsor me then I don't know what else to do? You can do that HERE. Cheers (probably not the best choice of words).

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Tuesday, October 07, 2014

she's leaving home

 I really am awful at finishing a story off. This one has been going one for nearly six months and it still hasn't come to a conclusion. I can never deal with endings. I wonder what deep psychological scar I'm avoiding looking at? Hmmm. But, that's another post, another drawing, hey, another book!
So, when we last caught up with my bookbench, my girl, she was finished - all apart from a little colour that I added, and a few more doodles. Less is never more around here. Why stop when you can just keep on going and going? (Go Sober For October really is making me look at my addictive behaviour, it seems).
When I'd thrown as much colour and doodles at her, it needed to be finished with a coat of hardcore resin/varnish. That bit was done at 2am the night/morning before she was being picked up. It was meant to have been done four days before (I didn't realise that until 2am when I finally read the tin) but, shhhh, don't tell anyone. And, anyway, I couldn't have lived with the small of that resin for four days. I'd have been as high as a kite.
And then they came to take her away. After a rather undignified exit from my house which included a door being removed and a washing line being snapped - she just didn't want to leave - she was off.
 After dominating my living room for the past few months she suddenly looked so small. She looked tiny, out there, in the big wide world (car park). Aw.
 She was carefully and lovingly wrapped then bundled into the back of a van and off to find her new home in the big city. In the Big Smoke.
 Well, not quite. Because, yes, she did make her home in London, for the summer, but it was in a rather lovely, green, little churchyard in Greenwich. I even got to go and visit her.
 And, not just once, but twice. Yesterday, I went to say a final farewell, as all of the fifty bookbenches were gathered together in Gordon Square, London, before they go on auction and onto the next chapter of their lives. Lots of people came out to see them in all their glory, on a perfect autumn afternoon.
 And, so, that's it. This evening they will all be auctioned of to raise much needed funds for the National Literacy Trust.
 Unfortunately, I won't be able to make the auction, but I hope she goes to a good home. Bye Bye bookbench.
THE END
(or is it? Maybe, I'll get to visit her in her new home, where ever that may be)

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Saturday, October 04, 2014

it's just everything i do, we did together

Today's journal. I'm glad I didn't discuss my love of typography, but, got down to the nitty-gritty instead. I think it's important that I did that:

'I started this drawing on day one of my Go Sober For October challenge and did a bit more last night (day two). I had originally intended to discuss why 'd kept these specific wine bottles and my love of typography, fonts and lettering especially French stuff and the Art Nouveau period. But, I'm finishing this drawing on day three of my sobriety, which also happens to be a Friday night. And, twice I've had a wobble. The first time was around tea time, approaching wine-time, when all I wanted to do was drive up to Lil'Sainsburys (the same old routine) and get some wine. I didn't. And again, now. Again, I'm having a wobble. It's a Friday night. I should be drunk. My friend's are drunk. People on Facebook are drunk. And I'm not. And, I'm not going to lie, I'm not only jealous, I'm angry. I'm annoyed.'

Please sponsor my sobriety here; https://www.gosober.org.uk/profile/andreajoseph

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Thursday, October 02, 2014

you are always on my mind

Tonight I am donating the fiver that I would have spent on my Thursday-night-end-of-the-working-week-wine, if I had not been taking part in Go Sober For October, in support of the amazing MacMillan Cancer Support.

The drawing was made with graphite and colour pencil. The donation was made with ease. And gratitude.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2014

the corners of my mind

Today I start a month of sobriety, in an initiative by the wonderful MacMillan Cancer Support called Go Sober For October - which not only raises money for them but also gets us, taking part, to look at our own drinking habits.

My feelings about it change like the weather. One minute I'm really looking forward to it. Excited about the break. No alcohol for a month. I know I'll be more productive, I know I'll feel so much better, I hope the house will get cleaned.

Then it comes over me like a wave, a tsunami actually; NO WINE FOR A MONTH. And, it terrifies me. What will I do? It's those moments, those routines; Thursday after finishing work for the week; Friday night; chatting on the phone with Tim; early Sunday evening; whilst cooking; chatting on the phone with Mark. FRIDAY NIGHT!!!

From the far blurry corners of my mind I remembered something that I saw in one of Danny Gregory's books. I can't remember which, unfortunately, an Illustrated Journey maybe. In it, he gives tips on journaling and one of the ideas he shares is to go without something for a day (chocolate, alcohol, smoking, tv, the internet, etc) and journal about it. I think I may try this over the next 31 days. It would be the most fitting way of me to document the month ahead.

I'm not expecting the next month to be easy but then I remember the cause and it puts it into perspective. If your life had ever been touched by the amazing, and humbling job, that MacMillan do (or if the thought of giving up alcohol for a month terrifies you, too) please donate/sponsor me. You can do that HERE.
Cheers!

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Sunday, September 28, 2014

push it along push it along

If last month I was spending all of my time drawing in pubs, this month I seem to have been spending it all drawing on trains. I'll be honest, I'm not a fan of public transport. Firstly, I love driving, but, more than that, I don't like being stuck in a confined space with the general public. It's one of my 'things'.

But, necessity dictates and, as I've been back and fore to London and Sheffield all month, I've found myself being stuck in confined spaces with the general public. A lot.

It has, however, given me time to draw the general public. It's not the easiest way to draw. And, you have to hope they'll fall asleep - which they usually do - because they don't always tend to like being drawn. But there really is nothing else of interest, subject wise, on trains, I find. I've made a hundred, or more, sketches, over the last month. Mostly of people sleeping. I've actually enjoyed having that time, with nothing else to do but sketch.

Above, is a drawing of a friend who had no hang ups about being drawn. The two below are a couple of my favourite sketches out of a bunch of pretty bland stuff.
 


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