Procrastinations of a working man

20th February 2017

I have been working as hard as I possibly can and I have felt my work taking on the desire for a genuine change in direction, a fairly subtle change, not a radical change in aesthetic but definitely a solid development.

My skeletal drawing process hasn’t changed really but the colours and the way I apply them has – and is changing. This for me is an incredibly exciting time in my practice because as some of you might know I am colour blind (not totally) and had always pretty much ruled myself out of the use of colour in my work.

A probably around a year ago I begun to use colour thinking I will use very bright colour’s that I understand and almost blast my way through the problem of not seeing subtle colour’s as most others do. This worked up to a point, then slowly I began to feel the restrictions coupled with the natural urge to progress. I tried ignoring this for a while but before long I knew change had to be instigated.

Fast forward to now and that change is in its
supernova – it is almost complete in the fact that my colour methods have changed so much.

During my degree I made sure I knew my basic colour theory as a well drilled soldier does his rifle. This knowledge over time has eroded so
I set about relearning what I had forgotten. Just reading about this stuff again helped immeasurably and I realised quite happily that I only needed the smallest of prompts to remember what I was recapping. (Incidentally I learnt my colour so well whilst studying to try to offset my disadvantages).

What I am trying to do now is use colours in a more sophisticated manner and not just bludgeon them into a drawing. Also due to different pens/ inks I am able to overlay colours now which has opened a very exciting set of possibilities. Dare I say maybe one day some paintings might come from this. I can’t believe just how much the colour aspect has become important now.

Thank you as always for reading.



Firstly I will apologise for the disjointed nature of what you are about to read, I managed to stay in my studio until 11pm tonight so must be quick.

I stole a really cheeky look around the National Gallery after dinner the other day in the big smoke, I had to be quick so I decided dive into see the post impressionists and then into the incredible Australian impressionists exhibition (I was bought membership here for Christmas so this allowed me to duck in - guilt free at the minimal time I had...walking briskly past the canelettos - I had no time for caneletto's today, I had to get to the Australians before anything else.

That morning I had read an article on a Facebook page regarding the optimal viewing times that "experts" consider to be the best in which to understand the painting you are looking at.  I thought I'd put this to the test as I was I was in the perfect place to test such theories.  The time was something like four minutes and seven seconds by the way.

As I headed straight for the post impressionists (as always) but became waylaid by the superb Australian impressionists exhibition, the painting I looked at was Arthur Streeton's "fires up".  A magnificent painting by anyone's standards, I stood gazing, probably for the best part of ten minutes, I looked intently and as I did the painting begun to offer more information about itself, other characters and the story unfolded.  An experience I will never forget.

Of course I had to see my artistic idol Cézanne - rude not to, so whilst testing the above theory (which works incredibly well) I noticed - whilst loosing myself in a landscape by the great man it was painted with masses of energy...a painting that I thought I knew intimately changed before my very eyes.  Fascinating and I recommend you all do the same.

I was standing the middle of one of the huge galleries and I had stopped as I was feeling full from the meal we'd just had and slightly tipsy - I pulled my phone out to look at - i then realised - what the hell are you doing - a phone usually one of the most prized items in the hands of anyone, at least so it seems judging on every train I got onto today and the throngs of people constantly passing - heads down,
slipping quick glances forward to ensure they aren't going to collide with anything or anyone.   I digress, the phone, to me, then became the poor mans choice in terms of visual and cerebral stimulation with such a multitude of sumptuous richness to look at - need I say I see the error of my ways and promptly slipped the phone back into my pocket almost not being able to believe what an ass I had just been.

Okay more from tonight's studio session:

I had an incredibly satisfying session tonight in which I learnt a lot and saw future doors open before in anticipation of the time I need to walk through them, a fabulous feeling.

Tonight's quote - so apt and I can really respond to this:
"More of me comes out when I improvise" - Edward Hopper

Whilst considering what I had drawn tonight it occurred to me that I need to begin looking at the negative space in my work now...the stark white space could be developed and cultivated for better use in future endeavours.  The drawing that I finished tonight, it is little more than a sketch but I loved every second of its creation for the value it has given me.  I learnt a lot about new processes and the behaviour of a new pen and the qualities of the inks.

Thank you for humouring my horrendously rushed entry tonight.

So, it has been almost a couple of months since my last post – a shocking lapse in blog related productivity.  However, it has not been because of my natural inclination to procrastinate about even making a cup of tea – it has been because I have been working furiously on drawings.

It has now been a good couple of months since I moved into the my studio and I now really feel like it is a second home, I have my processes in place and have established a history (albeit a very short one) with the place.  I love it.  I have also realised I am naturally slipping into a nice momentum with my drawing practice.


I have found that working only on one large drawing as I had been previously (and I use large in the loosest of terms) to be massively counterproductive, slogging away at one piece can lead to a very stale existence so I now have several on the go at all times, some are larger and some are smaller.  The smaller drawings provide the lubricant for the larger, more time consuming pieces, they keep things fresh and provide a buffer for specific drawing burnout.

This approach allows me to look at each piece with a fresh pair of eyes, a reinvigorated spirit and also allows all of the other pieces to subtly influence the others being developed around it.  Balance is key here.  Some of the drawings are fast and take no more than half an hour or so, some take months so breaking things up like this works very well for me.

Here's a couple of weird and abstract motivational springboards I use sometimes:

  • a line from a Beastie Boys song “…all you spazes and you freaks – go and do your thing because you’re unique…”

I sometimes think about that one line and it helps me to remember that doing what you do – no matter what anybody says about it is what you should do – and don’t care what anyone thinks.  Stellar advice and so true.

  • A scene from from the film version of the incredible Phantom of the opera in which the singers and dancers are all busying themselves practicing lines, warmer voices up and rehearsing.  I find this very exciting as they are all trying to hone their respective crafts and that really resonates with me.  Romantic fool?  Yes.  Does it have relevance in a pressurised modern world – definitely.

Both of these things will no doubt make anyone charitable enough to be reading this blog entry cringe – but it really does help me out, and anything – in my experience at least that can help production/ motivation/ spirit/ enthusiasm is an invaluable tool in my book.

Thank you as always for reading and I promise to be back more regularly from now on.

Procrastinations of a working man

I’ll jump straight in I think with an update as to what I’ve been up to the last week or so since my last update.

I’ve been extremely busy which is good news and have managed to finish my drawing and submit it into the ING Discerning Eye exhibition. This is a huge leap for me and would be an utter triumph if it were to be accepted on my first time of asking.  I have been getting in from work and sitting straight down and drawing until around 10 o’clock each night, the work has been incredibly exacting and has been hard at times to stay focused, even more so for me given the name of this blog.  It has however highlighted some deficiencies that I guess can only be addressed by gaining more experience coupled with a healthy curiosity to learn.

Whilst getting the piece framed I came to realise that there are many types of frames and you get what you pay for in terms of tape, backings etc being acid free and the actual quality of the frame itself, this also made me think more about the materials I use in whilst drawing as well, now I’ve always been aware of the quality of what I use to an extent but think I will conduct a lot more research into this and be more choosy about how and where my work is framed.

My photography skills whilst never being brilliant I foolishly thought my fairly new camera could handle this side of things for me – no…I have discovered blurs around the edges, dark, light, dark, light – blue versions of the same drawing – this requires some thought and some work.

I found the actual process of applying for exhibition quite nerve wracking as I have never done it before, filling out the forms, making sure they are correct, making sure the piece is correct in terms of the requirements and then delivering it. I’m quite confident within myself but did wonder whether I’d stick out like a sore thumb to the outwardly arty people (discussed in previous posts) – no, the reality is there are all walks of life trying to exhibit and one size certainly does not fit all, in the end I actually really enjoyed the process and feel it is an achievement just to get that far, if I’m not accepted so be it, I will keep ploughing on, luckily my skin is very thick, my hunger and perseverance are at an all time high and I want this so badly if I am denied I will keep coming back. I expect to be rejected but you simply never know, looking at some of the other work flooding onto the submission desk I felt good about what I do – and that alone was worth the rigmarole of applying.

The pressure that can only come from your peers (when confronted by the work of others) has seemingly opened up a new and fresh train of thought and made my resolve even firmer. With every drawing that passes through my fingers I feel my hand becoming stronger and more sure. I should just say as well that the Discerning Eye application was stupidly easy and I applaud this – just one form and one label along with a £12 fee, I don’t know what other exhibition applications are like but this was a good way to start.

As I was so close to the National Gallery (I parked on Carlton House Terrace) I wandered over there after submitting my work yesterday – it would of been rude not to, and I had put 100 minutes on the meter as an insurance against the unknown entity that was submitting work (I was there 5 minutes) so thought I’d use the time constructively and visit my old friends who have taken residence on these hallowed walls, I gorged on Cézanne, Seurat, Canaletto and many others. Whilst strolling on my own through the halls I realised that I have deep, personal connections with many of the works at the National, so many of the paintings are stitched to different times in my life, I felt a wave of nostalgic passion rush through and overcome me. My favourite room by far is 45, the territory of the (post) impressionists, having stood in front of my favourite painting of all time (a Cézanne landscape) for a good 10 minutes I decided to take a seat just outside that fabled room, above the main stairs I people watch for a while whist absorbing all that was flowing through me – I felt at ease and very at home. Needless to say I was fizzing with new ideas and cursing myself for not having my book with me to record these – schoolboy error.


If you are reading this sentence thank you for taking your time to read my rambled thoughts and feelings.