Doodles in the margin from an artist living and working in the Scottish Borders.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Music on Monday: Cooking With Cabbage

Guitarist and singer Walter Parks describes Swamp Cabbage's music as "Northeast Florida-style, fatback, boogaloo blues stirred into a gumbo of Louisiana ragtime." Very tasty.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Ten Memorable Things About the 2011 Tour de France.

1. A picture of Johnny Hoogerland's backside should be on the dressing room wall of every football club for any 'hard man' to contemplate before he goes out to lumber his thuggish, preening way around a pitch clattering other players and complaining about having to play two games in a week. (Photo here: don't feel you have to click on it, it's not pleasant. Really.)

The Dutch rider was knocked off his bike by Juan Antonio Flecha, who was in turn knocked off his bike by that lunging French TV car. It illustrated the horrible vulnerability of cyclists to cars, and with repeated viewing it didn't get any less shocking. Hoogerland was catapulted into a barbed wire fence, and continued the race with thirty-odd stitches holding him together. Not the least thing to his credit was his reaction immediately afterwards; while being visibly upset and very shaken, rather than giving live TV a ten minute swear festival he was full of dignity and forgiveness, putting it in the context of poor Wouter Weylandt's death. 

And then a few days later he was back on the attack in breakaway groups. I like football, but you could make five football 'hard men' out of the bits of Hoogerland left on the barbed wire.

2. My friend Colin predicting a Vinokourov stage win, a full minute before he rode into a tree and broke himself into pieces and retired from cycling. He had a mottled record, Vino, but he was a fierce rider, and fierce riders are good.*

3. Bradley Wiggins getting into an ambulance. What could go wrong? Wiggo, winner of the Dauphine, looking generally in great form, reconciled to and comfortable with his role as team leader on an excellent team, wearing the British National Champion's jersey in the Tour, a podium finish a distinctly achievable aim. We were all rubbing our hands together in anticipation. And then all of a sudden on Stage 7 he was getting into the back of an ambulance and going home and it was all over. Bugger. I hope he had a big bag of chips that night.

4. The indestructable Jens Voigt. He fell off twice on one stage and then was there back at the front yet again, hammering out a horrible pace for mile after mile. He fell off seven times on one stage of a previous Tour and the peloton said that the road was getting Jens rash. He's announced his intention to keep racing next year, which is excellent as he's one of the few remaining professional sportsmen older than me.

5. Cadel Evans during the time trial. Whereas Andy Schleck was willowy on the bike, constantly changing his position, Evans hunched himself into a bullet shape as he came down the ramp and stayed that way until the end. He was a picture of power and determination, and he rode brilliantly in the mountains, too, dragging the field up the Galibier in pursuit of Andy Schleck. I thought it was going to be a matter of seconds in the end, perhaps even closer than Fignon and LeMond, but Evans knocked lumps out of Schleck's time by the finish.

6. Dickheads. It's great being on telly. It's great being drunk and on telly. It's especially great being drunk and wearing nothing but Speedos and espadrilles and bellowing in a cyclist's ear while trying to run flat-footed sideways up an Alp showing your arse before strutting back down the road to do it again.Because this moment is all about me not some bloke on a bike who I admire so much I'll impede him or knock him off his bike or put his eye out with my hilarious steer-horn hat. Contador punched one of them in the gob this year. Good.

7. David Harmon and Sean Kelly's commentary on Eurosport. Once you've had David and Sean you can't go back to Phil and Paul. This was a shocking discovery, because they were The Voices Of The Tour for donkey's years. Then this year I started listening to David and Sean and began getting genuine insights into racing, rather than having a goldmine owner read aloud from The A-Z of Big French Castles before revealing 'Contador will want to go as fast as he can.'

8. Alberto Contador, winner of the Giro d'Italia and strong contender for the 2011 Tour victory, still not having had his drugs hearing yet. World cycling picking up a big gun and pointing it carefully at its own foot. Idiots.

9. The television. No different this year to any other year. From a swarm of brightly coloured microbes sweeping along the floor of an Alpine valley, to giddying, motion-sickness descents, to Maxime Monfort foaming at the mouth in high-definition super-slow-mo, it was a fantastic thing to watch on the television. Hats off to French TV, apart from when they tried to to kill Flecha and Hoogerland.

10. Voeckler. Voeckler generally, but especially Voeckler at the stage finish at the top of the Galibier. Heaving desperately to get the oxygen in, collapsed over the bars of his bike, not yet able even to get off it having ridden himself into another day in yellow, it was like seeing the classic cycling photographs of the greats in agony, live and in colour.

He rode the whole Tour like a terrier with his teeth into the yellow jersey, and every pedal stroke was an act of defiance, a refusal to accept his own limitations as he shouted, grimaced, fought his bike up every stage. 

David Millar on Saturday afternoon reported being in his team car, driving past a 'strangely familiar' figure in Eurosport kit cycling alone along the autoroute after the time trial. The chat in the car died away as they realised it was Voeckler, presumably needing some time out of the way on his own to come to terms with things before the huge Roman circus of the media started to feed on him. Tommy, however rotten you were feeling then, you have no need. You were magnificent.

*Col also selected a fantasy cycling team which ended up garlanded with stage winners and jersey wearers. I did not.

Monday, 18 July 2011


I'm very aware that there are lots of comic artists out there whose work I find far superior to mine, so I always post comic work with a certain degree of trepidation, but I completed six pages of artwork for a the Strip Magazine 'Spotlight' Competition today.

Been working on a sci-fi/adventure story in collaboration with writer Matthew Craig, who now has to find out whether or not I left enough space for captions and speech bubbles.

I read recently that your good taste will carry you on through the early stages of your work while the quality of your output isn't that great, and the only way to improve it is to work, work, work. This certainly has been the case with my paintings, and I venture to suggest that my comic art is improving too. I feel I'm finding my way as regards a style, and what works and what doesn't. It's frustrating and quite exciting.

Anyway, Finn, yes. 

I'm not going to blow either the story or all the MASSIVE SPECIAL EFFECTS so, by way of a teaser, some people looking a bit perplexed in The Future:

The Future.

Capt. Beaumont, in hologram form. 

Capt. Beaumont, and his hologram beard.


Aaaaahhh! What the hell is that?


I entered a nine-page story for the Eagle Initiative Competition some time ago. Matt Craig was due to write a story but was struck down with some horribly painful tendon issues so was physically unable to do any work (now healing up after an operation). I wrote up a story and drew like a bastard to get it in for the deadline, exchanged panicked emails with the organisers over whether it had uploaded, whether they had a record of it etc etc etc, but eventually I knew it to be lodged safely with them.

I got an email last week from Barry Renshaw, editor at Engine Comics who organised the whole thing, informing us that the whole competition was off because not enough people had entered. 

I was gobsmacked. I mean, here's just four names from the list of judges: Scott Allie, Editor, Dark Horse Comics; Tom Brevoort, Editor, Marvel Comics; Dan Berry, Senior Lecturer, Visual Communication/Illustration for Graphic Novels, University of North Wales; Dave Gibbons, writer and artist (Watchmen, etc.) 

As if the stellar list wasn't enough temptation, there was money available too, for the winner a big mattress full of lovely soft, soporific cash, and for runners up enough to scoop out of a very large hat and throw around like confetti. Of course I wanted to enter, and I worked my arse off to meet the deadline too. So, feck it, generally.

And I'm sorry for Mr Renshaw too, having worked his arse off organising it (and, I know from experience, looking through the entries chasing up unattributed files) and I said as much. He did me the courtesy of replying;

"Thanks for the kind words. Yes, to be honest I'm personally gutted that the competition had to be cancelled, I've put a lot of time and effort into it, but ultimately it was the only decision to make considering the circumstances."


Anyway, I've plans for the strip that was entered, which I'm mulling over. 

Music on Monday: Pedal Your Blues Away.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

On The Trail

The new Crossing Borders Art Trail publicity material, featuring myself and Laura Cameron, notable jeweler, and many of the talented artists who swarm in the Borders. 

We're not doing the actual Art Trail, just the virtual version, because we haven't really the studio set-up to participate, and anyway the dogs are out and if they see people they don't recognise at the compound perimeter they'll be in a frenzy for days and I don't like going near them once they've had human scent.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Drawings for the Hard of Herring

This is the work of Will Morris, and it represents all the things that I like about his work - cleanliness, apparent simplicity, restrained and confident line, delicate shading, and just loose enough. It's lovely.

He's got a book - The Silver Darlings - coming out later in the year through Blank Slate/Chalk Marks. Samples below. Worth earmarking a bit of cash for.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


From a comic strip I'm working on with writer Matthew Craig. 

This is Finn, and a friend.

Edit: Have a good look at its pristine condition, because I spilled coffee on it yesterday. I am such a tit sometimes.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Cat du Jour.

...But Now Am Found.

On Monday last I met Simon Glover, one half of the soon-to-open Found Gallery on the High Street, Dunbar. 

In between painting and putting up shelves he agreed to take a couple of the Price of Fish paintings I blogged about before, which is good, as it looks like it's going to be a very fine gallery - it's a "good space" (as they say) and there were some exciting-looking art works ready to be put on display.

The other half of the venture is Amy Christie, a very fine jeweller who does beautiful work in glass  and seems to have a healthily well-developed interest in rusty things.

The Found Gallery is opening on Saturday 9th July; a web site is on the way and I'll link to it when it's up and running.

I haven't any pictures of the gallery itself but here's a splendid poster:

Monday, 4 July 2011

Music on Monday: If This Song Was A Cyclist It Would Have Drugs In Its Wee.

It's the Tour de France. During it there will be bicycle songs. Thank God it's only three weeks.

There will be no Queen.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Rust Never Sleeps #10, and a bit of #9 again.

Three new completed canvasses. I've been dabbling and fiddling with these for a long time, and changed the whole bottom half of 177 because I felt the balance of the painting wasn't right as it was.

These are off up to a new gallery in Dunbar on Monday, so I'm hoping a couple will be on display for the opening on Saturday.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Falling Down

Done two pages of a new comic strip collaboration now, and I'm quite pleased with how it's going - which is good, coming as it does in a week when I've tried to email a new comic to see what they think of my submission now that I've waited the promised six weeks or indeed  whether they got it in the first place, and have had no emails answered.

Anyway, this is a sample panel - probably the simplest I've drawn on the two pages but I really like it. Man in long coat falling through the air.

Bicycle Touring in France

It's that time of year again.

The video's a bit ridiculous, like Michael Bay Presents: the Tour de France Route, but even an animated route map is absurdly exciting.

As Brian Blessed once said, "My God - Look at the mountain!"

I like the Tour's grading of summits, in that it is a system deliberately constructed so that it has a category of mountains so immense and difficult they are beyond categorisation. It's as if pedaling up a gigantic alp is not enough but the riders have to contemplate the philosophical conundrum at the same time. How very French.


Related Posts with Thumbnails