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

Tuesday, 30 August 2011


I sketched out some potential squarescapes in colour. Most won't make it to full canvases (on account of being a bit boring) but I think four or five may be worked up.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Blues Portraits

Someone* contacted me to ask permission to use a drawing of Son House on their Facebook page, which reminded me of these pencil portraits, which are some of the things I've done that I'm most pleased with.

*"Someone" is a bit rude - his name is, pleasingly, Erwin Bosman, and he has a Facebook page here, upon which I am.

Mississippi John Hurt, pencil on paper.

'Bukka' White, pencil on paper.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The Undercity, pencil on paper.
This drawing on A3 started life as a doodle 2" by 1".

Monday, 22 August 2011

Music on Monday: Frontierland

Mariachi. Rock. Mariachi and rock. Mariachi rock. Champion.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011


Some new squarescapes, which, after lounging on the shelves for weeks looking unfinished, are suddenly finished. Three rainy to one with just sun. So it goes.

Top one 12" x 12", the others 8" x 8".

Monday, 15 August 2011

Mug Shots 3

Edward Dalton
I don't know what Edward Dalton did, but I imagine if you stepped on his shoes he would kill you.

Frank Murray, alias Harry Williams.

According to the Police notes, Frank Murray (put away for breaking and entering - 12 months hard labour) was of a "quiet disposition." Which is perhaps surprising, because he looks mad as badger cake. Also, I haven't actually exaggerated his hair all that much.

William Cahill.
 Sort of a cross between Cagney and Anthony Hopkins.

All of these came via, and they're worth a look, because they're rather beautiful in themselves as photographs.

Music on Monday: Incredible String Band.

Hot damn! It's the South Memphis String Band!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Mug Shots 2

More gentlemen of dubious intent.

William Stanley Moore

Ah Low

Eugenia Falleni aka Harry Crawford

'Eugenia,' yes: as 'Harry Crawford' (who she became in 1899) she worked as a hotel cleaner, and married a widow, Anne Birkett, in 1914. Falleni was arrested for mudering his (her) wife in 1917; Mrs Birkett/Crawford disappeared in 1917 shortly after telling a relative she had discovered "something amazing" about Harry.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Lab Coat

We went to a shop this afternoon to see what's what on replacing the open fire with a boiler stove. We discovered that it would be cheaper to burn the house down to keep warm but at least the brochures were free. And as I leafed through the middle class Aga-porn I couldn't help but notice a tragic story unfolding in the pictures:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Mug Shots

To go with these unsettled days, some gangsters - old school.

De Gracy

Giuseppe Fiori

Joseph Messenger

Wednesday, 10 August 2011


Some vaguely retro-futurist aeroplanes I sketched out while sitting at Paxton House waiting to see another human being. 

I can't complain about Paxton House as I've got a cheque to bank for a painting I sold there, but the staff do tend to forget that you're sitting there in the back gallery, doing your artist-in-residence bit. I know more than I want to know about strangers' tumours.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Music on Monday: Are You Right There, Ted?

Ted Hawkins. As it says at the end of this video extract, "at once simple and profound." Milk crate, guitar, pompadour, and a voice that could go right through you. 

Sunday, 7 August 2011


Some time ago I wrote a blog post battering the last shreds of any humour out of a scam email purporting to be from the FBI. Well, the scam dog came prowling up to the porch again and this time I got close enough to smell the Jumbone on its cyberbreath.

I'd like to say I was on to it from the first sniff of the email, but while that's not as true as I would probably wish it was, there were a number of things that I was uneasy about.

On Saturday I got an email which read:


My name is Luma Azar, i will like to order for some piece of your artworks as gift for my parents who are celebrating their wedding anniversary, so i will be glad to read back from you  as soon as possible, also i need your website address to choose from you available artworks or send me list of your available  artworks for me to choose.
Waiting to read from you that we can make some progress.
Luma Azar.

I do have a habit of looking gift horses in the mouth, especially when they come by the internet ("the internet is full of cobblers" - Ramesh Majhu) so I did what anyone would do, a Google search. Luma Azar is apparently a Jordanian children's author. Here she is doing good with children and books. That seems pretty genuine. She also appears on the website, here. That also has the email address from which the above email came. It's a hotmail address, which (as well as the lapses in English) made me doubtful.

Still, there wasn't enough there to make me set off the Baboonery Scam Klaxon we keep up in the turret, so I sent my web site address - while wondering how you could get my email, know I did art but not know what my website was - and said I'd be happy to deal with any questions etc. No point being excessively rude just yet to someone who could turn out to be a genuine buyer.

A reply came:

Hello Richard,
Thanks for your reply concerning my order, I  am ok with the once below, i want you to get back to me with the  total price of the once below. And i am sure that my parent will love your great works.

Cromer Pier Winter

Scott's View

Still Life With Figs

Meanwhile, I don't want you to bother your self concerning the shipment i have a shipping company that will come for the pickup inyour gallery also they will be the one to make the packing, just get  back to me with the price of the art work so that we can make some progress.



I see.

Then, after agreeing to the price, they got down to the meat of the matter:

The reason I am sending you this email is to make final reconfirmation of the and also to let you know that payment will be by Cheque. In view of this I need you to email me any information that may be required to send the Cheque , as I do not want to send the Cheque to a wrong location least they gets into the wrong hands. Regarding the shipping, I have a company that takes care of the pick up of my consignments for me and ship to my destination , you do not worry about shipping, the company will send down a representative to arrange the sales documentation and the pick up from your gallery form onward transfer to my destination,

Fair enough. Then followed instructions:

I also want to alert you on the fact that you will be receiving an overdraft Cheque which will cover the money for the pickup. (pickup and shipping to the final destination) as well as the money to be paid to the company that will take care of the pick up and the documentation with you. So please, as soon as you receive the Cheque, go and cash them immediately,deduct the cost of your item and send the balance to the Head Office of the company that handles the shipment via the nearest Western Union agent in your area. Deduct the Western Union charges from the balance and send the remaining to the shipping company. 

Got that? They send me a cheque. I take the cheque to the Western Union. I receive my money, I pass on an extra amount to the shipping company. 

It seems fine because all they want is my name and address, and confirmation that I'm selling to them. I'm not being asked for my bank details. What kind of muppet do you take me for? That all sounds fine to me. After all, they're even giving me a cheque with my name on it. The money goes to me.

Right. Another internet search at this point is in order. If you cut and paste "I also want to alert you on the fact that you will be receiving an overdraft Cheque which will cover the money for the pickup" into Google you'll get page after page after page of results, all quoting that same line. (Here's everything I got, word for word just with different names.)  It's a scam. A big fat 'un. 

It's important that the money goes into your account first. Not only does this make it seem legitimate - they're giving you money - but it has to be done in order for the scam to work. All the money from the cheque goes into your account. Then you move an amount on to the 'dealer' or 'shipping agent.' This third party gets paid with real money - yours. The cheque eventually bounces or is declared worthless and the money will be retrieved from you by the bank. You're responsible for it. Because the money you paid in from the buyer never existed in the first place, you're out of pocket. 

You know, I could have fallen for this. I'd like to write one of those "and then I wrote and told them I'd been kidnapped by Marxist guerillas and they were my only contact with the outside world" blogposts and demonstrate my superior internet savvy. But I could have got really excited that I'd apparently sold some stuff, and sent my details. 

But I didn't, and I'm pretty pleased with that, and that I was curmudgeonly and suspicious enough to look into it. Thanks also to Laura who ran it past her bullshit detectors.

But bearing in mind that initial searches showed up an apparently real person with the same email address, the advice is to be suspicious of:

  • free email addresses
  • bad English
  • ANY FORM OF OVERPAYMENT scheme, third parties, shipping companies, dealers, etc.

In the end I replied: 

 "I also want to alert you on the fact that you will be receiving an overdraft Cheque which will cover the money for the pickup."
I think in view of the number of times this phrase appears in a Google search for internet scams, we have no further business to do.
R Johnson

What I really wanted to say - and now take the opportunity to do so - was this:

Sweary artwork courtesy of the splendid Warwick Johnson Cadwell.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Had a couple of nights away in Scotland (further away in Scotland, I mean) thanks to some good friends who offered us a spare room in their holiday lodge as a wedding present. So we got to see very good friends we don't meet up with very often any more, and it was a lovely place. I learned a lot about whisky, not least that it gives me a headache.

Went to Loch of the Lowes in the rain to see some ospreys but they'd buggered off back to South Africa the day before, probably because of the rain. We did see a jay, which although not in the same league was an event nonetheless. And a robin.

Took the long way home on Friday to have a look at some waterfalls (I like a good waterfall.) This was a good one:

The Deil's Cauldron near Comrie.

Where we stayed there were the beginnings of big, beautiful hills on the near horizon. It was a difficult thing to turn round and go the other way, so we may be heading back up there in September, but with less of a lodge and more of a tent.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Big Man

Had a day at a craft fair trying to flog cards. Not overly troubled by the consumer. I did however draw a large man.

Music on Monday: Battery Chicken. Electrifying.

Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band. 

Breezy, Aaron and the Rev. interviewed.


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