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

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ash Dieback.

M.R. James, The Ash Tree.

It's not my favourite of the James pieces I've done but it's the one where I've managed to give myself the creeps.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

All Mouth.

More M.R. James. Poor afflicted Mr Dunning passes an unsettled night.

"The obvious course was to find a match, and also to consult his watch: he might as well know how many hours of discomfort awaited him. So he put his hand into the well-known nook under the pillow: only, it did not get so far. What he touched was, according to his account, a mouth, with teeth, and with hair about it, and, he declares, not the mouth of a human being."

Now, if you want to extrapolate any sort of Freudian interpretation of the fear of a mouth with teeth and hair all about it, that is of course your prerogative as an independent reader.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

American Robotic

'American Robotic', pencil on A3 paper, 15cm x 18cm.

Monday, 10 December 2012


Started this with some extravagant ideas in mind of filling in under Mr Waits with portraits of characters - Edna Million in a drop-dead suit, Jack the Cutter and the Pockmark Kid, Birdy Joe Hoaks and the like, but it stalled before I finished his hat. 

Lord Bunn then posted some beautifully ornate lettering work in progress on Twitter, and the lights went on again. 

Pencil, all pencil. A3 paper.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Lunch Break

When they built the highest building yet, they found odd things up there. Odd but friendly.

Lunch Break, pencil on paper, 16cm x 20cm, on A3.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Whole Lotta Glove

In June the Forbidden Planet blog organised a riposte to an assertion made in a national newspaper that there weren't any good illustrators any more, illustrators who could actually draw stuff that looked like the stuff they were drawing. The challenge was to draw a cover for either 'Catcher in the Rye' or 'The Reluctant Fundamentalist.' 

I opted for 'Catcher' and read it through again. I was a long way down the moody-kid-in-red-check-cap road before it occurred to me that it wasn't all that imaginative a response.

In the end I picked up on the root of Holden's 'catcher' image, his brother Allie's catching mitt, which had poems written on it in green ink.

I don't know what happened to the competition, it was supposed to be whittled down to a shortlist in July, and then August and now it's December in a couple of days, so although we were asked not to publicise our own work, I'm assuming it's all got lost down the back of a drawer somewhere.

So, this is what I did.

I made it by drawing the glove and experimenting with green ink in a dip nib to get an authentically handwritten effect, then scanning in glove and writing separately and combining them in layers.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012


Chester Burnett, aka Bigfoot Chester, aka the mighty Howlin' Wolf.

A monstrous vocal and physical presence, standing at six feet three, nearly twenty stones in his prime and wearer of size seventeen shoes, Chester was a big man in all senses.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Car Coming.

Pencil, 3 inches square.

After a long time doing other things, I've decided what I knew from a very long time ago; I just really like drawing things in pencil.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Ho-Ho-Hobot. No, wait, not that at all...

Heavens to murgatroyd! Why, it's nearly Christmas!

Do you know someone you just can't buy for? Are they easily pleased by bright colours that you can order online in about thirty seconds?

That's handy! These fine Olympibots are now available as A3 and A4 poster prints HERE.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Got a Light, Mac?

This is called "The Size of Dragons is Generally Exaggerated."

Pencils on paper. Background nearly drove me nuts.

The Size of Dragons is Generally Exaggerated, pencil on paper, 15cm x 21cm. 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Second Hand Books

M.R. James again, 'Canon Alberic's Scrapbook.' 

Someone is reading over Mr Denistoun's shoulder. I hate it when that happens.

Two things: firstly, it actually says that his attention is caught by something by his left elbow, but I've gone for the right, partly for compositional reasons, partly I just got it into my head it was that way.

Secondly, Denistoun takes off the crucifix that the daughter ominously gives him, so that should be on the table, probably. That I just forgot about.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Sharing a Room

I've been reading M. R. James' ghost stories since I was about twelve. (I'm a very slow reader.)

There's nothing quite like them for the subtlety and gradual accumulation of atmospheric foreboding, and one of the best is 'O, Whistle and I'll Come to You, My Lad,' the story of Professor Parkin's seaside holiday. 

I started this in pen and ink, but decided pencil was what it needed.

"I can figure to myself something of the Professor's bewilderment and horror, for I have in a dream thirty years back seen the same thing happen; but the reader will hardly, perhaps, imagine how dreadful it was to him to see a figure suddenly sit up in what he had known was an empty bed."

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Monday, 5 November 2012

Aristocat Pen

Pen version of 'Hunting With Cats.'

Saturday, 3 November 2012


I've been doing some proper paid design work lately but it's nearly done so I can go out to play again.

We did a craft fair today, and I made enough to pay for some new oil paints, and had enough time to doodle this Victorian geezer. I've been looking through Gustave Dore's extraordinary 'London' illustrations, and floating ship maestro Ian McQue has been posting Dickensian doodles on Twitter, so between them I was in the mood.

I was planning on working this

up into a full scale MARK IT ZERO! illustration, but there's a million of them on the internet already. I might go off into DO YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS LARRY? DO YOU SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU FIND A STRANGER IN THE ALPS? as the American network TV censor would have it.

That's Tom Waits. I had an idea for what to do with it that I tried. It didn't work. So, the disembodied and disemhatted head and jazz hands of Tom Waits, awaiting a better idea to come along.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Remember, Remember.

My dad, having quietly enjoyed his first outing as a comic character, makes his second, and he's brought my mother.

Again, these people look like people who look like my mum and dad, but not exactly my mum and dad.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Calvin & Hobbes.

I feel a bit fraudulent for entering into the latest 'draw' Twitter hashtag thing run by James Howard. Calvin and Hobbes seems to be one of those things that people go giddy over like a frayed and much-loved childhood toy, and until I looked into it today I wasn't 100% sure which one was Hobbes and which Calvin. 

I've never really read a strip, although having a look at the originals, they are beautifully drawn (by Bill Watterson.) I kind of put them in the same stinky cat basket as the appalling Garfield, but I'm beginning to see that this might have been a mistake. 

So, anyway, Calvin and Hobbes. Or Hobbes and Calvin. Whichever way it is.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

City At Night.

New oil painting, a night view. One of two paintings inspired by a visit to the Symbolist Landscape exhibition in Edinburgh, in particular Riddarfjarden by Eugene Janssen, which I sat and looked at for a long time.

Florence, Night, oil on canvas, 76cm x 51cm.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


It's drawn with indian ink in a Rotring pen but I washed it with ordinary Parker Quink, not intentionally but because it was close by on the desk. Turns out to be a lovely colour.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Another Handsome Man

Of course he looks rough. On his way to the goldmines he crossed the western hills where his pony (Prancing Bill) fell over a cliff, his dog ran away, now he's crawling on his knees eating dust. How would you look?

(Inspired by 'The Song of a Hundred Toads', on the Handsome Family's Singing Bones album.)

Thought Bubbles.

The Thought Bubble Sequential Arts Festival, to give it the name it goes by at its Gran's, is on in Leeds from the 11th to the 18th November. As part of it, the 3rd Northern Sequential Art Competition is running, and the entries are live online now on THIS LINK HERE. Have a browse.

There's some very fine work in there, and although I've not had a close look at everything and it's probably unfair to pick out individuals, a couple really caught my eye - Sarah Fogg's 'The Tale of the Selkie' and 'Boundary' by Corban Wilkin. I think these are lovely. 

Mine's called 'I Held Stuff' and it is a true story. My Dad has not seen it yet. It's this one.

I have to say, it's a terrible likeness of my Dad.

UPDATE: my mum has shown it to my dad. He seems quietly pleased with it.

Monday, 15 October 2012


Following on from Gail With the Golden Hair, here's the Nameless Ohio Farmer who discovered a bottomless pit behind his barn, into which went tractors, dead cows and eventually, in a quest to get to the bottom of the bottomless, himself.

Another nameless character, but up Falling Rock Hill, where the leaves swoop like bats, he shot his brother William five times in the back.

Friday, 5 October 2012



Saturday, 29 September 2012

On the Road to Stardom

This is the outcome of playing the Film Star Game to pass the time on long journeys; place names on road signs, turned into movie stars.

Rock Rennington, Thornton Crowhill, Stenton Garvald, Acton Trussell, Abbots Bromley.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Some new squarescapes that came out of this summer; either lovely or grey and pissing it down.

Barley, oil on canvas, 20cm x 20cm.

North Sea, oil on canvas, 20cm x 20cm.

Evening Beeches, oil on canvas, 20cm x 20cm.

Whiteadder in Flood, oil on canvas, 20cm x 20cm.
In order, sunlight on fields in the Tweed Valley.
The North Sea on a grey, wet day torn with bright patches.
A clump of beeches just up the road from where we live, a very sculptural and elegant shape.
The Whiteadder in one of its many spates this summer, as seen from high up on the bridge by the Ahlstrom plant at Chirnside.


Related Posts with Thumbnails