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

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Sketchbook: Whole Lotta Rosy

I read The Name of the Rose again recently, which prompted me to look out the film on YouTube. I liked a lot of it - particularly the convincingly squalid medieval atmosphere, and it was a very pleasant surprise to see F. Murray Abraham booming and sweeping in and out of rooms as dread inquisitor Bernardo Gui - but a lot of it was pants, particularly the daft ending. And it was the wrong kind of labyrinth entirely. It might as well have had a dragon in it.

The cast were a singularly grotesque lot, with the chiseled exception of Sean Connery. This made them very interesting to draw, apart from Christian Slater as novice Adso of Melk, who has a single default expression of open-mouthed confusion/bewilderment throughout the film. Also, he had an American accent, as did his older-self voiceover narrator, which I found irrationally irritating because by the time Columbus left port for the first time Adso would have been about 180 years old.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

It Rhymes With 'Form.'

Let me tell you about... The Worm.



Wednesday, 11 December 2013


Mr Dillet is startled out of a very pleasant slumber by a bell tolling One.

Thursday, 5 December 2013


The Kuchisake-Onna; what she is and how to deal with her. 

She's an example of Japanese folkloric spirits and monsters called yokai, and she's interesting (apart from being an appealingly deranged story) because she was an example of a piece of folklore being invented in contemporary times. She seems to have appeared first of all in elementary schools in the Nagasaki Prefecture in the 1970s, and caused a genuine panic that spread through Japan.

In some versions she is mutilated by a jealous and violent husband, but this is the first version I heard. 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

I Wouldn't Touch That If I Were You

  We went with him; his room was only a few doors off. The boots was just collecting shoes in the passage: or so we thought: afterwards we were not sure. Our visitor - his name was Paxton - was in a worse state of shivers than before, and went hurriedly into the room, and beckoned us after him, turned on the light, and shut the door carefully. Then he unlocked his kit-bag, and produced a bundle of clean pocket-handkerchief in which something was wrapped, laid it on the bed, and undid it. I can now say I have seen an actual Anglo-Saxon crown. It was of silver - as the Rendlesham one is always said to have been - it was set with some gems, mostly antique intaglios and cameos, and was of rather plain, almost rough workmanship. In fact, it was like those you see on the coins and in the manuscripts. I found no reason to think it was later than the ninth century. I was intensely interested, of course, and I wanted to turn it over in my hands, but Paxton prevented me. 'Don't you touch it,' he said, 'I'll do that.'

M R James, A Warning to the Curious.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Grand Designs.

Ruins in the Forest. Pencil drawing.

Pretty much a straightforward reading of Mothe-Chandeniers, an abandoned chateau in its own moat, only expanded and wildernessed a bit.

Thursday, 14 November 2013


The third of three large oil landscapes going on exhibition in the Coldstream Gallery in December, and the second of the three to feature St Abbs Head. I just like St Abbs.

Winter Sun, St Abbs Head. Oil on canvas, 90 cm x 90 cm.

Monday, 4 November 2013


Two new landscapes, which will be in a combined exhbition at the Coldstream Gallery in December.

Rain Clouds Over Lauder Moor, oil on canvas, 90cm x 90cm.

Snow Shower, St Abbs Head, oil on canvas, 90cm x 90cm.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Estella and Miss Havisham. Pencil on paper.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Season's Greetings

Illustration for M R James' The Mezzotint.

"The moon was behind it, and the black drapery hung down over its face so that only hints of that could be seen, and what was visible made the spectators profoundly thankful that they could see no more than a white dome-like forehead and a few straggling hairs. The head was bent down, and the arms were tightly clasped over an object which could be dimly seen and identified as a child, whether dead or living it was not possible to say. The legs of the appearance alone could be plainly discerned, and they were horribly thin."

Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Road to Stardom... etc

The gents to go with yesterday's ladies - two more greats from the golden age of stage and cinema. Between them, over eighty years of duffel coated destroyer captains and eccentric Scottish crofters/composers/station masters.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

The Road To Stardom Leads to Peebles

Two of four small pieces I've done for a modest display to go up at the Eastgate Theatre, Peebles, at the end of this week, alongside work by my wife, jeweller Laura Johnson.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Watch Out For The Eggs

When the Machines Came, No. 3. Third in an indefinite series of... things. It started out on the sinister Praying Mantis template but eventually incorporated an unexpected amount of Giant Chicken.

Saturday, 12 October 2013


Toshiro Mifune, musing, yojimbo-style.

Friday, 4 October 2013

The Scottish Moustache

Cover for an imaginary comic book adaptation. Or maybe an opera, I don't know.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Another Thing

When the Machines Came, No. 2.

Saturday, 21 September 2013


"When the Machines Came, No.1."


Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Cloudy Again

More clouds. Rain over the Tweed at Horncliffe.

Pencil on A2 paper.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


Cloud study, pencils.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Blue Fish

The Price of Fish: 310 Blue. Oil on canvas, 60cm x 90cm.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

A Work of Aut

This drawing, pen and ink on a sheet of A3, proved a useful disgnostic tool for people looking over my shoulder the past couple of days. They ranged from 'great patience' to 'autistic.'


And this is one I did before; they all came from a doodle I did during a meeting.


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