Witty quote

"I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught." (Winston Churchill)....Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread. (Richard Wright)

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Taking lines for a walk (after Paul Klee?)

I've joined a doodle site HERE There are some truly magnificent doodles to be admired there - not just pen, of course, but paint, cartoon, illustration etc Doodling is a wide definition and includes pattern drawing, which I enjoy, and line-drawing, which I always come back to (no patterns - just lines). It took me only a few weeks to leave the Zentangle scene not least because the format of about 9x9 cms is simply too small for me.

I admit to hanging around Zentangle sites but getting annoyed at the patronizing tone of some people who think they invented drawing and patterns etc, but plagiarize nature and other art forms for patterns they then declare as original or/and "deconstructions". The idea of steps / step-outs is of course a good one. Fathoming geometric patterns is sometimes difficult -finding the quickest way of getting the effect can be a real puzzle that Zentangle proponents are good at.

Pinterest has thousands of "pins" you can look at for pattern examples withut going anywhere near the Zentangle community. Dedicated Zentangle addicts are often scathing about the word "doodling" - I can't think why because some stupendously talented people doodle away quite happily (and are not restricted by various does and don't imposed by the Zentangle addicts - I'm not going to recite them here).

I have been doodling, scribbling, drawing - call it what you will - for a long time. I'm going to make a big effort to publish some new work here, though I think the last post or two are up to date. I now have a mouse scanner that can deal with A3 paper (= double letter-size), which is my preferred size and the largest for which I can get a show-case portfolio. Anything bigger becomes difficult to transport or even preserve.

I have just decided to do a series with frames drawn free-hand and will post one or two of them soon. Why frames? I'm intrigued by the idea of breaking out of a designated format. Look in again soon for some examples!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

On track?

the original background image

It's such a long time since I posted anything here. I'll start gently. One of my favourite 'strings' is currently the treble clef. I'm doing one now but will post the three previous ones. Click on an image to see it larger. I need not tell you that these images are copyright!!!!!

Monday, 9 January 2017

Latest round-up

I'm raking in all my various blogs. What did I do in 2016?

One or two drawings have emerged - no, a whole A3 display file full and one half full, but not photographed well enough to publish. The ones I did photograph have disappeared somewhere on this laptop!

I also wrote a book, choral arrangements etc.... I was not idle!

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Tempus fugit

I can't believe it's over two months since I wrote something here! I've done almost no drawing at all in recent months. I'm on vacation till later this month and drawing has been on the back burner. The days have slipped by with visits to concerts, a few days in London, a visit to Venice, and shopping. I will finish my break in Bristol before driving home in about 10 days time..

So what, if anything, do I have to show here?

The 4 drawings included below are - as usual - put together from patterns I remember, 'borrowed' or invented and are consequently bitty and piecemeal. I'll call them 'dingbats' after the symbolic font all computer users know and number them according to the order shown here. The photo quality is poor. I have a new digicam now that gets good results. I'll post some snaps over on FAPJ soon and try to replace the ones below when I'm back home.

Looking at them now, I feel I have already moved on. In fact, I was irritated rather than zen-therapied by my last drawing attempt the other week and ripped it up. I need new ideas that I think they go in the direction of drawing 'proper'. I saw some wonderful trees in a park today and want to draw them - or at least studies of the bark textures - with graphite and or charcoal, Thanks to my diligent digital photography. I might even be successful. It produced over 200 images this afternoon and I'm learning to photograph 'models' from several angles. Pictorial art involves reducing 3D to 2D without losing the 3D effect. It definitely helps of you have more than one photo-shot to refer to.

The magic word is "shading". Dingbats 3 is shaded and some shapes are nicely rounded. In Dingbats 2 the dark shading between the flowers brings them forward. Dingbats 4 has colour, but no shading to any degree. The ochre comes from a used (brewed) teabag drawn gently over the paper. Dingbat 1 is probably unfinished.
dingbats 1

dingbats 2

dingbats 3

dingbats 4

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Long time no see

Jetzt schreibe ich kurz auf Deutsch, weil ich ein Kommentar HIER hinterlassen habe. Ich habe übrigens ein Buch in meinem holprigen Deutsch geschrieben aber nie herausgegeben, weil inzwischen viele Bücher auch auf Deutsch erhältlich sind. Aber der Anfang dieses Stils ist schwierig, und ich kann auf Anfrage meine kleine Anleitung eventuell zur Verfügung stellen!

But I really want to write in English, so I will. I'm just going to add a few drawings I did late last year. I'm taking a rest from doodling as I have one or two painting commissions.
These drawings are a few I did sometime last year. I did lots of others, but have not yet photographed them.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Who is that?

I spotted the quote above by Richard Wright this morning and decided it was really apt! Well, I think this is the guy who said that. But there are other Richard Wrights. Here's one: Richard Wright (musician). Here's another: Richard Wright (footballer)
Take your choice?
I don't think so. Here's a biography of the first and most likely author of those words. Inspiring.

So why quote them on a doodling blog?

Well, I read and commented on a comment by a persistent and very ambitious perpetrator of "Zentangle", which is apparently and disparagingly claimed not to be doodling, though Z... serves the same purpose as other forms of recreation; re-creation was the word used for hobby or leisure activity long before the word hobby was used; pastime = pass-the-time is another word for recreational activity, but the word recreation says it all - the aim is to rejuvenate, relax and refresh (= the 3 Rs). According to this person on that blog, everything that isn't Z..... is an imitation (= plagiarized). All those who dare draw a pattern not apparently invented by the inventors of the adopted term Z ... are imitators.

Informed people know that in the 90s a Russian lady named Nadia Russ used this form of drawing, but mainly for educational purposes (Z... people got onto the educational side much, much later). The Z.... thing came about 6 years later.

As for imitation, patterns 'invented' by Z... artisans are often based on other patterns that were drawn, created, woven, hammered, stuck etc. previously - in other words they are copied and/or imitated. There are many examples of that on the blog of the woman who claims imitation by anyone who is drawing patterns but not on or in the Z... thing. Incidentally, one of the rules of Z... is that the drawings have to be abstract, but that rule is also old hat.

I wrote an irate comment on the woman's epistle. My comment will either not be published at all due to censorship of anything not in harmony with that woman's thinking, or will be severely edited to cut out anything negative! That is protectionism: inviting comments and then not publishing them if they do not suit the purpose. But it's her blog, not mine, and my opinion not hers. I am not saying who that is since she is entitled to her opinion, though she ignores the facts of the matter and not least because I am not going to promote her!

I write these lines (inspired by that R.W. quote above) because many people now well and often exclusively into Z.... had never drawn in their lives before and are dependent on rules and regulations to keep them on the straight and narrow of Z...., though in my view they could - and some do - grow out of Z.... and do their own thing, as I do. The rules and regulations of Z... include not using an eraser (haha not admitting to doing so???), strictly speaking no colour (although the inventors of that commercial Z. label use colour now),  and other rules you can find listed on various blogs. Z... is traditionally drawn on squares marginally smaller than a beermat. Creativity has at last come to people who thought they were uncreative. All praise to that, of course. But as for the rest...

I've been doodling A3 a bit, but I had to buy a new camera and haven't had time to take any photos of recent studies.......yet. 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Just a scribble or two

I didn't have much time for drawing while I was on vacation. I tore one effort up into small pieces and threw it away because I had lost the plot. I was left with only 2 attempts. The first one is mainly coloured and fairly jolly:

scan of dingbat 19

The second drawing is not finished, as you can see. I had drawn a blind string as I do for most A3 drawings. It was being worked on when a friend of my friend came in and she was curious. She wanted to know if the drawing - or the one in colour - was a pattern for embroidery. No, it's just a drawing, I said. What? Just a drawing? No reason for doing it? I just draw for the fun of it, I told her, and sometimes I get quite involved with trying out patterns. The lady could not understand why I wasn't going to do something useful with the result. I could not convince her that the act of drawing was itself useful, if only to me!

scan of dingbat 20 (unfinished)
Looking at the unfinished drawing I realize that I still want to add to it, though at the time I was depressed by the woman's remarks. Most people are so sure that they cannot draw, even abstract patterns - doodles(?) - that they won't even try, so the reaction to the drawings is quite often astonishment with a little admiration and a lot of skepsis and remarks such as: I couldn't do that, I wouldn't want to do that, It's a waste of time...

I think this business of whether something has to be useful can also teach us a lesson or two about perseverence. You cannot learn anything without even trying, even or especially artistic things. The Zentangle (keyword) craze in the USA and elsewhere in the world has brought people (mainly women) to the drawing board who would never have dreamt of doing anything artistic. OK, you can argue about whether something is art or not, but the fact remains that creativity is the human expression of a inherent need for self-expression that is innate in every child and often gets hidden under the pile of ordinariness that comprises everyday life. The artist pursues the goal of maintaining that self-expression. But doesn't that mean everyone if creativity is inborn? And does that not mean that all, or some facets of a person's character are stifled, sometimes life-long?

Rather than continuing to preach on this topic, I think I should get my pens out and do some drawing.

Back soon...

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Friday, 26 June 2015

Doodling on and on and on...dingbats...imperfection

I've called this collection 'dingbats' - after the alternative symbols in 'WORD'. It's such a nice word that it was time to put it to good use. 
I was quite surprised that so many drawings had mounted up - I put them on my piano stand before filing them, in the the hope that I will come back to them and improve them, but seldom get round to that. Some really need more colour and during my coming vacation I plan to work more on some of the drawings, maybe even incorporating some of the gorgeous new patterns I've found in recent weeks. Some are by Helen Williams, who publishes the most elegant videos and most elegant and graceful doodles of all those I have as yet come across, and if I call them doodles rather than 'zentangle'  it's because her work transcends the sometimes humbrum efforts in the zentangle world. I do not claim that my drawings are NOT humdrum, but I do claim that they are DOODLES (and not zentangle). they are sometimes worked on a (blind) string, sometimes entirely freehand. I am hoping to do some DIN A4 drawing during my vacation (starting tomorrow - yippee) and some of the results are to be monodoodles i.e. only one pattern is used, or duodoodles in which 2 patterns are used. I'm inventing those words, but not patenting them! May aim is also to leave more empty spaces! I tend to overwork my drawings, as I often do with paintings. I think it's the futile search for perfection!


ongoing colouring

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Doodling, Rembrandt and some proper paintings

I've been so busy writing etc. that I haven't had time to scan in the large drawings I've been perpetrating. I can't get out of the habit of using the A3 format (= double letter-size) and my scanner can only cope with A4 (letter-size) so that means merging bits. That is very time-consuming and usually takes 6 bits (the golden mean?) to get a single merge, but I will replace these photos eventually. It is possible (and necessary) that some of the drawings will evolve further.

floral c. 40x30cm

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Taking time to doodle

I've been busy writing a novel again - go here to read - I'm writing the final chapter now, but took time to draw this evening: yet another abstract line drawing. I found a name for the art form - or rather, borrowed: "INK ART", Below is the newest attempt. The scan was not very good. I retraced some of the orange twirls, but a few spaces coloured orange in the design do not show up. However, retouching depends on spaces being completely enclosed, otherwise the space around is flooded, so I didn't retouch those bits. It would have taken too long to retouch the lines.

Below my drawing is a video by a really good line artist. I skipped the long bit about his sandwich! I'm going to try to start a new drawing like he did, but I won't copy it, of course.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

long time no drawing

I finally got round to drawing or rather filling in a zendala (mandala in zentangle art style) last night. It's design #100 by Erin Olsen and the template can be found here. I quite enjoyed the smaller format (A4 paper). Months of drawing only A3 size and a refreshing pause to do some 'real' painting have helped to make this drawing possible :-)

Friday, 27 February 2015

Out of sync...

It's nearly March and I've been preoccuppied for some weeks. A good friend died on 24th January. I was in the UK for her funeral and did not get back until 17th February. After that I just haven't had time for drawing, not least because I'm painting two works for real people (not just to keep my hand in).  A broken washing machine that had to be replaced, a broken digital recorder that had to be mended, and a broken me, tired after my trip and emotionally rather stressed, completed the mess. Ah, I hear you say, that's when the doodling comes in. But I can't say doodling improves my mood. It is relaxing, but relaxation is sometimes the last thing you need if things are not going the way you'd like them to. Now I'm more or less back to normal and hope to produce something worth exhibiting over the weekend. I'm showing the new paintings over at fapj.

Thanks for visiting! 

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Good intentions

Somehow I lost touch with all the doodling activities online. I think it was because I had got to the stage when I was really only drawing so that I could post stuff and get comments! Ridiculous. I'm all for being encouraged, but the doodling thing, whether you call it 'zentangle style'. 'neopoprealism' or just plain doodling, is for amusement and is a form of relaxation. Very keen 'zentangle' groupies get quite hysterical if you call their 'art' doodling, though that would assume that other forms of doodling are entirely without rhyme or reason and raise their 'art' to a status it does not really merit.

Thursday, 27 November 2014


I've just re-discovered this blog, which was intended to house my visual attempts at being an artist. I've been writing a lot lately, so the drawing and painting have been neglected. Not really a good reason.... Here are a few recent drawings to relaunch this blog. I'll be back!

The drawings below are mainly from a collection I've called "new age" because I'm trying to free myself from any cramped patterns I've been struggling with. But some are in the old style: more colour, lots more patters, a fair amount of pattern desperation, humdrum to draw sometimes, and much less relaxed! The busy ones are named "new bits". The last drawing is a mixture of the two styles and will probably herald a new style evolved out of the blend of elegant curve and itsy-bitsy pattern.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Taking a break...

After nearly 2 years scribbling away at doodles, I've finally ground to a halt. I realized at the weekend that my motivation had gone for this type of artwork. I've been painting a lot and once I start painting, every other visual art form takes a back seat. It's happened before. I put painting on the back burner when I started the zentangle inspired art and zen doodling nearly two years ago. I suppose the intensity with which I pursue whatever it is I'm doing at the moment tends to blind out other things.
But I always come back to painting. My most recent canvases have been of a large sunflower. The month of May was often grey and the light poor. Working with shades of yellow raised my spirits and brought sunshine into my studio. I painted the same flower twice, because I gave the first painting away and decided I'd like to have it! Below are a few more sunflower paintings done down the years. There are lots more, but the ones shown are the better ones! I hope to improve my watercolours through intense practice this summer!

small sunflower acrylics 40x40cm

big sunflower acrylics 60x60cm

I did not use a photo of the smaller edition to paint the larger one, so they are not identical and not like the original photo, which I took many years ago against a different background. I decided to leave out the objects in the original photo - looking at the two paintings together, I realize that I put the pole in on the right. I don't know why and I've no idea what it represents. The larger version might get some more work done on it, but not till after a break, so that I can see more clearly what else I would like to add (or remove!).
These are not my first sunflower paintings. Recently I did an acrylic version of a pastel I gave to friends years ago. Although I'd used good quality pastels, they were fading. 

sunflowers original version in pastels
on dark green paper

sunflowers later version in acrylics
the acrylic version hanging

sunflower composition in oils

watercolour study with ink
watercolour study

watercolour study

Since I am not going to do zen doodling for a while, I will probably not update this blog until after the summer break. I haven't decided what art tools to take on holiday. At the moment I'm working on an oil painting that needs completing, and trying some watercolour studies, but in the south of France, where I shall be spending some time, the light is marvellous and there are plenty of flowers waiting to be painted. 

Till we meet again, happy art-making! 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Tackle it Tuesday -'A' patterns

Having stumbled over this blog, I was overjoyed to discover that I had also stumbled over a new, interesting and absorbing challenge! 
All the patterns ('tangles') were to start with the letter 'A'. I counted 51 pattern instruction files so there were plenty to choose from. I decied to use an A3 sheet of raw watercolour paper and had fun drawing the following patterns, either in their original form or as variations ('tangleations'):
aquafleur (enhanced by my leaf pattern: 'aqualeaf')
arc flower
amoebae (a wiggly line filler pattern specially invented for this drawing)

medley 11 with 'A' patterns
amaze; aquafleur; assunta; allium; agua; afterglo; adente;
A-fog; arc-flower; aura-leah; aerial-views; amoebae

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

a confused interwoven mass

What's that? (meaning the title of this post)

In this morning's Gardian crossword that was the clue to the word TANGLE - and is exactly how I thought of  tangles in the past.
But who am I to dispute the new use of the word as a synonym for pattern - when a tangle is linguistically the opposite of a pattern. After all, we have buses in PCs and it follows a long line of English language tradition to borrow simple, practical words and use them as required. In computing they hit the ceiling with that method of describing something quite new (in those days).
At which point I have to voice my annoyance that the German language has borrowed the word 'handy' to mean cell/mobile phone. I can't bring myself to use that without cringing inside.

To get back to the real point of this comment, let's tangle, and hopefully we do mean orderly, methodical use of the patterns available to use when drawing in any given style, including zen of course.

Language, especially the English language, is fickle! Zen is not normally a word or part of a word used to describe drawing anything. It's again a borrowed plume, but  to repeat the old saying: if the cap fits, wear it!
One more bit of trivia: Did you know that the word 'zen' is not in the official Scrabble dictionary? Silly that, considering how few words there are starting with Z that would fit in a scrabble game. And even sillier that there is a watchdog hanging over scrabble boards, checking that no disallowed words are used to solve linguistic tangles! 

Challenge 164  is to reflect on the Earth. A nice idea that will take us on long journeys and reflect some of our love of the world we live in. The choice of tangle patterns is endless - anything goes, really, and I think I'm going to use the centre of a large drawing I'm working on at the moment. Here's the bit I mean:

earth matters - detail of line drawing for ch164

I might print this part as a 10x10 drawing to achieve a 10x10cm format. I think it would work. The A3 drawing will be the final one in a presentation book of oversized drawings. I was ambitious about drawing on such a scale, but now I'm hooked and have already bought a second folder to store the 40 as yet undrawn abstract doodles I hope to make in the coming months. Today's task is to finish this one - or at least the part shown here.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

borderline case 01

NB: Scroll down for Challenge 163 in the previous post.

This title is rather a play on words. I was looking at my collection of borders and wondering why I can never think of any at the right moment. I expect that happens to us all now and again with all types of pattern, e.g. you have a splendid empty space and can't think of a different filler, or if, like me this time, you've made a string using 2 pencils together instead of one and you've ended up with lovely ribbons crying out for borders, finding the right pattern gets even more complcated. Part of the problem here was that some of the tracks were too narrow. In the end I got a bit tired of the drawing, so my main aim was then to finish it! It does have a variation of rixty in there somewhere, but since it is similar to other solutions, you may not want to think of mine as rixty. 
I did find one or two original ideas for borders, which I will take up again. One was inspired by the back of a mushroom, where the stalk emerges. That's much more interesting than the smooth top of a mushroom. There are of course lots more fungi to explore. Some look like little trees. All the mushroom shown HERE are apparently edible! I don't think they all look appetizing, however.

new series "borderline case" 01 (A3)

It was quite a shock drawing large format after a few days of 10x10cm doodles, which don't take very long to complete, so I might go back to that format for a restful week, but first I want to work on a drawing to be done over watercolour. I found this unfinished painting this morning and it's ideal for a floral, I think. 

watercolour base (30x30cm = 12x12in)