Like many people in the UK right now, I’m feeling slightly shell-shocked. It will take a while to fully digest all the implications of Thursday’s General Election result and longer still for the decimated opposition parties to regroup, analyse what went wrong, and devise an electable alternative to the widely-loathed current incumbents.

Although the national picture is grim for anyone of a left-leaning political persuasion, a glimmer of cheer was provided by our own constituency, Brighton Pavilion, who re-elected the redoubtable Caroline Lucas of the Green Party, and neighbouring Hove, with Peter Kyle winning the seat for Labour from the Tories. We now proudly sit as a defiant speck of red and green amid the vast ocean of blue that is the newly-drawn political map of the south-east of England.

The general sense of politics-induced existential distress was also hugely ameliorated by a couple of timely and life-affirming local gigs (ah, the healing power of music!). First up, on Friday, an exhilarating audio-visual blitzkrieg of extreme techno-jazz by electronic pioneer Squarepusher, followed by a rare visit to Brighton by our son’s up-and-coming band Blood Sport, who played a blinder at the nearby Cowley Club. Life, emphatically, goes on!

And of course we’ve still got art – a contrived but effective cue to shoe-horn in a few recent life-drawings. Here’s Sophia, from last Tuesday…


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Go hang.

It’s Festival-time again here in Brighton. Among the hundreds of art exhibitions competing for attention during the manic month of May is the SCAC show, featuring work by members done (mostly) at the club during the previous year. I went down last week to help out with the hanging which, although there were slightly fewer pieces submitted than last year, posed essentially the same conundrum as it always does. Namely: How the heck do you display THIS MUCH work in THIS LITTLE space? However, notwithstanding the inevitable handful of frames that were held together with little more than blind faith, and the apparent belief among some members that mirror-plates were optional rather than required (READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!), it all came good in the end as it always does. The mixed-bag of an exhibition will be open to the public every weekend during May – if you’re in town, please try to visit. Here’s a six-second Vine taken during the hanging:

Had I not already framed three pieces for submission, I might have included one of the following watercolours from last Tuesday’s session. It was the first time I’d drawn Frankie for ages and I was reminded why she’s such a popular and successful life-model; classical poise, locks into a pose like a statue (even the eyes – we notice these things) and of course that hair. These were all ten-minute sketches but I’d have happily spent much longer on any of them.28March15-Frankie@SCAC_3(lo-res)28March15-Frankie@SCAC_1(lo-res)28March15-Frankie@SCAC_2(lo-res)28March15-Frankie@SCAC_4(lo-res)28March15-Frankie@SCAC_5(lo-res)

And here’s the latest image from my meaningless watercolours series, with a nod to Duchamp:

Art Cheerleaders(lo-res)

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A blog title that would also have worked equally well for the last post, but on this occasion refers to watercolour paint rather than a life on the ocean wave.

Here are a few pieces from the only two life-drawing sessions I’ve been able to attend over the last month, which, chronologically-speaking, actually bookend the sailing pics I posted a few days ago. First up is the dreadlocked Chiara from back in March and, after a couple more meaningless images from my occasional stream-of-consciousness watercolour series, a few 10-minute sketches of the exceptionally drawable Laura N from a couple of days ago.

24March15-Chiara@SCACx7Sci-Fi Convention(lo-res)DogSkipper(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_1(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_2(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_3(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_4(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_5(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_6(lo-res)21April15-LauraN@SCAC_7(lo-res)

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Sketchbook del Mar

Regular readers (who am I trying to kid?) will already be aware of a couple of sailing trips I’ve taken in recent years with my skiing buddies so rather than repeating the whole tedious history of the Sonneteers Sailing Division, here are a couple of links to the posts in question. The first trip in 2012 and the second one in 2013.

Anyway, following a one-year hiatus, we took to the sea again last week. Not the chilly Solent this time, however. Thanks to Hove Lagoon Watersports, with whom our skipper Jan has a long-standing association, recently opening for business in Barcelona (well why not?), we headed south to the Mediterranean this year for a sunnier ambience and a distinctly superior class of tapas.

The itinerary in brief: picked up the 40-foot Always Dream in Sitges, sailed up the coast to Barcelona for a night among the super-yachts, carried on North to the fishing port of Arenys de Mar then did the same trip in reverse over the next couple of days. Very languid sailing in light winds until it picked up to around force 4 for a choppier, more exhilarating final day. Long periods of zen-like inactivity, with captive subjects – a doodler’s heaven.

The sketchbook did not accompany me ashore in the evenings, so no drawings of the Sagrada Família, our neighbouring super-yachts or the fabulous Pulperia, I’m afraid.

Hopefully the drawings speak for themselves.


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Analogue backlog.

Since my recent re-discovery of the tactile pleasures of watercolour paints while life-drawing, I’ve got into the habit over the last couple of months of knocking out the occasional pencil-and-watercolour sketch during idle studio moments. I try to make sure there’s one on the go at all times so that I can dip in and out whenever the mood takes me.

They’re all done on A4 sheets of 300 gsm  textured watercolour paper, are loosely based on quirky old black & white photographs found on the internet, and although I’ve set myself very few ground rules, I’m also trying to keep to a minimal palette and not crop off any body parts. This last ‘rule’ has led to several grotesque anatomical distortions that – on the whole – please me very much. They’re like a visual form of ‘automatic writing'; any meaning they might have is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

I’ve created a Pinterest board for them where new pieces will be posted as they’re completed: Odd Watercolours

If you make it through to the end of this post without losing the will to live, you’ll also find a few drawings of the lovely Clementine from a couple of weeks ago by way of a return to sanity.Dancers_1(lo-res)Oh_Yeah(lo-res)MissYogurt1964(lo-res)UnicyclistCouple(lo-res)Napalm_Lounge(lo-res)Clown&Pike(lo-res)FuturePlanning(lo-res)The FabulousPickerings(lo-res)BoxingWomen(lo-res)TennisSmokers(lo-res)AlienAccordionist(lo-res)Clarinet(lo-res)10March15-Clementine@SCACx5(lo-res)

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It’s that man again.

Every life-drawer’s favourite Austrian, Egon Schiele, that is.

Here are a few 10-minute sketches of Michaela from Tuesday’s regular SCAC session plus my 30-minute pieces from the following evening’s Schiele-themed evening organised by BiG, the Brighton Illustrators’ Group, during which Laura-Kate and Clementine created three separate tableaux in progressively fewer items of costume. Half-an-hour per pose was woefully inadequate to fully do them justice but it was fun to try.

What a great place to be an artist this is.


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Achtung, baby.

Last week Lynn and I returned from a week in Berlin, a city that has been on our ‘list’ for a good few years now and about which we’d heard nothing but positive reports.

With good reason. Be grateful this isn’t a travel blog; you’d be in for a long haul. Berlin is a city of profound historical significance while at the same time fizzing with creative energy and in a seemingly permanent state of re-invention. All very zeitgeist-y, appropriately enough. Were I not merely a humble doodler, there would now follow an interminable stream of unoriginal thoughts and observations on topics as diverse as Graffiti, cultural globalisation, the Stasi, brutalist architecture, Currywurst, Communism, guilt and atonement, post-modernism, public transport, Soviet-era euphemisms, ancient civilisations, bicycle lanes and the ampelmann. Think yourselves lucky.

The sketchbook accompanied me everywhere as usual but our typically relentless schedule meant it rarely emerged from my rucksack. Here’s a quick drawing from the hotel room (Room 101 – really!) the evening we arrived. It had been a long day.


The only other two sketches from the trip were done during early-evening beers (about the only time of the day we sat down for any length of time) and so also feature Lynn, with barely a hint of Berlin to be seen, other than in the place-names and German phrase-book.


Tuesday I was back in the SCAC life-drawing studio for the first time in three weeks for a splendid session with the always-inspiring Kate on modelling duties. I carried on where I left off last time, with my rediscovered joy of watercolours undimmed. They do make some lovely ‘marks’ – it’s like being an art student again!24Feb15-KateS@SCAC_1(lo-res)24Feb15-KateS@SCAC_2(lo-res)24Feb15-KateS@SCAC_3(lo-res)24Feb15-KateS@SCAC_4(lo-res)24Feb15-KateS@SCAC_5(lo-res)24Feb15-KateS@SCAC_6(lo-res)


And seriously, if you get a chance to visit Berlin – go.

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