Widespread indifference as milestone reached.

It’s exactly one year since my Drawstring blog went live. This is the twentieth post, which could hardly be described as prolific by blogosphere standards but is certainly a more impressive output than I originally predicted. I genuinely expected to lose interest after the first couple of entries – it’s amazing what a galvanizing effect even a mere handful of supportive responses can have. If you’re one of the small number to have sent words of encouragement then you only have yourself to blame for the blog’s continued existence!

Lynn and I managed a three-night trip to the Lake District last month, probably my favourite part of the country. I used to visit regularly when I lived in Yorkshire but it’s not exactly on the doorstep anymore and this was the first time back there for about ten years. Incredibly lucky with our choice of weekend – we had blue skies, a kaleidoscope of retina-melting autumn colours, pin-sharp visibility from the mountain tops and, weirdly, not a breath of wind which gave the lakes themselves the appearance of mirrors when viewed from above.

If I was a real artist there would now follow a compendium of sketches and watercolours that I made on location to celebrate all this natural beauty but most of the time was spent walking in the hills and the only visual record I brought back was photographic. It’s not really in the spirit of this blog to include photographs, but I’m prepared to make an exception on this occasion just to provide a taste of what I’m on about.

In fact the only sketch I made the whole time we were in the Lakes was this decidedly indoor one of my sleeping spouse back at the B&B in Newby Bridge. The days exertions in the mountains, topped off with a couple of pints of Theakstons and a hearty pub dinner, meant that the lights were out, at least in Lynn’s case, by 9:30pm. Note the Wainwright guidebooks scattered on the bed. I hadn’t looked at them for years and had almost forgotten what exquisite, jewel-like little works of art they are, in spite of the sometimes curmudgeonly tone. I can also testify that they remain as usable when out in the hills as they ever were.

If you’re a stranger to Wainwright and his oeuvre, try this link.

A particularly well-attended Brighton Illustrators’ Group meeting took place last month at the Apple Store in Churchill Square, where the subject under discussion was the iPad and in particular the implications of this new tablet technology for the publishing industry. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about what it will mean. How will anyone make money from digital publications? Can paywalls work? Can anyone with a laptop now become a publisher? Where do we see newspapers in a few years time? And bookshops? How will illustration budgets be affected? It’s far too early for definitive answers of course; this is still fledgling technology and very much a ‘work in progress’. No one seems to be in any doubt that the iPad is pointing the way to the future though, despite being far from the finished item.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the new touch-screen gadgets continues to be the potential they have as tools of production, rather than of consumption, which is (understandably) the angle generally touted by Apple. My own artistic touchscreen efforts are still confined to the six square-inches of the iPod Touch although every new iPad-specific painting app that I hear about makes me want one that little bit more. For instance I saw a terrific package called Art Studio being demonstrated on YouTube recently, that had me practically salivating. Here are my latest Brushes efforts anyway:

Also another two from the pages of the trad sketchbook. A quickie drawn from my reflection in the velux window above my desk (hence the odd set-up) and, in recognition of the fact that the very first image I posted on this blog was a sketch of my studio, here’s another rendition of the very same subject to neatly bookend the first year. A quick comparison will confirm how little has changed during the intervening twelve months.


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