I had an early start today and walked across the city to do some shopping to make cakes for the exhibition opening tomorrow and on my way back I spotted these two men asleep on the pavement down a side street. It was about 9.15 am and I was quite shocked. There’s one regular street person who tucks himself down every evening; he’s been doing it for decades and refuses offers of housing, preferring to live on the streets. But I’ve never seen anyone else out in the open like this. There are all sorts of reasons why people might be in this situation, but really, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it isn’t right. Why haven’t we cracked this problem yet?
On a lighter note, I’ve just finished the lemon butterream cake for tomorrow’s opening party for the group exhibition I’m in – the chocolate brownies can wait until tomorrow. I’ll post photos in tomorrow’s blog
Why? What’s the point? Maybe some people have medical reasons to wear sunglasses indoors, but surely not as many as I see out and about. This middle-aged dude was in Waterstone’s cafe where I stopped for a pot of tea and a scribble. He had fancy wrap-around style shades and a smart leather blouson jacket.
Drawn in my clothbound A5 sketchbook with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen, size F.
This morning I was helping to set up my new exhibition at The Brunswick in Swansea. I’m showing with members of an arts collective I’m in, 15 Hundred Lives, and we’ve put together a show of painting, photomontage and drawing / printmaking. I’ve done something new for this exhibition. For years, I’ve been wandering the streets with my sketchbooks, a set of drawing pens and a digital camera, recording what I see in front of me. This combines my digital images with my sketchbook drawings. I made solvent transfer prints of the digital work onto top quality art paper and then, using my sketchbook drawings as my source, I drew on top of the transmuted imagery, either with traditional dip pens or Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens.
The original drawing here was done while I was queuing at the Civic Centre. These two women sat opposite; I think they were related. The transfer print in the background was taken locally in Wind Street and then digitally manipulated before being used in the solvent transfer process. It’s a big change from the nudes that are normally my subject matter and the monotype and blockprinting processes I usually use in my work. It’s an interesting new direction for me.
Had a lovely day, first at Uplands Outdoor Market, bought loads of wonderful local produce and some hand-made Xmas presents – result! Then picked up the little nephew and went to ‘A Child’s Mystical Xmas’ in Cwmdonkin Park. It’s just around the corner from where Dylan Thomas grew up and he played in it throughout his childhood; it features in some of his work. The old bandstand has been turned into a very nice little cafe where we sat outside, it’s surprisingly warm, and had tea and Welsh cakes; I resisted the Christmas Pudding with Joe’s Icecream advertised on the chalkboard. I sketched the boy with his hot chocolate. He’s 9 now and his features are changing quickly, he doesn’t look so much like an alien and his nose is almost an adult shape.
Later on, we made lemon curd for more Xmas presents and Husb and the boy decorated the Xmas tree. Sparta the cat subverted them every step of the way. She’s delighted to have a tree to climb indoors
Greetings, apes. Sparta Puss here, on the ‘pooter box. The bald monkeys that I live with keep banging on about these opposable thumbs of theirs, like it’s such a big deal, and waving them at me and Ming the Merciless and laughing. Well, here’s the thing. They need the opposable thumbs to open the cat food pouches. And to make the factory that makes the cat food. And to build the warm, cosy house with the central heating and beds that I require for living in. They’d be useless servants without opposable thumbs and Ming the Merciless and I would have to kick them out. So I don’t know what they’ve got to be so snooty about. Idiots.
The she-ape has sticks with dirt in that she rubs over bits of paper and then says that they look like me. She’s an idiot.
Husb and I have an allotment and we went to the site’s annual general meeting last night and I was really surprised to see two other scribblers there. So I pulled out my sketchbook and scribbled them scribbling others. We have been growing lots of fruit on our plot, but the soil is heavy clay and we have struggled to grow veg. We’ve been building raised beds but they need a lot of filling, which is why we’re often going off to farmyards and stables, shovelling up sacks of manure to enrich our soil. It’s really hard work and I appreciate farmers much more since we’ve had it.
Our plot is behind Oystermouth Castle, built in the twelfth century. We are so used to castles littering our landscape (Swansea has two) that we take them for granted, but they’re quite spectacular really and Oystermouth is a particularly lovely one. Swansea City Council has done a lot of renovations in recent years, including an art gallery and it gets a lot of visitors. At this time of year, when there are no leaves on the trees, the castle is visible from the plot and it’s a great place to spend a few hours.
I did this drawing recently when I accompanied a relative to hospital. They’re not the most cheery of places but they’re very interesting for an artist, with a massive cross section of people who are usually too absorbed in other things to notice the scribbler in the corner.
This lady was quite exhausted and dozed in her chair. The nurses and doctors were lovely. It was incredibly busy but they were cheerful, professional and did their best to see everyone as quickly as possible. Sometimes things go wrong in the NHS and we have to be vigilant and not be afraid to complain when they do, but mostly they seem to get it right and we’re lucky to have a service like this available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
I stopped to sketch some people sitting on benches in the city centre the other day and one chap had a dog with him. I don’t get much chance to draw dogs, as we’re a household of cats and subservient bald monkeys. So I drew this one twice using Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens in sepia. It was a sweet little thing.
Husb and I spent today with 4 generations of my family at Margam Park where three of the generations were running in the 1k funrun to raise funds for the Royal Naval Lifeboat Institution (RNLI). It’s a really good cause as the lifeboat service is voluntary and relies on public generosity to carry out its work. Unfortunately I couldn’t run becaue my knees are wrecked, too many years tearing around on motorbikes in all weathers in a miniskirt and fishnet tights! If I was a horse, they’d shoot me.
So I did cheering duties and some speed sketching of my youngest relatives, who look like little aliens. Their proportions are all wrong. Oversized eyes and skull, squishy little faces, HUGE cheeks and their ears are in the wrong place! They look like Betty Boop. And they don’t keep still! And you’re not allowed to sedate them these days
It’s lovely to be part of a 4-generation family. I think it’s good for children to relate to older relatives who cover so much history between them and it’s delightful to see the very elderly and very young together.
Scribbled in haste into my A5 clothbound sketchbook with a Faber Castell Pitt drawing pen size F in sepia.
Here’s something different. I sent a little artwork to an unusual exhibition called Cardboard City which is starting in London tomorrow (Cardboard City was a collection of homeless people in Waterloo during the Thatcher years). Artists were invited to submit a piece that reflected social cohesion and community spirit. Each piece has been mounted into a makeshift cardboard box and they’ll be released into the wild during the lead up to Christmas. The first cluster is going out on the 1st December and then daily up until Christmas Eve, beginning somewhere near the original site of Cardboard City and heading along the Southbank, right up to the doors of the Tate Modern.
The curator had a trial run today to see if people would open the box and look at the art – they did – and if you look closely at the picture you’ll see that it’s mine, with a lovely view of St. Paul’s Cathedral and you can follow the progress of the little artworks in cardboard boxes throughout December on Twitter here, or on the Collect Connect website here. Or if you’re in London, go walkabout on the Southbank and enjoy these tiny bits of art.
And apart from this, I’ve had a lovely day shovelling manure on the allotment – gnats still there despite it being nearly December – and watched a cracking rugby international on the TV, Wales vs Australia. We lost but it was a great game, tight to the end.