Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Happy New Year!

Etching: Still Life (Etching and aquatint)

It's been a fascinating 12 months on Boogie Street, and I'd like to thank all of you who've followed me through this blog. Your comments have been a real and very welcome encouragement. I hope you'll stay with me in the coming year.

The choice of image may seem a strange one, but I see it as one of hope. The making of the etching itself, in 1998, wasn't really successful: the plate was left in the acid too long and the aquatint started to come loose. However, the end result, with platelets of aquatint shifting about probably makes the print more interesting than it might have been had it worked the way it was meant to. It's been a year of promise and achievement, but some things didn't work out. Despite that, shining through the shifting platelets of 2008, there's still the bright white light of 2009. Better stop there before I get too purple.

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2009. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Travelling Sketchbook

Elaborate Hair-Do (pencil, A5 sketchbook)

Cold Calling (pencil, A5 sketchbook)
Two people drawn on the Metro, on the same page of my A5 sketchbook.


Clandestine (Epsilon 11)
Pencils: Rob Hansen; Inks and digital colour: Harry Bell
[Used with Rob's permission]

Back in the 1980s, my old friend Rob Hansen and I collaborated on some fanzine covers. This one, dated 1982, was for Rob's own fanzine, Epsilon, and I did the inking over his pencils. The subject seemed to suit this week's Illustration Friday subject, Clandestine, so this time round I added some digital colour.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Xmas Unwrapped

Pension Kasteli (Oil on canvas, 12 x 12 ins.) (Private Collection)

It may have appeared that I'd stopped painting in the last week or so, but I've actually been working on this painting as a Xmas present for my partner, Pat. It was a secret, of course, so I couldn't post anything about it here as she'd be bound to see it.

At first, I thought I wouldn't be able to paint the hotel because the photograph I had was taken at such an acute angle. However, Photoshop proved itself more than up to the task. Using a Perspective Edit, I was able to stretch the building back into a face-on viewpoint. Photoshop never ceases to amaze me.

The painting is of the lovely little place we stayed in on Crete in September last year. Our room was at the back and I did this drawing from the balcony.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Merry Xmas!

Oh yes, nearly forgot

Have a happy one!

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Apparently, I'm THE STAR

There was a time when I was really into the occult, the metaphysical, and took something of an interest in the Tarot. But I've moved on since then, becoming much more pragmatic in my approach to life. Nevertheless, Tarot readings can be fun,and when I came across a reference to an online reading service on Paula Pertile's blog, I thought I'd give it a whirl. I'm not in the least surprised by the reading, because the questions in this sort of exercise are always cleverly designed to produce a recognisable result. But you know, who wouldn't be just a little pleased to be THE STAR?

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Things I've Done

This seems to be everywhere, but I first found it on The Cycling Artist.

It's a somewhat peculiar list of things to do, with an obvious American bias, but hey! it's fun and it's Xmas! I've shown those I've done in bold.

1. Started your own blog.
2. Slept under the stars.
3. Played in a band.
4.Visited Hawaii.
5. Watched a meteor shower.
6. Given more than you can afford to charity.
7. Been to Disneyland.
8. Climbed a mountain (Helvellyn. But that's only 3,117 ft)
9. Held a praying mantis.
10. Sang a solo.
11. Bungee jumped.
12. Visited Paris.
13. Watched a lightning storm at sea (On a rustbucket going to Santorini)
14. Taught yourself an art from scratch.
15. Adopted a child.
16. Had food poisoning.
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty.
18. Grown your own vegetables.
19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France.
20. Slept on an overnight train (London to Rome).
21. Had a pillow fight.
22. Hitch hiked.
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill.
24. Built a snow fort.
25. Held a lamb.
26. Gone skinny dipping.
27. Run a Marathon.
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice.
29. Seen a total eclipse.
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset.
31. Hit a home run (only at rounders, but that's the same, isn't it?)
32. Been on a cruise.
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person.
34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors (I live there!)
35. Seen an Amish community.
36. Taught yourself a new language.
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (but I didn't know it).
38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.
39. Gone rock climbing.
40. Seen Michelangelo's David.
41. Sung karaoke.
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt.
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant.
44. Visited Africa (North Africa)
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight.
46. Been transported in an ambulance (crashed my scooter and ended my Mod career).
47. Had your portrait painted.
48. Gone deep sea fishing.
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person.
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling.
52. Kissed in the rain.
53. Played in the mud.
54. Gone to a drive-in theater.
55. Been in a movie.
56. Visited the Great Wall of China.
57. Started a business.
58. Taken a martial arts class.
59. Visited Russia.
60. Served at a soup kitchen.
61. Sold Girl Scout cookies (no, but did Bob-A-Job Week)
62. Gone whale watching.
63. Got flowers for no reason.
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma.
65. Gone sky diving.
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp.
67. Bounced a cheque.
68. Flown in a helicopter.
69. Saved a favourite childhood toy (many)
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.
71. Eaten Caviar.
72. Pieced a quilt.
73. Stood in Times Square.
74. Toured the Everglades.
75. Been fired from a job.
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London.
77. Broken a bone.
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle.
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.
80. Published a book.
81. Visited the Vatican.
82. Bought a brand new car.
83. Walked in Jerusalem.
84. Had your picture in the newspaper.
85. Read the entire Bible.
86. Visited the White House (Stood outside on Lexington Ave. Does that count?)
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating.
88. Had chickenpox.
89. Saved someone’s life.
90. Sat on a jury.
91. Met someone famous.(but define famous)
92. Joined a book club.
93. Lost a loved one.
94. Had a baby.
95. Seen the Alamo in person.
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake.
97. Been involved in a lawsuit.
98. Owned a cell phone.
99. Been stung by a bee (only wasps)
100. Read an entire book in one day.

Old Drawings #25

High Level Bridge (Charcoal, pastel on cartridge paper)

I'm guessing 1995 again. I remember exaggerating the height of the bridge a little to make it fit the square - I'd just discovered the square format and was determined to make everything square.

The High Level was designed by Robert Stephenson and is the first major example of a wrought iron bow-string girder bridge in the world. It's probably my favourite of all the bridges over the Tyne (there are 12 in all) and is certainly the one I've painted most - I love the way its rectilinear profile fits the picture plane.

It's been closed to traffic since 2005 because, of course, in addition to the rail traffic on the upper deck, it was built to accommodate Victorian horse-drawn transport and years of heavy motorised transport had taken their toll. As a Grade I listed structure, there were strictures on how it might be repaired. The road bed, for instance, had to be completely replaced, along with a number of the girders which had corroded, and this had to be done with sympathetic materials. After a £42m refit it opened again this year, with traffic restricted to buses and taxis, going one way only (Newcastle to Gateshead).

Saturday, 20 December 2008


(Fibretip, Photoshop, digital colour)

I know it's an easy solution doing that copy and paste thing in Photoshop, but I do get a kick out of seeing a line of the same image. This is for Illustration Friday: Voices, and is dedicated to H.P.Lovecraft fans everywhere.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Xmas at the Club

It was the Xmas party at the Art Club today. Last year there was a surfeit of sausage rolls, this year there were hardly any. But there were other compensations - the discovery that we have a Muffin Man amongst us, for one. And there were chicken kievs, pork pies, ham sandwiches, prawns with a dip, cocktail sausages, mince pies, chocolate cake, coffee and walnut cake, and ... oh you get the picture.

Of course, there was also enough red wine to wash it all down with. After lunch, Joe the Joiner told me that he and his father had once put in a new staircase in a brewery while the manager plied them with the products. When they came back to work the next day they had to take it out and put it back in again properly. I figured something similar might happen to anything I should paint after the party, so I came home without lifting a brush.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Old Drawings #25

Hopper Mausoleum 2 (Charcoal, compressed charcoal, A2 cartridge)

It seemed appropriate to post the other drawing of the Mausoleum. Done at the same time, it shows the front of the building.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Old Drawings #24

Hopper Mausoleum (Charcoal, compressed charcoal, A2 cartridge)

This dates from 1994 or 1995, I think. In those days I had access to a car and one of my favourite drives was out to the Derwent Reservoir.

On the way back, we'd often go via Grey Mare Hill, near Kilnpit Hill, on a minor road to Whittonstall. Stopping there, I'd walk up a signposted footpath on the south side of the road to St Andrew’s Church. The church, which is Grade II listed, was built in 1769, but following subsidence, was restored in 1892. It's an interesting, if unspectacular building, but what makes it special is the Grade I listed Hopper Mausoleum, standing in the churchyard.

The memorial was built by Humfrey Hopper of Black Hedley in 1752 as a memorial to his wife. He was later buried there and details of his descendants were engraved on the building, There's also a slab with a dedication that reads:

Erected by Humfrey Hopper of Black Hedley in memory of his wife Jane Hodsgon who died February 29th 1752 aged 77.

It's another of those eerie places, that few people visit. It's generally quiet, but often there's a breeze blowing up from the valley and this rustles the long grass in the field outside the churchyard. Looking at this drawing now brings back a vivid memory of the site.

Much as I rather like wind turbines, I'm sorry to see that there are plans afoot to put some up near the Mausoleum.

Monday, 15 December 2008


(Fibretip, digital colour)

It's a bit difficult trying to illustrate a word that isn't in my normal vocabulary, but that's what Illustration Friday has invited me to do. I mean, I've heard the word in Westerns and on tv, but I can honestly say I've never used it.

So despite the Concise OED telling me it's US Colloq., - "uncontrollably exuberant", I'm not entirely sure I've got a proper handle on it. You'll have to let me know, those of you for whom this word is part of your everyday conversation, is this ... well, rambunctious enough?

Friday, 12 December 2008

Painting a Day

Bigg Market Buildings (work in progress)

I've been following the Painting a Day movement for some time now. It seemed to me that, despite the obviously crowded painting a day sector, with hundreds of painters following the example set by Duane Keiser, it might be possible to elbow my way in and make a buck or two.

First, however, I'd have to find out if I could comfortably accommodate the practice of making a small painting if not every day, at least often enough to make it worthwhile for people to visit my site (I'd have to set up another blog, I think, to show specifically those pictures). Would this regime suit me at all, in fact, and how would I feel about having to work on such a small scale?

Two or three weeks ago I decided to see how I'd fare working on a 5 x 7 inch panel, the preferred size of daily painters like Stephen Magsig, whose work I admire a lot. As it happened, I had a prepared board in the studio and there was a photograph lying about that I'd considered working from and then abandoned. I set to and very quickly found it difficult to work on this scale. I put the results to one side and, in the course of things, almost forgot about it.

Looking round for something fresh to take along to the Club today, I hit on the little panel. While working on the new set of small pictures at the Club, I've become used to painting with small brushes and I figured I might as well see if I could move it on a bit.

What you see above is where I ended up today. I don't think I did myself any favours by using a composition that limits the painting action to the bottom third of the panel, of course. It's made for extremely fiddly working, but overall I'm quite pleased with how it's going. But it'll take another short session to finish it, which is hardly in the spirit of "a painting a day". Nevertheless, the idea may yet have legs. I'll put it in the Introspection & Reflection melting pot.

Thursday, 11 December 2008


Tynemouth (9 x 12 ins, oil on canvas) £190

Despite all that introspection and reflection and a visit from a replacement window salesman, I managed to get an hour in at the Club today.

And an hour was enough to finish this small painting. I lined up the houses across the bay and allowed a couple of other blokes to join their friend skulking in front of the bushes in the foreground. It's a sunny day, so I expect they're simply on their way to the beach.

Introspection & Reflection

Gateshead Millennium Bridge (Raised) - Private Collection

I'm sorry if things seem to be quiet on Boogie Street at the moment. I guess it's the time of year. I'm spending some time going over what I've achieved this year, what hasn't worked out the way I wanted it to, and examining the way the work has been going. Have I fallen into any bad habits, for instance? Should I be narrowing my field of investigation, or looking at new areas? That sort of thing.

It's an important process but not one that lends itself easily to blog posts, so in the meantime, here's a painting I don't think I've posted before.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Old Drawings #23

Yucca (21 x 16.5 ins., charcoal and pastel on cartridge paper)

Following on from that agave, I thought this might be an appropriate time to post this drawing, done in 1996. The yucca is sitting in the window of my parents' flat on Allerdene Estate in Gateshead. Through the window can be seen a bit of the estate and part of the Silver Hills.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Exploring Mallorca: Agave 3

(Watercolour, Pilot disposable fountain pen, A5 sketchbook)

This weather really does get me down. No snow today, but some heavy rain and even heavier skies. All of which makes for a less than agreeable creative mood.

On hearing that the Club was likely to be deserted today, I gave it a miss again and worked on this sketchbook watercolour of another agave plant. Although it's rather dark, it brought memories of at least a bit of Mediterranean sunshine.


(Pen and ink, Photoshop, digital colour)

For one reason or another, I haven't participated in the recent Illustration Friday topics, but I thought I'd make a stab at this week's Similar.

Here I must acknowledge the primary source of a cartoon character created by my friend, the late Arthur (Atom) Thomson , whose work always inspired me to do better.

Thursday, 4 December 2008


Window View - Snow (Charcoal and pastel, 19.5 x 16.5 ins)

I didn't go to the Club today and this is why. When I got up there was a white-out. It gradually thawed as the day went on, but I suspect the Club studio would have been deserted. And pretty damn cold. This drawing will have to do for today.

Preview Night

I had a good day yesterday. I met my mate, The Frootbat, for coffee in town and we decided to go to see the current show at the Laing - a roomful of Stanley Spencers. It's always a delight to renew acquaintances with Spencer's work and this was no exception. A good selection representing his career, starting with some pen and ink drawings and his early self-portrait, through to the one he did late in life, by way of the Leg of Mutton nude (which presumably inspired the "Parental Guidance" notice on the door to the exhibition) and the quite mad St Francis and the Birds.

Renaissance and Post-Impressionist influences abound, but the blend of imagination and the real world filtered through the mind of a wonderful painter produced images that continue to work their magic in an age when idiots still insist that painting is dead.

After the exhibition and a couple of coffees in the Laing's cafe, I went on to the Private View at the Guildhall. Despite it being fiercely cold, there was a good turnout and I was gratified to see a good deal of attention directed towards my painting. Almost as good as a sale. Almost.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Farm in Langdale

Farm in Langdale (Oil on board, 16 x 16 ins.) S0LD

The Art Club's annual exhibition opens on Thursday, with the Preview tomorrow night. I wasn't sure what to put in, but this one which I worked on some time ago, fitted a frame. So this is my entry, after a little tweaking. The photograph is misleading, however, in that the blue shadow areas of the farm were made with Payne's grey and underpainting white, so are nowhere near as blue as they appear here.

If you're in the area, drop into the show at The Guildhall on Newcastle's Quayside. It runs until 28th December.