Saturday 31 December 2016

My Dad's Diary: Tues 31st December 1946

Not so long ago, I found my Dad's diary for 1947. It was the first year following his return from the War in Burma. The diary is full of the (mostly inconsequential) entries that we all make if we keep a diary, but for me it paints a fascinating picture of life in a country trying to recover from a devastating conflict and cope with rationing. The winter that year was particularly severe and coal was in very short supply.

Here's the first entry, squeezed in before the diary proper begins:

"Met up with Ken Gardiner - first time since Calcutta.

First Foot at Mother's."

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Sketch Crawl : The Hancock Museum (again)

Attic Vessels c.450 BC, Hancock Museum
(Broad and fine point markers, with grey brush pen in A4 sketchbook)

And so we get to it: our most recent Sketch Crawl. As I missed the one before that (at Arch Sixteen Cafe ), I've decided to stop numbering these Sketch Crawl posts.

On 10th December, there was a good turnout of North East Sketch Crawlers, although one or two had to cry off because of Xmas-related activities. The weather was OK, although the wind, as is often the case it seems, was icy cold.

This drawing is all I got done, but I'm really pleased with it. Someone online suggested that the wavy lines in the background ruin it and I'm not about to dismiss that. There was a blankness about the top third of the page that seemed to need something, so I added these lines from the mural that formed the back of the display case. Were I to make this into a painting (and I'm thinking seriously about it), I know I wouldn't include the wavy lines. Still, you make these decisions in the moment and have to live with them.

I've been looking at a lot of still life paintings recently, especially of the 20th Century Modernist sort and I think it shows in this drawing. Another person online pointed out what a good subject it was for practising drawing ellipses. She was right, of course, but in this case it served as an opportunity for me to wilfully make the ellipses irregular. I seem to remember reading many years ago that Japanese master potters, probably including Hamada, would turn a perfect pot on the wheel and then at the last moment, slightly tip it sideways. They recognised that perfection is boring and that the eye is intrigued by its perception of something that is not quite right. For that reason I made sure that, while I really do assure you I can draw a pretty good ellipse, these ones would not be perfect. I even drew them out in pencil first (something I normally don't do with these Sketch Crawl drawings), just to make sure they were wrong, before inking them.

While we were drawing in the Museum we were entertained by a brass band, a choir, the Newcastle University Wind Band, and finally by Heaton Voices. As my wife Pat sings in this community choir, it seemed only right that I hang on for their performance though I didn't try to sketch them, unlike some of the other Sketch Crawlers.

Our plan had been to move on to the Laing Art Gallery but by the time we'd listened to the music, shown appreciative choir members sketches of themselves and shuffled though the Xmas crowds in Northumberland Street, it was a bit late to think about doing that. Instead we investigated a building that contained almost nothing but a staircase, ending up on the top floor of The Botanist which was packed. Who could have predicted a bar and restaurant would be full of people on a Saturday afternoon two weeks before Xmas?

In desperate need of coffee and cake we crossed the road to the new food quarter of Eldon Square and settled on stools round a table in TGI Friday's. In deference to Anita's sensitivities, I'll gloss over details of the lukewarm coffee, my American style muffin decorated with cold fried onions (just wrong!), Anita's half-eaten cowpat brownie, her several pots of stewed tea and her eventual face-off with the manager of TGI Friday's. It was all very ... interesting and festive.

Next time: 21st January 2017, possibly at the Lit & Phil. 

Monday 19 December 2016

The Man Who Sold the Tyne Bridge

Buildings with Tyne Bridge 
(oil on canvas, 9x12 in)

I know, I know, I'm supposed to be telling you about the most recent Sketch Crawl, but things keep happening. On Friday I discovered that this painting in the current Gateshead Art Society Xmas Exhibition, has sold. 

I'm really pleased, of course. I painted it about six years ago and have been mildly surprised that, despite it being exhibited several times in different galleries, it didn't sell earlier. I always considered it one of my better pieces and it has the Tyne Bridge in it, usually a magnet to local buyers. For whatever reason, it failed to walk off the wall. I guess it was just waiting for the right owner to come along. I hope it looks good in its new home and that its new owners like it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Thursday 15 December 2016


Fallen Log (Oil on canvas, 16 x 16 in)

I'm delighted to say that this painting recently sold and has made the journey from the UK to its new home in the USA. It still astonishes me that a parcel can leave Gateshead on Monday and, passing through East Midlands Airport, Philadelphia, Louisville, Nashville and Doraville, be in Roswell, Georgia by Wednesday.

I hope the painting's new owners like it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Friday 9 December 2016

Xmas Orange

The Orange House (Oil on canvas, 16 x 16 in)

I've recently been mulling over the possibility that the days of blogging are over; so many of the bloggers I used to follow have stopped posting on their blogs and have moved across to Facebook. For a while it seemed to be so much easier to capture the attention of an audience. There were giveaways for liking and sharing and a community appeared to have sprung up around artists' Pages. 

Then Facebook made one of its mysterious changes and it became really difficult to visit and exchange comments between Pages; to such an extent that the flourishing community spirit appears to have withered on the vine.

And now I find a small flurry of new subscribers to Boogie Street! Someone is clearly interested in what I have to say and show here, so perhaps I should shrug off my pessimistic thoughts and get on with posting again.

So here we go: in addition to having work shown in a couple of exhibitions at the moment (Gateshead Art Society's Xmas Exhibition at the Shipley and the Newcastle Painters' Group show at Jesmond Dene House - see previous posts), I had the pleasure of sending this painting off to a client in America this week.

Coming up: Another sale and another Sketch Crawl. Stay tuned.