Japan 1: Ferry


This is not another atempt to corect the ongoing ferry project: my Beautiful Wife is taking our children off to Japan to visit their grandparents and get their fix of seafood and decent tofu. For a number of reasons I won’t be joining them, so for the next few weeks I’ll put up sketches I made there during our last visit.

To start with, the ferry to Shodo Island, Sketched leaving Takamatsu harbour. Rather inconveniently, without us on board. Still, it gave us a break before we caught the next one.

Wind and Weather


Ferry version 2.1. This is more how the original picture appeared in my head, but now I’ve drawn it I can’t help seeing a couple of problems, like the way the van (which appears to have come over all Postman Pat*) is apparently teetering on the edge of a very high drop with no barriers whatsoever and a cold sea at the bottom. On the other hand, I’m improving my shading and the rainfall looks more effective than I expected. So does the sea, although it needs a bit more movement.

Now to decide which one of these to go for. I like this one but I think at my current ability, version 1.2 is a better idea…

by the way, anyone out there with a picture of a Leyland/LDV post bus or even a regular van from a 3/4 rear view, please let me know…

*For non-British viewers: Postman Pat

Networking: Stage 1

I’ve been told several times I should ‘network’ more with artists, meaning I should go to places where artists lurk and introduce myself. This is a great plan if you can do it.

Fortunately, an alternative came up last week because our town needed a stage* for a festival, and the team building the thing had found themselves down one artist due to illness. Getting to know people while building stuff is far easier than talking to complete strangers, so I joined the team on day 2 and by the evening we’d done this:


Which involved cutting and fitting hundreds of upright pieces of wood:


This is what happens when you ask artists to make a stage: they get all excited about making a piece of sculpture, beautiful on its own without a performance happening on it. Of course in practice that meant every upright was a different size.

A Proper Carpenter would have spent a day working out the radius of all the curves and then the exact sizes of the uprights to fit. We bent the curvy bits until they looked about right and measured from there to the ground and cut the wood to suit. It turns out that this works just as well, although we did have to stamp on some plywood sheets until they stayed put, and screw them down quickly before they sprung up again.


This was a joint project between artists from here and from our partner town in the Ukraine, so everything had to be discussed and in both languages. As an added advantage I can now ask for several tools in Ukrainian, and you never know whan that may come in handy.

We made it in time for the big festival on Sunday, and as an added bonus it hasn’t fallen down yet…

Blech_orchestraThree days later, I’ve made several new friends, been given a book on art and education which will come in very handy, and in lieu of payment, I’m getting a my very own woodcarving course from one of the artists I worked with.

That’s the sort of networking I can manage…

*Which makes the title of this post a very bad pun.

Tweaking the darkness…

darkness_01s_tweakedSpot the difference… I pulled the lights on the ships to make them light a tighter area and separate them from the headlights on the bus, in the hope the eye will be drawn into the ship itself. I experimented with a softer light spilling over the side as well.

I’ll probably get rid of the Jetty in favour of a shadow/reflection, and have the bus coming down a narrow road with water close by. I’m also wondering if I should just have the front half of the bus, even though I like the idea of the red light at the back…

Really need to stop tweaking and get on with painting…

Into the darkness


Another attempt at a design for the ferry painting. These ferries are a lifeline for the islands, so I wanted to show the ferry taking on a post bus (another lifeline, until Royal Mail stopped running them) in the darkness of a winters morning. I’d like to add rain but I think that may be a bit ambitious.

I want to give the feeling of the ferry being a safe haven for the bus driving towards it, so that will be the brightest part of the picture. I don’t have a photo of the ferries at night, but many loading ramps don’t have lights, so I imagine the boats will be liberally festooned with them.

I need to move the ‘edge’ of the lit area in the painting: it looks like the bus is providing most of the light here. I’m wondering about the background beyond the ferry. Maybe some hills with the first sign of a murky dawn behind, or just endless sea and a slightly lighter horizon?


Ferry Thumbnails


This week I had a load of translations for a big publishing company to finish for Friday, which is a good thing because they pay me to do them, but it means artyness has to fit in the gaps. I managed to sketch few thumbnails based on the ferries which operate between the smaller islands off north-west Scotland.

I’m wondering about something like the top left corner as a ‘twin’ for the ship being repaired. I like the dark and the forced perspective of the top left design, as it tells a story, rather than being a static picture. The ferry is a bit small though. Will have to try a different angle.

I like the way these three pictures turned out together. A bit like a very slow graphic novel.

The publishing company just told me there are lots more translations coming, so progress will be slow next week as well. On the other hand, being paid is nice.

In other news: Fame*

This week the owner of a local printing shop offered to hang some of my paintings and sketches in his shop to see if anyone would buy them. I doubt this is the door to fame and fortune, but it is good to know someone outside my immediate family thinks my work is good enough to be seen in public. It’s free as well…

I’ll have to get some prints made, methinks…

*Defining ‘fame’ as “Having my pictures visible to someone other than family”.