Tag Archives: portrait

sketching jack’s london, part 4: micro-sketchbook

sketching jack's london cover sm

sketching jack's london p1 smAt the ‘Sketching Jack’s London‘ sketchcrawl last month I gave every participant a small eight-page micro-sketchbook that I had made myself, only 3″x4″ big, to use to sketch London when they need to, with quick micro-sketches. The paper was either just regular Canson or Strathmore drawing paper (I had made it with whatever I had in the cupboard), bound in construction paper, and numbered – I got No. 1, and used it for some super-quick sketches, mostly of other sketchers later at the pub. I did finish the book though, and here are presented all of the very small pages…

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“Rebel Dry Cleaners” is a great name. I imagine Mon Mothma and Nien Numb and all the rest in there, running out the back when the stormtroopers walk past, etc.

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Urban Sketcher James Hobbs, who’s a really nice guy, I got see look through his excellent sketchbook. On the right is Joan who I was friends with at school and who went off to become an artist, she also came on last year’s London sketchcrawl whch was only the second time I’d seen her since we left school, so it was great to catch up.

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Dave from New Zealand on the left, I had met him in Barcelona so it was nice to chat with him again in London, and I always have to sketch a beard. Also, Denia, an artist friend of Joan’s who is from Greece and New York but lives in London.

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Finally Ana from Bilbao in the Basque Country, and on the red page is Roshan, my best friend who came down for the post-sketchcrawl drink. I’ve not sketched him much before so this was not a bad attempt!

And that is it! I do enjoy sketchcrawling in London, there really are so many interesting artists to meet and I really enjoyed this one. I already have another one in mind for next time…”Sketching Wren’s London“, from the Monument to the Old Bell, an exploration of the City of Christopher Wren…see you in 2014!

milk snatcha

maggie

In case for some reason you don’t know who this is (and apparently there were a lot of young people on the internet who didn’t), this is Margaret Thatcher, aka Maggie Fatcha, former British prime minister who died recently, prompting some long-awaited celebrations across the UK. The most divisive PM in history, large areas of Britain are still reeling from the policies of her government. Even now, bingo callers all along the seaside refer to the number 10 as Maggie’s Den, I presume. But she was also a very popular Spitting Image puppet, lest people forget, and indeed our own dog Lady (aka ‘Soppydog’) had a squeeky toy Maggie which she carried everywhere with her. It was her Baby. “Where’s Maggie?” we’d ask her, and she’d go and get her from behind the sofa, wagging her tail, peeing on the carpet. Maggie would be all chewed up, and the squeak was gone out of her after a while, but Soppydog loved that little Maggie and would cry for hours if she couldn’t find her.

Given the spontaneous outpouring of non-grief, in a kind of reverse-Diana situation, it was quite funny to see the accompanying call of “don’t speak ill of the dead” and “show some respect” and “it’s too soon”. The not speaking ill of the dead thing amused me enormously, because it’s like, oh it’s fine if she’s not dead yet. That sort of thing may be true if you’re at her funeral among her family, or if this was just a neighbour who ran over your flowers once, but I think it’s ok to speak up about a national leader whose policies tore your community apart at a time when that person is being brought into the spotlight again, such as at the time when she dies and everyone is trying to re-evaluate her legacy. I think it’s absolutely essential to speak ill of the dead, lest the ills be overlooked. Do you think Maggie herself would have held back ill words? But after all the dust has settled, one outcome of all this is that I can no longer watch the Wizard of Oz without thinking, ooh those Munchkins, what heartless little bastards. Don’t they know it’s too soon? That Wicked Witch of the East is still there, under the house, and you’re coming up with whole song and dance numbers? Spontaneously? Think of how her poor family must feel! No wonder her green sister was so angry. And then Dorothy comes along and snatches her shoes. “Oh I didn’t mean to,” she says, but come on Dorothy. Too soon, too soon.

There’s one other thing I noticed. It’s well known that Maggie was not popular in the city of Liverpool, and with very good reason. However, Liverpool FC, once the undisputed kings of European football, have not won a single League Title since Thatcher went bawling out of Number 10. While she was in office, Liverpool were English champions a whopping EIGHT times. Manchester United didn’t win any Leagues, weren’t even close. Post-Mrs-Thatch, United have been champions thirteen times, Liverpool zero. Makes you think, doesn’t it. The curse of Maggie Thatcher, league title snatcher.

the great dane

michael laudrup

Another football drawing, this one is Michael Laudrup, the Danish manager of Welsh team Swansea City. I love Laudrup. He is forever-young, good-looking-but-man’s-man, right attitude, and in his first year at Swansea he has led them to their first major trophy ever. Swansea City as a club are great too, and it’s great to see a Welsh side gaining so much respect in the Premier League. Laudrup was a great player in his day too, as was younger brother Brian, but Michael was The Man. Total man-crush of course (he’s competing with AVB and Mancini), so he had to get drawn on a Chinese envelope in brown pen. I’m enjoying this series. And I have a lot of these envelopes this year…

all gone quiet over there

arsene wenger
Monsieur Arsene Wenger. Long-time manager of Arsenal, my club’s arch-rivals. Since he arrived at Arsenal in 1996 from Japan, that club (who, for those unfamiliar with English football club geography, are a South London team from Woolwich residing in North London temporarily for the past century or so, a few miles south of native North London team Tottenham Hotspur, my team) went into terminal incline, winning big trophy after big trophy as if some day winning trophies would go out of fashion. Meanwhile, Spurs remained fashionably trophy-free, except for a couple of league cups, the ‘thinking man’s trophy’, and beat Arsenal hands down in the ‘number of managers’ league table. Now Tottenham are flying high as the top London club (check the league table, Chelsea, it does not lie), third in the table, while Arsenal are languishing in a lowly fifth, with only the prospect of a second-leg Champions League tie against Bayern Munich to keep them entertained. “Champions League”, haha – you don’t even have to be a Champion to be in it. It’s like a game at a kid’s party where you tell the kid who came last that “they’re a winner too”. With a fashionably hip seven years without a trophy, and an attitude at the club that 4th place is the same as getting a trophy for the cabinet, Arsene is riding high, being talked about more than ever, and his players are so good that other competing clubs are lining up to buy them.

I actually feel sorry for Arsene Wenger. Despite about fifteen years of living in an undeniably massive Arsenal-shaped shadow, until just a few years ago, I cant deny that he is one of the game’s true legends. He changed Arsenal from being boring-boring 1-0 merchants to one of the most exciting teams in the world. When they did that invincible season, nearly a decade ago, and Thierry Henry was in my mind the best player in the world, it was pretty hard to argue with that. With no trophies for the past seven years, even many Arsenal fans are calling for Monsieur Wenger to call it ‘un jour’. His methods were a revolution in their time, but their time has passed. Ferguson, on the other hand, continues to win, win, win. Arsenal are not competing in the age of the Billionaires, the Chelsea-City nouveaux-riches, but despite banking their money on every turn they are increasingly being seen as the Weakest Link (but then, compare them with how Liverpool have fallen). and as Spurs rise and rise, I should be laughing at them as I go, but I’m finding myself feeling sorry for them. They are not the lottery-winners of your Chelseas and your Citys (and your, um, QPRs), and I do believe that in the long run acting sensibly with football money will pay off, but well, selling your best players to your rivals, that’s just silly. When games go badly on the pitch for Arsenal it is amplified; Wenger was accused of not taking the FA Cup seriously when they were knocked out by lowly opposition, and he angrily retorted that he has won that competition four times, arguing “name me one manager who has won it more” (the answer is Alex Ferguson, by the way, if not counting dead managers in which case there are three others). Last Sunday, Spurs beat Arsenal 2-1 in a big derby game, but if it had gone the other way, we’d have only been a point apart. At a similar time last year they beat us 5-2, and we were something like ten points ahead – and Arsenal ended up catching us, beating us to third place. That is the measure of Wenger, he can still pull it off. I’m sure he would prefer to leave on a high, finish his Arsenal career with one last big trophy, but if he doesn’t (and as devoutly Tottenham and anti-Arsenal as I am, the romantic in me kind of hopes that he does), I hope he isn’t forced out by the impatient salmon-sandwich bunch at the Emirates. If he should go, they’ll soon realize that their club will have lost their greatest figure since Herbert Chapman.

Drawn on a Chinese envelope in uni-ball sign um-151 (brown and red) with white gel pen.

schoolboy’s own stuff

gazza
Paul Gascoigne, as I will always think of him. For those who read my blog and don’t know the names of every footballer I mention (and I mention a few), Paul Gascoigne – aka “Gazza” – was a player from the late 1980s to early 2000s, who had perhaps his greatest playing period while a young cheeky lad in the white shirts of Tottenham, scoring a bullet of a free-kick against Arsenal in the FA Cup Semi-Final in 1991. As an England player he was perhaps the most ‘gifted’ player of his generation, playing with unrivaled passion yet a tinge of tragedy, famously crying on the pitch after receiving a yellow card (undeservedly) in the 1990 World Cup semi-final against West Germany, meaning he would have missed the final, if England had been any good at penalties. He became a national hero and an international icon. His golden spell at Tottenham ended with an FA Cup medal in 1991, though he never finished that match, having been so hyped up that he attempted to kick a hole in the chest of one player (laughed off by the Gazza-loving ref) before seriously injuring himself trying to remove the legs of Nottingham Forest’s Cary Charles. That injury put him out for a year, after which he was transferred to Lazio, and so on and so on. You can look up his history in Wikipedia or something. While he had a few moments of wonder, such as his amazing goal against Scotland at Euro 96, Gazza never quite reached the heights we knew he was capable of. Injury, personal issues, drinking, (cf Chris Evans and Jimmy Five-Bellies), famously being left out of the 98 World Cup squad, he never could live up to the hype of being Gazza. For me and so many other Tottenham fans, that free kick against Arsenal was the defining moment (and for me, all the more fun as I watched the match with my Arsenal-supporting dad). At his best there was nobody in the country even close.
Gazza has had a lot of trouble in his life since his glory days, alcoholism, domestic troubles, mental health issues. And now last week he was admitted into a treatment centre in the US, having suffered another setback in his health. It’s unlikely he will ever be free of his demons, but I’ll always think of him like this, young, cheeky and brilliant.

the way we used to be

NaNoDrawMo 50

While I’ll be posting the remaining set of NaNoDrawMo pieces altogether shortly, I thought you might like to see #50, the final one. It’s a self-portrait, although admittedly a few years have passed between the photo being taken and the drawing being drawn. I have had a haircut since then, and wear glasses, and I’m sure those dungarees don’t fit any more. No this is me aged about three, demonstrating why I keep my hair short (so as not to look like a diagram of the Atlantic Summer Hurricane Season). Hair is a bright red, eyes a bright blue, cheeks a bright pink; nothing’s changed there! I’m still as sweet. I still remember this face though, having to stand on the chair to see it in the mirror. This face makes me think of the Mr.Men theme music, by far my favourite show when I was a little one. Drawn in uniball signo um-151 pen (two sizes, 0.28 and 0.38) in a big Moleskine.

having a mayor

ken and boris

Ken and Boris (and some other people) are the choices today for the London Mayoral election. I’m for Ken, personally, not ‘he of the unbrushable hair’. I wish I were there to vote, but I missed the first one in 2000 (living in Belgium), missed the second one in 2004 (off visiting France), missed 2008 (moved to California), and obviously I’ll miss this one too. But I still care who runs my home city! Boris could at least offer to shave his head if he wins. So to mark election day I drew them in my Stillman and Birn book in a pilot hi-tec C, a quick lunchtime sketch when I couldn’t leave the office due to the high pollen count. Ok here’s the inevitable pun, I’m hoping Boris gets a low polling count and has to leave office.