Can we avert a Zombie Apocalypse?

On Thursday, I will vote to Remain in the European Union as one small act to avert a Zombie Apocalypse.

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The Leave side has been fronted chiefly by Boris Johnson, combining personal ambition with muddled thinking, Nigel Farage, whose mission it is to make racism respectable, Ian Duncan Smith, whose brand is bland callousness and the shiny neo-conservative zealot, Michael Gove. They have chosen to lead with meme-like lies, fanning the flames of hatred and xenophobia.

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I acknowledge that for people of good will, there are rational arguments for staying in or exiting the EU. In or out, we must continue the struggle to protect the planet, promote diversity and opportunity, and favour freedom from poverty, disease, ignorance and oppression. Like many others, I have an instinctive distrust of self-styled experts and think tanks lining up alongside a political elite.

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However, for me the chief argument against leaving the EU is the Leave campaign itself. We have seen the politics of greed and entitlement lead to the politics of austerity, now transformed to the politics of hate. This is the pathway to fascism.

On Thursday, I will vote Remain as one small act to avert that particular Zombie Apocalypse.

Mark making V

This is the last of this series.  The common thread was to use pen marks to build texture, irrespective of the colour applied over the top.  In this and all the others, I have tended to use the pen to draw outlines and then fill in texture in the enclosed shapes.

2016-06-13 ill fitting lock gates 1

This drawing was made last weekend from a vantage point viewing the water jetting through flaws in the closed lock gates.

When I next get out to sketch, which is unlikely to be today, I will aim to draw no hard outlines, but use the pen to just build textures so that the watercolour layers define the shapes.

Mark making IV

2016-06-05 canal sketches (4)

These drawings are from an evening cycle ride a couple of weeks ago.  I built texture with moving lines before adding colour.

2016-06-05 canal sketches (2)

In each sketch, I roughed in an outline in pencil, drew in pen and added colour with a limited palate of watercolour, sometime with conte crayon.

2016-06-05 canal sketch grey wagtail

I followed the bright blue flash of a kingfisher into the dark under a bridge.  When I focussed on where I thought it had alighted, I found instead a grey wagtail, bobbing and dipping on a branch.

2016-06-05 canal sketches (1)

Mark making III: murder and madness

Walking back on the damp streets last night, I was trying to hold in my head the images of Paapa Essiedu and Natalie Simpson playing Hamlet and Ophelia, in the cinema performance from the Royal Shakespeare Company.  I was too cramped and it was too dark to draw during the performance so I had tried to map in my mind their lines, shapes, shadows and highlights as they performed.

2016-06-09 Paapa Essiedu - Hamlet (2)

I had a brief attempt at drawing in the interval and then went straight to the sketchpad when I got home.  I chose deliberately not to look at photographs but draw from memory.  I drew in pen and water, reclaiming highlights in acrylic white.  I claim no likeness here.  Rather these are mere icons to help me hold how they made me feel in the performance.

2016-06-09 Paapa Essiedu - Hamlet (1) 2016-06-09 Paapa Essiedu - Hamlet (3)

Paapa Essiedu acted across a great range exhibiting love, tenderness, anger, abuse, misogyny, rage, sarcasm, rebellion and childishness. I saw a highlight across his forehead and the shadows of his jaw, a wide smooth triangle between his brows, deep orbital shadows with light catching the upper eyelids and his face sometime rounded with recent childhood then distorted with anger.

2016-06-09 Natalie Simpson - Ophelia

My sketch of Natalie Simpson does her no justice.  The features I nailed into my vision were of her in Ophelia’s madness, the expanded hair, the line from brow to her right ear, the thinness of her face and eyes, narrowed then suddenly wide.

Clarence Smith as Claudius, Marcus Griffiths as Laertes and Cyril Nri as Polonius had wonderful expressive features too, but I could not retain their images.  The play was set in a West African Denmark and was driven by the rhythms of Sola Akingbola.


Mark making II

2016-05-29 ice cream van

A recent workshop focussed simply on using different marks to build various surfaces … and absences as light refracts through open air.  However, I have reverted to type making the same marks in fountain pen and bleeding them with water. The only change I have made is to lift ink from the nib with the brush and mottle the paper in places without hard lines.  I have tried to show the hard metal of the lamp post with straight lines and to build contrast between  the reflecting glass and matt body work of the ice cream van.  I think I need to look more closely at how other artists have used line and dot to create texture, tone and contrast.

2016-05-15 ice cream hoodie

Here are a bunch of sketches of and by the family.  They all seem to focus on feeding or waiting for food I notice.  My drawings are recognisable enough – the same fountain pen marks, the same water brush.  But if you look closely, I managed a bit of texture on the ice cream cone!

2016-05-15 breakfast

My daughter has used the same pen but produced wholly different marks.

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My wife has used pencil and watercolour pencils, and has an unfussy direct style which captures much of my son’s character (he is drawn waiting for a bacon sandwich sitting outside a café).

2016-05-29 Joseph   2016-06-06 23.05.28-2





Mark-making I

2016-05-07 pulling down the libraryBirmingham Central Library has been rehoused and the old concrete building is being demolished.  The machine sprayed the structure with water while clawing at it.

At the beginning of May, during an outing for my son’s birthday, I stood in a vantage point and drew this in fountain pen and conte crayon while waiting for my family to catch up with me.