Category Archives: Cartoons

birthday cards 7 & 47

For our grandson, Jamie, on his 7th birthday, it had to be a Thomas and Friends-related theme.  This is it.

image-2958
Thomas crashes in

image-2959
Thomas’ friends at Tidmouth sheds

The card shows an incident in one of Jamie’s favourite episodes, when Thomas crashes through the window of the stationmaster’s cottage, just as his family are having breakfast. I’ve replaced his family for mine (badly) with, from left to right, mammy, me, Jamie and nana.

image-2960
close-up

image-2961
side view

It really helped to use a good watercolour paper. It can be bent into position and it will retain its shape. It worked especially well for the bricks and curtains, and it was strong enough for the figures. This card had to hold its own in terms of strength because, as you can see, it is not flat-fronted. Thomas himself sticks out and the family sticks out further so it needed to be given (NOT posted) in a box. So, before making it, I found a redundant toiletries box and made the card to fit. The reception it got made it really worth every minute of effort.
For the 47 year old, it’s a birthday card showing our son working from home and showing the highest of standards in his behaviour and deference to his boss. What could be under the surface? Well…

image-2962

image-2963
whoops! sports gear and bottles!

But what about the book cabinet – so work-orientated, and the back room?

image-2964
</td
image-2965

Thee Leetle Geetar

image-2743
Abandoned in the back room

This little character is a living, talking Spanish guitar who has hit upon hard times and languishes in the dark and dingy backroom of a Spanish music shop, dying from lack of food (music, that is.) All he needs is an English child (Philip) to come in, see him, hear his story and restore him to his former glory. Can you believe it, that is exactly what happens!! “Seenyor Fleep; I theenk you are ‘ere for to ‘elpa me.” Drama ensues.

it is one of my stories which I told to children when I was teaching and this one, in particular, was a corker. Drama, humour, tension, slapstick, emotion, music, yes, music. When Philip, who can’t play a note on any instrument, picks up Jose Geetara (the guitar), his fingers move on auto and beautiful music comes out. At this point in the telling of the story I play a simple but evocative piece (Spanish Ballad) which brings gasps from the children because they have so bought into the idea of the magic of the leetle geetar. The ensuing loss of Jose(stolen) and Philip’s return to England has them silenced. A dropping pin would be deafening! It was an advantage that, as a young man, I learned to play classical/Spanish guitar, not to a high standard but certainly enough to play this tune. Needless to say, I wrote this story to incorporate the guitar and also to teach the children something about guitars and the science of sound. It all linked in very well. Over the decades since I wrote it, (late 70’s) hundreds of children have enjoyed it.

Modeller Cartoons

image-2733
Steve flies in all weathers

image-2734
a keen modeller becomes a dad

image-2735
all done

The cartoons are of members of the Modellers’ Club which I belong to.
The first one shows an indomitable flier who is rarely phased by adverse weather conditions. It exaggerates that aspect. Wind, rain, snow, thunder, sun. The sheep are prostrate, the Angel of the North is bending, things are being blown all over the place. I showed the movement of the aircraft by repeating it in fading shades. I drew a template of the plane and repeated it to save the effort of matching its size, shape and position.

In the second cartoon, this accomplished modeller has just become a dad and I have, rather fancifully, imagined his future flying with added responsibility. The jet in the thought bubble is his actual model jet, a scary piece of kit. The Go-Jetters reference is to a Children’s cartoon programme, with which he will surely become acquainted in the near future.

The third cartoon is more of a homage to a modeller who is a whizz builder. He makes fantastic models and his workshop is a modeller’s dream. I’ve portrayed the wonder of his work through the eyes of a group of kids looking in at the window.  There are one or two hints at his profession and hobbies.

Grade 8, we saw it, mate!

degas painting
image-2224
degas painting

This Degas painting, well, my version of it, served very nicely to congratulate my daughter, Sara, on passing her Grade 8 ballet exam.  There she is in the foreground dancing her heart out, and there are us – me and Marg, hiding in the wings watching her dance but keeping a low profile.

Why.  Well, she was at Leeds university at the time and her grading was in Leeds.  We were visiting her that day and in fact drove her to the grading venue but were not, absolutely not, allowed to go in and watch.  So uncool, so a parent banning order was issued,  and that was that, though we did take a peek through a window and caught a glimpse of her pirouetting across the floor, (hence “Grade 8, we saw it, mate.”) but we dashed off before she saw us. (cowards born and bred) .

The painting is done in gouache with a watercolour wash to start, and was painted on watercolour paper and made into a congratulations card,  and finally framed.  It now hangs in her lounge, a distant memory.

mam and dad
image-2225
mam and dad

dancer detail
image-2226
dancer detail

The Photographer

A cartoon-style painting of a friend, Julian,  who is, in my opinion, a great photographer. 

photographer in his studio
image-2052
photographer in his studio

It is an uncharacteristic representation, in that it is a rather camp version of him, but I opted for the “arty” type.   In fact, the whole scene creates as many cliches of a photographic studio as I could think of – the camera shelves, the film and chemicals of a bygone era, the enlarger, the bellows camera, floodlights, props box, even a chequered floor.

Tthe laptop refers to Whitley Bay, where he and his wife, Sue, live.  “Best snapper in the bay,” – do you see what I did there?  Snapper= fish….or….photographer.  “Bay” refers to….well, you get the gist.

My humour continues with the poster, “Wanted – Papa Rats! The exclamation mark being the i.  Cool, eh?  No, perhaps not.

Magritte was an early 20th Century artist whose paintings were often humorous illusions which made the viewer consider visual juxtapositions.  It was his work which made me think of using a screen backdrop of a real view of a scene which is just outside the window of the studio.

cameras and enlarger
image-2053
cameras and enlarger

camera and posters
image-2054
camera and posters

magritte-style backdrop
image-2055
magritte-style backdrop

laptop and prop box
image-2056
laptop and prop box

quentin blake

This , to me, is the master of cartoon drawing and characterisation, and to see his work first hand at the Laing Gallery, Newcastle, was a real treat,  His charaters were alive and vibrant and I sketched them as I saw them so that I could experience his casual style of draughtsmanship in the hope that a tiny bit of his quality would rub off.  Ha!

flame blower
image-1913
flame blower

lipstick
image-1914
lipstick

birds
image-1915
birds

women
image-1916
women

people & animals
image-1917
people & animals

Applying the Masters 2

Two friends of mine, who were passionate about steam engines, retired (at different times) and I used monet’s paintings to provide appropriate images for their cards. The Gare St Lazare picture is a card front, while the winter Train is the inside of another card and therefore it offered me the opportunity to make it a pop-up, a style I love.

gare st lazare (a la monet)
image-1840
gare st lazare (a la monet)

train in the snow (a la monet)
image-1841
train in the snow (a la monet)

A painting by Edouard Manet gave me the opportunity to transpose the face of my daughter on to the original female.

sara on boat
image-1842
sara on boat

original head
image-1843
original head

man & woman on boat
image-1844
man & woman on boat

The Paul Klee abstract is an appreciation of his style (one of his many, many styles).  Beautiful pastel colours in geometric blocks with black segments to enhance the design.  I then applied the colours to a drawing of a dramatic craggy area in the Peak District (Stanage Edge) but didn’t finish it!

in the style of paul klee
image-1845
in the style of paul klee

stanage edge, peak district
image-1846
stanage edge, peak district

Applying the Masters

A painting by Degas of two ballet dancers was a perfect subject for a card for my daughter.  She passed a high grade ballet exam and the card I made for her reflected the occasion and also her carelessness with contact lenses!  I took the image directly from the Degas painting, using watercolour and gouache.

card for sara
image-1836
card for sara

a regular event
image-1837
a regular event

contact lens hits the floor
image-1838
contact lens hits the floor

The judges’ critique of the performance was in the style of Del Boy from “Only Fools and Horses” using French phrases wrongly. It seemed a good idea at the time

a touch of del-boy french
image-1839
a touch of del-boy french

two dancers
image-1840
two dancers

 

Blencathra

Blencathra
image-1422
Blencathra
This was a painting I made for a retiring primary school headteacher and friend, whose favourite mountain was and is, yes, you guessed it, Blencathra in Cumbria, just outside the Lake District.

It was presented to him in front of an assembled crowd of children, parents, staff and governors back in 2003..  I’m sure he liked it because he was uncharacteristically speechless and it has taken pride of place in his lounge since then!

Planespotter

bad day at the office
image-1400
bad day at the office

This cartoon is featured on my “Artwork” page as a step-by-step guide on its creation. I made it for a planespotter friend and it is intended to show, humorously I hope, the frustrations of the hobby.
I decided to use the local wildlife to emphasise the conditions – happy frog, contented goldfish, drenched birds, miserable rabbits, enterprising mouse – and one compassionate bird who is trying to draw the spotters’ attention to the fabulous celestial happenings behind them in a break in the clouds – angels, aliens, flying pigs and a 1930’s airship.
Local spotters will recognise the Airport by the control tower in grim distance – Newcastle-on-Tyne.

happy frog
image-1401
happy frog

contented goldfish
image-1402
contented goldfish

birds & mouse
image-1403
birds & mouse

sheltering rabbits
image-1404
sheltering rabbits

"not down here - up there!"
image-1405
“not down here – up there!”

celestial fantastic
image-1406
celestial fantastic