For our grandson, Jamie, on his 7th birthday, it had to be a Thomas and Friends-related theme. This is it.
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.
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…
But what about the book cabinet – so work-orientated, and 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.
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.
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.
A cartoon-style painting of a friend, Julian, who is, in my opinion, a great photographer.
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.
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!
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.
A painting by Edouard Manet gave me the opportunity to transpose the face of my daughter on to the original female.
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!
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.
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
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!
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.