Thursday, 3 March 2011

New blogs to bookmark

I'm revamping my miketoons website to contain my art blog.

I've also started a new blog at doodlejam.blogspot for doodles, sketches, mere trifles and various artistic bagatelles. You're very welcome to visit.

Occasional rants about the world may continue to be posted on this miketoons.blogspot site but will probably not be art related.

Please adjust your dress bookmarks:

Ta muchly.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Cheeky grey squirrel on the bird feeder

Getting video and music to work together is an art that I've not tried before.
Hat tip to film editors and soundtrack composers.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Old Cricket Pitch, Le Marchant: Scots Pines (1989)

Historical document.

When we first moved to our newly-built house in Devizes back in the late 80s, this was the view we had across the old cricket pitch at Le Marchant barracks.

No Crest development (Kingfisher Drive). No marina. No adventure playground. No Great Mills (Focus) DIY store and definitely no Lidl.

Just an overgrown abandoned cricket pitch complete with derelict pavilion and these magnificent Scots Pines. My intention was to photograph them forever, in all sorts of light and all sorts of weather.

Sadly they were snapped in half by the gales of January 1990. The same gales also flattened the double pair of conifers in the middle distance.

Montage of photos from same position.

Friday, 19 November 2010

The old cricket pitch

The old cricket pitch, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

Late yesterday afternoon I had a meeting with a young woman from Wiltshire Council's Countryside Team to discuss the future of our POS - Public Open Space - on the eastern side of Devizes.

Many years ago this space was the regimental cricket pitch for the army based at Le Marchant Barracks. When we first came to live in our new home, in the late 1980s, the derelict cricket pavilion was still standing - approximately where the hazel bushes are on the left of the photo.

The Crown/MoD owned most of the land around which was being sold to developers but the cricket pitch was protected under the local long term plan as POS. That didn't stop the developers from attempting a greedy land grab by submitting plans for 90 houses on the cricket pitch and it took a huge campaign to make sure the plans were overturned by a council planning meeting.

Once the dust had settled after that, the council - Kennet District Council - came up with an excellent solution of halving the area into a close-mown area for play and a wild, nature area which would, with the right management, become a glorious wildflower meadow. Between the two they sited an adventure playground.

So, in 1996, the Le Marchant Conservation Area was born and nearly 1000 trees and shrubs were planted around the edges.

The recent local government changes in Wiltshire means Kennet DC are no more and so it was with great relief I finally met someone from Wiltshire Council who understands how good the conservation area could be, what needs doing and who could help.

And I'm still proud of the fact that those 90 houses were never built.

PS The 'castle' on the right hand side of the photo is The Keep. A Victorian folly tower which guarded the entrance to Le Marchant barracks.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Roger Frames buys Budjit Games

Roger Frames - masthead, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

I've been scanning in old art commissioned by Commodore Format magazine in the early 1990s. At the time, Future Publishing was probably my best client and I was producing artwork for many of its magazines.

The regular project that I enjoyed the most was illustrating the pages where the low-cost (Budjit) computer games were reviewed by the fictitious young, accident-prone kid - Roger Frames.

Issue #1 of the magazine saw Roger in basic black and white line but very soon - by issue #4 - a couple of full colour illustrations of Roger's antics appeared every month. This increased to as much as four illustrations in some issues.

I've chosen a few of my favourites: some are scans from the printed magazine because the artwork was either not returned or been lost.

Roger Frames: All at sea
Roger Frames: All at sea, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Roger Frames: Hospital Visit
Roger Frames: Hospital Visit, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Roger Frames: Bad Sunburn
Roger Frames: Bad Sunburn, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Roger Frames: Hanging On
Roger Frames: Hanging On, originally uploaded by mike(toons).
Roger Frames: Bath Tub Sub
Roger Frames: Bath Tub Sub, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle 'What? Already?!', 90th year exhibition, Wilhelm Busch Museum, Hannover

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - self portrait, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

2010 has been a year of rediscovery for me. And the greatest of these has been of Ronald Searle's work, made possible by exhibitions in London and Hannover in honour of his 90th birthday.

The fact that I could still draw, after a decade of beating ever increasing amounts of type into smaller text boxes (sometimes laughingly described as graphic design), was also a rediscovery. The joy I felt at sketching these drawings by Searle was astonishing. I burst into tears at one point. Something had been re-established in me.

These sketchbook drawings are not intended to give a wider public much information about Searle's work. They were really just for me. A way of connecting. Better sources for actual examples of Ronald Searle's work are the Ronald Searle Tribute and Brian Sibley has written several pieces about him. Worth a look.

And if you can, get over to Hannover before 30 January 2011 to see the exhibition!

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - Layman's Guide to the Warrior's Anatomy & Artist's Anatomy

Exhibition sketchbook: Ronald Searle - Layman's Guide to the Warrior's Anatomy & Artist's Anatomy., originally uploaded by mike(toons).

The right hand sketch is missing about 30 arrows linking the artist's attributes to his head, which I lazily omitted to draw.

Exhibition sketchbook: Clown by Ronald Searle (1971)

Exhibition sketchbook: Clown by Ronald Searle (1971), originally uploaded by mike(toons).

I love the contrast between the sober normal world seen in the businessman's clothes hanging on the pegs and the ludicrous clown in a purple striped dress.

Exhibition sketchbook: two cartoons for Le Monde by Ronald Searle

Exhibition sketchbook: two cartoons for Le Monde by Ronald Searle, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

The cartoons done for Le Monde, over the last 15 years or so, show that Searle's powers are undiminished. These are my two favourites but there were many more in the exhibition. Top: "Au suivant!", bottom "Foubelle".

Monday, 8 March 2010

Grand Day Out

Young and old, originally uploaded by mike(toons).

'Lord Nelson' at Ropley station

The wonderfully named Watercress Line (although the Bluebell Line is even more wonderfully named) runs from Alresford to Alton in Hampshire. The first weekend in March brought the Spring Steam Gala: three days of steamy pleasure for all railway nuts.

The icing on the cake and the irresistible draw was the presence of the recently built A1 Pacific Class 'Tornado' amongst many other locomotives steamed up and pulling the passengers.

(below) A1 Class 'Tornado' approaching Ropley station

A1 Class 'Tornado'

An ambitious timetable of a train every half hour proved too ambitious on the Friday when I was there. A signal problem first and then an event that was unexpected and almost unbelievable. The west-bound 12:51 from Alton, pulled by Gresley A4 Pacific 'Bitten' completely ran out of pulling power on the steep gradient up to the summit of the 'Hampshire Alps'. Plenty of power from the loco but wheelslip slowed the train down to a complete standstill. Repeated attempts to get rolling again only succeeded in rolling backwards as gravity proved to be applying more force than 'Bittern'.

(left) 'Bittern' is hidden in the steam as it tries in vain to haul the train up the incline

A long wait for some rescuing motive power ensued. And, as the stalled train was unfortunately blocking a stretch of single-track line, the whole day's timetable was thrown by well over an hour. Southern Railway 4-6-0 'Lord Nelson' saved the day and partnered 'Bittern' up and beyond the summit point before rejoining its own train at Medstead.

Nobody grumbled. People looked bemused rather than annoyed. If it had happened on a South West Trains service tantrums would have been thrown. It certainly didn't spoil a grand day out.

More photographs from the same day on my Flickrstream.

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