Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Small earthquake, nobody killed

Where were you when...
The earthquake centred in Market Rasen in the early hours of this morning has become one of those events that gets people chattering and comparing. Most descriptions start with an initial perception that it was the young couple upstairs/next door engaging in a particularly athletic bout of bonking before the realisation that the earth was actually moving for everybody. In my case I presumed the memsahib had fallen heavily against the furniture but the vigourous shaking of the walls and the alarm calls of the ducks on the canal indicated a wider event. I can't say I ever remember participating in an earthquake before.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Messerschmitt car

Messerschmitt in the snow: Anfield 1960s
Rummaging Through Old Photos Department: I can't remember which year this photo was taken - it could be 1967 or 1968. It's while I was living in Anfield, anyway. And it's obviously winter. A fall of snow late at night tempted me out onto the streets with my camera and in St Domingo Grove I found this little gem. It's still a favourite image of mine.

Friday, 22 February 2008

60s Liverpool | Adrian Henri

Adrian Henri: Liverpool 1967

Last night I spent a couple of nostalgic hours scanning in old transparencies taken in the 60s in Liverpool. That's where (and when) I spent my student days at the College of Art, studying Pre-Dip. (now called Foundation) and Diploma in Art & Design [Graphic Design].

My group tutor in my first year was the late Adrian Henri, artist and Liverpool poet *. Adjusting to life at art college with Adrian Henri was a major shock to the system after A level art in the sixth form of a Grammar School but it was fabulous to have been there at that time.

The photo of Adrian Henri (above) was taken a couple years later in April 1967 during a student collaborative film/audio/visual project. I wish I'd taken lots more. Seen from this distance it's as precious as gold.

'Death in the Suburbs', Adrian Henri (audio)

* Poet Roger McGough was my 'Liberal Studies' tutor in that first year at the college: his classes sometimes involved improvised plays based on newspaper headlines. It was 'Whose Line is it Anyway?' 40 years ago.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Trashy Lingerie

Trashy lingerie

London: 15th February. This doorway and its funny neon sign turned out to be one of the unexpected highlights of the day. The shop is in Old Compton Street, almost opposite the Algerian Coffee Stores*, where I'd just bought Brazilian Bourbon and Blue Sumatra coffee beans.

It's the sort of shot that I wouldn't have taken a few months ago but I'm feeling more playful and more confident in my visual 'jottings' now. I'm sharpening up the way I look at everything. [Despite this photo having camera-shake blur!]

Earlier in the day I'd fought through the half-term hoards of kids with their attendant mums, dads and pushchairs at the Natural History Museum. They were there for the dinosaurs. I was there for the Shell Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition.

A magnificent collection of beautiful and thought-provoking images, some of them by very young kids too! It must be nice for a 10 year old to be able to say "I got a new DSLR for Christmas so I borrowed my uncle's 400mm lens and managed to capture this image of a rare..."

The exhibition is on until 27 April 2008. Recommended.

* Algerian Coffee Stores: The very best place IMHO to buy fresh coffee beans. Beats any other place I've ever tried.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Bag o' sh*t


Hand on heart, I've never been a 'doggy' person.

I tolerate dogs. I tolerate then when they bark and growl at me. I tolerate them when they stinky slobber on my hand. I even tolerate them when they leap up and try and knock me over. Actually, I just remembered back to a little Yorkie I used to know called Chewy. Chewy was OK.

But poo is the problem. Poo on your shoe. Poo in areas where children play. Poo in areas like nature reserves where ecologists play - grovelling on hands and knees, looking for marsh fritillary larvae or early signs of squinancywort.

Good dog owners pick up the poo [scoop the poop] in a plastic bag and dispose of it in the appropriate manner. A hearty round of applause for all those good folk.

Bad dog owners shiftily avert their gaze to admire a passing cement truck and continue their sauntering walk as Effin' Fido dumps a pile in the middle of the pavement/footpath/canal towpath.

But there's an in-between breed [crossbreed?] of dog owners whose behaviour is, quite frankly, incomprehensible. After dutifully bagging up their pet's excrement they throw the bag down into the grass, under some bushes, or even tie the bag onto a branch of a bush.

What do they think will happen to the bagged-up shite? Do they walk past the bag each day and admire it? The polythene is very effective at preserving its contents and preventing it from breaking down naturally. No chance of dung-loving insects processing it in there.

I am totally flummoxed by these people. I wait in hope of enlightenment from someone who has insight into their mindset.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

1995 revisited


1995 revisited: this was the image on the homepage of miketoons in its first incarnation. Doodly doodles* on a spiral bound secretarial notepad, montaged in Photoshop. I still like the lettering but I'm not sure now about the fake coffee cup stain. *My best doodles are done while talking on the phone.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

managaging volunteers


I was sent the GoldStar logo for a design job I'm currently working on. As often happens, the file sent to me was low-res inside a Word document. [sigh]. I burst out laughing when I noticed the spelling. I checked the GoldStar website and yes, the same artwork with the same spelling was top left of every page.* Well done HM Government Cabinet Office.
*I'll keep a check on how long it takes them to notice. I've saved a screengrab.

Update - 23 September 2008 Thanks to Elliot Elam for discovering that things have been rectified: "You'll be slightly disappointed, as I am, to find they've noticed their mistake."

Beware of Birdsong


Beware of Birdsong, originally uploaded by miketoons pix.

Drawn with Pentel Japanese brushpen on a piece of A4 photocopier paper, torn in half to A5.
The lack of any value to this piece of white paper helped me to make marks.
Coloured in Photoshop.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Creative Schizoid


Wood pigeon in the rain, originally uploaded by miketoons pix.


Since 2002, illustration has slept soundly in the back seat of my beat-up creative jalopy. A corner was turned when I was offered a job as a graphic designer for the local Wildlife Trust. This souped-up my Quark and Photoshop skills very nicely but gradually the confidence in my drawing skills declined.

Six years later I still haven't got my confidence back to where it was before the turn of the millennium. I spend my days wiggling a mouse around a mouse mat, staring at a monitor, shunting type and images around a digital pasteboard. This needs remedial action and I've promised myself to WD-40 my sketching hand and grind off that rust.

However, since last November (2007), after buying a second-hand DSLR camera, I've found a creative outlet in wildlife and landscape photography. It reinforces my interest in those subjects - which had been nurtured through my work for the Wildlife Trust - and gives me the opportunity to do things solely for myself.

After many years of working to a brief, to a deadline, keeping clients happy... it is hard to work creatively for no-one but me. The buzz I'm getting now from my photography is training me to think differently and I want to be able to take this across to my drawing and painting.

I'm posting the best of the photos on Flickr but will post some on this blog if I feel the need to write about the capturing of them.

For now, here's a very drippy wood pigeon. It was lifting its wing in the heavy rain as it sat forlornly on the front fence. It may have been thinking that a shower was just as good as taking a bath, but I like to think it was just pee'd off with the rain and was using the wing in lieu of a folded copy of The Guardian.

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