Saturday, 30 October 2010

Pumpkin Time!

Yes it's that time of year, when everyone gets all excited about ghosts and monsters and the only killings made are generally by the supermarkets trying to cash in on Halloween.

Yes, we have a pumpkin, which the children wanted to look like Spookily the square Pumpkin - "except ours is round", as Seren rightly pointed out!

Anyway here's the finished pumpkin posing with Jon!

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Sketchbook: Cat Litter

This is one from my National Diploma Graphic Design course which I did back at York College of Further and Higher Education between 1993-95. It doesn't seem that long ago so its hard to believe it was some 17 years ago!

The idea was to produce a collage for a magazine feature using a well known phrase and to illustrate it. I opted for Cat Litter which I thought was amusing at the time. It's mainly collage though I badly drew the wall in - I later threw in a wall pattern to give it more of a collage look.

Anyway here is the original version before I altered it...

Sketchbook: Madonna (1980s)

Here's another oldie from my sketchbook - possibly one of the first drawings I did way back in the 1980s of Madonna.

This sketch was drawn from her crucifix period (probably my favourite era for her in style and music!).

There were several sketches of 'Madge' (as she later became known) but this remains one of my favourites.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Sketchbook: The Beatles

Here's an old pencil sketch I did of the Fab Four, John, Paul, George and Ringo back in the early 1990's. It's based on the album cover from their fourth album, 1964's Beatles For Sale.

Sketchbook: Doctor Who And The Abominable Snowmen

Going through my old art folder today - oh yes - that's a big job! I found the colour version of Doctor Who and The Abominable Snowmen sketch I featured on this blog a while back.

Starring Patrick Troughton as The Doctor , this adventure is now largely missing from the BBC television archive, in fact only Episode 2 and a few seconds from another episode actually survives in video format.

I drew this as tee-shirt design for a friend's birthday back in 1992, as the friend was a bit of a fan and this was the story that actually went out the day they were born. I probably made the Doctor and Jamie's dialogue up as I don't think those lines were uttered in the story. You'll notice the dialogues a bit tidier in the sketch having added it in Photoshop.

Happy Birthday John Lennon

Today would have been (or is - depending how you look at it) John Lennon's 70th Birthday. The man lives on through the legacy of his great music and Yoko Ono has initiated a website so fans can send their wishes to John.

Visit IMAGINEPEACETOWER.COM for further information.

By way of a small tribute, I've dug out some artwork I did back in 1984 - a pen and ink drawing of John and given it a bit of technical reboot in Photoshop. Hope you like it!

Super Ferric AGFA's , Home Taping and Tony Blackburn

I'm finally getting around to transferring much of my old tape collection to MP3 - a job I've wanted to do for years. Not so much for the quality of my tape recordings but more for the nostalgic glance back and preservation.

I grew up with the tape recorder quite a bit in the late 70s. At first I'd record my voice and make up my own shows - thankfully, I quickly got this out of my system as I actually hate the sound of my voice on playback.

I then progressed to taping television theme tunes, television programme soundtracks (mainly Doctor Who) and occasional songs performed on TV - this was all very crude with a built in microphone which caused the quality to frequently vary. I was grateful when in the early 80s my family got a Hi-Fi with a built in cassette recorder allowing me to record directly onto cassette from radio or vinyl.

Tape quality in this era was frequently dubious (and expensive) - I remember buying several tapes at that time that would have rather gone through a mincing machine than have anything recorded on them.

Recording the Top 40 charts on a Sunday was a great pastime - carefully trying to cut out Tony Blackburn's chatter between songs - and failing dismally as he used to chat over the end of them! Home taping was apparently killing music... well not if Tony Blackburn had anything to do with it, there are still wonderful examples around the Internet of Tony making these classic interjections...

When I got my own Hi-fi - I progressed to recording Radio One documentaries, particularly those on favourite bands and singers. I still have many of them over 25 years later - though of course with hindsight there's much more I should have recorded.

Woolworths did a great line in packs of five Super-Ferric AGFA's which still play well now, and I'm fascinated as to how well organised this hobby of mine was back then. Yes, I'd painstakingly fill out the track details and make intricately designed cassette covers with any media i could find - I often think the art of the home-made mix-tape was bigger than most people realised!

As college life beckoned - I got quite sloppy with my labelling and a cassette recorder that decided to chomp up further tapes only added to my falling out with the format. This left me with a clutch of unlabelled tapes of all sorts of recordings which I forgot I'd done.

So here I am now - converting old shows to MP3 (along with old albums I've either kept or picked up in charity shops over the years). And as I'm doing this I'm also reassured that I was not alone in my hobby - many people have uploaded recordings of shows they've done over 40 years ago (and in many cases much more credible than mine!). From classic radio comedy (in some cases now lost) to Radio One Breakfast Shows, Pick Of The Pops and John Peel Festive Fifty's. There was probably no other reason to record these at the time other than you could, and we did .

These days, when we are faced with loutish radio presenters and less than inspiring music its good to be reminded of an era when listening to the radio was certainly a pleasurable experience, and you didn't have to worry about finding quality programming on the radio!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Dad's Army Website News Updates

Just been doing some long overdue additions to

This website began as a CD Rom college project in 1997 and just grew over the years, particularly fuelled by my love of the Dad's Army television series.

In that time it's outlived some of the others of its kind and been given a few accolades along the way as well as getting me some (fun!) tasks as consultant on some of the DVD extras and a documentary on the lost episodes back in 2002!

The site is pretty static these days, except for a bit of tweaking and maybe even an overhaul on its appearance. I'll add some further information as time permits, but today I've added some news on my current read - Graham McCann's excellent new biography on John Le Mesurier (Sergeant Wilson) - Do You Think That's Wise? its published by Aurum and available now.

Lucy Hume from Samuel French Ltd has also informed me of several script books produced by Dad's Army creator David Croft for the stage - ideal for amateur dramatic companies, I've added some information on the Dad's Army title here, but there are also books on Are You Being Served?, 'Allo 'Allo, Hi-de-Hi! and dear old Arnold Ridley's (Private Godfrey) The Ghost Train.

Anyhow - I've spent an enjoyable few hours doing some of these updates - so if you love Dad's Army go and check the site out!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Rain Stops Ryder Cup Play At Newport's Celtic Manor

You wouldn't think the Ryder Cup had arrived in Newport judging by how quiet the roads were around here today.

In fact walking into work this morning it was just like any usual wet miserable day in Newport, but without the school traffic (yep the schools gave the children a day off!).

From what I gather, the visiting stars at The Celtic Manor probably felt the same after seven hours of the third biggest sporting event in the world was rained off.

Even Tiger Woods looked crestfallen as the rain hammered down, never mind at least he was able to try out his new waterproof gear, something I'm sure he hardly needs anywhere else!


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