Tuesday, 27 October 2015

The Big Draw - in which I set down my camera and take up a twig in the spirit of Dave Mckean


The Big Draw is over.

The Big Draw describes itself as the worlds' largest drawing festival, and the theme this year was 'Every drawing tells a story"

At Rye Creative Centre we had the privilege to hear from Dave Mckean , artist and illustrator, about his work. He is a man who has produced so much and worked with so many. Illustrations, film, photographs, comic books. Having worked with Richard Dawkins and Hester Blumenthal amongst many, he has stories to tell. Not least, the secret of Hester's hot and cold tea; which he very properly didn't give away.

Someone else has done that for him if you really want to know...... though personally I suspect that, like magic tricks, it is more fun if the secret remains untold.

I  was particularly taken with his photographic works that were on show in the gallery.

Dream like. Clever.

Full of ideas.

Telling stories.....

Dave Mckean at Rye creative cente

Dave Mckean at Rye Creative Centre

The idea behind 'The Big Draw' was, obviously,  to get people drawing.

So that's what we did.

My thanks go to Stephanie Rubin , resident artist at Rye Creative Centre and talented sculptor for setting up a life drawing class with a  difference.

We had a four stage process, designed to prevent us getting 'precious'  about our way of working.

First; take charcoal


Do 'loose' drawing

Next........take stick and ink


Do a bit more work on the shapes, shadows and lines.

The add some light bits with white emulsion applied with a piece of orange peel .

Then wish you had ignored this stage as it all gets messy and wet, and can't be rubbed out with a  finger.

white emulsion

And finally add some red ink with another stick in a loose and liberated way.

red ink

painting sticks

The subject matter involved red velvet, some ancient cattle skulls and a lovely Italian lady who can sit so still that you might forget she is alive.

velvet drapery

now you see why I prefer photography

The story I am 'telling' is about a beautiful girl in a red dress and long dark tresses who falls in love with a skull that has accidentally morphed into a giant prawn. She is holding its tentacle firmly in the hope that it will keep still while everyone else is busy drawing and telling a story about beautiful girl holding an antler. The effort of holding the tentacle is making her look really weird.

Anyway. I tried.

And I understand what Dave McKean was saying about how you only really see something properly when you draw it.

A click of the camera is a totally different way of seeing;......... 'transient'......... 'momentary'.

And yet......... I remember intimately the places where I have spent time sitting thinking about where to make those clicks. Watching the light. Exploring the ground. Thinking about shapes, patterns and mood.

I'll stick to the clicks. But those bits of charcoal are oh, so tempting.......


All I need now is some paper.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Saturday night at Camber sands- in which I venture into the darkness all alone.

Saturday night in Camber sands.

OH (other half)  watching utter drivel on TV. 

Dr Who is teaching some rather weedy Vikings how to fight off intergalactic warriors. Vikings are wearing horned helmets. OH loves to inform me on a regular basis that Vikings never wore horned helmets back in the day when Vikings lived and marauded. 

What do do when internet free and unable to play with my iPad. OH is convinced that I am addicted to my iPad. I am convinced that he is addicted to many things...... TV drivel for one.

I have read the paper, cooked a meal and now I am in need of some action.

Time to go outside with my camera and see what I can find in the dark.

It is very quiet. I can honestly say I didn’t encounter another human during my hour outdoors in the dark. I am not a brave person, and the dark was a test. On the beach there is no moonlight  to lighten the sky. I resort to shuffling my feet tentatively on the sand.

Without a tripod, for I am lazy that way,  I decide to see what I can achieve in the Camber night. I ramp the ISO up to 8000 and later to 16,000, then 32,000 as it gets darker and darker. I explore the bushes, the street and the beach.  No matter if none of them are worthy of space on my hard disk.

It kept me amused, and iPad free.

So here are a few to share with you.

First the bushes.

wind in the trees


Then the street

the telephone kiosk, camber sands

full english. cheap at the price

sleeping prohibited

Then the carpark

self portrait of the artist at night

the toilets, camber car park

the car park union jack

The beach

lights at sea, camber sands

beach houses, camber sands

And finally the telephone box, receiver hanging ......

All a bit grainy and a bit blurred, but you get the picture.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Margate to Broadstairs........along the Viking Coastal Trail

flat white at Forts cafe

My other half (OH) took me out for the day today.

I say 'he took me out' because he did all the driving. It is traditional.

I chose the walk. As I hadn't been to the beach for a whole week I chose a coastal trail.

Viking Coastal trail ( part of)

Six miles along the coast from Margate to Broadstairs. Unchartered territory on a fine autumn day.

By the time we arrived in Margate I was ready for a coffee.

We found Fort's.

Cosy and welcoming, with novel wall decorations.

Fort's in Margate

novel wall decorations in Fort's cafe.

At this point I really wished that I hadn't had my breakfast, for a family of four were tucking into the most amazing spread of eggs benedict, sausage and chips and real Welsh rarebit. Youngest child throwing a wobbly at the sight of her sausage and chips, wailing "that's not what I wanted', in the way that only young children can do and do do.

I wanted.

Flat white in a blue and white china teacup for us. And very good it was too.

Leaving the streets of Margate for the tarmac path along the cliff top we passed subtle signs of a town past its heyday trying to reinvent itself.

Margate casino.

Cliff Lido, Margate

Then off along the coastal path, forced into our anoraks as we walked directly into the strong sea breeze.

Water quality results not bad.

 Efforts to keep the area clean also not bad.

Seagulls and wind a challenge ; special seagull proof bin bags and bins tied to posts with more rubbish bags.

Seagull proof rubbish bags

Bins on the clifftop

There are a lot of useful signs along the way

tied bins and falling rocks

probably dangerous

100% effective forensic traps

The beaches were tucked in under the cliffs.

The jet skis too.

jet ski world.

I was not heartbroken that jet ski world was closed.

Botany Bay

a plentiful supply of Kentish greens

flint stone wall in North Foreland

we descended 78 steps, but there was no beer.....

 The cafe was closed but surf was up at Stone Bay

Beach huts in various colours and styles abound along the shore.

gone swimming

beach huts at Stone Bay

somewhat more interesting beach hut

Last stop Broadstairs, a proper holiday resort, with rock, buckets and spades.

'As seen on TV' tourist shop.

Also home of home of Bleak House, where Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield.

Unfortunately my guide did not take me to see it, for it was lunch time.

The Intolerant Wife
We were not tempted by The Intolerant Wife.

We found beer.

And meat.

And the beach, basking in the autumn sunshine.

Broadstairs beach

Add caption

A bus returned us to Margate.


where we admired the outside and a little bit of the inside of the Turner Contemporary and popped into Aldi to replenish our supplies of meat.

Just in case......

Paolo Canevari at Margate Contemporary

Coastal architecture, Viking Coastal Way.