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Digital drawing

ashtree-3aNow, here’s a horror story for Valentine’s Day: I’ve recently had a bit of a rift with my beloved. Yes, I’m talking about Photoshop. After just a few minutes of use, my brush strokes would begin stuttering on contact, not responding to what I was actually drawing; if I drew a curve in the two or three seconds it took to wake up, I’d get just a straight line from point A to B. Not the most patient at the best of times, having to wait seconds to get a responsive brush quickly became a no-no for me, and, with no settings adjustments seeming to make a difference, I had to reinstall the software. Fingers crossed, it does seem to be restored to working order, now, thank goodness!

Similarly restored is our subject, Ash Tree Farm Drainage Mill, though the reference for this drawing would surely have been back in its working days of the early-to-mid twentieth century. The dreadful storms of January 1953 blew the mill’s sails off, and from then it would lie derelict until about 2007, when a new cap and sails were fitted. Now, it’s a pretty sight just off the busy A47, linking Yarmouth to Acle – it actually sits in a region between the two known as Nowhere – and then onto Norwich. Having done that route so often, I’ve long thought of the mill as the first landmark en route to the city, or equally a sign that we’re almost home.

I can’t claim that the aforementioned gremlins were obstructing any creative cavalcade; it has, so far, been a very slow year on that front. That said, the reinstall at least gave me an excuse to sit down and make something, and that’s no bad thing even if I did perhaps take a predictable route. When life gives you wind, make windmills, as they say.

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WWFbig-repoman6And now for something a little different – the same, but different. Wanting to wrest a bit more character out of a portrait, I began cutting up references in Photoshop, enlarging and warping certain bits and bobs to try and guide me. With that focus, I turned back to the stars of the wrestling ring, and Repo Man, aka Barry Darsow aka Demolition Smash. The epitome of early nineties WWF silliness, you couldn’t ask for a better guinea pig!

First spotted skulking around the ring in autumn 1991, Repo Man, replete with domino mask and long coat, would predominantly play out in a series of vignettes, in which he repossessed or outright stole items from members of the public. On one shocking occasion, he even stole the psychedelic hat of “Macho Man” Randy Savage, something I’m sure fans would never forget. His trusty tow rope came in handy not just for his occupation but for in-ring action, too, as he’d tie up his defeated foes and even repossess them. Such antics incurred the ire of big men like British Bulldog and Crush, who seemed to power over Repo Man with ease in their respective feuds. Repo very quickly became a jobber, but a hilarious one, and that’s all that matters.

Curiously, it was intended for the character to start doing good deeds and become a heroic role model, but when the plans were shelved, Darsow quit in 1993. Surely for the best, as the character just screams dastardly comic book villain, and it’s probably better remembered for being exclusively that.

This is the first piece I’ve completed in quite a while – it hasn’t been an especially productive start to the year. But this was fun and, as a process, felt fresh – maybe more on this vein to come. I just think perhaps the heads need to get bigger!

cesaro-04A very happy new year to all! I hope it has started as you mean it to continue, and long may you continue to visit and make this little community a fun one.

I thought a suitably joyous way to kick off proceedings in 2018 – and my 250th post, as it happens – would be to accept a blog award, something I haven’t done for some time. Just before Christmas, Dernhelm kindly nominated me for the Unique Blogger Award. If you want some awesome illustrations, a visit is heartily recommended!

My accompanying portrait doesn’t really have anything to do with the award, but after such an honour I thought I’d treat myself. The charming Cesaro, formerly known as Very Mysterious Ice Cream – which might be the best ring name ever – certainly qualifies on that score. He’s unique in his own right, for not only for is he the first Swiss wrestler to come to prominence in WWE, but he’s surely the only grappler with a vlog all about coffee – or, at least, he used to. Little appears to remain these days, but it looks like it was hilarious.

I now have to pick up to thirteen bloggers upon which to bestow this very same honour. It’s always so difficult! Obviously there are hundreds of candidates for this – I’d say all the blogs I visit are unique. In trying to be fair, I did generally go for people I haven’t shared on previous awards, so please forgive me if your blog shouldn’t appear.

Drum roll, please… your nominees are:

And the winner is …

Everyone! Yay!

Now, we come to the part of the evening where, sozzled though we may be, we have to soldier on and, for a laugh, answer the questions that Dernhelm has left for me. Lord knows I love interviews!

1 – IF YOU COULD DESCRIBE YOUR BLOG IN ONE WORD, WHAT WOULD THAT ONE WORD BE?
Panic!

2 – WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME (BESIDES BLOGGING)?
Panic! And then go for a walk.

3 – DO YOU READ BOOKS? ANY FAVOURITE GENRE(S)?
Panic! I fear we’ve been over this in previous award ceremonies. I struggle to read very often, and, at best, stick to verse. ‘Less is more’, and all that carry on. Most recently I picked up an anthology of War poetry, but such a context proved – perhaps unsurprisingly – to be a bit heavy, and I haven’t got very far. I should probably stick to nonsense.

As per the rules of this award, I have to now ask all nominees three questions of my own. I will keep mine pretty similar to those above, and because I’m feeling a bit dull, I’ll keep it strictly business:

  • Which one word do you think best describes your blog?
  • Is there a post you’re particularly proud of and would like to reshare?
  • Have you any grand goals for your blog/practice this year?

And, of course, the spirit of the award means nominees should also go ahead and nominate thirteen others, ask questions of their own etc. etc. As usual, there is no obligation to do that, or anything at all because I have said so. Go your own way! But indeed, my thanks once more to Dernhelm, congratulations to all nominees, and big thanks to all for your patience! See you at the after-party, which I was told is down there somewhere…

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A Sunday night quickie. I’ve had this sitting around since October and somehow forgot to post it – seems we’re a little late to the church!

With it being that time of year, I thought I’d throw it in now, and, as a bonus, go from spring-like bloom to the cloak of a silent night – no snow yet, it seems… but that’s the story of my life. I’m always a sucker for the transformative effect of some simple overlays – Photoshop for the win, as they say.

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There’s still something special lingering about these Sundays in the run up to Christmas, perhaps the only time of the year the Sunday feeling is welcome. It was when the excitement went up a notch, with school almost over and the tree starting to go up – always a momentous occasion, as I’ve touched on before. If Christmas festivity is akin to the stages of grief – and how jolly romantic an analogy that is – I certainly make progress at this point.

Traditions being what they are, I’ll be doing the tree this evening, so I’d best be off to the cupboard and see what’s there to dust off and untangle. Have a peaceful night!

nellyfurtado-6The product of another earworm, after our last encounter with Darren Hayes of Savage Garden. I think there’s something to be said for turning this into a regular thing, especially if they’re new or nostalgic; it seems a productive and worthy use of a sometimes irritating thing!

This time, we have Nelly Furtado – hopefully if you know the woman you’ve already sussed that. It’s actually the fifth or sixth attempt with Ms. F – the previous lot, each attempting to be wittily faithful to Loose, are not for the faint-hearted, certainly not especially flattering. So, it was back to a more detailed approach – for now, anyway. Having started to become a little jaded with the portraiture as is, it’d really be nice to step back and try and mix things up a little next year… we’ll see.

Anyway, back to Nelly. I can’t claim to be an uber-fan, so I’ll just witter on and see where this goes (as if that’s in any way different to the usual!) I’ve been aware of her for a long time now, mainly because of the widely-played I’m Like A Bird which speaks very much of 2000, but it wasn’t until Loose arrived in 2006 that I took real notice. I’d like to thank Nelly for keeping me company around that time, when I was at home for a fortnight with labyrinthitis; I played Say It Right and All Good Things whenever my head was going to let me enjoy them. As a bit of a hashtag born-in-the-wrong-decade throwback before it was cool, my playing something from the charts was telling in itself.

There’s lots of hip-hop punch, but there are also moments of sensitivity which made an attractive, moody cocktail to teenage me. It’s probably one of my favourite albums of the 2000s (though, admittedly, that is a small pool in which to swim – again, hashtag supercool throwback). Having happened across her again recently, the hits from back remain lively and fresh, belying the fact that they’re now over a decade old. They are said right, if you want to be really clever. Go Nelly.

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It is now acceptable to talk about Christmas. November departed with snow – just a dusting, but it doesn’t take much for me to get overexcited!

What with that and the mounting urgency to get some Christmas cards sorted, I found my way to this. There isn’t much more in the way of rationale, but who needs one at this time of year? The main attraction for me was the sky, and in fact I didn’t really intend for the landscape to even be there, or at least not one so populated – it rather pushed its way in. I find churches difficult and often frustrating from reference, so dreaming one up was perhaps both ludicrous and inspired (aha spire). The snowy conifers more than make up for any torment the tower caused.

After Thursday’s tease, I’m hoping that, just one day this winter, I’ll have an excuse to get the scarf and gloves out.

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It’s quite a departure from the usual Norfolk landscape, with two hundred foot chimneys and silos on the bank of the River Yare. This is Cantley Sugar Factory, which opened in 1912 and has slowly but surely grown into the monster you see today – one of only four sugar beet factories left in the UK.

It has a reputation as something of an eyesore, and that’s understandable. It seems to threaten the puny windpumps across the river, who try their best to defy by facing the other way. It’ll loom over many a photograph. But, having grown up fascinated by the immediate juxtaposition of old and new industry – like gasometers and inexplicably tall chimneys of the old power station – I don’t really mind it. For me, it’s just another piece of the landscape.

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That being said, after taking the perceptions into consideration and having looked at some shots of the machinery, I did get a thirst for the excessively industrial; something harsh and overbearing. With that, I found my way to 3D and started randomly throwing steel and piping together:

Less regimented and just a bit of a mess at the moment – perhaps that works in its favour? – but it’s thrown up some exciting ideas. Maybe there’s something in a typeface using these elements? It would be fun to try and construct some monstrous three-dimensional letters, but it seems as though it could look rather sharp in 2D.

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I feel like the title of this post promised so much but delivered so little – sorry about that. Perhaps one day I’ll draw a sugar daddy to make amends. It’d be rude not to.