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AtoZ-R-CIRCULAR-07

Several of my blogging friends are undertaking daily challenges at the moment. I’ve been thinking about 36 Days of Type for a while – it certainly appeals to me, seeming like a fun way of getting lettering ideas out quickly. With no restrictions, though, I found my motivation and confidence would recede, to the point of casting the idea aside for a couple of weeks. Rinse and repeat. Then, over the weekend, something dawned on me.

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It’s been quite a wheel since I’ve been able to bust out the wheely funny puns. Yes! Dusted off and given a snazzy makeover, the Wheel of Time is back, re-purposed for this challenge, Twenty-Six Spins. Random spins will pick both the letter and direction for each day. As such, this probably won’t be any ordinary alphabet challenge – we’re at the mercy of the wheel. Let’s hope we don’t get the same letter and theme every day, eh? That would be hilarious.

I’m not sure how long I will allow myself to spend on these – undoubtedly some styles will take longer than others, but I think there’s something to be said for keeping things simple and brisk, just following the gut and seeing what happens. This type of exercise should be good for that. I would say I’m not putting any pressure on myself to crack it, but I have already started a spreadsheet and set reminders, so I’m giving it a good go!

The shots you see above were from the first whirl of the wheel. Circular R did not strike me as an especially friendly first run. Perhaps the wheel was enjoying its retirement after all! Not to be cowed, I ran to Illustrator and tried to create something within a polar grid:

This didn’t really work to begin with, and compounding my frustration was the fact that so many other relatively interesting characters seemed to appear almost without trying. R proved tricky in both uppercase and lowercase; perilously close to becoming a C, I tried to open it up as much as possible. I’m sure it would look more distinct as part of a complete, flowing set.

It’s all quite exciting, though, and with some interesting spaces on the wheel I’m looking forward to the next spin. Let’s see how long I can stay on schedule!

herringfleet-2bIn yet another lurch away from any kind of propriety as far as Time-Tested is concerned, I left Reddit Gets Drawn, and also went further into Corel Painter, this time having a look at its pastels. Why ever not pick a medium with which I am frighteningly unfamiliar and far from exceptional? One day I might post my oil pastel self-portrait from my GCSE exam a good few years ago… stuff of nightmares, it is (and I mean even more than I deserve from a portrait!).

With that slight tremor, I moved away from portraiture and decided to make a pastel landscape instead. This is Herringfleet Mill, a smock mill situated just outside of Somerleyton in Suffolk. Standing beside the River Waveney, and quite a way from road or rail, it is a wonderfully peaceful setting, and it’s no surprise that it has become such a hot pick for photographers. It’s also one of the very few broadland mills that can still work – quite a treat it is to see those sails turn, though, one mustn’t stand too close, as I did once; as the structure is quite small, the sails almost clip the ground, never mind your noggin!

In another departure from the norm, I wasn’t sure how long I was going to give myself for this, but ‘finished’ – or rather was exhausted – at just under two and half hours. To begin with, I tried to force ‘expressive’ by using my non-dominant (right) hand, which explains the sails. The blocks of colour fell quickly; a huge chunk of the time was spent blending, nitpicking and adding strokes here and there – I’ll let you be the judge of whether you think that a success or not! It’s produced something very different, and with hints of loosening up in that I disobeyed the photograph on many elements (though there’s a long way to go in that regard – I just need to dredge up the courage). I’m uncertain about the result compared to my usual, but I guess that’s to be expected. Twas fun, anyhow, and Corel once again proved its impressive worth.

Wheel be ba.. oh I must stop doing that. See you (wheel) soon… in February, I expect!

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Welcome once again to S-Reddit Saturday, wherein I horrendously offend kind artistic volunteers of Reddit Gets Drawn in the name of creative practice. This week I took the time limit to scary new levels as I slashed two hours down to just one. As I said last week, I’m doing this simply to try and speed up; I’m not so much concerned about working slowly, I just yearn to become more efficient more quickly. To make progress. That’s what we’re here for, after all.

I really liked the bubbly nature of this photo and thought it’d make a cracking portrait, though I was unsure of how it was going to go under rigorous time pressure. I had a desire to go for more of a pop style, such is her look, but again, under the clock I felt it best to stick to what I know on this occasion.

Goodness, it was a bit of a frightening prospect when that sixty-minute clock started ticking. I was quite certainly peeing myself, to borrow a phrase from a fellow blogger, and indeed you might be able to tell as much from the poor initial outlines. It actually seemed to generally pass slower than I had convinced myself it would. This being said, it did become a bit of a frantic episode toward the end of time, and I had to completely forget about colouring – which is irritating, as it was something I really wanted to do with this portrait! – because the time was up before I even came to it; as you can see, I was still somewhere in the process of applying shading and tidying up scruffy marks as the clock – or rather, a sixty-minute selection of Carpenters and Queen tracks – finished.

Not great, and I’m not sure if I’m cruel enough to share this with the subject on Reddit, but nevertheless a bit of fun and an invigorating challenge. I’m now off to change my underwear, wide-eyed in the thought that I’m likely to push myself even further next week. What will it be… forty-five minutes? Half an hour? Even less…? Perhaps I should have a tombola drum to draw from, or a wheel to spin… there’s an idea!

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Last night was a heady buzz of nostalgia, as Challenge began showing episodes of Countdown from 1991. Though I was in my mother’s tummy when they went out originally, I was apparently watching by 1993 – sod kids TV! – so it was still a treat. It was good to see Richard Whiteley back on screen and in the chair again (though the jackets thus far have been disappointingly tame!); it was very noticeable how pleasant and easy it was to watch in comparison to the slog of Nick Hewer’s pitiful attempts at hosting it today. What’s more, with Challenge showing the programmes in a double bill, he has, more than ten years after his death, quite happily regained his moniker of ‘Twice Nightly Whiteley’. (For many years, Richard used to host Countdown at 4:30 and then appear on Yorkshire TV’s news show Calendar two hours later.)

Fittingly, I was working against the clock rather with this drawing – it’s a little swifter than normal, and I was concerned about the impetus of nostalgia hampering things, as it often can, but I think it went quite well. With much energy to expend, I also had a go at cutting a font inspired by the Countdown logotype used in the title sequence of these old shows, appreciating such things in ways I’m sure I did not as an infant. The visuals have inevitably not aged well, but as lettering, it’s a pretty funky display face… one I couldn’t pin down, so I made it!

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I should really do Carol Vorderman next, I suppose. Soon.