Here’s some more old sketchbook pages I scanned, this time from the British Museum. (Unlike the V&A they let you use pens and have plenty of stools to give out). The first one is metal grave goods from the Bronze Age, mostly from Central Europe and Wales. I studied Ancient History as my BA, and Bronze Age ritual landscapes and grave goods are something I’m particularly interested in. Something I’m well aware a lot of people will find horrendously boring. For the best grave goods though, see the Scythians, the nomadic horsepeople of the southern Russian steppes, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Magnificent golden jewellery, carpets, embroidery and intricate tattoos.
These are some carvings of chickens from a mural from Lycia in the southwest of what is now Turkey. Not a famous item at all, so a nice uncrowded room to sit in. The British Museum has so many rooms that it’s almost impossible to visit them all in one day. I have visited them all over the years, and as most tourists cluster in the Egyptian and Athenian rooms, you often have the other galleries all to yourself. To be honest, the British Museum has so many treasures, they could easily send back the disputed items like the Parthenon sculptures and have lots of beautiful items to fill the galleries with (whether the items which no-one is currently clamouring for were themselves legitimately acquired is another matter, up until the 1950s or so, a lot of, or perhaps the majority of anthropologists and archaeologists were essentially robbers and con people- here’s looking at you Schliemann and your dynamiting of the ruins of Troy to get to the gold).
These sculptures are from 520-450BC as I have helpfully written on the drawing. This was the period when Athens was at its peak. People often have this idea that the Ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans were concurrent, but this is not the case. The Roman empire didn’t even get going (or even have emperors) until the first century AD, and the Egyptian civilisation lasted for several thousand years. Even with periods like the Trojan War and Persian War, people kind of conflate the two together and assume they happened close to each other. In reality though, the Iliad was written around 800BC (whether Homer was a single person or a kind of collective oral narrative tradition is something that is up for debate) harking back to glorious legends of the deeds of the Mycenaean ancestors around 1200BC, and the Persian war was 499-449 (please remember BC dates go backwards). The Greco-Persian wars were also recorded by actual contemporary writers too (whatever your opinion of Herodotus), and the Iliad is essentially an oral tradition written down four hundred years or so later. Troy was a real place on the coast of Turkey, and there is archaeological evidence that there was conflict there at about the right time, but who knows about Achilles, Menelaus and so on.
The era of these carvings was also the period of the Persian war (please do not see the film 300 for any kind of information whatsoever- don’t even talk to me about that film), and Lycia was on the Persian side. The Lycians/Luwians who lived in the area (and had their own language– which is likely to be the same one the Trojans spoke- Troy is not very far away) are one of the less famous civilisations of the era, mainly because they were surrounded by large bossy neighbours like the Athenians, Assyrians and Hittites.
This summer I had to chance to go to both Documenta in Kassel and the Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts. Here’s my photos from one of the Ljubljana Biennial exhibitions that allowed photos. The theme of this Biennial was this poem by Slovenian writer Jure Deleta (and inspiration from Karel Destovnik). There was no overall curator of the festival this time, previous winners of prizes were allowed to each choose an artist to take part. Ljubljana is a small, easy-going city, and so was the art festival, although the artwork and exhibition presentation were high quality. None of the stress of Documenta. I have written a zine about my trips to Slovenia and Croatia this summer, available here, and am in the process of writing one about my time in Germany.
Here’s an illustration of a car park in Bracknell. Like the one I did yesterday, the original artwork was a pen and ink drawing, and the colour was added digitally. It’s available as a print in three different sizes, from £6 to £30.
(If you want to colour the picture in yourself, then the same artwork is also available in colouring book form.)
The photos it’s based on can be seen here. I took them in 2005. At the time I was studying at the University of Reading, and working part-time in a camera shop/photo lab. Every so often they would send me to cover the Bracknell branch. Bracknell is a New Town near Reading built in the 1960s, with a reputation for being bleak At the time I took the pictures, 60s Brutalist buildings were still considered ugly by many, before the reassessment that Brutalism has had in the last few years. The concrete wasn’t green in real life anyway, that’s just from the chemical process used on the film.
The shop was in a windowless 60s shopping centre, and there was no staff room, so rather than eat my lunch in a cupboard I would go and wander amongst the concrete. I haven’t been to Bracknell since 2006 or so, so I have no idea if it’s the same or different nowadays- I know that the mirrored 3M building in my photos has been demolished for sure. In 2005 the centre of Bracknell felt completely dead, it would be interesting to see if that’s still the case now.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon doing some lino prints. The prints are available from here for £2.80 each. They’re A5 sized and printed on thick 300gsm Canson watercolour paper.
Here’s a brief tutorial on the basics of lino printing:
I’ve also coloured a few of the colouring book pages in Photoshop, mostly for my own amusement.
To create this effect of being printed on brown paper:
- Auto trace your artwork to a black outline and transparent background on Illustrator (turn on ignore white on auto trace)
- Open up the file in Photoshop
- Add a scan of brown paper to the bottom layer
- Set the image outline layer to multiply mode and then copy the layer so it’s doubled up, and the topmost layer
- Use a separate multiply or hard light (whichever works better for that colour) layer for each colour underneath the outline, and colour in blocks using the most basic paintbrush (not one with airbrushing- the blockiest kind). Adjust the opacity of each layer to strike a balance between colour density and letting the paper texture show through.
- You can also use add noise and colour halftone filters on the colour layers to add texture- the roof here is one plain colour layer and one halftoned layer.
Lately I’ve been drawing much more, and writing a lot less. I’ve been preparing artwork for a colouring book, which I need to get finished by the 12th of November, to have ready in print for the Rose Tinted Zine Spectacular in Brighton on the 19th of November. So there’s been a lot of 8 hour drawing sessions and high levels of caffeine consumption.
All of the images are based on real places.
Tired after hours of drawing while visiting my dad.