Sunday, December 7, 2014

on Monet's Houses of Parliament

This week I have been working at an auction house where billionaires go to outbid each other in order to add pieces of history to their collections. As you would imagine, there is the occasional conversation among staff about what one would buy if one happened to be so filthy rich. I like to think I wouldn’t be so selfish as to hoard masterpieces for mind-numbing sums of money but, then again, if I had worked to earn millions I might feel differently.

Imagining myself as a person with altogether too much money, I know exactly what my prized jewel would be. A Monet. Specifically, there's a painting of the Houses of Parliament at Sunset in the National Gallery that I have long been attached to.

The Houses of Parliament at Sunset by Claude Monet, 1902
at the National Gallery, London

On Wednesday morning, as the vehicle of my daily commute crested Westminster Bridge in the drizzle, it was as if Claude was crammed next to me in the humid haze of the tightly packed bus. (Qu'est-ce que vous voyez là-bas?) The view out of the window became very familiar. I patted around for my phone so I could take a picture. I had two shots. I think the second one did it some justice. 

The Houses of Parliament at Rush Hour

Monet did a sizeable series of paintings of Westminster Palace; at sunrise, sunset, in different lights as he was wont to do with a subject.

Sample of "Monet Houses of Parliament" on an image search engine

Monet did a spectacular job of describing to us what he saw but at least a part of his message was that the light always changes and you will never see the same thing twice. Definition is hard to come by and perhaps definition is ultimately undesirable.

There is a poem by Lisel Mueller called ‘Monet Refuses the Operation’ where Mueller imagines Monet as an old man addressing the doctor who would like to operate to restore his sight:

“What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don’t know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent..."

I don't feel the need to own a Monet. I am free to google or to go to fine public galleries and stare for hours on end at his work. Or better yet, I can look through the sweaty condensation of a London bus window and see something transcendent when I expected to be bored.

Now I imagine owning a Monet is like owning a stuffed tiger. It's all well and good but it's dead now, and is no substitute for the living, breathing beast. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rhinoceros and Calf

This is a drawing I did recently of a rhino with a young calf. 

It's an appropriately large one at A0, or 1189 x 841 mm. These photos don't really show the scale. I took loads of process pictures, but I think I have misplaced them!

I used india ink on Saunders Waterford watercolour paper. 

It was commissioned as a gift.


I found a couple of shots of the work in progress, so I thought I would add them in here...

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Warwick Wag poster

I spend a fair amount of time in the park. Parks in general, but specifically Warwick Gardens in Peckham. Walking or just hanging out with the dog, waiting for more dog owners to show up. It's quite a community that I had no idea existed before I got a dog. We've made lots of friends and this Sunday we're holding a dog show.

The Warwick Wag is on this Sunday (5th October) from 2pm. I volunteered to do the poster so you can check out the details below... 

The first poster with basic details

The second poster with all the info

If you are close by and have a dog, or just want to see lots of dogs, swing by!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ride or Die

Here's a piece that I did recently. It was commissioned as a birthday gift for one of a trio of friends. The brief was that it had to include a tricycle (as a symbol of their three-way friendship) and the words "Ride or die".

I thoroughly enjoyed aggressively inking out the letters but decided that a Lisa Frank rainbow gradient would be perfect to lighten the tone. It looks like Summer holiday mischief to me.

Fresh ink

The trike


Rainbow typography

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Forever & Ever

A while ago I did a one day screen printing workshop at Peckham Print Studio. It's the first time I had ever touched a screen or a squeegee or anything, and I came away with a two colour print edition of 10! Not bad. I'd highly recommend the workshop to anyone interested in screen printing and Hugh and Nathan are very helpful.

The piece is two stylised snakes, intertwined in an infinite Celtic Knot. A snake eating its own tail has long been a symbol of love without end, and these two have clearly decided to stick together!

I have listed the print in my Etsy shop if you are interested in picking up a hand printed piece for your wall. There are 6 looking for homes. Full details are in the listing.

Number 1 

Print detail

Screens at the ready!

Freshly printed stack

Blue snake detail

Orange snake detail

Monday, February 3, 2014

We Roam Your Streets at Night

You may have guessed that I love animals, and that I live in London. There aren't that many wild animals living in London, but I still love the sight of every single one of them. A lot of people consider them vermin, but rats, mice, foxes, pigeons, crows, are all magic for my eyeballs. 

There are quite a lot of foxes around Peckham, where I live, and I always thrill at a late night sighting when the streets are dark and quiet. That's what inspired me to make this print - called 'We Roam Your Streets at Night'. 

We Roam Your Streets at Night, A3 giclée print on Hahnemuhle german etching


Victorian terrace

Wet tarmac typography

And now for the technical bit..
I created the whole print in Photoshop, working over a sketchbook page that I had scanned in. I like working with layers and playing on the interaction between them, so I decided to limit the colour palette by working on 3 layers: one cyan, one magenta and one yellow. I set the layer blending modes to 'multiply' so that the colours would mix where they are overlaid.

I drew into the layers using my trusty Wacom tablet. Here's a step-by-step GIF...

We Roam Your Streets at Night - Step by step GIF
So the colours I had to work with are cyan, magenta and yellow. Along with... 
Cyan and magenta making dark blue;
Magenta and yellow making orange;
Yellow and cyan making green;
No colours means you see the white page;
And if all three colours are present they make a dark colour, almost black.

I have separated each layer out to try and demonstrate, below...

The cyan layer
The magenta layer

The yellow layer

These prints are being printed by The Print Space right now, and I will post again when they arrive and I have listed them in my Etsy shop

18/03/2014 UPDATE

I have listed these prints on Etsy now! Check it out here:

Many thanks!