Monday, 25 August 2008

Attempting to Save the Creative in Me. (The Memoirs of an Idiot)

So lately I've been a little concerned of how little drawing work I've done. This blog entry is mainly to review the stuff I've done over the past three months since finishing University. In scanning stuff in I've been surprised to see that I've done a fair bit of work. There's no real direction or any particular meaning in anything that's been put down on paper to be honest but hopefully the chronicling of everything will help straighten my head out a little.

Morocco and Beyond.
During our venture to Morocco in July I produced a sort of travel journal-esque sketchbook sort of thing. I suppose it was inspired by reading Craig Thompson's 'Carnet De Voyage', not that I'm comparing my sketchbook to his book in anyway. There's no depth or narrative to what I drew when I was away in Morocco, it was mainly for fun. The first time I'd drawn for fun properly this year. I'll put up a few images from the sketchbook on here but it's a large book full of sketches, receipts and bits of nothing so I'm not going to put everything as I'm sure you'll all understand.

The Morocco Journal.

Ah, Moroccans and Illustrators - 
we understand each others fashion sense.

Coca-Cola. Couldn't find much to draw on this day
 but I quite like this page for some reason.

An attempt at reproducing a intricate pattern on the back of the
 doors where we stayed (there's more to the pattern to this
 but the pages in my sketchbook weren't really big enough.

Things you may see in Meknes.

The above image is my favourite page from the sketchbook. I guess I just enjoyed standing on the roof with a Moroccan beer, in the Moroccan sunshine drawing some Moroccan things.

Just to note that When I was on the train with Sanna to Dunfermline the other week I noticed she had a sketchbook dedicated to pages and pages of drawings in a similar vain to the ones above that she'd done when travelling. It's a nice way to work. On returning from Morocco I intended to draw from photographs taken when we were over there, the problem I encounter when I want to do this is that the drawings never quite encapsulate what I want them to. I've done a few little bits and bobs but I do intend to draw from some photos at least to finish of the last few pages of the Morocco sketchbook. Anyways, here's a couple of things that I did do when I got back.

A Meknes Petit Taxi. (Not taken from one of my photos).

My Moroccan slippers. The leather stinks, 
or maybe it's just my feet. Anyway, I like them.

Just for Fun
Besides the Morocco drawings I have some stuff in my sketchbooks from the past few months that are just for a laugh. They make some sense to me...some sense, not a lot though. The majority of the stuff I've done just for fun consists of things that I want to develop in some way either by developing the drawings or making them more 'finished'. Also I had an idea of producing a zine or an artists' book sort of thing by myself although I don't feel that I have enough to go towards that yet and not enough material that fits together or compliments each other enough. I suppose I really need to pick a subject at random and then I may be able to get underway in producing something a little more substantial.

If anyone read my blog when I first started it, 
there's a chance you may know what I'm going on about here.

Dad has a few Buddhas sitting around the house and I couldn't find anything to draw.

Ever wonder why Buddha has a bag over his shoulder? Now you know.

Airport drawing is incredibly exciting. I was amazed that a young 
girl standing near to us was enthralled with my drawing of a cup...

A couple of chaps with fine moustaches.

The moustache idea is a bit odd i must admit, I can't really explain it. I think that since I did the whole 'Ode to the Inventors' postcards thing at degree show I've had an urge to draw old-timey kind of folk and in my eyes there's not much that's more old-timey than a good old, over-the-top just don't see them these days. I've had a few ideas going around my head for a collection of light-hearted drawings of some gents with intriguing this space.

Chaps at the Airport.

I did put a bit of writing on the above images but for some reason I chose the lightest pen that I could find so to be honest you can't see what I've written, and I can't be bothered copying it all out. I think I made a comment that I figured that God would kind of look like the guy in the right hand picture and that the guy on the left is doing some incredibly important work to do with WH Smith of the lottery or something like that.

What would the band The Mountain Goats look like
 if they were indeed mountain goats?

Just a bit of silliness escaping from inside my head. I was having a rough time trying to draw John Darnielle (lead singer of The Mountain Goats), up to a point where I just got fed up and decided I was going to turn him into a goat. I do quite like how this image turned out despite the fact I was just being daft, I may adapt this into a larger version. We'll see.

A Joe Forty's Yellow Cab.

I'm not really too sure why but I wanted to draw another taxi, but i did, and it was made even more exciting by the fact that this one looked all old fashioned. The drawing doesn't look that much like the picture I took it from but I feel like I want to draw it again, I also feel like I want to draw more taxis.

A drawing of a Photo by Loren Brand.

Since Jen and Loren had both done 'Colour Week', I'd thought it had sounded an ace idea, not that I was going to do the whole photography thing as my skill behind a camera is rather questionable but after seeing their photos I had an urge to draw yellow things. The above two images and the drawing of Morocco Slipper came from this yellow phase.

Good ol' fashioned advertising.

Whilst in Dublin and enjoying Guinness and all things Irish I wanted to pick up some of these old Guinness adverts, there's something about them that's so much more appealing than modern day adverts in my eyes. I'm not sure what it is but there's certainly something more endeering about them. For anyone who hasn't figured it out yet, I didn't draw this image. I just like it. However I'm on a little bit of a quest to find out what the font is called so if anyone has any ideas please let me know. Thanks.

I was back in work today, it was a relatively quiet day. However I was meant to be taking charge of the shop again for a few days while Mum and Darren took a day or two off but no one else was available to work the shift with me. I have a day off today so I'm hopefully going to wander into town and pick up some art materials that I need. I may get my bank holiday yet...take that scotland!



Saturday, 23 August 2008

Ring-a-Ring-a-Rosie, as the Light Declines...

Top o' the mornin' to ya!

On Tuesday I got to go see 'Star Wars:the Clone Wars' with Sanna which I was surprisingly impressed with...maybe because of the fact that I had relatively low expectations for it or whatever. Okay, generally the animation was a little crappy and the story-line a little impetuous and childish, but I think the Star Wars nerd festering inside me loved every minute of it. So yeah, it would most definitely have benefitted from being a live action movie rather than an animation but I was in the kind of mood where I would take any Star Wars fix I could get. If you want to know whether it's a good film, I'd say don't bother with it unless your a Star Wars fan, and even then...don't go to it with any high hopes whatsoever.

Tuesday evening we went to our friend Adam's house as it was his birthday, and then around to Jordan's for an Illustration gathering, however we didn't stay for too long or drink at all as me and Jen had to be up early doors for Dublin. Jordan also has cats...I like her cats. Apologies to Sanna for a little bit of photo-stealing here, but I have no camera in scotland with me!

Ah, the Illustration 2008 catalogue. 

Jen is David Bowie Sleeveface.

Wednesday morning we were up early in order to get ourselves out to Glasgow Prestwick airport for our flight to Dublin. All of our trains were on time and as a result we arrived at the airport a good few hours before our flight so to pass the time we drank tea read through the 'Rough Guide to Dublin' in order to decide what we would do when we arrived and I drew a couple of pictures of whoever was unfortunate enough to sit at the table infront of us. My fear of flying wasn't so bad as it has been before as I managed to keep it out of my mind for the best part of our time at the airport, however I am just generally a bag of nerves whenever the plane is taking off. All of the Dublin Photos are courtesy of Jen and her camera, yeah that's right, more photo stealing. Oh and I had this song in my head practically the whole time we were in Dublin, well I had the Flogging Molly version in my head but I thought I'd put the more traditional version up as it reminds me of last time we were in dublin for the day and we went on a guided bus tour and the driver was singing it, brilliant -

The Dubliners - The Rare Ould Times.

Me and Jen at the airport.

First - Enjoy some of our Life Vest flavoured potato chips, 
Then get stuck in your jacket in a spinning motion. 
Thank you for flying with Ryanair.

On arrival in Dublin we jumped on a bus to our B&B in Drumcondra. The ABC Guesthouse was a lovely place run by a couple by the names of Mary and Joseph (I was going to make a 'no room at the inn' joke here but my mind isn't working this morning). On our first night we simply got the bus down to O'Connell Street, in the centre of Dublin and found somewhere to eat, I had Irish stew and an pint of the black stuff (no not Bovril, Guinness). The next day after breakfast, we went around the Temple Bar area of Dublin looking through a few galleries which weren't quite the standard I was expecting to see, but we did visit a couple of nice cafés around here and also enjoyed visiting Grafton Street, the National Museum and a really swell Vintage Poster shop. I really wanted to buy a bunch of vintage posters but they were rather pricey, I think the cheapest I saw was about 100 (£80) which seemed a little steep to me however nice they were. The museum wasn't really my sort of museum, I'm more interested in stuff about the World Wars, the fight for Irish Independence and Dinosaurs (I know, it's quite a range isn't it?) however, they did have an interesting sections about mummified bodies found in bogs across Ireland, which was rather grim but extremely intresting.

The General Post office on O'Connell Street, 
where the Easter Monday Rising took place in 1916.

Coffee in a Crêpe place in Temple Bar.

Tea in a nice little café called The Joy of Cha.

That night we went out for a nice meal in Wagamama, I know it's not the most traditionally Irish place in the universe but the food was splendid, i had some kind of noodle soup with all kinds of seafood, chicken, tofu and so on. After Wagamama we found ourselves a good old Irish bar to have a few drinks at, I forget what it was called but the Guinness tasted pretty amazing. Me and Jen sat and talked about pretty much everything and I showed off my knowledge of the fairly questionably, rather cheesy un-Irish music that was being played at the bar.

What do you mean? You don't like Guinness?

Friday was our last full day in Dublin and I'd wanted to visit Kilmainham Gaol since I was in Ireland 4 years ago, I'm really quite interested in the story of Irish independence and anything surrounding that era in history. On our way to Kilmainham we got a little lost as neither of us have any real knowledge of the outskirts of Dublin, luckily the weather was okay and we didn't have to wait too long for a bus back into Kilmainham.

Me and Jen get a Little lost on our way to Kilmainham Gaol. 
(I'm not scared of anything here, merely looking at an Irish flag in the distance)

I really enjoyed Kilmainham Gaol, we had a great tour guide called Ciaran who took us around and told us all about the different areas inside of Kilmainham. This tour and a visit to the tea shop and museum there took up most of our last day but i was glad that I got to see a place of such significant importance to the Irish. Anyways,  the history of Ireland is a fairly long story so I wont get into that just now.

The Kilmainham Gaol 'Panopticon'. This section of the prison 
was apparently used in the original Italian Job film.

'She's a part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor, take her away!' 
Sorry that's the Star Wars nerd getting out again. Jen in a cell at Kilmainham.

The Stonebreaker's yard at Kilmainham, The cross is to show where the 
Irish revolutionaries stood when they were shot by British firing squads.

Our last night we wandered around a bit looking for a place to have a meal. We investigated a few places around the Grafton Street area and decided on a place called 'Alfie's'. The food and service was great and there was even a nice surprise of a couple of guitarists providing the evening with some tasteful music and a nice atmosphere. After our meal we wandered back to the city centre to find a bus back to the B&B, however we got on the wrong one and had to walk some of the way back. All in all our trip to Ireland was great and i think the two full days was enough for us to see what we each wanted to see, I maybe would've like to experience a Friday night out in Ireland drinking with the Irish and listening to some traditional music but there's always next time.

I really like this photo even though it is a little blurred.

On the flight back i was in a bit more of a state than the journey there, I'm not really sure why - maybe it was just in my mind or maybe it was to do with the terrible things that happened in Spain this week that have been all over the news, I'm not too sure. So I just bought a double whiskey and buried my head in my book. Oh yeah, I forgot to say I bought 'A Star Called Henry' by Roddy Doyle at the airport as I knew I'd need something to read on the plane and it's a great book that I've read once before and being in Dublin (where the story is set) I was compelled to read it again. On arriving back in Scotland we were glad to have a lift back to Dundee from Jen's dad Mark, we both slept the majority of the way back, i didn't feel too tired but I think all the travelling we did over the few days we were away clearly took it out of both of us.

Last night was a nice quiet night, I made some Vegetable soup, we sat and watched some crappy TV and I completed 'Hotel Dusk:Room 215' on my Nintendo DS, Which by the way was possibly one of the most disappointing ends to a game that I really enjoyed playing. Oh well, I'll just have to find something else to waste my time playing now. When's 'Line Rider' out again?

For Jen's take on our Dublin holiday go here.

Peace out.


Monday, 18 August 2008

When I'm Cleanin' Windows (In Wigan)

So last week began pretty similarly to the rest, much work to be done and all that jazz. Except that this time there was a little twist thrown into the equation, Mum was taking a couple of days off so I had to be in charge. In reality it wasn't as ominous as I'd originally imagined but I certainly had my work cut out for me. Evenings in Perth alone are a little less colourful than the daytimes in the shop so I entertained myself by cooking, watching films and enjoying a few glasses of wine. I began by watching THX-1138, George Lucas' first film although the less said about that the better - I would not recommend you waste any time on this pretentious piece of crap (Sorry George, you are a Master - but only because of Star Wars). I then watched Thank you for Smoking, a film that I remember seeing advertised a couple of years ago but never got to see. It was an Okay watch, quite a black comedy but very easy to sit through, I'd recommend it if you've got the time. In my boredom I then trawled through my DVD collection (not that my DVD collection is bad, I just feel that I've watched all of them so recently) and I came across Tongan Ninja, so I then sat up and watched that - what a film! I'd forgotten the genius of the guys from Flight of the Conchords and it was a breath of fresh air to see this film again. I'd recommend you watch this film if you are a fan of Flight of the Conchords and of course if you can afford the extortionate £2.99 that you have to fork out for this gem.
The Tongan Ninja opening credits - a masterpiece.

Also this week I decided that I miss having a musical instrument with me in Scotland and at the moment I have no way of transporting either of my guitars up here so I decided to buy a Ukulele -

Samuel, my Ukulele.

It's a bargain at under £15 and will surely keep me occupied until I can get my hands on one of my guitars again. I've been learning a few bits and pieces on it, however I am aware that it sounds terrible at the moment as my fingers haven't adapted to the insanely tiny fretboard. I was learning some beginner bits and pieces, Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, No Woman No Cry, and Banana Pancakes. I am aware of the obligatory George Formby jovial reference that needs to be inserted here so here you all go...the master at work. Enjoy...

"She's more like eighty than eighteen, when I'm cleanin' windows"
Maybe if you're lucky I'll give y'all a rendition of this someday.

Musical instruments, movies and work aside, this week (as of Sunday) saw the beginning of my holidays. Sunday afternoon me and Sanna took a train ride to Dunfermline to visit Jen and family. The train was delayed for quite some time due to trespassers or crisp packets on the line or something, but the weather was rather pleasant when we arrived which made up for things somewhat, so we all sat and had a beer in the garden which was equally as pleasant as the weather. Sunday evening we went for an awesome Chinese meal thanks to Mark and Margaret (Hello to you both if you are reading this, hope you are well!). Monday Me, Jen, Sanna, Fi and Daniel headed through to Edinburgh to see some arty things - unfortunately the weather had turned but we still had a nice day out. We visited a few galleries and saw some swell things.

Painting by Andrew Grassie.

We went along to the Talbot Rice Gallery to see the Andrew Grassie Exhibition, I'd never heard of Andrew Grassie before but I was quite taken aback by his work. His works are all photorealistic interpretations of mostly arty spaces, as shown above. The pieces are all fairly small too so you do have to kind of keep reminding yourself that they are actually paintings. I enjoyed this exhibition but thought it was quite harsh some of the comments people had left in the comments book. Silly people.

Robert Hanson drawing of a man with a moustache.

Another artist that I had very little knowledge of at the start of the day was Robert Hanson, Jen had wanted to go through to Edinburgh to see his exhibition and I just like Analogue so of course I agreed to go. Robert Hanson's drawings and prints were both amazing and I would love to have bought one if I had a little more money to throw about the place. We also visited Owl & Lion and the Red Door Gallery - two more places that just tempted me to spend money - however, for once I resisted. Oh and on the subject of moustache's, here's a rather comical collection of all things moustache.

Photo of "Opera for a Small Room" 

The last exhibition we went to was at the Fruitmarket gallery where they had a couple of interesting pieces of work by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. One was called The House of Books has no Windows, which was a rather cool house made of ancient books, everyone was standing on the outside viewing it but me and Jen decided to go inside, like Jen said it smelt like being inside an old book. Another piece they did was Opera for a Small Room, which again was a very intriguing piece of work, they had constructed a small old fashioned looking room in the gallery space which was very dark and eerie, as the show went on the lighting and sound changed very dramatically. Quite an odd, sppoky piece of work but it was very interesting, I just wanted to stay there and see what was going to happen next. I guess you have to see it to understand what I mean though.

Well, that pretty much brings us up to date I think. The rest of the week promises to carry on being just as enjoyable as me and Jen are travelling to Dublin on Wednesday and hopefully me and Sanna are going to see Star Wars: the Clone Wars on Tuesday, which although I am aware doesn't look so amazing, I am pretty darn excited about seeing. Below is a rather comical piece of Graffiti that I saw on my way to meet Sanna on Sunday, the original text repeatedly said I LIKE MYSELF and well, it had been modified but I don't think you needed me to tell you that really.

That's err...nice to Know.

Keep it running along smoothly.

J.A. Birch IV

Friday, 8 August 2008

"Are you ready to order?" ... "I'm not sure, are you ready to advise?"

Another day, another dollar. This week's been okay in work, one incredibly quiet day and then two days incredibly rushed off my feet. All said and done though, I don't mind work too much when it's busy as the time passes much quicker. However what I'm never really in the mood for are people who find something trivial and rude to complain about when they've only spent £1.50 in your place of work. Anyway, I won't go into that just now.

Sneak preview...don't get too excited now.

Travelled back to Dundee yesterday in order to finish the banners Jen and I started for The Klub this Saturday, spent a fair bit of time colouring in a pattern on them which did become rather monotonous (however it was our own fault as we chose which pattern to use), but I think it will have paid off. I would like to be able to show y'all a nice purty picture of the finished banners but I only had my phone to take the picture with so the sneak preview will have to suffice.

"Indeed I am Lois....but wheeeeeere!?"

Not having to be in work today until 12, I had a few hours sitting around the house not doing alot. I had intended to draw in my sketchbooks and finish a piece of  work I started the other day, but after last nights escapades with the banners I couldn't really be arsed. So instead of being creative I sat and watched a couple of episodes of Family Guy, sometimes I forget how genius that show really is, watch the above clip, I think you'll understand.

One comment made by a German gentleman in my work left me a little befuddled. (for those that don't know i work as a waiter in my Mum's coffee shop in Perth).

Me: Hi there, are you ready to order?

German Man: That depends, are you ready to advise?

He went on to apologise, saying his English wasn't too great (it seemed good enough to me, maybe he was just having some fun with me) It turned out that he wanted advice in the choice of which burger he should have. Basically my answer should've been, No I am not ready to advise...I apologise.

POST SCRIPT: Can anyone recommend any music for me to listen to? everything i put on at the moment seems to have stagnated and I don't want to listen to any of 5,712 songs on my computer.

Auf Wiedersehen,

John (alan) Birch.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Alan vs. Maradona vs. Madonna vs. Elvis vs. Heath Ledger vs. Morgan Freeman vs. Everyone Else.

Everybody must belong somewhere

It's me again. Had an interesting few days since I last wrote, not an awful lot going on but I like it that way at the moment. If you have six minutes of your life to spare you really should check out the Bright Eyes video above. Thanks.

So yeah, went back to Dundee on Sunday (hey that rhymes if you speak in scouse) to visit Jen and we met up with her friend Ross who wanted us to do some banner type things for "The Klub" this weekend and so we started to put them together yesterday evening.

Besides that we went to see the new Batman film, I'm not a huge Batman fan but I did rather enjoy the film to be honest and Heath Ledger was pretty awesome in it too. After Morgan Freeman's car crash the other day my mum pointed out that she thinks the Dark Knight is cursed...who's next? However, I do hope Morgan gets well soon and that the crash wasn't too serious. 

And finally...Jen and I booked ourselves a little holiday and are going to be visiting Dublin for a few days at the end of the month, how very exciting!


Friday, 1 August 2008

The Weather Makes Me Feel at Home.

Arrived back in Perth the other in day order to start work again - the Perth Show began on friday, apparently it's a big deal, however the weather's been terrible so for some reason standing in a wet, muggy Scottish field looking at cows and tractors didn't sound so ace to me to be honest but somehow it bought the customers in. The past few days in Perth have been rather uneventful to say the least, just spent time working and that's all.

Although, saying what i said about the weather, it does kind of disturbingly make it feel like home here. That's a rather depressing thought though.

Not much else to write home about.