In these sketches I ditched the pastels and picked up the ink, brushes and pens for some more spontaneous and rawer interpretations of scenes around Taihape.
These days I try and avoid doing political cartoons but every now and then something so absurd (although probably unsurprising) happens, I simply have to vent.
Even the alley ways are interesting in Taihape. For this sketch I used charcoal and pastel to emphasis a spectral atmosphere that I couldn't help feel when I looked down the alley way. Do you know where this is?
For many of us living in the North Island, passing through Taihape is a familiar part of travelling north or south. For me Taihape has always been a place that has filled me with a kind of positivity. This probably comes from Taihape being the first place to stop for a break, while heading north for a long awaited summer holiday. Or it could be because it's the place to stop for some cosy fish 'n chips, before facing the final leg of a long journey home from a trip up north.
But I also the think the charm of the town lies in the way it's situated among the Rangitikei hills and in it's buildings. In the centre of town, the fronts and backs of buildings and the alleyways seem to whisper the town's history to you.
At times I've simply had to get down on paper what I see about the place. This drawing is perhaps a little more than a sketch as it was done in pastel with a closer attention to detail. Do you recognise the old building and where it is situated?
Sometimes it's good to grab a piece of paper, pick up a pen and just draw, with no subject matter in mind, no observations, no characters or narratives...just going for it and seeing what comes out.
This is what I came up with recently. It ended up looking something like an anti-Christmas tree. Now, I'm not anti-Christmas. I enjoy the gathering of family and friends, the food, the cosy traditions, how all work is put aside for a day and I like the way Christmas kind of provides a profound fullstop to the end of the year. So I was surprised that this picture emerged. Maybe I was in a grumpy mood about it all at the time...or maybe it's a subconscious statement about gluttony and waste, which never seems to be more obvious than at this time of the year. I guess I shouldn't analyse it too much, whatever it says, it was fun to do!
I've finally given in to the urge to return to my multipage, autobiographical comic Living on the Edge. I think it was the encouraging feedback I got from the Papamoa story (originally from my Living on the Edge series) that clinched it. Thank you everybody. I soon found I just simply had to pick up the pens and start to write and draw these real-life stories again.
For an idea of what I have been up to, here's the first page of a story about a major dilemma I have been recently facing. I will put the entire story up when I have completed it. It should end up being about 8 pages long. Or it may be a little longer. I'll just see how it pans out. After all, when you're telling stories about real-life it should take as long as it takes, right?
Just a few more views of Papamoa beach to add to the sketch file. Over the years I've found that keeping up sketching has been a good discipline that has feed back into my work, whether I've been doing art, illustration work or, these days, comics. It makes you stop and really take in what's around you. I hope you've been enjoying looking at these sketches. In a few weeks I'm gonna put up a few studies I did around Taihape.
Upon returning to my multi-page, autobiographical comic series, I've decided to draw myself a little older and change my style a bit. Well, when I say return, I haven't really been anywhere. I haven't travelled the world or anything. I've just stayed put and have been getting on with the daily grind. Y'know, work, family stuff, painting the windows and tryin' ta keep the weeds under control. Yep, and it pretty much keeps on being an ordinary life. But like most of us who lead pretty ordinary lives, it usually feels like we're just LIVING ON THE EDGE.
Following on from the comic story Papamoa Beach here's a few different views from the area from my sketch book. Armed with a pad and some charcoal, there's nothing quite like sitting among the dunes or under the trees and drawing as much from you see in front of you to get a real feel for the place.
The final pages of this story about fun family times at Papamoa Beach. To read the comic story in it's entirety click on Papamoa Beach in the categories column on the right.
Recovering from the drive. The penultimate instalment from all the family fun at Papamoa . To read the story in it's entirety so far click on Papamoa Beach in the Categories.
Stay outta the kitchen! More family fun at Papamoa. To read the story in it's entirety so far click on Papamoa in the catagories.
Things start to heat up as we get closer to our sunny holiday destination. To read the story in it's entirety so far click here
More family life exposed in the next instalment of Papamoa Beach. To read the story in it's entirety so far click here
More pages from the lap. The continuing honest (sometimes exaggerated) account of a family on holiday. To read all the pages so far click here.
My daughter Meg has enjoyed writing stories for some time now, lately however she's delved into writing comedy skits. As she imagines them being acted out and filmed, I saw that some of her stories could be easily adapted for comic stories. I asked Meg and she was happy for me to 'have a go' with one of the stories. So I chose the script for The Green Book.
This is a story inspired by her school days and the dreaded Green Book. I wanted to use a very simple drawing technique so the dialogue would remain the main focus of the comic, so I decided to revert to a style I used for some of my earlier Living on the Edge comic stories: using good quality Indian ink, no's 2/0 and 3/0 round synthetic brushes on affordable A3 paper.
It's been good fun collaborating with my daughter on a comic project. I hope you enjoy the result.
A few years ago the family and I went on our 'every other year' trip up north, this time to spend Christmas at my mother's at sunny Papamoa Beach, Tauranga. It's always great to get away, head for the coast and look forward to doing things out of the routine and just generally having precious family time. But it usually doesn't take long on these summer holidays before I start to miss my drawing. So the compromise is to leave all the big drawing stuff at home and just take a small pad and a pencilcase full of pens, pencils, charcoal, conte and various erasers, should I get the urge to draw. Well this time I certainly did. I had the mad idea of drawing a real life comic of our family holiday. Just drawing things as they happened, not worrying about fine drawing, not worrying about editing, just keeping it loose and making it fun...drawing from the lap. So I started boxing day. I wanted to capture the entire holiday but in the end I captured no more than the first day. But it did amount to a 27 page story. But a lot happens in a day!
I continued drawing up the story for a few weeks after we returned from the holiday and a year or so later I retraced it to tidy the ink work up a bit, as well as correcting a bit of spelling and re-editing some areas along the way. But in this process I endeavoured to retain that rudimentary mark making and story telling which I believe captured an honest account of all the tensions and dynamics of this part of my family. Sure, I don't make myself look too hotcake in the story but then again it is revealed in the story where all that may come from.
Bringing back an old favourite. I decided to revisit my old comic strip 'Living on the Edge', with a bit of colour and some new found Photoshop skills.
Things don't always go according to plan in my studio. Forty degree heat in the summer dries the ink on my brushes and melts the ideas from my brain. The winter chills can be worse. But then again...pure magic can happen.