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After my last blog that told of my new year un-resolutions, and sowing seeds for the year, the words of my friend Bo have been ringing in my ears:

“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans…”

So here I am then, plans already slightly scuppered and delayed by circumstances!

Oh my you should have heard the language. Yeah. The really BAD words.

I was on my way to my friend Michael’s music studio in Kings Heath… I was actually at the last set of traffic lights, stationary, red light… possibly 500 yards from his front door… he probably had already put the kettle on…

BANG! …..some idiot drives into my car.

I’ll not go into detail, because that’s between me, three insurance companies, the police and a breakdown truck… suffice to say, I’m fine, but my car is not. It is not apparently economically feasible to repair it (although for someone it will be… but not me or the insurance company)

Anyway… bye the bye… I have a hire car while someone searches for another one, and all will be paid up without argument with me.

Michael and I have re-arranged a date in the not too distant future, to pick up where we left off.

And in a bid to regain some sort of normality, I’m zooming up and down to the studio (in a very sporty car that I could never afford) to paint and draw and listen.

I laid down some paint on a large sheet off my lovely roll of paper before Christmas, and I had been drawing on it, but wasn’t really very content with it.

I am aware that if left to my own devices I can become a bit “safe and pretty” in my work. It all looks nicely produced, competent… blah blah blah… but boring.

This is why Bo is always a useful ally… because he challenges this in me. He doesn’t let me get away with it. I have become aware over the years though that I now seem to have a little bit of him lodged in my brain, saying “oh yeah?” when it all gets a bit comfortable. I kid myself it is me, but the internal monologue definitely has his voice.

This paper then, being very expensive, needs to earn its keep. I cannot afford to just let it languish under drawing I’m not happy with. The glorious nature of this paper is also though, being very good quality, it will take a pretty good scrub. So this is what I did. I got a sponge, washed it all off. The graphite came away, as it was resting for the most part on the watercolour paint. I swooshed it about and got rid of most of the darker marks, and was left with a ghostly shadow of what went before. Sometimes, when you are unhappy with a piece of work, you have nothing to lose by pushing the destruct button.

The sponge had left marks too… not happy, so took to using the water spray on the wiped marks. …better. Then being left with more puddling, took to my hairdryer, and the resulting tracks of water paint lay over the ghosts… better again.

I went home (zzzoooom)… and let it dry.

I don’t usually describe what I have physically done in such detail, but I wanted to here, as a record for myself, but also to show that my preference for simpler processes can be pushed to its limit. To my limit. I am able to break my own rules.

So this large sheet of watery ghosts has some very interesting patches. And for some reason, I decide to slice up this big sheet into nine. Each piece is now around A3/2ish sized and what I find most interesting now is that the focus of each piece is not conveniently in the middle.

Hmmm…

What I have now are nine pieces that are difficult to work.

Where I want to draw is not in the middle, but is falling off the edge.

This is challenging my inclination to fall into “nice” without thinking about it. I have to think far more carefully about which parts I draw into and which I leave. The sheets are watery and ethereal. The bits I draw are pinned down, so I find I am drawing on them less… just defining an area, a mark or two… and then leaving the ghosts to interact and fade away.

The drawing suggests a somewhere-other… these marks fall off the edges and make something different known.

I like them more, not because they are nice, but because they are suggesting that something isn’t right. That it’s perhaps not nice at all. The drawings are saying “Go on then, make a plan with your paint… see how we laugh…”

Better.


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New Year then… 2019… seems like some mad futuristic thing doesn’t it? Our dystopian future…

Time will tell whether after March we are living on tinned tuna, chick peas and home grown spuds, treating our maladies with bread and spinach poultices.

I saw a meme, someone saying they saw flowers in their future, because they had planted flower seeds. So, as an eternal optimist, I shall plant metaphorical flower seeds. The political situation, whether it contains tinned tuna or not, will not stop me drawing, or making music.

So these are the seeds I have planted:

I am currently working on a commission following on from a conversation with some friends, about my drawings. I was telling them about where they had grown from, why they were special to me, what they meant. It seems they got it. They came back a few weeks later and asked if I could do a smaller drawing for them, they had a sum of money, and they just wanted me to draw whatever I wanted to draw, whatever I was moved to draw…

So I am.

I hope when they see what I have done, it will bring them joy for a long time, and that they continue to find meaning in it for themselves after I have handed it over.

Musically, I have sort of slung a seed bomb in the direction of the band to see what sticks and what germinates. Before Christmas we arranged a series of rehearsal dates and writing dates. Andy asked if I had any lyrics I could send out earlier, so that he could have a ponder…

So I did.

This is a bit of an emotional wrench, sending out words I have written, not quite fully formed into songs, but with enough there to give a flavour of a story, a feeling, perhaps a vague structure and a bit of rhythm…maybe. When the music arrives, then they get edited and sharpened up. It’s like sending your child to school on his own for the first time. He might come back with a black eye, swearing! But you trust… I trust… and Andy has come up trumps with three ideas already! No doubt when we get together all five of us there will be a bit more shuffling before it’s a finished song. But they already sound great to me. I should trust myself too, I sent out some good stuff, and got it back sounding even better!

And something that may take longer is a solo music project. Well, not completely solo, but in terms of the germination and development, these seeds will take longer. I need help to sort it out, and to decide what I want it to be, and how I want to present it to the world. All in good time. First of all, I have to make it.

So I will.

The seeds sit in a playlist on my laptop, waiting, yes, but as I play them to myself on repeat, I recognise that they have a personality, a group dynamic… a herbaceous border of a collection!

I’ve applied for a couple of bits of funding too. I have grasped a nettle. I also did something I’ve never done before, and it has caused me to take a big gulp… the forms asked if I was disabled, or if I had a long term health condition. For the first time ever, and certainly not the last, I ticked “yes”… Osteoarthritis is not going to go away. It is undoubtedly going to get worse. I have to suck it up and get on with it. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.


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