From Arthur Machen To William Blake and Asterix

From Arthur Machen To William Blake and Asterix

New Sketchbook To Take Our Minds off Brexit

I got a new sketchbook. It’s number 30 or thereabouts. If you stick interesting surfaces and bits of paper, different textured paper and collage to work on top of, it makes the brand new blank white pages less daunting.

Here I decorated my book with an orange wrapper, a Heart On Fire, apropos. (I recently went to a very swish stationers in London and they sold sketchbooks specifically for collecting fruit stickers. Save yourself £30 by sticking them in a generic book. By the way if I am giving annoying and patronising ‘advice’, it’s because I’ve been watching life advice youtube videos for comedy inspiration).

sketchbook cover

Arthur Machen – The Hill Of Dreams

Setting off to London on the Brighton train, I decided to start off my October sketchbook with an ‘illustration’ of the book I was reading.


Dark Side

Then, inspired by thoughts of Satan, I thought about things that really get my goat (satanic ref) and things that make me feel light, like a fairy, and did this sketch of my two sides.

october 2019 sketchbook

Fury Vs Contented. I was going to write down what those things were, but I immediately forgot them and just added the rosy cheeks instead. Maybe my Brighton train had arrived in Victoria, or more likely, been diverted by Satan and his goats on the line at Haywards Heath.

Train Fare

I did a charity fundraiser with Ben Moor at the Crystal Palace Book Shop, Bookseller Crow that evening, but to get my money’s worth out of the train fare (£16.90) I went to Tate Britain to see the William Blake and Mark Leckey exhibitions first.

october 2019 sketchbook_0001

See the pull out flap I made in my sketch book with a skid mark of paint already on it.

William Blake Challenge

‘Drawing was fundamental for Blake. Use this page as your exhibition sketchbook. Drawing materials available in Room 1. Share you drawings #williamblakeinspired @Tate ‘

Mine was a doodle of the same sculpture that Blake had done a drawing of. In Blake’s drawing, there was a little face at one side, looking on. Happily, a woman came and stood looking at this leg so I drew her too. I’ve called mine ‘Lady With Leg Of Cincinnatus.’

october 2019 sketchbook_0016

Criticism of Blake (Overheard)

‘Look at the size of the children. How strange’. Maureen, 57, East Ham on Blake’s ‘Christ Blessing The Little Children’ – 1799.

I liked how Blake had written ‘Europe’ and I also thought, how pertinent, I came here to get away from all that. And there’s a lot of devil stuff in here, I added.

october 2019 sketchbook_0002

Edward Ardizzone Probably Liked Blake, don’t you think?

blake and ardizzone

Blake Did All The Eyes The Same Way

details at blake, eyes hands

Etching with a Pasta Maker Machine

Blake’s work was incredible. I loved the drawings and writing ‘For Children 1793 – What is Man!’ was my favourite but I’ll have to go back there to remember why. He makes it look so easy.

Afterwards, and after the BookTalkBookTalkBook gig, which my friends Isy Suttie and Salome Scott came to (as well as other people, don’t start playing the violin), at which Ben Moor was very funny, and where I spent about £60 on books, I went home and did an etching using a pasta machine.

It was a pleasing but messy process, and I am indebted to Daisy Jordan of Brighton for telling me how, and selling me the equipment (except for the Pasta Machine) at the beautiful Lawrence’s Art Shop on Portland Street in Hove, which oddly used to be behind my parents house at the bottom of Carn Brea.

Here is my first one (the yellow one) and second one (Self Portrait with Anatomical Study Of A Kingfisher In Flight).

tate britain

my first pasta print

Mark Leckey

I didn’t really have much time to be honest. I was a bit full up, looking at beautiful drawings of Satan looking beatific by Blake. Luckily it’s on for a while so I can go back to both. If you see me, stop and say hello, I will 100% have my sketchbook on me, because my Falmouth School Of Art And Design BTEC tutor told me to in 1989.

Books I Bought At BookSeller Crow

The Great God Pan by Arthur Machen (the Library of Wales one with other stories),

Quiet Flows The Don by Mikhail Sholokhov

Collection of poetry by Anna Akhmatova

Asterix And The Actress

The Little Prince (in French with a CD so I can become more than my current 49% French status on Duolingo)

A Russian Journal by John Steinbeck. 

I didn’t read The Hill Of Dreams by Arthur Machen on the journey home because it was night time and I was scared of the words. Instead I read Asterix And The Actress, which I’d bought at the fundraiser. There was nothing about the devil, crushing thorns into your skin or getting really hot in it but they were both a little bit about being confused.

End of October Notebook post in November. xxx

Coming soon, a Reflection on Gloves To Take Our Minds Off The Election.