Saturday, September 29, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (7)

Patterns made by the foam with the ebb and flow of the tide......
This image is a bit of a made up affair. the larger area is from a photograph but the smaller one is unmistakebly the isle of Cyprus with the larger bubbles where the principal towns are. If you look closely, - click on the picture for an enlarged view, - you should see the background is made up of cross-hatching with ruler-straight lines. It creates something of a textured effect to contrast the freehand drawing of the foam areas.
This blog will probably be a bit infrequent for the next month. My bus leaves for Heathrow today. I will post more ere I can get to a PC in Larnaca.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (6)

A study of pebbles on a beach. With complicated subjects such as this with no obvious focal point I start the drawing by concentrating on a single pebble in the centre of the page and then add on the adjacent pebbles and develop it from there. I think you can see the method.

Autumn in Lancaster

Signpost in the city centre. Even in the concrete jungle, nature claims things for her own. This sign is down on St. George's Quay. I have taken to daily walks around this city. I have lived here for twenty four years and I am still discovering fascinating little corners. Lancaster is a relatively small city, easy to eascape from on foot into the countryside, is on the West Coast main railway line and the M6. It lies only 20 miles from kendal and the Lake district.
The only indications of urban sprawl is where it has expanded into the other two expanding towns of Morecambe and Heysham.
But Lancaster itself has its little pockets of charm.
Last night all of us from Luneside were at a private view at the PAD Gallery in Preston. A good time was had by all. Well, let's just say I didn't get into bed on the same day I got up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (5)

This little piece of foam is Atlantic. It was a stormy day last December at Portreath near St. Ives in Cornwall. The waves were gigantic. And yet, amidst all this storm and tempest there were areas of calm.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (4)

The gently sussurating ebb and flow of the sea's edge. Bubbles cluster together forming floating pock-marked islands. The sun burning through my tee shirt. The invitation to enter the water...

I reckon the Cyprus Tourist Office should be paying me for writing this(!)

The Eastern Mediterranean can be warmer than the average swimming pool at this time of year.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (3)

A stony beach fades away to a distant sea. It could be the Med but is in fact the Lune Estuary at Cockersands, some seven or so miles down the coast from Lancaster and Morecambe. Background water colour was laid down then the drawing worked over it.

If you look closely, you will see the sketchiness of this is betrayed where the colour has bled over the boundary lines. But then this is only a setting out of ideas and never intended to be a finished work.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (2)

A memory one this; a view from a bare boarded room looking out over the sea through a part shuttered window. Siesta time. Memories of sleeping off the 35 degree heat in mid-afternoon.
The view is a fanciful one. My room in Limassol last year was indeed bare boarded and the shutters were blue and the wall decor somewhat distressed, but the view overlooked the studio courtyard. The sea was a couple of hundred yards away.
Still, its nice to dream...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Some sketchbook pages (1)

Just over a week to go before I fly out to Cyprus. I thought it would be a good idea to maybe post some images from one of my sketchbooks. I probably draw more than I photograph. Some of the drawings are Cypriot, the Greek writing is a bit of a give-away. Others are a bit nearer home. I am not fluent in Greek by any means. In fact my Greek goes no further than what is found in the average phrase-book. I write it sometimes to keep my "eye" in so that I don't spend too long trying to read the (Greek) letters.
This sketch is of a patch of beach near Limassol harbour. Being away from the tourist beaches it is a beachcomber's paradise.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


One of my sketches from last year in Limassol. I'll be back in Cyprus at the end of the month for a la'al while but in Larnaca this time. The studios have now moved from Limasol to a new [old] building in the Turkish quarter. I have been told it is the old police station. Interesting. We'll wait and see... I'll let you know when I get there. Seems to be the story of my artistic life at the moment, studios on the move.
All that lovely blue sea and golden sand. Actually I took advantage of my bus pass yesterday and had a trip to Morecambe and took a slow walk along the prom.
It was such a nice day with a warm breeze wafting in from the sea under a clear sky. On days like this, the need to go to distant lands becomes questionable. The scene in the above sketch could just as easily been Morecambe except to say the light was wrong and there is no view of the Lakes across the Bay.
So a gentle stroll for an hour or so from the Broadway to the Eric Morecambe statue, a stop for a quiet coffee and a cake (special offer £1.75) then another leisurely stroll back for the bus back to Lancaster. The bus route went "round the houses," but who cares? I was in no hurry. Let's enjoy things while they last.
Here's a picture of the Eric Morecambe statue ( he of Morecambe and Wise, the 1970s comedy duo) with my grandson from Wales. This was taken about a month ago while he was up here on holiday in our neck of the woods.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The panic is over - for now...

Everything has now been moved from the Storey Building to our new Studios-to-be. There still remains the final bits of stuff to organisie so that the builders can work [relatively] unimpeded. Ironically the beaurocracy is working to our advantage by giving us a little breathing space before things start.
We can admire the view, for example. This is John o' Gaunt's Gateway opposite our new home. It is part of Lancaster Castle. The castle itself is huge. Its little wonder my Northumbrian ancestors made little impression on it during the Jacobite uprising of 1745. Where I come from, this gateway is bigger and more heavily fortified than our complete castles!
Lancaster Castle has been a prison for centuries and still is today. It is surprising just how many tourists flock here just to photograph it before visiting the public area at the rear of the castle where the High Courts are. Were this place to cease being a prison it could become a prominent tourist attraction as the North's version of the Tower of London. Its history is grim enough to warrant it. But more of that some other time.

Meanwhile, Luneside Studios are more concerned with more immediate matters. There's a fair bit of refurbishment to do, even to make it into a working space for artists. But it is already showing off its aesthetic charm: observe the plant life growing from the front door lintel.

But, like I say, we are having a breather. Some of our number are still holding down paid jobs. I am in the fortunate position of being retired from paid employment and though my pension will never have me filthy rich, I have lots of time, (on paper, anyway). A couple of our artists paid work is tied to the University's academic year so they have a little time to get things done. So while I had some free time, I took a walk in the local park up the hill from the city. It was built by Lord Ashton at the turn of the 19th - 20th century. There are little gazebos like this one dotted all over the place. I do not intend to run a blogging series on gazebos but a monk at Throssel is running a series of "Little Gems" and illustrating it with pictures of various sheds around the monastery. You can see them here.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

A "Pressing" Engagement

Got back from moving and arranging stuff at the new place yesterday afternoon absolutely exhausted. I told the others I would probably take the week-end off from things to get my proverbial breath back. "OK," they said, "see you on Monday then." That was yesterday....

Brringgg! brringg! went the phone. Sleepily I answer it. It is 9-00 am but I am still in bed. "Hi there Norman," comes a cheerful reply, "we're moving the press today."
"OK," I say, "just gimme a few minutes to push some brekky down my throat..." You get the picture.
That press is a seriously heavy piece of kit. It is a heavy duty one used for intaglio printing and needs a lot of muscle power just to move it. Now the new place is opposite John o' Gaunt's Gateway in Lancaster Castle. And Lancaster Castle sits on top of Castle Hill.
Well it would, - wouldn't it?
Only trouble is, the Storey Institute, where the press is, is at the bottom of Castle Hill. Anyway, to cut the long story short, with the aid of a hydraulic pallet truck, some planning and working out who-does-what plus appointing one of us to be the guy in charge, we made it without a hitch. But it did take four hours. Not so much to get it up the hill, that was the easy bit. It's the manouvering through several doorways with about a centimetre clearance that took the time.
That done we retired to the cafe in Sun Street and had several cups of tea from a bottomless teapot. We have all taken the rest of the week-end off now. There's some tidying up to do but it can keep till Monday.
The pictures show us with the press at the portico leading to the new studios-to-be.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Can't see for dust and stoor

More Luneside movement. We were moving some very dusty and dirty items. Got home in late evening looking like a chimney sweep. So straight in to the shower. That's twice in one day!
Well I'm clean again, for now.
More to do tomorrow but we are at the bottom of it now.
All we have to do now is wait for the powers that be to finish pushing bits of paper around then we can tell the contractors to start our development work. Its reckoned they will take about six weeks to do their bit. So perhaps we'll have a studio again by the time I get back from Larnaca.
Fingers crossed eh?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Busy Time at Luneside.

Since we moved from the St. George's Quay premises last November, all our equipment and much of the artwork has had to remain in storage. But now, even the storage facility is about to be developed and we are perforce obliged to move house once again . Our new studios, when the building work has been done, are just around the corner. Meanwhile we have had to move our equipment in there and store it in such a way as to not impede the building work. Its been "all hands on deck" this last ten days. There's still a fair bit of stuff to move and sort out. Its rather tiring work and leaves me with little energy for much else hence the infrequent blogging.
My next trip to Cyprus is just over three weeks away. At least I'll have a working studio to go to there.
And who knows? Perhaps one back here in Blighty when I get back in November!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Images of Luneside

There is an exhibition running just now at the Dukes in Lancaster of photographs by Luneside Studio artists showing various aspects of our time at St. George's Quay. A compulsory purchase order made us leave the premises last November and we are in the process of negotiating new premises at a property opposite Lancaster Castle. This exhibition is a celebration of our time at St. George's Quay. The photo shown here is one of mine included in the show. There are pictures of inside the building, also some, of the other buildings around the area all in various states of decay. The exhibition runs until September 20.
This is the Luneside East area which is now scheduled for redevelopment as the new "urban village".