Wednesday, 27 August 2008


I realised that my Natalie Portman portrait was nowhere near finished so after a couple more hours of titting around, here's the final version.

I rather enjoyed making it so I think I'll do some more.  This could just turn into a visual list of women I fancy, but it beats sniffing glue I suppose.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Back to the drawing board

I'm still trying to decide upon my next creative venture.  High on my list of possibles was portraiture, so I decided to give it a whirl today to see if I could produce anything of value.  This is the result:

I'm worried that it fails its most fundamental goal because I don't think it's obvious who it's supposed to be.  Can you tell?  If so, was she (I hope I'm safe in stating that it's a woman) instantly recognisable or did you have to think about it?  I'd appreciate some feedback because I've been staring at it too long to be objective.

Either way, I've certainly succeeded in sucking out all the soul and beauty of the original photograph I worked from.  Capturing a person's spirit is harder than I thought.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Customer service

The following is an actual telephone conversation I had today with a customer.  She had called us because she had no hot water.  We replaced a faulty immersion heater.

Stupid woman: Hello, this is Mrs X.  You sent a plumber to my property this morning to change an immersion heater.
Me: Hello, yes.  How can I help?
SW: Well I'm a bit worried about it.
Me: Oh dear.  What seems to be the problem?
SW: Well my old one made a sort of whistling noise when it was heating the water, you know?  But the new one isn't making any noise at all.  It seems to be dead.
Me: Right.  So you still have no hot water?
SW: Oh the water's nice and hot, but the immersion heater isn't making any noise.
Me: Well if your water's heating up that would suggest that the new immersion heater is working.
SW: But it isn't making any noise.  I'm just worried that it's not working properly.  Could you come back and check it?
Me: If your water's heating up then it must be working.  I don't think you need to worry.
SW: Really?  Even though I can't hear it?
Me: Yes.  The old one probably made a funny noise because it was scaled up.
SW: So you don't think there's a problem?
Me: No, I'm sure everything is fine.
SW: Okay.  It's just that it seems to be dead.  I'm a bit worried.
Me: It can't be dead if your water's getting hot.
SW: Oh, I see.
Me: Okay?
SW: So I don't need to worry then?
Me: No.
SW: It's just that the old one used to make a noise when it was heating the water.
Me: It was probably scaled up.
SW: But the new one isn't making any noise at all.  It seems to be dead.
Me: And yet your water's getting hot.
SW: Yes.
Me: So it can't be dead.
SW: Right.
Me: Okay?
SW: So what you're saying is that I don't need to worry?
Me: That's right.
SW: Even though it doesn't seem to be doing anything?
Me: Your water is heating up.  It must.  Be.  Working.
SW: Yes, I see.  I'm just a bit worried, that's all.
Me: Try not to worry.  Everything seems to be fine.
SW: The old one used to make a noise though.
Me: Probably scale.
SW: This new one doesn't make any noise at all.  I've held my ear to the cylinder and I can't hear anything.
Me: Right.
SW: I just don't think it's working.
Me: *sigh*
SW: Hello?
Me: Your water is getting hot.  That seems to suggest, quite strongly in fact, that the immersion heater - the thing that heats the water - is working.  If it wasn't, the water wouldn't be getting hot.
SW: Ahh.
Me: You see?
SW: So what you're saying is, the new heater is working even though I can't hear it working.
Me: Exactly.
SW: Right.  It's just that the old one used to make a noise...

This is the abridged version.  The full conversation, during which I considered ending my life, continued along these lines for ten minutes. 

Tuesday, 19 August 2008


I've just received an email informing me that my new trainers are OUT OF STOCK. Woe is me! Now that I know I won't have to, I can confirm that I was so definitely going to go jogging tomorrow night. But now they won't be here for another week and by then I may have changed my mind.

See how the entire universe conspires against me? How can a man compete with such forces?

Monday, 18 August 2008

It's gym life, but not as we know it

This afternoon I ordered a pair of trainers.  Yes, sports shoes!  It is the most significant step towards fitness that I've taken in years.  I haven't owned a pair of trainers since I was 15 so there's every chance that I'll at least remove them from their box and place them on my feet a few times, but the crunch will come when I have to decide whether to take up jogging  or not.  Current odds:

Jog on - 25/1
Jog off - evens

The trainers are made by Hi-Tec, my manufacturer of choice while at school.  I did briefly defect to Dunlop, but the super squishy Hi-Tecs reeled me back in.  Does Usain Bolt wear Hi-Tec?  He must do, surely.  Stay tuned for more fitness news.

No one will guess they're not Nikes.

A cheery wave from stranded youngsters

I appear to have fallen out of the blogging habit.  I have had things to write about, but no inclination to do so.  Instead I have been filling my head with all sorts of fanciful things, essentially trying to decide what form my next creative venture will take.  It looks like it will be something based on digital illustration.  I might take a few weeks to try different stuff and see if anything has a particular appeal.  It is a very complex and exhaustive process.  Already I have dismissed the following:

  • Making scale model dogs out of pipe cleaners
  • Creating collages using soggy cornflakes and jam
  • Recreating classic album sleeves using crepe paper and phlegm

I'm dabbling with the idea of portraiture in some form.  Bad form, probably.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Serving time

It’s August, which is as good a time as any to have another crisis. In most respects I’m a happy, well adjusted boy these days but this urge I have to be creative is a terrible nuisance. Yes, I’m talking about the comic again – the new lease of life I found a month ago didn’t last long and it’s becoming a bane once more. Despite cutting back my output, the increased complexity of the strips means that they’re taking up pretty much the same amount of time that they did before. In other words, far too much. This wouldn’t be so bad if I was happy with the output – I’m not averse to hard work – but I don’t work well under pressure and frankly the current story is a farcical mess. I have no idea how it’s going to end because I’m making it up as I go along and if the artwork has improved then it’s offset by the appalling scripts which I’m embarrassed to put my name to. If you feel even remotely inclined to disagree with this then I’m afraid your standards are not high enough. It’s all having a negative effect on my disposition because I’ve become militant about protecting my spare time. It was my sister’s birthday on Sunday and we all went out for a meal. I got to spend some time with my nephews and it should have been very pleasant, but all the while I was thinking this is my one day of comic drawing and I’m losing five hours of it. I was snappy to my mother during the journey and was generally a miserable git. I felt the same this evening when my friend Paul popped round. He was out for a walk and dropped in for a chat but instead of feeling grateful I just saw it as another half hour lost. In short, the comic has taken over my life. I kind of expected that when I started, and I was happy to devote myself to it, but again it was on the understanding that I’d feel fulfilled by the output. I’m not though. I’m not proud of a single one of the strips.

So again I find myself considering my options. When I threatened to quit last time I eventually reasoned that at least the comic had a grounding, a platform to work from. Any new project would be starting from scratch and would probably engender the same insecurities somewhere down the line. But should you do something you enjoy, or something that might take you somewhere? Can both these things coexist? At work this week I’ve been rebuilding the company website from scratch and loving it. Building websites is a pure joy to me (which was probably obvious from 22 versions of Hermit Guide), but I never had the content to complement the design. I don’t even know what I would consider to be a successful venture. Do I actually need to make my stamp on the world? Is a small pockmark bearing my name really the key to creative fulfilment? And what if I’m confusing creative fulfilment with personal fulfilment? Would the former betray the latter? The only thing I know for sure is that I can’t sit back and do nothing – and that, as I said, is a terrible nuisance.