The Versatile Blogger

versatile-bloggerI must thank Rebecca, whose Stuff & Nonsense blog is a real treat, for nominating A Certain Line for a Versatile Blogger award. For someone fairly new to blogging this was a great vote of confidence and a real incentive to continue these weekly posts. Many thanks, Rebecca. Thanks, too, to all those who clicked on her link, some of whom now follow A Certain Line – much appreciated.

The conditions of the award are that I nominate a further 15 blogs and tell you seven things about myself.

Blogs first:

Monochromia: photography for lovers of black and white;

Jeff Ryan takes compelling, atmospheric photographs of Brisbane and elsewhere on Brisstreet;

Between Scarlett & Guest: a fascinating ‘dialogue’ in pictures between two people on opposite sides of the world;

Christophe Gowans: he can do anything…

Art Calling: so can Sarah…

Pilgrim on Horseback: Caro Woods is a superb artist who is currently riding on horseback from Lindisfarne to St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall;

A sail, a sail! is Rosemary Shojaie’s illustration blog – one day she’ll win a Kate Greenaway Medal and you’ll remember that you read it here first;

Claudia McGill does fascinating things with junk mail and collage and, er – a blue comb;

David Apatoff’s Illustration Art should be read by everyone who enjoys or practices illustration;

Illustration Age: Long Live Illustration indeed;

Matthew Midgley Illustration: he draws food, beautifully (look at his poached egg – go on…):

Carol Marine’s Painting a Day was a great inspiration when I started painting in oils and her wonderful Daily Painting was my book of the month a while back;


Sarah’s Swedish Moose (2014 ink and watercolour A5)

Katie Metcalfe is a young English writer with a fascination for all things Scandinavian in her fascinating blog, The Girl with Cold Hands – unique surely?

Chris Riddell is the new children’s laureate and Chris Riddell’s blog is his blog: look at those videos of his seemingly effortless, beautiful drawings;

I have to include cartooning genius Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac blog for all sorts of reasons, not least of which is that he’s a cartooning genius.

Do you really want to know seven things about me? Probably not, but here you go:

  • I own a pencil that is over 70 years old.
  • I once met Todd Rundgren’s keyboard player in a bar in Half Moon Bay, California.
  • I’d love to have a beehive – and some bees to put in it.
  • I have a letter from illustrator Edward Ardizzone describing how he draws.
  • One thing that would prevent me from embracing vegetarianism is lasagne (and the best I’ve ever had was one made with Italian sausage in da Umberto, NYC).
  • I don’t like cats much. Dogs on the other hand…
  • I believe that you probably should clap along if you feel like a room without a roof.

Thanks again, Rebecca.


New York Building

New York Brownstone (2015 ink and watercolour A4)

A few weeks ago I had a spare Sunday in New York City and was able to visit the new Whitney museum, down in the gentrified Meatpacking District. I read somewhere that New York is losing its neighbourhoods, with the whole island so expensive that it’s becoming a homogenised space for the very wealthy. The old ethnic areas are rapidly becoming part of an overpriced whole. Certainly a couple of years ago I stayed in a bed and breakfast in Harlem, something that would have been unthinkable 30 years ago when I first visited the city.

On my way back to the midtown area from the Whitney, I came upon this charming house somewhere around 19th Street or so. Outside was a skip, a sure sign that this, too, was in the process of gentrification. It was a beautiful Spring afternoon and the house begged to be drawn. When I got home I painted it in these vibrant colours to reflect the feeling of the day. In reality it was a pale blue. Let’s just call it artistic licence.

Why Draw?

The people behind the Big Draw initiative are looking for creative people to visualise the theme ‘Why should we draw?’

Surely the question is ‘Why shouldn’t we draw?’ If you put a blank surface and anything capable of making a mark in front of a child, [s]he will draw. Why do some of us lose that urge as we grow older, I wonder? A couple of years ago Howard Ikemoto posted the following on Facebook:

When my daughter was about seven years old she asked me one day what I did at work. I told her that I worked at the college – my job was to teach people how to draw. She stared back at me, incredulous, and said, ‘You mean they forget?’

Drawing allows you to bring order to your daily life; or to make it chaotic if you prefer; it gives you carte blanche to create impossible situations, enhance the mundane, make something fleeting last for ever; it can be meditative, disturbing, rewarding or frustrating. Why wouldn’t you want to experience all these things?

Drawing allows me to imagine a world where people and animals wear everyday objects as false noses:

Land of False Noses

The Land of False Noses (2014 ink and watercolour on a sketchbook page)

Or a birthday supper shared with a tired dog:

Birthday Supper

The Birthday Supper (2013 ink and coloured pencil 30 cms square)

Why shouldn’t we draw?

The Beautiful South

Blauvac blog

Blauvac (2015 ink A5 sketchbook page)

Ah, southern Europe! Grilled squid, a crisp dry white wine, crusty white bread dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, the sun shining on a zinc table, the scent of the Mediterranean, the perfume of oleander and wild irises, warm evenings and a sky full of stars. The above drawing is one of the views from Le Mazet des Cyprès in Provence, but I wonder if the little abstract below isn’t a better evocation of the beautiful South with its range of Mediterranean blues?

Mittelmeer blog

Mittelmeer (2009 watercolour 5cms square)


Veteren blog

The Veteran (2015 charcoal and pastel 40cms x 30cms approx.)

Inspired, no doubt, by Doug Selway’s exhibition, Shelf Lives – which looked movingly at aspects of memory and story-telling – I thought I’d draw someone with a vivid history.

This charcoal and pastel drawing is based on a David Bailey photograph of 103 year old war veteran, Joe Britten, published in the Guardian some months ago. Joe has had a life and a half, serving in A Squadron of the reconnaissance unit during the Second World War alongside actor David Niven. Apparently, Niven asked Joe, “Who do you fancy in Hollywood?” He answered, “Dorothy Lamour.” “I’ll see to it, Joe” said the actor. After the fighting was over, Joe received a 6′ high photograph of Miss Lamour signed “To Joe, love from Dotty.”