Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My nephew the hero

My nephew Mitchell Griffin has just won the Tasmanian karting championship for his age group. He's an superb racer, who despite his small stature for his age, has an incredible mental attitude towards racing that makes him a winner all the way to my mind, whether he comes first or last. Happily he comes first more often than last. Lewis Hamilton came up from the same route apparently, so who knows how far he could go with this.

And don't you just love his victory salute.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I have made a foolish commitment

In a moment of madness I allowed my darling wife, who knows what buttons to push, to talk me in to beginning an open degree with the Open University. I have begun with something fairly stimulating but straight forward as my first module, "Start writing essays".

My fir, st task is to analyse this question in no more than 350 wordsCompare and contrast the representation of women in two mid-Victorian texts.

I came up with this

The essay question above has three key words, compare, contrast and representation. The most important of these has to be representation. Use of the word representation highlights the understanding that no text is factually definitive, it merely “represents” the author's “view” of the role of women in Victorian times. Each text can only focus on the segment of the female population relevant to it's subject matter and provide a contextual overview of the life of someone within that level of the social strata. Further it must be appreciated that the texts include fiction and poetry, both of which have literary demands, beyond the reportage of fact. These story based requirements can result in details being exaggerated for dramatic effect. It should also be considered that writers of journalistic works and socially aware and philanthropically motivated essayists would likely be writing to emphasise a particular side of a moral debate, reflecting, perhaps the growing Victorian interest in scientific explanations of the the world around us and the workings of society in particular.

This does mean that any effort to compare and contrast is fraught with danger. It was possible then, perhaps even more so than now, to find two very disparate Englands. The birth of the Industrial Age gave some men great wealth and the ability to indulge their philanthropic interests, at the same time as leaving many to live in abject poverty in slums. There is a dichotomy between hard scientific or religious belief on one hand, as demonstrated in the “change or die” nature of social Darwinism, and the almost Socialist philanthropic beliefs of people like William Hesketh Lever, founder of Port Sunlight and “Christian duty” urge to philanthropy among Anglicans, Methodists and non-conformists. Due to this care must be taken not to place to great a reliance on any one text as no writer has any greater veracity than another. Any comparisons drawn,or contrasts made, must be done with due consideration given not only to the work but also to the writer and his social, philanthropic and scientific views, as best they may be known.

Which basically means "each writer has an agenda, either social or literary which has to be taken into account when looking at what they each have to say about the role of women in Mid-Victorian society."

Or to put it another way, after years of training myself to write with direction, purpose and clarity, I now have to learn to waffle.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


I wanted to avoid the usual suspects for a Illustration Friday entry on superstition so I googled around and found a superstition I liked. Apparently for every falling leaf you catch you get one month's good luck. Hence the picture.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Reading level

Just been reading my favourite blog, Eddie Campbell's Fate of the Artist, and came across this (alleged) test of the reading level needed to understand the content of a blog. Campbells blog only came in at High School level, which I must admit suprised me.

cash advance

Cash Advance Loans

What suprised me more was that mine came in as College Undergrad. I'm really not sure what that says about my writing.

Now must get back to my Illustration Friday entry.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Harold Gray

Harold Gray is one of those artists I've only come to appreciate as I've got older and been able to recognise the craft behind his superficially awkward figure work and scarey blank eyed characters. I'm not sure how to describe Gray's politics because everything I've read on him seems to have a different view on where he stood politically, but idealogically he was very conservative, seemed to see things very much in black and white and comes across as a staunch traditionalist and indivdualist. I imagine he had little time for the hippies who were so prominent in the USA when he died in 1968 which is what made the picture below such a curiousity.

Published by Lund Humphries, A Century of Posters puts this image as circa 1970. To my eye it could have been drawn by Harold Gray, although I am sure there are scholars out there who could say for sure, but the image of a fingerclicking Daddy Warbucks in pinstriped and flared Levis, doing a can can on his armchair, must be one that would have Gray turning in his grave.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


This past 2 weeks have all been about experimentation with Photoshop. I've never had training or a real opportunity to do more than very basic photo editing on it. The past 2 weeks though I've been reading on line tutorials and trying out new things, repeating them over and over until I understand how to do them. It's all fairly simple stuff to anyone who uses it frequently but this is virgin territory to me so I'm quite pleased with the results, like this,

Turning a selected element in a colour picture into black and white,

and this

Turning an image into the kind of thing you often see on pc wallpapers and 60@s posters, subject matter withstanding.

or removing a background like this

As I say, simple stuff but all new to me.

Illustration Friday - Scale

The idea came easy. The picture itself came relatively easy. And then I decided to colour it in Photoshop. First real time doing that. Desk surrounded by clumps of hair pulled out. Applied only one filter, ignoring the urge to use more. And all the while Jimi Hendrix plays "all Along The Watchtower.

The final image was loosely influenced by Picasso's poster work which was in a book I'm currently reading. I'm no Picasso but I loved the very loose, almost wobbly line of the poster images.