Archive | April, 2013

Cutting The Pig

19 Apr

19 piggah block

I haven’t been able to settle down to work on my large pieces of art because of this darn lurgi. So today I grabbed a little bit of lino, transferred a sketchbook drawing I made at the weekend of Arthur the Mangalitza boar and cut away. I’ll print the block in black next week.

Recycled Head

18 Apr

18 alan head

At the print workshop we work with some beautiful papers and always use the best quality for the courses we run. It’s surprising how many people never collect their work afterwards. Even if they don’t like the image, there’s a lovely – and expensive – piece of paper that can be used again. I’m always trawling the paper recycling bin for anything that can be re-used. I found some pieces of Bockingford 250gsm that had been prepared for cyanotype but then thrown away without exposing an image onto them, leaving a gorgeous expanse of blue. I went to life drawing group this evening and after a dodgy start, settled into drawing a portrait of our model in black and white conte crayon, which worked very well with the heavy texture of Bockingford.


Fifth Rosetta Stone language is Welsh

18 Apr

More irreverent frivolity from this crazy Welshman

Fifth Rosetta Stone language is Welsh.

The Bedroom Tax

17 Apr

17 bedtax 2

People outside Britain might not have heard of this, but it’s a very unpopular and divisive new tax affecting the poorest people in society. If you are living in a public-sector home with more than one bedroom and receive welfare benefits you’ll lose at least 14% of your housing benefit. This is a significant amount of money for the people concerned. In Wales, 28,000 households will be affected. They will be expected to pay the extra tax or move to smaller properties. But there are only 400 one-bedroomed homes in the public sector. Now, I went to a State Primary school, where I learned arithmetic. I can work out that 28,000 into 400 won’t go. Unfortunately the people who govern us don’t seem able to do basic maths. Strange, when you think that most of them went to the poshest, most expensive schools in Britain. Obviously a waste of money.

17 bedtax 1

There have been loads of protests around the country. I went to a couple for a scribble. I’m not affected by this tax but I have friends who are and I’m going to these protests to support them and because I think this tax is cruel. My friends are decent, kind, law-abiding people who are living in absolute terror in case they can’t manage to pay this heinous charge out of their tiny benefits or low wages. If they cannot pay they may lose their homes. The government expects them to move to the private sector, which has much higher rents and poorer quality housing. Which will cost the state more in housing benefit and increased healthcare. But they can’t do maths, can they? Or else they want to see a return of vast slum estates managed by unscrupulous slum landlords. Either way, it is shameful.

18 bedtax 3

I drew these into my A5 pink silk recycled sari sketchbook, with a Pentel V5 pen, later augmented with Faber Castell Pitt drawing pens, sizes S, M and B. It was raining and the damp paper was difficult to draw on. It’s good practice to draw crowds; to get the measurements and proportions to look right. I might try redrawing from these to see if I can put a composite picture together.

Art Imitating Life

17 Apr

A marvellous blog from Chaucutier, with the difficulties of maintaining a small farm in the present economic climate and loads of arty stuff as well.


On Monday night Liesel and I headed out to the theatre. We rarely have the opportunity to do so nowadays, having been up and working for 13hrs we had to pack up quickly in order to make the start of the performance. So what did we see? A new ‘promenade’ performance from Theatr Genedlaethol called Tir Sir Gar. I won’t divulge everything as it’s well worth attending, I know performances have sold well, so purchase your tickets asap.


Saying that we went to the theatre is a little misleading. We didn’t attend a physical theatre in the traditional sense, but the mainstay of the acting performance took part in the varying rooms of Carmarthen County Museum. During our bus journey to the Museum, the shows ‘curator’ Marc Rees mentioned that there were two strands to the performance a fictional and factual one. The first, the fictional theatre piece tracked…

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The Final Piggahs

16 Apr

16 piggahs 1

Here are the last of my scribblings of pigs down on the farm in Pontyates. Some more drawings of Arthur and Mango, two of the Mangalitza pigs; Mangalica in it’s native Hungarian, one of three breeds of curly-haired hog originally bred in Hungary.

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There is a third Mangalitsa, a ginger sow called Lisa, but she was too shy to come and see us. They’ve only been in Britain for about six or seven years so I was lucky to be able to see some. Arthur and Mango were very engrossed in scoffing their hay and barley at first, but became a bit friendlier. They’re pretty large beasts and sometimes jump the fence and go for a wander.

16 piggahs 3

Arthur got quite vocal too with a surprisingly loud, gruff voice. The Mangalitza’s legs are much bigger and stockier than those of the dainty little Berkshire piggies that also live on the farm. Nice for juicy ham! As well as doing some drypoint etchings from these scribbles, I’m also tempted to do some tiny linocuts.

More Pontyates Piggahs

15 Apr

15 piggahs 3

Husb and I visited some friends on a small farm in Pontyates yesterday and I drew their pigs. They have three Mangalitzas billeted in their woodland, two of them showed up for their barley and hay snackage; the ginger one was shy and stayed away. I scribbled the other two who are very different to the little Berkshires I blogged yesterday. They’re much bigger and very, very hairy. One of them was positively curly! This made it harder to draw any detail on them but they lent themselves to my very scribbly style.

15 piggahs 2

Pontyates is a small Welsh-speaking village West of Llanelli with a fish and chip shop. Dot Cotton, from East Enders, was evacuated to Pontyates during the war and one of its most famous daughters is Mandy Rice-Davies who was involved in the Profumo scandal.

15 piggahs 1

These Mangalitzas are European curly-haired hogs, descended from wild boar and mainly kept for lard. But because people aren’t so keen on lard anymore, they’re now classified as a rare breed. Bring back Lardy Cake, I say! These are destined to be little tiny drypoint etchings, scribbled into paper drypoint plates.

Pontyates Piggahs

14 Apr

14 piggahs 1

Husb and I spent a happy few hours with Illtud and Liesel at their farm in Pontyates and I took the opportunity of sketching their pigs. Illtud also writes an excellent blog about being an artisan charcutier, but vegetarians might find it a bit much.

14 piggahs 4

I started off by sketching some of the little pedigree Berkshire piggahs during feeding time. They’re about 4 months old and they were not at all interested in the furless monkeys gawping at them and kept their noses firmly in their trough.

14 piggahs 3

It was weird drawing an animal I’m not used to. Mostly I draw people and cats and it took a while to get used to a new physiology. I tried scribbling with a Pentel V5 pen and also with black and white conte crayon.

14 piggahs 2

They’re short-haired piggahs, mostly black with darling little white socks and white splashes on their faces. They are remarkably dainty and walk around almost on tiptoe, like teeny piggah ballerinas. Some of these might be reworked as drypoint etchings in the near future.

Tomorrow, more Pontyates Piggahs.


Fanny’s Demise

13 Apr

13 Fanny

Had a really packed day and this afternoon Husb and I went to Swansea’s Central Library for a talk about Fanny Wollstonecraft, daughter of the 18th century feminist Mary and half sister of the author of Frankenstein, Mary Godwin-Shelley. I’d never known that she had died in Swansea, committed suicide at the age of 22. Dysfunctional families are not a new thing and Fanny’s awful upbringing was a tragedy waiting to happen. When she died, her family refused to claim her body, suicide being so scandalous, and the poor young woman was buried in a pauper’s grave in Swansea. Local historians believe her final, unmarked,  resting place is in the grounds of St. Matthew’s Church. I’ve known that place all my life, it’s where some of my family are buried, but until today I didn’t know that Fanny Wollstonecraft is also there.

It’s good practice to draw groups because it can be difficult to get the figures in the correct proportions according to the perspective. It’s also good to draw a range of ages and I was particularly fond of the elderly gent immediately in front of me. It’s lovely to draw that extreme age, loads of character. I used a variety of Faber Castell Pitt pens, sizes S, F, M and B into my A5 pink recycled sari sketchbook. This was one of a series of free monthly talks on local history at Central Library.

Wales covers area twice the size of Wales

13 Apr

Wales covers area twice the size of Wales.

Daft bloggage from Wales, always good for a giggle 🙂

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