Friday, June 28, 2013

Artful Readers Club June - The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse by Robert Rankin

It's time for another artful read - and I'm glad to be here, as I wasn't entirely sure I'd be finished in time to take part this month - but I made it by the skin of my teeth - hooray!

Part of the delay was down to reading the book late in the month .... my original planned title for June was another Robert Rankin book - the Toyminator - but when I picked it up to start it, I discovered it was actually the second book in a two-parter.

Not wanting to read part 2 before part 1, I ordered the original - the Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse - online, but it didn't arrive until mid June, which put me on the back foot.

Luckily it was a fairly quick read, and I just about had time to write this review and whip up my art piece, and so here I am :)

This is, apparently, Robert Rankins's 24th book - I had no idea he had written so many! I have read and enjoyed many (but it seems, nowhere near all) of his books in the past - and particularly enjoyed what I have read from the Brentford Trilogy (which is somewhat of a misnomer as I believe there are 9 books in that particular series so far!)

Rankin is the master of humorous (bordering on downright silly), fantasy fiction, full of bad puns and running gags and surreal situations.  And this book was no different.

It had all of the classic Rankin trademarks, it was an enjoyable enough read, and I'm definitely going to read the sequel, but I have to be honest, it was not my absolute favourite of his books.

I'm putting that down to the setting - usually his books are set in a fairly realistic and recognisable urban kind of environment, populated largely by fairly realistic and recognisable human characters, even if the story itself veers far from realism.  But this book is set in Toy Town, the lead character is a talking teddy bear, and most of the other lead roles are filled by either other toys, or nursery rhyme characters.

I had a similar problem when another of my favourite authors, Jasper Fforde, set a book in a nursery rhyme environment.  Maybe I just prefer my crazy surreal fantasy stories to be a little more relatable?? (and yes, I know that makes no sense)

But, don't let me put you off, it was a funny book, well plotted, there's a serial killer on the loose in Toy Town and our heroes solve the case and save the day and have some fun adventures along the way.  I can't really fault the book other than to say that the author's other books are even better!

So - in summary - read the Brentford Trilogy instead :D

For my accompanying artwork this month, I painted one of the eponymous chocolate bunnies (he's supposed to look a bit evil, with his devil's eye, but instead he ended up looking equal parts cute and delicious, but not particularly menacing....).  And then I added one of the classic Rankin running gags ("it must be a tradition, or an old charter or something" - which appears in all his books at least once, I counted two times in this one) using hand drawn 'word art':

Next month I'll be reading Black Coffee Blues by Henry Rollins, a total change of pace from what I've read the past few times - see you again in late July .....

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Overworked, over tired and over here....

So - can you guess what kind of week I've had? :)

This is my entry in Jo's book for the 'You're Having a Laugh' art journal CJ - her theme is 'How Do You Feel Today?' .... I wonder if she is going to regret asking that question :D

I actually found it quite stress relieving painting my stressed out lady, the therapeutic powers of art strike again!

As a few peeps have said they like seeing the step by steps, here's how she came about:

Sketched onto a gelli print with a grey pitt pen, shirt, teeth and eyes coloured in with a white paint pen, skin painted with Fresco acrylic paint in Nougat
More painting - all Fresco paints - Squid Ink, Claret and Pansy on the jacket, French Roast and a touch of Hyde Park in the eyes
Very Berry and London Red on the lips and tongue, and the hair was a mix of French Roast, Chocolate Pudding and Cinnamon
After this point I finished off her hair, added the punched arrows all around the page as a frame, and wrote the page title 'Stressed!' using paint pens.

Here's hoping for a reduction in day job workload and stresses very soon and more time for arty pursuits!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

It's ICAD time again!

You might remember that this time last year I took part in Daisy Yellow's Index Card A Day challenge - to make some kind of small artwork on an index card every day for 2 months.

My kids joined in too, and even my other half did a couple, and we ended up with this fantastic wall of creativity:

I did all 61 cards last year over June and July, and I wish I was in a position to do so this year, but work is crazy busy :(

So instead this year I have set myself the task of still doing 61 index cards, but over as much time as it takes (ie not within the 2 months)

And rather than doing all sorts of different styles and subjects like I did last year, I'm going to use this as an exercise to improve my portraits - and paint 61 faces, men, women, children, maybe even animals, with different facial expressions.  It's all good practice.

So here is the start of this year's ICAD wall:

I found the child's face particularly hard - he was supposed to look cheeky and adorable, not evil :)

And the profile pic top right is based on an old photo of my school friend Jo, and I struggled to capture her likeness to my liking, 

but I am pleased with the two on the left.

A 50:50 success rate on my first 4 cards isn't too shabby I guess? :)  i hope I can keep that up over the remaining 57!