Less is more.

Cafe Racer No.2

Hot off the scanner today is the second completed drawing from the Cafe Racer series. After much humming and hawing over how to finish it off, it seemed most appropriate to mirror the rather stripped down nature of the bike itself with a minimal approach to context. So a simple single line, curving to instill a light sense of speed and motion, got put in under the main image. Attempting to satisfy the persistent and sometimes nagging feeling that a fuller background should be present, I merely ended up filling the waste basket with tracing paper. In some instances, less is more, and certainly in this case it works best. Needless to say I’m more than happy with the outcome.


The first drawing of the series, which featured here a couple of posts ago is now framed, submitted and waiting to be hung in a local open art show here in Ealing. For successful submission it needed a title, and is now called “Full Throttle” which seemed to fit nicely. Enquiring of the gallery staff I learned that they were expecting up to perhaps 300 submissions. A healthy number in anyones book, and indicative of what a creative community we have here in the borough. It will be fascinating to attend the private view tomorrow night and meet some of the other artists. Very exciting, this is the first time I’ve ever shown a drawing and who knows, somebody might take enough of a shine to it to part with some money.


For anyone who might be interested in coming along and having a look, the exhibition runs until the 21st April and can be found at the Walpole gallery which is situated in Walpole Park just by Ealing Broadway, West London. And it’s free to enter.


The remaining drawings in the series are progressing well. My initial selection of sketches to work up seems to be constantly changing. Another idea popped up the other day during a free sketching session during a lunch break, always handy to have a pad and pen nearby, and is shown below. It’s an apparently simple view though I’m looking forward to getting to grips with it, and it should provide a great opportunity to work on my techniques for faces and clothing which are still proving difficult to master.



Wrestling with your passion.

The Paddock Push.

Ok, so this one doesn’t fit into the cafe racer series but, it’s been with me for a while, slowly reaching completion and falling conveniently into the category of “ work needing to be finished. It’s called “Paddock Push”.


The inspiration for it came from a few different angles. Throughout the history of bike sport there have always been instances of intrepid individuals wrestling moderately inappropriate machinery around Off Road. Massive BMW’s careering across the Sahara in the Paris Dakar, Harley Davidsons pounding around the Catalina Grand Prix and overweight Brit engined motocrossers ripping up the fields of England. Wherever there are lightweights, one will find the heavyweights somewhere in the background.


This is not necessarily a homage to these feats of derring-do, however I am drawn to the thought of the unlikely hero, the underdog. The choice was to create one in full flight and one in a more static situation. The first to be complete is the latter, where the apparent grace and power of a big machine in motion is replaced by the struggle to man-handle the thing around when the engine has finished doing what it does best. If you’ve ever moved a heavy machine around on a loose surface you’ll understand why the guy is huffing and puffing.


The next cafe racer picture is nearly done. Watch this space.


Cafe Racer-hot off the press

Cafe Racer 1

Hot off the press comes the first finished drawing from the Cafe racer series.


Having made the decision to work on a series of drawings, all connected by a core theme, there is a kind of flow starting to emerge during the process which has not necessarily been present before. Previously the completion of any drawing was quickly followed by the question of which sketch to pick up next and move forward. Despite working on several drawings concurrently it was always there in the background and served as a persistent distraction.


With a number of preparatory sketches clinging to the wall of the studio room an order is establishing itself as to what’s coming up next and this leaves the mind free of constantly needing to think of new ideas all the time. Focusing on concentrated idea generation sessions and then working through a series feels quite liberating in a way. It’s a much more methodical way of working as opposed to the rather scatter gun approach of before.


It is an inescapable truth that none of us work in the same way. Part of the journey that this blog hopes to chart is that bit which concerns finding the way of working, the methodology if you like, that best suits what I’m doing. It goes beyond being systematic purely for systematic’s sake. The world is ridden with systems and creative activities are no exception. If you ask any other creative person what the best way of working is, they will invariably enlighten you to their preferred ways of working. This is not a bad thing in itself but in most cases it’s the way that works best for them. The key is listening to their comments and adjusting your own approach incorporating those points you want to include. What you decide upon is never set in stone, and in fact should be able to evolve as you and your skills do. It should be all part of the fun, so if it’s not working, change it.


Finally, why cafe racers? In brief there are a couple of reasons that stand out from the field. The first is that to me they represent a very elemental form of machine. Simple, uncluttered and encompassing a purity of purpose which appeals to my sense of form and function being in balance. The second is perhaps a bit more romantic in nature. These machines in a way signal the birth of personal customisation in its purest form. English cafe racers and american bobbers could be said to be the first street specials of the post war era and as such are now the bedrock of all subsequent modifying styles from diggers to streetfighters, and choppers to street trackers. It’s a style that has endured and continues to do so. This is my way of celebrating that. The fact that I live only about three miles from the original Ace Cafe might have something to do with it too.


A short foot note. This drawing is going to be submitted for a public art show here in Ealing at the end of March. It may even be for sale, in which case it could be a first if it finds a happy owner. Fingers crossed.