The line is drawn.

Dragster 1

Following on from the last post, the point was quickly reached where the decision as to what to do with the rider figure needed making. Leaving him as a kind of abstract blank space didn’t seem to look at all right. A few basic outlines looked better but didn’t add that much to the overall image, so the third of my choices remained. Why we spend so much time agonising over these things sometimes mystifies me, especially when it’s such a small jump to achieving the finish and one realises that it wasn’t such a big deal after all. That’s life I suppose.


It would be good at this point to be able to offer some kind of critique of the finished drawing but I’m currently in that place where I have been looking at it for so long that it is hard to get observations in some kind of order. So for the time being you will have to decide for yourselves whether it works or doesn’t. Others eyes will see things that mine currently miss, so revisiting it in a few days will give me a fresh perspective, and the capacity to work out how to move things on from here. There is certainly something in this leaving areas blank idea, but it needs properly evaluating, experimenting with and developing further.

Finally today, and on a much lighter note, a small cartoon for consideration. Some of us have an unfortunate habit of being able to read a word or phrase and always manage to insert extra letters. An example, if I see a real estate sign that says “To Let” I cannot fail to see the word “toilet”. I’m sure I am not the only person to suffer from this affliction. Well, a well known helmet manufacturer released a new product recently, The Castel. Reading the press release blurb I couldn’t help but think that it was called The Castle. Suffice to say this stuck in my mind, and that morning over a coffee at a local cafe the sketchbook came in very handy. The biking world can be very dry sometimes, it’s good to poke fun at it every now and again. Enjoy.



Cafe Racer No.6 – more progress.

Cafe Racer 6

While the urge to “ship” or complete any drawing or image is a strong one, it’s very much proving to be a case of “slowly, slowly, catchy monkey” with this one. Jacket and hands done, head and legs to follow, and then something to ground it. Pushing aside the daily distractions of everyday life to focus on a specific creative task, particularly when that task is not born of your normal world of deadline fueled rushing about, is a skill which all of us amateurs must constantly struggle with. I am no different. It is good to know though, that these periods of slow progress are more than balanced by highly productive phases when stuff just pours out of your head and hand, and across the page. these slower moments are also a great opportunity for reflecting on sketch work and ideas, learning new things, recharging the creative batteries and dabbling in other creative pursuits.It would be good to finish it off by the end of the week though.

Here above is another of the sketches done on lining paper a while ago whilst churning out ideas for the Cafe Racer series.I like the idea behind it but my execution of the idea went a bit off track which led to me not including it in the first series. Rather like with the previous sketch shown in the last post I managed to make a bit of a fudge of the front wheel and that kind of ran all the way up the front forks too. Must try harder. You’ll also notice, and fair dues if you haven’t, that the rider figure has a strange look about him. Amongst other things his nose is a tad weird and his chin’s gone the same way too. It’s only a sketch so one can’t be too critical but, these things matter if one is to learn from examining ones own work and improve things for the future. What works though is the bike, apart from the front bit of course. It has that solidity to it that I’m always looking for, a great big engine surrounded by a chunk of hefty engineering. Again this will likely get redrawn sometime in the future, perhaps in another medium, and much bigger even. certainly a contender for the pending file.



Fresh eyes are often not your own.

This drawing is one that’s been hovering around unfinished for a while, but is now done. I hope you like it. I’ve always been intrigued by funny front ends. I’m in no position to ever build a bike with such a concoction of engineering complexity, but I get some satisfaction from drawing these things. There are lots of sketches in the pile but this one made the cut last time around. The lines in the background come as a result of the following tale.


A good friend mine met me for a casual late sunday pint over the weekend and made a couple of interesting observations about the last drawing post. He was very complimentary about the image itself but what he said after that was the bit that mattered. He began by making comments about some of the much earlier drawings that had been on the blog earlier in the year. He liked them too but felt that they were somewhat isolated and hovering in a space not tied to anything. We agreed that it was the lack of background which created this feeling. What was really interesting was what we discussed next. Asked if I would ever start doing drawings of real bikes like BSA’s and Triumphs I said that I wouldn’t. The reason I gave was that it didn’t interest me, creating images of what already existed. There were already plenty of those in the world I suggested, and besides I didn’t feel like getting bogged down in worrying if I’d got all those niggley little details correct, stuff like that. He did not disagree with this approach but said that by including even a very simple horizon line in the newer drawings, what it achieved was to bring the drawing into the real world. This creation of a reference to reality somehow made the drawing more believable, placing it in a context that could be related to and giving a dimension, a depth if you like, that had previously been missing. I liked his thinking and was impressed with his perception.


You may remember that some time ago I spent quite some time talking about what to do in terms of backgrounds for some of the images. I’d messed about with a whole stack of print outs but never settled on a final approach or approaches. This conversation with my friend, although short, provided all the validation that I had not been able to find within myself for the direction that these things should take. Fantastic.


This is not only a great relief, but also a great way to follow on from my previous post about learning to judge your own work and be critical about it. I realised that I had completely failed to fully analyse this aspect of the images and come up with a strategy for what to do about it moving forward. I must at this point also thank Cecilia, one of my subscribers, for alerting me to the fact that one very good and simple way of engaging with the process of being critical about ones output is to go and do something completely different for a while. To engage in something totally unrelated to what you’ve been focussing on. This clears the mind and freshens the eyes in a way few other things can. Fresh eyes bring a new perspective. In the above case my friend Richards eyes were the fresh perspective. Thanks mate.


Adopting this idea on the latest drawings is really working, what will be interesting is where it goes next.

This is how far I’ve got with the work up of the sketch I showed last time out. It’s going into ink now so watch this space.