When you’re unsure, redraw.

Sketch by Jon Tremlett for soulcraftcandy 2014

Ok, so there’s been a bit of a gap between this and the last post, I’ve been working, putting in some serious time on a freelance job, one which involved constructing a couple of full sized mock ups of some new airline seat concepts, in polyboard. For those of you who don’t know, polyboard is that stuff that folk normally use for presentations, a couple of sheets of very thin card with a foam core. It’s great for what it was designed for but, it also makes a great modelling material provided you know what you’re doing. I’ve been making models out of this stuff for longer than I care to remember so it presents few challenges as such, the main obstacle these days is that the forms that are created in CAD by the designers are so complex that we are now operating well beyond what a basic sheet material can achieve.

Polyboard_model1

Fortunately there are ways around this, including software that essentially creates complex nets for making paper models, which can be utilised to assist in turning curved surfaces into flat plates that one can cut, bend and glue together. It’s hard work, but becoming a skill fewer and fewer people possess, so there may be hope for me yet! Here’s a pic of the kind of thing I’ve been building. This is a very old model so no one will mind me showing it, the more recent stuff is, as usual, highly confidential so no pics of that for a few months at least.

Anyway, enough about work. Todays post is actually about this sketch above, the next stage in creating the drawings for Mr. C. After my initial efforts, see the relevant post here, it became obvious that what I wanted wasn’t anywhere near what I’d initially drawn so was beyond a quick set of modifications. Only one thing for it, redraw the whole thing. Not a problem, the learning and critique of the first sketches really informs your hand second time around so the process is more focused and as a result much better. What I do find though is that I can’t force this part of the process, it has to happen when the mood takes rather than when sitting down and telling oneself to get on with it. Needless to say the use of the magic blue biro helps as well, laying gentle lines first and slowly building up. This is now much more what I’m after in terms of view angle, the position of the bike on the page, the curve of the road and where the police car is. This will now get transferred onto Bristol board for the final bit and I’m already thinking I should do another version in tandem which shows a motorcycle which is closer to the kind of bike Mr.C constructs using four cylinder engines. More very soon, and thanks for taking the time to read the post today.

Advertisements

Today I painted a car! Part 2.

Ford Mustang water-colour by Jon Tremlett ©2014

Well, here it is, the finished Mustang picture I’ve been working on over the last week. A slightly more intense painting session took hold yesterday and before I knew it I was sat staring at a completed picture. It would be fair to say I’m more than happy with it given that it’s not a subject I visit very often. I’ve never been a car fan, so they don’t appear on the radar as great subjects unless they are extraordinary, and even then I pretty much have to force myself to draw them. Just one of those things I suppose. Anyway, the main stimulus for doing this one was that it’s going to be a gift for a friend so that helps to keep the focus and the enthusiasm up at a level where you need it to make a decent job of it.

There is very much a kind of groove that one gets into when doing something like this. At the beginning of the session things are all rather laboured, small decisions about colour tone, wash density, which bit to do next and even which brush to use seem to take forever. but slowly things speed up and it’s all relatively easy to jump from one thing to the other. It must be a confidence thing too. After painting for an hour or so it all starts to feel more natural and intuitive, and this is really evident in ones ability to push concerns about mucking something up to one side and just get on with it. One gets into a flow which certainly doesn’t happen when trying to complete a picture by picking up the brushes for a few minutes here and there. Best to reserve some quality time and get stuck in.

There were some bits that I found quite difficult. For example the bush or hedge that sits behind the car and the way it’s reflected in the bodywork and windshield. In my reference photo the hedge is much larger but I wanted to reduce it’s presence and use it to help frame the car and give more prominence to the big bulbous hood. I’ve never been good at vegetation so this was a bit of a challenge but great practice for future projects. The other bits that presented a challenge were the headlamps. the lenses are a mass of prismatic forms and they are filled with so many reflections I found it quite hard to see what I was doing and replicate them in a believable way. Thankfully they aren’t too prominent in the overall scheme of things so my rather bitty interpretation of them isn’t to jarring. Again, all good practice for the future. I hope you like the final result as much as I do, and thanks for stopping by and reading todays post.

Seize the moment.

Stripped and ready for action.

Stripped and ready for action.

The decision to get cracking on the bike coincided with two pieces of good fortune. First, work called just before I started on it to ask if I’d mind staying at home that week as there wasn’t enough work going through the studio to keep me busy. Regret that I wouldn’t earn any money that week was countered by the prospect of getting a fair crack of the whip on my bike build, so a reasonable result. Then, to my utter surprise, the weather turned unseasonably warm and sunny for about a week, perfect for fettling bits of metal out in the shed and garden. Having wrestled the bike into the back garden, no easy task given a very narrow access alley out back and the need to fit some much reduced width handlebars, the strip down was quick. Originally I’d built it in a way that would enable me to take it apart if I ever needed to and so was grateful for having made that decision. The work plan was front mudguard first, then the clocks and headlight area and finally the rear mudguard. After a quick once over and a clean it was time to get started.

Not bad, considering.

Not bad, considering.

I’d sketched out several solutions for mounting the front guard but, in the end opted for the simplest one which used two straps or hoops connecting the mounting holes on the fork legs with the guard mounted on top. Ok, not that elegant, but essentially all you need and adhering nicely to one of my general philosophies when approaching making anything, which is the KISS principal (Keep It Simple, Stupid). Due to the front forks having a leading axle arrangement, the mounting holes are off-set to the wheel centre so the straps needed to be of different lengths, and so I slotted the holes on the rear one to enable some positional adjustment when finally mounting the guard. Trimming the guard from the longer piece of rolled section I had was relatively easy, the tricky bit is joining it all together. For this you need to find the centreline of the guard, awkward on a thing that curves in two planes. My simple solution was to lie the piece on its side and establish the centreline as a height rather than a width, using a pen taped to an adjustable square. That done, it’s much easier to define the hole positions for your fixing screws or rivets to attach the mounting straps. Nothing worse than drilling holes only to find they’re in the wrong place. With the holes drilled I screwed the whole thing together using some M4 button headed screws and thread lock compound. Doing it this way allowed me to tighten things up just so, and minimise the risk of pulling the surface down onto the straps too much and dishing the top surface. The rolled mudguard blanks came with a polished finish but this is a nightmare to maintain, so the final thing was “brushed” with Scotchbrite before a treatment of anti-corrosion spray. Ok so far. Next up, the clocks and front light area.

Not idle, just busy.

Inking a bike cartoon by Jon Tremlett for Soulcraftcandy.

A very small pang of guilt always accompanies  the short gaps which crop up between posts. Try as we might, I’m sure most of us amateur bloggers suffer from the same twinge every time we look at our records and note the time passed since the last posting. And lets be honest, most of us are juggling busy everyday lives, where the opportunities to grab an hour or two for “doing your stuff” are often few and far between. If like me, your blog relies on a fair bit of creative output as well, then finding the time to “make your stuff” as well presents its own pressures.

 

Busy times make for lots of juggling, and grabbing the briefest moments in which to exercise the creative muscles. Being short lived, these moments often fail to embed themselves fully in the memory and one finds oneself often thinking that you haven’t done much at all. But this isn’t so, it’s just one perception of the extension of the period between starting something and actually finishing it. small steps mean slower progress, but progress none the less.

 

So here above is where I am in the inking phase of the drawing I showed you in pencil layout in the last post. Having not done a full blown biro drawing for a while I’d forgotten how much effort goes into them, but it’s pleasing to have got this far, and see it emerging slowly from the paper in all its glory. It is slightly bigger than previous efforts, I put some pens in the shot for scale, so will take a little longer anyway.

 

Much time is being currently spent adjusting to life with a new part time contract job, and its effect will ripple out for a little while longer as I find a new rhythm. I’m back working in an industrial design studio, something I haven’t done for quite a while. Although you never really forget how to do it, like riding a bicycle, it is only now that I’m realising that I am needing to use a completely different set of creative muscles than those utilised in just making models for folk and scribbling away at home. It is proving very enjoyable though, and brings much needed regularity to a freelance life riddled with the usual uncertainty.

 

Nevertheless there are lots of projects awaiting attention on the Soulcraftcandy side of things. There are some further investigations to undertake on the big format prints I want to create, there are some more spoof magazine covers lining up and a handful of fresh pencil layouts itching to be turned into something more distinct. And then there’s at least one post to write about my recent weekend trip to Berlin. Lots to do.

 

As I said, never idle, just busy.

 

Distractions, distractions.

Head_on_CafeRacer_©JonTremlett2013

Drawing and painting onto wood, drawing on metal with a Dremel, designing t-shirts, jewellery making, wood carving, sculpting, transferring images onto glass, painting rocks(!), etching, wire modelling, making enamel badges and resin casting. These are all ideas that have flown my way over the last few weeks. Whilst they are all valid, they are all residing in the possibilities box at present. Some are self generated and others come from those around me. Some arrive with the word ‘should’ tacked on the front somewhere, whilst others take a more open approach with the word ‘could’. I prefer the latter, it speaks of a freedom to chose, of open ended possibilities and creative potential, whereas the former does not, sounding often like a form of well meaning edict, but an implied command none the less. Anyway, there they all sit in the great lottery ball tumbler of options waiting for possible selection. While they are in there they churn around, the subconscious busy doing what it does best, sampling, analysing and interrogating each one in turn. I’ll report on what this process reveals in coming posts I’m sure.

 

This is a great thing but, my word does it create a mountain of distractions which have led to a kind of treacly inertia needing to be overcome each time the drawing board is occupied. I know that the best time to grab a new idea is when you can feel fired up about it, knowing that you will do something with it quickly rather than sit mulling it over. I can feel that moment coming but it ain’t today, or possibly tomorrow either. So in the meantime focus has returned to the drawings and paintings that have suffered from my neglect. The image above is where I’m at with a pen and watercolour rendition of one of those Rocker guys whose style seems to be popping up everywhere at the moment. Enjoy, and don’t forget, the store is open and has a limited stock of those greetings cards for anyone stuck for a gift for a biking mate.

Finally, with new followers arriving all the time, a big thanks to you all for your support and loyalty, it means a great deal and is a welcome spur to keeping going.

 

The thief of time.

Before anyone feels the need to castigate me regarding my absence from the world of posting, I would like to save them the trouble. My guilt over not posting lately has become something of a large stick with which I am now adept at beating myself with. It hurts, emotionally as much as anything else. Unlike compulsory things in life like school homework, writing a best mans speech and filling out ones tax return, a blog is thankfully voluntary. This makes it indulgent, personal, experimental and loaded with an intangible sense of achievement whenever a post is completed. It also makes it prey to that most horrible of thieves, procrastination.  Described in an age old adage as the “thief of time”, procrastination occupies a place in most of our lives. it’s just that some of us deal with it more effectively than others.

In a way I could describe myself as a life long procrastinator, though recently I’ve realised that it’s not as simple as that. If I were truly a procrastinator I’d get nothing done at all but, generally I get a good deal of stuff done, just not necessarily in the order and timescale in which I first envisioned doing it. What I have a tendency to do is constantly shuffle the order of my tasks which leads to me doing certain things as a way of avoiding doing others. Or as a way of making it seem alright not to do something that has no specific deadline. I had a quick glance on the net about this and have found an interesting article which talks about structured procrastination, the art of putting stuff off whilst getting a lot done.

I shall read further into this area and get back to you with my findings, when I finally get round to it!

Needless to say, the time between now and my last post has been quite busy (here I go exercising the procrastinators primary defence tool, the excuse). May, June and a bit of July got swallowed up with a big freelance job, and I’m in no position to turn work away. Yes I have remnants of evenings and weekends not working but to be honest with you I’m usually pretty creatively exhausted by the end of a long day. I had a short holiday in Turkey, on a boat, which I would recommend to anyone and work has picked up again since my return. Being summer there has been lots to do getting the garden into shape and there have been some great days out on the motorbike as well.

Though I may not have been posting I have at least been sketching out some ideas for some more drawings. The sketch shown here is an expansion upon an idea I had some time ago. The core theme, if there is one is based around the concept of a kind of monocoque that surrounds the engine and forms the meat of the frame and bodywork in a single form. It’s not a new idea in the sense that bikes have been designed and built like this for real but it’s an idea I wanted to explore in my artform. What’s great about drawings like these is that one can include lots of apparently extreme engineering ideas, like the mono-fork front end without worrying too much about whether it really works or not. Does it make the drawing more interesting, that’s what I’m after.

I’m sticking with my penchant for a great big engine in there and  bit of exaggeration when it comes to the other aspects of the bike without it looking too unfeasible.

I’m going to work this one up in ink on some decent paper, using my previously mentioned new light box, and I’m sorely tempted to throw a bit of colour at it in the way of a watercolour wash rather than a tightly precise painting. Not quite sure how that’s going to work but it’s worth taking the risk as long as I keep the original sketch to work up from again if I make a mess of it.

Watch this space.