Lockdown week 8

More Relaxed?

Over 312K recorded deaths globally. Over 34k in UK, where there are signs of slowing, but every one is a personal tragedy.

I have made many more calls on my time and attention this week on external activities that would normally be made face to face. Now mainstream video conferencing apps that we knew nothing of 8 weeks ago, bleep me with my appointments. Apologies to those whose bleep I have missed. Zoom and Teams have been productive, or as productive as they can be with so many people not at work physically or having been ‘furloughed’ (another new word to the vocabulary). 

For arts people under lockdown there is nowhere to physically participate, art galleries, cinemas, theatres, music venues nowhere. A recent tweet from a vibrant and innovative cinema programmer, locked down with two 5 year-old children put the condition many are in: ‘I can’t remember what job I used to do.  I think it was something to do with pictures in a screen. Moving flickering lights. Sound too.’  David Baldwin, Mac Cinema, Birmingham.

Laura Cumming and Charlotte Higgins. The Guardian

Through instagrammed alerts from arts colleagues and follow on references two articles have helped me consider where we are as museums and art galleries are closed and the curators, managers, support staff and thousands of visitors are left bereft :

Close your eyes and imagine seeing the art worlds treasures as if for the first time. #LauraCummingArt

After the war (2nd) the arts came back stronger. They can do so again now. Charlotte Higgins

Rather than bemoan the state we find ourselves in they paint constructive ways forward that can considered as we see post lockdown possibilities and beyond to arts gatherings. An historic reminder that post world war two UK society decided that arts and culture were important for the future and established the Arts Council and the Festival of Britain. Food for thought.

Lockdown (art) Television

Interestingly two of the newly produced lockdown programmes on television that have encouraged participation and have been enjoyed by many are arts focussed: Grayson Perry’s ‘Art Club’ and BBC Arts ‘Life Drawing Live’. It seems the great British public want more art.  Art Club is from GP’s, not the doctors surgery, but Grayson’s studio with his partner Phillipa and a mix of celebs doing art and public submissions for inclusion in a post lockdown exhibition as record of .  There have been heart-warming moments of emotional exchange that art has brought to the host and active artists. The first transmission of Life Drawing Live was pre coronavirus February, and a little scoffed at as a titillating gimmick by BBC Arts and Avanti producers. Well in lockdown 8, thousands upon thousands of people drew and submitted their work to the BBC collection centre. The hosts introduced life models in poses from various artistic traditions and took the participating artist’s, at appropriate social distances through 30sec, 1min, 6, 10 and 12 minute poses. The option of ‘pose cam’ on the red button was available to home drawers to focus on an unmediated relationship to the drawing. As a lockdown experience it worked well. My daughter and I drew live, sharing our drawings and comments by text – 90 minutes of live life-drawing, via television worked in Lockdown Britain.

I did not share my drawings with BBC, but have done so with SUPA who have mounted a ‘lucky dip’ art postcard lottery. When you enter you’ll be randomly assigned one of our Supa Dip postcards; original works of postcard art created by celebrated and emerging artists.
All profits go to Women’s Aid who are providing vital services in lockdown and beyond.

BCU, Birmingham School of Art #Printgang

I did share one of the drawings with the Print gang who had also taken part in the TV event.  Both drawings were clearly of the same subject, but with their own particular mark making approach. They were also shared with @msnorabruno, a ‘printgang’ alumni who video called in from Northern Italy and shared her thoughts on the lockdown experience as we’ll as showed us her impressive home made silkscreen printing press she had researched through https://www.t-shirtforums.com.  Inspiring.  Printgang is such a good session where we draw, plan and make prints for a future where we will make prints in our post lockdown selected media.

Lockdown Looking Out

Looking out has not progressed far! Only to consider setting the detailed digital drawing of the weeping tree in the visual context of the window through which I am looking out of. Maybe too literal? Still more to come on this drawing. Maybe title change? Lookout Lockdown?

Lockdown Looking out

Patthompson’s weekly Monday lockdown diary.

Academic research is slow! I have a couple of projects to complete which are close, but I have not progressed the wider areas of knowledge that are calling me. It does not make me feel good or productive. When Patricia Thomson’s Monday morning Lockdown blog opened with a monitor filled with large text: DO MORE I was dismayed. Of course, she was to explain that she has got a ‘case of what I could acronym FONDA – Fear Of Not Doing Anything. I see much more clearly now how I am prone to think I have done absolutely nothing at the end of the working day. She has been working hard daily, but it does not feel like it and she feels guilty because of it. She concludes that: ‘maybe the first step towards changing the academic guilt regime is to be aware of it. And making a kind of very late new year public resolution to try to get over myself and it.

FONDA is a crock. FONDA begone.

Lockdown week 7

Tacit Possibilities.  

Over 32k recorded deaths in UK. Over 285K globally. Every one a personal tragedy.

Tacit knowledge is a specific knowledge first articulated by philosopher Michael Polanyi.  I know this as it is a new area of analysis that I have unearthed in my research under lockdown. So, it can’t be all bad!  I’ve also completed an essay I have fashioned from 4000 words to 1000 (in four months) which is a ‘vast improvement’. Lockdown isn’t that bad.

April Blossom

The cherry blossom has come in the sunshine of April, and is now gone in the winds of May.

May ‘Blossomed’

The passing of nature is more apparent in Lockdown which is good.

Annie Drew’s images of Venice in Lockdown offer a daily instagram update of a European society two weeks ahead of our UK experience as it relaxes restrictions. @annie.drew1

Good to see Venice, if in LockDown. Follow on #veniceinlockdown

The Art School ‘print gang’ video conferencing took an unexpected direction from a talking catch up to recreating the print-room environment where printmakers ‘make’. In the making sharing takes place, informally when makers feel the need to discuss or show their developing works for critique. Instead of talking together we make together. Heads looked down to artworks in visual concentration, with sounds of brushes, pencils and burins filling the airwaves.  Occasionally a head rises to say something of interest as would happen in the real world Printroom mezzanine. An online creative making format had been brought into being, perhaps unintentionally by recreating a virtual printmaking environment. Posting this experience on instagram, alumni requested to join in. Locally and internationally. For the next 2pm session invites were sent to Quanzhou and printmaker Yuchen Yang joined at 10pm china time.

Yuchen, Justin, Lucy, Boyzie and Tabz

We celebrated seeing each other and began to make. 30 drawing mins later Yuchen held up her portrait of Justin for all to see and celebrate.  Alumni from other countries are seeking to participate.  

This is Lockdown GOOD.

The ongoing Looking Out from Lockdown drawing has been completed after 12 days.  Well the drawn weeping tree has been made, but the looking out frame isn’t quite right yet. It will be worked on further. An additional thought of a printmaking approach has come to mind and is to be tested with ‘digital silkscreen’ layering in photoshop for digital printing. It’s a long journey out of lockdown.

Looking Out from Lockdown. Day 12 iPad drawing.

This lockdown week I have been spending some time looking at how a number of arts organisations can make their way through lockdown with digital offerings and to a physical post Lockdown future when they might contemplate reopening to the public. Its not at all easy for many of them that rely on delivering daily cultural offerings and welcoming people from all backgrounds into their spaces to participate in art for all ages. It will be a long way back from Lockdown to the new normal for art centres and galleries. Back on instagram a new artist lockdown initiative is happening. Began literally by single abstract artist Artist Mathew Burrows @ArtistSupportpledge is a move to generosity and artist mutual Lockdown support.

Mathew has given an interview to Jacksons art supplies, (which is open for online orders): ‘Matthew Burrows is an East Sussex based abstract painter. However if you regularly post your artwork to an Instagram account you may recognise his name as the founder of the Artist Support Pledge. When the Covid-19 pandemic started to affect the UK in the first half of March, Matthew Burrows had the idea to start posting works for sale for £200. When he had sold £1k worth of artwork he pledged to buy some art work himself for £200, and encouraged other artists to do the same. 95,000 posts later the #artistsupportpledge is playing a vital role in keeping the visual arts industry alive, as well as helping to build a community and promote generosity.’


This is Lockdown Very Good.

I noticed an artist’s pledge artist offer her colour pencil drawing titled: ‘bucket list’. Composed with a construction worker leaning on his hammer, contemplating his next move or perhaps his bucket list. At a good social distance his bucket sits nearby. I messaged @SueLewisblake and made an offer which she was happy to accept. It has arrived in the post and I will enjoy it reminding us of Lockdown times and what of our bucket lists will survive.

‘bucket list’. Sue Lewis-Blake colour pencil.

Lockdown continues to throw up possibilities

Lockdown week 6

Its possible to be more positive. 

Lockdown 6 

Over 28k recorded deaths in UK and 68k in USA. Unimaginable a few weeks ago and everyone a personal tragedy.

In better, most positive news the beginning of the week saw the first whatapp pictures of baby Finley. A joy to their parents after many days of anticipation, potential inducement, hours of waiting in the hospital car park for Dad and hours, and hours of labour for Mum. All three are happily well together back home. Congratulatory flowers, chocolates and Prosecco were delivered by nearby cousins, across the doorway, at a social distance.

This week has seen further positive printmaking developments following acceptance that silkscreen print is impossible in Lockdown and a local digital solution is required.   I ventured to my studio and locked myself in, meeting no one. A photographic image of a handmade mark, made in the Birmingham School of Art Print room was the first dipping of printmaking toes. Smooth cartridge paper and specialist Hahnemühle German Etching paper had been ordered online orders and was the first test.

Previously having tested the dithered bitmap approach with limited success another non bitmapped approach was taken. Inkjet print research suggested that using a photoshop CMYK mode, rather than ‘bit map’ or ‘RGB’ might deliver a less colourful black and white print out. CMYK does not look that different on screen, however the colour hue can be altered more effectively. A yellow cast was applied and printed out on plain, smooth cartridge and once reviewed on heavyweight grained Hahnemühle etching paper.

This paper has a coating applied specifically for inkjet printing.  It has unique ICC number that is applied to photoshop to be best calibrated for the Canon printer being used.

The above images show the range of photoshop colour and printer settings applying the German etching ICC number. Once set and colour cast in place the Canon 7 ink printer settings were set based on previous tested settings: A3, Grayscale, Inkjet Hagaki. Printouts on cartridge suggested that the detail of the handmade mark could be retained however the grayscale output did not seem as rich in depth as the colour output. The grayscale setting was unchecked and a colour print made on Hahnemühle. This worked well and retained a depth of colour, detail and embedded in the deep grain of the coated paper. Like the original handmade image the iphone photographs below do not reflect the material tactility of the print, but hint at what it is when it can be viewed by in person.

Eventually through trial and error I arrived at a satisfactory print. Now named ‘Surface Tensions’ and described here:

Surface Tensions is inspired by thinking of the place of the legendary Birmingham School of Art Print room where many cultures have met to make. The abstract image began during a fingerprint testing of water and powdered lamp black ink on the gleaming glass printroom mixing surface and given a material presence on a scrap of cartridge paper. A record of the ink mark has been kept as data in digital photographic archives for a moment like this, to give a new printed physical presence to the memory of place. Made by hand, kept as data, printed with inkjet.  

Looking Out day 8

Looking out. I thought my Lockdown looking out drawing would be finished by now, but still at it with a shock moment when the Apple Pencil would not make any marks! Repaired and functioning as expected. Completion next week!

Browsing apps for new additions to the drawing possibilities turned up the Camera Lucida app:  The ipad becomes a camera lucida with the help of a vase.  Click below to era more from the developers.

Zoom and Teams users continue to find new ways for communications and family entertainment.

Our daily Teams printgang meet fell silent except for the sounds of pencils, brushes and burins as the usual talking heads turned down to concentrate on individual artworks taking form. From time to time a head would lift to show progress. Thanks to Lucy, Tabz, Justin and Boysie.

Finally a 14th Birthday got very exciting with virtual candle blowing, Pictionary on zoom whiteboard, followed by Heads Up with phone app across, Edinburgh, Melrose, Derby, Birmingham and London. 

Heads up


Lockdown week 5

It’s changing, I mean I am changing. 

I have accepted making the silkscreen, serigraphic prints I am researching cannot be done during Lockdown. I can research, read and write about the work, but accept that I will not be able to test through making. That will have to wait. Talking on screen with artists and colleagues; seeing lockdown work beginning to appear online and in particular Instagram, along with planning for scheduled exhibiting has taken me to a position of motivation to ‘make in lockdown.’ 

It will be digital in essence, but with analogue, material processes and outputs. This challenge has brought thought and experimentation forward. I safely visited the studio for the first time and Locked myself in, meeting no-one. Using a Canon A3 ip8700 inkjet printer, which is usually used for outputting black and white images on to plain paper for the first stage of drawing for silkscreen print, I begin experiments with outputs for finished prints on a range of papers.

An international print exhibition has been organised by four Australasian Print Groups. Thinkingofplace is the third iteration of the exhibition concept and is planned for international exhibits over the next 2 years. Our printmaking team coordinated by Dr Catherine Baker will produce A3 prints for delivery to Melbourne on June 1st. A deadline.  Perhaps this is what has been required to ‘make in Lockdown’.

top iii

For Thinkingofplace I am working with a finger printed lamp black ink, abstract image originally made on paper as it was being tested on the mixing glass in the Birmingham School of Art Printroom. The image was imported into Photoshop, converted to greyscale, areas edited and curves applied to loose the background and enhance the presence of the analogue marks in the now digital image. A 200 bitmapped line dither was applied to bring a digital ‘grain’ to bear. This is a much finer grain than the 105 line used for silkscreen printing. The depth of black and grey ink required to make a digital print was tested by printing to the printer with plain, photo matte and arches papers, available in the studio. On review of the results a smooth A3 cartridge and Hahnemühle digital etching paper were ordered online, to extend the range of print surfaces and ink impressions.

2 blacks and a grey. one yellow, cyan and magenta.

If the prints are satisfactory, they can be offered up for Thinking of place and other live lockdown ventures such as the artists pledge. 

Returning home I move ‘Looking Out’ on. This is an ipad drawing of the view I wake to each morning of a weeping tree. Far from sad it is a beautiful tree. It has become a task beyond that which I envisaged.  Now I am on day seven, it should be completed in the next few days. I cannot draw it for long as my eyes begin to hurt from making the detail effective through the digital pen, iPad surface and underlying photographic image. Each session usually lasts as long as a chapter of the audiobook I listen to: Broken Greek, by Peter Paphides, about his mute childhood in his parent’s Birmingham’s Hall Green chip shop.

‘Looking Out in Lockdown’ first drawings

Brief horticultural research narrows the name of the tree to: Cupressus nootkatensis.

Cupressus nootkatensis is a species of trees in the cypress family native to the coastal regions of northwestern North America. This species goes by many common names including: Nootka cypressyellow cypressAlaska cypressNootka cedaryellow cedarAlaska cedar, and Alaska yellow cedar. The specific epithet “nootkatensis” is derived from its discovery by Europeans on the lands of a First Nation of Canada, those lands of the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Vancouver IslandBritish Columbia, who were formerly referred to as the Nootka. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cupressus_nootkatensis

Garden Design centre also call the ‘quite majestic’ tree the ‘Green Arrow’ https://www.gardenia.net/plant/chamaecyparis-nootkatensis-green-arrow

Lockdown week 4

Another difficult week of terrible news from the frontline of coronavirus Britain and beyond, as we support the NHS and all those who are looking after people struck down by the virus. Thursday clapping on our streets at 8pm is now a weekly show of solidarity, as is social distancing as it is observed when we leave homes to get exercise and supplies. The daily walk along with breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner are becoming the staple structure to our days. These get us by, but they are not rewarding beyond that. Challenges for those not at work or engaged in their usual activities are finding it difficult to maintain their commitment to the pursuance of their lives.

That said new activities with those who are at home, but have internet access are experiencing new means of communicating much more frequently. Family quizzes across physical boundaries are the rage. We even enjoyed an Easter egg hunt between, Scotland, Derbyshire, London and Birmingham. We divided into Hunters and Hiders and sent the video hunt via our phones to Zoom viewed by all participants and those on their own were able to comment on progress. Recommended for 2 year olds to pensioners. On Saturday nights we meet in the Covid Arms and catch up on the weeks experiences including nephew’s final days of pregnancy, that has now run over. There is a dedicated WhatsApp group for updates. Our younger members give insights on employment and volunteer possibilities from the newest employment status ‘Furloughing’ and the long wait for the call from HMRC to our self employmed members. When not on social media checking and supporting flat mates progress on the building’s Vegetable Patch and proposed Green House plans are a daily pleasure. There was no veg patch before Lockdown. Of course the BBC 5pm, daily ‘Coronavirus Update’ from No 10 Downing Street and the now famous medical and scientific advisors that before now were in the shadows, provides another slot in the day before the 9 pm drama catch up beckons.

Busy, Busy, Lockdown Busy. Where does Art making and PhD research fit in? If it is going to be productive it has to be structured in. Large scale making is not possible at home, but academic research? Surely that will begin daily at 9am and 2pm with traditional breaks for food. One would have thought so, but the Virus effects are pervasive. They seep in to thinking processes and bring you back from intellectual pursuits to the fearful reality we are living through. Perhaps some research into thought in periods of social and global trauma should be undertaken.

While art galleries, theatres and cultural venues are closed there are signs that online alternatives are being welcomed by artists and audiences alike. NT Live, once a fringe activity is being watched by new audiences as it is available free on Youtube; itself a fringe activity only ten years ago is now mainstream viewing platform. Indie film platforms like MUBi are offering free access to students. Virtual tours of exhibitions large and small, are free as viewers control their experience through interactive functions. The Big Draw celebrates 20 years this year and will have their planned festival with “No critiques, no judging… no worry…”. You can see more in the Bigdraw Minimag. As part of their positive response to the crisis the BBC and have launched Culture in Quarantine, a funding package managed by The Space to commission unique new digital online work. What was fringe is mainstream in Covid Times.

There are some positives as we look forward, but another three weeks of lockdown does not sit easily. No drawing has taken place this week, which is a loss. My reading of Walter Benjamin’s ‘Little History of Photography’ and Dominique de Font-Reaulx’s ‘Painting and Photography’ have provided intellectual sustenance. The discovery that the 1840’s painter and photographer David Octavius Hill made the first work of art painted with the help of photographic images has given focus and a lens to the research: Hill was present at the Disruption Assembly in 1843 when over 450 ministers walked out of the Church of Scotland assembly and down to another assembly hall to found the Free Church of Scotland

Spring Lockdown Birmingham

Covid Art and Online content are out there and one of the always interesting commentators is Garry Baker and his Drawing Blog: https://fineartdrawinglca.blogspot.com/2020/03/drawing-corona-virus.html?showComment=1587127942051#c4215859787420580235

While engaged with my smart phone more than usual an ad for a new Face App somehow appeared before me and I tried it. Plenty time to try things these days.

Another ad appeared and made the claim to be ‘Photography beyond Reality’.

I haven’t tried it yet.

Reality is not being photographed much as social distancing is in place and photographing people suffering is not a valuable activity. The reality of the virus is sometimes close to home. A relative recently taken into hospice and near neighbour into a care home have very sadly passed away. May their God be with them.

Lockdown week 3

Digital drawing in isolation.

Its a tough time for so many. Being a lucky one that does not have any symptoms, so far, I am just dealing with self isolation. I am also lucky that my partner is sharing our family flat and we are supporting each other along with our family WhatsApp and zoom sessions. Video Conf with research colleagues bring more welcome sharing via screes. Day to day I have been digitally drawing subjects that feel valuable in these times. Rather than leave them on the iPad or instagram I collate them here alongside increasingly important lockdown reflections.

Week three sees some reflection on the lockdown situation. Personal feelings of isolation and helplessness in the face of a global pandemic. From time to time there are moments of positivity when a drawing, an instagram or twitter post or pointer to thoughtful thinking on how we can deal with the emotions of isolation.

My partner suggested I might make some small family drawings that could be inserted in a photo-frame from 10 years ago. There is only she and me here. Family photographs abound in shoe boxes, albums and online archives. One from a trip to India that Mother and Daughter shared three years back captured their closeness and caring nature of their relationship and could be a good starting point.

M & M India

My phd portrait research continues albeit with difficulty under Lockdown. I experience desires to research and write, but the motivations are curtailed by the feelings of immensity of awfulness of the effects on many older innocent people locally, nationally and internationally. This is genuinely a global pandemic not experienced by people of my ‘baby boomer’ generation. Its difficult to go on as normal in these circumstances. Self isolation is what is demanded by Governments, but isolation from all productive activity while many frontline services are being delivered by people of all backgrounds leads to a feeling uselessness and what feels like grief.

Trying to explain these feelings has been helped by my daughter’s recommendation to read That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief from the Harvard Business School: by Editor Scott Berinato with insights by David Kessler, the world’s foremost expert on grief and founder of www.grief.com. https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief.

Read the article to get to the last paragraph:  Sometimes we try not to feel what we’re feeling because we have this image of a “gang of feelings.” If I feel sad and let that in, it’ll never go away. The gang of bad feelings will overrun me. The truth is a feeling that moves through us. We feel it and it goes and then we go to the next feeling. There’s no gang out to get us. It’s absurd to think we shouldn’t feel grief right now. Let yourself feel the grief and keep going.

Being signed up to a blog by Professor of Education, Pat Thompson brings a weekly post, that in regular times provides insight and support for PhD researchers. This week’s post did this in spades for students attempting to pursue their research in isolation. Getting by and Getting on

Like the HBS article read it all, its short, but you get to the last Paragraph:

So this post is really just to say to the doctoral researchers I work with, and those who I work with indirectly, it’s OK not to be on top of it all. I’m not. Take the time to sort out how to manage. I am. Acknowledge your feelings. Look after yourselves. Do the best you can. That’s me too. Day to day. One thing at a time. And importantly, don’t hesitate to seek social support online and with your peers, supervisors and colleagues.

I am lucky to have a couple of video conferencing groups that meet regularly: The Print Gang hosted by Justin, the Senior Printmaking Technician at BCU School of Art and ‘happy PhD Students, kinda’ hosted by Jenifer. Last week one of our group made a surprise on screen appearance after her successful pregnancy! It was a Happy moment deserving of the group name. During our video conference Mum Kenny fed 5 week old Theodore. A drawing to celebrate that moment.

Happy PhD students

Finally this week a domestic reminder of where we are.

April 2020 Calendar with April 2019 Damson Blossom
April 2020 Damson Blossom


Digital drawing in isolation.

Its a tough time for so many. Being a lucky one that does not have any symptoms, so far, I am just dealing with self isolation. I am also lucky that my partner is sharing our family flat and we are supporting each other along with our family WhatsApp and zoom sessions. Video Conf with research colleagues bring more welcome sharing via screes. Day to day I have been digitally drawing subjects that feel valuable in these times. Rather than leave them on the iPad or instagram I collate them here.

Week 1.

Print squad meet on phone
Team meeting on laptop
Family WhatsApp.
iPad drawn response to Congregate an international sharing of medical and faith insight followed by iPad drawing and musical interaction. see recording at Soul City Arts.
Congregate Live PromoGepostet von Soul City Arts am Donnerstag, 2. April 2020

Week 2. Self Portrait

With no contact with other human beings at the moment a self portrait is perhaps worthy of attention. Made from a colour ‘selfie’ photograph this image is imported into an engraving plugin. ie a digital app that enables the user to select from range of traditional metal drawn engraving effects.

It doesn’t feel that the craft of engraving is being carried out to get to this image, but in times of no access to tactile printmaking facilities digital offers some respite. The app enables conversion from a photographic image into a black and white line engraving rendition. This can be taken into image editing app photoshop and further developed. ie black replaced with pink as in Fig1. The lower part of the image is engraved with an ‘accented’ linear cutting whereas the top facial image is made with a ‘cross fine’ style.

In The Attraction of Print – Notes on the Surface of the Art Print by Ruth Pelzer-Montada explores a range of questions on the adoption by artists of digital means of image-making beyond traditional techniques and notes: “Jo Ganter, printmaking leader at Edinburgh College of Art, has expressed a different kind of reservation: Digitally produced and printed images which appear to adopt the syntax of, say, a wood cut or a lithograph still only look like the real thing and function merely as a quotation of said techniques. More importantly, in such digital prints, she noted the paucity of the more subtle codings and unique syntax that the traditional modes allow.” The concept of images made using digital printmaking mimicry applications as ‘quotations’ is good. These ‘engraved’ self portraits are definitely quoting print techniques. However in lack of haptic facilities Lockdown it it is fine to quote and experiment with digital solutions for future printed images.

Fig 1. Self Portrait in pink
Fig 2. self portrait with Covid.

In this digital manipulation environment we are physically in isolation from the Virus. It is invisible, while dominating our existence. Its image is available through our computer’s access to the World Wide Web. We are informed that this beautiful constructed and colourful image is of the fearful plague that is affecting humanity as we know it. The microscopes operated by scientists, biologists and medics show us what we are up against, but it is beautiful in its detail, complexity, structure and colour, like most of the universe seen through magnification. How can this be deadly? Well it is The digital environment offers safety from the fear of the physical, however creating a corona digital image self portrait background may feel like tempting fate in the physical world.

Art Gallery Lockdown

In lockdown Art galleries are closed. No longer can visitors be inspired by original art. Only two weeks ago I visited the LS Lowry collection in his home town of Salford in North West of England where visitors are offered pencil and paper to draw. The digital drawing below celebrates a young woman drawing in the first gallery room with Lowry’s fondness for the pencil writ large. The small drawing below the quotation is titled Carlisle and is an inspiring minimal drawing with hardly any detail, but manages to capture something of the essence of the subject he draws.

LSLowry. Salford UK.
Carlisle. drawing LS Lowry
Minimal Drawing Caption

Audio dictation from Audio Book to iPad


I regularly dictate from texts into the iPad for note taking purposes. However I listened to a book where a short piece of information seemed relevant to note. Instead of replaying and writing the information I tested the possibility of recording directly into the iPad and my research database. I was surprised o see how accurate the dictation was. The downside is that there re was no punctuation.

Drawing Share on BBC Radio 4

Gerald Scarfe and Arabella Dorman

Two drawing artists talk eloquently together about their respective motivations and experiences. Both reveal and share the value of their drawing. Arabella in particular supports the heavily published Scarfe to see the potential for change in his drawing of dangerous public figures. She also shares her experiences of turning her pencil on those threatening her as they comb their beards and present themselves for their portrait. “Men are vain”

For 15 minutes of shared insights follow the link:


Immersive Virtual Gallery Platform

A few weeks back I picked up an app that appeared on Instagram : D Emptyspace, that promised customisable virtual art galleries. I responded to the invitation to populate/ curate 3 separate galleries with images from my artworks. They are titled : Powder Drop; Screen Bed and Art Viewers. The first two are white space galleries whereas the third is a dark space. Each can be populated with digital images. These could be the conventional framed artworks and placed on the walls or I experimented with ‘blowing up’ expressionistic images of artworks I had recently created in an experimental material drawing session. I had dropped ‘lamp black’ ink powder from a meter or so on to sheets of receptive paper. This created enjoyable freeform marks. They would be blown away unless they could be fixed. To do so I placed a second sheet on the powdered first and pounded it with my hands, followed by kneading it with my knees to squash the powder flat on the first sheet. The marks became less atomised and were flattened into the paper. I took smart phone photographs of the results. These became my digital art works for the first D Emptyspace gallery. But rather than ‘hanging’ three prints on the gallery walls I enlarged them to cover the total wall spaces. This worked well and gave the impression of being large scale artworks – all from small powder drops on an A2 sheet of paper.

D Emptyspace Powder Drop Gallery
Powder Drop 1

For the last week I have been receiving an increasing number of ‘Traces’ and messages on my Powder Drop Gallery. Interestingly fewer comments on the other two galleries, even though, in my opinion they are equally interesting. Perhaps early D Emptyspace viewers tend to look at the first gallery and not follow through to Galleries 2 and 3. Today a message from D Emptyspace CEO & Co-creator Ryan in Korea to all users with the first newsletter:

‘D Emptyspace is now one month old! Since our official launch on May 30, thousands of artists have started uploading incredible artwork. In celebration of our first month we’re sending our first newsletter. Continue reading to learn about improvements we’ve made (based on your feedback) and to discover other artists curating and sharing on D Emptyspace.

Powder Drop Galley 1.

Surprise Surprise Powder Drop is a Featured Gallery. For just 1 month there is a growing user base for this innovative platform. I plan to extend the third dark gallery with more art watchers and assess how this performs and whether users respond positively. New Features are promised in response to user feedback.

website: https://www.demptyspace.com/. App on App Store

Powder Drop 2