Monday, February 28, 2011

Dylan and Magna Carta

These are the most recent works thus far on this blog. They were watercoloured only about a month ago, but sketched last year. Again, the setting is Toni's Place, an informal music venue in Newton Park, Port Elizabeth.

The first batch of drawings were done at a concert early last year by two guys, from East London I think, who did rather pleasant covers of Bob Dylan's music. The oke above was one of the patrons.

I can't recall the guys' names, but they certainly brought an interesting dimension to the music. Sadly, because these pages are still bound, scanning is difficult, what with the metal loop. Hence the seeping in of light (bluish on the left, here) on some pictures.

It comes back to me. The guy on the right played an electric guitar most of the night and rarely sang. But, having just listened afresh to Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album, it is significant what a wonderful sound he was achieving with lightly clipping electric guitar on those albums from the mid-1960s.

The audience, of course, always provide sketching fodder. Here, a cross-section of visages.

Interesting to see young people, like this girl, at the show, since Dylan would hardly be deemed "hip" by most youngsters.

I rather enjoyed the still life of bottles, carafes and glasses with the musos in the distance.

Throughout the show they projected images of Dylan onto a screen, which I made the focal point here.

An older patron.

And another.

More listeners.

Fast forward about six months and Chris Simpson, the main man behind Magna Carta, was back at Toni's, this time accompanied by another youngish oke, Nick Hall. This is Simpson, with possibly Hall's mug suggested on the right.

Nick Hall mainly played acoustic guitar, but on one song he played a bit of mandolin.

Simpson was in top form. Here he plays a bit of blues harmonica.

Nick Hall played a couple of solo slots, including a rather evocative version of Dylan's Senor, in which, just as he sang "disconnect these cables" he did just that, unplugged his acoustic guitar, and walked among us, singing with no amplification.

I rather like the edgy lines in this study of Chris Simpson.

I did this on the back of that sketch pad, which was, I see, imported from the UK.

Friday, February 25, 2011

From life

When you have sons, in a way you relive your own youth. It is great fun, very often, and one of the things which gave us delight was a wacky song by Afrikaans singer Robbie Wessels.

Wessels did a song called Leeuloop, which is "lion-walk" in English. It is full of double entendres. Anyway, I did a sketch of younger son Doug in 'O6, and then added a speech bubble including a line from the song.

Elder son Luke, sketched at home in '06. Both are not very flattering, but I'm sure they'll forgive me.

This was done on a rumpled bit of paper, but I don't know who it is.

While sitting at a petrol station, I used a Shell flyer I'd just been given to quickly draw this woman in an adjacent car.

I accompanied my wife to church for several years in the late 1990s, early 2000s. Here I drew a member of the choir alongside some biblical clip-art on the day's programme.

I'm afraid a little envelope meant for a donation ended up with a drawing of one of the parishioners on it.

Younger son Doug also got in on the act, drawing a fan attached to the wall inside the church on the back of the same envelope. These were done in 2005, when Doug would have been about 12.

Still crazy

Yeah, I finally dug up this little drawing, which you'll notice was incorporated by my son, Doug, when he used his expertise to help me make the header for this blog.

Most of these were done almost subconsciously. Here the drawing is above a note left by our domestic at the time.

Doug and I started exploring music together, and in the course of this I came up with a tiger.

That's more like it. Utterly absurd image.

And another - in need of a shave.

These little okes seemed to be haunting me. This was done on another occasion.

Notes about trivial family matters can, with the help of a few lines, become a face.

Just a babe. That's what emerged as I considered a George Pemba exhibition.

Heard a nice "men's joke" recently. Guy at a car dealership asks his customer: "Are you thinking of buying that Cadillac?" He replies: "No, I am buying the Cadillac. I'm thinking about women." It seems this image sprang from that subconscious well.

Another subliminal give-away.

Oops! And another, along with a shopping list that includes a heavily underlined item. (As if I'd forget.)

Another gallery presser gets the treatment.

This was done on a picture sticker. These, as a page designer in the first decade of this century on the Herald, I'd stick on the back of images from Associated Press, or Reuters, printed out and sent up for scanning.

Brett Kebble died in a bizarre way. A court case is still ongoing in connection with the mining magnate's demise. But in the early 2000s he was a prominent patron of the arts - and the ANC Youth League. You go figure.

Fitting the page.

Shame about the face.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Magna Carta

In September, 2009, I was brought face to face, as it were, with a global rock legend. We had devoured the English folk-rock band Magna Carta in the early 1970s, through albums like Seasons, Songs from Wasties Orchard and Lord of the Ages. Anyway, it was announced that Magna Carta would be playing in Port Elizabeth, so I went along, with a few bits of paper and a pen at hand, just in case ...

The gig was at Toni's Place in Newton Park, and I posted an item on my other blog, Global Rock Legends, about the evening. Anyway, Chris Simpson was the driving force behind the band and the main songwriter. He carried the name forward, and this time was accompanied by Tom Hoy. The sketches were fragile things, done in difficult lighting, with mics and other obstructions making things tricky. This is Simpson, with a few dabs of watercolour added later.

Tom Hoy might recognise his somewhat distorted features here.

Sometimes there's no helping how a drawing, done in semi-darkness, comes out. Here Simpson looks like a character from a Bruegel painting.

I rather liked the subtlety of this work, which seems to capture the character of Simpson in his older years. I only dared risk a modicum of colour. Actually, there is more colour on the original. For some reason the scanner did not pick up those nuances - in this work and the others.

Tony Hoy, who was an able accompanist to the powerful personality that is Simpson.

One of the patrons at the show - where everyone's age was starting to show.

Another music lover soaks up the sounds.

This is Simpson again, methinks, in a none too flattering view.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eastern Cape game parks

The Eastern Cape - indeed South Africa as a whole - is blessed with a plethora of game parks. It is one of the major bonuses of living here. You are able to escape into the wilderness, commune with nature and recharge your batteries. Anway, the following sketches were done during a couple of ventures into the veld.

A couple of years back we stayed in an isolated guest house in the Cradock Mountain Zebra National Park. We were paid regular visits by vervet monkeys. This is one of them - looking a bit liked a masked robber - beside an aloe.

The guest house was a historic building from, if I recall correctly, way back in the 19th century. Its whitewashed walls blazed furiously in the bright summer sun. Here I enjoyed the shape of this detail.

There is a separate bell - slave bell? - next to the house.

The knobbly nature of the adjacent mountains is a feature of the landscape.

The harsh reality of life in the wild. This skull - possibly that of a baboon - was lying in the veld not far from the house.

Inside the living room, another skull. Only this time the antelope skull and horns was tastefully mounted and hanging from the wall.

No, not oranges or grapefruit, but giant ostrich eggs, which were in a bowl on the lounge table.

Moving further north, we once again found ourselves on the farm near Steynsburg where my wife Robyn's grandparents farmed. These are some of the distinctive mountains there.

Another view of a mountain slope.

You can't live in Port Elizabeth without visiting the Addo Elephant National Park, which is just a couple of hours drive away. But have you ever tried drawing elephants? Large though they are, they don't keep still for long. Also they are rather intimidating.

While drawing these leviathans from life yields results which are not always satisfactory, the alternative of working from photos is simply not on. You then move into the realm of "wildlife art", the height of kitsch. In fact, I rather enjoy the loose, erratic line quality, which reflects the animals' continual movement.

A few lines and you have an elephant.

Addo is characterised by the dense thicket, just tall enough to conceal a massive herd of elephants. Indeed, many have visited the park after rain and not seen an elephant! When they don't need to come down to the watering holes, they can be as elusive as a Knysna warbler. Anyway, there are high points in the park from where you can get views like this of the rolling hills. On one occasion we saw a flock of blue cranes gracing the plains below us.