Daily Doodle – 9 day update (middle of March)

I am away on holiday for the time being and have taken only a pen and pencil with me as well as a new sketchbook; I do have a few supplies out here but they are quite basic. You will notice in this collection some bold clumsy colours from children’s felt tip pens, some pale depthless colours from children’s crayons (like trying to colour with plastic) and my personal favourite, gel pen drawings. I love drawing, sketching and colouring with gel pens because it gives such a fluid bold line and colour. In terms of inspiration I’m feeling quite drawn to architecture at the moment and some of the Spanish streets here about provide some great scenes. I actually tried drawing from life for the first time in a long time and rediscovered why I don’t do it often; people do insist on moving.

I am without scanner for the time being and relying on my old faithful digital camera so the photos aren’t at their best. Anyway, overall I like these. As always comments, suggestion and ideas are always welcome, I struggle for ideas often.

Daily Doodle – 12 day update (early March)

I struggled for inspiration for this lot. Some of them I’m very pleased with, others I would never show anyone if it weren’t for the sake of continuity. There were a few days in here when laziness spawned creativity. My pencil was downstairs and I was upstairs, consequently I had to jump straight in with pen, (obviously i wasn’t going to go all the way down stairs for my pencil). I actually really like the pen pictures and will likely do more.

I’m away for the next few weeks and only taking the most basic of supplies – sketch book, pen and pencil, but I shall be reunited with my best white pen. I have really missed it.

Daily Doodle – 10 Day Update (End of February 2016)

I’m more organised this week and therefore have managed to get my pictures online a bit quicker. I’m proud of this bunch, there’s some intricate work, some good colours and mostly some well finished pieces. My particular focus lately (if you can see any focus at all) is expressions; I’ve noticed I’m not very good at giving characters any personality so I’ve been trying to improve. I think mostly I’ve succeeded; perhaps further exaggeration would help.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge – February 2016

Below are my efforts for the February’s 4 weeks of the 2016 illustration challenge. I seem to have been cutting the deadline pretty tight on these so some were a little rushed but over all I’m pleased with these. The prompts were 1920’s, Printing, Kindergarten and Horizon. As a I mentioned last month, the standard is really high and next month I’m going to add a few of my favourites for the month assuming I get their creators permission.

For any others considering joining in the 52 week illustration challenge or people wanting to see all the images, maybe to source an illustrator, the blog can be found at http://illo52weeks.blogspot.com.au/ and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/illo52weeks/

Daily Doodle – 19 day update (February)

I may not have posted my doodles lately, but I have been drawing them. So now that I have finally got around to getting them onto the computer, here they are. There are a lot of practice collection, cartoon faces, eyes, noses mouths, feet, hands. But also several drawings done as a favour for a friend and a few random sketches that took my fancy. I did manage to end the collection on a splash of colour which I am very pleased about after days of pencil sketches.

I don’t know if I ever mentioned before, but with these and the 52 Week Illustration Challenge entries, I don’t get a re-do. I have one page of my sketch book assigned to the task and I have to make the most of whatever I end up doing; I cant just start a new one if I don’t like. It helps to keep me focused and settle on one image, otherwise I could be forever chasing a better doodle. I just though I’d mention it in case you’ve ever wondered why there are sometimes pictures that don’t quite seem to fit in.

Daily Doodle – 8 Day Update (February)

Below are my doodling efforts for the past 8 days. I’m not particularly pleased with the collection overall but there are a few I like.

The 52 Week Illustration Challenge – January

Below are my efforts for the first 4 weeks of the 2016 illustration challenge. I must admit some of these are a bit half hearted. The standard this year so far has been intimidatingly high.

For any others considering joining in the 52 week illustration challenge or people wanting to see all the images, maybe to source an illustrator, the blog can be found at http://illo52weeks.blogspot.com.au/ and the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/illo52weeks/

The Herring Seller’s Apprentice by L. C. Tyler – A Book Review.

I am getting behind in my book a week aim. I blame jigsaw puzzles. I have banned myself from starting another puzzle until this review is written so here is my book review for this week, only a few days later than planned.

herring seller

The Herring seller’s Apprentice is a novel by L. C. Tyler. It is considered to be in the genre of comic crime fiction and is the first in the Elsie and Ethelred Mysteries series. Contrary to my initial intention this book is similar in genre to last week’s The Fugitive Pidgeon by Donald Westlake which leads me to the possibly unfair pronouncement that it is not as good. The two leads in the book are Ethelred, a writer of crime fiction and Elsie his agent. The plot focuses on the apparent suicide of Ethelred’s ex-wife followed by Elsie’s desire to play sleuth and Ethelred’s apparent disinterest in the whole thing. The blurb on the back perhaps gave a little bit too much away, and the pronouncement on the front that it featured P. G. Wodehouse-like characters I consider overly complimentary having now read the book.

I’ve already mentioned that it wasn’t as good as last week’s read however it did have good points. The characters, though not what I would consider P. G. Wodehouse-like, are well formed and on the whole both Ethelred and Elsie are likeable. I found Elsie’s bullish but well-meaning manner not dissimilar to M. C. Beaton’s Agatha Raisin but far less infuriating. In fact I think she is my favourite part of the book.

Throughout the book there are moments of competent comic writing but I found the book had a far more sinister feel to it than I would expect from something professing to be comic crime fiction. In fact the ending was anything but light and fun, the only explanation I could come up with is that it is the first of a series and the ending will be more satisfying when seen in context of the series.

lctyler

If I forget the fact I was expecting something lighter and more quick witted the book had a few things besides its main characters going for it. The book was intriguing; when I was two thirds of the way through I still wasn’t sure exactly what was going on. The writer essentially tells you, with a certain bluntness, it’s not what you think, whilst never explaining in what way. Also by the end the book does provide you with all the information you need to figure out exactly what is going on, which is satisfying in a crime fiction novel.

Unfortunately the book seemed clumsy. The awkward bluntness that the reader is informed of some important information, and some very simplistic sides to some characters seems almost amateurish. The tone and style of writing though clearly an attempt to be satirical, light and caper-ish, as Wodehouse is, doesn’t really reach its mark and instead comes across as either indulgent or a poor impersonation.

I may be being a bit harsh, particularly as I was intrigued at times, but I think the ending disappointed me enough to taint any review I could give. I specifically avoid reading other people’s reviews or any information of the author before writing my review so that it will be more honest in my opinions. Having now looked up this series and seen this book and others of this series have been up for awards some of which they won I’m hopeful the series improves. Despite my slightly negative comments I’m not averse to the idea of checking out another in this series. Most of the issues I had with the book seemed more related to a lack of polish and perhaps inexperience in novel writing. Now that I am aware this is his first book I am inclined to believe later books would be better.

I will finish with a couple of quotes I did enjoy:

‘I offered to drop Elsie off in Hampstead, but that, as she pointed out left her car stranded in in Findon. Since it would be too late, once in Findon, for her to drive back again to London that night, we agreed that one or other of us would have to sleep on the sofa, while Elsie slept in my bed.’

‘We gave our condolences to Ethelred and Charlotte, on the grounds that there was nobody else to give them to and we didn’t want to take them home with us.’

Daily Doodle – 8 Day update

Below are my drawings for the last 8 days. I started the week well then had real difficulty thinking up something to draw. I think I pulled it back towards the end. Most of these were very late night dawings; I think I need to try and get something on paper a little earlier in the day.

 

 

The Fugitive Pigeon by Donald E. Westlake – A Book Review

I have a fascination for fairly old books that smell like books, but more importantly with quirky titles. I will buy a book purely for fulfilling these criteria even if it isn’t a book I would normally enjoy. Perhaps the rational is that if the title manages to grab my attention or amuse me then surely the book will also. This collection started with a book titled ‘Eating People is Wrong’ by Malcolm Bradbury first published in 1959; despite my love for this book I haven’t actually read it in its entirety. I tried once a few years back and it seemed over my head and not wanting to lose my love of the book I stopped reading intending to read it another time; I’m thinking soon.

eatingpeople_Fotor

A newer addition to my small collection is ‘The Fugitive Pigeon; by Donald E. Westlake first published in 1965. This was a charity shop find, the book itself is in great condition, hardback and still in its original sleeve; it smells incredible too. It has a wonderful quirky cover and somewhere in the back of my mind I was sure Westlake was an author I ought to remember.  I bought it a while back and have only just got around to reading it and I’m so glad I did.

pigeon

Westlake it turns out has over a hundred pieces of written work to his name, fiction, non-fiction, and screen plays. There are several movies based on his work as well, films including Payback and Parker. I knew I knew that name.

PARKER-Image-01

The novel is firmly in the comic crime fiction genre, it’s light, clever and fast moving. There’s some great imagery without long winded descriptions. Some people may disagree but I would say Westlake’s description style has a lot in common with Wodehouse, the humorously insulting manner seems to echo Wodehouse, perhaps not as refined or clever, but still entertaining. For example the following delightful descriptions:

‘Uncle Al is a big hefty guy, about two-thirds bone and muscle, about one-third spaghetti.’

‘Up till then I’d assumed that “Gross” was the man’s name, but it was his description. He looked like something that had finally come up out of its cave because it had eaten the last of the phosphorescent little fish in the cold pool at the bottom of the cavern. He looked like something that had better keep moving because if it stood still someone would drag it out back and bury it. He looked like a big white sponge with various diseases at work on the inside…’

It’s the sort of book you could read all at once. The novel is written in first person as the lovable but unambitious and inept protagonist Charlie Poole tries to clear his name with a crime syndicate he inadvertently gets involved with. The characters are really likable and human with a hint of caricature about them. The plot romps along at lightning speed, there’s never a dull moment and there are plenty of light-hearted insights from Charlie.

‘Making a getaway by subway is not good for the nerves. The train just barely gets rolling pretty good when it slows down again, and stops, and the doors slide open in a very ominous way with nobody near them. Two killers do not get on board, and the doors close, and the train starts forward, only to go through the whole thing again two or three minutes later.’

The only negative I found with this book was the over use of place name’s throughout New York. Perhaps it’s because they are meaningless to me as one who has never been to New York, and quite probably it would add a whole new level to the book if I understood the references. One thing I found particularly impressive about this book, is how well it has aged (not just physically). It doesn’t seem at all dated, apart from a distinct lack of using technology everything else seems perfectly plausible, there’s no reference to events of the time that anchor it to a date, it could easily be set much closer to current times and that is quite an impressive feat for a 50 year old piece of crime fiction.

This is yet another success for my weekly book goal. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and am going to look out for more of Westlake’s work which is really the highest compliment that can be payed to any author.

westlake.JPG