I thought I would put a big startling image to start with to wake you up! This one is drawn using Conte crayons.
Jane brought this lively looking character back from the farm shop today, and I just had to draw it. The knobbly bits on top looked like numerous goggly eyes, and the light slashes where the leaves had been removed took on mouths, smiling, sneering, smirking. This guy just had to sit for me and have his portrait taken.
In some ways, having drawn it, I realise that it has vague similarities to either Dennis the Menace’s Gnasher from The Beano, or the wonderful:
featuring in the Quentin Blake exhibition: “The Only Way to Travel” that is currently on at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. (Actually, the image above is a bit I copied from the margin of the wonderful quirky ink drawing of the same name and is, relatively speaking, quite small.)
In this exhibition, Quentin has done some really massive brushed drawings (where did he get that size paper!), that cover complete walls of the gallery, which you literally have to walk quite a few paces to get from one end to the other; a journey in itself. The title gives a theme of getting from A to B and allows for the artist to give full rein to his imagination. There are lots of Heath Robinson-esque contraptions or vehicles / animals / planes (or more accurately flying machines) / and birds to transport us around in.
I mentioned Heath Robinson, but perhaps there is a myriad of influences that seems to underlie Blake’s drawings here: Salvador Dali comes to mind with the elongated legs or crutches that appear regularly; there are some very free drawings where ink is dripped and swung over the paper that nod to Jackson Pollock. Perhaps the most dominant feature is a lack of features, especially with the smaller framed drawings with deliciously coloured suns, here we have wasted landscapes where nothing appears to grow, trees are mere stumps, and in one picture we have refugees huddled, wandering aimlessly, looking for a place to call home. Stand up Paul Nash and his World War pictures. I also think that WALL-E from the Disney-Pixar film of the same name would have fitted in well here looking amongst the rubble for signs of life.
Quentin Blake’s long career has given people of all ages great joy, and I hope that the crutches and vulture like birds, that appear in several of these works, is not an omen that things are about to come to a catastrophic end.