Category Archives: Events

Digital art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

As if often the case in a half term The Electric Theatre in Guildford asked me to run a couple of art sessions for 5-9 year olds. Mondays theme was traditional art and Wednesday was digital.

We started, as almost all of my classes do, with a couple of psychological tricks to explain how easy drawing is. Once that barrier is broken (about 10 minutes in if I’m taking the scenic route) we started to draw on tablet.

And excellent fun it was too, as these sessions often tend to be 🙂


On the touch screens we started with the very lovely Tesco Hudl (first generation) and used Autodesk Sketchbook to take photos of drawn owls and colour them:

Then we did a little bit of face liquifying (still on Hudl) which went down brilliantly 🙂

We did a bit of Autostitch panorama photo taking:

(click on the photos for larger versions)

…and we drew on a range of apps:

Fresh Paint app on Surface RT.

Brushes app (v2) on iPad.

Autodesk Sketchbook on Hudl.

Adobe Photoshop on Hudl.

ArtRage on iPad.

All in all? A lot of fun and, I think, a good few new 6 year old touch screen artists ready to carry on where they left off after the 2 hour session (all asked which apps and styli they should buy and all of the parents/grandparents looked relieved when I told them that the prices were generally low and affordable). The feedback was excellent with the often asked question ‘are you going to do more of these sessions’ becoming more and more pressing on my mind 🙂 Hopefully soon (although not until early 2015 that said).

I was also lucky enough to be joined by three of my College students – all very capable tablet art tutors in their own right – which meant that if I’d so wanted I could have delegated all of the work to them! I didn’t of course – doing youth arts work is too much fun to not be involved in – but it was lovely to know that I could hand off to them when I wanted the younger kids to have some extra assistance…

Next up? Half a days rest. I think I’ve earned it 🙂

Traditional art Big Draw workshop at the Electric Theatre, Guildford.

I’m lucky that my job is often my hobby (and vice versa).

Witness the Electric Theatre Family Festivals, for example 🙂 I get to stand and run around and draw with dozens of lovely kids and their parents and grandparents and, generally, do traditional and touch screen drawings together. I’ve done various things there on Surface tablet, Hudl and iPad but the sessions which are the most popular are almost always the Shrink Plastic sessions

On Monday the ‘Leccy asked me to run a drawing session with a theme of making cities. The thing that came to mind was allowing the kids to rampage through cities as a monster or a superhero… But I was aware that when you have a dozen kids all asking for help at the same time, not to mention the fact that you’ll be tied to an oven cooking shrink plastic for much of the session, on my own, then it all had to be fairly self explanatory and easy to conduct. On a material budget of £30.

So we made masks:

and we made city buildings to be added to an ever growing Electric City…

…which anyone could be photographed in…

but, of course, the major part of the session was Shrink Plastic…

…and, all in all, it was  a very lovely five hours of creative chaos, drawing, cooking shrink plastic, chatting and laughing.

Except for when pumpkins were scarily (but fabulously 🙂 ) drawn… Aaargh. Back there soon to do tablet art again and I’m hopeful that’s an equally lovely session.

Dell Solutions Tour 2014.

Latest on the list of ‘Blimey it’s busy this year’ screen drawing sessions is the Dell Solutions tour 2014.

It’s a three day/three city event which I get the chance to join in with the London leg. This year it was in Olympia – a venue I’ve not been in since the old ECTS days – and as always it’s delightful to be able to draw on new screens, chat to people I’ve met at other events and big up the students and the College course. (Last year it was at Stamford Bridge which I thoroughly enjoyed for the Autostitch wonderfulness).

I only had three hours to join them this year as I was due to be drawing burgers and having meetings for the rest of the day (more to say, some very cool stuff to come) and that led to these pictures:

 


Drawn on a Dell 18, Venue 8 and 11 mostly using Paint app (although I did get one stand to install the Fresh Paint app for me to have a test out on their screen…) Paint is OK, not my favourite app to demo and work with as the icons aren’t exactly set up for touch screen… but it’s more capable than some might remember and not painful to use… Fresh Paint is one of my favourite apps so it’s always a shame to see demo machines not have it as an automatic option.

Apologies for the photos. The lighting of the room played havoc with my camera… Regardless: Stylus T. Frog had a good run out, which is always nice. Thanks for the invite Dell 🙂

One unexpected bonus of the day was the picking up of two new promo styli. One from Qualcomm – a wrist slap band stylus that works miles better than one I picked up from them last year… But the star of the show was a luxury Intel pen/stylus that’s lovely to write and draw with. Hurrah. Hence the picture which opens this blog. I drew it on my trusty new Hudl 2 in the q for lunch (must be a limerick in there somewhere) because no-one would lend me a Dell tablet to draw on while I was waiting…. But I did use the styli that I’d picked up to draw each of the styli in the picture, so that sort of counts as being helpful, right?

On the machine side I do like the Dell tablets and I look forward to the update of the Venue tablets with the new pen/drivers and refreshed innards in November. All good stuff, and I REALLY like their LED projector. That’s an utter mini-star 🙂

Surrey Opportunities Fair.

We are getting rather good at this.

This being juggling a bunch of students and one dog tired teacher going to a venue (this time: Epsom Racecourse) and demonstrating tablet art techniques to potential new students (and, more often than not, teachers and teaching assistants).

So yesterday the students and I got a bus at way too early to get to the racecourse ten minutes late via a horribly foggy and disgusting drive. Safety (always) first, so late was the better of the options.

One quick set up later and the school kids started piling in. And in. And in. It was fairly busy:

(as always).

One of the nicest things for me was that the students who went started drawing on the bus and didn’t stop working until we finished at 3.15.

Which is nice for me as their teacher… They’re a good bunch I have this year. Which is good as my student intake has almost trebled.

All in all? Not a bad way to spend a day. Dog tired at the end of it though. I’d say roll on half term but I’m doing tablet art at the ‘Leccy then…. Good to be busy I suppose 🙂

The Three MuskArteers.


Without wanting to sound ridiculously immodest I think I’m fairly OK at my day job (which is as a  College Graphics and Creative Media teacher).

I’m not your average teacher and I don’t teach in an average way. Which is good, just don’t tell the Government because it’s not about being good any more it’s about standards and compliance. You’re not good unless you’re outstanding and you’re not outstanding unless you toe the party line.

I don’t. But all the students stay and they all pass with grades they weren’t expecting and, along the way, we tend to do huge trade shows and events as we go.

And now I’m ridiculously lucky to be joined by a Photography and Fine Art teacher who are equally good and equally mad. It made EGX an absolute joy and when we all decided to be Muskarteers on the final day, well that’s a perfectly rational decision for us, really. It’s going to be a fab year in the School of Art. Unless they make us comply too often in which case it was be an above average, semi-soulless, standardised sort of year.

We even took over the Cosplay stage for the final hour of the day, dressed as Muskarteers and with anyone with a sword joining us. It was as excellent as that sounds.


As was drawing on tablets dressed in Cosplay 🙂 As was EGX as a whole in fact…

…but, true to form, I was finishing off the Cosplay on the train up to day four of the show. While I lauded the two newish teachers at the College – and it is excellent to be part of an A-Team – I’m always supported by my excellent wife who made the tabard and boots and so on. She left a space on the front for me to draw the crest which I did on the train.

…and which she, being the long suffering and excellent wife that she is, filmed for me…

First Cosplay. Definitely (hopefully) not the last.

Post Mortem vs The Next Event…

It’s not post show blues, just a realisation that sometimes things don’t go to plan or my mind is putting more plates on sticks that can realistically be spun.

The Chill Out And Art stand was run by a bone tired teacher, assisted by a second teacher – equally tired (because there’s no let up from enrolment to classes and no we don’t get the whole summer off we get the same amount of days holiday you likely get just fewer places to use them and thank you Mr Gove for your parting present of everyone having to change all of their paperwork, again). It was set up by three dog tired teachers, one daughter, one boyfriend of the daughter and a brilliant friend of the college who’s always been there to help when needed.

And for an hour each day we were running the sixth largest stand at EGX14 with only Ubisoft, Nintendo, Microsoft, Activision and Sony having larger floor footprints.

So basically? We did OK and the students did brilliantly.

Generally I go on gut feelings. I knew the wallpaper would work and OH BOY did it. I knew we could rock the Cosplay stage and it was fab 🙂 I thought the Graph’It pens would go down well and holy heck they certainly did…

All told? It was a heck of a week.

The problem was it was the best show we’ve ever done.

Actually the problem was it was around £2k and a few bits swapped around from being the PERFECT show.

Post show the marvellous Nick Thatcher and I sit and cogitate (cogitate being Latin for chat over a beer) and discuss  what we should have done differently. And the list this year was so small it was frustrating to be so close to where I could have dreamt it to be.

The things that would have made it perfect were a little out of our control but still grate. The stand looked awesome – we had loads of compliments and it’ll be interesting to see how many people wallpaper their stands next time. The Graph’It pens worked a treat and we ran out of paper at the end of the third day as it was such a popular addition to the stand. Bearing in mind the total budget – if I put everything together -comes out at less than  £2k that was a HELL of an achievement in and of itself. All in all? Not a bad three weeks planning/one week of solid work 🙂

My main sadness is that we didn’t have the  IWBs  (beyond the budget) or a cool new projector which allows you to draw directly onto a wall. I still want to do a console art corner (Art Academy on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS + Colors and PaintPark Plus on Sony PS Vita). We’ve not cracked 3d scanning and printing yet but we know exactly how to do it and were tantalisingly close this time. I just need a couple more jigsaw puzzle pieces in place for that one.

REALLY want to do a tablet and stylus bench where people can walk up and try as large a range of styli against as large a range of tablets as possible. As an example we (finally) got the demo Surface RT units working and I ran off to my pencil case of styli to use for a picture…. but because I’ve used most of the styli I know, for example, that the Surface RT works best with the Dagi range of styli in terms of connection but unless you meet a complete nitwit that tries all styli against all screens (ahem) you’re not going to find that useful nugget of information out.

And the main miss of the show, of every show since World Skills, is that the app that would work with and around the event has never been quite there. World Skills Fest would have worked so perfectly with the app I had in mind, as would Gadget Show Live. We’ve always been close but never lit the cigar, let alone removed it from the cool cigar tin that taunts me from the shelf it’s placed on, a smidge out of reach. One day I might get there… but I suspect I may never get to doing the show and the app together. It’s the thing which feels most beyond anything I can plan or budget for.

That’s what drives me on to do the next show and then the one after that. There’s always something new and cool that we could get onto.

The biggest negative point was that, for the second year in a row, Eurogamer fell on my son’s birthday… Both years we bought him to the show on the final day and, both years, he’s met his favourite character (Sonic) which was great. Hats off to the Nintendo booth who, as soon as they heard that there was an autistic child who desperately wanted to meet Sonic, rearranged some of the times of their character walk arounds and got it sorted for Sonic to meet son and vice versa. Was hugely touched by their kindness and thoughtfulness. Next years EGX dates – and venue – have already been announced and they don’t fall on the birthday but they do happen in Birmingham NEC which, budget wise, might preclude us from participating. I hope not as EGX has been a brilliant show to be a part of for the past two years. We’ll see what happens when that conversation comes up.

I’d say when’s the next event, although I know. Sort of. There’s a couple of smaller events to come but I’ve got high hopes on the next biggie.

The main thing is that the kids come through the year thinking they’ve been a part of something amazing and, more importantly for the college and my year on year stats, that they all succeed in their relevant courses – especially graphics. last year we did 20 shows and most came out with As and Bs. But this year I have three times as many students to think on so it’s all that much more stress and work. If I were sane I’d batten down the hatches, teach the basics, standardise the sketchpads, do one event at most (most teachers take their kids to a couple of exhibitions and that’s that).

Good job I’m not sane then.

Chill Out and Art at EGX14.

Well that was a fabulously truly bonkers week at Earl’s Court for #EGX14.

The highlights started a couple of weeks before the show. I’d asked some wonderful tablet artists to donate pictures on a given theme and the results were fabulous. The digital paintings were printed off at A1 size, attached to foamboard,  displayed at the show and finally given away to the charity stands at the show for them to fund raise with (Special Effect, Make a Wish and National Autistic Society).


On setup the very fabulous Dame Kath of Jones and Sir Nick of Thatcher made it all happen (with RoStev helping out on the last day).

SO many people joined us to draw. Loads of students attended each day, a lot of them Cosplayed, Graph It pens were used and used and then used some more, iPads, Hudls, Surfaces and 3DS’ were drawn on, new artists started a new hobby and brilliant artists shared skills with others.

The best thing? Possibly the Cosplay stage space for us. We co-ordinated with two Cosplay troupes: the Lots Of Us and the Birds of Truth (as well as thematically linked Cosplayers on the day) and took over the stage for an hour on the four days of the show. For every session we set up a diorama for people to paint/draw/photograph and it was always, ALWAYS, ace. Blog post to come but here’a a few representative pics:

(click on the pics to get the larger ones…)

So on a budget of… well… nowhere near enough… for an hour each day we had the sixth largest stand at EGX. Truly and utterly fabulous and bonkers all at the same time.

Also: the new aluminium stand for the show (the hat stand) worked brilliantly 🙂 (so now we have two fab Aluminium bespoke tablet art stands – the hat stand and the eYe, both made by the very fabulous Nick Thatcher of Thatch Industries).

The lowlights? Less that 6 hours sleep each night for the past two weeks. Also – some of the receipts will be paid but I feel like I’ve partially bankrupted myself on emergency coffees and bottles of water – HOW MUCH??? – as mine ran out no matter how much I took I always drank more. My throat is completely clobbered and I’m going to be teaching with a whisper for the next week.

And also: general event shatteredness.

… and this is bearing in mind that the phone that had the pedometer on was also being used as a wifi hotspot so I didn’t have it on me for a few hours each day. And yet I STILLL could have cosplayed easily as Jabba the Hut (as opposed to what I did do: a Teletubby Muskateer mash up).

It was – so very nearly – the best tablet and drawing event ever, definitely the best one we’ve ever done….

Now normal teaching service is resumed… I’ve got over 100 students to get to an A* in 10 months 🙂

Although… will try and get the #WelcomeToGuildford awards sorted out soon…

Day One at EGX.

I started off by drawing this on the train into London on my trusty Hudl:

 


There was not enough this.

We taught people who had never drawn on a tablet before to draw on a tablet:

 

We drew a lot of awesome people in costume:

and then we drew a LOT OF PEOPLE dressed in costume:

 

Basically it was awesome and so were we but now I’m tired and day two is about to start.

Hurrah. And zzz.