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Building Utopia.

Mad dash update because it’s my dad and my daughters birthday today (very organised to double it up).

But today is also the first day of Mobile World Congress which is probably the show I most want to do… I’m hugely envious of anyone there at the moment.

HTC, for example, will be announcing the m9 (as well as, possibly, other things) and prior to launch they asked people to remix some of their teaser images:




which I did, off and on, when time allowed. I started with these:

one life all.jpg

…before adding a few colours:

#HTCOneLife #Photoshop

before adding a few textures in Snapseed:

Drawn on a M8. #Photoshop #Snapseed #HTCOneLife #MWC15

everything was done in phone, often while on busses 🙂

You can see all of them here: hope you like. Am looking forward to seeing what’s next, however I’ll miss the official launch as the birthday party beckons 🙂

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.



Happy birthday Surface Pro 3…

Today (and yesterday) have been interesting. New student enrolment, as always, saw a swathe of young faces waltz past my desk. Some exuded hope and confidence and others were already crushed by silly letters that say little about their true worth and, in all cases, I gave the best news I could.

I actively look forward to the students I’m teaching next academic year but, to be honest, I always say that. And, fortunately so far, I’ve always been right. Next year will be a challenge – but a very exciting one where the kids are concerned. The Government sanctioned destruction of the education system remains a concern but I do what I can, where I can. Sometimes I am not able to say yes to a student who I’m sure would be an asset, because the rules say so… but I always bend the rules as far as I can as often as I can. My managers have learnt to tolerate the way I do things –  last year one student out of all of my intake left and all passed. So maybe I do know something about the kids I take on, who knows? I’m told I take too many risks, and that’s certainly true.

Post one day of compliance meetings and two days of constant waiting for/talking to kids prompted me to take an hour long diversion on the slow and frog tired walk home. I was determined to make it an hour or less as this week has seen me more away from my family than with them but I needed some time away from noise and I needed to draw. Sometimes there’s so much need than I have to stop and try not to think of it. As it is I’m taking on a fair few kids who I shouldn’t, according to the ruleset, and who I can’t wait to spend a year with.

Today is the launch of the Surface Pro 3. I like the machine, from the RT original (which I spent some time with and liked loads) to the newest iteration, released as I fretted over grades and funding applications and big eyed kids, trying to sound confident and desperately trying not to cry.  The issues I had with the Surface 1 (the integration of screen and stylus) and Surface 2 (lingering issues with the screen ratio in portrait format) have all been addressed and here we are with the Surface Pro 3. The kick stand works in all angles, the N Trig pen works beautifully and Fresh Paint remains one of the most wonderful gateway drugs to tablet and touch screen artwork.

Two Surface 3 demo units greeted me in the shop (no, I didn’t buy one. I’m a 3 day a week teacher with a 5 day a week workload. If I spend that sort of money I’m going to have to juggle and haggle and it’s not an immediate decision). A balloon arch drew my eye from the get go (I wasn’t entirely sure they’d have units to play with, the Microsoft online shop being sold out on day 1) but I knew which part of the shop to walk to 🙂 Once I’d said hallo to the staff I knew (pretty much all of them by now I think) I had the styli out and was painting.

Excuse the photos. My phone was completely out of juice, as was my tablet (as was I) so I relied on my third choice camera. Better pics to come.

Captain Antarctica:

painted on demo Surface Pro 3 unit 1 using finger, Nomad Compose brush and Fresh Paint app (mainly the oil paint brush).

Painted on the second Surface Pro 3 demo unit, Fresh Paint again (mainly the watercolour brush).

I had a few people watching me (probably half of the people in the store at one point 🙂 ) and it was lovely and therapeutic to just draw and not have to make decisions about the next year for kids who all wanted to hear good news where they might have lived the past few weeks without. Fresh Paint is a fab application, lovely to use and completely at home on a Surface, the hour was marvellous and wonderful and very much needed.

So happy birthday Surface Pro 3 and those who bought one I hope you enjoy and I’m a little envious. Have fun, because in EVERYTHING, that’s the most important  thing.



Lovely week in Wales…

August means holiday and this year it was Wales. Partially that was to catch the Dr Who exhibition prior to the close and rejig as a Capaldi thing and partially that was just to relax on rocky beaches. Lovely time in lovely place.


On a recommendation from a Marmarati mate I tried a curry at Moksh in Cardiff Bay. Ultra scrummy – first time I’d had Crocodile curry. Hopefully not the last.

All in all – a very wonderful week away. Also coincided with my 21st wedding anniversary so we had an especially chilled Thursday.

….and we had fireworks on the beach. Hurrah.

Happy end of one era….

For between 18 – 20 years (hard to tell it’s been so long) my wife and I have led a youth group for kids aged 10 – 14 in a church hall on a council estate. We led our final group last week and did a sort of semi-official hand over to the new worker in charge (because the group will carry on, which is the loveliest thing of all) and then, this Friday, we had a social night for the youth group leaders and the kids who had been at the group longest and were leaving this year.

It’s been, basically, emotional. A little. For the past year especially I’ve been shattered before I start each night (although it’s never hard to raise the energy levels for a game of football or chat to the kids who attend) and it’s the right time, for a number of reasons, to stop.

We thought Friday night had been the finale but were ambushed by everyone in the church with a range of gifts and a meal as a thank you. All of it was a lovely surprise; there were a number of rounds of applause as kids said thank you for various things we’d done over the years and almost everyone said thank you for working so hard.

Basically – and we’re keeping the tickets to the Shard (one of the presents) in a safe place so no returns… But it wasn’t work. Sitting down and chatting to kids, seeing how they are and encouraging  the best out of them, has never been work and, though we’ve been tired through what life has thrown our way for the past few years, running the youth group has always been a pleasure. Sometimes the nights were trickier to navigate than others but always we felt like we were in the right place at the right time.

Now it’s time to rest though, for a while…

What we done during Eurovision…

A few years ago wife and I were in a pub playing darts with a Swede and a Romanian. In the background was the Eurovision song contest, which was the first time I’d ever watched it.

Since then we always have, either with friends or relatives or just ourselves and the kids. Last night was fairly unusual (in as much as we’d not realised it was on until yesterday and hadn’t invited friends over) so we watched (to be honest half a dozen countries – including France which was my favourite – were robbed) and made things and ate and so on.

Wifey always makes a brilliant European picnic:

And this year she also made me a son to go with my Frog:

And I drew the acts as they happened:

All drawn on Hudl using Photoshop Touch and a New Trent Limir (or Arcadia can’t remember which one’s which) and a Nomad Compose. Hope you like. We enjoyed the evening, not always (in fact fairly rarely) for musical purposes 🙂

Hockney, Kandinsky and Escher walk into an app… (or Adventures in Autostitch).

A few days ago (blimey, only that? feels ages ago…) I tweeted a couple of pictures from a dental surgery in a converted church saying that I loved the app when it broke because of the geometry of what you’re pointing the camera at…

… and team Autostitch tweeted me back saying that they prefer the app when it doesn’t break.

<blockquote lang=”en”><p><a href=””>@Kercal</a> That’s strange, we don’t like it when it breaks. Maybe we need a special mode that does this on purpose?</p>&mdash; AutoStitch Panorama (@AutoStitch) <a href=”″>March 13, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src=”//” charset=”utf-8″></script>

The thing is, it’s the accidents that make it for me. If I want an app that you slowly pan from left to right to get a picture that looks like a normal panorama every single time, that’s what I’ll go for. Autostitch occasionally snaps and that gives you all sorts of oddnesses which is just the way I like it 🙂 Would it be better if the accidents were planned or there was an inbuilt abstract mode? Possibly… but it’s the joy of the discovery that makes it all the more special imo.

… and my personal favourite: the Cyber Giraffe (also known as the Eiffel Tower).

I also photographed the one below although wish I’d had the 5S at the time (the one above and below were on a 4S). Would love to have see how the image below could have come out in higher resolution…

(like the one below for example…)

So there you go: breaking an app to get something akin to a drunken mashup of artists portfolios 🙂 Love it.

Back at the ‘Leccy.

I’ve done a few art events for young people at the Electric Theatre but, until now, they’ve predominantly been shrink plastic sessions, which is fine, as they always sell out quickly and get very lovely feedback.

For some reason, this time, we all agreed that tablet art sessions might be a good fun thing and a bit of a change for all involved. And, yes it was 🙂 I’m not 100% sure it was an easier session to do (although it was a lighter session to pack up and carry… but the charging of 15 machines twice in one day was a little tricksome to facilitate).

We started with simple art lessons, just so everyone was up to speed on basic drawing tactics (and also to preserve a little bit of battery life). There are a quick set of ten lessons that I’ve been doing as long as I’ve been doing Fish and the Family Festivals which I occasionally rejig a little (mainly in terms of the order I do them in as much as anything) but which teach a huge amount of simple art principles – and confidence – in 30 minutes.

My pic to explain some art principles using the example of a soft, stuffed owl.

One of the kids pics following an example of how to draw a 15 point person. Basically I think I was owned, as some of the youth are wont to say…

Then we moved onto the tablets. And the kids took to them with as much speed and enthusiasm as I could have hoped. We stuck, for the most part, to Autodesk Sketchbook Pro (which might have surprised me a year ago but I’ve really grown to love as an app). Also, again for the most part, we used Tesco Hudl 7″ Android tablets (which to be frank I REALLY should be on commission for and again is a bit of a surprise to me… If you’d told me a year ago that a relatively inexpensive small screen Android tab would be one of my favourites I’d probably have asked if I could see the world through the strange tinted spectacles you were wearing).

I didn’t have enough tablets to do a whole group with the Hudl’s though so we also used a few iPads and Nintendo 3DS’ and the kids themselves brought a range of devices from iPad to Nexus, Samsung to an unbranded Android device I’d not seen before.All in all a wonderful day and the kids were enormous fun to share the sessions with. More pictures to come, when I get the chance to upload them all.

I did make up a still life for the kids to draw if they found themselves stuck for ideas.

More fool me, really. They were a hive of ideas and came out with some brilliantly crazy things to draw and create and we had a lot of fun talking about how some of the pictures came to be. Both 130 min sessions flew by and, hopefully, a full gallery will be up soon on the Leccy webby…

Also did a bit of a collab draw… One of the participants did a pencil drawing that I especially liked and we took a photo – mainly so I could show her how to colour it in using layers to help. That became this 🙂

Anyhow: long day, 31 happy kids, 60 pics drawn minimum over 5 different screen formats? Once blog posts done it’s screens off and a bit of relax time I think.

Commuter Arts (and BETT day 1).

So I’m in the very lucky and lovely position to be the in house artist for Steljes at BETT 2014.


Steljes sell SMARTboards. Interactive Whiteboards that you’ll generally see in every classroom in every school, college and Uni across the nation. And thumpingly good slabs of screen they are too. I’ve been drawing on them for a while and love every second of it.

BETT is the British Education Trade and Tech show, held in London Excel every year. I’ve been there for three years now and it’s a lovely show to be a part of.

So today? Steljes asked if I could do two hour long sessions on their stand devoted to screen art and, hey, who am I to say no. As long as I could bring my students to be part of the show of course, and they said yes, so it’s all good.

So I drew, and I walked around the show, and tbh I’m a bit dog tired which is ridiculous (as the pedometer only says 8.3 miles over the day) and it’s only day 1. Sigh.

However, on the way back, chatting with the students off and on, I drew these with my Jot Script stylus (which I’m very fond of indeed and ended up impromptu demo-ing to a range of people and companies today) and the Tesco Hudl, which I’m equally fond of. On the train and on the tube I’m always happiest drawing. I must be, as my wind down activity from drawing on screens all day was to draw on a smaller screen. At least I was sitting down for these pictures.

(Tesco Hudl, Autodesk Sketchbook Pro, Adonit Jot Script. Drawn from Custom House to Waterloo on the tube.)

(Hudl, Adobe Photoshop Touch, Adonit Jot Script. Drawn from Waterloo to Woking on the train).

I also got to draw on two Lenovo screens and an HP, all of which I enjoyed. But more on that to come when I do a massive screen art splurge post Saturday BETT.

Regardless: thoroughly enjoyed the day, got to shake hands with (and watch while painting) the immensely talented Mr Roz Hall and drew on a range of screens. And the students who I traveled with were brilliantly behaved and as good as I could have hoped for, attitude and effort wise.  Marvellous. Three days to come, so may have to pace myself, but for a first day it was a lot of fun to be a part of.

For the first time in ten years…

I really am DREADING going back to college tomorrow. Normally I’m in a gently stressy state, wondering which students have worked and which haven’t. Tomorrow I’ve got more students doing more excellent work yet, for a number of reasons, I feel more stressed than ever and am having difficulty sleeping.

Hmm. Much mull over this but more importantly must act on it in some way. No idea what the solution is… Bah.