Doing your own illustrations; is it as dangerous as performing your own brain surgery?

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Routine Questions


How important is routine to you? I’ve got some time off work at the moment and I’m using it to think about maybe changing some routines that I’ve been following slavishly for years now. I saw a thing on TV about the Scottish Labour Leader Jim Murphy and he was saying that he goes running from 12 midnight till 2am every night! He said it was the only time he could fit it in and he found it theraputic, trundling along with Johnny Cash blaring through his earphones. Can you imagine the motivation it must take to get your tracksuit on at midnight?! I struggled to go running for half an hour at 8pm!! But maybe, once a routine is established it actually takes less motivation because you’re not viewing that action as a decision to be made but just accepting it as what inevitably happens.

That’s why I asked about the importance of routine at the start. Maybe establishing strong routines might be a way for me to sidestep my terrible lack of motivation to do… well anything really. With a routine, you don’t say to yourself ‘shall I go for a run?’; you just go for a run without debate.

I’m reading Daily Rituals by Mason Currey and I’ve learned that film maker David Lynch had a strict daily routine of eating at ‘Bob’s Big Boy’ (what?!!) I’ve got to go there!) at 2.30pm and drinking 7 cups of coffee before writing down ideas on napkins. In his thirties, author George Orwell would wake at 7am, open up the book shop in which he worked at 8.45am, write for four hours before returning to the shop and working there until 6.30pm. Artist Jackson Pollock would have breakfast at 1pm, then paint in his barn until 5pm when he would have a beer and walk to the beach with fellow painter Lee Krasner. It seems as though, regardless of what the routine consists of, creativity and productivity are boosted through the establishment of routine.

So routine is good. Great. I have a routine so I’m off the starting block. However, maybe there’s a down side to all this structure. Firstly, if your routine doesn’t leave time to do the things which are important to you then it’s probably going to work against, rather than for, you. I’m finding currently that I’m fulfilling work and family commitments but I’m not building in time to do writing. Also, I’m wasting valuable time watching bad TV or going on the net. I have to change this.

Secondly, if your routine is too rigid, too well-established, too old… then it may actually decrease creativity and productivity because it’s making you bored! Certain parts of my routine are well and truly fixed and can’t be changed such as time spent at my day job. Other parts I wouldn’t want to change such as time spent with my family. But the rest of it (and that’s a surprisingly large chunk) can be tinkered with.

Personally, I find this kind of stuff difficult. I find it very hard to change old routines and even harder to establish new ones. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve tried to establish a routine for my running. I did have a good routine for writing but even that has gone a bit haywire recently. Also, there’s lots of other things I want to do more of such as photography, blogging, videos, painting, drawing and others. I want to do healthy things too like get eight hours sleep a night instead of my typical five. During my time off I’ve got to make a big effort to get a new routine ready to start when I go back to work. Unfortunately, I do have a tendency to slide towards laziness, mindless TV watching, alcohol drinking and basic slobbing around. This can change. This will change. If Jim Murphy can go running at midnight every night then I can change a couple of little habits. Can’t I? Can I?

Dead Leg


This week I saw this (above). It’s not some horrific DIY accident, it’s actually a sculpture by Robert Gober on display in the Tate Gallery in Liverpool. It’s a cast of the artist’s own leg, embedded with human hairs and dressed with a man’s shoe, sock, and trouser-leg. The hairs on the leg are so realistic it’s eerie.

The body fragment is meant to speak of absence, detachment and loss. The leg is installed as if emerging from the gallery wall, portraying an uneasy balance between interior and exterior. Apparently, Gober’s disembodied limbs and appendages imply a psychological fracture.

His work is related to domestic and familiar objects such as doors, sinks, and body parts, and has themes of nature, religion, and politics. The sculptures are meticulously hand-crafted, even when they appear to just be a recreation of a common sink. He has also made photographs, prints, and drawings. I read somewhere that the leg is difficult and unsettling because it’s difficult to figure out whether the object as alive or dead.

Me with a Liver Bird


Those iconic birds on top of the Liver Building on Liverpool’s waterfront look quite small from ground level. I climbed onto the roof to find out exactly what size they really are. It was a tricky climb; my suction boots were certainly put to the test. So now we all know how big the Liver Birds are compared to me. Wait, though…. You don’t know how big I am!

The Truth About My Library Book


I’m a supporter of libraries and my local library is brilliant but they made a faux pas with this signed first edition of The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Look where they stuck their label; right over the signature.


Doesn’t really matter: Joel Dicker’s bestseller is a good book signed or not. And without the library I would never have read it anyway.

Weird Stuff. But it’s Culture! And it’s Kafka! So it must be OK


The man was writhing around in black slime with two other shiny, black creatures as he slowly turned into an insect. Yes, it’s Sky Arts channel on a Tuesday night.

The production was at The Royal Opera House by Arthur Pita. Edward Watson was playing the main role in an adaptation of Kafka’s classic novel The Metamorphosis. I’d already read the book which is why I watched the adaptation. And I absolutely loved the dance theatre version. It was weird and atmospheric and horrifying. It was more horrifying than lots of horror films because of the weird atmosphere. There’s no dialogue of course and everything is communicated through movement which makes it seem like your worst kind of nightmare ever.

This is proof that culture doesn’t have to be posh and remote, that art doesn’t have to be dull and self-indulgent. The Metamorphosis was culture and Kafka and cool!



Clouds are pretty good. When there are things like clouds and trees and oceans and sunlight around, you can’t take bad pictures. I had a try though. These were taken on the banks of the Mersey at Hale near Liverpool, England. As always, it looked much better in real life.



Am I the only one who likes pylons?


Everyone hates pylons except me. I can see what people mean; pylons could be seen to ruin the look of natural landscapes with their aggressive points and angles. To me though, they often look really striking especially when you can see a long line of them.

The term ‘pylon’ comes from the basic shape of the structure, obelisk-like and tapering toward the top, and is mostly used in the United Kingdom and parts of Europe in everyday speech. The word is used infrequently in the United States, as the word it’s more commonly used for other things, mostly for traffic cones. It is the Greek term for a monumental gateway of an Egyptian temple consisting of two tapering towers joined by a less elevated section which enclosed the entrance between them. In ancient Egyptian theology, the pylon mirrored the hieroglyph for ‘horizon’, which was a depiction of two hills between which the sun rose and set. Pylons played a critical role in the symbolic architecture of a cult building associated with a place of recreation and rebirth. These days they just carry power lines so we can all put the kettle on for a Pot Noodle.

Because you mostly tend to be photographing them from the ground against a background of sky, they offer stark contrast between the black, straight, man-made, industrial shapes of the pylon and the smooth, rolling, flowing, natural presence of the sky. Black v. white, straight v. flowing, sharp v. soft, Man v. Nature. Contrast is always needed in photography. And life.