I’d love to work on the painted version of this, but it’s a double fantasy.

I’ve been getting caught up in beer, drinking it and thinking about it, at times unhealthily so. Looking through the cans in the fridge at breakfast time wondering which one to drink that night. Checking and rechecking the websites of brewers and online stores to see what new brews have been put out. And most recently, plotting to study brewing and make a career change.

There have been plenty of juvenile drawing ideas, running the gamut from hop and malt maidens in wooden vats of beer, right through to a Pieta style alcoholic martyr in the arms of a green hop mother.

It finally coalesced into this, temptation and submission and desperation, paradoxically just when I was on a high waiting to interview for an industry grant to pay for my brewing studies.

Like the New York escape, also something unlikely I was clinging to in place of hope. I haven’t entirely given up on either, but even the painting of this seems unlikely, another pinup pipedream I won’t get the privacy to work on.

I’ve realised I can’t drink my way to happiness, but I’m not sure I can draw my way there either.

“proscribed burn”

A gentle drawing about grief. I finished it last week, but the hardest part was not being able to text a picture of it to Michael.

I should have posted this then when I’d had two Wednesdays off to myself, for the first time in months, when I was feeling positive about things being back to “normal”.

About the only thing I would change about this one is making the edges of the ground burn fuzzier instead of a hard edge.

Pulling out the rug

I keep forgetting the details.

We were talking the other night about how Karen’s gall bladder emergency was a major trigger last year for Brigitte’s breakdown. But then we remembered the boy who was stalking her, and talking about killing himself, just beforehand.

I’d been so focused on the aftermath that I’d forgotten that when Michael’s parents rang me to say he’d gone missing I had to keep the conversation short, as I was waiting in the car to pick up Melanie. To take her to a hospital appointment about eating disorders, and realising I could only choose one crisis in that moment.

There’s an old drawing about a patch of misfortune, Karen and I laughing that it was the point in a movie plot where you’d say it was too farfetched, that couldn’t all happen to one family.

Each death, each close call with it, used to give me a burst of feeling… live life to the fullest, you never know how long you’ve got, bla bla bla. But it’s never sustainable, both the shadow and the motivation fade.

Now I’m trying to flog myself to a similar feeling… be glad it’s not worse, not being at school is better than self harm. But that’s even harder to sustain.

Mostly I’m just trying to have no expectations, but failing at that too. Mostly I expect it won’t get any better, missing the things that are gone. People, dreams for the future, simple pleasures.

Sometimes I expect it will get worse.

“double dissolution”

Last Wednesday I couldn’t face the picture I’d been working on. Another one that’s a bit grim, but somehow didn’t seem dark enough. The Wednesday before that I’d sent a progress photo to cousin Michael like I always do when I’m working on something.

I’d thought I was sending texts and photos for him, keeping a flow of human contact to help him through. Drawings, graffiti, motorbikes and most of all beers. Turns out I needed it just as much, contact with a fellow traveller looking at the debris washed up on the shore.

This drawing isn’t about Michael, or even grief, but a gentle distracting concept. Feeling like I was burning my emotional energy on too many fronts.

A tidy little drawing, done in a single sitting, nothing groundbreaking about the technique or imagery. With no one to send a picture to.


“balance #19”

I was thinking about the 3D poster from way back at the end of my studies. About how oversimplified, how black and white I thought the balance was. And how perfect a metaphor the eye scorching anaglyph was for the mixed up greyness of life, and the pain of my blurry eyes!

The drawing itself came together in a mega single day session, drawing till the eye fatigue made the last few lines a squint with my head almost on the paper. Pushing the colours in Photoshop late at night till I was seeing double even with the glasses on.

The sweetest spot was thinking about whether to use the artist figurine as one of the juggled objects, but swapping it for the main figure. It turned my vague anxiety about getting the crossed legs right into a pleasure of geometry. The four arms were meant to alternate with the colours of the anaglyph, show some movement, but ironically it looked too unbalanced.

“absorbing Markov chain #2”

This was one from December last year, a patch emotionally dark but creatively fertile. I was glad to see the end of 2022, but not expecting much brighter from 2023. Luckily I’ve been proved wrong so far, following up my usual new year mood rebound with some family wins. Like the drive to live life to the fullest after a brush with mortality, I’m feeling the buzz of difficult being easy compared with fucking awful.

Researching a previous picture vaguely based on snakes and ladders, I came across the idea of the absorbing Markov chain, a mathematical theory of probability where each state leads inexorably to the next. In that game there are different paths, some longer and some shorter, ways to loop back past and delay, but it must come to an end.

Along the way I was also working out how to chart my beer consumption, the cans here graphing that curve too. All that said, it was an enjoyable one to draw with a big chunk of geometry through the middle, and an excuse to buy a couple of new markers. Maybe the cup is half full. Cheers.


Celebrating getting my stitches out, having a day to myself to draw after the school holidays, and having a beer after four weeks dry on antibiotics. This was a midnight quickie in my notebook from a few days ago, needed a bit more work on the title… probably should have been “uncyst” after getting it cut out two weeks ago.

The drawing I worked on today was one started in December, one a bit bleaker about torching the year just been, itself displacing an older drawing about getting older. Ironically I’m still in my usual new year bounce, feeling positive and looking ahead. More drawings, more beers and not having a festering wound on my back. That’s enough to start with.

silver pox

This is a stop gap while recovering from covid, delaying the bigger picture I was working on, the shitty icing on the shitty cake of the year!

I’ve been jotting in these notebooks for years, and noticed that the number of ideas for drawings dropped off, some of them were almost entirely book reviews. I guess I got busy with life in happier times. Funnily enough this last has been solid with drawings, proof of the old adage that misery makes better art than happiness.

Some level of silver lining.