Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Somewhere in the middle is reality

Sometimes, everywhere you look is dark. Everything you touch is hard and sharp. Everything you see is decay and ruin. The storm clouds gather around. Thorns grab at your feet, a cold wind whips about your face.
And there be dragons...

 Of course, there are other days where all is sunshine and butterflies! 

But what do these two states have in common? It is true that some days are better than others. There is a lot of suffering in the world and some people do have terrible lives while others seem to have it all.

But generally, the extremes are the stuff of fairytales (or nightmares), a fantasy.

The truth is, somewhere in the middle, is reality.

Monday, March 14, 2016

from my sketchbook - a Dragon

A dragon from my sketch book. Playing with my Copic markers.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Peg Whale - Craft activity

     A little while ago I was asked to come up with some craft activities for a school holiday program for a bunch of pre-teens. I never tried Pinterest before, but I heard that it was a good place to look for such things. 

And it was! One thing I saw there was a photo of a fish made around a wooden clothing peg that seemed ideal.

 I played around with some scissors, paper, and a wooden peg and came up with a Whale design that was simple enough for the kids to make (with a little help for the younger ones).

I have attached a pdf file of the shapes to cut out.

Print out the file on thin card.

Get out the colouring media of your choice - crayons, water colour, automotive spray paint, whatever... and design up your whale's skin. You can get creative with patterns or just go for a solid colour. My example was just quickly done with crayon, nothing special.

Carefully cut out the two shapes. With me so far?

Find a wooden peg. A fresh new one would be ideal! You could possibly use a plastic peg of this design, but you would need to research alternative adhesives. Better stick with wood if you can!

 Using wood glue (I recommend PVA...) attach the peg to the piece with the lower jaw and the tail fins. Note where the peg lines up with the tail fins.

Fold on the dotted lines to create the lower jaw line of the Whale. I didn't do it on this sample, but you can colour both sides of this piece. Some kids draw teeth and a tongue for added effect. 

 The next part is probably the trickiest bit. Note the pencil lines in the photo. Put a small amount of glue along this line to glue the two halves of the head together. Don't put any glue in the centre area, keep it to the edges.

 Also, place a small amount of glue on the sides of the peg where the head attaches. I suggest you pour an adequate amount of glue onto a plastic plate and then apply what you need exactly where you need it using a thin strip of card. 

Note how the back end of the head fits on the peg and that the front of the head lines up with the lower jaw.

And there it is, a whale, with an opening mouth! I quickly drew some eyes on my whale with a marker, but its much more fun to get some of those googly plastic eyes you get in craft stores and glue them on. See the picture at the top for examples by children at the holiday programme. This is a craft activity that appeals to boys as much as it does to girls, which is a good thing.

Included on the pdf is a tiny Jonah which can be coloured in (on both sides!) and then his arms and legs can be folded into a kneeling in prayer position. He is glued into position on the lower jaw and is revealed when the mouth is opened.

If you don't want to be so biblical, you can replace him with a tiny Pinnochio or a rolled up tongue or a fish or maybe some krill. Let me know how you get on with that!

Here is the pdf! https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwim6r-HwPXERDAzVmItQU1jMWs/view?usp=sharing

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Ned Kelly. Australian icon. Innovator. Misunderstood genius.

Ned Kelly. Australian icon. Innovator. Misunderstood genius. More than a bushranger. Not just another bearded hipster on a fixie...

Inventor of the bicycle helmet, by which means he sought to protect the rider from the perils of Magpie Attack! 

People speak of drop bears and sharks and hundreds of other deadly, bitey and sting-y things in Australia, but what brings true terror to Australians every spring is the magpie, swooping from above with murderous intent, especially to those who dare to ride bikes.
Not many people know that Ned Kelly was a keen early cyclist, and instead of cowering indoors in September, he decided to do something about it.

 He invented the bicycle helmet. 

Admittedly his early prototype was very heavy (remember this was before the invention of polystyrene) and lacked a little in peripheral vision, but he had on-going plans to develop his ideas.

Unfortunately where he got in to trouble was with his early method of crowd funding. Approaching financial institutions and the public with guns blazing, and promising not to shoot his backers as a reward, was met with a level of misunderstanding by the police of the day.

When Kelly faced the full weight of the law, the judge redefined 'stretch goals' and his enterprise came to an early end.

Such is life...

Here are some photos of my first real attempt at automata - figurative kinetic sculpture. Ned rides his bike as he is continually swooped by a magpie.  Check out the video too!

Magpie has paper wings and a body made of Kneed-it epoxy putty
Ned is made from pine mostly, with aluminium armour (from old drink cans) and aluminium wire for arms, easy to bend in shape! This photo shows him without his jacket and chest armour.

Terror Australis - Magpies

Anyone who has wandered around Australian suburbia in the springtime knows that danger lurks above. Danger in the form of a magpie. They do not like anyone venturing too close to their nests, and they take particular dislike to cyclists. One year a magpie swooped me and opened up a cut just below my ear, he was smart enough to dive blow my bike helmet. The most nasty magpies actually go for the eyes, and can cause serious damage.

This is a video of a different magpie, not quite as vicious as that one on Farm Street, but the Berserker St magpie still took his nest protecting activities seriously. It's hard enough sharing the roads with drivers who think they own the bitumen without the distraction of a bird intent on your destruction! 

 This preoccupation with magpies has had some positive side effects, an awareness of the  natural world around me and it's seasonal rhythms, and an outpouring of creativity. Here is a woodprint I did during a workshop with local printmaker Michelle kershaw at the Rockhampton Art Gallery. A magpie is an obvious choice for a black and white print, after all!
And I know I've posted this before, but it's appropriate for this post, a handy guide to safe cycling during magpie season. It may at some point be expanded into a picture book.

In my next post I will show you an automaton (figurative kinetic artwork) that was also inspired by magpies. Stay tuned for that!

But worse, far worse than the magpie, is the drop bear. Despite all it's gleeful promotion of deadly Australian wildlife, the Australian Tourism people keep all news of the drop bear suppressed. I'd write more about them except Honzablog is not a place of horror and I don't want to be shut down...

Sunday, January 17, 2016

tropical spin

I was thinking that this week's topic for Illustration Friday was Tropical. So I knew my current painting, which symbolises a tropical cyclone forming off the coast would fit perfectly. After all living in the tropics (as I do) isn't all sitting by the pool with a cold drink.Sometimes it is tracking the direction of tropical cyclones and trying to anticipate what the twisting, swirling ball of fury will do to your plans for the weekend.

But then I see the word this week is actually spin. And I got nothin'...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Revisiting Starwars

Around about 1999 (yes, that's in a previous millennium), my gorilla puppet Murray used to update his website a whole lot more regularly than I do this blog. With the impending release of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace, he posted this article (with a little bit of photoshoppy sort of help from me inserting Jedi Murray into various scenes). I had to video the original flash movie with my phone to reproduce it it here, sorry for the quality of that, but I felt it needed to be here. Anyway, enjoy what passed as state of the art internets in the 90's!


Everyone is going crazy about all this 'Star Wars' stuff, 
so it's time I had a look at it. 

Use the FORKS, Luke!!! 

Silly Skywalker boy is just a farmboy, him don't unnerstand stuff about eating nice, dats why we gotta keep reminding him about his cutlery (that's 'silverware' for all you Amerikan types..). He gets easily confused. 

But then, I don't know why they go on soooo much about forks in Starwars. 'Use the forks', 'may the forks be with you', the 'dark side of the forks'. Why so much stuff about forks?? Is there some hidden meaning? Has Mr Lucas got a eating disorder? 

Obviously it's handy carrying a fork wiv you, tho you don't need 'em for bananas... and the 'dark side' of the forks? What's all that about? Dirty Forks? Using the pointy end instead of the handle bit? Jabbing your sister in the thigh could be an evil use of the fork... hmmm. 

And has this got anything to do with 'Guy Forks Night'? Johnno says he doesn't think that forks are 'gender specific', but then, that's just the silly thing you'd expect him to come out with...

A very rare and special young lady, this. Not many Republics even HAVE Princesses! 

Hey I get it now! 'May the Fourth' is Princess Leia's birthday, and ObiWan is there to remind Luke he's gotta pick up a present for her! But what do you get a Princess who has everything? A new Empire?? 

hmm... no, still don't make any sense...

This is my friend Jar Jar G'boor. He is now a famous movie star, and it's because of little me! I told him about all the fun I had in Jamaica, and he thought it sounded real good, so he went to see. He like it soooooo much he even started trying to talk like a Jamaican (but not very well..) 

Anyway, sitting on a beach in Jamaica, he met Mr Lucas, who was looking for people for his new movie. Jar Jar got the job! But he had to change his name to 'Binks' or somefing silly like that. 

Mr Lucas said that Jar Jar G'boor was a silly name for a movie star...

What's this picture all about? Does it mean I'm gonna be King Kong when I grow up? I don't think so! That would be 'fatalism' so Johnno says! (but what does HE know?) 

So did the little kid HAVE to grow up to be the dude in the black cape? Or is life stuck on a set of rails and you just gotta hang on for the ride? 

And if so, what's the point? What I think is I have a free choice as to what I do, and there is such a fing as 'God's Will' which I may or may not choose to follow.. I mean, I'm not a puppet, now am I? (well, okay, I'm a puppet, but you're not!). And if you are a puppet, who is pulling your strings???

Saturday, April 18, 2015


I bought a packet of five 4 inch square mini canvas panels with the idea I could dash off a series of little paintings of people interacting with their windows. My last painting project took me months, so I was looking for some instant gratification. And seeing that the Illustration Friday theme for this week was Window, and I was able to get to my painting group for about the second time this year, I thought all the stars were in line.

This little scrap of canvas took me ALL DAY, and there are still bits I want to fix on it! Ah, well, at least I have something on-topic the blog about...

Tuesday, December 02, 2014


Resilient. The ability to bounce back. I've been talking to my Strength boys about resilience these last few weeks. Life throws all sorts of stuff at us. We can catch it, duck it, deflect it or let it just bounce off us. You get to choose what you hold on to and what you let go. How we cope with it depends on how resilient we are.
We may wobble but we don't have to fall down.

Monday, November 10, 2014




having catatoniaa syndrome characterized by muscular rigidity and mental stupor:
The schizophrenic remained in a catatonic state.
appearing to be in a daze or stupor; unresponsive:
She had the catatonic expression of an avant-garde model.
a person who suffers from catatonia.

prayer, and the fall of the Berlin Wall

9th Nov 2014, is the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, which led to the fall of communism across Europe and the reunification of Germany.

Unlike many great political upheavals, it was achieved without bloodshed, and may not have happened at all without people like Christian Fuehrer, the pastor of the Nikolai Church in Leipzig. He decided a few years earlier in 1982 to hold Prayers for Peace every Monday at his East Germany church. in the early days, barely a dozen people turned up, but over several years it grew. It grew to such an extent that people couldn't fit into the church, After Monday prayers on 9 October 1989 more than 70,000 people assembled there in order to demonstrate.

It was only a few months since the Tienanmen Square massacre and so people were nervous, and hospitals prepared for the worst. Riot squads gathered and patrolled the streets, ready for anything. Armed only with candles and Jesus' message of 'Love your enemy' and 'no violence' in their hearts the people set out.

Chanting 'No Violence' and 'we are the people', they totally confused the riot squads.
Pastor F├╝hrer later said: "They didn't attack. They had nothing to attack for. East German officials would later say they were ready for anything, except for candles and prayer." 

And then, exactly one month later, a wall which had stood for decades, dividing families, a city, an a whole country came down.

For more read this BBC report or this interview with Christian Fuehrer. He wasn't Gandhi or Mandela, but pastor Fuehrer is one of my heroes. 

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

the naughty little radio

Many years ago (it was in a previous millennia) I had an idea for a picture book. It revolved around the story of a young anthropomorphic radio cassette player who was always playing up in school (he only wanted to do rock and roll in music class), being naughty, and, worst of all, LOVED eating cassette tapes.

Of course he wasn't allowed to graduate until he got that tendency under control!

And of course, radio cassette players were already well on the way out when I came up with my idea. The 90's were the heyday of the CD after all, and rewriting it as the story of a maverick CD player just didn't seem to work in the same way. It was a cute idea whose time has come and gone, and only remains as a few sketches in my archives.

In this internet age, even television seems to be on its way out. Strangely enough I am listening to more radio these days than ever before, which was a mature technology even in my father's day.

Here are a couple more sketches of my old story book character.
In later designs he was less the old square boom box, and a more curvaceous post modern design. At one point I even started to build a model puppet of this design, which I planned to give a talking mouth and eyes that moved and blinked. I didn't get much past drawing up full sized plans, and getting a few bits together.

So, check out the details, like the nose is a radio tuning knob, and the carry handle is actually fluffy and is an analogy of hair. The carry handle also could unhook from the top and become a shoulder strap. Such innovation and clever industrial design ideas.  So stylish, too!

Too bad I usually come up with these things on the wrong side of obsolescence. Anyway, I've spent enough time blogging tonight, it's time I went back to working on my story of the little steam train who couldn't...