Whippet Dave

When out on walks Mischa Skinny Dog always attracts attention. Ask anyone owned by sight-hounds and they’ll say the same; it’s like walking with a celebrity. People wander over and want to stroke her, ask questions about her or exchange tales about the skinny dogs they have been owned by. If their dogs come over for a play the owner always says “No chance of catching that one son” as Mischa hares away with a rotund Labrador in futile hot pursuit. Ah, she loves to tease does Mischa.

But today we met a different kind of admirer.

Mischa and I had bided our time this morning waiting for the storm to ease, ( A true sight-hound will never get her fur rain-sodden) and as the sun emerged so did we. Our journey took us across Nun’s Moor, through the copse and over the hills onto Town Moor. Apart from the cows we met not a soul. Until, seemingly out of nowhere, a figure ambled toward us. He was a little under- dressed for the weather in a baggy t-shirt and sweat pants, but hey, Geordies are a hard race of folk. Once he was up close I noticed the ears and realised we were in the presence of a particularly friendly elf.

He was impressed with Mischa’s shiny coat and clean white teeth and ran an expert hand along her back. He then counted the whiskers under her chin announcing that was a sure fire way of telling which number pup she was in the litter.

“Three” he declared with quiet confidence. I thought it best to agree. “Bin wi skinny dogs all me life” he said “Put a leash in me hand before I cud walk. That’s why they call me Whippet Dave”

And then he vanished.

Whippet Dave

Digital Doodle; Whippet Dave

Fact or Fiction? You decide.

Digital Doodles

I pride myself on being “old school” when it comes to creating my drawings. You know, pens, ink, pencils and good old fashioned paper. The closest I’ve got to digital wizardry is taking images of my work with my phone and chucking them through a photo app.

Until now.

Fab artist Rosie Scribblah has recently posted up some sketches created on her tablet and they’re great! Take a look. Unlike me, Rosie is a real artist who works in a studio and stretches canvas, daubs acrylics and even etches! So I thought if Rosie’s giving it the thumbs up I’ll have a go.

Smudging around on the tablet with your finger is not dissimilar to messing with charcoal and pastel, but a hell of a lot cleaner. I have a nexus 7 and the app is Sketcher. A very basic app, but then I’m a very basic artist. This was my first attempt; the first two images are the progression and the last one was after a bit of photo digi-thingy.

 

elf child 1

elf child 2

Elf child 3

Spooky Elf child

 

I have to warn you there are more of these because it turns out Digital Doodling is FUN. It won’t replace my fine liner pens or super soft pencils but it’s certainly an interesting alternative medium. I’d love to know what you think.

Has anyone else set aside their sketch pad for an iPad?

A Small Life

I attend a writing class. We meet in the very chilly basement of the Amnesty Bookshop, after closing, once a week. Surrounded by stacks of books with improbable titles we read out our work and thrash out ideas. The group is led by a local author and playwright who sets us weekly “homework” to inspire our writing.

Once a term it’s poetry. I’m rubbish at poetry. Love reading it but can’t write it so I always do something daft. This terms poetry homework we were given one line from a song and had to use that as the inspiration and first line of our poem.

I’m going to let you suffer; here is my poem.

 

 

A Small Life

 

 The beast in me is caged by frail and fragile bars

And I want to reach through them and touch the stars

But I’m only a hamster and I don’t know what stars are

Can you eat them?

The beast in me is run ragged on the wheel

And I race around with such passion and zeal

But I’m only a hamster is zeal a meal?

I hope so.

The beast in me whirls around in a plastic ball

That spins down the stairs at the end of the hall

I’m only a hamster is this my all?

Probably.

 

Hamster

A frail and fragile hamster

 

Extra points if you can name the song and artist.

Ziggy and the King of the Rook Elves

Mischa SkinnyDog and I went for our usual walk; through the houses, onto the moor and up into the woods. As we made our way between the trees such a racket began above our heads.

“Look,” said Mischa “crows.”

“Ah my skinny friend” said I “if you see a rook on its own it’s a crow. If you see a lot of crows, then they are rooks.”

Mischa was contemplating this when the rooks swooped down and took hold of us. There were dozens of them grasping at us with their sharp talons and beaks. They lifted us from the ground and took us high above the tree tops until we came to an old oak whose trunk had a gaping hole. From our vantage point it appeared like a wooden chimney. Down flew the rooks taking us with them into the depths of the tree.

Like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole we fell further and further and deeper and deeper under the ground. All at once the rooks loosened their grip and we were dropped unceremoniously on to leaf littered earth. Considering how far we had fallen it was surprisingly light and I could see that Mischa and I were in a vast cavern tangled with tree roots suspended from its roof. The rooks circled around us cawing loudly but as the settled amongst the roots they took on their true guise; Rook Elves. These are particularly clever, yet mischievous creatures who excel in thievery.Each one had about their shoulders a cloak of glistening jet black feathers but only one wore a crown made from a rook. He leapt down from the roof top roots and stood before me and spoke.

“Now I’m the King of the Rook Elves, a Pixie VIP. I’ve reached the top and had to stop and that’s what’s bothering me. I want to draw like Ziggy Shortcrust and doodle round the town. Give me the dibs on your inky nibs, I’m tired of elfing around.”

“Goodness me!” I said, “I’d be happy to help in fact it would be an honour but I’m afraid I don’t have my pens with me.”

“Now don’t try and kid me Shortcrust,” he said, “Clue me what to do. Give me the gen on your fine liner pen so I can be like you.”

Then all the elves gathered around Mischa and I and started chanting, “Oh oobee doo, we want to be like you, we want to draw like you, sketch like you too. You’ll see it’s true, Elves like us can learn to be doodlers too.”

I could see these creatures weren’t going to take no for an answer but I had no pens. What could I do? Then it struck me….quills. We could make pens from feathers. So I set Mischa to work nibbling away on the rook feathers until we had enough for everyone. I can’t tell you what we did for ink, but it was a scary process getting it. Silver birch bark served as paper and off we went. I conducted my very first Elf Doodling class. We were only there for a couple of hours but on our release it turned out we had been gone two whole months. You may remember from my last visit to the OtherWorld that the elves sent out a Ziggy Changeling in my stead. It would appear this happened again as nobody missed me at all. But she appears to have an aversion to blogging so that’s why I haven’t posted anything for a while.

Fact or fiction?

You decide.

 

King of the Rook Elves drawn with a quill.

King of the Rook Elves drawn with a quill.

Elves Like Trucking and They Like to Truck

Last week Tall Man and I were waiting our turn in a queue of vehicles at a roundabout when an articulated lorry approached from the right. It was a driver training truck with the driver under instruction. The roundabout in question is notorious as an accident black spot and it always makes me anxious. But the driver manoeuvred his gigantic vehicle around the lanes with ease. We were both very impressed and I wondered what it would be like to drive an HGV. “Probably easier than the campervan”, was Tall Man’s reply. Then, just yesterday, I was walking home with the Skinny Dogs and we had to wait on the pavement while a trucker reversed his petrol tanker across the path and into the station forecourt. It was such a tight spot and he had to avoid parked cars and pedestrians. But he completed the task without a scratch or a bump. On closer inspection of the driver I was surprised to see it was in fact an elf in the cab. I had no idea that they enjoyed life on the road. I also noted that he enjoyed chomping on a Yorkie.

 

trucker elf

I fear the Elf Trucker may have been a little confused as to which kind of Yorkie he should pop in his mouth.

A fine example of trucking life can be found courtesy of Not the Nine O’ Clock News

(Please note, no Yorkshire Terriers were harmed in the making of this post)

Illustrated Letter 10; A Little Closer to Home

In a bid to revive the lost art of letter writing I am composing and sending an illustrated hand written letter a day through 2013.

The first batch of letter elves have now flown the coop including number 10. This one is not roaming too far away from Newcastle, just a little further up the coast to Berwickshire, to nestle down with Hannah, creator of Cameo Curio. I discovered this blog back in February last year and love it. Inspirational art, beautiful photos….and Buddy the Puppy. Pop over and take a look.

As always the content is hidden so Hannah can’t see her elf, but there is a cheeky little creature peeping out of the envelope.

To see the other letters take a peek here.

 

Illustrated letter 10 Hannah

I am having so much fun with this challenge but I need people to send the letters to. If you would like to receive a Little Letter Elf the details are here.

Illustrated Letters 8 and 9; off to Germany and California

I have embarked on a challenge to revive the art of letter writing by composing one a day for the year. But not just the written word, each one is illustrated with a Ziggy elf.

Here are letters 8 and 9 for two lovely people who agreed to join in. Firstly a little elf is off to Germany to live with Geralin, creator of The Colourful Sketchbook. She deftly produces with simple lines delightful images. Take a look. I can’t show the contents of the letter, it’ll spoil the surprise for Geralin, but I’ve illustrated the envelope. Somebody had to get a Skinny Dog and Geralin is the first.

Letter number 9 is going all the way to Southern California. I wish I could squeeze into the envelope and bask in some of that lovely sunshine. But I don’t think Hansi would be too keen. He is the recipient of the latest letter and creator of Hansi’s Hallucinations. How can I describe his blog? Do you know, I don’t think I could find the words to adequately do it justice. His tag line is “The Drawings and Rants of a Mad Man” which does it nicely. Head on over and say hello. Hansi gets a VDub Splitty ‘cos campervans and California go hand in hand.

 

Illustrated letter 8 Geralin

 

Illustrated letter 9

But if I am to complete 365 I require some help. I need more people to send them to. If you would like an Illustrated Letter you’ll find the details here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Illustrated Letter From Ziggy with Love

I read a very interesting post by Erin on her blog For The Love of Bookshops. It was about Nina Sankovitch who, in order to combat depression brought about by the death of her sister,  read a book a day for a year. You can read the post here. Erin also mentioned that she shared Nina’s support of endangered things such as books, independent book shops, libraries and the written letter. I practically live in book shops, read copiously, and hang around my local library. And I used to love writing letters. But who does that now? It’s so easy to text and email that very few of us put pen to paper.

So I have decided to write a letter a day throughout 2013. But more than words, it will be an illustrated letter in a Ziggy style. I could just restrict this to family and friends, but my family is small and I have no friends. Would you like to help me in this challenge? If you would like to receive an illustrated hand written letter, email me your address to ziggy dot shortcrust at gmail dot com. It would be great to see just how far around the world a Ziggy drawing could go. Of course if you would like to return a letter to me that would be fantastic. I’ll post it up on the blog.

Of course, if only I had thought of this sooner I would be prepared with writing paper and envelopes, and possibly a fountain pen….or quill. All I could find was some Wizardology paper, which actually is quite fun.

These are letters 1 and 2 to my Mum and brother. It’ll be a shock as I haven’t written in years. Mum and I are on the phone all the time and my brother and I email each other.

Illustrated letter 1

Illustrated letter 2

I do hope you can help me with this challenge. Lets revive the art of letter writing.

29 Faces in September; Doodle Man

I doodle, I sketch, I draw and out come faces. I can’t help myself. So a scrap of paper ended up on my desk at work today and from the end of my wandering pen out came this guy. I wasn’t thinking of balding, tubby men so I can’t explain him away. And there is no story to accompany him, although I think he deserves one. He’s not even an elf! What he is, is Face Number 26 in the 29 Faces in September challenge.

 

Can you give him a story?

29 Faces in September; Campervan faces

Blogging in a campervan isn’t easy. I had no access to WI-FI at Busfest or on the campsite at Stratford upon Avon Racecourse, so couldn’t post up any faces. Now I’m back at the fabulous Mason’s Campsite and modern communication technology is back.

I haven’t done any Five Minute Faces for a while so here are a fab four to keep me up to speed with the 29 Faces in September challenge…..and not an elf in sight.

 

And they are all people that I met on my campervan tootle to Busfest.

Fact or fiction?

You decide.