Tiger, Tiger

Hello?  *tap, tap* Is this thing on?

Ah, yes – there you are!  You’re looking good today – got a healthy glow, so you do! Me?  Pfft, I’m fine – just rejoining the rat-race after two weeks off and… Well… I’d love to say that it’s a nice feeling being back at work, but in all honesty I’d rather be back at home with my pencils, paper and pens and a hot mug o’ coffee.

I got up to various things during the two week break, but importantly to this blog, I managed to start and am nearly finished a new piece of art.  I bet you’re excited, huh?  I can tell by your face.  Before I get into that however, I’m going to have a little rant and regale you with a tale about an experience I’ve had when trying to purchase my first set of Copic Ciao marker pens…

After deciding on Friday the 28th that I was going to make my first purchase of a few of them, I had a mooch around the interwebs and decided to buy ten of them from ‘copic-shop.co.uk’.  With a URL like that, it was surely going to be the best place for me to get them, right?

WRONG. 

The experience of purchasing the pens from the site was simple enough, but from that point onwards things took a very sharp dip, as although the order confirmation I received via email said that my pens had been picked and dispatched, the tracking number and link to the Royal Mail tracking service website brought up the message ‘The system is currently unable to confirm the status of your item.  Please try again later’.

Hmm.

‘It’s ok’, I thought.  ‘Perhaps it’s just a Royal Mail blunder’.  They do tend to blunder with great and magnificent frequency, so the tracking error didn’t necessarily mean that my pens had been lost somewhere in the system or hadn’t been posted.  Right?

In this age of Amazon Prime and ‘I wants my goodies and I wants ’em naaaow’ next-day delivery times, it’s easy to find your patience dwindling when things haven’t arrived within two or three days, but when it came to it being a full seven days since I ordered the pens and they still hadn’t arrived on the Friday, my alarm bells started ringing.  It prompted me to do the first thing that most people would do in my situation; I contacted the shop via email.

I got a fairly fast response more or less telling me to wait a few more days.

I waited until the postie had been on the tenth day (and, surprise surprise, no pens dropped through my mailbox) and after getting no response to a further two emails to them, I resorted to picking up the phone and speaking to the shop.   I explained the situation but the chap at the other end of the phone said that he couldn’t do much because the manager wasn’t in.

Yeah.  Great.  

He then went on to more or less tell me to wait another 2 weeks as the pens could have been delayed.  This was unacceptable, but it was clear that he was going to be about as much use as a wet fart in a hurricane.

Rather thankfully, I paid for the pens via PayPal so have started a dispute/claim process with them so will hopefully be able to get my money back at some point.

The morale of this story is DON’T BUY ANYTHING FROM COPIC-SHOP.CO.UK.  Seriously, don’t give them your business.  Go somewhere else to buy your pens.  If, by any chance, any of you have a recommendation on a good (and cheap) place to buy Copic pens in the UK, I’d be delighted if you’d leave a comment.

Easy, Tiger

Now that I’ve got that grumble out of the way, let’s get back onto the art.  As I said, I’m just about finished a new piece and I’ve decided this time do do something a little different this time.

Unlike my previous pointillism efforts, which have been mostly solid blocks of dotty goodness, I’ve decided to add big, bold blocks of black to this latest one and I think it’s worked out rather well.  My subject this time (as you many have guessed) is a tiger, which is a fair bit more detailed and larger than anything I’ve attempted so far, which also means that it’s taking a fair bit longer to complete.

I’ve also decided to take some progress photos to document my work this time as I’m going along, so here’s how it started…

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…A simple sketch, yes?  Well, no – not quite.  Apologies with regards to the horrible image compression, but you can just about make it out.  Note the grid in the background.  I tend to use a grid to copy the main shapes from a photo reference, then get jiggy with a dash of artistic license.

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Using the brush tip on my black Copic Ciao pen, I then did the tiger’s facial markings in thick, chunky slabs of black.  Sexy.

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…And continued to keep doing this, adding more detail with technical pens.  Gratuitous fur.

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…And let the dots begin!  I usually start out laying out the colours in large dots using the chunky nibs of my Sharpie markers first, then bolster the colours with multiple layers of tiny dots from my Stabilo Point 88 pens, which appears to be a winning combination.  It does however take a heckuva long time to do.

 

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…And this was the most recent photo I took of the piece, resplendent with the pens I’ve been using.  It’s almost finished.  I decided to make the whiskers black in the end, and by my reckoning it’s ended up turning to look almost a bit like an Andy Warhol rendering of a Tiger, which is totally unintentional.

That’s all you’re going to get to see for now – I’m building up a portfolio of my pointillism pieces and will dump the completed piece(s) on Etsy when the time has come to do such things – and of course there will be links to them in my currently-unused Shop link above.

 

 

A digital memento mori for Maurice

It’s the week after what Jo & I can only describe as the worst weekend ever and we’re now adapting to living in a world without our beloved Maurice.

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Maurice back in June 2014

In the end, his passing was incredibly peaceful.  At the vet practise we always took him to, we were lucky to have got one of the older vets – a lovely lady-vet called Kay – to help him on his journey over the rainbow bridge and she did so with a great amount of compassion and love.

It felt deeply odd leaving the vets with an empty pet carrier.  We drove back home in a daze, feeling oddly misplaced and disconnected from reality.  When we got through the front door of the house, it became immediately apparent that the place felt very strange indeed.  Although we were both within its walls, the house felt like its very soul had been removed.  Maurice was always such a seemingly-perennial presence in the house that the sudden lack of him being in it was – and still is – difficult to deal with.  It was always the case that if you made your way into the kitchen, he would silently appear like a little furry ninja and would follow you around the place like an ever-present shadow, would boop his head against your shins and twirl around your feet in his constant quest for noms – or he’d sit down and stare at you, breaking your will to resist with those gorgeous eyes of his and cheeky chatter.

Our fallibly human minds are so familiar to Maurice’s presence that we’ve been reduced to tears on more than one occasion over the past few days because we keep expecting him to appear – which is possibly an attempt at wilful deception by our minds to try and convince ourselves that he’s not gone.  There was and is the imagined movement seen in the corner of an eye; a tail vanishing around a corner or a vision of his feline form slinking up the hallway.   Items settling in cupboards, the noises and creaks of the house heating up and cooling down could be him in his litter tray or pottering around in the hallway.  Phantom memories dancing in the ether of the mind.

While the lack of his presence is raw and like an open wound at the moment, we are able to temper it with the thought and justification that we did the right thing, even though it was was so difficult to go through with it.  Like I said in my previous post, we had watched him gradually get worse for the last few weeks, but a strange thing occurred on Sunday where we started to feel guilty.  We began wondering if we should have perhaps had him put to sleep weeks ago, ending his suffering sooner when he was a bit more capable, but I’m of the opinion that it would be pointless for us to beat ourselves up over this.  There’s was definitely an element of us not wanting to let him go, which ultimately boils down to the simple fact that we loved him so much.