Art, Illustration, Soapbox


At various times in my life I have been vegetarian, sometimes reluctantly through pressure from family members, other times willingly. More recently, I’ve been eating meat occasionally – bacon, pork sausages, chicken and, less often, beef – and always with the magic words organic or free range to lessen any guilt trip.

I’m a guilt-ridden semi-reluctant meat eater. I feel it’s wrong, but I like it.

This week I’m reading A C Grayling’s book Ideas that Matter. It’s his ‘personal dictionary’ of ideas worth knowing about in the 21st century. Each short essay is informative and illuminating.

Grayling is vegetarian and his piece on vegetarianism made me laugh out loud and then re-examine my own attitude to eating meat.

He says there are three arguments why you shouldn’t eat meat. Economic (the weakest argument), health and (strongest argument) morally.

Here’s what he says on health:

…more compelling, is the health argument, which turns on the consideration that meat contains saturated fats and lots of bacteria, and if it non-organically produced then it contains antibiotics, vaccines and growth hormones, which with the fats and (despite the antibiotics) the bacteria find their way into the human mouth as it fulfils its function as a graveyard for the corpses of slaughtered beasts.

…What butchers call ‘fresh meat’ is nothing of the sort, but is in fact carrion, because meat is only soft enough to cut, cook and eat when it has begun to decay. That we eat rotten meat is a fact amazingly disguised in the case of game, hung for extra lengths of time to get even more rotten than other meats. Rotting is effected by millions of bacteria swarming in the meat, their task is to pre-digest it for us by eating it first; the gamey smell of hung venison comes from the excrement of the microbes smeared all over it- everything that eats must excrete, and the meat is both dining room and toilet for the microbes.

…Perhaps you like filling your mouth with rotting flesh full of injected hormones and vaccines, pullulating with microbes and covered in microbe diarrhoea. All these things, plus a carcinogenic finish of heat-damage caused by the cooking process, add up to a tasty morsel, after all, and who can deny it?

Thank you. I think in future I’ll ignore the tempting organically, lovingly, free-range, happy animals descriptions and try again to be a contented vegetarian.

Assassination of the pretender

Art, Fine Art

Assassination of the pretender

Assassination of the pretender. 25cm x 21cm.

Sketchbook work.

Some time free from the clutches of the Digital Life. Using inks which I’ve had for over 15 years. And they still work.

Playtime with the materials… slowly evolving from the colours and shapes.

Originally published on

Real materials versus computer software

Art, Fine Art, Soapbox

Salisbury Plain (from memory)

Salisbury Plain (from memory), ink and watercolour

August Bank Holiday I spent some time playing with ink and watercolours in my sketchbook. Doodles really. Playing with the medium. Simply enjoying myself. But the first time for absolutely ages.

I had to take advantage of a clear desk space in my wife’s studio – well away from my tiny home office which is dominated by the computer.

Some of the resultant pieces I’ve scanned from the sketchbook and a couple are uploaded to Flickr.

Looking at the Flickr set of my artworks I was struck by two pieces that I created with a computer art application (ArtRage). It’s a clever piece of software, similar to Painter but cheaper.

Midnight in Badalamenti

Midnight in Badalamenti, created in ArtRage

But those ArtRage pieces have no soul. Nothing feeds back to me from them. They are empty images. If only ‘Midnight in Badalamenti’ existed as a real acrylic or oil painting! It’s just an jpeg image in a world flooded with jpegs. There isn’t a real version I can hold.

I feel the same way about a lot of the work that I’ve done since the mid 90s using Adobe Illustrator. At first I used inked line work that I scanned and converted to vector. Pressures of lower and lower fees meant short-cutting this stage by using ‘brushes’ built into the software.

Nothing comes close to real ink, paint, colour on real paper, board, canvas.

I must find more time away from the computer. Computers have provided me with employment for the past 15 years but are now stopping me doing the very thing that gives me most enjoyment and creative nourishment.

Originally published on