Thursday, 30 April 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - Painting

As the Rolling Stones sang; "Time is on my side.."
What this means for me is that I've been able to really get back into painting. This is something that I used to do passionately alongside my climbing. However, it's time intensive, and my wife was far more interesting, and then the kids etc.
I'd recently restarted, dabbling in my lunchbreaks at work as an alternative to candy crush.
Lockdown and crag ban has meant its been a useful tool for focusing my random energy.
I'm quite a comic geek, and my painting is heavily influenced by the inking an colouring styles of the comics and graphic novels. I'm not a natural drawer type person and accepting of the fact that I'll probably never be arsed to get better. Therfore I employ a projection technique I appropriated from a art student back when I was living in Farnham. This means I can sketch / trace the bits I want from an image I've captured.
I thought I'd use my last painting as a case study to explain the process.

This is the wall outside our kitchen. 

Having projected an traced the interesting bits I proceed with inking the shadows. 

Inking complete 

I then start playing with colour. I'm not really a realist, but I tend to build a palate from the subject and muck about a bit. Also, I like to think about the close up little things and the colours hidden and inside and unseen.. 

Hence I end up with a mess like this (this is at work) 

I then try an fix it.. 

And re ink as I go along 

Eventually it starts to work and I try to balance the 'movement' and sharpen the impression of detail. 

Sort of almost finished (bar minor tarting and rewrites) 

This is my latest subject. A well weathered post stump in between Caffi Gwynant (best caff in Wales) and the start of the Watkin path. 

The projection stage. 

The end of the sketching (beer o'clock) 

So one sort of finished and a new one underway. Wholesome distractions until the plague passes.. 

Stay safe

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

The Lockdown Diaries - The Wishing Jar

The Wishing jar was an ideas my wife picked up to help the kids cope with lockdown. By looking forward to the future, and naming those things you want to do. The kids wrote these things down and popped them into the jar. After all this is over we're going to open the jar and work through the list. 
It's been a moody moo week and I haven't been psyched to train or interact that much with the outside world. I realised I have yet to put anything in the jar! 

Go upto the Marchlyn boulder and bag a few more lines
Just before lockdown I bagged the first of the harder lines up there. This turned my mind from can't to can and I've been mulling over the remaining projects. Got to keep training if I want a chance though.. 

An alternative veiw up to Marchlyn from one of the walks near the house. I've struggled with this as I don't really do conventional, however there are some weird spots near my home. 

Do all the coastal fist list blocs on the lleyn in a day
Through chats with other obsessives, I'd realised that although I'd almost completed all the inland bouldering cracks, I hadn't made a dent in the coastal's. The bloc's in question are sheep shelter, maneater, nefoedd wideboy and jellybowl crack. Only 2 are tidal and on opposite coasts, 2 hours between respective tides. All possible. 
A previous attempt on sheep shelter, I started in the wrong place. 

Climb George's Crack and Pinocchio Crack and The Tosheroon 
I'm embarrassed I haven't succeeded on George's yet, basically I'm not flexible enough. Pinnochio Crack is a Pritchard offwidth with (I think) only 2 ascents, for this I need more bravery, and maybe some more in my toolbox hence this:
Always something new to learn 

The Tosheroon is my jabberwocky and I'm keen to slay it once and for all. Its awkward because you can't work sections, every attempt is ground (or bowels) up. 

So there we go. Three things in the wishing jar, three things to train, get flexible, and get sneaky for. 

What's in your wish jar? 

Monday, 13 April 2020

Lockdown Diaries- Opening Entry

So the world is on fire with itty bitty flames and I'm fighting by staying at home with a 4yr old princess, the twin monkeys of CAMHS chaos, a bolshy pre teen, a (obviously) wonderful wife, 2 ducks 5 chickens and 3 rats.
It a been emotional folk's.
What's a man to do? I started like most fathers by tidying the shed:
 Following that I installed a pull up bar in the kids bedroom, as the ancient and Chalk free fingerboard in the kitchen is crap for actual pull ups :
Then I went crazy.
Being without climbing, especially outside, although with the wall where I work closing inside too, I was without means of release. Feeding the rat, blowing off steam, call it what you want. I have lived for the last 33 years with adventure on tap, and was now cold turkey. It isn't just a case of addiction, as addicts can get clean. This was a need. N Jurassic Park, the dinosaurs were engineered without the ability to produce lysine so they were dependent on their captors. Well like those plucky dino's I was determined to find a way around it. I made a decision to comply with the no climbing request from the BMC, despite my Esoteric tastes and such blocs being 40 minutes walk away. It would be sneaky, and even though nobody else would touch the same holds, there were thousands of us not so lucky, and we're all in this together aren't we? 
My first attempt to get past this was a pull up challenge. 100 a day for 5 days. As my 45yr old body protested, I included 100 press ups and squats to balance it all out. 
This didn't hit the spot though, if I enjoyed exercise I would have become a sport climber. 

Ethan, one of my chaos monkeys provided the solution. He wanted to search for a bomb crater from ww2 that was purportedly on the other side of the conifer plantation on the corner of our lane. He also decided that the best approach was through the plantation... 

This is not a well maintained plantation. Its about 400m square, or 16k hectares. 

I'm not as small as Ethan.. 

We went about 50m without touching the ground, indeed we we often a couple of meters off it. 

Sometimes we were quite close.. 

However, this mini adventure was just what we ( oth) needed. You can see Ethans grin, mainly because of the scratches and twigs in my hair.. 

A more open section, wandering over the pile of grubbed up tree roots. 

We did make it out eventually, even though actually finding the bomb crater is an adventure for another day.. 

Other dad jobs include making bows and teaching them not to stab their legs with knives.. 

Even surprised myself with a not totally rubbish flight for the arrows.. 

Another way for me to improve my serenity has been to start painting again. Before marriage and kids I did loads (even sold a couple) and it seemed to click with my climbing head space. I'd recently started again as I found an unfinished painting, and resolved to complete it in my lunch breaks at work. This was as an alternative to candy crush. That one completed, I started a fresh one of the stone wall outside my kitchen. Come lockdown I retrieved it from work.. 

Obviously with my house full of chaos, there wasn't going to be much painting time. My wife and I needed to a) not kill each other and b) have some down time. So we arranged that once a week, each of us could escape to a room for an evening and not deal with kids or each other. Tonight is my night (hence the blog) and I've taken a fresh pic of one of the stones.. 

It's getting there by baby steps.. 

I'll report next week whether I'm still keeping it together. 
Stay safe! And adventure will still be out there..