I thought it was time to write an intermediate blog, to let you know what Sarah and I have been up to lately, here at Rodney Matthews Studios. It's fair to say we've been busy, very busy! Where to start?
First, let me begin with my blogging technique. I don't sit at a computer and type. I think with a pen in my hand and a piece of paper on my drawing board. I write and write and write some more. By the time I'm finished I end up with several pieces of A4, complete with notes such as "show image x here", "need to find out which year I did this", etc. I then hand them to Sarah, who has always typed up my blogs for me.
Sarah has been so busy of late though, that to lighten her load, she gave me an iPad, the idea being that I would speak my blogs into the device and it would magically type them up for me. It worked "quite" well, understanding most of my Somerset accent, but it often picked up things completely wrong and I'd find myself in fits of laughter at the mistakes. I should mention that I still wrote the blogs by hand first and then read them into the iPad - I refused to give up my trusty pen and paper! I'd then email it to Sarah (our desks are side-by-side), who would have to go through it all and rectify the dodgy predictive text. You can imagine that the load hadn't really be lightened.
Thankfully, we have overcome the problem; Emily, our new assistant, takes all my hand-written blogs (in fact anything and everything that I've written on paper) and types them up faster than you can blink. She emails them to Sarah, who sets the text on my blog page along with all the relevant images and then I check everything over before I hit publish. The new system works very well and means that I can now bring you a new blog every Sunday at 7pm on the dot!
Sarah's recent busyness is partly due to setting up our new venture 'Fantasy Art Retreats', organising venues, catering, enrolments and so on, not to mention creating and designing the website:
Please do have a look. I will be providing art tuition and lectures at all retreats.
The first one will be held from Friday 2nd August to Sunday 4th August at an eco-venue set on an organic farm in the Cotswolds. I have visited the venue and can speak highly of the laid-back atmosphere, the tranquil setting and the delicious all-organic food. The second retreat, from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th August, will be held at a privately owned Cotswolds manor house. Again I have visited the venue and can speak equally as highly of its peaceful location at the edge of a picturesque hamlet, amid beautiful grounds, exuding all-round feeling of luxury.
I look forward to welcoming everyone who attends. For a long time now I have had a vision for holding art workshops, but now with Sarah by my side and the addition of her teaching knowledge and other valuable expertise, we are making this fantasy a reality. Incidentally, the retreats themselves will be the complete opposite, as we turn reality into fantasy through the medium of pencil.
Other exciting news is that the long-awaited ‘Trinity’ album is finally scheduled for release later this year. For those of you who don't know, I am also a drummer and lyric-writer, and have always wanted to make an album. My friend Jeff Scheetz, an ace guitarist from the US, and I were discussing this many years ago and we decided to make it happen. Each track would be inspired by one of my illustrations. Well, we started the project some 20-ish years go, picking up some incredibly talented musicians along the way, and now, at last, the music is finally finished. It's all been mixed and mastered by M2 Studios.
Over the years I mentioned the project to Rob Ayling of Gonzo Media. Rob works with the likes of Rick Wakeman, releasing his musical products. He asked to hear the album and, having liked what he heard, agreed to manufacture, release and market 'Trinity'. We are currently working on the various formats and exciting packages that are available. A limited edition collectors boxed set is on the cards, containing two vinyl LP’s (with bonus tracks), and an illustrated booklet, CD and possibly signed mini giclée prints, a set of post cards and so on. I'm particularly enjoying seeing the illustrated booklet coming together. Having drawn everything out on paper, Sarah is using my layouts to guide the graphic design she does on Photoshop.
Just to remind you, the musical participants are:
Jeff Scheetz, Oliver Wakeman, John Payne, Pete Coleman, Tony Clarkin, Steve Amadeo, Charles McNeal, Sarah Prothero, Bob Catley, myself and the mighty Rick Wakeman.
'NIGHT ON THE BARE MOUNTAIN' (TOP) AND 'THE GRANITE CURTAIN' (BOTTOM) - TWO OF THE ILLUSTRATIONS FOR TRACKS ON THE ALBUM
Keeping with the music theme, some of of you may remember my previous Christmas card/CD project 'I Saw Three Ships'? Oliver Wakeman excelled himself on this one, such that we are currently working together on a Christmas single for this year based upon the carol 'In the Bleak Midwinter'. Oliver is arranging the piece and will soon be giving me the track for drum practice and recording.
I'm really looking forward to this collaboration. Not sure who else will be playing on this one, but it might include some of the personnel from 'Trinity'. The CD will again be accompanied by a Christmas card featuring an all new illustration, which I finished last night.
Upon researching the Christmas carol I was amazed to find that it was written by Gustav Holst, who also wrote another of my favourite pieces of music, 'The Planets'. Furthermore, Holst was born in Cheltenham, not far from where Sarah and I live - we will be attending the Holst museum soon!
If you are enjoying the 2019 calendar, you may be pleased to learn that we are working on another for 2020. It will keep the same size and shape and will once again be focussed on rock album covers. I have chosen the artwork and written my guide to each album cover. It's all typed up - thanks Emily! Sarah is conscientiously laying out all of the dates - apparently it's a leap year!
Meanwhile, I am working on colour illustrations, in watercolour, and pencil drawings for the book Oddney’s Otherland: Chronicles from Beneath the Shed. I'm nearly halfway through this one:
'SOMEONE AT THE DOOR'
Here are a few of the pencil drawings:
'THE HOME OF THE BLOATED HOB-GOBLIN' (TOP LEFT), 'THE SCREE' (TOP RIGHT), 'WAKE UP ... WAKE UP!' (BOTTOM LEFT) AND 'A SURPRISE FOR THE WIZARD' (BOTTOM RIGHT)
And finally, Magnum’s Tony Clarkin has just approved my pencil sketch for their next studio album. Colour illustration will follow shortly. No more information available for the moment on that one.
Well that's it for now!