October 24th, 2008

high on jam

This morning's picture is inspired by my friend (and web designer) Dan Fone, and a very, very long conversation we recently had about jam. You wouldn't believe how many things we could say about jam. I heard on the radio a few years ago that British jam consumption has gone way down; people used to rely mainly on jam for something sweet, but now there are a gazillion different ways we can get our sugar fixes.

I made some goals when I moved to Britain. One of them is to try quince jam, and I still haven't tried it. The other is to spot three animals in the wild: a badger, a meadow lark and a hedgehog. So far I've only seen a meadow lark, and a squished hedgehog on the road (which doesn't count, I want to see a live one). That means I am falling a bit short of my targets.

So. This morning I am going to see a shrink! Yes, I am! I have never been to a shrink before. But his name is Alex Buxton and he was on my illustration course at college, and instead of drawing pictures after he graduated, he went on to learn all this psychotherapy, life counseling stuff. Normally I would suspect that kind of thing of being very cheesy and Californian, but besides being very fond of Alex, I know he is one of those people who does everything very, very well, and I have a feeling he'll be very good at this, too. He's just opening for business, specialising in people in the arts and rallying his old classmates; so, being dead curious about him, I have booked one session. I think we are going to talk about time management issues. I will tell you how it went, if it is not too embarrassing. (If it's really cringe-making, I'm sure Vern & Lettuce will tell you about it at some later date.)

Oh, and have a look at this picture just posted by Russian artist Igor Kuprin. Isn't it amazing?

Artwork: I'm selling the jam painting for £40 + £5 registered mail postage (a little bit more for postage if you live outside the UK) via Paypal. Image is 23x17cm.

And don't miss the chance to buy your GOAL Anthology from ztoical and donate to charity at the same time! Here's a peek at the first panel of my submission (which I later coloured):

don't try this at home

This strip started with an interesting post by channingkennedy. I named the kid Bertram, kind of as a private joke with myself because the one Bertram I know is an extremely sensible kind of person.

It's Friday night and I am making comics and Stuart is reading a Russian newspaper and eating tinned peaches. We are old and boring but I think we like that way.

Today I had a really close call on my bicycle. Some guy threw his car door open just as I was cycling by and I slammed into it with my right hand before falling off my bike. It hurt like the blazes. I thought I had broken my hand, and then weeks or months of lost work flashed before my eyes. I wish I could say I handled the situation calmly, but I'm ashamed to say I gave the driver hell and said all sorts of words I hardly ever use. I think the guy was more scared than I was. Then I tottered off, had a colourful moan to the shocked but sympathetic looking lollipop man by the side of the road, adjusted my twisted brake, then cycled off to my first-ever appointment with Alex-the-shrink. (My hand is okay now, just a bit sore. I was SO glad I was wearing padded cycling gloves.)

I said in my last post that I was a bit worried that life coaching would be something really cheesy, and I'm sure that with a lot of people, it is. But Alex was great. I was mostly just curious to see what my former Camberwell classmate was up to, but we talked about some things that I suspect plague a lot of artists who work at home; namely time-wasting. I have this really bad habit, when I get to the hard part of drawing a commissioned picture, I go get myself a snack from the kitchen and/or check my e-mail. I've tried to set time limits, where I'm only allowed to check e-mail three times a day, and I'm always telling myself not to eat between meals. But I always break my own rules. Alex took a totally different approach with a system called EFT, where instead of trying to set rules for myself, he taught me how to identify exactly why I get frustrated and want to snack and go on the computer. Basically it boils down to being a bit lonely working at home, and food reminds me of cosy, good times with friends, and e-mails is me wanting to connect with other artists. And while I don't really want 'company' while I'm working (house guests can be a real pain if they mill around my work area and chat), I do want to work in the same room as other people who are hard at work on their own projects; a communal studio, in short. In the meantime, Alex taught me some techniques of things to do to identify exactly what I'm thinking when I hit the frustration points in my work, get distracted and try to salve the problems with food and e-mail. They seemed really sensible.

Alex is based in Camberwell in south London, and here's his website - Alex Buxton - if anyone's interested in booking a session. I liked how I felt I got a lot out of one visit and there was no pressure to book any more. (And I paid for my session, we didn't have any secret agreement that I'd get a free sesh for promoting him, I honestly think he's good.)

Artwork: I'll sell the original artwork for this strip for £40 + £5 registered mail postage (a little bit more for postage if you live outside the UK) via Paypal. The image is 28x11cm.