Monthly Archives: March 2014

Kevin calling.

PhoneI’ve just had a lovely telephone conversation with a chap from India, who was phoning on behalf of Microsoft Tech Support. It was a very poor line I must say, but the man on the other end seemed so eager to help that I knew he was legitimate.

He introduced himself as “Kevin” and, after asking me a few questions, became terribly concerned that I hadn’t received ANY of his alert emails.

Apparently I was “infected” and it required his immediate attention. I made some half-strangled noises along the lines of “Who will look after my family?” to which he revealed he was actually talking about my computer. Phew!

I told him that I didn’t actually know much about computers, despite having worked for over fifteen years in the computer games industry. He listened attentively and sympathetically, before offering to help me fix my problems right away.

He then gave me lots of instructions, which I was determined to follow as fastidiously, meticulously, and most importantly as slowly as I possibly could.
After each direction I asked him to wait a moment whilst I neatly placed the phone down on my desk, and prodded at my keyboard with a single finger.
At first Kevin accompanied my efforts lots of sympathetic “hmm’s” and “ahh’s”, but as I don’t actually know that much about computers those little noises soon turned into frustrated grunts and grumbles after twenty minutes had passed and he hadn’t progressed very far with me at all!

Finally he got me to open the Windows Command Prompt and type in some letters and stuff.
“What does it say now?” he asked.
“It says Kevin is a Jerk” I replied. “It says Kevin is a BIG Jerk”.

Well, Kevin wasn’t at all happy with that. He said some very rude things to me, including some words I’d never even heard before.
Then he hung up.

I think Microsoft needs to introduce more stringent criteria for employing it’s staff.
I shall write to Bill Gates immediately!

I hope you get your own little “Kevin” who gives you a call sometime soon.
Apparently there are a lot of them around at the minute, so please don’t fob them off with a terse “Not today thank you”.
Engage them in a long, drawn-out, clueless telephone conversation that will surely brighten their day, and quite possibly  teach you a few sweary words of Hindi too. Result!

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“TAXI….dermy for Mr Elkerton”

Apart from painting, I’ve never really had a hobby that’s obsessed me throughout my life.

Back in my younger days I did the usual “geeky” stuff like…*cough… play Role Playing Games, and I still dip in and out of comic collecting to the extent that I’ve got a ton of them stored safely away in protective sleeves inside special acid-free boxes………..yep, I’m that guy!

More recently, however, the spectre of a possible future “obsession” has been tapping at my shoulder.

It all began when we bought a budgie from the local pet shop.
We called him “Chirpie”, and we loved him very much indeed.
The fact that he didn’t eat very much, move, or indeed “Chirp” a single note didn’t seem to matter at first, but it became a bit more of a concern when this strange behaviour continued, and a couple of months had quickly flown by……which was a hell of a lot more more than “Chirpie” had done!

Click Here

Burd

Dearest “Chirpie”…who was originally going to be called “Poe”
after the author Edgar Allen Poe.
Until I realised Poe’s famous poem was actually “The Raven”.
Stupid Andy

Editor’s note:
The above story is, of course, absolute nonsense. However, it is marginally more interesting than me writing “One day I bought a stuffed crow.”

Anyway, as soon as I pulled that crow out of the box that it arrived in I was hooked.
If I saw any poor deceased animals on the side of the road (I live on the West coast of Scotland….there’s a lot of that kind of thing around here) I’d think “I bet that would look great stuffed!”; the fact that I don’t know any taxidermists was the one thing that would stop me pulling over and bundling the poor “whatever it is!” into the back of my car. That and my wife and kids, of course.
Then I found the website of Amanda Sutton, which you can visit here.
Amanda does some absolutely beautiful work inspired by the Victorian taxidermist Walter Potter; creating steampunk themed works of art that look amazing.
For a collection of creatures that, by their very nature, are well and truly dead, they have so much life to them.
I love them!

Animals

Click for a bigger image

So I put crayons to paper and immediately asked her if she’d do a commission for me.
Some time ago I did a pencil rough of a Victorian, Superhero rat, which ended up looking more “Sneaky” than “Superhero”.
I coloured him up, emailed him to Amanda and asked if she’d like to make him for me. She said “Yes!”

Rat

I can’t wait to see what she comes up with, and hope that she might do some more commissions in the future.
So, stop what you’re doing and go and take a look at her site.

Go on….off you go!

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Catching up.

I started this Blog with the idea of coming here regularly to write down the stuff and nonsense that wafts through my brain tubes.
It hasn’t really worked out that way has it?

The irony that it’s called “Andy’s Procrastinating Pencil” isn’t lost on me either, since procrastination is the one thing I haven’t been doing since late 2012.
I’ve been doing quite the opposite in fact. Over the past year and a bit I’ve found myself being entirely focused upon the jobs in hand; applying myself diligently and fastidiously to produce beautiful pieces of artwork within the allotted time.

Oh God….what have I become?

The main reason for my “radio silence” is that I was working flat out for over a year on some educational titles for the lovely people at Oxford University Press.
It was the biggest job of it’s type that I’ve ever done. There were hundreds of illustrations that were needed, and the weight of the work meant that I regularly worked seven days a week, and sometimes for more than a 24 hours day. At times, I have to admit, it was tough.
Before you say anything, I realise that the concept of “toughness” is an entirely relative thing and it’s not like I’m putting out fires or fighting in the trenches or something; however I think you should know that spending an entire day colouring things in can hurt your wrist, and make your eyes feel very sore indeed!

Someone with a sore eye, yesterday.

Someone with a sore eye, yesterday.

Luckily, I had a fantastic Art editor who was fighting in my corner (I’m looking at you Buzz Mitchell), who was an absolute joy to work with.
I haven’t seen the finished books yet, but I hear from those in the know that they look good…..so Yaaaaaay! I’ll post pics when my copies arrive through the post.

I’ve also illustrated a little book for the lovely people at Franklin Watts, called “Stinky!”
I’ve been illustrating one of these little books a year for Franklin Watts for quite a while now, and they’re lots of fun to do.

9780230443655_Text2.indd

Stinky.indd

The story is all about Bill Brady and his performing Guinea Pig, and was written by the hugely prolific children’s writer Ann Bryant.
It’s got furry animals, rodent acrobatics, and copious amounts of Guinea Pig poo and wee! What more could you ask for?

I’ve also done nine little stories for MacMillan, aimed at the Middle eastern market; and I’m soon going to begin on illustrating a “classic” story for Usborne. I’ll tell you what it is as soon as I get the nod that I can share it with you!

Alongside all of this I’m currently attempting to brush up my portfolio for the annual Bologna Book fair later this month, and am working on a story I’ve written myself too.
To be honest, I’ve been working on it for years but have never had the opportunity to devote all of my time to it. This year I’m determined to get all the pages done and dusted.
Here’s the most recent…

Knits

Finally, here’s a man with a prize winning leek….just because

Veg

Fruit and Reg

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