My latest job for a new client is a double page spread in the September/October issue of Imbibe magazine.  A very detailed and specific brief, and a lot of type to work around but I'm pretty happy with the result.

and here's my rubbish scan of the spread in the magazine...


Cinnamon Sparrows, Kathmandu, 1990

In 1990 I lived in Nepal, working in the jungle of Chitwan on the border with India.  Every few weeks I’d have to go up to the capital Kathmandu for a few days to sort out admin.  My one luxury was to have tea every morning in a courtyard café that was completely shielded from the noise of the city.   The tea was always cinnamon and there were always exotic birds flying in and out to scavenge scraps from the tables. There were always parakeets, mynahs, drongo’s  and Indian Rollers passing through but my favourite was always the cinnamon sparrows.   They just looked like regular sparrows that had been dipped in cinnamon.  They’d have dust baths in the baked clay of the ‘flower beds’ and then sit and fidget on the café owner’s dodgy wiring.  

I’ve had this and a couple of other bird paintings in my head for nearly 25 years.  Periodically I have a crack at them but never quite seem to get the whole thing out onto paper.  When I started working digitally I’d have another go each time I got a new machine or software upgrade but couldn’t really find a way to do the idea justice digitally.  Now, 8 or 9 PC’s later, working on a Cintiq with a combination  of Photoshop and Corel Painter I’ve managed to scrape this off the inside of my skull.  This is the closest I’ve got, it’s too early to tell but at the moment it feels like this mental itch has finally been scratched. 

It’s taken me a long time to realise that the idea I was trying to paint wasn’t one view but a collection of impressions and memories.  Wherever you went in Kathmandu the Buddha's eyes were always looking down at you, not from the stupas at Boudhanath or Swayambhunath but embroidered on a million T shirts hanging outside every other shop window.  The little coloured squares of faded prayer flags hung everywhere framing every view.  The snowy peaks of the Himalayas were visible everywhere you looked.  Not the actual mountains, they were too far away to be visible from the capital even without the dust and smog, but every shop front and advertising hoarding had ‘Everest this’ or ‘Annapurna that’ plastered all over it.  I still miss Everest Beer :) and the kukri XXX rum, but that’s another story.

BoudhanathKathmandu, 1990Sleeping Vishnu at Budanilkantha

Cinnamon sparrows (actually it's just one sparrow, singular, bobbing about) fidgeting after a dust bath in a courtyard in Kathmandu, Nepal.  Prayer flags, Buddha's eyes looking down on you from temple walls over saffron water splashes and the statue of Vishnu sleeping on a bed of Nagas at Budanilkantha.

I've uploaded the image to a couple of print on demand sites in case anyone wanted to buy prints. 

Click here to buy from Fineartengland.

For OZ/NZ/Asia click here to got to my Redbubble pages where you can buy prints and a couple of other things.

Or if you prefer, click here to go to my Society 6 website in the US where as well as prints and canvases they also sell the image on cushions, mugs, clocks, laptop skins - and bizarrely duvet covers and shower curtains.  Don't believe me? Look!



Every time I get a commission for a Fortean Times cover illustration my first thought is PULP!  My head is full of lurid colours, square-jawed heroes battling huge monsters and somewhere a preternaturally curvy woman is losing the battle to stay fully clothed.   I can’t help it.  *As a child I was hit on the head by a huge library book of 1950s Sci-Fi and horror ‘movie’ posters.

*may be a lie.

Luckily modern magazine covers are the product of more than one brain and I am quickly persuaded out of this notion by less fevered and more rational minds.   However, recently I decided that it would be fun to indulge my appetite for pulp by ‘reimagining’ some of my old Fortean Times illustrations as pulp covers and turning them into posters.

So far I’ve got about ten ideas for faux pulp fiction covers worked out.  With styles and genres ranging from the 1920’s to the late 60’s and covering; dime detectives, Boys Own adventure stories,  Sci-Fi , monsters and assorted Nazis.

The first one on the list is the POPOBAWA.  My original illustration is shown below right and how it appeared on the cover of Fortean Times #242 Oct 2008.



 The POPOBAWA is allegedly a shape shifting man-bat that prowls the rooftops of Zanzibar and forces itself upon man and woman alike.  This sounded to me like a typical story from the ‘weird menace’ sub-genre of horror fiction that flourished from the 1930s to the early 1940’s.  They evolved out of the detective Dime novels of the early 30’s but owed more to the gory bloodlust of the French Théâtre du Grand-Guignol.  The most extreme publications were known as ‘shudder pulps’.  With titles like Terror Tales and Spicy Mysteries they always featured a barely clothed woman about to be tortured by some horrific monster or disfigured cultist.  They were eventually banned by censors in the early 1940’s after a backlash and I hadn’t the stomach to resurrect them here.  But I did name my fictional pulp publication Spicy Shudders as a nod to those early shudder pulps.

For the overall style and layout I aimed for late 30’s to early 40’s dime detective novels as I wanted a more polished look to the finished painting.  In the course of my research I must have looked at several hundred pulp fiction covers.  One thing that stood out was the number of obviously fake ‘nom de plumes’ that authors had used, presumably too ashamed to use their real names.  So I came up with a few of my own.  If there is a real V.J. Rubright, my apologies.  Seriously (sniggers).   

Sharp eyed observers and people who know me may realise that the pose of the Bat-man is inspired by the Black Sabbath World Tour ’77 logo which I had painted on my bedroom wall as a spotty teen \m/

You can now buy posters and stretched canvas prints of Spicy Shudders in various sizes online, click here to buy from Fineartengland  or here from Society6 and now also at RedBubble for Asia/Pacific folks.


Off with le jumper! On with le Tea Shirt.


UPDATE 15/11/2016: The Tyke Sportif design is no longer available on T-Shirts and bags etc.  Nobody had bought anything for ages (hardly surprising as it was a one off thing) and Spreadshirt are changing their T&Cs meaning that it was going to be too much of a faff to continue.  Thanks to the hundreds of people that bought them and were so nice about them.  The posters and metal plates are unnafected by this and will remain for sale on their respective sites :)






Allons-Y-up! Acheter toutes les choses!

I’ve been working on a series of designs to celebrate (cash in on) the arrival of the Tour de Yorkshire this summer.  Je suis so excited I’ve gone all Franglais. 

Hopefully there’ll eventually be a range of stuff to buy in my newly added and originally entitled ‘Buy Stuff’ pages.  The first offering is a new venture for me, Gicleé printsI am trying out a print on demand service from The Printers Inc Ltd.  You’ll hopefully be able to buy various prints and stretched canvases of my work in the near future but for now I’ve just uploaded my vintage ‘Tyke Sportif’ poster design to test out the service.

UPDATE 21st November.  This design is now available to buy in various forms from prints, stretched canvases to greetings cards from Fine Art England.