WHO IS THIS WOMAN?

WHO IS THIS WOMAN?

 

Diagonally opposite my studio and just a few doors up from Arden House (see previous entry) is The Phoenix Tavern.

This is a vector drawing. The best example of this retro, travel poster style is done by Nigel Wallace and can be found at http://www.whiteonesugar.co.uk Now back to my fascinating blog…

This is a vector drawing. The best example of this retro, travel poster style is done by Nigel Wallace and can be found at http://www.whiteonesugar.co.uk Now back to my fascinating blog…

In 2010 while renovations were being carried out at the Pheonix, something intriguing was discovered beneath the floorboards. You guessed it. The headless skeleton of a young woman surrounded by occultist symbols which were carved into the adjacent floor joists… Oh wait… That was the discovery I was specifically told NOT to write about. Sorry

No what was also found was this 2cm x 2cm b/w photo.

Who is this woman? Mother? Wife? KGB operative? She’s clearly no oil painting…

Except now she is.

Ta dah!

I’m starting a campaign to find out who this woman is and in order to draw (and paint) attention to this lady and hopefully discover her identity, I’ve done a life-sized portrait of her. And this is how I did it.

Using charcoal I copied the little photo onto an A2 sized stretched canvas. I added a little shading to make it a tad more dramatic. Then I sprayed the drawing with fixative and began colouring it in using oil paint. I saw this technique on YouTube so I hope it works.

blog 04 pic 03a.jpg
Finished Oil Painting

Finished Oil Painting

 

Do you recognise this woman? Did your parents, grandparents drink in this pub? If she was a local woman it may be possible that her descendants are still living around here. As I was painting her, I noticed she has one very distinct feature. (Two if you include her eyes pointing in slightly different directions) And that is that her mouth is narrower than her nose. This is very unusual and may be a trait passed down to her children.

Do you recognise this feature in anyone? Do you know anyone who bears a resemblance?

It may even be possible that this lady is still alive. Is it you and are you still alive? If so, come to the Phoenix and claim your free beer. (for legal reasons this offer can not be extended to people who are not alive)

I think it’s probable that the snap fell out of someone’s wallet and slid between the floor boards. I also think the photograph was taken in the 1940’s or 50’s and judging by the condition of the snap it was lost not long after it was taken.

For now we’ll call her Sophie (Phee for short) Nix. So who was Ms Phee Nix? Was she a bar-lady, an acrobat, a prisoner on the lamb or a man in drag?  In order to establish some background and perhaps find some clues, let’s delve in to the history of The Phoenix Public House…

The original hall was built around 1330, so straight away we’ve positioned this photograph to be no older than 685 years. She was discovered in the Ashes Room which didn’t exist before 1610. We’re narrowing the gap! It has been a tavern since the early part of the 18th century and if we assume the picture was dropped by a customer, then we’ve slashed the time period to around 300 years. The Ashes Room was located on the first floor and was probably a residence attached to the pub. It was the publican’s home and then a Bed and Breakfast so it’s conceivable Sophie Nix may have been visiting from places afar… which means this search may need to go nation wide if not global.

Now, as photography didn’t really become popular until the 1880’s and the picture was discovered in 2010 that gives us a window of 130 years. Did you or anyone you know visit The Phoenix Tavern between the years 1880 and 2010. If so please get in touch so that we can at least eliminate you from our enquiries.

The search continues and I will be filling you in on any developments.

Please subscribe and get in touch especially if you know who Ms Phee Nix is or if you have any questions.

An unveiling of this picture will take place at The Phoenix on November the 2nd at 7:30 where there will be drinks and nibbles and a free comic for anyone who mutters the secret passwords, “Where’s this bloomin’ free comic then?”

Thank you.

SIR BOB GELDOF PAYS A VISIT

NOVEMBER 18, 2015 | JASON798    | EDIT

As hinted in my last Blog, I have an exclusive interview with Faversham luminary, Sir Bob Geldof.

To entice Sir Bob into my studio I have painted a portrait of the great man.

It began as a rough which I did on the train with a ball-point pen and a marker. Working like this stops me getting too bogged down with detail.

I wanted this to be a watercolour so I traced the drawing on to 300gsm cold press (rough) Bockingford watercolour paper, using a light-box.

Once I’m happy with this, I begin drawing over the lines with watercolour pencils.

 

Then comes the stressful process of applying the watercolour. This is my first ever watercolour portrait. My only experience with watercolour is painting old cars. http://www.atomicsquib.com/new-gallery-1/

I don’t mean this to sound like an excuse, but that is exactly what it is.

Oh my god that looks hideous! Obviously what works for rough old bangers doesn’t work for Bob Geldof’s face, although you’d think it would.

Ok. I’ll start again . . .

And now here’s my interview with Bob Geldof.

Me: Thank you very much for giving up your time for this interview Sir Robert.

Sir Bob Geldof: Well you told me on the phone that you had painted a portrait of me, which got me a little bit intrigued.

Me: That’s right Sir Bob and here it is. I do hope you like it.

SBG: Are you having a bloody laugh? That looks nothing like me.

Me: Oh . . . What? Really?

SBG: No it bloody well doesn’t. That looks like it’s been carved out of a lump of wood by a drunken monkey. And now I look around your studio I can see this whole place is full of crap. Who the hell told you you could draw?

Me: What?  That’s a bit harsh. (change subject, change subject) Ok, so you don’t like my work. I also try and make my blog a little bit humorous. Perhaps we could lighten the mood. Do you know a good joke I can regale my audience with?

SBG: I doubt you’ve got an audience for this shite. And no! I don’t have a bloody joke . . . Your bloody artistry. That’s a bloody joke!

Me: Umm . . . Well . . .

SBG: I can’t believe you think that looks like me.

Me: Ok well let’s not dwell on that . . . Here’s my joke . . .

Did you hear they’ve awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this year to a scarecrow?

Illustrated using the ‘Brushes’ ap on my Ipad

Illustrated using the ‘Brushes’ ap on my Ipad

 

SBG: [silence]

Me: Apparently he was out standing in his field. Ha! Get it?

SBG: [furious] Do you have to work hard at being an arse or does it just come naturally to you?

Me: Sorry!?

SBG: Bringin’ me in here and tellin’ me a joke about a scarecrow. Do you think I’m stupid?

Me: What!? I don’t know what you . . .

SBG: You think I don’t know what the locals say about me? “Scarecrow Bob”. “Frightened any crows off lately?” “Eew! Look at his grumpy face. He looks like he’s still got that scarecrow pole stuck up his arse”. And you bring me in here to tell me a joke about a scarecrow . . .

Me: Sorry. I didn’t realise . . .

SBG: Yeah right. This is what I think of your paintin’ [throws his portrait to the floor and stamps on it] I’m off!

Me: Oh . . . Ok well thanks for coming and please do come again . . . I do have another joke . . . about a man who smells of wee . . . You don’t want to hear it . . ?

SBG: [from the corridor] FXXK OFF!

Well I think you’ll agree that was all very insightful. Now that I look at it, Bob (I think I can call him ‘Bob’ now we’re mates) is right. Too laboured and muddy. I’ve since discovered Guan Weixing, http://www.guanweixing.com/index.html a brilliant watercolour painter from China. I tried to emulate his technique which is not easy. Here is my second attempt at a watercolour portrait.

It’s a vast improvement on my first attempt, although it still looks nothing like Bob Geldof.

For my next blog entry I will be doing another portrait, an oil painting this time, and regaling you with the intriguing, but little known story of Sophie Nix. Don’t worry I think this one is dead so she won’t be giving me any grief.

In the mean time, here’s what my poster of Ann Arden (see previous blog entry) is looking like. I’m drawing over the rough using Adobe Illustrator. I use green just so it stands out from the background. It won’t stay that colour.

By the way, I have never really met Bob Geldof nor have I heard anyone call him a scarecrow. He is a bit scruffy though.

 

Ardens of Faversham

This entry will mostly be illustrated with rough pencil sketches as there are quite a few drawings and I’m pressed for time. It’s already taken me four months plus I have a day job.

I live in a medieval market town called Faversham. Arden House nestles a few hundred yards from the town centre, right next to an old, old churchyard.

This was drawn with a dip pen and ink on smooth paper. The scratchy quality gives it a rustic feel. The perspective is a little out but these old buildings are always a bit wonky. I have used a little artistic license with this drawing to make it look less 1970’s than it does in reality.

This was drawn with a dip pen and ink on smooth paper. The scratchy quality gives it a rustic feel. The perspective is a little out but these old buildings are always a bit wonky. I have used a little artistic license with this drawing to make it look less 1970’s than it does in reality.

 

This is the site of a very gruesome episode in the history of Faversham. Way back in the 1550s a merchant by the name of Thomas Arden married the young, beautiful and wealthy Alice Brigantine and moved her into this building, a former guest house of the Benedictine Abbey.

Thomas Arden as he most likely looked

Thomas Arden as he most likely looked

A stunner! Alice Brigantine.

A stunner! Alice Brigantine.

For the next few years, Arden concentrated on acquiring more wealth and power and neglected his marital duties. It is tempting to surmise that he may have been gay but this can’t be the case as homosexuality wasn’t invented until around 1763. Whatever the reason, poor, lonely Alice was left to her own devices and as she was a bit of a strumpet her devices turned to vices and her vices led her to the arms of another man, a tailor known as Richard Moseby.

Gorgeous

Gorgeous

I have drawn him with his head at a jaunty angle to emphasise his rugged good looks. In fact, attractive people didn’t really come about until 1927, so he probably looked more like this…

Pen and Ink, I liked this ugly face and him up as a treat to myself.

Pen and Ink, I liked this ugly face and him up as a treat to myself.

Alice and Richard were quite open about their affair. Thomas decided to accept the situation rather than sever ties with Alice’s influential family.

Alice grew to loathe the man and eventually decided to do him in. First she tried to poison him, but when this failed Alice decided she needed help and enlisted the aid of several conspirators, one being ex-soldier turned murderous highwayman Black Will of Calais.

Eeeeevil

Eeeeevil

He was introduced to her by John Green, a local man who had a grievance against Thomas, due to a property dispute.

Perhaps a slight over reaction, although bicycle pumps were quite hard to come by in those days

Perhaps a slight over reaction, although bicycle pumps were quite hard to come by in those days

Several more plans were made to kill Arden but when these came to nothing. Wicked Alice arranged for an ambush within Arden House. To this end she inveigled more conspirators, including servants, Richard Moseby’s sister and her own 15-year-old daughter Margaret.

Drawn on my ipad using the “Brushes” app.

Drawn on my ipad using the “Brushes” app.

And so it was that at 7 p.m. on the 14th of February 1551, Richard sat down with Thomas for a friendly game of backgammon. (Buckaroo had not yet been invented and Twister lacked the finesse of the modern version.) Upon a signal from Richard, Black Will jumped out of a cupboard behind Thomas, brandishing the deadliest of weapons … a napkin.  (This goes some way to explain why previous attempts had come to nothing.) Obviously napkins were made of sturdier stuff back then as Black Will was able to throttle him with it, while Moseby lamped him with an iron and slashed his throat.

Violent... and why are there only white backgammon pieces?

Violent... and why are there only white backgammon pieces?

Alice then put her two-pennies worth in and stabbed him seven times for good measure.

More violence

More violence

Once the wicked deed was complete, all the conspirators worked together to clean up the crime scene. The body was dumped in a field next to the church yard, just outside the garden gate.

It was a snowy night.

It was a snowy night.

 

Not long after this, invited guests began arriving for a late supper. Much singing and gaiety ensued with Margaret playing the virginals. (I tried playing the virginals once and all it got me was a slapped face.) To allay suspicions, Alice audibly wondered about the lateness of her husband.

while uploading this image, I was aghast to realize I hadn’t given her any ears. But when I researched the whole affair again I noticed that at no time are her ears mentioned. Did she have ears? I doubt we’ll ever know one way or another.

while uploading this image, I was aghast to realize I hadn’t given her any ears. But when I researched the whole affair again I noticed that at no time are her ears mentioned. Did she have ears? I doubt we’ll ever know one way or another.

The next morning wicked Alice alerted the town that her husband was missing and the body was soon discovered. It would be nice to think that Alice was accosted at the door by the marshal quipping…

Unfortunately, that rhyme hadn’t yet been made up. pardon Mrs Arden there’s a kitten/chicken in your garden was the first verse of a music hall rhyme, intended to make fun of the way some provinces pronounced “en” as “ing” as in Parding Mrs Arding there’s a chicking in your garding. You can see why music hall died out and was quickly replaced a new idea known as “entertainment”.

Unfortunately, that rhyme hadn’t yet been made up. pardon Mrs Arden there’s a kitten/chicken in your garden was the first verse of a music hall rhyme, intended to make fun of the way some provinces pronounced “en” as “ing” as in Parding Mrs Arding there’s a chicking in your garding. You can see why music hall died out and was quickly replaced a new idea known as “entertainment”.

It seems likely that Alice was already under suspicion from the locals but when the trail in the snow lead from the corpse to her parlour door, a search was undertaken. The bloody murder weapons were found and Alice soon confessed, implicating all the other conspirators for good measure. Most of the guilty and some not-so-guilty were quickly apprehended… In all sixteen people were executed for the murder of Thomas Arden, including fifteen-year-old Margaret.

This is drawn with the “Brushes” ap

This is drawn with the “Brushes” ap

Black Will is rumoured to have escaped to London, joined a little theatrical company and written some plays, one of which was called The Ardens of Faversham… Some others you may have heard of were: Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Whoops! There Goes My Knickers. That’s right! Black Will was none other than …  William Shakespeare!*

Alice was burnt slowly at the stake just outside Canterbury, leaving us with that age-old life-lesson, if you do want to kill your husband, don’t make it so bleeding obvious.

My interest in Alice Arden was piqued the other day when I actually saw her ghost wandering around the churchyard behind her house! As I knew no one would believe me, I asked her to stand still for a while so I could draw her. Here’s the proof.

This is a very rough thumb nail sketch. I will be developing this into a finished poster that will be available to buy. I want to show all the stages from first rough to finished poster.  Watch out for the next exciting instalment.

This is a very rough thumb-nail sketch. I will be developing this into a finished poster that will be available to buy. I want to show all the stages from first rough to finished poster. Subscribe and watch out for the next exciting instalment.

*This of course is complete rubbish. The play was written 41 years after the event and although Black Will did escape immediate capture, he was eventually apprehended and likely hanged in Flanders. I made up that intrigue as a joke. It’s as ridiculous as Patricia Cornwell deciding that Walter Sickert was Jack the Ripper because his paintings were a little creepy. There is however, a Shakespeare connection. There is strong stylometric evidence that the play The Ardens of Faversham was at least partly written by Shakespeare. Also his acting troupe are known to have toured the area and as Shakespeare’s mother’s maiden name was Arden we can safely assume that his interest would have been piqued. I’m also pretty sure he would have bought one of my posters if they were available in his day.

 https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/oct/23/christopher-marlowe-credited-as-one-of-shakespeares-co-writers

If Shakespeare had been Black Will

If Shakespeare had been Black Will

 

Another notable thing about Faversham is that Sir Bob Geldof lives here. I will endeavour to interview him for my next blog entry; it won’t take as long as this last one. Don’t forget the next instalment of the Alice poster.

My first Blog

They said it was impossible. They said it couldn’t be done! They said I was a fool to even attempt such a feat! …And so I didn’t, I started this blog instead, which I’m finding quite easy so far.

Firstly, my name is Jason and I am an illustrator and painter and director of Atomic Squib Ltd.

ATOMIC SQUIB LOGO – Digital illustration

ATOMIC SQUIB LOGO – Digital illustration

I am married and we have one very beautiful child.

Marker and pencil rendering

Marker and pencil rendering

The other two are hideously ugly and we don’t mention them much. In fact most of our friends don’t know Billy-Bob and Suzy-May even exist.

Ipad Drawing with the Brushes ap

Ipad Drawing with the Brushes ap

Marker and pencil

Marker and pencil

I was born in the UK but grew up in Australia with lots of older brothers and sisters. Here’s a picture of my beloved mum and a glimpse into my childhood.

Mum loved to watch a good punch-up. Pen and ink

Mum loved to watch a good punch-up. Pen and ink

Then there was my dad. He was my rock, my confidante, my inspiration…

Pen and ink

Pen and ink

Although I love doing pen, brush and ink illustrations I find them a great challenge and I’m very rarely satisfied with the end results. For really great examples of this type of work have a look at coyote-bd.com ,  chrisriddell.co.uk and of course the great Albert Uderzo of Asterix fame. They make it seem so effortless. Here’s how effort-full it was for me…

Rough pencil sketch

Rough pencil sketch

My first sketch I did on the train on my way home from work.
rom this I drew a tighter pencil sketch and then attempted to ink it in.

Second rough with pencil and ink

Second rough with pencil and ink

It was only at this stage that I realised how truly awful this drawing was. I had to go back to the drawing board.

Looks cosier

Looks cosier

From this I did the final brush and ink drawing included above. I lost a lot of the warmth of this rough in the process but at least it didn’t look like the previous effort. If anyone has any advice about brush and ink illustration please share. I used a No 0 and a No 3 Pro Arte brush and India ink on Bond paper.

By the way my parents weren’t really like that… No, my dad was bald.

Now back to me as this is my biography. I recently moved to a medieval market town in the UK called Faversham and that will be the subject of my next entry…