Sunday 18 November 2012


I was looking through my "Faces and Figures" sketchbook two or three days ago. (Yes, some of my sketchbooks are devoted to a single theme.  Sad and rather obsessive, I know.)  I came across the digitally drawn image below - done using a Bamboo pen and pad.

It's probably only people in the UK (and possibly only in the North of England) who might recognise the personality the drawing is intended to show.  (I promise that after talking about him I will return to the subject of art and sketching.)

Yes, it's Ken Dodd, otherwise known as Doddy, the Nut from Knotty Ash, a quick-fire stand-up comedian and singer.  I once went to one of his performances at the Southport Theatre, quite a long time ago, against my better judgement.  

But in fact he was fantastic.  I don't think I have ever laughed so much in my life, and true to his reputation he went on until midnight, just joke after joke after joke - and he never tells  a smutty joke or repeats himself.

At 84 he was still performing .... and stayed on the stage just telling jokes until 25 minutes past midnight.  This is what Wikipedia says:

Dodd is renowned for the length of his performances, and during the 1960s he earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for the world's longest ever joke-telling session: 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours (7.14 jokes per minute), undertaken at a Liverpool theatre, where audiences were observed to enter the show in shifts. 

Well, this post was supposed to be about art, not about a stand-up comedian, so back to the subject of drawings.

When I saw the digital Doddy it reminded me that I was taken with the idea of representing hair in a different way, but never followed it up.  Then a few pages further on I came across this sketch copied from a Monet self-portrait sketch. 

It brought to mind that I had been intrigued by the idea of how much or how little information is necessary to represent a face.  Another thing that got put on the back burner.

So I determined to play about with the two ideas, and perhaps combine them.

Whoops - not too good, though I do quite like the top image with straight hair.

Everywhere I look now I see people with Big Hair, in life and on television.  Watching the Scholti Centenary Concert on BBC a couple of nights ago the soprano came on with orange hair just like that.  Gorgeous!

Everything was linking up to get me working on this exercise.  I remembered that some of Schiele's drawings feature models with big hair, and the sketch above was very loosely based on one of his paintings.

Boing!!  Not too good, but still we always learn something from our failures.  If we could do it well without trying then there would be no point in pushing ourselves to experiment.

Even at the Liverpool Tate Gallery yesterday the big hair was present.  After our morning's Gallery tour and drawing course at the Tate we were given complimentary tickets for a talk by Anthony McCall, and I quickly sketched a woman in front of me while waiting for the talk to begin.

This first Saturday morning of the four-Saturday course I mentioned in my last post was fantastic, just what I had hoped for, and I hope to write about that in a future post.

So, after all the pencil and pen sketches, I thought I'd finish with a bit of colour and a different technique using ordinary coloured pencils. 

Keep well, keep happy, keep drawing and painting.


  1. Fantastic portrait of the comedian... I've a feeling that your drawing suits his personality!
    Lots of wonderful work Jez. Clearly no shortage of inspiration.
    Have fun,

  2. Oh my goodness I love this post!! Jam packed with fun pieces and lots of info! I am on a mission to find out more about the joker!! Also you sure do profiles well!! I am stuck on them. As for big hair I love it so much it took me years to relinquish my moppy head of long permed curls in lieu of a more stylish straight haired style...which I have never liked the same!! You are definitely an inspiration!!

    Have a great week!!
    Hugs Giggles

  3. Love the idea of themed sketchbooks Jez!! Never thought of it..Also like the big hair. :)

  4. I remember watching Ken dodd and the diddy men on TV when i was small. Love your sketches and big hair, sometimes its just good to do things for fun, you never know what might come from it :)


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