Highland Cow (an exercise in colour)…

oeIt was one of those days when you just feel inspired to draw something, but you don’t know what and then your eye rests upon something that sparks your creativity.  I was just returning from a shopping trip in Newcastle upon Tyne, when I spied some Highland cattle from the lofty heights of the double-decker bus I was travelling on.
The colour of the cattle, a rusty orange, captured my imagination and I sourced some images online on my return home.  I found an excellent picture of a Highland cow and decided to reproduce it using a limited colour palette of coloured pencils: French Grey, Indigo, Raw Sienna, Chocolate, Venetian Red and Terra Cotta.  I didn’t allow myself to use Black pencils.  As well as working with a limited palette, I only allowed myself three-hours to create the drawing and the colouring.  In hindsight it could have done with some extra work, but I was determined not to go over the time allocation I had set myself from the outset.  In many ways this colour and time exercise reminded me of when I was a student at Cumbria Institute of the Arts in Carlisle.

I have a friend who is very fond of Highland cattle and this illustration just might find its way to her some day in the, hopefully, not-too-distant future…

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My first job in 1988…

After I graduated from Cumbria Institute of the Arts in 1987, I had to find employment to put my graphic design and art history training to work.  Back then, rather like now, jobs were rather ‘thin on the ground’ and I had to do a period of voluntary work with the Citizens Advice Bureau, whilst pursuing my first step on the elusive career ladder.  I had some temporary work for Busways in Newcastle upon Tyne, but was still looking for permanent work when my former teacher at the Institute, George Thompson, rang me and told me about a job for a graphic designer in the Scottish border town of Langholm. 
ABOVE: Me, with my thinking cap on, at my desk at Ashley Bank House (you can see some of the logo designs).

I applied for the job at The Edinburgh Woollen Mill and got an interview.  They must have been fairly impressed with my presentation and my graphic work, as I started receiving some freelance work from them; this was probably to see what my work ethic and creativity were like.  The fast-and-furious deadlines were enough to give me veritable nightmares, especially as there were no such things as e-mails and sending pdfs (not that I knew of anyway).  Everything had to be hand drawn and coloured to the best of my ability and within the set timescales.  When the work was complete it was a mad dash to the Post Office in order to post the work to them in time to meet the deadline.

After a number of months doing this home-design work, I was very grateful to be given a contract in early April 1988 and started working at Ashley Bank House (a former hotel), which was part of The Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s base in Langholm.  I later went to work at Waverley Mills, where I did a lot of the design work for the marketing department.  My time was spent creating logos for the company and P.O.S (point-of-sale) material, which was a large bulk of my work during the two-years that I worked there.

I will write some more about my first job on another blog post at a later date and include some more of the work that I did for this forward-thinking knitwear company.

Thoughts On – Thomas Lake

On my Facebook profile, I include a quote at the beginning of every week.  This week’s quote was inspired by a war quotation that I saw in Waterstones’ bookshop window in Newcastle upon Tyne.  The window had an array of books and items to commemorate the centenary of the First World War.  The quote struck me by it’s simple but profound message.  It was so thought-provoking that I scribbled it down in my notebook.  The writer’s wisdom speaks for itself in that, we, as humankind, need to remember our mistakes so we don’t repeat them.  It made me think that we have all been living on planet Earth for over two-thousand-years and there are still wars raging, people dying, orphans crying…
Remembrance week quote 11 - 16 November
The quote also made me think of one of my own brave relatives, Thomas Lake, who gave his life in the fight for freedom in the First World War.  I discovered this unknown relative when my friend, Jennifer A. Stephenson, began my Family Tree. As time wound on, I delved into the initial research that she had uncovered.  One of the strangest ‘finds’ Jennifer discovered was that our relatives had fought cheek-by-cheek on the blood-drenched battlefields of Ypres.  Both perished on the fields, where the poppies prospered, with Thomas being pronounced dead on the 2nd of December 1917.  His name is recorded at the Tyne Cot Memorial (Panel 108 to 111) and closer to home on the Burnopfield War Memorial in Tyne and Wear.  I was lucky to receive a photograph of Thomas from some Lake relatives, whom I had contacted whilst researching my family history.  There was also another photograph of Thomas standing with his widowed mother, Harriet, holding a British Star medal for bravery.  Unfortunately, someone has cut Thomas’ head off the photograph (possibly for a locket or a smaller picture frame), so the image was not worthy of being shown.

I am very proud of Thomas and his heroism and feel that he, and the men that fought alongside him, are very worthy of all of the recognition that they can be given.

It would be nice to think, that sometime in the future, that Edward Burke’s wise words were adopted and adhered to by all the people who inhabit and live upon this planet we share…
Thomas Lake for blogBurnopfield War Memorial December 2009for blogTLakenameonmemorialforblogThomas Lake medals received sheet
Picture 1: Lance Corporal Thomas Lake, with fellow soldiers.  Thomas is on the back row, in the centre.
Picture 2: The War Memorial at Burnopfield, Tyne and Wear.
Picture 3: Detail of Thomas Lake’s name on the memorial.
Picture 4: Details of the medals Thomas Lake received.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day…                Words by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

I would like to thank Jennifer A. Stephenson and Marie L. Smyth, for supplying me with the above information on my relative, Thomas Lake.