Thursday, 4 October 2012

The First Five Pictures I Ever Drew... and Fairy Dust!

I won't be able to post any new artwork on here for 7 - 10 days as I have to get this final 'English assignment' completed. However, I've  now got the photograph of me 'at the beginning' of my plunge into art and I thought I would post that. (I look a right stupid Berk!!)

Not much point in posting the photograph without telling the crazy story behind it though. I feel as if it is someone else's story, as it is so long ago, which is good because otherwise it might feel  like boasting. At the risk of sounding boring, here it is.

After I was about 8 or 9 years of age I stopped drawing in an artistic manner. All my stuff became purely technical, although pen and ink had become the tools-of-my-trade. 

I was conscripted into the Royal Air Force for 2 years, at the age of 21 (3 weeks after our wedding!). We decided that, with the shipbuilding industry being in a slump we would stay in the Air Force, and that I should try to get a job as aircrew, because the pay was really good! The RAF must have been desperate as somehow I got through the selection process. I then flew on long range jet transport aircraft for 20 years. Home for a week - away for two, home for four days - away for three! So there was no time for hobbies - no art!

I was posted to Germany in 1979 as a 'Seagull' with the Phantom Jet Fighters for three years. This meant I would be home most nights with lots of time off. Hobbies beckoned.

 Pat had a paper-bag with a pen and ink drawing on it of an old house in Cornwall, England. I felt the need to draw it, and I did - I was surprised and pleased with the result. She sent it off to a magazine competition and ... they used it for their front cover (only ever happens to other people normally). Encouraged I drew pen & ink pictures of three castles on the banks of the river Rhine, and one of a Dutch Windmill. Followed by a fifth picture, the castle at Dalfsen (see last posting).

Pat had joined a Theatre Club, but it was about to be closed down because it was falling to pieces.  Amongst other things, the stage lighting and most of the technical stuff needed replacing they needed to raise about £7, 000 ($11,000). 

They had a fund-raising meeting at our house during which a young teacher, Rachel, said, "We could always sell prints of John's drawings." I laughed, thinking she was joking, I never even though of framing them - they were for fun. 

However ... the unstoppable force ... Pat, got behind the idea and the next thing we were getting prints done in Holland and buying complete frames from a warehouse in Germany.  We sat for hours putting the prints into the frames. The small shop on base said they would sell them for us (the woman in the photograph).

Then the impossible happened. They sold out in two weeks! 





We got lots printed, and spent days framing - they sold out. The USAF down in Ramstein wanted them, Berlin wanted them and so on ... and so on ... They kept selling out. We lost count of how many hundreds sold. They were the perfect product in the perfect market place at the perfect time. There was lots of demand and NO competition, They raised enough money to help equip the theatre (there were lots of other activities raising money at the same time).

The press were all over us, and commissions began to pour in ... at the end of the three years I was forced to leave the Royal Air Force and turn professional... where the adventures continued!!! 

32 comments:

  1. John, what a wonderful story, so inspirational young people aspiring to be artist. You are a truly gifted man and your work is absolutely brilliant, as I have said before. All of your success is so well deserved. While you are busy with your work, I will continue to enjoy your previous post.

    All the best to you,
    Joan

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    1. Thank you, Joan ... I fear luck played a large part of it, and luck is hard to replicate

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  2. Crikey - this stuff only happens in movies. I can see Jack Hawkins or Kenneth Moore (didn't he play Douglas Bader?) in the lead role. The unstoppable force would be Maggie Smith?????
    Anyway, I love the story and appreciate you showing us your brilliant use of the English language...getting practice in the your finals. Good luck, my friend...good luck! Say hi to Force.

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    1. I'm playing hooky, as you suggested, in my other life we simply call it 'diversion' - all the time we are studying, anything can divert us!

      Nor sure we are 'stars' ... more busy-bees

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  3. well, of course they sold them all...you are very gifted. People recognize quality---you had it then and you have it now...great drawing just never goes out of style!

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    1. You're too kind, Celeste, but we were in the right place at the right time!

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  4. How beautiful it is when looking behind us and telling our life appears the joy of life, the pride of getting things done and tenderness of the family!
    You're an artist of life, first of all,dear John,who turns signs and words into something that makes pleasure to read and watch!
    I especially love your post " bio&artwork"!
    In bocca al lupo per l'esame:questo il traduttore non lo sa tradurre!!!Rita.

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    1. Thank you, Rita - but it is you that paints and writes poetry.

      Thanks for the best wishes

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  5. What a great story, John! I can see a movie of your life too! Good luck on your English assignment!

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    1. Thanks Judy. Never thought I would need a calculator for English (Lexical density etc)

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  6. John, to my mind this is the stuff of dreams. To be able to be a professional artist whose work is in demand? I cannot even imagine it. Well...that is probably obvious by my lack of skill in my work. Still...if I could have chosen to do or be anything that would have been it. The funny thing is that I never like to buy a print. I like to buy originals because I don't want anyone else to have what I have when it comes to art. Oh boy...between my blog and my comments, I'm probably painting a horrific picture of myself. Anyway, I love the photo...maybe I'll post my AF photo on my blog in honor of you and your years of service.

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    1. Sherry, the down side of being professional was ending up drawing what other people wanted all the time, and never what you would like to draw/paint yourself. All the work comes together - deadlines - or not at all - no income.

      Look forward to the AF photo

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  7. Well what an amazing story! If only things were so simple now!
    I really enjoyed the photo too :0)

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    1. Thanks Sandra ... you've changed your blog!

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  8. What an amazing story, John! It almost sounds like a script for a Hollywood movie. It is truly inspirational.

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    1. Framing all those pictures would take up most of the movie :0)

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  9. John, it seems that you were blessed both with an amazng artistic talent and an amazing can do wife - all your stories contain the phrase 'sold out'!! I love the old photo!

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    1. After 53 years she still introduces me as her first husband ... reckons it keeps me on my toes!

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  10. That's a great story John and a great demonstration of just how good your work is, even back then. And you know what they say - behind every successful man, there's a ...... Pat!! ;-)

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    1. More a case of right time and right place, John ... I usually tell her she's protecting her investment ... I can't print what she says back! :0)

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  11. I absolutely love the photo of you John!! And the story of course is absolutely amazing, just like you, and your crazy amazing talent. :)))) And I wish every artist had someone behind them like you have your Pat. What a great support she has been. :)

    And you couldn't possibly look like a berk! Although I have no idea what that is. He he. :)

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    1. I'm not sure there is an actual Berk ... but it sounds right, you can get feeling into it!

      The dynamic duo! :0)

      Thanks, Crystal - loved the masked picture but no time to comment

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  12. A wonderful story John! You've a wonderful gift, and I'm a romantic at heart....love it!

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    1. Aw, thank you, Laura. Love your pictures of leaves

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  13. Terrific story John. I can't get over how much we have in common. Our art business story is very similar to yours and Pat's. I also want to thank you for pointing out the shortcomings in my post this morning. I've corrected them. You can be my editor anytime.

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  14. Yes it's quite incredible, Linda ... but we come from the same vintage :0)

    I didn't 'point out your shortcomings' I merely asked what you meant.

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  15. I came by just check around... and I read a marvelous story! Like a fairytale. You have a gift with pen and ink dear John, either it's for drawing or for writing -alright, I know you probably use computer for writing, but the poet inside me decided otherwise :)
    Warm regards.

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  16. Konstantina, welcome! I neither write nor draw ... my pen does it all for me, I just hang on and try to enjoy the ride :0) I look forward to reading your writing and viewing your paintings.
    Cheers!

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  17. This proves you are a natural!

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  18. Wow wonderful story - great beginning of a very talented artist. I'm rather "star-struck" anyway, since I heard you quoted on AHA. I am so glad you were able to finally be an artist, as it was meant to be.

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    1. Thanks Dan, you're too kind. First I heard about AHA ... oh my gosh, what could I have said? (we don't have a 5th Amendment)

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  19. What a wonderful post, John! You are equally as talented writing stories as you are creating your art. One day I would like to make a living from my art - but for now I'll settle for living for my art! Haha. You are amazing - I love the old photo. Thanks for sharing!

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