Saturday, 30 June 2012

Two Jamaican legends on tour with Jools Holland

Continuing my labour of love which combines Freehand Silhouette cuts and the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra.
Two Jamaican giants this time.  The undisputed Queen of Boogie, Ruby Turner

... and the band's trombonist, Rico Rodriguez

Ruby's voice is superb.  She really is a top rhythm & blues, pop & soul Diva.
Kingston born Rico has been a session musician for many years. Want to see them both in action?
You can check the tour dates here
Hoping to catch them myself in Glasgow on 23rd or 24th November this year.

Some notes on the cuts themselves.  I trawled through some internet pics of Ruby & Rico.  Found a couple that I liked but they were three-quarter views.  I had to use a little imagination and artistic licence to give them that complete side- on classic profile.  Hope you like them.

Enjoy yourselves - it's later than you think!

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Wedding Caricature Commission

It's always nice to be asked to do a wedding caricature commission, but on this occasion the bride is a friend of mine who helped me immensely when I was writing my novel.  Michelle's creative writing and poetry is first class.  You can learn about and purchase Michelle's poetry works here.
There reception was at the Brig O Doon hotel.  Just a few yards from the Robert Burns Birthplace museum in Alloway.  Funny how all these blog updates seem to tie in with each other.

The way I tackle caricature commissions is always the same.  I do a light pencil sketch to begin with - add the colour using watercolour washes - then complete the picture with a fine nib pen.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Demonstration video on 'How to draw a caricature'.

This is a demonstration of how to draw a caricature.  It is, however, a very relaxed and laid back version of what I do normally.  If I am working at events the process is much speedier.
For this demo caricature  I chose a celebrity as a subject.  This is my version of comedian and actor Robbie Coltraine.
Doing celebrity caricatures in this way allows the viewing public to recognise the subject gradually as the drawing progresses.  When you watch this video, please ignore the web address at the end.  It is no longer active.  I can always be contacted on this blog.

I have drawn caricatures of real life celebrities over the years.  These include, Sir Jimmy Savile, Martin O'Neil, Neil Lennon & John Leslie.

Monday, 25 June 2012

The Robert Burns Birthplace Museum Alloway

One of the advantages of living in North Ayrshire is that I am only a half hour drive from the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway.

I was invited down there by Hannah Teesdale, the learning officer at the museum.  Between us, we are hoping to host a presentation on Silhouette Art during the lifetime of Robert Burns, sometime in November this year.Hannah will be taking care of all the organising, including - generating an interest from the general public.Me?    Well, I am hoping to do a background presentation on the exquisite art of Silhouette cutting, past and present.This will be followed by a live demonstration of the cutting process and a light-hearted hands-on workshop.I will take along the raw materials, (paper & scissors)  I just hope there aren't too many injuries!!!  :-)Silhouette scissors are very sharp.

Hannah was kind enough to be my guide as we toured the museum.  It has been a number of years since I have visited the national bard's birthplace.  I was very impressed with the set up.  a very modern museum is now in place, close to the beautiful 'Land O' Burns' gardens and the ever enchanting 'Brig O' Doon'.  Well worth a visit if you are ever in Ayrshire.

If you have never heard of Robert Burns - shame on you!
When friends the world over link arms on the stroke of New Year and sing 'Auld Lang Syne', they should remember that the lyrics of that song were penned by Rabbie Burns.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Jools Holland . . . master musician

Had some free time today, so I cut a silhouette of my favourite pianist, the brilliant Jools Holland.  I have been to see Jools, his orchestra and his guests a few times over the years.  Memorable nights indeed!  One particular night in an Edinburgh Jazz club we had a ultra close up view of their show.  No stage to speak of - we were in touching distance of his piano.  He had the full orchestra there and special guests, the brilliant Ruby Turner and Marc Almond.
Anyway - a little technical info on this silhouette cut.  As always it was done completely freehand.  I am right handed, so everything was cut from right to left.  The big challenge here was getting his hand in correct proportion to the piano and his head.  the hand comes first, so I just had to trust my judgement.  The jacket sleeve is indicated with slash cuts.  When these are completed the piece of paper begins to become rather flimsy, something akin to lace.
If you know about Jools and his orchestra please check out his drummer, Gilson Lavis.  He is an excellent artist and has drawn fantastic portraits of the band in ink.

I thought, as I was in the mood, I would also do a silhouette cut of Phil Veacock, the lead saxophonist in the band.  Same rules apply here, everything is cut from right to left.
Can't wait to see them again.  If you enjoy great music, a Jools Holland concert is the only place to be.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Merry Christmas

I know that it is early to send Christmas greetings, but I promise to post this painting again in December.  In my home there are no watercolours of mine hanging on the wall.  A couple of oil paintings, but no watercolours.  Last year when the Christmas decorations were going up I painted this happy picture of a little girl hugging Santa.  The finished work was stuck to the glass on my internal door.  When the decorations came down - the painting came down too, and is keeping my other watercolours company in my storage box.
I am thinking of taking this one along to the printers to be transformed into a proper Christmas card.
Hope the sun is shining where you are today, but let me be the first to wish you a Happy Christmas for 2012.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Another coffee painting

I have tried painting with coffee twice.  This was my first effort.  Unlike my 'Mr Forbes' this painting was built up in layers, using thin washes of diluted filter coffee.  You can probably tell from the strange looks on the faces that this was taken from an old sepia photograph.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Glenapp Castle

When I chose a name for my blog I went for 'Life of Brian'. Now I know that this title is well known for other reasons, and being a big Monty Python fan, I hope I don't get into hot water for using it. But my name is Brian - and this blog is about my life, so I suppose I have a moral right to retain the name. The web address however may cause confusion. brings you here. I chose the name 'Glenapp' after a location that I have worked at often as a caricaturist and silhouette artist. Glenapp castle is a five star Relais and Châteaux hotel just outside Ballantrae on the beautiful South Ayrshire coastline. I have enjoyed working at a few New Year's day dinner parties there. It certainly is the place to be if you want to spoil yourself with beautiful surroundings and enjoy Michelin Star cuisine. And finally - a quote from the film that shares the title of this blog - visit Glenapp if you want to 'Look on the bright side of life.'

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

The Duke

Thought I should add a quickly drawn caricature.  This is more like the kind of drawing that I would produce at events like weddings.  I don't meet many cowboys though  . . . Then again . . .  lol
I drew this to give clients an idea of what the rapid caricatures look like.  At other times I accept commissions and work on them at home.  These are finished in ink and watercolour.
Weddings are perfect for caricatures.  There is always a lull between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.  This is usually when I am hired to entertain the guests.  Each caricature has the wedding date and the bride & groom's names preprinted on the paper.
I have worked at a couple of high profile events throughout the years.  The biggest, I suppose, was the Champions League final at Hampden park, Glasgow.
I also did some work for the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire's garden party at Chatsworth House, and worked at an event in Edinburgh Castle that Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister was hosting, although on those particular occasions I was working as a silhouette artist.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Letter of thanks

Received a lovely letter of thanks from a customer whose wedding I worked at recently.  It is always nice to receive feedback like this.

Hi Brian,

Hope you are well. I just wanted to thank you so much for attending our wedding at Broomhall Castle on 28th April, we were absolutely delighted with your work, the caricatures were absolutely brilliant, you capture the details so well, and it kept our guests thoroughly entertained whilst we had our photographs taken! Many friends and family have already framed their pictures, a fantastic keepsake from our day! You are very talented and it was lovely to meet you and have you there as part of our special day.

Thanks again,

Monday, 11 June 2012

Pyrograph (Woodburning)

Going way back now.  I did this woodburning portrait for a friend around the late eighties.  The children in this picture are grown up now.  In those days woodburning was my passion.  I worked on commissions, doing portraits of dogs, cats, other family pets and people.

As you can see from this old newspaper clipping I was much younger then.  My tools for the woodburning portraits were an electric soldering iron and any old scraps of birch plywood.
I stopped doing these pictures when I came to realise that over the years two things happened that were affecting the finished works.  Over time, the scorch marks made by the soldering iron gradually bleached out, especially the lighter tones.  I found that even natural daylight was doing this.  The other thing that became a problem was that the birch plywood became darker as the years went on.  Some of my earliest works had disappeared to a shadow.  Couldn't find a solution for this problem, other than locking them away in a dark cupboard.
Pity about that, as they were so unique.

Saturday, 9 June 2012


It has been a busy weekend so far. I must thank Nicole and Ross - and also Kirsty and Paul. Not forgetting their wonderful friends and families who have kept me busy over the last two days. It is the best feeling in the world for a caricaturist to hear laughter as you walk away from a group of guests. I am so lucky to have shared your special day with you. Off to Newcastle tomorrow for more of the same, hopefully.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The great Rolf Harris.

I have always been a great admirer of Rolf Harris.  Used to love watching his shows on TV.  The things he could do with a 4" decorator's brush and some household paint!!!
I had the pleasure of seeing some of his artwork at close range on the last cruise that we were on.  What a talent!
I was watching him on the TV again yesterday presenting a programme of art depicting a celebration of the Queens diamond jubilee.  Again, he didn't fail to impress.  I managed to catch a freeze frame from the programme.  (The wonders of modern technology!)  I cut a silhouette of the great man.  Would love to meet him one day.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The green hat

A mixture of two of my art journeys here.  This is obviously a profile, but this time I have created a loose watercolour instead of my usual silhouette cut.  The green cast of light on the lady's face was very tempting when I saw the reference photograph.
Lots of washing away to create lost edges, but her facial profile was kept sharp to create a focal point.

Friday, 1 June 2012


Looks like I will be adding lots more to this blog in the way of caricatures. My website is now no longer active, which is great news for all followers of Watch this space . . .