Category Archives: illustration

Engaging first gear


Dots and dots and dots and dots and dots. In hell the really bad people do stippling forever

So I pretty much took the summer off the blog in the end, my main excuse being that I haven’t done any archaeology really, unless you count two weeks spent drawing thousands of little dots on Adobe Illustrator after accepting some work digitising object drawings. On the plus side, money; on the minus side; madness. I was also handicapped for some time by a crushing sense of guilt, having developed a moral certainty that I had caused Great Britain to exit the European Union using magic (see previous post). Now I’ve gained perspective on the situation I know this to be nonsense and I now only suffer from a vague sense of guilt that I didn’t vote, but I share complicity in that with 13 million other eligible non-voters. Had I actually discovered an ability to influence global events using the Dark Arts I feel things would work out badly for everyone.

The only new power I’ve really been developing over the summer is driving. Some of you may find it surprising that an educated woman in her middle years, who can tie a good bowline, ride a horse and is handy with a blade, can’t drive a car, but to me it seems surprising that so many people do drive considering how expensive, stressful and boring it is. Bring on the driverless cars I say; even if they occasionally drive you into the side of a truck at least you can read the papers and drink a coffee while they’re doing it. It’s actually surprisingly common for British archaeologists not to drive. This has something to do with many of them being feckless dreamers unconcerned with worldly matters, but more to do with over-long periods spent in higher education and being too poor to buy and run a car. Thus has the world been spared many a tiresome driver, easily distracted by passing long-barrows and Iron Age hill forts, constantly ignoring the satnav to investigate ‘interesting’ looking churches and insisting that every road which runs straight for more than 100m must be Roman. Anyway, I’ve got my test in a few weeks so you better watch out if you’re on the roads.


My parents are not supportive of my artistic efforts, why can’t I paint something nice like kittens? I tell them that art has to reflect the soul

Naturally I’ve wasted the last two weeks staying up until 4am every night watching exciting Olympic sport, like Spain playing Hungary at water polo. Some of my other summer non-achievements have included a spate of archaeologically-inspired painting, preparing a tedious old bunch of rubbish (my doctoral research) for publication, and watching all nine series of The X-Files, which left me cripplingly paranoid for a good three weeks. “Trust no one”, says the first source that Mulder gets horribly killed, which is strange because that’s exactly what my mother’s always said…

My summer is nearly over and the digging season is about to begin so I’ll be heading back to Iraq in about three weeks to start a new project. This one presents a bit of a problem though because ‘they’ have made me sign a contract which forbids me from talking about the project, blogging about the project or posting images or text about the project on any platform (apologies to my para-archaeology conspiracy theorist stalkers who just wet themselves – sorry guys, but I’m just a pawn of the military-industrial elite). Anyway, it presents an issue for the blog but I hope I can work something out.

In some really excellent news I finally found my Blue Peter badge which has been lost for many years. The deep significance of this will only be apparent to my UK readers.


This was the summit of my ambitions when I was ten years old. I think it still is.


Movember: Another surly Assyrian gnome

Movember: Another surly Assyrian gnome

It’s been a whole month since I got back from Iraq and what have I been up to? Well, I’ve been very busy in fact as I’ve taken on far too much freelance work for the time available, and for my limited capacity for self-motivation. The biggest job is a series of reconstruction illustrations for a museum in Turkey detailing parts of the Neo-Assyrian town I was digging up back in August. I started off doing the first one on Adobe Illustrator but this turned out looking a bit too much like a poorly rendered computer game and encouraged other members of the project to demand an irritating number of artistically unattractive changes in the name of scientific accuracy. In an attempt to put an end to this sort of rubbish I have now reverted to the more intractable oil-on-canvas format. This has a few downsides, including getting paint on my parents’ curtains, not being able to work in the same room as the television, and accidentally washing my brush in my cup of tea instead of the paint thinner (three times now). Large architectural pieces are not coming particularly easily, probably because my artistic specialisms are dogs, horses and giant Japanese anime-style robots. I have learned that Neo-Assyrian soldiers dressed almost exactly like gnomes and any attempt to make them look un-gnomish will fail. House-based archaeology is hard.

My more usual subject matter: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy leaves on giant robot to save world from ill-defined evil

My more usual subject matter: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy leaves on giant robot to save world from ill-defined evil

Wino: I tell Lilly to drink a glass of water and go to bed

Wino: I tell Lilly to drink a glass of water and go to bed

My punishing work regime demands that I get up first thing in the afternoon and start work straight after The Daily Politics, and the one o’clock news. Work then progresses through the day uninterrupted except for the couple of hours either side of dinner, any film that gets four stars or more in the Radio Times and a bit of clandestine wine drinking when the cat is feeling down. Remarkably similar to my PhD years really. I’ve had to take a few breaks, of course, to visit friends and to escape my parents’ commentary on the mess, the disappearances from the fridge and the state of the curtains. The large amount of time (and money) I’ve been spending on the train has at least allowed me to indulge my renewed passion for dystopian British comics of the late 1980s, resulting in an unnecessarily bleak mental attitude for the festive period. Still, there’s those Roman pot sherds I agreed to illustrate to look forward to. For Christmas I have mostly asked for hijabs.

John Constantine battles to save the town of Thursdyke from committing suicide after Thatcher's Britain becomes too grim to bear

John Constantine battles to save the town of Thursdyke from committing suicide after Thatcher’s Britain becomes too grim to bear