Skulls and bones


I have a thing about drawing skulls and bones. Not of any morbid fascination (I think), but because they can really be a challenge. The texture and colour of bones are interesting, and the ultimate challenge is to draw a skull first with graphite on white paper, then with white pencil on black paper. This is a massive challenge; drawing light instead of shadows. I have – as of now – no examples of the latter. And for bone structure; da Vinci is the boss.






Human anatomy


Weathered human skull


Doodles, creativity, alphabets and cognitive noise

‘…qualities like quiveriness and vulnerability come to mind when I think of creativity… creativity requires a sense of smell, a palate to taste the scents that make brilliance. All life feeds upon the random. Creativity is the haute cuisine.’

-Douglas Hofstadter

P1080110aWhat on earth is it? No one can give a vaguely sensible answer to what goes on in my brain. It is non-stop, it goes on every waking hour, and, I suspect, when I sleep as well. It is a constant IMG_1824aWrattling, a background noise: constantly having new ideas, judging colours, angles, texture, making connections, soaking up words or phrases in any situation. Connecting bizarre things together; finding some hue, taste or sound that bring unrelated things together in my head, spanning languages, centuries, words, colours, poetry, sounds, materials, buildings, life forms; from teaspoons to magma. It is exhausting, in a way, but it’s been going on my whole life, so I have no idea what it would be like without it.
It makes me able to make metaphors no one understands. How admirable.

Bits of paper, books with notes in the margins, or the last blank pages missing to some long forgotten desperate need for scribbling something. Piles of notebooks half filled out with unidentifiable ideas, but sometimes, sometimes a notebook contains a tiny little fishingdoodle that have it. Some magic little quality. And there it is – a perfect little doodle or a surprising combination of letters or words. Something that it would be impossible to improve on. Adding something would ruin it. A doodle; born perfect. An interaction of letterforms in perfect balance and meaning. Trying to do it again would not work.

IMG_1820aWI can track a meeting through the doodles I make. I remember what was said from little squiggles. People who have not seen my meeting-doodles show me endless post-its with circles repeated endlessly and say, I do it too! No you don’t. Because my doodles – unconsciously – covers and span universes. They are bizarre, funny, sometimes scary, sometimes awful. often abstract. I am sure a psychologist would have a field day, but at least it keeps me IMG_1734aWawake through boring meetings. The doodles are an illustration of the noise that goes on in my head – forced to sit still and listen to some boring twat go on about strategies for the future and how to fix something that is not broken – the endless connecting process bursts out on paper.

And I am beginning slowly to realise that not everybody have this racket going on. In fact, very few people have the faintest idea what I am talking about.
So I wonder what goes in their heads.

(These are just fragments; that is the whole point. More of my more deliberate, elaborate work here.)


Human skull

You can actually buy some stuff with my drawings on them. Here, some examples of the human skull drawing. Head over to my CafePress home and have a look around (considering posters. Maybe later.).



Mechanical owls – custom drawing

I am not the quickest with xmas presents. On the other hand, people will get a custom piece of art. I have just finished this for a friend, and his general guidelines was “mechanical owls”. The rest is just me in free flight.


It is a large-ish drawing (21x58cm), and working my way from left to right I get a little bored of repeating branches and owls, and I need to add some different details. Preferably absurd. Not that mechanical owls is not absurd.

These drawings of mine are well suited as toilet art, and I am not the least offended if people hang them in the bog. It is a unique place where people can do their business and dream themselves into the image and create stories. Preferably not connected to the physical things going on in the bog, but who am I to tell your brain what to do with my art?

It is of course not about the realistic, but I like the juxtaposition of absolute nonsense and something fairly realistic. The butterfly, the birch tree, the frogs and some of the plants and flowers are fairly realistic. To take something like a bird house and make it absurdly ordinary and weirdly mechanical simultaneously makes me happy.

Probably the trickiest thing in this case, was the conifer. I have never really drawn cones before, and I really had to conjure up images of birch trees in my head.

People tend to ask how long it takes to draw something like this. It is an impossible thing to answer for two reasons: One, I forget time when I am working. It is in a sense meditation, time does not exist. Two, a lot of the time I sit at my drawing table staring out into space. My mind wanders and some conscious and unconscious level are looking for inspiration. Maybe there is a 50/50 of scribbling and letting my mind wander wildly.

Things I would have liked to incorporate in this image but did not. The reason being that I could have done it, but it would have been forced. It would not become a part of the drawing really. It would feel too constructed:

  • pacman
  • emacs/terminal screen
  • piano
  • keypad

Some of my drawings might be available as prints. You can ask, but I promise nothing.


Here are the two others.



Tools of the trade: graphite pencils and funfacts


Once in a while I get asked what kind of tools I use for my drawings. The short answer is “pencils”. The long answer is… the best ones.

I have tried and failed with a large variety of brands.


a collection of my pencils.


Pencil funfacts:

  • They have not – contrary to popular belief –  contained led (though Pliny mentioned lead for drawing guiding lines on papyrus).
  • However, some of the coats used for painting sometimes contained lead
  • The hardness of a pencil is described by increasing numbers +H. This means an increasingly lighter stroke. The hardness is obtained by increasing the amount of clay. The B stands for blackness, and contains an increasing amount of graphite. By happy coincidence, in my language the letter B is the first letter in the word “soft” (bløt).
  • Graphite is a mineral, a rare formation of carbon.
  • The English mines were kept secret, like a military base, and production kept low, so as to keep the international price of graphite high.
  • In the 17-18teenth century, graphite was worth hundreds and thousands of pounds.
  • Graphite was so valued, that the miners were strip-searched when leaving the mine.
  • American pencils are traditionally painted yellow. This comes – in short – from the fact that a seam of graphite of excellent quality was discovered on the Siberian/Chinese border, and therefore got the name “Chinese pencils”. Copying the yellow of imperial robes symbolised the romance of the Orient, and simultaneously hinted that they came from the superior ore.
  • Though different brands use the same hardness-blackness scale, this does not mean that they are equally hard/black. Therefore, artists will have their favourite brands.

Generally, the brand means less the blacker the pencil is. In the higher end of H, from 2H and up, the quality really shows. I have for a while used Lyra Art Design, and pretty much ditched the harder ones; they “clog”. They leave tiny-tiny specks on the paper, and when you draw over that again, it accumulates more colour. Therefore you end up with tiny dots. I am probably the only one who notice this in my drawings, but it is annoying.

Koh-i-noor is just awful on all accounts. The colour, the density, the feel.

Bruynzeel and Spectrum makes very decent charcoal and their coloured cousins, I just do not use them that often. However, they look great on packing paper.

It is a long time since I have used Derwent, but remember them as a generally a little fiddly, and they do not sharpen nicely.

So I am going back to the source, the brand I used years ago, that has not ever let me down; Staedtler Mars Lumograph. I do not know why I strayed, but hurray, the quality has not gone down.


Erasers? I do not use them much, but I have always stuck with Pilot or Staedtler, I do not touch anything else. I rather not use erasers at all, if I have to use something else than those. Lately, though, I have discovered the brilliant kneadable rubber.

(Oh, and Staedtler, should you happen to read this, feel free to send me a big box of goodies!)