Wednesday 6 January 2016

Another Goodbye ... and another Hello!

I've kept a blog for 10 years now. My very first blogpost (here) was about big pants. Since then we've discussed everything from the existence of god to the joy of art and from the possibility of alien life to the inevitability of getting drunk.

I kept that blog going until 2011 when the site became so full and clunky that I shut the doors and migrated to this blog where I've been ever since.

But now this one is getting clunky too so I've decided to move once again.

My new blog COLGANWRITES is here.

I also have a Wordpress site here but it won't be used for much other than storage.

I will, of course, leave all of my bloggage from 2006 to 2015 online as an archive.

Do join me at the new place.

Tiffin is served.

Sunday 25 October 2015


Colgeroons is here!

Yes, my not-at-all-in-the-slightest long-awaited colouring book is finally here. It has 21 unique A4-sized pictures to colour in plus a few loose dogs here and there.

It's somewhat of a departure from other, more traditional colouring books. There are no secret gardens or mandala covered elephants. There are, however, alien Mona Lisas, headless scientists, interplanetary wedding photos and rude gnomes. But not too rude (it's suitable for kids).

You can order copies from Lulu here (£6.50 plus £2.99 P&P). Or, if you want something a bit more special, you can order direct from me and for £15 only (price includes P&P) I'll sign your copy, dedicate it to whoever the book is for and draw a unique doodle of your choice inside. Go on! Unique artwork and a colouring book for the price of a takeaway! And for less than a quid a page!

Just email me at and tell me what you want doodled and who the book is for. Then use that same email address to deposit the money in my Paypal account and the book will be on its way. You can also pay by money transfer or cheque - email for details.

Go on. Treat yourself.

Or don't. 

Saturday 4 July 2015

Service Was Interrupted ...

I'm sorry that this blog has had so little attention recently. I simply haven't had time. What with 16 episodes of QI to research and write and record (not all on my own of course!).

Plus there have been seven Museum of Curiosity episodes to do, plus topping and tailing work on Dr Sue Black's Saving Bletchley Park plus raising the funding (done it!) and actually writing my own new book Why Did the Policeman cross the Road? there hasn't been time for much else. Plus I'm now hard at work on a novel.

I am popping interesting snippets into my Unbound shed here if that helps.

Otherwise, be back in the Autumn. Or as soon as I have time!

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Beautiful Sounds

Let's face it - 3D printing is the technology of tomorrow. And, like any technology, there's a place for it as a tool for the artist. In the past few days I've been struck by the beauty of some 3D printed musical instruments that will be on display at the 3D Print Design Show in New York City in April. Just look at these beautiful shapes:

That's a two string piezoelectric violin designed by Associate Professor of Architecture at FIU Eric Goldemberg, and his MONAD Studio partner Veronica Zalcberg. Isn't it gorgeous? Other instruments that will be on show include a 3D printed Monobarasitar, a Cello, a small didgeridoo and a Hornucopia (a large didgeridoo). At the event — which is run by MecklerMedia and takes place at the Javits Convention Center — there will be three performers playing these five instruments to the amazement of thousands of onlookers.

Some more wonderful MONAD designs can be found on their website here.

Saturday 28 February 2015

Columbus - Step by Step

Here's another new painting I've done.

It was inspired by a book called Flotsametrics and the Floating World by scientists Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scigliano.

Ebbesmeyer became obsessed with floating garbage - from rubber ducks to discarded Nike trainers - and where it travels to and from. In particular, he was fascinated with discovering the fate of some 29,000 'friendly floatees' children's bath toys - red beavers, green frogs, blue turtles and yellow ducks - that were swept overboard in a container in 1992.  (I blogged about it in some depth back in 2012 - you can read it here). Ten months after the incident the first Floatees began to wash up along the Alaskan coast. The first discovery consisted of ten toys found by a beachcomber near Sitka, Alaska on 16 November 1992, about 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from their starting point. Ebbesmeyer and colleague James Ingraham contacted beachcombers, coastal workers, and local residents to locate hundreds of the beached Floatees over a 530 mile (850 km) shoreline. Long story short, by logging the travels of the Floatees plus lots of other lost items, Ebbesmeyer was able to revolutionise ocean science by showing that ocean currents don't work like we assumed they did.

Anyway, I thought it would be great to do a painting that captures the loneliness of the long-distance rubber duckie. And, to give a sense of space, I figured I'd need a big canvas to convey the smallness of the duck.

So, I picked a 24" by 30" by 3/4" box canvas and 'got rid of the white'.

I hated it almost immediately and the duck was waaaaaaay too big. So, the following day, and inspired by a particularly gorgeous sunset, I had another go.

Things seemed to be going okay so I added some waves and some more cloud textures.

But then I had a realisation: The waves probably wouldn't break like that out in the deep ocean. And the scale was all wrong if I wanted to have a tiny duck. Plus, I reckoned that a night time scene would look even more lonely. My final realisation was that, with yellow being the complimentary colour of blue, I'd get the greatest contrast if the painting was predominantly blue. So, another attempt ...

I realise that it's probably not as striking an image as I could have painted. But I'm happiest with this version. The photo, sadly, doesn't do it justice as the colours are very different in the original with lots of different and subtle shades of blue. Oh, and here's Duckie in close-up:

It made an interesting change to do a painting so devoid of detail and colour and I enjoyed the process. I've no idea whether anyone but me will like it but, then again, I paint for my own pleasure and satisfaction.

If other people like it, that's a bonus.

If, occasionally, people buy them, that's an amazing double bonus!

More paintings soon!

Wow! It's WAWOW!

Here's my appearance on the first edition of the new online TV  magazine show WAWOW hosted by Ruth Curtis at iconic Pinewood Studios.

WAWOW's website is and their YouTube channel is here.

The channel was launched this week - I wish them every success!

Thursday 26 February 2015

Justyna Kopania - Her paint bills must be enormous

I wish I could paint like Polish artist Justyna Kopania. The paint is applied so thickly and so freely and yet the finished result is a beautifully considered piece every time.

I wish I could be that expressive and loose in my work. I'm altogether too rigid. Maybe I should get the palette knives out and have a play?

You can see more over on Saatchi Art and Facebook.

Marginalia Madness

Last year I was at the Edinburgh Festival and made a point of going to watch Holly Walsh's show Never had IT. I'd met Holly earlier in the year after Graham Linehan had put us in contact. Holly was working on a script for a new TV comedy pilot and needed some policing procedures advice. She's a charming and very funny lady. Anyhow, as I was in Edinburgh to do a show with John Lloyd and some QI/Museum of Curiosity colleagues, I popped along to see her. The show, as I'd expected, was very funny and was a kind of autobiography, highlighting her natural geekiness and nerdity. But one section of the show stood out - the section on her fascination with marginalia. It sparked an interest in me too and I've been seeking it out ever since.

Marginalia is a posh name for 'Mediaeval doodling'. In the days before printing presses, books had to be meticulously copied by scribes; often people who had taken holy orders. The monks and nuns would also be called upon to illuminate the books and manuscripts with coloured illustrations and fancy capital letters. And, just occasionally, presumably out of boredom or mischief, they would doodle in the margins - hence marginalia. Sometimes they wrote poems and prayers. Other times they drew pictures, and a few were hilariously rude and imaginative. Like this knight fighting a snail ...

And this guy squaring up to a savage rabbit.

But now let's sink deeper into the marginalia mire. Oh look! Here's some monkey sodomy ...
And a penis tree (and happy nun) ...

 And a chap giving himself a prostate self-examination outside the chess club meeting.

Here's a mermen having his pile ointment delivered by arrow ...

And a rabbit with a big chopper.

And here's proof that Jedi master Yoda really is old.

See why I love this stuff??

LOADS more to be found here at Got Medieval?

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Pin-Up Painting Posers

With all of the recent furore over Page 3 of The Sun, I thought it would be nice to return to a simpler, less-contentious time when pin-ups were chaste and fun. I love these fascinating 'behind-the-scenes' pics of models and the paintings they eventually became.

These are all works by the celebrated pin-up artist Gil Evgren who is probably the best-known such artist after Alberto Vargas. He was active from the 1930s right through to the 1970s but his most famous work dates from the 40s and 50s. If you want to know more about him, his website is here.

It's interesting to see how the finished art differs from the original photos isn't it? Image manipulation was happening a long time before Photoshop arrived ...

Thursday 19 February 2015

Pat Perry's travelling sketchbook

Michigan-based artist Pat Perry spent most of 2014 living a transient life across the US. His travels took him backpacking, train hopping, and motorcycling with stops in New England, Arkansa, and Texas, all the while dutifully recording his thoughts and observations in his sketchbook.

The presence of rural America is a near constant presence in Perry’s work, as well as the frustrations and occasional warnings of humanity colliding with the natural world.

Perry has a number of prints available in his shop and you can also follow his ongoing adventures on Instagram.

Info for this blogpost lifted directly from Colossal.