We’ve recently replaced our petrol car with an E.V. – an Electric Vehicle. Electric cars are increasingly common in Orkney. I’m not sure if it’s the size of the island and the corresponding smaller journey distances or the 100% renewable electricity available locally, but they seem to making sense to lots more folk.

The Eureka moment for us was when we worked out that the monthly savings we made from using the much cheaper ‘fuel’, electricity, would essentially pay for the capital cost of the new vehicle.
Zero fuel emissions, less noise pollution, effectively self-financing and a much better, newer vehicle… we were sold!

Automatic shift

It’s taken a while to get used to it of course, it’s an automatic gearbox for a start and we have had to adjust our planning to cope with daily charging. Nothing too onerous, a couple of attempts to ride the clutch and stamping on the brake instead aside.
But the best thing about it, is how it has made us drive differently. Having a full tank of petrol is very different from having a full charge. I’m rather embarrassed to admit I had never really given my driving style and subsequent fuel usage much of a thought. I’ve been putting around £30 of petrol in my various cars, every week for the last 20 years, and driving as fast/slow as made sense to me, within the law.

Turns out I’ve likely burnt a lot more fuel than I’ve needed to over the years. In this new electric vehicle, my primary concern has shifted from being ,”get from A-B as fast as possible” to , “get from A-B as efficiently as possible”.

Before you roll your eyes, I understand I could have driven more efficiently in a petrol car, perhaps this is rather obvious?
However, this recent private revelation, has had a profound effect on my thinking regarding much more important area of my life than cars – my creativity & expression.

I realize now, that for years, I have been working on my art projects inefficiently. Every week I’ve been filling my metaphorical gas tank and hoping I get to my destination before my fuel runs out… and I do apologize for beating you over the head with this, but it’s been exhausting.
Exhausting to the point were I have barely drawn anything for the last year. I felt so flat and worn out with it I decided to take a break from art work.
Being a self employed designer I still had a large amount of client work to service, I couldn’t retreat to a monastery,  metaphorical or otherwise – so I did the next best thing, I packed away my pencils and spent my free time during the Orkney winter of 2016/17 on the beaches, with my camera.

An old art friend, Malcom Olva, once told me to seek inspiration in other mediums to get out of the doldrums artistically. Bloody good advice. So I’ve been concentrating on my camera work, investing time and money in assembling a decent kit of photographic equipment and developing a modern workflow. And it’s been great fun, with a lot of very encouraging support from friends new & old and even made a bit of money at it which was entirely unexpected!


About 4 months ago I could feel the need to make marks rising in me again. So started splashing some paint around, nothing too heavy, noodling really.

I also tried a spot of writing, I’ve outlined a couple of stories I’m going to illustrate. One of these needed a lot of polish, so I asked writers Michael Sambrook and Rob Jones to flesh it out. They, of course, ran off down the street with it, kicking in windows as they went, making it so much better than I could have managed on my own. Well done chaps! I’ll be starting to draw that in September, more on that soon.

My most recent project in the last couple of months, which is drawing to a close, has been illustrating a chapter of an academic book written by Laura Watts, Geoffrey Bowker and Cymene Howe, with letters by Rob Jones. A 22 pager, it was a little daunting as a 1st project after a long layoff, but it’s been a great experience, great fun working with such energetic folk via multi-timezone skype.

I’ve rejigged the site a bit too, made it more of a journal – I’m hoping to post longer form pieces of writing and art from here on in, hopefully reflective of a more considered process rather than event/project driven.

We’ll see. Drive carefully friend.