Category Archives: Art

More Artistic Endeavours

I’ve been working on some more digital art.

As I said in my previous post on digital art, these pictures are ‘painted’ on a computer, using a variety of tools including drawing, painting, airbrushing, etc. They aren’t created by the computer, they’re created by me. Nowadays people assume digital means it was done by an app or a filter.

So, you may say, why don’t you just use paint like normal artists? Well I used to and I may go back, but the fact is this is just so much easier. I don’t have to buy lots of paints and brushes, I don’t have to put on overalls and I don’t have to clean up afterwards. I can just switch on the computer and get started. If you think of digital photography compared to film photography and you get the idea. It’s just cheaper and hell of a lot more convenient. I quite like the polished, airbrushed look you can achieve as well.

One drawback however, is the reduced value. If I used oil paints on canvas, it would be unique, and though I could make prints of it, there would only ever be one original. With digital art you simply need to copy and paste and you have another exact copy. If you can make unlimited perfect copies of something at no expense it’s difficult for people to see them as having any value. Luckily I don’t have to consider that too much as I just do these for my own pleasure – but if you’d like to buy a signed copy please get in touch!

By the way, these are reduced resolution copies so they load on the page easier – it also stops any unscrupulous readers trying to make bigger prints for themselves.

Anyway, that’s enough whingeing, here are the pictures. I hope you like them.


Roy Keane


Lawrence of Arabia (portrait)

I’ve actually had this one printed as a large acrylic, and now hangs in my office.


Mako Shark

I thought I’d try something other than a portrait.


Layna Fergus


Clare Hughes


George Best


Eric Cantona

If you’re going to paint great Manchester United players you can’t leave out King Eric.


Clint Eastwood

lawrence-020217-version-2Lawrence of Arabia (landscape)

I painted this as a matching piece for the portrait, but changed my mind about printing it.


James Bond


Willem Dafoe



Manchester Macro

I’ve not posted anything for a while, don’t worry, I’m not dead – just getting a few things sorted, unfortunately not the kind of things that make great blog posts

So, to get the ball rolling again, I’ve done a little photography project.

My lovely wife, Lady Hughes, gave me a new macro (close-up) lens for Christmas and I haven’t had chance to try it out properly – until today.

I’ve always wanted to have a go at macro photography so I dropped various hints in the run-up to Christmas and Clare didn’t let me down. Many lenses have a ‘macro’ setting, allowing you to get a bit closer, but they’re not strictly proper macro lenses like this one – Canon EF 50mm macro, for the photographers out there. It’s not a microscope, but it allows you to get very close and still be able to focus.

The challenge I set myself was to go to the Northern Quarter of Manchester, a place I’ve photographed several times before, and try to get a new perspective with the new lens.

What I found was you start looking at the details, the textures, patterns and the abstract. It’s quite interesting walking round a place you already know and just focussing on the small. You also get a few strange looks from passers by, wondering why you’re taking pictures of a bollard from only six inches away.

Going through the photos afterwards, I realised that the wide open aperture I used gave me a very narrow depth of field, which was a bit tight on several shots – but hey, that’s a learning point for next time.

Here’s the rest of the pictures, see if you recognise any of the places, and feel free to give me any (constructive) feedback.



Autumn Update

I’ve not ‘blogged’ for a while now but don’t worry, that doesn’t mean I’ve given up or stopped having adventures, in fact it’s partly because I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to write any posts – that’s my excuse anyway and I’m sticking to it.

Anyway, here’s a quick update on the story so far.

Two weeks ago, Lady Hughes and myself had a visit from my Brother Peter and sister Claire, over for the weekend from Dublin. We were really looking forward to this as we always have a great time with them, but it did pose the question of, what makes the perfect weekend in Manchester?

Now the answer will obviously vary, depending on your tastes and interests, but in the end we came up with a Friday night in the Northern Quarter, Saturday morning tram to Media City, Imperial North and the Lowry, then on to Castlefield and lunch at the Wharf. Stroll through Christmas Markets, meet up with both of my sons, Alex (and girlfriend Jade) and Elliott, and then onto Mr Thomas’s Chop House for dinner. Finished at the Molly House in Manchester’s Gay Village. Sunday was gentle (very gentle) recovery and prepare for their flight home.

We had a great time, but I must confess I did get very drunk on the Saturday and made a bit of a fool of myself apparently, so apologies to anyone I may have offended – I didn’t mean it, honest.

No photos I’m afraid (or perhaps, thank god), as we were too busy have a good time.

The week after I was invited by my good friends Mark and Andy to try the famous Ale Trail train. The idea is that you catch the train from Victoria Station to Batley and get off at each stop for a drink as there’s a recommended pub at each one. Lady Hughes decided to come along for moral support.

So we caught the bus into Manchester, and walked to Victoria Station to meet the guys at 3pm.

After a brief scare due to a fire on the track, and a quick warm-up pint at Victoria, we set off and were soon at pub number 1 on the list, the Station Bar in Stalybridge (great pies).

20161119_152720-1 20161119_160402

We then progressed onto Greenfield and the Railway Inn, Marsden and the Riverhead Brewery Tap & Dining Room, and finally Slathwaite (pronounced Slowat) and the Commercial.

20161119_164111 20161119_175245 20161119_190303

At this point we all agreed it was time to head home. Due to a cancelled train, it was quicker to go on to Huddersfield and get a direct train back to Piccadilly than to wait for the next scheduled train back to Victoria.

Overall, we had a great time, but the actual pubs weren’t as great as I’d hoped, Stalybridge Station was probably the best. Also, word had obviously got around and there were a lot of people doing the same as us. This meant that when the train got into each station there was a bit of a sprint to each pub and get a drink. That being said, we did meet some great people and it was a bit of an adventure.

Would I do it again? Probably not to be honest, but I’m glad we did it at least once.

What else have I been doing? Well I’m writing a new screenplay, a dark thriller, and I’ve been doing a few more portraits. Here’s one I did a week or so back, Roy Keane:


Lady Hughes and myself have also joined a gym, so we’re ‘sculpting’ our bodies in readiness for next summer – at our age it’s a much longer job than it used to be.

Last week we went to Jon Ronson’s ‘Psychopath Night’ at Home (the venue, not our home, if that makes sense?). Great night and we even got to meet the man himself afterwards.

So, that brings us up to date I think. Next big thing is probably Christmas, so there’s something to look forward to.





Artistic Endeavours

As you can see from my previous posts, I do like a bit of photography, however, I’ve recently been trying my hand at painting.

Now when I say ‘painting’, I don’t mean actual ‘paint’ – let me explain.

I’ve been using Sketchbook Pro, along with a drawing tablet, to create these pictures on my computer. This software allows me to use a variety of materials, including pencils, brushes, charcoal, pastels and airbrush as well as a wealth of options including layers, variable opacity, locked transparencies, etc. This isn’t one of those things where you just take a photo, hit a button and hey presto, you’ve got a painting. These pictures have each taken hours to achieve.

I have done some drawing before, but I am very much a beginner at this, but I hope you can see some improvement through them all.


I did this, Self-Portrait, a couple of years ago, just playing really, it’s a bit abstract but I quite like it – my wife hates it.


I used the same technique, and more than a pinch of satire, for this portrait of Donald Trump. I like the way it shows the cracks in the façade – I’m definitely not a fan.

Continuing the theme of dangerous despots, I turned to our very own Nigel Farage.


I used the layers option to add the crumbling union jack background – not happy with Brexit, but quite happy with this.

To complete the triptych I moved onto Vladimir Putin.


I used various effects to create the bloodstained Russian flag behind him.


Self-Portrait. I tried to do a happier, brighter me – my wife prefers this one.


My son, Elliott. I’m quite pleased with the stylised look but it could be more polished. Instead of a neutral colour behind the blocks (cracks), I tried to match them to the actual shades of the picture.


Desperate Man. I did a rough version of this one and then worked out how to refine the drawing with smoother lines. I kept the rough version though, just visible under the surface, to try and illustrate the torment inside him.


Robert Mitchum.


My wife, Clare. I struggled with this for a while as the ‘blocky’ look I use didn’t seem to work well for a woman’s face, not very flattering.

In the end, I worked at removing the gaps between the colours and adding some polish with the airbrush.


Winona Ryder. Thought it would be interesting to try a monochrome image and see if the style still worked. Developed the airbrushing a bit more.


Monica Belucci. Still developing my style, more polished this time as I’m getting more confident with the techniques.

Well, that’s my progress so far, I’ve learnt a lot along the way but I’m sure there’s still more to get my head around yet. My aim is to try and improve to the point where I can produce a portrait I’d be happy to put on the wall – one day, one day.

I hope you like them and if you’d like to be a subject, please let me know.


The Bigamist Physicist

For many years I’ve lead a double life,

Secretly, and illegally, supporting more than just one wife.

In England I have Sheila, she’s dependable and mild

But in Switzerland I’ve Lola, who’s exciting, young and wild.

I work at CERN, a scientist on the Large Hadron Collider.

But, I do my best to make each feel there’s nothing that’s denied her.


Like a helium atom, I’ve two electrons spinning ‘round my nucleus,

In life I think the Standard Model is something rather dubious.

The moral objection seems purely theoretical,

It may be a crime, but I don’t think it’s so heretical.

I love them both, in different ways, and I’m sure that they’re not harmed,

Like a quark, I can be up, down, bottom, top and definitely charmed.


My relationships don’t conform to Newtonian Mechanics,

What should be interpersonal, is more fun with group dynamics.

Sheila’s my Magnetic Monopole, predictable and stable,

Maintaining domesticity, she’s dull but competently able.

But Lola gets my particles accelerating, she’s mysterious Dark Matter,

I was drawn to her Graviton and Electromagnetism chatter.


Living with Sheila is a warm cosy fire, whereas Lola’s reaction is fission,

Keeping them happy, but always apart is increasingly my life’s main mission.

For if they were to meet and combine in some way,

The result would be combustive it’s easy to say.

Forget Einstein’s predictions on energy release,

This bang would be bigger, I might lose all my teeth.


For I can predict Nature’s cycles and rhythms and turns,

I can explain the sun’s workings and how hydrogen burns.

I can calculate geometry and planetary alignment,

I’m just not so sure what that look in her eyes meant.

I can theorise formulae, and particle phenomenology,

But I can’t tell the right time, to make an apology.


I’m not scared of black holes or other dimensions,

It’s Sheila and Lola that give me apprehensions.

Perhaps now’s the time to rethink my experiment,

I predict a bad ending to this ongoing merriment.

Maybe a new job, painter, mechanic or pianist,

It’s far too tricky, I’ve found, being a bigamist physicist.


 Chris Hughes

From Rusholme with Love


My life is like a Bond film, except for the violence, the glamour or vice,

But I do work with a guy, with one gammy eye, like the one in You Only Live Twice.

I have had some odd jobs to pay the occasional bill,

Though I had a license to drive a fork-lift, and never a License To Kill.


My car went off a jetty once, like that lotus in the Spy Who Loved Me,

But my sleek machine was no submarine, it just stayed there and voided its warranty.

My mate Dave’s a baker, at Easter he tries to be fun,

He’s no killer assassin, Scaramanga or Jaws, he’s the Man with the Hot Cross Bun.


I’m no super spy, living life on the edge, I tend to just go with the flow,

With my asthma, I asked should I live to the max, answer, wife yes, Dr No.

In Thunderball they scuba dived, in Greece I once went for a snorkel,

I lost my left flipper, two minutes in, and just swam round in one great big circle.


I have had a sty in my right Goldeneye, dislocated my left index Goldfinger,

Had a nasty Skyfall off a small garden wall, the Spectre of which does still linger.

I play bingo at Mecca, not Casino Royale, you could say it’s For Your Eyes Down Only,

It’s Live and Let Die when you’re one off a row, this life that I lead can be lonely.


I suppose I do have one thing 007 does not, the love of my life, my Octopussy,

She’s my Quantum of Solace, my Pussy Galore, I’m just lucky she isn’t that fussy.

For my Tomorrow Never Dies, when she serves up a shepherd’s pie, and I’d Die Another Day if I betrayed her,

‘Cos she’d kick my Living Daylights to the Moonraker and back, and leave me sorely in the need of a first aider.


The World is Not Enough to tempt me into James Bond’s life, but the Diamonds Are Forever I’ve been told,

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, I might have a thrilling time, but for recruitment now I’m surely far too old.

I don’t want a View To A Kill, I prefer a view of a hill, to be honest it all sounds a dreadful pain,

I’m happy with it all just the way it is, but then they do say, Never Say Never Again.


Chris Hughes 2016

The Ballad of Daisy Dickinson

Little Daisy Dickinson was a pretty, happy, child,

Her temperament quite normal, her manner rather mild.

She loved her little dollies and she loved her Mum and Dad,

And if they didn’t love her back it made her feel quite sad.


They told her she was pretty and they dressed her up in lace,

They wrapped her in designer togs and painted makeup on her face.

She was special and she knew it, she could see their proud expressions,

Their smiles enhanced by whitening and years of tanning sessions.


Then in her teens she realised the importance of good looks,

It was only boring loners that were interested in books.

Daisy wore high heels and lipstick, and she padded out her bra,

And chose her boyfriend carefully, on the value of his car.


She scanned all social media for trends and new pretensions,

Had collagen, and spray tan, and nail and hair extensions.

Her makeup was a work of art, foundation, concealer and shimmer,

With expert use of shadows she could make the thick bits thinner.


All body hair was waxed away to keep her silky smooth,

And dental braces hammered in to straighten every tooth.

Daisy dieted and exercised, was pummelled, stretched and hoovered,

There was no portion of her body that she hadn’t had manoeuvred.


She took selfies in her bathroom mirror and posted them online,

Pouting like a starving duck, with a glass of chilled white wine.

Her role models, celebrities, she studied every move,

Judging their choices, critiquing their lives, deciding which ones to approve.


She polished, plucked and painted, every contour, every inch,

Her body was tight, no flab and no fat, there was nothing your fingers could pinch.

And yet, something was missing, a hole in her soul, a feeling of loss and despair,

Something that couldn’t be answered by simply recolouring her hair.


It was fame she was craving, adoration and money,

But Daisy wasn’t clever, couldn’t sing, act or be funny.

She pondered the problem and it came in a flash,

A sex tape was how she could get hold of the cash.


She hung out in nightclubs, and searched out her prey,

A premier-league footballer would show her the way.

The bigger the scandal, the bigger the splash,

So she hunted the married ones, out on the lash.


She flirted and fluttered and swivelled her hips,

She spoke like a baby and moistened her lips.

And when it was done, she uploaded the media,

And added some details to make it sound seedier.


She posed for the papers, and cashed in the story,

She appeared in lad’s mags as she basked in the glory.

She had fame, for a moment, it came and it went,

And the money was brilliant, until it was spent.


But then, back to the shadows, out of the light,

Back where survival’s a terrible fight.

Her legacy in tatters and her reputation gone,

She refused to learn her lesson, she still did not catch on.


For beauty fades and glory’s fleeting,

It’s a battle you can fight but it will always be defeating.

For there’s only so much slap that you can plaster on the cracks,

And in the end, each of us, has to face up to the facts.


It’s not what’s on the outside that should make us good or great,

It’s who we are and what we do, that’s the measure of our fate.

For Daisy, like a Christmas tree, with tinsel around it tied,

Had a bright and shiny outer, but was empty and dead, on the inside.


Chris Hughes 2016

Referendum Requiem

We’ve won the vote hip, hip, hooray, the English people have had their say,

It’s goodbye to Johnny foreigner while we keep the immigrants at bay.

A brave new world emerging, a return to the red, white and blue,

With spitfires over the white cliffs of Dover, cricket and Union Jacks too.

We’re going back to the values we cherish, we’re taking our Great Britain back,

Who cares if the economy falters, in Brexit we’re too old to sack.


We’re closing the gates to the country, stopping the flood of unwashed,

The lazy, corrupt and unwanted, their asylum requests all now are quashed.

We only want shiny white faces, with English as their native tongue,

Our towns will be quaint little villages, a land where Jerusalem’s sung.

We don’t know which ones are the trouble, so let’s give them all the big E,

Goodbye to the migrant, good riddance free movement, find somewhere else refugee.


Brick up the Chunnel, man all fences and we’ll keep the terrorists out,

Monitor movement, regard with suspicion, that’s what our freedom’s about.

But wait, they’re still coming, I see them, jetting in on an EasyJet flight,

Let’s scan them and watch them and track them, we must keep security tight.

How can we stop them from coming, I still see them walking around,

The politicians will need to do something, we won’t rest until they’re all found.


Deportation, surveillance and visas, strip searches, tagging and tests,

Stop every dark face and frisk them, check them for suicide vests.

And when they’re all gone,

And the good work is done,

We will walk through our streets free from fear,

And then we can shift all our focus, and deal with the ones who are queer.


Yes, the commies, the lefties, do-gooders, the wierdos, the godless and bent,

We’ll root them all out from the shadows, on their sordid ways we’ll now vent.

We’re cleaning the streets for the children, whether they want it or not,

We’re building a vision of heaven by smashing the great melting pot.

And then we’ll get rid of the homeless, they’re dirty, untidy and rough,

I’m sick of them littering the pavement, I think we’ve all now had enough.


We’re on a crusade for the Christians, we’re fixing the country for us,

Cream teas for all, on this sceptred isle, and a ride on a red London bus.

Equality for all, but especially me,

Doing what we say, is our kind of free.

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité are gone, enough of their cheap foreign muck,

Supervision, Suspicion, Division, our new motto, now can be struck.


Farewell to England’s dreaming, farewell to welcome, warm hearth,

The people have spoken, we’re harrying the country, implementing our own self-scorched earth.

The brave and heroic of olden, Chaucer, Churchill and Jenner,

Will bury their heads and turn in their beds, as we cave in to fear and false terror.

Once great as a beacon of freedom, renown for our manners and hope,

Let’s sell off our cultural silver for bunting, banners, and old rope.

Chris Hughes 2016