Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Let's try a blog post for a change. So much to do that I'll forgo my normal Facebook visits!
I'm mainly working on two portraits, a miniature for the R.B.S.A. Portrait Prize called There Is No Love. It's in three parts. Here is the frame:
It's rather shallow resin of some sort so I need to bulk it up to ensure that it can take mirror plates and D-Rings etc. that a gallery would want. So today I marked some wood and cut it. I'll carve it to a close match, cut out the holes and stick it. The three paintings will be a tube of paint, a portrait of silent film star Alice Joyce, and a skull. The frame itself will be decorated too with entwined rose vines.
Next, a self-portrait for a Sky Arts thing. This is a bit of an annoyance. At first I thought that I'd have no time to enter it, then I thought I could enter my Self-Portrait as Philosopher, but it's hardly got any of my face in it and not indicative of my style either so I ignored that. Then I thought it would be a fun challenge to paint something new in 4 weeks instead of 4 months so that inspired me. I came up with a zillion ideas on Sunday and mocked many up. My main focus was an old idea, an inside-out self portrait which was very surreal, and therefore typical of my style... however I worried that it was too surreal and not enough like a portrait, and also I noted that the Sky pictures much be submitted unframed which was also disastrous as the frame was part of the work, as most of my work is these days. I compromised and chose a "normal" portrait, but then ached to add something more to it. At first I wanted a butterfly with gold leaf edging but I didn't have any good butterfly photos to hand (I needed to compose it in one day, it's a tight schedule). Suddenly it came to me, the idea of a black hole, the lack of an idea but also behind it the sun, in gold. A simple design or rings within rings. There would be a simultaneous "gold eye" effect which would also reflect the theme of "portrait of an artist" - one idea element being that it was painted finely like a Flemish painting, which I paint like, in my head. I drew the outlines on Monday and today shaded a copy to check the likeness. Here is a glimpse, and no more...
Today I also applied the gold leaf. The panel was cut an primed on Tuesday. The gold stuck in some places and not others in a peppering effect. The has happened before and it annoying, I think it's due to lack of adhesion of the oil because it's absorbed by the panel. I'll try an acrylic sealer first next time (the traditional use of shellac is an option although its brittle nature makes it more risky). There are many other options; PVA plus wetting (akin to the medieval way of wetting sized gesso) ... well lots of options!
Then I transferred the drawing. Tomorrow I'll paint the first layer of the tiny R.B.S.A. picture.
Oh, one last update is that I also scanned a new painting today for a competition with the theme of Labyrinth. Here is Ariadne Unlocking The Minotaur For Theseus. It's about unleashing emotions, my own of course, but used here as a metaphor for Ariadne and her desire for Theseus, the release of the Minotaur and her heartbreak when he chose her sister instead.
There is a description on my website. Here is a poem I wrote about the myth.
Theseus, take this black thread
through twisted thoughts of golden wit.
Traverse the passion and the dread
and overcome the heart of it.
Take this soft key and it will fit
my love, for Daedalus is cold.
Let my dark words by your lips lit
defeat the bull these tight walls hold.
Now in this heart, this iron soul,
I watch the sad beast mourn his breath.
I cast away his sleeping chains,
his fear of life, his fear of death.
The deed is done. I emerge above.
Ariadne thank, but her sister love.
Finally I heard today that my painting "Two Roman Legionaries Discovering the God-King Albion Turned into Stone" in the Grosvenor Museum has now been published by the Public Catalogue Foundation in the book Oil Paintings in Public Ownership in Cheshire. The book will be official launched at Tabley House on Wednesday 1 May. I'd be excited to attend that. It's a bit off the beaten track so I will need to locate a lift.
Assuming I have time. Well that's today.
So far... lots still to do!
Monday, March 04, 2013
When I'm lonely I like to write poetry. And work, generally. This happens often. The productivity gives me a sense of achievement, and one of the great benefits of being alone is having time to do things. Time that vanishes when being social. Time that is so very precious, as precious as good health - the two most precious qualities of life, appreciated by so few people. Here is a poem I wrote tonight. I decided to make the structure approximately palindromic.
In this liquid velvet dark
can I see a spark of love?
Can I sup some yellow warmness,
gulp that honey, sense that burning on my cold clay skin?
Can I prick my finger on a tiny blade of love
if I stroke this icy air?
Is there any thing there?
Yes, it is here.
Warm and sweetly boiling clear,
dancing like a silver crystal flame of love.
A fresh mint beauty churning deep within.
A flowing river
kissed from every distant memory mountain.
In this liquid velvet dark
my love cascades in flowing fountain.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Is there a difference between male and female art; art made by male artists and female artists? I think there is. There are certainly some types of art that seem to be fixed more firmly in one gender or the other, with more "serious" oil paintings by men and more textile art by women for example. I wondered why.
I thought about nature and how in a animals the female can display something pretty to attract a male (of course, this happens in humans!) and the males have to somehow compete or prove to the female their worthiness (from a hoverfly's display of skill, to charging musk oxen). In art men can be keen to push the idea behind the work and prove their skill and intelligence in some way, and women seem to reluctant to even consider such rudeness, instead inviting others to judge and examine their creation. I've spoken to many female artists who just don't have an answer when asked "What is it about?" and when there is an answer it tends to be an examination of some aspect of society or technique, rather than a philosophical statement. To state something like that certainly seems to be a male trait. Thus spoke Zarathrusta! Maybe that's why women make better writers ("show don't tell" is so important in writing because you must engage with the reader, interact, while occupying only one side of a conversation).
Of course, no person is wholly male or wholly female, I think, so there is great variation and always excpetions, but, if such differences exist I think it's important to consider and understand them, especially for those who must judge or critique art. Such a belief can suddenly add a meaning to art that would otherwise appear "meaningless". Next time I think "What does it mean?!" I might consider that it's the existence and creation of the art that conveys the meaning, not any message.
Now, is it ironic that this blog post is a statement of my idea?
I hope not tee hee.
Tuesday, January 22, 2013
My blog posts are haphazard recently. I must find the ideal way for each type of online media! The days seem to be flying past and this feels more and more like a memory problem... but how can that be tested with something as subjective as "feeling" like the days are flying past. Hmm...
Anyway, I thought I'd post the words to a silly song I wrote today, but one that is, at least, the first in over a year so that's something to be celebrated.
The Cat With Human Eyes
Look at my paws! Look at my tail! You won't see a surprise. Then look at my face for what's out of place. I'm the cat with human eyes.
Look at my smile! My broken ears! Look at my tears so wise! Then look at my mind and the soul behind. I'm the cat with human eyes.
Look at my hair, the way I care and love the things I do. Then look at the way that I watch the day and the way that I look at you.
Monday, January 14, 2013
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
I've been developing an awful lot of picture ideas recently for a competition with the theme of labyrinth. All are based on the Minoan Labyrinth and the myth of the Minotaur. It was a struggle and it took many ideas because I found one that I was happy with on a visual, intellectual, emotional and perhaps more important that all practical level. I thought I'd share a few...
Peace, after the Minotaur. A simple abstracto-surreal (I've just invented that term!) idea. Rejected because it was too simple, yet I still rather like it.
Ariadne, a woman made from a maze. Difficult to stage... it would certainly need a model.
Theseus fighting the Minotaur. Difficult to stage although not impossible. Perhaps difficult to convey the sweeping lines and vaporous form in a full painting.
A complex painting about overcoming the emotions, which was my interpretation of the Minotaur myth. This was appealing in its complexity and intellectual and psychological gravitas, although it is difficult to stage. The figure is holding a hand over a statue of Theseus fighting the Minotaur, a statue built from maze. Frighteningly complex and with a wow factor, but in the the end I judged this too complicated to both stage and comprehend for too many ordinary art viewers.
The Minotaur. If anything this shows a loss of control. I liked this picture but its relationship to the myth was clear only really when seeing other images in the series, and it was rather too sad.
Theseus fighting the Minotaur. One of the first ideas. This seemed too similar to other paintings of mine so I turned it down for that reason.
The Minotaur. More different now, a more abstracted idea about fear of "the inner beast" and sexuality. The female figure at the front is afraid (her expression not apparent from this sketch!) This reminded me of a crucifixion and then Bacon's Three Figures painting, then remarkably so! I like this idea for its originality, simplicity and power and might well paint it. It demands a large canvas though, and no opportunity to show it... so why bother!? I don't think it would win a competition, even though it may deserve to. My judgement of judges and "popular public" taste tells me that much.
Daedalus Supervising the Construction of the Labyrinth. A painting about creative power, this is a complex idea related to earlier paintings of mine (specifically Two Parents Looking at a Very Isolated Child). Here the tiny Daedalus figure is standing on a tower, watching the labyrinth being built by slaves in a cave under the towering castle (shaped like a bull's head). A complex idea which I have decided to paint, but I think too complex for the competition.
The deadline is the end of February and it will take all of that time for me to meet it. Onward!