Thursday, April 30, 2009


The sound of persons surprised at the things artists make.... I often wonder what people expect to see. They often seem completely surprised by the work artists produce.
Meanwhile I have been wrestling (rather like Laocoon and the serpent) with this self promotional piece I am working on. Its been one of those experiences where the excitement took off from early on and then ran into some problems due to the work itself doing things I had not expected!
This is the current state of affairs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

art shot

Mythbusters did a show where they fired an impossible number of paintballs at a canvas from a special multi barrel gun. The paintballs were all loaded according to the image it was to create.
All the many barrels fired simultaneously and created the instantaneous image of the Mona Lisa .
I was thinking the other night. One of those thoughts you have as you are falling asleep and then never manage to recall in waking condition, only I did recall it. It was of me firing an RPG.
I'll wait to reveal the entire image as a final punchline. But this is part of the image as it is growing....

Saturday, April 25, 2009

come and get it

After some consideration and intense staring and a mug of tea I decided that this picture was cooked and ready to go. Low fat. Lots of good electrolytes, high in flavour. No overly dramatic sound burps like "BAM!" It just is what it is.
Come and get it!

the art of saturday noises

worked all day on the ballot hands image after throwing out the entire piece I started with (the image from yesterday) because I felt it was too perfect and sterile...just seemed like some kind of high school  textbook image explaining something like washing hands. Dumped it.
Started anew and it evetually found its own groove. I didnt know where it was heading and had started wondering how it was going to find a sense of dramatic frisson. It did in the end, but only after some very tentative faffing around on my part. It can be so difficult when you work with a piece that just sits there and doesnt help you, makes no effort to suggest and solutions, watches TV and eats popcorn and wont take the dog out for a walk.
I cant quite recall when or where the moment of truth arrived...possibly while I was making a mug of tea. (I like to live recklessly and make tea in a Starbucks mug!)
The darkness added the exact amount of drama I needed...or could handle, in fact.
As I was falling asleep last night I realised that there was something I still wanted to do. I actually did debate getting up and coming to play with the image, but I think Morpheus arrived and took me elsewhere.
I'll be playing with that idea. It was still with me when I awoke this morning.
And maybe some tea at some point.

Friday, April 24, 2009

the hand that rocks the ballot

South Africa has just had an election. I read about people fearing that their loyalty to a certain party would be held against them and that they could lose their jobs. I know that to many people, your vote is secret. So it should be too. BUT often the mere mention of another party or attending a rally could be noted and you could find yourself without a job. Its not fair. But it is life and reality to many people.
What hides within the ballot box? I was thinking of Escher's two hands...the one drawing the other drawing the first... an endless circle.
Here is the beginning of an image where I will try to explore the situation.
Ive also found a wonderful brush amongst the enormous collection of tools in Painter and giving it a whirl... so far so good. I think its called a sumi brush... I was getting a little carried away by the new toy and wasnt paying attention to the final concept and image... so a little modification will be first thing to do today.
Now I have to have breakfast with my son Michael...cup of tea...then back here to make this thing work better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

art far away

I have been sent some photos of my work at the exhibition. Thanks to Galley Gora. I have yet to hear what kind of interest there has been in the works and what if any feedback there has been.

Meanwhile the Lance image is done and Im working on something new. I have a few options and cant quite decide which way to go right now... Also helping my son with a biology school project.
Its a warm day here, but they forecast some silly white falling stuff tonight.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

updated version

The background was bothering me, or the lack of background. I went back in and added something more and now it feels better. I think this is the final version. One has to stop somewhere.

lance image finals

Im still debating if I should add one small detail to tie everything together more. The piece picked up its own momentum and it was fun seeing it get to where I had hoped it would go.
As I was working on this the news of Tyler Hamilton's retirement came through on the news... he was caught using a banned drug and had decided to retire. Pro cycling is a very tough gig and the pressures on those guys is immense. On bad days when the body wont keep going, it must be such a temptation to take some kind of medication just to feel better.
I think it has everything to do with how well they can manage pain... Lance seems to have mastered the trick of taking control of his own pain and making it do his bidding.
My thanks to Rubens, the 17th Century painter, for providing me with a superb St Sebastian to model Lance on.
If anyone is looking at the bike and noticing that there are all kinds of inaccuracies with the  machine and structure... this isnt a technical drawing, its a picture that is supposed to be telling a story, not a catalogue of bicycle parts!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Lance art at the end of the week

The Lance image continues. I have been having fun with it... finding ways to improve the image as I go along. I changed the angel who had taken a hit by turning him a bit and making the syringe more visible.
Will try to forge ahead as far as possible today.
I have also included a picture of my real paint studio. The light coming through the window cast such a beautiful delicate light that I had to try and capture it...took a few tries and had to change settings on the camera to prevent it overexposing... its grainy...but its okay.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

St Lance-bastian

Its raining little bits of ice, all gray and not too pleasant out. Thankfully I can sit and hug my warm computer and watch the weather be unhappy. The laundry is making its soporific rumble in the drier. Yes, I multitask. My studio in the basement is not only a high-tech fortress with computers and a stereo, but has a washer and drier on the other end. In between is my work table with paint and mess and a million watts of full spectrum fluorescent lighting. To my immediate left is my valve amplifier through which I feed my computer stored music. The valves (tubes?) are all exposed and give off a wonderful orange glow, totally retro. (its a modern amp... from China)
I have been working away at the image of Lance.
The image is coming nicely. This means that I like how it is going. There are 'those' days when the hand doesn't obey and makes all its own marks, but recently its been behaving properly. The image has grown... after drooling over some extremely high res online imagery of Piaristenkirche in Vienna ( its brilliant go take a look!) I had a complete saturation of Baroque decoration and decided to add two little angels to the chainring halo in the Lance angel is seen taking a syringe in the back. Please note that NO syringes ever hit Lance.
At his feet I am going to put what looks like little votive candles...but NOT...they are urine sample cups. The kind these pro cyclists have to pee in at every opportunity the anti doping agencies can force them to.
I'll shop this mage around, but suspect that I'll use it on my website, which I am upgrading and overhauling completely so that my target market is better served by it.
Both my sons are away at the moment. The eldest cycling for a team in France, the other at a roadcycling training camp in the Okanagan valley. With the sleet and rain falling around here, Im not likely to be turning any pedals soon.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

digital ars sacra

Its about time that I posted something again.
After a brief post parting depression ...sending the box works off to Montreal left me feeling a little worried... I have been back at it and here is the current state of affairs with the digital piece Im working on.
The debate around Lance Armstrong using or not using some special chemical to make him faster has been raging a long time and the anti doping system tests him at any time of the day or night. Meanwhile the popular opinion is that he MUST be using something (hey why cant he just be incredible and strong enough to do it naturally? Are we afraid that someone might actually be better than ourselves?) and a large number of people would love to pillory/burn/crucify or make an example of him. Remember the story of St Sebastian who was riddled with arrows?

There are those who would just love to have one of their "arrows" stick and prove that Lance was a doper all along. Imagine going about your daily business dodging those arrows and traps set to ensnare you. What if he were innocent? He must be the most tested human animal ever.

No guesses where I stand on this... but more importantly, this is about an image. I wanted it to be eye catching. I wanted to play with the imagery and prick the  ire of anyone who was rabid about this issue. I wanted to play with some baroque twiddles in contrast to the contemporary situation.... in some ways the whole thing is so Medieval. Baying for blood. Demanding a witch be found and burnt.(arent we trying to stop burning things to prevent global warming?) Why are we quite so unwilling to believe that it can be done without chemical magic?
This piece is not nearly done yet...just the beginning still.
Now...I shall dip my quill into the sooty black ink and scratch away.....

Thursday, April 9, 2009


When you become an artyr you have to draw your own seven hundred virgins, if your pencil lasts that long!
Years ago my son referred to me (in conversation with his grade one teacher) as an "arse-tits"
I think the title "Artyr" sounds more profound.
Speaking of.... ever see those paintings of the martyr St Sebastian? The innocent man who was riddled with arrows, making a very powerful visual statement that foreshadowed the work of  Damian Hirst and others like Tracy Emin (Im sure they would have leapt at the opportunity of being the first arrow riddled body, becoming forever the celebrated icon in would Jeff Koons, now that I think of it)

But the idea of the arrows and the innocent has taken me down a winding little path and I'm making a drawing of a current person who has been very much in the news. In this case the "arrows" are smaller and so far none of the arrows aimed, have shown any signs of hitting the target.
Give the concept some thought, I would be curious to hear if anyone has any idea of who this person is.
I'll post the beginnings of the image soon....

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

internet down

Nothing today...internet was down...spring melt water seeped into wires...
Spent the day scanning old line film images for some interesting visual background stuff for illustration... textures and scratchy stuff... pretty mindless!

Monday, April 6, 2009

sent off.....

The works are packaged, labelled and en route to the gallery! It feels like abandoning children. I only hope that Fedex takes good care of them, they arent made of glass or anything that fragile...but I dont want some massive trucker tossing them into a pile!
I did write "FRAGILE" al over them in bright red paint...unsure if it may incite the very action I was trying to avoid...
They should be there in 2 or 3 days and then I'll hear how they travelled. Keeping fingers crossed for all of them to sell. Nothing I dislike quite as much as having to schlepp artworks back after a show. Ive often considered setting fire to them rather than sending them back...seems such a "tail between the legs retreat" to bring work back from an exhibition.
Todays image is of the complex box fully opened... From closed...then halfway open and then fully exposed!
Now that this is all done, I can get back to writing my novel and working on my illustration stuff...and completely re-do my website with fresh new stuff. Funny how the idea of changing gears like this,away from paint to digital, suddenly makes me pause.
Maybe use the pause for a cuppa tea?
The idea of these works is to make the viewer unable to see the entire work in one go...they will have to manipulate the panels to see it all. Lets hope they dont rip the hinges off!
Apprehensive? Most certainly YES!!! I am. I wonder what will be thought and said about the art... and IF they will sell!!!!!
aaah well...tomorrow tomorrow...etc etc

Friday, April 3, 2009

art on the day before the weekend

Its tempting to want to find all kinds of little things to do to your art just before they are supposed to be shipped off for an exhibition. You could continue tweaking things until there was nothing left.
Todays image is of the biggest box in its entirety...there may yet be one last little addition to it... I'll see if it really needs anything.
After all this time I still find making art quite surprising. Things happen in ways you dont expect them to and the artwork itself starts to become an entity which suggests or dictates the path ahead, it becomes a force of its own and influences its own growth as it evolves.
Yeah it may sound strange....
Tea time I think

Thursday, April 2, 2009

In rust we trust

The pedestrian schtuff of making art is currently taking the time. Its all about making the art structurally sound enough for them to hang on a wall and be exposed to the assault of humanity.
I have been adding some strengthening wooden bits to allow the hanging equipment to safely carry the weight ( 1 kilo, 8 kilos and 2 pounds, 16 pounds and 32 pounds to those not yet in the 21st Century, still living in the Old Empire!)
So the challenges have been thus: safely placing screws and drilling holes into the boxes without disturbing the beasties inside, glueing additional thin pieces of wood to thin areas (I had never thought they would hang like this! In future I should think ahead and make sure the structures are good enough)
In todays collection of imagery I have a close up of the complex box and its dirty breakdown, the kind of patina that would build up from greasy fingers and regular use.
Then from the hidden depths of the largest box come two close ups of metal plates I punched with letter punches and then buffed with a piece of smoothish waterpaper to bring some of the metal out. I may still add some more of those as I like the idea of words beaten into metal. Makes me feel rather like a small time blacksmith.
The work should be on its way to Montreal by monday.
Time for me to beat some words into rusty bits of steel

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Art, wherefore rust thou?

There are moments and times when one does something and it surprises and delights far beyond simple explanation. Like the iron paint I use. Its iron powder suspended in a binder and looks black when dried, but once you apply a weak hydrochloric acid solution, it rusts in beautiful reds and oranges, like magic. Rather like producing a rabbit from a silky black top hat.
Yesterday was one of those days when things started to come together in the large box. The side panels I made to go in the sides (I had some doubts) went in and after some rusty tweaks, looked perfect for what I wanted.
The complex box took some more work in the abdominal section and is getting closer to where I want it... I had a few moments where I started imagining all kinds of things I "should" still do to it.... then took a breath and considered it again... I have to take care not to over think things at this point. The idea of them going away to distant Montreal to hang in a gallery  there, all alone without me to see that they are tucked away nice and warm and snug every night, is of some concern to me. I guess one tries to do things perfectly when it comes to ones children.... (inside thoughts...remember inside thoughts! Dont say that out loud)
There is something so exciting about getting to this point where the works are almost done and they have turned out almost as you wanted, but by some fluke of serendipity, they may even have turned out a wee bit better. (here I would like to credit the works themselves for doing so on their own) Its a treat to see them all ready and grown up. (the ARTWORKS...I really mean the artworks!)
Todays images are of the newer panels lying in the bottom of the largest box prior to being glued into the edges. The other image is of the little trap that has been screwed into position near the hinged side. Its a real trap I found when I was out walking. Its such a menacing looking thing and its intent is so wicked. I hope it adds an element of tension to the image.
Last layers of sealer/varnish or glaze...whichever one calls it, then the packing will begin. I want to layer in some waxy paper to make sure nothing rubs against anything else when its closed and then wrap some old pieces of canvas around the outside as I dont think brown paper or cardboard will really do the trick. I wish I could be there when they unpack them... just to make sure... you know? Heh!
My head is already thinking of the next project(s)....