Wednesday, September 30, 2009


After a soothing drive north I am back to take down the little yellow chair and deliver it to the museum where the "Chairity" auction will be held.
Its been one of those pieces that took on a life of its own and grew organically. Lady Sandra suggested the little note about the fake chair at a time I was a little stumped about where the picture wanted to go. Her suggestion was pitch perfect and is one of my favourite parts of the painting.
I enjoyed playing with the contrast in real flaking paint vis-a-vis the painted fake flaking paint.(green flaking bits below are fake. The upper section with the word "Cheer" is an actual layer of paint glued to the canvas) The wooden frame panels on either side of the chair are painted wood. The paint layered onto the chair is just less than a centimeter thick. (between quarter and half an inch to medieval stalwarts)
Hoarknockle is grumbling because he has to tidy and clean the studio.
The painting is not stretched on a frame... so will be exhibited as a free hanging piece. Whoever buys it will be left to decide how they want to display it. I imagine a glass and stainless steel case filled with inert gas will be the best way, lit with low intensity light to increase archival preservation. I think I saw an buyer from the Louvre in town the other day. (He had a beret on and carried a baguette under his arm as he strolled along smoking a Gauloise, listening to accordion music on his iPod...a dead giveaway!)
Aviation art is next. Some images to be made of the Harvard trainer.
I have a team of engineers bringing a complete aircraft into my studio for preliminary drawings. They will all be wearing velvet slippers to minimise vibration. I won't have any vibration spoiling my collection of wines in the cellar.
Its tea time, I believe!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Warning: May be fake!

Alluding to the wonderful warnings posted on paper coffee cups, "Contents may be hot!" The complete and utter obsession with being safe from litigation by making the most obvious statements: a world focussed on sub mediocrity.
Hoarknockle would receive a tube of paint launched from my hand if he were to alert me to the fact that my tea might be slightly warmer than tepid.
"Awesome!"... such a nondescript and meaningless critique so thoughtlessly tossed out by well meaning people. Life reduced to small gobbets of undigested pabulum. The everyday, interpersonal version of "Warning contents may be hot!"
In this painting I attempt to play the trompe l'oeil card, several in fact, one on top of the other. Somehow all the cards are fake. Except, some of the flaking paint is real. A Ponzi scheme in paint.
Oh Dear! Look! ... the large view doesn't indicate where the little warning is, because the little warning note was painted after the larger view was photographed. Should I offer a warning about that?
It is evolving and developing. Such an unsettling situation for people who need warnings on coffee cups.
Thank goodness for Spode bone china, smoked duck breast on toast and Kolinsky sable brushes!
I have called for Hoarknockle to bring the Maybach around for an afternoon drive to soothe my frayed sensibilities.
Where is Peter Sellers when one needs him.......

Friday, September 25, 2009

yellow chair

Lady Sandra and I spent an evening discussing the work last night. Some fine Pouilly Fume on hand helped to lighten the tone somewhat. She suggested I not overdo the Beuys references and that some other elements might help the ideas along. Duly noted.
The upper part of the work is a piece of dry paint upon which I did some bad sign writing. The paint is initially done onto a sheet of plastic and then pulled free...the paint is thick enough to support itself... like a skin of latex. This was cracked and broken up somewhat before I glued it to the canvas.
To further play with the idea of fakery, I am going to be doing some trompe l'oeil trickery which will pretend to be more cracked and flaking paint. Some flakes of paint will be pencil lines only, obvious attempted fraud.
The little yellow chair has been loaded mercilessly with thick slatherings of yellow paint.
Makes me think of Devonshire clotted cream... maybe Hoarknockle should be despatched to whip me up some scones with cream and strawberry jam. This instant!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

little yellow chair

"Doping is sport's way of faking it", I said to Hoarknockle a moment ago, as he brought my afternoon tea. (yes he brought the Spode china all the bloody way to my studio! Lady Sandra will have a fainting spell)
I dont use drugs to enhance my performance, only finest brand acrylic paints from Golden. Oil paint is part of history.
This is a nod at faking a famous little yellow chair. Its been hopelessly done to shreds and couldn't stand another attempt, but I have anyway. How long will this little chair stand the weight of meaning stacked upon it? If it isn't yak fat its another fat hack taking a stab at the obvious.
Layers of meaning one upon the other. Heaped up like a paper plate at thanksgiving. More mash potatoes ruined with rutabega ?
This painting is to be auctioned off for charity. Ironic that the original, humble, little yellow chair would fetch a lot at auction. (believe me it did, I was bidding on it! Ended up buying a Beuys in stead)
A cheap little yellow chair done in expensive paints on a piece of canvas featured in an expensive film directed by Jeff Beesley, covered in cheap undercoat.

chair in making

Our local art museum and gallery has an annual charity event in which artists are asked to paint a chair or onto a chair for "chairity".
I want to paint a canvas backed chair... literally: a chair backed with canvas. Not that this is so devilishly clever, its a painting on canvas, of a chair, plain and simple.
I have started by using a piece of canvas used in the movie "Dolan's Cadillac". It was part of a visual gag where a section of tar road was replaced by painted canvas panels made to look exactly like the tar surface. (so beneath the paint we have fake tar!)
Over this came a thick layer of latex paint which has been allowed to drip wickedly along the bottom. (Hoarknockle nearly had a fit when he saw the floor!)
And on top of this first layer has been painted a pale pastel green, also dripping from below.
I think the chair will be in pale yellow. There will also be pink.
I have no firm idea of where this piece is going.
Hoarknockle bring me the gin!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Large thinkings

Imagine if you will, an old collection of jars and containers in a museum, collected by a pre Victorian adventurer who ventured into the distant wilds with his butterfly net and optimistic nature. Imagine that he collected a number of specimens, labeled the jars and they now stand in a storage room, almost forgotten , their contents sealed inside by his own hand many years previously.
The collection is made up of these items.
1. A jar of dark murky brown liquid which has coagulated.
2. A large jar with a number of frogs squashed together in preservative.
3. A narrow bottle containing many fat engorged ticks.
4. A panel with dozens of flies pinned to it.
5. A notebook with sketches showing ungulates in various stages of disease and dying.
6. A series of medical drawings of suppurating sores.
7. A jar containing what looks like preserved hailstones.
8. A panel with a number of locusts pinned to it.
9. A jar containing an unnamed black substance.
10. A large jar containing a fetus of what seems to be a male human.
What would we deduce from this?
If we had nothing to lead us, what would it tell us?
I wonder how many jars of specimens are sitting in some museum storage with things we have no idea of? How many mysteries are there in old bottles?
Humans have collected many things and so many collections have been forgotten or never fully investigated. They were collected to advance knowledge and yet now they have been forgotten, their contents unknown, their stories lost to us. The very purpose they were supposed to serve now negated.
I shall be doing a series of drawings to illustrate this idea. Particularly the collection of 10 I found in the cellar below the east wing when I was looking for some Chateau Lafitte I knew I had seen there previously. I always send Hoarknockle down to do these things, but he had gone to bed with a head cold and I wanted to inspect the cellars myself.
Curious what one can find in old cellars. There are some rusty manacles hanging from chains I want Lady Sandra to try on one evening. I shall have to lure her down there on some clever pretext.
Hoarknockle has alerted me to the fact that my eggs benedict with some hollandaise sauce and a smidgen of caviar, awaits me in the solarium.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


This is the final version.
Please go take a look at
and vote for the design. If it wins it will be produced and sold. I think it would make a nice cycling jersey. Nice for Christmas gift kind of thing.
I already had Hoarknockle vote several times under a variety of aliases, but I think he is tired now.
Im going to go into the village and round up people and press gang them into voting too. Its a vast untapped resource. But dont count on it... which is why you need to vote!

Monday, September 14, 2009


A change of gears.
After submitting the all seeing eye panel to the Berlin illustration competition I began work on an image destined for a bicycle jersey design contest.
I am intrigued by the idea of subverting old iconic emblems by introducing modern twists and in this one took an ordinary bicycle chainring gear and tried to confuse it with a halo. The decorative aspects of religious art and the stripped down efficiency of a bicycle part dont commonly get married, but in this case they have.
Im still slaving at it...there are a few things I want to get perfect and all the elements arent cooperating right now. They will submit!

Friday, September 11, 2009

the whole deal

Here is the whole thing.
Its 20 by 20 inches (about 50 by 50cm) in reality.
Does it work? Does it do what its supposed to do? What does it mean? Aaaah yes the joys of second guessing it after its done. Its like having a bee trapped against a window trying to get out. Buzzing in the back of my head constantly.
Thankfully it is friday and the weekend is soon to arrive. (I have the weekend flown to my estate by large helicopter to ensure that it gets here on time)
Whats next? Well, a design for a cycling jersey.
I hear Hoarknockle coming down the corridor with a fragrant Sancerre Neveu 2007, chilled to perfection, accompanied by a small wedge of Brie. He bought it from the cellars in the Loire Valley on his way back from Berlin. That and a few cases of Montrachet and other delicate things.
One has to do what one can to survive out here in the country.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I whipped Hoarknockle severely for allowing the earlier picture to go out. It wasn't good enough. Next time he will be more attentive.
This is the revised version. I prefer it. Looks like Lizard Man.
And now...... the image, the whole thing is done!
Hoarknockle is opening the champagne.
I think its time to take the Lagonda out for an afternoon drive to revive me.
Maybe take a few weeks off to visit the islands.


Almost done.
One more to go.
When does one stop working an image? Such an arbitrary point.
The completed one at top may be a little overworked... may have to go at it again with an eraser and loosen it up a little. It started out so well. Got too enthusiastic and carried away.
Back to the drawing table...
Whirr sharpen pencil...
Gink! Gink! dipping pen in ink...
Scratch of nib on paper...
Scrape scrape and scribble
Just a soundtrack really. I work with a plastic tipped stylus on a Wacom surface.
The sounds I make as I draw are a lot more interesting than the real ones.
I can also get Hoarknockle down here to supply sound the sound of ice cubes in a gin and tonic. Or tea being poured into bone china cups. Or that groan he makes when I have him piggy back me up the stairs.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

old eyes

The dilemma presents itself daily....
"Excuse me sir, may I take your photo?"
"Well now young feller, why would you want a picture of an ugly old geezer like me?"
"You have an incredibly fascinating face full of character and stories"
"Does that mean I'm ugly and wrinkled and you want to 'collect' my face for your reference material?"
How does one accost someone in the street or in the supermarket and ask them to be allowed to photograph them? How does one do it without offending? Some people are just so amazingly gnarled and carunculated that they beg to be photographed. Weather and time have etched their faces with hard won stories and maps of places and laughter and hardship.
How does one walk up to them and ask if you can take their picture?
The village I live in is small. I drive the only black Rolls Royce with a chauffeur and I tend to stand out because I wear a powdered wig, brocade coat and lace neckerchief, evidently a person of fine breeding. Do I need to wear ordinary clothes maybe?
I am at wits end. Last week I was chased around the village square by an angry mob brandishing pitchforks and flaming torches. They do not understand the necessity of a nude model for my art.
I shudder to think what they will do if I were to ask for their photograph, chosen from hundreds because of their delightful ugliness.
You would think that in this day and age the awkward puritanical urges will have been muted. NO!...have not it seems.
I despair. I really do.
Yet the question remains, : How does one ask ugly people permission to snap their picture? (and occasionally in the nude too)
Please forward suggestions to.....

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

gritty and old

I needed some texture to liven up the images I'm making. This is my own eye after a night of profound en committed revelry. After liberal application of liquid nitrogen I managed to iron out the worst of the wrinkles. I wonder what I could do to revitalise the liver?
These eyes are all part of a final piece, a collection of 20 eyes... or rather 19 and one Fl-eye.
I am hoping to enter the piece for an art competition. Only 3 more eyes to go.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

only a few to go now

a few more...
I have been grappling with the problem of this series of eyes each eye seems to find its own way. The question is concerning consistency of style. Does one believe that because the same hand crafts it, that it will remain within the same stylistic trend? Or does one have to strive constantly for the same feel?
When does it become mindless repetition and when is it strength of style?
I would want to believe that these are all from the same stylistic stable and that the minor variation in handling adds energy and flavour changes to this dish. It allows for growth and evolution. Hopefully improvement.
As this image grows it takes on a life of its own and seems to dictate its own personality. So far I havent yet shown the entire piece, only parts. The idea is for it to be a collection of images like a butterfly collection in a box, not merely a photo album. I refrained from pinning the images down, the visual effect of driving a sharp steel pin through an eyeball seemed just too aimed at shock tactics. Not my motive.
I have enough trophies throughout my house, stuffed heads from expeditions over a number of years. No animals were killed or harmed in the collection of these trophies. (PETA please take note!)
Imagine opening a matchbox and finding an eye in it. Problem is that one doesnt really see matchboxes that often anymore. All just lighters nowadays. Those little boxes were so handy.
The hounds are restless today, I hear them baying in the stables.
Lady Sandra is home today and tea is being served on the terrace. Devon clotted cream, fresh strawberry jam and scones, I believe. Delightful. Hoarknockle will have my G&T ready for me en route to the terrace, my trusted malarial antidote no less.

fly eye

This image must certainly fly in the face of sound judgement. (or a bad pun)
This returns to the 17th C notion of vanitas, the decay of beauty as expressed in so many northern european paintings. The used flowers drooping, insects crawling, skulls and any other clever analogy of decay and death they could think of. (this is obviously before the time of Quentin Tarantino and his unique view of death)
The artists painted like angels but had to justify their pursuit of beauty by showing a neat little lesson packaged into the virtuoso smears of paint, or else they would have been seen as show offs and arrogant technicians.Gee.... one only needs to look at that famous self portrait by Durer to see that he was pretty taken by himself. And not one insect in sight.
There is something so inherently filthy about flies...or is it just our reaction to them? Or is it because they seem to flock to anything stinky?
No matter... here I have juxtaposed a fly with the body part that is seen as the window of the soul. Such a wonderfully old notion and so gleefully poetic.
Although flies are now studied for their ability to fly and be so small at the same time.
Apparently fly larvae or maggots as they are called, are the best source of pure protein to be found. Just try and imagine that they are quivering grains of rice and tuck in....
Insects are so brilliantly designed, so clever and visually varied, so full of fabulous texture and colour. Not only that but they are wonderful to draw.
I hear the hounds baying, must be time for the hunt. Lets hope I can bag something in my dreadfully sober condition.
I really

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

millions of fine lines

I alternate between the spectacles I is good for medium distance work and the other for closer. There is some kind of irony in wearing glasses while I work on eyes. Wonder if I could just draw myself a pair of eyes which dont need glasses? Another question that comes to mind is: "Can the eyes I am drawing, see me?" Maybe they are portals to another dimension.
I have more than halfway to go yet... another 11 eyes to go.
Tea....I need tea. And its nearly lunch time. (they dont allow me to drink before evening!)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Interesting how things happen.... how they start out and then seem to find their own way?
The eyes picture was something I was pursuing and had no final goal or conclusion planned for it.
After an evening of peyote and some good mescaline I had a dream of a wall of eyes all looking at me. (or maybe it was just the good gin Hoarknockle managed to secure?)
I had my tailor pick apart the finely stitched images I had sewn to the old paper to make a collection.
I am currently engaged in putting together a completely new collection of eyes, stitching them onto a beautifully discoloured piece of old parchment I tore from a book I saw standing on rather an overly ornate golden pulpit.
The piece will contain 20 eyes....not quite the hundreds I had seen in my dream, but I am human and want to draw them all myself.... although I may consider shucking them from people's heads as I pass them in the street. Oddly enough this isnt seen as artistic license.
I hear Hoarknockle calling... I believe its venison for dinner. Ugh! I have to don bowtie and tails for the formal dining room. At least the wine should be good. "Howling Bluff" Pinot Noir will be served. (Winner of the 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Award for Excellence) Bliss!
Meanwhile I will limber up with a quick G&T.
Lady Sandra has been shooting me some wicked "come hither" looks all day....
The large "EYE" piece will be growing in my mind.
Hoarknockle is getting impatient... says something about lady Sandra running naked in the west wing and calling me from the battlements....
I need to go.....