Thursday, October 29, 2009

chick chick wind up

It went right to the line. Thank goodness for email submission. (although I have no idea how a pile of pressed tin plate fits through those little wires!)
Gisela Stolzfotse has left the building. (Although truth be told I still have her identical twin sister with me)
Hoarknockle had to apply warm poultices to my aching back as I slaved away. Regular infusions of cognac helped too.
I am riveting the aeroplane together next. After all the experience with tin toys, I think the aeroplane will be much easier. Its only tin riveted together...I think. Different paint job.
Lady S arrived back at the manor with a new Lamborghini Murcielago. I have no idea what she did with the Enzo. Hoarknockle is currently looking into that....after he gets me tea.

wind up and enjoy!

It has been a good day and the image developed well. Its a good day when a piece goes according to plan. An even better day when it goes according to its own whim and draws itself. Even better if I happen to like what the drawing board shows me.
Every new piece I start always brings the same kind of mild dread, a feeling of slight nausea and bewilderment. A feeling not unlike when you jack into the matrix and for brief moment have no idea where you are.
I have known where I wanted this image to go and what I wanted it to look like. Often the image wont cooperate and is intent on following its own direction.... and its hard to have to discipline it back onto the right path.
I really wanted this to look like an old tin that could have existed and something you might find in an antique store in Prague, a place only serious collectors would know of. Right there next to the wind up leather clothing and tin whips. The owner's eyes twinkling merrily behind his pince nez spectacles as he proudly shows you his special pieces.
You wind it up and let the key go. The motor inside whirrs and the figure moves her hips alluringly. Hand built by a toy specialist (Gunther Holzbanane) who lived in the old Weimar Republic and was forced to flee to America where he designed wind up dentures and hamburgers. His design for a wind-up politician (you could wind it up all you liked and it never did anything) never sold.
So...this is Gisela Stolzfotse, wind up dancer. She may have lost her head but she will always be a chick to me. Rest in peace Gunther H.
There is work to be done! Gisela is not finished yet.
Lady S and the Enzo are still out on the road. There have been forty hand delivered speeding tickets at my door so far. They make a good the tradesmans entrance.
Aaaaah yes...the delicate whirr of an old clockwork motor.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

tin toy chick

I love contrasting unexpected combinations of things.
An icon hiding in a toolbox.
An artwork painted inside a suitcase.
A sweet antique wind up, pressed tin toy with an adult twist. The antique toy market is a big thing and there are a large number of old children's toys for sale at inflated prices.
The idea of combining this innocent and simple concept with adult thinking brings all kinds of possibilities to mind. The removal of the original head and replacement with that of a chicken... isnt that what a lot of men do in their heads? Don't chickens mainly lay eggs and breed?
In this version some of the toy has come apart exposing the inner wind up spring mechanism.
So far so good. Nothing has broken so far.
Outside snow is falling and adds to my dedication to staying indoors at work while Hoarknockle feeds the fire and trickle feeds me some restorative Cognac to ward off chills.
Lady S is out driving the Ferrari to see if it still sticks to the snowy road as well as in the dry weather. Im not sure if its the sound of the engine howling in the distance or the wind.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

tin chick

The portrait is simmering quietly while I attend to something that fell by the wayside for a moment. The aeroplane is also doing well.... out flexing its little wings and buzzing around happily.
Project of the day and next few will be an image of a wind up tin toy in the antique tradition, all suitably worn looking but also of a more adult nature, not at all the type of real toy that may have existed to amuse children. Queen Victoria would NOT have been amused at all.
The toy will be like the european pressed tin figurines topped with the chicken head shown.
The rest of the figure will gradually emerge as I draw it. I dont want to give it all away right now.
I have had a model posing for my drawing; Gorefinch of our neighbour, has a willing daughter who needs no winding up, and I had approached her to model poses for me. Hoarknockle seemed very interested in having her pose for me. However Lady Sandra didnt feel it quite proper for Hoarknockle to gaze upon her rosy flesh and has decided that she would pose instead. Hoarknockle has been banished from the studio wing whilst most fabulous Lady Sandra does her Lady Godiva.
All this means that I have to arrange drinks before Lady S goes into pose mode....although I may just forget to drink......

Monday, October 26, 2009

emerging aeroplane

Its happening at last! The digital birth of a delightful little aeroplane.
So far the propeller has emerged and seems to be swinging happily.
There is still quite a lot of work to be done... ultimately it will result in an 8 by 11 inch image.
I think the swarm of planes senses that this is happening and I heard a lot of them flying about today. I may go out and capture some more for other images.
D-Man showed me how to catch and handle these beauties. He has since left on a hunting trip to capture some rare twin rotating machines up north. Its migration season and he said he was optimistic about getting one.
The portrait is still going along nicely too. After some loud profanities today I managed to get the images closer to the quality I want. I dont know why I still try and paint without a large container of profanities ready and waiting. Lady Sandra feels that too much profanity can be bad for my health. Nothing like a finely applied profane-urethane glaze to bring out depth in a painting.
I hear Hoarknockle bringing the tea....

Sunday, October 25, 2009


After stumbling around without getting any results, I called in D-Man the aeroplane hunter.
He is a consummate professional who set traps scented with jet fuel and hung out sticky strips of fly paper. The very next day we had ourselves more than 300 aeroplanes! The work on the aviation pictures can begin!
I have been hard at work on the portrait piece. Lots of glazing and underpainting and lots of intent and patient gazing at the work in progress. (as it certainly behooves an artist to do)
I am still smitten with Van Dyke brown and Raw Umber.
The Bluthner grand piano seems to have been affected by damp and Hoarknocke had to invite Gorefinch over for a session of replacing the damp piano with the concert Bosendorfer, a fabulous deep black instrument with remarkable accoustical aesthetics. I think Murray Perahia is supposed to come by for a recital tomorrow. I shall have to remind Hoarknockle to chill a magnum of Taittinger for the occasion.
My list of pictures to start on has suddenly grown alarmingly and I may consider bringing in a suitable apprentice. I should start interviewing possible candidates.
Lady Sandra may be visiting a health retreat to refresh herself and I shall be without my inspiration for a while....or the Bugatti.
I think I need some tea to soothe my psyche.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

painting faces

The studio is filled with the scents of paint and tea again. Blissful to be back after hunting for aeroplanes which still have not been captured! RATS!
I am doing a double portrait, twice. This means four faces across a piece of canvas. So far got the drawings down and some first layers of glaze to give it some depth and also kill back the unbearable glare of white gesso. (yes one should tint the gesso beforehand, but why do it the easy way?) Glazes give a softer glow rather than a flat surface.
While the glazes soak quietly in the background I have Alfred Brendel playing Beethoven. Hoarknockle and his friend Gorefinch brought the big Bluthner grand into the studio for the occasion as I do find Beethoven very soothing. Brendel plays awfully well.
I am also designing some tin toys for adults. Rather more risque kind of wind up plaything. Strange what one thinks of whilst hunting aeroplanes!
Ah! Here is Hoarknockle with some Taittinger, just in time!

Friday, October 2, 2009

empty nets

So far the expedition to capture an aeroplane has not been successful. One pair of dragonfly wings and the skeleton of a magpie with a lot of feathers still attached, the only concrete results.
But the picture of dozens of people stalking around the clearings and woods with butterfly nets and more recently joined by relatives trailing fishing nets (the entanglements have been spectacular!) has been something to behold. Terry Gilliam is the only movie director who could pull this off.
The highlight of the hunt has been the Lady God Diva the third, running around naked with her butterfly net streaming behind her. The paparazzi have been out in force and not managed to snap their shutters on her pale form. The Pale Pimpernel? The rain we have been having brought out a fine crop of goosebumps.
Hoarknockle has been hard at work removing the seeds from a large bowl of fresh strawberries. They stick in my teeth and I dislike it rather.
For now I shall sit here staring at a blank canvas as I sip a Howling Bluff Pinot Noir.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

catching aeroplanes. literally

I think we may have brought the entire village to a standstill.
I was under the impression that the aeroplane would be brought to my studio in order that I might do my sketches in preparation for the images I wanted to create, but it turned out that the aeroplanes don't just come willingly, one has to capture them. (bugger!)
I have employed a number of local peasants along with my entire estate staff, to catch me an aeroplane. They have all been running around the woods and clearings brandishing butterfly nets in an optimistic manner. So far no aeroplanes caught.
To assist, I have been playing Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries". Loudly.
I remain optimistic that we will soon have one for me to draw.