Wednesday, December 30, 2009

marcel duchamp in barcelona

Christmas was wonderful. Lady Sandra gave me an old pair of gutta percha waders which belonged to Winston Churchill. Cigar burns all over it. They smell like only old rubber objects can.Toasted it with Taittinger.
What happens when a genuine Barcelona chair daydreams? What would it dream of?
For now I have the chair done and the dream/thought bubble. The shape and design of the bubble should be recognisable to disciples of Dada as the shape found in Duchamp's "Bride stripped bare.." It has a beautiful colonic sausage irregularity which I found hard to resist.
The premise for this image is the preciousness of interior design objects and how they have become icons of taste and elegant living. As beautiful as they may be and as often as I have coveted these things, just so I have my doubts about their credibility due to overexposure and gaining de riguer status as emblems of success. No matter.
Thus we see a Barcelona chair sitting happily in a well appointed space, daydreaming of other objects much as a teenager would do. It makes me wonder what kind or erotic thoughts a chair would have and which images would be erotic to a chair. Obviously this kind of thinking is couched in ironic reference to well known symbols and their meaning.
I dont want to give away the punchlines to this image too soon.. and will show it as it goes along.
Its fun.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

weather outside is frightful...

Sheets of horizontal snow, driven by a vigorous wind and numbing chill. I hold a mug of restorative tincture of sugar cane in an attempt to banish the dismal picture....and by Horace, it really works!
The jingle of merry festive bells can be heard over the unrelenting howl of the blizzard and I can see from the calendar that it is the season to be jolly although nary a sign of global warming to be welcomed.
I have been hammering at the tin picture and have been bumbling my way to a new version with more clutter and accessories.
I feel like a jolly old man giving gifts to this vacuous spring loaded girl. Boing! I wonder what she would really want if she could tell me? I have to guess and have come up with a few different heads that might be helpful in her quest for attention.
Have the sketch more or less sorted out and now to ink and then colour it up prettily.
The tractor is rumbling through the snowdrifts as it clears pathways and roads that Lady S and I may take our late afternoon sleigh ride through the estate, fortified with cognac and good cheer.
Jingle jingle.....

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

tinny revisited

The snow looks like a storm of polka dots or a flurry of halftone spots, badly arranged. Once they hit the ground, they lose their individuality and become a beautifully smooth homogenous blanket that hides the unsightly drab of bare trees and brown foliage. Footprints are healed and like sand in a desert, the breeze sculpts soft undulating curves... poetic.
Hoarknockle has been looking after me, adding restorative extract to my tea.
I have decided to revisit the tin girl and bring more to her and her situation. She seemed too alone and without any motivation. She has been haunting me for a while (ghosts of Christmas passed out?) and I had to come back and see if I could help to complete her. Sketch added to the original and more to follow.
I was wondering about this girl...
I think she is typical of a species of girl named after foreign hotels. Lacking in nothing except for insides and mind. How desperate must this not be? How utterly lonely and empty. What do wind-up toys dream of? Can tin girls remove their underwear?
Who winds them up when they are run down?

The polka dots are intensifying, there is a winter storm warning out. I smell mutton stew from the kitchen.
Here comes Hoarknockle with some more restorative extract.

Monday, December 21, 2009

in a pear tree...

A slight change of pace in this festive season. The partridge flew off leaving me with some pears. Hoarknockle is about to do them in red wine for later tonight.
This is nothing huge or clever. Its just a piece because the pears were beautiful and I liked how they stood obediently in line. I wanted them to have some gravitas and to tip my hat at the 17th C still life artists who did such inspiring work. Plain and simple. No special effects, car chases or exploding spaceships.
The Christmas tree has gifts beneath it and a wonderful feeling of anticipation permeates the house. There is enough snow outdoors to make it look beautiful, without disrupting our lives.
I want to get back into the deep again soon and rework the tin chick image I made. I think it needs something to make it more convincing and add some layers of meaning to it. I may have been a little premature in finishing it. Okay, seduced me.
Here's to all my friends...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

website refreshed

My eponymous website ( is newly refreshed and refurbished with most recent work.
After some time of neglect while I slaved in the film and TV industry, I had to clean it up and make it pretty.

For the picture today it is a photo of the three books I did cover and inner illustrations for. I think they may only be available in Canada.

Its time to get more traffic through it and generate some interest.

Now I can get back to making some more art....after I have tea.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


This is the return of an old friend, my collection of eyes from some time ago.It has brought me some joy!
The most esteemed publication, Creative Quartely, has chosen to offer me a Merit Award in the field of Professional Illustration.
SooJin Buzelli just destroyed the field, winning almost every conceivable prize, I thoroughly agree, her work is wonderful. I'm just thrilled to be in the mix.
The work will all be published in the CQ Journal in April 2010. A nice birthday gift.
Hoarknockle is in the cellar finding a suitable wine to go with a Merit Award.
I am trying to fake understatement and a deadpan expression.
No time for a bed of laurels. Tempus fugit.

Monday, December 14, 2009


Here is a shot of it framed, as I am about to walk it out of the house. Hoarknockle is all bundled up against the ...the ...the...the... I am at a loss for any word strong enough to describe this most malevolent and rapacious chill that sits outside the door in wait of some poor creature. I don't know how the squirrels do it.
I keep looking at this piece and wondering about that narrow line between the technical details of the plane and my artistic interpretation. I believe fellow artists will support my artistic rendition. Its all about who you ask. I have planed an interview with myself for later tonight. I hope to shed light on the exact thrust and thought of this concept and what I had hoped to achieve by it. I have a pad of paper and a few sharpened pencils and feeling quite unusually nervous about the interview. Not sure if I am more nervous about interviewing the artist about this recent work or nervous at being interviewed by a probing person wielding a notebook and sharpened pencil. Lady Sandra may be able to defuse the tension by sitting in on the interview in her red, skin tight leather suit. (I do believe I feel the tension dissipating as I write this)

There is a powerful aroma of mutton soup from the kitchen. Anything to battle the agony of this pernicious chill!

I hear the baying of sled dogs and the crack of a whip. Seems like Hoarknockle is ready to go.
I do believe a bold libation of brandy is justified.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

plane threesome

Eventually, after some tough negotiating with myself, I got the threesome sorted out. The three planes drawn in fairly small format, almost more of a sketch and trial than anything major. The planes took center stage and the clouds a close second. I think its evident I had fun with them.
There is always the issue of detail and accuracy when dealing with technical objects like planes. They do so need to look like the real things and have sufficient number of parts...wings, tails, propellers (or not). I was trying to come up with satisfactory combinations of all the vital parts, in correct proportion and also using the right balance of artistic flair. The old content versus form issue.
To me these images firstly need to sing of flight and exhilaration, before the pundits can come and count the rivets and wrinkles. I wanted to create a poetic justice to these fabulous craft that do the impossible: Lift free of the earth and move into the air in almost any way they choose. To me THAT is still a magical thing. No matter the physics and the mechanics of how it is done, its still a marvelous impossibility that happens in front of my eyes. Rabbit from a hat, all over again. And again.
I have framed the three pieces, they are smallish, about 15cm square (thats 6 inches, more or less) in a long rectangular frame with three windows through which you can see the pictures.

Lady Sandra gave it her approval. Enough said. Hoarknockle has been plying me with Campari and orange since early today and I see a new bottle of untasted French Sauvignon Blanc chilling.
Tora! Tora! Tora!

Friday, December 11, 2009

hawk trainer jet

The problem with having different screens and printers is that they too often dont speak the same language or use the same reference on which colour is darker or more saturated. The images off my screen dont seem to have the same quality as those spewing from my printer. After some tweaking I think I have the prints the way I want them.
After some revision of the Hawk image and adding some more to it, the picture finished itself late last night. The clouds seemed happy and the slight background gave it just the right amount of depth. I discovered a small detail in Painter which has made work a little easier. Thanks to Don Seegmiller's book on Advanced Painter. Thats the shortcoming of teaching yourself a a software system, you might miss out on the basics you should know... and because you don't know it as you should... you don't teach yourself the stuff that will matter. This allows one to learn something even years after learning to use it the first time. Note to self: Remember to learn things properly before teaching yourself.
At least now I can still fall back on the old excuse of having had a stupid teacher. I should refrain from explaining who the teacher was.
Here's a toast to all gifted teachers who have the knowledge to teach and inspire. They are jewels to be treasured. To the awful teachers who leave scarred and bored students in their wake: "You suck!" (I am compiling a list with names of awful teachers)


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hawk trainer jet

I have been enjoying the process of the Hawk picture. As it progresses, I keep finding things to add and do to it. Wonderful.
Not often does a picture allow me to have all the fun, they can be cantankerous and difficult and wont allow me to have my way with it. Maybe this one realises I will respect it, no matter what.
I am working on the clouds and this is only a process image to show where its all going.
I have a final addition which I will be throwing into all three images after I complete this one.
Lady Sandra is having fun with her collection of snow shovels.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

jet whoosh in full digital appreciation

Sitting here with my feet wrapped in a warm blanket while Hoarknockle massages my shoulders, I can occasionally hear the planes rush overhead. Working on the delicate details of a Hawk jet trainer tailpipe, I dont always have all the detailed information I need to make sure it is anatomically correct.
In the past I would have had to dig out the trusty Nikon F, full manual 35mm camera and get myself out to the base and spend an entire afternoon trying to avoid frostbite and getting a decent photograph through the imperfect window of the Maybach. In all probability I would not have managed a perfect photo of the part I would need. After having the film processed and only two days later would I discover that I would have to go back and repeat the exercise. Thank goodness for digitality and the wonderful webbed world which will now bring the images to me in delightful crispness. My thanks to everyone who puts beautiful photos online. Although I would never dream of any possible plagiarising of such images, they are useful to confirm the existence of detail which my own photos may lack. Every darling little rivet is plain to see. (although how some racy pictures manage to find their way into my search for a Hawk trainer I cannot fathom. If I had searched "rivet"...well then maybe....)

What it is about the glistening surface of an aerodynamic object that appeals so powerfully, I cannot say. But there is a true visceral thrill about the nature of beautifully crafted objects. Michelangelo would be proud of some of these sleek shapes.

This Hawk will be the other bookend to the three craft triptych. Harvard, Snowbirds and Hawk. A quick sketchy image which I hope will capture the fast nature of these dart-like objects. All I have to do is complete the entire image far only the lone Hawk hanging expectantly in a undrawn vacuum. All I need now is a quick spurt of Instacloud from a spraycan. If only!

Lady Sandra is oiling her collection of snow shovels.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

flying cloud tag

The image I posted seemed rather wan and colourless alongside the richer one with the Snowbirds. I couldnt let it go.
Hoarknockle boiled up a cauldron of marshmallows and threw the sweet lava into the frigid air (minus 30C, minus 22F) and they solidified in a perfect towering mass, which I drew into the waiting image of the 3 Harvard trainers of yesterday.

All 3 the Harvards came over and thanked Hoarknockle for the beautiful marshmallows. He is a prince.
Obviously I had to use a little poetic license to change the marshmallows a bit, had they looked exactly like marshmallow, too many prints of this image would have been eaten by accident, and as we all know, Harvard trainers can cause serious indigestion if eaten with marshmallow. ( no ice cream was harmed during the making of these images!)

I have developed a lot of respect for artists who paint beautiful cloudscapes. They are pretty difficult to do well. I also suspect that my rendition of the Harvards dont have quite as many rivets as the real ones. (all aviation buffs please excuse this)

Next is a picture of a lone Hawk jet trainer. (I may draw another one to keep it company)
I am thinking of a new way to draw dramatic clouds for the background. Hmmmm, shaving foam?

jet trails

I came across the work of Brian Despain. What a wonderful surprise! Rich intense and beautiful. When someone does something that well, it inspires.
I took one look at what I was doing and immediately added "Instant Cloud" effect from my collection of clouds from a can. (part of the "Landscape from a can" collection) Just one spray and you are smiling.
The small red and white aircraft are the Canadian display team, the Snowbirds, who fly out of the airbase nearby. I had Hoarknockle carve each one from a rare hardwood, starting from a cubic meter of wood and ending up a small model about the size of my hand. They were painted and hung from invisible strings. (OBVIOUSLY!)
This image will be the centerpiece of the triptych I am working on. It has an apocalyptic glow to it.. an ominous golden resonance that I quite like.
Its rather cold out still. Axel the hound couldnt find his feet after going out for his early morning, backyard visit. He came galloping through the backdoor in a rather uncoordinated way. Thirty below zero in centigrade isn't funny.
Lady Sandra is using an electrically heated snow shovel in her daily shoveling adventures. Hoarknockle walks behind her, carrying the batteries.

Monday, December 7, 2009

flying around

In the spirit of flight, I decided to continue and make a three part image of planes taking off and landing at the airport. They will become three smaller panels framed together as separate images which all belong to the same idea.
On the one side will be three Harvard trainers, center will be the Canadian show team, the Snowbirds trailing smoke and on the right side will be a Hawk trainer.
I'm working from a series of photographs I took myself on a rather cold day when my fingers ceased to function effectively and refused to tell me when they pressed the shutter button.
I'm doing it in a loose style...sketchy and quick.
I occasionally hear the planes overhead although the current outdoor temperature of minus 26C (minus 15F) discourages me from running out to wave at them.
Hoarknockle has been forced to accompany the dog outdoors to prevent him from becoming frozen to the spot when he undertakes his communion with nature.
I very much want to get out and capture some different photos of the flying machines. Not in this chill .Hoarknockle is too busy polishing up the brass sleighbells to come out and keep me covered in electric blankets.
A parcel arrived today, addressed to Lady Sandra, which looks alarmingly like a Zonda sportscar.
Time to soothe my nerves with some tea....

Friday, December 4, 2009

flight of planes

After some time in process, the first 25 prints of the aeroplane arrived from Squareflo printing. What lovely prints they are. Done beautifully on watercolour paper.
A small issue was raised concerning copyright. Hmmmmm. Not something that fills me with unbounded joy, having to defend my right to make art of something in full view and of an object that my tax dollars fund. I guess they are just being careful about who and how imagery is used. But I do find dealing with burocracy tiresome. Even more so when it is something I know is within my rights and I dont need to defend it. The notion that I should be challenged on this is irritating. Raises blood pressure.
Anyhow, this is being processed at high level and I hope to get the green light (even though its my artistic right to make images!) to continue.
I have consulted with some established and renowned aviation artists on this issue and they have all chuckled at the challenge saying that this has been explored many times and the artist is within his rights doing just this. But it seems that the powers that be dont tire at this game. A game funded by tax dollars. Hmph!
Ah well.....
Lady Sandra has added another snow shovel to her fine collection and Hoarknockle is converting an old violin case to house her new high speed, low volume, front pathway shovel. We may have to add another storage room to the east wing of the manor.
Overnight temperature dropped to minus 26C and I am thankful that my wine collection is below ground in a thermally stable environment. I may go down and visit them in a while....just to chat and see how they are.
The wolf painting is being presented tonight at a dinner in honour of the recipients. I have wrapped it in purple velvet.
Lady Sandra has just called for me to attend tea in the drawing room.... I cant keep her waiting.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

last wolf howling and a jangle

Give it one last howl I say. Got the varnish coat on to protect the painting. After buying rather an expensive special artists varnish, I found it gave a rather dirty and smudgy finish... not at all what I had hoped from an expensive bottle of "special" varnish. It left my work looking as if someone had spilled a cup of tea on it. Not the kind of professional finish I strive for.
Ended up giving it the well proven polyurethane floor varnish with satin finish. It brings out amazing depth and clarity in a piece...even small brush strokes wake up and play.
As a final flourish I decided to give the banner at the top a small bit of fake flaking and cracking. No reason other than I wanted to give it something, a goodbye gift from me. Might be too subtle for people to notice as being fakery, but then that is also the whole idea behind the trickery, isn't it?
Also did all the boring stuff like screw in the hardware for hanging, so pedestrian after having fun. It gets I have a small list of administrative details to take care of... backing up files, tidying up and making sure I have my stuff all neat and tidy and up to date. I should get Gorefinch from the neighbours to send his niece over to be my filing clerk. If only to see how she drives Hoarknockle to distraction. Gratuitous distraction.
Lady Sandra is perfuming the manor with delightful baking scents. I imagine there will be something delicious with tea today. (apart from herself!) Tis the season to be jolly!
There is a generous layer of snow outside and I should get the carriage and horses out for a jingle jangle down to the village.
Alert the stables, Hoarknockle!
Aaaaaaaaah yes...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

wolf painting

There are times when an artwork takes on a life of its own and wont happily submit. This one was a fighter.
I think this one is done. Maybe one or two small tweaks.
Unfortunately my photo was a little fuzzy... it is sharp in reality.
We had snow overnight and I have been doing some recreational snow shoveling as well as having to go out and buy another shovel. Lady Sandra is a connoisseur of shovels and has one for every possible kind of snow, all kept in velvet lined oak cases next to her collection of medieval truth extraction devices. I bought her a rosewood shafted, titanium bladed, left handed, wet snow shovel to celebrate this new fall of whiteness. A thing of beauty.
Hoarknockle is building her a storage case for the new addition to her collection. The scent of freshly milled oak!
NO tea.