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I’m painting a brain.

So I recently started painting again after a long hiatus….

This time I’m doing paintings of brain scans. I often wonder what it’s like for people to follow my paintings. My work has taken so many twists and turns over the years, that there isn’t always a continuous thread, or a recognisable style. I quite like it that way.

It would be boring for everyone for me to just decide at the start of my “artistic career” (awful concept alert: “Artistic Career” I hate that idea. You’re either an artist or you aren’t, from the moment you popped into the world. But I’m hoping you get the drift of what I mean) that I was going to have this or that signature style and spend the rest of my life putting finishing touches to it. And anyway, no-one is One Thing their whole life. You change and respond to your environment as you develop and grow. You’re life’s work as an artist should reflect that. The day you stop doing that you’re dead.

So anyway. Brain scans. I wonder how many art college tutors up and down the land roll their eyes and go “Not brain scans again!” every time a wide-eyed student brings their latest offering to a crit. Probably quite a few.

But this is my starting point. I haven’t a clue where I’m going with brain scans. And that is sometimes the best way. Recently a friend of mine on Facebook posted the legend “Well THAT time spent pondering was a complete waste of time, wasn’t it?” I was horrified. I believe that nothing is a waste of time. Life is all about the dead-ends and finding the limitations of what you’re good at and not good at. If at first you don’t succeed, etc.

Anyway where was I? Brain scans! There we are.

So I’m painting on an old discarded piece of shuttering ply that I found on the estate where I live. I got the image of the brain scan off the internet. It will (eventually) show the part of the brain that lights up when you experience fear. An emotion that I’m more familiar with than most.

I’m sure that many of you out there are wondering “Why doesn’t he use scans of his own brain?” (I’m sure you are. Oh yes). Well, I can’t afford it for one thing. I’ve never understood why some artists put themselves into huge amounts of debt for no good reason. Like most artists, I live below the poverty line. Literally. And this artists isn’t going to get himself massively in hock. To some extent that is what the work is about. I’m all for reducing the costs of production. Nothing wrong with good art made cheaply. Why run a scanner with all that that involves ecologically when there’s already someone brain scan sitting out there on the internet waiting to be used.

A stranger’s brain scans. The fear of strangers is something I experience regularly. I’ve also used colours that one associates with African Masks. Not really African Masks, but the sort of african masks associated with Tinga Tinga Tales. A sanitised version of African-ness cleaned up and made safe for the children. Discuss.

I like the idea of painting something that is quite scientific and cold, but imbuing it with an emotion and pathos in the way that it’s painted. It’s not there yet, I’m just blocking in the colour at the moment. In fact even the ideas in it are a bit half-baked.

But.

That’s.
The.
Point!

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Storage, Back Catalogues and Saints

I spent most of last Friday sorting through the storage space where I keep a lot of my artwork. I’m on an economy drive and need to downsize my storage costs for the New Year. Start as you mean to go on and all that.

It sure was an interesting day. It seems I’ve kept EVERYTHING. There are paintings and drawings right back from my days as an art student into teenage stuff I did at home at that time. I’m really glad I had the foresight to hang on to a lot of it. It’s been a trip down memory lane, and an unexpected re-evaluation the things I’ve made over the years. Some of the works were things that I’d almost forgotten about, but I was also pleasantly surprised by how good almost all of it is.

One piece that got my attention was the one in the photo above. It’s pretty huge – about 2 metres tall (I didn’t have my tape measure with me). It’s called “NOT St. Jerome” – a dreadful title. Something to do vague notions of me trying to create more positive images of good people engaged with life, as a kick against plaster saints in ivory towers. Or something.

The image is from a photo I took of someone who I was working with at the time. A really lovely guy called Sammy – someone who deserved to be known as a saint. It’s got no details of his face, but anyone familiar with him would recognise his silhouette in an instant. It pulled me up a bit, I have to admit. I hadn’t seen Sammy for years, but the news came through on Facebook through mutual friends that he passed away last year. It was quite a shock. He wasn’t much older than me, and had gone into a diabetic coma.

I thought about donating the piece to his family as I was tidying. I have no idea where they live, never met them before, much less have any idea whether their place is big enough for them to have the painting on a wall, or even if it would be appropriate.

The piece once had pride of place in a major show I had at the Custard Factory in Birmingham back in 2001 (I think). I may blog more about this show one day. It was an audacious attempt at a solo show, filling the space entirely with my work and mine alone. No small feat, if you know the space.

I remember one guy stood in front of this piece for a good 20 minutes, looking the work up and down, yammering away on his mobile phone – I misread the signs and missed an opportunity. I really thought he was going to buy it, but he didn’t in the end. In these situations, we tell ourselves that maybe the sale wasn’t meant to be for a reason.

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Art & Language: Social media and conceptual art

I am deeply divided over painting.

When I was at art college, the idea of “skill” and “technique” was definitely a no-no. Ideas were everything. Concepts. Deep discussions with furrowed brows. That sort of thing. “Skill”, so the argument went, is something or someone that can be hired in to execute the idea for you. You don’t need to learn technique, and you should be more like a CEO, calling the shots and making the work happen. At push, you could actually paint with your own hand if you wanted to – but that was really just another stance; an idea about statement of intent. No one was interested in how amazing it was that someone could paint like that. The discussion straight away became about why you would want to do that in the 20th Century (yes it was that long ago that I went to art college).

Indeed, many major works are fabricated by Mike Smith, who I met on many occasions when I worked for a Fine Art storage firm back in the 90s.

When people used to ask me what sort of painting I did, it was never an easy question to answer. My favourite gag, and what I used to tell people, was that I did painting in inverted commas – I did “painting” rather than painting. To that end, I never really got down and sharpened up a technique. I’ve made a good fist of using a paint brush over the years, but I could have been a whole lot better at it if I’d made more of an effort to brush up on the skills required, if you’ll pardon the pun.

Part of the reason I’ve never really got the painting down as well as I might is that to some degree I agree with the above thesis. Ideas are important to work. I always wanted to be able to have ideas and concepts that I could do in any medium. I wanted the final works to be dictated by the idea, where ever it would take me. You can see, I hope, that if one had an idea that required a photographic representation of something, then one should probably just take a photo, rather than trying to paint like a photo (for example) purely because one is A Painter, otherwise it becomes about something different.

More than that, I didn’t want the skill of applying paint to a flat surface to be my schtick. Part of the allure, I think of art, any art, is that it takes you off into uncharted waters emotionally, intellectually, all sorts of ways – to the point where you should be able to forget about how it’s made. I would imagine that most people, when they’re listening to a piece of music, don’t spend the whole time listening out for the individual instruments or working out what notes are being played when. Rather, you let it wash over you as a cohesive whole.

However, as I’ve been involved in conversations with other artists online, I’ve noticed another perspective. Coming from a marketing point of view, it’s worth noting that using esoteric language is a classic example of “positioning”. It’s quite common to add value to something by talking it up. Put crudely, the more high-falutin it sounds, the more it’s considered serious and worthy of discussion. Clearly taken on this level, high-concept discussion add value to art works, and this could and does get used to increase the value to an artist’s work. The more sophisticated the better.

The flipside, of course, is that esoteric language is also a good way of keeping people out – anyone who doesn’t speak the lingo can quickly find themselves on the outside looking in, rather than the other way around. On the face of it, you might wonder why anyone would want to keep people away (surely you want to sell your work?) However, in fact the reverse happens – it makes people more curious. Like a group of people gathered round an accident, more people will come over to find out what it’s all about if they can’t quite make out what’s going on. Human nature.

A lot of the artists I’m meeting online seem to want to eschew the whole high-concept thing. Part of an Old Boys Club, they say. In a time when the internet is blowing open opportunities for artist to get their work out there and get on, its as if anything that indulges in deep concepts is “The Old System”, as if to say we need to be free of depth as well as the restraints of a closed system.

Personally I don’t buy it.

What I aspire to (and we can talk about how successful I am later) is that the same piece of work can be as complicated or as simple as you like. It should be possible to be able to look at work on a straightforward visceral level, but also to be able to go deeper should you want to – as deep as you like.

I’ve no doubt that using language to create a closed shop goes on, just as I have no doubt that that same language is sometimes used for “positioning”. However, I would argue that some people come to art FOR the depth, rather than in spite of it. It’s part of the allure, and there’s nothing wrong with it per se. Social media and art are both about connecting with an audience, and if that is your audience, then you’d be a fool to avoid it. Art should be more universal than that anyway.

Where does that leave me on the technique/conceptual continuum? I honestly don’t know. In fact I was hoping that I’d have a clearer idea by the time I’d finished writing this, but my suspicion is that it’s a false dualism/polemic/dialectic/dichotomy/how ever you want to put it.

Many artists such as Tracey Emin (check out the monoprints – much better than the tent or the unmade bed), Gary Hume, or Chris Ofili (who I recently reviewed here for his show at the TATE) have been very successful by developing a signature language – their own recognisable style that comes from skill and hard work (I recognise that all these people have technicians working for them, but the style is theirs, and was more than likely developed by their own hand to start with). Many of these artists also are able to talk about their works in quite a sophisticated way, too. All of them have been able to cross the boundaries between High Art, and the Common People (and no, that is not MY dualism).

As for me… Now, where did I put that paintbrush?

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Cruciform painting

I had a good day in the studio yesterday. It took a while for me to get the confidence back, with me spending about 2 hours in a state of extreme agitation, staring at a half-started work before even being able to pick up a brush.

However, this work was one I started last year, so it helps me to know that I can do work when I get there.

This is based on a photo I took of myself. The image was then taken into Photoshop, and broken down into simpler colours. I then painted the simplified version of that photo. Once it was dry, I re-did the picture in Photoshop again, this time with slightly more complicated colours, and then repainted the whole thing over the top. This means that there was lots of nice underpainting that gives the work a healthy complexity and a “glow” from below.

I then repeated this process again a few times, building the painting up layer by layer. This is not the last layer, but it is the penultimate layer. The whole thing is done with acrylics, and the paint is quite thin – I like the flatness of the surface, rather than the built up thickness that you get with oils.

It’s painted on a piece of board that I found. I really think that in order for a work to exist in the world, it needs to justify its existence from an ecological point of view. There are already too many objects in the world – too much junk. So from now on, I’m going to start painting on and with stuff that I’ve found. There’s enough of it lying around where I live – people dump all sorts of rubbish (wardrobes, cupboards, etc.) with lots of flat surfaces to paint on. While this painting that I’m doing looks rather traditional, it won’t be when I’ve finished with it. I’ve barely started in fact.

Now I just need to order those red LED fairy lights for it…

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Damien Hirst at The Wallace Collection

Today, I finally managed to get to The Wallace Collection in the heart of London to see Damien Hirst‘s latest show, “No Love Lost”

The show marks a departure for Hirst, as he attempts to paint using oil paints by his own hand, rather than the style that has made him famous – usually executed by a trained army of technicians. As such I had high hopes for this show, as I was interested to see where Damien, a sculptor in the broadest sense, could take my discipline (“painting”).

Sadly I have to say I was distinctly unimpressed. I don’t say “unimpressed” in the throwaway sense, I mean that i was waiting for something about his paintings to impress something upon me. Nothing did.

I was not impressed by his draughtsmanship. There was nothing about the trees in particular that suggested any degree of mastery, the lemons looked flat and impact-less, and the best-rendered objects (the skulls) had no impact on me at all.

I was not impressed by any conceptual thinking. There is clearly some attempt at memento mori going on here, and the recurring motifs of his previous work suggest a man reflecting on the vanity of his career. But that’s about it. Not enough to sustain a body of work, not even for a whole show. There’s more than a nod to the work of Francis Bacon here, but to what end?

I’m not impressed by his technical ability. Some of the priming underneath the paint on one or two of the canvases has clearly cracked and curled in away that strikes me as too inept to be intentional.

I wasn’t scared by them, I wasn’t intimidated by them, I wasn’t amused by them… nothing.

My feeling is that they’re not good enough to show yet. Given Hirst another 5-10 years of painting, and then they might be good, but for me the only work worth looking at was the one labeled No. 2 Title: “Small Skull With Lemon and Ashtray.” You could quite conceivably walk in, look at that painting and walk straight out again. It would tell you all you need to know about this show, without you having to be disappointed by the rest of it.

Many years ago, the artist Gary Hume had a pop at Hirst’s inability to understand a few home truths about his work. With a wink and a smile, he said something along the lines of “Well, he’s not a painter, so he wouldn’t understand!” On the strength of this show, I’d have to say that Hume is right.

I have to confess to being a bit of a fan of Hirst’s work, and I really wanted to like this show, but I didn’t. I’m happy, though, for him to continue working like this in anticipation that he’s going to get better at it. Here’s hoping.

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Trying out the acrylic paint

Christ

I want you to get more value from my paintings.

Sometimes I wonder what you see when you look at my work. Do you see years worth of experience accumulated in the work? Do you see master craftsmanship? Do you have an un-nameable emotional reaction when you see my work?

This piece of wood has been kicking around my apartment for months now, and the other night I started painting on it. It’s the sort of piece of wood that you might throw away when you’ve finished working on your house. A nice offcut. Flat and smooth, with some nice grain patterns on it.

I have no idea where this work is going – it’s more like a practise piece. I’ve taken a photo of myself (and no, I have no messiah complex, but I do seem to be crucified every time I do anything) then pulled it into Photoshop. If you use the “posterise” feature, it reduces the number of colours in the photo.

So I thought that if I reduced the number of colours to 4, and painted that, then reduced the number of colours to 8, and painted that over the first one, then eventually I could build it up over time, so that it looks dense and translucent when you look at it.

This is all done pretty freehand though, with a vague attempt at gridding it up, and sketching it out in pencil first.

If you yourself ever put brush to wood/canvas/board, you’ll know that making a work is a voyage of discovery. When drawing your arms, you just couldn’t believe you are that muscley, as in your head, you’re always the skinny kid from school. You realise you can’t draw hands. You notice that the paint soaks into the wood if you haven’t primed it in some way, but you then think that it might be fine because it gives it a ghostly feel. And so on.

But I think that you the viewer wants to know that for every painting that you see from me, there are probably hundreds like this one, that may never see the light of day – that are the duds, the throwaways. That the ones you do finally get to see are the best of the best.

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So here I am!

Greetings if you are joining me for the first time. I have now officially moved my website here from my old blog.

It’s been quite an effort of will to build this site, involving many hours of squinting at code that I barely understand, but here we are.

I feel like there should be more of a fanfare or something, but if you have stuck with me thus far, then thank you so much, and I look forward to you sharing the rest of the journey with me here. Just remember to change your feed readers so they point here, instead of the old place.

If you have no idea what a “feed reader” is, then a) don’t worry and b) google it.

Anyways, here’s another short video of the Urban Art Fair I was at two weekends ago. it gives a good flavour and feel of the event.

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First Day at Urban Art 2009

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Free Art: O Sacred Head

This is a piece of work I finished recently. It’s called “O Sacred Head.”

I have put the work directly onto a scanner, and scanned it in order to offer it as a free piece of artwork for all my blog readers.

No trick – just right click and save, or click and hold if you’re a mac user.

I reckon it would make a good dekstop image, but you can do anything you like with it – print it out, put it on a business card, anything you like, just as long as you’re not making money directly from it.

Of course, if you want to buy the original in all it’s tangible glory, you’ll have to come along and to the Urban Art Fair tomorrow or Sunday, where I’ll be showing it (along with my other paintings), hung from the railings in the street.

It will be great to see you. 🙂

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Urban Art Fair 2009 on Saturday and Sunday

Well, it’s finally almost here. The Urban Art Fair is upon us on Saturday and Sunday this week. I’ve made all the work I have time to make, and it’s now out of my hands – just packing everything up ready now. Below are some examples of the work I’ve made, which will all be in the show.

I’m looking forward to it, and also praying for a sunny day. I’m especially looking forward to meeting my lovely blog readers. See you then.

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Another New Painting: Oh God

I finished another painting today.

It’s made again with Japanese endpapers, and with acrylic paint, spray paint, felt marker, varnish and dirt.

The figure is based on some random photos I took from the window of the bus, as I passed through Brixton on my way home. There was something about the way he was looking that seemed to work really well with defacing of the paper. The defacement could be graffiti, but it also fits with the whimsical marks of abstract expressionism (with a nod to Cy Twombly’s mark-making).

If there is a recurring theme in this series of paintings, it’s the contrasts along with the surprise of the incongruity of things.

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A New Work

20042009498

It’s amazing what a good morning in the studio can do for your confidence as an artist. The results in the photo above speak for themselves, I think. Click on the image, and you’ll get a much better look at the work.

I’m not sure what to call this yet, but it’ll be something like “Awe” or “Shock & Awe”. Or maybe even “AW!”

Dimensions wise, it’s (h)50 cm x (w) 35 cm x (d) 5 cm, or 19 1/2″ x 13 1/4″ x 2″ in British.

I’m really really pleased with the way this has turned out. A few months ago, you may remember, I bought some Japanese end paper (the sort that goes in the inside cover of hardback books) with the idea of doing something with it.

I’ve spent ages making a frame, and glueing the paper to it nice and flat using wheat starch paste. Wheat starch paste is what the pros use to put in Japanese end papers. It’ll basically last for ages, and is about the best quality stuff there is. PVAs and other cheaper glues tend to dry out in no time, which means they go yellow, and stop being sticky. You don’t want your painting falling off, now do you?

Anyway, it seemed fairly obvious to paint something contrasting on the top, and I like the humourous play of the guy being awed by the flock of cranes (I think they’re cranes. Maybe they’re swans) in the background. This is also quite unusual for me, in that I don’t usually paint figuratively (awful word, but you know what I mean). I’ve hand painted the figure in acrylic, and paid a lot of attention to detail. I didn’t project it and trace at all it this time. I cut out one of my own photos, and used it as a stencil for the outline, but the rest was completely freehand.

I think this is the start of a very good series of works. More to come.

By the way, don’t forget that I’m moving this blog shortly. RSS readers and bookmarks at the ready now. I’ll tell you when and where soon. Not long now…

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Secateurs

secateurs

The commission I’m working on is coming along nicely. I’ve been quiet about it, because I’ve basically been doing all the boring stuff – making up the board, priming it with gesso, layering up the base paint colour to get it nice, dense and solid.

But today I started painting the main part of it – a pair of secateurs. The guy who commissioned me is a film maker called Rob. He came and filmed me in my studio at the end of last year, and really liked the works I had on my wall.

He’s also a gardener, hence the secateurs.

My old art teacher once told me Vermeer said that when you paint something you should “start with a brush and end with a pin”. So, you start with the broad brush strokes, and get progressively more detailed as you go on. Art teachers are full of nonsense like that.

So I began with the bigger brush, and got something that I was reasonably pleased with. Having got this far, I thought it best to leave it, sleep on it, and come back to it tomorrow. Besides, it was so cold, my hands were shaking. That was when I took the photo above.

However, I couldn’t resist, picked up a smaller brush and cocked it up a bit. Nevermind. Fortunately, I’m using acrylics, which are quite easy to overpaint. They dry really quickly. I’ll return to it tomorrow with warmer fingers and renewed vigour.

A word about acrylics. Please don’t ever ever EVER buy Rowney or Windsor and Newton acrylics. If I hear you even mention the word Spectrum, I shall never speak to you again. It’s alright, we’ve all done it, but you must repent. If you use Liquitex, then do so very quietly in a corner, but if I find out about it, there’ll be trouble.

There is one name, and one name only, in acrylice paint, and it is Lascaux. Lascaux acrylics are colourfast (I mean REALLY colourfast), nice weight on the brush, deals with watering down much better, and the gloss and matt mediums are MUCH more fluid and better than anything else.

I get them from Fitzpatrick’s in Cambridge Heath Rd., London. I think they’re pretty much the only UK stockist (Lascaux are Swiss).

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Mark Rothko at the TATE

I finally got to see the Mark Rothko exhibition at the TATE Modern last week.

I have a bit of personal interest in Rothko’s work. I loved it when I was at art college and I still do. My personal response to them is that they are works that are that much maligned quality: “spiritual”

I definitely reach a sense of transcendence when I’m nose-to-canvas. The way the colour has been laid on and built up over time. As an 18-year-old, his work had a deeply needed sense of gravitas for me, and I still feel them as very heavy works. In fact I felt depressed when I came out of this show even today. It doesn’t surprise me that he committed suicide. I would have hated to be him. The transcendence is probably part of the problem. All transcendence and no immanence makes Jack a dull boy. As I’m fond of saying over the dinner table.

But don’t let me put you off.

They are works that you can just sit with and chill out near – almost like painting’s early ambient music, and I think in a fundamental way, these works are interpretive – your response to them is as good and valid as mine, and I’d be intrigued to know what other people think of them.

With regards to the curating of the show, I have a few issues though. We all know about the shenanigans surrounding the Seagram Murals and whether they were hung the right way up, but for me, they were hung far too high. The rest of the works were not.

I know that they TATE says that he wanted them hung high in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, but anyone who knows that gallery also knows that it is a tall cavernous space. The room they are currently being shown in in the TATE is not. They were hung too high in the room for me to make any kind of response, other than that the room looked like a cathedral.

It also seems clear from the maquette right near the entrance of the show, that the works were meant to be hung low and near to the floor despite what how the TATE might want to spin it.

It seems that despite their best efforts, the works are still being politicised to this day – but that’s a whooooole other discussion. 🙂

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My own paintings are scaring me…

There are times when a painting will really leap of a canvas/board/piece of paper in a way that sometimes surprises you. Call it what you will, but there’s a really vivid “prescence” to some works that is hard to either define or ignore, and is more than the sum of it’s parts.

These most recent works of mine have just that. I really feel like these are the best things I’ve made in years. But they are a bit spooky. Well, actually a lot spooky.

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How (not) to Gold Leaf

OK, here’s a couple of videos showing how I put gold leaf on my latest painting. I have actually blogged about this before, but I thought I’d show some videos this time. It’s always sheer comedy genius doing it, so enjoying laughing at my efforts.

Here’s Part One, which gets quite funny around the 5 min mark:

And here’s part two, the tricky bit:

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Painting With an Overhead Projector

This is a good way of transferring a photographic image onto canvas. It gives the image a strange quality as you’ll see..

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Art studio: The one disadvantage.

They call me Quasimodo.

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The Art of the Saints (ongoing)

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PAX target

This is my next Free Art Friday work that I’m leaving out tomorrow.

The last one was smashed up, and the previous one had bricks hurled at it. I figure that if they’re going to hurl stuff at it, I might as well give them something to aim at. At least they’re not hurling stuff at the cars or each other, and it might help improve their aim.

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Evolution of PAX

I’ve done another work to leave out for Free Art Friday first thing tomorrow morning. I thought it would be easier to post a video as it’s so long and thin.

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In the studio

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Ethiopean PAX

Following on from two weeks ago, where I left a piece of work called PAX out for collection, I thought I’d give Free Art Friday another go.

This piece was made from one of those ramps that are used to keep cables tidy and stop people tripping over them. I don’t know what you call these things – perhaps someone will enlighten me. Anyway, it had been knocking around the estate for months, so I thought I’d use it.

I thought it would be nice to paint an icon, and I thought it might be nice to paint it with a black face (much more representative of the area I live in) – so I based this piece on icons from the ethiopean church, which has a really interesting history, if you’re aware of or interested in church history.

We’ll see what reaction if any this one gets. It’ll go out first thing on Friday 31st July 2008.

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PAX Update…

It’s now a week since I put PAX out as part of Free Art Friday, and in an effort to
to create a sense of calm and influence my environment in a small way.

It’s gone. It went sometime on Wednesday, although bizarrely the candles were left behind (although they’re gone now too, I think).

I feel a strange mixture of happy and sad. I got quite attached to it being there – I could see it from my window, and I would find it strangely reassuring as I glanced up from the laptop to look at it while working (click on the photo, and you’ll be able to see it – very small in a big space). But I’m glad that someone has them. I hope they’ve gone to a good home.

It was interesting to see people interact with it. On Saturday, two early-teenagers dressed from head to toe in chav pink came and sat there chatting and looking at it. A bit later a couple came and sat there whilst the girl combed and platted her boyfriend’s hair.

A little later in the week someone came and moved them slightly further apart, another stacked them all up into a pile, and finally they were gone.

I was sort of hoping they would stay there and colonise the space a little bit. It was nice to feel that I’d somehow claimed the space in a peaceful way – instead of it being a place where people come to hurt people it was a bit more calm.

I haven’t had time to make another thing to take it’s place, but I will. It’ll be Free Art, just maybe not always on a Friday…

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PAX

After a long week starting with a rather horrific incident on Monday, I thought I would try my hand at doing a Free Art Friday effort.

Free Art Friday is simple idea – artists leave out a piece of their work on the street for anyone to take on Fridays – some lucky sod gets a nice piece of work to hang on their wall for nothing. Art for the masses. Its a great idea, on lots of levels.

I thought I would take some of the rubbish that gets left on our estate, and make it into artwork. It might stop the yoof throwing it at each other or hitting other people with it or throwing it at cars – something I see pretty much nightly outside my window. This particular piece of board was once all in one piece – part of a table I think – that someone left out about 3 months ago. The local council with their usual efficiency have yet to take it away, and it has been dismembered into about four pieces in that time.

This is fine for me, as it leaves me the raw materials for a triptych. PAX is almost a prayer on my part for peace, which is something we could really do with for the Summer here. In an area where even the wardens are dreading this coming weekend (the first weekend of the school summer holidays), I’m hoping that art can create calm. I’ll leave it outside in the derelict playground in front of my apartment, where the kids often come to drink and smoke, and sometimes kick each other.

Of course, PAX could still be used for hurling at people and cars, but I’m an artist, and this is probably the best I can do right now.

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We make money AND art

Beyond The Wilderness in the stairwellJane looking slightly manic

After much wrangling, haggling, and placing sealed bids in envelopes from 2 potential buyers, I’ve finally sold “Beyond The Wilderness”.

It’s not so much the thrill of selling the work, or even making the work per se, but the satisfaction of knowing that this life does work – that it’s possible to make a living doing the very thing that you love the most.

I’ve sold it to some patrons who are also good friends of mine (and who’ve also bought my work before). Most work gets sold through previous clients. I agreed to sell this work at a slightly reduced rate, provided that the client threw a party to welcome in the work, and invite 15 of her richest art-buying friends.

It’s funny – whenever you talk about art in relation to money, it always makes people laugh incredulously. As if artists shouldn’t soil themselves with the dirty business of money. It’s true that I would do it for free if I could, but the reality of life is that you can’t do it for free and pay the mortgage.

Anyway, it’s interesting hanging artwork in someone’s house. It’s a different thing to hanging work in an art gallery, as the work takes a different life. What I’ve always liked about this work is it’s physicality, and how you have to move around to look at it. The stairwell was the most obvious place for it, as it’s a place where people move, as well as look up/down at. It’s in the right place for being able to see glimpses of the work from a distance, as well as being able to get right up close. Jane was very accommodating, asking where I thought it would look best in the house. How do you answer a question like that? It’s not my house!!!

If you would like to commission me to make a piece of work for you, then feel free to e-mail me at giddy@f2s.com.

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Just got back from =SPICO= Private View

…and a great night it was. He’s put a lot of work into the show and it’s paid off. I’ve always loved Nic’s cartoony/street art characters. At first glance they look quite cute, but the more time you spend with them, the more unsettling they become – just like good art should be. The images have got a slight manga-y feel to them and are a mixture of painting and collage, some with newspaper, and others with post office stickers. My favourite was the one called “TING” – there’s something about the mania of it, with the gesture of the hand and the word “TING” in large letters that really appeals to me. Stupidly I didn’t get a photograph of it. Although it’s not easy shooting framed works with a camera flash anyways, so perhaps it’s better that I didn’t.

The show contained various small framed works, but the centrepiece of the show is the end wall of the room. It’s taken up with a floor to ceiling mural (in the photo above) that Nic did for a commission, which the owner has thankfully lent back to the artist for the show.

Apparently he’s sold about 5 of the works with another commission in the bag, so the kid done good. It might be worth picking up one or two of these before he takes off, as I really think he has the ability to go far. I wonder if he’ll bater a painting for one of mine..

Also – I had a nice chat with one of the co-owners of the venue, Paul Dungworth. The Fleapit is one of those lovely venues that London is all about – a real find, slightly away from the Hoxton crowd, but still unmistakably Old Street. As well as free Wifi, good food, good art, and good music, they have a great selection of unusual ales, which is right up my street. I had the Power Station Porter beer (never miss a chance to sample Porter beers if you can). I also bought my mate Tim a rather unusual Mexican dark ale. It came in a bottle that was possibly the most phallic I’ve ever witnessed. You’ll have to ask Tim how it tasted.

The show runs from now until 15th of April, so go see.

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=SPICO=

My good friend and co-designer of t-shirts, Nico Yates has managed to get himself a solo show at The Fleapit, a bar/gallery venue in Old Street.

He will be exhibiting under his tag name, “=SPICO=”.

The Private View for his show is tomorrow night and he has asked me to let you all know about it. Not only is his work very good, but he will also be responsible for the music and general ambience of the whole evening at the Private View. During the rest of the show’s duration, you’ll only be able to see the works in the bar area, so for the full =SPICO= experience, you’ll have to be there tomorrow night. It’ll be a great event for all you Londoners who haven’t managed to get away for the Easter weekend.

The venue is The Fleapit in North London (details here.)

Nico’s Flickr Page is here.

He is also one of the artists who exhibited in Beyond The Wilderness.

The show is on from 6pm FRIDAY 21ST MARCH until TUESDAY 15TH APRIL, Private View Friday the 21st March 6pm – 11pm

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Beyond The Wilderness. Work-in-Progress. I call this progress.

I have made this part of the work by projecting a photo I took up onto the white canvas I was made earlier this week.

I had to work on the photo image a little bit first – I put it on the laptop, and worked on it with Photoshop to get it to three shades of grey. This gave it the strong graphic image, almost a bit like a screenprint. I then made up the different shades of paint using acrylic paint mixed with cigarette ash and soil.

The soil and ash have added to the tone of the paint, but have also made it really lumpy, making it impossible to paint a straight line, giving it a more organic feel, which is quite nice. You’ll have to see it in the flesh at the private view next week.

I can’t believe it’s only 5 days away!

Here’s the finished painting part:

Stuck in a traffic jam..

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Beyond The Wilderness. Work-in-Progress. Still.

I did a little extra work today…

I sprayed the paving slab some more. I used the line-marking spray that surveyors use to mark the services and hidden pipes on the road before they dig it up. Presumably to stop some dullard workman putting his pick through a water pipe.

I also laid a couple of coats of white acrylic on the board for the painted image I’m making as part of the work. Acrylic is weird. If you’re using a good one like Lascaux, then it should settle and cling quite tightly to the surface you’re painting on.

This is quite normal for acrylic paint. Its hard to know whether to pile it on thick, or build it up slowly over time with thinner layers. I think the first layer I put on was a bit patchy and uneven. And settled down really well in some places and not so well in other places. So today I put it on quite thick. It’s settling down again, but is retaining the lines from the brush it put it on with (a $30 4in. sable brush, in fact).

It’s nice like that – it is paint after all, and the physicality of the paint is.. not important, but its a part of the work, and I’m not ashamed of it, so to speak.

We’ll see how it progresses. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for the drawing part of the image.

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