29 April 2009

HARD ROCK / Pelted with apples

Remember no.1? I am werking on the “rock-face”. I have concluded that it needs more physicality. I am not yet decided whether to go down the karstic limestone route.

10.30am: I just took a break, and spent some time composing a minor-key ditty about being pelted with apples. There is a bridge and a chorus, and a pleasing crescendo. I am yet to come up with some kind of verse.

11.07am: There is still a real chill in the air, despite the glorious sunshine outside. Trying desperately to keep my hands warm, it’s hampering my progress a little. I may have to put the heater on at this rate.

I have taken the “rock-face” as far as I can in one sitting. It already has more presence, but looks too cartoon-y, and not nearly enough HARD ROCK.

What to do next? SPQR: White Light / Purple Neon.

1.30pm: lunch

I’d be lying if I said I only took a short lunch break. And I find it pretty hard to lie to myself. I got sucked in to the internet and the pull of painting was not strong enough to drag me back. Procrastination over and caffeine-d up, I’m back. It is nearly 3 o’clock.

It definitely wasn’t the best idea to drink a big cup of coffee before embarking on some painting that requires a steady hand.

Cobalt Blue and Cobalt Violet: purple glow fades to black...

22 April 2009


A little touch-up werk to start the day – the kind of thing that needs to be done, even if it does frazzle my nerves and get me all uptight.

What to do next? There are three candidates, which I may take outside to regard in the daylight.

1) could benefit from more werk on the “rockface” – I have a strong urge to make it look like Karstic limestone (an idea that came to me whilst watching an Italian film starring Charlotte Gainsbourg).
2) Needs some compositional changes, one of the three green stripes should be shifted to balance it out.
3) Looks far too graphic at the moment.

I will werk on no.2. I mock up a version in photoshop and play with the composition. And now we werk on the real thing. This calls for the Straight Edge – one of the many tools of the artist.

Here, the artist models the Straight Edge.

It should be stated that the artist is not Straight Edge.

After much consideration I decide there should be an extra stripe on the right, in red. It seems to have taken me 2 hours to make this decision.

It is now 2.33pm. I have done little that could warrant the term “a good morning’s werk”. I am sitting staring into space listening to the soundtrack to my inertia. My feet have got pins and needles.

In a fit of action I sit no.3 on the easel and open a tube of Cadmium Yellow. And I’m just getting into my stride when an inquisitive bee comes in and starts buzzing round a bit too close. I’ll just show him out, then I’ll be back.

I came back, I werked, and now I go home.

20 April 2009

Elvis Impersonator, Western Road

Saturday morning, 11am, Western Road, Brighton.

I am walking somewhere with a purpose.

I overhear a little girl quizzically say: "Mummy, look at that man?!"
Her mother responds: "Ooh yes, he looks a bit like Elvis, doesn't he?"

I check myself to make sure I'm not doing an involuntary lipcurl.

15 April 2009

Faction not Fiction

Bit of a late arrival this morning, feeling a bit peculiar. Sick to the stomach and unbalanced.

10.22am: I finally, actually pick up a brush, with the intention of actually do some painting.

I bit my tongue last night. Really chomped down on it. And now it’s a nagging pain, adding to my general feeling of unwell-being and hampering the progress of this purple neon.

Werk has progressed, but I feel a break for lunch would be helpful in deciding my next move. A banal fact, but a fact nonetheless, and when inspiration escapes me, I can only report the facts.

Here are some more facts:
Fact: I have been werking away on this purple neon for just over an hour.
Fact: I have no idea if it is going in the right direction
Fact: I have been enjoying just werking intuitively
Fact: I don’t have complete faith in my intuition today
Fact: Errors can always be rectified later
Fact: I am struggling

I have just been doing some ultra-close detail werk, nose to canvas, breathing in the thick smell of paint. My eyes need a break, got to go outside and re-adjust to daylight for a short while.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! I’ve made my eyes and brain go fuzzy from werking so close. I think it might be time to go home, before I do some permanent damage.

8 April 2009

the masked marauder

Is it really a nine o’clock start if you come out, dump a few things, then go back in to make a cup of tea? Psychologically, I think, it is.

Pod of i observation: This is a bit strange, Yellow Magic Orchestra (from the country Japan), doing an uncanny vocal impersonation of David Sylvian (from the group Japan). The song is called The Cue.

Puerile photo of the day, week, month, year:

In my defence it was a perfectly accidental juxtaposition of a squeeze of Burnt Sienna paint, in a cup of cloudy turps, which happened to be placed on a stool (on which I had childishly scrawled the legend ‘stool’ a few months ago). The whole set up just looked too wrong to keep to myself.

Aaaaaaaaargh! White Spirit fumes headache. Fresh air…

God it still really stinks in here. Its times like this you wish you had some kind of ventilation – a window, an extractor fan, anything to get rid of the heady chemical haze.

I’ve had to put on a mask to stop the fumes getting to me.

The filters have a curious, though not unpleasant, smell, a bit like soup. It has started giving me a headache too. But at least I know I’m not breathing in harmful chemicals that are likely to do very bad things to my insides.

2.40pm: Still working away on that beach and still wearing that mask.

The chemical haze has subsided a bit now. I throw everything I can find at that beach - charcoal, water, chalk dust, paint spatters, more white spirit, more paint, sawdust. Need some sand, but I’m 25 miles from the nearest beach.

1 April 2009

The Fool

I have just dealt with the logistical nightmare of manoeuvring a very big canvas through a slightly smaller hole. I made the canvas to the biggest dimensions that would fit through the loft hatch (165cm x 118cm), and it’s a tight squeeze. I even had to move Jesus to get it through the hole.

I’d taken the canvas out of the loft in the first place in order to get some perspective on what I was painting. It’s one of the pitfalls of working in a space that only has a width of about 2 metres – You can’t get far enough back to have any idea if the composition is working. So, outside it went, installed on a brick wall. I wandered down the garden and advanced from afar.

All seems to be in order, although its monumental scale is diminished slightly by the big outdoors… Drag the seascape/neon combo back up the ladder where it looks vast and foreboding once more.

Ye Gods! Evariste’s disturbing voodoo-psyche chant has just come on. “Connais Tu l’Animal Qui Inventa Le Calcul Integral?” (translation: “Do You Know The Beast Who Discovered The Integral Calculus?”) [listen to it at our L'Amour Electronique blog, and scare yourself silly]

It is 10.55am: Time for a cup of tea. It’s a balmy spring day, but I must get back to work.

You’ll have noticed those two white strips down either side of the canvas – the scars of a deep and untold history. Those scars are now gone, patched up, forgotten, buried under a fresh layer of paint…

And the beach is now obliterated – a mess of dripping oil paint, charcoal and water. Splintered carbon and plaster dust fill the air, the dizzy taste of white spirit at the back of my throat…

You see what I mean about getting perspective in such a small space? I had to lay down with my head under a table to get this shot.

Time for some fresh air, sunlight and more tea. It is 4.04pm.

Tea break report: There’s an eerie sirocco-like wind blowing up outside; I worked out a pleasing middle-eight for another dirge-like ditty I’ve had hanging round my mind for a few months.

More werk on the beach. I draw the line at painting in every bit of shingle.


Today was April fools day. Which leads me to ponder: Who is the greater Fool? The Fool, or the fool who reads his musings?