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February 28, 2006

A = E+Sk

Sometimes the world works in an odd way


Posted by john at 10:58 AM | Comments (0)

February 25, 2006

Re-kindling the spark

It’s a difficult business, as anyone who has tried to start a fire with damp twigs on a wet night knows, to get a spark going. Without the spark the fire can’t burn.

This is what the internal combustion engine requires to help it get going and indeed keep it going:


Unlike the internal combustion engine, each artist requires different things to get them going. Social misfortune, political injustice, fruit, ballet or the Central Connecticut Women’s Volleyball team.


Whatever it is that delivers the spark, you can’t get on without it.

Posted by john at 06:13 PM | Comments (0)

Patchy fugg on high ground

The studio seems full of fugg.


I feel the need to paint,
I have the images in my head,
I have paint in tubes
and panels awaiting.
But I can’t get through the fugg
and bring them all together.
Something’s missing,
the spark ain't sparking.

Posted by john at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

February 23, 2006

What I really really need

I really need to focus on what I’m doing
Or I really need to decide what I’m doing, then focus on it.
Or I really need to do more,
Or less
Or be more consistent
Or something

Posted by john at 08:42 AM | Comments (0)

February 22, 2006


Back to the task in hand.

But it’s so easy to get stuck.

Once you learn to ride a bike you’re okay. Don’t ride a bike for several years: get a bike, get on, mounting from the side or the back-step according to preference, and there you go. Painting isn’t like riding a bike. You can’t just get back on and go pick up the bread.

I’m stuck again.
Doubt, fear and incompetence seep in round the edges.
Revert to plan B - which is lurking under the drawing board.

Posted by john at 10:12 PM | Comments (0)

February 20, 2006

Unstuck unplugged

Three panels that slipped through the net.
Three panels that exist in a forgotten corner of the studio.
Three panels that question the nature of worth.




Not exactly abstract but near as dammit.

Posted by john at 05:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 17, 2006

Good art doesn’t wear out.

Good art stands the test of time.
Good art can take a lot of looking at.
The crap stuff wears out.

Some images look exciting at first glance.

I'll be honest, this does it for me

But then, after a while, the excitement wears off as you become familiar with the subject and you are left with nothing.

What happens here is that you were excited by the difference. The image was triggering the recognition centres of your brain which release substances that would, if available on the open market, be controlled by governments. So we like looking at the image. Until we become familiar with it and the brain stops shooting us up with endorphins or whateverthehell they are.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the world of advertising, glamour and pornography.

get those magazines off the shelves.

These images excite us [well some of them do – to corrupt a worthy axiom : you can excite some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t excite all the people all the time]. They are glimpses of a world which in a way we want, whether it’s a new car or a brief moment of gratification.

Something to do with the predominance of undergrowth and trees in our early evolutionary state means that we are attracted by these glimpses of the unattainable. Which in turn means, because our evolutionary development hasn’t yet caught up with the invention of either the printing press or the digital camera, the brain releases a couple of shots of the old Feel Good chemical, when we see a sexy [and I use the word in its broadest sense] image.

People expect this when they see any picture. They expect a shot of WOW! That’s why they buy crap to put on their walls.

glamour on canvas

That’s why posters of some silicon-enhanced siren in a tight bikini and a layer of baby oil adorn so many bedsit walls. But that’s it, there’s no more to it. You Blu-tac it to the wall and after a couple of moments of WOW! it melts into the background and you don’t notice it any more.

Looking at Art is a different business.


People are often disappointed at first glance, because there is no hit, no high, no: WOW! It’s a slow burn. Look, then look again, then keep looking. You see more each time. You begin to experience stuff, you begin to understand things. You feel good for longer. Honest.

Just try it and see.

[real paintings now available in the foyer]

Posted by john at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 15, 2006

More on Wholesale Art

Looking through yesterday’s exciting sales pitch I found the Chinese version of Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d'Avignon:


Oil on canvas 610mm x 510mm [apparently]

Here’s Picasso’s painting, often cited as the most important painting of the twentieth century, for comparison:


Oil on canvas 2439mm x 2337mm

This is a good example of the I-could-do-that-school of criticism. It is clear from this that a] they couldn’t and b] there’s more to this painting lark than a quick glance at the picture lets on.

In this case Picasso spent months working in sketch books and on canvases, searching for an image. He had an idea in his head and a passion in his heart. He painted and drew over and over again.


He didn’t approach the final version with a fixed idea, he carried on working out his passions on the canvas, changing shapes, changing colours, changing the figures, all the time trying to find a way to express what he felt. It was 1907, nothing like this had ever been painted before.

This was PAINTING, this was not a case of starting at the top and working down until it was finished, a bit like you might paint the living room wall. I suspect this is how the copy was made. Your man in China was copying a photograph of the painting, and not very well at that. He had no chance of imbuing his picture with the power and emotion of Picasso’s original.

Hey Ho.

Posted by john at 09:31 AM | Comments (0)

February 14, 2006

Time to throw away the brushes.

I got this in an e-mail today:

If you want to spend little money to get good quality oil paintings and frames, please browsing www.doupine.com [the link isn't live because it really isn't worth it] which is one of the strongest manufacturer of reproduction oil paintings in China.

They boast:

Reproductions of Oil Paintings on Wholesale Basis With years' experience, we have the ability to offer you the beautiful and cost-effective oil paintings and fast delivery.

They provide crap by the square metre:



Their satisfied customers say:

Feb. 10, 2006
I really like the paintings.

Feb. 09, 2006
We received the package yesterday evening indeed. It is really really, great, we love it! You can be assured we will recommend you to our friend and come back soon for more.

Feb. 08, 2006
The Painting looks wonderful. I have a new order to submit.

Feb. 06, 2006
We received the paintings for the hotel. All was very good. The paintings look amazing.

Jan. 31, 2006
I just wanted to let you know the Paintings arrived in great condition. I think the Tiger Painting and Dolphins jumping were Outstanding!!!

THAT'S how to sell paintings - I've been wondering. I'll just away and change my website now, and knock out a few new pictures, oh, and set up a speedy delivery service...

Posted by john at 07:09 PM | Comments (0)

February 13, 2006

They starve lions don’t they.

Before a performance I mean. They keep the lions hungry and they perform better in the certain knowledge of a square meal after the show. Things get tricky, and Lion Tamers get eaten, when the routine is disturbed, I guess.


Well I’m hungry. I’ve been away from the studio too long, or rather I haven’t been in and amongst the oil paint and big brushes for a while. And I’m itching to get back. The painting is usually good after a break, but I feel things’ll get tricky if I don’t get back at it soon.

Posted by john at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

February 09, 2006

Possible storage

What I really need is a large jar


to keep the possibility in
when it washes over me.

I could carry it with me,
everywhere I go.

Then when I have a day in the studio
I can open the jar
and bathe in possibility.

I wonder if I’ll need a towel.

Posted by john at 05:17 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2006

Every Now and Then

Every now and then,
there washes over me,
a distinct possibility.
But then,
with the inevitability of the tides,
it washes away again.


Posted by john at 04:34 PM | Comments (0)

February 04, 2006

A drink with Mr Turpin

Another illustration for the Dick Turpin book, but first some text from Rebecca Stephens:

“Looks strong, don’t he?” The gaolers, who welcome you in with the air of pimping cock bawds, are proud of their charge; they sell him daily and live high on the proceeds. “Come and have a Drop of Jackey and test your Strength – go on, give him an Arm-Wrestle, try your Luck against the bravest, boldest of all the Bully Ruffins.”

“He’s looking at us – what does he want?”
“Take a Drink with ’im.”
“Yes, let’s See him Drink!”
“Mr. Turpin, sir; Pray what Would you say if you met us on the Heath on a dark Night?”
“Yes! What?”
“Go on, say it!”

The dells – ladies, I should say, as all three are local gentry – are the instigators of this mischief. They are quite throbbing with excitement at their daring.
The two men – one husband, one brother – are sheepishly come along for the sake of propriety, honour and – let’s admit – curiosity. But they’re the stooges of their womenfolk and, as they hand out coins to Dick’s keepers, they are not insensible of the waves of sardonic superiority emanating from the big man, sitting squatly on a stool in the corner of the cell. He passed for a gentleman, more than a year hereabouts, it’s said, but he’s not stood up for your ladies.
And the smirking gaolers who, having made good money out of their infamous guest, treat him with complicit favour, say nothing. But as tin beakers of warm gin and sugared water are passed around, then, he rises.

damn-ya 02.jpg

Posted by john at 10:51 PM | Comments (0)

February 02, 2006

The problem with mugs

I like a good mug for my coffee, though I’m very particular. Plain white are a favourite, not too thick on the rim mind you – not a pot. But not china either, china mugs don’t know what’s going on. They’re confused crockery, they feel they should be a tea-cup and dainty and all Earl Grey and be held between the thumb and forefinger of an aged Grande Dame, scone crumbs smattering the fine hairs gracing her upper lip, but instead they find themselves sloshing around just less than half a pint of Gardner’s tea and burning the lips of an eager builder.

The recent edition of mugs done out as old Penguin paperbacks I like.


And this brings me to my problem. There comes a time in the daily life of a creative person when it’s necessary to smash crockery, and what better than the nearly empty, slightly warm, mug currently arming your right hand. Well at around ten notes a throw it gets expensive when things are going particularly badly.

Imagine my delight when I saw six mugs for £1.50 in B&Q. They were white, so much the better. But they’re a bit thick and the handles aren’t all they could be and the proportions… well at 25p a go I can afford to get mightily pissed off. The paperback mugs though are so much better. But, when the urge to smash pots comes upon you, you can’t put down the good mug and go in search of the cheap mug. The dynamics of the event go to pieces.

So I either have to smash good mugs or drink out of crap mugs. The ratio of times I smash a mug compared to the number of mugs of coffee I drink favours the good mug scenario. Maybe I can set them against tax - Casualties of the Creative Process.

Posted by john at 05:25 PM | Comments (1)