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March 30, 2006

evolution of a painting No.4

While I’ve been off-line I’ve been at the oil paint again. And, working in the new sans-model mode, here’s how it’s come along. The first two images were taken in the middle of the dark night so the colours are all to pop.


Getting the shape down and whacking in some background in a non-precious, non-committal, make-things-look-sexy-early-on, kind of way.


Working into the shape and starting to bring out the form with thin washes of Burnt Umber.


Introducing a bit of Alizarin Crimson into the washes. Fiddling with the back ground a bit.


With a full palette - getting lots of paint on. Getting in amongst the background s'more.

Leave the panel to dry off for a few days then work over the form again [and again] with more paint until things start to work in the way I want them to work.

I'll keep the images coming as things change. Some changes, even though the product of hours of looking, are only slight it has to be said.

Posted by john at 04:32 PM | Comments (0)


After experiencing an extreme digital outage – my hard-drive nosed-dived – I’m back up to speed with a new hard drive, an updated operating system, more memory and new sandpaper for the budgie’s cage.

So prepare for sharper, wittier, more succinct entries from here on in…

Posted by john at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

March 22, 2006

Science grapples with art

Professor Vilayanur S. Ramachandran tries to get to grips with a Grand Unified Theory of Art. He is a neuroscientist and as such knows more than is comfortable about what goes on in that few pounds of grey stuff between our ears.

He’s worked out 10 Universal Laws of Art:

1: Peakshift - emotional motif saturation
2: Grouping
3: Contrast – the glimpse
4: Isolation
5: Perception Problem Solving
6: Symmetry
7: Abhorrence of Coincidence
8: Repetition, Rhythm and Orderliness
9: Balance
10: Metaphor

I realise these don’t mean a lot without a whole pile of explanation, but as well as discussing some of these in the 2003 Reith Lectures, he’s written a book about it all. I can understand some of what he’s identified, it makes sense.

Posted by john at 10:33 PM | Comments (1)

March 18, 2006

Still trying to scratch the itch

Keeping on drawing...


conte crayon on gesso on paper 760mm x 1130mm

Posted by john at 12:50 PM | Comments (0)

March 17, 2006

Bastard Urges

Why do this drawing and painting lark?
It’s like an itch that can’t be scratched.

I get this passion,
This urge,
Call it what you like.
It can have me hopping
From one foot to another.
Welling up inside me,
I have to get it out,
To express it.
Whatever it is.
I don’t know.

Sometimes I can’t
Just can’t.
And I get angry
Immensely angry
Frighteningly angry.

I try to assuage my feelings.
Huge feelings which seem
It’s not that they’re wrong.
It’s not the law that prevents me.
It’s my inability to focus on them.
My inability to isolate them,
To name them,
To label them,
To categorise them
and file them away
for good
done with
done and dusted
shut the drawer
turn the light out
lock the door.

But they are intangible.
I can’t get a grasp of them.
They’re transient
Bastard urges.
So I grit my teeth
And keep on going.

Posted by john at 11:47 AM | Comments (0)

March 16, 2006


Posted by john at 05:36 PM | Comments (0)

Crimea Cart

Dragged through the mud by tired horses
It should have bigger wheels I guess


Posted by john at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

March 14, 2006

But if the truth be known...

what - what - what?
Have I missed something?

Posted by john at 07:16 PM | Comments (0)

It just gets worse


Posted by john at 06:50 PM | Comments (0)

Well Jim Dine did dressing gowns.

Oh, I worry too much. I often wonder if I’d do better or worse if I worried less. But, being one of those strange temporal anomalies that crop up from time to time - I’ll never know.

I’m worrying about these carts I’m drawing. Why the fuck am I drawing carts? Well for one reason: because I want to. I know this is the only reason required. But how many carts can a man draw before they cart him off?

Well Jim Dine drew and painted a dressing gown, or robe as they call them on the other side of the Great Deep, endlessly. Always the same dressing gown. A dressing gown he saw in an advert in the New York Herald if my memory serves me right. He drew and painted it so much because he said it represented the essence of manhood, he often used it to represent a self-portrait.


I wonder what this cart thing represents.


Well that’s for you to know and me to worry about.

Posted by john at 11:00 AM | Comments (2)

the way things are

Routine, I like routine
Get up
Have a shower
Squeeze some oranges
Make a cup of tea
Boot up the G5
Punch up some music
See if anyone’s commented or e-mailed
Get some muesli, with a banana
Hit the internet
Make another cup of tea
Write up some thoughts
Reply to e-mails
Ease myself into the studio
Look at the work I did yesterday
Photograph anything interesting
Think about what needs to be done today
All before nine o’clock

Posted by john at 08:57 AM | Comments (2)

March 13, 2006

Those were the days

The days of solid racks and cases of type [an upper case and a lower case] compositing sticks, brass leading, furniture and those little bits of string you tied the type together with when you lifted it from the slab onto the bed of the press before locking it into the chase with quoins. Remember? – bet you do.

These [previous posts] were done with Adobe InDesign, not the same thing at all, but with a bit of perseverance similar results can be achieved. But woe-be-tide anyone who hasn’t set cold type in a stick.

Posted by john at 08:18 PM | Comments (0)



Posted by john at 05:11 PM | Comments (0)

The big A


Posted by john at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

March 11, 2006

Consistency is all I ask

How do I square this:


with this:


Posted by john at 05:46 PM | Comments (2)

That cart again



Posted by john at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

March 09, 2006

Justified guilt?

You get up at six, you put in a good day’s work, come home to a hot supper and sit in front of the fire, with yesterday’s paper, before going to bed. Thus is man justified in his endeavours according to the Protestant Work Ethic.

The key to the justification lies in the phrase “a good day’s work”. What compromises A Good Day’s Work? Well clearly shovelling fifteen tons of coal out of a barge fits the bill admirably, as does clearing the in-tray on your corporate desk, or even filling in your tax form, doing the vat, writing an invoice, paying off your credit card, costing a job and generally seeing to the business of administration.

But standing around with a paint brush drawing imaginary carts? Come on!

I have my own scale of Justified Work. It goes like this:

Painting a portrait is good, working at a likeness is a perceivable struggle and has merit, and more often than not involves Coins of the Realm arriving in my purse [itself a clear indicator of A Good Day’s Work].

Painting a large nude is okay, the size can make it worthy and it has the “OOH! That’s clever” factor, plus big art galleries have large nudes on their walls and this is somehow OK.

Painting an imaginary cart is right out – you must be just playing about.

How do poets sleep at night?

Posted by john at 12:37 PM | Comments (2)

March 08, 2006

more of the cart



Posted by john at 05:37 PM | Comments (0)

March 07, 2006

Why so Evil?

A lot of people have been asking why the cart is so evil, well…

This is the cart Igor used to collect the body parts for Dr Frankenstein.
This is the cart they wheeled the heads away in during the French Revolution,
This is the cart Chuck Norris does his shopping with.
This cart once belonged to Caligula.
This is the cart the Marquis de Sade used to bring in his logs.
This is the cart that carried the coins on the ferry across the Styx,
This is the cart that followed behind the Plague Doctor.


Posted by john at 04:02 PM | Comments (0)

In the Evil Workshop

Evil Engineers work day and night – they don’t stop for tea [or biscuits].



Evil Carts have iron wheels
held together by
lots of evil nuts and bolts
and old evil nails.


work stops for no man [or woman]



Posted by john at 12:10 AM | Comments (3)

March 06, 2006

The Evil Cart plans

More drawings to divine the nature of the Evil Cart:




as always drawing is the foundation of creation.

Posted by john at 10:41 PM | Comments (0)

Building the Evil Cart

The winter nights are getting shorter, spring is just around the corner - time to build an Evil Cart.


working drawing, 720mm x 1010mm, evil charcoal on paper

Posted by john at 03:17 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2006

The trouble with writing…

It’s never easy to write about art, especially considering the Chinese proverb: one picture is worth ten thousand words. And it’s particularly hard to write about modern art.

“Preselected for their valences these diverse locations form their own constellation, the outline of which metaphorically traces the cyclical path taken by an organism in conflict with itself. Collectively they demarcate a distinct landscape, a unique intercontinental geographic swath that is imbued with narrative. The confluence of place and story in the Cremaster cycle reinforces the sculptural dimensionality of the films while literally grounding their metaphoric content in the empirical world.”

Nancy Spector, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Guggenheim Museum, discussing locations used by Matthew Barney for The Cremaster Cycle

Posted by john at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

A collection of objects


Posted by john at 02:25 PM | Comments (0)

March 03, 2006

The evolution of an abstract painting part V

This picture


Has been on the go now for some seven months.

Here are some of its previous incarnations:





Posted by john at 02:50 PM | Comments (0)

March 01, 2006

The hard facts


Posted by john at 08:50 AM | Comments (0)