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June 30, 2006

Gjakova II

I fly out today, to Pristina, then on by bus to Gjakova.


Gjakova, 2000

Sixth form students from a school in Huddersfield and a school in Letchworth are going out to join with sixth form students from the school in Gjakova. Plus there are several arts coordinators: dance, drama, music, sports and visual arts [me, JC]. Together we'll be working with children who were orphaned in the conflict, for ten days, producing a big spectacular show on the last day.

Gjakova suffered some of the worst atrocities of the war six years ago, the town was flattened, thousands were killed and hundreds are still missing. It will be a challenge.

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

June 29, 2006

Bruce at the Tate

Bruce being Bruce Nauman. The Tate in this instance being Tate Liverpool, down in the Albert Dock where, in the seventies, it was rumoured, Liverpool Art College was to move in. It never did, but the Tate Gallery opened itís Liverpool collection in 1988.

In the seventies, when speculation was rife as to the use of the worlds first non-combustible dock [Albert Dock was revolutionary at the time of itís construction, 1846, using no wood Ė just cast iron, stone and brick] Bruce Nauman was videoing himself [itself a revolutionary new medium] walking round his studio for an hour [the length of a video cassette] playing one note on a violin.


Or stepping repeatedly round the sides of a square marked on the studio floor in time to a metronome.

All this was Good Stuff if only because it hadnít been done before and was in the vanguard of conceptual art. Unfortunately people are still doing it today. Which is a bit like painting the Mona Lisa again Ė skilful but pointless.

Bruce Nauman said: I am an artist, I am in my studio, so anything I do in here is art, and proceeded to jump up and down for an hour [the length, if you recall, of a video cassette]. He was fortunate in that his hard work [try jumping up and down for an hour] met opportunity and he was noticed by the Big Boys. The rest is history, he is now considered by some to be one of the most important artists alive.

This leaves us with three things:

Imitation is relatively easy, derivation is harder because it requires a degree of input, innovation is hardest of all because there is no measure to help quantify the work produced. This is why there are more imitators in the world than there are innovators. Innovation takes guts.

Posted by john at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

June 22, 2006


Next week I go out to Kosovo to work on an arts project in the town of Gjakova. So there will be even fewer postings than there are at the moment. But stick with Unstuck - I'll be back painting again at the end of July

Posted by john at 01:06 PM | Comments (2)

June 19, 2006



1. Constantly compare yourself to other artists.
2. Talk to your family about what you do and expect them to cheer you on.
3. Base the success of your entire career on one project.
4. Stick with what you know.
5. Undervalue your expertise.
6. Let money dictate what you do.
7. Bow to social pressures.
8. Only do work that your family would love.
9. Do whatever the client/customer/gallery owner/patron/investor asks.
10. Set unachievable/overwhelming goals, to be accomplished by tomorrow.

thanks to Tom Wood, painter and friend for sending me this.

Posted by john at 12:43 PM | Comments (0)

June 16, 2006

Sneaking up on drawing

"Could you teach me to draw?" she asked hesitatingly.
"Yes" I said confidently.

I like teaching drawing. It's a Good Thing.

I'm not saying everyone can draw, well, ok, I am saying everyone can draw Ė only just not in the way most people think they want to draw. But give me a few hours and Iíll usually get someone making marks that they are half-way pleased with and they can begin to see a dim glimmer of light at the end of a long tunnel they thought was impenetrably dark.


[It only looks dark because there is a tricky bend a few yards in, after that the light just gets bigger - honest.]

Enough of the elaborate metaphorsÖ


The thing is people have an idea what they think a drawing should look like and they set about trying to achieve that, instead of looking at what is in front of them and starting to begin to commence to see it and make marks accordingly.

ďDrawing is the most direct, closest to the true self, the most natural liberation of man. And if I may guess back to the action of very early man, it may have been the first celebration of man with his secret self Ė even before songĒ David Smith

Posted by john at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

June 11, 2006

Picking your nose

Iím not painting because I havenít got a model at the moment. Well, thatís not just the reason, I havenít got the time either, but thatís another story. Iíve tried painting from photographs, but, well, painting from photographs is like trying to pick your nose with a glove on. Not that Iíve ever actually tried to pick my nose wearing gloves, but you get the ideaÖ

When I paint I want to paint what I see and by that I mean the life that is happening there in front of me, with the light changing and the shadows shifting almost imperceptibly as the day progresses or the model moves slightly, slowly, just breathing and talking. Thatís life. I donít do Still Life, or as the French more correctly call it Nature Morte. I paint Nature Vivante.

So I canít paint from photographs. Well I can paint from photographs but the results are flat and dead compared to painting from life. Mostly.

Painting from photographs is just copying a fixed moment in time, rather than capturing the life going on. Oh dear itís all a bit complicated, but the gloves are off.

Posted by john at 09:44 PM | Comments (0)

June 10, 2006

Processed ham

Due to excessive, pointless, annoying, useless, stupid, endless, irrelevant, waste of space AND time, unspeakably ridiculous, and if I get my hands on the fuckers who are sending themÖ, spam comments, I now turn off the comments once the posts have left the home page here.

in case you were wondering, which you probably werenít, unless you are the Spammers Ė in which case Ö/ oh, I think there are laws preventing me even describing what I would like to do to them

Posted by john at 08:51 AM | Comments (0)

June 06, 2006

The Big Zilch

It's been nothing for too long.

I've been building, yes, and that takes up time, and energy, but to be honest I haven't had the inspiration to paint. I tried painting using just photographs and drawings but it didn't work. Oh, I did a couple of paintings, but they seem flat and lifeless. To be frank I feel flat and lifeless at the moment.

Confusing times. I feel I'm at a crossroads and I don't know where each road leads, and I haven't got a map [there aren't any maps, I know] and I don't really know which road I came here by.

mixed media on paper, 400mm x 400mm

I've taken my boots off
and sat down on the mound,
under the leafless tree.
And people have come by
and passed the time.
And I've slept.
There are things I have to do,
which I do.
But I'm waiting to wake
and find some truth
in all this.

Posted by john at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2006

Building not painting

Sorry for the lack of posts, but building has taken over from painting for the time being.

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