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August 31, 2008

Forgotten corners




Posted by john at 10:00 PM | Comments (1)

August 29, 2008

Creative feelings

Interesting article about the creative personality and the opposing characteristics of creative people, by Mihaly CsikszentmihaIyi.

Here's a summary:

The 10 antithetical traits often present in creative people that are integrated with each other in a dialectical tension.

1. Creative people have a great deal of physical energy, but they’re also often quiet and at rest.

2. Creative people tend to be smart yet naive at the same time.

3. Creative people combine playfulness and discipline, or responsibility and irresponsibility. There is no question that a playfully light attitude is typical of creative individuals. But this playfulness doesn’t go very far without its antithesis, a quality of doggedness, endurance, perseverance.

4. Creative people alternate between imagination and fantasy, and a rooted sense of reality. Great art and great science involve a leap of imagination into a world that is different from the present. The rest of society often views these new ideas as fantasies without relevance to current reality. And they are right. But the whole point of art and science is to go beyond what we now consider real and create a new reality.

5. Creative people trend to be both extroverted and introverted.

6. Creative people are humble and proud at the same time. It is remarkable to meet a famous person who you expect to be arrogant or supercilious, only to encounter self-deprecation and shyness instead. (…) At the same time, they know that in comparison with others, they have accomplished a great deal. And this knowledge provides a sense of security, even pride.

7. Creative people, to an extent, escape rigid gender role stereotyping. (…) This tendency toward androgyny is sometimes understood in purely sexual terms, but psychological androgyny is a much wider concept referring to a person’s ability to be at the same time aggressive and nurturant, sensitive and rigid, dominant and submissive, regardless of gender.

8. Creative people are both rebellious and conservative.

10. Creative people’s openness and sensitivity often exposes them to suffering and pain, yet also to a great deal of enjoyment.

thanks to the New Shelton wet/dry

Posted by john at 06:11 PM | Comments (2)

The trees, the trees.

The forest is generally considered to be beautiful


but, individually, the trees are all over the place, knotted, knurled and not one adhering to the model of perfection so sought after by horticulturalists haunting the hothouses at Kew.


The mighty herd of wildebeest on the endless grassy plain looks majestic,


but, individually, the animals are mostly mangy.

Individually we are mostly pretty ugly and all together we are but a cancer upon the planet. [see Agent Smith] Maybe, one time, all together, we were beautiful. Perhaps it was a mistake coming down from the trees.


“Come on, you lot, all of you, up you go. Go on, back up there… what d’you mean you can’t? What d’you mean you can’t climb trees anymore? Good grief.”

Posted by john at 05:40 PM | Comments (0)

The Blue

“Where do you get all your ideas?” they ask.

Ideas are easy, it’s putting them in place and making them work that’s difficult.

Posted by john at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

August 27, 2008

Waiting to turn over


Jasmin warming up before filming

Posted by john at 04:01 PM | Comments (0)

August 26, 2008

still torsos




stills from a dance film I'm working on, based on a drawing I did many years ago:


Posted by john at 04:11 PM | Comments (1)

the jacket


Posted by john at 02:27 PM | Comments (0)

August 25, 2008


Wonderful stuff frogging - the looped braiding across the front of a soldier's jacket so popular with Hussars in the eighteenth century. Though not the easiest haberdashery to paint, it has to be said.

Juggler III conte, ink and watercolour on paper

circus girl, study, conte, ink and watercolour on paper

circus girl, study, conte, ink and watercolour on paper

Posted by john at 12:26 AM | Comments (1)

August 22, 2008

Fashion and photography

I love it when style puts content on the back seat.


“Susie wears top by American Apparel and necklace by Urban Outfitters”

Well she’s only just wearing “top by American Apparel” and until they mentioned it I hadn’t realised she was wearing a necklace. But, as they say, the image is all.

It’s a haunting picture, the flare and bubbles in the background create a wonderful scumble. It feels timeless and reminds me of Arthur Rackham. Or at least Arthur Rackham’s illustrations, Arthur himself looked nothing like this, being mostly Victorian and generally male.


photograph by Alex Sturrock for Vice Magazine

Posted by john at 05:34 PM | Comments (3)

wrong chairs

Just found this scrawled on the wall behind my painting easel:


hmmm..don’t know what particularly powerful mind-expanding drug I was partaking of at the time, but I clearly had firm ideas which sadly I did not elucidate further at the time and I’m damned if I can remember what exactly it was that I felt was so wrong.

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

August 21, 2008

seeing as how things go in threes

Here's the third set of three charcoal drawings:

nude figure in big armchair I, charcoal on paper

nude figure in big armchair III, charcoal on paper

nude figure in big armchair VI, charcoal on paper

Posted by john at 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

August 20, 2008

When cars were built by men not machines


a Hudson sportscar, apparently

Posted by john at 06:00 PM | Comments (0)

August 19, 2008

Three more charcoal heads

Well, if the truth be told, two charcoal heads and one undertaken in Conte crayon.

Anna, conte crayon on paper

Morgan, charcoal on paper

Molly, charcoal on paper

Posted by john at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 18, 2008

three heads six eyes

Lucy asked how to draw eyelashes.
The answer is don't.
I seldom do.
Two of these don't have eyelashes.
The third just has a suggestion.
Fiddly things eyelashes.
If you're trying to draw eyelashes it's way past your bed time.

Aniela, charcoal on paper

Amy, charcoal on paper

Holly, charcoal on paper

Posted by john at 04:17 PM | Comments (1)

August 16, 2008

When decorating meets filmmaking

There I was, on my knees, paint brush swashing back and forth, a tin of grey primer by my side – for all that I could have been an Ordinary Rating, repainting the frigate for the umpteenth time following the age old Naval adage: if it moves salute it, if it doesn’t move paint it.


I was painting it. It being the new floor in the studio. The idea is to turn my attention through 90 degrees, go black and work my next dance film in front of a suitably black backdrop.

Time was, when I worked in Media Towers, you just had to mention that you wanted the floor black and a system snapped into place involving designers, stage managers, stage hands, set decorators and floor painters and the whole thing was a done deal before your chips could get cold.

For now, it’s just me, on my knees, paint brush swashing back and forth and a tin of grey primer by my side. Filmmaking from the floor up.

Posted by john at 01:55 PM | Comments (1)

August 15, 2008

Studio Wisdom


Keep out of ruts and gumption traps
Learn to stop
Don’t try to do it, just do it
Take risks
Don’t forget the tricks
Stop thinking – start feeling
Do more work

Posted by john at 10:42 AM | Comments (2)

August 14, 2008

Policeman’s Wisdom

Five points of wisdom, advocated by Policeman MacCruiskeen:

1. Always ask any questions that are to be asked and never answer any.
2. Turn everything you hear to your own advantage.
3. Always carry a repair outfit.
4. Take left turns as much as possible.
5. Never apply your front brake first.

from The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien

Posted by john at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

August 13, 2008

Dangerous Thoughts


Posted by john at 10:17 PM | Comments (1)

August 12, 2008

The Art of Commentary

BBC sports commentator talking bollocks about the past successes of French canoeist Tony Estanguet:
“Nobody has ever won two Olympic gold medals in C1 slalom canoeing – but this man has.”


[He didn't get his third Gold medal this year, as many people thought. Michal Martikan won Gold for Slovakia, with David Florence getting Silver for Great Britain.]

UPDATE: Why this sudden interest in sport? I hear you cry. Well, I spent many years canoeing.


JC paddling K1, on the River Lune at Sedbergh I think

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

The Art of Days

Tricky fellow, Johnny time. A slippery customer. Always has been. Many think it’s just a construct invented by us to ensure people go to the dentist regularly. But it’s out there and amongst us no matter which way you look at it. All we did was invent the means to record it, discuss it and miss trains by it.


For thousands of years people watched the sun sinking in the sky, then, after an interval [in part of which their nervous system was relatively inactive, their postural muscles were relaxed, consciousness was all but suspended and their eyes were closed] they saw it rise and progress across the sky, lengthening shadows and ripening the corn.


Some people hunted hedgehogs, some people made weapons and some people watched the skies. They noticed that not only did the sun move about a bit, but the other big shiny thing up there did too, and all those little twinkley things weren’t as still as most people thought.


These people quickly rose to favour when they began to predict the movement of heavenly bodies. And so, gradually, time, in all it’s hideous manifestations, was revealed to us.


illustrations from EVERY YOUNG MAN'S COMPANION, 1759, with the exception of the railway timetable, obviously.

Posted by john at 07:50 AM | Comments (0)

August 08, 2008

Knocking the hell out of particles

They’re about to switch on the Large Hadron Collider, over there under the Swiss-French border. Which, for those of you who haven’t been paying attention, is a long [27 km] underground tunnel containing a clever tube with a natty arrangement of magnets that can accelerate particles, in opposite directions, to such speeds that all sorts of tricky things occur when they collide.

a bit of the tunnel [with two engineers looking for all the world like they've just missed the last Circle Line train to Hammersmith]

another bit of the underground shenanigans, note the man centre foreground - just to give you an idea of the size of some of this stuff.

Now certain people, at the back of the class, are concerned that, when the LHC gets up to speed and the good people at CERN start slamming particles into each other, they'll create a Black Hole that will proceed, with astonishing speed, to swallow the earth and all of creation. Indeed the word “instantaneous” is being banded about, which is fine - if that's the case then we won’t be around long enough to see who was right.

Sean Carroll has put together a list of the sort of things that might, and indeed might not, happen when the Big Switch is thrown. He puts the chance of creating a Black Hole at 10-25%. He puts the chance of discovering God slightly higher at 10-20%.

Most of the clever money seems to be on finding Higgs’ Bosun.

Lots of good pictures here.

Posted by john at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

Da Boys are looking for Da Maus

Following our recent leads, we sent two of the boys over to Mytholmroyd to call on Joan.

Riley the Ratchet

and Fingers Glover

They did the Good Cop/Bad Cop routine - or at least they would have done if they’d remembered who was supposed to be the good cop. They’d got Joan trussed up in the Parker Knoll and were just reaching for the cat when they spotted it, on top of the piano - the evidence.



Posted by john at 04:18 PM | Comments (3)

August 07, 2008

Total eclipse

As seen by thousands in Canada, Finland, Russia, Siberia and China.

Here are a family watching in the Altai region of Siberia, sensibly using bits of smoked glass by the look of it. But what I like is the fact that the old lady is rocking Crocs, in Siberia.

thanks Boston Globe

Posted by john at 05:08 PM | Comments (1)

August 06, 2008

the aftermath

Further to our continuing investigations into the Graffiti Incident, we decided to visit the scene of the crime to see if there were any clues we could pick up.


By careful analysis of the cut marks in the cardboard we have been able to trace the knife used to create the stencils. Turns out it was bought in an ironmongers in Luddenden Foot. The plot thickens.

Posted by john at 06:41 PM | Comments (1)

In days of old

When hats were important


thanks Shorpy

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

August 05, 2008

studio layers

Here's a recent picture in the studio:


and here it is from the same view point a few months after I moved here in 1999.


the full picture shows more of the space.


In a way it was a shame to partition it up, but strangely enough it made more space. There are now walls that things can stand against and pictures can hang on and shelves can attach to.

Posted by john at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

From Mytholmroyd to Ibiza

Amazingly [or so we thought at the time] Joan, for that is the name of the Lady from Mytholmroyd, managed to get a photograph of the revelling accountants, brandishing their digital cameras.


She also sent us, as promised, a photograph of her son, in Ibiza.


But then we began to wonder. The photograph of The Accountants was clearly not taken from a passing car. Joan seems to know an awful lot about Da Maus. Could it be…? How long has her son been in Ibiza? Was the story of the breakfast cereal just a hastily concocted excuse?


We shall investigate further, the bus leaves for Mytholmroyd at a quarter past the hour, we shall be on it.

Posted by john at 11:46 AM | Comments (1)

August 04, 2008

Da Maus

More photographs emerge.


A firm of accountants, enjoying the balmy evening air and the contents of several bottles of Entre Deux Legs, became aware of the graphic activities on the near-by wall and got out their digital cameras.


The woman from Mytholmroyd contacted us again. Apparently Tesco didn’t have the particular cereal she was looking for and she’s planning another trip tomorrow. She asked if she should take more photographs. We pointed out that Da Maus was probably long gone. She offered to send us some pictures of her son in Ibiza.

The case continues.

Posted by john at 11:34 PM | Comments (1)

News just in…

Our enquires into the recent graffiti on Mr Jones’ gable end have so far amounted to little more than a hill of beans. After clearing away the beans, considered unfit for consumption, we found that Da Maus wasn’t there either.

However this morning, in the post, we received a photograph:


taken by a woman from Mytholmroyd, in a car, on her way to Tesco’s, at about 20:30 on Friday night.

The case continues.

Posted by john at 08:56 AM | Comments (1)

August 03, 2008

Kirby’s Egg Eyed Sharps

Rooting around in the old sewing box, the way you do on a Sunday morning, I came across this old packet of needles.


The closed packet measures 50mm x 25mm. Hard to tell exactly what the logo is on the outside. Looks like an elephant falling into a pond.

Bit clearer on the inside - an elephant's head in a crown.


They certainly took some trouble packaging their products in those far off olden days.


Two layers of thick paper, a strip of cloth, plus another strip of fine linen under the label to hold the needles.

Posted by john at 01:42 PM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2008

Pipped at the post

Mr Jones rang to ask if he could employ my signwriting skills to put his new logo on the side of his offices.


Just as I was getting out the Keeps Enamel and Harrison’s brushes someone beat me to it. Rats!


Rats exactly, ha! The Bankfield Bureau of Investigation is on the case and the search has begun for this fella, da maus.


Posted by john at 02:44 PM | Comments (1)

August 01, 2008

Albanian classics

albanian books.jpg

Then, somewhat along the lines of the Rosetta Stone, you can use the books to pronounce names like Rexhep Hoxha.

Posted by john at 10:25 AM | Comments (1)