Saturday, 24 August 2013

Blancanieves and Music!

I put a load of music on my ipod bout a week ago, here's the ones i keep coming back to,

Evelyn Evelyn, You only want me 'cause... -
Dylan, Let me die.. -
Nico, Innocent and vain -
Laura Marling, I was an eagle -
The National, I nee -
Goat, Run to your mama -
The Dresden Dolls, Girl anachronism -
Blind Willie Johnson, Nobody's fault but mine -

Now, Blancanieves.

 The greatest adaptation of Snow White I've ever seen, and the best family film since.. Spirited Away? Babe? Muppets Christmas Carol? no, better.. When you start comparing it to other family films you realise how light most of them are. This one is silent and black and white, I was sceptical of this at first because I don't understand why modern silent films have to be B&W and set in the 20's, let's have some colour and contemporary stories in silence please? But this suits the fairy tale aura of it. And it's dark, grim even. Most of the characters we're introduced to at the start are dead half way through, love goes unfulfilled, it has bullfighting, and the most problematic part of the Snow White story - the kiss by a suitable man (who's willing to take advantage of a sleeping girl) to wake her up - is given a lovely twist.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Amanda Fucking Palmer

Saw her in birmingham tonight, in a tiny room, which was awesome, i started off quite near the front and gradually was pushed further back, my first experience of a mosh, and i wanna do it again! pleeeaase. 29 isn't too late to start jumping around like a moron without giving a fuck who's watching.. is it? Those few moments when i lost self consciousness were very liberating. It helped that Palmer is awesome, and the songs were brilliant, and the audience were really into it, and it was a small room, and.. well i guess there were a lot of factors. She did a couple of crowdsurfs, one to a pretty rowdy version of smells like teen spirit, almost like Kurt Cobain was still alive, and another to bottomfeeder where she came straight at, me i held her up by her shoulder, and then by her hips, almost felt responsible for her should she fall.

I'm telling you, painting doesn't mean shit in the light of this.

Friday, 12 July 2013

I've lately been wondering

as always. I've been wondering about depiction in my paintings and the level of reality i required, and it came about from doing, or attempting to do, more commercial stuff - pub paintings, landscapes and still lifes. In those i automatically went for a more refined, realistic painting style, and without thinking abandoned my more abrasive paintwork for those particular pieces. Once i'd finished a few it felt in many ways like another diversion. I've had so many strange changes in style and content in my work over the years, but in hindsight it is still very possible to pick out motifs and common bonds between paintings.

Anyway, i wondered if maybe i could introduce the realistic painting style into my more usual weird folklore-y work, maybe in the form of a realistic background, with spiky, liney characters in the fore, but it didn't really seem to work, until this week when i had more time to think and started to try and reconnect with some old themes - of painting from found footage - films, photos, other paintings, internet memes, newspapers, to show more a reflective approach of modern experience.

And with this meandering i came upon a thought which stuck with me, it felt sort of true. That all painting is failure. Maybe it extends to other art too, i haven't thought about it. But painting, all of it, is truly failing. It's impossible to depict life as it is, no matter how good you paint, and few have attempted to try and paint how we actually see (with two eyes, moving about constantly, with person-specific thoughts informing each object seen), and even if your intention is not a hyper realistic depiction, it is impossible to attain the original desire or intention you had for the painting. At some point you have to compromise through abandonment.

So, having sort of established (at least to myself) that all paintings fail, i began to see the worth in painting: the attempt reveals the artist. At least in good art. All painters fail in different ways, some don't care that they fail, and even stress it (Dubbuffet), some merely use painting illustratively, their searching is not in the paint itself, but in the symbols depicted (such as Magritte, or Hogarth say), others (like Auerbach, Cecily Brown, Anselm Keiffer, Freud, Baselitz, surely my favourite category) do use the paint itself as a searching tool, working the material in the hope of a revelation. And there are many other categories.

In this context my troubles with depiction began to grow in my mind as something that could be used as a feature of my work, rather than hidden. Unity has always been something i've strived for, and never really gained in any capacity, but if i could find a way of uniting these disparate ideas i have of painting, and the differing stories i'd like to depict, then maybe i could create something a little closer to my true self.

Thus (thus!). Motif Of Being Held and Saintly are two paintings on that road. They're not the first of mine to do that, but maybe they are the first i've done conscious of that understanding.

Friday, 18 November 2011

London swings

this is where i'm off to for the best part of a week, starting tomorrow. I'm leaving behind a half started painting of Bonnie and Clyde laying dead in the poppy fields of the wizard of oz. No snow will wake them up, no wicked witch had sent them to sleep. Though i'm aware of the ideas present in the combination of those two images, of youth and innocence, of a violent passage into fantasy, of home, it's more the origin of those ideas which i'm interested in, the images themselves. The combined force of two cultural icons - hitler and the eiffel tower, for example. You can't really take those images at face value without being aware of the stories behind them, but you can't have stories without imagery of one kind or another (and i include words, and imagined images). By imagery, i mean something which the story can be hung on, words, for instance - spoken, written or sung.. It's the medium which contains the idea, and the medium which can inform the idea, and which you respond to and argue with, and take with you - the medium, the imagery.

London, a place i'd like to live eventually, although not permanently. There are many places like that. In fact i can't think of a place i can imagine wanting to die in, to stay permanently. From Alaska/Norway (one of the two), to Romania, Dudley, an old wooden shack in the woods, Manchester, Scotland, Berlin.. maybe the daytime in the woods and the nighttime in the city.. who knows, I don't really want to stop anywhere. My indecisiveness will kill me sometime, somewhere, perhaps between the second and third stop on the 7.23 train to Edinburgh. I don't really want to grow old, not old, more the lack of independence is the worry. How can you be independent if you commit yourself to something, somewhere, and without independence where's the life.. A reason for indecisiveness perhaps. Or a denial of the present situation, that without committing to something, you remain in a sort of void, floating between alive and dead, committing only has the appearance of being permanent, but really it's not, you can always go back, claim you made a mistake, change courses.

I didn't get the job i went after, but i'm kinda not really bothered. I'm annoyed that it cost £30 to travel down there and they couldn't even give me a reason why not. But really, i see so many people going through the same thing, and without a job they aren't doing anything, i'm painting, i'm animating, i'm making a comic, i sort of feel like i'll be alright anyway. But every job that passes comes with a sort of mourning, that that was a route things could have gone, but didn't, that was the life that could have been. Mourning is comforting, but i have no interest in pursuing lost lives.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


i hate manifestos, and i will never stick by any rules, other than that one. In fact, making a list of dos and don'ts is the best way of getting me to do the don'ts, because i am a child.

But it struck me just now, looking up from the polished and perfectly framed images of the tv screen, that the room looked emptier, more subtle, less constructed. That well composed image, that streamlined, graphic designed perfection which invades every sign and symbol, every bus and storefronts, is draining the world of its own beauty. A world which is very much chaotic, and very much undesigned, badly composed, and all the more beautiful because of it.

So, as i've already been heading in that direction, it seems a natural progression to reject perfection, which was always overrated, and to plump for erratic, chaotic, acidic, and generally bad compositions. I don't want my work to be in any way associated with a storefront.

My three ideas, of work not about me, are coming along quite well.. in my head. So far i've only done a few sketches and notes.

The Percentages Agreement. i originally thought of painting churchill and stalin as if it were a bright sunny day and they were sipping lemonade on deckchairs whilst deciding the continents fate, then for some reason i liked the idea of churchill with donkey ears, so i drew them, and they reminded me so much of Bottom from A Midsummer Nights Dream that i drew Stalin as Titania, apparently (as upon talking to someone else i understood) that is quite a good analogy, The Dream being the war, and this completely unexpected and strange relationship blossoming within it. So i'll carry on with that idea i reckon. it also allows me to paint anthropomorphic characters, which i always like.

Bonnie and Clyde seems to be leaning towards photography, not of me taking photos, but the idea of photography. It seeming that they captured the imagination of the public, and have lasted so long as mythical people, because of those amazing photographs of themselves. Also, i recently came upon a load of family photographs, in which my parents seemed to have unknowingly reproduced these photos, of themselves in each others (and other peoples) arms, leaning on cars.. no guns though.

The Periodic Table. The more i find out about the periodic table the more interesting it gets. Firstly that it was made with holes where it was predicted as yet undiscovered elements would slot in, and they were right, when these new elements were discovered they fit perfectly into the gaps left for them. That in itself is fascinating, simply leaving gaps in a story, predicting how it may turn out, fate.. Then there's Antoine Lavoisier's story, one of the guys who helped develop it, how he was beheaded in the French Revolution following being branded a traitor by Marat (the guy David painted after he died). How the judge at his trail said "the republic needs neither scientists or chemists", and how only a year and a half later he was exonerated by the government and his possessions were returned to his widow with a note of apology.. And the nice idea that most of these elements are named in honour of the people who discovered them, Marie Curie naming Polonium after her native Poland, Mendeleevium named after Mendeleev, the main person responsible for the creation of the table..

All very interesting. and what is the point? much point as anything else i suppose.

Monday, 1 August 2011

new painting, a-n blog

My latest painting of my beautiful.

I've also started a new blog over on a-n website! It's a bit difficult to input html as they don't have all those useful buttons like you have here. Blogger will remain my favourite place to blog, but i'm hoping a-n will give me more of an audience, which i can then direct around!:)


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

chalk dudley

i've been working my way very relaxed through simon schama's power of art series, which is uploaded on to youtube. It's cemented my feeling that i am painting the right thing, to not worry about painting things just because i think they'll sell, or because people click 'like' more on facebook, things like flowers and prettified landscapes and cats, dull things, dull ideas, empty. But this series makes a point of showing that the best art is confrontational, extreme, extraordinary and very usually hated. From Caravaggio to Rembrant to Turner to Rothko (and 4 others) we find artist after artist who dealt with very real and uncomforting material. This encourages me, it's very encouraging, it assists my confidence to ignore those haters who dismiss your work unless it makes them feel comforted. I don't mind making comforting images occassionally, when i want to, but i have refused and will continue to refuse to coddle and hide my vision.

we saw simon schama at hay on wye festival giving a talk, it was very good and funny, that reminds me i have a video of him dancing to that pulp fiction chuck berry song, will have to upload it.

Have also had a couple more rejections (or chalk cross moments) from Jerwood drawing prize and halls open competition, and applied to so many jobs and residencies i've forgotten. So i continue to intern at The Public, a building which appears more silly and impractical with each visit.

here is my latest painting

And here is a photo of my exhibition at dudley library, my first solo show.
hopefully many more to come