Archive for the art Category

Secateurs

Posted in art, work-in-progress with tags , , , , , , , on February 17, 2009 by artbizness

secateurs

The commission I’m working on is coming along nicely. I’ve been quiet about it, because I’ve basically been doing all the boring stuff – making up the board, priming it with gesso, layering up the base paint colour to get it nice, dense and solid.

But today I started painting the main part of it – a pair of secateurs. The guy who commissioned me is a film maker called Rob. He came and filmed me in my studio at the end of last year, and really liked the works I had on my wall.

He’s also a gardener, hence the secateurs.

My old art teacher once told me Vermeer said that when you paint something you should “start with a brush and end with a pin”. So, you start with the broad brush strokes, and get progressively more detailed as you go on. Art teachers are full of nonsense like that.

So I began with the bigger brush, and got something that I was reasonably pleased with. Having got this far, I thought it best to leave it, sleep on it, and come back to it tomorrow. Besides, it was so cold, my hands were shaking. That was when I took the photo above.

However, I couldn’t resist, picked up a smaller brush and cocked it up a bit. Nevermind. Fortunately, I’m using acrylics, which are quite easy to overpaint. They dry really quickly. I’ll return to it tomorrow with warmer fingers and renewed vigour.

A word about acrylics. Please don’t ever ever EVER buy Rowney or Windsor and Newton acrylics. If I hear you even mention the word Spectrum, I shall never speak to you again. It’s alright, we’ve all done it, but you must repent. If you use Liquitex, then do so very quietly in a corner, but if I find out about it, there’ll be trouble.

There is one name, and one name only, in acrylice paint, and it is Lascaux. Lascaux acrylics are colourfast (I mean REALLY colourfast), nice weight on the brush, deals with watering down much better, and the gloss and matt mediums are MUCH more fluid and better than anything else.

I get them from Fitzpatrick’s in Cambridge Heath Rd., London. I think they’re pretty much the only UK stockist (Lascaux are Swiss).

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A painting and a commission

Posted in art, work-in-progress on January 24, 2009 by artbizness

Hello everyone.

I haven’t blogged much in January, but I HAVE been busy.

At the end of 2008, I was interview and videoed for the BLMF. The guy interviewing me really liked two small painting of household DIY tools that I had done, and were hanging on my wall. He’s a gardener, and wondered if I’d do him something similar, but with gardening-related tools instead of DIY tools. Naturally I obliged…

Below is a photo of the panel I’m making up (not huge, about 25cm x 25cm), held up in between the two paintings he saw.

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I’m also working on a painting for my Grandpa. It’ll be his 80th birthday in March. It was my Nan’s 80th over Christmas (his wife), and for her birthday I put together a little book of silly poems, drawings and personal memories – drove to streets that she had lived in and took photos, googled old photos of South London (she was born and raised there) The resulting book was very well recieved to say the least. You can see it here.

Anyway, I’m preparing a board for Grandpa’s painting. That’s the photo below.

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I prefer to paint on board. Canvas has too much “give” for my kind of work, and I often have to take a scalpel to it to cut masking tape, which would go right through a canvas surface.

So what you see is a test of my woodworking skills, with a little help from some two-part filler. Panel pin heads are touched in with gloss paint to stop them popping back up again.

I also got hold of some Japanese end-papers (the sort that get put just inside the covers of hardback books). There’s a shop near my studio called Shepherds Bookbinders, and there’s a veritable treasure-trove of these papers there. I’ve liked them for years, and I thought I might get hold of them and do something with them – the next stage of my work. So more wooden boards to make up.

Below is a photo of the one that I bought. It’s A1 size and absolutely beautiful.

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A Free Print for my blog readers

Posted in art, general on January 7, 2009 by artbizness

sorrowsthumb

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you had a good Christmas, and I apologise for not posting more regularly.

To make up for it, I’m going to start the year by offering some free artwork.

It’s a print of my most well-known and well-liked piece of work, called “Man of Sorrows”

Here’s the link.

There’s no catch. Just download it, and print it off.

Or turn it a postcard or a mugs or a t-shirt, or use it in a powerpoint presentation. Do what ever you want with it, as long as it’s for personal use. (I mean: no sneaky making money directly from it. That wouldn’t be fair now would it? I’ve just given it to you for free. Thanks 🙂 ).

The best thing I can suggest is that you take it to a printshop, and get them to print it (best size at A4 but no more than A3), then buy a nice frame for it, and put it on your wall.

Why am I doing this? As I said before. I’d far rather you had a piece of my work than not be able to afford one.

I want you to be able to have this in your space if you want it, and for it to move you, like it has moved me.

I made the work but it forced me to think about poverty and spirituality, and where those things can be found. It sat in my thoughts even when I wasn’t looking at it, a changed the atmosphere of every room I hung it in for the better. It made me think about transcendence and immanence, about art and life, and about sacred and profanity, and what am I doing about those things?

I guess that’s more important to me than being paid for the original. If you want to buy the original, then that’s a different story, but this is about the best quality photo I have of it, and I think it will give you all the things it gave me and a whole lot of other things that are specific to you.

Have a good 2009.

Free Art from a Turner Prize winner

Posted in art with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 14, 2008 by artbizness

Last week, I managed to get hold of a limited edition work of art by former Turner Prize winner Keith Tyson.

I was alerted by way of The Guardian, that his website was sending them out on a first come first served basis. Basically I had to enter a few details, and then it instantly downloaded onto my desktop. 1 of 5000. Checked against my IP address so I couldn’t apply for more than one.

I would have told you all about it when it happened, but I’ve had a nasty case of manflu, and haven’t blogged much.

I think the free art idea is a brilliant idea for all manner of reasons. It’s very like Hugh MacLeod’s idea of the social object. Well – it’s probably not his idea per se, but he has brought together the principles in a unique way, and applied them to art, so I’m going to call it his idea.

As an artist – do you do it for love or for money? Would you do it for nothing if you could? It increases the kudos of an artist like Keith Tyson, who has never really cared what the establishment thinks anyway. It gets people talking and generates interest in what he’s doing. People talk about it, and so the meme spreads. It spreads much more than any amount of knocking on doors, showing works in galleries, or chasing lazy over-blown art dealers will ever do.

In fact I’m thinking of doing it myself. I’d far rather you had a piece of my work on the wall for free than not have ANY on your wall because you don’t have the money.

Mark Rothko at the TATE

Posted in art, Shows I've reviewed with tags , , , , , , , on November 30, 2008 by artbizness

I finally got to see the Mark Rothko exhibition at the TATE Modern last week.

I have a bit of personal interest in Rothko’s work. I loved it when I was at art college and I still do. My personal response to them is that they are works that are that much maligned quality: “spiritual”

I definitely reach a sense of transcendence when I’m nose-to-canvas. The way the colour has been laid on and built up over time. As an 18-year-old, his work had a deeply needed sense of gravitas for me, and I still feel them as very heavy works. In fact I felt depressed when I came out of this show even today. It doesn’t surprise me that he committed suicide. I would have hated to be him. The transcendence is probably part of the problem. All transcendence and no immanence makes Jack a dull boy. As I’m fond of saying over the dinner table.

But don’t let me put you off.

They are works that you can just sit with and chill out near – almost like painting’s early ambient music, and I think in a fundamental way, these works are interpretive – your response to them is as good and valid as mine, and I’d be intrigued to know what other people think of them.

With regards to the curating of the show, I have a few issues though. We all know about the shenanigans surrounding the Seagram Murals and whether they were hung the right way up, but for me, they were hung far too high. The rest of the works were not.

I know that they TATE says that he wanted them hung high in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, but anyone who knows that gallery also knows that it is a tall cavernous space. The room they are currently being shown in in the TATE is not. They were hung too high in the room for me to make any kind of response, other than that the room looked like a cathedral.

It also seems clear from the maquette right near the entrance of the show, that the works were meant to be hung low and near to the floor despite what how the TATE might want to spin it.

It seems that despite their best efforts, the works are still being politicised to this day – but that’s a whooooole other discussion. 🙂

The Turner Prize 2008

Posted in art, Shows I've reviewed with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2008 by artbizness

I went to see the Turner Prize today (finally).

The first one, Goshka Macuga was mildly interesting. The sculptural elements in the room were thought-provoking – like a Mies Van Der Rohe set of parallel bars for the Paralympics. The glass sculpture was a visual treat to walk around. The fuzziness create by the conflation of glass at it’s centre was something I could have stared at for hours. I can’t help feeling that I’ve seen this sort of thing elsewhere by a different artist, though. Can someone tell me who it is? It’s really bugging me. I’ll get back to you when I remember who it was. I thought the collages were a little half-hearted though. Not nearly as well executed as they could have been.

My favourite piece in the show was “I Give You All My Money” by Cathy Wilkes. On the face of it, it looks like the detritus from an over-zealous shopping trip to Sainsbury’s – two conveyor belts, half-opened jars of “stuff”, abandoned pushchairs. On closer inspection, It looks poignant, surprising, scary, curious and I’ve always wondered what the back of the conveyor belt in Sainsbury’s looks like. Probably my favourite this year.

Runa Islam‘s work was fun enough. I think she’s supposed to be the favourite. The Turner Prize is supposed to be a bit of a snapshot of contemporary art. the problem with someone like Runa Islam or any of the others, is that this year, it’s not exactly cutting edge. Projected image – film, video, photo or otherwise in a darkened room is a bit old hat, and painting the walls a different colour isn’t going to make it any less so.

And also: I have a question. Why are the seating arrangements in video installations always so bloody uncomfortable? I’m trying to concentrate on the content of the thing, and all I can think about is my numb ass because I’ve been forced to sit on some wooden cube. In one of the installations, the seats were furniture sponge/stuffing cut into cubes. The one I sat on had the most godawful lean. A video installation should be a place where you can sit and drown in the experience. I really can’t see the value in having something that drives you out of the space purely because you don’t want to sit down. Is it just me? Someone tell me I’m not going mad, here. When I went to see Music for White Cube by Brian Eno at the White Cube Gallery back in the nineties, Eno stuck the most comfortable white couch in the middle of the room that I have ever sat on, and it made it much easier to take in what was going on. I still remember that installation very fondly.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Turner Prize

The last guy (Mark Leckey) I really don’t remember, except that there was ANOTHER projected film/video in a darkened space of the artist giving a lecture at various colleges up and down the land on a subject. I don’t remember the subject either. In fact, I find a lot of art theory turgid, boring and dull. I was reminded of endless lectures at college that pretty much sucked the life out of enjoyment of the arts instead of giving it life. I remember falling asleep in most of those lectures, and I fell asleep in this one too.

Despite the hard seats.

Did anyone else go yet? What did you think?

Arty House Party

Posted in art, exhibitions with tags , , , , , on October 20, 2008 by artbizness

So the show is over and been and done and dusted.

It was a definite hit on many levels, and I’m very pleased with how it went.

I gave out 50+ business cards. It was a good party and a fun time was had by all – some 120 people came. They did seem to like the work very much. “Junia” and “Baptism” were particularly commented on. The general feedback that Naz got from the event that it was great art of a high quality, and lots of interested noises – there’s been a real buzz about the whole event, and the idea of a party with art on the walls. A lot of those people would be willing to come to any other shows I’d want to organise, so if nothing else, it has been the best PR. There seemed to be much “We’ll talk. SOON!” from people. We’re going to leave the work there for a week or so.

There have been no sales – yet. Although this is not a gallery art show, and it’s a well known fact that most of the sales are done on the opening night and not after, I remain optimistic. It’s hard to get people to interested at a party – people need time to go away and think about it before they’ll commit to buying anything, which is fair enough. I shall take the favourable comments away and ruminate on them, whilst waiting for the phone to ring. And those people can still get in contact with me through Naz. Or e-mail me on giddy@f2s.com *ahem*

There were some conversations that might have lead somewhere, but something happens when I get put on the spot. My legs turn to jelly, my mind goes blank, and my ability to speak and function like a rational human being, much less the highly focused salesman that I need to be, goes out of the proverbial box-sash window. Like the American Democratic party, I seem to have a phenomenal capacity for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. So it’s probably best that I didn’t get too involved in conversations at the party. I’m all ears now, though. Hehe.

I’ve never done a show in a house before, so I’m really not sure what expectations I should or shouldn’t have for such an event. I’d definitely do one again though, as I suspect that the impact is something that will become apparent afterwards. I’m sure my work will sit in people’s minds to ponder over. It does that.

In the meantime, you can watch the party in full swing on this video: