Friday, November 21, 2008

Five

NASA and the Flood - N0 5

No 5 is nearing completion and I am on my way to a target of thirty NASA series paintings. When originally planning this series, I checked with my supplier of canvas stretchers to confirm the availability of continual supply - which was positive. But after starting No 5 I went to buy a few more and discovered that they had dropped the complete range and replaced all the stretchers with a new brand - which subsequently were of a different sizing. After much chasing and minimal complaining, my supplier has searched the country and discovered the other 24 that I need. So on with the show - at least I don't have to make the other 24 stretchers or worse yet, give up on my original plans.

I intend to exhibit these works as one large show - with a possible extra large version containing many figures and multiple colour schemes. Below is a little astronaut clinging to a mountain during a flood, he is somewhat pooped.

This next detail is the other astronaut surrounded by rings - life preservers or some sort of strange Metropolis like hula hoops. In the top picture you can see his feet - I think he is wearing flippers.



This is the Metropolis I am referring to - Fritz Lang's fantastic film.



The astronauts are both holding faded flowers from days gone by - the remnants of another time and another place - the last bastions of hope. The bigger non-astronaut figure in the boat is seemingly concerned about measuring the depth of the water - sort of like share market figures flashing on the screen really - who really controls the depth of the water?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Walken

Here is a few Youtube clips of American actor Christopher Walken.

The first one is from Julian Schnabel's film about Jean-Michael Basquiat - The Interview Scene - which I believe borrows heavily from an actual Basquiat interview. It's one of my favorite scenes from the film - due to Walkens edgy, searching interview style and Jeffrey Wright's stoned but sensitive portrayal of Basquait.




The next clip is from Woody Allen's film, "Annie Hall" - another favourite film of mine. Walken as per usual is mildly intense and marginally disturbed - he seems to be an actor that fits between characters, inhabiting a space, all of his own creating. Woody towards the end of the clip, finds himself being driven home by Walken and aptly conveys his misgivings and fear. A situation that most of us have found ourselves in at sometime, when left alone in a confined space with an unusual person.




When I was about twenty, a large rotundas man started following me in the streets of Brisbane. He was about 50 metres from me, and so I started to walk a bit quicker. At first I wasn't sure if he was pursuing me, but the closer he got the more I was certain that he had targeted me. I didn't run because part of me doubted that he was interested in me and so I tried to ignore him and not draw attention to myself.

But, he caught me and confronted me in the street outside St John's Church in the city. He whipped out a note pad and feverishly started to write me a note. Apparently, he was lost and needed someone to call a taxi for him, and wanted me to talk on the phone. He was deaf and dumb, afraid and rather frantic - he gestured to me to go into the phone booth - and he promptly followed, squeezing me in and blocking my exit. He began the frantic note writing again and I communicated back using the same note pad - eventually we made a successful phone call and caught our selves a taxi.

On parting I asked him why he ran for me, when there were so many other people on the street to pick on. He pointed to my chest and fingered out the words that were printed on my T-shirt. The black and white shirt had a bold Christian slogan, back and front, that stood out for miles. He apparently had decided that I could be trusted and would probably help - but conversely at one point when I was pinned in the phone booth, I felt a little like Woody - I learnt a little more that day.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Flood

Flood at NASA

NASA number 5 is under way and the little characters are almost under water. They are combating a disaster beyond their control, struggling with the forces of nature. One Wisenheimer is trying to measure the depth of the flood. He is in a boat, yet his little comrades who are in a worse predicament are left stranded and ignored - the trickle down effect.

I have always been a fan of films and novels that focused on worldwide disasters. John Wyndham wrote; 'Kraken Wakes' , 'The Day of the Triffids' and 'The Midwich Cuckoos', which was latter filmed as, "The Village of the Damned". And films like; 'The Day the Earth Stood Still', 'When Worlds Collide", or Orson Welles', 'War of the Worlds" - which are all classics in this genre. Also "Crack in the World" was another favourite film of mine - which I watched on B&W TV in the late sixties or early seventies.

Lawrence Daws has a few paintings up his sleeves that focus on things apocalyptic. Little men running from threatening objects in the sky, such as 'The 1913 Mining Disaster'.

Below is a part of silly drawing in my unfinished drawings pile that has connections to some of these concepts - but in a somewhat spoofy way.

One day I will finish all my unfinished drawings - if only I could stop starting new ones. Currently I have twenty or so unfinished songs as well - is it just me or a sign of the times that things seem so fragmented and weary?

One artist I like checking out is David Hockney. The more I read about him or see of his work, the more I think he a thinking and progressive artist. He has a handle on art history that is not a cheeky rebuff to the past but a positive readdress of things learnt by his artistic forbears.

He teeters between great draughtsmanship and oblique expressionism, passing by Picasso with more than a nod. I like his exploration and fascination with the natural world - especially his water works. My unfinished work above is a reference to Hockney - my hastily drawn nude is dipping into a hastily painted pool - below is a bit more of the work.

One day I will finish this work as well ............ that's as long as a menacing object doesn't fall out of the sky and destroy the whole world.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Mammon

Webster's dictionary defines 'Mammon' as: 1) the false god of riches and avarice. 2) riches regarded as an object of worship and greedy pursuit; wealth as an evil, more or less personified.

Below is a little painting I did when I was in grade 11 at High School. It's interesting to look back at very old drawings and paintings, to try and catch a glimpse of the person you were. Looking in a diary is a similar experience, but the differences seem to be more obvious. So a painting needs a bit of a second look and a scratch under the surface to reveal a bit more of your historical self.

This very early work focuses on money and attitudes to money, and how this relates to the management of our time and well being. 'The Card Players' with their little piles of money and focused attention have become oblivious to the fifth player - the person with the clock face.
Their arms have become separated from their diminished bodies, as if they are viewing the cards, like viewing television.

I suppose the Sunday School lessons of childhood and conservative family attitude to money, shine through this early art work. To me the message still rings true and is relevant for our times. The opiate of the moment is the odour of burning money, chained to our ankles. Our freedoms are eroded the more materialistic we become - by trading something that is greater for something that is less.

When did art become just another form of entertainment?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Giant

NASA and the Giant 2008

Another NASA painting completed, another banking empire defeated. The NASA series of paintings are to me, becoming a running commentary on the financial woes of our times.

The latest work entitled: 'NASA and the Giant' describes helpless astronauts caught in the grip of a great giant. The giant has a bandaged head, a covered mouth and wears a coat of many colours.

STUDIO 5th October 2008 - Work in progress

Also, I have started another painting based loosely on a drawing that was posted previously below - nudes with halos. This is currently a very rough sketch drawn in ink and acrylic on MDF. I am experimenting with some new paint I bought from a company called Viponds. I am going to build up the work in transparent layers of ochre, umber and white. The ink drawings will be redrawn numerous time in the process, leading to a complex but refined effect - we shall see.

Close up - Nude sitting in Caravan watching TV.

Hopefully, I will start the next NASA painting during the coming week - either 'NASA and the flood' or 'NASA and the lovers' . Although a painting may not change the world, the virtue of art transcends all the trappings that money pretends to succour - fly me to the moon. But sadly, money is also abused in the art world, so that art of the people has become art of the rich. It was said that Ian Fairweather was sent nice new canvas's to paint on, but never really used them for his art - they were used for some other purpose, while he continued to paint on whatever came to hand - sort of poetic justice really.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Lost

I just finished the third Nasa painting: 'NASA Lost in Space'. The first one is called, 'Tornado in NASA', and the second one is called, 'Baptism in NASA'. I am planning to produce at least 30 works all based on the same three characters and various props. The whole series will hopefully one day be displayed together as one large work, each work separated from the other by a gap of about 75mm - in a large grid pattern. All works are on pre-made 90x70 cm canvas stretchers. The colour schemes are based on the primary colours plus black and white. By using different primary pigments each time, it is is quite easy to create variation between each work - e.g Cobalt blue, Ultramarine or Phthalo Blue mixed with any one red or yellow - although the different pigments create variation, the common mixing principle used maintains uniformity.

NASA Lost in Space - 2008 - 90x70cm - Acrylic on Canvas

On doing the work, I have been thinking about the content, which is subsequently, creating the wave that is propelling the emerging ideas into small drawing studies. The emerging, guiding theme is NASA, as metaphor for USA and other linked western countries which are under siege by their own hyperbole, constructs and dubious motives. The use of popular culture references and other icons is really a denouement of my own collusion and parasitical involvement in this burgeoning bubble - "Lost in Space" is a reference to the American television show of the same name, which I spent hours watching in the late sixties and early seventies. In many ways we have swallowed the lie and now see the poison, as an empire grows and shrinks in our own lifetime. To me NASA is a prime example of misplaced science, hype, misbelief, propaganda, pop. culture iconics , misuse of funds and false hope. Which in turn makes a perfect candidate for a series of paintings about western culture, USA and the human condition as a corporate identity.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Barbarella



I just watched an old Jane Fonda film, "Barbarella", and couldn't resist grabbing this scene from Youtube - "the evil children and their evil dolls". The whole film is very campy and kitsch and I thoroughly enjoyed the extravagant, arty sets and bizarre music. If you haven't seen it for a while, then check it out, it's well worth the look - it reminds me of "Juliet of the Spirits" mixed with "Lost in Space" and Burt Bacharach.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Environment


This the environment where I do all my computing stuff and write my blogs. Occasionally, you get to see the other side of the wire - the mysterious spot on google earth, where another being lives and transmits their electronic spirit to the rest of the globe. This is my spot - you can even see the modems where my little messages begin on their long but lightning fast trip. Out the window is my analogue world of weeds, green swimming pool, birds, long grass and a leaky septic trench. Tomorrow, if the weather is fine I will spend a bit of time cleaning up the outside world and getting things in order, but now it is digital time - for what it's worth - a reckless experiment foisted on the world to intimidate, titillate, exasperate and bewilder the masses into a homogeneous but diverse group of autobots.

Above is a portion of a drawing that I have been working on for a few years, it's part of my collection of unfinished work. My drawings seem to have a life of their own which is distinct from my life - always suggesting what they want from their meagre existence, encouraging me to complete their expression.

Below are a few haloed nudes, each in their own particular stance. These two images are just portions of the larger drawing which contains about ten figures. As stated elsewhere these nudes are the jottings of life classes transported into strange arenas.

Never content with a more realistic representation of the human figure - but seriously jealous of those who do it with ease - my expression is more expressionistic. In fact after checking out the some of the 'Kelly' series by Nolan at the QAG, I realise how similar my NASA series of works are to his - strangely reminiscent - which surprised me , because I usually pick up on similarities fairly quickly. The flash of the camera has exposed some of the pearly paint I used in this drawing. Eventually I will add quite a few transparent layers of milky, pearly white paint over hatched pencil to build these images into a cohesive whole - see! a little bit of thinking, is already getting me into the mood to be a partner in the completion of this work. Sometimes, I withdraw from completing an artwork, because I am not quite sure what to do next - it is important to have periods of gestation, where the mind ponders in the background, digitally scrutinising our every possible, analogous move.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Next

Before I go to sleep I like to have a bit of a read in bed. The above book is one I have flicked through more than once over the last 20 years. It's a book that tries " to come to terms with the mosaic of meaning systems which make up modern thinking". I rarely ever read fiction, preferring to flick pages of an art book or poke around theology, science or biographical stuff. I read the Bible most nights, which I have studied quite a bit over most of my life. Currently I am using the ESV (English Standard Version) which is a very recent translation, but retains the feel and accuracy of older English versions but with up to date language.

Recently, I have been drawing in bed - like the following quick layout of another NASA painting. I am up to No. 7 in the NASA preliminary drawings but only starting No. 3 in the paintings.


The drawings have all the basics, needed to start another painting - title, theme, composition, action, narrative and any new objects. The two shown here are about 75 x 50mm in size and were scanned from a notebook page. The paintings for these will start hopefully in the next few weeks.



This is NASA No. 3, which I showed on the previous post in a state of partial undress. At the moment I am colouring in and scratching around, trying to get a feel for the work. I am just starting to like it and am feeling a lot more confident about progressing to it's logical end.

Below is a detail from the work that I call the "Lost in Space" portion, because it is like the opening credits of the sixties program of the same name that I watched as a kid. In the background can be seen the standard, 'David' symbol of a Glasshouse Mountain (Crookneck) signalling potential doom - these little guys have no idea of what's goin' down - sort of a Mr. Jones, thin man sung to a different ballad.

The upside down, party pooper, flower object in one astronauts hand, that is appearing in these paintings is starting to grab my attention - it seems to symbolise much, but very little at the same time - curious.

My son Jonas and daughter in-law Sarah's first home has just begun, being built in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland - lots of rock.


And finally, another bedtime story - below is a book I bought back in 1980 in Brisbane. This is one I have flicked through many times - it's a straight forward analysis of Modern Art and culture. It's a pity that it is an early 70's book as there is so much more to be said about the last 40 years. I might have to hunt down the author who took up the batton after this author as he (Rookmaaker) died in 1977. Here is a quote from Rookmaaker -"Modern art did not just happen. It came as a result of a deep reversal of spiritual values in the Age of Reason, a movement that in the course of a little more than two centuries changed the world." - we are living in the vacuum.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Peradventure

"The world is full of speculation" - so sings Dylan on 'Modern Times'.

So as I venture down another junction in the road - bobbing and weaving like Bunyan's pilgrim on his way - I present some more images of work in progress. Hot from the press and straight from the studio - vain glorious, speculative, naive, fundamentally flawed, wrenched, drawn and quartered and one foot fumbling over another advancing haplessly towards the Celestial City - beware the lions at the door.

These images show another Squarescape painting in progress and the last image shows also the beginning of another NASA painting.









Friday, June 20, 2008

Grub


I just bought a few more canvases for my NASA series and last night drew up an idea for the first one - one of the astronauts is sinking in a pond of despair while the other one is attached by an umbilical cord floating upside down in the landscape. Also, the larger non-astronaut figure is turning away from their mayhem in a feigned disinterest. Preliminary work will be posted as time permits.

I have almost finished another Squarescape painting - this one has been built up in a sequence of drips that have been then blasted with an atomiser gun. A few days ago I started to use a brush to carve out the landscape inspired forms - the marks and process remind me of Max Ernst's work. I have taken a few photos in sequence showing the build up of drips, blobs and runs and will post them sometime.

Also, at night I have been writing down and trying to illustrate a kids book based on stories I made up for my kids and nephews - we shall see what comes of that - the stories are easy to concoct and tell but are a different beast when set to paper.

Another idea I have been working on, is small attractive paintings of the Glasshouse Mountains to sell at markets - the trick is to create a repeatable style that is not corny, typical or boring and is not a sell out, but a by-product of the bigger arty stuff.

Besides all that stuff, I have been trying to finish a pile of old drawings - about 30 of them.

I am also dreaming of setting up an online art competition, run by artists for artists and judged by artists. A competition that may not have any prize money and may never be seen in a gallery. 20 to 100 artist will submit their work to an online system of sorts and then the same artists will be the judges of the work. The winners work will then be posted as the main picture for the month and the others work will be displayed below in a smaller format. The prestige will be the glory of being selected by other artists and being top of the pile for a month - maybe comments could also be left, but only by those who entered. Only a photo of the work, your name and email will need to be submitted - all other information like your CV, history, awards, shows, profile etc. will be superfluous and blatantly ignored. This way we can focus on what is important - the art.
One problem - I just need to come up with a online system that is self managing .

The photo at the top of the page is a batch of grubs I dug up from a pile of mulch in my back yard - there were maybe a hundred or so in an area of about 2 sq metres. The largest grubs were about as thick as my thumb and almost 75mm long - the magpies and other birds loved them. Below is a short video of their crawling about......

video

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

NASA

I just finished the second NASA painting. The first is now titled 'Twister in NASA' and the second one is titled 'Baptism in NASA'. Hopefully they will turn into a series, displayed as a grid of small paintings on a single wall. I have begun to set the work parameters: three primary colours, black and white, three characters in a landscape, loosely painted, astronauts, NASA in the title and a vague storyline. Here's the first two displayed together in my studio.

NASA series paintings 1 and 2 - 2008

This is the one I completed this afternoon - it took a bit longer than the first one - the primary colours I chose were more difficult to balance and there were a few composition issues. These works are meant to be seen in a large group and so individual merits can be adjusted a bit, but they still stand as works on their own.

Baptism in NASA - 2008 - Acrylic on Canvas

Because of all my cleaning around the place, I have started to do a bit or sorting of photos and accumulated stuff. This is a photo of my son and myself in the eighties - he is now 25 years old and is the local Pharmacist. This photo was taken by a friend - he won a photo competition with this photo - it's at a house we lived in at Morningside in Brisbane.

Jonas and David

This is another one from the same photo session - my wife can be seen at the far end of the corridor - the painting is a work I did at High School (Grade 11) - it was my first big painting and was hung in the Gold Coast Art Prize and shown on the 6 o'clock news.

David and Judy - The Canberra Oriental

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Ironman

I went to see the Ironman movie last night - I had four hours to kill while I was waiting for my daughter who was doing a first aid course. Anyway, young Nick and his girl friend (the son of the failed painter) happened to show up at the same theatre. Nick made a comment about how he thought I wouldn't like a film like Ironman - I explained that recently I had begun to realise that I liked big blockbuster films. I think the entertainment factor strikes a chord with me - I still like complex philosophical films like Antonio's 'Blow Up' or a strange film like Fellini's 'Juliet of the Spirits'. Although I like Bergman's 'Seventh Seal' , I much prefer Woody Allen's take on Bergman.

What amazes me about the better big films is the combined energy of many artist and technicians producing amazing visual art. There were a few scenes in Ironman that were visually amazing - I appreciate the skill in the design and presentation of the story. The story was a bit lame, typical in fact and a bit over reaching as it tried to comment on terrorism, USA and arms trade.

Ironman reminded me of an old drawing that had a similar light in the chest. This light in the chest also rebinds me of a Van Morrison song called 'Summertime in England' where he sings about a "light in the head" a somewhat cosmic song that samples the ether. So here is a quick drawing from the early eighties loosely called Suburban Cosmic.

So I decided to post a few "Quick Drawings" this next one is like 'The man who fell to Earth" but it's me falling into the suburbs from the sky. Or it's an early Arkley disguised as a Howard.

And here is another quick nude - slap, dashed and plonked, an anonymous person in an unknown place. The thing about quick stuff is the accidental things that happen - like the ambiguous face.

Cylinder ends - objects from the studio with an office supplies feel - sort of a spacey, floating feel like my Squarescape Six - Floaters painting - which is in the Pine Rivers 2D art comp. at the moment.


Nude bending - sloppy acrylic and pencil - my favourite way to draw.


This is from a series of pencil abstracts - drawn really quickly - this one has a title like 'Object moving really fast'. This was from a pile of drawings submitted at Art college in a Year two drawing class.

Long tall man - simple lines for a simple life - this was also from a quick period. Quick stuff is also good because the ideas can be used in other more elaborate works - which is what I do and quite frequently. The two little paintings I am doing at the moment have elements from this quick period and also build on the themes - one can be seen here from a previous post.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Plug

As - 2008 - 150x120cm - final edition.

I have just wound up my 'as' exhibition blog by adding a final post. The post completes the notes on the show - a note of thanks is also included. I wonder how long the 'as' blog will stay online - if ' The Bird Proofer' is still around in ten years time I might give it a plug - maybe the the internet will have collapsed by then, only time will tell.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

View

From Ngungun - 1995- Acrylic on Paper - 73x54cm

This is a a small quick painting that was based on a small quick drawing after a small quick climb to the top of Mt Ngungun. You can see an actual photograph of the mountains on the ...the failed painters blog.

I was painting and drawing a lot of mountains, trees and rocks in the nineties - here is another one from that period.

Pre-Iconic Landscape - 120x90cm - Acrylic on Board

I am not exactly sure when I did Pre-Iconic landscape - I have been cataloguing and photographing my work for eons but I still have quite a few that have slipped through the net - it would be most likely be between 1992 and 1996 . It was during this time that I was pushing the smaller paper works into larger works on board.

Up until I moved to the Glasshouse Mountains area I was mostly doing urban landscapes and images of lone figures inside rooms. The lone figures began in College as I had to contend with Life studies - I have always been bored with trying to draw figures accurately - I would always try to impose some sort of 'art' on the figure. One day I will commit and focus on more anatomically correct figures - maybe for a week anyway.

Modern Bubble Top - Acrylic and pencil on paper - 1981 - 75x55cm

In the noughties, I have been doing whatever - a bit of everything - reaching back as far as I can appropriating my own images reworking them into new contexts. Even odd little adventures like the following painting, with it's poorly drawn figure, metaphysical banding, existential red, organic shapes and threatening head. I think this was done around 2003 and relates to my inability to sleep due to a worrying situation.

Bands of Sleep - 120x90 cm - Acrylic on Board

I think the trick is to keep the paintbrush going even when your not sure - maybe especially when your not sure. There will always be people and other artists who will be critical or don't even get it, but in the end if you can build up a body of work then your doing alright.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hours


I use to spend many hours with pencil and paper drawing complex, organic works. What appealed to me, was the way free form patterns would emerge. There was a lyrical quality to the movement of the patterns across the page, with the different abstract like elements in balance and harmony. At that stage, I liked artists like Paul Klee because I could see the presence of his thinking laying bare in his art.

This was the second last Burleigh Rocks drawing and the most complex. I attempted at the time a few larger scale painting versions but never quite got the feel developing as I had in the smaller works. Maybe introducing colour at the same time was the mistake. I feel I have been pursuing indirectly (amongst other pursuits) this goal of attaining accomplished versions of the smaller works. Some of the larger works have been reasonably successful but the freedom experienced while producing the works has not been equal in measure to the smaller works - this of course is a challenge - one that all artists face in various ways.

Breaking through to the other side, where actions, thoughts and feelings are synonymously working together to produce breakthrough artworks. These in turn become the new benchmarks - not for the world or some artificial stadium but for personal development and resolution of original artistic intentions.

The drawing below is the original and the one at top is a negative version. I quite like seeing artwork as a negative or computer altered in some way - it opens the eyes to new possibilities and enhances things seemingly hidden.

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