May 28, 2011

Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

AWAKE! for Morning in the Bowl of Night
Has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight:
And Lo! the Hunter of the East has caught
The Sultan's Turret in a Noose of Light.

Dreaming when Dawn's Left Hand was in the Sky
I heard a voice within the Tavern cry,
"Awake, my Little ones, and fill the Cup
Before Life's Liquor in its Cup be dry."

And, as the Cock crew, those who stood before
The Tavern shouted -- "Open then the Door!
You know how little while we have to stay,
And, once departed, may return no more."

(Fitzgerald Translation)                  

Did I ever tell you about my friends Bob and Siggy? I had the honour of having Bob as my painting teacher at college for four years.

Bob and Siggy are artists.

Artists in that they are both amazing painters. Siggy has just been in shows in New York and Tuscany. She starts painting in her studio at 8 am and finishes at 2 am. Every day. She paints large paintings that seeth with her own personal iconography. Her icons, mysterious and animalistic, are to her paintings like the aphabet is to a writer.

Bob on the other hand is a draughtsman like no other. His pen and ink work is wonderous, his water colours are .... are ... ahh how do you describe a watercolour that in one passage has all the resilient glow and beauty of the best  of traditional water colour then suddenly slides off the paper into an abstract swirl of Turneresque etherealness....  Think Modigliani meets the fauvista Andre Deran. But better. 

It's silly trying to describe paintings eh? Maybe I should just say that the Queen of England has the good taste to have one of Bob's paintings in one of her palaces.

So what's this have to with the Rubaiyat?

Driving along the beach drive, on the way to dinner the other night, my friend Bob looks up at the night sky and sprouts the first verse of the Rubaiyat. Well how beautiful are those words eh? And I had never heard them spoken aloud. I, supposedly an educated man! Obviously I am not.

I was astounded. Speak that first verse aloud the next time you see the first star in the twilight sky and you'll see what I mean.

Though I did not deserve the honour, I'm proud to say that I was in a show with Bob and Siggy a few years ago. You can see some of my paintings from the show here  if you ever wondered what my traditional landscapes look like. There's some reviews at the bottom of this post.

I don't get a chance to brag much :) But as the next stanza suggests, life's short. Thank you for reading!

Whether at Naishapur or Babylon,
Whether the Cup with sweet or bitter run,
The Wine of Life keeps oozing drop by drop,
The Leaves of Life keep falling one by one.


  1. Oh you are famous! You have famous friends!

    Okay Mr. Finnie, I would not particularly gauge someone's education based on his or her ability to declame the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, even though, I believe you when you say your friend is educated.

    The reason being, I have many friends and know people who at the sight of something beautiful or dramatic will utter nonsense or the funniest comments that send me howling or bending with laughter.

    Having said that, I once fell for a guy who spoke like he was a walking book of poetry until one day I realized I don't really care much for hearing poetry read or spoken but rather read in private during my melancholic, introspective, and socially withdrawn moments.

    Now as for this illustration, I would fall for you, if I were a young, single, woman and you were a young , single man. Oh oh never mind. Scrap that first statement, that may lead to misunderstanding. What I am saying is, I fall for anyone who can draw leaves and mushrooms like you do! I love this image and you illustrated my favorite animal, the pig!!! Thank you!!! Tsup! Tsup!!

  2. finally I come back to blogging and see all the new things you did-I´m always stunning, thanks for sharing your great talent!!!

  3. Wow, you are famous ;) I do love your landscapes, thanks for reminding me to look at them again. Love the new illustration too. I wish that I had the energy to paint from 8 am to 2 am :) She must really get a lot accomplished.

  4. Oh my! Your elbows rub only with the best! You never cease to amaze with these little nuggets of superstar quality that you pull out from your sleeve every now and then. Beautiful landscapes with great colors! I especially love the one Near the Chair

    And aaaah! I love the enchantment in this illustration! I want to know the fairy tale behind this. I'm sure it's a goodie. She looks so serene in her dreamscape, and her frock is gorgeous. The contemporary-looking sneakers on the ground give a nice anachronistic jab, too.

    You know, I am embarrassed to admit that I have a leatherbound copy of the Rubaiyat in my library, and the spine has never been cracked. See? I'm all surface show.

  5. The sunlight on the girls'face makes her look so peaceful, I've never would have thought using a pig as a pillow could look so comfortable but you make it happen :)
    Thanks for sharing the landscapes,Andrew. Remind me a bit of André Derain and Paul Cézanne.I love the use of color.

  6. grandewitch yes andrew is famous, i have famous friend!!!!
    hi andrew me again, i LOVE this one tooooo!!!!!
    hi andrew me again, do pigs really just sleep on one side?
    hi andrew me again, the big brother's toy is watching me all the time.
    im only kidding.

  7. Most interesting image. It got me thinking about your process--I have NO idea how you go about doing this. It seems to me like each one would take about a gazillion hours, and obviously they don't because you are so prolific with them (and there simply aren't enough hours in the days and weeks for what I imagine they would take), so there must be some kind of process that works for you. And then that got me to thinking about your compositions and characters, and how masterful they are--and I'm impressed all over again. The only problem I have with this is that her head doesn't feel quite heavy enough to me, like it's not really resting on that pig's side, but somehow levitating slightly above it--or maybe it's on it, but not heavily on it, though I'm not exactly sure why or how I feel that way. Maybe it's because the angle I perceive the pig's side going is more slanted than the angle I perceive her head resting? Maybe her hair isn't displaced enough. I dunno....

    What I do know, it that this is a marvelous, evocative image. Stunning!

  8. This is an exceptionally beautiful post. You're so fortunate to have been mentored by and have the friendship of such talented artists. And to share another aspect of your own talents isn't bragging! I'm so glad to have had the chance to visit (and see more of your art) today as the leaves fall! :o)

  9. Ok I think everyone said what I think:)Amazing art as always!

  10. You are a treasure. This incredible image must have an equally amazing tale to accompany it. I can only imagine. Thank-you Andrew, for all that you do!

    Oh and ditto all the comments of others. Totally blown away by your work and the work of your friends too! :)

  11. Well, well, well. So it's true what they say about animals sticking to the same species. I never expect peacocks to run with chickens, so no real surprise to find out about your crowd. I'm sure everyone will agree? Actually yours is a very interesting bunch, seeing how differently each of you interpret your art, it's kind of fascinating actually. I wonder what sort of things you talk about when you're together, other than reciting Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam...

    And did you know that a well educated man is the one who twists knowledge and makes his audience laugh at his distorted facts? Regardless his ignorance of perfectly spelling what he writes... Let me know when you run into such a man, then I'll show you one in my pocket. :))

  12. Aaah! So many images to paint and draw,
    So little time...

  13. My word verif was canats. How do you use that in a sentence? I canats sleep.

  14. Oh oh oh I was supposed to practice my new comment style:


  15. Aha Ces :) Oh I should tell you about Bob, I once did extensions and built a huge room - 15 meteres of glass massive ceilings etc - and I hardly knew Bob and he volunteered to help me paint it - I said no, because I thought it was strange - it took me five days a coat, three coats to finish it aaaaaaaarghhhhh :) And you know what, he would have helped me for no catch, and I shouldn' tell you that he has been shot in the backside by an (Country withheld) settler rubber bullet which is really a large ball bearing coated in plastic that you should at someones back to try and give them spinal injuries ....

    He also wrote the newspaper book review for a large Western Aust paper for several years. Bob's the most cultured and kind person I know. He is in his early seventies and has no fear in the surf because he believes honestly in God.

    He also doesn't have any hair on his knees :) (from surfing, not the God bit)

  16. Oh I forgot to say thank you so much for your kind words on my work :) !!!!

  17. Tatjana :) Hi it's wonderful that you are up and ruinning, I have no idea how you make your work, the sculptures are exquisite - if I was there I would talk to them I think!

  18. Karen! Thank you yes the Siggy has the amazing energy of someone who must paint (like the Ces) that obsession, and she like Ces, would be doing the world a disfavour by not sharing her marvelous work.

    so where is that whip Karen ? Get cracking :)

    ahh a few bits arrived last night I am getting excited even more!!

  19. Hehe Bella, how's that surfin' safari? I love that song! Ahh the tale, well the caption is something like 'Roger and Brian, two elves of the Sillysnort Tribe, rescue sleeping beauty from Griselda, the Evil human child"

    I was keeping that to myself ;)

    I must really dig up my newspaper reviews and link to them. They make me look much 'gooder' than I really am, but don't tell anyone!

    In fact my paintings are getting badder and baddererere! I need to come to you for lessons I think :)

  20. Thanks for sharing your landscapes. It's nice to see what else you can do, though no surprise given the images you create and show on this blog. I especially like the impressionistic style and colors of the landscapes, and in this image, the way her feet rest on the basket. I must not be educated either because I didn't know that poem either, but isn't life a lifelong education process?

  21. Adorable hombre.

    Omar Khayyam, entre sus poemas más proximos para mi es este que te copio:

    Puesto que ignoras lo que te reserva el mañana,
    esfuérzate por ser feliz hoy.
    Coge un cántaro de vino
    siéntate a la luz de la luna
    y bebe pensando en que mañana
    quizás la luna
    te busque en vano.

    Saludos giantes

  22. Gosh, to have friends that quote The Rubaiyat on the way to dinner is a wonderful thing! And I've been curious as to what your more traditional work looked like - it's quite lovely! This is a wonderful piece too; I love the smooth roundness to everything: the eggs, stones, fruit, etc. Loved this post!

  23. Ana thank you :) Oh Deran as a fauvist is one of my favourites, as was Matisse when he was a fauve, it's so sad that so many wandered into a brown tonal stage.... I think Vlamnink held the flag high, I saw a show of his at att attatatatat aaaaaaaaargh I have forgotten, a gallery in a Chateau in Paris and there were about fifty Vlaminks aaargggh it was so god I nearly cried - his paint was so thick and juicy and vibrant and clean and 'just so'

    Ah it was at the Luxemberg, I went up to two gendarmes and said "Excusez moi Monsier Le Gendarme" in my really poor accent "Ou est l'exibition de Vlamink"....

    They both smirked at me and I knew I had made a fox paw. On started to answer en anglais, but the other pushed him aside and directed me in French to the building that they were guarding, we had big smiles all around, and wished each a good day and thank you very much...

    They were pleased that they had made a tourist happy, I was pleased that I had survived an encounter with two Gendarmes :)

    Thanks for looking at the work by the way!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Hya Mita, hey :) Oh I'll tell you what happened the other night when I get a chance, yes Mita, pigs really do sleep standing up, with their tongues out, I didn't do his tail though because it was straight! Just couldn't get the curl right :)

    I will have word with BB, I think he is due for a holiday!!!


  25. Greetings Theresa ... ahh I am not hands on with these images - you know digital is all about your head, edit undo, so you can never make an undoable mistake, you just fill up your drive! I work with puppets and make them look like traditional work - the hardest part is the lighting, the pupett setup takes 1/3rd the time, the lighting half, and the rest is finding the angle and doing the postwork with wacom and photoshop :)

    Thanks for the c and c on the head, I had a few goes with the head angle - I think the problem is one I have experienced with other joints like the wrist, you need to have every joint bent the opposite to the joint above it so the chest should angle one way and the neck the other and then maybe the chin sit doan against the chest, the chin being the end joint in the chain?

    not sure

    see you

    PS your last pieces are looking really vigorous and complete

  26. Michele :) yes the leaves have fallen here, it's like that paragraph of Hemingway's that sings so true:

    "In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. In the bed of the river there were pebbles and boulders, dry and white in the sun, and the water was clear and swiftly moving and blue in the channels. Troops went by the house and down the road and the dust they raised powdered the leaves of the trees. The trunks of the trees too were dusty and the leaves fell early that year and we saw the troops marching along the road and the dust rising and leaves, stirred by the breeze, falling and the soldiers marching and afterward the road was bare and white except for the leaves."

    I am/was very fortunate to have Bob as a teacher and then as a friend :)

  27. The Art of Puro, hey thanks! I just had a wander around your website - the Ugliest Monster contest had me cracking up heh. Your site is so well designed - it's great - congrats!

  28. Hello Heidi, thank you I am blushing - I knew I should have worn more foundation today :) I can see Giuseppe Arcimboldo emanating from the veins of the leaves in your last work :) And I never knew that about Greenmen on churches -see what I learn when I visit!

  29. Haha Amalia, I thought you were talking about Pigs hanging around with little girls! Ah what do we talk about? :) It depends on the wine being consumed and whether it is six PM or 1.30 AM. I think the last things we talked about was 'action and reaction' when you paint, how one brushtroke here must be balanced with another brushstroke somewhere else, i guess that's the meditative beauty of painting when your brain is at it long enough to know what needs to be done next instinctively - Bob and Siggy have it in kilograms

    You know that feeling when you are working and your brain clicks over from right to left side, it's almost an audible click and you know you are in right brain mode, like when your brain clicks over into seeing a visual illusion one way and then the next

    heh your book looks wondiferous :) congrats again!

  30. Ces ah you made me laugh butyes you are driven your brain is always full and never empty and the images come flowing from your penbrushtip in a flood but still the flood is never fast enough and we never have enough time - you are right, but the opposite is to sit there and stare at the blank canvas because you have too much time, more time than you have images - how terrible would that be eh? Its so lucky for us that you are, not only driven, but that you also have such a magical artistic gift that benifits from such a flood! I know you are driven in one way it is torture but also it is heaven?

  31. hey awesome :) thanks, I'm glad you did not use olde english which would be 'aweful' :)

  32. Linda thank you, I have been painting the same thing for almost eight months for a show about a Newcastle icon called Nobbies - an island joined to the mainland by a casueway and it is the ugliest thing, it is driving me nuts and I have done about twenty paintings of it - and it's great fun trying to invent new ways of seeing aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh :) I'll post some soon. Thankyou for your kindness in looking at the works!

    see you

  33. Saludos querida Antonia, ahh siempre es divertido ver lo que Google va a escribir, a veces me gusta traducir Inglés a Español y luego de vuelta a Inglés un par de veces y lo que se convierte en la verdadera poesía, pero a veces se convierte en algo que no debe decirse , como "el cielo se está cayendo, por suerte las nubes están hechas de pelusa. (Your) Su poesía es hermosa, como siempre. Espero que son maravillosos! Nos vemos from Australia :).

  34. Sarah, thank you are very kind, but I can honestly say that my paintings don't hold a candle to your pencil work, no sirree!

    Quoting poetry of any sort would be a blessing to me, but I have trouble remembering my postcode, let alone whole stanzas of onomatopoeia, assonance, consonance, sibilance and alliteration....

    heh I'm off for a visit ... see you!

  35. Hello my friend! (once I accidentally called someone my fiend, so I always double check my spelling of friend :o) Well I learn more about you every week. Now I find out that you’ve been hiding your celebrity status under that pirate patch. I’d love to read some reviews. Did you save them. Next time I’m around Oz, I’d like an autograph Mr. Finnie.
    Your work this week is simply terrific. I didn’t realize that she was resting on a pig till I got to the last panel. Then I scrolled back up and kicked myself! It was obvious! You’re a sly one :o) I’d love to nap on a pig sometime. I think I’ll add that to my bucket list. Once I saw an artist set up near a pig stye. The artist painted the pig as the pig stuck his nose into the mud and blew bubbles. I thought... “I’d like to do that some day,” Not sure if I could generate enough air pressure through my nose to blow bubbles though :o)

  36. Hahahahaha! Jack oh boy you make me laugh. I just spent twenty minutes composing an email to a book publisher compnay trying to make myself seem wonderful and amazing and highly bankable and it was just great to find your comment to make me laugh so much thankyou.

    That is a fine joke about the pig and the bubbles and I must remind myself to steal it from you!!!

    Ahh I am not famous but I once read somewhere that life is like a peanut butter sand-which - you never know when you are going to break one of your teeth on it :) :)

    looking forward to your next book!!!!!

    see you thanks for making me laugh - you know, before we met I had no wrinkles, now look at me _ I even have laugh lines on my frown lines :)

  37. Wow, Andrew! This is amazing...thank you for posting your landscape work and sharing your friends' work with us. They are so very talented..I love Bob's sketchbook. Oh my..they are art pieces in and of themselves, and Siggy's work is gorgeous!! They speak to me and it is wonderful. And goodness, your first image here is simply beautiful. Illustrated so tenderly and the details in pleating/folds of her skirt, and the look upon her face is so beautifully done. I am just simply in awe of your talent and it makes me smile to know you have such good friends in the field. I know they must admire your work tremendously and cherish your friendship too. Have a wonderful week, my friend!

  38. You´re drowning in comments! Can you take one more?
    I really like your paintings, especially the cityscapes. Something about the colors and the diffuse lines that gives a foggy feel to it. I don´t know, I just really like it.
    It´s so great to have good artist friends to share your passion with. :-)
    Hope you´re having great days.

  39. sorry A. I do not understand very well that a sometimes, parts are more than the whole
    or the sum is greater than the whole
    or all, oh entangle me in words!!!!
    Is it OK if I keep drawing and painting?

  40. You have two amazingly talented friends, Andrew!! They also have a hugely talented friend in you!!! Siggy has an amazing work ethic that I'm a little envious of. Now that's passion!!!
    This piece above is terrific but I have to say that all your works blow me away!!

  41. nollyposh ! "Don't worry about the world coming to an end today. It's already tomorrow in Australia!'

    love it :)

  42. Hi Shirley, it's wonderful that you are back :) I hope that you are good, and Monsieur is having a grand holiday!

    I'm so glad you like Bob and Siggy's work. My first ever lesson with Bob he gathered his students around and pulled out a pile of small sketchbooks, (moleskin covered and they were littered with beautiful watercolours and totally covered with wonderful melodious handwriting, and we all sat there and thought "what's this bloke sitting here showing us all these books that he's bought in some shop, for we all thought that they were commercially produced items of amazing beauty, it w asn't till we were given the chance to pick them up did we realise that they were all handpainted one offs that he had spent several years filling up with trips to the desert and to the jungle and forests and trips to suburbia -- everywhere he went Bob made sketches and paintings

    amazing :

  43. Hilsener Janne! Jeg har besluttet å gi opp rullen mopper og syltet sild fordi de gjorde meg ser for ung:)

    Oh the comments are mainly mine. Heh, it's beautiful to see you thank you for looking at my paintings. We had a woman painter here called Clarice Beckett who painted misty tonalist's paintings here in the 30's and she is one of my heroines - you hit the mark/bullseye I am impressed

    Hope your summer isn't our winter. Potatoes there this year :d


    see you!

  44. Saludos Roberto, oh, es una expresión aquí que "el todo es mayor que las partes" sólo significa que usted puede tomar como ejemplo un cepillo y una jarra de agua y un chorrito de ceruleun y el cadmio y otros colores y colóquelo en una strectched pieza de papel y el trabajo resultante es más hermoso que el pincel, o el tubo de pintura o el papel virgen -, aunque todos ellos tienen su propia belleza. Ese es su (your) pintura.

    Greetings Roberto, oh it is an expression here that 'the whole is greater than the parts' just means that you can as an example take a brush and a jar of water and a splash of ceruleun and cadmium and other colours and place it on a strectched piece of paper and the resulting work is more beautiful than the brush, or the tube of paint or the virgin paper - even though they all have their own beauty. That is your paintings.

    I'm sorry to confuse you. :)

  45. Manon des Sources, Oh I am very lucky to have such talented friends, in fact I am honoured, and its scary how much talent they have, it's awesome in the true sense of the word (That's ces' new word by the way) :)

    Thanks for looking at my work. I have been taking lessons from your videos and am about to embark on a textured trip around my canvases :)

  46. Oh we missed you when you were on Hols :)

  47. OK. So you're famous, have famous friends and are incredibly talented. And you have a very uncluttered living room. I am so jealous and quite humbled. I guess I want to be like you when I grow up.


Hya! Thank you so much for leaving a comment. I appreciate your time and thoughts.