Jul 19, 2013

The Fish That Got Away: Nursing Home Robots

The wind is up today.
People go crazy when it's windy.
So do cats in trees.
And Robots in Nursing Homes.
Here's Ralph telling Roger
How big the fish once was.
The one he caught just before he went rusty.
(Illustration from: The Year I went Rusty, and Other Robot Nursing Home Stories.)

Here's the photoshoot Negs, just to prove it's true.

My Dark room work is not what it used to be.

Jul 18, 2013

D'où Venons Nous / Que Sommes Nous / Où Allons Nous.

You ever ask yourself where you are going? Where have you been? Where are you now?
In an alternative sense, do you ever ask yourself why you make images?
I used to think we make 'art' because human beings have a basic need to create. We make buildings, children, bowling greens, fruit salads - and scribble over cave walls. All of it satisfies a basic need to make a mark on the planet, to say "yes look, I was here. I existed for a brief moment in time. I made my own lunch."
Now I'm not too sure about that.

For several years now I've been getting up at 6.oo am every morning and starting to make images. If I'm not going to work then I will work at image making till about 8 o'clock at night. During the day I might have a surf for a few hours or a run - but most of the time I spend doing digital work - or being at the studio. And the days I go to "work" I still work on images for 5 or 6 hours.
I guess I'm obsessed.

Then last week,  for the first time in several years, I lost my inertia. At last.
I guess that's a good thing.
Take as examples of excellence in obsession our friends Van Gogh and Gauguin.
Van Gogh and Gauguin don't need first names because we all "know" them so well. They were both obsessed and that's why they made such beautiful work. Still, Van Gogh being obsessed with being a priest, then being obsessed with a young girl, then his art, then his ear - died at the age of 37. And his friend Gaugin, obsessed with his own self importance, his own confidence in his art, abandoned his wife and children and ran off to Tahiti to die at the age of 54.
Strange eh? To sacrifice happiness in the pursuit of happiness.

So where is this going? Where am I now? Who have I been?
I have no idea.
But I can tell you that I've been watching the tour de france for a while now and all those little bike riders when seen from above seem to me to be a metaphor for life, that they are riding along in this mass of changing colours and whirr of wheels governed by their own strange laws - the marshal vehicles, the sides of the road, the nutty spectators who run along side them yelling 'allez, allez!"
Their ultimate aim of course is to create a metaphorical Zygote somewhere on the Champs Elysees, stand on a podium and hold "it" above their heads and say "Look at me. I exist! See I have this big gold thing in my hands and everyone in the world is looking at me."
An alien seeing it all would just shake both their heads and say "gummahgoo" or what ever is alien for  "what are they doing, where are they going and I wonder if those men in tight shorts taste any good with space ship juice."

These image for IF's "Travel', inspired as they were by the OMNI magazine of my youth and images by people such as HR Giger and Ben Bova induced mythology. No to mention Ray Bradbury's The Silver Locusts.

I know they are the kind of thing a geeky kid might scribble in the back of his text book during religious studies - but what the Hell eh?

Thank you for looking :)  The images are all about 2000 pixels so if you click on them you can see the grains of sand.

 I hope none of you are contemplating having your ears cut off or running off to Tahiti with a paint brush in one hand and a chisel in the  other.


The Silver Locusts
Ben Bova
OMNI Magazine
HR Giger
Gaugin's Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?

Jun 28, 2013


Well, I don't know about you, but I've been discriminated against all of my life.

It all started when I was a child and my mother used to make me give up my seat in the bus for little old ladies.

Just because I was a child and they were old.

But of course in those days I was short and now I am tall. Then I was smart, now I am confused. And fat you ask? No, now I have matured, like cheese left in a cage full of mice ...

No, that's not right.

Let's start again. That sounded like incoherent rambling.

Did you ever study 1984? by Thomas Orwell.

Hmm that doesn't sound right either. Frank Orwell? No he invented air-o-planes. Thomas Cromwell... no he has his head on a pike somewhere. That will teach him for having an affair.

Anyway, in 1984 .... no I mean Animal Farm .... they have this saying. "All animals are created equal. But some animals are more equal than others."

Or similar.

But don't you just love it? Big brother. Doublethink. We have a lot to thank Orwell for. He put labels on concepts that we sort of suspected existed, but couldn't discuss until we had the correct etymology.

Hold on, let me go and goggle etymology.

Ahh, just as I suspected, I don't know what I am talking about.

Of course Etymolgy is the study of insects.....

So yes, where were we? Ah, that egalitarian concept of equality. What a lot of doublethinking hoohah. If everything was equal we would live in a land of no sense. There would be no contrast, no stimulation.

Did you know that if, as an experiment,  you sit on a really cold chair (eg. one that has just come from a cool room) then your bottom bones will become really, really cold? In fact your bottom's nerve receptors will go 'twing twang, twong"

And if, while you are wriggling away, deciding if you really want to take part in this experiment, someone comes up from behind and drops a small brick on one of your toes, you immediately forget about the cold sensation in your bottom?


It's plain we react to contrasts, that the joy of our world is contrast, that our raison d'etre is to contrast.

It's obvious to people sitting on really cold chairs, that the idea of all things being equal, isn't quite as beautiful as it seems.

There, I've made my case, I've dugged my dirt, I've used "twing, twang twong" in a sentence.

Time for me to go and sit on a really very obnoxiously cold chair and wait for someone to come along with a brick. Or a little old lady, to whom I would willingly up my chair give -as Winston Smith Churchill avoiding sentences ending in propositions would say.


Oh, I really need to tell you about Henri Cartier George Orwell Bresson and his compositional devices which some of these silly pics are based on.

Hold on, here comes a little old lady heading in my direction now! She's kind of smiling oddly. And looking at me.

She's holding something behind her ba....

By the way  thank you artisjokken and thank you deeol, :) I'm glad you didn't mind my rambling! cheers from ere :)

Jun 23, 2013

TV Surveillance Beam and Miss Pat.


"When I was a kid.... "

Now how often do you hear when I was a kid in a story that someone is telling you?

"Yeah, yeah," we think, "I was a kid too once. Tell me about it.."

So when I was a kid I used to watch this nice lady on the TV. She had a kid's show, and at the end of each show would pull out her magic mirror and hold it in front of her face. The magic mirror was so magic it didn't have a back or a front to it, which means that the nice lady could look through it, straight into the camera, straight into my living room and straight into my poor little five year old's soul.

Well so she thought.

Next she would say the magic incantation: "Romper, bomper, stomper boo. Tell me, tell me, tell me, do. Magic Mirror, tell me today, have all my friends had fun at play?"

Then she would say "I can see Ces, and I can see Luedek, and I can see Theresa and I can see Amalia, and Shirley, and Linda and Karen and Aino, and I can see Janne and I can see Martine and I can see Bella and Brian and Bob and Bernadette and Belinda and I can see ...."

Well you get the picture,

But she would never see "Andrew" because just before I turned on the TV I would carefully place a set of Invisible X-ray glasses (reg. trademark) on my head. These Invisable X-Ray glasses made me impervious to any TV surveillance beam - well that's what it said on the back of the comic book we ordered them from.

In a nutshell,  as long as I was wearing my Invisable X-Ray glasses  I could see her. But she couldn't see me.

I still have those Invisable X-Ray glasses to this day. In fact I am wearing them now. Which is why you can't see me. :)

And you probably really want to know this next bit.

In Oz our "hostesses", as they were called, were Miss Susan, Miss Patricia, Miss Colleen, Miss Helena and Miss Megan.

So there.


Thanks for reading.

This image isn't political. It's just a Rorschach test . I make the image. The emotive correlatives of the participant elements suggest the meaning, a meaning which is dependent on audience and context.

The sheep on the left is asleep by the way.

Sorry I haven't been around. I've actually been making a lot of images.

I have images coming out of my ears, running across the floor, hiding in cupboards, at the back of the dishwasher, in half empty Kellog's Cornflakes packs and even sliding between the mouldy old oranges in the fruit bowl..

I even found one in back of the the freezer the other day, shivering away. I think it had hidden in there by mistake, but when I asked it what it was doing there it was too numb to talk.

I warmed it up with the iron - which was a mistake because now it is very flat but the plastic coating kind of got stuck on the iron....

Wonder what my wife will say when she tries to iron her white linen business shirt tomorrow morning?

Seriously, it's alright to be nuts. It hasn't affected me one little but... er "bit".

"But" is what they say in New Zilland.

P/P/S My IF Catcha Code was exhalations longovie. I think someone is watching me.... do dooo doo doooh

Apr 17, 2013


Holly came from Miami, Florida
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, "Hey, babe
Take a walk on the wild side"
She said, "Hey, honey
Take a walk on the wild side"

Walk On The Wild Side
Lou Reed, 1972
Remember those "halcyon" days of our youth?
No, me neither.
The first time I heard the word 'Halcyon", was the same day that I heard the word "Luddite".
They came from the mouth of the same man, a friend of a friend.
I was a naive 29 year old. He was a worldly man with too much money and a world weariness that hung around him like the smell of a freshly boiled onion. We were on our friend's boat out on the harbour, drinking almost French Champagne and watching  the world go by.
Our mutual friend was newly very rich and enjoying his wealth by acquiring paintings, toys - (Sports Cars, Ocean Cruisers etc)  - and houses over looking the water. Even with all that, he was a "good bloke" - and very generous. We met when we were studying English Lit together.
Of course I had to ask what both words meant - and I've never forgotten what a Luddite was - because as I grow older, I feel like I am becoming one.
But Halcyon? I never quite grasped the meaning. 
So let me google it.

Ah, here it is. Halcyon:
A fabled bird, identified with the kingfisher, that was supposed to have had the power to calm the wind and the waves while it nested on the sea during the winter solstice.
Well I never knew that.
So the Halcyon days of our youth translates as: "those particular days of our youth that we used a fabled bird to calm the waves so we could nest on the sea."


And by some dogmatic coincidence, that is exactly what my illustration is about......
Do you know the word Verdaccio?
Well, it's something the old master's used to use occasionally (not the word but the technique). It's where you paint a green monotone under painting - a dead painting) then glaze over it with translucent colours. The idea is that the green under painting glows through the warmer layers and gives that nice harmonious glow that suggests depth in human flesh.


I've been invited to a show with "Nightmares" as the theme - so I've been working up this painting.
for a few weeks. It's 90 by 120 cms on linen.

And in  that time I've spent a lot of time looking at anatomy drawings as well as Greek statues. It's all very interesting what they were doing a few thousand years ago. I've also been looking at Da Vinci's working methods and his sketches. How smart was he, eh? What a mind....

In verdaccio  you are supposed to paint two tones lighter than the finished painting is meant to be.
So I still have a lot of work :)

The big advantage is that, in taking out the colour parameters, you just need to be making tonal decisions for the underpainting stage. It's a learning curve -  but not very steep. I'm also changing the characters as I go, slimming them down, changing hand positions etc.

Above and below are pics of  it as a work in progress in situ in the studio. If you look very closely you may recognise some of the characters.... :)

PS: Whoever invented the saxophone obviously thought no one in their right mind would ever try to paint one.



And finally, below, a self portrait (the big guy, not the rat).

Thanks for looking. Hope you are well!

Apr 7, 2013

Urban Sprawl

Oh dear,

This weeks prompt for Illustration Friday is "Urban" - which you probably know now, but I'm guessing that, at some time in your life you will probably forget.

So it's important for at least one of us to write it down somewhere - just in case.

In case...

In case? Of what?

Oh I don't know, it's like, it's like... don't you ever have the urge to save your bus tickets and file them away alphanumerically in the top drawer of the manteau in the second bedroom where your Auntie Agnus used to sleep in the eighties  ?

Go on, admit it.

You never know when some black suited men are going to bang at your door one Friday night wanting to know where you were at exactly 8.15 am on July the sixteenth 12 months ago. Well, if you have a carefully arranged drawer of bus tickets (like myself) you will be able to tell them exactly where you were - that is if you happened to be on a bus on that particularly morning and kept the ticket.

So there's a moral there. I'm not sure what it is, or how important that moral is, but it's a moral all the same.

Well now that's out of the whey (my wife has started making cheese)....

This image is enthusiastically dedicated to the encephalitic dog-hearted varlot (EDHV)) who threw an empty beer bottle on my front lawn last Friday night, hoping the cover of darkness would shield them from retribution.

Well, it (the cover of darkness) failed.

I have a good description.

This EDHV was between seventeen and fifty, either a male or a female, probably somewhere under 180 kilos and likely to be under 250 cm in height. They were wearing some kind of footwear and staggering slightly. They were probably also wearing a black bra and a striped ladies cap - but are no longer, cause they are the two items of apparel I found by the side of the road on my way for a surf the next day.

No to mention the half empty coke bottles and the suspicious looking resealable plastic bags that, judging by their size and emptiness, must have previously held something.

So dear beer bottle-less, black-braless, brainless twit (I left out the double you the first time I wrote that last word), you should be shaking in your size 6 to15 shoes, waiting for retribution.  Myself? I'm going to get dressed in my new shiny black suit and come banging on your door this Friday night.

You better have your bus tickets ready....

Err, while looking for a definition of Urban in case I was getting it mixed up with Urbane, or Suburban - as opposed to the antithesis of "rural" I found this defintion of "hipster".

Hipsters are a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.(snip). Although "hipsterism" is really a state of mind,it is also often intertwined with distinct fashion sensibilities. Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers... etc etc etc

I think I'm going to be ill... ;)

Thanks for looking. I hope you are well and sharpening your pencils to good points.

Edit: hah, I just read this and realised I sound like a cwanky old twit ;) Well, that's okay....

Don't you love cranes? So elegant arent they? Just like ballerinas- but they (cranes) don't wear tutus. And they don't make really big crashing noises when they land on the stage after doing a ronde de jambe grand jette pas de tout grande and peitit mal coup de grace avec escargot.

But seriously, have you ever sat really close to the ateg (that's an anagram for "stage") when ballerinas are dancing? They sound like elephants. That's why they need the orchestra - not for the music, but to drown out the noises of those wooden stuffed ballerina shoes landing on the wooden floor of the stage.

See what you learn when you visit? Amazing isn't?

Just think, next time there's one of those embarrassing pauses at your next dinner party you'll be able to say:

"Guess what Lady Lord Mayoress? Did you know that the most common cause of ballerina death is by foot septicaemia? Remarkable isn't it? But even more remarkable is that, in 90 percent of cases this is caused by infected splinter wounds traced back to the wooden inserts of their ballerina pumps? That's why I'd like you to sign my petition against wooden inserts used in ballerina shoes. Not only are they causing frequent deaths in the u nder eighties age group but they are putting a reprehensible strain on our health system. With this I will not up put!"

Or something like that :)

Feb 27, 2013


ONCE upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,—
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'T is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door;
    Only this and nothing more."
Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:"
    Merely this and nothing more. 

If you are a highly educated, refined and intelligent human being like myself, you probably recognise the above as the first and fifth stanza(s) of Edgar Allen Poe's poem The Raven.

It may surprise you to learn that I have not always been the well educated, highly cultured, smoothly debonair blogger that you see before you today. In fact.....

In fact, there was a time in my life when I thought "Poe"was the kind of face that you pulled when you passed the neighbour's kids in the street.

In double fact, the first time I was exposed to The Raven I was about 19 years old.  (I guess that explains everything really...)

It was winter. I was home from uni with a miserable cold. The sofa under me was brown striped. Both the sofa and myself were in my parent's living room. From where I sat, I had a good view through the mesh curtained window at the cream coloured weatherboard wall of the house next door.

The sofa really couldn't see a lot because I was sitting on it and blocking its view.

Brian, our tortoishell cat was sitting on the window sill in the sun, staring back at me. (Well, to be perfectly honest, he wasn't really looking at me - he was actually looking at the object in my right hand.)

You see, in my right hand I gripped a half full bottle of a cough mixture called Actifed CC.

The other hand (the left) was slightly numb and held nothing.

The bottle of cough mixture was half full because I had been swigging on it for the last few minutes, waiting for the cherry flavoured cough medicine to reduce my horridly rough throat to something smooth and serene . Something smooth and serene like... like - well a baby's bottom comes first to mind but there seems to be something politically wrong with that metaphor so I am going to choose "like melted butter mixed with a good helping of very warm rum and raisin icecream".

In a nutshell, the effect of the cough mixture was very interesting.

After a few more swigs I noticed that the room seemed to take on an unusual perspective, as if some mad photographer had attached a 28 to 400 milll zoom lense to my eyeballs and was twisting it from one extreme to the other every few seconds.

Of course the moral is, always read the directions before you drink more than half a bottle of cough medicine.

What's this got too do with Poe's The Raven?

Well, usually it wouldn't have anything to do with it all, but it so happens, that, at the exact time that the cough medicine bottle was in the throws of being emptied, playing on the tape deck on my father's stereo (at full blast I am ashamed to say) was an album called Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by the The Alan Parsons Project.

And it had a song on it called The Raven - basically Poe's poem put to music. You can hear it here if you like.

But the really very interesting thing about the song is that it was the first song in the entire big huge  humungously large world to feature a digital vocoder - which means absolutely nothing to me, but Wiki seems to thing that's pretty neat so I thought I'd throw it in.

So now you know.
And if you ever tell anyone then I will just have to go back and finish that bottle of Actifed CC.
So consider yourself sworn to secrecy shhhh. :)

Gah, I just realised that I have written my three hundred words for this post.

And I was going to tell you about how I turned one hundred and seventy eight last week and for my birthday I received an amazing Olympus Camera. 

And I was also going to tell you about how I won the crazy talented artist Janne Robberstad's January give away!  http://www.spindelmaker.com/ Thank you Janne I am honoured!! I'm not kidding about Janne's talent, take a walk through her blog and you will be inspired by her grasp of so many artistic techniques and her never waning enthusiasm for learning - not to mention her oeuvre. 

But more about that next time ;)

See you. I hope you are well and your life is full of joy.

PS everything gets big if you click it.

Jan 20, 2013


The first step in a journey is always the hardest, eh?

Ah did I mention 'eternity'?

I guess I should explain about this fellow.

As you can see, he is not exactly in Heaven.

 In fact when he was on Earth he did bad things. He told lies, he didn't go to church on Sundays, and when he was a really little boy he used to pour the milk that his mum and dad thought he was drinking down the sink while they weren't watching.

But you see they "knew". 

Thanks to Breughel, H. Bosch and the paintings on the back wall of  that medieval Cathedral in Toulouse - paintings designed to scare the daylights out of the peasants so they handed over their tythe.

Thanks for looking. Clicking makes everything bigger.....

see you :)