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 :)