oil inspiration

Bin getting really into Duncan Grant & Vanessa Bell's paintings recently. I find some of theirs are in a simillar direction to what I want to do with my oils.




With these ones, I like how well the person sits with the nature around them, soaked into it. Really like how the strokes all come together, flowing in different directions to create the shape. The lottery of colour weaved and winding a figure out the Earth (like a wave out the ocean). I think the lack of detail on the faces especially adds to this too - no real personal distinction, its just a person in some shape, just as you may paint a flower arching in some shape.

This is probably the best example:


This one especially, the face kinda rises out of the foliage. The darkened outlines too on his knees and his right shoulder lean him outwards too and give him a slight distinction.

Oil Paintings

so continuing on from the last post, bin keeping at oil paintings. Just doing my third at the mo, and having a break inbetween.

As I said before, what I'm enjoying most is the way you can mix oils on the canvas. I'venever enjoyed colour, its always been a finnicky point for me, but I spose that's because I never went near a theory book for it or tried to understand how. Using oils gives me the time to do this, by practicing it, and learning as I go along.

Anywho here's the second one I did, its of me nan.

Quite happy with this one, though not really as its not what I was going for.

What I want to do with oils, is have the paintings be really loosely defined at the edges, then all come together in the focal point (in this instance that'd be the face) What I'd change is have the outer edges of the painting - eg the shoulders - be really loose & abstract, all paint splodges coming together, like flower petals, rising up to make her face. I want all the splodges to feel like nature coming together to make something. The idea being that we are like waves; how waves rise up out the ocean and form for a minute and we point and say 'hey look its a wave', people are the same: We rise up out the Earth, form for a moment of time, 80 years or so, then fall back into it, like waves do.

This is the idea I want to imply with my paintings. Not capturing that at the mo, but I feel if I continue I will. I think at the mo its because I'm new to it and still toeing quite a conservative line. When I've got the confidence of the medium I'll be able to express what I mean properly.

With this in mind, I'm going to break one of my rules. I've always believed that an 'artist', be it a painter, writer, animator or whoever, should try their best with what they're trying to achieve (the message, not just the technical ability). if you're not trying your best your setting in stone a limit of your abilities that is lower, and is a harder standard to reach further from. Your also not developing. Hemingway summed it up neatly during a conversation with Fitzgerald (from his book A Moveable Feast):
"He had told me at the Closerie des Liles how he wrote what he thought were good stories, and which were really good stories for 'the post', and then changed them for submission, knowing exactly how he must make the twists that made them into salable magazine stories. I had been shocked at this and I said I thought it was whoring. He said that it was whoring but that he had to do it as he made his money from the magazines to have money ahead to write decent books. I said that I did not believe anyone could write anyway except the very best he could write without destroying his talent"
This 'destruction of talent' is the reason why I've chose to avoid the industry. Perhaps its pig-headed to do so, but I don't care, its only my opinion. Perhaps im setting myself up to fail, but again I don't care, I may end up 27 with no 'experience' behind me except my own subjective avenues but I'd rather explore them than some other pursuit. I also know its an ignorant perspective (ignorant of the virtues of the industry) but still the main thing I want to do is my own thing. I'd rather walk at my own pace & do that than be caught up in some whole other world.

But for painting with oils I'm going to break this for a moment; I think what I need to do is continue practicing: be conservative about it, if that's all I can do. Most of all I must just keep at it. Keep knocking them out and getting better technically. It's like Dylan said, 'Write ten songs a day, throw nine away'. The gems will begin to shine.

When I have my confidence with them, I'll be able to be freer with it and explore how I want to use them. I spose this is the standard way really - Picasso learnt to paint traditionally & realistically very well before he went into Cubism. Ralph Steadman too - he was a very accurate & articulate, traditional painter, painting landscapes and still life and such. He got his abilities up, then he met Hunter Thompson, got crazy, and his drawings completely changed..

My main inspiration, I'd say is still Kathe Kollwitz. I love her looseness. Altho she didn't work in oils (atleast that's not what she's known for) the way the lines curve & caress and disperse freely is (referring to the waves idea above) what I want to present.

Also love Lucien Freud just for the sheer thickness of his paint, & his auterial eye.

Also getting very into Duncan Grant & Vanessa Bell. I think these two touched on what I want to do at times, and in their varied exploration threw up some interesting ideas.

If you know anyone else I should look into, let me know. 

I do find I'm very 'conservative'. Painting, writing & such you learn things about yourself (for an auteur POV), infact it was playing Chess I really realised how conservative I am. My friend I usually play with would make big sweeping moves - throw the Queen out into the centre ground within a few moves - whilst I'm there, hushing my pawns along, little by little. As I've got more confident with chess, I've began making bigger sweeping moves, this will be the same for painting, in time.

Right, time to get back to it. Will post the painting up when done. Not liking it at the mo, but must keep my integrety, not let the Lilly Briscoe blues take over, and just keep at it.

Peace

your magnetic movements still capture the minutes i'm in

Did a new Dylan painting.

I have to say that I don't think of my paintings as 'art' really, other people use that word sometimes (tho I spose flippantly) and it's nice to be complimented but I don't. These don't say anything - but I don't mean that as a bad thing. They are just done out of enjoyment. I see it like this - the same way you dance to a song you love, that's you reacting to the energy of the music. This is just me doing the same. Painting was completed whilst listening to Highway 61 thru headphones, on repeat, late into the night.

Anywho, this was my first attempt at oils and I'm defintely glad of how it came out. I don't think it's great, but it's a good start, and I felt I learnt alot doing it: I've never been one for colour, I usually just ignore the idea of it completely, or if I do use it am quite blaize & throw it down in an abstract way instead, but oils really give you time to play with colour - mixing on the canvas. This was a great revelation. Watercolours are the opposite - you gotta be very fiddly & precise with your colour mixing before you lay it down, was great to not have to do that.


Everytime I do a painting I mean to not say much atall but always end up spouting off about this and that. Oh well, tis the way the penny drops. Every painting is a lesson learn'd

Here's a great quote from the man from his book Chronicles about his sound (or his art/style):
"The closest I ever got to the sound I hear in my mind was on individual bands in the "Blonde on Blonde" album. It's that thin, that wild mercury sound. It's metallic and bright gold, with whatever that conjures up. That's my particular sound. I haven't been able to succeed in getting it all the time." 

Here's the photo it's from.

the other path

Following on from what I wrote about students attending university, I want to make clear the other path has equal & contrary merit.

NOTE - Reference to university is made in a general sense, although specifically is about my own ballpark (the arts). I'm sure it will encompass other subjects also, but some it will not

In short, uni for me was great to have those three years to really focus on growing (being like a sponge and soaking everything up), the chance to sit down and get on with it, but also the support, and especially the motivation to do so, something that I thought was necessary for me to keep me chained to my work station.

However, I feel strongly that someone, with enough conviction (strong emphasis on the word conviction) can simply (but not easily) do it on there own.

I always felt that, to take the example of a photographer, you don't need the best equipment, you don't need a Canon 5D or expensive tripod & lighting kit; most of all you need ambition, desire, commitment & conviction in yourself. Someone who has those will go out with a £2 camera and shoot everything they wanna shoot in total passion.

One of the best people I've met in the last year is my friend Steve, he didn't go to university, but has all these attributes in abundance for his field (singer / songwriter / music). Talking to him about uni, his idea was that he saw all these people going off for three years and thought 'how do I play catch up?' How do I do that without spending a penny?

Having not gone to university, you stand in the distinct advantage of not being anywhere between £20,000 to £75,000 in debt, and yet (potentially) as well qualified as your competitive peers who did attend university. Altho this may make you shiver in your boots with denial, it is true. Considering that your specialty is a creative venture; qualification comes in the form of a strong portfolio & passed clients, rather than A*'s & B's or 1:1's.

What you don't have is the three years spent with an open-pass to exploring your subject of choice in that prosperous bubble. There are great virtues to be hand from attending university. However, this is where your unspent £20,000-£75,000 comes in - see it as your golden ticket. Live cheaply (at home or in cheap rented accommodation) & get well acquainted with your camera, lightbox, canvas, (whatever). Use the local library to read about them technically, explore the worlds galleries online & keep up with contemporary trends: whatever you want, use the internet to aid it. Make the internet your new best friend and keep your use of it virtuous. Watch endless Youtube tutorials, and not just from nobodies, from masters in their fields, explaining it all intricately. Converse with the multitudes of people on the same path as you, online, get to the bottom of whatever it is you want to get to the bottom of. Be your own boss & push yourself: Schedule yourself a course as if you were a student - an hours researching in the morning, a photoshoot/studio session at mid day. DONT compare your efforts to those around you else you'll get stuck in first gear (unless your blessed with a vibrant & active home town)

You just gotta have the conviction in yourself, most of all.

This is hard, I don't think I could have done this, I think I would have wavered personally. This has been my plight since finishing uni, to write my own course of study (in the books I read, things I do) and keep developing with the same will & wings I developed at uni. But it's tough.

It's also hard to convince those around you that this is a virtuous path. Uni is almost like a free-pass in this regard, your family will determine that 'My son? He's at uni..' with pride and contentment. For them to see you take the other path and say 'He sits in his room and reads books and draws pictures' doesn't hold as much weight in societies eyes. But the one who does it with self-infused conviction, commitment, passion, and everything else, will be a very wealthy fellow.

busy bein' born: a pat on the back to students everywhere

There's a certain brand of cynicism regarding students that you hear from time to time, with even the employment minister Esther McVey recently branding students as 'snobs' who should work for Costa, but there's a very valid case for the worth of students to society.

University is a chance to exist within a bubble, a safe-haven where although you're likely skint, you're skint in the 'beans on toast' sense, rather than the anxious, over-bearing dread that comes part & parcel of being 'real world poor'. It's a bubble where for three + years you have few commitments besides your course of study, and are free to focus on your work, and your own chosen path within that framework.

One of my favorite things about returning to Falmouth University recently was to see all these young people walking about, each with a young-scrunched up face, lost in the thought of their own creation; perhaps trying to figure out some new thing or tie loose ends of there own desires. Each with their feet on the ground and their heads in the clouds.

Uni is a bubble where the freshness of youth can transpire to great things. We see this most voicefully in the sciences, where new ways of doing things, new potions and tonics for societies ills are remedied. Its my belief that cancer won't be cured by some government think tank or multi-million pound contract, but someday - perhaps on the offchance - in some university laboratory.

We see it too in my field, the arts. Art in the 'real world' has a habit of being a grand echo chamber, with icons of the past (1) repeated with tired acclaim (2). Unfortunately the acclaim most modern art receives tends to be thanks to its value in auction houses & ticket prices rather than its true worth to us.

Good universities are what Socrates would refer to as midwives: breeding grounds for newness. In the real world, under the shade of capitalism, great artistic ventures can be cast aside as phantom-plans, when really it is only the smell of money they do not engineer. At uni you have none of those obligations (the need to make work that is financially viable) and so you set off on your ways for other, more sentimental means.

Its the job of all students to take their three years and grasp them with both hands. It is a time of limitless prosperity for themselves as a person, and themselves as an artist, thinker, scientist, whatever. To be in that bubble, surrounded by like-minded folk, all pointed - with fresh insightful vigour - to the future, is a real opportunity for growth. With the right attitude, students bloom not only with their subject, but as people, growing rounded & worldy in lecture halls & libraries, in conversation & relations.

People often chastise the outlook of students as dreamers and idealists, and yes often this is fair criticism. However it is in this naive, playful wonderings that we find the most concentrated effort of new thought. Naive stabs in the dark, yes, fair; but one of them will hit the mark.

I'm a big believer in youth, I think your early 20's is the perfect time for newness. Much like footballers, you have the risk-taking naivety of youth that implores you to try new things, the (virtuous) confidence/arrogance to dignify your vision with great integrity, and are physically & mentally at your peak. You've also not been trodden with the ways of the real world enough to lose any of this. It's a time when the 'folly of enthusiasm' is all around, and the indifference of wisdom' is distant & unheard.

That's about all. A pat on the back to students everywhere.

Humblin Hubblin

Click to view it properly

It's easy to forget how small we are..


Sincerity part 2 featuring Bobby D

Following on from thinking about the importance of sincerity to art (first bit).

'Art' you can think of as 'articulation'. We forget that though words are vast and can be bent to present a fathomable 'articulation' of what we want to say, they are weak, loose-fitting definitions that can never fully pronounce what we really want to express. If we agree with W.Benjamin that works of art are mere deathmasks of the original (link, number 13), then words are merely pale stabs in the dark.

Talking about her husbands lyrics, Olivia Harrison (George's wife) said "George usually referred to the lyrics of Bob Dylan when trying to make a point or elucidate his own feelings of isolation and frustration brought about by things in and beyond this life. Many times he said "I wish I knew more words", but perhaps all the words in the world, including the Sanskrit and mantras integral to his vocabulary, could not fully express his depth of feeling and realisation"

This is true of all of us, and its the reason a certain song (or painting, poem, anything) can be so cherished for us in moments of heartbreak (or joy); they seem to pronounce so much more what we are trying to articulate than our words ever could.

This I feel is in the succincticity of all parts strung together; the melody, the beat - fast or slow, & the lyrics themselves, all joining, working together to relay the depths of what we feel inside & wish to express.


A very good example of this is Dylan on the track 'Positively 4th street'. (Note - A good example if you are  familiar with his other work, so apologies for my rose-tinted view) On this song Dylan sounds defiantly self-righteous, so scornful to his ex in lyrics that kick off with "You got a lot of nerve, to say you are my friend, when I was down you just stood there grinning".
However its not only in his lyrics but in the self-righteous way he sings them, the beat of the drum chugging away, and the melody which sweeps in and commands a sense of resolution to the scene he portrays. This ain't Charlie-Chaplin-Dylan caught in play-rhymes or serious contemplative solemn Dylan like we've heard in previous songs; this is him with his back up & his tail withdrawn from beneath his legs.

Words alone can't command such articulation. For example the lyrics themselves could be imagined in a broken, detached voice, distant and silently self-righteous. But the character he presents is one we can all find within ourselves when the time calls.



Another example, which is perhaps more widely recognised, would be Sinead O'Connor on Nothing Compares to you. Again, the words, her articulation of those words, and the simple, sad karaoke-esque backing track all tie together. With this example, we have the video too, which sticks in your mind just as emphatically as the rest.

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On second thoughts, this post has a degree of hypocrisy when levied against the preivious post on the subject. Subjectively for myself, Dylan speaks volumes, however what's to say Christina Aguilera singing Diirty - written by someone else, perhaps not with her full 'sincerity' behind - can't speak with equal truth  for people as Dylan does? It's certainly sung with equal gusto, and afterall, art is in the eye of the beholder, regardless of its conception.

The same could be said for a Beyonce song (who I feel is simply playing the game) or a One Direction song (who, undeniably, are as factory-processed as they come). Is sincerity really fundamental?

I spose at the very least it's a great lynch-pin, if something is sincere, then it is worthy of consideration. If someone truly feels something then it is a statement to adorn the great human tapestry. Culture is a reflection of us, in our place & time - regardless of whether that's Sinead O'Connor singing despairingly about the death of her mother or Robin Thick singing ironically & testingly about rape.. Irony, malevolence & disdain are sincere emotions too afterall..

Then on another level, even if Robin Thick wasn't sincere, the reaction to it from the masses (people unflinchingly dancing away) too tells us something to further our understanding of ourselves & our current condition (culture).

Anywho, thoughts thoughts thoughts. Roll on.

Her


Today one thing we are all drawn to think about is this sense of loneliness that pervades with social media. With growing melancholy, each of us, meandering slowly into a state of self-conformed isolation. When working long hours by yourself, stuck behind a computer in a room in a house, or perhaps during unfilled evenings, you may find yourself drawn to Facebook or checking emails etc: This is a lust for social interaction. It's a lust born from atavistic desires, the longing and necessity for community that is twice-trodden into the wellbeing of all humans and other beings. However, clicking through status updates, messaging long-lost friends - a solemn coldness is born of it all, and rather than fulfilling our lust we are left a little cold underneath.

'Her' comes to grips with this sense and shakes it in a not-too-distant future setting. It's not a fantastic film, a little unformed round the edges, but it does provoke questions in the way it envisions a plausible near-future. 

One thing that has concerned me recently regarding all this push towards a strange & detached future we're building for ourselves, is virtual reality headsets. I think right now they personify our vision and where we are headed. VR headsets will raise even more questions (and hopefully answer a few) about us and our needs. For example with a VR headset we will be able to lunch in East-side Manhattan, take an evening stroll along the Rialto and sleep in the comfort of our own beds; or perhaps have a dinner-date with a pal half way across the world, look around the restaurant, interact with other virtual-real people - imagine a virtual world populated with real people all walking around and interacting from the comfort of their own front room.  

 I have contradictory feelings towards it, on the one hand the teenage boy inside of me rears his head and shouts 'Wow! Amazing'  It's the same way I feel about cloning; it's messed up, the wrong path to tread for what we truly desire (contentment, peace), however its bloody marvelous and a testament to the genius of humans; we have gone so far down this path why not push it as far as we can and see what happens, perhaps that will be the footnote of the human lifespan of this Earth.

On the otherhand though I feel it'll only raise more questions about what humans really need. VR Headsets will further the question Facebook proposes & the lust for social interaction. Despite all this interaction and lottery of possibilities, will we too, when we remove the helmet and feel the real world, really be left cold and detached? In social interaction, is there something tangible in 'feeling' the other person, their energy & subconscious bonds? & if so will all this technology really offer any solutions or just further the chasm?


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Anywho, one other thing that's raised is the thought (which I hadn't considered before) but if each of us had a device in our pocket that was so alive, so interested in us, new us personally & hung on every word, would that be of some beneficiary to our way of being? A personal PA that is unintrusive and dedicated to pushing us, caring about us etc. Would that make us all better? And if so who has the right sensibility and wisdom to design the psyche of such a tool? What virtues would be placated as THE virtues?

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With visions of the future, utopian or otherwise, I am always drawn to recall Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. The wearing of VR headsets, the fulfilling our time with distraction, is just another version of his Soma. It's just another way we can come home from work and distract ourselves until the next day. Or is it? Who knows.

Some wise words from the Dalai Lama:

"Man surprised me most about humanity. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”