Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Rewind 1

Berlin-Glasgow 31/12/2008

This is really a 31 dec post, only half a day late...... fixed now.

Yesterday's flight back home was in full view of a setting sun, the thinnest waxing moon, the evening star and a colourful wonderland above the clouds. It fitted all very well.

Berlin-Glasgow 31/12/2008

Berlin-Glasgow 31/12/2008

And, to round it off, a bit of moanful PJ Harvey. Powdered Wig Machine would have been good too... but take this one:

Next... some actual rewind of the past year... over the next few days...
Have a great 2009!

Berlin-Glasgow 31/12/2008

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

The distance a photo a day makes

Did you notice my little sidebar slideshow? Yes, after 18 months I finally got to grips with a slideshow widget.

Some of my friends take a lot of photos, ordinary stuff, stuff you just stumbled upon, nothing special. I also saw the archive of someone who had taken a photo every single day for over 20 years until he died. And I must admit I am intrigued by the pretend simplicity and innocence of using a single photo to represent a day. No words (well, maybe a caption, please?!), no drowning in incessant chatter. Just an image.

So, when I was walking down one particular street in Uelzen last Monday, I took a photo. That road is part of an area in that small town that in memory is my favourite place in the world. My grandparents lived there in a housing association flat, and in that flat I spent a large part of my first few years. And most good things seem to have happened there.

Some days in December, #4
Sternstrasse, Uelzen
Monday, 22/12/2008

It already started with the name of that area: At the star - Am Stern. Imagine that: to live at the star. How fabulous. And: their flat was on the second floor. High up from the ground, and with a balcony. Even more fabulous.

After leaving primary school, I would walk that road for two years every day after school to get to the bus station. AND THAT ROAD TOOK FOREVER. IT WAS SOOOO FAR AND SOOOO BORING. Forgotten was the great name. Star Street became Boredom Street. Just this year I ended up walking that road a couple of times into town. The first time for probably 20 odd years. I timed it: eternity lasted precisely 7 minutes when I was 9.

So, eternity, photographic simplicity, and memory lead to something that has come up a few times before: distance, familiarity and abstraction.

I was walking down that road and that difference in time then and now was one of those moments where it became so clear how stuff had changed, the stuff that had happened in those years, that that is somewhere I grew up but I feel utterly foreign nonetheless: I struggle with the customary unpoliteness when talking German, I say far too often please and thank you, hold doors open, try to queue orderly, and forget that words have literal meanings. And then again: I do all know this. It is mine... if not in presence than in past. And: the longer I am away, the more confident my awayness does become.

I think this is the distance I am circling around in some of my seascapes. See these two posts over at Watermarks, if you haven't read them before.

Well... they also go back to some of the thoughts around landscapism and abstraction, there's some links on the Summer sketches post.

I hadn't quite caught sight of the importance of distance before. But Star Street made it just so much clearer. There is a poem to go with this:


Wie einer, der auf fremden Meeren fuhr,
so bin ich bei den ewig Einheimischen;
die vollen Tage stehn auf ihren Tischen,
mir aber ist die Fremde voll Figur.

In mein Gesicht reicht eine Welt herein,
die vielleicht unbewohnt ist wie ein Mond,
sie aber lassen kein Gefühl allein,
und alle ihre Worte sind bewohnt.

Die Dinge, die ich weither mit mir nahm,
sehn selten aus, gehalten an das Ihre - :
in ihrer großen Heimat sind sie Tiere,
hier halten sie den Atem an vor Scham.

I found a translation by Phillip Kellmeyer (sorry, I did change it, felt it could do with improvement):

The lonely one

Like someone who sailed distant seas,
I am with the ever natives;
full days are standing on their tables,
yet for me distance is full of promise.

In my face a world reaches in,
perhaps deserted like a moon,
they leave no feeling alone,
and all their words are inhabited.

The things which I took with me
look rare, compared to theirs -:
in their great home they are animals,
here they hold their breath in shame.

So not to make strange creatures hold their breath, I am taking some photos of the world where no feeling is left alone and all words are inhabited. To make theirs a bit more abstract and distant? Possibly?
I also doubt the title:
is it not much more about being foreign/alien/strange rather than lonely?
Ok, the latter may be a result of the former, but not necessarily so, no?

- Distance? Abstraction? What's new? Oh, and BTW, the poem is Rilke again.

But, do have a look at the photos, one a day while I'm here:

Monday, 29 December 2008

The bull's hollow in live

Water reflections #1
Water reflections #1
Soft pastel on board, 35x25cm

On the first morning at my parents' at breakfast,

I to my brother: 'Torben, do you want to come to the bull's hollow with me?'
My mum [alarmed]: 'Oh dear, what do you want to do there?'
Torben: 'Paint it... because it's so spooky' [makes funny noise].

And he guessed without reading my earlier post.

We didn't make it that day.

Morning 2 when I get downstairs for breakfast:
My mum: 'Karsten [my dad] already wanted to go with you to the bull's hollow so that you can paint, but you've slept too long.'

So, that afternoon, all four of us go. My mum rather keen to avoid the hollow [because it's so spooky (makes funny noise)], but in the end, they leave me there and go for a walk and I for a paint.

Here's some prep sketches and one of pastels of the lochan at the bottom of the hollow. It was so still that you couldn't tell what was the reflection and what the birch trees.

Bullenkuhle, water reflections
Bullenkuhle, study 1
pen, ink and neo ii in Moleskine, 24x21cm

Bullenkuhle, facing south
Bullenkuhle, study 3
graphite in Moleskine, 24x21cm

Hm... I hadn't used the water soluble graphite for some time, but I do like it a lot;
and: these are trees I do like, too
(well, at least the birch, the junipers are a bit rough and ready, I admit)
... much more than symbolic ones.

There's a twin post with another pastel across at Watermarks on this... here

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Some plein airs, daytime

The meadows #1
The meadows #1
Pastel on board, 35x25cm

The meadows #2
The meadows #2
Pastel on board, 35x25cm

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Nocturnes, finally

One step up from blurry photos: my attempts at drawing in the dark. They definitely qualify for experimental drawings, but not as plein airs. They were done from inside the house in darkness or candle light. That was enough of a logistical challenge. So, the sky turned green and other unexpected mix-ups since dark pastels do look strangely alike in darkness.

Nocturne #1
Nocturne #1,
pastel on board, 30x25cm

I do like the larger one, where it looks as if I used every pastel stick exactly once. LOL. Another logistical discovery: there is no point in trying to draw with black ink on a dark grey page in darkness. You will see nothing! But: purple works well, as per usual.

Nocturne #2
Nocturne #2,
pastel and ink in Moleskine, 24x21cm

Nocturne #3
Nocturne #3,
pastel in Moleskine, 24x21cm

Do you notice: the view is the same in all three of them. From the dining room, looking westwards.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Heh?! That wasn't me!

Sun rise as clichee 2
Sun rise as clichee 2
Pastel in Moleskine, 24x21cm

Sun rise as clichee 1
Sun rise as clichee 1
Pastel in Moleskine, 12x21cm

No... I'm sure it wasn't....

Dunno what happened here... Tried a bit of sunrise and some trees. Ended up with this. In my Moley. Am sure it wasn't me.

I knew... there was a problem with symbolism. It is just not for me. Will keep trying the sunrises, the trees, but not like this.

Trees? I think
Trees? I think
Soft pastel and coloured pencil in Moleskine

Window Reflection
Window reflection
Pen and ink in Moleskine, 24x21cm

And, hm... I'm sure that that is me. But in this case, my mother is doubtful. 'Oh, that's nice, you sketched K. when you met her in Hanover?' No, I didn't. I'm sure she would have minded all my staring with intent.

ad 1 - coloured pencils work well over pastel.
ad 2 - poster paint does provide a good base in moley.
ad 3 - self portraits are fun, and you can stare as much as you want to.
ad 4 - that new hairspray is fantastic for fixing the pastel mess.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Rafael Barrios, Cafe Quito, Calle Bucareli, Mexico City DF, May 1977

Our visceral realist activities after Ulises Lima and Arturo Belano left: automatic writing, exquisite corpses, solo performances with no spectators, contraintes, two-handed writing, three-handed writing, masturbatory writing (we wrote with the right hand and masturbated with the left, or vice versa if we were left-handed), madrigals, poem-novels, sonnets always ending with the same word, three-word messages written on walls ("This is it", "Laura, my love," etc), outrageous diaries, mail-poetry, projective verse, conversational poetry, antipoetry, Brazilian concrete poetry (written in Portuguese cribbed from the dictionary), poems in hard-boiled prose (detective stories told with great economy, the last verse revealing the solution or not), parables, fables, theater of the absurd, pop art, haikus, epigrams (actually imitations of or variations on Catullus, almost all by Moctezuma Rodriguéz, desperado poetry (Western ballads), Georgian poetry, poetry of experience, beat poetry, apocryphal poems by bpNichol, John Giorno, John Cage (A Year from Monday), Ted Berrigan, Brother Antoninus, Armand Schwerner (The Tablets), lettrist poetry, caligrams, electric poetry (Bulteau, Messagier), bloody poetry (three deaths at least), pornographic poetry (heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual, with no relation to the poet's personal preference), apocryphal poems by the Colombian Nadaístas, Peruvian Horazerianos, Uruguayan Cataleptics, Ecuadorian Tzantzicos, Brazilian cannibals, Nô Theater of the proletariat... We even put out a magazine... We kept moving... We kept moving... We did what we could... But nothing turned out right.

(Roberto Bolaño, The Savage Detectives, p. 196)

Did I mention my Readings tag?
Here's a first surrealist glimpse...

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Night walk #1

Ok... it was indeed time for winter night walk #1. It was the introductory route, the one with street lamps to keep the ghosts away. And, fittingly, it was 'Nocturnes for beginners'. Some blurry, long exposure photo shots.

So many stars... they just need a proper tripod... next time.

Starry, starry night #4

Starry, starry night #2

Starry, starry night #3

And, well... yes,... did we see something or did we photoshop?

Monday, 22 December 2008

Show me what's in the sky

Max Ernst, Der Mond ist Guter Dinge, 1970
Screen print

Max Ernst, The Forest, 1927
Oil on canvas, 27 x 34,8 cm,
Sprengelmuseum Hannover

Max Ernst, Arizona Rouge,
oil on panel, 9 3/8 by 13 inches, 1955

I met K. for a brief afternoon visit to Hannover's Sprengelmuseum on Saturday. I hadn't been there for a long time, was curious to see Kurt Schwitter's Merzbilder for the first time since I started making collages myself. I had forgotten what good collection of German Expressionists and Surrealists it had. I had seen a retrospective of Max Ernst quite a while ago, and have to admit that I struggle with surrealist imagery, but have since admired much of their work processes. The museum has many of Ernst's work on paper (lithographs notably) and some smaller oil paintings.

And, in my preoccupation with nocturnes, I noticed the moon: a full moon hovering over so many of them. I found some more while looking around; one that I liked a lot was called Grand Canyon or Colorado, small and intensely orange. Done in oil it almost seemed like a monotype with an oppressive sun or moon (?) hovering above. - It seems to be part of the series of which Arizona Rouge is so too.

And, then there was some more moon... Vivien, Jeanette and others have been reading tarot. To discover which Tarot card they were. It's good fun, I played with it, altered choices and still end up with this - with the main determinants seemingly to be star sign and favourite planet (and, in both the moon figures strongly... a long time of being socialised into horrorscopes, I s'pose).

You are The High Priestess

Science, Wisdom, Knowledge, Education.

The High Priestess is the card of knowledge, instinctual, supernatural, secret knowledge. She holds scrolls of arcane information that she might, or might not reveal to you. The moon crown on her head as well as the crescent by her foot indicates her willingness to illuminate what you otherwise might not see, reveal the secrets you need to know. The High Priestess is also associated with the moon however and can also indicate change or fluxuation, particularily when it comes to your moods.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Happy birthday, my dear!

Cyclame Monotype
Cyclamen, Monotype on Bockingford

I am writing plenty of posts about the dead, so I figure it's high time that I wrote a few about the living. What better day than this! My very best wishes for your birthday, my dear, and all my love from Berlin to Jerusalem. I know this is faster than my parcel and Royal Mail, so here's a first virtual collection.

A pot of cyclamen in print - I know: a still life that will probably fail to rock you (again); but it's the pot of cyclamen on my window sill that makes me think of your balcony in Rehavia, a warm summer breeze and a birthday breakfast with good coffee, an Ari Deluxe Schnitte and an all-inclusive fruit salad. I'd love to be there today - I happily take a winter solstice sun, too :)

Here is my favourite song of the past year - and once the parcel was packed, I realised that the music again didn't include the Duke Spirit. I know you can fill this just as well as Tonite.

Lastly, a bit of words. I thought of Sylvia Plath, pondered on Pablo Neruda, so have this for a birthday wish.

Vor Zeiten, einst, ein Herz gewesen sein
in langer, mühsamer Metamorphose,
und endlich nahe an der Fensterrose
inständig stehen, um im Stein

unsäglich unbeirrt mit langer Kraft
weiterzutragen die beklommnen Wonnen
und alles Wehe, das ja nur begonnen,
nur aufgeschlagen war, anfängerhaft.

Und jetzt es können und es plötzlich ganz
aushalten, wenn es kommt und gar nicht endet,
seiner Gewalt und seinem Glanz
entschlossen überstehend zugewendet,-

es können plötzlich, lautlos das vollenden
was wir, zu groß für uns, beginnen sehn,
und lächelnd, in der einen von den Blenden,
alles, bis an die Engel, überstehn.
(aus RM Rilke, Die Getrennten)
Ja, ja, ich weiss schon: etwas sehr Stufig;
aber ich weiss ja auch, dass du sowas magst.
Und ausserdem hast du die anderen Schoenen
schon in den
Incidentals gesehen.

Mit Liebe, nem Kuss
und ner festen Umarmung

wuensch ich dir von Herzen
ganz viel
Neugier, Grosszuegigkeit und Gelassenheit
fuer was kommen mag!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Rising moon

A summer night, in the middle of SO36 and a rising moon.
A bit of automated drawing in darkness.
A nocturne, unknowingly, unwittingly.
Three lights sources across four pages.

Goerlitzer Park at night
Goerlitzer Park at Night
Ink in Moleskine, 52x21cm

Rising moon

Light my face
let me shine
like you do
in light
that is not mine
nor yours

But shine we do

And as you may guess... I am gone.
As the posts earlier this week,
I leave my blog on autopilot for a few days.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Eery does it every time

There are two more posts (I think) around the dusk/mist/nighttime paintings before I'm gone. Let's stick with them rather than getting sidelined by all the other exciting things.

There's something about the place, village, area where we moved to when I was 13 that keeps my attention. It does so mainly out of view, it's a persistent call which I catch once in a while from the corner of my eye, and it is gone when I try and focus.

It is a quality of place that stayed with me since the very first time I visited that place, I must have been 9 or 10. The village is small - about 250 inhabitants, it's surrounded by a few fields and then it's woodland - or rather forests for kilometers in pretty much every direction, interspersed with a bit of heathland and moors. It's remote, at the far northern edge of an administrative district, it means that the school bus journey took the best part of an hour. Just outside the village is a boggy hollow in the middle of forest. It has a story. - Of course.

The bull's hollow

A rich farmer had a farmhouse in that part of the woodlands. He was haughty and arrogant (how could he be anything else), and had been stalking an old deer for weeks. He neglected the duties of the farm, left his family for nights on end to stalk the deer. Without success. He grew more and more frustrated. One evening he cast a curse: If I will not kill the deer tonight, all my possessions, house and family shall go to hell. And of course, he did not shoot the deer and without fail, all and everyone went to hell: the earth opened up and swallowed everything that belonged to the farmer. Except the farm's bull. He had broken loose that evening - again - and since the farmer had only the deer on his mind, he didn't get caught, and thus the bull survived in sorts - and as a ghost he haunted the the village and its surrounding. Long, long after, the bull attacked the local shepherd, who prayed for his life to be spared. And it was. Out of gratitude, he carved the wooden door of the chapel which is still intact (and right next to my parents' house).*

So, there you go. That story freaked me out no end at the age of 9**; so much so, that when my parents told us a couple of years later that we were to move, but didn't tell us where to, I just proclaimed: yes, moving's fine but there's one place I do not want to go to: BOKEL.

Tough, I wasn't in luck. It was precisely that place that we moved to.

It is and remains eery, uncanny. There is somethig haunting but all the same intriguing. The German for it is unheimlich. A couple of the drawings last winter got a bit of that, and it found its way into one of the oil paintings too.

Low Sun, oil on canvas, 60x65cm

With my dad and my brother we used to go for walks, often in autumn or winter after nightfall. There are a couple of outlying farms, about half an hour walk in any direction, it was often to one of those that we would go. With a torch or just in moonlight. I think it'll be time for a few of those next week, just a shame we've passed the full moon. But I think the chapel will make my first nocturne - safely done from my parents' porch, looking across the graveyard onto the lit, rather cute little, red-bricked chapel.

*Thanks to Wiki you can actually read up on the geological specificity of the hollow - no journey to hell insight.: here
** Well, really it didn't take all that much to freak me out: dinosaurs, monster, vampires, alien starships, thunderstorms, helicopters, border controls, atom bombs, tanks ... take your pick, I'm sure it'll have had me scared.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Presents #2 to #8

Present #2 is for myself, too.

I'd stumbled across some very nice jewellery while browsing Etsy ... oops.... sorry... not for telling yet. Well, and I found some more nice earrings, and thought that rather than merely replacing mine when I lost one, I could indeed spend some of my art sale money on expensive earrings. And so I did.

Take a look at these:

So, yes, I did sell a few more of the small see studies, decided to convert a few others into some presents, which means there are not all that many left now. Last night I was cutting some more mounts for the ones that are going; it always does astound me how a white mount changes whatever small piece of art is at its centre.

And, also yes, I do need to find a better way of taking photos. Jewellery against some beach finds does pretty well; just a pity that I don't make jewellery. I still need to find something better than the above.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Painting the night

Ok.... I did a bit of digging around on

(a) how to paint stars, moons etc... I had been curious about dealing with light sources in dark skies; wondering about mediums to do this in best, etc.
(b) changes in hue, temperature and mood as the sun sets.

I found a bit on each of these, but above all, I stumbled into a lively discussion on WetCanvas on plein air painters who paint by night. Here's a keyword search on the forums with 'nocturne'.

I also found this demo here on the artists' network site

It throws up all sorts of new questions around practicalities of how to paint at night, mix colours, use headlamps etc.

And, then of course, I got reminded of the current exhibition at the MoMA on Van Gogh's Colours of the Night. Brian had not long ago guest edited a review on Casey's Pastelblog.

Vincent Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889
Oil on Canvas, 74x92cm
MoMA, New York

The MoMA has a great online resource of the exhibition, if you follow the link here.

I've got a couple of sketches of evening scenes that I did over the past few weeks. They are all in ink, and I need some time to play with hues for them. But there are a couple of points on how to develop this. It'll go into my luggage for next week.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

How about a third one today?

Pasts, pasts, pasts and
Plans, plans, plans

Post sharing

I've been playing about with my sidebar for some time now. It's part of some attempts to organise the blog less chronologically but more circular, linking back and forward. Part of that has to do with what I want this blog to be about/for. And, that often in practice means how do I want to use my blog. Well... if
"This journal provides a prompt and forum for reflections, ideas and experiments on paint and pastels and more."
- as taken from my intro, then let's make that prompt and forum more easily reflexive, if that makes sense.

There'll be something more extensive on this as part of a 'what I learned in the last year' kind of rambling, but for the meantime, I had been looking at

  • a way to assemble my music videos so that I (and others???) can play them again.
  • a library section
  • something on my favourite posts
  • a link to other posts elsewhere that I like

It has also, in practice, served as my blog reader. In particular the updated list of other blogs is a better way than me checking manually. Early on I had tried a couple of blogreaders, ended up with the live bookmarks in firefox eventually but found them tedious as they linked just to individual posts rather than the blog. When my google reader count was going awry throughout the week, I had a closer look at it, subscribed to myself and others and discovered the sharing function.

So, now I google feed read for the time being and have some things to share:

Recipe #3 this year

I was hoping for some baking activities this weekend but I think this will be as good as my pre-holiday domesticity will get.

It's simply: Cranberries.

500 g cranberries
500 g jam sugar
some orange juice
some whisky*

Do the usual jam making stuff with it, adding the whisky right at the end. And fill into sterilised jars. Label and give away as presents.

It goes - like cranberry sauce - with game; but also makes a dessert when mixed with some quark/milk/cream. My unbeaten favourite use for it is alongside scrambled eggs and mashed potatoes. I was rather put out earlier this year when I discovered there weren't any jars left. Glad I sorted that problem for the time being.

* Of course, there's room for experimentation: one recipe I have calls for mixed peel (about 50g or so) instead of the orange juice, but I'm not convinced by that; you can also just use less sugar - half the amount of sugar makes it wonderfully tart; etc etc.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Moon light


Just as I was thinking that one thing I'd like to try out when in Germany over Christmas it to capture dusk, darkness and low lights, my office calendar offers this up to me this morning.

Spot on for the full moon today, here's a bit of Munch.

Edvard Munch, Moonlight, 93x110cm
oil on canvas
Nasjonalgalleriet Oslo

I took this one last winter. As you can figure, this is the sun not the moon, but I do like its gloomieness and strong lines.


Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Present #1

... well not really a present. But something good nonetheless.


My rejects from the RGI exhibition were parked in some of the postgraduates offices in the department. And when talking about the paintings, we arranged for them to come and look at sketches and the small bits and pieces that are kicking about my flat. It got labelled as Wine and more (mulled) wine at Gesa's, but it effectively was a private viewing.

I surprised myself with how many paintings I can display in my tiny flat - which already is severely lacking in available wall space. When I was preparing, I caught myself thinking just how presumptious the whole thing was, and almost hid the paintings away again (well, it was about wine in the first place, wasn't it?). I think one of the last jobs I would ever contemplate doing is marketing. It's not that I cannot enthuse people about stuff, but to do that in order to SELL stuff? I dunno.

I still laugh at a job interview I had in Glasgow years ago about a job as a fundraiser for a charity. Who knows what made them invite me... possibly some equal opps stuff on foreigners or so, but I completely made myself trip up, fall face flat down in the show... hahaha... that will never work as alternative career.

Now... my visitors last night were enthused alright in any case. So much so that they ignored all the small pieces and went for the proper(ish) stuff. No questions asked. I sold more than £300 worth of original prints, small paintings and an old oil painting between the four of them. How very cool. And I promised them to take them round my friend's place were the Coloured Sand paintings are temporarily deposited.

That's me done: I far exceeded my (unambitious) pre-Christmas sales target. Got a few new fans. And some money to go towards my next holiday. Cool.

My present #2 is on its way also: a present from work in the shape of a new laptop. Not any old laptop but one without a right click. Cannae wait!


PS: the photos are mangled uploads to flickr... I've been searching for Watermarks. I think these qualify and I rather like the recomposition of them

Monday, 8 December 2008

Tell me, what is your question?

I have been experimenting with Participatory Action Research (PAR) of late to be able to understand group processes in organisational settings (e.g., labour market training initiatives, young people’s involvement in volunteering etc.).

Central to PAR is a relatively short and reiterative cycle of observation, analysis and action. It employs a set of ongoing inquiries – for oneself, personally; for the group setting which is at the centre of that piece of PAR and the wider context. So, at any time, many questions are being asked. The course I went to over the weekend was Part 1 in Group Facilitation run by the Business and Management School at Bath University.

As part of the weekend, we were early on asked to formulate such inquiry for ourselves. It’s a different take on asking about participants’ expectations for a course. But, formulating it as a personal inquiry is more specific as it:
  • Has to be compelling
  • Needs to energise you
  • Makes you want to answer it
  • Leads you into the unknown.
The last point is rather crucial: how many people do ask questions to which they actually already know the answer? It’s about comfort zones: doing stuff as usual and knowing how you will get an ok result. And: both in question and in our way of going about answering them, that comfort zone will show.

I think this goes for any piece of (social science) research but also for fine art pieces, doesn’t it?
Learning, however, really only happens outwith that comfort zone: when stuff is difficult, when it’s something new, unknown, experimental and a bit scary.

So: the unknown bit is crucial.


Part one on learning and creativity is thus about asking compelling questions: What is the stuff I want to find out more about? Get to know? Try out?

For pretty much any of my paintings, there were questions like this… some more compelling than others: how can I work with light? How can I include those fabulous clouds? Some were plain daft questions: when will cartridge paper dissolve?

If those questions weren’t there, I end up with pieces that clearly didn’t rock me; were so/so; quite ok but really rather lukewarm.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Some sea talk over the weekend

The sea is yellow, 70x50cm Pastel on board

.... across at Watermarks.

While searching through the depths of my comp, I discovered that of course most of my holiday snaps are of the sea. And more importantly: with many ferry crossings. There are some colourful gems among these, one I thought I'd share:

(Oye, guapitita! - We need another ferry crossing! Soon!)

I am off for the weekend... actually already gone. For some research stuff in Bath. Bath was booked up with tourists... and so I am ending up in a cool upmarket(ish) hotel in Bristol: with pool, sauna etc...

And I grin at the thought of a weekend spent in a strange city and in a good hotel. Just the right thing after too much lecture writing and teaching over the past weeks.

Definitely different to some of my first hotel rooms on my own in strange places, with no working shower, only pay porn on telly and on the wrong side of the train station... they made me usually think of exactly this piece of bad German 80s retro:

Have a very good weekend! I know I will...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Two more additions...

The sea is yellow (Detail)
Pastel on Board

... I've been mentioning some of my coming togethers of research and art before. So I thought I'd come up with two more tags... well, it's not really the case that my indexing is either comprehensive or systematic - as anyone following the tags will quickly discover.

But, there are two tags I've been thinking about.

Tag 1: Working in the arts. The first thing to tag is a piece I came across in the newspaper a couple of weeks back. The fact that Damien Hirst is suffering from the recession. The Guardian article was insightful. Cos: clearly it is not Damien who suffers but the artists on temporary contracts of about £19k per annum (with the UK average annual income somewhere around £24k and for London, where these are based closer to £30k). They have been told that they won't be needed to paint the handpainted pills in the medicine cabinets once they worked their notice of 4 weeks until Christmas.
No, I don't have much time for diamond skulls... none whatsoever in fact. And I know how many industries have rubbish working conditions. But: NONETHELESS.
It's tagged. Maybe there's some research on good jobs, bad jobs in the creative industries in there some time....

The link to the full article is here.

Secondly, Tag 2: Researching creativity - or thereabouts. It's in addition to my Thinkings tag something to do about employing creativity (art based or not) in social research. It's a bit fluffy and loose at this moment in time. That's probably a good thing. One of my recent new books is Creative methods in organizational research. I've only started reading it.

It starts with a poem by William Wandsworth which marked the start of one PhD student's journal on writing her PhD.

... And I have felt
a presence that disturbs me with the joy
of elevated thought; a sense sublime
of something far more deeply interfused,
whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
and the round ocean and the living air,
and the blue sky, and the mind of man;
a motion and a spirit, that impels
all thinking things, all objects of thought,
And rolls through all things...

... that's a segment from Tintern Abbey, and it continues with:

Therefore I am still
A lover of the meadows and the woods;
and mountains and of all that we behold

So, we've got plenty of reasons for landscapisms thrown in here too. Nice.

That's for curiosity. And different ways of exploring that.

Seeing that I need at least three or five entries for any tag to show up in the cloud, I better go and continue with these then, what do you think?

Monday, 1 December 2008


No more waiting on the sea....

Here's a splash... throw some stones across a still lake, watch some leaves float along a stream, wade in the sea at low tide or get soaked in a rainshower (wait: no, definitely too cold for that in December).

Seascape in Earth
Seascape in Earth, 70x50cm
Soft pastel on board

Water does so many things...

So, we thought we'd do something with our fascination, curiosity and interest in the marks that water makes.

Watermarks is our new joint project, bringing together 9 artists from across the UK, France and North America. Vivien, Lindsay and Katherine have got this idea going and I am very excited about being part of it.

Do you want to see what we are doing? Start here to look, comment, follow etc: