Sunday, 31 May 2009

Layering across space

Elqui 2, oil on canvas, 50x50cm

... from Elqui Valle to the Scottish West Coast?

I had posted a number of work in progress updates of the three oil paintings I've been working on over the past months (e.g., here at: art? anyone?). They are finished now.

In the process a number of intriguing things took place.

(a) I lost the hill tops and managed to continue on Elqui 1 as an abstract piece at the first attempt. This was where I wanted to get to with the oil paintings but, on the basis of previous iterations required to move from representation to abstraction had not thought it would happen so quickly. But, Elqui 1 is for the next post.

Today, I want to talk about the Elqui 2 and Elqui 3. Well, they were meant to be larger - 80x70cm like Elqui 1 but somehow I very successfully have (still) mislaid my framing tools and so while I have stretchers I cannot for the life of me find the stapler nor the canvas I bought ages ago.

So, the two pieces are only 50x50cm - one on a bought deep canvas, the other one on a handstreched rough(ish) cotton canvas. One was too slick in surface, the other one far too rough.

(b) The task? Undo layer 1. The challenge: How? The palette, though very limited, is strong with the two cadmium yellows. I stuck with turpsy paint right throughout, for each layer work first with brush, then a bit with palette knives; often softening the knife marks again afterwards with brushes or rags.

Undoing - initially it was going to disappear under a white layer. But I didn't dare too... as you can see. I kept the original composition for the most part and discovered the fabulous greys in that palette. So, on went a succession of grey layers interspersed with keeping local colours and the main composition.

Elqui 3, Detail, oil on canvas, 50x50cm

Here, the rough and poorly primed canvas of Elqui 3 proved a fascinating ground for experiment. Suddenly, I ended up with a whole new series of edges, lines and half disappearing vistas. Even more bizarrely, the piece - solely designed to explore hue and markmaking was taking on some landscape element. Well, despite the name it wasn't never going to be a landscape. Even more strangely: it wasn't the arid valley of the Chilean Cordillera that was appearing but some West Coast of Scotland seascapes.

I kept working on it - something I am very pleased about. With oil paintings I have in the past closed them off far too quickly. Quickly I would no longer be able to see what to do next. Not so with these ones. Somehow I managed to keep them open for much longer, adding more layers in the process described above.

Elqui 3, oil on canvas, 50x50cm

And, what did I learn?

1. painting with oils is fabulous (well: I knew that before, but now I do with even more resolve)

2. the palette of cobalt blue, cadmium yellows and burnt siena so easily creates landscape associations, regardless what you do

3. layerings with grey build up distance (possibly also sense of time? - need to explore that further); wiping these and reworking at various stages of drying can strengthen that illusion further

4. I now know how to keep open a painting for longer

Towards the end of the painting process I deliberately played with 2. and 3. - to have a little flirt with the landscape elements in the paintings, to bring them out, muddle them up again, displace them and so on. VERY enjoyable. It was also interesting to get people commenting while I was painting. How much they enjoyed being able to see a landscape - something - emerge and how sure they were that that was what they saw. Interesting... let's think more about that...

Saturday, 30 May 2009

How to paint (with) ghosts

Elqui 2, Detail, oil on canvas, 50x50cm

Ok,... two gears down and turning to the left. I know (albeit not explicitly) what I'm after with my exploration of spectres. A quick verbal sketch (aka a list) turns up the following

  • the ways, means and politics of hiding: domestic violence, migrant workers, politics of war
  • past experiences, memories and ghosts (my own)
  • other people's ghosts (e.g. Don A.'s, but there are plenty more)

... they all need care, caution and time; so I'll be doing plenty of: two steps forward, one back or three. What is however, much easier is painting technique and also, how others have dealt with spectres in art.

There has been plenty of this so far in here... and while I'm a bit rubbish at providing comprehensive summaries, how to guides and similar, I think I should spend some time on digging up those earlier posts on this.

Right now, I am thinking of

More recently, the Elqui series of oil paintings is exploring the effects of adding layers of turpsy murky greys to add depth, distance and a general blur. Similarly, much of my printmaking has turned rather experimental and tried to hide, undo, whiten out earlier layers.

I will start with more detail on these two work processes, while I'm trying to reorder my tags and unhide some of the various strands of my new project of a new world unorder.

Elqui 3, Detail, oil on canvas, 50x50cm

Wednesday, 27 May 2009


.... with last night's entertainment...

Monday, 25 May 2009

Paintings with ghosts - not for free

There are two paintings in the exhibition that give me goosebumps. Not in a good way. One's up on the wall, the other one is in my portfolio. The one on the wall is an obvious one. She stares at you, supposedly all serene - but OMG - she is standing on so many fishes and not in a good way.

The other one I had forgotten about. Forgotten about until I was going to sell that drawing twice over. One of our postgrads had bought it and another one was drawn to it too and indeed upset that it wasn't available anymore.

Fields in December 1, mixed media on paper, 52x40cm

So I told her a story - the story of the painting or rather what lies at the centre of it.

I drew it as one of my first attempts to develop the initial sketches from the fields around my parents' place 18 months ago. It's the first one of a set of two - two different scenes. It's a composition that intrigued me first off - I like it a lot, its intersecting fieldlines, different winter coloured fields and just on the horizon line the birches along the road to Schweimke.

The drawings - with acrylic inks, a bit of acrylic paint and graphite ended up being harsh and almost monochrome. I moved to more colour. But at some stage a couple of weeks later I wrote long lines of associations for these two scenes.

Well, and it made me realise that at the heart of this one, there a three deaths, a few years apart.

My granny with the travel bug was dying slowly throughout 1992. The night she finally did, we slept while a friend of mine, a couple of years older than me, had a car accident. He crashed his car on this early December night, 500 meters from our house in the early hours of the morning. He was drunk. No one found him, those 500 meters away from our house and the village. So he died the same night as my granny. At the point where the sky meets the horizon line, right at the centre of the painting.

Beyond the horizon line are the moors. (Thinking about it, the village is surrounded by eerie places - if you remember the Bull's Hollow.) My neighbour, who prefers ploughing his land while drunk to sex (well, almost) had a brother. He was a few years older than him, probably about 10 years older than I. A, the brother was away a lot for all the time I lived next to him; away in hospital for treatment of his depression. When he was home, he would go for walks, long walks around the fields.

I can't remember talking to him ever, he was just this intensely sad and lonely figure to walk the fields. His depression was the first I ever encountered, it frightened the live out of me and so did he. I couldn't comprehend it and just felt engulfed by it whenever I would see him in the distance. One day, a few years after I moved away, he would not return from one of his walks. Instead, another neighbour would find him on a rope somewhere in the moors. Across the horizon line to the right.

Now, they are the ghosts that look at me from that painting. I know they are there.

I told B the stories and so she decided she preferred the other one; and I sold both. Now: the other one has a lot of stories too, they are fabulous ones: of friends, parties, nights out and the road out of the village. It's the scene I love most of all of those fields, so there are many paintings of it.

Fields in December 2, mixed media on paper, 52x40cm

There is none more of the road to Schweimke. I think one ought to be careful with those ghosts, not?!

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Other people's ghosts (i): Bienvenido a la Casa AM

Ok, that's the bus station, La Serena, after eight hours drive, a bit of sketching and the beginnings of the desert. Let's find a taxi and go to this place - it sounds nice enough: a garden and a friendly family house. I hope the taxi driver won't rip us of like the one this morning - too tired for that, my stomach is feeling very unwell. R., did you understand what he said? Where are the word endings in his speech? Did he say 3.500 for the town centre? He doesn't know Brasil? Let's go to Plaza de Armas instead. Why does he drive back to the Panamericana? I'm sure he takes us round the whole town... what do you think? Oh no - there's Calle Brasil. Oiga - el hostal esta en ese calle. Si, si - yo lo se. Heh - so he knew where we wanted to go? But why was he so funny about it? Ok. There it is. That's nice, he gets out of the car and rings the bell. The door opens. The owner speaks English and has rooms.

Good. An old town house, an inner courtyard, the rooms off the hallway, none with external windows. The furniture like my grandparents'. The rooms look ok. That's all fine. A, the owner seems nice enough. Late forties, he seems very nervous, anxious, he doesn't seem to find time for breathing between speaking. He tells us breakfast is at 9.30, there's a computer we can use. All fine.

The room is damp, mouldy even. I only realise when R asks if I've got a cold - no, I don't, but can't stop coughing before I finally fall asleep.

Getting a shower requires a complex lighting of the boiler procedure. The house is charming, in a very old-fashioned sense. But, why are these two elderly women sharing that room? One of them always in her dressing gown and slippers. She never speaks. All you hear is shuffle, shuffle, shuffle through the house. She looks at you and quickly looks away. The dogs bark, they howl, right outside our bedroom. The wash basin has this amazingly complex crack, right through it. I need to remember to sketch it.

Out for the day, we come back to loud music - a mix of 1950s Cuban, a bit of Kurt Weil and some Ella Fitzgerald. They are in the kitchen, high-spirited, making dinner. I talk about our day in Coquimbo, we laugh and joke. I ask A if we could have breakfast at 8 next morning because we'll be going to Elqui Valle for the day. No problem. They laugh as A's stumbling over his words - 'El vodka', his son says and laughs some more.

R and I sit outside for a bit, drink some wine, have a cigarette. Inside, A's son now tries to persuade A to go to bed. But instead, he's slumped over the computer, unconscious, there are coughing fits, I think he's been sick now. He doesn't want to go to bed. Finally he goes. All the while, R and I sit outside - far too close in the family home.

The next morning there's no breakfast - A's angry with us 'I don't serve breakfast before 9.30'; so we leave without. The son ignores us, so does the woman who was there the night before.

We come back late at night, after having seen Saturno y sus circulos. A shadowy figure runs out of one bedroom, runs back in, comes back out again... shouts after us... 'Here's your remaning 1000 pesos. You mustn't leave the water tap dripping when you leave the house'. He's agitated. It's past mid-night. The woman shuffles through the house. Somebody runs into doors, furnitures. I can't sleep. The house overwhelms me. I joked to R the day before: 'In a few days we'll decipher the various comings and goings of people'. But now there are far more than those living present. I can feel them, and I think of Allende's Ghost House. So much secrecy and so much malevolence. I'm writing it down before I try and sleep so as not to offload it to R., it would probably stop her from sleeping too.

The next morning we say we're leaving. A. comes out briefly to do some breakfast, disappears into his dark bedroom again. The Lady with the Slippers can speak - fast and loudly on the phone, we realise. But noone talks to us. I'm writing another blog entry. While opening Explorer the adjacent Word document is entitled 'Los etapos del alcoholismo'.

I wonder who put it there. His friend who refused to serve us breakfast yesterday morning and merely said that it was Don A.'s house so we should speak to him. R. was upset about it, I thought: well, good for you, co-dependency is so easy to accomplish. Or maybe his son? Who knows.

We leave, move three houses further along and stay two more days in La Serena. How friendly the city suddenly becomes.

Don A. also saw a ghost - two days later and 10 mins before we were taking the taxi to the bus station, he runs past me, sitting in a cafe. I felt someone watching, ignored, and ignored a little more, only to look up to see him having seen me, dazed and confused. His life at that moment clearly wasn't one for a bright morning sun.

Family secrets. Not to be witnessed, not to be known. We stumbled into some. Alcoholism was probably only one of them. We had to go. Days later, R told me of the fresh blood she found the morning we were leaving on the living room floor. And what were the dirty blankets doing on the couch in the dining room? Why was there this immaculate front room with everything around it falling apart? Why did noone of them go out during day time?

Ghosts? Memories. Experiences. Things and people that were and remain so powerful. There'll be more.

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Eldon Group exhibition: Fancy a virtual tour?

Come along and have a look.

All went well and was also very good fun. About 40 people turned up on Wednesday evening and it was very relaxed and enjoyable. Each one of us with something to sell sold at least one piece at the opening, and the feedback we've been getting since has been very positive.

My favourite piece?

Memories of a Day on the Fife Coast by Chris Turpie
Memories of the Fife Coast by Chris Turpie
Oil on Canvas, 36x26ins

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

They were duly hung

... after so few tiny, tiny waves...

Now... drinks anyone? Tomorrow at 6pm?

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Art? Anyone?

Elqui 1, WIP
oil on canvas, 80x70cm

Not quite finished but this is what Elqui has transformed into (once the hilltops were lost). The three made yesterday morning very enjoyable. They, and the fact that we are getting rather excited about the exhibition opening on Wednesday - and that pretty much is organised. Oh, yes, and then one of my fellow painters expressed her interested in buying Elqui 1 off me once it's finished. Hm... nice... just as well that there's no space anywhere for me to put it up, otherwise I may have been tempted to keep it.

More about them once they are finished in a couple of weeks.

Elqui 3, WIP
oil on canvas, 50x50cm

Elqui 2, WIP
oil on canvas, 50x50cm

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Who is it you are?

Elqui 2, WIP, Detail
oil on canvas, 50x50cm

My inbox has been getting, aside the usual junk, a few anonymous emails. Some of them were comments made on the blog and I'll start with these.

Anonymous 1 commented on my 'Notes to future self' said that in order to know my future self it was crucial to know who I was now, and promptly recommended I'd buy a book - HIS book, I suppose. It struck me as an intriguing, if slightly off-kilter and possibly not very successful way of marketing one's publishing efforts. I should possible try the same.

But, anonymous had a point there and I'll come back to that later.

Shortly after, Anonymous 2 left a comment which slightly threw me. I got the first rant against my art in the commentary. It was intriguing too, intriguing for the fact that within 2 years it was indeed the first commentary left that thought the prints I showed were awful. I thought of my brother's joking how art commentaries tend to be of the nature 'oh, I think that's wonderful'. And my brother's right. Art blogs work very different from other, notably political blog that the people who usually do radio phone-ins or write angry letters to the editor don't really participate.

That point was made even clearer when I was reading - in the newspaper - about the death threats and all assorted violence directed at a feminist blogger in the US. She poignantly stated: 'These are only ever left by that unknown angry entity that is 'anonymous'. Funny that, isn't it?

There is such power in remaining anonymous.

So, I was thinking of these two comments when earlier this week I received a password and login details for one of those business sites where recruitment panels send job applicants to for psychometric testing. The anonymous email stated 'if you have any questions about this test, please contact your administrator who initiated this email'. In the Notes from Administrator section there were no notes.

It left me wondering who at my work place - and it was clearly initiated form my workplace wants to know who I am? Whether I'm extrovert, intuitive, thinking and perceiving, or the opposite. I wondered if it had anything to do with the redundancy procedure notice I received recently, or with a new tutoring job I applied for, or, or, or...

Curious me left the email untouched but did a bit of Myers-Briggs personality testing anyways. I find them curious, a bit more reliable than horoscopes, I suppose. And fascinating how much of personel management builds on these 16 types. So, even curioser I wondered if people were all equally distributed across those 16 types. Of course they aren't. And I grinned that I end up in one of the rarest category. How funny is that. Now I need to find something about the prevalence of certain types in academia. I think I can have a good guess. :)

So are we anonymous or one of 16? That's not really a binary question, is it? It's a bit similar to the following: how many possibilities are there in a limited palette?

Friday, 15 May 2009

Now... what to do???

Ok, ok... I kind of outmanouvred myself with the two previous ones. It's not that I don't know where I want to go with them... but at the same time they are at the moment not much more than markers for the future. So, the blog is acting - again - as a notekeeper.

The blog as notekeeper is a rather comfortable format, I think. It's a bit more sophisticated than my talking into my recording machine (well, the latter still needs some work on how to retrieve info I record) but it's the textual with a bit of visual format nicked from elsewhere on the net that works well and easily for me.

So, the disfigured faces of abused women and the kids that get sucked into the pavement that is the UK care system are there. They are also there along with some private notes of all that won't be possible and needs to be avoided. -

Putting them in here is easier than using the sketchbook. - Recording textually comes with my job and moving into some more visual seems to take a lot of time. Though - and here's today's theme (well, the obvious one at least) - I am becoming more and more excited about my recent sketchbook acquisitions.


Because they are larger and larger still. They are at least A4 - which when opened (it's a hardback rather than spiralbound) gives an A3 to work with which was exciting for the Chile sketches. But the one at home - the IDEAS book - is an A3 and when opened A2. It's fabulous, rather heavy cartridge paper which is happy with pastels, oils and printing inks so far. Being able to develop and spread out across a generous 58x42 cm is such a revelation (I know, some of you have been saying this for a long time, but now I've tried for myself, and guess what: you were right ;))

Here's a taster... But the proper stuff is coming soon when I move onto the disappearing spectres with my exploration. Before that, though, there will be one more post on seeing and classifying, and on the mysteries of some anonymous junk that ends in my inbox.

Tomorrow, or the day after (depending on how my exhibition preps are going.)

Elqui Palette
Elqui Palette in A3 sketchbook, Soft pastel and oil

Fieldlines in A3 Sketchbook, Lino prints

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

And so they disappear while everyone is (not) watching

There has been a series of high profile cases of very young children abused and killed at the hands of their parents and their partners. In some cases, social workers have had over 300 meetings and visits over 18 months before the child's death. This is the trailer of a current series of documentaries on Britain's Forgotten Children.

It goes into my notebook on disappearances while all are watching.

Monday, 11 May 2009

For all to see, right?!

Elqui 3, WIP, Detail
oil on canvas, 50x50cm

On Friday I spoke at a seminar on the role of policing for securing well-being. My brief concerned the role of policing for securing urban regeneration and more importantly, economic growth.

One of my two fellow speakers was the Chief Constable of the police force which saw on the day before the conviction of the biggest internet- based ring of paedophiles in the UK so far. No surprise that he was buoyed up by having secured the conviction of eight men so far with some 30 charged across the UK. As he said, these were ordinary middle-class and very respectable men. The news coverage went to some detail to list the - thoroughly proper - job titles of each of the men.

I'll be sticking with crime for this post, but it'll get to the (in)visibility challenge I'm posing myself for the time being.

The end of my talk led to a call for (a) acknowledging the necessity of conflict over the use of public spaces - that this is political and not subject to a predefined, however narrow 'consensus'. And (b) to name and make visible all those that get hidden, evicted, arrested when public space is for consumption only - young people, junkies and homeless.

But even more so: that focus on street crime is so reductive in its own sense. And the guy from the centre for business crime was rightly upset that I wouldn't present figures of how much shoplifting is done by junkies. But what I should have done and didn't do was present figures over health and safety offences committed in city centres by businesses; and of all those crimes committed BY businesses.

However, the one thing I got to, and which was thankfully picked up by the audience was the problematic division of public and private. A focus on street crime and the surveillance of street crime - while apparently a response to women's fear of crime leaves out the most dangerous place of women in the world: the home.

If it's on CCTV it's for all to see, right?

Two images and stories have been sticking in my memory all week.

Story 1: the first full face transplant undertaken by American surgeons. Now, several months after the operation, the patient gaver her first interview, accompanied by many photos of how she looked at various points in the past, how she may look now and how she may look in the future. What happened to her face? Her husband shot her in the face. So, after over thirty operations she can take food through her mouth again and hopefully will be able to taste at some point.

Story 2: a young man on steroids got convicted to a life-time sentence. Why? He befriended a TV presenter on facebook (I., I'm telling you: it's dodgy!!); went out with her, when she said no, he beat her up and raped her; after that she hid for a couple of weeks in her flat. Finally, she left the house. He was waiting outside with another man and threw a full canister of sulphuric acid into her face at point blank. She was quoted how she recounted that moment and every single moment since. She too has had more than thirty operations since.

So, what is it to see if you look at one's face?

Thursday, 7 May 2009

So we were hung out to dry...

On Tuesday my colleagues L and J and I did the last of three workshops with groups of teenagers on employment issues. J and L had done the two earlier ones without me while I was away. They had gone very well and I had been sorry to miss them. We had devised and applied a spread of things to do over a two hours session to let 16 yrs old talk about what they wanted to do later and how they may get there.

Well, and then Tue 5pm came and we wholeheartedly crashed and burnt. Wow... the flames on Shettleston Rd were probably visible right across the East End. I've before had interviews that wouldn't go well, people weren't interested, didn't want to say much etc. You would wind up after a while and write it off to experience. But to be hung out by fifteen 13-16 yrs olds over a two hour period is a bit different. So glad I'm not a school teacher.

Now, why do I care to write about it?

When I went to the first facilitation training workshop in December, we were asked to come up with a question for the workshop itself, our own little inquiry strand for the weekend. It had to be compelling, not easy to answer and be worth investigating seriously.

My first question was 'how do I convince my colleagues to do more participatory action research [PAR]?' - that was a fake question, I knew that after five minutes: it wasn't a problem of me having to convince them but whether I'd care enough to want to convince them. So it changed into:

How can I apply my painting knowledge to my academic work. It was a fumbling, half-conscious question. I hadn't quite explicated what constituted 'painting knowledge'. I knew it was there, quite happily growing over the past few years and the reason why I'm continually intrigued.

So, over the weekend I really begun to figure out what that confidence in painting as process was made of... while doing all sorts of group facilitation thingies and being in the middle of an actual group process which was quite exciting. [Funnily, a similar process took place at the conference in Santiago, at a larger scale, but it was very lively indeed]

At the end of the weekend, we got to talk about our questions again. My interim findings were very much informed by the weekend itself: an emphasis on experimentation; an iterative process: the same things are revisited often and they need to be practiced, tried out, applied; and a careful analysis of what goes wrong - because a lot of stuff goes wrong all the time.

Here, PAR is a fantastic method to do these three things. And so is art for me.

Us being hung out on Tuesday made all of that very clear. In many ways it was one of the most useful insights into group research methods. So, while L, J and I were leaving terribly embarassed and took to the pub we discovered not only a lot about our facilitation skills, our research questions but also the politics of youth work, the dynamics between different youth groups and their internal dynamics.

There's plenty of stuff I'd try out. But also there is plenty of stuff I will never try again if it goes wrong once. A friend of mine, who tries out even less, told me once a while back: well, you need to think about it very carefully because there's unlikely to be second chances. So, there's little room for experimentation.

I think he was wrong. There is always plenty of scope for second chances, change and trying stuff differently. Art is making that very apparent for me: if something goes wrong, try again, start again or rework it. Mixed media is a fabulous example; printmaking is a bit more difficult but I'm getting to see that in terms of reworking the printing plate, adding another layer, applying different media, or, or, or...

So, now we need figure out whate next for making amends for having bored those kids for two hours...

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Print Project 3_1 aka Fields: done....

Fields, 25x20cm
6-layer reduction lino cut on Japanese Paper

Monday, 4 May 2009

Love and loss in 0s and 1s

Elqui Valle 1, WIP, Detail
Oil on canvas, 80x70cm

One of my favourite blogs disappeared. It disappeared after infrequent posting over the past few months and then just a simple Goodbye message flickered up on my sidebar. Neda's Papiers Coll├ęs was a true find when I stumbled upon in over a year ago. Her collages get to the bits of personmaking that I admire greatly but don't have a clue of what to do with it just yet - I also simply lack the guts of putting that stuff into art. They opened up a view onto collage as medium and emotions as subject matter which thrilled me. Now, they are gone and the website is vacant.

But: the feed is still circulating - don't know how and why - but you should be able to find it with a feedreader. []

Hm... thinking about it... it's ghosting now... resonating around cyberspace. How long, I wonder?

It's this strange business of doing stuff with people over a distance. And how to maintain, develop, move on and let go. Quite a few of blogs I discovered early on have disappeared by now. When it happened to the first one, I sent a concerned email after a while and the reply I got made me feel that I overstepped the mark of interaction amongst strangers. So, I won't send Neda an email; but I do wish her all the best and hope that's it's for good reasons that her blog is gone. Thanks for all those beautiful collages!

And, while I was away, both Casey and Jala made a wee pass at my blog - thank you, you two. It's thoroughly appreciated, even if I have been so slow in acknowledging it. Let's see where I can pass it on to.

... now that I've introduced ghosts, I will sit down and write up some of my persistent thoughts on this, this may take a while... - M., I think you may know what may be coming next...

Sunday, 3 May 2009

All new on the sidelines

My brother (haalloo, Torben!) tends to mock that I really don't need much else on my comp other than firefox: all this money of the comp wasted on my single application usage.


Today I used: well, firefox, and firefox, and firefox. AND:
- Flickr Uploader (well, that kind of plays into T's hands, I suppose)
- Thunderbird
- Word, but then:

- Komposer
- FileZilla
- Gimp and X11
- Photoshop Elements

[oh, and I must admit, I was instantly smitten with having a photoshop application on my comp again; well: I am really trying with Gimp but, hach... I kind of get that you can do a lot of things with it, but it needs a lot of running around in order to get to do them, and it's more 'into the depth of my comp' running around, I fear. So, I bought an educational copy of Elements and downloaded the trial version while I'm waiting. Rather worringly though: within 10 minutes I run up against its limits: it cannae convert monitor to print colour mode... that's not very good! For that I may just have to figure out Gimp a bit more?]

and I persevered... it meant that I missed out on the sunshine on the seashore plan but instead:

- my photos from Chile are kind of sorted and look at you and me from high above the Andes on the sidebar.

But more importantly:

Eldon Group Summer Exhibition 2009
20 May - 3 June 2009
St Andrew's Gallery, University of Glasgow

Opening party 20 May 6-8pm (with cold white wine this time!)

I finally managed to extract images from S-J's Publisher file; and even more so: overcome my intense aversion to web design and scrambled together an okish (well, rather basic, really) update of our exhibition announcement. High time for that... - though I still haven't replaced the images from last year.

My firefoxing today eventually included something I tend to dislike even more than html: putting stuff on ebay. Eventually, my growing box of redundant electronics is getting a bit of fresh air (a spare laptop keyboard anyone? or a router?), and while I was looking at it, I discovered that my old laptop may be still worth something...

and I also designed the postcards for Tom, Chris and myself for the exhibition.

Do you want a sneak preview?

Views of Glasgow from a Height
Oil on Canvas, 60x65cm
(c) Chris Turpie

Acrylics on Board, 20x20cm
(c) Tom Bush

Three, three, one
Pastel on board

Yesterday, we begun to discuss what we are going to hang on the walls, and how, and, and... Second time round it is actually a lot easier - well, maybe that's to do with the changed group dynamics too. I haven't quite got round to thinking about what will go in from my recent stuff - ... well, I've got til next Saturday to make up a my mind, then we'll do a mock-run.

Now: put up more larger pieces on Etsy. - Strangely (but very nicely STRANGELY), my larger sketches and paintings have been doing rather well there...

Saturday, 2 May 2009

And then I lost the hilltops...

... Find something, lose something.

Today's painting (as started here) had plenty of both. My cadmium on canvas fest was indeed rather strong-willed. So much, so that I ended up with this and was a bit speechless.

Elqui Valle 1, WIP
Elqui Valle 1, WIP,
Oil on canvas, 70x80cm

Its challenge was rather obvious: c'mon, Gesa - I'm about abstraction, I don't want to be Elqui Valle and the Cordillera. Ok, ok... away they went with one turn.

Elqui Valle 1, WIP 2
Elqui Valle 1, WIP 2,
Oil on canvas, 80x70cm

And stage two thus looks like this.

[oops... sorry, empty promises...
didn't take a photo from what it looked like at the end of the morning,
but I can tell you: it's MUCH better... promised!]

I wonder if I'll find Elqui Valle in here again or whether I'll just be left with a marvellous palette, plenty of texture and plenty of layers.

... To be continued....

Friday, 1 May 2009

Notes to future self

Ryuichi Hirokawa, Al Ram checkpoint, West Bank, 2002
Guardian, g2, p. 25, 30/4/2009

... really for in five years, but maybe also already in two?

I gave a research seminar on Wednesday and was talking about youth policing, workfare and the making of criminalised selves. Much of what I was initially interested in with my academic work revolved around questions of social control, discipline and importantly the practices, policies and experiences that make a responsible and disciplined citizen. Much of these original questions had gotten a bit submerged in the interim with a much stronger focus on policy and governance but after the seminar I ended up talking to two colleagues who have, though in different fields, maintained a keen interest on such disciplines of the self.


Longwinded, half-baked... it links up with some of the abstractions I am intrigued by, again and again, and which require a much fuller set of art skills, techniques, and experiences that I currently have. - Questions over person-making, the stuff that happens inbetween, outside, elsewhere or in the middle. Well: the stuff that matters.

When I was talking to my two colleagues about what art I do and would love to do, I for the first time made those links between academia, knowledge production and painting quite explicit. Well: I do tell people at university that I love the kinds of questions and problems a piece of art poses in its production, and how it is necessary to let it provide its own answers - that no will of my own can make that canvas into something finished.

And I do enjoy the way in which this undoes what so much academics perceive the individual ingenuity of the lonely, fabulous, young academic who raises, on the basis of his own achievements to intellectual and professional heights. - well: remember the snake fights?

But, the discussions with M. and E. took me back to Foucault's Discipline and Punish; they also provided links to some more recent work on the making of entrepreneurial selves in thoroughly flexibilised and casualised labour markets.

On the way home, I saw this in the paper, took it with me, scanned it and it's here now as a reminder. That look, locking the police officer in its stare, defiantly. Now: I love that kind of photography, holding, maintaining a moment which radiates outwards, captures stuff (incidentally or purposefully) beyond its immediate reach. For whatever I'll do in two or five years? We'll see. I doubt that it will be photography, and I doubt it will be figurative, but: who knows?