Friday, December 15, 2006

Composing Overlapping Chins

I'm sorry I haven't been especially erumpent lately, or that I haven't appeared to be. I think I felt that I didn't want to just pump out stuff to fill a blog, I wanted something a bit coherent, and I didn't want to get too repetitive.

Having said that, here are some wrestlers and bats. This time in technicolour!

Oh manly boys, how they love to frolick in the undergrowth!

I am in a truly transitional period in that I'm evolving new ways to paint, quicker and fresher ways. That one was a bit of an awkward hybrid and a bit fussier and bittier than I want to be.

I'm working on a bigger version of that, which is becoming problematic, but I'm rying to give the colour in particular a new level of sensitive attention. Because I was having trouble with the John Cena in the big painting, (The one with the big head), I did some sketches today to try and make his design less stiff and symmetrical, more fluid and interesting.

he is stiff and graceless in real life, but it's my duty to find pretty ways of interpreting that. He's also childlike and inexplicably endearing, so those are the qualities I think I ought to channel.

In the first sketch I was only just waking up. You can almost taste the dullness of my brain in this one.

Then the head began to expand even further as a standalone object, dwarfing his ever more chubby cherubic boyman boyfriend. But it was getting more fluid.

Then I reintroduced some attention-seeking nipples to the scenario, for balance.

I never used to like drawing on bobbly paper, but I got quite into it today. I was using a 9B pencil too! Smudgy.

I have oil paintings, that are just not quite finished to my satisfaction, and there's not much point posting them until they are. But I can post little cropped details. You've seen these before in previous states of uncouth crudity.

Oh, and dear old Kurt.

My oil paintings take a long time, but I'm sneakily developing techniques that don't take as long, and that get to the point without dilly-dallying.

I keep feeling a strong urge to remake ALL of my old paintings in a bouncy happy dynamic cartoony style, chase away all pretension and confusion... which I'm sure is easier said than done. In real life I could probably only do that with some. But it's a stimulating thought.

I'm pretty sure I'm being directly influenced by John K and the purity of his vision for 'entertainment', and the purposefulness of entertainment. And increasingly I'm fatally turned off by the pretensions around all the things that call themselves fine art and the people who call themselves artists.

It may be time for me to learn new ways of drawing bunnies.

Did you spot the deliberate mistake? There weren't any bats! Ha ha!

More soon I promise!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Moving towards controlled playfulness

OK drawings now.

I've been following through on my bats and men, in fact the two things have rather fused in the middle.

Facially, as in the following:

Some of those have a bit of Triple H, the well paid big nosed wrestler, looking kindly, as he often doesn't.

Some bats, I think they're called horseshoe bats, have holes in the middle of their faces. The graphic possibilities are many.

Then some bats like to get intense down at the gym...

Randy and Edge are a tag team now. Unfortunately for Edge, he looks rather a lot like an ordinary mortal man, although his chin is so extensive I look at it and can't quite believe it's all made of face. Anyway he's below on the left.

The bat-man thing got so it was something I had to get out of my system. This kind of had its peak thus far in the next drawing.

While I was drawing that, I was watching Mark Kermode interview Steven Spielberg. They were talking about Munich and Mark thought that it wasn't that great cinematically and that he preferred Spielberg's popcorn fodder. Spielberg kind of said that he made that film to get it out of his system, and that's how I felt about the man-bats. I felt like a ten year old boy when I was drawing them. One they were out, I felt I could move on.

Bless John Cena and his quasi-box-shaped head.

I felt I needed to return to Randy's head to redress some imbalances. I'm still a beginner and I'm learning about caricature as a process, and I've come to realise that if you get in the habit of exagerrating a certain feature it will be at the 'expense' of a different one. Like in recent drawings I had been making Randy's cheeks all massive and rounded, and forgetting that he has a habit of pointing his chin at people and pouting in a distinctive fashion.

One of the reasons I think I return to this head is that it's quite open to interpretation.

I'm still scribbling manically in my sketchbook, splurging thoughts out with only slight coherence. Hey, now I have a new computer, so photoshop won't make it burst. I think I'm figuring out how to aim for where I want to be, in a never-finished kind of a way.

(This next bit also appeared in my myspace blog)

I've been having dreams which take the creative visual excitements from my life and push them deeper into magic.

This is a drawing based crudely on a memory of a dream in which I was at a Stanley Spencer exhibition and there was a painting in it of men in a winding tunnel, clusters of men, with radiant light shining out of their heads which fragmented the surrounding forms with its rays.

You can kind of see where I scrawled 'clusters of men'.

Then in a later part of the dream, there was a special secret library with massive volumes devoted to Spencer, Goya and of course, the famous fish bowl expressionists. That book mainly seemed to be filled with multiple colour variations on the same painting of a fishbowl. But it had special esoteric meaning, the colour, of course.

I have a lot of dreams about book shops, second hand book shops in hidden cities, and the important part is that in them I find the books that I need to find. The special books with the knowledge that takes me where I need to be. Because the thing is, my waking attitude is similar, I do think there may be one or two or three books hidden in the world somewhere that are the books I need to find.


And this bit didn't appear on myspace, it's an exclusive: I had another dream the night before last in which Marlo invited me to her home, an apartment in a sort of intimidating pearl white castle labyrinth.

But she was kind of a superhero, I think this was directly based on her wonder-inspiring real life drawing skills. It seemed that my visit had enticed some kind of egg shaped red haired begoggled lady archvillain to Marlo's house, so Marlo kindly shoved me down the chimney hole in order that I could hide/escape. I became swamped in soot.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A tribute to my cats

I was going to post drawings, but I thought I'd stall and post some cats. I wouldn't want to get repetitive with all the wrestlers and the bats and all. Punctuate it a bit.

Maybe it's wet and soppy to talk about my cats. But they are a daily part of my life, for now they are my family in fact, and they are my only company during the day. I feel very close to them and I often worry about what might become of them if Bob and/or I have to move away. It's probably a silly worry. I worry, but I am working on it.

This is Joyce. She is the mother of the other two. She is very neurotic and possibly has cat obsessive compulsive disorder. She washes herself a lot. She's quite a tiny kitty. She likes eating person food, even if it makes little sense. She's upwardly mobile. Last night she chose to eat broccoli instead of corned beef.

Stephen is the favoured son, in that he gets wapped round the face by Joyce less often than his brother. Everyone loves Stephen. He is a massive, humungous barrel chested fat glossy bastard of a cat. He has the softest fur and ears in the world and he's so inky black that he's quite hard to photograph. He is extremely good natured and easy to get along with. He has emotional intelligence and therapeutically tactile stomach flab.

Then there is Hal, who is one of the most singular life-forms I have ever met. He was the runt of the litter, but he's not that much smaller than Stephen, he just has tiny ears and a skinny tail.

Hal spends all the time he can outside in the garden amongst nature, because he finds human things like doors and carpets scary and unpredictable. In the spring he sits and stares at a single flower for six hours at a time. He always knows when we're talking about him, even when we don't mention his name. He lets us know this by giving a unique squeaky staccato miaow. He has a exceptionally varied range of vocal expression, possibly because he doesn't really understand that he's a cat.

In fact, we had a theory at one point that he might not be a cat, he might be an owlbear.

he shakes his paws a lot and walks as though literally walking on eggshells. He has flaky skin and nipple crusts and scaly paws, and is technically a mutant, but may have the prettiest face of all the cats. You can see his soul knocking about inside.

Here's Hal on the left and Stephen on the right:

Here are Joyce and Stephen being affectionate on Bob's lap.

I think Stephen knows when he's being photographed and poses.

We were given the cats to look after when we lived in Brighton, city of posers and assymmetric hair decadence. It was originally going to be a temporary arrangement, so the names were only going to be temporary names. But they were the names that felt right.

I love them and value them a lot. It feels good for my soul to be friends with animals. They are a wonderful part of my life during this stretch of youthful semi-settledness.

Drawings and all that will follow.

P.S. Thank you Eddie for writing about me, and thank you the people who commented, that really made my day.

Monday, October 30, 2006

My bats and my boys get linear.

So here are some drawings of wrestlers and bats, those two great staples of great great art.

I’m sort of trying to refine them toward some kind of sort of design for a painting at this stage.

But I also had to draw some big heads, to get that big head thing out of my system. Here are Randy and Ric. They have ‘chemistry’, as they say in the trade. Or at least I think so.

Learning Ric Flair’s face would be like a ten year project. In the meantime I’m still preoccupied with Randy, cos I haven’t quite perfected whatever it is I’m doing with him yet. Getting this far and quitting would be both stupid and unforgivable!

That one absorbed some spillage. I wasn’t drooling with lust as you may have assumed, I merely toppled my beverage.

As you see here, the cheekbone was generous and as such, enabled some bat emergence. Also you see evidence of other brain damaged scribbles indicating an impatience to get on with some proper painting composed of elements and not exclusively heads.

With the wrestlers, I think I could take more notice of the variation in the bodies as they’re just as distinct and trademarky as the faces. Not just the shapes but the way they move may prove important. Important in post apocalyptic bat confrontations.

Because bats don’t mess about!

The end,

Love from Chloe.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bat Mess

Now, when I start trying to plan big ambitious complicated paintings, the first drawings ain’t that pretty, because if they were, all perfect, there’d be no process or growth or point in doing anything to them.

The ‘ambitiousness’ needs time and space to grow.

That was a tiny drawing from my sketchbook. In tiny drawings in little pencil boxes on a sketchbook page, I can be quite nuts and stream of consciousness about things.

On reflection, I think a lot of the swirls and scribbles come from looking at good etchings (Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso) and wanting to get some meaningful expressive line-business in there amongst my paint. I want it all!

Wanting it all may be a crucial part of making my new work good.

There is to be a large threatening bat encroaching on a post 2012 world in which wrestling has been declared the supreme means of human cultural expression.

There’s more to the setting and backstory, probably, but I’m not no storyteller.

I’m going to get my boy wrestlers in there and make them be meaningful with their shiny sweaty faces.

I want to find the humour in my pigheaded seriousnesses and the seriousness amongst the silly pleasures in my life and in my hands.

Sketchbook pages get quite ugly when you’re trying to think about which acrylic colours to choose and which oil colours to put over the tops of them.

I should clarify, possibly, in the light of my last blog about those particular colours and John K’s recent blogs about colour, that I listed the actual tubes of paint I had picked out to use exclusively, rather than the neat colours I would be using on the picture. I mix them up. And I glaze and mingle them and it’s all very confusing, but I’m getting less confused. Whether I mix them up well or put them down nicely is not for me to say.

There are the mere rudiments of a painting. There’ll be progress on this soon, as I’m all obsessed with bats and inserting them in pictures.

Friday, October 20, 2006

the Era of Too Many Rich Reds

Well since I seem to have quite a lot of pictures to show you, I might do the paintings first, pace myself a bit.

There’s a palette I’ve used for a lot of paintings over the past year or so. I’ve been trying to finish them so I can finish up this era.

‘The passionate controversies of one era are viewed as sterile preoccupations by another, for knowledge alters what we seek as well as what we find.’ -
Freda Adler

Lately I’ve been finding these colours problematically bright and sweetie-like. There are too many of them. (Though this also presents an interesting challenge…) In the paintings I’m planning, the colours will be more ‘limited’, one way or another. At least limited enough that I feel in control of the colour and that it doesn’t dominate the other formal aspects of the picture. And so that it doesn’t look horrible and make me want to be sick.

Let’s be thorough about this. Here are the colours I’m lumbered with:

Michael Harding Phthalocyanine Blue and Zinc White

Grumbacher Pre-Tested Oil Quinacridone Red

Grumbacher Pre-Tested Oil Cadmium Barium Yellow Deep

(I think I made the yellow big because yellows are tricky bastards.)

Grumbacher Ultramarine Violet

Old Holland Flesh Ochre

Mussini Burnt Umber

mussini burnt umber

Later, when I came back to the palette and it all seemed a bit too warm and cosy, and I had just bought a MASSIVE tube of raw umber, I added that to the mix too.

It’s the size of the big tube here in front of the little tubes:

Only it’s this colour:

Wikipedia has this useful piece of info about Raw Umber:

Raw Umber is a color that resembles raw umber.

I have a brain that doesn’t like wastage. So when I have a great big tube of a colour, I mind less about using it liberally.

Some of the artist grade oil colours are very expensive, so I become quite… aware…of this when I use them.

The thing is, at the moment I’m veering more toward using acrylic and other waterbased media UNDERNEATH a final layer of oil glazes, rather than using oils alone.

This is because acrylic dries fast and flat, is pleasingly opaque and allows for a more dynamic ‘drawing’ process in which changes and adjustments can be made spontaneously. The combination of acrylic/ the other plethora (plethora!) of media compatible with acrylic/ and finally the richness of oil colour gives quite a lot of scope for intricate other-worldly finishes, and quite a lot of scope for the painting to develop a strong sense of purpose along the way.

So this is Shelby, she’s a lady I painted with just oils, and taking advantage of the blobs and crags that inevitably appear. Using the above palette, I should add. I don’t think she’s finished.

Here’s her face in closeup so you can better see the texture. She’s painted on a ceramic tile:

in contrast, here’s a tiny painting from a while back painted in this palette but with a drawn/ mixed media underpainting and quite a lot more sensitive detail. Of course, it all depends on how much you like sensitive things….

Now a peculiar half-breed… a painting that was getting on quite well being shiny and plasticky, but which has had a decisive opaque oil makeover in recent times. It’s another startled giraffe:

That’s all in the same palette. But I have been subduing it more, painting in flatter swathes with tertiary kind of mixtures, rather than being dictated to by the bossy primaries.

Now… this one’s got really weird. Bob said to me it’s funny that I should turn on a particular picture and call it weird when I’m always painting weird dog explosions and minotaur tantrums. But I’m finding this one tricky. It’s based on some of those old drawings, but it needs to evolve its own authority, it might need a radical change.

I think maybe it’s a transitional type of thing where I’m figuring out HOW I’m going to paint and using wilfully obscure combinations of subject matter and atmosphere.

And Kurt’s developed a bit of a tan.

Here’s another old one in the same palette. This one’s all in oils, but with the texture worked up to a fair old level of detail and teeny tiny brushstrokes and flourishes. There are lots of ways I like to paint, but I think this isn’t quite the way that’s right for Right Now.

I have more painted stuff to show, but I will save it for an imminent follow-up, since it’s all in different colours and generally it’s got a lot more to do with bats. Then there will be some drawings too.

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