How I have missed you. So much has happened. I should never have stopped writing. It really is much less fun without sharing my pictures and thoughts with the beautiful wide world webs.
So first off. I am moving house in 10 days and that is suitably stressful and exciting in equal parts. I moved into this basement where I've been for about 2 years now almost without a choice but it was a good move, better than the garage conversion I was in before, I didn't mind the garage it was that I was at the bottom of the garden of some people I knew one of whom I grew to call Princess Guava for reasons I won't go into.
It was a squat when I moved in, the boiler was broken the flat smelt of mould the kitchen was dark and the fridge smaller than a mini-bar but I wrestled it into submission until I actually grew to like it, love it even. But the sound of my neighbours cracking open a can of pepsi or turning the leaves of their magazines can get quite wearing, let alone when they actually talk or go to the toilet. Such is life. There were the late night revellers throwing their pants into my garden or leaving their cans of beer. That was nice too. But I genuinely love(d) the pigeon who visited me long after he escaped from my rescuing him with a damaged wing and the little garden which my plants managed to survive despite being underground. Mostly it was the occasional gauntlet set by the owner that I liked the very least. She liked to call me waif or monk or just uh, but I shall be waiving her goodbye and leaving her with a much more valuable property than when I moved in. A fair exchange for the free month's rent they gave me before they actually owned the property. And the reduced rent they gave me when they still didn't own the property because the owner was so desperate for them to buy it as it was unsellable that he let them charge me rent even though it wasn't theirs. Once they owned it they charged me more of course but before I move out she came round to remind me who has a baby and a house and a flat to rent and a husband and to remark especially on how tortoises are incontinent and that her mother has one. That was nice.
I am just pleased to be here again, to post probably my last drawing of the basement at the crossroads opposite the fire station. Always here.
In sadder news my four baby sticks who were third generation from the abandoned sticks from my brother's kids, actually disappeared. Well three drowned and the last one vanished. They were all about 5 mm long and it was hard to pay them enough attention with my latest job renovating a huge house in another part of town. I will miss my sticks! Maybe a stray egg will hatch and surprise the next tenant you can only hope
A few weeks back I watched Only God Forgives because although I knew I wouldn't like it I could forgive Ryan Gosling most things and I thought it seemed appropriate to open that particular box just then. And, predictably, it was so very wrong on so many levels that I was quite breathlessly angry for some hours afterwards. Kristen Scott Thomas probably saved it from oblivion but overall I was reduced to my most bleak state of needing to walk around photographing puddles, parking lots and security cameras. It was much like the good old days of staring into the Thames after years of waiting for a newt to change into a frog to change into a prince. I kissed him so many times but nothing. Still he's forgiven. He's probably someone else's prince, or maybe it just wasn't Spring, who knows? But its false that Only God Forgives.
Anyway, its good to be reminded of the past sometimes because it reminds you of how you aren't there any more and how much better things are. It's always better - now. So whilst taking a few days off painting those paintings (below) I did some free art and expressed myself the best way I know how - with collage and scribbles.
The past doesn't go away, you don't stop caring or remembering (well I don't) but it does gather perspective as it recedes. The hooks get weaker and your mind gets clearer and the part of you that learned a lesson gets calmer and more confident.
Some things never become the past and those are the best.
Dear Blog reader, yes you. I just popped in to say sorry I haven't posted in a few weeks but I've been awfully busy aiming my muse at a much bigger canvas.
Although I am an artist, and I do draw for food, or find pictures or paint them or whatever I turn my hand to, it may be less well known that I also paint houses. Painting houses brings a special sort of satisfaction. Imagine if you will drawing a cartoon is much like creating a room, in which things happen, people live and speak and the story moves on. Well painting a house is like painting a panel in which the characters are real. The mood of your panel affects the mood of the characters and that is why it is such a special form of art, for me.
So just lately I've been preparing to decorate a very large detached house that was built in 1969 and probably not decorated much since then. It's a massive job with a thousand details and a lot of physical work. And so when I am not planning and sketching layouts and thinking of colours and light and scraping to get those miles of wood chip wallpaper off the walls I am trying to eat enough and sleep enough to keep going.
So no sketches for now.
But when I've done a certain amount on this house, I should have more time to draw and paint that I've had in the last few years. It's really quite a special year 2018 so far. I hope it is being as good to you.
If you are interested you can look at my decorating site over at rt-interiors.com and see some of the other places I've painted.
This is the result of more work and experimentation with wax. I recently repaired an old medical cabinet that belonged to my grandfather which had in it a metal tool for packing fillings (very tiny spatula) which turned out to be perfect for creating the fine lines you see in this partly abstract partly illustrative little picture. The colour is made by stirring pigment powders into the warm wax this time so I was properly painting with the medium which is a step forward, as is the clarity of detail I was able to achieve with this new tool.
I might have already mentioned but all this work was inspired by my finding these 3000 year old portraits which were painted in wax and look so fresh and new today that it's hard to believe they are that old…
The picture's composition is a development of one of the pages from the album I made with collage and oil pastel last year.. I might take the same starting point a step further with more colour when I get round to focusing on my work! The circles on the left emanate from a little person wearing a crown but I am not sure if that is visible without me pointing it out. It doesn't matter too much, it's really the process of learning that counts and stays with you.
Just a little note to say that part three of The Streatham Quartet is now available for your insect friends to catch up on if they are so inclined.
The tiny critters are back - with PART TWO or HALF WAY in the Streatham Quartet. GET YOURS NOW.
The word sincere means without wax. This is not without wax so it is insincere. I could have called it the jigsaw or getting to the bottom of things but I didn't.
This began life a week or so ago, as my first experiment in encaustic painting (i.e. painting with wax). It was a collage (a slightly bad one - literally for the purposes of trial and error - which is most things I grant you). It was made up of newspaper printed photos of a US soldier at the doctor's and a man in a hat (Sam Neill) from Jurassic Park with three dinosaurs. But you couldn't really see those things, there were hills and shrubs and sky and stuff, but they got hidden pretty completely by oil paint and tea light and natural beeswax that I was using before my purified beeswax arrived. Let's be honest - it was a hot mess. I mean, it was a colourful palette like mass of daubs with a couple of faces and a figure peeking out. Anyway I didn't have anything against it as such, but today I was without plan or thought when I took a bowl of hot beeswax, some powdered pigments and my trusty blowtorch and for a good four hours was engaged in creating and destroying many a fine abstract painting. I say 'fine' what I mean is fairly fine, obviously not fine enough as I kept going until really hungry… and my nails dug in and started to peel off the underlying collage from the canvas. Hmm what a pleasing sensation, a vision of restored clarity. A clearing of the decks, a getting to the bottom of things. The canvas was pleasantly stained in different colours and light was restored (I'd gone a bit heavy with the darker shades and it was getting too dull and without contrast. Well to be honest, if you must know, it was a constant battle between many interesting details and too much going on or just too bland and not enough going on, over and over). So after eating I put all the pieces of wax laden paper in the metal bowl and boiled it all up like George's marvellous medicine… and here we are. Wunderbar! The lovely blue green colour is actually from some tall candles I have. It finally captured my mood! But maybe you didn't need all that information… the mystery is no more. The artist's mystique of "oh well yes it's really about the post modernist alienation from honest and open communication, the dissociative habits of those who would rather not share the truth with you but shield themselves in a shroud of carefully manicured image and crafted areas for tailored speculation…" well, that too. That too.
I just rewatched the Shining. If you've been living on Mars and not seen it because you've just arrived I'd recommend not reading on as I am going to SPOIL IT ALL for you.
Personally I like disk drives, they allow me to watch Dvds and play CDs, even copy things to disk if I so desire, but I am sure I sound like someone extolling the virtues of vinyl or remembering fondly the warm fuzzy liveliness of the ancient gramophone. Anyway, I had an old disk drive lying about so i took off its cover to find it has guts inside. I drew these guts, and then proceeded with my new bag of white beeswax, since melted of course, to daub away for quite a while until each main piece of the thing was there, all heavy and solid like. But then I started to think it looked like a badly yet interestingly iced cake, (see the first photo) and I took my newly purchased mini blowtorch to it (primarily designed for creme brule), and even burned a few holes in my nicely scented eucalyptus framed canvas given to me years and years ago by my sister, whoops. SO then I was slightly regretful at having melted all that time and effort and tried to re-demark the pieces of the drive with some oil pastel. The main body of colour having come from oil paint mixed with the melted wax (a messy business). And I blow torched that too. (see the second photo). As is often the way, by the time I'd ruined it twice I was kind of standing up to leave as my dinner was ready - when I just thought "o sod it", and melted the whole lot, threw in some metal paper burned some newspaper into it, poured a bit of my candle that I had burning and tossed in a few matches to remind myself of where the main bits of its guts had gone. I also saw fit to throw in some bits of wax that had gathered about the place, blow torched it again for good measure - got my pencil stump in there to point out that it kind-of had a form at one stage - and hey presto. It seemed to have come to its own conclusion. Thus is life. Apple doesn't like disk drives anymore, they like money and novelty and creating new versions of things that work perfectly well just so their shares can increase in value. But we'll see. Encaustic lasts for a very long time (though probably not this one on its half burned canvas) - but the next one I will do on wood and oh yes. I am getting the hang of it now. We'll see who lives longest Apple! (Sell your Apple shares if you have them, they've peaked. Trust me, I am uncannily good at these things). And if you're thinking it looks a bit of a mess. Yes, Technology ends up on the trash heap every six years at least, and then some poor person in India or Africa has to dismantle it for whatever its worth or worse yet in ends up in landfill!? Seriously, and we think we're advanced.
This is a collage on canvas with encaustic. I've given lots of photos to show all sides - it's only fair. This is using tea light wax, as I'd run out of beeswax. It's hard to see in the photos, but the wax makes it soft and tactile, it conceals the collage by layers making it even more imperfect, mottled and mysterious. I like it a lot...
I always loved collage but recently have discovered that using wax on top of the paper makes it even more enjoyable!. Next I will try combining the wax with oils.. This type of collage isn't the same as the previous painting - that one uses parts of images and layers them with paintings to join and merge them into a sort of tapestry. This collage is another technique I often use which is to rip up paper into tiny pieces and use them like a mosaic to create a new image. The wax adds a new effect that of smoothing what would otherwise be a sort of scaly feathered edged rough surface.
Collage, with oils and encaustic.
Featuring Samuel Becket and two players in Waiting for Godo, some Edo era shunga, a portrait I drew of a sleeping woman from 2010, a wolf character from a Vert comic strip of mine from 2013, newspaper photograph of a prison visit, a child soldier from sudan or Sierra Leone, a Hausa sculpture of Queen Victoria, a war veteran's foot, some computer error from a photocopy machine, a photos of Stockwell bus station, some William Morris Fruits wallpaper, a meal voucher from Bills, and a piece of a council tax demand envelope, a sketch of a woman's head by another woman's feet, aind a misprinted photograph of myself.
I have been looking at my old comics of 2010/2011 vintage, and having little thoughts like "isn't it a shame it's so hard to read and maybe I should have a go at presenting it again in a more reader friendly way?". I suppose it is evidence that I should cling to excitedly that I have actually learned something in the years since I started trying to tell a yarn with a drawing pen and paper (and a lot of silliness to boot)!
SO without further ado I redirect you to part one - one quarter no less - of the Streatham Quartet.
I will be updating the other three parts of it in the coming days with the hope that it brings you some amusement if not bemusement.
DISCLAIMER: if you are easily made squeamish by creepy crawlies or suggestions of a mildly sexual nature it mite be best to move swiftly on and pretend it never happened. Pun did you see? It was a pun. No honestly its all just a bit of fun.
Stick on the right there has suffered a double knee capping but is doing well. Other sticks are in fine health. Bout of stick plague seems to have passed. New ivy and brambles arrived today and not too soon!
On a more serious note the following private message was intercepted on the back of a leaf but we are still trying to ascertain its precise origin, it was annotated in inky footprints by a ladybird from freezing cold outer tank. It was seen flying off earlier today when we attempted a conversation in 7 dots (their language). We suspect there is a stick in our midst who has developed a taste for stick knees! And this is of some concern:
"What's got you stumpy? Oh a bit of kneecapping never did anyone any harm.
I couldn't help it anyway you were lying across my mandibbly bits! What did you expect would happen?
They needed pruning and they're 99% ivy anyway.
I do know everything - I may seem tactless insensitive and inexperienced but I've heard it all in my inter-kneecap-interviews-and-research-of-utmost-discretion (discretion is upheld at all times except on wednesdays, saturdays and anytime after 11am in the kitchen). And I've read the blog.
It wasn't my responsibility to make you feel welcome and safe here, it was orders from the boss. We're very close you know.
Oh you thought I was in charge? Well yes, I am.
No, I know some of you call it anti knee capping, but that's just a tank wide code for nibbling a bit myself while cunningly diverting attention away onto others who have probably lost their eyesight and can't tell the difference between a leaf and a knee. It's got better recently but I just -
they are so awfully tempting.
It is my real job.in the real world, not this pesky tanks for small sticks. I am a stick in service of grater things - like potato peelers, :scoff: and it makes sense when you realise that Anty is my title! I am Anty. I actually work for a wider network of superior sticks, called Anty Knee Cappings Incorporated. Didn't you know?
I'm so innocently savvily skilled at it that I'm in charge of recruits. Now that you do know you should be careful of your elbows. I have my eyes on them and won't hesitate to sway on over and SCRONCH."
It is most troubling but we will either perform a mass evacuation or continue to monitor with a view to countering these attacks. Will update you soon.
The third file has just come in so please go straight through for assessment. Its taken this long due to the seven departments that had to review it first after it got stuck in Tblisi airport.
Don't leave it on the train this time or Morris will have to be informed.
See you Friday.
Curly File 3
John the Baptist with Pomegranates and Artichokes (a collage using the original by Hieronymus Bosch). Here's a larger version of the third panel for closer inspection...
thanks you for your intervention by slamming the door as you leave