Posts Tagged ‘Oils’

Girl with Red Fingernail

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Painting again. This is from a photograph, of which I’ve made drawings from in the past. I’ve wanted to paint this ever since I saw it, and it’s been a nice warm-up before I start painting portraits again. There’s a little bit more to do, but mostly I’m satisfied.

Caroline and Irene

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Out of my way

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

I’ve been struggling with this post for a couple of weeks. In another introduction I had written about my last six months’ work feeling like a sidestep; I was frustrated. That’s all cooled now. Perhaps it was finally getting round to looking at the work together, (still poorly) photographing paintings, trying to get the colours matched in GIMP. I guess I felt like the things I wanted to do in the approaching semester were pretty distant from these; closer to what I was making the six or-so months prior, in fact. What I have started working on happens to fit with the things below quite snuggley though, and those other plans are fading. Either way this post is being made to collect my thoughts on these things, and I’m quite pleased to notice I’ve been able to develop  a variety of work to satisfying ends. Here’s a selection of the things I’m happy with. Excuse the homebrew grammar.

I posted some of the first batch of these paintings before, but didn’t write about them. I made seventeen in all, all the same height, but with some small variation in width. They started out of a minor frustration: I felt I didn’t have enough people round me that I wanted to paint, nor did I feel comfortable taking people away from their own work. So, I started working from existing images. In the past I’d thought my attempts at portraits from photos to be always lacking, but I hadn’t really spent enough time with the process to make that evaluation. The source images for this series were all degraded in some way. The most useful were from incomplete video files, others were highly compressed Youtube videos, and some came from photos of television screens. I began trying to translate them into oil paint, though the exercise soon became a series of experiments to see how much, and what, information I could remove from the source while retaining the human presence. Three of the images above, and half the final number of works, all came from the same series of source images. I ended up working from sequences of film stills, taking parts from whichever. I’m taking a break from lamp black now.

[soundcloud url=”″ params=”show_comments=false&auto_play=false&color=16576e” width=”100%” height=”81″ iframe=”false” /]

The above four images, and the sound, come from the project I learned more from than any other. It’s one of the few I specifically made work for, actually, rather than just appropriating whatever else I was working on. Though I am not too thrilled by the work I made for it—working with images that are essentially achromatic was not such a grand idea for this process—the amount of research, and experimentation, that became a part of this project made it particularly satisfying. The task was to transfer works made with the hand, from life, into new, digital, works, considering what this process gave, etc. I hadn’t drawn a portrait for a long time, and the one above is the only one I think is good enough. I’d been meaning to experiment with glitching, datamashing, and/or whatever other slogans the kids are calling the process by, for a while (and I’ve been chipping away at a draft of a post about it for months), so thought that as it’s about the only aspect of digital mediums that interests me I’d try doing it deliberately, rather than waiting to find mistakes. Something I really find exciting about line drawings is that everything is made of the same stuff. Excluding the line itself the face, the clothes, the eyes, the background is all the same matter; the positive/negative space is all defined by the viewer. I don’t think I believe in negative space, but that’s another issue. There’s a, though perhaps vague, correlation to be drawn with digital information. The stuff that makes a JPEG image is the same as what makes a PNG, is the same as a TXT, is the same as a WAV. And this stuff can be transformed by transferring it between different file types. The examples above are me playing with amounts of compression, video effects, opening files in a hex editor and deleting and moving bits round. Not here is one of the images turned into a sound file.


The drawings above were made for a class called Spatial Field Drawing. I enrolled in it because I wanted to continue doing installations, but by the time the end of semester project rolled round I was scratching an itch to make something fun, and quick. So I was using gauche on photos and film stills I’d taken, and photos I’d found, making shapes that would exist in the same hypothetical space.

In May I made another game for a Glorious Trainwrecks Klik of the Month Klub. Rapture Raptor is a dumb rapture (remember the rapture?) related joke, but it’s been fun watching people play it, and reading the responses of the members of Newgrounds, where a Flash version is available to play online. On Newgrounds every submission is voted on before it is given a permanent spot on the site, the game that receives the lowest score (after 200 votes you must have scored at least 1.6 out of 5) wins the  ‘turd of the week’ award, and guess who won! It feels like an honour, considering the site’s population.

What’s next? I wanted to start painting portraits again, but I feel like I’ve forgotten a lot about painting. I can’t even remember what to think when I’m doing it, so there’s some catching up to do. I wanted to sculpt some heads, as I always want to do after seeing Rodin’s sculpture; I think it will help my painting, if naught else. I had the thought to depict things by their exclusion, mostly wanting to paint empty chairs again, as a starting point, at least. I have new music I am slowly making something of. But the difference between how it sounds on tape to how it sounded when played is something I can only appreciate with time and memory loss. That step’s over, now I’m waiting for the same process to fix my feelings regarding the differences between how it sounds on tape, and how it sounds badly transferred to my computer. And right now I’m concentrated on the video I posted previously.

I’ve been updating Lost Discarded Abandoned again, after realising I hadn’t done so in six months, and I wonder if those images will come back into my work.

I’ve also been daydreaming about the Internet a lot. Mostly about writing things. Whenever I do all the text online in hand written, and it’s a shame when I realise that isn’t how things are.

Paintings from photographs

Sunday, April 17th, 2011

New tack. Words later.

Two portraits

Saturday, November 20th, 2010
Revision 5 (Failed Portrait 1)

Revision 5 (Failed Portrait 1)

Erin Resting, in a Complicated Dress

Erin Resting, in a Complicated Dress


Friday, November 5th, 2010

These are the last two paintings I’ve made. For lack of things to paint on, my dislike of waste, and experimenting in ways to make work, I’ve been going over old paintings, that are either ‘finished’, or at a point I do not want to resolve. These two also happen to feel particularly exciting, to me, at the moment: technically, aesthetically, and conceptually.

Beginning a painting, or a drawing (or collage, or sculpture, or…)—perhaps particularly, but not necessarily exclusively with abstract work—one first has to make sense of the space in front of them. Typically that’s a blank piece of canvas, or paper. This can be done in the head, by pouring paint, by making preparatory sketches, and so on. Always it is a response. When this response is to, not white page, or to an arbitrary shape, but to an image, and one of my own creation—and a failed one at that—that is, conceptualy, a pretty damn interesting starting point. In effect it could be just the same as pouring paint, and maybe that’s all I’ve done with it. But I’m excited about the potential.

Bye, people

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Two days ago:


That smiley face was not put there deliberately.

Mostly unfinished portraits

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

A poor photo of a new painting

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Erin and Orange


Saturday, April 24th, 2010

I’ve spent most of this year playing round with sources, styles, and techniques. Worthwhile, but to the extent that I’d gotten so far away from what I like about painting I couldn’t quite remember what that was. There was a lack of catharthis, which was part of why I was experimenting, and part of why I create: it was excercise.

Reading a (rather too Frencherly written) book on Nicolas de Staël—whom I discovered recently via Robert Hughes’ (rather insightfuly written) book on Frank Helmut Auerbach—was the wake-up moment.

Nicolas de Staël - Portrait of Anne

Nicolas de Staël - Portrait of Anne

Nicolas de Staël - Football Players

Nicolas de Staël - Football Players

Seeing (some) of his paintings, particularly the two paintings above, did what I find most art I really like does, and that is remind me of something inside myself. The artists I most like are the ones I feel I share something with. I am attracted to the way de Staël straddles abstaction and description. All his paintings come from his eye, but he describes what he sees in near-geometric forms. There’s tension, and contradiction in his work that I feel very sympathic with. But there is also a distance that I want to avoid.