Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From the Harvest


In another of this year's very occasional detours from The Project, presenting a selection of the very few quinces borne by the japonica in one of its less fruitful years...
Such still life drawings - a number of which were made & posted last year - differ significantly from the newspaper-sourced work in that they are invariable completed in one short(ish) sitting, whilst one is engaging with the subject in its environment, its spatial arrangement & the prevailing light conditions.
As previously, referencing particularly an aspect of some of the work of Euan Uglow (& to a lesser extent that of Giorgio Morandi), the objects are closely-spaced - for the most part - in order to attempt to convey some form of positive, dynamic 'charge' in the spaces between.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Black Xmas!

graphite & putty eraser/diptych 60x20cm
original source: 'The Times' 11/12/08

Given that a recurring sub-theme of recent posts has concerned the deep-black areas of particular drawings & the failure of the subsequent reproductive process (i.e. the scanning-for-blogging part) to communicate certain physical aspects of such (e.g. the nature of the surface of heavily-applied soft graphite), the original newspaper photograph from which this drawing was processed presented itself in insistent fashion.

Also appealing was the format of the original image - a portait in 'landscape', of course - which lent itself to being produced as a diptych, the right-hand panel of which became entirely 'abstract' in ostensible appearance in the manner of (non-) colour field painting (with an area of the paper support left blank, to emphasize both itself & the drawn section, & the difference & relationship between), although filled, animated, of course with the incidence of mark-making, & thus as 'representational' - of the drawing process, an ontologically reciprocal record of the artist's authorial, individual, embodied presence & movements through time & space, of the 'work' of art - as the panel containing (the secondary concern of) 'image-content'. A notable feature to emerge from such a process is the inevitable, obvious join between the two panels of the whole, where they meet (such a fissure marking a critical difference between photographic source - continuous, seamless in appearance - & 'de-photographized' drawing), which might present itself as an issue to be explored further at some stage, the question of edges (which also occur, of course, at the limits of the drawn areas, to which the graphite is applied, where these & the unadulterated paper meet whilst retaining their distinct separateness), of touchings, of not-quite-complete-meetings, of gaps, slippages, spaces between (such as those separating 'art' & 'life', of course, which Robert Rauschenberg, for instance, felt it fruitful to explore & in which to operate).

Additionally irresistible were the 'art-historical' reminders of numerous portraits & figure compositions upon black grounds & also, particularly, e.g. certain paintings of the great Spanish still life tradition by such artists as Cotan, & Zurbaran as illustrated, where the objects are depicted against or emerging from, & contrasting starkly against, seemingly limitless bituminous black depths.

Francisco de Zurbaran 'Still Life with Pottery Jars'
oil on canvas/c. 1630s

Having given itself up to the drawing process, there seemed a poignancy attached to the pencil, eroded to a barely pick-uppable stub (suffering, indeed, for one's art, such was the awkwardness of the act of attempting to hold & make marks with such a worn-down & whittled-away - processes again - tool), particularly observed in close physical relation to the drawing (note, too, the reflection of the camera's flash upon the graphite surface, some indication at least & at last of the physical nature of its satiny finish)...

One can feel, palpably, a Project drawing to a close..!


The (Elvis) Costello Show 'King of America'
Low 'Things We Lost in the Fire'
Radiohead 'Kid A'

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Naturally Effacing...

Today the opposite of tomato is 'as much fun as a lecture on ontological empiricism'

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Guardian' G2 18/12/08

Continuing with a variation on the 'effacement' theme (cf. Gerhard Richter's 'unpainting' technique applied to the majority of his portraits & figure compositions), this time nature lending a momentary hand to the original newspaper-published photograph from which the drawing was processed...


Moon Wiring Club 'Shoes Off and Chairs Away'
Primal Scream 'Screamadelica'
Jeff Buckley 'Grace'
Frank Sinatra 'Songs for Swingin' Lovers'
Elvis Costello & the Attractions 'Blood and Chocolate'

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm
original source: 'The Guardian' 10/12/08

Without wishing it be misunderstood or misrepresented that The Project might be becoming something of a haven for terrorists, as they may say (following the recent drawn flirtation also with the Baader-Meinhof gang), the particular appeal of the original composite image from which this drawing was processed (eventually) - aside from its cellular format, obviously (referencing our old faithful Modernist grid & the multiples of Andy Warhol amongst others) - lies in the degraded nature of the newspaper reproductions of apparently themselves poor-quality originals, resulting in a very grainy image that suggests strongly the 'unpainted' appearance of Gerhard Richter's photographically-derived portraits & figures - where detail & clarity is effaced - & thus brings the finished drawing itself palpably into such a sphere of visual reference. Technically, as is habitual, the drawing process involves a significant degree of erasure (as a positive, creative act in constant dialogue with the graphite marks made) in the resolution of the image-content.


Charlotte Gainsbourg '5:55'
Moon Wiring Club 'Shoes Off and Chairs Away'
Lambchop 'Nixon'
Nick Drake 'Five Leaves Left'
Pulp 'Hits'
Sundays 'Reading, Writing & Arithmetic'
Beck 'Odelay!'
Murray Lachlan Young 'Vice & Verse'
Cat Power 'The Greatest'
Elliott Smith 'Either/Or'
Tori Amos 'Boys for Pele'
Lambchop 'Aw, C'mon'/'No You C'mon'
Belle & Sebastian 'Push Barman to Open Old Wounds'

Digging out a few 'haven't listened to that this year (& possibly a lot longer)' examples, there, in amongst the enduring drawing-companion listening...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Reflective Process #2 (Heels Over Head)

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Guardian' 05/12/08

The particular newspaper original from which this drawing was processed reappraises a number of the recurring themes of The Project, the ‘upsidedownedness’ of the image – drawn as such - for instance, & not least the levels of representation & reproduction mined, with the photograph itself including an ‘image within’ in the form of a reflection upon the surface of an area of water.

On a purely incidental level, but noteworthy still in relation to the nature of photography & photojournalism, this image was but one of a number of compelling examples published of the particular human subject, proof perhaps that some subjects are simply more photogenic than others, although this issue has no conscious bearing upon the transcription-into-drawing-as-process purpose of The Project or the more general nascent concept of ‘de-photography’.

Concerning the (almost exclusively) monochrome nature of The Project (which, often transcribing from the coloured originals which have become the norm in newspaper reproduction, ‘de-photographizes’ into graphite drawings), there’s an interesting essay in December’s Art Review, on the subject of Jasper Johns’ related paintings ‘False Start’ & ‘Jubilee’ – the latter being, in essence, a monochrome version of the primary-coloured former, both ‘expressionistically’ painted in terms of brushmarking with additional stencilled lettering - & the artist’s hinted preference for often working in monochrome (there being a recent exhibition devoted to Johns’ extensive ‘Gray’ work, comprising some 118 works), for its ‘sculptural’ qualities, with colour believed to interfere with the communication of form & volume: this indeed, is the reason for my own preference for monochrome, & for the pencil in conjunction with the eraser, the effort to realise some form of ‘sculptural’ quality in the drawings.
Johns, of course, also created sculptural objects, with the surface tactility that was a feature of his encaustic-surfaced paintings which themselves often incorporated three-dimensional objects into their compositions &/or otherwise achieved a degree of ‘object-quality’.
The essay also mentions, in passing, the extensive body of monochrome work produced by Gerhard Richter, the Robert Storr-authored & lavishly illustrated catalogue of whose exhibition ‘40 Years of Painting’ is providing the current primary research material.
Interesting to consider that, obviously, working from photographic sources is doing so in the Duchampian tradition of the readymade, amongst many fascinating ideas.


PJ Harvey 'To Bring You My Love'
homemade compilation
Leonard Cohen 'The Essential'

In the melancholic depths of the dark, cold days of winter, when the depression can take the form of an actual physical ache in the head, even whilst engaged in the sanity- & life-saving process of drawing, it's strangely comforting & even uplifting to take refuge in a return to 'The Essential Leonard Cohen', to which one seems inexorably drawn at such times: just magnificent songwriting, perfectly performed.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


Today the opposite of tomato is 'part clair de lune, part sacred cow'

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm
original source: 'The Times' 02/12/08

Despite this year's Project being derived from newspaper image sources, this drawing is still unusually topical in that its image content features part of the multimedia exhibit of 2008 Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Leckey, entitled 'Felix Gets Broadcasted'. The newspaper photograph of the installation itself has something of an attractive painterly quality to it, already slightly 'de-photographized' one might say, thus lending itself to the process of transcription by drawing. Again, the subject allows all manner of levels of representation & reproduction, &, being part of this process, once more the flatness of the scan alas loses all sense of the physicality of the drawing's surface, the rich sheen of, particularly, the dark tonal areas which largely dominate the composition & bestow a certain 'object-quality' to the finished piece.

Interestingly, the 'by-product subject' featured within Leckey's work & referred to in its title, Felix the cartoon cat, is something of a familiar model, having inspired artists previously, including two such examples to be found within Marco Livingstone's fine volume 'Pop Art: a Continuing History', in the work of latter-day, second-generation, 1980s postmodern 'authorship-questioning' painters such as Kenny Scharf & Ronnie Cutrone, more combinations of so-called 'high' & 'low'/popular art & culture, as might be found in Mark Leckey's practice.

Kenny Scharf 'Felix on a Pedestal'
acrylic & spraypaint on canvas/1982

Ronnie Cutrone 'Sunday Painter'
acrylic on oil paintings/1985


Magnetic Fields '69 Love Songs'
PJ Harvey 'Rid of Me'
Lambchop 'OH(Ohio)'
Laura Veirs 'Year of Meteors'

Oh, the fabulous array of songwriting contained within the '69' varieties of, the sheer number of magnificent tunes within the whole, itself a wonderful, dizzying experience upon each reacquaintance: such a treasure trove of postmodern referencing too, whilst on the subject.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Acknowledging Another Anniversary

Three years to the date since the blog's opening posts, during which time it's undergone a rebranding & eventually developed into something of a reasonably productive & regularly-updated resource, mainly due to the focus provided by this year's drawing project.

And of course, one can't celebrate a birthday without cake & candles, presented here in appropriate aesthetic fashion (multiples of the monochrome image gracing the cover of The Birthday Party's 'The Friend Catcher' EP, on 7" vinyl, from way back when)...