Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Drink to Cubism...

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour & collage/30x20cm

The subject of this latest in the series of ‘roadkill’ diptych drawings happened to be another of those found objects of particularly weathered & delicate form, the aluminium of an almost paper-thin quality, its surface displaying something approaching the condition of intricately-worked beaten metal, as if with a small hammer, suggesting that many a wheel had passed over it in a process of erosion before being picked & subsequently pressed (no pun intended) into the service of art.

This drawing features a small addition to its surface in the form of a collaged fragment of a photocopy of the object, both a thing in itself & another form of representation.
The shape of the object, its sharply-folded overlapping planes & silvery-white appearance, again quite closely relating to the pyramidal composition, fragmented, angular shards & aspects of the colouration typical of Braque's & Picasso's 'Hermetic' Cubist phase, influenced the referential mark-making of the drawing's ground.


Hanne Hukkelberg 'Rykestrasse 68'
Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress'
Lambchop 'Aw C'mon'/'No, You C'mon'
'Rufus Wainwright'

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Another small sequence of express 'Post-it' profile portraits, drawn during snatched moments of the day job, observed in the brief period available from an adjacent work station...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

With Due Reference...

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

This latest drawing in the 'roadkill' diptych series, processed from found subject/object matter as habitually, features another synecdochal fragment of brand identity in the form of the imprinting of a named colour onto both the object & picture plane, which again calls to mind the example, within numerous works, of Jasper Johns.

Related to the subject of once again making a certain 'colourful' reference-by-association, another browse through the Jasper Johns 1996 MoMA Retrospective catalogue unearthed a find that somehow had failed to register previously, most surprisingly so under the circumstances of the ongoing sequence of 'roadkill' diptych drawings.

What has become the habitual use of hatch-marked grounds as a formal aspect of the drawings of course owes & displays an obvious 'inspirational' referential debt to Johns' use of such a device in many a work, but note also in this particular example the recontextualized (re)appearance of a graphic representation of his pair of Ballantine Ale cans, originally a sculpted bronze object, but - given the artist's tendency to revisit, re-utilize & reconfigure his iconic, signature imagery, objects & themes - subsequently recurring in other media, as in the case of this ink drawing, on numerous occasions & recombinations.

More of Johns' work to which the diptych drawings' grounds (dark to erased light, left to right) display an obvious affiliation may be found in the following particular examples, variations on his 'Tantric Detail' theme, the first a charcoal drawing & then numbers II & III oil paintings...


Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress' & 'Kismet'
Mark Mulcahy 'Fathering'

Friday, March 26, 2010

Good Morning

An early morning example of 'roadkill' as found along the course of a segment of the local double black lines road markings, encountered on the way to the day job, which, art thus coming first, constitutes a most civilized & satisfactory start to the day...

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Benefits of Looking Down...

Now here's a little something that caught my eye, as featured in the April edition of 'Art Review', as well it might have been expected to do, given one's habit of 'looking at the overlooked' along the roadside & finding interesting things to photograph &/or collect as subject/object matter for drawing purposes...

The P&S website's worth a visit for anyone intrigued to do so, featuring as it does other publications & all manner of other stuff...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Object of the Exercise

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

The found subject/object matter from which this latest in the sequence of 'roadkill' diptych drawings was processed had been compressed in such a manner that, rather than flattened-out, has resulted in a most compact & slightly more obviously still three-dimensional object-as-such, reduced to essence, as though frozen in retracted, self-defensive mode: an interesting reconfiguration to attempt to represent.


Julian Cope/Teardrop Explodes 'Floored Genius'
The Chasms 'vs. Dandelion Radio' EP
Elliott Smith 'Roman Candle'
& 'Elliott Smith'
Geraldine Fibbers 'The Hut Recordings'

Including, in its latter examples, the first CDs burned from the MP3s converted from tape cassette form, proving to be of decent enough sound quality (that of the music has been enthused about already, in the instances of both Elliott Smith & The Geraldine Fibbers) to render the purchase of the digital transfer kit from Vinyl-2-PC to have been a worthwhile & recommended investment.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Drawing & Photography

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

This particular drawing features the reverse plane of the found subject/object matter as represented in the most immediately-previous of the 'roadkill' diptych sequence, similarly crumpled & flattened into a reconfigured form, again its familiar blue & gold livery perhaps offering enough of a synecdochal suggestion as to its brand identity.

Prior to adding the finishing touches to the drawing rainy, awaiting an improvement in the prevailing natural 'light' conditions in order to do so, a murky Saturday morning stroll became leavened by the discovery of some fresh 'roadkill' along the course of one of the stretches of the local double black lines road markings, on this ocassion two examples, 'Lilt' with a dash of lemonade...


Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress'
Mark Mulcahy 'Fathering'
& 'In Pursuit of Your Happiness'
Scritti Politti 'Cupid & Psyche 85'

'Hunting My Dress' continues the process of the revelation of its secrets slowly & subtly, developing along its course into a profound experience, with moments of intense, heart-bursting wonder & loveliness. An album as idiosyncratic & unclassifiable as its predecessor 'Kismet', yet with its own singular charms & surprising delights, a concentrated suite of songs of often complex structures that one might not unreasonably consider somewhat 'Cubist' in their multi-faceted nature, the occasional necessary harsh, spiky angularity countered & mellowed by an abiding sensuality, rich & resonant in textures & tones, both sonic & lyrical, grounded in nature & humanity, a quality pleasantly epitomised during the singing of 'Tulip', where Jesca's voice is at one point heard stripped of mannerism, clear & pure & beautiful. Altogether a most conducive accompaniment to the drawing process.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Catching the Express Again

Today the opposite of tomato is 'Hope in the Air'*

graphite/7.5x7.5cm & 14.5x11cm

In the manner of those few examples produced late-ish last year, a couple of recent express drawings made at work, profile portraits of visitors sat at the PC terminals across from that I happened to be occupying at the time, in a colleague's absence. The first sketch was drawn on the only paper surface then to hand, a functional item of stationery.

Wonder if there might be any mileage in the concept & practice of a series of 'Post-It' portraits..?

* 'Hope in the Air' being the initial highlight song & performance from Laura Marling's new album 'I Speak Because I Can', critically-acclaimed & as heard, streamed in its entirely, via The Times' website.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Victimized! (or, the Incomprehensible Insanity of Institutional Internet Inconsistency)

Today the opposite of tomato 'Can't Find a Reason to Let You Go'

Now, it's something of an unwritten policy not to conflate the day job & happenings here at TOoT, with the former not really existing in the context of the latter, but one of the most recent online 'finds' has, alas, prompted an exception to this rule...

'It could be you', as the saying goes &, as I have discovered, it has indeed been TOoT, whose fate it is to have fallen victim to the day job workplace's increasingly baffling & quite frankly apparently absurd IT security policy.

By way of explanation, whilst checking-in to pay a brief, passing visit during a momentary lull during the demands of the public-serving working day, this is how this very resource appeared on screen, with a space where no space should be...

...obviously not quite as intended, with the most recently-processed, scanned, uploaded & posted drawing rather conspicuous by its absence at the top of the page, in its stead nought but a blank frame with a red cross in its top left-hand corner.

Mildly puzzled by such an omission, & in the interests of further investigation, I clicked into the empty space in order to attempt to access the full-size version of the image, thinking perhaps that the point-of-entry smaller version had somehow 'shorted', only this time to be greeted by the dreaded 'red screen' - access denied to this particular web page for reasons of security, protection-from-onself, etc, which also includes the portentious, Big Brother-ish warning notification that such attempt to access forbidden material has been logged by the powers-that-be, with the implication being that such information might well be used against the 'offender', unwitting as they may be...

At this point, a little background information. Following what seemed to be an autumn term invasion of the institutional network by a persistent bug or two, which resulted in some annoying glitches affecting the day-to-day operation of the user-end of the system, since the New Year return to the day job, we, as a small team of staff of which yours truly is a member, have not infrequently been made aware that the prevailing IT security protocols in operation have obviously been intensified, &/or filtering systems over-zealously applied, not in any rational manner but rather with inexplicable idiosyncracy, through our own thwarted findings &, particularly, those of the student user community of our learning resources, who have been experiencing any number of frustrating denials-of-access to their well- & innocently-intentioned online search queries in the interests of accessing work-related information, in effect handicapping their studies, an absurdly counter-productive situation in an educational context.
As the frontline recipients of such puzzled concerns, all we have been able to do is smile in bemused, sympathetic fashion & shrug shoulders in response, unable to offer any rational explanation for such circumstances, whose only consistency is their very inconsistency.

To illustrate this particular point, here are presented two further screen grabs of the front page of TOoT as it appears to any viewer within the location of the workplace, scrolling down to various points...

In either & both of these instances, there seems no apparent reason as to why some of the images should be allowed & present & others not, being as they are similar in content & springing from the same source(s): the first missing image, following on directly from its predecessor, is of another section of double black-lined road surface, including an example of aluminium can 'roadkill', whilst the second example depicts the absence of what is/was the second photo in a sequence of three of the same page from a sketchbook.

One might assume that the content, the subject matter, of such images is not generally unacceptable, so why choose to prohibit some of them & not others, or indeed all, or even access to the blog itself? The same thing occurs throughout the archive of the blog: some of the drawings, of whatever content, some of the contextual material in image-form as is habitually included, some of the 'soundtrack' composite images remain, whilst significant amounts of others have been deleted from view & access to them denied-with-a-warning. Perhaps the most inexplicably & amusingly missing image is that of a watercolour of a group of 3 quinces (itself one of a sequence of which a small selection have been removed whilst others remain present), dating from 2007, the original of which only last week, having been donated for auction by yours truly, sold & raised £40 for the institution's chosen charity of the year! Selectively acceptable, one might say, given the form & context, perhaps.

As no pattern is discernible, absolute randomness prevails &, in effect, absurdity reigns: the institutional IT policy makes an obvious mockery of itself & its operation, it undermines itself & questions its fitness-for-purpose as it promotes its own inconsistencies & its very un-'intelligence'.

I mean, I wouldn't mind if the decisions to undertake such ruthless editing of the image-content had been made on critical, aesthetic grounds, but I fear that, somehow, such has been so very far from the case...Yes - it's my art-y & I'll get self-righteous about it if I want to!

Mostly, in the case of TOoT, the situation is laughable, but it does cause a certain frustration that I will no longer be able to reliably refer to the blog whilst engaged in conversation with the college's foundation art students (sometimes it's helpful for the purposes of illustration of certain points, such as drawing techniques, for example), or the occasional interested colleague or whoever, within the context of the workplace.

On a related point, access is now denied institution-wide to deviantART, formerly allowed & a resource certainly used by previous years' students (from whence I discovered its existence, indeed) & one I used to make a point of suggesting to others as an exhibiting outlet for their work, as an element of their practice. Presumably this recent blocking is because of the social-networking aspect of the site, such 'distracting' & forbidden category as includes Facebook, Bebo, Twitter, etc, but this again somewhat 'unintelligently' fails to appreciate the proper creative function of such an online resource (which, in the interests of the protection & safety of minors, itself applies at least something of an 'adult content' filtering system), & the positive role it might play in an educational & learning context.
Overall, indeed, the sense is that the access to & denial-of online resources situation is being managed over-cautiously at an institutional level, under the circumstances of unstoppable developments in the delivery of learning & styles of, but hey...

Finally, another broader consideration is the more general impact of such institutional security policies: however one might intend one's website, blog, work to be (re)presented to the world, such designs are always at the mercy of the culture & preactice of surveillance & someone else's controlling whims - anywhere, to any viewer, depending on their point of access, one's labours of love might appear as a crock of incompetent could be you.

Obviously, it will be interesting to observe how the image content of this particular post is butchered by the workplace's security policy...Game on (but art will always triumph)!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Latest Find(s)

Today the opposite of tomato is 'the shape of home-baked bread'

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

The latest drawing to be processed from the gift-that-keeps-giving source of found 'roadkill' aluminium cans, the branded livery of this particular instance again inviting its representation with a touch of watercolour.


Jesca Hoop ‘Hunting My Dress’
Elliott Smith ‘Roman Candle’ & ‘Elliott Smith’
Mark Mulcahy ‘Fathering’
Geraldine Fibbers ‘Hut Recordings’

An accompanying musical soundtrack that once again bears evidence of the continuing trawl of/re-acquaintance with the selectively-recovered cassette collection, the otherwise unavailable highlights of which are now in the process of being converted to digital form via a most useful & easy-to-use piece of kit (as simple as a point-to-point lead & a software programme) acquired from, which, thus far tested, seems to do a fine job.

As a consequence of this, & of course following-on the initial recovery of the source cassettes themselves, it’s been pleasant & inspiring to be able to enjoy once again not least the quietly-burning & smouldering intensity of Elliott Smith's 'Roman Candle'.
Being the first of the artist's recordings released under his own name, it established his aesthetic template, even through its lo-fi sound quality (itself ‘enhanced’ yet further via the medium of cassette), of deceptively unassuming, downbeat songs, frequently laced with a sharp lyrical bite, decorated with delightful, beguiling melodies, with echoes of The Beatles & Nirvana (I’ve always felt that ‘The Ballad of Big Nothing’ was the most sublime conflation of the sound of the two, at least if one considers mid-period, ‘Rubber Soul’-era Beatles as a point of reference).
These simple formal means endured unchanged, being refined through the following two albums, the self-titled second & ‘Either/Or', before being expanded upon subsequently, with the sometimes incorporation of more complex arrangements of a comparatively baroque nature, but ‘Roman Candle’ remains a compelling introduction to Elliott Smith’s oeuvre, stripped down, distilled to absolute essentials. It’s a fascinating listen, which, by necessity has to be a close one to the subdued, concentrated acoustic tone, which then erupts with glorious abandon in the tension-releasing torrent of electric guitar upon which 'Last Call' is constructed.

Good, too, to invest in & acquire a hard copy of ‘Fathering’, which is another of those drawing-friendly, idiosyncratically lovely experiences that rewards attentive listening, a sequence of fine, compelling songs & intriguing narratives.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Musical Interlude

Inevitably, given the supplementary presence of music here at Toot, accompanying the drawing process & acknowledged as doing so within the scope of the posts, a number of items caught my eye in the current edition of ‘Modern Painters’ magazine, which, broadly, is subtitley-devoted to the theme of ‘Art and Sound’, with a selection of related features within.

Firstly, as the subject of the recovery & rediscovery of items from the garage-bound cassette collection is currently in the air, this piece by former Stone Rose John Squire (about whose work I posted previously here), featuring examples of such very objects, aestheticized within a collage, themselves:

Then, again utilizing objects pertaining to the physical manifestations of recorded music, the work of Ajit Chauhan, including an oil painting of an LP record (was going to prefix that with 'old-style', but they do still manufacture such objects & release music in the format)

&, particularly - given that acts of erasure form a significant positive element of my own habitual mark-making drawing practice - the erased, altered album covers that exist in themselves & form the component ‘cells’ of the multi-part work ‘ReRecord’, as reproduced on the Saatchi gallery website.

These images, with much of their original content abraded, the surface scoured to whiteness, leaving behind only a selection of details (particularly hairstyles), thus take on an air of strangeness (even if the source might, in some instances, be recognizably familiar & possibly reconstructed in the viewer’s mind from the synechdochal clues on offer), especially as the individual facial details are absent, a quality of ‘otherness’ not dissimilar to Matt Bryan’s drawings created by erasing details from found newspaper photographs, although the latter are perhaps more ghostly in appearance.

Also, the Joy Division-inflected work of Slater Bradley, & the various artists contributing to the not inconsiderable body of work centring on the subject of another mythologized, iconic rock music figure, Kurt Cobain.
All interesting stuff, illustrative perhaps of a certain vitality to be discerned in the cross-pollination of forms of artistic practice.

On an unrelated point, other than its featuring in a current publication, this wonderfully nostalgic selection of archive images illustrating the 'Sanderson look' of interior design & decoration, from the latest edition of 'Design Week'.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Finding Readymade Cubism...

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

This instance of found ‘roadkill’ subject/object matter presented itself, for representation, as a particularly fine physical-illustrative example of the notion of ‘Readymade Cubism’ (hence the ground of the drawing being processed in that specifically-referential form of mark-making), being reformed into a series of flat, overlapping, sharply-creased angular planes, very much in the manner of, further enhanced by its scoured, almost wholly monochrome metallic surface, devoid of but a few remaining faded traces of painted branding. Of all such finds, this one – pressed especially flat into almost paper thin slivers, its surface distressed to its base aluminium state, weathered, eroded to a condition of apparent fragility – appears a particularly delicate & ‘aesthetic’ object, something like an example of origami, having passed through its functional phase, to serve another more contemplative purpose.


Martin Stephenson & the Daintees ‘Gladsome, Humour & Blue’
The Geraldine Fibbers ‘The Hut Recordings’
The Misunderstood ‘Before the Dream Faded’
Jesca Hoop ‘Hunting My Dress’
& ‘Kismet’

Featuring more oldies-but-goodies exhumed from the garage-bound cassette collection...

The Martin Stephenson album stands up rather well, retaining its trademark idiosyncratic charm (not least in the form of 'Me & Mathew', amongst others) within its broad stylistic mix, tending more perhaps towards the 'Blue' end of the spectrum of its title (epitomized by the beautifully-unbearably-bleak 'Even the Night', but that's the way we like & enjoy things here at TOoT, inclined in the direction of & fuelled by melancholia more often than any other inspiration, very probably: a collection of enduringly fine songs, possessed of any number of lovely moments, resulting in a general air of 'gladsomeness' in the hearing of.

Then, from whatever obscure, long-forgotten depths, a highly-concentrated shot of the astonishing sonic energy of The Geraldine Fibbers: the immediate impression is of their sound being not unlike Throwing Muses-go-(very)-alt-country, with something too both of the 'Dry'-ness of PJ Harvey & Hot-era Triffids, as vaguely locational points of reference, but rather more than - thrumming, buzzing & crackling grungily, brooding with dark menace, not least that of the sawn cellos & pounding drums within the potent mix, & magnificently defiant somehow. Further research, via Last FM, seems to reveal this 7-track mini-album-as-was to have been, in its day, an intense distillation of (by some distance) the best bits of the expanded version, 'What Part of Get Thee Gone Don't You Understand?', with the promise of more to explore...

Also, the similarly condensed highlights of The Misunderstood's recording career as it briefly was, in the mid-60s, in the form of a half-album that's wonderful to be reacquainted with, country-tinged psychedelic blues that still sounds electrifying in its sheer raw, urgent energy.

Who said nostalgia isn't what it used to be..?!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

What a 'Waist'...

Today the opposite of tomato is 2 x 45

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/30x20cm

The latest example of found aluminium can ‘roadkill’ to be processed as drawing, with this example of subject/object matter being interestingly reformed-reshaped during the accidental act of compression, nipped-in at the waist, as it were.

Also, whilst out & about & taking the air, a couple more ‘found paintings’, textured monochromes, of the double black lines road markings with ‘roadkill’ in situ...


Tara Jane O’Neil ‘A Ways Away’
PJ Harvey ‘White Chalk’
Hanne Hukkelberg ‘Rykestrasse 68’
Jesca Hoop ‘Kismet’
& ‘Hunting My Dress’
Mark Mulcahy ‘In Pursuit of Your Happiness’
Miracle Legion ‘Surprise, Surprise, Surprise’

In addition to the newly-acquired ‘Hunting My Dress’ (a little less immediate than the rollercoaster-carnival-of-delights that is ‘Kismet’, perhaps, but beguilingly lovely in numerous places as an initial impression) & Mark Mulcahy’s ‘In Pursuit of Your Happiness’, it was a great pleasure indeed to become reacquainted with an earlier example of Mr M’s art in the (cassette-) form of Miracle Legion’s ‘Surprise, Surprise, Surprise’, the excellence & wonders of which proved to be enduring: a rare, sadly-neglected (not least by certain persons who leave their music cassette collections stashed mouldering away in a damp garage for far too many years) & surely needlessly digitally-unavailable masterpiece of compelling, urgent, necessary songs, which, in their original form (considering the recent tribute-to-Mulchay’s-songwriting volume of reinterpretations, ‘Ciao, My Shining Star’) deserve to be rehabilitated & treasured, if not by the masses then at least by those of suitably discerning tastes.