Saturday, July 31, 2010


Back on the 'road', & featuring the processing of the latest 'roadkill' object to be found...

graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

In keeping with recent developments of the genre & project, the object is represented within a field of repeatedly overlayed short horizontal brushstrokes of watercolour (attempting to maintain a degree of the medium's inherent translucency - which affords visual access to the erased underdrawing, of which traces remain beneath - whilst constructing a surface of some 'solid' substantiality), with this 'all-over' 'ground'/surface subject to a sequence of complementary vertical 'bands' of subtle tonal modulations, highlighted & emphasized by the inclusion also of narrow 'structural' lines of yellow, all of which, whilst not as descriptive as the rendering of the object itself & intended to retain an individual identity & integrity as painted marks representing nothing so much as the act of their making, make formal reference to the familiar local tarmac road surfaces with their distinctive 'double black lines' corrective markings (all-but obliterating the originally-painted yellow lines, which nevertheless exhibit traces of their existence in such fashion).

The reformed object itself - the diagonals of which add to the overall geometrical nature & structure of the composition - in this particular instance furthers its consideration as an example of 'readymade Cubism' by displaying upon its surface a synecdochal fragment of a brand logo that rather serendipitously relates in terms of colour scheme to such visual reference as the fragment of the French tricolore that occurs within such an example of Cubist painting as Picasso's 'Souvenir du Havre' (in which the archetypal Cubist formal device of an explicit geometrical structure is also obviously in evidence)...

(image from Harrison, Frascina, Perry 'Primitivism, Cubism, Abstraction' Yale/OU 1993)

Further to the play of art-historical reference in such a context, then the horizontal orientation of the red-white-blue bands of the fragment of the brand logo in relation to such tricolours as symbolic of nation states equates more closely in fact to the flag of the Netherlands, composed thus, which might then (if rather fancifully) evoke Dutch painting & specifically the glorious still life tradition thereof, particularly with such genre's tendency to feature the exquisite rendering of the surfaces of precious metals, which might find an ironic counterpoint in the represented reformed aluminium cans of the 'roadkill' subject/object matter, as debased contemporary currency, perhaps.
Within the very loose context of Dutch artists, albeit one of considerably later date to those of such a still life tradition, one might notice a certain coincidental (& highly generalized, given their respective emphases) 'Mondrianesque-ness' to the overall colour scheme of the 'roadkill' painting, with the primaries of red, blue & yellow combined with black, white & grey...

Yet another vague art-historical relation presented itself - wholly inadvertently & certainly unintentionally - when the painting was viewed & considered in a vertical orientation (being drawn & painted horizontally, which accords to the source of the subject & object matter, of course), during the digitizing process, upon the computer screen.
Observed thus, the represented 'roadkill' object appears somewhat as though suspended upon a 'string' of yellow line, not necessarily unlike the manner in which Sanchez Cotan (a master of the tradition of Spanish still life painting, which relates in significant dialogic form - at least historically - to that of the Dutch as mentioned above) arranged some of the objects that contribute to his strikingly specific compositions, habitually against the void of a black ground, as occurs with, from the left, both the quince & the cabbage to be found in the example illustrated below:

(image from Margit Rowell 'Objects of Desire: the Modern Still Life' MoMA/Hayward 1997)

Yet further to the general plot-thickening, one might recall that examples of quinces have occurred as the subject/object matter for still life compositional studies here at TOoT on occasions in the past (please refer to the October 2007 archive, in particular, for a selection of such)...

One way & another, through a mixture of loose design (from the habitual existing model) & pure fortuitous accident, it is sometimes possible to construct (albeit via something of a stream-of-consciousness associative thought-process) quite an apparently substantial frame of reference (however flimsy it may actually be!) to the results of the process of making art, which can make of such a rewarding experience when considered in its entirety.
As remarked upon previously, such is 'the life aesthetic' & the living of.


Test Match Special England v Pakistan
1st Test, days 2 & 3

Without things getting perhaps a little too ridiculously coincidental & cross-referential, & risking a point of critical mass being reached, a post-drawing-&-painting tuning-in to Five's televised highlights of the days' compellingly-unfolding cricket (as usual, expertly conveyed over the radio waves by the peerless TMS commentary team) revealed evidence, no less, of the Pepsi logo (for it is they, if names should be named) being sported in the guise of sponsorship on the shirts of the members of the Pakistani team...

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Digression...

or brief interlude, perhaps, from the habitual object/subject matter of the 'roadkill' as represented in a variety of media, BUT maintaining the commitment to found objects-as-models, however, with a composition featuring a pair chosen from the small collection of pine cones that have been picked up - as a matter of habit - from those fallen, scattered upon the pavement & thus available for such a purpose at the outset of the occasional walks home from the day job...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Of course, one might note that such objects allow the continuation of the recently-introduced current geometric concerns with verticals, horizontals & diagonals: furthermore, in such mathematical vein, the space between the objects is equal to the height of the leaning cone to the right (which tendency just crosses the central division of the picture plane), this space then repeating (more or less) from the right of the object itself to the right-hand extent of the page, which somehow seemed an appropriate arrangement in the interests of a certain pictorial dynamic.

There occurs also a familiar 'bottom-heaviness' of essential form to the objects, to which I remain attracted, given a long history of drawing, painting & photographing pears, as as featured occasionally during the course of this blog (not least last September, for example) & significantly prior to that.
In the particular instance of the pine cones, of course, the additional formal complexity of the splayed scales encourages an intensely-concentrated contemplation in the process of such a 'measured' representation as this drawing.


Test Match Special England v Pakistan 1st Test, day 1

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Ups & Downs of Geometry...

graphite, putty eraser & watercolour/30x20cm

Following on from & engaged in direct dialogue with the previous drawing-painting, utilizing the same face of the particular found object-subject matter (the very first occasion on which such a device has in fact occurred), the development here is the introduction of a vertical aspect to the composition, to complement the horizontal nature of both the 'directional' short brushstrokes that, repeatedly layered, constitute the 'ground'/surface of the painting in what has recently become the habitual manner &, indeed, the orientation of the page, with the diagonals of the folded planes of the angularly-reformed represented object further enriching the geometry of the whole in a manner that owes a considerable debt to the structural elements of the typical Cubist composition.

In a Greenbergian reading of the (linear, 'logical' - but highly selective) development of Modernist painting, such horizontals & verticals - to which Cezanne gravitated as a compositional, structural device, setting such progress in motion, which Braque & Picasso, & other 'Cubists', thus influenced, & then Mondrian in particular intensified - relate & refer to the edges of the 'picture plane', thus contributing to the assertion of its nature, the very essence of which was its surface flatness, of course (which might also be said, more or less, of the 'roadkill' found objects themselves, hence an important aspect of their art-historical significance).


Eels 'Meet the Eels'
Sol Seppy 'The Bells of 1 2'
Jesca Hoop 'Kismet'
Delgados 'The Great Eastern'
Nick Drake 'Made to Love Magic'
Luna 'Best of'
Sundays 'Reading, Writing & Arithmetic'

An interesting little coincidence relating to the soundtrack here, with the rather overdue listen-to of the fabulous 'The Great Eastern' (titled after the Glasgow hotel) being followed, during the course of the same evening's TV's 'Coast', by a featured reference to Brunel's ship of the very same name, & the site upon which it was broken up.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

With Reference To...

Representing the familiar 'roadkill' found object/subject matter, of course, but indulging in another of those occasional slight deviations from what has become the habitual norm.

graphite, putty eraser & watercolour/30x20cm

Considering the particular nature of the 'accidentally' reformed object, its sharply-angled outline & the curve at the base, recalled very much such an example of Cubist painting as Braque's 'Pedestal Table'...

Georges Braque 'Pedestal Table' 1911
oil on canvas/116.5 x 81.5cm

Accordingly, with such a reference in mind, the composition progressed, drawn 'allover' first, subsequently mostly erased, with the object centrally positioned, although a 'landscape' format was preferred to 'portrait' when considering the road surface context upon which such source objects are found, affording the opportunity for a layered grey monochrome 'ground'/surface to incorporate tonally-modulated reference also to the 'double black lines' road markings (with underlaying yellow ones, occasionally 'showing-through') as often pictured photographically in proximity to such examples of 'roadkill' cans encountered thus, with the yellow 'highlights' (perhaps somewhat overdone in overall pictorial terms) relating to the yellow strip at the base of the represented object.


Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress'
Hanne Hukkelberg 'Rykestrasse 68'
Black Box Recorder 'England Made Me'

Monday, July 19, 2010

Another 'Close' Encounter...

Another little twist to the representation of the ‘roadkill’ can subject/object matter today, coming about as a result of the habitual practice – which actually forms the very first part of the process after the finding & litter-picking of the objects themselves – of taking a copy of such, for reference purposes (although the actual physical objects now serve as the models for the drawings & watercolours of, the initial drawings in the ongoing series were made from reference to photocopies of the cans, a process that was, at that particular time, a continuation of the practice of drawing from photographic sources, dating from the beginning of 2008, rigorously adhered to throughout that year, as ‘The Project’, & following into 2009).
It had come to attention that such photographic copies of the objects took either of two distinct forms. Those cans scanned by the high-speed copier available for use at the source of the day job produced an overall sharply-defined representation, clear in all detail, whereas those examples scanned using the considerably more slowly-copying domestic hardware gave a much less fully-focussed result, sharp in parts but blurred in others.

It occurred that such home-copied representations bore a certain affinity to the appearance of the recently researched printed reproductions of the daguerreotype portraits & nudes of Chuck Close, which also display a combination of finely-defined & intensely-detailed areas (literally every pore is reproduced, in common with Close’s early Polaroid-sourced enlarged-scale monochrome ‘heads’ paintings) with others, immediately adjacent, of much softer focus, blurring from definition to the verge of abstraction, the result of the long exposure time of the daguerreotype process producing an extremely shallow depth of field, something shared by the nature & action of the scanner.

Thus the ‘referential’ inspiration to attempt to produce more deliberately artificial ‘apparent daguerreotypes’ of the roadkill cans (each of which have been represented previously in pencil & paint), setting a dark ground to replicate the velvety black ‘void’ in which Close’s portrait heads - & thus the objects - appear to float, desaturating the scanner software’s colour settings to the zero point of monochrome & then allowing the scanner to make its long exposure passage across the defined area (timed at a full 23 seconds at a resolution of 200dpi – compare such with the familiar split-second action of a camera shutter), thus representing those parts of the objects that come into direct contact with the screen in high definition & rich detail but those areas even millimetres away much less focussed, producing an intriguing formal dialogue & transformation of the representations of the objects into something ‘other’ & additional to the habitual process of the diptych drawings & watercolours, with, also, a little playful link to the history of art & photography.

Possibly a little sideline worth exploring further, given the choice of such appropriate objects as may be in the collection.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Painting & Drawing

More can carnage to be found upon a couple of discrete sections of the double black-lined local roads this morning, pictured thus, with both stretches of the thrice-painted & -layered straight lines featuring instances of flowing pencil-thin lines, fissures, incised into one of each of the pairs, along the framed lengths, providing an interesting visual contrast, & an additional element of 'drawing' into the scenes:

(note how the fissure lines of 'drawing' also spread across the tarmac surface in this first instance, & the significant incidents of underlaying & revealed yellow paint colourfully enlivening the overall mononchrome surface)

Somewhat 'reduced circumstances' for each of the 'roadkill' objects, the first appearing rather 'whittled down' (to its essence, one might argue, given the significant synecdoche of its brand name remaining available to view), & the second instance being neatly, sharply folded into a more compact form...

On the subject of curious & possibly unique road markings, here's another example of such, illustrating a certain, slightly absurd news story that caught TOoT's magpie eye last week (as inevitably it might), also concerning an item of 'roadkill' in relation to such a feature (indeed, the poor deceased in question being the catalyst for the occurrence of), albeit of a more conventional kind (i.e. animal in nature) than habitually appears hereabouts...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another 'Roadkill' & the Bigger Picture...

Continuing with the 'roadkill' diptych watercolours, which remain drawings under the surface at least, the translucent layers of paint applied deliberately with the intention of constructing a substantial surface that yet allows visual evidence of both its nature & at least traces of the original, similarly 'all-over' (subsequently mostly erased) mark-making beneath (hence traces of traces).

graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

As is often the case with such found objects, with this one proving & providing an appropriate example, the 'readymade' formal contortions, sharply angled, & overlapping planes affording simultaneous views of top, sides & base, suggest an affinity with Cubism, which in turn 'referentially' informs the short horizontal brushstroked mark-making of the ground/surface, as does this particular subject's predominantly monochromatic metallic appearance enlivened by incidents of warmer colour via the visible fragments of its branded identity.

Considered in numerical terms, this particular example is no less than the 80th of the 'roadkill diptychs', proof at least of the continuing abundant availability of the source found object-subject matter & the visual interest to be found, in turn, in each unique instance of such 'reformed characters'.
Earlier this year, the existing drawings in the series were arranged into a grid-format digital composite (the component cells of which themselves divide visually, tonally & content-wise, into two), & the 'achievement' of the present volume of such suggested an update might be in order, thus...

[digital composite of 80 drawings, each originally 30x20cm]

As one might appreciate, such a chronological composite (reading in the western manner from no.1 at top left across each of the rows to 80 at bottom right) allows an at-a-glance overview of the developmental 'progress' (or critical lack of, perhaps, given what constitutes a not insignificant volume of drawings), the gradual pace of (sometimes regressed from), & technical subtleties to be observed within.
In the context of such a device as this arrangement, note the formal contrast between the regularly-vertically-striped overall pattern & the irregular outlines & shapes of the represented objects.


Sparklehorse 'Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot' & 'Good Morning Spider'
Eels 'Meet the Eels'
Emily Jane White 'Dark Undercoat'

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Found Out Again...

A double occurrence of 'roadkill' found along & upon a stretch of the 'double black lines' yesterday, & recorded in the habitual 'pictorial' manner.

Considered tonally rather than in terms of hue (though itself quite a pleasant change from the usually-encountered 'regular', original version of the brand), the first instance suggested the application of a little simple digital manipulation once the image had been returned home & uploaded to the old PC, with this subsequent monochrome representation of the subject suggesting a graphite drawing of such (as, indeed, the small handful of original treatments of such subject matter were - please refer to the March & April 2009 archives for such evidence), perhaps, rather than the usual 'paintings' - 'mostly monochrome', in the modernist-minimalist idiom, as they might appear.

The second of the objects-as-found & 'pictured'...

proved rather interesting & particularly attractive for the primary-coloured & geometrically-designed appearance it presents, which, also in relation to painted 'black' lines, suggested, however fancifully & tenuously (in the finest traditions of TOoT!), something just a little Mondrianesque occurring within the scene.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

Continuing with the 'roadkill' diptych watercolours, the very slight development here being the introduction of occasional inflections of colour (green, blue & red ochre) into the layers of the Payne's Grey 'ground' (overlaying the initial erased graphite marks, which are intended to remain visible, as 'archaeological evidence' of the process of the work's making, through the subsequent translucent superimpositions), which seems to have served no particularly significant visual purpose, & indeed might be read as being superfluously & mildly-distractingly decorative in nature.

The original found object which forms the ostensible subject matter is that which might be recognized as having featured in photocopied form & pictorially enlarged to 'human size' in the latter pair of previously-posted digital collages (please refer to 'And a Large Coke').

On a digital note, an aspect of the watercolour development of the general 'roadkill' diptych series one notices, with a certain frustration, is that, in scanning the results to be subsequently posted on the blog here, it seems impossible to achieve a faithful or even particularly satisfactorily compromised reproduction of the actual colour as seen in the physical painting, thus rendering the digital version something else entirely (the red of the can here, for instance, displays a much bluer tendency than in the original, yet any attempted corrective measures destroy the integrity of the bluish grey of the 'ground', & vice versa): viewer, do not believe what you see!


Emily Jane White 'Dark Undercoat'
Sparklehorse 'Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot', 'Good Morning Spider', 'It's a Wonderful Life'
& 'Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain'
Test Match Special
Pakistan v Australia
1st Test, day 1

A soundtrack appropriately dominated by Sparklehorse, in recognition of the shocking & very sad news (only recently discovered, some four months after the fact) of the suicide of Mark Linkous. Such a terrible event & loss renders these four albums (two of which are permanently resident in the list of all-time favourites) all the more precious: the unique aesthetic vision central to their creation, suffused with wonder at the natural world, their fragile yet enduring beauty (all the more poignant now), their beguiling & delightful idiosyncrasy, the heart & soul at their core, to be treasured all the more. 'Sparklehorse' might be regarded by the empathetic listener to be something of a dream-like state, a magical & profoundly rewarding place in which to exist for the time spent immersed-in, a rare gift with which to have been blessed, & truly great art.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

And a Large Coke...

A certain photograph illustrating a newspaper article published earlier this week proved to be the catalyst for a line of thought related to an idea mooted in a recent post, concerning the possibility of the Chuck Close-inspired enlargement of the representations of the 'roadkill' drinks cans subject/object matter, specifically to human-sized dimensions.

The subject of the article being pictured leaning against a shoulder-height tower of boxes of cans of Coca-Cola (very Warholian!) thus suggested that these might be visually replaced by an image of an appropriately related 'roadkill' can (numerous of which have been 'Cokes', such is the brand's ubiquity), with the consequence that a little digital play & manipulation accordingly took place.

Having retrieved a suitably reformed object (which was once processed in the form of a drawing-collage & blogged here) & scanned it, the resulting image was somehow rendered unto a form that enabled it to be superimposed onto a digital version of the original newspaper photograph, thusly...

[digital collage]

...creating a representation of an object at least approaching 'human scale', providing some form of illustration of the general concept from which it might be either possible to consider proceeding or otherwise abandoning as absurd, unworkable or whatever.

Having mused in the original post about how the 'roadkill' cans in their reformations, represented on human scale, might suggest certain attitudes of the human form, in terms of stance, arrangements of limbs, etc, note the delightfully serendipitous correspondence of the shape of the object's left-hand side & the adjacent curves of the waist, hip & thigh of the particular female form.

Suitably inspired, a photocopy of a more recently found Coca-Cola-branded object (& note, again most serendipitously in relation to the original image & its stack of boxes, that this particular item claims to be a 'multipack can', for the sake of added visual integrity) was subjected to a similar digital process of collaged superimposition, rescaled once...

& then again, becoming a little larger in the second example & thus more 'human-sized' yet in the process...

An exercise not entirely without worth - perhaps the idea might have legs...

Friday, July 09, 2010

In With the 'New'...

Following-on, in terms of technique & process, from the most recent couple of examples of the 'roadkill' diptych series of drawings-paintings, (re)presenting the latest of the found, accidentally reformed & flattened objects, rearranged in a sequence of folded, overlapping planes & sharp angles, where fragments of text occur (two of such here visually forming the one complete, bisected word), that lend themselves to the suggested appellation 'Readymade Cubism'.

graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

The manner in which the 'ground' of the image is rendered, with repeated, interweaving layers of discrete short horizontal brushstrokes, might be regarded as paying a certain referential homage to the archetypal 'Hermetic' Cubist painting of Braque & Picasso, recalled on numerous occasions here at TOoT.


Eels 'Meet the Eels'
Woodentops 'Giant'
Trellis 'Green Wing'
Radiohead 'Kid A'

Thursday, July 08, 2010

'The Life Aesthetic', as Ever

Another day &, almost inevitably, another example of discarded drink can 'roadkill' found upon a stretch of the local phenomenon of the 'double black lines' road markings, photographically framed into pictorial form that allows one to make playful reference to such hardy perennials of the practice & theory of modernist painting as the 'flatness' of the picture plane & (more or less) the monochrome, with the tarmac surface being read as as a most pleasing example of a textured, painterly-brushstroked ground, the discrete 'facets' of which might catch the play of light, shifting & shimmering in relation to the spectator's position relative to the 'picture' as observed upon a studio or gallery wall, for instance (& as actually occurs during one's encounter with the object of the accidentally compressed can itself, which thus instigates a rather intriguing 'dialogue')...

Art can be found anywhere one might look, not least down in the gutter...

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

The Summer Starts Here...

(& yes, accompanied by raindrops, as might be expected...)

Finally, the last morning's work of the (ever-more exhausting) academic year & thus 'hang the dj' for the next 8 weeks at least.
To celebrate, a post-lunch stroll home, the last leg of which provided a veritable feast of 'roadkill' drinks can finds upon sections (contained within the same residential avenue) within of the local double black lines.

To begin, a particularly fine specimen of the road markings themselves, so subtle as to merge almost imperceptibly with the tarmac surface upon which they lay (how Clement Greenberg might appreciate such 'flatness'!).
Considering the 'ground' as a whole, as the 'picture plane' of tradition hereabouts, one might appreciate the wonderful grimy, grungey appearance it possesses (as, indeed, does the 'roadkill' can itself), echoed in the lines, scored & scarred as they are, with the darker patch of tarmac adding another compositional incident.
Whilst having no intention to make such qualitative distinctions, there's something about the aesthetic of such a found 'painting' that aspires to the ideal of such, as imagined, somehow, that places it firmly amongst the very best & favourites of its kind.

The second find occurred but a few steps further along & homeward, indeed merely the other side of a parked car (the perpetrator of the 'roadkilling', perhaps?).
The scene here is a little cleaner, perhaps, in terms of both overall appearance & in its distinctions, but, equally delightfully, is characterized by the compositional additions of complementary horizontal yellow & perpendicular blue lines, the former being bold & definite evidence of the original yellow lines marked upon the road surface as it 'bleeds' from under the overlaying 'black', & the latter, perfectly dissecting the 'double blacks', the most recent addition to the 'ground', chalkily-, pastelly-painted markings associated with the roadworks that have left their darker-toned evidence upon the previous scene.

Lastly, & somewhat further up the street, with the double black lines becoming more distinct yet, the 'roadkill' object has been reformed into the type of shape habitually attractive & intriguing enough to be litter-picked for the purposes of being processed into drawing...

Obviously too carried away in the moments of such a wealth of 'found paintings' (which, of course, might be claimed to conflate the genres of still life & 'landscape', at least of an urban, man-made kind, all in something of a modernist idiom) & the act & art(?) of photography to realise the potential significance of such a found object. Or perhaps representation in one form is sufficient.

Monday, July 05, 2010


Out of the 'studio' & into the field (as it were) once more, & the encountering of another delightful 'roadkill' find, the object itself observed in close proximity to a second significant object in the form of a grid, adding another formal element to the composition, the black- & (almost complete) blankness of the space between the bars of the grating serving to compromise any reading of particular depth & thus largely maintaining the integrity of the flatness of the modernist picture plane.

Note also what one might read as the accidental shifting to the left of the 'printing' of the topmost layer of the lower of the double black lines, enabling each of the three 'archaeological' layers of paint to be observed clearly as such &, as a further 'incidental' touch, encroaching across part of the grating in an explicit statement of the 'picture' surface & the facture of such...

Pretentious, moi..?!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Another Burst of (Water)Colour

graphite, putty eraser, wax crayon & watercolour/30x20cm

Following a brief hiatus in the series of 'roadkill' diptych drawings(-paintings, into which they're evolving), due to a surprising lack of suitably-intriguingly-reformed object/subject matter (surprising given the enduring volume of discarded cans still littering & found in the gutters), the bursting upon the scene (of a road surface crossed on the way to the day job one morning) of this particular example as represented thus enables the continuation of the (side-)project.
In keeping with the previously most-recent work as processed, this (under)drawing (some of the marks of which remain as prominent traces, rather in the manner of a print, it might be noted) was subsequently treated to an allover layering-in-discrete-brushstrokes (of varying density, of course) of watercolour, thus rendering the work a painting at its surface.
One of the technical challenges was to represent the very subtle differences in hue between the inner & outer (or, rather, 'brushed' & more polished aluminium) surfaces of the can, & the light-inflected shifts even within these.


Mark Mulcahy 'Fathering'
Jesca Hoop 'Hunting My Dress'
Cat Power 'The Greatest'