Wednesday, September 29, 2010

More Comings-and-Goings

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Another ‘allover’ surface & spatial continuum from which a pair of objects are extracted, described tonally, mostly by a process of erasure, by & from the fading source of available natural light as dusk once again approached & encroached apace. Although they might appear to touch, the pears do so only visually, within the constructed artifice of the picture plane (the only relevant truth here, of course) with, physically, the object to the right being positioned slightly before the other on the horizontal plane upon which they rest in the real space of the compositional arena.
In this example, the edges of the forms take on a particularly diffuse, glowing quality as observed through the ‘granular’, fugitive light as this itself comes into contact with the changing nature of the ageing pears’ skins, now of a more ‘satiny’, less reflective finish, empirically imbuing the objects with something of a ‘spectral’ appearance in contrast to the ‘known’ palpable physicality of their three-dimensional form, which endures even as the pears’ sense of absolute opaque solidity softens & they take on something of a translucent quality, & physical alterations also manifest themselves in various localized details.

Rather serendipitously related, at least on a superficial visual level, one might claim, to the appearance of this in particular of the sequence of the pear drawings, is a certain recent discovery, found in the October issue of ‘Art Review’, of a still image captured from Rodney Graham’s video film ‘Rheinmetall/Victoria-8’, featuring as it does a flour-covered old-style typewriter:

As one might appreciate, the substantial coating of flour creates a distinctive physical transformation & a palpable atmosphere, as would a fall of snow, seeming to still the still life object yet more profoundly, muting both the object (& by imaginative association, the clatter of its keys &, indeed, the language their action produces) & the overall atmosphere, communicating both the physical presence of the obviously transformed object yet also at the same time something of a ghostly nature, an ‘otherness’, as it softens the hard edges & surface of the machine.

One is also reminded of Morandi’s compositions of dusty-surfaced objects & the subdued, mute simplicity of such as they feature in his compelling, beautiful paintings.


Lambchop 'What Another Man Spills'
& 'Aw, C'mon'/'No, You C'mon'

Monday, September 27, 2010

Out of the Darkness...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Following on from the formal example of the previous watercolour, this drawing employs a more 'allover' approach to the spatial continuum from which the pair of pears, & the horizontal plane upon which they sit, are extracted by a process of lighter & darker tonal manipulations.

Again, the objects are observed contre jour & the drawing processed as dusk encroaches upon the source of natural daylight, leaving the objects' form to be described by their lingering, diminishing highlights, clinging tenaciously to their outlines & occasional textural features, & the areas of indistinct shadow into which they increasingly fall.

Under such prevailing environmental circumstances, one endeavours to communicate something of the granular quality of the light as it interposes itself - as something of a barrier, to be overcome - between the viewer & the objects of study, of the physicality of such an experience, where the space is palpable & very much part of the continuum.


Wire 'The A-List'

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Catching Some Rays...

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

A sunny Sunday morning offered the opportunity, for once, to represent a pair of pears as described by a direct source of light, thus providing broader areas of illumination than usual, the challenge being to respond to the fugitive nature of such as the sun moved around the sky during the course of the drawing & painting process, constantly reforming the objects & recasting the shadows & reflections - & the (inter)play of – as it did so.

As ever, one is engaged in The Struggle with the passage of time & the changing nature of the light source, even more so under such circumstances than with the fading light of dusk, the resulting watercolour being the record, a sum, of the sequence of decisions taken & revisions made during the process of observation & responsive mark-making in the endeavour to (re)present a cohesive, & coherent, study.

As might be expected, with the light flooding in to the scene & reflecting from various surfaces, the picture appears, at least in general, somewhat tonally lighter than the habitual results of such compositions.
The pale blue upper half of the picture plane (for once completed) acknowledges – celebrates! - the presence of the bright sky & thus, atypically, might suggest the existence of something, perhaps a sense of space, beyond the hermetic arena of the still life arrangement as habitually depicted: alternatively, as this wash ‘fills in’ the void that usually appears above the ‘spatial continuum’ of objects & grounds as drawn & painted, at least in this seasonal sequence of still lifes of the pears, thus forming a more familiar pictorial rectangle, it might build up the ‘wall’ behind the objects & consequently serve to close off any sense of recession into deeper & imaginative space!
Nothing is fixed or stable, either prevailing environmental conditions or meaning…


Lambchop 'Is a Woman'
& 'Damaged'

Another pair, this time of magnificent albums, perfect accompaniment to the Sunday morning drawing & painting process.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Light and Shade

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

Another watercolour that became increasingly dark in tone as the drawing & painting process extended into the waning of the day & thus the natural light, reacting to such changes & revising accordingly, the luminosity mostly lingering around the outlines of the objects & highlighting incidental textural details of, & also reflected from the surface of the pear onto a patch of the PVC-coated plane immediately behind, illuminating that which is seen contre jour & thus cast in shade, the observation of which provided the catalyst for the spatial composition as such, in an effort to represent the effect, The Struggle to preserve & give some form of permanence to that which is insubstantial, intangible, to capture light.


K-Punk 'The Metaphysics Of Crackle'
Low 'Secret Name'

There's something about 'The Metaphysics of Crackle', both as an experience itself & the concept generally, that inspires recourse to other music featuring the incorporation of such a sonic texture, as with the recent soundtrack appearance of Portishead & in this particular instance, & 'I Remember' opening 'Secret Name' in suitably crunchy fashion, before bursting into the enduring glory that is 'Starfire'.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Same Difference...

Once again drawing contre jour into the gloaming (actually over the course of two separate daily sessions, given the tardiness of beginning the process of composing, observing & then putting pencil to paper for the first of such), & introducing into the sequence of pairs of pears a particular object with its own formal characteristics, picking out tonal indications of such, & those of its companion, of course, from the spatial continuum in which the objects exist…

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Again, the almost-touching-but-not-quite proximity of the objects is designed to generate some form of spatial 'tension' or 'charge' between.


Sparklehorse 'Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot'

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Horizontal & Vertical

Another attempt to snatch a drawing from the clutches of the encroaching twilight, this pair of pears also observed, once again, contre jour from a positional viewpoint, carving with an eraser the object’s highlit edges & thus, with tonal gradations, the suggestion of some sense of form from the horizontal spatial continuum that, particularly under such fading natural light conditions, empirically reduces the ‘known’ figure-ground relationship.

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Relating to the previous composition, featuring the light bulb in a naturally-reclining prone position, in addition to providing something of a different aspect to proceedings, the pear placed on its side & resting, poised, upon the tip of its stalk might here also refer to, as a specific example, such as Euan Uglow’s ‘Special Pear’.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

An Odd Couple...

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

Continuing with the emphasis, mostly, on ‘pairs of’, with, on this occasion, a familiar seasonal pear juxtaposed with not another of the same but, rather, an object of a similar, ‘relational’ shape, which presents the challenge of representing its own different & distinct surface qualities, upon which the light source plays more fugitively even than that of the pear – on a related matter, the slightly more elevated angle of observation than has become habitual is to take account of the reflection of the light bulb upon the varnished surface of the windowsill upon which it rests.
The prevailing natural light conditions proved to be remarkably similar over the course of the consecutive evening & morning sessions during which the drawing- watercolour was processed, even allowing for those different times of the day.

Utilizing such an object as a pearl light bulb also allows another of our playful little art historical references, again to the still lifes of Euan Uglow, whose late work includes such an example, cool & considered, measured, as habitually, as that reproduced below:

[from Catherine Lampert 'Euan Uglow: the Complete Paintings', Yale, 2007]

Considering my own use of the perfectly-weighted, most visually satisfying form of pears as subject/object matter for drawing & painting on a regular basis since, if memory serves, the cusp of 1996/97 (with an earlyish example of the charcoal drawings upon which I embarked being reproduced - & incorrectly dated 1999 - within Paul Thomas’s & Anita Taylor’s highly recommended ‘Drawing Foundation Course’, & also featured in the Amazon ‘Look inside’ facility relating to that very title, if it isn’t being too immodest to make reference to such here), it’s fascinating to browse the Uglow catalogue raisonne & discover that pears continued to provide sufficient interest to feature as objects of study in numerous compositions over the course of almost 50 years, from the earliest recorded instance in 1953 to 2000, the last of the artist’s life, with each example a distinct & compelling variation on the theme, as with the profound nature of Uglow’s work in general.

One might also cite the example of Michael Craig-Martin, whose linear representations of the classic form of the (now old-style, energy-devouring) electric light bulb recur on numerous occasions in paintings & wall drawings over the course of the artist’s practice, & not least in large-scale neon form illuminating the fa├žade of the Kunsthaus, Bregenz during June – August 2006…


k-punk 'The Metaphysics of Crackle'
Portishead 'Portishead'
Young Marble Giants 'Colossal Youth'
Mark Mulcahy 'Fathering'
& 'In Pursuit of Your Happiness'

Monday, September 20, 2010

Found Out Twice Again...

More 'roadkill' as found this early evening along two separate sections of the local double black lines road markings, pictorially framed for reference purposes &, in the interests of freshness, presented without much further ado...

The first flattened object seems a suitable example of what might be justifiably termed (at least as proposed) 'readymade Cubism', its triangular form inverted from the archetypal 'Hermetic' composition, of course (think something of the nature of Braque's 'Pedestal Table', for instance), but featuring a planar fold or two & synecdochal fragments of brand-identifying text, in the finest traditions of...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Shadowy Pair...

Today the opposite of tomato is The Metaphysics Of Crackle

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

A Saturday afternoon devoted to peering through a prevailing gloom perhaps more dense even than that of the recently preceding twilights (see previous entry), resulting in the above watercolour representation of, on this occasion, a (pared-back from recent developments) single pair of pears, again observed & actively contemplated contre jour, mostly cast into deep, indistinct shadow (increasingly so over the course of the process) but for the objects' highlit outlines.


K-Punk 'The Metaphysics Of Crackle'
Belle & Sebastian 'The Life Pursuit'

Most pertinent to the subject of presence & the fugitive nature of, as explored through the subject/object matter of the pears as featuring in the current sequence of drawings & watercolours, comes, once again via that excellent resource Pontone, k-punk’s mix of music & sound ‘The Metaphysics of Crackle’ – a most intriguing concept from the title alone &, it transpires, a similarly compelling sonic experience, something that resonates with anyone raised on vinyl, as a good many of us were, back in the day, yet intensifies such memories of through the device of foregrounding the ‘surface noise’ of the crackle & hiss, existing still as a form of interference, though on this occasion in a purposeful manner that renders it an integral aspect of the overall soundscape, which, especially as one ‘listens-through’ to the languid musical content, has a profoundly mesmerizing & often haunting quality.

The highly-recommended scene-setting introductory explanation (at the same source as the downloadable mix itself, if one scrolls down the page a little) provided by Mr Fisher (for it is he) serves as a most succinct description, too, of the listening experience, of the (nature of the) atmospherics that form an essential textural component of such.

Given the generally subdued mood of proceedings amidst the sonic interference, the thought occurred that such sounds might be just the thing for listeners of, for example, My Bloody Valentine, as we slip into something approaching middle age & might therefore appreciate the occasional quieter hypnotic musical pleasure or two (particularly as accompaniment to the drawing & painting process)...

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Pair of Pairs of Pears (in Colour)

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

Today’s entry being the result of another two evening sessions’ struggle with the encroaching gloaming, with the natural ‘light’ conditions being no better than crepuscular at any point, even the outset of proceedings, hence the rather dark, shadowy & mostly subdued nature of this watercolour, notwithstanding allowance for the practice of the represented objects being viewed, as is often the case, contre jour (which phrase takes on that second & most appropriate meaning under the prevailing circumstances).

At least such circumstances allow the edges of the objects to take on a certain stark &/or glowing quality, as habitually, enabling them to be highlighted in terms of both tone & colour, in this particular instance, picked out from the spatial continuum within which they appear as the deepening shadow serves to claim them for such over the temporal course of the drawing & painting process, which thus acts as a record of.

Furthermore, arranged as pairs in such close proximity, other light effects of cast shadows & reflection between adjacent objects come into play to add to the complexity of the whole, the challenge being to represent such ephemeral phenomena as observed (some more fleetingly than others), to give presence to such whilst at the same time somehow suggesting their transience.


Sparklehorse 'Good Morning Spider' & 'It's a Wonderful Life'

As the light fades into looking-&-painting-curtailing gloom, so the final, diminishing chords of 'It's a Wonderful Life's closing 'Morning Hollow' resonate more plangently & poignantly yet...

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Found Out Once, Twice, Thrice...

Catching up with the recent examples of ‘roadkill’ as found along a couple of sections of the local double black lines, incorporating also a coincidental additional formal element, circular in nature, in some form, common to all.

The first instance, as framed within its wider context, features of course the familiar bold structure & subtly-patinated colouration of the grating of a cast iron drainage grid, between the bars of which object is embedded (‘head first’) another, in the form of a second aluminium can, thus displaying its unadorned base. As might be appreciated, the circular form adds a complementary element to the compositional whole, characterized as that otherwise is by horizontal & vertical straight lines, particularly & microcosmically so as the ‘roadkill’ can itself is branded with a design of squares that might be playfully regarded as something of a little homage to Mondrian & the geometric rigour of the artist’s mature, signature style, especially in visual conjunction with the 'black' lines of the painted road markings, which might suggest a relation to the horizontals & verticals of Mondrian's grid structures.

A mere few yards further along, an encounter with more ‘roadkill’ in proximity to both another circular fragment of a second can & additional road markings in the form of the broad strokes of the white-painted border delineating a speed hump in the road: this latter aspect significantly disrupts the integrity of the monochrome of the double black-lined tarmac surface, of course, but still provides a noteworthy formal addition to familiar proceedings.

Another day, another location, but still, inevitably, there is ‘roadkill’ to be found, ubiquitous as it is, on one of those pleasantly satisfying occasions that occur during the journey to the day job, thus providing the feeling that at least a little proper, purposeful work has been accomplished prior to the time-compromising non-art duties.

Here might be observed, pictorially framed within a ‘tactile’ spatial continuum, a can branded with a design featuring a circular element to complement the otherwise linear angularity – admittedly a loose connection with the two previous examples, but a recurring echo nonetheless, & a feature of recent developments as encountered & recorded.
Note also the extensive ‘archaeological’ evidence of the history of the road markings’ painting, the process of such, with, on the upper of the pair at least, a significant amount of the original yellow visible through the deteriorating layers of overlaid ‘black’, providing both colour & textural detail.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Pair of Pairs of Pears

Continuing the active contemplation of the pears (at least when the frustratingly fugitive available daylight within the circumscribed temporal windows allows: this drawing processed over two sessions, one a morning, the other the next day’s evening, both characterized by a rather unhelpful gloom – but, of course, it’s all about ‘the struggle’, however that might manifest itself!), represented tonally within the spatial continuum in which they have been positioned, this time more expansively as, essentially, a pair of pairs of that function, compositionally, discretely as such (attempting to create some form of tension, a spark, between each object through either their very close proximity or otherwise where they, for once, actually touch) yet obviously relate to each other across & within the picture plane at the same time…

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

As with the immediately previous drawing, the challenge, amidst the fluctuating, fading light source, is to describe the form of the pears as they both stand out against & merge with the ground against which they appear, at least as much by a process of subtraction as addition from the ‘neutral’, mid-toned marks initially applied to the paper: the highlit edges of the objects, observed contre jour, obviously aid such an endeavour, sharply defining their shape & then fading to shadow to communicate a sense also of volume.

As the latter becomes more fugitive, the form less distinct, as the light fades (that point at which drawing, or at least that of such a nature, ceases to become a viable possibility), the objects seem to take on something, perhaps, of a spectral nature, existing more as softly glowing haloes of light, the remaining traces of the objects-that-were: maybe filming the scene would produce a more aesthetic experience, something, certainly that might seem to have more of a seasonal resonance..?


Jesca Hoop 'Kismet' & 'Hunting My Dress'
Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man 'Out of Season'

Monday, September 13, 2010

A Third Pair of Pears

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Continuing with the ‘pairs of pears’ theme, these objects as represented being chosen from the available stock.

With the day’s daylight drawing time compressed into that hour or so approaching dusk, we return from necessity to a more quickly-processed graphite drawing, concentrating the attention & activity, the objects arranged & viewed contre jour & described tonally against their backdrop, their vividly highlit edges picked, erased, out of a framed area of the whole of the spatial continuum in which they & the horizontal & vertical planes of the ground exist - a slightly different twist to the habitual proceedings & something of an echo of the increasingly distant past.


Belle & Sebastian 'Push Barman to Open Old Wounds'

Another welcome revisit, of enduring delights.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Another Pair of Pears

Saturday afternoon having passed in contemplation & active scrutiny of a pair of pears, Sunday followed suit, this time complicating the background arrangement, with reference to a certain influence of Euan Uglow in so doing (also in keeping with a general preoccupation with horizontals & verticals, as might be discerned with recourse to the summer's sequence of 'roadkill' watercolours), similarly in the arrangement of the objects themselves, positioned in close proximity in the service of attempting to spark some form of dynamic 'charge' between.

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm


Low 'The Great Destroyer' & 'Things We Lost in the Fire'
Sparklehorse 'Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot'

It becomes increasingly obvious, with each further precious engagement with the work of Sparklehorse, that Mark Linkous's passing will leave an unfillable void, such is the idiosyncratic charm & poignancy of the oeuvre: a desperately sad loss, yet an aesthetic achievement to be celebrated & treasured upon each hearing of.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Pair of Pears

Sometimes, the forms & attitudes of particular objects seem to demand a certain composition: at least that was the case with the pears represented here...

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

Further to such an arrangement, something this year suggests keeping the number of objects to a minimum, of choosing just a pair from the available crop.

Also, the green-red-bronze skins of the fruit were too compelling not to render in colour, in the attempt to communicate something of the nature of such.

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Seasonal Digression

Seasonally entering, inexorably, that time of year, of course, being not least of mellow fruitfulness, & thus the inevitable, irresistible return to recurring subject/object matter.
The three examples represented were observed in what has become quite an habitual manner, contre jour, their edges highlit by the fading, fugitive light of the shortening day, with the remainder, the compelling bulk of the form, cast in varying degress of shadow...

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

More Flatness & Grids

Another example of 'roadkill' found alongside a stretch of the local 'double black lines', framed in pictorial form.
Again the ground/allover surface displays subtle tonal & textural variations amongst its modernist monochrome nature, whilst the slightly raised lines & shadow cast by the flattened object subtly disrupt the integrity of the rigorous Greenbergian flatness of the picture plane.

Moving the framing device a little to the right enables the inclusion of more incidental detail, in the form of broader linear fissures & flickers of colour, within the pictorial whole...

whilst further movement to the right is able to incorporate the bold compositional element of a drainage grate, a little visual play upon the good old modernist 'grid', also including numerous other objects & debris caught within the 'waves' of its design, the curves of which add a touch of formal dynamism, albeit subtle & 'slow', to the otherwise straighter-edged stillness, the whole managing to remain balanced in pictorial terms with the spatial opposition between the grid & the more vividly-hued original 'roadkill' object.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Drawing Under the Influence...

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

A drawing made directly under the influence of the recently mentioned ‘The Primacy of Drawing’, & more specifically the serendipitous illustrated reference to the work of Vija Celmins contained therein.

Now, mention of Celmins’ exquisite, labour-intensive graphite still life drawings of almost-flat objects (postcards, fragments of magazine pages featuring reproduced photographs, envelopes) & various natural surfaces (desert- & moonscapes, etc) has occurred hereabouts on previous occasions, again in direct relation to the ‘roadkill’ & road surface series of drawings (indeed, here at the very outset of such), as a most relevant example for the contextualization of.

Here, the piece of paper featuring image content as represented in the Celmins drawing bears, it occurred, a relation to my habitual practice of making a photocopy of any found ‘roadkill’ object as the initial stage of the record-keeping & representational process, which, it also occurred, in an epiphanic moment, could itself provide the subject/object matter for a drawing, which, thus inspired & without further ado (in the best traditions), proceeded accordingly.

Folding & lightly crumpling the piece of paper (edited down from the original A4 sheet) produced a suitably low relief ‘three dimensional’ object which, its surface described by natural light, provided an incident-rich source of subtle tonal variations existing in relational dialogue to the familiar image of a flattened, crumpled ‘roadkill’ can printed upon it.

Note also that the folding process resulted in the formation of an eight-celled grid, a further connection with abiding concerns, & which directly influenced the drawing process, which was largely carried out cell-by-cell with a few overall finishing revisions.

Also in relation to previous considerations (particularly as relating to the 2008 drawing Project concerned with the transcription of newspaper photographs), such a drawing features multiple levels of representation & again, by way more of serendipitous coincidence than anything else, there’s a correspondence with the early summer photographs of uncrumpled paper balls, returned to sheet form & subsequently having rudimentary grids drawn upon them: a sequence of many pleasing connections that might inspire & enable further exploratory dialogues...

There's also, from a theoretical viewpoint, something of a recurrence of Michael Bracewell's niggling notion of 'the dense aesthetic values of re-mediation' (coined in relation to Richard Forster's compelling series of drawings, richly processed from his own original photographic sources, of the sea), which surely begs a more profound investigation, particularly in the light of little else in the way of consideration being published, at least, on the subject of what seems an important concept.