Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Good Griddance...

A 'roadkill' find today of something of a different formal nature, deviating from the norm, but one too good not to record for posterity, given TOoT's abiding commitment to the old faithful modernist grid: the silvery-grey monochrome of the object just makes it even more attractive &, with the surface texture provided by the division of its cells too, perhaps reminding one, distantly, of such as Jasper Johns' white & grey 'Numbers' paintings, for example.

There's also, of course, something of a punning upon the more usual form of 'grid' (that, obviously, of the drainage variety) to be found within the context of the road, as sometimes feature as a distinct(ive) & additional element within the usual pictorial compositions of aluminium can 'roadkill' upon various instances of the local 'double black lines'...

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Double for the Road...

Today the opposite of tomato is struggling to keep up...

Again a ‘roadkill’ find along a stretch of the double black lines, curving around a junction, allowing the incorporation of another localized road marking within the pictorial space, that, whilst compromising the subtly-modulated all-over grey monochrome of the surface (although, as might be noted, in being degraded from its original white to a worn pale grey, appears to be very much a part of the whole), adds a certain compositional detail &, in fact, somewhat echoes the object itself in its position & angle ('of approach') in relation to the lines.
Once more, the double black lines themselves display a wealth of incidental detail &, not least, evidence of their own erosion, providing further details of surface texture (to their obvious, general purpose of so doing) & allowing an ‘archaeological’ appreciation, in places additional to those where they visually ‘seep’ in outline fashion, of the original yellow paint beneath a further layer of corrective black, a temporal narrative of the road surface’s history & the changes undergone.

One might notice, also, a new addition to the canon of branded identity & the rather fabulous tiger-striped & pink design decorating this particular example, not of the usual carbonated drink variety but still an object of the general type, an aluminium can found flattened upon the roadside in a fashion appropriate to TOoT’s continuing purposes…

Then, a shift in position from which the scene is photographically pictured, whilst employing the same elements, gives a different, diagonal dynamic to the composition…

A little further along the perambulations homeward & another found object come to rest upon the double black lines, this composition of the more traditional horizontal & properly minimalist variety in its concentration upon essential detail, although the concrete slabs at the lower edge offer a slight departure from the more usual ‘all-over’ tarmac road surface upon which the three subtly distinct strata of lines are painted.
Again, particular incidental details occur upon/within the road surface & lines...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Industrious Correspondence

Today the opposite of tomato is 'a cup of tea and your insights'

(Re)presenting here a second drawing based upon, shall we say, aspects of A & the influential nature of her contributions generally & thus, con- & sub-sequently, to recent proceedings here at TOoT.

graphite & putty eraser/30x20cm

As with the first example, an element of narrative is present & indeed motivates the process both of image construction &, in formal terms, mark making. A it was who provided both the source digital photograph of her own feet (the represented print of which that also serves as the foundation for the previous drawing) &, as one of a sequence of such delightful & dialogically significant visual gifts, the rather wonderful postcard featuring a representation of the cover of the Penguin paperback 'Creativity in Industry', expertly & exquisitely designed by David Pelham, a model of succinct perfection (images of this particular card & more in the series, from the box set of 100 'Postcards from Penguin', may be viewed here).

Rather obviously, the image content of this particular object then suggested the inclusion of the pencils as objects within the drawing, relating directly to the drawing process, the habitual industry of which is apparent in the mark-made nature of the surface, with the explicit correspondence between the represented scribble as featured on the card & that forming the ground of the drawing.

The miniature spanner is an example of something very familiar to proceedings at TOoT in terms of source material in that it is a found object, in this particular case discovered at my feet, upon the floor of the train being taken home from a day spent in the company of A: its nature, as a hand tool (like the pencil), seems to fit nicely too, of course, with the notion of industry, manufacture, etc, as promoted by the postcard.

Finally, the dots lightly erased into the surface provide a further aspect of correspondence, of shared visual syntax, between A & the artist.

To allow for a little contextualization, as is habitual, the scribbled nature of the represented 'smoke' within the design reproduced upon the postcard, & the deliberate act, the process, of representing this, as carefully, measured & faithfully as possible, in & as an aspect of the drawing, brought to mind examples of the work of Alan Brooks, with which I had been familiar for some years, indeed since one such was encountered as a selection featured within that seminal John Moores Painting Prize 20 exhibition back in 1997.

Alan Brooks 'untitled (blue)' acrylic on canvas 183x183cm

Alan Brooks 'Fill (II)' acrylic on canvas 183x183cm

In these examples, & numerous others besides, the artist has taken a found, discarded small scale original (of, e.g., 'Post-it' note dimensions) quickly-scribbled doodle-drawing & transposed it, in paint, to a considerably larger canvas, with the gestural mark-making of the source reproduced, represented, in deliberate fashion in exact detail, preserving the energentic appearance of the original 'image' whilst encouraging a much more contemplative study of its form & the obsessive, controlled process of its making, an intriguing perceptual contrast. Interestly, a study of Alan Brooks' recent drawing practice reveals a series of A4-scale pencil drawings faithfully representing photographic sources, the subject matter mostly featuring portraits of 'influential' authors with also a selection of artists in their studios also included amongst the corpus, a tangential correspondence with my own 2008 drawing Project, sourced & represented from found print media images, here at TOoT & as has occurred subsequently on occasion since, albeit without quite the same rigour or concentration upon such serial subject matter. One considers, of course, that, for all their different appearance (one might say illustrating the hoary old & irrelevant 'abstract' & 'figurative' dichotomy), both of these aspects of Brooks' practice are engaged with the same essential process of the representation of an original image.


She & Him 'Volume Two'
Luna 'Best of' Mark Mulcahy
'In Pursuit of Your Happiness'
& 'Smilesunset' Moon Wiring Club 'A Spare Tabby at the Cat's Wedding'
Dvorak 'Dumky' Piano Trio
Nick Drake 'Made to Love Magic'

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Another instance of aluminium can 'roadkill' found upon a section of the local 'double black lines' & thus pictorially framed in a manner that allows the inclusion of a few specific features within the generality of the series as it continues & grows, inexorably as does the tendency to litter.

Here, as might be observed, the painted lines themselves deviate from the true straight horizontal by following a slight curve, whilst another road marking, eroded & faded from its original white to a state where it begins to merge with the tarmac road surface, that 'all-over' monochrome picture plane, appears at a diagonal to add something of a compositional dynamic, supported by the lines, running parallel & at a right angle to, inscribed into the surface formed by the edges of various road repairs, the distinct areas of which display subtle textural modulations. The concrete stones that form the lower border of the image then add variations of both tonal & textural incident to the whole.

The manner in which the 'roadkill' object has been flattened, with its name, the text of its branded identity, split in such fashion, allows this to be read almost in its entirety in such a fashion as to thus imaginatively reconstruct the object three-dimensionally 'in the round'...

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Opposite (Side) of Pears...

Once more actively contemplating the pair of tissue-wrapped pears as done & drawn previously, on this occasion viewed from their opposite sides, thus reversing the composition...

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

Again, the physical properties of the thin tissue paper allows hints of the colour of the underlying skin of the fruit to show through its translucency or otherwise be obscured where an overlapping layer creates an opacity, in this instance creating a pair of objects displaying distinctly individual characteristics amidst the general uniformity of the 'cloaking'.


Mark Mulcahy 'Smilesunset'

Sunday, March 06, 2011

It's a Wrap #2

What has become something of a rarity here at TOoT this year, in the (re)presentation today of a drawing of another pair of pears wrapped in tissue paper along the lines of recent considerations of subject/object matter.
Whilst the objects might be considered as having a sculptural quality in themselves, being thus aesthetically transformed from their original form by the act & result of wrapping (which of course performs significant surface alterations also), still the intention was that they provide the models for representing in the form & process of drawing rather than existing in & for themselves as such, or merely being documented in photographic form, for instance.
Here, the utilization of watercolour is intended to allow a sense of the nature of the tissue paper, establishing its form against the white ground, & the subtle hints of the colour of the skin of the fruit visible in places beneath the thin veils of this light, translucent covering.

graphite & watercolour/30x20cm

By way of nothing more than pure visual coincidence (rather than an habitual act of contextualization) of an art historical nature, albeit of a peculiar & somewhat incongruous one, one might notice something of an affinity, a correspondence, of form, as occurred to mind, between the wrapped pear to the right of the drawing, with its substantial stalk curving up & out of the wrapping, & the disguised shape of a certain Mr (or Herr, rather) Joseph Beuys as he appears in this documentary photograph of his performance-installation 'I Like America and America Likes Me', swathed as he is wholly in a blanket of felt & clutching a shepherd's staff...

[image found on artknowledgenews.com]


Low 'Things We Lost in the Fire'
Test Match Special Eng v SA, World Cup ODI
Mark Mulchay 'Smilesunset'

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Another Direction...

Today's walk home from the day job (fresh air physically & psychologically) brought the welcome treat of a most serendipitous find of the aluminium can 'roadkill' variety, with a certain correspondence between the markings upon the road surface & the striped design of the object’s branded identity.
In a departure from the more familiar subtly-modulated tonal transitions between the tarmacked road surface & the ‘double black lines’ painted upon, in this particular picture as photographically framed (capturing as it does the intersection of a junction, as a side road curves into another) the addition of further road markings of broad white strokes diagonally arranged dominate the composition across the picture plane & give it a particular dynamic, providing a bold contrast with the habitual horizontals of the ‘double black lines’ & the remaining visible instances of the underlying original yellow lines that, in places, outline them.
The white marks also serve to add a further 'archaeolgical' layer to the narrative of the road surface's history of painted amendments, overlaying as they do the other strata of lines.
The striped design upon the surface of the ‘roadkill’ can then adds further counter-angularity & a sequence of tonal contrasts to the composition, of course, whilst the cream colour (which also features rather neatly in text form, in that Jasper Johnsian naming-of-colours manner) relates to the yellow of the visible remnants of the original lines…

Then creating a monochrome version to concentrate upon a purely tonal study of the lines & stripes upon the surfaces of both the road & the object...

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A Double Good Morning...

There's no doubt that the subject/object matter of the 'roadkill' aluminium cans found directly upon or in the very near vicinity of the local 'double black lines' road markings, & photographically, pictorially framed thus, has become the dominant theme of the year so far, particularly of late, with a flurry of encounters to consider & record.
Today proved to be no exception, once out the world after the luxury of an hour's drawing in decent daylight prior to the morning's later start to the day job, with the added bonus of some especially interesting points to note.

In the first of two objects to be found adjacent to each other (but not quite feasibly enough to be included, composed, within the same picture frame: thus, see further below), one might note that the integrity of the flat, monochrome picture plane, modulated by subtle tonal transitions from tarmac to painted lines, has been compromised significantly by what appears to be the evidence of seismic activity affecting the road surface, rupturing it in places & resulting in a network, a pattern, of cracks upon & within it, that could be regarded, however fancifully, as a form of line drawing additional &, with its vaguely circular form, complementary to that, ‘given’, of the straight lines horizontally traversing the scene as framed.
Obviously, more textural activity occurs across the surface also.

Another intriguing detail - & a narrative element - occurs with the reappearance of the ‘roadkill’ object itself, the still(ed) life element of the composition, as has featured thus previously, indeed here, some 16 days ago, now having travelled approximately 15 yards down the road(side), thus apparently at somewhat leisurely pace (odd, in fact, that it hasn’t been road-swept during this period, as such discarded objects, although ubiquitous, usually are, tending not to endure quite so long).
The keen-eyed viewer might notice how such time & distance has transformed, weathered, the appearance of the object, flatter yet now than originally found & its surface considerably more distressed, dustied, a layer of grime ('glazed' translucently, in a painterly analogy, even if seeming somewhat contadictory) over the design of its branded identity, even punctured by a hole at one point: this process helps it become even more integrated into the picture, to echo more closely still the colours & tones of the road surface & the overpainted lines upon which it lies in low relief, which is all rather wonderful & more satisfyingly 'pictorial'.

Stepping slightly to the right allows the photographic framing, then, of a second instance of a 'roadkill' aluminium can upon the very same lines, with, again, a network of craquelure 'drawn' upon, & textural disturbance to, the surface & substance of tarmac road & 'double black lines', another pictorial composition of still life object (this one more crumpled-down than properly flattened) against a subtly-modulated grey monochrome ground that somewhat mirrors the previous example...

Given such a complementary pair of images, it seemed appropriate then to combine them into a panoramic composition more complex than the habitual single object format, establishing a dialogue between the two 'roadkill' objects & allowing full expression to what thus becomes the central circular-ish form of the surface cracking.