Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Twist of Pepper

Today the opposite of tomato is In Trance as Mission

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

Re-presenting today the expanded version/composition of a drawing processed recently with the intention of providing such a foundation, for, whilst it seemed appropriate for the yellow submarine to exist in a void, the ‘Sergeant Pepper(mill)’ figure, when considering the original inspiration for its existence, suggested it should more properly be situated within the presence of an accompanying cast of the type proposed by the members of The Beatles upon designer Peter Blake’s prompting, of his vision – their ideal audience assembled for a performance of the fictional Lonely Hearts Club Band, comprising, for the most part, a selection of various cultural heroes.

Accordingly, after a little light pictorial research & cutting out of the results (appropriately, given that the models for the Sgt Pepper LP sleeve design were life-size cardboard cut-outs of the band’s ‘heroes’, &, perhaps, a form of linear ‘drawing’ itself?), TOoT has assembled a small selection of admired personages & characters from the world of culture – oft-mentioned influences from the visual arts (i.e, more specifically, painters), favoured musical accompaniment as featuring on the habitual ‘soundtracks’, authors & more, including Peter Blake & his collaborative partner Jann Haworth - to contextualize our ‘Sgt Pepper’ in the manner of the original(s) & collaged these into place upon the page, composed within the picture plane, whose essential flatness they share & intensify even as they contribute to the creation of a subtle three-dimensional relief as is inherent to the medium.
The accompanying cast thus constitutes but a small number of those who might have been considered for inclusion in such a gallery, edited down to fit within the constraints of the picture plane, but with possibilities, perhaps, for further expansion…


Simple Minds 'Sons and Fascination' & 'Sister Feelings Call'

In keeping with the music accompanying the original drawing & watercolouring sessions of the Sgt Peppermill, the soundtrack to the collaging process featured not the album itself or even The Beatles at all but, rather, another delve into the post-punk past & a blast of some real nostalgia, of a surprising nature.
Somehow, I’d never imagined finding myself actively listening to the music of Simple Minds again, or desiring to, but for whatever reason the memory does such things, the song ‘In Trance as Mission’ came to mind recently & lodged itself there until it simply had to be heard: cue a quest to acquire the album the track opens, ‘Sons and Fascination’, & its companion ‘Sister Feelings Call’, duly achieved, & con- & subsequently a most pleasurable reacquaintance with what sound a fine pair of recordings, fresh & compelling in form & content, their manifest influences (shared by a number of peers) assimilated into the creation of something distinct(ly ‘modern’ in its aesthetic) &, seemingly, of an enduring quality, a melding of many layers of the electric & electronic built upon insistent rhythms, sometimes of a certain (comparative) ‘danceability’ that would then, at the time of the albums’ release, back in 1981, have placed the Minds somewhere at the forefront of the tendency towards - before the still-embryonic New Order, for instance, had embraced such a development - expanding beyond the angular nature of the sound of much post-punk.
‘In Trance as Mission’ itself, the welcome catalyst, is a lovely softly buzzing, shimmering, gliding dreamscape of a track, & many a sonic treat is supplied over the course of the diversity of the twin albums: it’s good stuff, frozen in a time if not place between Joy Division & the advent of The Smiths, a subtle broadening of the musical palette then & deserving of preservation within now, having unexpectedly gained re-admittance.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Comice Are Here (Again)...

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

A second drawing of the pair of ‘Comice’ pears, with, on this occasion, something of a departure in terms of composition, with the concentration not upon proximity of arrangement in the interests of establishing a positive ‘charge’ of energy in the narrow visible space between the objects but, rather, in acting upon a phenomenon noticed & suggested by newly- & delightfully blogging A (to whom thanks are thus due), contemplating that something similar occurring within the area(s) of shadow cast by the objects as they were illuminated, as previously, from both the left & from behind by the fluctuating glow from the television screen.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Get Back to Where You Once Belong(ed)...

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

Familiar subject matter here at TOoT in the (voluptuous) form of a pair of pears, on this occasion much larger objects, of the ‘Comice’ variety, than the recently represented examples of miniature fruits found locally: given this, the objects are drawn sight-size, from a distance of about 3 feet, rather than to life scale as is the habitual practice, in order to compose them in more appropriate, comfortable relation to the physical limits of the A4 picture plane.
As has become recent environmental habit, the objects are lit from both the left & from behind, by the ebb & flow of the glow of the television screen, creating a particular blend of fugitive illumination that plays on both the objects & with the nature of the cast shadows.

There is a certain poignancy to, & historical significance in, the depiction of ‘Comice’ pears in particular, as fruits of this variety provided the objects of study for the very first pear drawings I made, the initial examples of what subsequently developed into a substantial series of tonal studies, in charcoal, during my Cheltenham undergraduate days, one of which is presented below:

This image has, in fact, already featured on the blog, back in the day, in the context of the presentation of a watercolour of another group of pears, where it was supported by a text that, part of which at least, still relevant, it seems appropriate to now recycle (with a few additions):

"[a drawing…] which seems to illustrate a much deeper level of engagement with the subject & (encourage a) more profound aesthetic experience altogether. The drawing (was processed upon) gorgeous, heavyweight Fabriano ‘Rosaspina’ paper, intended for printmaking but wonderfully receptive as a support for charcoal too, the surface of which breaks down easily to allow access to an underlying soft, crumbly texture perfect for retaining the marks of the drawing(’s) process, a record of its making and revisions (the drawing in question, like many of its contemporary fellows, was heavily worked over a period of time, a number of sessions), (an accumulation of marks &) layers of memory fixed in physical form, the scoring of the surface echoing that occurring on the pears with the passage of time, becoming a particular physical aspect of the drawing-as-an-object (as opposed to it being ‘merely’, flatly two-dimensional) and incidentally giving the drawing something of the appearance of an aged photograph, transparency or grainy film still".

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just Milling Around...

After the yellow submarine tea infuser drawn & blogged immediately previously comes another example of a watercolour drawing of Beatles-related subject/object matter in the form of the rather fetching ‘Sergeant’ peppermill, another recently invested-in must-have addition to the kitchen & home for the retromaniacally-inclined…

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/20x30cm

Such a study might find contextual company in the form of Euan Uglow’s painting of a Homepride ‘Flour Man’ figure, itself another retro icon to those of us able to recall such a marketing device, what might appear a humorous aside but still subject, as is obvious, to the same measured rigour of scrutiny & representation as any of the artist’s other source matter, as might be expected, & also claimed of & for the peppermill too.


Dome '1 & 2' & '3 & 4'
Wire ‘The A List’
Hanne Hukkelberg ‘Rykestrasse 68’

Not necessarily the expected soundtrack (although there’s a hopefully-still-playable cassette tape of a wonderful ’20 Years Ago’ anniversary of the Sgt Pepper album’s release Radio One documentary broadcast I’d love to listen to again, considering) but, rather, another blast of retromania, & an altogether more obscure corner of, with the delights of the collected works of Gilbert & Lewis’s Wire-offshoot Dome, none of which was ever previously owned but the memory of one track – ‘Ritual View’ from volume 2, with its snuffily-nasal ‘chorus’ – had endured from a hearing on a dim-&-distant John Peel show: a treat it is to be reunited with, at last, & now in tangible form, along with some other rather good stuff contained within the layers & labyrinths of sonic textures & explorations. By one of those quirks of memory, & the unreliability of, I had somehow conflated the recollection of ‘Ritual View’ with that of Dome-collaborator AC Marias‘Drop’, reacquainted with & mentioned in these parts recently, where its separateness became apparent, so it’s been an especial mission to locate & establish the certainty of the facts of ‘Ritual View’, which have, it transpires, not disappointed: not least, the lyrics at one point make reference to "graphite marks", which is rather appropriate under the circumstances.
In the interests of verity, it should be stated that Dome were listened to earlier in the week, whilst completing a couple of job application forms: the Wire compilation & the enchanting world of Hanne H’s ‘Rykestrasse 68', too-long unvisited, actually accompanied the two sessions of the drawing process.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Blue Sky Thinking...

Today the opposite of tomato is turning off your mind, relaxing & floating downstream...

graphite & putty eraser, with watercolour/20x30cm

The subject/object matter of the latest drawing to be processed & (re)presented is the rather groovy 'Tea Sub' infuser, something the existence of which was initially brought to my attention last year by A (to whom this drawing especially is dedicated) & most kindly presented recently. In addition to its irresistible aesthetic properties & pop art, retro desirability, it is of course, to leaf tea aficionados such as ourselves, a practical, functional necessity.

In a departure from the habitual mode of representation of such still life objects, faithful to appearances & generally to immediate environmental context, the nature of the little sub, from source, suggested it should be depicted freed from its actual gravitational relation to the horizontal plane upon which it rested in the process of being observed & drawn &, rather, presented imaginatively, as floating, in this instance within the limits of void of the white sheet of A4-sized paper - which might in turn infer something on a much larger, infinite scale - navigating its exploratory passage across.

Prior to the drawing experience, there occurred a moment of visual serendipity as, sitting in bed enjoying a leisurely start to the day, a cup of tea & a little light research, I browsed through the rather attractive illustrated survey volume 'British Artists at Work' & encountered one of the pages featuring representations of the work of Ian Davenport, including some unfamiliar examples of arrangements of small circles in addition to the known compositions of larger-scale poured coloured lines, both of which related rather nicely to the designs on either side of our fab-groovy duvet cover, suitably psychedelic-Sixties...


The Beatles 'Revolver'
She & Him 'Volume Two'

Inevitably, the observation of such an object as a yellow submarine led to ‘Revolver’ being given a spin to accompany the drawing process: the sequencing of the track-listing is genius, from the lovely ballad ‘Here, There and Everywhere’ to that singalong favourite itself then to the harsh electric jangle of ‘She Said, She Said’.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

P(e)aring Down More Closely

A slight repositioning of the previously-drawn pair of miniature pears, in closer proximity in the endeavour to create that positive 'charge' in the narrow visual space between, again processing the drawing as the objects are observed in the here-&-now, with some edges indistinct &/or ambiguous viewed against the horizontal plane upon which the pears rest & in the fugitive light conditions of the from-rear flicker of the television screen, which also produces occasional flares of highlights.

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

Monday, November 07, 2011

P(e)aring Down

Paring down the number of found objects to a pair of pears in this latest composition, observed as before illuminated artifically from the left & from behind by the glow from the television screen, with a further source diffusing light from left-front, creating subtle highlights upon the fruits' surfaces.
Again, edges become lost to sight against the horizontal plane upon which the objects sit, & areas of shadow as cast, & the process of the drawing attempts to take account of such...

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm


AC Marias early singles & 'One of Our Girls (Has Gone Missing)'

Another blast from the musical past with a compiled selection of the recordings of another artist discovered via the the auspices of the John Peel radio show, being a collaborator with such members of Wire as were involved in offshoot projects such as Dome, the mimimalist aesthetic of which/whom informs the ethereal sound of AC Marias: 'Drop' remains an hypnotic delight, as do tracks from the album, particularly one such as 'Just Talk', with its repetitive, looped rhythm, ideal accompaniment to the concentrated, actively-meditative drawing process.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Writing on the Road...

Another sunny Sunday afternoon stroll around the locality, again in the excellent company of A, part of the journey alongside the main road, its surface decorated at intervals with coloured zones signifying bus stopping areas, within & whereupon one of which was found an example of the familiar flattened, reformed, aluminium can ‘roadkill’, thus photographically documented in the interests of the ongoing project recording such findings.
In this particular instance, the position of the object in relation to certain striking & significant features such as the painted lettering on the road, & the desire & endeavour to include these within the composition, led to the picture frame being rotated from the habitual horizontal ‘landscape’ to portrait format.

Once again, processes of surface erosion & deterioration, resulting in a form of craquelure upon/within the lower yellow line & the revelation of patches of the original tarmac surface beneath the subsequent overlays, provide both a physical texture to the scene as experienced & a visual texture to the picture plane as represented/reproduced, in the manner, it might be suggested, of the techniques & traditions of painting in oils or acrylics, with accumulations of layers, marks & scrapings-back contributing to the creation of the pictorial surface & its formal design: the embedded still life object of course adds to the overall ‘art’ credentials...

Saturday, November 05, 2011

The Aesthetics of an Afternoon Tea

An afternoon trip into town with A, each for the purposes of haircutting (successfully accomplished), then a potter & a little light shopping, punctuated by the desire for tea, taken & presented in the pleasing-to-the-eye arrangement thus photographically represented.
The personal choice was for a pot of Darjeeling, the liquid a rather fetching & welcoming amber in the cup & the leaves a most aesthetic mel├ínge of green & browns in the pot, most fitting for the season…

Thursday, November 03, 2011


graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

Another drawing of an arrangement of a selection of the recently found-&-collected miniature pears, illuminated by artificial means, from the left by the wall light & from behind, to varying fugitive degrees as the picture on the screen changes, by the television, edges lost against the pale tones of horizonatal plane upon which they rest.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Early One Morning (II)

Still pre-breakfast, the early autumnal morning light proved sufficient to process a drawing of another pair of the found miniature pears, as observed, edges lost against & merging with the ground of the horizontal plane on which they were composed.

graphite & putty eraser/20x30cm

Early One Morning (I)

Rising nice & early with the thought of perhaps indulging in a little light drawing before being required to fulfil the temporal demands of the day job, the visual day began immediately upon opening the window blinds, to be greeted by the sight beyond the limits of the back garden, of a patch of mist floating over an area of the playing field & enveloping the goalposts situated there. Both eerie & romantic in its way, with the inclusion of the wood panel garden fence in the photographic picture, suitably mossily patinated in itself, there seemed something also of the melancholy aesthetic of George Shaw (soon to be exhibiting in a must-see retrospective at the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in his home town of Coventry, images & memories of the familiar haunts of which provide the grist to his creative mill, of course) in such a scene, unpopulated, autumnally damp & somewhat forlorn as it appeared & felt in the uncertain light of the dawning day.

One could/can sense the sounds of the Moon Wiring Club, both comforting but disconcerting, creeping in from the woods, on the mist…