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A new font!  This has been recently uploaded onto daFont and fontspace.  Feel free to check it out.

This plate was taken from a now available reprint of Charles Bargue and Jean-Leon Gerome’s Drawing Course.

If you want to learn how to move from general to specific forms, understand values and modeling, to understand the site-size technique, then please, get your hands on a copy of this wonderful publication.

A good, strong drawing with clean, clear lines is the best foundation for a good painting

Wright of Derby may not be the most famous painter around but despite that, he did produce some remarkable work.  “A philosopher Giving a Lecture on the Orrery” or “An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump” are perhaps some of his most famous works.  The above sketch was made after the painting he did of “The Reverend D’Ewes Coke, his wife Hannah and Daniel Parker Coke.”

Copying regularly from the masters can be a whole school of learning unto itself.  I would encourage everyone who loves to draw and paint seriously to follow this practice.

The original drawing was done in charcoal.  Mine was done in pencil.  I feel that I drew the hip a little too high on the right side but overall, I’m pleased with this little study.

The illustration was taken from his remarkably useful book: The Human Figure.  I would recommend anyone who is serious about drawing to pick this little gem up.

I have always felt that Ingres must have studied this painting before executing his own wonderful masterpiece…I’ll leave you to guess which painting I might be talking about!

Allegory

Allegory, the first of an initial group of fonts that I have designed. It is presently available on fontspace.

I had just finished reading a collection of short stories by Mark Samuels and though I was able to appreciate them, being fine examples of the weird tradition in the current literature of this kind, I cannot say that I enjoyed them particularly.  Yet threaded throughout were a number of well considered thoughts wonderfully expressed.  One “pseudo excerpt” in particular, the author having attributed it to Thomas De Quincey, is still rattling around my head.  It runs thus:

“We continually regard what is miraculous as merely commonplace by virtue of extreme familiarity.”

In short, for those in search of the miraculous: look no further but rather, Look!

The author is of course concerned with language, something that is suggestive of great mystery; a proof, he says, that this cosmos is not easily explained!  It’s occurred to me that, perhaps coeval to speech, was the desire to make pictures.  Between what is written and what is painted there has always been a relationship; a constant since antiquity if I am not mistaken.   It was in those days the poet who determined in what manner a thing ought to be represented – its secondary detailing and embellishment alone being left to the creative powers of the artist to suggest.

I believe that the concerns of both Artist and Author are closely united.  Each unveils in a manner appropriate to their mode of expression a facet of the common place heightened to the imminence and reality of experience renewed; a peak experience as Colin Wilson terms it, divested from the short sighted preoccupations of immediate physical and emotional concerns.

Words and Pictures help to cultivate our curiosity and wonder without which, the world slips into a boring and benighted procession of catalogued forms pointlessly self repeating.  Not only is our will sapped when an unbalanced view of this kind prevails but we soon find our depth of experience prey to the emptiness of promised novelty and distraction.

Art and Politics

Art is not some free floating agent miraculously cut loose from the common life of social and historical realities.

Art is political only in as much as it strives to come to grips with underlying metaphysical structures which underpin any number of political claims.

When art is joined to politics of the moment it becomes a fade away affair notable only for its connection to the historical incident that necessitated it.

Li Huayi is a fantastic Chinese painter whose earlier artistic career illustrates something of what I mean by the above statement.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHizMRo_T_M

In counterpoint, here is a brilliant painter who worked happily enough in collusion with any regime that happened to be in power…Jacques-Louis David.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJVCtPrJ7NQ

A minor though more pernicious variant of this opportunism is evident when a dominant theme, meme, hashtag or fascination – that is to say, any more or less transient issue with which we distract ourselves, including all preoccupation with celebrity and entertainment – is transformed into a visual conceit for profitable consumption; a kind of meager, cynical intellectual affectation with a shelf life comparable to the brevity and relevance of the very thing that caused it to come into being in the first place.

Whereas the former may be categorized as work done under the gun (I’m not talking about speed of production here ladies and gentlemen) the latter is plainly novelty capriciously exploited in the hopes of getting ones hook into the public imagination for the sake of a quick cash or opinion grab.

Artists need solitude.  Too much time is wasted on the pose, playing the part, attempting to seduce the world at large with a glittering surface.
Solitude is necessary if you wish to cut through the noise of expectation, self image and desire.

An effort must also be made to avoid the false echo of private romance. It may charm but indulging it will only serve to hamper if not entirely prevent the possibility of forming an authentic relationship between the observer and the observed.  In its place we would have every kind of conceptual shackle foisted upon a world that would otherwise freely yield, without coercion, a host of conceptions and ideas, harmonizing the many facets of its own nature to our own level of understanding and ability as painters.

Artists also need one another.  They need friendship.  They need criticism that can be learned from and admiration that strengthens rather than corrupts.  This becomes especially important when one’s work is critiqued as there is no guarantee that it will be assessed by highly competent and constructive critics.  It is more likely that you will be either pointlessly trashed or stupidly celebrated. 

That being said…

It’s Still Life

It’s Still life

There have been times when I’ve suspected the objects around me of having revealed or perhaps taken up curious and unlooked for suggestions, pulling a host of strange significances and fascination from… well… that is the mystery, isn’t it?

As it is, I’m someone merely passing through, exercising at best a kind of temporary stewardship over all the little things I have come to view as my own.  I catch myself looking at a particular book placed irregularly upon the shelf or regarding a clump of melted wax, my chess set whose chipped edge remains beautifully marred from accident or play and I am left with a feeling that I am surrounded by things possessing a sentience I would normally not suppose them to have and a life that may very well continue to exist in some vital way beyond the diverging tangent that is my own.

A sense of being observed is also intuited – such has been my experience anyway.  A dialogue that might be called co-natural appears to develop between the observer and a world that looks back, regarding the artist in turn, with its own questions and requirements.

Whether this dialogue can be considered inspiration, I cannot say.  I think it is more likely a way to inspiration rather than inspiration itself.  Whatever the case it is always there and its promptings never fully abate until the impulse to do whatever is required of me is finally realised on canvas.  Is it any wonder that we can’t look at a painting without thinking of it as somehow being “still life”?

In`an`i`ma´tion

n. 1. Lack of animation; lifeless; dullness.

1. Infusion of life or vigor; animation; inspiration.

The inanimation of Christ living and breathing within us.

– Bp. Hall.