Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Art of Painting

I've now transferred the sketch for my Art of Painting picture and applied the imprimatura. I chose raw sienna for the colour, I wanted something yellowish and it is the most transparent of all colours and so ideal. I'm currently at the end of 1885 in van Gogh's diaries and his discussions about colour during that year have inspired me to limit my palette for this one. I'm thinking of using just lemon yellow and raw umber for the underpainting (or burnt umber, which seems to look better in a test I've done... but this colour has disappointed me time and time again with its ugliness compared to the lovely neutrality of raw umber). By day I'm doing sound effects for IndieSFX though and will be releasing a new set of car effects soon.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Art of Painting Poem

Today I've primed a wood panel for my first painting on wood, perhaps my first serious painting altogether (I'll deny this if it goes badly, either way I consider myself a student at least for another six or eighteen months having first taken up a brush less than two years ago). Van Gogh took five years to produce The Potato Eaters, his first serious attempt, but he was younger than me when he started and drew and painted profusely up to that point. Anyway, my new painting is provisionally called The Art of Painting and includes many difficult parts. The composition has been a wrestling match that has taken a month and many redrafts and studies to get this far, and at least a colour study is due before I commit to the underpainting. A poem about this subject appeared last night while I was awake with the usual upsets. Perhaps I'll write it on the back like I did with Coma. Here it is:

The Art of Painting

dear hunter,
to the sound of your heart.
Feel the rush of the soil,
and the breath of the trees.

the dance.

Mix your oil,
and your earth.

young deer,
at the speed of the lance.
Fly like fire with the saints.
Hear your heart in your paint.


This week I've been putting lots of final tiny cracks into my painting of ivy for the Jackson's competition. It's a very strange picture, of an arm on Mars. While reading about van Gogh and the potato eaters it struck me that Dali missed something in his appraisal of artists, that is emotion. I now think that it is very important for a picture to have emotion. Abstract art rarely has it (abstract art without a context never has it) because abstract art without a context is nothing and the very worst kind of art. A Mondrian for example on it's own is an empty and horrible set of squares. With a title like 'prison' then it gains some context. With a previous picture that shows a similar shape but something realistic so indicate the evolution of the image, it gains more context. Without that abstract art is utterly empty, horrible, worthless yet almost all of the abstract art you see (like those awful blobs on eBay) lack the context. Abstract art is really my least favourite genre for this reason. It always needs explaining. It can work when explained though... if you saw a painting of a blob, however awful, but then were told that it was the last mark made at 6am in prison by a man condemned to death, just one accidental mark he made while brushing past the canvas when passing out of the door, then it gains emotion through context. It is better in my opinion to avoid the need for the context of a picture all together by just painting it well enough to see it, or to feel it on a subconscious level. That is why I favour a mix of the surreal and the reasoned above all art genres.

Sunday, April 16, 2006


I've just added an audio clip to my profile, from my music The Spiral Staircase from 2002. This was done with Noise Station 1 and the production quality leaves a little bit to be desired but I've always loved it. I really regret not writing more music and that no-one has heard my songs (if you are reading this, please email Steven M McLachlan and tell him to get Mark's lyrics recorded!). My songs are some of the things I am most proud of yet are heard by no-one but me and mostly in my head. I want to make The Spiral Staircase II now that my skill both as a producer and composer have improved but my time is full of other things and it takes a big lump of consecutive time to write music.

The Last Day

I'm back to painting for a short while over the coming week, as I continue work on the ivy picture. Painting mediums should get more flexible and richer, slower in drying time and more liquid (less viscous) as they get progress. Poppy oil is not very flexible but slow drying and so is of limited use. Liquin is the most flexible but also the fastest drying, it also includes a solvent and so it is of no use as a glazing medium and I use it only for the imprimatura. The war of the media viscosities seems to have inspired my latest poem which now follows.

The Last Day

The sun will come up in a thick dark sky.
The silhouette building shapes silently stare.
The hand of a thing will shudder and die
like so many unfinished jobs everywhere.

A cold oily ocean will flop on the shore
as feathers float earthward,
as bones lean and fall.

A sound will appear like a deep deep drum.
Air pure and incredibly still.

Then everything fades to an infinite grey,
on the last day.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Well the Bytten Ernie Awards are on Bytten, Future Snooker has been released and the next version of Flatspace II is in testing. Next week it's a brief return to painting as I wrestle with an unforgiving Martian desert, so unforgiving. The Easter paintings series on BBC2 has been somewhat of an inspiration but even my Bromley's picture is having trouble appearing. On the plus side I've bought another two colours and I have to say that a Winsor and Newton colour called Lemon Yellow Hue is very nice, exceedingly lemon, metallic, permanent and reminds me so much of Vermeer that (should I paint it) my Bromley's picture will bow to its wistful charms.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Presenting Olfaculars: Binoculars for the Nose

Olfaculars are my latest invention. These binoculars for the nose will enable the wearer to smell things at a distance. Perhaps one day security CCTV cameras will detect the unique scent trace of the criminals, using this more reliable trait to convict convicts.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Game Stuff

Painting full time is a thing of the past for the time being as I move back to doing some game stuff. I've just conducted an e-interview for PC Zone magazine because of Flatspace II, many thanks to Martin Korda for the opportunity! Today I've finished updating Taskforce to v1.02, it's taken a year for this update which mainly affects the demo (although spiders now multiply more slowly and troops do get given some default equipment instead of starting with nothing). I have to work out how to break the update news to the world because I've got Future Snooker v1.01 to release on Saturday AND an update to Flatspace II out soon. Should I wait and issue one email about all updates? I like Taskforce, many things balance well, but it's sold only about ten copies in two years and I can see that changing a relatively few gameplay elements could change the game substantially. Those changes would be too major for an update and affect the plot and whole feel of the game though. I'd like to make a future game based around this strategic theme because it's one of my favourites.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Dreamers and Happiness

Dreamers are unhappy because they are not satisfied with what they have, with what is. That dissatisfaction is what makes them dreamers, and that dream is what makes them dissatisfied. One cannot envisage a better future and be satisfied with the present. Satisfaction can only come from a rejection of what can be.