Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Scorpion Chair Design

I've been having some design ideas over the past two days. The picture shows the sketch of a chair design based on a scorpion. There are six tubular steel legs and segmented elliptical cushions that curve upwards to form the back of the chair in emulation of a scorpion's tail.

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Lady and the Unicorn

On the left you can see the first published image of my Lady and the Unicorn picture. It was a useful experiment, my first painting on a smooth surface and I practiced several new technique ideas. I'm not pleased with the picture in the end but it achieved its purpose and the unique perspective worked. Note how the right corner is the focal point as though the head were a lens. I started this painting in January and it was my second attempt at flesh colouring in multiple layers.


The end of another week, a week mostly spent working on sound effects or music one way or another. A new effects disc was released on IndieSFX and I've finished two commissions for custom sound; effects for a game called Marble Tactics and a cool tune for a game called Vaporized (sic). My next software release will be a long awaited update to SFXEngine.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Writing vs. Drawing

Today I've come up with a new theory that drawing ability and writing ability are mutually exclusive, and that a person who excels in one area will be poor in the other. This is based my experiences of today when I was practising drawing. This morning (among other things) I drew several figures in a variety of poses. The drawing was fairly accurate and came easily. Later I read a few chapters of Germinal, and soon after drew again. My drawing in this second session however was not very good and I found it very difficult despite the conditions and difficulty of the poses being about the same. I have noticed before that sometimes my drawing comes easily and sometimes doesn't, perhaps this influence is controllable. The most notable mental activity between the two drawing sessions was one of reading and it might be that the imagination or perhaps language parts of the brain were sucking away drawing abilities. This made me think of whether any great artists or draughtsman were great writers and vice versa and I could think of hardly any. There certainly are some famous musician painters but few writing painters (mostly poets, or children's book authors who illustrated their own work, none exceptional in either field). If I were an academic I would probably conduct an experiment. In the mean time however I will try to avoid thinking in words when I need drawing skills, just in case.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Songs and More

I've had a constructive weekend, not including the laughable Eurovision Song Contest which should be renamed the Easterneuropean Song Contest because all of the ex-soviet and ex-yugoslav republics now vote for each other pushing Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Scandinavia etc. into the bottom half of a table now full of countries ending "ania" or "stan". Finland, bridging east and west, is destined to be the new Ireland as everyone's favourite. Anyway, I've started to paint a colourful examination of van Gogh's colour theories. This will take a long time because I've decided on a bright underpainting to reinforce the colours. Van Gogh would never have done that but I'm not trying to copy. In other news, the Steven McLachlan music project ("The Journey") is apparently back on after I made Steven promise to get the vocals done this year (even so, that will still mean that some tracks will be three years old, he takes his time for sure).

Friday, May 19, 2006

I Am Money Song

After a productive week, I have finished the underpainting to my Art of Painting picture. I have some reservations, but every painting needs mistakes. As soon as I make a painting without any I will be deluding myself as opposed to producing those elusive perfect works. Drying this picture is risky. It's very heavy, being on a 16mm thick panel of dense wood and it doesn't fit on any of the drying racks I've built so I have to balance it face down on one of an approximate size. If it slips when I'm moving it from the top of my wardrobe and falls wet side down then it's ruined, so I have to take care. Van Gogh was so lucky to paint blobby things in one morning. Painting perfectly smooth things in several months is much more fraught with danger. In other news, I've written a couple of songs over the past week. The lyrics to my latest one follow.

I Am Money

How'd you like to be embraced?
How'd you like to taste some pure security?
That's what money is and money's me.

How you'd like to find the love,
love you never had, a love you couldn't touch?
Well, I love you darling very much.

Take a ride and take a trip.
Sit astride and crack the whip.
Soon you'll love me,
get afflicted
spend me,
make me,
be addicted.
I am money.
I am every single thing that you can see.
I am money!
Everything is me.

How'd you like to stop all wars,
feed the world and more then live in luxury?
No hope if you're poor, you can with me.

How'd you like to watch me grow.
Plant me I'm the child you never had time for.
Humans are consumers, consume more.


How'd you like to be adored?
That's what money's like, that's what it's for.
Every man in rated. What's your score?

How'd you like to own the world,
every boy and girl you can posess them all.
I can give control to chaos' hoardes.


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Obscurity News

I've just read this quote: Obscurity during an artist's lifetime is a guarantee of true genius. This is excellent news, a guarantee of my status as a genius. Now musical news and this week I have celebrated the sale of my first ever copy of Synaesthesia (you know who you are). That was one of my first attempts at synth music, some of the tracks evolved from some tapes I recorded using my Amiga when I was at college. I've also got my first music commission in a long time for a computer game theme. Things like this are always hit and miss. The person with the money usually has different ideas about music than the composer. Tension ensues, and a battle of wills that the artist is destined to lose. In the worst case I end up making a tune I strongly dislike due to changes that have been forced upon me, yet I have to be credited as the author. If anyone out there ever hires an artist for anything, please give them creative freedom.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


I'd just like to say Eureka! I now understand van Gogh. Like an aleph or an infinite fractal I have just absorbed him. I possess him entirely. It all happened while reading one of his letters tonight. Van Gogh was not an impressionist, Monet and Cezanne were their kings. The likes of Gauguin, Seurat etc. were different alchemists. Vincent was the last in his line, he knew his ancestors. I now understand completely. It is about time. Joy!

Friday, May 12, 2006

Climbing a Hill

Learning to paint is like climbing a hill and never suspecting that there is no summit. All week I've been working throughout the day on my latest picture. It's about half complete in the underpainting stage but it's hard to say how it will turn out. The whole thing so far in in white, black, lemon yellow and brown. The yellow makes the adjoining grey look like purple, thus the art of the colourist is revealed; not to paint an absolute colour but a relative one. I'm faced with at least one more tiring week of this underpainting, and I probably won't like the final picture anyway. As soon as I'm content with a picture painted in this way, it's time to learn a new technique, and perhaps realise that learning my original one wasn't necessary. There is no summit but there are many hills to try.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Vincent van Gogh News

This week I'm underpainting my Art of Painting picture, it should take at least six contiguous days. The past few days have been nervous and melancholy. The phone was knocked out sometime on Wednesday night and phone and Internet access were off until Saturday morning. As I run Internet business this was stressful, but my unpopularity as a game vendor meant that only one sale was a day late in the end. The episode inspired me to paint a surreal picture called "Waiting for B.T.". It's currently drying in the underpainting stage and will take about two weeks before I can continue work on it. Reading the van Gogh letters makes me envy his speedy technique. I also watched Lust for Life for the first time, which was convenient. The film is quite accurate in terms of events although it portrays his collapse as something due to his natural temperament. Reading his letters, a large part of all of them over ten years consists of hopes that are constantly being dashed, money worries, hunger, nervous illnesses and loneliness. Those things, in my opinion, were the cause of his mental health problems.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Happy Land Poem

I've just written a poem so I thought I'd post it. It was partly inspired by the Lost World of Friese-Green BBC program about Britain in 1925, and partly by an old time song from that era.

Happy Land

There's lots and lots of people
smiling all the time.
The trees are made of chocolate,
and rivers flow with wine.

The sun is always shining
but it never gets too hot,
and everybody is content
no matter what they've got.

The days are made of golden skies,
and silver fills each night.
The birds and cats are best of friends
and never ever fight.

Here all the old are happy
and never reminisce,
and all the young exactly like
the world just as it is.

It's good to live in happy land,
this summer paradise.
A place of peace and harmony
where everyone is nice.

It's good to lie here in the gentle
warmth of happy land.
Where every person wins, and cares,
and pain and hate are banned.

Minor Amusement

Did you hear about the man who threw a bomb down a coal mine?
He was convicted of ten minor offences.


I'm working on some sound effects for IndieSFX this week and have just released my last set, Car Sounds. All the while though I'm thinking of painting and music. I've come up with a new way to practise drawing. One of the hardest parts about drawing is getting the proportions and angles of lines correct. To become an expert draughtsman you must be able to recognise the exact relative length and angle of two lines. Determining relative lengths is most difficult when one line is horizontal and one vertical. Noticing the hidden shapes and negative spaces in an object is a big help here but not all things have those shapes. My method is to draw the scene at an angle, at 45 degrees or even 90 degrees to the thing you are looking at. This forces your mind to perform a geometrical translation, making the process more difficult but also better training. A head that is straight is easier to draw than one at an angle. This method will hopefully train me to draw angled things as proficiently as orthogonally placed things. All I need is the motivation to practise which is lacking on this hollow and depressed day.