Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Eve and Varnishing

Today I did some work on the glazing layer to a painting called Eve Eating An Apple While God Looks On. I managed good glazed greens for a rare time. My failures in the past come from:
1. Using only viridian as my green because of it's permanence and the fact that I dislike the overpowering phthalo greens. I still do this. I love viridian, it's the only green I need.
2. Making glazes too transparent. Now I use more opaque yellows and tend to add a bit of white.
3. Underpainting in inappropriate colours. This is less of a problem with a more opaque glaze though.

Either way, today's greens went well and I managed to paint a square apple from life, and then ate the model! The rest of the tiny painting must wait until Friday.

At 4pm I varnished two paintings to add to the five I varnished yesterday. All went well but it's amazing how much of a skill varnishing alone is. In a perfect world I'd have a room just for varnishing; something with white walls and a hard floor like an operating theatre, and sideways light so that the sheen is visible. My top two varnishing tips are:

1. First apply and wipe off a very thin spray of alcohol, to prevent beading or repulsion from the oil surface.
2. Warm the varnish in a container of boiling water. I discovered this one because varnishing is much much easier on hot summer days.

Monday, March 30, 2009


I've just added my music to "iLike" a website that allows you to put your music online, and also distributes streaming music to social websites like Facebook and Bebo, allowing you to hear the music and play it on your profile.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Today I've been practising ceedeeomancy, a form of predicting the future using the shuffle option on a CD player. To do this you pick an album, select shuffle and interpret the playing order. The portents from David Bowie's "Hunky Dory" were all excellent. With repeat on, "Changes" came right at the end and then right away again so that's big changes at the end of the year.

The experience gave me another idea. A quick way of making a concept album without going to the trouble of writing and recording is to take an existing album and write new lyrics for all of the songs, perhaps re-ordering them to assist the story. I'd like to do that for "A Night at the Opera" by Queen.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Poem

And now, I've just written this. Inspired by the very first bit of the Ingmar Bergman film I saw the other night, Autumn Sonata. It's called If You Could See Me.

If you could see me.
Could see inside,
the real me, here,
where I reside.

If I could show you everything.
What I'm like, and dream of too.
How I feel.
Why I do.
I'd settle for just one like you.

I want someone to know
exactly what I'm like inside.
Exactly what I'm really like.
Not what the others think.

With forty years of closeness,
each conversation, glance and pose,
each word and artwork,
all of those.
You still won't know.
No one knows.

If only I could show one soul,
I wish that it could be,
but all you'll know are these few words.
This tiny piece of me.


Not a bad day. I was listless in the morning, still worried about the stupid comments made at my last Art Support meeting and becoming very self-conscious about why I don't like to talk about my art to other people and how the other people there interpret my silence on the matter.

Anyway. Later in the day I decided to draw on my Anna Nilsson portrait, modifying it to make a surreal counterpart for the "normal" portrait version. It came out remarkably well, drawing excellent outlines in single perfect strokes and proves that a few days drawing can hone my skills. As I age I find I have increased in skill, but find that it takes a bit longer to "switch" between them instead of being able to do them all at once. Perhaps the brain cells that die then are the connectors and not the ones that slowly form when learning a skill over a longer period.

I wrote a song too and it's good musically. I'm writing the best songs of my life right now, and drawing better than ever, and having more ideas than ever, yet also having illogical periods of a sort of negativity that I've never had either. I think these activities might be linked because my ideas come easiest and best just after those actually rather short dips. This song was one example; a gentle piano ballad that you'll have to imagine the melody to, which flows like a Beatles tune yet like McCartney's best just came right out of my head.

So Many Times Plus One

I expected
you one day
with your reddened eyes.
No surprise, to me.

I don't want to
cause you pain
but I have to get
it out.

You've hurt me so many times plus one.
You've hurt me so many times plus one.
That's too many times, for me.
That's too many times for me to have you back.

You will say you're lonely.
I get lonely too.

Soon you'll tell me
you feel old
well I've told you that
everyone's the same,
and I don't think
I can cope
when you pull me down

You've hurt me so many times plus one.
You've hurt me so many times plus one.
That's too many times, for me.
That's too many times for me to have you back.

I expected
you one day
with your reddened eyes.
No surprise, to me.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Enough of the philosophy of art! Today I got back to drawing out Attainment of Global Fame. It features a "crowd" at the bottom and it's proving problematical. The plan used an abstracted crowd like in The Joyous Birth Of The All-New Transhumanic Super Beings but I'm not sure it fits in with the more realistic design of the rest of the picture. On the other hand, I often find that abstraction has more energy and feeling than actual depiction, just as a caricature is often a better likeness than a portrait.

Any crowd scene would be difficult to model and draw. I'm thinking that a mass of toy soldiers or similar figures could be used to quickly model a crowd. The angel figure and the main one are pretty much drawn now, apart from hands and faces.

The Shock of the New

A human being is a society of cells, each cell leading an independent life. Humans like change, and the drama of the new and the different. A society of humans also forms a lifeform, and each civilisation or country assumes the characteristics of a gigantic creature. The creature's tastes are called culture, and like all life it likes change, and the drama of the new and the different.

Art therefore is most effective when it says with passion that which opposes the view of the masses. The red rose in a field of white roses stands out, and that rose is the artist. In civilisation the most striking art then is rebellious art. Secular art in a religious society, divine art in a secular one, mathematical art in an emotional society, delicate and detailed art in a world of abstracted messes, violent art in a twee society, chaotic art in an ordered society, and the art of stability in a chaotic society.

Because of this, tastes change, and what is powerful art changes with tastes. The significance of great art of the past changes depending on the situation of current cultural states. The artist that seeks appreciation might anticipate change in order to make the greatest impact. Such artists might stand out from the crowd for their entire career, while the artists that do not change will flicker and glow and fade, perhaps re-glowing as tastes cycle. Either way, the great creature will subsume and absorb art, and culture will change, and as it does the art will look the same but constantly change in how "good" (effective, fashionable, applicable, appreciated) it is.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Art Group Politics

A tiring day. I awoke late but early too after a very stressful evening and panicked night of semi-conscious worry, the worst sort of night terror. I've been wrestling with a social dilemma.

It concerned my art group and made me think, what do I really think of my art? Do I like it? Do I dislike it? I can identify good points, bad points, the message, the feeling. Am I proud of it? Am I ashamed of it?

Art is communication. To be proud or ashamed of a conversation seems insane, yet, art critics seek to praise or deprecate just that. How should the artist feel?

Half of the time I am proud of it and will happily talk about it. Half of the time I am ashamed of my art and don't want to explain it or talk about it. My social dilemma was a venomous rant by the leader of my art group insisting that members, and I in particular, bring in a painting and explain it. The event was theoretically voluntary.

I solved the problem by taking a god's view, a view in which I see even myself in the third person. In such a view, the affairs of humans are of minor importance. I can simply decide the pros and cons to an event. It is better for an artist to promote art than hide it so the solution is simple. An artist should be proud if his work, irrespective of how he, his peers, or his critics really feels about it. That sentence itself shows the amusing irrationality of the artist.

Thus the good artist must see room for improvement, yet feel pride. An artist must be a salesman, and a paranoiac. A human, and a god. The more feeble the man, the more improvements can be made, and the greater the god the more divine and glorious and perfect the ultimate result will be.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Art Books

Yesterday three new books arrived.

First "Atlas of Human Anatomy for the Artist" which is excellent, and helped greatly by being bolstered with photographs. More photos with less stark contrast on the lighting would have improved the book, but it's still the best artist's anatomy book I've come across so far and details tiny things, like the difference between male and female belly buttons(!) that a lesser book would overlook.

Second "The Artist's Complete Guide To Figure Drawing" which is less useful to me as a how-to book, perhaps because I can draw! but more useful to me as a visual reference thanks to the many excellent drawings. Just as a botany or wildlife book is better when the plants and animals are drawn, it's the same for people. Oddly, photographic reference books don't seem to be half as useful as the brilliant drawings by Anthony Ryder.

Third "Dynamic Wrinkles and Drapery". It's a "this is how I do it" book. Not a "do this" book. Not a "start here, learn this theory, draw this, then voila" book. Not even a "here is how I learned to do it" book. It's a "how I do it book". It's good for the smatterings of theory which can be broken down into five or six basic rules about where wrinkle crests/troughs start and end, then lots of excellent examples of those rules in action. That is all it is. But it's one of only a few "inventing drapery" books so useful for those times when I need to paint that which is impossible to photograph.

The Silkworm

My painting The Silkworm is scanned and now entered into the competition. Fingers are now crossed. This is the first time I've managed to underpaint greens with golden yellows and have it make light green. Now I'll add a second new post about my new books!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


I've been drawing mountains today. Some say that mountains and trees are easier to draw than faces because you can get away with inaccuracies, and it's true that the worst draughtsmanship in my paintings are the mountains in the background that nobody would notice or care about. Even slightly mess up an eye though and everyone becomes an art critic.

In many ways drawing a mountain range, an ink blot, a screwed up ball of paper etc. is more challenging than drawing a figure or face. I've discovered that a useful trick is to see faces in them. Most people pick out faces in clouds and random patterns; the folds of the curtains contain lots of faces to me. The brain is better at processing faces than other images, and by seeing faces and parts of faces in shapes like mountains and folds you can more easily spot inaccuracies.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Attainment of Global Fame

Song production today, an activity that can be hit and miss but today I hit, and managed to sequence most of a song I wrote last week called Dance When The Music Starts. Not a dance song really, more like a Phil Spector style power ballad, but it's happy and sad at the same time which is a good thing. Like painting, music should convey a feeling, have something to say and be pleasant. In many ways my music is like an audio version of my paintings; at least now I see that they are the same thing seen from different viewpoints.

In the afternoon I did more composition work on an important painting planned for the year, Attainment Of Global Fame. It's designed to represent and perhaps self-invultuate success, and includes a floating male figure, in a pose more akin to a "Venus". There's an angel too which is difficult for me, an abstracted crowd and other things that are difficult to model and make this one a challenge. The composition is sufficiently impressive for me to consider making it larger... which adds yet more complexity and time to the whole process. A male model and a studio would make this painting much easier. Perhaps the more difficult path is the better one to learn by. My figures might look a tad "dead" like those of Luca Signorelli instead of the living ones of Michelangelo, but learning to paint like Michelangelo is better than just copying a real model, which anyone who can draw can do.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My Only Door

My first song since last Monday. It is a simple slow duet with a winding climbing melody that is in the key of C major but starts with D minor and doesn't hit C until the end. It's called My Only Door.

Can you see?
Can you feel?
Can you cry?
Do you mean it
when you say that you don't want me here?

I can see.
I can feel.
I can cry,
and I mean it
when I say that I don't want you here.

Don't let me go.
Don't say it's true.
Don't close my only door.


An art exhibition is not a sale room, but an artistic experience in its own right. I'm finalising the prices for my June exhibition today. In my experience all artists struggle with pricing their work, even me, although I seem to have less trouble than others. Primarily I calculate how much the picture cost me and charge at least that plus the commission. The rest comes from how much I rate the work. I paint to be a good artist not a businessman, so I aim to price as an artwork not as something on a market stall, that means that at a small village fair I'd charge the same price as in a city gallery because the artwork itself hasn't changed.

Perhaps in practise that is wishful thinking. Art prices can vary in price to a seemingly irrational degree. I have the confidence to assume I'll be a great artist one day, and so could perhaps keep all of my paintings until they are inevitably worth more... but then, I only have limited space for storing paintings, and each sale promotes my art to the people who bought it and their friends... then again, I have a duty to my existing owners to ensure that their prices climb... then again my future artworks will put my past ones to shame so why cling to those...

Thus I'm inevitably pricing based partly on what has sold before and what hasn't, what paintings I and others like, and which I don't, and as I don't really need to sell because I don't rely on painting for money, and because of my confidence that I'll command high prices one day, I will, if doubts arise, choose a higher price over a lower one.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


I've felt tired all day today. Dali said that the most important thing for a painter is a good night's sleep. I would also add that diet is at least as important because a bad diet or eating at the wrong time disrupts both sleep at night and concentration in the day.

Today I've finished most of the underdrawing to Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, my largest (but not most spectacular) picture planned for the year so far. I've also done a bit more composition work on another called Neurosigil Of Global Fame which is proving problematical because I need an angel figure and they are difficult to invent. Also my virtual male model lacks genitals. I want some swirly silk that blows in the wind like Caravaggio's. I have the cloth but that's difficult to photograph without a studio and a gigantic fan.

It is widely known that Caravaggio, Gentileschi and their ilk staged scenes as realistically as possible using ropes and pulleys and crutches to support the models and props. The high budgets of such master works indicate why they came out so well. For the first time shadows could be cast from multiple objects realistically, instead of each picture element composed separately. That staging perhaps indicates why chiaroscuro became popular, an indication of technology driving creativity.

Exhibition Plans

My first solo exhibition takes place locally this June and over the past couple of days I've been planning that. I made little paper templates for each painting and have fitted them into templates of the venue space. Each painting needs a little information card with the title, price and some brief description so I've made those up on the computer and had some test prints made as photos. That took ages! But they look nice. The picture shows an example.

I'll have a leaflet holder full of postcard sized reproductions with my name and website, and I'll pin up an artist's statement. Those are done too. I'm wondering whether some folded A4 price lists will help. Now I have to finalise the prices, think of the publicity, then work out how to and who can help me deliver the pictures to and from the venue on the hanging and taking down dates.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I transferred "The Lightning of Creation" to the panel for painting today. Considering my other obsession of song writing I noticed that my music lacks enough flowness, looking more like A than B. When coming home from a trip to restock on A4 paper I was brimming with so much confidence that I became the beginning of Beethoven's 7th symphony, his most masterful opening (the first movement is a symphony in itself) and then I made it more joyous by raising the second chord and removing the meandering bit. Oh, writing great music is so easy when done in your head! One of my ultimate ambitions is to reproduce at least Beethoven's 9th symphony on electronic instruments and add bits here and there. I so wish I was better than I am at painting and at expressing music. Inside I feel so much better than my amateurish and mediocre output indicates. From today I must aim higher! I must excel!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Anna Q. Nilsson

If you paint a picture twice, the second one will be the best. If you paint a picture three times, the third one will be the best. If you paint a picture four times, the fourth one will be the best.

Yes I've been painting today, with not particularly satisfactory results to my hypercritical eye. It is a challenging portrait of a silent film star because of the blurry black and white photograph. I really should learn more about faces before tackling such a complex subject as a portrait from a tiny photo that lacks any visible details from which to copy. I've painted it for this year's Marbury Merry Day weekend in Marbury, which takes place in May. As such this is a commercial painting and so, as penance and to indicate artistic flair, I will paint a fantasticalised version of the same picture to hang next to it, although it will be a challenge with such a simple and obvious portrait.

In other news, I've just been browsing a website called digital blasphemy which includes some ultrapretty computer generated imagery. It made me wonder how useful computer imagery really is to the painter because space-scapes often look brilliant on a computer screen, and in real life, but usually look flat and ugly when painted. Wondering aside though, it was good to wonder at the wonderful images while wandering though the beautiful gallery on there.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I made an important discovery in song writing today. In 2002 I wrote two songs a day for a six week period. Most weren't very complex melodically, looking back many are quite simple, but each had its story and varied in style. It was my first year writing songs so I was excited and enthused, and I haven't matched or cared to match that rate of productivity since, even though my later songs became more musically complex. Yesterday though I managed to write two good songs while I was drawing. In fact, the fact that I was drawing and distracted actually helped me write the songs more easily.

The easiest way to write lyrics is to imagine and feel a scene that sums up the story you want to represent, and then describe it. If you wanted to write a song about a birthday party for example, imagine the cake and the party and the guests, the decorations... then coming up with a mere twelve lines or so of description is easy, and it would sum up the scene and the mood you imagined perfectly. The melody though is another matter because attaching a melody to a feeling tends to result is generic representations and very simple melodies based on tunes you might have heard in the past, normally the recent past, whether you noticed or not (music is everywhere these days). Inventing good new melodies spontaneously is impossible.

In my new method I begin on the piano and play a few pleasing notes, a line or more perhaps, a few chords. I play the same melody a few times until it is memorised and then leave it and begin drawing, painting or doing something else. The tune keeps on playing and soon, all by itself words begin to appear that fit the music. I write them down.

By happy coincidence the words can sometimes be about the painting I'm working on, and as an imaginative surrealist the songs are surreal and imaginative, even if the melodies are normally eminently catchy. Thus, today's song fitted Two Parents Of A Lonely Child, a picture about autism. The words follow, and the music too using my textual notation system so if you've got a keyboard handy you can play it and have a listen.

Two Parents of a Child

Two parents of a child,
who is living in outer space.
One eye is free and wild.
One eye is out place.

You cannot know where he goes to, if he knows you.
Nobody knows what he looks like inside.

Two parents of a child,
who insists on the same routine.
Everything neat and filed.
Everything very clean.

You cannot see where he goes to, never shows you.
He'll never know what it feels like to feel.

N344A Two Parents Of A Child, Music.


Am Dm
/ A c . d / e . f D / . . . . / . . D e /

/ f E . f / D . C e / . . . . / . . . . /

Am Dm
/ A c . d / e . f D / . . . . / . . . . /

/ f E . f / D . C e / . . . . / . . . . /


/ f E . D / B-. d e / f . . C / . . . . /

/ f . . D / . . . . / f . . C / . . . . /

/ f E . D / B-. d e / f . . C / . . f . /

/ g . . . / . . . . / . . . . / . . . . /

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Grasping Lightning

An excellent productive day. I began by preparing three panels for painting then writing the entry below which made me think of some new artistic ideas. I spent most of the day drawing out a painting which turned out brilliantly; it is one described in an earlier blog entry and depicts a man reaching for the sky and grasping lightning. While drawing I kept thinking of and humming a few musical notes I played on the keyboard earlier and gradually lyrics formed. That way I wrote two good songs, one slower ballad and one catchy pop song with tinges of both sadness and joy that could easily be a hit. I'd love Steven to sing that one. Then I wrote the inspirational poem below, inspired by the painting. If my energy holds I will plan two paintings for the little panels of off-cuts I prepared earlier. They are very small and the same size, ideal for a diptych.

I may look lost but I have a mission.
I may look poor but I'm rich in vision.
I may look scared but I am no coward.
I may look weak but I am empowered.

In my great hand I hold a light,
a lighting fire that streaks the sky.
The force of will and holy love
is mine forever until I die.

Art and Communication

Art is communication, and ultimately communication is the transference of one mental state to another person, or the preservation of a mental state for future use or reference. In writing, fiction is the former and non-fiction is the latter.

Writing is a unique trait to humans and a very powerful tool because it gives people the capacity to restore a previously experienced mental state that is not dependent on memory. Good writing is concise and stimulating to the senses, filled with imagery, sound, touch, taste, olfaction and references to other senses including an sense of humour, and other social senses. Communication that achieves this is good communication, and because visual art can include words and images it can do this more effectively that writing, making art a powerful medium for communication, memory and life enhancement.

Communication without a message is pointless. Sometimes paintings by an artist repeat the same message. Thomas Kinkade says... Bob Ross said... Francis Bacon said...

Are such artists boring, or trapped by limited tastes? If limited tastes limit art then limited tastes also limit effective communication. Artists who get on with a wide range of people then produce a wide spectrum of art. The reverse is also true; to like a wider range of people, an artist can simply produce a wider range of art and get to like their output.

All artists portray their life, personality or elements of both in their work, whether they like it or not, so to accurately convey an intended message it is important to think and be that message at the instant of conception of the art. As such, a certain degree of mental control and flexibility is needed, and it is perhaps that that separates two types of artist; the balladeer and the philosopher; those who experience and tell of their experiences, and those who hypothesise and relate their ideas.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Dark Dream

My dream last night was very dark. I was walking along a night time street, a few other people were here and there. The street lights went out and I ignored the others, shying away in fear. I was slightly lost in the unfamiliar street, then the house lights went out and I saw nothing; total blackness. I strained to peer through it, but consoled myself that as my eyes adjusted to the darkness I should be able to see enough to keep going. I awoke. Then I drifted off to sleep and had the same dream but in a different street. Both dreams evoked slight fear and confusion.

In another of last night's dreams I saw Rhiannon, a distant friend. That was the second time I've dreamed of her, the first time being the previous night. I remember hardly anything about either dream, which might even have been the same dream twice.

I've spent the last two days doing remixes of my Gunstorm song for Steven and now have a few alternative versions which will probably be useful. I'll go back to doing painting things from today I think, and have spent the morning preparing surfaces and frames.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

New Frames

My first solo exhibition takes place in June this year and for that I wanted to have some low priced drawings for sale. For this I needed a low cost frame that would be still up to exhibition standard; physically tough, and able to take mirror plates and glass.

I decided to take two lengths of wood; one 25x10mm and one with a smaller depth 25x6mm. I cut, glued and stapled the thicker wood into a 20cm square (pictured) and will do the same for the smaller wood but make it 10mm smaller so that it fits over the top creating a recess. These should be really tough frames, easily capable of taking one of my wood panels never mind the drawings. The material cost is under £4 per frame too, excluding the time and mirror plates, but even at £10 each glazed and ready (which is a reasonable estimate) I can charge £30 per drawing with the 30% commission and end up with something for the artwork itself.


Well, yesterday's hopes for new music came to nothing. I have written the main themes on paper and the main story, but the essential production side was elusive and I tended to do a bit and then drift off thinking of other things... basically writer's block, because I wasn't in the mood. I went out in the afternoon and bought and cut some wood for framing and so managed to do something productive.

As usual, when I'm painting all I can think about is the music and other things I want to do, but when doing those things all I can think about is painting. When out I saw a tremendous dark cloud and instantly envisioned a mountain like the hand of a god lifting someone higher, and on top was a lone figure reaching up and grasping a lightning bolt from the violet-grey sky, it was the spark of creativity. That very positive image proved that I still had something there. I might even paint that.

I will refocus on music for a bit, but postpone The Music Box which would be mainly done for artistic reasons. Instead I'll try to remix the Gunstorm song and perhaps some other songs I've done with Steven. He tells me that the song is an underground hit that is growing in popularity, and it could use a remix for an up and coming album of his.

I've been losing focus too much this month and have been thinking of people a bit too much. Back to my solitary path. I conclude that without the willpower to block out the world I would do exactly the same work, but take four times as long.

P.S. Thank you, Sal.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Of Mice and Men

Well my plans for a grand slam of creativity this month have hit the buffers. A sound effects job and the need to paint a new layer on the silk painting tomorrow means that there is no hope of finishing any music by the end of next week.

I wrote the track/mood/vision listing last night though. The Music Box will be my first completely surrealist album of instrumental music. In retrospect, all of my music somehow did reflect my personality at the time of writing, perhaps all music does from Beethoven to Mike Oldfield, but perhaps those people chose and edited with too much care instead of sticking to the instant feeling and idea and then leaving it; in effect I've developed this in an instant like I do with my paintings.

My plan now is to work on this music this month and save the writing idea for another time. Writing literature requires so little skill and intelligence that, once the ideas are sketched out, I can happily do all that stuff in a few decades when my brain had mostly melted and my tremulous hands and thick yellow eyes fail my painterly effervescences.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Slow Approach

I'm supposed to be composing music today, and I have indeed spent most of the day thinking about it even if my actual time so far has been spent making picture frames in the garage. My new plan to conquer this is to invent a story with moods, then write a few main themes on the keyboard later today and use those as the basis for the whole thing.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

March Plans

Although I will never do many of the things that ordinary people do, I will do some things that nobody will ever do. I want to aim high this month, my last before I start painting full time in April.

I've wanted to write a sequel to my music, The Spiral Staircase for ages, it will be like a second symphony because there is no percussion and the melodies are more important than the timbre of the instruments. I'll try to write and produce that in one week (T.S.S. took 10 days in 2002). Then I'd like to write a novel in the following week. I've just bought an audio recorder because I aim to, and will have to, dictate it. I've already outlined the plot. Then, if all goes to plan, the following week I'll visit my friend Emma and I'll do remixes of two of Steven's songs for an album he wants to release in Japan. And in the last week of March, finalise drawings and plans for the paintings in April. I must rise to this challenge which is already looking extremely tough!

31st Century Anatomy

This morning I've been addressing the face on 31st Century Crucifixion. Six months after finishing the painting the jaw of the focal figure finally bothered me enough for me to carefully colour match and improve it. This face was always going to be tough because I didn't have an image to copy from, just a mish mash of different blurry ones. It's only now with a little bit more knowledge of faces that I can see other anatomical inconsistencies, which will again remain a secret between me and the critics!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Degrees of Consciousness

It is a rarely stated fact that sleep and wakefullness are not binary states but that there are many degrees of consciousness. Until I mastered the understanding of these I had little chance of controlling my concentration or concentrating my control, both essential skills for the painter.


1. Brain death. Complete unconsciousness.
2. Sleep without dreams. A state intermediate between this and death might be appropriate to include drug induced unconsciousness.
3. Dreaming sleep.
4. Half wakeful dreams. This occurs in the last dream before waking and can be easily influenced by activities in the room. Elements from wakefullness can easily enter the dream. The dreamer might be aware and have influence over his or her body.
5. Half dreamful wakefullness. This occurs mostly just before sleep where images fill the mind yet enough consciousness remains to pay attention to sounds or activities in the room. This is like a "hypnotic" state.
6. Light wakefullness. Or tired wakefullness. For at least half of the day I am in this state, which is the state I am in now. A definite section of my brain remains in a rested state. Imagination and emotions flow easily and concentration for a prolonged period is difficult and tiring.
7. Full wakefullness. This is a rarer state of total awareness and full consciousness where complete concentration and focus is possible. Recall is acute and all skills honed. Emotions are present but have no influence beyond that of messenger.
8. Hyperawareness. On very rare occasions in my life I have experienced a feeling beyond the feeling of total wakefullness. A feeling of a powerful awareness, perhaps a vision of a form of reality beyond the domain of the corporeal. All objects appear equal, whether human, animate or inanimate. Lights appear brighter, sensory input enhanced and time seems to slows down.

There are of course many myriad graduations between these states and when tired the gap between 5 and 6 can be traversed very slowly. I spend most of my time in state 6, which I surmise is for efficiency. Using all of ones brain power will undoubtedly exhaust and deteriorate the brain. Awareness and recognition of the fact that at any point you might be partly asleep is, however, vital for any high performance activity, such as fine art painting, which as we all know is perhaps the most important activity in the world, surpassing even mathematics, or sex.

Those who take sleeping pills to move down the scale, or those who take stimulants to climb it will realise that it's not that simple, and while the body can rest in states of its own, the mind acts independently and can be highly aware and thinking with great power even while asleep. Only through diligent mental control and training can any hope for the manipulation of the states of awareness be attained, and even then that hope might be forlorn. I'm sure that the body controls these states for a good reason, and as such it is perhaps, like a friend, better to be aware of them than control them.

The Twelve Seasons

My latest music album The Twelve Seasons is now on sale, on CD by download from www.marksheeky.co.uk. This represents my latest instrumental music and contains a mix of styles and moods.

Track examples can be heard on the The Twelve Seasons page on my website.

CD prices are currently £12.99 including international postage. Downloads in MP3 or FLAC formats are currently £6.99. Each CD order includes an exclusive photo-card of the album cover artwork.

I'm pleased with this one. It's my longest album and has a lot of time in it, the early tracks date from 2005 and the latest ones were written right before mastering at the end of 2008. As such the range of musical styles is larger than you normally get on one album. Tracks like Summersong have lots of interweaving winding melodies and fugues, but the dance ones like The Dance Of Spring are incredibly simple melodic trance music.

Monday, March 02, 2009


The Silkworm is now glazed. Order, calmness, health, perfection, pride, mastery, control, stamina, positivity, charm, confidence and a sense of superiority have been restored. It's amazing what a rollercoaster of feelings even a relatively minor painting can create. One tiny error that nobody else would notice can stab with torturous pain, but the show must go on, day after day like those people pushing the ambulance in Ice Cold in Alex. In the end this blog will not reveal all of the awful bits in The Silkworm because only I and the critics are going to care about that, and any good critic can find faults everywhere!! I will, as is customary in public, pretend that everything is just as it should be.

Who knows what Vermeer thought about the cupid he painted over in Girl Reading a Letter? Who knows Raphael's pain because of the duff hand in the Madonna del Baldacchino that probably persuaded him not to finish glazing it? Only other oil painters can ever know.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Calm, or Something Like It

Oh what days. I'm now glazing The Silkworm and like most painting I find it all works best when I have many solid hours alone totally away from the worries of the world and away from people in particular. During those moments of tiredness and wistful emotion after a long day of painting I find the chinks in my armour are all too easy to stimulate and vibrate apart and, as it so happens I've been vibrated a lot over the past few days and so have been going up and down and all sorts of ways when all I wanted to do was stay calm and paint alone without interruptions.

It's my own fault. I'm more intellectual than emotional but I have a fetish for strong feelings and especially enjoy and am vulnerable to having my harp strings vibrated.

However, The Silkworm. Three days down and all on track. The headaches and heartglows haven't substantially affected the painting one way or the other but those things sure have affected my health negatively. Only the windmills remain to be painted and I now sincerely hope that I can get a good night's rest, cure this two day headache that is making my head explode, address the spasmodic muscle on my right hand side that gives me terrifying pain each time I raise my right arm too high, and then by this time tomorrow I should be able to call this painting done.