Friday, October 30, 2009

Flatspace Review

For those with iPhones, the iPhone version of my game Flatspace has has a good thorough review: "The App Store is rife with space games, many making promises on which they do not deliver. Flatspace is the game to put the rest to shame. If you’re a fan of computer games like EV Nova or Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, then you’re going to love Flatspace. It is the only game I’ve played on the iPhone that lives up to the promise of being a true open space role-playing game...".

Thursday, October 29, 2009


My painting for the Sue Ryder Art Liberating Lives exhibition has made it through to the second round of judging!

Today I dropped off three paintings for judging for the Three Counties Open in Keele University. After Keele I had a lovely stroll through the Trentham garden estate, the nearest thing to a Florentine Renaissance garden I've been to. I'm beginning to feel quite better again but need another day or two of gentle rest I think to combat recent weakness.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Too Much

I've been under stress and listless today, feeling tired but under pressure too. After some thought I conclude that this is down to not having clear goals for the day. When I used to develop computer games I'd make a plan for the month, then a plan for each week, then for each day, and stick to the plans irrespective of how I felt. My "feelings" were to complete the plan. Doing anything not on the plan caused stress. It was that simple.

Recently I've been more loose regarding time management, and art is different to the computer work I knew so well in that the time and effort involved in a particular job is more difficult to predict. Today I wanted to plan a picture but stopped half way, deciding to start on another which I thought was more impressive. Then I decided to do something else, then a bit of something else. Nothing was finished adequately and I ended up feeling tired and frustrated.

As a result of today I'll re-examine my goals for November. Some good solid goals are needed.

Monday, October 26, 2009


The sky parts are now complete on my painting. I'll pause for a few days now.

First an announcement. Some of my original paintings including unseen works will be on sale on November the 11th at the Down To A Fine Art Gallery. All paintings are priced at £111.

Today I've been working on music. Music and painting are both quite similar but I normally approach them in very different ways. Capturing the instant idea in a sketch is more easily done with a pen than in a sequencer. I can too easily get bogged down in one little bit near the start, losing track of what the next bit was going to be. I'm stuck between trying to do it "the visionary way" with a sketch beforehand that sums it up, or "the crafting way" of playing around until something pretty happens. I paint the visionary way.

I feel too Kubrickish. What is the difference between Stanley Kubrick and Steven Spielberg? Both fine artists of film, Stanley Kubrick would think and think and perfect and perfect, such that A.I. absorbed over 20 years of thinking. Steven Spielberg gave the impression of glancing at it and whisking it out in two weeks. There's definitely something to be said for just going for it and worrying about "perfection" levels after it is done.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Day Two

Day two of glazing. I worked on the butterfly and some of the green-yellow-blue sky. The work was unexciting and miniscule, lacking in flair. The yellow parts of the sky was glazed too brightly an I had to delicately brush it away and repaint.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Apocalypse Glazing Begins

Today I began glazing The Apocalypse of Finance, having been in the mood because of working on a smaller version yesterday in Art Support. I've decided to take my time and have at least one break of a few days during working on this layer. This is excusable when glazing but hard to justify when underpainting, because a good underpainting has edges that are smooth and blended so that glazes that adjoin areas can easily fade from one colour to another as smooth as glass even when one area is dry. Blending dry or semi-dry opaque paint is not possible and so underpaintings must ideally be completed quickly while the paint is wet.

I've painted the red sky today and the distant buildings. I used my trusty Prolene Plus 007 size 3/0 to draw some ultra-fine rays from the explosion of light in the sky. I've used that type of brush on just about every painting I've ever painted and it remains my standard choice for details, even when underpainting. A Winsor and Newton Series 7 000 is perhaps finer and better, but wears out more quickly and costs about ten times more. I reserve one of those for essential emergencies only.

The lines were too fine and anticrepuscular, so I smoothed them towards procrepuscular glory!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


More music work today. It's amazing how much filing, editing and general administration work is now associated with the music I do. It takes far longer than the actual composition and production even if I exclude any registration with the myriad music registration authorities.

I had hoped to write some new music this month but my computer problems probably cost more than ten days and now the busy schedule of art events mean I should really try and finish the paintings I've got in progress.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I am now a friend of the Royal Birmingham Society of Artists, perhaps the most renowned art society outside London. Friendship costs £27 and bestows numerous benefits, including free submission into their open exhibitions, tutorials and art evenings, as well as reduced rates for just about every fee paying event. I look forward to participating in the events and exhibitions in their Brook Street gallery.

I've spent today working on music for my website IndieSFX. I will add more themes to the royalty free collection there in December. Computer game music tends to be catchy and always fun to write. Visualisation is the key to successful production, even in music!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Flatspace iPhone

The iPhone conversion of my game Flatspace has been released. The game costs $2.99 US (that's £1.79!) and is the first new Flatspace game in over a year. Available from Apple iTunes and other app stores.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


A few days of disruption end a couple of weeks of disruption due computer problems and now a new PC (and the necessary re-setting up). This new machine has a 3ghz CPU but it's still slower than my 2ghz PC from four years ago which is annoying.

In art, I'm planning paintings. My plans for music were laid aside due to the computer problems.

Saturday, October 10, 2009


Computer trouble and a dull persistent headache and probably due to a cold have slowed my progress over recent days. I must generate morale so I will think of what I have achieved. First I've primed an 80cm square canvas, ready for a new painting "Abandoning Someone Who Was A Friend When I Had Nobody" which is drawn out and planned for the most part.

I've partly finished the study for Christ in the Garden Of Gethsemane, which is also a big picture. Even at this stage I'm making compositional changes and referred to the original automatic drawing to add an iris into the distance.

I've reprogrammed some mass file renamer software which was very useful in updating my website, and also updated my music software NoiseStation II a version, the first update since Dec 2007.

I finished a tune too, a simple game theme for IndieSFX. I hoped to start something grander and more impressive but I heard only silence in my head, or at least a cacophony of chaos instead of firm emotion. I have listened to some classical music to get me back into the swing of that. I've also finished another layer of a nuclear butterfly, a small painting about chaos that relates to the Apocalypse Of Finance.

Thursday, October 08, 2009


Visitors looking for a surreal creation this Christmas can now buy a card for that special occasion that features my artwork. I've added a few card designs to a new page on the PhotoBox website. PhotoBox are an excellent company that I've used for many years, and the site makes it easy for artists and designers to put their designs up for sale.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Canvas Stretching

Stretched a canvas today. Important lessons;
1. Use two people if possible, one to pull and one to staple.
2. Pull then lever with the canvas pliers.
3. Once done, you can remove and retry staples to get them perfect.
4. Don't staple into the joints! The stretchers should be allowed to move.
5. Cut the corner material... not sure when the best time to do this is. Folding and stapling the corners would violate rule 4, so it seems that thick canvas must be cut.
6. Insert wedges (see note).

I was not sure how to manage with a central crossbar. It interferes with the principle of stapling in the middle first because the bar gets in the way of the levering when using pliers. Today I stapled just to the right of it, then just to the left, treating those two as one.

The results are now very tight. I inserted the wedges before priming and painting. The correct method is (apparently) to insert them after painting to tighten things up, in case the priming and paint caused slackening, however the canvas wasn't tight enough without them, and I'd like a taut surface for the Golden GAC400 I'll apply. GAC400 is an acrylic medium that makes surfaces flatter and more rigid. Applying that to a slightly loose surface that is to be stretched later seems like a bad idea because the GAC400 will want to fix the canvas in shape.


All the world's a sage and all the men and women merely onions.

The Web

I've been updating my website over the past few days, adding style sheet support and lots of programming to make it easier to add pages and maintain current ones. Visually the site is the same for the most part although the menus have slight "hover" boxes behind the mouse when you point to different items.

Friday, October 02, 2009


Artists are constant learners, as are all craftsmen for each new object presents new challenges. A painting isn't like a chair, built the same way each time, it's a mix of engineering, communication, love making, skill and imagination. I feel that my paintings have dipped a little in quality this year after a good start, but now I feel back in the swing of things.

Examples of lessons I've learned since last year.

1. The Albion picture last year taught me that complex scenes need proper staging. I learned that for a complex painting, a detailed study saved time and was less work than painting the final picture and trying to correct it.
2. The Nine Ladies taught me that phthalo green in a glaze could look near black when toned down and was sufficiently opaque for details when liquified.
3. Perfection and Necroamoria taught me that acrylic resin varnish cannot be applied over gilding until the size is totally dry, and that wet sanding an acrylic gesso surface with alcohol creates a smooth slick surface. I also learned that a study should be repainted from the start if it is not an accurate representation of the final work, and that final varnishing should be done with absolute care and that it cannot be removed in part.
4. The Lightning Of Creation taught me that a painting that is considered "finished" can still be revisited and improved. I also learned about the application of gold pigment as glitter.
5. The Death By Explosion Of Moons And Keyholes taught me a lot about plaster of paris and that gold and jewels can improve a painting. This painting is recently complete and was developed for the Sue Ryder Art Liberating Lives exhibition. I will submit it soon.
6. Money Just Running Out taught me that abstraction can sometimes look better than reality, and that when glazing, flat synthetic brushes can be more effective transmitters of flair and panache than round sables.

I'll stop here because each painting has taught me something. The underpainting to The Apocalypse Of Finance is now complete, it is the last major work I will start this year.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Flatspace Mobile

The iPhone version of my game Flatspace has been submitted for publication on the Apple App Store. This new conversion is expected to be on sale to the public later this month for a bargain $2.99. It's a big game for such a small machine and credit must go to Wasp Games for the conversion work.

Still Painting

Painting the figure today. I used fairly realistic colours, yellows and dark reds even though this is just an underpainting. It gives me more flexibility during glazing and if smooth and pretty means I can finish with a flourish in one layer. A painting should look good enough to be called "finished" after every layer, even the first.