Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Humanoid Robot Drawing Portraits

Is this the beginning of the end for human artists?

Alien Christmas

My card painting is complete!

I've had a difficult week or so but now I'm back on track. The end of my painting projects was a relief but now I'm in a sort of withdrawal stage and need something new. At times like this I refer to my monthly goals/plan list.

I've got a couple of options for December. I must design a painting for the Jobling Gowler competition because it has a deadline early in 2011 but, setting art aside, I have a few choices. I think I'll make a video or two, working on promotion. I could continue with the big bang music, but I think I've created enough. Now it's time to promote what I've got, for a change.

One thing I have done today is stretch a canvas, a huge one that really tired me out! I used an acrylic impregnated polyester canvas called Top Gun, which is very warm and plastic to the touch. As it's pigmented plastic it is lightfast and rot proof, but I'll prime it with one coat of gesso, the sandy tooth is always a good idea for oils.

The canvas will become "The Quest for Pity on the Road to Self-Destruction", the second in my "pity" series. It's so large and white and lovely. I want to keep it as it is! I look forward to painting other things of this scale. It will be good practise. That's why I paint at the moment; training. I will paint seriously when qualified, not for several years yet! My painting obsession is less than five years old, after all!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Two Roman Legionaries Interview

Here is the cringeworthy news piece and interview about the donation of my painting to the Grosvenor Museum. It was a good learning process. My interview was filmed at the Cubby Hole and there are shots of the exhibition I had there. The other gentleman is Peter Boughton, Master of Art for Cheshire. The whole thing was conceived and produced by a journalism student at John Moores University, Liverpool.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Abandoning Someone Who Was a Friend to Me When I Had None

Here is my latest painting to be scanned, Abandoning Someone Who Was a Friend to Me When I Had None. The scanning process was arduous and involved 15 A4 scans that needed assembling. This big painting has an image of nearly 10,000 pixels square!

The picture depicts the end of a relationship (based on fact but romanticised, not real!) and uses colour to convey abandonment. I applied rules inspired by psychology to reflect the current and real in strong chromanance, and the distant and vague in greys. Similar tricks are used in mental visualisation processes to reinforce positive thoughts and dissipate negative ones.

It's 80x80cm, oil on canvas and took over a year from concept to finish! There were about 15 full days work involved, necessarily spread over that time.

The acrylic canvas was a pleasure to paint on but a pain to prepare. I'm going to try some "Top Gun" polyester canvas next (year), which is less heavy and more slick.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Trigonometry of Framing

Imagine you had a triangular wooden painting that measured 300x400x250mm on the sides. You don't know the angles. You have some framing wood with a deep 24mm rebate. You need to know what length the wood needs to be on the internal edge, and at what angle to cut the ends too. Quite a conundrum!

I'm faced with just that (well, apart from those specific sizes) for the painting below so I've written a small program in Visual Basic to solve the riddle. One day I'll probably adapt it so that I can cut the angles for any quadrilateral... just in case!

Thanks to the internet I managed to program this without actual mathematical knowledge. Phew. I can't ever recall hearing of the law of cosines before but now I have.

Alas I don't have a mitre saw so I'll have to saw the angles by hand. Awkward, but possible. I've done it before and the results weren't that bad.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


The Starcrossed Escape of the Psychological Cosmonaut is complete apart from the signature (face detail shown). Last week was tough, an emotional and physical strain due to lots of things happening at once, but through it I forced myself to paint and now it is done and I feel calm. My sore throats and ear aches aren't getting better so I'll see what some rest can do. After many months of this I can see myself going back to the doctor for a sixth or seventh or whatever it is opinion, only to be sent back home to rest. I feel so tired of life today.

But I'm pleased with the painting. I have one other underpainting, The Annunciation, but that's quite a lot smaller and not for anything in particular. I'm really so fed up with painting that I'll quite simply stop. I've been ignoring my feelings and whims too often and now it's time to do what I want. No schedules. No plans. At last.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


I'm still painting. The Christmas underpainting was completed on Tuesday and I'm now working on the Starcrossed Escape. This is time consuming and the long hours, bad light and cold are proving tiresome. I'm looking forward to a rest from painting after this one.

The eclipse part is shown. Those rays are difficult to get right. The slightest mark in the wet glaze remains eternally visible so each touch and stroke must be perfect. I aim to finish this layer on Sunday.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

The First Alien Christmas

Here is the first glimpse of my Christmas card painting. It's taking a long time. Those cloth folds and facial features would take a while irrespective of scale (in actuality the faces are about 15mm across). I expect this 23x33cm underpainting to take about three days.

The violet base is acrylic, which I had to apply in this case because I don't have enough time for an oil imprimatura. The strong mid-tone is an accidental first for me but it worked well. The surface was rather more slick than it should be but it was okay. It's watered down liquid Dioxazine and was done a few days before painting began.

>Only earth oil colours have been used; the blues are cobalts, with the sky being mars violet based. Don't pay much attention to the odd sizes... the photograph perspective is strong and irrational.

The first half of the month will be busy and full of painting as I complete this, then the large triangular Escape painting. I aim to have both complete before the 15th.

>At some point I want to start approaching galleries. I'm thinking that A C.V., examples of work as photographs and artists statement sent through the post would be a good starting point. Not sure whether to follow up with a phone call or not, or whether to phone or email first. Can anyone who has done this offer advice?

Emailed images would be a no I think. A photo in the hand is worth two on the screen.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


A busy day today. In the morning I had a video interview about the Grosvenor acquisition for www.jmu-journalism.org.uk, a news website run by John Moore's University in Liverpool. I suggested it be held at the Cubby Hole because my exhibition was up there, and so it was, and the brilliant interviewer Louise Parker showed great interest in my work and the story.

It was the last day of the show there so after that I took down the exhibition with a little help from my friends, and shipped the work home and spent some time putting it away.

Then I measured and cut some wood for the Gethsemane frame which I'll make tomorrow, and put together a package of artwork and promotional material for my computer games Taskforce and Gunstorm II, soon to be available on Impulse. I like Taskforce a lot and there are lots of in-jokes, a good plot and generally good ideas in there but it's not been a popular game. Its lack of success lead directly to my interest in art. Ironically, my games now thanks to Stardock have been more successful, and I await to see how the game does now that I've polished it up a bit. Taskforce and Flatspace II are, to date, my greatest achievements as a game developer.

After that I archived the vocal recordings Steven McLachlan made for my songs because I needed the CD case for some Sibelius CD's that arrived today (grr, in cardboard sleeves, I want a CD case please. I'd happily pay a few quid more for a plastic box - although I know that I'm in a minority and that most people want cheap cheap things instead of paying for quality).

After that I went out to the Lyceum to cover a painting that was too lewd for the sensitive eyes of the local denizens, and at the same time bought some tools specifically for exhibition hanging in future. Now it's blog time. Each day is going to be a rush for quite some time.

I've got another art opening to attend tomorrow, but this time it's not for me but a new artist exhibiting at the Cubby. I wonder what the art will be like?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Lyceum Exhibition

My latest exhibition is now set up at the Lyceum Theatre, Crewe. It's a joint exhibition with Ray Perez and runs until the 16th of December. Setting up was a challenge but a good day and I learned a bit more about the best way to do these things. I'm slowly accreting a set of tools especially for exhibition hanging.

Today was the annual general meeting of my group Art Support, which is now so large that we've decided that a waiting list needs to be imposed. I'm press officer there and I'll be in charge of publicity for three exhibitions next year, but my first is an announcement about a small display at Burland Stores, Wrexham Road, Burland, Nantwich.

Now I must get on with the Christmas Card.

Other Lyceum pics...

Monday, November 01, 2010

Christmas 2010

For the past couple of years I've designed a Christmas card to give to my friends. I've been drawing that out today. Card number three began with a dome and the resulting design looked rather like a scene from Star Wars (not much of a surprise as that film was practically a direct cross between Flash Gordon and The Greatest Story Ever Told). So Christmas will be alien themed this year. I must make haste with this one, I've only got a few weeks to paint it, dry it, scan it and print it!

In the evening I set out the paintings for my exhibition set up tomorrow in the Lyceum Theatre. It'll be a busy month I think.

Every five days or so I'm hit with an itchy throat, sore throat, burning face and night fever, then it passes. It's been that way for so many months now that I suspect I'll have this for the rest of my life. The doctors can't find anything wrong and have become convinced my symptoms are psychological. I suppose only time will tell what will happen. I must focus on positivity and work.