I make really basic, crude line drawings and sketches that are often incorporated into paintings or find their way into works on paper.
The mark making is done quickly and often just begins with a line that has no particular place to go. As Paul Klee said: “A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.” And sometimes, there’s a basic idea and the image is done in a very raw and crude way with no detail, the details are sketchy!
I like the images to be coarse and unpolished, unrefined and angry! I suppose they are simple contour drawings that show the outlines, shapes and edges of a scene, but they omit fine detail, surface texture, colour and tone.
I have filled a lot of little sketchbooks in this way. My favourites, although not good art paper, are the passport size Muji notebooks but I also use the classic Moleskine (14 x 9cm) ones too. Also, although I often use Rotring art pens, I prefer the cheap but brilliant Muji 0.38 gel pen.
The painting Oskar’s Catalogued Dreaming started from a 3cm line drawing of Oskar my Maine Coon cat that was projected onto 100cm square plywood and filled in with acrylic and oilstick.
I have an idea for the baby image!
I think it’s really important to devour culture, to soak, immerse, pickle and rinse your self in the stuff! Here are a few things that have I have approached with fascination and interest. It all goes into the artistic mix; it feeds, nourishes and without it I shall wither!
Jean-Michel Basquiat – Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) – Julian Schnabel
Art Brut Japonais II – Halle Saint Pierre, Paris
Danse Macabre – Bernt Notke. St. Nicholas’ Church, Tallinn Estonia
Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fondation Louis Vuitton – Dieter Buchhart
Hawksmoor – Peter Ackroyd
The Little Zen Companion – David Schiller
The Sick Bag Song – Nick Cave
Spacebound Apes – Neil Cowley Trio
Lodger (Tony Visconti remix) – David Bowie
Flowers of Romance – Public Image Ltd
“Kicking Against The Pricks” – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Wings Of Desire – Soundtrack
White Lunar – Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Secrets of the Beehive – David Sylvian
Distortland – The Dandy Warhols
FILM / DOCUMENTARY
Stan & Ollie – Jon S. Baird
Tokyo Story – Yasujiro Ozu
Loving Vincent – Dorota Kobiela / Hugh Welchman
On Chesil Beach – Dominic Cooke
Strangers On A Train – Alfred Hitchcock
Wonderstruck – Todd Haynes
Pina – Wim Wenders
Boom For Real – Sara Driver
Winter light and winter cold
Black Medicine Coffee – Edinburgh
When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.
– John Lennon
Art is not what you see, but what you make others see. – Edgar Degas
The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
Two weeks ago I visited the Musée d’Orsay, Paris to see Orsay through the Eyes of Julian Schnabel (as well as the Van Gogh’s), as I quite like a lot of Schnabel’s work.
The gallery had asked Schnabel to give an interpretation of their collection, by presenting, in two of the museum’s historic rooms, a new scenography and a selection of works that had never previously been displayed together. More precisely, they asked him to juxtapose his paintings, sculptures and installations with the masterpieces of Impressionism. An interesting idea and a fascinating show.
However, one painting really resonated with me - Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis) with its stark, monumental, monochromatic silence. It references Peter Saville’s cover for Joy Division’s second and final album, the deeply melancholic Closer.
It made me think . . .