May 31, 2017
I have some new merchandise. I’ve put a selection of Organic Contrast images onto postcards which you can buy and send to people, pin to the wall, eat (please don’t eat them), or do whatever else seems appropriate.
For your money you get 5 postcards chosen at random (see the full set here) or you can choose which ones you want. here is some spiel which shows how terrible I am at writing about my art:
Organic Contrast came about from experiments with minimalist photographs of silhouettes (mostly trees) mixed with geometry and symmetry. They are mostly monochrome although some have a small amount of colour.
The images explore the beauty that can be found in the simplest of organic shapes contrasted against rigid geometric constraints.
The postcards are A6, matt printed card with a space on the reverse to write a lovely message, draw a picture of your own or scribble down random thoughts about the apocalypse.
February 24, 2017
HELLO. Here’s a piece I’ve had marked as ‘work in progress’ for about two months. It’s not going to progress so here it is. I was worried it was a bit too ‘cheap gothic horror book cover’ but I like the symmetry. It was the rough which gave me the ideas I’m working on now and which have caused me to spend too much time dragging myself round cold moors looking for crows and magpies.
December 10, 2016
Dreams of light bugs. Exploding into life, blur of electric blue. Fading quickly, haze of dissipating sparks.
Light painting with Alexander (and a bit of photoshop).
September 10, 2016
As part of the anxiety counseling I received earlier this year I was given the gentle target of completing a creative project. The logic being sound in that two of the aspects of existence I struggle with are my lack of control over my life and my frustration at not being able to complete the creative targets I set myself. I agreed with my counselor that I would break a couple of creative projects into easy to achieve steps and try to complete just a single step on a single project each week.
At first it worked great. I managed to get the first couple of tasks on a couple of projects done and felt really positive about finally making some progress on projects I’d abandoned as hopeless. But then my self destructive procrastinator kicked in. The first tasks on the projects I’d chosen had been effectively admin: choose a location, order some materials, list out the intents, etc. As soon as the admin (easy) tasks were done, the bits I couldn’t “fail” at I just started creating new projects to work on instead. By the end of the counseling I’d accrued quite a list of projects and made no real progress on any of them. For the record I don’t put this down to the counseling it’s something I’ve always done, I caught myself doing it this afternoon, buying fishing wire and ball bearings on Amazon for a completely spurious project instead of trying to make some real progress on anything I had already started.
This doesn’t help with the anxiety, it makes it worse. A repeated mantra of the evil liar that is my depression is that of “you’ll never achieve anything, you’ll never finish anything” and sometimes even my objective self believes this. The house, my hard drive, my head are all full of bits and pieces of creative projects, ten percent, maybe twenty percent finished but no further. I fear what will happen if I finish one, but I think more than that I fear that I will never finish one.
Today I acquired a totem of impending creative failure. A while back I came up with an idea for a series of photos which required a small selection of props, I did the initial admin by working out what the props were, considered a couple of locations then procrastinated violently. The props are easy to come by and available in most hardware stores for a couple of pounds, but rather than just walk to the hardware shop and buy them I decided to ask on Facebook if anyone I knew had them to hand and could I buy them off them. I had a logic which I won’t go into here. Of course lots of people offered to help and a couple of friends had what I needed so I agreed to pick them up off them next time I saw them, considered the next step of the project done and dropped it. I never found the time to visit the friends and so never progressed. Today in a moment of hope I walked into a hardware store and bought most of the bits I need. Two of them being plastic light fittings (they cost about 70p each). I am considering them a totem, a warning. If they are still sitting untouched, unmodified and unphotographed on my workbench by the end of the year it’s a signal that I’m not sorting myself out and I really need to do something about it.
I will face my new nemesis and destroy it, or at least modify it and take some photos, regardless of the outcome.
(I will probably still buy fishing wire and ball bearings because hey, who the hell doesn’t need those in their life).
August 24, 2015
I remember being about eight or nine years old and staring intently into this picture for what felt like hours. Of course being eight it was probably more like three or four minutes but either way I remember it pulling my attention for a decent length of time. I think it was the first piece of art that ever connected with me, I was fascinated by it, I wanted to know where it was and what was outside the edges; what was over the hillside, what was going on outside the frame, was there some sort of magical kingdom just out of sight (I was eight, give me a break), was it windy, how cold was it in those hills. Most of all I loved the little group of rocks in the centre of the lower third, to my tiny imagination I could see a big stone giant’s head lying there asleep, the rest of him just out of shot. I’m sure it doesn’t look like that to anyone else but it became so ingrained in my mind that even as an adult I still see it. I desperately wanted to visit this place with it’s hills and moors and sleeping giants although was maybe a little cautious of the giant. Not much has changed, although I’m a little more realistic about giant aspect.
Over the years I forgot about the painting, we moved house a few times, and presumably it got packed up and then never unpacked again. Then a couple of years back I remembered it existed and asked my parents about it, neither had any memory of it and so that was it.
A few months later my father had to clear out his house and showed up on our doorstep with a carload of precious things (random tat) to look after, amongst the family photos, old lamps and schoolbooks from another age was the watercolour painting of the sleeping stone giant. In my memory it had been a beautiful near photo-realistic image of a rolling hillside, the reality is different but I still love it.
I asked my father where it had come from and if he knew where the subject was. Apparently, during the Second World War my grandfather (Cyril Barker) had run/worked in a shop called Widgers on Barnstaple high street in Devon. They had sold hardware (glass, paint, wallpaper, etc) and as side business using the materials they sold had framed pictures for local artists. The artist had bought the painting in to be framed and never returned to collect it. The likelihood is that the subject is somewhere on Dartmoor. The picture was handed down to my father and now to me.
It’s not the best painting in the world but it means a lot to me. I’d love to know who painted it and where it is set. It reminds me of the rural solitude of my childhood (in a good way), something I still strive for. I like to think of the artist sitting alone for hours on some deserted moorland in Devon, blustery clouds playing havoc with the light while he tries to capture the sleeping stone giant before he awakes.
Should you happen to recognise the landscape please do let me know where it is, as it’s probably on Dartmoor there’s a chance it hasn’t changed much over the years.
March 5, 2015
I went back to Checkendon on a grey, drizzly day. Not what I’d hoped given how long I’d been meaning to find time to return. It’s not that far from where I live, but it’s just far enough to be a little too far to drop in just to trek across a field to see if a sculpture is still there.
Last year ended badly. Work had been going downhill at an increasing velocity and was starting to veer out of control. A combination of unfortunate circumstances and direct unpleasantness left me rinsed out and with self-worth in negative figures. January looked bleak, January always looks bleak, I needed to do something positive before complete disintegration.
One of my more insidious mental wrongs is the feeling that I need to be given permission to enjoy myself. I’ll think of something nice to do and rather than do it I put it off until work is good and bills are paid and the garden is tidy and the car is serviced and a thousand other things which have no connection or bearing on the situation. I want a grown up to tell me I’m allowed to go out and play, but I’m the grown up now and I don’t feel qualified. As an antidote to the horrors I planned to make a list of the local, and less local places I’d been wanting to take an hour or so out to go and photograph, book half a day off every couple of weeks to go and spend some time alone with a camera.
I didn’t quite have the mental momentum to actually book any time off, but as a middle ground whenever I travel to a meeting, I check my list and see if any of the locations are in the region. As it happened a few days later I had a meeting in Reading, which isn’t actually that close to Checkendon but it was in roughly the right direction so I took the opportunity to drive out there afterwards. I had no luck, driving around lost for a while I gave up and went home. Fortunately, my previous set of photos had been Geotagged so I dug one out and programmed the details into the sat-nav for the next opportunity.
The next opportunity came a couple of weeks later when visiting a friend in Oxfordshire, Checkendon was just a short detour from my route home, I set out from Wallingford in bright sunshine, which quickly gave way to clouds, then rain, then hail. I considered quitting and going home, but I give in too easily so I persevered. As I turned onto the B-Road into Checkendon I immediately recognised the high verge on the right and spotted the sculpture staring sadly across the field to my left. Being constantly afraid of being told off for parking where I shouldn’t I drove about half a mile down the road to find somewhere safe to leave the car.
The land the sculpture sits on is, I believe, private land. It’s clearly used quite heavily by the local youth for somewhere to loiter as there’s beer cans and litter scattered all around the base of the sculpture and piled up in front of the barn which seems to be deflating in slow motion, most of the roof now sitting on the ground. My anxieties vacillated between being told to “get off my land” and being mugged by drunk teenagers. My intention had been to take my time and try and get some really good shots but constant drizzle and restlessness sent me away sooner than I would have liked. Still getting to grips with the 7D, out of practice and with an unforgiving sky most of the shots are flat and lifeless, but a few of the close-ups give a good feeling for the stark solitude of it all. I will return.
I trekked back to the car feeling more positive, spotting some of the first snowdrops of winter making a cautious foray through the tangled hedges of Checkendon.
Snowdrops and solitude.
The sculpture in question is The Nuba Survival, which has thrown me slightly as I always believed it was called the Nuba Embrace. It was created by the English sculptor John Buckley. It’s in a field in Checkendon beside a collapsing barn. It’s emotive and thoughtful aided greatly by it’s odd location.
If you know of any other artworks in unexpected locations (preferable in the South East, UK) please let me know and I’ll try and visit them.
I’ve been (slowly) learning watercolour painting, so I painted a murderous cat for my friend Caitlin’s birthday. It didn’t work out entirely as planned but it’s at least recognisable. The monocle and hair let it down.
June 15, 2013
I’m starting to even bore myself a bit with this but I’m far too obsessive to stop now and still have a box of prints and a mountain of charity shop frames to combine in some form. It’s started to turn into both a relaxation technique and a mental clearing system when I’m too stressed in the office or need to come up with ideas I bibble around with some frames for a bit until I can face dealing with work again or ideas start to flow.
My first crack at a double mount, it’s ok but the colour choice (arctic white) is a bit stark, especially against the black frame and dark print. Print by Tara McPherson.
Couple more of Tara McPhersons in matching frames from one of the charity shops in town, I didn’t do anything to the frames outside of cleaning them up. I’m relatively happy with the light blue mount although the margin round the print could be better defined. The other clashes a little with the image but not horribly so.
This looks better in real life although it is still very BLUE. I found a battered (but decent) wooden frame in a charity shop and wanted to try and match it to the print, it is still very BLUE and the trim is a bit too WHITE, also the colours bled together a bit when I varnished the frame.
I picked up some awesome prints by Kallus Spore at Maidenhead’s Art on the Street, having learned from the last effort the challenges of doing multiple colours (and also because I wanted to get it done quickly) I just went for a striking red. Really happy with the result.
One of a set of three beautiful Jeremiah Ketner prints I bought last year. The frame didn’t need any work but I’m really happy with the mount, best effort so far with a nice even border round the image.
One of a bunch of Kozyndan postcards and prints that have been sitting in a box for too long.
I’m becoming a frame bore and will shut the hell up about it soon. I am happy with how our office is starting to look though, it gets a reaction from everyone that visits, although it’s still pretty chaotic with piles of frames and mountboard everywhere.
I’m going to try some more interesting techniques soon, although possibly on some of my own pieces as don’t want to ruin other people’s art. I’m a bit limited by the environment (office room with no running water and not much airflow) but there’s a few bits I can try.
May 11, 2013
I made my lovely friend Tim a birthday card he could colour in, it has a rude word on it. I am considering making more, possibly a kitten shouting ‘Cocksticks’ or a bunny yelling ‘cockwarblers’ (word of the month courtesy of Emily) would you like one?
May 9, 2013
I started this a while back (about six months) but other things kept getting in the way. I was inspired by some craft projects my friend Caitlin had done and some of the projects on Cut Out and Keep. It’s my first attempt at decoupage (which I still cannot pronounce correctly). I bought a cheap wooden frame and a cheap hardback from a charity shop. Buying the book was the biggest challenge, I have an irrational negative reaction to the idea of ripping up a book for any purpose at all so I chose one that I would absolutely never read (an action thriller of some sort, no offense to the author it’s just not my sort of thing).
Rather that buy expensive decoupage paste I used cheap white glue mixed with water, it took a while to work out the best mix. It turns out the best method when using paper from a paperback is a lot of water and to absolutely soak the paper before applying it or it just comes right off when it dries. I should probably have sanded down the frame first or applied a layer of matt paint, it was fairly glossy and it took a lot of work to get the first layer of paper to stick.
Once it had dried I gave it a bit of a paint over with some white watercolour to brighten it up a little then coated the whole thing in clear acrylic varnish. Pretty happy with the result, I want to try again but something a bit more planned and designed.
Once again I failed to take before/during photos.
I am Bob. This is my blog. It is an outlet and a substitute for real life. It contains my art, photography, illustration and thoughts on mental health (I deal with anxiety on a pretty much constant basis).
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