December 4, 2017
Morning, it’s Monday, I wish it wasn’t. I’ve been in the process of writing a new website for myself for what seems like about 500 years now (about six months in your human time), it’s going to (hopefully) be an interactive art site using the Organic Contrast abstract nature compositions I’ve been putting together. I’m very nearly there but then I think of an improvement and knock myself back by a few weeks.
As I’ve been paying for the hosting and domain for about six months now (I was sure I would have the site built in a week so I just bought them when I had the idea) I’ve started to put things up on there. At the moment there’s two things:
A landing page for my current postcard set This was really hard to do, not because of the design or code but I wanted to experiment with writing about myself with a SERIOUS face. I’ve been prodded by a couple of people again recently about trying to do something sensible with my images to try and get them in front of people so I wanted to try and see if I could write about them in a more formal manner. It makes me squirm reading it back but it’s the kind of thing I already write for clients so it makes sense.
The second thing is my matching pairs demo I put this together as a client asked if I could write basic games suitable for small children so I tried. Apparently I can, so that’s nice. I went with a selection of the Organic Contrast images because they work quite well at that scale. It was also an experiment to see what I could do quickly with SVG animated with CSS and HTML canvas. It works quite nicely in most browsers and has fallback for those that don’t fully support the animation.
It’s quite addictive. I also included it at the bottom of the landing page. I’m working on some similar widgets which I’ll pop up shortly.
I’m trying to not distract myself with these and get back into finishing off the site with it’s intended purpose, I’d like it up before Christmas if possible (no real reason, just an arbitrary deadline) so I can get back to other projects which are slowly gathering dust.
Enjoy your week!
November 11, 2017
I spent the morning at Windsor Contemporary Art Fair mixing with humans. It was the first time I’d been to an art event of that type at that scale. Previous experiences had been at the (equally excellent) Art On The Street in Maidenhead and similar. There was a certain amount of anxiety about going, especially as I was going on my own as part of my ongoing attempt to pretend to be an adult (I’m not, I’m absolutely terrible at it). This was my second social event in a week which was outside my normal comfort zone of hip-hop/punk gigs and stand up comedy. I have absolutely no idea how to conduct myself at these things and am generally terrified of making an enormous arse out of myself (more so than usual anyway). Against all odds I didn’t break anything or accidentally burn down the venue.
The very act of turning up nearly made me abandon the plan, there were proper parking attendants and people dressed like adults (I was wearing a Doomtree T-shirt and waterproofs). Everyone turned out to be very nice, there were a couple of friendly faces and I had to engage in my usual balancing act of trying to work out when I’ve bored the crap out of someone long enough and should leave them in peace. Trying to ascertain if I’ve outstayed my welcome in these situations is challenging, and I suspect sometimes I get it wrong and appear to just walk off halfway through a conversation.
The ART was excellent. Actually it was intimidatingly excellent, more so than any similar event I’ve been to and made me massively doubt whether I should continue to pursue any artistic output, but them I’m halfway through building a studio space at the moment so bollocks to it, I might as well continue. As well as some amazing fine art and photography there were some great examples of artists doing something entirely different Andy Finlay’s art was wonderful as was Valentina Gonzalez. Unfortunately a lack of cash and space leaves me with no opportunities to buy anything at the moment, although I would really really love one of Valentina Gonzalez’s pebble paintings (my description, not hers).
Overall the experience was a strange mix of intimidating and inspirational, I really want to get to the point where I can take part at something like this, but it’s going to be a long way in the future. Next up I’ll be going along to Art On The Street in a couple of weeks.
Here I am attempting to be a grown up:
Here’s the flyers and postcards/cards I collected.
Artists are as follows (in no specific order) and in the interests of not showing up my own lack of knowledge/offending them I’m not going to bother describing any of their art, click on them and find out:
I managed to mix with some humans without being dragged out and burnt as a witch. I’ll put that down as my achievement for the week.
Addendum: I have just remembered that this was my second outing to Windsor Racecourse, during the first one (a networking meeting at which I was selling my web development skills) the first conversation I had consisted of a woman telling me I really stood out as someone who didn’t fit in so well in that environment. She didn’t mean it as a negative but nevertheless it didn’t ease me into the situation.
October 29, 2017
Happy Sunday! Here’s some new digital artwork. Red Kites Circling. The original silhouette photograph was taken during a walk in the Chiltern Hills around Crowsley Park, mostly trying to take photographs of crows (which failed rather dismally as they are far too smart and kept avoiding me). I’d given up on the crows and decided to take a few shots of some of the fantastic gnarled trees in the area when a pair of Red Kites started swooping directly over my head. I nearly knocked myself over backwards trying to track them but got some nice photos of both the pair of them flying together and some decent close ups and silhouette shots of them as individuals. Crowsley Park is a fantastic place for wildlife, especially bird life, it’s wide and open with lots of little copses for the corvids to perch in an croak at passers by.
Here’s the piece, I reckon it will work quite nicely as a print, what do you think? There’s a slight hint of mandala about it (although not intentional) and I appear to be drifting more and more into the folk art direction.
I’m slowly building up a collection of bird related artworks from photos taken around the Chilterns so will put together a postcard or bookmark set soon and stick it up on Etsy.
Here’s the original shot of the Kite overhead.
And here’s a few others from the series.
While I’m here, I’ve got a sale on at the Etsy store for the Organic Contrast Postcard set, it’s 25% off until the 31st October…
October 1, 2017
Merry Sunday Evening. In the gloom I feel the lumbering horror of Monday morning heading my way. Before I hide my head under the covers and quake in fear here’s some pictures.
These are my more recent Organic Contrast images, I’m working on a website for them which I’ll get online shortly.
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 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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