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True Democracy

The Muse

I like writing. Well, not so much like as see it as a personal necessity. It’s a way of processing. Very old school, nothing new there. But that’s the point! Everything is actually new when you write.

You re-invent the wheel in your own image and likeness, warts and all. You finally discover fire, despite living under a desert sun. It perhaps has no relevance to anyone but you, but you are worthy enough. Words have a magic.

Granted sometimes words fail. Maybe that’s where painting comes into play? Another road into the truth, ‘truth’, note lowercase ‘t’.

Poetry, Rap, Modernist Literature or just good old-fashion realist painting. Figures have glazed faces and unanimated clothes, clunky irregular sized limbs. We try to express how we feel. Our attempts to rage against the advancing night.

Thank God for the internet and all the wonderful artists it serves up and there’s even room for the not so wonderful as well. True democracy.


Standing Count


I have not been doing much painting in the formal sense of the word in the past couple of weeks. Such downtime in the past would instil a sense of fear and foreboding but not so now. Perhaps the years have taught me something about letting go and seeing what presents itself. To trust.

The desire to paint certainly has not left me. I read a lot about art, culture and all those good things that make our lives better. I also read about all the things that supposedly makes our life and health worse. I guess you could say I’m standing back and informing myself. I’m slow to form opinions one way or the other. Let’s just observe for now and get a felt sense for how it all feeds into that desire to paint. God forbid I might actually have something original to say in my work when the time comes to resume. That would be a turn-up for the books!

I’ve always held the opinion that all true art is soul work. Your soul being pushed out in places that you didn’t know even existed. That work never dies, you take it with you. All other opinions don’t really matter, – that is the work that matters. Paintings will come and go, but that element remains and is eternally important and is eternally a gift. You give this gift to yourself, you share it with others.


Ponderings of a Humpty Dumpty


What would a new painting look like?

Most probably the same at the ones that have gone before.

Not necessarily. Things can be different if we so choose.

Well, therein lays a philosophical debate spanning the centuries.

So it’s worthy of our engagement? Yes.

You could just update Facebook? Granted, that would be easier.

Maybe that’s the problem with Facebook and with all virtual modalities similar to it – too easy to waste time.

I’m browsing my old paintings, considering what my next painting will be like. I would like it to be different. To break new ground. To represent the advent of a new horizon.

You always say that.

Yes, I do. But this time I mean it. A return to Oils? Perhaps, but we need to go deeper than just a change in mediums, granted it’s a laudable suggestion.

This painting is called ‘Humpty falls the second time’.

A reminder that it is possible to shake up subject, medium, indeed life itself. Turn things on their heads and look anew.


Picasso, me and Cezanne

circles 233

If I was with Picasso, discussing his comment ‘Cezanne is the father of us all’, I would first admit to my confusion. He would no doubt look at me with his dark eyes and I honestly don’t know what he would say in reply.

‘Of course your confused…your a fool aren’t you?’ He might say that, then again he might not.

Maybe in this fantastical world we would summon up Cezanne’s seminal work ‘The Large Bathers’ and pause in front of it. This is the painting no doubt he was referring to when he said that the artist in question was the father of us all. The father of Cubism, abstraction, surrealism?

I would cough slightly and then taking my courage into my hands, would say something like this.

‘To my untrained eye, it looks a not so great painting. In fact let me be more candid, the king like the bathers has no clothes. There is a fool somewhere in the midst of us’

He might simply remind me that Cezanne labored over this piece for seven years, each brush stroke thought through several times. Some parts of the canvas are plain white down to the weave, untouched by paint.

In light of this he would be correct to say to me ‘Educate yourself, child’.

Cloud of unknowing, real knowledge is a nebulous thing oft defying reason and calculated gesturing.

We learn slowly.

Check this video out…



Coffee and pipes

clown reading

I’m drinking a lot of coffee these days. Well, it feels like a lot, but it’s not really, one or two cups a day, but it feels a lot for me. Why do I drink coffee, black gold? I don’t know really. It’s not as if the taste is that great. I don’t drink the stuff out of the cans, the instant powder. It flies in the face of what coffee should really be about, it’s about the experience, the aroma, the texture. Yes, I guess the taste too.

Coffee sells because it bespeaks of downtime. We all like our downtime and I’m no different than anyone else in that respect. So that’s what coffee means to me. Downtime, relaxation.

If I was born forty years earlier, or even twenty I suspect I would have been a heavy smoker. Growing up I used to see men smoking pipes. They always looked very relaxed puffing away, considering what they were doing, taking their surroundings in. The only common denominator in my childish eyes was the presence of a pipe and a blue plume of rich smelling tobacco.

But now we’re all PC and health conscious and most of the happy pipe smoking men of my youth eventually succumbed to some form of smoke related illness. Or gave it up on advice of their doctors. The doctors were correct of course, but it sure looked relaxing.

I remember one man in particular who used to work as a digger operator. He would work all day with just copious amounts of tea and the pipe constantly in his mouth, simply moving through life exuding a state of Zen like relaxation.

We’ll stick to the coffee for now, forget about the nicotine in its varying formats and concentrate on the caffeine. Things always tend to look better through the lens of youth.


Yeats and his blue sky magic

I tip my hat

A little blue book sits on my desk. Collins Gem – French Grammar. There is something about the book that stirs a memory.

As the day progresses it keeps drawing me back, keeps hankering me. Then… voila! Of course. I once owned a similar sized book. The poems of WB Yeats. Pocket size for off the cuff poetry enjoyment. If that’s your thing. I lived a wild life back then.

I must have lost it in the intervening years or simply discarded it, as you do. Maybe it fell from my pocket, as pocket size things regularly do?

But I do remember my attempts to memorise one poem from its neat small pages.

Lines came back, jumbled and bundled haphazardly together. Memory not my best friend these days. When in doubt resort to Google. A worthy modern day mantra. I reproduce the once remembered lines here in full.

Its connection to painting? Dammed if I know. Its scribble these few words or succumb to writer’s block, the ultimate in self-betrayal.

Hence the poem – An Irish man foresees his death. Please enjoy.

I know that I shall meet my fate,

Somewhere among the clouds above;

Those that I fight I do not hate,

Those that I guard I do not love;

My country is Kiltartan Cross,

My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,

No likely end could bring them loss

Or leave them happier than before.

Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,

Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,

A lonely impulse of delight

Drove to this tumult in the clouds;

I balanced all, brought all to mind,

The years to come seemed waste of breath,

A waste of breath the years behind

In balance with this life, this death.


Our Nature

plane and friend

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.–Henry Ward Beecher

We all know the above quotation to be true. On some level we intuit it so. But it doesn’t really tell us a lot.

The problem being the words ‘own nature’.

Those words suggest something that should be easily penetrable. A thing that will reveal itself with ease following some gentle probing. Experience tells us otherwise.

Our own nature for a large part reside outside the walls of our own inner knowing. Somewhere in the plateaus and rough terrain of the subconscious.

And you don’t want to go there.

Just ask Freud.

Maybe it’s more accurate to state that paintings depict one aspect of the artist at a given place in their own personal history. To state more would be to take liberties.

Then again I might just change my opinion again tomorrow..which kinda proves the point.

Complex things – humans.


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