Saturday, May 29, 2010

La Sirène du Causse

For two years my gallery didn't have a name, let alone a sign. But complaints have been coming in from the tourist people. No one could find me.

I have been thinking about calling it La Sirène du Causse, or The Mermaid of the Causse, from the beginning, but thought a better name might come along. Nothing has.

The causse of Gramat is an ancient seabed with fossils in much of the sedimentary rock. I love the sea and feel a little landlocked here. I am a children's book illustrator, so a bit of fantasy is appropriate. Lastly, perhaps the legendary lure of the siren will draw some gold-lined pockets to the gallery.

Official departmental signs already point the way to the gallery, so ici seems enough to let everyone know that they are here. Besides I had run out of black paint. Strunk and White would approve.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Joey salutes the Queen

Adrian Kohler's "Joey" salutes the Queen at Windsor, flanked by King's Troop soldiers. For those who don't know, Joey is a life size puppet and the star of War Horse, a play based on the book by Michael Mapurgo.

Adrian must be about the most accomplished and celebrated of all of us who graduated from the Michaelis Art School in Cape Town.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Most art is porn

I found and adapted this entry by Angela Treat Lyon on Robert Genn's website, Painter's Keys.

The writer and philosopher Joseph Campbell described most art as 'pornographic' not because it featured anyone who was being taken advantage of sexually (or otherwise) in the content of the work, but in that it made you want to possess it.

He felt that 'true art' was beyond possession, that art that created what he called 'aesthetic arrest': that heart-stopping, beyond-weeping, deep-to-the-soul connection that absolutely rips away your awareness of your surroundings and makes you dive into that Place Within and stop there and BE and feel. That was the only 'real' art.

In the late '70s he gave a 3-day lecture series and projected 'real art' on slides every 30 to 60 seconds throughout the entire 3 days. It must have been staggering.

The photograph is of a sculpture by Andrew Goldsworthy whose work, to me, illustrates the above.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Maligning primitive man

Lascaux cave painting, Lascaux, France, 15,000 BCE

The other night, we had dinner with the paleontologist Duncan Caldwell. He is in the area at the moment visiting local caves, and he enthralled us with stories about early man and how his belief structure was tightly integrated with nature and survival.

I often describe a neighbour in Rignac as a bit of a Neanderthal. Last week for example, he sprayed his land, bordering on my freshly cultivated vegetable patch, with weed killer. I realised that a sorrel salad I had eaten a day or two earlier had been covered with the stuff when the plants yellowed and withered.

I will have to come up with a more appropriate slur for my neighbour than Neanderthal...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Inspiration from three great faiths

Another discovery I stumbled upon while attending a play at the National Theatre was a watercolour exhibition by Doug Patterson.

The National Theatre writes of the exhibition:
"Following the journeys of three great 18th and 19th-century artist travellers (Vasileio Gregorovic Barsky, Samuel Davis and Hercules Brabazon Brabazon), Doug Patterson has created a body of paintings and drawings which record three of the world’s great faiths. From the architecture and landscapes of the Christian Orthodox monasteries of Mount Athos and Meteora in Greece to the Buddhist Dzongs of Bhutan, and the Islamic mosques of North Africa and northern India, Patterson’s work gives us a personal insight into the spiritual world of these very private places of worship."

Look at the wonderful succinct manner in which he paints these young monks playing cards.
Visit his website, to see more of his work, including a video.

San Giorgio

While I was in London, I got an email invitation from Lucy Willis to her exhibition at the Curwen Gallery. I have been a fan of hers for years, but had never seen an original. The paintings were much larger and looser than I expected. Watercolour, being a pure pigment, reproduces very well, which is why I tend to use the medium most often for illustration projects. The printed watercolours in her books are tight and crisp and very fresh.

I couldn't quite stretch myself to buy an original, but I did treat myself to this hand-coloured etching. I reckoned I owed it to her, if not myself, having learned so much from her books. Lucy's website is

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I painted this portrait of my plumber, Christian, about five years ago. I was using oils again after many years because I had been offered a portrait commission, so I needed to bring myself up to speed and asked friends to pose for me.

Besides being a most reliable plumber, Christian is also an excellent potter and a musician. He has agreed to play at our opening on June 4th in exchange for the portrait.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Vero, last night's model asked for a copy of this drawing/wash I did of her. She loved the way her gypsy roots came out in the picture, she said.

I have discovered a new way of working- mixing white acrylic with my watercolours. Sometimes the paint is so thick one can draw/scratch in it with the end of my paintbrush to interesting effect. I have been using the same technique in my illustrations for After the Kill.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Monday night life drawing group exhibition

I have just cobbled together a poster for the Monday night life drawing group's show, opening June 4th in my gallery. It was very difficult incorporating everyone's work, but after almost two years now, we have a pretty tight and loyal group, and everyone deserved to be represented on the poster and invitation. I would have liked to have had more life drawing, which is the main focus of our group, but the styles were too varied to combine, so I just used portrait studies.

Please join us on June 4th at 7pm if you are in the vicinity. There will be refreshments.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Henry Moore

One of the best exhibitions I saw in London was the Henry Moore show at the Tate. His principal and enduring subject was the human body, through which he believed "one can express more completely one's feelings about the world than in any other way."