A4 collage

 Man on a Bicycle Journey
Oil and photocopied images on foamboard

Poems and Sound Poems

“Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, we're afraid!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
"We can't, We will fall!" they responded.
"Come to the edge," he said.
And so they came.
And he pushed them.
And they flew.”
― Guillaume Apollinaire

Breakfast (Déjeuner du matin) by Jacques Prevert

He put the coffee
In the cup
He put the milk
In the cup of coffee
He put the sugar
In the café au lait
With the coffee spoon
He stirred
And drank the café au lait
And he put down the cup
Without speaking to me
He lit
A cigarette
He blew rings
Of smoke
He put the ash
In the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He stood up
He put his
Hat on his head
He put his
Raincoat on
Since it was raining
And he left
In the rain
Without a word
Without looking at me
And I, I put my head
In my hands
And wept.

Jean-Pierre Brisset

Les dents, la bouche.                    
Les dents la bouchent.
L’aidant la bouche.
Lait dans la bouche.
L’aide en la bouche.
Laides en la bouche.
L’est dam le à bouche.
Les dents la bouche.

My Business by Henri Michaux

     I can hardly ever see anyone without fighting him.  Others prefer interior monologue.  Not me.  I'd rather fight.
      There are some guys who sit down facing me in the restaurant and they don't say anything, they stay around a while, because they've decided to eat.
      Here's one.
      I grab him, bang.
      I regrab him, bang.
      I hang him up on the coat hook.
      I unhook him.
      I hang him up again.
      I re-unhook him.
      I lay him out on the table, I mash him and choke him.
      I smear him, I inundate him.
      He comes to.
      I rinse him off, I stretch him out (I'm starting to get on my own nerves, this has got to stop), I squash him, I put the screws to him, I condense him and insert him into my glass, and ostentatiously pitch the contents onto the ground, and say to the waiter, "Get me a clean glass."
       But I feel ill, I pay the check promptly and I get out.

Sliding Trombone by Georges Ribemont Dassaignes

I have a little windmill on my head
Which draws up water to my mouth and eyes
When I am hungry or moved to tears
I have a little horn full of the odour of absinth in my ears
And on my nose a green parakeet that flaps its wings
And cries 'Aux Armes'
When from the sky fall the seeds of the sun
The absence from the heart of steel
At the bottom of the boneless and stagnant realities
Is partial to crazy sea-fish
I am the captain and the alsatian at the cinema
I have in my belly a little agricultural machine
That reaps and binds electric flex
The cocoanuts thrown by the melancholy monkey
Fall like spittle into the water
Where they blossom again as petunias
I have in my stomach an ocarina and I have virginal faith
I feed my poet on the feet of a pianist
Whose teeth are even and uneven
And sad Sunday evenings
I throw my morganatic dreams
To the loving turtle-doves who laugh like hell.

Quotes and excerpts

Progressive art can assist people to learn not only about the objective forces at work in the society in which they live, but also about the intensely social character of their interior lives. Ultimately, it can propel people toward social emancipation.
-Salvador Dali

Each one of these bodies ( works he made) certainly signifies something, but it is only once there is nothing left for me to change that I begin to look for its meaning, that I give it a name. 
- Hans Jean Arp

The realization that reason and anti-reason, sense and nonsense, design and chance, consciousness and unconsciousness, belong together as necessary parts of a whole - this was the central message of Dada.
-Hans Richter

Abstract paintings are like fictitious models because they visualise a reality which we can neither see nor describe but which we nevertheless conclude exists. We attract negative names to this reality: the un-known, the un-graspable, the  infinite, and for thousands of years we have depicted it in terms of absolute images like heaven and hell...Paintings are better the more intelligent, the more beautiful, the more mad, the more extreme, the more evident, the more incomprehensible their way of showing this incomprehensible reality.
- Gerhard Richter

‘I’d already repudiated the word, because many other people before that were using it. It was a catch word. You remember everybody went around going, “What’s happening, baby?”
…I remember one ad showed a floating woman in outer space, a starry background, and the legend was, “I dreamt I was in a happening in my Maidenform brassiere.”
So by that time movies and the Supremes and all were in general usage around the word in ways that had nothing to do with my original sense, which became so foreign to me that I just dropped it. However, it’s like your name, you can’t drop it without somebody coming and picking it up and saying, “You dropped something mister.”
Allen Kaprow (regarding the term 'The Happening')

Our heads are round so that thoughts can change direction.
-Francis Picabia

For me there is no gap between my painting and my so-called 'decorative' work. I never considered the 'minor arts' to be artistically frustrating; on the contrary, it was an extension of my art. 
-Sonia Delaunay

A copy of the universe is not what is required of art; one of the damned things is ample.

A certain amount of contempt for the material employed to express an idea is indispensable to the purist realization of the idea.
Man Ray

To approach the spiritual in art, one will make as little use as possible of reality, because reality is opposed to the spiritual. 
-Piet Mondrian

There is no commerce between so-called artistic painting (which claims the exclusive right to this title) and that which is more moderately called house painting, or interior decorating. They don't know each other, don't speak to each other. This is not good. Come on! Do both kinds of people spend their entire working lives with the same colours; thickening them, thinning them, applying them in all sorts of ways, yet not giving each other the slightest bit of advice? Can it be that they just do not meet? I once helped out an artist at the very beginning of his career. He walked past a paint merchant's, where there were large tins and barrels of paint of every sort of pigment, draws full of the most stunning powders, without so much as a sidelong glance - he quickened his step. At a stationer's shop, he bought six small tubes of special artists' colours, smaller than those used for Vaseline or Seccotine. Back home he squeezed a little from each tube, and sat down in front of an apple. Under his window a workman, armed with some cans of paint, was working on a lifesize shop sign of an innkeeper presenting a menu. But he noticed neither the workman nor his work. I met this artist twenty years later. He was still painting apples with his small tubes of paint. I mentioned the picture of the innkeeper on the facade of his house. It never occurred to him to look at it, he told me. I also mentioned the colours of his studio walls but he told me that artists are distracted and quirky people, so profoundly absorbed in their work that they never take note of things like that.
- Jean Dubuffet

If you're not trying to be real, you don't have to get it right. That's art.
-Andy Warhol

Art doesn't go to sleep in the bed made for it. It would sooner run away than say its own name: what it likes is to be incognito. Its best moments are when it forgets what its own name is.
-Jean Dubuffet

Color is the essence of painting, which the subject always killed. 
-Kasimir Malevich

A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore risky to send it out into the world. How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent.
-Mark Rothko 

Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.
-Salvador Dali

It is most important that we should rid art of all that it has contained of ‘recognizable material’ to date, all familiar subject matter, all traditional ideas, all popular symbols must be banished forthwith. More important still, we must hold enormous faith in ourselves; it is essential that the revelation we receive, the conception of an image which embraces a certain thing, which has no sense in itself, which has no subject, which means ‘absolutely nothing’ from the logical point of view.. ..should speak so strongly in us, evoke such agony or joy, that we feel compelled to paint.
- Giorgio de Chirico


Love cardboard.
The cheap corrugated paper, the grey carton lid, the black adhesive tape. Something out of nothing!
That is how creation begins. What is
valueless has value. What is valuable is suspect. Possessions!
Customs admit the cardboard relief. It is valueless, is no possession.
But copper is beautiful, or brass, aluminium, iron. Metal is more intense than cardboard, harder, more glistening, or 
else more dull. More aggressive. Less yielding.
I love metal.
It resists. It dictates its own rhythm. It shines. It is proud… So very different from the friendlier cardboard which adapts 
itself willingly to chance, and remains undiscovered.
- Hans Richter

Every artist is crazy with respect to ordinary life.
 - Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven

The mind loves the unknown. It loves images whose meaning is unknown, since the meaning of the mind itself is unknown.
 - Rene Magritte

The flux of life is pouring its aesthetic aspect into your eyes, your ears - and you ignore it because you are looking for your canons of beauty in some sort of frame or glass case or tradition. 
― Mina Loy

We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a colour, a surface. (1925)
Theo van Doesburg

Art needs an operation 
- Tristan Tzara

I force myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.
- Marcel Duchamp

All critics should be assassinated.
- Man Ray

You'll never know why you exist, but you'll always allow yourselves to be easily persuaded to take life seriously. 
― Tristan Tzara

All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone.  The spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. 
― Marcel Duchamp

The creative ability of an artist is manifested only if he succeeds in transforming the natural phenomena into 'another reality.' This part of the creative process as an independent element, if conscious and developed, hints at the possibility of creating a painting. 
- Frantisek Kupka

Art is a guarantee of sanity.  That is the most important thing I have said. 
 - Louise Bourgeois

To those talking behind my back: my ass is looking at you. 

- Francis Picabia

A creator needs only one enthusiast to justify him.

to be continued.....................

Sun Ra Arkestra

Sun Ra Arkestra.

I felt like I heard the entire history of Jazz in one night. Swing, be-bop, free improvisation, standards. I counted fourteen members in all dressed in outfits that looked something like the costume department had made them for a 50s sci-fi B-movie, lots of sequins and colour. Some of the members are old, very old. Marshall Allen, who directs the band is now ninety, Sun Ra died in 1993.

I'm not able to describe the music easily, hardly any tunes were introduced, and really I don't want to go into depth here, except to say that it was a really great night. Robin has written a piece about them on his blog (however, the clip he uses is not from the night we went to) if you wish to take a look here

A4 Gouache on Paper

Gouache on black paper

Gouache and Graphite on black paper

A4 Collages

Bubble Bath Queen
Vintage images on black paper

Gouache and vintage text on black paper

Vintage images on black paper 

The Right Painting Style

Although there is no right painting style, there is the right style for each individual artist.  I say this because my style has changed a lot since I first started painting.  When young and inexperienced, as I was, the influence of teachers, peers and the big names in Art History, plus trends in art styles, can mean a young artist develops a style that is not best suited to them, I think this probably happened to me.

The style that was popular when I first started painting in oils was Abstract Expressionism, which had been around for decades and was the default style taught by teachers who had probably learnt themselves in that way.  Thinking about it now I can see why it was and probably still is popular because it is both Abstract and Expressionistic and therefore it's a great way to get young painters to free themselves up, the style often depicting the painter's world in an emotive and expressive way.  This was my chosen style for quite some time but it didn't suit me in the long term or my work-flow either.

During my artistic life I've had many breaks from painting, often replaced with other crafts and creative interests, but have come to the conclusion that this is not necessarily a bad thing.  Gaps can enable a kind of detox which can be refreshing, they can allow space to just get on with life, gain experience, develop a sense of self, prevent burn-out and could mean longevity working later in life as a result.  Your skills are often just as good as they were and in some cases better with time.  I have experienced something similar with music. I found music theory frustrating when I was younger; I would try to read it but a lot of the time I didn't have the patience. However, years later I found that the information had gone in and was there in my brain, tucked away in a box as it were, and now being more mature and relaxed I could bring it out, understand it better and use it.

Away from the influences I mentioned earlier I have developed a better understanding of what my style is.  I had always had a strong tendency towards design but once at art college decided to change my direction from Fashion to Fine Art.  I tried to get rid of the design aesthetic, seeing the two disciplines as polar opposites.  Now I realise that strong design skills could have been a strength if I had known how to incorporate them better.

I enjoy using colour as this is a bit of a strength, but I have to say that I wasn't taught anything about it really apart from the absolute basics.  I believe colour is something that many painters would do well to know more about.  I feel that many paintings are ruined by the use of unrelated colours. I'm also not keen on the plastic finish that some acrylic paintings have.  Colour theory is a science and actually requires quite a bit of studying to understand it properly.  I found out more about colour in a pattern-cutting class than I did at art school.  I don't know if schools and colleges teach colour theory today, but if they don't they probably should.  It's better to have a skill even if you don't think you'll need it initially as you may change during later development.

I've tried to utilise the elements of design in my recent pieces and I now paint in a much less expressionistic way than I did previously.  I use line and colour and paint in flat planes.  I'm not really interested in depicting emotion and I try to keep representational scenes to a minimum.  This has led to painting in a predominantly abstract and sometimes non-representative way.   I find working in a non-representative way very liberating as I don't have to rely upon a subject drawn from the world around me, but more from my imagination.  This is what I missed earlier in my life as an artist.  In fact I would go as far as to say that because I was good at drawing what was around me I relied too heavily upon this for inspiration.

I admire the work of the Russian Constructivists and the De Stijl movement, particularly in regards to painting.  Although their painting is superficially similar to later works from the 60's Abstract movement, I find their understanding of colour and how they applied it more aesthetically pleasing.  There seems to be a tradition there, a type of classicism in the way they use colour.  This is what I find exquisite about many of these works, a juxtaposition between modernism and classicism. This is something I aspire to in my own work but I have to say, it's very elusive.

Composition No.15 by Friedrich Vordemberge-Gildewart, 1925. This is what I mean by exquisite colour.

Towards A New Art (Tate Gallery Publications)

I found this in a local second-hand book shop whilst having a rummage and it's really good. Originally published in 1980 by Tate Gallery Publications, a long time ago now I know, but the subject (the background to abstract art) feels fresh to read.  I was drawn to the book by the cover, which I absolutely love.  It's a reproduction of an oil painting by Frantisek Kupka called Amorpha Fugue in Two Colours painted in 1912.

The book contains about ten essays, three in particular I will mention here. Music and Abstract Painting: Kandinsky, Goethe and Schoenberg by Peter Vergo, Mathematics In Early Abstract Art by Lucy Adelman and Michael Compton and The Psychological Background To Early Modern Colour: Kandinsky, Delaunay and Mondrian by John Gage.  These essays point to the ideas that were drawn from other arts and disciplines at the beginning of the new century and the radical changes that were taking place at that time regarding the changes from representational to a more abstract art.

Other essays cover abstract art in relation to interior decoration.  One piece discusses why so many Parisian artists went to the brink of abstraction only to revert to figurative modes, another describes the circulation of ideas and images breaking through in Paris and then spreading throughout the Western world.

As I say, it's a really good read but there's more to get through, so I'd better get on with it so I can start a new book my partner (Robin) bought for me this week titled Dada's Women by Ruth Hemus, which I may talk about in my books section at a later date.

Below is an example of atonal music from Schoenberg's early masterpiece Pierrot Lunaire, which influenced Kandinsky.  In this piece there are many unresolved dissonances.

Here's the bookshop in Harmood Street near Chalk Farm Road in Camden.  There aren't many left these days in London and we'll miss them when they're gone so go and check out your local second-hand bookshop, if you have one, you never know what treasures you might find.

A4 Collages

Woman Shopping 
 Vintage text, graphite and gouache on A4 black paper

Nice Change
Vintage images and text on A4 foamboard

                                    Centerfold charmer                                        
                                          Vintage images and text with crayon on A4 black paper                                       

                                       Hot-house flower                                          
                                      Rhinestones, text, vintage images and oil on A4 black paper                                           

                                 Night Fall                                   
 Photocopied text, images and oil on A4 black paper

                                       Photocopied images and oil on A4 foamboard                                          

Vanity Air
Cut out images and text on A4 foamboard