Saturday, 30 July 2011

Brave New Worlds exhibition

I'm pleased to announce that my work, Awakening, has been selected for part of an upcoming exhibition of utopian and dystopian artwork, "Brave New Worlds", at the Riverside Gallery in Richmond, near London from September 3rd.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Work in progress

"Prophecy"...another piece depicting doom and gloom! It's almost there I think, I just need to add a bit more detail to the buildings and work on some of the textures a little. Not my most polished piece, but quite spontaneous, with more of an illustrated/sketchy kind of feel. Inspired my the recent exhibition of John Martin paintings, I mentioned earlier.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Painting songs

In a previous entry I talked about the fusion of art and music. For years I thought it was perfectly normal to associate colours and textures with sounds and music. Then one day I read about synasthesia, and realised that this was not something everybody experienced, and a few years ago, I decided to put it to the test.

Peter Gabriel's music remains closest to me, as he was the first artist I seriously got into at the impressionable age of 15. His use of music and imagery, from his album sleeves to song videos simply blew me away, and in fact probably inspired me to become a graphic designer. However, a few years ago, I decided to try and 'illustrate' several Gabriel songs, based on the colours, forms and textures that came to mind whilst playing the music.

I produced about 6 pieces in total, all of a similar abstract style – which wasn't at all planned. I did send copies of the finished pieces to Peter's fanmail address. I wonder if he ever got to see them. I haven't looked them for a while, but upon doing so this morning, I'm thinking it's time they went back online, maybe in a new section of my main website. In the meantime, shown above is one of them, and my personal favourite, which was created to Gabriel's track, "Come Talk To Me".

Monday, 11 July 2011

Boy, have we got a vacation for you... for you... for you... for you...


The classic 1973 sci-fi thriller written by Michael Crichton, remains my all-time favourite SF movie. It's got everything - an unsettling ambience, a haunting soundtrack, the future, the past, Yul Brynner's finest performance, technology gone wrong (surely Crichton's favourite subject!), a gunslinging robot on the rampage and moustache-ridden 1970s style sex with androids. Well, I'm not sure of the latter is a prerequisite of a great movie, but it's one of the may facets of Westworld.

Flares and facial hair aside, it's one of those movies which still stands up strong today. Any big budget remake would never recapture the tense atmosphere and suspense of the original, not to mention Fred Karlin's grating, nightmarish soundtrack. The bulk of the movie sees the manic gunslinger robot pursuing  Richard Benjamin's character through the inanimate theme-park worlds of Medieval World, Roman world and West World, in a superbly directed sequence of events - the nightmare robot who refuses to die, which Terminator used so well was started here.

I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when I first saw Westworld, and it was one of the few movies which utterly terrified me, and is one of the few movies of it's kind that I can still enjoy over again today with the same sense of thrill and excitement.

What a shame they had to go and make Futureworld!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Music for painting

I find it very difficult to work without music. I've always felt there's a certain artistic inspiration to be had from music, particularly when it's the more textured, atmospheric kind. How I got through all my art classes at school and college without music, I'll never know! OK, so maybe I can work just fine without it - but much better with it, where I can enclose myself in a musical bubble of concentration.

My taste generally consists of iconic and influential artists of the last 40 years. I'm talking people such as Peter Gabriel, David Bowie, Gary Numan, John Foxx, Kraftwerk and Mike Oldfield etc. However 
a lot of the time, I may choose instrumental music, as somehow it often feels more suited to the kind of paintings I produce. I
n particular I'm a big fan of Jean Michel Jarre, and have been since an early age. When I was little, every time I heard my dad listening to Jarre's classic Oxygène album, it would send me to some place else. I still have associations of that album with a superb book of SF and fantasy art called Space Wars, Worlds and Weapons, published in the late 70s.

Oxygene 7-13, 
Jarre's 1997 follow-up to his 1976 masterpiece, was the first thing I bought with my first ever paycheck. I remember the thrill of getting home and putting that album on and being swept away across epic dreamscapes. Much of Jarre's work, in particular the two Oxygène albums – as their titles and album covers suggest – deal with environmental issues. You only need look at Michel Granger's striking artwork on 
Oxygène to know that under the famous melody, it's a suite of music centered around our own destruction of the Earth.

But themes aside, this kind of music for me is just perfect for painting environments and landscapes; no lyrics to dictate otherwise, and, being a synaesthete, the music affects my mood and the colours of the piece I'm working on. It's with that in mind, that I often find whatever music I'm listening to, integral to the creative process. But it has to be the right music!

Friday, 1 July 2011

John Martin - Painting the Apocalypse

Sheffield's Millennium Gallery heralded a surprise for me today - a free (and impressively big) exhibition of paintings by British Romantic painter, John Martin. Entitled "Painting the Apocalypse", it showcases Martin's work which depicts the end of days, often with strong Biblical undertones.

I had never heard of John Martin, but it sounded interesting, so in I went. I was simply astounded by the magnificence of his paintings and sketches, not to mention the scale of some of them. The light, the colout. Epic proportions. I never associated the Romantic movement with apocalyptic imagery – paintings well out of their time! Absolutely wonderful - I'm going back for a second, more in-depth look.

John Martin: "The Great Day of His Wrath" (1851-3)