10 Nov
Coronavirus Pictures 69

It's been strange since March and cardboard hasn't been as easy to find. Still, I've been able to keep things cheap and simple. My pound shop has some very liquidy acrylic and my local 'The Works' store has canvas boards to keep the things rolling, plus tubes of acrylic that aren't too expensive. You have to pay for a college education in fine art these days given that grants have all but stopped so there's a danger that only rich kids get to play. It's important that everyone should be able to. It's also important that it shouldn't just be the talented either! That's where I insert myself. I'm not making any claims for my stuff beyond saying I like what I'm doing - probably because I'm doing it! It's not that I'm not trying to get something done here - but what that is is more like waving from the top of the bus whilst its raining and we're only half way along. 

The room I've stored the cardboard stuff in is pretty much stacked to the ceiling. Some of the stuff got left out and was washed away by the rain. Lots have been lost here and there. I was planning at the beginning of the year to walk the North Circular Road in London and do paintings as I walked , leaving the paintings under bridges etc. But Covid stopped that after one initial starter under the Chiswick flyover! I managed to do a crappy little thing before darkness engulfed me. I went back a few months later but the whole place had been cleaned up by the council - so the masterpiece was lost!!! (Haha)

When I got there it was daylight but cold. This is in the middle of a large roundabout with a major road running overhead! It was raining a thin drizzle which helped because it kept people away and those who did walk by were heads down and moving elsewhere without any interest in the creep lying out on the floor with a bag and a piece of cardboard.The cardboard was a very poor specimen - neither big nor of good quality. It had rough ribs that flaked at the touch - rotten through and through. Normally I'd have left it where it was but I'd walked the couple of miles thinking I'd pass some good piece and was disappointed. Picking this one was an act of desperation!

Dark came quickly and to be honest I hadn't anticipated it being quite so pitch black. I couldn't see a thing under the arches but couldn't move into the light because it was chucking it down with rain by then. So I slapped on a few lines and wedged the sorry thing against one of the legs of the place and snapped it. The light from my phone made it look ok but to be honest that was a clearer sight of it than I'd had whilst scrawling it out!

Well that was that. Like I said, I was walking there a few months later and it was gone. I like that!

Anyway, I haven't re-engaged with that project since! Maybe I will but not in the immediate future. Lockdown has made me jumpy and paranoid - more so than before. And the cardboard just isn't as easily found at the moment. So drawing and canvas paintings have been more the thing these last few weeks.

The cardboard stuff is too big to display in my little rooms at home and there's nowhere to exhibit easily at the moment. And the canvas stuff isn't so big but nevertheless I've too much to see all at once. Of course I've been using some of them with the articles and stuff but using them as illustrations isn't really what they're about - none of them were specifically done for that. 

So here are a few things I've done:

The first set are all cardboard.

So this one was for the office guys you see who seem so lost trapped between the boss and the things they have to make sense of. 

I had a tawny owl during my Kes phase. Geese and pheasants, pigs one time, so nature is this thing I plug into but at an angle. It isn't distinct from Star Trek , Muhammed Ali, Bob Dylan and Mean Streets. I grew alive during the 70s away from London and all these things were channelled along with nature and stuff.  

This was a big piece of quality cardboard which I was happy to daub over quite thick. It was one of those fast moments when you feel happy because of the colours and size coming together. These big pieces work best for me  as things you see out of the corner of your eye whilst you're going elsewhere. I like to make up good titles for them in my head - not just one but many for each. Who knows what any of them are supposed to be called. Put like that, naming seems a weird thing. But this one could go all sorts of ways and who doesn't like playing with things like titles and make believe and disguising the truth and the lies, whatever. 

This was on a small piece of fairly low grade cardboard. It was dry and didn't flake but wasn't easy to get any sort of line. That's the trouble with the low grade stuff - you really can't hold the shape of anything like a line so it has to be left as just a gesture in a direction of travel. 

This was another fairly crappy piece of cardboard and  I was running low on paint too - just a bit of red and less of white and a last sqeeze of green. My brush was on its last legs also as I recall. I was just happy to cover most of the board and get something close to the Klimt-like mother and children thing I'd got going on. But really this is more an attritional act against diminished resources. 

This one is big and the carboard isn't good quality but I had enough paint and was able to cover most of it. The photo isn't very good because the painting was too high to have upright so I had to lie it over my bed and take it, hence the odd trajectory. Still, you can get a sense of it. I felt this was one of those efforts that would have been better if the lines had been clean but there was no way that was going to happen given the state of the board, and the brushes - which were pretty rubbish by this time! 

I have no idea what the hell was happening here although the cardboard was again huge - but why a horse is a mystery - but the colours flew off ok despite everything. 

I had a pretty small piece of cardboard and just blackpaint with scummy bits of white and a dirty set of brushes. So this was just a matter of getting the paint out and walking away quickly. I liked the teeth and afterwards photographed it with a shaky hand hence it being blurred. The photos have become a way of processing the pictures and I like to print them out on very glossy photography paper A3 size as a contrast to the textures of the cardboard. Which makes me sound as if I have a plan but it's just that you can't get anything like the cardboard textures in a picture so there's no point in trying for that. Better go for something best suited to the photo prints and so I like to emphasise the shine and finish as a kind of joke against the originals! When I do prints I like to process the colours too so they're drained or more vivid etc. So the print becomes as original as the original. So what does that mean? Just more play! 

This was a scummy piece of pretty large cardboard and I tried to get a sharp line in there but really couldn't. Not saying a talented skillful type couldn't, but I couldn't and so I went looking for other things and enjoyed the colour thing and the dried up feel. But again, I was short of paint at this time!

This is a fave of mine because it has a albatross with a head of fire which is very cool I think. It's large and has a ship and an ocean and something coming from underwater like Moby Dick so for me it's a bit of a myth ballad event. I always liked the way ballads and folk songs - and then Dylan's stuff of course - have this rough and ready feel overlaying some weird truths coming out of the mouths of drowned babes and holy relics, trees, witches, roads and faraway places, sailors and gipsies rambling around. Shakespeare has this too I think. So that's what is going on a lot of the time when I'm being alive, but it's not thought out at all, more likely to come in from elsewhere and later you look at what you've done and you think 'Oh my!' - because astonishment comes doesn't it when you're least ready for it? So this one did that for me at the time, although I haven't seen it since because it's somewhere in a pile and I just can't get to it. I'm sure if I get to see it again it'll be different and could be a disappointment so it's a relief that I don't have to look at this stuff once its over too often. But I can't help wishing I could get this into a setting where the space and light's right just so I can see what's what! One day I'd like to have it behind glass with a frame. I think glass would hide enough to show things in it. Sometimes the cardboard rhetoric gets in the way. But obviously that's just an aside that I might not really believe. On the other hand...  

The rabbit picture heading this blog is the same scale and I felt the same about it as with the albatross one when I did it. These two are spooky like nature and vistas can be. Don't you sometimes look out and see things faraway up close for a moment? That's what goes on a lot I think.

I did the other lead characters from Lear in an earlier Covid Pictures display. This is the last one. Again, the cardbaord was poor quality and I couldn't get the line sharp enough with what I had at my disposal and so did something else. Some things make you laugh, cry and get scared all at the same time for the same reason don't they? Lear is like that for me.

This was red and white with a dirty brush and a David Lynch thing going on. The cardboard was rough and small.

This was even smaller and the brush cleaner but in the end I had to scratch the paint on because I had very little available.

Well sometimes you have to go to the obvious places. 

Goya always holds my attention. This is pretty small. It was a companion piece to one I gave to  the poet Martin Wakefield.  

And this was a difficult piece of cardboard that crumbled if you worked it too much. So the paint really was thin and scrubby, although I really liked the slobby red and the sailors look cool I think. 

Well these were all done early on in the lockdown. There's more than a hundred of these things. Next time I'll show some from more recent days, and some of the canvas ones too. Stay cool.

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Read the complete novel  'The Ecstatic Silence' here.