Well,things progress slowly but surely. But it is pretty clear to me now what the real size and scale of this project is, its huge. A lot of intense work will have to take place if it's to be finished by the 17th Dec. Still not certain I will be able to do it. This anxiety has made me bring it home with me, to work on it over the weekend, hopefully to push it on more significantly.
Because painting time during the week is precious, I've not been able to complete collecting hand outlines this week. I do however have the majority, 80 out of a possible 107ish. Only 27 more to go! Though using the recycled packaging for the canvas was a good idea, its not proving that stable a surface. It takes the paint but only as a skin that tends to flake off in places where the textile is creased or uneven. I've base coated it in polyurethane varnish, followed by PVA Glue, the latter usually fixes most things, but not 100% here. Too late, I've realised I should have fully coated the canvas with PVA first, before applying the primer. But that said it is manageable. It means every time I move it some surface will come off that I'll have to re-paint later. So moving has to be kept to a minimum. In the meantime I'll just keep slapping on layers of PVA until it holds.
The 'colouring in' is going well, and looks good too. Because I'm painting something five and a half by one and a half metres, I went for the cheapest student range of acrylics I could afford. In terms of time this has probable not been a cost effective choice. My colourways were worked out in artists quality acrylic, which covered well,and gave good density in one coat, whereas the student quality takes a couple of coats to cover and achieve a moderate density. I've doubled my workload by making this choice. However, my outlay on paint would have more than doubled otherwise.
Considering I've never painted something of quite this size before, I actually think I'm doing really well.
It's quite a while since I've been excited by the stuff that Eno's released over recent decades. Either he's released more ambience into the world than it either needs, cares for, or can take, or its the well modulated, smooth, sonically controlled songs of Another Day On Earth. Though these have been pleasant additions to the lexicon, they elict no cigars for innovation. Only in his collaborative work, has there ever been some sense of exploration. But this has always been so, from Roxy through Talking Heads, Bowie and U2 on. Working with other peoples ideas in conjunction with his own appears to loosens the creative reins of control, where something random and often magically unexpected happens.
His work with Fripp having long ago reached an impasse, it was only on Drawn from Life with Peter Schwalm, (2001) that we last saw Eno really make a concerted attempt at breaking out of his neat oblique process. It surprises me that this process, allegedly so experimental and changeable, can end up producing a body of recent work so uniformly consistent in character. Perhaps he has indeed become defined, if not confined, within his own working process and created his own musical category - Enoesque
Small Craft on a Milky Sea, however, does frequently gouge new grooves into his undoubtedly broad range of recordings. Maybe this comes from the 'improvisatory' nature of the source material. On 'Horse','2 Forms of Anger,Flint March' 'Paleosonic' and 'Dust Shuffle' we hear an Eno I thought had almost become extinct, one with sharp, aggressive, harsh, even discordant edges. Music one might even cut oneself on, or find difficult listening. To someone brought up on 'No Pussyfooting' oh what great joy it is to hear these tracks!
Yes, there are still plenty of the recumbent, languid landscapes, as on 'Emerald and Lime' and the rather beautiful title track 'Small Craft on a Milky Sea, but these are rather contained, refined examples of the form he created. The album moves through a range of film like moods, suggestive of reflection, apprehension, transcendence, anger or fearfulness, in equal measure. Just when you've relaxed into a dreamy imaginary sunset, there comes an exultant storm of energy. Producing one of his most satisfying albums for quite some time.
I've started work on an artwork/hanging, which will include all the hand outlines of everyone in the business I work for. I hope it will be an enjoyable collective process to be part of, and conclude by creating a unifying visual image for Windhorse
THE FIRST STAGE
Has been preparing the canvas, painting it white, and putting PVA Glue on the edges to stop them fraying further. The canvas is made from eight flattened out product packaging, this is made from a woven synthetic fabric that was wrapped around some jute rugs we sell
THE SECOND STAGE
I drew out a grid of 108 squares into which the hands will be eventually be drawn, and painting the surrounding border a terracotta red.
I'm currently working out the basic background pattern that will go behind the hands, and the colours I'm going to use. This week I start harvesting the hand outlines, which no doubt will be a unique event in itself.
This has not been a sleep friendly week. Opposite our bedroom window in Abbey House is the back entrance to a Homeless Access Clinic. Since the arrival of Autumn and denuded trees, there is nothing between us and 'them'. So at night there is a light, supposed to be activated by motion, that turns off after twenty seconds, though this week,once on, its stayed on all night. It's a very very bright lamp, shining like a perpetual new dawn, or a prison camp searchlight trained onto our windows, lest we should escape into the land of slumber.
The consequence for me is, that even if I do manage to get to sleep, I wake two hours later thinking its morning, and a return to sleep eludes me. On one of the two nights when the light didn't illuminate the entire Western world, the area had a power cut that set off a burglar alarm in a building near by. This proceeded to tweet disconsolately all night. So I've tried wearing an eye mask ( hot, sweaty and uncomfortable after a while ) or ear plugs. Neither of which provides a fully comfortable solution I'm afraid.
As the week has progressed I've gradually become internally more grumpy, on edge, and easily irritated by inconsequential things. On Thursday I was picking in the warehouse and found negative views of others taking me over, really getting into grinding on old axes. I tried my best to temper it, but it has to be said not always effectively. Sad to have to acknowledge that my practice has yet to reach some areas, though I guess I should give myself credit for at least noticing. But today on my ninth day of sleep deprivation, I do understand why its such an effective tool for torturers. Your will does get increasingly sapped of resolve, as physically it gets harder to hold your life together. So this Saturday, finding a blackout blanket, to hell with the expense, is a priority. I feel as though I'm faltering on some sort of mental and physical precipice. that I don't want to fall over.
I've been occupied, whenever the times been available, with a number of projects at work that I've been making slow but painstaking progress with. Rather than get frustrated by this snail like pace, or lack of substantial stretches of work time, I've been utilising to the full whatever time emerges, however short. I've found that I enjoy everything I do, to a greater degree because I'm no longer seeing my other work as obstacles to doing 'what I really want to be doing'. I see life is a sequence of moments, and what to do with them arises directly from the conditions surrounding me. Any moment has its own momentum, its necessity and prime purpose, I have to learn to listen to, and most of all respond to it.
I've recently made a lectern. Now that may not sound ground breaking to you, but it is for me. As the son of a joiner,I've got an inbuilt familial inferiority complex,a view that my dexterity is cack-handed when it comes to constructing things from solid matter. I've a tendency to be hyper critical of my own efforts in this area. But frankly, I think I'll have to drop this aspect of my poor self-view. The result actually impressed even me, was quite well made, and garnered more than a few positive compliments. I'm becoming more and more aware of a tendency to raise my own criticisms of my work, in response to other people's praise. Yes, its my theme for 2010 raising its head once more, that old praise and blame stuff. As the critical words trip off the tongue to flatten the praise with deadening ease, I'm hearing myself internally groaning and screaming, STOP, SAY NO MORE !!! But alas tis always too late by then.
One of my aims with all my project work is to try raising the spiritual bar, by improving the aesthetics of shrine spaces, to uplift and, yes, amaze people with how differently they could see their work environment. During the Summer I took one rather dull corner of a corridor, where a standing rupa stood rather neglected in the shadows. After re-painting the walls a lighter colour, I improvised a plinth, that,spurred on by my triumph as a lectern maker, I might produce a better mark 2 version of. After that I drew a large circle on the wall to be the guiding outer edge for an aura. This aura was formed from a circle of thin strips cut from silver mirror card. These were stuck on the wall with double-sided tape. In the middle I placed a large convex mirror, adapted from a disused shop security mirror. The rupa originally a dark metal standing Shakyamuni, I swapped for a wood carved Kuan Yin, that has always been meant to be looking down on you with kindness. Kuan Yin bears a bit of a Virgin Mary archetype, so it did inevitable ruffle a few sensitive Ex-Catholic feathers. But, once again I've had very appreciative feedback.
This has rather emboldened me to attempt larger wall drawing/painting projects around my
workplace. I posted a feature earlier in the year about the wall paintings of Sol Le Witt, and my ambitions certainly want to head in that direction. Each time I do a wall decoration I learn more about what the work process entails. I have to be constantly on the look out for potential pitfalls ahead. However, my own small scale artwork has given me the experience and the confidence in my own creative process, plus the execution skills for these larger works. I've just never drawn or painted on walls before, so I don't, as yet, know what to beware of, the short cuts or techniques that solve particular problems. I'm very much learning on the job. I'm beginning also to appreciate that my previous artwork is ideal to be executed on a much larger canvas than I've normally attempted.
This week I finished another aura. This time around a wooden standing figure of Shakyamuni from Bali. The preparation for this, the careful detailed drawing out particularly utilised my technical drawing skills. Deciding with what sort of paint or pen to draw it out with, and knowing when to stop embellishing it, are all things I've encountered in my own work. My ideas have always to be held provisionally, waiting to see what the completion of each stage suggests to me. Sometimes I need to change tack, drop one idea, adapt another. The geometry of the final piece has its own suggestion of depth to it, so an idea to stick bronze metallic beads looked wrong once I started applying them. It confused,not enhanced, the simple illusion of depth. So I dropped that idea.
The design of the warehouse office spaces has always been
minimalistic,about large expanses of unadorned colour. It's sparseness has always felt to me a bit forced and unnecessary. Introducing designs into this needs to be done carefully, and with a degree of decorative restraint. Something too baroque would just look incongruous and out of keeping. So far I think I've been able to tread this line OK.