s... and it's time to reactivate this blog and let you know a bit about what's been going on, what's going to happen soon and about a plan or two for the future.
First off, this site will be undergoing a bit of a revamp in the near future hopefully making it a bit easier to navigate and a bit less fragmented in terms of presenting the work. That's going to be a tricky one when I essentially have two (not entirely unrelated) but very different bodies of work to promote. I'm seriously wondering whether I should take the Iain Banks/Iain M Banks approach and use a (slightly) different name to differentiate between the two. Or maybe go the Fernando Pessoa route and adopt a totally different persona for each (or then again, maybe not). I'll probably reinstate the thumbnail Biography page and perhaps include an art CV. Although I still baulk at the very idea of 'The Artist's Statement' let alone the prospect of writing and publishing one, hey ho, it seems to be expected these days so who knows? If it helps sales so be it.
Secondly, I'll be expanding my Etsy Store, adding some new work and making greeting cards available online for the first time. I'm also currently exploring the options for selling my larger (and more expensive) acrylic paintings on Artfinder, which, while being the 'new kid on the block' as regards selling art online seems to be generating interest and sales for friends where others (so far) haven't). Although having said that once I'm up and running on Artfinder I should also be updating my Rise Art page more regularly.
Which all means I'll be trying to crawl out of my shell more often and be more proactive in terms of promoting my undoubtedly towering genius (or moderate talent, whichever you prefer). So prepare to be pestered by me more frequently.
Oh, and the illustration at the top of the page? Well that's a character sketch for the hero of a planned children's book that I'm currently in the process of plotting out. Strictly a side project and one that I'm sure probably will take years to complete (if I ever do) but it makes a change from scouring my DVD collection, trawling through You Tube or looking for medieval bunnies!
A brief post to alert people to the fact that I will be at Tavi Arts Market this Saturday, 2nd May, where I'll be showing a whole new range of work which is significantly different to my previous output. Expect a longer blog post all about this new direction soon accompanied by a major re-design of the website and a re-branded, newly stocked Etsy shop. All that should be up and running in a week or two , in the meantime, don't forget Saturday, Bedford Square, Tavistock, 9am to 4pm with Live Music as part of the Tavistock Music and Arts Festival.
Meet 'Captain' Rous, or rather meet George, a barrister, not a captain at all (although two of his brothers were) and almost certainly not painted by James Northcote, celebrated Plymouth born Academician. If George seems familiar then you may have come across him at Buckland Abbey where he had been on loan for several years thanks to an assumed connection with the Drake family which turns out to be as fictional as his captaincy.
And how do you know all this you ask? Since Summer I've been doing some research work for Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery as part of their 'In The Frame: Plymouth's Portraits Revealed' exhibition which opened in December and runs for a whole year. It's surprising how little information there sometimes is regarding paintings that may have been in the collection for years and in other cases how the information that is available is partial, downright wrong or both. None of which is a reflection on the expertise of the museum's curators past or present, merely an observation that probably applies to every similar institution across the country, museum collections are iceberg like in terms of the amount that can be seen at any one time and much of what remains unseen is only partially understood. The current exhibition is an attempt to redress that balance. So, in answer to a request on Twitter I (among others) volunteered to do a bit of digging.
You can hear about what I discovered on Wednesday 11th February at 1.00pm when I'll be giving one of the museum's regular 'Art Bites' and sharing what I found about a number of portraits 'Captain Rous' included. You can also hear about Mary Trelawney and her (probably) non existent 'Van Dyck' dress and her son Samuel's last ditch attempt to recover the family land in America. And I'll be discussing James Doel and Samuel Phelps, two Devonport actors, one of whom inspired Sir Henry Irving to take to the stage and revolutionised our understanding of Shakespeare and the other who eventually became celebrated as 'England's Oldest Living Actor' and whose son made a major contribution to the museum's porcelain collection.
In other news, Tavi Arts Market have announced the dates for their 2015 programme and I'm delighted to say that I'll once again be a regular stallholder from May through to August inclusive and probably at least one of the pre-Christmas markets later in the year.
As the commemorations of the onset of the Great War continue I thought I'd post this before August slides into September. This is a portrait of my grandfather 1814/305261Pte William Godfrey Gregory 1st/8th Battalion Notts & Derby Regt , The Sherwood Foresters, from a photograph probably taken shortly after mobilisation a hundred years ago this month.
So, no prizes for guessing the source of the latest work in progress (not very good phone snap above) although in a nod to Duchamp (whose birthday it was recently) I was thinking of calling it 'Errol Flynn descending a staircase'. Either way it'll be finished soon(ish) and up on the website and available to buy should to you feel so inclined.
I'm actually planning on tackling a few more 'mediaeval' subjects, not all of them movie inspired so if you know of someone who's nuts about knights or batty over bestiaries do me a favour and get them to check out the picture palace in the next few weeks and see what's new. I'd be particularly keen to hear from any re-enactors who might be looking for something contemporary that still reflects their interests. My contact form is here or I can be reached on facebook (and if you'd like to 'like' the page at the same time that would be very much appreciated).
Before that though, I think it's time for a belated spring clean, overhaul and redesign of the site itself, so while it will be business as usual to the outside world there will be some major changes happening behind the scenes and a new look site coming soon.
Watch, as they say, this space!
It's that time of year again when my annual (unpaid, but it's all in a good cause) commission comes around, hence the title of this post. Which I've promptly undermined by forsaking my usual first choice for creative plundering, the aforementioned bowler hatted Belgian, in favour of ripping off Giorgio de Chirico for this one. I can't think of any Magritte inspired songs at the moment (although there must be plenty) but Giorgio was the seed for this one from 10,000 Maniacs as well as Poor de Chirico, enjoy both in all their Natalie Merchant-ised glory.
By now you might have detected that I have failed to mention the fact that I haven't posted a new blog entry in nearly five months and are doubtless wondering when I'm going to get round to explaining myself. Could it be that I've been hard at work on a hitherto secret project that only now can be revealed, was I perhaps abducted by aliens, am I just too posh to blog these days? The short and I'm afraid not so sweet, answer is none of the above. What happened was basically Winter. Remember all that rain, railway line out at Dawlish, Somerset levels under water, West Country apparently cut off from (supposed) civilisation? That's a fair description of the way I was feeling for the past six or seven months (and periodically still do). There's very little I can do under such circumstances other than try and maintain a level of at least moderate normality by battening down the mental hatches and retreating to somewhere which, while not a pleasant spot to be in, doesn't actively make things worse. So lots of comfort reading, little actual contact with the outside world and don't cross any bridges lest they start metaphorically collapsing beneath you.
On the upside that comfort reading meant re-visiting almost every Terry Pratchett book I possess (and I've got quite a few) and the chance to pick up a few from the 'things I've been meaning to get round to' pile, best of these was probably Tracey Thorn's Bedsit Disco Queen whilst getting a big thumbs down and an 'at least it was dirt cheap in ebook format' was G.K. Chesterton and The Complete Father Brown Mysteries Collection. If like me you watched the recent BBC series starring Mark Williams, remember the seventies version with Kenneth More or are even more old school and think of Alec Guinness then, whatever the shortcomings of those productions, let me assure you that on paper (or kindle screen) the good father is an altogether drearier, less entertaining and much less enjoyable proposition (and that's before you take into account Chesterton's smug amateur theology and outright racism).
Finally, something I never thought I would ever say but here goes, 'I agree with The Daily Mail'. Which I hasten to qualify by saying that I only agree with them on this. Which is their review of Gerard Woodward's latest novel 'Vanishing'. I've mentioned Gerard's work before, and the fact that we were at Art School together for a time but personal preference aside 'Vanishing' is a superb book and I wouldn't be surprised to see it on the Mann Booker longlist this year from whence, by rights, it ought to make it straight onto the shortlist. Gerard was shortlisted before in 2004 for 'I'll Go Bed At Noon' and I'd like to see him win this year, if only because I put a tenner on him last time and I'd like a chance to get it back (with interest) this year.
there's (lots of) money involved (and everybody wants some of it)!
I've (kind of) talked about this before, both in relation to my own work and with regard to the recent court case involving Richard Prince and his 'appropriation' of Patrick Cariou's photographs. At the time of my first post on the subject Cariou was ahead on points but it appears that Prince won the decisive tie-breaker.
I return to the subject because of recent reaction to the sale at auction of a painting by Glenn Brown .
This is the Glenn Brown piece in question, recently sold at auction by Sothebys for £3.5m. Brown's painting, 'Ornamental Despair (painting for Ian Curtis)....' dates from 1994 and is essentially a copy of Chris Foss' 1986 cover for an Isaac Asimov novel 'Stars Like Dust'. So far this is very much business as usual for the art market (and this is first and foremost a story about the art market), except that Brown's subject matter and Foss' cult status among sci-fi fans brought it to the attention of a group that wouldn't perhaps normally engage with or take notice of the art world (but then not that many people do in the global scheme of things). This article from io9.com and more specifically the comments (I know, never read comments sections on the internet) give some idea of the reaction the 'news' provoked. So let's deal with a couple of points here, firstly, is Brown's practice legitimate, in other words the old 'but is it art?' question. And the answer to that one is a resounding, yes, of course it bloody is! Next question please (and no, I'm not going to enlarge on that answer, it's not my job to educate anyone on the vagaries of art history, theory or current cultural modes of practice, this is the internet, look it up). Is it worth £3.5m? Obviously, to whomever paid that much for it in today's market. I did say this was about the market didn't I? Does Glenn Brown owe Chris Foss £3.5m? No. Does Glenn Brown get the £3.5m? No. Under current droit de suite regulations he's entitled to a maximum payout of €12,500 that's around £10,000 but as I understand it (I may be wrong) payment is not automatic and he may have to pursue it himself (or get someone to do so on his behalf). So, basically a non story.
If I appear to be a bit sniffy about Foss's work in this post it's not intentional, he's one of Britain's finest illustrators and a giant in the field. And for those wondering what the actual book cover looked like here's how the publishing industry treated his 'iconic' work. Stars Like Dust. Non Sci-Fi fans may also be familiar with Foss through a rather different bestseller that gave his work more exposure than he ever received from painting the covers of space operas.
Lady MacBeth! That's right, if you're ever stumped over what to give the loved one in your life for Christmas, why not ask them? You might get some surprising answers! In my case it was a request for a version of Sargeant's portrait of Ellen Terry as the aforesaid Lady MacB . I didn't have much else on so I was happy to have a go and a phone snap of the result is on the left. I think I may decide to go medieval for the next set of paintings, so watch this space.
And just to end with a quick reminder that the History? Painting exhibition is on to the end of this week, and if there's any Chrimbo cash still burning a hole in your pocket you could always consider buying a painting.
In the meantime have a happy New Year!.
Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Nadelik Lowen etc etc. And yes I know I haven't posted in almost two months. Mea Culpa.
Firstly the History? Painting exhibition is up at the Watermark Ivybridge and runs until Jan 5th. Very good it looks too and if you'd like to buy any of the paintings in the show drop me a line via the contact form or email to email@example.com and arrangements will be made. And a reminder that if you haven't done so already you can download the Free (yes, free!) exhibition guide here or if you have a smartphone or ipad or tablety device you can do so using the QR code displayed in the exhibition itself or, alternatively here.
Here's a plug for my Etsy Shop. Order in the next couple of days (before Sunday 21st Dec) and I will dispatch first class (for the standard postage rate) to reach you (hopefully) in time for the big day.
And finally, I know I should post something arty but bugger it! it's Christmas so here's something festive
Today's cover star is the late lamented (by Republicans and the NRA) Charlton Heston in another one of his signature roles, Michelangelo in Carol Reed's 'The Agony and the Ecstasy,' in which he essayed a strictly hetero reading of the Renaissance's best known interior decorator and poet of gay love. This is from the mountain scene immediately before the Intermission (yes, there's an intermission, even on the DVD) which provides proof positive that, even when dealing with Renaissance art, the default cinematic aesthetic is 19th century Romanticism. Although the moment I opened a new tube of cerulean blue I realised that what I was likely to produce was more akin to an illustration in a ladybird book.
If you've looked at the Gallery page lately you will have doubtless noticed a couple of new pieces 'Love is the Devil' and 'Nightwatching'. Both movies are notable, at least if you read the IMDb comments, for featuring their male stars (Daniel Craig and Martin Freeman respectively) in the buff, a state of affairs that has doubtless led to countless DVD rentals and purchases that otherwise wouldn't have happened. From my perspective however 'Love is the Devil' presents a peculiar challenge in that the filmmakers were forbidden from showing any of Francis Bacon's artwork on screen. They chose instead to simulate the visual experience of his paintings using in-camera effects. Which left me trying to paint an approximation of a photographic approximation of a painting, by contrast a larger than life Martin Freeman as Rembrandt was relatively straightforward.
This will probably be my final blog post before the Watermark show opens on Nov 2nd after which I will be pulling out all the social media stops to plug it wherever and whenever I can, you have been warned!
Work in progress and other stuff that happens.