Monday, April 14, 2014

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Young Curator

I started carving this back in October and I all but gave up on it as it dawned on me just how long it would take to completely clear it.  Luckily I started with the hardest part, so when a light router with a quarter inch shank and a sorry excuse for a height adjustment wolly sprocket, which had a broken flim flam almost immediately, came my way, (I bought it actually) I started the tedious and now rather loud and dusty process of finishing the carving.

To start to finish something is a fine feeling and I felt feeling fine for a good three months until lo; recently, this is the final result, more or less.

It is carved on a two by four sheet of a very nice birch ply.  Birch ply is what gets used when times are tough, but it is a tough timber to tackle and does not do fine detail very well.  Also, one needs to be more aware of carving direction when using it.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Sake cups, part two...

What do we want from ceramics? "A degree of dimness, absolute cleanliness, and quiet so complete one can hear the hum of a mosquito."
So said Junichiro Tanizaki. Of course, he was talking about toilets - but then, porcelain is a kind of ceramic itself.
I think the dimness is important. Things that are shiny do not encourage contemplation, which is the opposite of hypnotism. You need a bit of grain or spot to concentrate the attention. A bit of patina to make it look serious.
Of course, as Tanizaki says, the sheen of patina is only the glow of grime. All those oils left by fingers and more fingers. It's how cups should look maybe, until eventually the grime is indistinguishable from a lustrous polish.

Junichiro Tanizaki took a break in 1933 from writing about sexual obsessions to give us a short essay on aesthetics, In Praise of Shadows. The title sums up the contents.

Tarragon made these sake cups in a studio in London, England. You can see others here.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Clissold Park

We ended up at the park since the train to Kew Gardens was not running.  A very fine warm day which I don't appear to have caught in the slightest.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Drawn from life in about 15 minutes with a Copic brush marker.

Friday, March 28, 2014

NCO of the 17th Lancers

I felt like drawing some soldiers in the striking uniforms of the 19th century. This is a sketch for a coloured illustration - the final version will be similar in style to my earlier picture of a mounted officer of the same regiment.

This drawing depicts a non-commisioned officer of the British 17th Lancers - one of the regiments of the Light Brigade who made such an unfortunate charge in the Crimean War of 1853-56. He's not so fancily dressed, as it turned out - this is the uniform worn into combat.

It was drawn with pencil and micron markers on a strip of brown butcher's paper.

Who's a lonely pony....

Which led me to the sinister reflection that a horse that rides no shadow carries a cruel companion.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Try Not To Complain

An oil pastel I had the whim to make a few nights ago.  The lips are on the reverse side of the translucent film I used.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Aerial Knife

College band Aerial Knife played at the Grad Club at the University of Western Ontario; I was in the audience.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A black night in Venice

"Venice often makes one feel loneliness. It does not console and does not enlighten like Florence or Rome… And the water! The water strangely fetters and absorbs all thoughts, just as it absorbs all sounds here, and an extremely proofed silence lies upon one's heart."  -Pavel Muratov, The Images of Italy, 1911.

A small painting in gouache and watercolour, done by night in Venice. This picture highlights one of the great problems of on-site painting at night: not that you can't see your subject, since an atmospheric picture is the point, but that you can't see the colours on your palette.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Basilica Servi di Maria, Siena

A very swift sketch of the view from the via S.Salvadore in Siena, Tuscany, looking towards the basilica of the Servite order. There wasn't much time, but I was able to block in the geometric essentials of the view.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sunday, February 2, 2014

sketch for the Kiss of Judas

Tarragon made this large sketch - it's almost life size - in preparation for a finished oil painting depicting the final embrace of Judas and Jesus. Inspired in part by late medieval painting, especially Burgundian gothic, he portrayed the figures in contemporary dress. The idea was that didactic imagery should not be embellished with fancy dress that could only distract the viewer from the story.

The finished painting appeared in the Canadian painting competition, the Kingston Prize, and is now in a private collection.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Mummy Takes a Nap Whilst London Rains

When she wakes we'll go down to the Narrow Boat and watch the canal with pints of English ale in our hands.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


It was a cold day in early April that I came cycling down the road from Florence and beheld this view. It was the end of my day, give or take. I had decided to camp in the Val d'Elsa, and this was one of the first views I painted.

Petrognano is little more than an old manor, decayed and gorgeous, adorned with pines and several century's accretion of farm buildings. Perhaps somebody lives there. Perhaps the last descendent of an extenuated clan whose forefathers fought Florence and lost. Or perhaps not.

These days there are olives. I expect there are rental properties for those who like to vacation in the Tuscan hills. There's no store of any sort, although it doesn't matter because several larger communities are within easy driving distance. Biking distance too, if you don't mind hills.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

the detective

I wanted to make a picture about a detective. But everyone is a detective, at some point or another.

Therefore, I drew my father.

Monday, January 20, 2014