So this one takes a bit of explaining… Short version is I wanted to produce something that got into the visual rhyming between the cosmic and the microscopic you see in the Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 short film, Powers Of Ten, and likewise the graphical quality of its art direction.
For The Kick-About #46, I subjected everyone to macro-photographs of the human litter dusting various surfaces in my home. I decided to use these same photographs as the starting point for my response, and started by spherizing them digitally (over and over again), so as to produce ‘planets’ from them (or molecules?). In part, I was prompted by another Kick-About, and this time was able to produce these little animated loops by running each of the photographs together to make footage, in which the effect of spherizing the original photographs multiple times has been too soften their respective surfaces into these seemingly ‘hand-drawn’ sequences.
To emulate some of the ‘maths’ in the Powers of Ten, I then composited some concentric circles over the top of these animated loops. They might be particles or elements of some periodic table, or eggs, or maps, or other sorts of diagrams, but it was a lot of fun engineering them from a largely automatistic approach to ‘seeing what happens’.
I never really got to a final outcome, so I’ll be sharing a collection of the results over the coming days.
From the internal and endlessly expansive spaces of our memories, as inspired by our previous Kick-About together, we’re this week exploring the mind-boggling extremities of different scales, courtesy of Charles and Ray Eames’ 1977 short film, Powers Of Ten. Enjoy this latest showcase of ‘new works made in a short time’, the big and the small and everything in-between.
“As a youngster I recall the concept of infinity as an exciting concept that had huge at one end and tiny at the other. Then it got a bit messy and I threw in the concept of mother nature as a religion to cover the extremities. I approached this KA as a mechanical exercise where a square is 1×1 of a certain colour, 10×10 are lines across and down in the next colour wheel colour (and I varied the thickness of the lines and added some variation within the colour stop and the opacity to make it a bit more interesting), added another hatching of lines for 100×100 and another for1000x1000. I didn’t go further as this visual started to grey off. I then repeated the exercise with sets of adjacent squares and lines with an increase in colour wheel increments as I went along. Finally I went back to each layer and slightly messed up each layer either by moving or resizing them. Not unpleasant but meaningless.”
“Initially this flummoxed me despite loving the film… how do I react visually? Then, eureka,I realised the drawing I’ve been ,on and off, working on since lockdown would ‘sort of’ slot into the micro/macro thing. The idea behind it was based on my calendar where I diagonally cross off each day (otherwise I’d be walking in circles) alternating direction as I go. The gessoed board was divided into a tight grid so the lines filled each square gradually building a pattern which subconsciously reflected the curtains of my childhood home (weird. Anyway leaving areas clear or less worked and stepping back it becomes the. sky..no planes..no birds…silence…as I remember the atmosphere of 2020. Micro/macro.”
Pencil on gessoed board stained with blue oil paint. 4’ X 3’ (right hand section still being given final layer)
“The camera distance to the mirror surface is .0003 of a kilometre, the distance from mirror surface to the actual object is 150.56 million kilometres, hence it being a blurry object, and the time of day is 14:16 with a current temperature of 25 degrees celsius.”
“Whilst thinking around the film ‘Power of Ten, I came across some images of the cellular structure of a sunflower’s stem and of sunflower pollen under the microscope. These images reminded me of some odd yarns in my collection and all of a sudden I found myself building the various layers of a sunflower from the centre out. Like Topsy, it just grew and grew, and by the time I had reached the countryside surrounding the sunflower fields, I had to call a halt. It was the opposite of disappearing down a rabbit-hole – I was in danger of disappearing into outer space! Great fun, though, as always!”
“I really enjoyed watching the film by Charles and Ray Eames, it took me straight back to my ‘70s childhood and adolescence, pre-internet, when occasionally I’d stumble across films like this on the TV and it would blow my mind.
Powers of Ten got me thinking about scale – albeit in a much more modest way than in the film – and I used some sketches I’d made of a clump of sea kale I’d photographed on Dungeness to make an image about a wood in late summer. I layered a couple of sketches and the plants started to look more like trees, laden with fruit. As the sea kale was growing right next to a nuclear power station, a radiation leak could turn them mutant, just like in the films, and they would grow into giants, so that the pea-sized seeds on the original plant become as big as apples.”
“This film made me think of how minute our little planet is, and wonder about the possibilities of life many light years away. I wonder what those other planets could look like and the beings who inhabit them? I decided to create some nebulas using the textures from a previous exhilarating Kick-About and stamped them onto simple 3D spheres, superimposing them atop those same textures, while painting galactic elements to create milky ways that possibly maybe could be…”
“This amazing film by Charles and Ray Eames reminded me about the relatively recent invention of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) which is able to see further back in time than any other telescope has been able to. It was originally designed to study some of the universe’s oldest galaxies and has a mirror that detects molecules such as water, CO2 and ammonia in the atmosphere of distant exoplanets, and the ice and dust that form stars, planets and comets. Scientists say studying these molecules and learning more about the chemical reaction that happens in these places will help us to understand how planetary systems form. This information could also tell us if the conditions for life are unique to our solar system. My collage artwork this time is an attempt to capture a view from JWST of a far off galaxy thousands of light years away.”
“I enjoyed the video, but I really have no coherent explanation for the thought process that led me from there to here. I do know I think in circles, not boxes, when considering time and space. And it was such a bombardment, I felt I needed to be minimal. I used a variegated grey thread to try to create some shimmer. For my pantoum, I took part of an old poem about zero and combined it with words and ideas I wrote down from the narration.”
zero, or: without limits
the direction is lost– distances traveled waver and shift– perspective changes
distances traveled approach and return– perspective changes, light years converge
with approach and return, darkness increases– light years converge, explode
darkness increases, becomes empty, explodes into energy
becomes empty– a transformation into energy at the center of nowhere
a transformation– invisible, uncoiling at the center of nowhere inside time’s pocket
invisible, uncoiling, wavering–shifting inside time’s pocket– the direction is lost
“This Kick-About submission ended up with a lot false starts and the remains of ideas scattered amongst the bits and bytes of a computer hard drive. A downfall of my own making perhaps. The deceptive simplicity of the depiction of scale and movement in Powers of Ten combined with the retro graphic design-ness of the imagery has always appealed to me, so in the end I just tried to tap into that and make something that appeared to be at once microscopic, abstract and graphical.”
“After a bit of research into the works and inventions of the Eames, I put together something from the prompt film (space/movement) and married that to one of the company’s products – in this case, a deck of building cards. This deck consists of 45 cards, in nine sets of five sequential images. Each set starts with an image, then, from the same distance point, zooms in the five times until it ‘disappears’. As for the initial images, they are simply a record of what is in ‘spaces’ in the house, in cupboards or drawers…
For the backs, rather than a single icon, it’s more like the heavens of the original film, at least that’s where the idea came from. The photographs were not edited, so each sequence of five represents a single event. Each image was stuck onto ready-made blank playing cards, then laminated with transparent plastic and each one trimmed. The same for the backs. I don’t own a laminator but did invest in a cunning little hand-trimmer that rounded the corners. As for the cuts in the cards, they are not particularly beautiful and done with the help of two bits of wood marked with a 1cm line, two ‘G’ clamps and a junior hacksaw.
This Kick-About prompt was one which gave me lots of practical problems to solve in order to visualise what I had set out to do, and like so many ideas, this was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration! For all that it was very satisfying and fun to be able to use them for building structures as originally intended.”
“So this one takes a bit of explaining! Short version is I wanted to produce something that got into the visual rhyming between the cosmic and the microscopic you see in Powers Of Ten, and likewise the graphical quality of its art direction. For The Kick-About #46, I subjected everyone to macro-photographs of the human litter dusting various surfaces in my home. I decided to use these same photographs as the starting point for my response, and started by spherizing them digitally (over and over again), so as to produce ‘planets’ from them (or molecules?). In part, I was prompted by another Kick-About, and this time was able to produce these little animated loops by running each of the photographs together to make footage, in which the effect of spherizing the original photographs multiple times has been too soften their respective surfaces into these seemingly ‘hand-drawn’ sequences. To emulate some of the ‘maths’ in the Powers of Ten, I then composited some concentric circles over the top of these animated loops. I don’t really have a final outcome, so what I’ve gathered here are a collection of results. They might be particles or elements of some periodic table, or eggs, or maps, or other sorts of diagrams, but it was a lot of fun engineering them from a largely automatistic approach to ‘seeing what happens’.”
And so, from the infinite bounds of the cosmos and abstractions of innerspace to the pensive domestic subjects that feature in the paintings of Danish artist, Vilhelm Hammershøi. Have fun and see you on the other side.
“My story begins with our family holiday to Dorset. It was probably early 60s and I think we were staying in Swanage. We were usually quite lucky with the weather, but it was not to be this time. As we had no car then, my parents decided on taking a nice coach trip to Lulworth Cove which was a famous beauty spot not far along the coast. My sister and I wore our summer dresses and warm hand knitted cardigans, as it was getting a bit chilly, but when we arrived at our destination the heavens opened and rain looked likely to be set in for the rest of the day.
‘Quick – let’s run up to that beach shop’ said mum. ‘We’ll buy something waterproof there for you both.’
My heart sank, as I could see at a glance it was a typical seaside shop that sold everything from buckets and spades to thermos flasks, and Mary Quant it was not!
So in we went and the kind lady behind the counter said, ‘I have the very thing – plastic macs!” My heart sank even further. She proceeded to pull out a white one for my sister, which had a small plastic headscarf, and as she was 4 years younger than me, it looked quite cute. However, despite a long search, there didn’t appear to be another in my size. Hooray!
Then just as I thought I had escaped, she found another bigger mac tucked away beneath the rest and, horror of horrors, it was luminous pink! I mean ‘day glow’ and ‘get your sunglasses on’ pink. (I know the sixties fashion was all about these bright colours, but this must have been very much a forerunner!). Even worse it had a matching hat, rather like an upturned flowerpot, that tied under the chin.
‘That’s just the job!’ said mum.
I spent the rest of the day skulking along the shoreline, trying desperately to hide amongst the overturned boats, but there was no way I could disguise myself; if I had stood on some rocks, I could have done a turn as a lighthouse beacon!
So that is my memory of Lulworth Cove, which is a place of peaceful serenity and muted beauty to many, but all I remember is psychedelic misery!“
“The source of much pain (for the individual) and much humour (for the group) lies in the gap between one’s aspirations (or expectations), and one’s achievements. This is particularly true when we are young and in love. We want to be ‘soul-mates’ with our loved one – to share the same experiences, the same emotions, the same memories. Alas, it is rarely achievable. We recognise Molly Drake’s pain, because we have felt it too. But it also raises a wry smile. For we have learnt, as we grow within a relationship, that no two people experience any shared event in the same way. So we adjust our expectations accordingly.
By the time we have aged within that relationship, we come to recognise that it is an achievement for any shared experience to be remembered by both of us at all, without several minutes of dispute over location time of year, weather, and reason for being there. And why is it that I find I cannot remember the name of a place, I cannot remember how to get there, or why – but I can remember exactly what we ate and the colour of the waitress’s nail polish? What’s all that about?”
“This one was a bit of a late starter for me. Having given some early thought to it and tinkered with water colour washes as a response to the words, the result didn’t quite live up to my expectations . Initially I was thinking in terms of printed textiles based on the stanzas and 1950’s, but a few scribbles and doodles confirmed that wasn’t ready to work for me. So it rested until almost the deadline and, as a final go at it, I tried cutting up the original into sections and rearranging in an effort to express the ‘you and me ‘ idea. That practice put me in mind of putting together a shade card.
In this one, ‘me’ is represented by colours for Molly’s words. ‘You’ are the stencils that stand separate until used on Molly’s colours, and that combination can be read as the ‘we’… though here, as in the poem, the two together do not represent a happy ‘we’ of Molly’s expectations.
The card is done from scratch and the colour swatches are gouache and then laminated. The script is traced from the text using a Word font. The miniature stencils are handcut and pierced oiled card. Yet another very interesting Kick-About for me and a real challenge to express an ‘abstract’ visually.”
“Both of these pieces come under the headings of love / regret / romance and memory, all of which are sparked off by this prompt…”
“Goodbye to all that” oil on gesso on board. 60cm X 60cm
“Always” Stitching on old handkerchief and oil paint on waxed paper
“Molly Drake’s words brought a tear to my eye, how such a poet can write something so striking about the melancholic juxtaposition of both light and dark. It brought back memories of people that have come and gone out of my life but also the places where those memories and faces come bubbling up when passing in a car or walking past a particular patch of land, like reveries of times I will never forget.”
“What a wonderful song by Molly Drake, and so beautifully sung. This piece of music is like a faded old photograph, looking back at a bittersweet time, the little vignettes of holidays and days out are achingly nostalgic.
I’ve been on both sides of the dynamic expressed in this song at one time or another and either position is just grim and sad. I did some sketches this week in response to the prompt about a weekend trip with one of my first boyfriends over thirty years ago. We stayed in a guest house and went for a walk to a beautiful waterfall nearby, It should have been a carefree, loved-up, fun few days, full of laughter and lovemaking, but I’d reached the point when I realised I didn’t want to take the relationship much further but my boyfriend did and we separated soon after getting home.
This waterfall makes me think of that lost weekend. I wasn’t really mature enough at the time for a serious relationship; it would be some time before I was emotionally grown-up enough for that . I hope that boyfriend is happy now, wherever he is. He was a lovely guy.”
“You might consider this a sequel of sorts, as back in March 2021, when Ole Worm’s cabinet of curiosities was our collective muse, I photographed and catalogued a selection of my own keepsakes, the emotional importance of which I couldn’t actually remember. Molly Drake’s ‘I Remember’ isn’t so much about the fallibility of memory, but rather the different ways in which we remember the same thing. Drake’s song also captures very truthfully how the significance of something can be quite wasted on someone else – even those closest to us. With this in mind, I turned my attention to some of the objects with which I share my home, but with which I have no emotional association, but which resonate very powerfully with my husband. I see a rather retro-looking glass paperweight, while my husband experiences a Proustian rush returning him at once to the comforts of his grandparents’ home and all the love he found there. There are objects collected here the provenance of which is still unknown to me, and their emotional heft as mysterious, but ‘he remembers firelight’.”
“Back to jugs. Hoping a narrative might be staged within a shared space, in order to portray intimacy and separation and where the suggestion of alternate ‘points of view’ (that which each jug points to) draws a parallel to Molly Drake’s poem. Respecting the natural linen and pencil line seemed the right approach in order to deliver something feeling a little more natural than a paint saturated canvas at 30x30cm.”
“I wasn’t aware of Nick Drake’s heritage, but Molly’s song immediately made me think of ‘River Man. I took the feeling I got from both songs, and made a prose poem, then some art to accompany it.”
She did not remember the way, but she remembered the times, the place. She wanted to connect present to past. She did not know how or where to begin, and yet she needed to try to construct that bridge. Words were all she had now.
Two ways, really, even though she always pretended they were the same. Or maybe it was only her longing that failed to understand that they were two, not one.
She had been dreaming of a river. A man, a boat. Trees, weeping, or was that her own voice, crying on the wind? It had been summer once. Flowered. Sweet.
But here was the river again, littered with fallen leaves. What magic word would turn back the seasons, dispel the haze, repair a lifetime that had already disintegrated into dust?
Was she coming or going? In her dreams a voice kept repeating you have to choose. But between what? Who? Did she get to choose who would be waiting on the other side of the river? Or was she to be the one left waiting?
I’ve spent a lot of my time painting and decorating recently, as our house has been looking very ‘lived-in’ and was in need of some care and attention. Less poetically, this has entailed the mixing-up of lots of filler, to apply liberally to the various cracks and craters in our old walls. In truth, I actually love working with filler: I love how perfectly white it is, and how the powder transforms into something as pleasingly spreadable as cake-mixture. I wondered if I could use the filler to produce a few simple bowls (inspired by The Kick-About No.60), and set about slathering it over a balloon or two.
In lieu of any decorative glazes, I picked a few flowers from the garden and crushed some coloured chalks and squidged these elements against the surface of the balloon beneath big dollops of filler. I then used a knife to spread the filler over and around the balloon to create the rough shape of a bowl. Filler is designed to dry really fast, so you’ve got a bit of time to muck about with it – but not much.
The three bowls I’ve included here are the first three I made; there was a fourth, but I broke it. I enjoyed making them a lot and could have go on to make many, many more – but there was this other small matter of finishing the actual decorating…
I wonder if Augustus Osbourne Lamplough (our previous Kick-About prompt) ever sipped tea as he laboured at his paintings under some far-off afternoon sun? We’ll never know, but tea is clearly a tonic for the Kick-About collective, as these latest examples of new works made in a short time will illustrate.
“I constructed my chawan of tea-dyed paper—the outside of watercolor paper, the inside a coffee filter. The tea leaves took to each in a different way. I found a paper plate bowl online, and copied the pattern, then sewed my vessel together in my own (imperfect) way. It resembles birchbark baskets made by Native Americans more than Japanese ceramics, and certainly would hold no liquid. But the spirit invoked is the same.”
Rituals evolve– each step repeated, echoed, but never mirrored exactly, never complete. We construct vessels to replace our ungrown wings– imperfect, always– impossible, fragile, filled with hope—windblown, weathered, found.
“I wasn’t really aiming for any kind of authenticity with these. In fact, I believe the shapes are more appropriate for drinking alcohol rather than tea. Instead, I just had a bit of fun playing around with form and colour to generate these drinking vessel-like things, that may or may not be reminiscent of Japanese tea cups.”
“This week I decided to experiment and play around so using PVA, opened-out tea bags and cling film. I moulded a couple of containers (bowls) with loose tea trapped between the layers. After that, I used torches to light through and some of the close-ups became a bit celestial! The last image of the hand was attempting to show tea turning to gold, as Empire cashed in on the underpaid toil of hundreds of tea plantation pickers.”
“When I researched the art of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, I found it quite amazing how much is involved. There are not just the tea bowls, but so many special whisks, pots and ladles, as well as special rooms for preparation and waiting rooms (is that while waiting for tea to brew correctly or maybe some beautiful lady to come and pour it out?). Anyway, it all involves such precision. I have tried to show this in my watercolour and fine line painting, which is a style I really enjoy doing.“
“I had to laugh a little bit when I saw Phil Cooper’s choice of prompt for this week’s Kick-About; of late, I’ve spent a lot of my time painting and decorating, as our house has been looking very ‘lived-in’ and was in need of some care and attention. Less poetically, this has entailed the mixing-up of lots of filler, to apply liberally to the various cracks and craters in our old walls. In truth, I actually love working with filler: I love how perfectly white it is, and how the powder transforms into something as pleasingly spreadable as cake-mixture. I wondered if I could use the filler to produce a few simple bowls, not suited for tea-drinking obviously, and set about slathering it over a balloon-or-two. In lieu of any decorative glazes, I picked a few flowers from the garden and crushed some coloured chalks and squidged these elements against the surface of the balloon beneath big dollops of filler. I then used a knife to spread the filler over and around the balloon to create the rough shape of a bowl. Filler is designed to dry really fast, so you’ve got a bit of time to muck about with it – but not much. The three bowls I’ve included here are the first three I made; there was a fourth, but I broke it. I enjoyed making them a lot and could have go on to make many, many more – but there was this other small matter of finishing the actual decorating…”
“I was instantly drawn to the textures of these gorgeous Chawans, I can only imagine the craftsmanship that goes into creating those intricate glazes. I am a bit of a hunter-gatherer of textures and enjoy capturing the small things that make something whole, so I decided to cherry pick from the mountain of textures I have stored in a number of hard drives and superimpose them in a way that might look like some of those textures that make up Chawans. Some textures in there include; dirt, mold, water, rust, snow, moss, plants, and a hefty amount of ice. It is always a pleasure creating in this way as there is always an air of mystery as I never know how they will turn out.”
“This still life, started in Gloucestershire around 2012 reached completion in Kent for KA60 hence, a view of Isle of Sheppey from Harty Ferry south side. My research tells me the wide-mouthed chawan is ideal for summer, as it cools tea quicker. The cast-iron Tetsubin (featured) is actually the kettle and not a tea pot so, whats missing is the brewing Dobin (ceramic pot) or the Tetsukyusu (iron pot with enamel interior) so, basically I’ve failed to portray the ritual properly! Back to the drawing board…”
“The prompt of an ancient tea cup seemed to beg for a still life painting. I haven’t painted with oils for a long time and then not very much and have kept nothing, though two paintings do adorn friends’ walls. I felt the Kick-About environment a perfect way to have another go at painting with oils. As for the subject, I have a bunch of vintage and antique tea cups, but nothing as old and venerable as the pictured prompt. However, I am total sucker for this green and white tableware from Austria. The ‘Gmundner Keramik’ factory is still producing, and traces its roots to 1492… The pictured pieces themselves are 50’s and later decorated in their ‘grün geflammt’ classic patterns.
To get to this stage of the painting was done in two short sessions: a scratchy sketch and then, the next day, the painting done in one go… sort of ‘alla prima’. The canvas was scraped and cleaned from a previous disaster, (Kick-About / Matisse) and together with the paints, came from a bargain shop. I did use a drying medium and invested in a large tube of mixing white. It was a bit wet on wet, with too short a time between the two layers for the paint to cure properly. But yet again so much learnt and so much still to learn, another great time with this one and much enjoyed. Paul Cezanne said, ‘With an apple I will astonish Paris’. In my painting there are two apples, but I doubt they will astonish anyone…”
“While exploring the art and intricacies of the tea ceremonies of Japan and China, it struck me that the British have also developed many forms of tea ritual over the centuries since we were first introduced to this fragrant tonic. Many of these rituals faded almost to extinction in the latter part of the 20th century, with the ubiquitous upsurge in coffee-drinking. But tea has made something of a comeback, evolving, fragmenting and adapting to meet the needs of the 21st century Brit. Of course, different generations and different environments require different rituals. My beloved and I went into a café once, when we were on holiday, and the following conversation took place :-
Waiter: What can I get you, sir? Beloved: Coffee for me, please. Waiter: Expresso, latte, cappuccino? Beloved: Just ordinary coffee, please Waiter: Milk or cream? Beloved: Just ordinary coffee with milk. Waiter: That would be a Flat American, sir. Beloved: Fine. Waiter: Anything else, sir? Beloved: A tea for my wife, please. Waiter: English Breakfast? Beloved: No thanks, We ate at the hotel. (At which point, the waiter gave up the struggle).
I digress. So back to British tea rituals and the proliferation of varieties and styles in serving tea. One area of ritual that never entirely died away, especially amongst a certain sub-sect of English middle-class women (myself included) are those rituals surrounding “Hosting a Committee Meeting in One’s Own Home”. I am sure the following will seem quite bizarre to some of you, but I hope it chimes, however faintly, with some of you.”
And for our next Kick-About together, a melancholy wisp of a thing from Molly Drake…
We tramped the open moorland in the rainy April weather And came upon the little inn that we had found together The landlord gave us toast and tea and stopped to share a joke And I remember firelight I remember firelight I remember firelight And you remember smoke
We ran about the meadow grass with all the harebells bending And shaking in the summer wind a summer never-ending We wandered to the little stream among the river flats And I remember willow trees I remember willow trees I remember willow trees And you remember gnats
We strolled the Spanish marketplace at 90 in the shade With all the fruit and vegetables so temptingly arrayed And we can share a memory as every lover must And I remember oranges I remember oranges I remember oranges And you remember dust
The autumn leaves are tumbling down and winter’s almost here But through the spring and summertime we laughed away the year And now we can be grateful for the gift of memory For I remember having fun Two happy hearts that beat as one When I had thought that we were “we” But we were “you and me”.
The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject in Henri Matisse’s 1908 painting, Harmony In Red(our latest Kick-About prompt), and the roar of its redness, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.
Our previous Kick-About was inspired by the sometimes sombre, monochromatic, and richly atmospheric drawings of Mervyn Peake. Never happier than when making break-neck changes of direction, this latest gathering of new works made in a short time is inspired by Henri Matisse’s celebrated punch of fauvist colour. Boom!
“I’m looking at the other side of this red room, and for inspiration, I went to my hallway, as it is possibly built in the same era but a different country. There are remnants of servants quarters that have survived its conversion into flats. I’m thinking that there would have been a door on that opposing wall. Who had just left? Where were they going? Mimicking the style of pattern and flatness, I have attempted to continue the story.”
“The first thing you notice about Matisse’s Harmony in Red is that it VERY RED! Saturated with the colour! Indeed, it is difficult to describe this painting without using the word RED over and over again. So I got thinking about synonyms, and how many different ways you could describe something that is RED and how such décor might impact upon the people sat at that table to dine.”
“Really enjoyed where this one started to go. Matisse’s use of colour, shape and composition are legendary, but this study really made me think about how flatness, depth and differing spaces can collide. The flat window landscape of the original Matisse painting is really where it all started, and here’s where I ended up.”
“All I really want to do right now is draw. I latched onto the royal reds of Matisse’s painting and the quirky perspective. The red made me think of opulence. I envisioned a glamorous home with large ceilings, grand staircases rimmed with gold, framed pictures and floral designs throughout the home. At first I was a bit intimated by the brightness and saturation of the red; I didn’t want to burn anyone’s eyeballs with these illustrations, and with the first illustration of the bunch I had the back walls a much darker maroon, but then, with the second illustration, I jumped in with the same Matisse Red, determined to make its high saturation work. After adding in the details, such as the swirly designs, the gold rimmed edges and vaulted high ceilings, I was able to make the vibrant red work and decided to switch the first illustration to match! I am glad I did. I usually don’t do a lot of interior illustrations, but this bunch quickly become some of my favourite paintings thus far.”
“This is not a spot the fruit competition. However, there were tempting delights for this still life comprised of apricot, apple, pear, orange, berries and grapes. Another influence was certainly the abundance of garden and flowers situated between the back door and the garage/studio. Nice to be indoors at a time when the ‘heat’s on’. This started as one still life painting, however, as we know, stuff happens…”
“This Kick-About ties in wonderfully with the hot sunny weather and thoughts of summer parties and picnics. I really enjoyed constructing my collage of ice cream sundaes. It seemed as if the scraps of pink lace were real raspberry ripple, the lilac chiffon was swirls of blueberry and the scraps of brown felt were real pieces of chocolate. However my Red Dessert is a tribute to my cousin Brenda, who sadly passed away with Parkinson’s disease. She was always full of fun, and my last memory of her was when we went out for a meal recently. For her dessert she ordered a huge Knickerbocker Glory and began to tuck in. However, with her jerky arm movements, she proceeded to catapult large spoonfuls of ice cream everywhere and, all the while, with a big smile on her face!“
“I was pretty sure I’d done a collage based on this painting maybe 10 years ago, and figured I’d do a new one and then look for the old one to compare. But while I was looking through my pile of decorating magazines for things to use, I came across an ad that made me want to paint it in the style of Matisse. It was that intense blue wall. So I did. Then I did the collage. My old collage is very literal. The new one takes a lot of liberties. I think the woman in it has some kind of magic in mind. As always, grateful for the push to do something new.”
“The idea for this story came quickly, inspired in part by the conflict going on between the domesticity of the subject and the roar of all that colour, like a sudden rush of feeling, something eruptive and less civilised. I was excited too by the strangeness of Matisse’s perspective, a world shunted off-kilter so unexpectedly, and likewise by the very idea of Fauvism itself and all its ‘wild beasts’.”
Courtesy of Jordan Buckner, our next Kick-About prompt is the life and work of Augustus Osborne Lamplough, an English Orientalist painter and illustrator; known for his sunset scenes of North Africa. Happy travels.
With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet for The Kick-About 57, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…
From the percussive, delineated sound-shapes of a Sandy Nelson drum solo, our muse for our previous Kick-About, we are this week riffing on the appreciably softer tones of the drawings by Mervyn Peake, and likewise the richness of his imaginary worlds and all their eccentric inhabitants.
“It’s hard to resist that textural ink approach Peake was famous for. I recognised some of Peake’s work but didn’t have a great knowledge on who he was, or what his work amounted to. It’s wonderful to see that even in his more observational work, that gothic storytelling still feels present.”
“There’s much to explore in response to Peake’s work, and I don’t think I can do it on one hit, so let us see where it takes me. But to begin with, it has taken me back to two mediums I loved in earlier years but have neglected more recently.
Pen and ink. Obviously this is all about the line. But it’s also about embracing a medium that can’t or won’t be fully controlled. I worked pretty small with these and just enjoyed making lots of small doodles. Perhaps some more finished work will come later.”
“And charcoal or soft pastel. This is less about the line and more about the tone, but really it’s a delicate balance of both. And there’s an element of mystery that comes from the smudgy indistinctness. It feeds the imagination. I haven’t found my mojo again with this quite yet, but I have been enjoying the start of the journey.“
“Mervyn Peake! One of the best. The Gormenghast books resonated with me on so many layers with the vivid imagery and the Chinese undertones. No wonder his writing is so intertwined to his drawings and paintings, and to his poetry. I also use crosshatchings, and often pen and ink, in my drawings and sketches, and also have used it in my drypoint etchings. I have dozens of them, as I am sure all of you have; sketches while traveling; scribbles of shapes, movements and actions; imaginary places out of moods and dreams; quick ideas for designs and paintings etc. etc. I put together few here that, for me catch the often dark mood in Peake’s drawings.”
“I didn’t get through Gormenghast when I tried to read it as a teenager, but its otherworldly gothic atmosphere and Mervyn Peake’s peculiar illustrations stayed with me. This prompt is a welcome opportunity to return to that strange world. I’ve used collage to build a fragment of Gormenghast Castle, layering battlements, turrets and towers to try and create a place that is at once vaguely familiar and frustratingly impenetrable. As I worked on the photos of the images I started to see them as ideas for the endpapers of a 1960s edition of the books. I was happy with the vintage look and I can see how this technique could be developed further; I find the Kick-About often does this and gives rise to ideas that could run and run.”
“As I love castles, I decided to do an illustration of my version of Gormenghast. I have never read any of Mervyn Peake’s books, but I do remember watching the Gormenghast series on TV a very long time ago, which left an impression on me – mainly because it was so depressing! I have since found out that Peake was one of the first civilians to enter the German concentration camp of Belsen as a war artist. No wonder his art and literature was affected by this from then on. I used some of my marbled paper I have produced, as a background, and my artwork was based on Thirlstone Castle on the Scottish Borders. It was built in 1590, has wonderful gothic towers and is still a family home today.“
“It’s been a long time since I read the Titus Trilogy but forever memorable. I played with the idea of using one of his rich texts but I felt that wasn’t quite ‘it’, so scribbled out an attempt to invent some additional personages. I am no writer but embarked on some descriptions which simply grew into the text/narrative here. It did not take long to write, though I type badly and with dodgy eyesight and there may well be a myriad of typos for which I apologise, but hope they won’t irritate.
The three drawings are of the envisaged household set as a triptych (like some Japanese wood block prints). Fineliners, watercolour pencils, calligraphic ink, and a little gold acrylic was used on standard copy paper. Cheap, it is but not always kind to media. Once I had established the characters I spent a time juggling and balancing the elements. which took a fair amount of scanning/copying/tracing. Working on this prompt I found myself back doing ‘Fashion Design’ at art school and working in the industry.“
“With Mervyn Peake’s drawings laying down the gauntlet, I decided to attempt some character drawings of my own, as inspired by the trio of villains in my own work of fantastic fiction, Chimera. I don’t really draw, or identify as someone who does, but this bloody Kick-About business keeps prompting me to make exceptions to this and have a go. In common with my approach to these self-portraits, I kept drawing and re-drawing onto the same bits of paper, using the eraser as much as anything else to understand what was working and what wasn’t. I’d say the final illustrations were not so much ‘drawn’ as materialised out of a succession of mistakes, but anyway here they are: the Berserker, the Tealeaf, and Madame Chartreuse, and for your listening pleasure, a short extract from the Chimera audio book, in which the Oblivion Three first make their proper appearance…”
“M Peake has opened the door to caricatures, and caricatures of friends spin-off in their own direction: Sue’s tennis racket shaped wind turbine propelling her seaside beach hut antics; and the bearded Wojtek’s keen obsession with pruning in inappropriate footwear. Another enjoyable KA up-cycling project which made time fly…”
“Mervyn Peake’s drawings, especially the ones with writing on the page, reminded me of another series I did at the beginning of my blogging life that I called “In the News”. I would draw a photo from the day’s newspaper and write a haiku-like poem to accompany it. I think it fell by the wayside during one of my many moves, but Peake inspired me to revive it.”
Karen 1 What’s in any name? The face is warm, kind, thoughtful– yes, overflowing
“I saw this woman’s face in the obituaries and was immediately drawn to its warmth. The name Karen has become associated negatively with an entitled white woman, but each individual brings their own aura to the name they have been given. This is a woman I would have liked to know.”
First Responders nightmares afterward– random things collapsing–go on, but remember
“On the first anniversary of the Surfside apartment collapse in Florida, the Times interviewed relatives, survivors, and first responders. The words of my poem are taken from the interview with these three police officers who were among the first on the scene.”
Anna Guilty of Nothing– who can say that? are you not also a human?
“Anna Netrebko is an international star in the opera world. A friend of Putin’s, she has refused to criticize him, although she says she does not support the war. As a result she has been banned from performing in many places. Her defiant words, “I am guilty of nothing!” made me think both about innocence as a concept, and how and if we should separate the lives of artists from the work that they do.”
Phatima to be who I am– to celebrate myself, free both inside and out
“The Times featured a book put together by Harry James Hanson and Devin Atherus that profiles older drag performers. They saw it as a way to honor “queer elders” who were not included in the popular culture celebration of youthful drag. Phatima Rude was another person whose face attracted me with its warmth and sparkle.”
Paolo body expression– style in both movement and ink– each its own story
“Paolo Banchereo was the Number One pick in the NBA draft this year. He is well known not only for his stellar play, but for the story his body tells with its many tattoos.”