méditations sur Bosch et Giorgione

I enjoyed very much ‘Renaissance Unchained’ a series of short films broadcast on the BBC in 2016 by Waldemar Januszczak, so much so that I was inspired to paint something that felt related to this early but hugely important era in the story of art. I finished this painting sometime back in in 2016.
So what’s the painting about, the short answer is look at it how you want, it is certainly meant to be curious and humorous. Bearing in mind that I use allegory to reveal my inner thoughts, you could look at it thus, as if analysing a renaissance allegory – there are symbols everywhere.

The helmet, at this period in history, (it surely has to be a helmet for battle and a particularly fine one) represents here, man’s lust for power, a flawed idea, the character from Bosch’s ‘Last Judgement’ exits stage left, knowing the stupidity and in the same moment realising the shallow vanity of the idea.

Or – perhaps the helmet is hiding man’s darkest flaws, trying to keep them secret from his peers. Once again the curious character has seen it all before and runs off ashamed of what is hiding in mankind’s shadowy psyche. And talking of shadows, the setting, a cave perhaps, underground, adds to the mystery, as the flickering torch light illuminates but darkly, the tragi-comic scene.

On the technical side, it is Oil on Panel 40cm x 30 cm. I prepare the wood panels to a very high standard, coating them with a chalk gesso that I make up here, based on a renaissance recipe. I apply six or so coats of gesso, sanding between each to arrive at a silky flat even surface, perfect for painting detail. The painting was realised using Alchemist Mediums products and finished with two coats of amber varnish.
The only thing I am not too happy with is the amount of dust and general crap that fixed itself to the surface. I am going through the process of laser eye surgery to correct cataracts and last year as I painted it, I was having particular problems with slight double vision and poor contrast. So I missed quite a few specs of crud that I would have normally removed. C’est la vie.


There is no end to the oppression of women by the Church and the Republicans.

So the Catholic Church has great support from Republicans like Schaeffer. The Catholic oppression of minorities and women continues unabated, after President Orange was elected. The grotesque support of the Republicans for misogynistic laws means that the Church and the Republicans will challenge women’s rights to manage their own womb.
On his first day in office The Orange Clown makes it even more difficult for women to get an abortion, how long before the Republicans follow fundamentalist Catholic doctrine to the letter? How long before birth control is outlawed or taxed to the hilt? What century exactly is the American Republican party in? There are parallels to be drawn from American history with puritanism and the Salem witch trials.


Random oil painting products

Random or not, there is good and bad everywhere, here are few observations of mine on oil painting products.

I’ve found Da Vinci Kolinsky Marder red sable brushes to be of very good quality, long lasting, and affordable, they do exactly what a good brush should. Brights and filberts suffice for my technique, for detail I use Winsor and Newton series 7 rounds. I prefer size 1, size 0 is useable but brushes of this size have no strength. As to stiff haired brushes, I’m not too fussy, although again I have found Winsor and Newton to make good hogs hair brushes.

One particular item I can’t do without is lead white, it has become increasingly important to me as I’ve painted skin more and more. It has a luminescence to it and is absolutely not chalky. One lead white to avoid is made by Vasari, I haven’t tried their other paints and wouldn’t as my experience in dealing with them by phone was a joke. What a shite, fake product, fuck you Vasari, your ‘lead white’ is a joke. I called them and was greeted by one of those phoney posh American accents, where the idiot tries to sound colonial British, this person had the pretentious attitude to go with it, I should have stopped right there. I ordered a tube of their expensive shit, lead white and have never been more disappointed with a tube of paint before. The paint had separated so much that I had to decant it, re-mix the oil with the remaining paint and put it in another tube. The paint yellows within THREE weeks, this is unacceptable, I couldn’t recommend this goo for painting your house. Expensive white treacle. Avoid like the plague if you are a serious painter. Blockx lead white on the other hand is wonderful stuff.

I don’t often use mediums as I paint the C.S.O. method with sun thickened linseed oil, chalk and egg. I do occasionally though and I find Alchemist Mediums to be very good, although the amber varnish will, yellow tint whites. It isn’t suitable as a finishing varnish for a painting that has a lot of white in it. The mediums are taken from the de Mayerne manuscript, so are historically accurate. Painting a large painting with these mediums would be very expensive but they are excellent for small paintings, portraits and the like. The optical effects offered by these mediums are easily matched or surpassed by the C.S.O. method as it too offers painters who use extensive layering quick results that give real depth to the paint finish.

As to tube paints, I favour, Michael Harding ,Winsor and Newton, Blockx, Talens Rembrandt series, Daler Rowney, Georgian series (cheap but consistently good) and Old Holland. There are a lot of good manufacturers out there but I would avoid Vasari.

I buy most of my products from https://www.jacksonsart.com/ they offer free postage to Europe on orders over £100.00, they have just about everything, though are not brave when it comes to selling the more toxic products. The complete opposite is the silly attitude of greatart. co.uk who if you try to buy something from them and have it sent to France, they will refer you to the French website where the same products are considerably more expensive, fuckin’ stupid!

I buy chalk, cold pressed linseed oil, glass powder and a few other items from the massive German art supplier http://www.kremer-pigmente.com/de. I make my own sun thickened flax oil.


President Orange and his cabal of deplorables.

So we’re in the first few days of Trump’s presidency and the Orange Pussy Grabber has started off as the misogynistic bastard he is. A cabinet of twisted old fundamentalist Christians judge America’s women particularly young women. Can there be anything more unjust, more anti-democratic, more un-American, more unconstitutional and less patriotic than a room full of white spineless, drudges controlling the reproductive rights of 150,000,000 women.

I hope Trump’s businesses are boycotted and I hope his business empire starts to crumble along with the businesses of his sycophantic children. The collapse of his presidency will take more time, a few years but it will come, he’s self destructive – bigly.


Mind Massage

If you can find a partner who massages your mind, then you are very lucky.


Salem _the series

Salem, it’s been a few years since Salem was broadcast, so I though that I’d re-watch all the episodes free online. I see it more clearly now, it was the Republican party in drag! Truth through pain indeed. What a sorry shower of shite the G.O.P. are, cruel, misogynistic (even the women somehow) racist, bigoted to a man/women. Fundamentalist Christians who for the most part have never read their bible and only use the parts of it that give them control. Like Conservatives everywhere, they are authoritarians, living in fear, projecting their own inadequacies onto every one else.

Trump is their perfect master, a creation of their own degenerate ideology. Empathy is their bogey word, a place they won’t visit, it is anathema to them.


Christianity weeps for its lost influence.

christianity weeps (for its lost influence)_webThe title ‘Christianity Weeps for its Lost Influence’, arose from a visit to have cataract surgery on my eyes near La Rochelle in 2014. I found a magazine in the waiting area called, ‘Pèlerin’, not expecting to read anything challenging from a magazine for religious apologists I was surprised to find the image of Christ, so effortlessly beautiful in its decrepitude. I liked the idea of something failing but at the same time surviving, rather like me, and so I decided to challenge my technique by making a fairly faithful copy of the photo, which is only slightly larger than the painting. It is a technical challenge, particularly in realising the form of the face as it falls to bits. You have to convincingly place the cracks and the flaking paints tiny shadows.
Christians are basically forgiving themselves for being completely immoral on the question of punishment from their god. When you ask Christians if they like the idea of a ‘non-believer’ spending eternity in hell they say ‘no, that is what god wants, so it’s ok’. This is the same as a Nazi (a German citizen or soldier) in the second world war saying, ‘I don’t agree with the gassing of Jewish people, homosexuals, disabled people, artists and intellectuals but if Hitler says it is fine, then it is with me too’.

How can Christians worship something that they can see is morally questionable and morally inferior to themselves, ask them, I did. All I have discovered is that the question is massively side-stepped either by a theological rant of epic proportions that makes no sense except in a Disney cartoon or a fantasy novel, or Christians dismiss the importance of the question, citing ‘faith’.




Being authentic in 2017

Happy New Year to everyone I know, hope that the new year brings you health, happiness and all that you wish for. We all have personal goals and ‘resolutions’ but let’s not lose sight of the fact that we could all love each other a little more.

One final thing – be unique, I’m sure it comes naturally to most of us but life gets in the way. The major benefit of being unique is ridding yourself of negativity, people who constantly downplay and criticise your best ideas are like clawing hands from the grave, cut them off where possible. Be unique, have a read here


Bonne année mes amis.