This is what happens when an artist is put in charge of the camouflage

Modern camouflage is designed to hide things (of course), but perversely it must also identify the nationality of the wearer.  Apparently each country has a different pattern.  I am sure there must be websites about this, but I couldn’t see any (geddit?)

Norman Wilkinson was an artist and camoufleur.  Now there is an occupation to try on at passport control.  When the Royal Navy asked him to design camouflage for its ships, he seems to have thought: you cannot hide a ship, so why not make it REALLY visible instead?  And that is what he did, adopting a sort of vorticist style to make dazzle camouflage.

I understand the Navy later abandoned dazzle camouflage as it did not work, which strikes me as unfortunately pedantic and fussy.  Do they not realise how few satisfactions and small joys there are in an artist’s life?

This is a picture of a rather aggressively named ‘Kill’ class sloop wearing Norman’s camouflage.  The swirling dark lines reminded me of Kabuki makeup, so I decided to paint the boat in a ukiyo-e style.

dazzle ship

Admire Rakti

Beauty is evanescent; we should appreciate it for so long as it lasts.  Admire Rakti was a beautiful horse from Japan.  He was also a fast one.  He carried the top weight in the 2014 Melbourne Cup and many thought he might win.  Alas, he faded badly near the end of the race, returned to his stall, and died of a heart attack.

admire rakti 1

Pocket-dialled ball finial

The camera on my ‘phone seems to take pictures about 20 seconds after I press the button.  The effect can throw up a spontaneous and fresh image, but usually it doesn’t.  I have spared you a painting of the view up my nose or inside my jacket pocket, and opted instead for this pocket-dial-style image of a ball finial atop a building in Johnston Street, Collingwood.  It also gives me the excuse for this heading, which – according to Google – appears not to have been used before.

Finial final

Lighthouse at Chania, Crete

A friend snapped this picture on holidays in Crete, and then threw down the gauntlet and asked me to paint it.  It is the lighthouse at Chania.  When I heard it was first built by the Venetians, I convinced myself as to how Venetian the tower looked.  But Dr Google tells me the tower fell into disrepair and was rebuilt by Egyptian troops during the Turkish occupation, so only the base is Venetian.  I must confess I had not thought the base looked very Venetian at all.  This is why I am not an architecture historian.

Painting waves is hard.  I borrowed a book from the library about painting ships.  The author’s advice for painting the sea: paint waves until it looks like the sea, and then stop.  Thanks for that.  Lots of liquin and lots of glazing.  The inventor of liquin deserves at least a Nobel prize.

Chania lighthouse

Chunky property developer proves too good for the rest of the field

The mounting enclosure of a racetrack is a study in contrasts.  On Melbourne Cup Day, super athletes jostle with their considerably less athletic owners.  On the one hand, sleek shifting packs of muscle; on the other … not.

George Stubbs captured the glossy smoothness of thoroughbreds as no one else has.  This is my update on his painting of Firetail outside the rubbing-down sheds at Newmarket.  I call it: “Chunky property developer proves too good for the rest of the field.”

 

Mel Cup

The red pony

“Then Jody stood and watched the pony, and he saw things he had never noticed about any other horse, the sleek, sliding flank muscles and the cords of the buttocks, which flexed like a closing fist, and the shine the sun put on the red coat.  Having seen horses all his life, Jody had never looked at them very closely before.  But now he noticed the moving ears which gave expression and even inflection of expression to the face.  The pony talked with his ears.  You could tell exactly how he felt about everything by the way his ears pointed.  Sometimes they were stiff and upright and sometimes lax and sagging.  They went back when he was angry or fearful, and forward when he was anxious and curious and pleased; and their exact position indicated what emotion he had.”

 

Red pony

Macintosh SE/30 – thanks for the memories … all 32MB of them

There has rarely been anything as satisfying as saving an essay onto a brand new floppy disc and ejecting it from a Macintosh SE/30.  Every step in the process involved a loud thunk sound.  By today’s standards the SE/30 was slow, loud, heavy and as expensive as poison.  And it had the memory of a goldfish.  But I love it still, and I haven’t seen a computer that looks better.

This is an oil on board portrait of an SE/30 as it tries to remember something.

Mac SE 30