Amoeboid Whisp

Had to do some painting of the kind I am not so fond of. That is, I painted the bedroom. It seems paint companies employ people to come up with wacky and memorable names for housepaint. Two coats of Mass Destruction later, the walls look fine.

I have mentioned before the benefits of looking closely at children’s marbles. They are a cheap way into the art glass market. This is a close up look at a simple marble with a dramatic white swirly inclusion. I shall call it Amoeboid Whisp.

A tiny cloud at your finger tip

An empty bottle, an empty jar, and a Subaru 360

It is difficult to paint an empty clear glass bottle. That is because there is almost nothing there to paint. You end up painting the reflections and the cap rather than the bottle.

There, but almost not.

This week my hometown of Melbourne broke the world record for the longest lockdown on account of the spicy cough. To fend off the more compelling aspects of cabin fever, I built another tiny model car over the last few weeks. It is a Subaru 360, also known as ‘the ladybug’. Apparently this one came first in the 1964 Japanese Grand Prix, which must have been a very slow, very cute race indeed.

The car is pictured in front of a painting I did of the Morita Shuzo sake brewery in Kurashiki a few years ago. There is more about that here.

Sunset on the Volga or ars moriendi

I was window shopping for Soviet cars on car when I noticed a winsome GAZ Volga. The front seat had apparently been photographed in the late afternoon. It was almost like the car was aware its brand had gone extinct. This is my impression of it, complete with the shadow of a tumbtack holding the canvas to my home made cardboard easel.

“Racing cardboard”: a GAZ Volga contemplates its mortality

A happy little accident

Was looking at some snapshots of a friend’s rally car in a race. The action shots were engaging, as the little yellow car blurred past alpine forests, and took dusty corners sideways. But the image of the car resting on its roof after rolling end over end, now that, that was striking. No one injured … except the car, it was buggered.

“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Vanitas and bowling

As with so many of us, I enjoy flicking back through old X-Rays to marvel at how much my bones have changed over the years. I was looking at a full frontal of my skull and I was struck by how much it resembled a bowling ball. Thus this picture.

I could pretend I was making an important philosophical point, but I was not. I just thought how much my head looked like a bowling ball, and how much I like shiny metal flake bowling balls. That is it.

“Strikes and gutters. Ups and downs.” The Big Lebowski.

Tengu and the acceptance of ambiguity

“Sometimes they are good, and sometimes bad. Why do you find that so difficult to understand?”

Like so many things that live in the mountains, Tengu tend to the mysterious and misty. You often see masks of them in the dusty vestibules of provincial inns, hanging next to a fifty year old square Seiko clock, where they are expected to deliver luck and prosperity. I am told Tengu also used to entrance Buddhist priests, tie them to the tops of trees, and beguile them into eating dung disguised as food. So there is a mixed CV.

I naively asked a Japanese friend whether Tengu were good or bad. It seems I asked the wrong question. As with all of us, sometimes they are good and sometimes they are bad.

This is a Tengu that hangs near my easel, lit from behind by a fading spring sunset.

Sometimes good, sometimes bad. But at the moment, a tad cranky.

A good art instructor told me not to be impatient, and to do an underdrawing in diluted burnt sienna. It works: even though you cannot see the underpainting, it seems to add a depth to the finished image. How does it do this? How should I know?

El Solo Toro

It turns out there is an official Australia Post motorbike, the Honda C110X Postie. Sadly, not for sale to the general public. Its name suggests an engine displacement of 110 cubic centimetres, however according to the official specifications, the displacement is in fact 109 cubic centimetres. What happened to the missing cubic centimetre?

Our local post deliverer parked her C110X Postie outside a neighbour’s house to deliver a parcel. The Postie turned its minatory cyclopean eye on me from the nature strip. It looked like an angry bull, pivoting on its front legs for a charge. 109 cubic centimetres of pent up fury. Probably a good thing this beast is not for sale to the general public.

A haiku in mild steel

When you paint a tin opener you have to look at it. That is when, if you are like me, you realise for the first time how efficient it is. A few parts are riveted together and nothing is wasted, nothing superfluous. The simple twist to the handle combines maximum downward force on the cutting blade with comfort for the user. It has the elegance of a well-turned haiku, but – unlike a haiku – it can open a tin of baked beans.

Painted on a loose canvas sheet, thumbtacked to cardboard. You can see the thumbtacks in the corners. Thumbtacks: now there is a machine it would be hard to improve on.

Elegance, ingenuity, and practicality for a total price of $2.95 (GST included).

If only Rembrandt had access to MDF

I picked up some free MDF offcuts from Bunnings: the left overs that were not good enough to use on someone’s kitchen cupboard door. I felt sorry for one of them (a lump of processed wood?). I decided its fate should be as the support for a painting of a tin hat in the manner of Rembrandt.

MDF is a good surface to paint on. In my opinion if Rembrandt had had access to sufficient supplies of MDF, he could have really realised his potential as a painter.

What might have been … This MDF offcut could have been a kitchen cupboard door.