Hi-Vis Portrait, or traffic control officer in the manner of Reynolds

One of the unexpected side effects of the plague is a resurgence in Georgian hairstyles. Many are embracing the difficulties of home hairdressing: simply shaving random strips on the sides of their heads, and tying the rest up samurai style. Or some, like me, just look like Dr Johnson.

The demands of workplace health and safety are also forcing a lot of workers into peacock coloured hi vis clothing of a Regency-like brightness. For many of them, I expect this is the most vivid clothing they have ever worn.

I saw a traffic control officer at a local building site, swaddled in his hi vis pullover. His fresh complexion was set off by the ginger ringlets of his home-made mullet. He was framed by the crepuscular gloom of the underground carpark he was guarding. He was, simply, a subject fit for Joshua Reynolds.

If only Joshua Reynolds were here …

A lump of wood

Spending time alone can be a difficult art to master, but it is, I think, worth doing. I have had a lump of wood sitting on my windowsill for many years. I had not spent more than a minute or so looking at it at any one time, and then for a total of maybe ten minutes in all those years. I certainly had never looked at it for a solid three hours. Then I decided to paint it. Hours later the painting was finished, and I had never noticed so much about the lump of wood before, or appreciated it so much.

Still, but full of life

Getting priorities straight with Henry Hanke

Henry Hanke painted his fair share of the great and the good. But when he was commissioned to paint a commemoration of the Australian Navy’s efforts in World War II, he picked someone from the ranks: Able Seaman Walker.

This is my copy of the Walker portrait. Apparently the white shroud is anti-flash gear, to protect the wearer from fire. It also has the effect of making them look like a medieval pilgrim.

I learned a lot from making this copy. Thank you Henry Hanke for the picture, and thank you, Able Seaman Walker.

Still life with feathers

A cat, it was, that did it. There were vestiges of a struggle, but the poor bird had little chance.

The cat, well-fed, was content to take the life and leave the body for the ants and for me to paint.

The bright little bubble of an eye still caught the light.

Still life with riot helmets

Cezanne kept a small collection of skulls that he would arrange and re-arrange like a rather confronting bunch of flowers. He would then paint pictures of them.

This memento mori is a collection of helmets used by student protesters during the Japanese university struggles in 1968 and 1969.

There are no angels left in America anymore
They left after the second World War heading west
Stopping briefly in Japan during the ’60s
In Tienanman Square, during the last decade

They kept heading west to who knows where

What’re they after?
What’re they looking for?
A Messiah who never comes?
A virgin birth?
A perfect drunk?
A sign,
Any kind of sign
Anything that looks slightly out of the ordinary

David Byrne

Memento mori – As I was, so you never shall be

Meditation on a copper urn

As I doubt I will get to see an original painting by Chardin any time in the foreseeable future, I knocked up this copy to appreciate at home.

Robert Hughes said this of an exhibition of Chardin’s work in 1979, on the 200th anniversary of his death:

To see Chardin’s work en masse, in the midst of a period of stuffed with every kind of jerky innovation, narcissistic blurting and trashy “relevance,” is to be reminded that lucidity, deliberation, probity and calm are still the chief virtues of the art of painting.


Chardin got a lot of mileage out of that copper urn … and that spring onion

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 sales.com 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.”