03 December 2005

Sitting in the cafe reading the paper yesterday


Lilly said...

David, I absolutely adore your work! I love the background colours and their 'blurness' -- and then the sharpness of the figurs/objects you paint/draw[?] onto that background....

Listen, the above description does not sound very professional. I know. I don't know the proper technical terms when it comes to painting. I'm just trying to tell you that I truly like what I see.

Do you sell your paintings at all, or are they only for personal use?

David said...

Ta muchly. These are playing round with watercolours, which I haven't done before. I like them a lot.

Don't worry about knowing technical terms. Do you know George Orwell's six rules for effective writing from his classic essay 'Politics and the English Language'? Less is more, and saying what you mean clearly and unambiguously are the main things. (But that's me being a prescriptivist again, ho ho.)

Yep, I do sell occasionally. There's a list of shows I've been in so far at the bottom of the paintings page of my website (link at right). On the paintings page proper 'private collection' indicates the ones I've given away or sold. I'm still starting out, so there's more of the former than the latter.

David said...

Ye gods, it should be '...clearly and unambiguously is...' cos of the singular subject and 'painting pages' in the plural. Plonker that I am.

Oh yeah, and it is draw. The black lines were added by pen after the paint had (mostly) dried. I like the combination of loose and controlled elements. I reckon it works well, but it's important to get independent confirmation. Cheers.

This is also me playing around with a larger palette than normal. I usually use old school Renaissance techniques - building up thin glazes of pure colour using a very limited palette (before now I've used pretty much only earth colours - yellow ochre, raw and burnt sienna, raw umber, and terra verde). None of this new-fangled 17th century mixing your colours with white and black to tone them bollocks.

Gothamimage said...

This is a good piece. Very good to use Orwell- communication, whether painting or writing, is to communicate - Obfuscation is used to mislead.

Sometime read one of President Bush's speeches and try to paint the world, as conveyed by his words - You will end up with an absurd cartoon of ridiculously noble 'folk's piously freeing people and freely being pious at all tims. Try to imagine him standing shoulder to should with Blair, adamentine and resolved, against all evil.

Gothamimage said...


This link ^^^ is an online version of the Mencken (1921) classic on American Languge.

Once you are familiar with it, you'll start seeing references to it everywhere.

It's very fun to read. Mencken is a critic, but from within.

Gothamimage said...


Here's some more backround ^^^ on the man who wrote the book on American Language.

David said...

Ha ha, been there and done that. The Illuminati Guy paintings are mostly based on news photos of Bush. 'The cabal' is taken from a photo of the National Security Council meeting on 12 September 2001. See if you can recognise some of the others.

I've never been entirely happy with them though.

Gothamimage said...

Those were based on photos - what I am suggesting is getting a speech of his, like the state of the Union or a major address - sitting down and reading it, without looking at any pictures- then trying to imagine what the speaker of the speech and his world looked like, as if you had never seen it in reality. Try to forget that you have seen who is speaking the words and try to imagine what this person was like, as if you did not already know - You will see things that you have not yet seen.

Also - make sure to check out that Bartlby link.

The famous journalist Canada/USA Robin McNeil was on TV discussing his own version of this:


Gothamimage said...

Those are some interesting painting - I'll have to examine them more in a couple of days to give you better feedback. Best.

When you get a chance, elaborate on your cybernetic complaint, made to me, a few posts back.

Lilly said...

Thanks for elaborating on your techniques, David -- and for not minding my lack of a technical vocabulary :-) You write 'the combination of loose and controlled elements' --> that was exactly what I meant in my initial post. It's that very combination that makes the paintings look fantastic in my view.

I'll be sure to check out your links !!

I don't know George Orwell's six rules of communication - I'll have to look into them too! Alan is quite an Orwell fan. He might have them somewhere...

David said...


1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

I particularly like number six, especially the term 'outright barbarous'. You can read the 1946 essay they're from here.

I got a bit too keen with the latest watercolour effort - overworked it just a tad. Might still put it up as a salutary lesson but. Quick and simple's the go, then on to the next one.


That's a really good idea. Might just do that. Maybe putting a bunch of similar kinds of things into an online cut up machine and seeing where the associations take me. Throw in something incongruous to keep things interesting.

Won't elaborate on the cybernetic control thing at the moment (Rose did reckon it sounded a bit full on). But basically there's been a war going on for all of human history between the control freaks who want to rule the world and independent free human beings. The current lot (your lot in particular) have fairly good reasons for thinking they're close to winning their objective of a totalised vertically integrated (shall we say) global society. All this brain scanner research freaks me out, especially in combination with the teeny robot and crazy DARPA stuff.

The resource wars have already started. First oil, then water. We're in for a rough ride.

paintergirl said...

I can't believe I missed out on this huge conversation. I like this one too. I'm am not so good with the watercolors. I want to do too much at once. It's the layering, and drying, and painting some more.
George Orwell-brilliant!

joseluis said...

good work, i liked.

David said...

PG: Yeah man, and unlike other mediums you don't have nearly as much scope to rectify your mistakes. I kind of like that though - kind of like having to show your working when doing maths exams at school.

JL: Cheers bro. Got another to put up when I get my hands on Rose's scanner next.

Gothamimage said...

Another approach to take - grab a few of Bush's speechers - a representative sample - Go to a nice library for the day and read them without any computer near by. Read them, as if you were reading ancient speeches or foreign speeches. You have probably done this - when you read history and your mind tries to paint a picture. If you read Jefferson or Tom Paine or Alexander Hamilton or Burke, you can imagine their world - they are evocative writers and my idea is that Bush's speeches are also evocative. But unlike most historical figures, they do not paint a picture that resembles the world we live in - just some thing else.

If you take his formal speeches, which are worked on over and over- you know that every word, every idea, is there for a reason, a purpose. Many of the phrases are test marketed, before they are used. Etc - This shows they are trying to evoke a world in the listeners mind's eye, but most of us are too busy to detach that from our sensory observations - we just forget about it. Nevertheless, it woud be interesting to find out from someone who was a bit removed (New Zealand), yet familar (English), who had imagination (artist), what kind of world he saw being painted by Bush's speech writers.

There's subtle differences between his campaign and governing speeches. Anything you come up with might provide insights related to your earlier stated concern about language and mind.

Gothamimage said...

Just a note on Orwell - I agree with the main point, but there reasons to violate those rules when you are writing for entertainment, ironic, or comedy purposes. As long as you realise you are doing it. Cheney violated number 4 almost every time he lies. He also is fond of the Future Passive Periphrastic, because he can tap in to the imagination of his followers with a few elliptical allusions, then they will pick up that ball and run with it.

David said...

Yep, I get your point, and it is a good idea. Ha, ha, could always grab stuff from the evil Denis Dutton's Arts and Letters Daily site (you know that one?). Seriously though, I'm reasonably familiar with the war of worldviews being played out in the US media - try to keep up with what's going on. There was an opinion piece on A and L Daily a while ago which was all about why Bush and co didn't lie about the reasons for the war during the build up or aftermath. Seemed like a classic case of cognitive dissonance from a quick squizz - hmm, my deeply held beliefs and the observable facts about the world don't match up so let's try to get rid of those pesky observable facts through elaborate rationalisations and redefintions etc etc.

We'll see. It could tie in with the other stuff I've been doing.

Gothamimage said...

Not being an artist or art expert, I probably shouldn't pontificate - But I do notice that art either stays or fades, irregardless of it's popularity or marketability, when it's made. Things that last, tell truths that cannot be picked up be ordinary eyes, like mine, when it is made - It may be unpleasant, but may reflect the world as it is, and only the artist has the antena or what have you. In this sense, the artist is like a animal that reacts to uncoming storms and such, before most people sense anything amiss. So the question is not whethet or not I like your Bush art, but whether or not it's accurate. Only time will tell. While wishing you well in your work, for all of our sake, I hope your vision is a bit off. Otherwise, such a stark vision, bodes ill for the future.

David said...

You hit the nail on the head - the best advice I've ever read is to do authentic stuff for your own benefit, not what you think is fashionable or what you think someone else wants.

Only time will tell indeed.

visitors since 29 March 2004.