Monday 22 February 2010

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Visceral ignorance

But what do any of us know about the insides of bodies there days? In the olden days every housewife, in common with hunters and pork butchers, would have seen as much in the way of innards as any cadaver-diving surgeon. What is more she would have had a name for every part, and known what was good to eat lightly pan-fried in butter and what was best made into sausages.

An abdomenation

Here's another gem from Govan et al:

"Previous gynaecological treatment is best learnt about from clinical records if obtainable. Gynaecological pathology and terminology are mysterious to most women". (p.68)

"A neurotic patient will employ a colourful imagery..."

That's going on my toumbstone. It's from 'Gynaecology Illustrated' : A.D.T. Govan. C. Hodge, R.Callander, published by Churchill Livingstone 1985. (They are talking about pain and how to do patient consultations.)

Frank Netter also employs a colourful imagery. This is one of mine, you can see I've obviously been influenced.

Unusually for me it's a picture of an actual thing: I'm offering a prize to anyone who can guess what it's supposed to be.

Where there's hair there's fun

We're fond of this conception of tools as things with which we commit actions upon the world. We use paintbrushes to smear a dirty trace our passing onto a blank and unresisting canvas, besmirching its innocence with the slimy seed of our Intentions. Or, if like me, you're a Modern Girl, you might prefer to think of it as doing stigmergy.
But that's not all - yes, a paintbrush is a transmitter, that's plain to see. But it is also a receiver, a big clumsy whisker. We use tools to pick up information about the world which we use in order to work out what to do next. In the case of painting, through the vibrations of the brush we feel the warp of the paper, its humidity, irregularities of surface, stray particles, the viscosity of the paint, and the activity of painting is a process of constant response to this.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Saturday 13 February 2010

slugs on toast

That's a bit of toast in the big circle, it seems that toast is the big delicacy, the soup-du-jour for slugs.

So the point of these isn't the Product (for me; some circles and wobbly lines, for the slugs; some dinner, all of which is very nice to be sure,) but the nature of the interaction. It's not the Action of Man Having Dominion Over Nature, rather an event where Person-organism-Roberts does a thing in a spirit of fun and friendship and curiosity, hoping to influence the behaviour of Person-organism-Slugs, who come along and do their sluggy thing in their own time and in their own way and for their own reasons. And then go away again.

Who knows what the slugs actually think of all this? They obviously enjoyed their dinner - but I'm curious about the slug who spent an incredibly long time going round and round the small circle (pictured here with Person-organism-Spider, who knows what she was doing there?) - whether the slug was enjoying the shape of the circle in the same way as I enjoy riding my bike down the long downhill curve of the road in Holyrood Park? Or was it locked into a horrible sense of infinity? Or was there simply more dinner there, a hungrier slug?

I'd like to dedicate these drawings to the memory of my friend Eileen Tunney's dog Jake, who used to steal bread from their bread bin, take it outside and put it on their grass, then retire to the bottom of the garden to watch - just to watch - the birds come down and feed.

Thursday 11 February 2010

human, pilchard, sunflower, slug, bacteria, fungae, algae.

Jam just got washed away with the snow. Pilchard in sunflower oil is more appetising, apparently.

Monday 8 February 2010

the FAQ

There is only one, always the same one; "How do you get your circles so perfect?"
It's a nice question - what everyone wants to know is whether I have some kind of terrifying virtuosity and do them freehand or if I somehow cheat.
The answer is, I'm just very good at colouring in. I use a pair of compasses and bring the paint up to the lines. It's primary school stuff, done attentively and responsively, and practised over a long time. Each of these lovely circles is just a nice record of ordinary human fine motor skills, rather than a document of some kind of super-humanity conferred by the gods or genetics upon a being that is somehow outside the normal remit of human beingness and doingness. Yes, it's specialised, but I don't think that makes me particularly special.

Sunday 7 February 2010

water music

Anyway, Shiori Usui and Rocio decided to get together to do some watercolouring to music and invited me along. We did things on our own to shakuhachi music - for me, a lovely concentration on breathing and doing, and on making and letting things happen. (My things turned out ugly-looking, but there you go.)

Then we did one together. The interesting thing was, the experience was exactly like having a tune (what Him Indoors calls musicking*) with some nice musicians you haven't played with before - a process of responding, listening, waiting, doing; of transgressions and accommodations, involvement and stepping back. And had the same quality of now-ness, a particular way of being in the present tense that you do when you improvise and isn't the same as when you play from a score, or a thing you have rehearsed.
Here's our thing, it's a record of all that, an activity becoming friendship.

*Music, you will understand, being a verb, a thing that you do - a term Him Indoors picked up from Christopher Small, who has lots of lovely things to say about music, (including, delightfully, an acknowledgment of the role of cleaners in the staging of any event in which music takes place in a public space, and therefore in the music itself.)

Friday 5 February 2010


I don't normally listen to music when I paint, I find my movements get entrained and I do all sorts of gestural stuff that aren't part of the game I'm playing at that moment (which, these days, is often a game of looking very quietly at gestural stuff, a subject I intend to bore you at length with later).
Besides, I reckon music does strange things to the brain chemistry. Case in point, I developed a thing for Archie Shepp's 'Attica Blues' and forgot not to listen to it in the studio one day. These Fellows suddenly appeared on what had been up to then a perfectly sensible painting. Fluorescent paint and everything.
(Of course nobody should hold Archie Shepp to account for any bonkers act committed in the course of listening to his music, the responsibility rests entirely with the Author. Does it?)

Tuesday 2 February 2010

Jam today

I've been taking advantage of the fine weather to make jam drawings, hoping for a molluscy collaboration.

Cat On Work

What is a blog without a picture of a cat involving itself with your work? Thought I'd get it out of the way straightaway: this is Charlie, and I'm one of his companion-humans.