Sunday, 28 April 2013

Black, White, & Rarely What I Feel Like Doing

You may have noticed that colour is a prominent feature in most of my artwork. I enjoy bright, vibrant, borderline-aggressively colourful art. Just take a look at my pieces (e.g. Circus of Life, Finding My Way, Dreaming of Rainbows) and some of my favourite works by other artists (e.g. Expansion of Light, Centrifugal and Centripetal by Gino Severini, Alex Grey's work, or pretty much anything by Kandinsky). Art without colour can certainly be aesthetically and conceptually impressive, but it often feels like it's lacking an extra dimension.

Colour is one of the basic elements of art. Alongside texture, form, space, shape, tone, and line, colour is perhaps the most apparent feature to us when we view a piece of art. One may be unsure of how to name or describe the colour, but it's obvious to us what we are perceiving. When art lacks this element, I feel it needs to work even harder to define itself through the other elements. It's easy to make an uninteresting monotonous piece interesting by adding colour appropriately; it's much harder to make a conceptually and aesthetically dull but colourful piece interesting by reducing it to black and white.

As a contrast to my usual work, I sometimes experiment with simpler black and white pieces. It may not be as exciting as using every pencil in my collection but it's fun to do something different for a change (provided I have enough black pens). It's much easier to create solid shapes with pen than pencil, but challenging to keep the image to such restricted tones. It can also be a useful skill when black-and-white reproduction is required, such as in many publications. Below are a selection of my (mostly) colourless drawings.

Tribal Clef



See Tomorrow

Despite all the work I've done with black pens - I use them in almost every drawing - I'm still yet to find the perfect pen. I have a range which I cycle through for different purposes but none is really ideal. If anyone can recommend a good one, I'd greatly appreciate it! Sometimes using different materials can completely change the artwork.


Dark Set Full (#1 - #4)

Time Unfolds

The great artist is the simplifier.

Henri-Frederic Amiel

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Photo of the Week #9

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Walking through a park near the city and caught a very impressive pair of Rainbow Lorikeets emerging from a hole in a tree. Managed to snap a few photos before they departed - here's one. Definitely among the most visually stunning bird species!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Team Walk

Collaboration can create surprising and impressive results. Without a rigid framework, the finished product of a collaborative endeavour is almost always unexpected. Nobody's experiences completely overlap with another person - everyone sees and feels the world differently, learns and remembers differently, expresses themselves differently, and has differently preferences and opinions. In creative fields, 1 + 1 almost never equals 2. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

In 2010 I co-drew several images with my then-girlfriend (now fiancée) Elizabeth Flux. We followed a similar process for each piece: one of us would draw in pencil for a few minutes, then the other would take over for a few minutes, repeat until outlines complete. I then went over everything with pen and filled in the colours. There was no plan or overall concept for the drawings - purely experimental. To me it's very obvious which parts each of us drew - what do you think?

Rainbow Parade


Back in the Day

Last year we revisited this style and created a slightly simpler image - though just as cheerful and colourful as our earlier pieces. We're in a hot air balloon!

Eternal Celebration

Working in collaboration leads to a rich dialogue yielding unexpected results.

Alexander Gorlizki

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Photo of the Week #8

I had great fun with this week's photography! I decided to play around with capturing fire in the darkness. Starting small, this set were just using matches fairly close-up indoors. I found the results from such a simple project can be really striking - the natural element of the flame adds some unpredictability and a more organic feel to the image. It has certainly given me a few ideas for ways to expand further in this direction - experimenting more with the flame size, number, colour, placement, lighting, and so on.

Below are a few of the dozens of images captured.

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Thanks to this post for providing some useful pointers.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Stop the Presses

To break things up a bit, I want to share a few of my more recent pieces.

The first was an incomplete work in progress for over a year before I finally finished it 2 days ago. It initially started as a failed draft for an image I created last year, Keys to Wellness. The issue wasn't that I didn't like it, but rather that the more I worked on it the further it drifted from the intended theme. I had originally planned it to be a few spirals of piano keys forming a treble clef, which just didn't work for me! As I've mentioned before, I don't like to control my creations too much. I just let them go the way they go. They often don't go where I expect them to (often for the best!)

The biggest challenge for me in this piece was choosing the colours. I didn't spend too long stressing over the decision but I was very aware that it could ruin the entire piece - it wouldn't be the first time I've done it. When it comes down to it though, I'd almost always rather experiment and risk a poor outcome than be conservative. The safe option is rarely the fun one, and rewards are often proportional to risk. I think the colours work really well here!

All in all, I'm quite happy with this one. Very glad I didn't try and shoehorn it into an incongruous concept.

Colour Wheels

The next two are a couple of my first attempts at using Copic markers. They're alright but I think I need to find more appropriate paper to use for them. The markers bleed a lot and take some getting used to, especially when blending colours. Expect to see more in future.



“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Photo of the Week #7

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Photographed a sculpture down by the river. Experimenting with focus and framing to create simple abstract images. Using line and colour to form interesting compositions. This one inspired by water and ice. What do you see?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Under the Influence

A few weeks ago, I posted about Alex Grey and psychedelic artwork. I want to explore this field further and share some more related pieces. First a little about the psychedelic art movement...

Following the serendipitous discovery of the psychedelic properties of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) by Albert Hofmann in 1943, a significant increase in the use and study of psychedelics took place. One body of research, conducted by psychiatrist Oscar Janiger in Los Angeles, examined the effects of LSD on over 900 volunteers. This group represented a cross-section of the general population and ranged from college students and housewives to doctors and engineers - even priests, rabbis, and movie stars! A key feature of Janiger's research was to examine the psychedelic effects in more comfortable and natural environments, as opposed to the artificial hospital settings commonly used.

A subset of this study looked at professional artists. This included comparing works done by the same artists both while sober and while under the influence of LSD (one such example can be seen at the end of this article). Many participants in Janiger's study reported believing their creative abilities were enhanced and that their art had greater aesthetic value, however, other artists and researchers have found LSD to impair thought and technical ability. A significant proportion completely changed their artistic style (e.g. to expressionist or abstract styles).

Art historian Carl Hertel analysed 250 of the images produced from this study in 1971, comparing those created while under the influence to the baseline images. He found that the LSD-inspired artworks were neither superior nor inferior to the artists' other works. However, he felt the pieces became "more abstract, symbolic, brighter, more emotional and aesthetically adventuresome, and non-representational, and they tended to use all available space on the canvas."

For better or worse, altered states of consciousness can dramatically alter our perceptions of reality, including ourselves. It's understandable, thus, that it will also alter the creative and artistic processes. The research in this field is fascinating and I highly recommend LSD, Spirituality, and the Creative Process, a book which explains and analyses Janiger's work, including several examples of the artwork produced.

Reality is Ripping at the Seams

Mind Bender


Finding My Way

There are things known and there are things unknown,
and in between are the doors of perception.

Aldous Huxley 

Thursday, 4 April 2013