Friday, January 31, 2014

rejection slips ... what I live for.

There are two trains of thought when it comes to approaching Art Gallery curators. One is to do the utterly professional thing with your presentation BY EMAIL, as per their website guidelines, wait patiently for a response and an appointment.

Then the other one is to just put your stuff in the car, have a decent brochure made of your best work - and it must be in a theme, not all over the place, everything but the kitchen sink.  You must dress all nifty and preferably walk in with a mate like you want to buy the art on display.  Stand around sniffing haughtily down your nose and wait for the Gallery owner to wander up to you, rubbing his or her hands in anticipation of a quick sale.   This is when the 'ploy' kicks in (but you have to have the chops/actual stuff to back it up, else it falls down like a house of cards).
You nonchalantly engage in conversation, making sure to throw out odd things like 'we've just come from  (insert huge corporate bank/hotel chain name), they are oh so interested in our stuff'  (it's good to always refer to yourself in the plural - establishes that you are royalty)
This is when you kind of stand around, pouting, looking ever so famous and bored.   Gallery owner will (on cue, regular as clock work so they say), cough, splutter, fidget before asking 'Do you have any examples of your work that I can look at?" ...
Now you've nailed it. 
(aside: providing of course, that you actually DO have major corporate interest, brochure, artwork in your car). 

I used the classic approach one uses when submitting a bit of freelance journalism to a newspaper when I contacted a North Norfolk based gallery recently.  I did do a bit of research first (duh, I'm not completely moronic), as you do.  That is to say, I checked out the kind of work this particular gallery handle, what the average prices of the works are, the artists they have on their books, their location, the name of the owners etc. etc. ... seemed like they might be a good fit for my .... er ... Art (with a capital letter, so that I treat it with respect).   But nope, they very politely thanked me for sending my emailed enquiry/attached pdfs but said that they didn't think they'd be able to sell my work in their establishment.  Which is a euphemism in the Art world for 'God, this stuff is SHITE!'.  

But no, I have NOT been put off. One rejection slip is completely NOTHING.  I had a lot of those in my writing career before landing a regular paying stint with the Saturday Star in Johannesburg - that lasted for over three years and only really stopped because I wanted it to.  It takes time, patience, a lot of work, quiet determination, heaps and heaps of research to put together a really good pitch to a gallery.  And you have to actually WANT your work to be displayed in that particular place - that, actually is the key.  If you truly believe that your work fits that space better than anything else they have on their walls, then you will get represented!
This is why I'm not interested in art-online websites, e-bay or other mass-buying portals for selling art.  Like with freelance writing, I am choosing the market I want my Art to be in FIRST and when I find it, we will have a lovely long life together.

Okay, get back to work.   

Off the side of my head ... Friday rant ... connect the goddam dots.

It is amazing really how many completely talentless people there are in the world* who have become multi-millionaires and achieved enormous public acclaim and success - all because they either look good, are very young (or not so young), behave atrociously in public,  know the right people to shove them up the social ladder, or just happen to be in the right place.    

For the rest of us poor buggers, it's just one hard long slog hey?  No easy breaks here. No instant wins, fame and fortune, just plain old hard work over and over again banging your head against a brick wall.  It's quite sad when you look around and take in what passes for talent these days on the telly or elsewhere.  The media glorify people who have very little going for them other than a desire to act as if they want to fuck everything that moves**   Shows like the X-factor, The Voice etc. etc. ad nauseum push mediocrity down our throats with brute force.  

Award shows like the Grammys, Oscars and all the rest, pander to the safe side and don't stretch themselves or try and promote people who are doing unusual things with their skills.    Very few movies being released these days have any artistic merit or say anything unusual or interesting.  The fashion in Hollywood over the past fifteen years really has been to rehash what's already been, not to challenge the status quo.  Keep it safe, dumb it down, don't try and ask anything of your viewer.  Why?   

Yes, there ARE very good examples of movies that have stretched the limits and gone to other places with their ideas but they are few and very far between.  And let's be honest, they are usually very long movies with ponderously involved scripts and idiosyncratic performances from the actors/actresses.    The only movie I saw recently that rightly has received Hollywood acclaim was The Life of Pi ... not because of the CGI but purely for the lyrical spirit of the film and its underlying spiritual messages.   It was something different in a muckbed of same-old same-old re-runs and 'franchises'.  

I read a movie critic a few weeks ago who said that we need a World War to shake up the movie industry, the music business and television broadcasting ... he said that in times of global warfare, the Arts excel and a kind of supernova swell of talent comes to the fore.  I think his idea is a bit extreme but something is really rotten with the entertainment industry and many people feel the same way. 

I'm going to start keeping notes of examples where I've noticed the 'dumbing down' syndrome in movies, music, radio/tv shows and news reporting - for future rants, of course.

Enjoy your weekend everybody!

*Oh yes I can quantify that.   For starters,  we have the media whore that is Kim Kardashian as well as her entire family (with the exception of her dad maybe).   Then there are all Big Brother 'reality' stars the world over.  While we're on the topic, you can pretty much bundle ALL 'reality' tv star wannabees together into one big shed and nuke them all.   From the over-spraytanned loose slappers on the only way is essex and programmes of that ilk, to everyone on  my big fat gypsy wedding.  You don't need any special talents to be on these kinds of shows, unless crass behaviour, lack of respect for your fellow human beings, serial narcissism and rampant libido are qualifications to be proud of. 

** You know who I'm talking about, Miley Cyrus.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Isms ...

I have now found out that I am a ''lyrical expressionist" ... this isn't a bad thing, I guess.   It means they've found a label for my ... er ... art.
These are some of the things I've been working on lately:

For Hayzel
 24" x 24" 
Acrylics on stretched canvas
Oh yes, it's finished. I even signed it.

Make a splash
 24" x 18"
Acrylics on Artist board
Also finished and signed. 

 19½" x 16"
Acrylics on stretched canvas
What another one finished?!  Glory be. Not signed yet. 

Then on the other hand, Darren (only some South Africans will get that reference) ... these I want to destroy, burn, jump on, fling into the skip ... but my son told me to promise NEVER to throw away or destroy any work ever again.  So I'll hide them in the attic.

This will never be finished
 24" x 18"
Everything but the kitchen sink on stretched acrylic - i.e. ...
caulk, glue, every kind of paint you can think of and other stuff.
I hate this thing, it's days are numbered.

Seemed like a good idea at the time
24" x 18"
Tons of stuff - mainly Pebeo paint, recycled plastic, metallic paint, caulk ... proving that too much is too much.  Also do not like this at all, very disappointed and I had such high hopes for it.
I told it today, 'You've been a bad girl and will get a smack'.  It didn't even flinch.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lazy Sundays

Travelling around Norfolk and Suffolk ... Ancient houses in Lavenham (not my photo)
Wintry North Sea and Pier at Southwold, Suffolk

More views from the Pier - looking towards the nuclear power plant and then the lighthouse.


Saturday, January 18, 2014

Off the side of my head ... *

There is a bit of a public debate raging at the moment, over the controversial treatment on camera of people in an economically challenged area of Birmingham and how they all seem to be on the dole etc. etc.  It’s called ‘Benefit Street’ and aired on Channel 4 here.

There’s a diatribe about it over here
and a bit more balanced stuff here

No, I haven’t seen the television programme – yet.  It’s available On Demand so I might just have the stomach to watch it in coming days or weeks.  I’m not commenting about the programme, I’m commenting about something I read in one of the reviews about the show – drawing attention to the fact that a person was selling sachets of washing powder to earn a living, someone else was selling scrap metal.   

Far from being lazy or passive, the residents of James Turner Street are shown trying desperately to lift themselves out of the rut of poverty — albeit by rather dubious means.
One tries to sell metal for scrap; another sells sachets of washing powder on the street. You might not approve of the means, but you can understand the ambition.
"albeit by rather dubious means"  Why is the journalist drawing so many negative connotations to the fact that these people are trying to be entrepreneurial?

In Africa – where I come from, let’s be honest here I haven’t lived through the Welfare System in the UK long enough to be called British – there is rampant starvation, crime, joblessness, graft, opportunism and the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit.   If you don’t work for someone, or work for yourself in Africa (read, South Africa) you quite literally DIE.  The State doesn’t give a flying fuck about your predicament, whether you’re White, Black, Asian, Coloured, German, from Mars … makes no difference.   

Oh ja, there is UIF – which you can only claim if you’ve actually been working for a while and paid contributions.  The amount you get from UIF is an arbitrary sum worked out by some convoluted Boer-war era abacus  - i.e. it makes no sense, it’s unfathomable and you can’t query why you only got R3,000 this month but last month you got R5,200 (my example).   It’s ripe with corruption.  I personally know of at least three people who have claimed UIF by sending a proxy with their form – handing it in to an agent In The Street Outside the UIF offices.  The agent didn’t bother to check the authenticity / identity of the person handing in the form, I.e. whether the person matched up with the information on the form, nothing …

The amount of people who are getting State benefits for children (that aren't theirs), the disabled (who are perfectly fit) or via UIF (that are working) or who are actually DEAD is ludicrous and an ongoing joke.   You cannot survive on State benefits in Africa, full stop.

So what to do?  Well in the New South Africa, all sorts of NON-JOBs were created, specifically to try and sweep under the carpet the embarrassingly high number of souls who were unemployed.  This has resulted in ‘car guards’ at supermarket parking lots, ‘packers’ at supermarkets (“plasteek” she says, grabbing your groceries and putting them in the bag for you, like you are somehow incapable of doing this yourself), ‘trolley guards’ who try to take over your trolley as you leave the supermarket to wheel the groceries to your car … they don’t even know where you’ve parked but it doesn’t stop them marching off at a rate of knots into the general parking area.  When they find your vehicle, they then start loading the bags into your car, chucking the dog food on top of the eggs and all the while checking what you’ve bought, doing a quiet mental calculation.  Then they stand back with hand out, waiting for you to give them a ‘tip’ – the gratuitous R2 (with inflation, this has now gone up to R5).  Why on earth do you need this kind of assistance?  It is harassment and one of the things I was so glad to see the back of when we left South Africa.  I was heartily sick and tired of dodging car guards in the supermarket parking lot.

Other African entrepreneurial ideas include:

  • Washing windows at the side of the road – which reached epidemic proportions in Randburg at one time, prompting the cops to come along and shoo all the windscreen washers away.   Nine times out of ten, these guys are only scoping out your car, trying to see what they can nick when you open the window to tell them to ‘fuck off and leave my car alone!’.   
  • Mahala (stuff for free) ‘gifts’ that hawkers try to force through your window at intersections.   If you take the pen, lighter or whatever else they try and shove onto you, they will then demand R5 … ‘aish meddam I’m hungry, I need money for brade’ … all the while, the chap is eyeing the contents of your car, where your hand bag is, your cellphone and as soon as you drive off, he’s on his Android dialling up his hi-jacking mate to take you out at the next intersection. (This has happened to me twice, so I’m speaking from first hand experience). 
  • Sitting on the side of the road, or on the island at traffic ‘lights’ (robots) with a small baby, in the burning African sun at midday, with your hand out pleading to all the White meddams as they drive past in their Sophisticated Recreational Vehicles for money for the baby.  Meantime, the woman has actually HIRED that child from a mum back in the township for R20 for the day.  
  • The millions of hawkers who set up shop on the side of the road, anytime, anywhere, selling anything from plug-in car chargers to blankets.  
  • The blind beggars, lead by a younger female or male, wandering up and down shaking a tin at your car.   There is one lady (I don't know if she's still alive) that we used to see every time we went to Criminal Records Centre in Pretoria central, who would sit outside the multi-story parking garage on her blanket, banging her tin ... 'clink-clank ... clink-clank ... clink-clank' like a metronome the WHOLE DAY!  
  • The people who walk up to you in supermarkets with scraps of paper written in sign-language ... mouthing that they need money to get a taxi home (most of these scam artists are White men around the age of 30 to 40).  
  • There are a lot of people in South Africa who prey on the collective White-guilt psyche and milk it for all its worth.   Very rarely do you see Black people helping Black people at intersections (for example), the Black mums in their Mercs and BMW's are the first to wind up the electronic windows and stare stonily ahead.  

Amongst all the scam-artists at intersections and alongside the roads, there are people who are really battling and trying to make things better for their family.   So you technically CAN'T lump all these people together in the criminal opportunism mould.  There are many people who really want to earn some money, for themselves. 

Take the garage attendants for example. For all this is a NON-JOB, there are men (very few women do this work) who get up at 4am to travel for two and a half hours each day by taxi and on foot to get to work by 6.30 to man the pumps at BP, or Shell for a minimum wage.  Leaving the garage sometimes at 8pm at night, only getting home when their family are asleep, to start the whole thing off a couple of hours later.   These people are proud of their jobs, work hard, always have a smile on their faces and are courteous and funny (most of the time) – I have nothing but respect for people like them.

So you British-centric journalists stop knocking people who are trying to make a living by selling washing powder in sachets to the community, nine times out of ten, they are trying to be entrepreneurial.

*Might become a regular mini-coloumn of ranting on this Blog

Friday, January 17, 2014

No, there's 'no' point here.

 I read a comment about keeping a journal that J K Rowling made whilst being interviewed by school children back in 2000 or whenever she began getting uber-popular.  She said that she'd tried to keep journals, managed to keep it up for about two weeks and then chucked it in because ... 'my life is boring'.   She said things like she preferred to write about things that were really interesting and exciting and that it was much more fun to make things up.

For Nanowrimo, the plan I had in mind was just to be able to prove to myself that I could actually write something every day and get to 50,000 words by the end of a given month.  Try it, it's not quite as easy as it sounds.  Well I was successful and I finished the project - mainly because I wrote about my remembrances and didn't have to come up with a plot, premise, character development, tension, etc. etc. And yeah, I reckon most of it was drop-dead anaesthetically mind-numbingly BORING as all hell but I got past 50,000 words and tried to actually write the stuff down in writerly fashion, to make my sad little life more exciting than it actually was/is.

I thought I'd lost the first draft of a story that I started before we left South Africa, which I'd set in Thurso (the northernmost town in Scotland, if you're been paying attention to previous posts on this subject).   Anyhoo, I found it yesterday and started reading it - I had gotten to 32,000 words with this one, so it is pretty much chugging along on it's own steam.  I sort of cringed to myself, when I opened up the file in Word, thinking that I would probably be sick or fall off my chair with boredom by the end of page one - well, wonders will never cease, I was pleasantly surprised!  It's not as bad as I thought it was - so with a ton of editing (changing locale, she means), I've got a passably good romantic-novel-in-the-making. Yes, Rory McCann was the inspiration for the male lead.  (Who else?)

I also started a story yesterday for my 8 going on 18 grand-daughter - it's coming along nicely and again, a certain Scottish gentleman seems to have crept into my psyche because when I read it this morning, it's obvious who I've based the 'fatherly' character in my story on.  Over 6' 6", dark features, gentle, lilting voice ... the only thing I missed out was the kilt.  (But that's bound to creep in somewhere.)

Cue Rory photo bomb ...

Nice legs

Dem peeps

I've decided that once I start getting more regular transcription work, most of my worries regarding life in Ye Olde Norfolk will pretty much disappear. I am getting work in dribs and drabs and keep getting told that it's going to pick up, so just have to be optimistic.  I don't think we're going to get any snow this year - or if it does snow, it will probably do it when I'm in SA on holiday during February.

The weekend is upon us ... 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Having a bit of a fight with 'Jupiter'

I had a few arguments with this one whilst it was setting and drying.  I'm still not happy with it.  Mind you, I did go at it like a kid in a candy store, to be honest , so it's my own fault.

The initial stages - i.e. melting the plastic into interesting shapes was the most fun and I should have walked away for a few days after doing the plastic, maybe done a heap more.   My previous technique with the plastic, was to paint each piece separately using a toothpick - which is (to say the obvious) very time consuming and also extremely messy.   So I went for the short-cut, the 'quick' way out and glued the pieces onto the primed canvas in their clear state.   I decided that it would be fun and possibly much more effective to just drizzle the paint onto the plastic, once it had set onto the canvas.  I had previously painted the canvas in aquamarine tones, iridescent pearl and gold, this canvas also had a lot of old texture on it from caulk.   It went wrong, basically from the outset.  I should not have done the drizzle (pouring) thing onto the plastic with the Pebeo paint, it just didn't give the right results and wasted a lot of paint.  It's much more effective (even though it takes a lot of time) to paint each piece of plastic separately.

It continued to go south from there.  I got extremely carried away just pouring the Pebeo onto the canvas - ending in a very chaotic mish-mash.   Chucking copious amounts of student grade white acrylic onto it, didn't help things much either.   You can see where the white paint has moved as it dried on top of the Pebeo paint - that's a cool effect but I won't be using that crap acrylic paint again, what rubbish!   I didn't like it at all by this time.  So waited for it to dry, which took two days.

Then I introduced the amethyst and violet Pebeo colours ... I ran out of the intense golden Pebeo colour (par for the course), so substituted that with Pebeo antique gold and I don't think it works at all.  It's not vibrant enough and doesn't pull any of the bits together into a cohesive mass - so it is driving me NUTS!   Anyway, it will have to do for now. Pebeo is very expensive paint and I can't buy anymore for at least another six months.  I may attack this again, when I've sourced more deep gold Pebeo paint.  Otherwise this will just serve as a 'what not to do' tester.  

I am enjoying the technique that I've developed and which is completely my own ... wonders.   But next time, I need to be a bit more focused and plan it properly.   I have a six foot by four foot canvas in the garage that has been nagging me to finish it for a long time - every time I walk past to switch on the light, it moans about how lonely it is stuck in the dark.  I think it's only fair that I take a bit of time and do something extremely dramatic with it.

Anyhoo, enough blabbering.  This is the Jupiter thing as it is so far. (As always click on photie to see larger version).  This is approximately 36inches long by about 18inches wide - on stretched canvas.   

Spot the Red Spot
Close ups  (I only affixed/collaged the plastic pieces at the edge of this canvas)

 I like the way the white student acrylic has spackled on top of the pebeo and other paint. But it is really rubbish paint, I put a layer about half an inch thick on the top left hand section of the canvas and when it dried, there was no white there at all!  It just evaporates to nothing and has absolutely no pigment.   Again, another lesson - don't buy cheap shitty paint!
 The antique gold that's splashed across this section has made lovely effects but it's the wrong shade and should have been a buttery gold - like the other Pebeo - then it would have looked the way I wanted it to and pulled the foreground collage and background colours together.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Art and Craft update

A lickle YouTube video showing some of the latest things I've been making. 

I WILL use a tripod next time when filming, PROMISE!  :)
Oh and do you think Ulrich Schnauss will mind me pinching his music ??

Currently I'm working on another piece, which is a kind of demo I suppose on canvas, also using the recycled plastic idea and Pebeo paints, it's getting a bit out of hand, so I might scrap it!

Just a little out of focus teaser shot of the corner!  har har ... this is HUGE

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Start off as you mean to carry on, is what I always say ...

Come on, seriously, he's still the most beautiful man in the world.

I remember the first life sized poster I bought for my daughter (cough - well really for me but what the heck) was a black and white image of him in black leather pants and bugger all else, he was about 18. 

Keanu ... sadly with shirt on

You search Google Images for Keanu Reeves and there ain't no bad photos of him, even with all the facial hair, he's still one of the most desirable men in the world.  There is an aura of tragic peace about him (is that even possible).  He don't need no Japanese martial arts to prove it to me, he's the epitome of Zen.

You're not going to eat that toast are you? 

Watched an interview with him off YouTube that was done just before Christmas with Dan Patrick - US Sports Show host/presenter  and Keanu was visibly relaxed being in the 'man cave' with these chaps. He came out of himself for a few minutes and was ... erm, you know, like a normal bloke, not some Hollywood God.  He is naturally funny and very often self-effacing - something that isn't always apparent when he's being interviewed by the Hollywood machine.  He handles compliments with typical old school Hollywood grace and a kind of casual elegance.  I also found out recently that he collects .... not motor-bikes ... but er, type-writers.

My horrorspoke for this year reckons I'm going to meet the man of my dreams in March (after we get back from SA) - maybe I bump into him at the airport??? No, not Keanu Reeves silly, even my dreams have their limitations and anyway, I'm not that ditsy in the head, like I would actually BUMP into The Adonis, I'd be mortified. I would just stand there with my mouth open, drool running down my blouse and try to make eye contact, I mean he is only a few years younger than me (... splutters into a hysterical coughing fit)
Okay, enough perving for one day, on with your work.

Ooooh  pwitty, yum yum.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Giddyup Horsie

Welcome 2014

Click to view full size - recommended