Monday, May 30, 2011

Expressive mark-making and 'likeness' in abstract figurative portraiture

Fukushima Ghosts III, oil on paper, 58x46 cm

My experimentation continues at creating evocative and  expressive images of people under extreme stress with this piece, the third of my Fukushima ghosts (see the previous two here) . My aims are to explore expressive mark-making in portrait painting, to make social comment on a current world event, and to create eloquent images about the human condition.

For this painting i switched to a black absorbent paper that soaked up the oil paint and medium. I flooded the paper with both. The pigment moved about through gravity as i rotated the paper at strategic moments. I was allowing the paint its agency. I was relying on its agency. It was a partnership. We, the paint and i, are co-responsible for the way the work turned out.

The  first painting  of my Fukushima series was fairly realistic, if somewhat stylized. Subsequent images have moved progressively deeper into what may be described as an abstract figurative style.

Abstract figurative painting developed as American Abstract Expressionism was running out of steam in the 1950's. Many had declared the death of figurative painting some years earlier, and saw Abstract Figurative painting as a contradiction in terms. These theorists maintained that abstraction and figuration were at opposite ends of a continuum and so it made no sense to mix them.

But in hindsight such assertions were silly and pointless. As Kandinsky says, "There is no must in art, for art is free." This was quite the sentiment of the new journal Reality, founded in 1953, when the founding committee stated  that the Journal's intention was “to rise to the defense of any painter’s right to paint any ways he wants.”

The movement referred to itself as Figurative Expressionism. So i guess that makes me a Neo-figurative Expressionist painter dabbling in Abstract Figurative portraiture. Not that i'm setting out to revive any art movement nor to prove some abstruse point in art theory. I'm just following the principle of a painter's right to paint any damn way he wants to.

But all that abstraction and expressionism does the raise the question, "What ever happened to portraiture being the painting of a likeness to someone?". How can a puddle of paint be called a 'likeness'? It may, at a stretch, be called figurative, but surely not portraiture.

I have touched on this issue in a  previous post when considering the legitimacy of using photography as a basis for portrait painting. Let me just add now that notions of what might be a portrait have considerably expanded over the previous century.

The Social Media Group observe that, "Traditionally, the ideal portrait both resembled the subject's physical appearance and captured the essence of that person. Contemporary portraits, however, are made within a cultural and artistic context with deep questions about the nature of identity, of representation, and of authenticity ... and technology is also changing the how we think about human identity: to portray the essence of a person, do we show the face? DNA? surveillance data? shopping transactions?" 

William Dobell's 1943 Archibald Prize win was controversial, as some people argued that his portrait of Joshua Smith so distorted Smith's features that it could not be called a portrait. The issue went to court, the case hinging on the accepted definition of portraiture: how faithfully did a portrait have to represent the sitter? Dobell's vindication expanded the concept of what could be a portrait, and abstract interpretations as well as conventional portraits were subsequently admitted to the Archibald.
The Post-Sigmund Freud years have seen more interest in the personality, the neuroses even, of the subject, and less insistence on accurate draughtsmanship in the production of a photographic physical likeness. With the rise of Expressionism we have come to value discovering the personality of the artist in his or her work. We prize Egon Schiele's drawings for those very reasons.
Francis Bacon painted a portrait of Lucian Freud not from a sitting by LF, not even from a photo of LF, but from a photo of Kafka as his inspiration (Kafa was LF's fav author at the time). Bacon's self-portraits contain some talisman of himself (a bag under an eye, or the sweep of hair across the forehead) but these iconic indicators hardly constitute a likeness in the conventional sense. Yet we accept that Bacon painted a portrait of Lucian Freud and numerous self-portraits.
A spokesperson from the British National Portrait Gallery put the view in an on-line portrait painting forum that “all of the body is a portrait. I've seen fabulous portraits, full of character, showing only a hand, personified in such a way that the entire character of the person was contained. Such work is rare, but possible.”
So a mere personification may be considered a portrait. Paintings containing symbolic objects alluding to the identity of the sitter may be considered portraits. A DNA printout, suitably framed and hung in the National Portrait Gallery, would be considered a portrait.
Maybe Fukushima Ghosts III is not a portrait. It is not of any known individual. Even if it were, the face is contained within the mask of a Hazmat suit. And the painterly treatment of the suit is so fluid that it is hardly even recognizable as a protective item of clothing.
Furthermore, the painting purports to be that of a ghost. And ghosts don't exist. So all-in-all, it can't be a portrait. It can't really even be called a figurative painting. Maybe a fantasy painting? Surreal?
Yet i don't think so. I think it is a portrait. It is a generic portrait representing many anonymous individuals currently alive and working hard in Japan. Indeed, the anonymity of the workers has been one the key themes running through my Fukushima series, for it is a socially telling marker. Their anonymity is revealing!
These generic portraits of anonymous workers are like the statues at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The identity of the statue does not have to be known but the sense of humanity, of service and of suffering behind the work is palpable come Remembrance Day ceremonials.
Actually, we don't recognize the persons in the vast majority of portraits we come across in our lives! And i'm talking Rembrandt and Singer Sargent.
That leaves us unable to say anything about the quality of the likeness. Yet we prize the portraits of these artists. We prize them for the painterly skill in their execution and we prize them for the humanity they reveal about an unknown sitter, about an artist long dead, about a time and society otherwise obscured in history.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Fukushima Ghosts

Fukushima Ghosts 1, oil on paper, 76x56 cm


The fiasco at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will haunt Japan and the world's nuclear industry for a long time to come. The web is rife with rumour and anecdote, largely because the Japanese government, meteorologists, and most of all, TEPCO, are so parsimonious with information, let alone frank and open disclosure.

So, for example, the chief of the Meteorological Society of Japan has drawn flak from within the academic circles over his request for meteorologists to refrain from releasing forecasts on the spread of radioactive substances from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. I guess that's because of the numerous animated maps of the fallout moving over Canada and the US were populating Youtube and made plausible by reports of levels of Iodine-131 in Californian water 181 times higher than normal. Michigan was reporting elevated wind-born Iodine-131 levels. Now even Europe has fallen into line and stopped prognostications.

Or the case of Professor Toshiso Kosako  who resigned in disgust a few weeks back as nuclear advisor to Japanese Prime Minister because the government simply moved the goal posts for nuclear exposure for children despite the Professor's stern warnings. So now the children around Fukushima play in radioactive playgrounds.

And so stories circulate about TEPCO's inept handling of situation as they lurch from crisis to crisis due to an apparent incapacity to take quick executive decisions, assume irresponsible for the turn of events, and to stop worrying about the 80% share plunge and care a little more about the anonymous workers in the front line battle to contain disaster.

For example, this account dated 15 May:

"The crap coming out of this disaster is nightmarish. A temp worker that had truck driving experience took what he was told was a job driving truck for the tsunami clean up. He was put on a bus and taken to Fukushima to do liquidation work that had nothing to do with driving a truck. A guy that was a sub contractor was put to work installing hoses. He had no plumbing experience and the connections required some level of plumbing knowledge. The people he was working with dropped the hose in radioactive water in the turbine building because they were heavy. Then they had to pick up the hose to move it. He got hit with the wet hose in the back of the neck. The protection suits they were wearing are not waterproof and he has contamination they can't remove on the back of his neck."

So while the Keystone Cops run the site containment measures, the first deaths are starting to trickle in. A worker died on May 14. The place he was working exposed to him to 0.17 millisieverts of radiation. Butch geeks who love to parade their cool savvy delight in doing their Sievert sums to prove he was not actually a radiation victim.

No, he died of heat-stress and possibly a heart attack. He was 60 years old, worked longer in that heat-containing Hazmat suit than he should have, carrying heavy debris, and collapsed at the scene.

TEPCO is hiring older workers. By the time their cancers appear many years from now they will either already be near-dead from some other cause or have a difficult time proving in a court it was working for TEPCO that was the cause. Old age will claim them and tidy up for TEPCO. Maybe they are trying to spare young workers still in their reproductive years. Just part of the no-win that is Fukushima. Meanwhile with similar set of beliefs and a sense that their generation is responsible, elderly retirees are volunteering to rebuild the cooling systems

They say there were no ambulances or medics on standby at the scene, despite the risks of such dangerous work environment and the age of the workers. No helicopter to rush some-one, any-one, this old gent, to hospital. So he rode in a car to hospital for 2 hours instead. DOA. So they say. 

Meanwhile, despite the moratorium on weather maps prognosticating the drift of Iodine-133, assorted sources have been calculating likely deaths from Fukushima. To date it has released about 10% as much radiation as Chernobyl. It is reported that crops up to 75 miles from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant were found to be unsafe to eat, and tap water in greater Tokyo – home to 30 million people – has also been contaminated by fall-out.

Already, says Arnold Gunderson, Fukushima is going to kill 200,000 from increased cancers over the next 50 years. John Large, a British nuc­lear engineer, predicted the eventual toll could exceed 500,00. The International Atomic Energy Agency has its own formula for projecting population deaths - 0.05 fatal cancers per Sievert of radiation released. Chernobyl released an estimated total collective dose of 600,000 Sieverts over 50 years. Chernobyl was located in a sparsely populated rural region. Fukushima is in a densely populated urbanised region. Time will tell.

In my Fukushima series of paintings (still on-going) i have been using the Hazmat suit as a motif and metaphor (see previous post). Now i need to expand my understanding.

The Hazmat suit is not only the armour of anonymous worker-samurai. It is also their shroud and coffin.

They die in there - from pride, over zealous sense of duty, macho determination, lack of training, inadequate supervision, insufficient back-up, poor executive planning, stingy allocation of funds to do the job at hand.

They die from weary old hearts working on a heart-breaking task in a heart-broken region of Japan.

The ghosts of Fukushima are released. They already haunt the land.


Fukushima Ghosts 2, oil on paper, 76x56 cm

UPDATE 10-1-12:
Fukushima Ghosts I has just been published by Kosmos Journal. Read the details HERE.



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Monday, May 23, 2011

Fukushima Samurai in the nuclear fires

Fukushima Samurai in the nuclear fires, oil and bitumen on board, 90x120 cm

UPDATE 8-8-11: 
Fukushima samurai in the nuclear fires has been published in the tri-annual journal Sortir du nucléaire, by the French anti-nuclear network Réseau "Sortir du nucléaire", a federation of over 900 anti-nuclear groups from around the world with a membership of over 53,000. It is out in the Summer edition, No. 50, which you can read HERE. Xavier Rabilloud, the editor, found my Fukushima work on line and asked if i would allow him to publish a reproduction.

I find it very satisfying that my art is seen as a relevant contemporary voice in the world and is sought out for publication.

 I guess that makes the whole of my Fukushima series a sort of Neo-Arte Nucleare. (Arte Nucleare was a French art movement of 1950's Art Informel).


Now there were three children from the land of Israel
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
Ah they took a little trip to the land of Babylon
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
And ol’ Nebudchanezzer was the king of Babylon
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
So they took a lot of gold, and made ‘em an idol
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
“Oh, you gotta bow down and worship the idol!”
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
Ah, but the children of Israel would not bow down!
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
So the king cast the children in the fiery furnace
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
He heaped on coal and red-hot brimstone
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
Even made it seven times hotter than it oughtta be!
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
Now they burned up the soldiers that the king had put there
    Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego!
Oh, Shadrack! Meshach, Abednego!
Shadrack, song written by Robert MacGimsey In 1930.

Hear the inimitable Louis Armstrong perform this song on Youtube here.

Which leads us to story-time.

Nebuchadnezzar ran a prosperous economy. Soon everyone in Babylon worshipped the golden idol of high dividend yields and strong capital gains. Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego, three foreign workers, would not bend the knee to Babylonian glory. So Big N had them cast into the fiery furnace.

Both the energy company's plant operating procedures and government regulations specified the permissible upper ranges for thermal production. But there is no rage like that of an emperor who has been revealed to have no clothes, so Nebuchadnezzar ordered the furnace stoked seven times hotter than it ought to be.

The plant CEO, seeing an opportunity for greater shareholder returns, was only too willing to bend the rules. Security personnel patrolling the facility, believed to be a safe distance from the thermal source, were consumed by the radiant heat in direct violation of the occupational health and safety standards for all non-engineering human resource units. Dutiful workers became collateral damage to a boom economy.

It was into this furnace that the Babylonian State executive, with the connivance of the courts, condemned Shadrack, Meshach, Abednego, while Nebuchadnezzar, from the safety of his ziggarat penthouse God-King suite overlooking the Tiber, watched them on TV as they pushed on through the flames .

His spin doctors were already working on the press release: something about "volunteer plant workers suffering regrettable collateral damage while struggling to contain Unit One" but that "the government assures the populace that there is absolutely no risk to nearby residents" because "a meltdown of the furnace core is an impossibility" given the advanced state of Babylonian technology.


And, gentle reader, you may make your own connections, if any, between this story, that song and this my latest painting, Fukushima Samurai in the nuclear fires.

This is not a large format painting. In terms of my art practice, this one is about consolidating an artistic concept.  The concept in question is the motif of the hazmat suit as metaphor for the events at Fukushima Daiichi. 

And so a fragmanted figure, all identity swallowed in the shell of the suit and by the ambiguity of smokey fallout, struggles through the consuming elemental fluxus all around.

These events in turn, to my mind, are representative of the limitations of human endeavour, that is, the feet of clay in all human enterprise - human imperfection.


But my Masters Degree research project is about expressive mark-making, and therefore I also wanted to refine my monoprinting mark-making technique. Through creating this particular work i now have far greater understanding of the degree of randomness of the mark. Tis a function of: the wetness of the paint, the amount of pressure during printing, and how various tools maybe used for applying that pressure.

However, i never want complete control or anything near it because that would rob the paint of its unique material agency and so remove happen-chance from the work. Serendipity is not only essential to the technique but, subliminally, to the expressive force and meaning of the work.

The chaos of the flow of paint is eloquent about the chaos of events, the chaos at the edges of civilisation, the chaos in the heart of human social organisation ... and the unpredictable fluxus in our own lives. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Labours in Hades: the Fukushima Samurai

Fukushima Samurai II, oil and bitumen on paper, 170x152cm


Continuing my theme on the Fukushima workers, this painting is a vision of the Daiichi plant workers as the mythical heroes who entered Hell to discharge their labours - Aeneas, Odysseus, Orpheus. Even Hercules who had destroy the three-headed monster, Cerberus. These workers have been sent into the nuclear fires to battle the contamination that threatens the lives and well-being of literally millions. A Herculean labour indeed.

This work is a development of the ealier piece,  Fukushima Samurai I (left)
which in turn evolved from the initial painting Fukushima Future (left).
Fukushima Samurai II also represents my second attempt at a large format painting. Working large format presents a whole new set of problems. But i sense a greater freedom at this scale. Brush-work becomes a whole-body exercise. Hogs hair bristles give way to 3 inch commercial house-paint brushes. The sheer quantity of volatile fumes from solvents sprayed onto an extensive surface presents some special health and safety challenges. I find myself working outdoors much more. 

Even photographing the work at the end is problematic. The craft paper, though 300gsm or more, curls because it come off a roll and I have no wall large enough to pin it out. The result is that the black bar underscoring and supporting  the figure is no longer horizontal in the photo. The gloss surface reflects the sky and so the colours and tonal values are not true. Ironically, a photo doesn't even give a real sense of the overall composition, as one gets from seeing the painting at a considerable distance (the thumbnail pic does that better).

But mostly what is missing from the photo, as with the photo of any large scale painting, is the IMPACT! Whoaaaa. You have turn your neck to take it all in when up close. It is immersive. You ARE in those colors. Marks that barely register in the photo are read as machinery wreathed in smoke when in front of the actual painting.

Similarly, I have no easel large enough to support a 2.5 sq m sheet of paper , so i've jerry-rigged some rickety structures. A properly stretched canvas would be so much easier but would also cost $100. These are just learning exercises and don't warrant such expenditure.

And as important, i've come to realise that using canvases and quality oil paints has robbed me of freedom. I feel too much the burden of responsibility to 'paint a good painting' onto expensive supports. Because small Chinese canvases are cheap i inadvertently became a painter of small paintings.  

Now,  even my artists' oil paints have given way to tins of bitumen and old house paint and varnish stock that has been languishing out in the garden shed for decades. Some is so settled and compacted that stirring the paint to life is impossible. So i'm pouring off the solvents and mixing them with pigments and agents i discover elsewhere.

These are indeed Heidegger's at hand materials. And the constant need to innovate equipment, supports, media, brushes and applicators, body movement and materials skills in my creative praxis well and truly call forth my material thinking (my thoughts on Heidegger, Barbara Bolt and material thinking are here.).

Painting on a large scale almost for free is very liberating. Is the work any good? Dunno. Seems like it's neither fish nor fowl at the moment.  But it's energizing and i am learning a lot.

And .... I'm having fun.


a detail from Fukushima Samurai II


Gary Everest wanted a better sense of the painting's size, so ive added a pic of it pinned up on the lichen-covered awning protecting the door of my studio. The tressel tables on which i sometimes work can be seen outside the bay window.

It makes me realize that size is relative. This seemed huge and difficult to handle in my small studio building. But really it is barely as tall as a person stands. So i will aim to paint something at least twice the size, just for the experience



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fukushima Kamikaze

Fukushima Kamikaze, oil on paper, 83x60 cm


The plight of Fukushima seems to have left our news services in recent weeks. I guess the TV channels figured it had lost its entertainment value as a modern-day disaster movie. The press too have moved on. There was a royal wedding, you know.

Fortunately Elizabeth Anderson's recent post on her blog brought the realities back into focus. She gave a link to an excellent update by Arnie Gunderson (Chief Nuclear Engineer) of fairewinds.com.

Reactor One is now known to be uncovered, exposed to the air. The radiation levels in Unit 1 are consequently at incredibly high levels for humans. At that level a person dies very quickly after 4 or 5 hours of exposure. You get sick after much much much less.

And here is the thing. They sent in some workers - to an uncovered core - to fit new gauges so that technicians can monitor the disaster. So who were those brave men who went in there to fit new gauges? How much radiation had those workers already absorbed over recent weeks?

Seems to me some of these men are on suicide missions for the nation. Fukushima kamikaze. Read about these Nuclear Ninja and their suicide mission here.

Gunderson also reports that meanwhile radiation has entered the sewerage system of a local town (contaminated ground water seeping into earthquake-cracked sewer pipes) while a high school in the area has told the kids they have to wear masks and long-sleeved shirts (to prevent skin burns) at all times. The school's parking lot has had the soil stripped because it was so contaminated that if the kids went outside they would be exposed to adult nuclear worker levels of radiation. The government's swift response? They  increased the permissible dose of radiation for children - twenty-fold!


Where i come from they close schools when the flu gets bad.

I guess this what the Fukushima Kamikaze are willing to give their lives for - to do their duty as workers, to save school children, and just maybe, to yet save the day.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Gary Everest's portrait arrives

here

Early in May, Gary Everest's wonderful portrait of yours truly (see my previous post here) arrived at my front door, hot from Oregon. In the following days i re-arranged the paintings in my study to give Gary's painting pride of place behind my chair.

I was reluctant to post a photo at first because my study is, well, a kind of an inner sanctum. Few people have ever been in here, or even seen in. But i am so thrilled with Gary's portrait of me that i will break a rule and post a pic of it here, among friends. I know you will keep our little secret.

You can follow the evolution of the painting and some Gary's steps and adventures along the way here, here, here, and here. Or you visit Gary at his wonderful blog gleverestpaintings.blogspot.com and see other fantastic portraits he has painted. A warm, wonderful and modest artist.

Thanks Gary. Your work gives me a lift every time i step into my study.

It gives me food for thought - who i am, where i've come from, where i'm going.

It gives me delight in the masterful paint-handling .

And it warms the cockles of the heart that it was a generous gift from a distant but dear bloggy friend.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Tribute to Gulpilil


Gulpilil, charcoal and acrylic on paper, 41x30 cm SOLD

 

For many years, along with countless other Australians, i have admired the work of Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil. This goes all the way back to my young adulthood when i saw his mesmerizing performance in Walkabout (1971). He was just 15 years old. You can see the trailer HERE or the whole movie HERE .

His other 27 film credits include

The TrackerNick Cave's tense and explosive The Proposition (2005) (see a clip HERE);    the eerie The Tracker (2002), such an atmospheric film (see a clip HERE);    the moving The Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)(see a trailer HERE);    the enigmatic and spine tingling The Last Wave  (1977) (see a trailer HERE).
Gulpilil's personal story is a mix of great achievement and an endemic and gnawing sense of loss that corrodes and erodes himself, as well as his people. I don't wish to open up the issues around the historical,  economic, health, legal, and social life of our indigenous Australians.

Suffice it to say, it is a national disgrace, despite the efforts of many according to their lights at the time and today. Western paternalism, materialism,avarice, cruelty and hardness of heart have more than played their parts too. The poverty, life-expectancy, social break-down, and substance abuse among many (though by no means all) Aboriginal communities remains appalling.

So why isn't David living in a swish Sydney habour-side apartment with the millions he has made from his films?  

Firstly because his set of values are not those of Western consumer society. His obligation is to family and tribe. So that is where he chooses to live, even if in fairly squalid conditions.

Secondly, what millions? I can't help feeling he has been stitched up by film companies who appear to sometimes have exploited his talent for a mere retainer. He makes a few thousand. They make the millions plus.

Gulpilil stradles two worlds and can no longer be at home in either of them. That is his tragedy. But that is also the pain that fuels his art. That is the story that is etched on his expressive and majestic face.

David Guliplil is friends with the indigenous Australian band Yothu Yindi . If you wish to peek into the emotional and cultural space Gulpilil inhabits, listen as Western and indigenous culture and language meet in their song One Blood.

"Can you hear it
it's all around you
the beating of heart
waking up the land
the beating of a heart - one blood."

When i listen to this song i hear an ancient people tell me: 
We and the animals are one.
We and the land are one.
We and and all mankind are one.
One blood. All life is one blood.

The painting at the top of this post was commissioned from me for a woman whose Aboriginal heritage led her to deeply admire Gulpilil . She had seen the painting below when it was in an exhibition for sale and had regretted not buying it. So a friend of hers employed me to paint the second one, above, just for her.


Gulpilili, charcoal and acrylic on paper, 41x30 cm SOLD




But this one evolved from a previous version i had painted earlier in 2007, seen below. The hand is featured because i imagined Gulpilil as not only a contemporary celebrity but also as a timeless figure at one with the ancient hand prints and stencils in Aboriginal rock art that i recall seeing in Arnhem Land when i visited the Kakadu rock paintings in caves that had already been inhabited  20,000 years ago.

Gulpilil's Cave, watercolor on paper, 41x30 cm


But even this grew out of an earlier work still. Or maybe better just called a doodle (below) rather than anything as lofty as a 'work'. Early in 2007 i had read an account of David Gulpilil's life. And i remembered him from Walkabout. I had seen some of his dance performance.

And so in a moment of reverie i doodled my first Gulpilil, he in his dreaming, i in mine.


Gulpilil's Dreaming, ink and watercolour on paper, 41x30 cm



 
Dreaming, or The Dreaming, has a special meaning for Aboriginal people. It is not only a personal and group spiritual communion but also a connection to The Dreamtime. It is not a day-dreaming or wishful thinking but rather an contemplative and meditative insight that produces narratives of totemic power. They dream existence into being.

I believe that as creative artists we should have our Dreaming too.

We should cultivate a numinous place not visible to the naked eye, a place that we strive to visit, to inhabit, and allow to inhabit us.

It is the mission of creative artists to make the Dreaming visible to all humanity so they may know there is more to life than shopping.



Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Harry Kent: Blue in Green

Blue in Green, charcoal and acrylic on paper, 140x115 cm


Little Boy Blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow,
The cow's in the corn;
Where is that boy
Who looks after the sheep?
Under the haystack
Fast asleep.
Will you wake him?
Oh no, not I,
For if I do
He will surely cry.

                             (Trad nursery rhyme circa 1744)


I noticed at my last Painters Group Critique session at the University how may images shrank down to banality as they were hung in the long corridor. If my work is to retain some force then i must learn to paint on a more monumental scale. At the same time, i'm trying to move away from realism.

This painting was done from a mirror, just a small hand-held affair which meant i had to paint one-handed. I was hoping to produce something wild and free and abstract. Instead i got the plodding image you see. So now ive also started doodling self-portraits from memory. No photos. No mirror. No-one to hold my hand. That will be my next large self-portrait.

Meanwhile, i'm still thinking about the Fukushims series. And new media, innovative use of materials.
And ive started work on a large landscape.

So, the inertia that has held me in its grip over recent months seems to be lifting. I have a lot of catching up to do. It's a race against time. People younger than me are dropping dead from heart disease.

It's always a race against time.