When I was an ambassador for University one hot summer similar to the melting heat in the UK at the moment I was tasked with taking down the graduate shows of the students that proudly presented their creative work to their family, friends and fellow students. I spent a few weeks dismantling the makeshift wooden stages, pulling out nails and painting over the brightly coloured stripes and symbols that students designed to present their work in theme with their creations.
One task that I had to do was take large painted canvases that students had painted on and throw them into the skip near the smokers shed where I spent many lunch breaks laughing and smoking my lungs out with my friends and classmates. It always saddened me to know that some students would rather dump their work no matter how large the canvas was, so instead of giving them the heave-ho into the trash I told my thrifty friends of the free large canvases that they happily decided to take back to their uni homes and upcycle to their hearts contents, painting and drawing what they please.
I kept the largest canvas for myself, Dripping in sweat carrying this beast down the iconic Rochester hill and ended up sandwiching it into my tiny uni bedroom. I never did anything with the canvas for years – it has since followed me along with two house moves. I have had ideas, I cut out all the silhouettes I kept from life drawing classes and thought about doing a collage of all of them together on the large canvas, but never did but I always knew I would when the time was right.
I have always loved Rutenberg’s kaleidoscope of colours, with the blocks of different variants of hues having such an immense power of depth to them. I thought it would be the perfect chance to finally let loose upon this canvas and use the many tubes of paint that I have stashed from many Christmases gifts that otherwise have been left to gather dust. I couldn’t think of any better way to spend a hot day – sitting outside in the heat with a cold beer or two and painting away in the garden. It was a therapeutic experience to say the least. I think I may have to figure out how to make my own canvases.
This weeks kick about over on Reds Kingdom revolves around Fundus Photography. When looking up images of fundus photography I was reminded of Olafur Eliasson and his otherworldly The Weather Project, but also the people that got to experience such an event. With all this in mind I have been yearning to do some digital painting as it has felt like yonks ago since I have held my wacom pen and got lost in some jazz music while painting away. I envisioned a blazing sun from a planet where the sun fills the air in a misty orange hue – a sprawling metropolis materialised with vivacious characters and stories between them, feeling so close but far away. It was a thoroughly enjoyable prompt to flex those digital painting muscles again.
It has been far too long since I have updated here the goings of The Green Glider Animated Short. Truth be told the rigging and skinning process of making an animated character move is a big ugly obstacle and the part of the pipeline that definitely is not my favourite, however it must be done! I had the usual array of fuck ups when rigging and skinning the main protagonist of the animated short – Ash. Pose space deformers would mess up out of the blue making it so that poor Ash would have tumours growing out of his asscheeks and elbows or one of the lovely glitches of Ash’s whole face sliding down his jowls in attempt to put him (or me) out of misery.
I am not out of the blue with the rigging and skinning process just yet, I have Ash’s body rigged and skinned and now it is onto the face. Just the sheer idea of seeing the multicoloured floating shapes hovering around Ash and knowing that he is able to move within the greyness of Maya is exciting. I can almost taste the much more enjoyable animation process in the near horizon and can’t wait to bring some life to his pasty face.
With the recent first birthday of the fortnightly Kick About over on Reds Kingdom I noticed I have a few prompts that haven’t been uploaded here on Gentle Giant, so I will be resolving that in the coming weeks. This prompt being of Jean Cocteau’s Orpheus (1950) being one of them and one of my favourite responses thus far.
“I knew exactly what I was going to create when I seen the new prompt for this weeks kick about, It was the night before my birthday and I was sitting out in the tiny garden in my previous London apartment, I was drinking red wine and smoking a cigarette and frankly, was feeling rather shit. Not sure if it was the birthday blues or if was a amalgamation of other things but my neighbours behind my house were having a party; they recently installed some outside lighting which surrounded their roomy garden in a blazing warm hue that lit up the brick of their apartment like a beacon in the night.
In my garden there is a full length mirror that is perched against a rickety garden shed that is full of art supplies and spiders. The light from the neighbours garden was reflecting brilliantly against the mirror – it looked otherworldly placed against the black shed and darkness of my garden, like the light didn’t belong in the darkness. I thought to myself “I wish that that was a fucking portal so I could step through, leave this place and see some happy faces”. The neighbours next door continued to dance and sing into the night.”
in regards to my own response I have been having wildly vivid dreams as of late, the kind of dreams where you wake up in the middle of the night and need to write them down, the kind you remember so clearly when you get out of bed in the morning, the kind where you try to decipher their meaning to see if its some sort of cosmic message within your unconscious psyche that needs to be brought to fruition.
These dreams feel as though they relate to the collective phenomena, where people at the start of lockdown had extremely vivid dreams, probably in relation to their unconscious being so fired up because their everyday lives felt like Groundhog Day, something I still feel like I can relate too.
Surrealism, as an art form, is cemented in the unconscious, with surrealist painters adopting many techniques to unlock the power within their unconscious, so that it translates through to their art, including many being influenced by allusive dreams. With this in mind, and with this week’s The Song of love prompt, I have created a landscape of some of the symbols I have recently seen in one dream that has had a lasting effect..
Welcome to this first anniversary edition of The Kick-About, a fortnightly blog-based creative challenge in which artists of all stripes come together to present work in response to a given prompt. I asked contributors to choose a favourite work of their own from the previous twenty-five editions so I could celebrate them all together here.
This weeks kick about prompt over at Reds Kingdom being the art, life and times of the Austrian painter, Eugen von Ransonnet-Villez, and with it inspired an experience I had when I returned to the forest this past winter. I happened to come upon a small trench like lagoon deep within the caverns of the forest where the snow above was melting and gently plopping into the lagoon. The lagoon was shallow meaning I could see the dirt, grasses and flowers filtering about in the water with the slightest movement. The glare of the crispy winter sun projecting shadows of the spruces and firs, lighting certain areas of the undergrowth in a vibrant red, the trees and shrubbery being reflected upon the water causing a mandala of colours to be refracted and ripple as snow drops fell from above.
Experiencing this was one of most pleasurable tranquil experiences I have ever had. I sat and watched this private show for a long time and felt as though time had frozen along with my hands. I pressed record on my camera and although I didn’t have a tripod which meant for some shakiness It was an absolute pleasure to edit this film and with it I have attempted to capture that feeling of complete tranquility. The song by Kris Keogh entitled “We Were Gone Further Than Forever” transported me back to that tranquil meditative state again, with sections feeling like time moving, flowing and reversing, correlating full circle to an eco system of nature where everything becomes one with the earth again.
I have been itching to do some traditional art for a change to my usual digital Art, spurred from painting and drawing with my nieces and nephew during the Christmas break. Here is some initial paintings using gouache, The first two being concept art pieces from the Game Firewatch which I haven’t played and don’t really play games anymore, but loving the colourful art from this game I gave it a bash. The last image being a quick one of birch trees before I washed away the drying leftover paint. I choose Gouache as the medium because I like that its similar to watercolour but much more pigmented and having never used it before it is a learning curve in which I am really enjoying the process, with landscapes always being my favourite subjects to paint.
I think it is good to switch things up and try new approaches and although I find it harder with traditional art to simply let go and loosing up, I think with practice I will get to a point where things are hinted at and more gestural with blocky colours and suggestive brush strokes, The last image of the birch trees was very enjoyable because it was in the wee hours of the morning, I was tired and just wanted to get rid of the paint so it was very quick and gestural. Eventually I would like to make prints and use the many inspiring photos I took as reference while back in Ireland and here’s hoping I will make prints of those photo’s too! I think we live in a time for creatives where you might need to get thrifty and monetise your hobbies to help make ends meet, So we’ll see…
I have always wanted to learn how to use cinema 4D as its stylistic animation possibilities seem endless, so I made these cute little houses as a starting off point and couldn’t help but turn them into sims houses with the famous green plumbob and using the parallel camera to render.
Another render from the Green Glider animated short, this time of the lagoon where our protagonist Ash will float in the blissful crystal clear water before he has a sudden epiphany. I wouldn’t mind quarantining here…