Saturday, August 05, 2006

Painting with M & M's

Its pouring rain. I've done my shopping chores and now have some time to myself. Surfing around the net I came across this article in the NY Times which captured my imagination.

CRESCENT CITY, Calif., July 16 — The morning after the opening of a show of his recent work, the artist was in his studio, a concrete cell in the Pelican Bay State Prison, where he is serving three life terms in solitary confinement for murder and for slashing a prison guard’s throat. He was checking his supplies, taking inventory.

Mr. Johnson's paintbrush is made of plastic wrap, foil and strands of his own hair.

His paintbrush, made of plastic wrap, foil and strands of his own hair, lay on the lower bunk. So did his paints, leached from M&M’s and sitting in little white plastic containers that once held packets of grape jelly. Next to them was a stack of the blank postcards that are his canvases.

I'm still in portrait mode and am slowly building up my portfolio again with a variety of people and animals. Here are a couple of starts from today, both done in Derwent Drawing Pencils. They're my favourite medium of the moment as I can build a drawing so quickly with them. The first is the start of a friend's portrait, the second a lovely grey tabby.

And news just in---Moleskine has been sold to a French company...

I have taken the liberty of translating the piece from the orignal French only version.(which can be found here.)
Please bear with this version as translation programs do tend to translate quite literally at times

Moleskine was the travelling companion of the large adventurers and the confidant of the great writers.

Funds of investment of the general Company repurchases the small notebooks at an Italian company.

IT IS transfers of companies which exhale a perfume of nostalgia. Moleskine, celebrates manufacturer of small notebooks of voyage, changes hand. For 60 million euros, funds private of the general Company comes to repurchase this so French mark and which however was not it any more. In 1998, the Milanese company Modo & Modo had started again it, for the greatest pleasure of the amateurs.

With this transfer with a financial investor of French extraction, small SME returns a little to the “fold” with the same desire for building its future by also exploiting its past.

Moleskine was the travelling companion of the large adventurers, the confidant of the great writers, the witness of the anguishes of the great painters. Of Van Gogh with Picasso while passing through Matisse and Hemingway, plethora of artists of last century adopted Moleskine like notebook of voyage, sketch or notes.

Pablo Picasso had a whole collection of it. One of them, the scratch pad n° 53, a notebook of 9 centimetres over 13,5 with the annotation “June/September 1912”, is exposed to the Picasso Museum of Paris. Oscar Wilde never travelled by train without its notebook: “It is always necessary to have something of sensational to read”, said it. Ernest Hemingway was accustomed to sitting at table with the Small estate of the Lilacs in his “favorite angle”: “I ordered a white coffee and I spent long afternoon to be written on my scratch pad.”

More saddened was Bruce Chatwin

At the time, Moleskine was produced in an artisanal way by a small family paper mill of Turns. The amateurs appreciated his rigid cover out of paperboard covered with fabric of black or brown color, the elastic band which held it closed and the mitre which made it possible to open it without the pages not flying away. In 1986, the owner of the paper mill being deceased, the production ended.

More saddened was Bruce Chatwin. Collector, journalist, author of novels and accounts of voyage on Patagonie and the Aboriginals of Australia, it was accustomed to saying: “To lose my passport is the last of my concern. To mislay my scratch pad would be a catastrophe.” Chatwin told its fright when its paper maker, installed street of the Old-Comedy in Paris, taught him laconically that “Moleskine truth is not any more”. It sought of it a hundred for one of its tours.

It is a small Milanese company, Modo and Modo, which in started again the production in 1998 by depositing the mark that nobody had taken care to patent. Success was quickly with go. Notebooks, scratch pads, books lined, squared, into small and large size are sold today to 4,5 million specimens per annum in about thirty country. JNF Productions, created in 1977 by Jean-Christmas Flammarion, secured the exclusive rights of distribution for France.

Modo and Modo, whose Moleskine is the single activity, carries out approximately 70 million euros of sales turnover. Its owners, Mario Baruzzi and Francesco Franceschi, did not make any comment yesterday.

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Friday, August 04, 2006


I painted this little terrier in my Moleskine tonight. It is one of the reference images from the Weekend Drawing Event at Wet Canvas. It is a terrier, perhaps a crossbreed, but to me looks more like a fox, or is that my rendition of it?

Since my own dog was put to sleep on December 1, 2005, I haven't considered the prospect of having another dog. Not seriously. And I don't think that I will have another dog. While they are great fun to have around and make good companions, my time is limiteid and circumstances make it difficult to have a dog again and give it the attention it deserves.

So for now I will content myself with painting or drawing and adding to my collection of virtual dogs. That is, unless some waif and stray turns up on my doorstep unexpectedly. It has been known to happen...

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Thursday, August 03, 2006

TS Elliot & Mungo Jerry

Extremes you think? Not so in reality. Their name was inspired by the poem "Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer", from T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats and the musical CATS.

The image here is of Paul King in his heyday - and me similar circuit. Probably around 1975 or 1976. This photo of me was taken in a pub in Ireland - in Youghal - after a trip on a sailing yacht. Not my favourite activity! Its interesting too look back and remember what we were,how we looked and remember what our dreams were way back then.

Mungojerrie and his partner in crime, Rumpleteazer, specialize in petty theft and mischief. In Eliot's original poem "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer", they are depicted knocking over Ming vases and stealing items from their human family. Mungojerrie is also mentioned in the poem "Macavity, the Mystery Cat" as being one of Macavity's agents.

Onstage, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer are usually costumed as orange, black and brown calico cats. In the original Broadway production, Mungojerrie doubled as another character, Coricopat. The "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" song was sung by Mister Mistoffelees. Both of these were changed a few years into the run of the show (So that in more recent productions, it is Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer who perform the number to there own unique dance number where both latch onto each other and do a "double windmill" across the stage). By the end of the recent number both are eventually spooked out of the junkyard by the jellicles. In addition, two distinct versions of the "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" music exist; one is upbeat, the other has a slower tempo.

So what's the connection here, you're asking?

A long time ago, in the mid - late 70's, in the days of my mis-spent youth, I lived in Sunbury on Thames, Middlesex, in England. For awhile I lived and worked in a pub, called The Magpie, right on the river. And there I met a number of famous and infamous people. One of those people was Paul King Paul is a very talented artist and worked at Shepperton studios as a prop maker on the Bond film, Casino Royale. He also formed a folk band, 'The Russian Front' with Steve Bloomfield who later found great success with pop/rockabilly cross–over band 'Matchbox'. Steve was co–producer on 'Lyin' Again' and 'Rosalyn'.

He had been to see local band, The Good Earth several times whilst back in England, sat in at some of the gigs and eventually became a full time member. Primarily a jug band, they played some memorable gigs, none more so than their appearance at the 1970 Hollywood music festival on the bill with such luminaries as – Black Sabbath, Traffic, Jose Feliciano and the Grateful Dead.

The band was now called Mungo Jerry and their debut single, In The Summertime became an enormous hit worldwide with Paul on banjo and jug. More hit singles and albums followed, including tours all over the world before the ‘inevitable’ break-up in 1972.

Working on the south of England pub and club circuit, Paul eventually joined forces with old friend and washboard player Joe Rush, Colin Pattenden (bass, Manfred Mann’s Earthband) and violin/mandolin man Mike Pigott in the Jigilo Jug Band during 1977. They recorded a five track 12” single – 'Live At The Limping Whippet'.

During 1978 and 1979 Paul continued his association with Denny Laine and members of Wings in a new band called Rhode Island Red. The band line up included Colin Pattenden, Jamie Moses (Merlin and Paper Lace) and John Hollywood (Hellraisers).

Paul used to come into the bar in the pub where I also worked part time. The landlord persuaded Paul to use his artistic talents in the form of a mural in the upstairs bar of the Magpie and I used to help when I had time. His band used to play there on Thursday nights and the bar was PACKED - five deep on those nights. It was where I learned how to be a barmaid for the first time...pull several pints of beer at once, learn what shandy was and not to pull a face when the customer asked for Pernod and Coke. Bleeeeech

On to the present - but the past too. A sketch of a surfer contemplating the waves in California.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2006


There is something very satisfying about drawing portraits of mature people. Their faces have character and substance. Its as if you can read their life from looking at their faces.

Yet people, especially in North America, do everything in their power to avoid aging-
hair dye, cosmetic surgery, lotions and potions, diet and excessive fitness regimes - and most end up looking like characatures of themselves. Seventy-five year olds pretending to be 30 and looking like clowns instead. There is something to be said for growing old gracefully.

No, I don't mean that you should lie there and wait for death but just not try to be something you are not. I came across this site dealing with 45 signs of aging and how to address them. The ironic thing is, even if you do all these things, guess what? You will still age and you'll still die eventually. Its programmed into your body and there is nothing that you can do to prevent it. The people and organizations that promise you youth and longevity are happily lining their pockets with your naievity.

So why do so many people frantically try to turn the clock back? Do they want health, flexibility, and opportunity or do they long for freedom and the ability to make their own decisions independently once more. After all, by trying to be youthful, what do you acheive? Why are people so scared of saying how old they are?

I truly never understand the fear that is associated with aging. My fear of aging is lack of health and lack of finances, both which will most like affect me. But whether I have grey hair and wrinkles while I am old,sick and poor really makes no difference. Its hardly likely that I'll be roaming the streets looking for a sugar daddy at 80 years old.

Why do we age? Why can’t we be like sea anemones that live indefinitely (barring some awful accident, such as a whale chomping it into bits)? Or why can’t we stay 11 years old, the age when our regenerative capacity is strongest? Some scientists figure that if we maintained 11-year-old bodies throughout our lives, we could live 1,200 years, barring any significant diseases or accidents!

Aging is one of the least understood processes in science. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some perfectly sensible and likely theories, and very possibly you’ve heard one or two. Like the theory that our cells get hit over time by oxygen radicals (oxidants) that eventually damage our organs (which is why you hear so much about eating foods rich in anti-oxidants). Or that our genes control aging, switching on and off sequentially through the course of our lives. Even just the conventional "wear and tear" theory, which hypothesizes we’re built like machines whose vital parts eventually just wear out and die. Nobody knows for sure what causes aging.

On a note closer to home, in fact in a small town that I lived in and is only 7km away from me this news comes:

A gallery that has served as a retreat for more than 500 painters, sculptors and other artists from around the world has been forced to close after repeated safety violations that its director denounces as bogus. The Pouch Cove Foundation, with its picturesque view of the Atlantic Ocean that has drawn artisans and the curious alike from Toronto, New York and London since 1990, was ordered to shut down June 6. The building was first inspected by the province's fire commissioner in December 2004 at the request of the town council. Since then it failed repeated safety checks and the deficiencies worsened. Joanne Charette, a spokeswoman with the National Gallery of Canada, said while the gallery was not large it was well-known in art circles. "It does entertain a lot of travelling exhibitions, not only from the National Gallery, but from other centres as well," Charette said from Ottawa. "By losing a centre where artists can meet or where artists can showcase their work, it takes away the opportunity for new artists to be able to take their art to a different level."

Where one door shuts, another opens. Perhaps its my turn to become involved in some local art creation and opportunity...

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Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Some months ago, a couple of lost beagles arrived at our driveway, exhausted and hungry and scared. With no animal services available til the next day or so (its always a weekend), we kept them in the house. They were the sweetest little dogs and part of me wanted to keep them myself.

To make a long story short, animal control collected them but the person who did so also worked as a volunteer for Beagle Paws, as beagle rescue organization who have a 'no kill' policy and rehouse beagles,both in Newfoundland and elsewhere.

It turned out that one of the beagles had a severe bladder infection and was treated. Both the male and female were neutered and spayed then put up for adoption. I still looked at that page each day to see where they were going and if I should take one or both.

The owner of the dogs finally reared his head and the usual policy of Beagle Paws is not to return animals to a situation where they are caged, but for some reason they let the female go back to this person who paid $600 in vet fees before he could have her. The little male, who was my favourite, so tiny and cute, was adopted to a family in Alberta. Hopefully all well that ends well for these dogs. Now for all the other beagles out there that are caged, ill or mistreated. I hope they turn up at my door too.

For over 187 years the Royal St. John's Regatta has been held at Quidi Vidi Lake in the heart of the east end of St. John's, Newfoundland.

The Holiday is held on the First Wednesday in August - Weather permitting - with the decision made early that morning (if not it "goes" the next day).

The day is a civic holiday for the entire St. John's area and is a full day of Fixed Seat Rowing Races.

So tomorrow I may have a day off work - or not - depending on the weather. Heavy rain or wind especially are the prime factors which would affect the running of it. I usually don't attend any more. Its very crowded and I don't enjoy the jostling and noise. Its appeal seems to be that of younger children and older adults reminiscing of races gone past in their youth.

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Monday, July 31, 2006

Happy Birthday

Old age: A great sense of calm and freedom. When the passions have relaxed their hold, you may have escaped, not from one master but from many.

Today is my mother's 82nd birthday. Yesterday we celebrated with a party with all the trimmings and I cooked a huge roast chicken dinner for about a dozen people on likely one of the warmest, most humid days of the year. Well, what I gained in calories from all I ate, I lost in weight from running around in the heat all day!

Here she is, the birthday girl, with her cake. It was an 'orange' themed birthday as at her age, she doesn't want to count numbers anymore. Every present she had was orange in colour, or orange related, taste or scent. It seemed to work...

Happy Birthday!

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Sunday, July 30, 2006

Choosing the medium

I have so many images in my head of so many different things in so many different mediums. As someone recently said to me, 'You have the makings of several art shows here, just choose which medium you're going to use.'

I am still finding my most comfortable medium, but it seems that each one I use is the one that I am inspired by at the time that I use it. But I keep coming back to pencil based work - graphite, coloured pencil derwents. I like the effects of them and the precision I can acheive too. But I do drift from one medium to another continually - pen & ink, watercolour, acrylics, depends on so many things and what calls me at the time.

I did a draft of a portrait of my eldest daughter. I'm not completely happy with it as its too small so I haven't acheived the detail that I wanted with it in this medium and I'm still not sure about the pose. It was difficult to get a good reference photo of her as she kept goofing around as I was taking photos so I had to kind of sneak up on her.

I'll keep working on it and see what comes of of, perhaps enlarging it to see if that helps with the image that I'm looking for.

The goslings are 8 weeks old now and this is their weekly update photo. They are nearly as large as the adults who are teaching them how to be just as noisy as they are and practice their mock charges at everything that moves. They still have their little baby voices which just doesn't match their much larger bodies. They made an excursion into the greenhouse today - not a good idea. They helped themselves to greenbeans and some peppers before being banished with great protests on their behalf, back to the garden. No wonder they grow so fast, they're eating all my food!

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