Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Heavens Opened

It turns out the break from painting and the increase in architecture work may have altered my ability to paint, or at least to paint to my own satisfaction. My latest work definitely pays homage to the cliché of a game of two halves - behold the aptly named 'The Heavens Opened'....

The Heavens Opened
Aptly named for two reasons:

  1. The obvious fact it depicts space and,
  2. The fact I had a massive outpouring of rage when I was painting it.
If you look closely there are clues showing you that this was originally a painting of something else -  a small piece of bamboo to the middle right edge, the orange leaves tracing along the bottom of the canvas. I was painting a more traditional landscape of trees, the sun, a cliff and a large wave until I got so frustrated all I could do was stab, smear and splat paint all over the canvas.

And then cover half of it in black.

Fortunately after I got this out of my system I was considerably calmer and I had a brainwave, a spark of inspiration, an idea and I felt as though the picture could be resurrected. Mountains, on a starry night, an alien landscape capped by the milky way and it must be detailed, dots, red ones, white ones (Lichtenstein is that your fault?).

So an angry, spontaneous, expressionist lower half followed by a calmer, more relaxed, in control and detailed top half.  Not necessarily two things that go together but I was pleased with how it eventually turned out. 

It wasn't until I finished and was thinking back that I noticed my choice of music was peculiarly reflective of the two separate painting halves and styles.

I painted the expressionist, 'angry' half to Anna Calvi:

The detailed more serene top half to the Maccabees:

Tell me that isn't a little bit weird........

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


I am wishing now I hadn't said I would write everyday for a while. I went to a zumba session this evening and you know it is bad when ten minutes in all you can think about is lying down. Somehow I am still here, my heart is still beating and my eyes are still open.

I was going to write about my new painting today - 'The Heavens Opened' but I need to write quite a bit as it is slightly unusual, controversial and for once has quite a lot behind it. I can't face that so I will do an easy post instead - cue another film.

This time the film is French and by Luc Besson - the man behind The Fifth Element. I am including it here not necessarily because of the storyline, or the acting or the content, they were all good enough but not what I found inspiring. I absolutely have to include it for style, black and white beautiful shots of Paris at its best with a ridiculously appropriate soundtrack. My favourite moments had to be the giant woman versus the tiny man silhouetted, elevational shots of some of Paris's bridges, they are burnt visually in my mind. I can see me using these as a basis for a painting....

The film by the way is called Angel-a, and it might, if I can find the time have a similar effect on me as The Secret of Kells did a few months ago....

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Moonrise Kingdom

I can finally tick music off my blog to do list (for the moment) or at least until I head back into London to see Amanda Palmer later in the year. I interestingly have a comedy gig to go to in the meantime, interesting because I have never witnessed a comedian first hand except when I followed Jimmy Carr in the tube (by accident).

Name drop, swooped in and pow! LOOK HOW CULTURED I AM...... If only that were true..... 

I have a few other CD's that I have to shout about due to being addicted to them but there is no rush, so I shall tackle my backlog of films first and then get onto writing about my latest painting and Spring (!!!). I have three films to write up, two, good for different reasons and one disappointment. I am going to attempt to watch the The Deep Blue Sea this evening and come out of it with my joie de vivre intact. I hear this is likely to be impossible due to the nature of the film. Hmm maybe I will watch it tomorrow, or maybe even the day after tomorrow.....

The first film to mention is Moonrise Kingdom, mostly highlighted because I seem to greatly enjoy films by Wes Anderson. I think this is due to a combination of the strange panning elevational camera shots, the attention to detail. the poise and the deadpan nature of the understated and eccentric characters he portrays. The films also say a lot without words. I am one of those people that gets easily overwhelmed by words, so yes, I do mostly hate Woody Allen films.  

Anyway, Moonrise Kingdom is a must if you like:
  • Wes Anderson
  • A famous cast playing non typical roles.
  • Bruce Willis as a non action policeman (well except one bit)
  • Scouts
  • Scouts
  • Scouts
  • Young love
  • Did I say scouts?
  • And storms

27 Beth Orton's

I am going to have another irrelevant moment but I can't help it as me and the number 27 are partners in OCD. The number 27 is appearing all over my blog statistics today so I am going to pretend that it is portending to something good. If you can't believe in the randomness of your lucky number, what can you believe in?

I am also going to attempt to reduce the size of one of my to do lists by catching up with my blog posts. I so far have 16 outstanding ideas (or ideas outstanding) to write about so maybe if I can write one a day for a while it will help. The list was supposed to help me on the days when I had nothing to say not turn into a 5 mile long piece of paper, but I would always rather that than writers block.

So, as promised....Beth Orton.

I went to see Beth Orton at the Royal Festival Hall in London last week and she was fantastic, quite unimposing, quite funny and quite endearing. No other woman could get away with snorting on stage and passing it off as socially acceptable and receiving a sympathetic chortle from the crowd. If I did that........

It was good to be able to hear her singing live and hear the quality of all the instruments. Beth Orton has a beautiful voice - the songs had far more intonation, more tonal variation and more emotion. It isn't until you hear something live that you realise how pasteurised and diluted CD's are. That said the CD is good too, I even went on a backdated album shopping spree so no doubt I shall be painting to one of her albums soon.


Sunday, 21 April 2013

To do lists (times four to the power of a hundred).

It is annoying when your to do list gets too long. It is even more annoying when your to do list gets so long that you split it into 4 more manageable looking sections. When these four lists start to get too long as well it is probably best to make friends with the shredder and vrrrrrrrrrrroooooom all your problems away.

My four separate sections currently stand as 'art', 'architecture', 'blog topics' and 'real life' and each list has at least 20 things on it, but who's counting? Certainly not me any more!!! Just as well I went to see Beth Orton on Wednesday last week and her supporting band - Dan Michaelson and the Coastguards. I will tell you more about Orton later but if you ever want to listen to something to melt your problems away then this is it.


How deep is this guys voice? (And yes, it does make me fall slightly in love with him)!!!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Look at ME

Work, work, work.

Has two good outcomes.

Firstly, I am now friends with my bank account again - did someone say shopping spree? And secondly, because I haven't put as much effort into my art, facebook fan page, blog, website etc, simply because I haven't had the time, I have had a good chance to see how they all fair without my constant input. I have done this before in October of last year when I was in America for three weeks and I did nothing at all to anything (except take photos) and everything pretty much fell over. No blog hits, very few hits on my website and my facebook views skimmed the bottom of the bottom.

How heart-warming.

This time seems to be different. I have kept things ticking over slightly with the odd post, facebook status and one and a half paintings over the last month but my views have stayed relatively constant. Finally my website, blog and facebook are working for me.  All those hours of updating, tweaking, tidying, sorting, writing, painting and staying up late, which at the time seemed slightly futile are starting to pay off.

I am excited.....

Maybe people are starting to take notice.....

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

I see a red door and I want to paint it black.

I either had a painting brainwave last weekend or one of those 'why did you decide this was a good idea?' moments. I haven't had much time to dedicate to any artwork recently, although things should start to get a bit more flexible from this point forward. Not being able to throw around some paint has been starting to make me go crazy, the lack of a creative outlet Laura style (as opposed to Gangnam...) has been making my brain go for walkies at the most inopportune moments. To combat this I have just started a slow burner of a painting that I can add to whenever I get a spare hour or two. Normally I tend to do a whole painting in one go - I just need a free evening and it always helps if I don't need to get up very early the following day! It will be interesting to see if I can pull this painting out of the bag (or more appropriately out of the bin) for two reasons:
  1. My unfortunate ability to get bored with things that take forever and not finish it. 
  2. The fact that it started as a painting of something else, made me very angry, got smeared with all the left over paint on my palette and then painted over in black.
Not a very fortuitous start, but then some of my initially tormented paintings turn out to be my favourites, and I did have a 'light bulb' idea to save this after the oh-so-black paint thickly went on the canvas. You have got to have a little suffering in there somewhere otherwise where is the challenge!? 

(At least that is my excuse for when a painting goes horribly, horribly wrong.....)

Friday, 12 April 2013


I am a bit delayed with this post BUT I MANAGED TO FIND THREE HOURS TO DO A PAINTING on friday last week! It wasn't until I laid out my shower curtain (I paint on the floor so unless I want a very colourful carpet....) that I realised how overdue it was. 27 days had passed since my last piece of work. It seemed appropriate on the 27th day (27 is my lucky number) that feeling slightly overwhelmed and possibly at breaking point that I decided getting the paints out was infinitely more important than sleep. Literally after I splodged the first layer of yellow, orange, red onto the canvas I felt so much better. Shoulders relaxing, mind switching off, troubles floating I knew I had needed to paint for a while but even I hadn't realised how uptight I was and how much I had missed my paintbox, my tube of wedgewood blue, my paint smeared palette and my almost empty tippex pen.

I promise I will never leave it so long again - or at least I will try not to.....

So here is the painting that saved me, I have never before felt so like I managed to paint myself a hug. Inspired by the train journey between Maidenhead and Southampton/the Isle of Wight on a waterlogged, sun-setting evening.


Saturday, 6 April 2013


Two art exhibitions in one week!? You can tell I am trying to make up for the fact that I haven't found time to paint by doing some 'research' instead.

Whaam! I had to copy this numerous times when I was at school - bizarrely my banner echoes the explosion...

After the successful visit of the Light Show at the Hayward Gallery last week, I was eagerly anticipating the Tate Modern's current exhibition on Lichtenstein especially after watching a BBC 4 documentary detailing the show on the previous day. Firstly watching the documentary had good points and bad points - It was brilliant for giving me some background history and an insight into Lichtenstein's modus operandi and raison d'etre (sometimes English words just won't do) but I kind of wished I could have listened to it on the radio. Some of the pieces would have held a lot more gravitas seeing them for the first time in real life. 

Sunrise.  Wall Explosion II.  Brushstroke with Spatter.

Four key things struck me about the exhibition:
  1. I loved the way pieces were included from the beginning of his career, to the height of his fame to the deterioration at the end. There was a ridiculously good mix of sculpture, painting, colour, monochromatic works, landscapes, people - everything.  I suppose it wouldn't be much of a retrospective if there wasn't but it was such a clear journey. 
  2. Having watched the documentary I really appreciated seeing the works created by Lichtenstein whilst he was still in obscurity. They were atrocious as he was supposedly trying to do expressionistic works when his heart wasn't in it. It was heart warming to see a now famous Pop Artist so initially incompetent. There is hope for us all! 
  3. Interestingly it was really good to see the hand behind the work - in print the images Lichtenstein creates always look perfect, mechanical and cold. In real life you can see the quiver in the line, the thickness of the paint, the imperfect placing of the dots (at the beginning at least). It made everything seem more real.   
  4. Lastly I enjoyed the peculiar full circle of work from tormented and lost to start, to clear, clean and precise fame in the middle, to a mass of experimenting with a found style to slightly lost at the end. I think Lichtenstein was going to break into something new....if only he hadn't died.....

Oh Jeff I love you too but.  Ball of Twine.  Head with Blue Shadow.

So Lichtenstein, whether I am a fan or not, whether I feel as though you cheated by copying comic strip images, whether I feel as though you were a self manufactured brand rather than an artist, riding the crest of 60's American commercialism like all people with good timing, it doesn't matter; I like you a little bit more after this visit to the Tate, and I love you for your atrocious expressionist paintings.  

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

An Artistic Phoenix

My mother came across a statement in a book she was reading the other day which I liked the sound of. Apparently Hol is another word for Phoenix. I like the thought of this, Laura 'rising from the ashes' Hol. The Phoenix is all about restarting, rebirths and living for eternity via its resurrection. If my art can do this, I am onto a winner.

My favourite quote (conveniently highlighting all my best qualities) has to be:

"The Talmud tells how the phoenix (Hol) was the only animal allowed to stay in the Garden of Eden, because it refused to eat the forbidden apple. God granted the bird immortality for its obedience".

Yes, erm, exactly like me. Honest. The phoenix also played an important role in the Harry Potter Saga so I feel as though my success is assured when you combine these two facts together.

The downside of researching word meanings is that you find that there are quite a few alternative examples. Hol is also a place in Norway and let's hope I never become popular in Holland - apparently in Dutch Hol is another word for arse.

Yes. Hello and welcome to Laura Bum Art.

I don't think I have thought this through.......