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I had the pleasure of meeting fine artist Kyle Noble while his work was on exhibit at the Royal Scottish Academy in 2014. He was giving a talk about his work, which I enjoyed very much, but it was the question and answer session that I really got a kick out of. A conversation in a public space that covered shamanism, altered states of consciousness, Jungian psychology, aliens and self transforming elf machines. It made my day.

'Encounter' 2014I was drawn to Kyle’s work regardless, I found the themes instantly recognisable but with a highly unique voice. Psychedelic or Visionary artwork has become something of a clichéd genre with many artists ending up, whether intentionally or not, being fairly derivative of the master: Alex Grey. I myself have fallen into this trap, simply because the imagery experienced in an altered state often has similar themes for many different participants. This is part of its mystery. There is also the fact that the aesthetic Grey (as well as other artist-shaman) has created feeds back into the experience, creating a kind of echo chamber effect on perception. In my own work on this subject using meditation as the main inspiration I am trying to find my own voice and distance myself from the usual formulas. So it was quite inspiring to see Kyle’s work and get a firsthand account of his processes, both in thought and technique.

Meditations from the Malachite GlenI found his use of a fictitious world as the foundation for his work particularly captivating, as it provides a more socially palatable context for the ideas to be explored and conveyed to his audience, many of whom will likely be unfamiliar with such experiences and could dismiss anything outside of fiction on a variety of grounds. Much like in many sci-fi or fantasy novels, it gives certain ideas and imagery a way to be explored by minds otherwise likely to be unwilling to do so. In much the same way shaman will use sleight of hand and other tricks to put their audience into a more receptive state, producing the sleight of mind necessary for a true act of magic.

'After'Kyle’s work is tricksy, seeming at first to be simply pleasingly decorative. But a closer look reveals so much more. Go and see it in person if you can. Check out his website and his Facebook Page.

I’m back at Forsinard and painting like a caffeine fuelled dervish (if dervishes painted instead of danced – though with headphones on and paintbrush in hand, I have been known to strut my stuff while I paint, when I forget anyone might be watching).

Having been away exhibiting my work at ‘Freedom!’ and ‘Culture Uprising’ for most of June, I will now be continuing to live paint the mural into July until completion. I can be seen in the Forsinard Visitor Centre on week days between 10am and 5pm. Pop in and have a look.

The Artist’s Task

On Saturday June 13th I did a talk at The Hive titled ‘The Artist’s Task’ as part of the final day of the ‘Freedom!’ exhibition. I was asked to do the talk after a conversation with one of the curators – Shoshana Stern – about the role that art plays in society and my own dissatisfaction with the contemporary art scene.

In brief, I described the frustrations of art school, where I was told ‘art is anything’ in the same breath as ‘you’re doing it wrong’, that lead me to study philosophy and aesthetics in order to get to the heart of exactly what art ‘is’. I then explored the distinction between fine and applied art in the West and how this reflects and catalyses the spiritual and social predicaments of our time, the task of the artist in the face of this, and the importance of art as one of our most important tools in the fight for a better world.

Terrence McKenna sums up my views nicely: ‘The artist’s task is to save the soul of mankind; and anything less is a dithering while Rome burns. Because if the artists, who are self-selected for being able to journey into the Other, if the artists cannot find the way, then the way cannot be found.’

It was a very enjoyable talk and the Q&A session after was particularly fun and engaging with such a high calibre crowd. The exhibition after party was also great fun.

If you would like me to give a talk on an art based topic please contact me.

On Tuesday 2nd June I ran an art workshop at The Hive on the themes of drawing basics and perception. I was then asked to do a second workshop on Friday June 12th.

This was a great opportunity to try out a few new techniques, along with some tried and tested ones, as well as focus on the topic of drawing as a way of thinking. Perception is a subject that fascinates me and drawing is a really effective way to quickly and easily show that we all perceive and express the world differently. Grasping this intellectually is one thing, but grasping it in experience by putting pencil to paper and looking at the work of others captures it on an emotive embodied level.

By taking the students through a series of exercises to practice observational and imaginative skills, it can be shown that they are indeed just skills and that they can be developed, along with confidence. By mastering these skills to any extent everything else in art becomes easier, because you learn to build up and use your creative thinking muscles, by thinking with your hand and eye together. This is why drawing is the fundamental art and is very helpful to all other art forms. It makes teaching it very satisfying.

If you would like me to teach a drawing workshop please contact me.

Freedom!

FREEDOM

The Hive is a new type of free space in Dalston, a place for ideas and actions, open to the local community and ready to be shaped by them. Freedom! is the Hive’s grand opening project, an event created as a collaboration with the public that will grow and evolve as more people get involved.

I have four pieces on show at the Freedom! exhibition at The Hive, 260-264 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4DG, as of Saturday 30th May to Saturday 13th June. The space is open every day 12-7pm, with performance evenings 7-10pm Thursday and Saturday.

I will also be running a drawing workshop on Tuesday 2nd June, 5-7pm. See you there if you can make it!

A Kind Eye

This was quite a satisfying piece, a commission to paint the eye of a racehorse. I thought it might be interesting to capture the progress as I’ve only started using oil paints again in the last year or so, having abandoned them for acrylic for over a decade. I used to find oils somewhat sluggish and dull, but having developed a lot more patience I am now finding them quite a joy to work with, with many advantages over acrylic.

Dinner Time

A few weeks ago I was driving home from a trip to the beach and as I approached the house I came to a halt and saw what I thought was a rock on the road. A moment of uncertainty and a closer look revealed it to be a Sparrowhawk feeding on an unfortunate Red-Legged Partridge. Completely unperturbed by me she carried on feasting for about forty minutes before she flew away into the encroaching dusk. As I was on a quiet country road I was able to stay the entire time, enjoying watching her enjoy her meal.

As I write this there are two lovely Red-Legged Partridges gently foraging in the front garden. I’m enjoying watching them enjoying their meal too. I love moments like these.

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