Philip Guston Contradictions

I began to make a post about my visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, but lost it half way through for some reason. But just one artist will do for now. Philip Guston.

Amy introduced me to him. I am intrigued by the man, his place in the abstract expressionist world. When I walked up the stairs at the museum today there was a Guston, much more impressive than the web stuff!


The one I really liked, and the first painting that really drew me today was one called The Tormentors:

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Balancing Rock

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#0566 Balancing Rock
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11″ x 8.5″ image on 13″ x 19″ archival matte paper.

This is an art work by my friend John H – which I took a photo of and now sketched. The digital version will survive this ephemeral creation. Rocks are balanced by feel – feel and more feel, an act of love & concentration, a meditation. Balance more rocks!

This particular one with its heart shape reminds me of works by Jim Dine. See the image below

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The Journey

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#513 The Journey
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11″ x 8.5″ image on 13″ x 19″ archival matte paper.

I read that Piet Mondrian, best known for his stark abstracts also painted flowers. They were never shown together. It would look good to see a small selection of my sketches, unified in style, printed out and framed.

In Eric Maisel’s A Writer’s San Francisco here (p.117) he is talking about some writers who have too many ideas:

Each wanted to make a something like a tapestry, only not a tapestry, or something like a book, only not a book, or something like pure process, whatever that might mean, or something like a gallery show, or an eventor a performance or… I knew what they were saying, I have a soul, and it is bursting.” I had to tell them both “You must choose.”

I’ll choose a style & a real media to work in later this year, I am looking forward to it, it might be oils on large boards with pallet pallet knife. First I will get to the 1000 sketches, focus, complete a project that still seems highly worthwhile, a necessary preliminary.

Amid the chaos I have been choosing. One way to see something more unified is to look at categories. Try Dreams for instance. I have a small set that includes this Journey sketch. I am calling it InsideOut , they express inner energy, and they are mostly digital oil. What do you think?

InsideOut Slideshow

What do you chose? Which ones hang together in your gallery? I’d be interested to hear. To browse older sketches you can use the thumbnails.


Click to go to larger Duchamp image

#487 Duchamp
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11″ x 8.5″ image on 13″ x 19″ archival matte paper.

I have a lot of time for Duchamp. I recall the controversy when an exhibition came to Sydney, must have been late 50s? I was a kid. I thought it was stupid. But now I can see it more clearly. Art looking at art. Art asking what is art, art art. And here is a sketch, hardly art, but a little portal into the question what is art.

It was Duchamp who came up with the idea of recapitulation art, he had a go at all the styles before him, I can see how that leads to thinking about what it is all about.

One thing that it *is* about is the process, the idea, the concept. Was he the first who really got that? Maybe the first to make that idea into art.

How does it tie in with Thousand Sketches? Simple, the idea in the form of the blog + digital images (all open source & on the web) plus prints for sale is the idea that comes tied into the wehole thing. The prints have the Thousand Sketches # on them – they are a physical portal to the site. Buy one now! (or just download one but it won’t have my signature on it.

That was another thing that Duchamp bought into focus. Found objects – signed. Signing something makes quite a statement.


An earlier post, with a podcast I made that quotes another podcast on Duchamp


Animated images related to Duchamp’s Nude (images of that follow!)

Images follow, all by Duchamp.

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Andy Warhol on TV

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#486 Andy Warhol on TV
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As the American art critic Dave Hickey explained in Ric Burns’s excellent Warhol documentary, “He wanted to be very famous. It was very important to him. To succeed. It was a mode of survival. He was really driven. I don’t think he spent an hour of his life without thinking about how to make it work.”


Available in a limited edition of 25 prints, pigment ink on archival paper.

This print is available exclusively through the Allen Gallery in Chelsea New York. If you would like to purchase a print please contact Michel Allen.


See prints from the Thousand Sketches exclusive to the Allen Gallery

Continue reading “Andy Warhol on TV”

Thumbnails for May 2007

Here are the sketches for may 2007. One thing I notice is that quite a few are part of an art exploration month. That hisorical exploration has intensified. Even that blue circle is a reference to Yves Klein. (Though I only discovered that yesterday) This month has been a month of work on non-sketching. Preparation for the sabbatical.

Approaching half way. I want a little party at 500!

Golden Ending

Harekeke, New Zealand Flax. I feel connected with it and just took a swag of photos on our recent walks. More coming up.

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#471 Golden Ending
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This one like the earlier Circle was one where I found the final image by deleting layers, and also by changing the original colour from a heavy black to this golden colour, which really suits this particular subject, this particular flax that is, the variety of the remnants after seeding is enormous. Some are very black. The exploring was satisfying!

This one is printed to suit a 10 x 8 frame and has collage of (treated) dried flax material.

Monday, 18 August, 2008

This image is availalable printed in a limited edition. It is available exclusively on Felt, a New Zealand Art & Craft website.

image felt art for sale site

Everyone is an artist – Joseph Beuys

I am thinking about art a lot. My art & where it is going. Some key words that stick: iconic – see the Buildings category for example. I want more of the iconic stuff. I need the Christchurch Cathederal. And people, I like to do portraits of people I am reading about or watching on video. Hand is another word, and Line. I like to see my hand in the lines, & I like strong lines, I try to return to more painterly stuff but keep adding lines.

Iconis is one of a list of words I have all pointing in the same direction, Kahn might say Monumental, Jung, archetypal, Moreno psychodramatic. In fact Moreno described the Psychodrama method as: “Exploring truth by dramatic means.” Here I explore truth by the means of lines by my hand. I don’t care if that sounds grandiose! I make no claims though for how successful I am, or that I am there.

Here is another I have just done, I have done about six, not sure which one to post:

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#469 Joseph Beuys
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This one best caught a look in his face that speaks to me.

I like the boldness & the social engagement. He had wacky ideas, everything is creative, everything is art. There is some truth in that, everything arises from a mysterious source. He seems to consciously make himself the work of art, by creating a persona. Now that is something I quite like, but it is not me. No pseudonyms, no new roles. I am tempted sometimes… I wonder if I could create an artist and do the art from that new role. But no, I just am who I am & that is OK. There are a couple of pictures here by Prince Charles though.

He was in the Fluxus movement as was Yoko Ono. I listened to her son Sean on a podcast the other day, and he spoke of how he was inspired by his mother – you don’t need to be an expert to do art, you can just go for it. He made a movie of his separation with his girlfriend, with her in it! I can see the links!


Joseph Beuys Online Guide

Bunker 1

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#467 Bunker 1
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Kate & I have been on some great walks in the Port Hills of Christchurch lately. Above Lyttelton are some old concrete structures, I’ll call them bunkers. The were part of the defences against the Japanese who almost invaded New Zealand in WWII. They are quite beautiful sitting there on the hillside. The remind me of Lois Khan buildings (though I have only seen pix) – and I want to draw more of these buildings with minimalist strong lines. Basic stuff. One Khan image done a while back – Salk Interior.

The sketches are from the photos I took, and here are some more pix, to contextualise the sketches.

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yBas, Stuckist, Remodern, amodern, Tracey Emin

Remodernist Manifesto

Good stuff, but I still don’t relate.


Early on in this blog a friend thought this project was ‘amodern’, I prefer that to remodern, post modern, stuckist…


At the origin of Stuckism (in that it is a reaction to her art & calling her ex stuck) is Tracey Emin who is famous for stuff like the unmade bed. Ok, sounds like bullshit, but I can see it in the larger context of her art which takes autobiographical art, (“naked blogging” as I do here to a very mild degree) to the ultimate edge. She exhibits her life, her bed mates names, her underwear, her contraception coil. I think she has some guts, and she does follow through on a concept.

Images, links follow.

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Update, Matthew Collings – artist, critic, presenter, links to interview, more about art talk.

Hi there, glad you found my site, or have returned, a rambling post coming up…

I update older posts from time to time, Just added more info about one of my podcasts.

I listened to a Kim Hill interview with Matthew Collings I strongly recommend it, you can download it from the link. Kim gets a good conversation going. Main theme: is great art possible today?, especially in painting. Or is it at best a clever satirical footnote. He seem to think it is the latter. He respects highly another critic: Clement Greenberg who was originally quite radical and anti-capitalist, then, according to Collings saw the problems with society as “deeper”.

Now that is an interesting idea. If it is not capitalism but deeper, and I think it is, how can we hold that and not dissolve into despair, even clever despair is not much use. Perhaps despair is a layer to go beyond & not around. Going around it is usually just boring, sentimental, pollyanna, feel good. Hope is not what is required either.

I am motivated to read those essays by Greenberg (see link above). While on the topic of criticism and art talk, Robert Hughes comes up and he has some interesting comment about the differences he has with Hughes.

Interview with Collings,

Salon interview with Collings.

An anti Collings comment – makes sense too.

Mathew Collings & wife Emma Biggs Collaborative art.

Article on Hughes, Guardian

A Collings/Biggs art work follows

Continue reading “Update, Matthew Collings – artist, critic, presenter, links to interview, more about art talk.”

Playing Pollock 1

Click image to go to the Playing Pollock 1 image on the Thousand Sketches site

#306 Playing Pollock 1
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This and the next few were done using a really funny flash animated tool on the web: Here Have a go! I confess, in the past, having some disdain for splashing paint as Pollock did. That changed in two steps. One was seeing an original in the Dunedin art gallery about 5 years go. It was quite a small painting and the texture was created with small splashes. The painting was subtle and finely executed, notions I would not have associated with Pollock through my media fed ignorance. The second thing was the Ed Harris movie. Maybe he was more unlikeable in real life, and his wife may be more instrumental in the development of the form than portrayed, but the one thing I love & it is shown well in the movie, was the way he danced his paintings into life, he moved with grace, Ed Harris took years to learn that for the film.

So, here are a few playfully splashed, using the Flash toy. Thanks to whoever made the software.



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Click image to go to the Crossroads image on the Thousand Sketches site

#0115 Crossroads

Allowing abstract forms to emerge, to delete some, to let one influence another is one of my “styles” here. So accepting this doodle as a Crossroad of feeling the tension between two things is one step that led to the next few.


Available in a limited edition of 25 prints, pigment ink on archival paper.

This print is available exclusively through the Allen Gallery in Chelsea New York. If you would like to purchase a print please contact Michel Allen.


See prints from the Thousand Sketches exclusive to the Allen Gallery

Blue_Red_Glow – and some Notes

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#0463 Blue Red Glow
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After doing the two sketches earlier #0058 and #0059 it struck me that there was more to them than I intended. I was in a black mood, but those images – even the darker one had a light in there. This led to a lot of reflection. I’ll give some headings here – but there may be more of these thoughts coming.

  • Lois Kahn’s idea that a building wants something – this project wants its light to come through.
  • Another Kahn idea: That once you have a “realisation” after that it is just implementation. I think I could sketch one of these light-coming-through-barrier images at will – am testing that idea so a few follow. They are not mechanical repeats.
  • The light in the project is in a relationship with the light in me – that is an old alchemical idea. “As above, so below.” The essence in the matter under investigation – when distilled is akin to the life essence in me. This is more than I bargained on.
  • Earlier sketches #6 #7 & #8 were embryonic expressions of these images. As was the post in the blog about it being OK – no matter what. And they were there in the “Bursting”. (I’ll find links later)
  • With the notion of alchemy the monetary – gold – aspect of this project makes more sense. The gold plays a part.
  • Has got me thinking this project is linked closely with the writing I did on the Archetypes of Cyberspace (go straight to the section on Hermes, God of the Net – and of trade!)