Sunday, February 16, 2014


Right! Right!

I can't work on painting at the moment because the house is in turmoil and my main goal this month is to write a Death Symphony that I've been waiting to do since last October. I don't feel like it, so will take steps to make myself feel like it. Steps...

1. The logical realisation that this is the perfect time. I can't paint and it's winter, the ideal time for music. My schedule is relatively free.
2. Listening to lots of music, and reading about musical theory. Watching the "Symphony" documentary.
3. Reminding myself of fleeting life, the work must be done while the mind and abilities are fresh. Time is limited. We might die tomorrow and must ensure that everything we can do is done.
4. Logical planning of the main structure. An element of challenge to stimulate my mind.

Thus, as a challenge I thought, for the first time, of music as a painting with time and pitch as the dimensions. I've also been recalling comments about Sibelius, an abstract composer I don't like much (although his 5th symphony is good, although spoiled by the ending). He was an excellent structuralist, a painter akin to Kandinsky, but not Beethoven or Leonardo. I fundamentally begin with the idea and feeling and let the music appear, not backwards like the abstractists Sibelius or Brahms.

My challenge is to broadly plan the structure of the whole thing from the outset, for the first time, as I do with my paintings, and so my art is combining by ideal analogue...

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On Worry

One day you will be dead. One day everyone you know and all memory of you will not exist. At some point in the future the last of your descendants will die, the last human will die. Some centuries after that the last living microbe on Earth will be wiped out, and the black Earth will be destroyed by the exploding sun. One day there will be no intelligent life left in the universe at all, no mind or soul to contemplate the cold, drifting atoms, and after more aeons, the universe itself will be no more. That's how unimportant your worries are.

Monday, February 03, 2014


I've been doing quite a lot of video work recently, firstly a short promotional video for an exhibition I'm part in May/June. A photographer friend said that more people seem to want videos these days, and I can see that film making is exploding. I thought I'd do a quick run through on how I made this video (maybe I should make a "making of" video - no, that's too far!)

First I wanted an animated logo for the group, Northern Artists. I started with the Marvel comics cinema logo, a series of page flicks that gradually reveal the MARVEL lettering...

To make something similar I needed three components...

The first was a list of Northern Artist paintings that can be flicked through. I compiled the paintings and made a quick animation of each one appearing. These appeared one at a time, each lasting less frames than the previous one. This animation lasted 5 or 6 seconds.

Next I made a 3D zooming version of the logo using 3D render software. The logo is quite a simple geometric shape, so I made a 3D model of each shape and placed them in the final position, then simply moved all of the objects to it.

Finally I mocked up a few final versions of the logo, just four stills with different bright areas that would work as a sparkle.

The animation of the paintings simply fades out as the animation fades in, and at the end the logo appears. To add drama I did a couple of things; firstly added a black screen just before the final reveal, and then added a flicker to everything. I did that by making an animation of the same length in grey screens, each a random shade of grey. That's easily done in AviSynth. Here is the code for one solid screen, shade $222222 (very dark grey), 4 frames long (zero to three), and of the same size and format as a video clip called "painting01"...

alpha00=blankclip(painting01, length=3, color=$222222)

A whole chain of those, with different shades, makes a flickering grey and I mixed that with the paintings.

The logo was done. Adding the narrative was much easier technically. It was a short film of myself as a hapless artist trying to paint a boxer in a boxing ring. The idea was to make a series of comedic shorts of the artist trying to paint in exciting situations, the moral being that art should be experienced in "real life". My friend Mark Edmonds instantly came up with the whole idea, directed and did the filming, and boxed at me! The captions were a simple matter of still screens.

Sound was added last using my Noise Station II sequencer. I set the timing to 30 ticks a beat and one beat per second, that meant each note slot was one exact frame. It's a perfect way to exactly synchronise audio to the right frame.

And here's the final film.

My next video task is to make a video about my Eden Iris artwork. That painting and cabinet took months to do and at first I wanted to make a video to promote it, sort of like a music video, but for a painting (which seems like a logical step in the evolution of art!) On starting though, I wanted to explain more about the artwork rather than just show it. I found myself itching to say how I made different bits, the things that went wrong and explaining all of the stages I went through over the five or six months it's taken to make it (the process is still ongoing!) so my next plan is to make a sort of art documentary about it. That's next...