I love language, which is handy as I am a writer. I love new words and new expressions; I delight in an ever growing vocabulary. Moving to the East Anglian Fens introduced me to a whole swathe of new words, some examples of which are mizzling; a cross between a mist and a drizzle, and docky; a morning break or lunch where your money was docked for taking that break. Something could be better-er or worse-er. I would never argue it was good English, but it is a charming, rather quirky local expression.
I was in a bar the other night chatting about some of the modern street slang, a chunk of which I have to confess I had never heard of before. Some of it comes from TV shows I have never watched, but the slang is permeating its way into common usage.
Slick – buff – reem, is good or brilliant as in, a new video game is slick
Jel meaning Jealous, from the TV show, The Only Way is Essex.
Bang tidy equates to looking good from the TV show, Celebrity Juice.
Yard is a house.
There are others that are less savoury like “bang your back door in” which I will let you figure out for yourself and “bangers” which in my day referred to sausages, but now means something entirely different!
Words and expressions constantly change and there is a joy in introducing someone to a new collection of terms. A little while back I mentioned Cockney Rhyming Slang to my friend and publisher, Laurie Sanders, of Black Velvet Seductions. It was amusing to get her reactions and indeed try to explain some of the terms. Rhyming slang has the effect of obscuring the meaning of what is said from outsiders. It isn’t clear whether this is intentional, to hide one’s meaning from the law, or to exclude outsiders, or whether it is just a form of group bonding. The way rhyming slang works does tend to exclude those not ‘in the know’, as the substitution of one word for another often relies on reference to a key phrase, which, for the slang to be understood, must be known jointly by those communicating; for example, to get from ‘Hampsteads’ to ‘teeth’, one must be aware of Hampstead Heath. Other example you can find here.
I know in some ways folk can find it a tad irritating when new expressions come along, but there is something totally “Fab and Groovy” about when old expressions come back into regular use by a new generation.
Remembrance of Things Past
It is ok I am not going to witter on about Marcel Proust’s monumental work! I did start to read it, out of a sense of “I really ought to read the classics” but after the first couple of months I figured I would rather not bother. Sorry if that does sound a bit plebeian!
The reason for stealing his title came to me last Saturday night when standing bored out of my mind, trying to entertain people with a disco. I have been thinking of a good verb for doing a disco, do you run a disco? Play a disco? Inflict a disco? To be frank it felt a bit like the latter. I have inflicted my disco on folk on occasions on and off for the past 25 years, prior to that I did it for a living for the preceding 7 years. I need to say I love music, always have. I don’t follow it as keenly as I once did, if I am honest I am a little stuck in the 80’s and I am very fond of classical music. I probably shouldn’t confess this…. but…. the problem of being a party DJ in an English pub, is that you stand about doing very little until enough alcohol has been consumed to make dancing a possibility. They wanted the music to start at 8, and nobody really considered dancing till about 11, so for me there was three hours of pure tedium! On the upside you do get to listen to a lot of old tunes you would probably not listen to, which is nice.
I did once thoroughly enjoy the whole DJ thing; I used to live for it, but things move on and something that was once the centre of your life can drift to something inconsequential. Even when I was a DJ there was my art running side by side with it and now it is the art work that takes the centre stage for me.
Most of what I do has some sort of arty element and a recent trip to Brussels has been no exception. I usually discount the day you take to get there and the day it takes you to get home; they feel like blank days to me, as I am usually too tired to do much other than think about food and drink. But with Brussels, like Paris, a little time to do nothing but think about food and drink is really not a chore.
We started a day’s sightseeing with an Art Nouveau walk. It was lovely to see so many buildings with original features dating back to the late 1800’s. Our walk culminated in a visit to the former home of the architect Victor Horta, a truly wonderful building especially considering how long it has been there. The queue to get in took about an hour but it was well worth the wait.
Another highlight of the trip was The Atomium which is a monument in Brussels originally built for Expo ’58, the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Designed by André Waterkeyn and Les Architectes Polak, it stands 102 metres (335 ft) tall. It has nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It was a truly impressive sight though I had confused the meaning of the structure with a comment about the European Parliament!
We visited the Rene Magritte exhibition at the Musee Magritte. I have a fondness for surreal art and I thought the exhibition was very inspiring, odd, but inspiring.
I couldn’t begin to explain any of his work but there is a huge level of technical skill in the painting. If you are interested you can click here to see more of his work.
We were wandering down a back street where we cane across the Krethlow Gallery seeing the work of the Swiss artist Wolfgang Zät, truly amazing work, massive hand cut lino prints. I could have lost myself for hours in the intricacy of his art work.
It was a great break away, can’t wait to go back to Brussels!
I have been on a bit of a mission over the last six months to get more book covers out into the world. The target is 100 which I am expecting to hit later this year. Last weekend I hit a bit of a milestone though having just produced my 80th cover. The story is “Testing Their Love” written by Starla Kaye and published by Black Velvet Seductions. I am pleased with the cover and hope the story is well received, I know we have had sales for the story (it’s available to buy on Amazon and Smashwords) and the ink is barely dry, so it bodes well for the future. Starla is a great writer and works very hard at her craft. I have done several covers for her and I look forward to doing many more for her and BVS. On the subject of Black Velvet Seductions, I am doing my best to get my next story out to coincide with my 100th cover; that would be great timing, though that does require me pulling my finger out and getting some writing time in!
His take on it is why you should draw every leaf, every branch, twig. Surely if you want an image with that level of detail, why go to the trouble? Isn’t it all too fussy? Surely, art goes beyond and transcends that nit-picky level of detail, surely you would take a photograph?
He makes a fair point. However my argument would be, if you want to draw it why not? Why not display your skill as an artist? Why would you not want to? You don’t have to do it every time, but when you want to why is it such a bad thing?
We usually go on to state examples, his being the Impressionist examples of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne and Turner. And I agree, they are all great artists. And I counter with Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, Botticelli and Constable. My argument would be not that one is better than the other; I simply don’t see art in those terms. There is art that speaks to me and art that doesn’t. There is art where you can admire the skill of the artist, yet not really like the subject matter. There is art you love and yet you would not want to hang it on your walls. And there is art that strikes you dumb with admiration, there is one that stops me in my tracks every time I see it and when I am at the National Gallery I feel the need to pay homage. It is The Experiment by Joseph Wright.
The reason my mind has settled on the subject of detail is that I have just finished my latest pencil study, Making the Boy Presentable.
I am pleased with the picture and, along with my leopard piece (see below) from last year, I hope to have then out at exhibitions and available as prints very shortly.
Drawing every blade of grass was not necessary, nor was drawing every leaf or whisker, but I enjoyed every one of the 65 hours it took me to draw them
Just finished my latest pencil piece of a tiger and cub and wanted to share it here on my blog. It has taken approximately 65 hours of work and I’m very pleased with the finished picture. I have titled the piece, Making the Boy Presentable. It’s still on the drawing board currently but it will be off to the printers this week and prints will be available very shortly.
I saw a show in London the other day “The Pitman Painters” the show was great; rather poignant. It looked at the questions, what is art all about? What is art for? Is there good art? And just what is bad art or proper art? And does art really matter at all? We saw the show in context of a day going round the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. When you look at pictures in a gallery the view of art you have is very personal to you. Your view of the art might be informed by your knowledge of the art history, or knowledge of the technical execution of the art, or simply whether you like it or not on a subject or aesthetic level, but your interaction with that art is also very personal to you.
I have questions of my own. How is art judged? How and why does art fail? And how does the artist separate themselves from their art, is a criticism of the art a criticism of the artist? And how personally should the artist take that? And indeed the other side of that coin, how seriously should an artist take any praise heaped on a piece of work?
I am certainly not qualified to answer any of these questions, but I would love to hear from anyone who has any opinions on the subject.
Not a ramble about the 16th-century Chancellor of England Sir Thomas More. As I was cleaning out the ashes from my wood burning stove this morning I got to thinking about the various emotions that stir with the different seasons of the year. There are pros and cons to each season and I do try to balance my likes and dislikes with all of them. We’re in the midst of winter as I type this, I hate the cold with a passion, I am never more miserable than when I have cold feet! Scraping ice off the car, sitting on cold leather seats, icy pavements and shovelling snow… yet on the other side of the coin, I love being wrapped up warm in my sheepskin pilot jacket, sitting by my wood burner with a mug of hot chocolate, looking at snow through the window and the fact that the snow makes my garden look as tidy as all the rest, for once! I love the bleakness of winter.
There are many more things I love about winter, a kind of glad to be home feeling, I love to get warm in a cold bedroom, comfort food, pies, mashed potato…
After winter, spring. There is something magical seeing the world coming to life after winter. I am a keen bonsai grower and there is always the doubt in the back of your mind as to whether your trees will survive the winter so seeing the buds is always great. I can’t think of any down sides to spring, there is a thank goodness the winter is over and the coming of longer days to look forward to.
Summer, well, on the whole I love summer, with the exception of not being so fond of it being generally too warm, but other than that summer is a good season. There is the added bonus of surrepticiously perving at ladies in thin summer dresses, which can only be surpassed by pool perving, though sadly I don’t get the chance for that often but it is well worth doing when you get the chance!
Autumn, maybe it is the artist in me, but, well, it is the colours that make autumn such a lovely season. There is also the feeling of the year coming to an end as autumn turns back to winter. On the face of it a year coming to an end sounds a bad thing but I find it rather refreshing for a number of reasons. There is the feeling of the harvest of art and writing gathered in for a year, the wheel turning full circle, there is a little regret for all the things not done, but there is the promise of the virginal blank page of the New Year….. and what artist can resist making the first mark on that new blank page?
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Samuel Johnson
London has a real mix of emotions for me; it has the very best and the very worst of experiences for me. On one hand it has a unique history, and sights and a culture unlike any other city. Christmas in London, like a lot of world capitals, is a magical place, a kaleidoscope of accents and faces, examples of the world’s population within yards of you. I have been to London a few times this year and have immersed myself in my capital’s culture, seeing exhibitions, museums and shows. Some of my highlights, the show “Warhorse” and the Degas exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art.
I love to see a show, live performance or otherwise, for the theatre there is something magical about it, the willing suspension of disbelief and the communal experiences. As the lights go down I always think of a quote from Laurence Olivier, “The theatre is a magical darkened room where people come together…. to cough.”
There is a down side to London, well, it’s not fair to single out London; it is my problem in any crowded space. I hate to be jostled and the London Underground seems to bring out the worst in my phobia. On the upside of that though, summer is worse, when you can add hot and sweaty to the mix!
On my recent expedition to the capital, some friends and I visited a Christmas market, really very atmospheric, flakes of snow in the air and the smell of mulled wine, really very nice….. despite the jostling! A big thing for me, in shops and public places, is why do people feel the need to be right in my shoes? Don’t get me started on Christmas shopping …… I feel sure a psychologist will write and tell me the error of my ways! But it is indeed most annoying.
Anyway, back to my London jaunts, a recent Christmas trip took us to Soho which is always good for seeing life in all it’s glorious shades! Aside from the colourful locals, two other highlights were a visit to the vodka bar and a glorious meal at a Chinese restaurant in Chinatown, fine food and great company made for a wonderful day out. That particular evening was crowned off with a trip to a port bar. Not the most sober evening I have ever spent, but a great time none-the-less!
Also this year, I had a trip to the Imperial War Museum, a place I have not visited since my teens. It was interesting to revisit the museum with adult eyes. There were a number of new exhibitions including a rather sobering holocaust exhibition. There was a very moving Victoria Cross exhibition, our highest military medal, many awarded posthumously. It was captivating and I was told that I had spent an hour and a half looking round this relatively small room. Each exhibit had a short biography and an account of the reasons why the recipient earned the award. It is difficult to single out any one, but I was delighted to see two from the action at “Rorke’s Drift” the commander of the action John Rouse Merriott Chard. Just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders along with a number of other decorations and honours. That is to take nothing away from the other exhibits as it was a great way to spend a morning.
So in conclusion considering the noise, the jostling and general mêlée that is a capital city, back to the thought “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life” well…….. I’m not quite tired of it just yet!
Sorry, I have not written over the festive period, it is always a tricky one for me; it is that big deadline…. “We need this for Christmas!” So there tends to be a degree of pressure in the studio and suffice to say it was a normal Christmas in the studio!
2011 was an interesting year, full of contrasts, with good and not so good aspects. A couple of exhibitions were really not good and a couple of exhibitions were really great. I had a year of painting pictures of aircraft for an on-going exhibition in Coventry. I completed some erotic art work that I am rather proud of. I also brought my tally of book covers to 74. There will be a big cheer and a pop of bubbly when I hit the 100, which hopefully I will do later this year.
I don’t like to crow too much about forthcoming events. With that too there is a divergence of thought. For publicity you should shout from the roof tops, but there is a big part of me that worries that if I say anything I will put the mockers on it! A good example of this is an exhibition in London at the end of the month. I have had two pictures shortlisted. Now do I yell from the roof tops? But what if neither go into the final exhibition? I hear my marketing gurus shouting “Tell the world! Getting shortlisted is pretty good!” They may well be right. And yet…… I would feel a fool if I did and no pictures are selected.
I have the feeling this will be a good year for art…. Watch this space.