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Saturday, 26 March 2011


Blasted Trunk K Howell Pastel on Paper 21 cm x 14 cm
There is nothing in the intellect, Aristotle says, that is not first in the senses.

Francis Bacon (the painter, not the philosopher and innovative chiller of chicken) claims that An illustrational form tells you through the intelligence immediately what the form is about, whereas a non-illustrational form works first upon sensation and then slowly leaks back into fact.
Bacon's work often juxtaposes visceral, bestial forms within a rigid architecture, a two-dimensional cage. Primal and urban at the same time. His images affect us as a sensory onslaught, and resonate as we recognise what we are seeing. That's skill.

With this study, I was clearly going for Organic Bacon, in flavour anyway. Strange behaviour for a vegetarian, but I can see more clearly where these studies are going as a Body. When they are developed. But as the analytical part of my brain is otherwise occupied, I have to work at Sensation level for now.

Sunday, 20 March 2011


Human Heart image from the SPL
The landscape of the forest is strangely familiar. It is hardwired into our psyche. We are surrounded by the patterns and shapes that we are made of ourselves. In the bare winter, the trees are stripped back to essential forms. I like to think of the forest as a mirror for our raw selves, physically and psychologically.

Kept K Howell Pastel on Paper 21 cm x 13 cm

In mythic terms, the forest is an externalisation of the unconscious realm, a landscape of hunts, quests, perilous flights and where the Wild Things reign supreme.

The forest is replete with Help and Harm.
This angular piece of work is a hawthorn tree. Traditionally, the berries were used to treat heart problems ranging from irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, chest pain, hardening of the arteries, and heart failure.

On the other hand, a vampire can be well and truly finished by a hawthorn stake through the heart...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Life and Limb

There is something primal about the Black Line. It's strong, decisive and dark. Unapologetic. Every once in a while, it creeps in and dominates a painting.

In this instance, it's suitable for a truncated tree, maimed and full of edges.

The Latin limbus means edge, boundary, border. Well, no wonder the Black Line took over. It's all about Definition.

It's interesting how we separate 'life' from 'limb'. Life, with the vital organs, is contained in the trunk. Limbs are peripheral extensions. You'd think I'd been to see 127 Hours...

Sunday, 6 March 2011


So Inclined...  K Howell Pastel on Paper 14 cm x 21 cm
       Perch yourself on a steep incline, after a recent rainfall. Have a folding camp stool, the kind with three legs. Then see if you can defy gravity long enough to capture something of the dark day, the luminous grasses. While sliding down said hillside.
       One definition of slide is to move smoothly, quickly, or unobtrusively. Ha. Give up on the useless stool. Sit in the wet grass. Get messy and take control.
       A sound decision, as it happens. So this is my philosophy for the rest of the month, in which I hope to finish the bulk my rewrite. Apply the knowledge gained on a slippery incline and recognise when to let go of the furniture. It'll take you down, every time. When in doubt, get messy.
       I generally value the experience of painting more than the resulting product, because the process is so involving. But this study shall be my talisman for the coming weeks. A gentle reminder...