The Great Pen Massacre

I’m about to go technicolour with my spinning tops (thanks Joy) so I’m chopping up a full rainbow this evening and seeing where this leads me. The pens need to be short otherwise the centre of mass isn’t low enough. After my spinning experiments on the weekend I think there’s definitely scope to to improve. I’m still considering combining my spinning tops with my spirograph drawings. I think I need to perfect the spinning first though before combining the artworks.

Incidentally, if you’re wondering about photography workshops I’ll be bringing you news on where they’ll be happening near you in the next day or so. Lots in the pipeline here. Watch this space!




Following on from yesterday’s ideas on Brain Fractals, today I’m using a washer and a cut-down felt pen to create more abstract doodles. These really are more random than the Spirograph images because once I’ve spun the top I have no control or choice over the image created. The results are more akin to random walk patterns created by Brownian Motion. I find the results very soothing. I want to make more of these.

I wonder about enlarged versions. Would I project and redraw them, or could I get a massive washer and use a giant marker pen. How would that work exactly? If the tip of the pen is not smooth and rounded then I’ll be battling friction. Hmmm…. Definitely food for thought there.


Brain Fractals

I’m still investigating a kind of iterative process with my Spirograph. Last week I did a little doodle which I then recreated five times larger after projecting it onto the wall. Since then I’ve added more standard sized Spirograph drawings to this first projection and projected again. Hang on. I’m babbling aren’t I? Words don’t seem to explain anything here. Pictures then…



The original Spirograph drawing. Approximately 15cm across.




A detail of this is projected and drawn five times larger.

Smaller drawings added. These smaller drawings are approximately 6cm across.



Small detail selected, projected, and drawn again. Next I’ll add more smaller images to this and go again.

I like to think of these as fractals but more organic and less mathematical in nature. The iterative process is based on creative decisions that intrigue me rather than anything formulaic. As the drawings progress I’m sure they will develop a rhythm and form of their own. I’m not sure where this is going. I don’t know whether they will become more organic or more mathematical as I delve deeper. Where will these brain fractals lead me? All I know is that I have to go again. Draw, photograph, project, repeat…

Got Time?

I’ve been filming water today. It’s part of a different project I’ve got going on which is a bit of a long term thing with another artist.* We’re looking at ways to express the passing of time and a notion of timelessness. It comes from ideas on repetition and rhythm from a completely organic angle, and the idea of a natural ebb and flow to time has made today a very tranquil place to be.

Far too often I see film-based artists examine the concept of time by just leaving a tripod and camera set up for a long period. They expect the viewer to just stand there and immerse themselves in the passing of time; a kind of meditation if you will. It’s a concept that has been done so many times by so many artists in the last decade that I usually get bored very quickly. Expecting the viewer to achieve a meditative state just by walking in off the street and into a gallery is too much to expect of me, and lazy art just isn’t my thing. If an artist isn’t attempting to subvert or evolve the concept then I’m just not interested. There is no way that I would expect any viewer to just sit and watch a film of water passing in a stream.** No, no. It needs to be far more complex to hold my attention and far more demanding on my own artistic skills. Anything film-based that I release would be designed to challenge the concept and intrigue the viewer.

So back to this emerging water baby of ours. It will be a long time coming and a long time filming. I’m gathering a little bit of footage every few days but not because the location or the season is important here, quite the reverse. I want as many locations and situations as possible. The film we create will not be linear but instead will represent time as complex and multifaceted. Meanwhile for anyone who likes that lazy art nonsense here’s a screen-grab of some water.  Feel free to stare at it with a glass of Prosecco for a few hours if you like.


*on behalf of some clients etc. Can’t say much about it at the moment. Probably not for another six months.

**Once I experienced 20 minutes of a film of a field at night that someone showed as ‘art’ in a gallery. At one point in the film a spotlight came on and then went off again 5 seconds later. That was it. I tell you that’s 20 minutes of my life I’ll never get back. If you want that then just go find a field and experience the real thing. Get out and find a stream and sit by it. Take a picnic or something and sit on a mountain top. Really. Leave the art gallery now and get a life.

Ratios and Constants

I’m still playing… [ahem]… working with my Spirograph to see what is possible. The shapes I’m drawing at the moment are less about decreasing spirals or coils but more about orbits. I’ve found a few avenues of research that I need to investigate:

1: I need to research more on the spiral of Archimedes and see if I can do this with the tools I currently have. The calculations are easy because they’re just simple parametric equations.*

2: I’ve found some images of spinning tops made from pencils and washers which could look great as a video and the images the spins create would be crazily organic and beautiful.

3: I’d love to be able to draw the Cassini Apparent which is a representation of the apparent motion of the Sun, Mercury, and Venus from the earth. This was first published by Giovanni Cassini in the 1700s I think. I know drawing this is just a matter of ratios and constants. I need to find Cassini’s orginal calculations if I want to master this one. Below is the closest I’ve got so far.


*This is the point where being an artist with a maths degree comes in really handy.


Draw, Photograph, Project, Repeat!

How has it been so long since I wrote a blog? I know 5 days is nothing to most people but I used to blog every day. For me the lapse in blog writing usually symbolises a shift in energies. If I’m busy doing non-photography and non-art related things then my energy is diverted into this other activity and it doesn’t occur to me to write. I may not even have the time to write.

Writing regularly is, for me, a tutorial with myself. It tells me where I’m headed, what I’m involved with, it gives me a chance to consider what my art is meaning to me. It helps me reflect on the workshops I’ve provided and what they mean to the people involved. Blog writing gives me focus and direction. It gives me drive and ambition.

By writing openly here (instead of in a personal diary) it also serves to tell you about what goes through the mind of an artist like me. I hope that it can give you inspiration, as well as share with you the process of what it takes to be a creative.

So what direction is my art going in next? I’ve written before about the photograph being key to my practice but I’ve been steadily bringing in other disciplines to recent collections. I’ve dabbled with drawing before but I want this to be more prominent in my practice. I’m thinking about returning to themes on spirals which I considered for my Chronology series back in 2013. I recently discovered an old Spirograph set from 1967 as well as a new Spirograph Cyclex set from my local toy shop. I’m looking at how to subvert these geometric harmonies and develop the patterns into something new. I’m drawing, photographing, projecting, and drawing again to get enlarged sketch versions. Right now I’m considering drawing over this again with smaller patterns and repeating the whole thing again to see what will happen.

It’s a very long process and so far it has taken since Sunday to get to this stage. Whilst I’m taking a break from delivering workshops over the Easter period, I’ll be giving my own personal practice a lot more emphasis. Watch this space!


Opening Tonight in Stratford on Avon!

Tonight sees the opening of the Twitter Art Exhibit 2017 at Stratford Upon Avon in England. This is one of those wonderfully inclusive shows which features everything from high calibre international artists (like Norman Ackroyd) to local children. I love being part of these shows because it really shows the Art World what a world of art should look like.

Every year the Twitter Art Exhibit takes place at a global location and raises money for local good causes. Previous shows have been in New York (USA), Moss (Norway), and Orlando (USA). This year it’s England’s turn to benefit from the wonderful generosity of artists across the global.

Everyone participating has created a postcard sized artwork which can be purchased for £30 at the venue. This year all funds raised will be given to Molly Olly’s Wishes. Based near Warwick, this charity supports children with terminal or life threatening illnesses. I’m really proud at the thought that my art has the potential to help families and children going through such a difficult experience. If my art isn’t sold it still has the potential to help out. All unsold art will be donated to Molly Olly’s where they have the option to use it as they see fit. I love the thought that they might create a wonderful mural with the leftovers, or share out the unsold pieces for families to have in their homes. Art really is a gift that can bring positivity to everyone.

Twitter Art Exhibit 2017 is happening tonight at Stratford Arts House. It will be open daily until 19th April 10-4pm so if you are in the area please pop along and see the show. Meanwhile keep up to date with the latest from Twitter Art Exhibit via their website, Facebook, or Twitter of course! Alternatively you can donate directly to Molly Olly’s Wishes by clicking HERE


Photo & Being Awesome Credit: David Sandum