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gorgon painting 
Apotropaic #5, oil on glass.

Went for a somewhat more realistic style this time.

I painted over a framed copy of one of those creepy Ann Geddes babies-in-costume pictures. I think this is an improvement.
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I like that La Machine asked the cathedral to host the giant spider specifically so it could echo Louise Bourgeois' giant-spider sculpture Maman, across the street.

ETA -- it's not like churches haven't hosted art projects before involving, oh, say, a live stag.
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Now in oil on canvas. I painted it in my bathroom though.
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Medusa mask drawn on a mirror in lipstick (installation)

Photos of apotropaic medusa masks drawn in lipstick on bathroom mirrors

The gorgon heads that form the bases of the columns in the Basilica Cistern


Bathrooms as locus of clean vs. dirty



That should be Cloacina (goddess of the main sewer in Rome, and originally Etruscan)

The current gender/bathroom debate largely ignores the existence of trans men – this is a fight over who counts as women, using women’s “safety” as the excuse.

ETA --

Monstrous femininity, glamour, purity taboos and magical protection

Also selfies/masks, if photographed (human face hidden behind camera)

If drawn on a public washroom mirror, must clean off after photograph so as not to add to the burden of the janitorial staff

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 Not sure how I got to this topic, but I’ve been thinking about the variants I’ve been seeing lately on “realistic textures on a distorted form.” The least grotesque are the oil paintings (I think they're oil paintings) of Popeye. At the other end of the scale the most terrifying examples are those that start from children’s drawings. I think we’re dealing with two forms of distortion here – young kids’ drawing are typically “unrealistic” due to inexperience and fine motor skills that haven’t fully matured yet; adult cartoonists’ drawings are *distilled* realism.
moon_custafer: (acme)
(Transcribed from a Facebook PM conversation I had with a friend this morning, re: yesterday's Art Party at Emily's. Names deleted.)

So, Art Atelier III went well. More people showed up this time.


One of them asked for advice, so I got to give some.
He also asked Andrew a lot of stuff, and I think he was a documentary-maker, so that may just be how he interacts with people.

well, it could just be he knows how to talk with people like Andrew
passionate people don't tend to make good listeners
I tend to ask more than I I talk
although I've been working on that recently.

He started off by showing me a photo of an old guy holding up a little drawing, and said that this was a famously grumpy artist whose permission they'd needed to film something, and he'd challenged one of them to draw a dog, and Robin (the guy telling the story) had scribbled a little thing that vaguely looked like a dog, and the artist had liked it.

It was sort of a cubist dog.
He tried to redraw it, but didn't like it as much, but I used that as the basis for demonstrating some stuff about colour.

colour eh?

Like, "the warmer/lighter colours appear to come forward and the cooler/darker ones appear to recede."


It tends to depend on what the image is of. A dark human figure on a light background will still be appear closer than the background, because our brains know that solid humans are more common in reality than human-shaped holes.

very true!

One of the recent xkcd cartoons is about how hard it can be for computer scientists to explain to others which tasks are easily done by a computer, and which are virtually impossible for them. The programmer is told "when someone takes the photo, the app should identify if the photo was taken in a national park."
"Easy," she says, "simple GPS lookup, give me a few hours."
"And whether it's of a bird."
"Give me a research team and five years."
Much of the human brain is devoted to processing visual info, and it's still not perfect, which is why we perceive optical illusions.
Painting and movies are about exploiting the flaws in human visual perception for fun and profit
Sorry, that was rather an essay wasn't it.

An enjoyable essay

And I could have example pictures.

This, for example, was painted partly to demonstrate that blue doesn't *always* recede:
The Blue Boy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Blue Boy (c. 1770) is a full-length portrait in oil by Thomas Gainsborough, now in the Huntington Library, San Marino, California.[1] Perhaps Gainsborough's most famous work, it is thought to be a portrait of Jonathan Buttall (1752–1805), the son of a wealthy hardware merchant, although this has…

I think that may be due to the background colour?

Hm -- reading the text it looks like what he was actually trying to rebut was the theory that the dominant hue in a painting should always be a warm one. But yeah, he finessed it by having some shadows outlining the arm in the upper half of the picture and making the background there paler for contrast; and the light-coloured stockings in the lower half stand out against the darker background there.

You'll notice the middle sort of disappears into the shadows, though.
But like I said above, the brain knows that the kid probably has a torso, even if we can't see it as clearly was his head, shoulders and feet.

think I need food


wait wait


I'm not actually going

oh. Sorry.

I know, that is my usual cue isn't it? or sleep

I have the option of a tuna sandwich
or a pastie from the fair yesterday whose ownership I am not entirely certain of

Tuna sounds safer.
moon_custafer: (thor tricked me)

Found a making-of for that Rembrandt flash-mob from last year. I think I now want to hug their "Nachtwacht-kenner," Jeroen de Bovelaar -- he's just so insanely enthusiastic.
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Yesterday I made spaghetti carbonara (only with macaroni) for the first time, and considered it a success. Consequently I've been thinking about Italian cookery. Carbonara, at least according to wikipedia, is likely a dish invented in the post-war period. All I know about pre-war Italian cuisine is the weird recipes concocted by the Futurists.

The Italian public was not won over by Marinetti's manifesto regarding cuisine. Immediately following its publication the Italian press broke into uproar. All classes participated in the dispute that ensued. Every time pasta was served in a restaurant or a private house there was heated debate. Doctors were measured in their response, agreeing that habitual consumption of pasta was fattening and recommending a varied diet; but the Duke of Bovino, Mayor of Naples, was firmer in his views: "The angels in Paradise," he told a reporter, "eat nothing but vermicelli al pomodoro [fine spaghetti with tomato sauce]." Marinetti replied that this confirmed his suspicions about the monotony of Paradise.

I actually went to a presentation on Futurist Cooking, many years ago at an art gallery. Afterwards we were served "elastic cakes," which were cream puffs, filled with whipped cream that had been dyed hot pink, and topped with a prune and a piece of black liquorice. At least they were meant to be topped thusly -- the presenter suddenly remembered that she'd forgotten the prunes, which was probably a mercy; the liquorice was already pretty hard to contend with on its own. It occurred to me this afternoon that the emphasis on meat and fats, especially locally sourced, together with the avoidance of pasta, made this a version of the "paleo" diet and that it might be due for a revival, preferably without the Fascist undertones.

Per Cabinet magazine:Marinetti launched his attack against pasta just when Italy, hit hard by the Depression, was struggling to achieve one of Mussolini’s great dreams: autarchy, or the elimination of Italy’s economic dependence on foreign markets. Pasta, quintessentially Italian as it was, depended on expensive imports of wheat. The regime thus launched a campaign in favor of homegrown rice as a better substitute. Rice, we are told, was more virile, more patriotic, and more suitable for fighters and heroes. Rice also had its part in the history of Italian cooking as the great rival of pasta; it came from the Po valley in the industrial North, while pasta, with its hypothetical birthplace in Etruria and its triumph in Naples, was identified with the center, and even more with the agrarian and backward South. This was a battle that could thus be waged on familiar Futurist geopolitical territory. 

Of course, it doesn't seem very consistent as a philosophy -- while the Futurists were were in favour of meats, fats and local Italian-produced foods (except pasta), their recipe book contained things like the aforementioned cakes, which contain flour -- but I suppose that's the result of being an aesthetics-based food movement, as opposed to a nutritional one. Also one of the recipes mentioned in the Wiki entry calls for pineapple, which I think of as an import, but then I'm in Canada. Perhaps Italy was able to grow their own.
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The Rijksmuseum is reopening after a long and expensive renovation, and they found a memorable way to let people know:
moon_custafer: (bat country)
My brother posted this on Facebook, and I already shared it there, but thought it was interesting enough to link here:

It's an interview with a historian/collector who became fascinated by opium-smoking paraphenalia and eventually took the habit up as research, because there are very few *accurate* depictions from the era (mostly just a lot of "and now our story takes us to an opium den, because EXOTIC! DECADENT!"). Short version -- it's harder (or it was for him) to become addicted to opium than to the more concentrated modern drugs, but once you are the withdrawal symptoms are hell.

He eventually gave it up, partly because a colleague and fellow-smoker died and her fate scared him; mainly because he realized he would have to sell his collection to make ends meet, and the antiques addiction was stronger than the drug addiction.

I like his comment that "All paraphernalia was made with lots of little facets and angles to reflect this lamp light. It all seems so magical. In fact, that’s the thing you really miss after you’ve quit smoking—the damn lamp, it’s just so beautiful."

ETA -- my comment to my brother was that most "opium addicts" in the Western world were probably laudanum addicts, and thinking about it, yeah -- even the ones like De Quincy or Coleridge were basically going, "Dude, this headache medicine -- I hear in China they smoke it for fun." "Cool, let's mix some of it with our tobacco and try!" "Dude!"
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Remember that experiment from the '50s where the government gave a professional artist some LSD and asked him to draw portraits of the scientist conducting the experiment?

A modern performance/visual artist has apparently been conducting his own, much less controlled version. Brian Lewis Saunders has drawn a self-portrait every day for years. A series of these were done while under the influence of different substances both legal and illegal.

Looking them over, I suspect they are attempts to depict how each drug made him feel, rather than literal records of the experience -- while the style varies from picture to picture, only a few things (bath salts, Cephalexin, computer duster, Dilaudid, and PCP) actually seem to have impaired his coordination enough to affect his drawing ability. I suppose we also only have his word for it that he really did take all that stuff, though he claims it eventually impacted his health enough that he had to stop.

Also interesting to relate it to the famous sequence of Louis Wain cat drawings, which supposedly marked the progression of his mental illness, but which a more recent article points out are undated.

Full disclosure - as someone who has drawn various things in various styles at various times of her life, mainly while sober, I have an automatic suspicion and dislike of the reaction "woah, man, what was he on?!" that any piece tends to elicit when it isn't strictly Realist . I once spent a conversation at a party trying to convince someone that no, Lewis Carroll couldn't have been on LSD, as it was not discovered until 1949* (the Rev. Charles Dodgson may well have taken opium, but so did most Victorians - it was the Tylenol of the day - and very few of them went on to write classic nonsense literature).

* and despite it's recent popularity as a plot device, ergot poisoning is not the same thing as an LSD trip; it's less likely to include hallucinations and way more likely to include nerve damage, gangrene and death.
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Watched The Mill and the Cross over Wednesday and Tuesday evenings. Mixed feelings; the bits where Breughel (Rutger Hauer) explains what he's doing in the composition of his painting are great. The bits where Rutger Gauer just looks at stuff are great. I'm less thrilled with the other scenes, in which the events of the painting (the stations of the cross except it's also a metaphor for the oppression of the Flemish by occupying forces) are acted out with no dialogue, even though they couldn't really have been left out.

I think maybe my problem is that in the painting, all these stories are going on at once - it might have been more effective to interweave them rather than to show them one after the other.

Also the pace is really slow. At first I figured, well, it's a movie about a painting, how fast can it move? But Breugel's paintings are usually described as " lively." They're action-packed. Maybe if each shot has been, like, a second shorter it would have felt less leaden.

I think where it lost me, though, was early on: a peasant is being broken on the wheel by mercenaries (we're never told why, exactly; they state in voice-over that male heretics are decapitated, so all we know is that he's not a heretic) while everyone else stands by.

I think the intention is to show how the country's spirit is so broken that no one dares protest; but the man's wife is sobbing *quietly*. I know there's no way to predict for sure how someone would behave in that situation, but based on all the news footage I've ever seen, I'd have found it more believable if she had raged and her neighbors had had to restrain her lest she get herself executed too.

There's a good bit towards the end, though: as Jesus (whose face we never quite see, though we do in the painting) is being dragged towards Golgotha, and Michael York wishes he could freeze the moment at least long enough to make sense of it, the artist waves his hand in a signal to the Miller (who's already been indicated is God) -- and everything does stop. No freeze frame or high tech -- the actors all simply halt in their positions, the ones from the final
painting (those riding horses or holding small children are unable to be completely still) and it's somehow very moving.
moon_custafer: (Default)
If your lunch includes beer, that is.
moon_custafer: (Default)

Moebius (Jean Giraud) drawing on a graphics tablet in 2009, before a live audience, by the looks of it.
moon_custafer: (covetin)
OK, so -- late last year kelpqueen asked me to be art editor for Chizine, and my first job is to get some art:

ChiZine is a Stoker Award-winning Canadian magazine of
weird, surreal, subtle, and disturbing dark literary fiction .
We are looking for art (paintings, collages, photography, prints, etc.) for our new online gallery. Get some exposure, win books!

I'm going to put this about on DA as well, and if anyone can think of any other good places, suggestions are welcome; art is welcomer.

As noted above, we can't actually afford to pay you, except in books, so I'd rather receive stuff you've already done and just want to expose to an additional audience, than stuff you make just for us. You can contact me at , or ask questions here.
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For a change, here's a fake-airbrushed, fake-cubist self-portrait I did this evening.

ETA - Dec 14 - on a semi related note, here's a Kandinsky overhaul someone gave to her bed.

Art Attack!

Dec. 7th, 2011 08:29 pm
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My parents took me to see the AGO's show of 'Chagall & the Russian Avant-Garde' tonight. As it turned out, the real reason to see it was Natalia Goncharova, a painter I'd never even heard of until this evening, but whose dynamic compositions and vivid colours were the most eye-catching things on the walls. A quick internet search suggests *no one* outside of Russia had heard of her - until a few years ago when one of her paintings sold for 9.8 million and everyone started to think she was worth a look...

Downstairs there was a related exhibit of early Soviet posters, which were also very striking (that style still screams "avant-garde" ninety-five years later). I could have done with a bit more explanatory material, though one obvious recurring theme was "Hey peasants, you can learn to read now! Go for it!"

I just now confirmed my suspicion that one poster was an ad for the political-satire magazine Krokodil, but it would've been nice to have a label telling visitors that bit of information, so they won't have to wonder why there's a picture of a pink alligator skewering capitalist caricatures with a trident while jovially draping his arm around the shoulder of a worker who is reading a newspaper and laughing.

ETA - the main exhibit also contained one beautiful large cubist painting by Vladimir Baranov-Rossine, again, someone I'd never heard of, and with no biographical info except that he'd died at Auschwitz in 1944 - looking him up, he turns out to have been another fascinating individual, an inventor as well as an artist. C'mon AGO, we need to know these things.


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