Apr 17, 2013


Holly came from Miami, Florida
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, "Hey, babe
Take a walk on the wild side"
She said, "Hey, honey
Take a walk on the wild side"

Walk On The Wild Side
Lou Reed, 1972
Remember those "halcyon" days of our youth?
No, me neither.
The first time I heard the word 'Halcyon", was the same day that I heard the word "Luddite".
They came from the mouth of the same man, a friend of a friend.
I was a naive 29 year old. He was a worldly man with too much money and a world weariness that hung around him like the smell of a freshly boiled onion. We were on our friend's boat out on the harbour, drinking almost French Champagne and watching  the world go by.
Our mutual friend was newly very rich and enjoying his wealth by acquiring paintings, toys - (Sports Cars, Ocean Cruisers etc)  - and houses over looking the water. Even with all that, he was a "good bloke" - and very generous. We met when we were studying English Lit together.
Of course I had to ask what both words meant - and I've never forgotten what a Luddite was - because as I grow older, I feel like I am becoming one.
But Halcyon? I never quite grasped the meaning. 
So let me google it.

Ah, here it is. Halcyon:
A fabled bird, identified with the kingfisher, that was supposed to have had the power to calm the wind and the waves while it nested on the sea during the winter solstice.
Well I never knew that.
So the Halcyon days of our youth translates as: "those particular days of our youth that we used a fabled bird to calm the waves so we could nest on the sea."


And by some dogmatic coincidence, that is exactly what my illustration is about......
Do you know the word Verdaccio?
Well, it's something the old master's used to use occasionally (not the word but the technique). It's where you paint a green monotone under painting - a dead painting) then glaze over it with translucent colours. The idea is that the green under painting glows through the warmer layers and gives that nice harmonious glow that suggests depth in human flesh.


I've been invited to a show with "Nightmares" as the theme - so I've been working up this painting.
for a few weeks. It's 90 by 120 cms on linen.

And in  that time I've spent a lot of time looking at anatomy drawings as well as Greek statues. It's all very interesting what they were doing a few thousand years ago. I've also been looking at Da Vinci's working methods and his sketches. How smart was he, eh? What a mind....

In verdaccio  you are supposed to paint two tones lighter than the finished painting is meant to be.
So I still have a lot of work :)

The big advantage is that, in taking out the colour parameters, you just need to be making tonal decisions for the underpainting stage. It's a learning curve -  but not very steep. I'm also changing the characters as I go, slimming them down, changing hand positions etc.

Above and below are pics of  it as a work in progress in situ in the studio. If you look very closely you may recognise some of the characters.... :)

PS: Whoever invented the saxophone obviously thought no one in their right mind would ever try to paint one.



And finally, below, a self portrait (the big guy, not the rat).

Thanks for looking. Hope you are well!