Friday, August 28, 2009

Notes from an easel-work in progress-the Valley stage three by David Gough

The underpainting of the screaming skull is really coming along-this heat is murder though-the room is heady with the smell of turpentine and oils.

Notes from an easel-work in progress-the Valley stage two by David Gough

After some reflection, I felt the title for this piece is The Valley-which is from the 23rd psalm-'though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...' which was something I was taught to say every morning, even before I could write.

Here are the latest working progressions, along with detail and preliminary working drawing.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Artifact-tales of an Antiquarian-Lani

The muse is eternally intertwined with the artists existence, the role of the model, more than a mere object of infatuation, but a rumination of melancholy, for a beauty that is forever fleeting and technically unattainable. It embodies all the vivaciousness of life through the imagination.

I have painted my wife-Lani,on multiple occasions-always recasting her as some mythical paean to the ethereal qualities of her beauty and my love for her.

The most successful of these pieces,
I think was 'Secret Rendezvous' painted in 2005. My first ever piece painted in oils, it was steeped in the classical traditions of Pre Raphalite painting-and the enigmatic portraits of Elizabeth Siddal, whereupon Lani was Guinevere, returning from an assignation with her lover in the forest.
Her torn petticoat on bramble thorns alluded to some of the disapproval we were suffering over our relationship at the time.

Its a piece I'm still quite proud of, and I regret having sold it, as it captured something of a true essence of my wife's mystical beauty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And Another Thing....Faux news

One of the most profound and disturbing things for me upon arriving here in the US for the first time, was observing the way in which prime time network news is relayed here. Tuning in to see what was going on in the world, revealed itself to be a veritable minefield of wry sarcastic opinion often served with a side order of the histrionic, presumptuous, deceptive, self righteous and fallible-depending on which side the network was batting for. Be it O'Reilly, Beck, Hannity, Comlbs or Olbermann-trying to swim through the sewage of muck-raking verbage, and soap box finger wagging, merely to make sense of it all,and discover some actual world news of the day,was akin to having my head encased in concrete.

Except it wasn't news relayed as factual, dry reportage, as it is in the UK
-it was shouted with a shook fist, filtered through some scary party rally cry, where the fires are stoked for the viewers to eye each other suspiciously, and seeth and bait for blood through gritted teeth, and all the underlying fears of Mcarthyism are spewed through your cable, 24-7.

Is it any wonder then that in this twenty first century, that there are factions of such frightening extremes.

Now of course as a result of an erroneous comment that Glenn Beck made about Obama being a racist and hating all white people- his show is hemorrhaging advertisers. That's some splendid news for once-with a little further coercion, hopefully he will dig a hole big enough hole for himself to fall into.

Perhaps Beck and O'Reilly and their ilk, believe they are like Peter Finch in the excellent Sydney Lumet movie from 1976-Network-'Not going to stand for it, and Mad as hell'
Whilst I'm not adverse to the social order being shaken up a little from time to time-
-the context of that movie was unifying, not spitting bigotry, hellfire and damnation vitriol five nights a week.

At the end of the day, the doctrine of democratic free speech for all is one which I embrace , but if news is
subjective, driven by agenda, opinion, and an allegiance politically or otherwise, then what you are left with is nothing less than a tenet of Orwells thought police.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gough Medicine-School

“I've been making a list of the things they don't teach you at school. They don't teach you how to love somebody. They don't teach you how to be famous. They don't teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don't teach you how to walk away from someone you don't love any longer. They don't teach you how to know what's going on in someone else's mind. They don't teach you what to say to someone who's dying. They don't teach you anything worth knowing.”
Neil Gaiman

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Artifact-tales of an Antiquarian-Nightspirit

Right in the midst of my diversion to be a modern day Arthur Rackham, and having hitched my wagon firmly to the sepharic winged,I commenced Nightspirit in January 2005.

Inspired somewhat by Atkinson Grimshaw's 'Spirit of the night'-cross pollinated with the 'Temptation of St Anthony', by Flemish artist
Matthias Grünewald, this dark little foray into things that go bump in the night-was I still believe my most successful incarnation in that vein during the period.

The subtext was a rather simple visual play on the poem 'If' by Rudyard Kipling- more specifically the lines...'IF you can keep your head when all about you Are losing theirs....IF you can dream - and not make dreams your master...'
In this case, I manifested a character or muse, of the Nightspirit- a metaphor for a kind of pied piper, a collector of the malaise and nightmares that vex in the witching hours. It was a lovely excuse to paint beasties, which as an artist I revel in, as well as imbuing all the little demons with personal fears. The monstrous flea for instance was directly lifted from John Donne's poem of the same name.
At the time, to get maximum dollar for my work, I was prefacing every piece with a highly finished line drawing, which also allowed me an opportunity to flesh out my ideas. You can see differences in the characterisations. I should also note, that my wife designed the beautiful costume for this piece.

If nothing else, this work is remarkable in that its one of the few pieces I ever did, that ever went for top dollar, belonging to a private collector friend in Arizona.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Gough Medicine-Playgrounds of youth

'And taste The melancholy joy of evils past: For he who much has suffer'd, much will know.'

The Odyssey, Book xv, Line 434

Beirut on the Mersey - Photo courtesy of Ian Hanslope with thanks -check out his idiosyncratic eye: http://www.ianhanslope.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Artifact-tales of an Antiquarian-Alice

Indulging my love of the late 1800's to early 1900's period,as seen through the sepia woodcuts of the penny dreadful's, mixed with a certain amount of Steampunk, and the literary works of Dickens, Barrie and Poe, The Victorian Gothic series ran briefly between 2004 and 2005.
Predating Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd and his forthcoming Alice film, I was obviously honing my antenna into what was only an underground zeitgeist of the time, as well as dipping my toe into more commercial territory in the vainglorious hope that I could capture the elitist myopic attentions of Spectrum or Dark Horse et al.
'Whatever Happened to Alice'-played somewhat with the enigmatic movie title-'Whatever happened to Baby Jane', and re imagined the protagonist a few years post the J.M.Barrie books, I took Alice from Wonderland and incarcerated her in the gothic avatar of Victorian malady-the insane asylum. My vision was quite cinematographic, since I cast Kirsten Dunst as Alice, hence the resemblance to the actress. Viewed as if looking through the gated letterbox of one supposes is an iron door, the light that falls across her face is like a mask from the outside world, revealing her inner world in the darkness.

In my inner circle, it was a popular piece at the time, to the point that I unsuccessfully tried to revisit the theme, with Alice on the Mad Hatters teaparty table, electrodes pinned to her head.

With Tim Burton taking on the mantle with his own dystopian version next year, it's a shame that my rendering never garnered anything further than a hasty sale on Ebay, as I think its a particularly strong illustrative piece, that should have secured me the occasional token tossed bone of a living from the pantheon of publishers out there.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Notes from an easel-work in progress-the Valley stage one by David Gough

At 34" x 48" this is possibly the largest piece I've painted in some time, and with good reason. Being a practicing artist, it is all too easy to invalidate and dilute your message-the need to be prescient, to be present, to be constantly producing, to be constant, to be commercially viable- all of it can diminish the intent, fog the outcome. Working at this scale immediately removes those pressures, time moving to the clocks hand of drying oils, of bold gestures and minute detail, the focus being the idea over the outcome. It elevates what you are attempting to accomplish, and by its very nature, requires grandiose statements. In that spirit, having only worked the skeleton of the piece-initially with charcoal and then with a wash of oils, I can already sense that this piece is going to be a pinnacle of the series.

Gough Medicine-Endless Possibilities

"I assure your Highnesses that these lands are the most fertile, temperate, level and beautiful countries in the world."
Christopher Columbus

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Hello Kitty

We got this little fella today through a friend of a friend who has to leave him behind for a new life in Florida. The kittens name is Ronin, and he's already got us wrapped around his little furry paw.

Artifact-tales of an Antiquarian-Gods and Monsters

Completed in the fall of 2004, Gods and Monsters was very much informed by more than a dabble with dark magiks and having read too many Dennis Wheatley novels as a teenager. Still living in the UK at the time, and having dallied briefly with a coven in places called Thornton Hough, I was immersed in the Crowley Tarot, John Fowles the Magus, Colin Wilson,The Mysteries, Eastern mysticism, occasional headonistic weekends in Amsterdam and a late night tryst that led me down a very solipsistic, self destructive path indeed.

In all manner of ways, Gods and Monsters was trying to make sense of it all, examining if their were pre-ordained forces and wisdoms at play, such as astrological motifs, religious rites and the Arcana, or if it was merely arcane, and influenced by ones own psychosis,the dirge and the vampires, we surround ourself with during the unravelling of daily existence.

Elicited as part of my 'Dream Orphans' series, and
like most of my works of the period-sold on Ebay for a song-the piece has since become notable for its inclusion on the cover of Peter J Carrols 'The Apophenian' as well as being the theme and title for my retrospective book.

Painted in a week with Acrylics, I'm still very proud of it, its an important work, and continues to be one of my most sought after pieces at shows.

Signed reproduction prints of Gods and Monsters are available from my website HERE.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

And Another Thing...

This weekly article will be an opportunity for me to vent about something:

"Tyrants have not yet discovered any chains that can fetter the mind."Charles Caleb Colton

I've heard it said that art and commerce will never make good bedfellows-the corporate homogenization of what is a cerebral, spiritual and sometimes visceral occupation always seeming incongruous amongst the pie chart machinations of the boardroom.
One might think then that the world of advertising-or graphic design, might at least be a fitting
agent for a modicum of creativity within that geography.
I realise my age may be showing here, but when I began my tenure as a designer, some twenty odd umpteen years ago, the artists studio, consisted of hefty art boards, slide rulers, rotring pens,scalpels and paste up.In some quarters, hot metal type was still in use, and anything you speculated was composed with good old fashioned magic markers and balls out talent.
At this point, I'm want not to come on like a granddad at the disco here, but I saw my first computer in a studio in '88. After that, everything began to change, and if you were not prepared to pull with the punches, and get with the 'program', then you were a redundant Luddite-a dinosaur relic of an age when being in advertising had something of a elite romantic sophistication to it*
Nowadays of course, everyone is a designer-
Kids working at Blockbuster can knock off a a little bit of Flash with some nifty clip art and Photoshop knowledge, and can invigorate a Myspace page to award status.
Whilst online, companies like Crowdspring, demean the process further, by providing a catalyst between client and artist, where you provide several designs along with a million others, in the hopes of winning a lottery of a miserable $200.

Is it any wonder then, in such a milieu, that there are so many maggots on the periphery, ready to exploit the process, and treat artists as expendable commodity. Of course, the industry has never been short of bastards-the same could be said of any corporate setting, where a stabbed back comes as regular and as iced as your morning mocca latte. And yet, personal experience with this-and believe me when I tell you that there are tales I could relate of the most evil 'low ball' personal affrontary-all leads me to believe that with the advent of things like Craigslist, the continuing recession, the ubiquity of designers, and the death knell of the unions in the 90's, the rabid dog is off the leash and there is nobody to watch it.
Creativity nowadays is perceived as nothing more than pixels on a screen, terminology replacing what was once a highly regarded position diminished to the moniker 'Mac Monkey'.

It is an age when true draftsmanship no longer carries any currency-where lofty titles such as 'developer' hold the lions share in terms of pay scale, for what amounts to typing code into a Joomla template.

And whilst I have no aspiration to adopt a working knowledge of CSS this or PHP that, I could if I wished, the difference therein being then, whether said developer could ever hope to do the same if asked to do what I can.

I'll leave you with a memory I have of a designer I worked with a few years ago-an old school artist of some advancing years from the halcyon days, who came aboard to work up some marker visuals for a formidable campaign for laminate flooring.
After several days of work, he produced what were the slickest hand rendered ,clever ads I have ever seen, securing the client against agencies who had used the usual computer generated trickery.

The story doesn't end there-my friend, upon handing his invoice to the director was greeted by apoplectic consternation-"You want how much for three days work?" was his retort.

To which my friend paused momentarily with a sort of here we go again look upon his face and replied...

"Three days work boss, but a life times experience."

*For further exposition see an episode of Mad Men.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Gough Medicine-Work

'Every man who knows how to read has it in his power to magnify himself, to multiply the ways in which he exists, to make his life full, significant and interesting.'
Aldous Huxley