Saturday, June 24, 2006

Odilon Redon

People often ask me, "Bill, if you could be any other artist from history, who would you be?". Actually, no-one's ever asked me that. It's a device I just made up to introduce this bit. The answer to that question, anyway, would currently be "Odilon Redon".

He was a French artist (1840-1916) who is generally described as a Symbolist painter. However, like most good or great artists he doesn't really fit in that category, or rather, expands beyond it. His early work was mostly if not all monochrome, only discovering saturated, emotionally dense color later in life.

His work, like mine, deals largely with mythologies -- classical & personal. His inventions run the gamut from beautiful to grotesque (whatever those terms mean). His graphical sense rivaled anyone, and his use of color rivaled Matisse or Bonnard.

The Wikipedia entry on Redon is unusually extensive, especially in the generous amount of images of his work provided. It's well worth checking out, if you're not familiar with this marvelous (in the true sense of the word) artist.

Friday, June 23, 2006


Around a year or two ago, I painted a companion piece for the "Narcissus" painting (below). I did the piece below, "Echo" in 2004. It's a much smaller piece, but then if you know the myth, you'll know that the nymph echo pined away to her namesake, as her love for the self-obsessed Narcissus never came to fruition, as he sat gazing at his reflection in a pool. So the size difference is appropriate.

Echo, 2004, acrylic on plywood, 9 3/4" x 8" approx.


Enough of this cryptoarchaelogy (below). This is supposed to be my art blog...

Here's a painting I did, oh, around 15 years ago. It's still one of my best works. I painted it in England, where I entered it in the John Moore's annual contest/exhibition, where of course it did nothing, as much of my work looks out of place, or rather "out of time". We moved to Paris in mid-1991, & took it with us, on the train/boat/train trip. On the train in London, it attracted the attention of a rather drunk guy sitting across from us -- the painting was wrapped in clear plastic film & was quite clearly visible. The inebriated guy was quite impressed with my talent, & he should have known: he had apparently stolen several quite important works of art (Turner, Bonnington) from musuems in England.

The painting lived in our apartment in Paris, then when we moved to the US, I rolled it up & shipped it over. We sold it to a collector from Michigan who owned it for around 10 years, then passed away. The family found that there wasn't a good market for this kind of art at auction in Michigan ("Is the painter dead? No? Then we can't get a very good price for it"), so they wound up sending it back to me, where it hangs on my wall until I can find a collector who'd like it. I've had quite a few interested parties, but no concrete offers yet. Any takers?

Narcissus, 1991, acrylic on canvas, framed, 50" x 44" approx.

Noah's Arks

I've been looking & thinking some more about the "ark" discovered on the mountain in Iran. The thing that bothers me most about it is the lack of any obvious man-made structure in the debris, apart from the "plank" formations. Anyone who's ever built anything such as a set of shelves or a kids' playset (& I've done both in my time), knows that you can't just stick some planks together edge to edge & hope that the thing will not collapse. There have to be some kind of cross-beams or cross-braces somewhere, or some other way of holding it all together (ropes? vines?). I'm not seeing any of that.

Here's the link again. Scroll down past the ads & stuff.

I also found some photos of a Chinese expedition to Ararat to look for the Ark. On this page is a photo of some Chinese people looking into an icy cave. At first sight, this looks even less impressive than the dubious Iranian version. However, I notice that the local guide is called "Parasut", which sounds kind of similar to the Kurdish guide "Parachute" in Bruce Feiler's book "Walking the Bible", who claimed to have found the Ark of Noah on Ararat & have photographic evidence...coincidence? Maybe...

Just how many arks did Noah have, anyway?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Some Light Relief

After having created several of my darker, more intense drawings, the following image escaped:

Cluster Girl
Title is "Cluster Girl". Ink on paper, 24" x 19". Kind of a breath of fresh air.

The Dark Stuff

Honestly, I'm quite a happy person, yet often drawn to plumbing the darkest depths of the human experience. I've just finished a drawing called "Plague", which makes kind of a series -- war, death, famine, drought, and so on. It's done in Indian ink on paper, size is 24" x 19".

Here it is:


Monday, June 19, 2006

Ararat Anomaly

Speaking of Noah's Ark (yet again), here's my drawing from 2003 inspired by the Ararat Anomaly -- a blurry, ambiguous (is it a rock ledge, is it a boat, is it anything at all?) object high up on Mt. Ararat, in Turkey.

Ararat Anomaly
Of course, my drawing looks nothing much like the Ararat Anomaly.

A word about copyright & suchlike

Here is my policy on allowing people to use my images on blogs & web pages & so on. I'm not against it -- in fact I see it as people helping my artwork gain exposure. Most of the images online are low-res & not much use for anything other than screen resolution work. So, by all means, you can use my images for non-profit stuff, such as your personal blog, providing:

-- You don't alter the image (except for resizing)

-- You give me credit (my name plus the URL of the web site where you found it would be nice)

-- You don't remote link the image -- i.e. you copy the image to your hard drive, then upload it to your web page. I'm not very happy when people simply insert a link to the original file on my own web site, as they're stealing my bandwidth

-- (Optional) you send me an e-mail with the URL of the page where the image resides

I think the above is pretty reasonable & I hope I didn't just shoot myself in the foot, legally speaking...

Noah's Ark Debris

Following up on my previous post, here is the "evidence". It doesn't look much like an ark -- looks more like a rock formation that looks like a lot of wood (sort of). However, after 5 or 6 thousand years under a glacier, this might be all that would be left of the object in question. To me, it looks like it's millions of years old, but then I'm not an archaelogist or geologist. Not seeing any obvious bits that would indicate it was ever a ship of any kind.

Here's the link to the page with photos

You'll have to scroll down a bit to get to the photos & article. Bob Cornuke & his team found it on a mountain in Iran. The goats don't seem too impressed (3rd photo, top row -- not sure if they're goats or what -- and there's more than 2 of them).

In Bosnia, on the other hand, the pyramid is still going strong. Link.

No word yet on the Ark of the Covenant (may be in Ethiopia), Spear of Destiny (museum in Vienna, as I recall, or several other places) or Holy Grail (see Dan Brown's potboiler) -- at least in terms of current news stories. I'm keeping my eyes open.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


This was the little painting on the easel in the previous post (below). Sometimes, when I create an image, I have a developed idea, or a rough idea, or maybe I just decide, "I'd like to paint a little lumpy elephant". So, in this case, that's what I did. It came out pretty OK. It's not intended as a political statement, or anything. It arrived pretty quickly. I decided it should be kind of a mascot for my new studio. I'll have to get it framed & hang it somewhere in there...

Image size is 8" x 7.25" approx. Acrylic on plywood.

My Workspace

My working corner of the studio (ground floor) is next to a faux French door setup, that we (actually a guy called Kevin Miller -- thanks, Kevin) installed in place of a garage door. A friend of mine & pretty well-known illustrator, James Ransome, found the doors and some windows being thrown away at the house across the street from him, so he grabbed them for me (thanks, James). The old garage doors didn't let in much light, so these are much better. While the rest of the studio is being finished up, this is my working corner, for now.

My work area
The painting on the wall, "The Tempest", 2000, acrylic on unstretched canvas, is around 6 feet high & 9 feet wide, to give a sense of scale. The easel holds a primed & prepared piece of plywood that shortly (if I remember correctly) was to become a little painting entitled "Pachyderm".

My New Studio

At last, after years of working in small, cramped spaces where the sun never shone (it seemed), I've got myself a decent-sized place to work. It sits on a hill in northern Dutchess County in New York State. Originally a horse barn, it has three levels: ground floor is the big studio, second floor is the showroom/gallery/smaller studio, & the loft is for storage, mostly. It was previously used as a car garage & dollhouse & dollhouse accessories showroom (I'm not making this up).

While it was in pretty good shape when we bought the barn/house combo (we bought a barn with a house), we've had to do several major (and, of course, expensive) upgrades: a new concrete floor on the ground level, sheetrocking of walls & replacing noisy tube lights with incandescent bulbs. It's currently not finished, but serviceable. I've started using it, though the initial results tend to be small-scale, as I adapt to the large space.

A photo from a couple weeks ago:

My new studio in progress
More coming soon.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Noah's Ark found in Bosnian Pyramid?

(Please note -- that's a spoof headline)

I'm quite fond of, er, alternative archaeology. I've been keeping tabs on these 2 stories for some time now. Don't believe everything you read on the Internet (or anywhere else for that matter), but here you are:

Bosnian Pyramid story

Noah's Ark found at last?

Hey, you never know...

Empire of Death

Since I'm on a roll starting this blog up, here's another image that has attracted some attention. It was featured on the back cover of Direct Art magazine (Fall 2005), and it also seems to come up a lot in Yahoo image searches. It's one of the darker images I've done, and was created for the following reasons:

1. I was having severe doubts about my marriage & life in general (still happily married as of the current moment)

2. Reflecting upon the nature of empires and how they necessitate fear, death & destruction to survive, especially as they start to decline. It seemed to me that the nascent US Empire (the Iraq occupation) was collapsing even as it tried to come into being

3. It was a general attempt to personify death. Two of my favorite artworks are Bocklin's "Island of the Dead" & Breughel's "Triumph of Death". In a way, it was an attempt to create the ultimate image of death. I don't think it was a total disaster. Plus, he looks quite happy, so there's also an attempt to remove the fear of death...

Here's the image:

The Empire of Death

Tower of Babel

This is a piece that I created a couple of years ago. Much of my work deals with myths and history and so on, and this seemed to be one of those images that was a particular archetype, and especially resonant these days, what with the massive corporate media echo chamber. Some of my previous works had featured broken tower motifs (and, no, I've no idea what that could mean), so I felt like I should engage this particular subject. The Breughel version was always one of my favorites, also.

Additionally, today in the mail I received a shipment of postcards featuring this image. If anyone wants to email me with their snail mail address, I'll send the first 5 respondents a card in the mail. I'm not going to sell your info to spammers or junk mailers or anything. After the 5 postcards are sent, or I get bored waiting, I'll remove this offer.

Here's the image:


No Longer Naked

I'm renaming this blog (already!), having discovered that there's at least one other blog out there called "Naked Art". So, from now on, this will just be "Bill Ayton's Art Blog", most probably.

I apologize for the confusion.

Naked Art

Why "Naked Art Blog"? Well, most of my painting & drawing is figurative, and I'm not particulary interested in rendering clothing...also, nudity sells, they tell me, so I thought it might catch your interest.

Here's a recent piece of art that I did in the last week or so:

Woman in BLue

Title is "Woman in Blue" -- it started out as a drawing in India ink, then I colored it with acrylic paints. I felt it had a moody, dreamlike feeling. Size of the image is about 10" by 8". It's one of the first pieces created in my new studio, which is a barn in my back yard. We've just spent the last several months getting it ready to use -- pouring a new concrete floor, sheetrocking the walls, installing a double glass door & new window, replacing tube lights that buzzed & flickered with incandescent bulbs. So, after all that work, I'd better create some new pieces.

Hello, World

This is my first attempt at doing a blog. I thought it might be interesting to preview new artworks, works in progress and older artworks from my archives that have not been seen before, as well as put down some of my ideas & views on various subjects. We'll see how it goes. I must be the 9 millionth person to do a blog at this point, so I expect it may get lost in the blogosphere...

I already have a couple of web sites:


which should give you some idea of what I do...