Saturday, December 29, 2007

UDHR Article 5 Study

Another in the series of b/w studies for the UDHR paintings. The studies were done in 1990 (December, as I recall), the paintings were done in 1991. This is Article 5:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

You can see the painting that resulted from the drawing in the October 24th entry of this blog.

UDHR Article 12 Study

This is another of the pencil/ink wash studies for the UDHR series from 1990 (see also below):

"No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks."

UDHR Article 4 Study

Here is one of the original pencil & ink wash drawings for the UDHR series, done in 1990:

"No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

UDHR Article 14

Below is an image from my 1991 series of 30 paintings (one to illuminate each article) of the UN's Universal Declaration of Human rights. Next year is the 60th anniversary of the signing of the UDHR, so there may be various exhibitions & so forth (details will be published online when available). I recently had several of the paintings professionally photographed for a magazine article. Below is the painting of Article 14, and below that is the text of the Article.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Woodcut "Shrouded"

Here's another of the new woodcuts:

On rice paper, 9" x 7" approx, 2007. I'm still getting a handle on the medium. I kind of like the imperfections in the printing process, so each one is slightly different. I'm also toying with the idea of colorizing or customizing some of them in some way. Thanks are due to Jim Stevenson for his help with this project.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jürgen Waxweiler & Sun Furong

Here's a photo that Jürgen sent on a CD packed with images of Jerusalem & the Museum on the Seam, which arrived a few days ago:

Just another reminder that you should check out the Bare Life exhibit at the Museum. Sun Furong is the Chinese artist who created the "Nibbling" installation of ripped & eroded clothing.

An excellent show. The swing upon which the bottle of mineral water sits is by Carsten Höller, by the way.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Untitled Woodcut

This is the proof from a new woodcut, in fact my first:

Oil-based ink on rice paper, 9" x 7" approx, 2007.

This woodcut was carved & printed by my friend, Jim Stevenson (take a bow, Jim), who knows more about this kind of thing than I do. This was a test, & as it looks pretty good, I'm working on some more, which I'm carving out myself. Jim is also working on another one. All of them are anonymous heads, which is kind of a theme of mine. The characteristics of Jim's carving give my work a different look, I think.

People have been saying for years that my ink drawings looked like woodcuts, that I should do woodcuts, & so on. So now, I finally am. So far so good.

I'm having an open studio event next Saturday, so these will be on show then, I hope. We plan to mat some of them. I may hand-color some, also. It's an interesting new direction. I'll upload some more images if & when I have them.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Trade Imbalance in Shrink-Wrap

The book with UDHR Article 23 "Everyone has the right to work..." just arrived via FedEx. My first "real" book cover image:

Thanks to Cambridge University Press for sending that along.

I haven't managed to force myself to tear off the shrink-wrap yet, as you can see.

The colors have come out slightly lurid because of my scanner. It's a little more muted than this in actual fact. Especially the green.

I found out the other day that the book has a web site here.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The War Room at the Museum on the Seam

Today I got the following photo via email from Jürgen Waxweiler:

Nice shot of the installation with unknown observers. From the opening of the exhibition, I presume (Oct. 12, 2007). The artwork visible in the glass case below my War Room studies is "Carpet" by Katarzyna Józefowicz from Poland. Click here to see that work on the Museum on the Seam web site.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

UDHR at Middlebury

I have a show of the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) paintings that I did back in 1991, at Middlebury College in Vermont, starting in a couple of days. The 60th Anniversary of the UDHR is coming up, which explains the renewed interest, I guess.

Here's Article 5:

"No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

You can see the complete set of 30 UDHR paintings here. You can use the arrow buttons to navigate through the paintings.

You can also see them here. This web site didn't ask permission, but if it's for a good cause & not-for-profit, I don't mind. A link to my own site would have been nice, if only so that interested parties could book the show, etc...

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Swing on the Roof

This is a shot from the roof of the Museum on the Seam during the opening for the "Bare Life" show. Left to right: Diana Ayton-Shenker (aka my much better half, goddess & muse), Jürgen Waxweiler (German sculptor featured in the show), myself, a Museum Guy (I will have to ask Raphie for the guy's name). The swing is by Carsten Höller from Belgium, & is not recommended for actual use, as it's 4 stories up, above a busy street. But that, as they say, is the whole point.

Some more links:

Jürgen Waxweiler's page on the Museum web site.

Jürgen Waxweiler's own web site.

Carsten Höller's page on the Museum web site.

Jerusalem, October 12, 2007

Here I am, outside the Museum on the Seam, 4 Chel Handasa St., Jerusalem, about to enter the exhibit, "Bare Life" (curated by Raphie Etgar). Lovely day, great show. About 450 people came for the opening, apparently.

Related links:

Museum on the Seam home page.

Bare Life exhibit overview.

Ayton page on Museum web site
, with War Room image, The Witnesses.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Face of Hiroshima

New small painting in the occasional "Hiroshima" series:

Acrylic on board, 2007, 10" x 8".

It's a kind of misuse of pointillism, here used to depict the atomization of human life, etc. Also reminds me of Gerhard Richter for some reason, the treatment of the paint. I was "inspired" to paint another image in this series (if series it is) by the inclusion of the "Hiroshima: Ground Zero" piece in the Museum on the Seam show, "Bare Life" -- see blog entry below this one. Here is that particular piece:

Acrylic on masonite, 2004, 12" x 9". Currently on display on the second floor of the Museum on the Seam.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Bare Life catalog

Just got back in from Jerusalem (via Kiev) late last night, exhausted but happy. The show was a success & I got my 15 seconds of fame on Israeli TV, in a news segment on the Bare Life show. It was also good to see Raphie Etgar (curator) & Merav Maor (museum director) again. I met German sculptor Jürgen Waxweiler and Chinese artist Sun Furong, among many other people.

The show contained work by 42 artists from all over the world, including big names such as Anselm Kiefer, Bill Viola, Bruce Nauman, Paul McCarthy, William Kentridge, Sophie Calle & so on. It was good company to be in.

Below is the catalog cover:

Cover image is "Cain Mark" by Israeli artist Haim Maor (color print photograph & collage)

Below is my double-page spread (pp. 86-87):

Click on image for larger version.

Images are (left) "The Witnesses", 2003 (War Room study) & "Hiroshima: Ground Zero", 2004, painted after the 2001 illustration commissioned by the New York Times Op-Ed page.

Monday, October 01, 2007

"Bare Life" -- Museum on the Seam

This invite for the Jerusalem show arrived in my email inbox the other day:

FYI, I'm listed 7th from the bottom on the left.

Click on the image for a more legible version.

Looks like it should be a good show. Curator: Raphie Etgar.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Trade Imbalance

Below is the image of a book cover containing one of my Universal Declaration of Human Rights images, (a series of 30 works -- each one representing an Article of the Declaration):

The painting in question is of Article 23. I painted it way back in 1991.

Should be available around October 31st, according to Amazon. Published by Cambridge University Press.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Museum On The Seam

These are some photos I took in Jerusalem back in June, when I was there for a few days to visit the Museum On The Seam, a "boutique" political art museum in Israel. I'm in a show there opening in a few weeks time (Oct. 12th), "Bare Life". More details will be posted when I have them.

Above: view of the exterior of the Museum On The Seam, 4 Chel Handasa St.

Above: Notre Dame Hotel, Jerusalem. I stayed here.

Above: The Dome Of The Rock & The Western Wall.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Guardian Of The Forest

A new mythical drawing:

Brush & ink on paper, 2007, 12" x 12" approx.

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Here's a new drawing:

Brush & ink on paper, 2007, 12" x 12". I hadn't done a fine-line drawing recently, so I thought I'd do one. Should probably do a few more...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Review of "Chips For Supper" by Stephen Harrison

I haven't had as much time as I thought I might to listen to this, partly due to work pressures, partly due to finding a compatible CD player to play this on. As it's a self-produced effort, it can misbehave on some players. I'm listening as I'm typing here.

Stephen isn't giving me much to go on by way of dates. I recognize some of the pieces from the mid-80s Heyday days, in fact I'm playing keyboards on one of them (track 13, "Pull Up A Chair", as noted in a previous post). There are also the Heyday tracks "Sad & Blue" & "Pack On Your Back" given the big production treatment by Alan Rankine (of Associates fame) & Paul Haig. Unfortunately, while it's good to hear Stephen's voice in a widescreen setting, as it were, the synths overpower the pieces a little. I also remember the epic (6 and a half minutes, more or less), "Lucky Moon", as a song we rehearsed but never quite got the hang of. It sparkles here. Kudos also to Ewan Burke for his restrained production work on tracks 1 & 18 ("Never Say Die" & "Winter Sun").

There are 19 tracks on this CD, only 4 of which I was familiar with. The rest of the material does not disappoint. Stephen is a very accomplished, sometimes quirky (which is still good) songwriter & singer. I'd hazard a guess that on most of the tracks here, it's mostly him playing the instruments -- guitars, keyboards, bass(?) & drum machine. The songs at first sound fragile & delicate, but reveal a harder core on further listens. Songs of longing & melancholy, lost love, the tedium of daily existence, snatches of happiness. The song titles, "Emotional One", "Help Us With The Pain", "World Of Shame", & so on, give a fairly direct picture of the subject matter.

Jangly guitars, a lonely voice which somehow retains traces of optimism, a sense of timelessness, every song a little classic that could somehow be a hit single's very difficult to play favorites as all the songs are very strong yet distinct. I really need to listen to this a lot more. These are Stephen Harrison's soundtracks to short movies maybe he'll make someday. They should be shot with a handheld camera in a grainy black & white, somewhere in Europe, on a rainy day, perhaps. I'm rambling...

Chips For Supper. Who knew they could be so satisfying? Get in touch with Stephen Harrison here.

Thanks for the CD.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Chips For Supper

Stephen Harrison's retrospective CD:

Stephen was the singer/songwriter in Heyday, the band I was in during the mid 80s in Edinburgh. He's just self-released this CD. It is very good. I'm going to do a little review here after I've listened to it some more. In the meantime, here's Stephen's MySpace page for Heyday.

BTW, I'm playing keyboards on track 13, "Pull Up A Chair".

Little Dictator

New small painting:

Acrylic on board, 2007, 12" x 9".

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Here's another sketch done in Jerusalem back in June:

Same size as pages below -- 6" x 4" approx. Done in pen.

Machine [Gun] Minotaur

BTW, here are the original sketches for "Machine Gun Minotaur" (below, somewhere). I did them while staying at the Notre Dame Hotel in Jerusalem back in June this year:

Each of the 2 pages above is approx. 6" high by 4" wide. Click on image for a much better view.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Road To Tomorrow

Which is where all roads go:

Acrylic on board, 2007, 14" x 11". Not often that I do landscapes these days. I won a prize for one once, oh, around 27 years ago. Where does life go?

Thursday, September 06, 2007

The Ghosts of Hiroshima

New painting:

Acrylic on masonite, 2007, 30" x 18".

This Modern World

Basic survival can be a trial these days:

Acrylic on masonite, 2007, 30" x 18".


Hopefully, this one is viscerally self-explanatory:

Acrylic on masonite, 2007, 18" x 30". Another anti-war image.

As this is a quite wide image, it's automatically condensed by Blogger to fit into the column. Clicking on the photo will give you a better view.

Control Tower

Coming soon to a location near you:

Acrylic on board, 2007, 16" x 12". I actually did this painting a while ago, but was having problems photographing it, due to the glare the matt black background would pick up.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Machine Gun Minotaur

A new painting combining mythology & mayhem:

(image updated 09/06/07)

Acrylic on masonite, 2007, 30" x 18". I may do a large-scale version of this one. I'm not sure. Might leave as is, or develop the idea further...

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Heyday Scotland Playlist

I've managed to embed the playlist of some of Heyday's songs from the mid-80s below. I hope Stephen doesn't mind (Hi, Stephen). See the entry under this one for photo & links. My personal favorite of the songs we recorded is still "Sad & Blue".

Back in a previous existence...

My old band Heyday, circa 1984-5:

That's me playing the Korg keyboard. We were pretty good & could've made it to the big time...(gets misty-eyed). Click on over to to see & hear more. The singer/songwriter is Stephen Harrison, who is still writing music & has just released a retrospective CD, "Chips for Supper". Can't wait to hear it. He is really good & deserves some long overdue attention. Tell him I said hi...

Stephen also has a MySpace page for himself at for his music & his Close Up Records music label.

PS by "my" old band, I mean "the band I was in".

PPS the bass player in the photo, & the drummer not visible in the photo were David Weddell & Ronnie Torrance, respectively, who were in the legendary (apparently) Edinburgh band Josef K in the late 70s/early 80s.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Metropolis Under Siege

New painting, kind of a dystopian view of the world to come:

(image updated 09/05/2007)

Acrylic on masonite, 2007, 18" x 30".

However, there is still some kind of hope -- the greenish hue suggests some kind of organic life. On the whole, a protest against a technologically inhuman & overwhelming world.

Drowning Man

New painting in a more raw, expressionistic style (which I like):

(note: image revised 09/04/2007)

Acrylic on board, 2007, 14" x 11".

Is this a political comment on the state of the world (or the US?). Is it a personal meditation on aging or creativity? Is it a metaphysical comment upon the relation between humankind and the universe? All of the above, probably. I never know.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The War Between Life & Death

This one was previously up with the title "Maximum Leader/Hell On Earth", which didn't really sit well with the piece. The wrong title can really damage a painting.

Acrylic on board, 2007, 12" x 9".

BTW, the preliminary results are in & it's not looking good...


Alternate title: "Thermonuclear War"

Acrylic on plywood, 2007, 18" x 30".

Quite a joyful painting, oddly. Reminds me of Joseph Beuys who allegedly said that he thought atomic bombs were wonderful examples of engineering & wanted one for his bathroom, or something like that.

Pretty fireworks.

Men O War Variant B

This is the original version for the "Men O War" painting, which never quite worked previously:

Acrylic on plywood, 2007, 18" x 30".

However, I added the linear elements & it seemed to push the piece to a completely new level, adding depth & diminishing the distracting background elements (gun barrels & missiles), which are still vaguely visible...

Here's Variant A (the original finished version) for comparison:

The dimensions & materials are the same as version B, above.

Tree Of Life & Death Update

Here's the new version of this painting (see entry somewhere below):

Acrylic on plywood, 2007, 30" x 18".

The main difference is the addition of the parallel lines to create a "woodcut" or "Venetian blind" effect, which gives the painting both more depth & more flatness, or graphic sensibility, to my mind. My paintings have often used recurring linear elements (see the original tree painting below), so this seems to be a logical extension of that. It's proving to be an interesting stylistic element. More examples to follow.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Last Night's Highlights

Here are some of the better pieces from last night's life drawing session:

Seated male nude -- graphite on paper, 17" x 14".

Seated male nude II -- graphite on paper, 17" x 14".

Seated male nude on striped cloth -- graphite on paper, 17" x 14".

Clicking the images gives a slightly enhanced view, as usual.

Quick Life Drawing

Nothing fancy, just a simple sketch:

Graphite on paper, 2007, 12" x 9". Sometimes the very simple ones are best.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Another new painting:

Acrylic on unstretched canvas, 2007, 53" x 53". There is some glare etc. on this photo. Also, not sure if it's finished...I may update it...

Final Monument to Humanity

A new monochrome work on unstretched canvas:

Acrylic on canvas, 2007, 53" x 53" approx.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Another life drawing

Here's another one from last night, same as the one below:

Graphite on paper, 2007, 18" x 12". I like the ragged look -- it can be easy to get too polished. Or maybe not. I've got a growing pile of life drawings in my studio now...

Seated Nude Study

New life drawing, kind of loose:

Graphite on paper, 2007, 14" x 11".