Thursday, July 30, 2009

Shadow Bay

Time to let the cat out of the bag (as they sometimes say, though in this case maybe we should let the horse out of the bag, or stable):

Above: the "cover" of the piece.

Shadow Bay is a noir fiction/artwork collaboration with my friend Donald J. Rothschild, whom I've known for about 8 years now. He recently saw an artwork of mine that put him in mind of this collaboration. We intend to do it as a graphic novel type of thing.

Here is the link:

Right now, the prologue & chapter 1 are up. More will follow in due course...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Teaser #3

Here's the third teaser for the new project:

I was going to give the game away & specify what this is, but I like to do things in 3s. Call me superstitious...

Stay tuned for more info. I will say it's a work in progress & will continue to be so until it's done.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Teaser #2

Here's another piece from the new project:

More will come shortly, all being well...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Teaser

Here is a teaser for a forthcoming project:

I'm not going to say what it is or what it's about at this point. The whole project could come to nothing...but I think it will come to something. If it does, I shall announce it here in due course.

Profile in Shadow silverpoint

A new silverpoint on a gray-toned ground:

Profile in Shadow, 2009, silverpoint on gray-toned, prepared card, 10" x 8". Heightened with white pastel pencil.

I have quite a collection of heads done in silverpoint now. On the one hand, I find that the human head provides endless expressive possibilities. On the other hand, it starts to become a repetitive exercise to do too I'll probably be investigating some other themes from now on...

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Elemental

Silverpoint on gray-toned card, highlighted with white:

The Elemental, 2009, silverpoint on card, 10" x 8".

An otherworldly being with a gaze that absorbs light, rendered in a smoky ('sfumato', as they used to say) technique.

I at first thought that using silverpoint on a gray-tinted ground would be an exercise in futility, but it worked out quite well.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We Face Extinction -- the review

As promised, though it took longer than I thought it should, here is my review for my friend Stephen Harrison's new music CD, "We Face Extinction". Here is the cover again:

Stephen & I have known each other for over 30 years. We both studied Drawing & Painting (as they called it then & maybe still do) at Edinburgh College of Art in the late 1970s. Stephen still lives in Edinburgh & has been writing & recording music since I've known him, first with the "punk" (for want of a better word, "indie" would probably be better) band Metropak, as a solo artist, in the band Heyday (I played keyboards, David Weddell & Ronnie Torrance ex of Josef K were the rhythm section), then as a solo artist again.

Here is the track listing for the new CD:

1. We Face Extinction
2. She Certainly Was
3. Garbo Smiles
4. Not Shadows on the Wall
5. Leaving Town Tomorrow
6. The Great Artist
7. Together

Having only 7 songs, does that make this CD a "mini-album"? I don't think anybody cares that much these days, as I suspect many will download individual tunes, or the album as a series of downloads. I'd rather listen to 7 very good songs than 17 pieces including half-finished or badly conceived numbers, so this doesn't disappoint in that the 7 songs are all good & feel like finished pieces.

Stephen's usual lyrical themes of love, love lost, alienation & angst are all represented here, which is good, as he does them well, often taking a cliched idea & giving it a new spin. However, he adds to the thematic list by expanding his repertoire to include an anger song (The Great Artist), a celebrity song (Garbo Smiles, though it's not so much about her), an ecology song, sort of (We Face Extinction), and so on.

The arrangements are also fuller than sometimes before, with mostly keyboard (as far as I can tell) augmenting the voice/guitar/drum machine mix (I don't think there's a bass in there, but I could be wrong). Stephen's voice is as good & rich as it has ever been. The keyboard parts are all well done, simple, & don't clog up the mix. My only real complaint is that the drum machine tends to sound just like that, mechanical, in places. As far as I know, Stephen is playing all the instruments himself, so I guess the drum machine is necessary, and he does use it quite well, sparingly, and doesn't use it incessantly through each song. Ideally, Stephen should be playing with a couple of other human musicians who could bounce ideas off of him & each other, but I guess, realistically, this is not going to happen for the usual budget reasons & so on.

However, the album, taken as a whole often achieves a sense of timelessness, and I would have been quite content to let it continue forever, except for the impracticalities that would imply. There is a hypnotic, drifting, urgent-but-not-urgent quality to the proceedings...this is a CD you could lose yourself in.

A very good piece of work. Buy this CD & make Stephen famous.

Here's a link to his MySpace page:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Cassandra in silverpoint

Another image of synthetic, idealised beauty:

Cassandra, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card (tinted with mars yellow), 11" x 8.5".

Obviously, I'm riffing on Leonardo, Raphael, etc. here. I'm trying to get to the essence of that kind of depiction of the human face & a kind of ideal beauty. It's probably a futile quest, but you never know...

[Note: this silverpoint is mistakenly labeled in the lower right as #78 when it is actually #79]

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Woman with Braided Hair in silverpoint

I tried using a ground mixed with Mars Yellow acrylic:

Woman with Braided Hair, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

Cleaning Up

Note: I've just deleted several posts & artworks that I thought weren't up to standard. I do this from time to time. So, if you happened to see something the other day & it's not there now, that is the reason.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Many-Horned Minotaur

Taking a break from silverpointing:

The Many-Horned Minotaur, 2009, pencil sketch, 11" x 8.5".

Just a very simple sketch. Could be made into a painting or large drawing, perhaps.

This one doesn't exist anymore

I destroyed this one:

Silverpoint on prepared ground, highlighted with white, 2009, 11" x 8.5".

This was one that I overworked too much & obliterated. It now only exists as a scan of the original. So, here it is. I now quite like it in this state...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Orpheus/The Hero

I'm still struggling with the neo-classical "hero" head archetype (see below):

Orpheus, 2009, silverpoint on green tinted card, highlighted with white, 11" x 8.5".

Still not quite there, maybe...

Pencil sketch of a man's head

I wanted to see if drawing with silverpoint had affected my pencil line work:

Pencil on paper, 2009, 11" x 8.5".

It seems that it is so.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The Hero

I hadn't realized until just now, but this makes a pair with the one below:

The Hero, 2009, silverpoint on prepared ground, 11" x 8.5". Highlighted with white pencil.

This drawing was a much easier journey than the one below. The title, "The Hero" is somewhat ironic, as there is a sense of cruelty in the image. It also has a social realist feel to it, which I didn't intend to happen, but it did.

The Underdog

Welcome to the battlefield:

The Underdog, 2009, silverpoint on prepared ground (with white pastel pencil), 11" x 8.5".

I'm working on the theory that the ones you have to fight with the hardest, you learn from the most. This one has been a struggle, & even now I'm not sure it's much good. However, here it is.

[Note: it's been an odd day -- I was just looking back over the blog & noticed an slight resemblance between the drawing above & the CD cover below. This was not intentional, in case anyone may think so...]

We Face Extinction

I'd just like to mention that my old friend Stephen Harrison in Edinburgh, Scotland, has just released a new CD of music. I haven't had a chance to give it a good, uninterrupted listen yet, but from the bits I've managed to hear so far, it's a mature, richly textured work, with more keyboard sounds than usual on top of the voice/guitar/drums mix that is his standard MO. Stay tuned for some kind of proper review. Here's the cover:

And here's a link to his MySpace page:

BTW, I was in the band "Heyday" with Stephen back in the mid-80s.

Cyclops on Red

Here is a new version of the Cyclops head:

Cyclops, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, heightened with white, 11" x 8.5".

This piece is available for sale on my Ayton Artwork a Day blog.

Narcissus by the Sea

New variation on the Narcissus series:

Narcissus by the Sea, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5". Drawn on burnt ochre tinted ground (over white gesso), heightened with white pastel pencil.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


Silverpoint on ochre ground with white pastel pencil highlights:

Lilith, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

A Leonardesque head/shoulders blending into a rocky landscape...also an ambiguously male/female image.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Silverpoint on Blue & Ochre

New image:

Woman's Head, Looking Down, on Blue & Ochre Ground, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

I didn't heighten this with white as it didn't seem necessary.

I was originally gessoing this with blue, but I ran out, so I finished the priming later with an ochre blend. I like the way it came out, it adds to the ethereal, ghostly quality of the piece.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Silverpoint on Burnt Ochre

New silverpoint highlighted with white pastel pencil:

Head of a Girl, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card with burnt ochre. 11" x 8.5".

I was trying out mixing the gesso with burnt ochre. It's a little dark -- the white highlights are basically carrying the drawing.

Silverpoint on Ochre

This is a test:

Sketch of a Young Man's Head on Ochre, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5". Highlighted with white watercolor pencil.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Island of Mystery

Another silverpoint on blue ground:

The Island of Mystery, 2009, silverpoint on blue gessoed card, 11" x 8.5". Highlighted with white pencil.

Done at about 9pm in my studio under a spotlight -- I could barely see the image; the silverpoint on the blue ground tended to disappear. I'm surprised it came out reasonably well. I wanted to do an image that was not just a drawing of a head -- I've been doing those fairly obsessively lately. Reminds me of all those Symbolist paintings from the late 1900s & early twentieth century.


Another silverpoint on a blue ground:

Poverty, 2009, silverpoint on card prepared with blue-tinted gesso, 11" x 8.5".

The colored ground seems to supply the missing ingredient, so the lightness of the silver is less of a problem. I added the highlights with a white watercolor pencil I borrowed from my daughter. The lead was broken inside, so I wound up using just the broken tip of the pencil lead, held between thumb & index finger. It still worked. I think a white china marker might be the ideal way to do the highlights.

Silverpoint in Blue

Color at last:

Woman's Head in Blue, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card (gesso mixed with blue), 11" x 8.5". Heightened with a white watercolor pencil.

Silverpoint Face of a Woman

This is silverpoint #50 in the series:

Face of a Woman, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

I still have a few sheets of card ready with white gesso, so there may be a few more striclty monochrome silverpoints to come. However, my next step is to mix a little pigment in with the ground, to create a tonal base that can be highlit with touches of white, which should make for a slightly more interesting series. Hope to do this soon.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Acolyte

Another silverpoint:

The Acolyte, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

Not sure about this one. Wanted to upload it to look at it. It may go again.

The Ancient One

Another silverpoint:

The Ancient One, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

A variation on a theme I've done before. Still trying to capture the essence of the Leonardesque weathered head...

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sketch of a Man's Head With a Long Neck

New silverpoint sketch:

Sketch of a Man's Head With a Long Neck, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

Although I like the faint, almost ghostly qualities of silverpoint, I discoved today that if I use liver of sulphur, the lines will tarnish to dark brown & perhaps even black. I shall have to try it.

Monday, July 06, 2009

New Blog: An Ayton Artwork a Day

This is to announce that I've just set up a new blog, entitled "An Ayton Artwork a Day", where I shall be uploading a small image for sale per day (excluding weekends), for 100 days, after which I shall stop. Here is the day one image:

Head of a Young Man, 2009, china marker on card, 11" x 8.5".

The above image is priced at $120 for US buyers, with an extra $5 charge for shipping outside of the US. Despite the currently weak economy, this might be a good time to invest in artworks — the pieces are reasonably priced.

See also the Silverpoint a Day Blog, in collaboration with James L. Stevenson.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Woman's Profile in Silverpoint

Another new silverpoint:

Woman's Profile, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card, 11" x 8.5".

Woman's Head in Silverpoint

From a new batch:

Woman's Head, 2009, silverpoint on prepared card (darkened in Photoshop), 11" x 8.5".

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Another Soul

Just another soul:

Another Soul, 2009, acrylic on board, 10" x 8".


New small painted study:

Heaven, 2009, acrylic on board, 11" x 14".

From a proposed series of the Four Last Things (Death, Judgment, Heaven & Hell). Difficult to get in focus with the camera, which seems appropriate. A goodly amount of titanium white was used in this painting, which should come as no surprise.