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painting

Things that work –

Using Oil paints : more complex, texture

Don’t use turps or even odorless solvents… they are poison! Use linseed to clean brushes.. so then the whole process is more harmonious.  Even in the case of the underpainting, which needs to be leanest.. I think is better to work with thin linseed layout than to dilute with solvents, which also breaks the strength of the binding medium [basically its just a powder sitting on the surface if you go 50/50 turpentine/linseed..too weak.]

For a good weight/mix/handling viscous shiny feel.. use 50/50 mix of a good linseed and a good stand oil.

One of the things we know – every part of the picture affects every other part..this leads towards a way of working all over the painting and building up the whole surface together.. totally wrong the approach of doing a region by region [as done by ingres, David.. sorry guys.. Velasquez wouldnt have worked this way.. hes dancing all over the canvas at once…]

Working wet into wet works well… nice cohesive surface, smooth transitions. Not necessarily  standard alla prima.. can work into a semi wet underpainting.. or paint on white and work in colour.

Im painting a lot more now…I got bogged doen in prissy finishing to make the surface blend well..but it takes away the liveness.. a lot of realist painters fall into this trap.. but look at Rubens and Velasquez. They paint freely ‘gail layin on the colour’

Use GOOD colours… Winton arent good enough!  Use blochx, old holland or michael harding – basically maximal pigment loading, high quality oil and nothing else..no filler content.

Can get a lot of colour and complexity by using only a very very limited palette, say

Titanium White, Cadmium Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Red, Burnt Sienna, VanDyke Brown, Prussian Blue.

You get the most intense and strong blacks with a Prussion blue base – either mixed in or underpaint in blue.

Free handling… dont intermix too much – let colours meld wet into wet naturally.. can get close but not fully blended, from a distance mixes visually like pixels..so becomes continuous not discrete, without deadening the colors.

Mix mainly on the painting.

Painting a lot now – roughly one per day, to blast through not a block, but a kind of over-prissiness, and focus on the whole.

Experimenting with a lovely new italian linen canvas – put some onto thin mdf boards using PVA, worked well, minimal warping.  Very nice natural surface, medium weave, some slight irregularities which are nice to work on.

So, were gonna move from Winton budget paints which are a bit thin, to the best quality Mike Harding colors and only need about 6 colours.

VanDyke brown makes ome superb mauvy-pinky-brown-grey shades excellent compleity for skin tones…

BUT some color vendors dont have this in their range, so Ill find out how to mix it from other colours, or break it down to a mix from burnt umber or such.

StevePavlina blog has some great ideas and in depth discussion on life.. More Truth Love Power is a good thing in every endeavour..  For me in painting this is Honesty/Integrity Feeling and Action … Action fr me means doing what I need tobecome great at painting.. that means painting a lot, playing lots of tunes on the violin if I was a musician, for me is doing the small works, completing them, bold, attacking all the pieces Im not happy with, being prepared t ruin an ok picture to make either a write off or a great picture, taking the risk.

Things Ive done well.. taking a 5year detour to draw from life and my imagionation, study figurative traditional art and anatomy even when I could make acceptable abstract works.. this took courage and integrity, and now Im just getting back to having some stronger freer elements in figurative work.  Its worth it. Now I want to continue that, and do lots of smaller copies from Velasquez and Rubens and from life and even photos, while Im finding my own style organically.

Normally working from photos is bad, as they almost always have bad areas where the 3d anatomy is unclear, which are not present in good paintings.. but once you have more life drawing you can use the photo not too literally as the basis for a viable work.

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There _are_ manuscript review communities online, thriving ones at that.  I’m pretty excited.  Finally, theres someone to read my work and connect with, fellow travelers to greet me with open arms and give me that much needed critical feedback, to sail me on my way to commercial and literary success.

Authonomy.com, by Harper Collins publishers, seems by far the most polished of these web sites. It has a large and active community and an easy upload, review and rate process.

Particularly useful are the reviews by professional Harper editors.  Its interesting to see how these people think in evaluating a work, and how they approach writing the review text itself.  I was quite impressed by the fairness, analysis and professionalism of the few Ive read so far.

Some of the listed manuscripts have been picked up for publishing, as described in this Contracts have begun.. thread on the official Authonomy blog. The thread comments make fascinating reading, both for and against.  Some paraphrased opinions from there and elsewhere –

– this is the way of the future, cutting out the middleman and giving the balance of power back to authors

– we’ve just moved the slushpile online, the chances of being read by an agent or picked up by a publisher are small

– do you want to spend your time networking [sucking up, back-scratching and brown-nosing] to get ranked?

– this is a way to find important young writers

– this exploits hungry young writers

– my manuscript has really improved from the feedback I got

– a large group of untalented writers giving you only positive comment, has no value

– its the wrong audience. I don’t want writers to read my work, I want readers to read it

– its unreadable, complete tripe – out of the 10,000 novels there, only two could be made publishable

I found these sites to be full of healthy scepticism –

Writer Beware Blogs and WriterBeware.org

HowPublishingReallyWorks

sure to debunk any electric cool aid that might be on offer.

I think Authonomy is an excellent site.  Even if it doesn’t solve the hard problems – writing good work in the first place, then having people enjoy reading it and pay you fairly – its an important experiment.  The internet itself took a few years of experimentation to iron out the mainly social problems and make it work.

The main weakness of all community manuscript review sites is the pressure to “write a good review for me, and in exchange Ill write a good one for you”.  Thats human nature, a tribal survival technique. So how to combat that?

If I was working for Harper as an editor Id certainly want my review to remain anonymous, for purely safety reasons – I don’t want to be stalked by an angry author.

I think part of the solution is to make ALL reviews anonymous.  Then scratching your back nicely would have no positive effect on my ranking as an author.  Being brutally cuttingly honest when I reviewed your novel would likewise have no negative effect on my own works progress.  It would still be possible to rate manuscripts and to rate reviewers, and you still would get public help in bubbling true gems to the top.  I guess it wouldn’t stop two authors from privately agreeing to write each other positive reviews and push each others work up, but it should lessen the strength of group politics.

2009.01.19

It began, as Stephen King suggested. I settled into my simple desk in the basement.. gradually began my archaeological excavation, rummaged around, hit on something, not sure what exactly.


2009.01.23

I have possibly opened a portal onto another dimension. Snippets of dialog, paragraphs of untethered storyline and whole chapters seem to be bursting forth, faster than I can record them. Who knows where this will take me.

2009.01.29

Looking at the random text so far uncovered with the now attuned electro-spectrometer, I do wonder that any of the material shall be decipherable to me.  It seems to come in several tongues intermixed and in many styles as if from differing times and placements.

Only one such semi lucid signal have I managed to separate out from the maddening noise of others, stronger it seemed and more attunable by algorithms which I have trained upon the case under many generations of refinement.

Text, such as it is, follows.  Strangely it seems to somehow echo my own investigations and current internal state of mind.  To rule out the coincidence of which I have checked and triple checked my instruments thoroughly.  Yet the signal remains unmistakably coherent and unique –

1889.01.29

On the hypothesis of Thought Transmission

I have from time to time let my thoughts run on in speculation, regarding the human and primate capacity of detecting unspoken but emotionally enunciated thought via the transmission of electromagnetic signals.  Given that the radio noise of an electric spark travels outwards attenuating as the reciprocal of the distance from the source, as is well established now, I feel it might be possible for a man, woman, child or beast to detect thought, attenuated also as they are distant from the source.

My reasoning is that the mind, residing as it does over the cellular, chemical and at most fundamental electrical foundations of the brain, being comprised of oscillating currents, each singly active generators of signal, must in unified consort leave trace to electromagnetic radiation emanating out, traveling through the aether.  These emanations might be of such frequency and modularity to be possibly detected by some future technical instrument or by some as yet undiscovered complex natural organ, perfected by Nature due to its general and utmost utility.

I speculate from first principles and without proof that these signals, diminished by distance only in a linear way and thus capable of traveling even possibly across continents, might be amplified and detected by other sentient individuals, especially of a like or attuned psychic nature of personality.

Thus it seems that telepathy in whatever primitive and undeveloped way might exist and be fully consistent with the theories and predictions of natural science.  What might have been seen as witchcraft or the profane magic of an unenlightened age, might come to be understood and rationally explained, for the benefit of all mankind.

This talent being developed over the pursuing centuries, under sustained and critical investigation and improvement, with the aid of instrumentation and amplification might be augmented to such a degree that members of the common folk might instantly communicate over vast distances and at the speed of light, on matters quite complex and of intimate detail.

One might envision a further enlightened humanity, where questions territorial, politic and economic might be optimally negotiated, the understanding of the counterparts precise viewpoint and opinions more clearly enunciated by their now public innermost thoughts.  Thus the potential for the utmost good is implicit in this nascent technic.

In counterpoint to the above, if certain parties were to limit the distribution of such thought amplification education or technologies in a situation of competition or aggression, the advantage weighed upon the former party might render the opponent effectively mute and speechless by comparison.  Used as a tool of war the transmission of clarified pure thought would serve as a massive and decisive accelerant in favour of those who wielded and withheld such power, either against the common good or strengthening the side of the righteous and true protectors of all human kind.

Nevertheless, all technic must have its benefits and detractions, the more powerful and fundamental the theory the more widespread and implicative the applications.  Progress must go on as is the way of things, we had wheel, the horse and cart preceding the wind borne dirigible, and yet I fear in this particular domain the vast machinations unforeseeable and deeply profound in their wide ranging implication, and so do humbly warn as your servant and protector to hold these investigations private and unknown until some at least initial predictions can concretely be examined.

I therefore must humbly implore her most high and mighty excellency to hold the contents of this scrip in utmost verifiable and stringent secret, while granting your constant servant opportunity to continue and expand the investigations most wisely instigated by her enlightened self,

Edward Lord Paxton

Painters Day

[ please note – contains R18 language ]
What if he painted something really good, so lifelike you could pin a tail on it and call it a fucking weasel? What if he broke beyond all the accumulated shit, the years of cruft and crud of compromises and half starts, and just blasted through with something completely believable and solid. Enough to strip off the made up smile of that bitch at the gallery.

Sometimes anger is really motivating. Yeah. Just keep painting until this fucker is shining silky smooth in oil. Cant top that, even smug little fucks in their air conditioned boxes away from the real world, have to respect real work at a gut level.  This is where the action is, paint goes to canvas, darling, its as old as the hills, ain’t no shortcuts. Fuckin useless art world cunts.

What to paint?

Reena was a great model. Christ those were the days, he’d draw her from 7 till 1, they’d fuck in the breaks more often than not. Sometimes shed bring a friend and they’d still fuck. Some of the work was not even bad. He had boundless energy when he was 20. more like 23. whatever. Yeah it sort of came in waves, the work. Slapped you in the face when you’d be not looking for it to.

“Fresh and new”, thats complete tripe, these fucking cocksuckers at University art schools. What the fuck is fresh and new. For fucks sake even the fucking impressionists weren’t fresh and new. Its not about fresh, fresh is what you want in lettuce. Fresh is what you want in fast food salad on your maccas burger, because you’ve lost all the fight to actually find real food after your nine to fucking five bullshit wage slave job. “New” just means young dumb and full of cum.  Nothing new under the sun.

Ever see a fucking Matisse in the flesh? Movement its all about movement. He drew for years to just have the fucking tools to see it in the first place. So when it drifted past he could underlie it, gently, like a child does for a clob of passing fairy flower, supporting it with your hand, as it shivers there in your palm with each waft.  Now take that thing, without any ego at all and lay it down truthfully on the canvas. What the fuck has that got to do with fresh. Thats painting, for fucks sake.

He’d always kept the drawing up, thank god. Even when he had so much sex on offer that youd never get through it all. When the demon drink had got him. When the early paintings never sold and when they did. When the girls were pregnant. Probably missed out on a bit of life because of it. You have to do that, theres nothing like 40 years of drawing to open your eyes. Its got to percolate through you, never leave you. Searching searching. Not to mention anatomy. Drawing anatomy well is not fucking anatomy is not wanking to anatomy is not medical fix-you-up and send-you-home anatomy. Its that I don’t actually want to fuck you right now, because theres something more going on with you, even physically, that I’ve just got to take a moment to trace out.

God those first times in Life sessions as a virgin kid. Hed read somewhere you had to actually feel the chalk was touching the model as you followed her contours. That just made it too fucking personal, though. I’m not talking erections, but lust is not the appreciation were looking for.  Theres just too much going on to get anything down if you go that way. Touching as you trace her side, her mid, her legs aww shit thats too much baby youll lose it. Your not drawing that girl, your drawing the two hundred thousand generations of nature perfecting herself through cosmic trial and error. Micro-incremental evolution of an alien species into something that we could only dream about the potential of.  A little bit of distance helps.

They should just tell you straight up at art school. “If you cunts cant get up at 4am every day and draw for seven hours, and do it come rain or shine, come poverty and riches, come fame and desolation, then fuck off and get a real job as a house painter or insurance salesman”. Percy was a bit inclined to bluntness, hed really hated that mutherfucker. But years later hed met him, and surprisingly the old shit remembered him and had drawn up a chair and theyd broken bread together.

“So much coffee”, hed said. So much coffee, but hed never touch the other stuff.

He couldnt believe hed taken the time to talk to him. He kept completely anonymous at school, aloof.  Fair, but hed never be your buddy. You had to fucking earn it and none of us had, and we knew it.

But when someone would trick Purse into actually drawing a snippet on the board instead of just describing verbally on and on in anatomical Latin… if you were lucky enough to get him to scratch away, holy moly, hed come up with it. Like a girl youd never looked at twice who had an unremarkeable face, suddenly revealed in a breathtaking bathing suit with perfect haunches and erotic lean muscular movements. Some women were only beautiful on certain days. Some women were only beautiful when you could forget their personality and they could forget who they were supposed to be for a moment and just enjoy the simplenes of being just a girl.

Yeah hed draw these lovely engaging lines and whammo, youd see this unfinished piece, and before you could plead to leave it there or finish it please please, hed scrub it out and go back to normal Percy. Hed been drawing for 30 years already, and nothing can pretend for that, its not gonna come from the book or a theory or an approach or a system for chrissakes. Thats the real deal. He had it, might have even knew it. Might have been great. But he also wanted to keep us in a cocoon, young people as we were and the world outside.

No use mucking on about the past. So much of it. Take all day. Thats a bit of a wank, like TV or the drugs. Youd let them steal a whole life away, like an emotional dial machine. Turn the dial and give yourself a buzz, darling. Pain, longing, lack, sadness, love, fulfillment, righteousness.. all there on a platter. And like monkeys we’d turn it straight to orgasm or happiness and just bake in the sun of that one feeling until all true things of the world passed us by and we were dust. No thanks. Glad he never got started on that hit. Hed seen lots of people go that way, some of them with the drive, with the need, with all the ingredients to be a fine painter. All pissed away because they couldn’t keep it in their pants, they just had to have another drink or another line of coke or another food, wine or sex party.

“There, but by the grace of god, go I”, his old ma would say.

So dabbing away these memories washing back and forth under the radar, he began a new piece. Scratching out and building up the oil. No respect for the canvas, none at all the only way to work. Its there all along, they all say that. Gnawing biting breaking hacking burning. But mostly putting on a bit and scratching more away, looking for the lines that were true and right and would speak to her. of her and for her.

Hours passed. He looked up at three unfinished cups of tea, the sun falling, dusk now the light gone. Breathing out, wilderness in his eyes fading. A good day at the office.

“A good day at the office”. Hed say these things aloud. Probably not the sanest choice but well, noone was there to report him to the authorities so why bloody not, eh. He’d like to talk to himself in a kiwi accent sometimes, accentuating the tough Maori from the old country, as if he too was once a warrior. Fuck weren’t they all just throwing spears at the stars if you went back long enough.

But this day, yeah hed done good. And the worst thing was to keep going when youd done all you could.

Nothing like that feeling, nothing like it in the world.

While passing by the local supermarkets magazine rack, the Barak and Michelle Obama TIME cover caught my eye.  It has some good pics of the ubiquitous inauguration, but what I really enjoyed reading was ‘Books Unbound’ in the Arts section – the story of how self published books are melding into the mainstream, with some examples of real success.

Heres a few must read titles that bubbled to the top and were picked up by the paper press –

Daemon a hitech thriller by Daniel Suarez [reversed pen name Leinad Zeraus]

The Shack a guy meets god literary tale by William P Young

The Lace Reader by  Brunonia Barry

Still Alice by Lisa Genova

From the free online chapter samples, these seem to be rippingly well written novels…

A while back I saw ‘Daemon’ mentioned on slashdot.org,  creating a geek click-storm that would bring any site down.  Havent read it yet, but aching to do so.

Many of us computer geeks enjoyed Neal Stephensons Cryptonomicon.  Brimmimg with ideas, believable software startup scenes and cypherpunk chic, its hard to top.. Some of his baroque cycle I liked, but they seemed to require more up front commitment from the reader, and less pure fun, though still superb.  Anathem I had to finish, but boy I wish famous writers would write thinner books, I guess publishers are afraid to mercilessly cull words of a great writer, knowing each copy will have a slimmer box office take.

For sure traditional paper published printing is going extinct in its current form – its too risky for publishers and not risky enough for authors.  How can it be a way to make a living for a merely good writer whos outside the top 10, when they only get 2 dollars per 20 dollar book?  How can the immense waste of paper and shipping inefficiencies survive?  Its anathema [tsk, tsk] to the goal of saving the planet.

Yet the thing thats lacking in the publish-it-yourself route, is the merciless culling by editors to get the authors shit in shape for shipping.  Being all powerful as an author with editors cowering before you, yields almost as bad an outcome as if you’re the customer paying the editor, who will surely be nice to you.  Reminds me of an expat-in-thailand girlfriend situation bulletin board entry – “Well, Ive found bar girls to be very nice people”.  The truthful responses “yeah, Thai people are really accepting of others and polite” and “dude, shes a prostitute, your _paying_ her to be nice to you!”.  Not that I’m saying editors are whores, far from it, ahem. Maybe just “Tough uncompromising bitches that chop out whole unneeded chapters of your book”, well you ain’t gonna like them.  But they do us good.

So how does editing fit into some probable new hybrid model of self publishing combined with the traditional book business?  Dunno how it will pan out, but i guess theres some synergy between people voting on which online manuscripts they like, and editors suggesting changes.. maybe the whole process can be done online with automated vote gathering.  Like wiki corrections for a novel.. this would stamp out typos, as you can really spread the work around.  What then if there are so many edits that they rewrite the book driven by his own ego?  That opportunity for feedback was there before, but the friction is much much less now – I could always take a Biro to a paperback and send it back as my personal take on editing.  But now its possible to do just that, and have it integrated back into the work.  But then how to avoid the scenario of making two movie endings and having a focus group of uniform middle of the roaders decide the most acceptable ending.. that compromise kills art. Hmm, what to do.

I was wondering if many people are writing novels online.. directly online in blog-like chunks.  Putting aside the issue of getting paid, or even of getting read by many, theres a nice immediacy to instant publishing.  As the writer you’re pushed to get stuff out the door, your excited by the idea that people might be waiting to read the next installment.  Waiting directly on you, as a _performer_ in real time, so the pressure of not wanting to let people down, people who have read the first 20 chapters and will lynch you if you don’t give them 21.. well, that would propel you forward, make you feel guilty if you failed to deliver.  Motivate.

Of course there are blogs of novels being gradually unveiled as they are written, but I just haven’t found any good links to gripping yarns of this kind yet.  I haven’t really started to look. Please tell me if you have found some gripping rants, Id like to play voyeur for a while and lurk on the other side of writing for a while each day.

There must be novel blogs – the Time article above mentions many of the top 10 Japanese works were both penned and read on internet savvy cellphones.  I wonder if the writer and reader ever bumped shoulders on the Tokyo underground as they were being politely manhandled into anonymous commuter trains by gloves of silk?  Maybe thats too much of a racial stereotype Im guilty of.

I say, let it flow.