Sunday 31 January 2010

Make Your Own Man

MAKE YOUR OWN MAN: illustrations printed onto cardboard and made into interchangeable boxes. This item is the reason why the illustrations shown here yesterday were created, although at the time when I posted I wasn't sure whether it would actually work. I'm happy to announce that it has! And it's here for perusal or purchase.

Saturday 30 January 2010

Four species of the modern Melbourne man

Four species of the modern Melbourne man:
Species 1: we don't have much surf in Port Philip Bay, but there are plenty who do the surfer look well enough, although they are somewhat paler than those up the coast. Species 2 is the one that used to populate my inner suburb when rents were cheap and all the pubs seemed to have band nights. Now it's Species 3 that has taken over: they preen at the annual Spring Racing Carnival and study the latest real estate and share prices. Species 4 is dear to my heart but is a rare sighting in my neighbourhood, whereas further north it can be spotted in plentiful numbers, usually being followed by a chicken.
In case anyone is wondering, this little picture was painted using acrylic and pencil. I am getting back into pencil -- it's nothing other than paint-mixing laziness, which I can even recall from childhood...

Tuesday 26 January 2010

I love Marcel Duchamp!

I love Marcel Duchamp. I'd like to think that it's because I understand his depth of influence over the course of art in the twentieth century, an influence that is still evident in the work of contemporary artists. Actually, looking at the above images, I think that my love of Marcel Duchamp is about as deep as my love of stationery.
But that's pretty deep.
Images from the Japanese exhibition catalogue Marcel Duchamp Graphics, Kyoto Shoin, 1991. One of my favourite books! I just wish that I could read it.

Saturday 23 January 2010

Animal blocks + guilt

I bought these blocks the other day. I love them, but I feel overwhelmed and as though if I had found just one of those dear little animals it would have been enough. I stare at them and wonder what to do with them all and why I have $40 to spend on things I don't need when there are so many people in this world who could do alot better with that money. Of course it's partly the dreadful goings on in Haiti (and elsewhere), but it's mostly the fact that I am slowly slowly getting through this incredibly simple but important book by the Australian ethicist Peter Singer. Highly recommended for a kick in the pants, especially if you're wearing designer ones.

Of course reading the fantastic Pencil and Pipette regularly keeps this perspective at the fore for me too. In a good way. Go Anna!

Tuesday 19 January 2010

House of Love

The idea for this acrylic drawing came to me after listening to Radio National one day. A woman was complaining about a big Viagra sign that she could see from her house and which her small children were asking her to explain the meaning of. Since then I have realised just how prevalent (and ugly) those huge signs are in Melbourne. My Neighbourhood Watch piece from last year is in my head at the moment too -- probably as it's nearly a year since I made that and time for the 2010 Postcard Show. This time my house is based on one in Northcote -- I have an ongoing psychological issue with that blank style of building it seems.

I do wonder whether that fence should actually surround the house, instead of just sitting in front of it like that. I was trying to keep it simple, but might have lost something in the process.

Saturday 16 January 2010

An earlier generation's craft

An old lady from the lovely coastal town of Port Fairy in Victoria died recently. When her dearest were going through her worldly belongings, a stash of incredible notebooks full of craft patterns, ideas and other ephemera was discovered in an old hat box. Even though I didn't know her, looking at her carefully pasted patterns for doyleys, embroideries and crochet made me feel a sense of kinship with her.
This funny milkjug cover caught my eye: I had naively thought that novelty knitted/ crocheted objects (like these gorgeous Lark ones) were a contemporary invention.

"A Hot Soup is just what the children want this cold weather" though in 21st century Australia it's unlikely to be Rabbit and Macaroni or Kidney, is it?

Some of the transfers above are made up of tiny dots. I think they're very beautful.

The elegant lady rests after a hard day of turkey rug knotting. This is how we all look after a day of making things, don't we?
It's easy to forget that until fairly recently crafting was largely akin to the daily grind of washing and ironing: something women did because they had to, whether they enjoyed it or not. From knitting for the war effort above, to darning socks or re-making a new garment from old.
I wondered too, when going through this lady's notebooks, what a future generation might make of all of our crafting, our patterns and ideas. And what would the old lady from Port Fairy have thought of the way that we communicate ideas now via the internet? I hope she'd have liked my post.
Many thanks to my friend Jason for lending all of these things to me.
AND if you found this post interesting, have a look at this beautiful blog from Oregon: Unsung Sewing Patterns.

Wednesday 13 January 2010

Ill Conceived: a mobile made of wood

A plywood mobile I have been working on, and haven't quite finished, called Ill-Conceived. The first picture shows the pieces piled under a scanner. Below that is a picture of the pieces 'assembled' like a mobile in Photoshop, using scanned pieces of twine to 'hang' them from... I really, really need to improve my photography skills. No gallery curator would ever be convinced by such a grade 2 attempt at showing a mobile. But I hope that it helps communicate what I am trying to achieve, for now.
In case you are wondering, the hand is about 3/4 of an adult hand's size, the Drum packet and epaulette are about actual size. The little Speedos and Ouzo bottle are -- unintentionally -- kind of cute.

Sunday 10 January 2010

Follow Me magazine, 1984

When I was young and very impressionable, Follow Me was the Australian fashion magazine. Photographs by the talented Grant Matthews (e.g. above) and super styling by his then wife Nicole Bonython ensured that Follow Me was just that little bit ahead of Vogue Australia. We didn't have our own Harper's Bazaar or Marie Claire then, and sweetly cool original titles like Frankie and Peppermint were but a glimmer in their mother's eye.
The Polachrome fluoro cover above brings to mind M.I.A.
Of course inside there are some things that seem odd now, like all-white oversized Japanese fashion shot in a surgical theatre, an ad for Klorane Mink Oil Shampoo (no, really) and plenty of models dragging on cigarettes.

Thursday 7 January 2010

Couple with Strange Hat

I am trying to be good this holiday week and spending as much time as possible in the studio. (It's not all fun and games: there is some discipline required, you know.) Monday gleaned this decidedly odd couple, a variation on a drawing that I made a few months back (to see that, click here). I love strange old doll proportions, and wondered what it might be like to breathe contemporary life into some. "Contemporary" ended up being clothing and hairstyles from a Schiffer compendium of early 1980's Sear's catalogues. I chose to keep the colours to neutrals + cobalt blue + red. I tend to overdo colour so it's good to be disciplined on that front occasionally -- very much like when I have to stick to a certain palette at work.

Because I decided to include this picture in my online illustration portfolio and shop, I scanned and then cleaned it up. Sometimes I feel as though I am cheating when I play around with my pictures in Photoshop, but at the same time I know that it's something alot of illustrators do. And in this day and age of internet and reproduction, most people will get to see the work in scanned form anyway, so it may as well be clean. Unless of course "unclean" is part of its raison d'etre. In this case, I thought that those spots on and around the man's face above were unnecessary, and I didn't like the way that the white paint 'sat' on his face.

I actually started by cutting the figures right out of the background, which being textured paper was very shadowy and spotty, then I cleaned up some spots and little bits around both of the faces using the stamp tool. Faces I find really important: if they look wrong then it's all over as far as I'm concerned.
...If you have an opinion on all of this, let me know!

Tuesday 5 January 2010

A Beautiful New Blog

Image above by Anna
It is with great excitement that I announce that my incredibly talented friend Anna has started a blog called Pencil and Pipette. Like the woman herself, it's beautiful, thought-provoking, warm, irreverent and exactly what the world needs right now. Go Anna.

Monday 4 January 2010

Biology Study Models circa 1980

I bought this 835 page 1981 biology supplies catalogue yesterday at the Tyabb Packing House. There are some scary moments: care for some "pig embryos in formalin, 12 for US$44"? And some funny ones: "New Section: Computers"! There's butterflies mounted under glass, filmstrips on teenage contraception, human skeletons in wooden carry cases, "Pollution" board games, earthworm dissectograms and psychrometers. Many of the items shown are very beautiful, highly covetable or at least fascinating. I'd kill for some of the educational posters and I'd love some of the models, a few of which I have reproduced here.
This post is for my friend Anna, because if she actually gets to see my book she might want to steal it.

Friday 1 January 2010

'79 bedroom wall revsited

Happy 2010!
Back in 1979, I made these little girls. They skated in a row around my bedroom walls: a little parade of well dressed chicks doing my favourite things. When the room was later divided into a study and hallway, I kept my little friends along with the sticky tape that clumsily held them up, on sheets of A4 paper for safekeeping. While the sticky tape slowly turned yellow and the marker went pale, I tried to think of a way to display them again. A couple of months ago, I found a sheet of wallpaper exactly as I had in my bedroom at Meet Me at Mike's, bought a frame at Ikea (then subsequently broke the glass) and put it all together. Ta da!
...I love a good holiday project! (You?)