EE Cummings on Painting... and house painting

 "Forward to an Exhibit: II" (1945)

[Here Cummings constructs an imaginary interview in which he connects his painting with his poetry.]

Why do you paint?
For exactly the same reason I breathe.
That’s not an answer.
There isn’t any answer.
How long hasn’t there been any answer?
As long as I can remember.
And how long have you written?
As long as I can remember.
I mean poetry.
So do I.
Tell me, doesn’t your painting interfere with your writing?
Quite the contrary: they love each other dearly.
They’re very different.
Very: one is painting and one is writing.
But your poems are rather hard to understand, whereas your paintings are so easy.
Of course--you paint flowers and girls and sunsets; things that everybody understands.
I never met him.
Did you ever hear of nonrepresentational painting?
I am.
Pardon me?
I am a painter, and painting is nonrepresentational.
Not all painting.
No: housepainting is representational.
And what does a housepainter represent?
Ten dollars an hour.
In other words, you don’t want to be serious--
It takes two to be serious.
Well let me see...oh yes, one more question: where will you live after this war is over?
In China; as usual.
Of course.
Wherabouts in China? 
Where a painter is a poet.

from E. E. Cummings, A Miscellany Revised. Edited by George Firmage, New York: October House, 1965. 316-17.

Session 1 of 8 of the Form, Gesture, Anatomy workshop Brisbane, Australia

The latest version of my "Form, Gesture, Anatomy" Course got underway on Sunday.

Here are some photos from the day - thank you everyone involved and see you next Sunday to continue!

Enrolment is closed for this workshop but you can be added to the mailing list in the form to the right, to be updated about the schedule for the next session in Brisbane, Australia and Florence, Italy.

For more details and samples from the notes see the Form, Gesture, Anatomy page

For samples of the 3D models used in the notes, go to the blog and scroll down.

Clayfield College workshop - Life Drawing and Painting

In early February, I went to the art retreat for art students entering year 11 at Clayfield College, Brisbane, to deliver a workshop on drawing and painting the figure from life.  With the help of the wonderful head of art Madeleine Jones and teacher Samantha Paxton, we had a fun and successful day with a group of talented and enthusiastic students.  Thanks also to the terrific model, and also my wonderful and tireless partner Lynn who assisted with the workshop and did all the photography.

If you are interested in having me do a workshop for your school, art group or other institution, please contact me for further information and a quote.  You can also find out about my availability in Brisbane, Australia and Florence, Italy, through the year here.

Here are some photos from the day.


3D printed Ecorche models for the Form, Gesture, Anatomy Course

As well as the digital 3d models presented in the online notes (embedded from as in some of the blog posts below) I like to have physical models that students can hold in their hand and compare to their work.  Here are two of the models I have printed for the March 2016 course - one for the deeper layers of muscles of the torso and one of the completed figure.  Both will be painted to match the colours used in the course.

Form, Gesture, Anatomy Workshop now full...

Update: At 17th February 2016 this course is full.  

To register for the waiting list in case someone cancels, please register your email address via the contact form.  

I will run this course again next year around the same time, after returning from Florence in February 2017.

 To be notified of when the next course will run, please subscribe to my blog or like my facebook artist page.

Below are the skeleton armatures for the course.  Cast in a strong two part resin, out of a mould taken from a 3d printed prototype that is larger than the last iteration of the course in Florence, are nearly ready... my Undead Army (sometimes called the "Skinny Minions") is coming! Muhahahaha!

Click to enlarge:

Studies of figures and imaginary forms

These were rendered using the "light from the eye" approach in which the observed lighting is not represented - instead the light is imagined to project exactly from the eye of the viewer.  The observed light and the capacity to "feel" the form in space with the eye are used to understand the form, but the form is modelled using the system - which is inherently spatial and sculptural - rather than visual.  I really like to work this way, both in the case of scattered lighting or shiny surfaces (such as shiny bronze sculpture) and because it forces one to think in terms of planes and helps to avoid a more passive copying of visual appearance.

The men pulling ropes are studies for a painting I am composing, thinking about what poses certain figures can be in, getting to know the types of things people do in this action, investigating their anatomy.

The other image is an imaginary form, loosely based on some photographs of ink being dropped into water.  Of course, in this case, there was no light to observe in the first place, since it was imaginary, so an intuitive system for applying light and shade consistently is really helpful.

A sculpture's journey in and out of the digital world

While in Florence last year, I did this portrait study in clay:


 I was not able to keep the model or cast it at the time.  So I scanned it digitally using the 123D Catch app on my iPad, opened the resulting file on my computer when I got back to Australia. This is a screen capture from Meshmixer of the scanned model:  


And a textured 3D model uploaded to sketchfab (that means that the surface colours captured by the photos has been "painted" onto the surface of the digital mesh (you will see more of this type of thing in the classical sculpture captures earlier in my blog) - click to load so you can rotate, zoom etc:

The file was rough but good enough to work on in Zbrush and clean up a bit - here is the model cleaned up, a new base added and uploaded to Sketchfab - click to rotate, zoom etc:


I then printed the model using my small Up Mini 3D printer.  The small model was printed in one piece, while the large one was printed in 8 pieces.  The safety glasses are included for scale:

Fascinating comments by Dali on Classicism versus Post-War art

These words from Dali's autobiography "The Secret Life of Salvador Dali" were recently sent to me by a friend following a conversation we had about classicism and integration in art - I had to share.


"We were consumed over reproductions of Raphael. There one could find everything - everything that we surrealists have invented constituted in Raphael only a tiny fragment of his latent but conscious content of unsuspected, hidden and manifest things. But all this was so complete, so synthetic, so "one", that for this very reason he eludes our contemporaries. The analytical and mechanical short-sightedness of the Post-War period had in fact specialized in the thousand parts of which all "classic work" is composed, making of each part analyzed an end in itself which was erected as a banner to the exclusion of all the rest, and which was blasted forth like a cannon-shot.

War had transformed men into savages. Their sensibility had become degraded. One could see only things that were terribly enlarged and unbalanced. After a long diet of nitroglycerine, everything that did not explode went unperceived. The metaphysical melancholy inherent in perspective could be understood only in the pamphleteering schemata of Chirico, when in reality this same sentiment was present, among a thousand other things, in Perugino, Raphael or Piero della Francesca. And in these painters, among a thousand other things, there were also to be found the problems of composition raised by Cubism, etc., etc.; and from the point of view of sentiment - the sense of death, the sense of the libido materialized in each coloured fragment, the sense of the instantaneity of the moral "commonplace" - what could one invent that Vermeer of Delft had not already lived with an optical hyper-lucidity exceeding in objective poetry, in felt originality, the gigantic and metaphorical labour of all the poets combined! To be classic meant that there must be so much of "everything", and of everything so perfectly in place and hierarchically organized, that the infinite parts of the work would be all the less visible. Classicism thus meant integration, synthesis, cosmogony, faith, instead of fragmentation, experimentation, scepticism."




Mock up of a timber sculpture I want to make in Qld Red Cedar

Below is a cropped version (limbs and head removed) of a figure I made in zbrush.

I applied a timber grain texture of Queensland Red Cedar to the digital model to get an idea what it would look like if it was carved in this timber.

Click to load and rotate/zoom/pan etc.  

Click the little eye button and then "help" for more details about how to navigate the 3d model.

Free Art Learning Resources: Head Construction including 3D skull models

One of the free resources I have added to this website recently includes some of the course notes from the Fundamentals of Head Construction course.  Click here or the images below to view these resources.

I have included the 3D models from my Form, Gesture, Anatomy course about building the skull.  This course provides students with many 3D models of this kind that can be viewed on your smart phone, tablet or computer.   This workshop will be run for 8 consecutive Sundays from the 13th March 2016.  A few places are still available at the time of writing so send me a message to enrol if you don't want to miss out!

To explore the model, click the triangular play button to load the embedded 3D model

Pinch to zoom on touch devices, a scroll with a mouse

Swipe to rotate on touch devices, or click drag to rotate with a mouse

Zbrush Digital Sculpture Composition and its 3D print

This composition, also developed in ZBrush, reworks a couple of figures that I previously sculpted into a new composition (including the torso of the female figure in "Singularity Koan" in the preceding post).

The working title is "DNA to Digital" and is partially inspired by design motifs found in popular culture including sci fi action flick "Tron".  I find it fascinating to work in the digital realm and then pull the product of this work into our own physical space through 3D printing (I use a small home printer).   This sense of the two worlds we inhabit - the physical Earth and the online/digital - and the blurring of the line between them has inspired so much of popular culture as well as serious science fiction - and has become part of our contemporary mythology.

Digital Renders:

  3D Print: