Upside down world again.

May 24, 2017

Ooh eck! It’s all gone weird again! I’ve just woken up from a little afternoon catnap…. and it’s 7pm!!!! I don’t know what’s going on but my body clock has gone all weird again. It’s a beautiful evening and I actually feel like going out in it. That is until I remember the arsehole count where I live and there I am, biting down on tinfoil again. It doesn’t help that as well as wanting to leave the house for whimsical reasons, I could do with going out for practical ones, like needing to buy some food… I guess tonight’s dinner shall be of the experimental nature again.

The curse of working for yourself in the insular and potentially introspective field of art is that there is the danger of disappearing into your own little world and up your own bottom. I’m trying to be kind to myself, I was up at 6.30am doing double point perspective technical underdrawing and then helping a mate sort out some paperwork, but yet there is that feeling that I’ve missed or am indeed still missing something with my strange, topsy, turvey, lifestyle. I am my own worst critic though and however hard I am with the rest of the world, I am much worse to myself and I am not falling for that at all.

That sunlight, it has that golden, syrupy, quality of pre sunset and part of me wants to go and walk by the sea, but then, so does the rest of town and who knows what horrors I will see to spoil my day? So instead, I’m going to sit in the rare quiet with the window open and listen to the birdsong whilst the sun slowly goes down. I might even read a book.


Thoughts like passing clouds.

October 20, 2016

I love walking by the sea, I always have. It’s a gift, being able to look at it every day and no two days are the same. From calm sunny days where the sea is like blue glass to the craziest stormy days where the water is a grey brown churning washing machine, where the sound of rolling  stones smashing again each other is even louder than the crashing waves.

I am sorry to admit though that, for a while now, I’ve been wasting it, wasting all that savage beauty. Whilst my body has been there, my mind hasn’t. Quite frankly, I could have been anywhere, locked as I was in a seemingly ended cycle of whys, playing endless variations  of scenarios over in my head, trying to find the one that would make everything that has gone on make some sort of sense. All those days of sparkling seas and rolling clouds wasted as I bashed my head against every metaphorical wall going. The answer is simple but not one I wanted to face up to, the reason nothing makes sense because there isn’t any. Only the absense of sense, I’ve been trying to understand things that work on an entirely different type of logic that I cannot grasp. Two plus two equals blue, then two plus two equals seahorse, then two plus two equals zed, then every now and then it equals four. 

It’s a shame that human beings forget even the hardest lessons to learn and one of the hardest is hanging framed in the hallway in my home.  A version of the serenity prayer most popular for its use by Alcoholics Anonymous but useful for so many occasion. In my version though the higher power is Bod, a 1970s children’s television character. I have to come to term with the idea that I have in my head been trying to find ways to change that which cannot be changed and out of desperation my wisdom had gone off (to take a whiz perhaps?) I am trying to get it back and accept the stuff I can’t change but I’m a stubborn bugger and it has taken a long time to sink in but I must or all this beauty and magic is wasted on me.


August 25, 2016

The difference between a fortress and a prison is on which side of the door the lock is.

The difference between a magical day and a tedious one is the events that fill it.

Take yesterday for example. The sun shone and I spent a lazy afternoon in wonderful company watching the sunlight dance on a calm sea like fireflies made of diamond. I felt the warmth of the sun on my skin and all the many things I have to plan and worry about could be safely put in a box for the day marked “another day’s problems”

Today’s weather is equally pleasant, the sun shines just as brightly, the promise of the sea is there but… I am stuck indoors waiting for a gargantuan stack of cartridge paper to be delivered via some unspecified courier company or other. I have plenty to do while I am waiting, I was cutting up an old pair of jeans at six am to make a hat out of and now I am writing a blog and then when the charge in my iPad runs out I shall do some Photoshopping of prints I am having produced for my show and then I shall write this blog again, then do a few quick drawings/paintings to add a bit of visual interest to it. The thing is though is choice, however valid my achievements will be today, however much I get done, I will not have been my choice to do those things at the point in time that I was doing them. 

And as foretold the iPad ran out of juice and… Well, I made a hat! Like you do! And whilst it was amusing and engrossing, it fundamentally failed to help either my preparation for my art show or for the illustration workshop that I’m doing one bit. But, hey! A hat! Marvellous! The parcel finally turned up at two in the afternoon, at which point I ran out of the house as fast as I could. The reason? Well…Back in 1998 my life hit a brick wall. The sort that Wile E Coyote would go smacking into when road runner had stopped to paint a tunnel on it. Long story short but months of lying in bed and staring at the floor turned into years of living in isolation from the world. Fast forward to now and after years therapy and life coaching I can live a limited but passably normal life and part of that normality comes through going out every day and engaging with the world. It’s only partly that a sunny day like today is so alluring but even on the rankest of days when the sea swishes around like a washing machine and the wind is so strong that the rain goes sideways, I still have to do it. If for no other reason than because I like it so much at home, I love my flat and I love quietly getting on with my thing, I have the Internet, I have books, I have the telephone, I have good friends, I have art materials and most of all I have a wildly vivid imagination. I know I love my home too much though and that is why I have mustn’t stay in it. 

Waiting days like today for me are like a sober alcoholic in recovery visiting a brewery, a trial beyond imagination. Talking of which, one of the major reasons for going out first thing is the nature of St Leonards on Sea in the mornings, the street drinkers are only just taking the edge off the shakes, the posers and pretenders are still tarting themselves up for the day and pulling themselves together after schmoozing in the couple of local trendy pubs and bars with the other wannabes the night before. Mornings are pleasant here, afternoons are barely tolerable and by evening…. Forget it! My afternoon stroll was much as predicted, I bumped into a couple of lovely chums but the scene on the thouroughfare was akin to that of Hogarth’s Gin Lane with an extra helping of Frederick Neichze’s bungled and botched, grown adults sat in paddling pools in their front yard smoking spliffs, the kids of heroin addict sold her possessions from a pasting tray set up on the pavement. However it was lovely to see the sea but it was lovelier to get back home, incident free. So as I sit here on my sofa, the sky a pearlescent number that you get hereabout’s that the Impressionists came to paint so many years ago, the gulls crying in the distance, wood pigeons calling and birds twittering, I can feel a sense of relief that I faced the world and although I found it slightly wanting compared to yesterday’s loveliness, I survived humanity for another day. Plus, yay!, I have a new hat. 


July 15, 2016

What is it to be happy? What does being happy mean? Well according to the Oxford Dictionary it means: feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. As a description it’s rather vague and circuitous. Happy, see pleasure, Pleasure, see happy.  It says nothing of what makes you happy or that warm fuzzy feeling it gives you. I guess if it were a personalised version or a dictionary it could read  Happiness: see shoes. But even that is too simplistic, what makes us happy one day may not the next or not to the same degree. 

If you want to get all scientific about it, there is this thing called Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which it a diagram in pyramid form which shows how our levels of need fulfilment become more refined as we satisfy the more basic ones on the list. The most basic level of this pyramid, the foundations if you like, are the basic human necessities, shelter, health, comfort. Going up in the pointy end to more exacting and more personal needs and personal goal fulfillments.

I’m happy at this moment, the sun is slowly setting, the light has a lovely pearlescent quality that is quite appealing, I feel a sense of achievement from completing a half descent painting. My dinner was quite pleasant, it’s quiet but for the occasional seagull cry that reminds me I am lucky enough to live by the sea and the gentle sound of one of my neighbours practising the flute on the far periphery. 

And at this moment (a day later thanks to the marvels of the elastic nature of time when you write stuff) I am sitting in the bath, book in hand, enjoying the warmth, the boyancy, the guilty pleasure of a slightly trashy page turner of a novel.

It’s so easy to skip right past these things or take them for granted. I take little for granted nowadays but it is a hard to marry appreciation for the little things with an illness as all encompassing as depression that swallows and chews up everything in its path. To be honest, sometimes you might as well be talking to a completely different person but it’s not a Jeckle and Hyde situation, more of where something is on the dial and sadly my depression dial very much goes up to eleven. 

I really do appreciate the little things, you learn to if you been denied them. If you have ever experienced the hangover from hell that is recovering from general anaesthetic you will know just how much you appreciate 15mm of water when you haven’t had a drop all day. Illness has taught me a lot in life, whether  it be headaches, crippling back pain or my most recent through the wringer experience with near fatal heart problems, I’d like to think that each has reinforced the appreciation of all those invisible things we take for granted, well until they go wrong that it.  

Every now and again I become fascinated by my own hands, the gift of multiple jointed fingers and the dexterity they bring is truly wonderful. It’s so sad to me that most dexterity now seems to be wasted on fiddling with mobile phones. The modern world can so often now be seen as little more than a string of opportunities for selfies and photographs of people being seen to be having ‘fun’ on social media platforms. Society now takes the wonders of the world and condenses them, and flattens them and scatters them into a sea of data to hide in plain sight amidst everyone else’s posts.

Colour makes me happy in ways that are hard to describe, just dancing a Japanese manga pen around a piece of paper is a whole world of wonder on it’s own, watching lines thicken and the ink pool can be almost hypnotising. Some colours just squirted from a tube are just georgeous even if you do nothing with them, opera rose is a real doozy and then there is the wonder that is Yves Klein blue a pigment so hard to aquire that, unless you’ve turned up to certain art galleries at the right time,  you probably haven’t experienced its beauty. I love the grainy suspension quality of some watercolour pigments and the way that what looks like an simple single colour on the tip of a brush breaks down with paper absorption and drying times into a many graded colour wash. Blimey! I’m disappearing up my own bottom here but there is a point to this. If you don’t work with colour, and its idiosyncrasies when painting, photographing or printing it, then it’s hard to really comprehend what you can miss if you aren’t engaged with the world at first hand. 

The absence of a thing can make me extremely happy, at this moment (see above note on the concept of ‘now’ in terms of the slow business of writing) I would deeply appreciate the absence of my downstairs neighbours as they fill the air with smoke from a poorly prepared bonfire, their shitty tinny music and their inane babble that becomes more so as they get progressively more drunk. Silence is something I greatly appreciate, I can draw or read in silence for hours if the world permits, many just feel the need to constantly fill it with their personal interpretation of what good music is, unaware that it is such a subjective thing that it swiftly can become the audio equivalent of emptying a rubbish truck into someone else’s living space. 

I have sometimes been accused of being a negative person but,as in mathematics, being negative about being negative can be positive. Whereas being positive about the negative can fill your life with bad things and fill up the space that could be filled with all that good stuff that there is in the world. At this moment the absense of said rude, thoughtless and selfish neighbours would allow me to enjoy the simple pleasure of a quiet Friday evenings and the  basic human right not to be labouring for every breath. The absence of the negative qualities described above would be a definite positive to myself and all my other neighbours. 

Some negatives are easier to deal with, like turning off notifications on Facebook to about 95% of my Facebook friends newsfeeds and absenting myself from a lot of petty nonsense that used to wind me up. It’s amazing how long it took me to work out something so simple. Apparently there is now a ‘local’social media platform too where you connect with people in you local geographical area… I wonder how many feuds and murders that has caused so far? Suffice to say I won’t be joining that potential vipers nest.

Some people are extremely negative, sucking up resources, energy, other people’s time or whatever. It is a sad observance but I have discovered that this current make up of society favours those who wholeheartedly believe they have a talent or ability for doing something rather than those who actually can and quietly go about it. A self propagated Emporer’s New Clothes delusion that can sweep others along in its wake and take away the creative oxygen from those with real talent and originality. In the sphere of art and making my own personal litmus test for weeding out the worst of the deluded is the level at which someone uses the word ‘studio’ with a straight face. If you ever catch anyone referring to their spare room, their garage or their shed as a studio or indeed anywhere smaller than an industrial unit, run! 

Anyway, enough of that. 

It’s mainly the simple things that make me happiest. The quiet, watching the sea, feeling the sun on my skin or indeed a gentle breeze, a smile or a touch from the right person, the first coffee of the day, the smell of books..

There is one other thing that makes me very happy indeed and that is my bed which is where I shall be heading shortly (that ever present ‘now’ again). I suffer from occasional bouts of insomnia so a good night’s sleep is a precious gift indeed, and there we have that notion of absense again. 

So there we are, I hope you are happy with what makes me happy. Goodnight! 

If a picture paints a thousand words….

April 24, 2016

Then what happens when you make an image from words? 

I love words, you can make them dance. They can twist and turn and, in the right hands bring comfort and wisdom but in the wrong hands they can wreak havoc. Like most people in this world I am guilty of both I suspect. Words, undoubtedly, have power. Historically words wielded a profound power, particularly when the ability to comprehend and interpret the strange marks scratched on a surface was a rarity rather than the norm. The ability to take such markings and conjur up an image or a story has at points been regarded as a form of magic. The term for a book of magic, grimoire, is a derivation of the word grammar and the term ‘casting a spell’ is just that, spelling out a thought and committing it to paper for retrieval at a later point to be cast out into the air again.I have come to use words more and more as a textural tool with some added meaning. Words in art are not a new thing David Hockney was fond of his letter codes and Jean Michelle Basquiat scrawled words are something I’ve always loved but I’ve used them more and more recently and the notion of forming an image almost solely of words rather tickled me.

It is only over the last few years that anyone has come to appreciate the rather idiosyncratic nature of my handwriting. I form many of my letters back to front and upside down, a trate of those with dyspraxia it seems. It was always a constant source of torment growing up, my barely legible scrawl, and so now I have chosen to reclaim it as part of my art. 

The wording used is a series of repeating phrases in a number of languages with different levels of meaning from the glib “the way to Chris’ heart is through his radial artery” a reference to my recent operations through to the intentionally unintelligible both by obscurity of language and by the level of overwriting. It’s an interesting technique and I would certainly like to pursue more variations on it, the use of an entire piece of custom written prose springs immediately to mind. I suspect a great deal of planning will need to go into something of that ilk but I reckon it’s worth a go.

The subject matter represents the precarious nature of my life over the last year or so. Without realising it I had be standing on the edge of death, getting iller, more tired, more of a ratbag to be with as unknowingly my heart silted up, cutting off my oxygen supply. The irony was that the medication the doctors gave me then as a temporary fix  made me utterly foul to be around and then fixing it properly sent me a bit nuts. It is safe to say that life for those that love me hasn’t been easy and I’m sad and sorry for the hurt I caused.  I love Beachy Head, to me it represents happy times. I have spent many hours up there with someone I love dearly, I feel safer up there ironically that I do walking down the street. It was the company I guess… With some people everywhere is the best place to be, even the edge of a cliff.

Baff pyrates

April 6, 2016

  Weeeeee had to hyde awai toe nite coz crisez huuumans friend rebadecka cam ova so see him. Weee lick rebadecka coz she is awaze  singing an its vereee nice an macks us smil. Weee alllso lick her coz she bring the biiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiig ducky. An weee luv the big ducky. Sum times when Cris is out drinkin coughee we fill the big bath with lots of water an put all the ducks in an pree tend tu bee pyrates. Weeee yooz thoughs fings wot huuuumans stick in ears as sords an go aaaaargh! Rebadecka locks arfter Cris sum times wen he is all sad an tacks him nic places or wen he tack on the black talking fing it is of ten tu her. Coz Cris has bean sew sad and sew sick  rebadecka an suuuuzana  who is loveleeeee hav been heer lots an lots now. Cris has lots of loveleeeee friends an they al luv him an he luv them.  


Whatever makes you happy. 

March 12, 2016

  As some may have gathered, I have been having a bit a rough time of it lately. After seeing my old therapist a few days ago she suggested that I do a few things that remind me of who I am rather than who people think I am or more accurately who they need to think I am to justify their own actions. Given a blank space we can choose to leave it and enjoy the
peace and tranquilly of it, fill it with something wonderful or empty out your two weeks in the sun rubbish bin in the middle of the room. We only really have control of ourselves though! What we do and how we choose to react to what happens and what other people do is really up to us. As I’ve said before I have been playing the role of Jimminy Cricket for a while now and I’m having to slowly get used to not needing to and, if I’m honest, come to terms with the fact that I should never have had to do it in the first place. As a trusted friend of mine often says “some times you just have to let people walk right into the helicopter blades” you can’t stop them doing it but you don’t have to watch. I’ve been given two pieces of homework, the first is to write a timeline since I left therapy so that I can see any patterns that have formed and appreciate my achievements and learn not to repeat my mistakes. The second if to do a new project about something positive, rather than dealing with and reacting to the crap that others have slung at me. To be fair I have slung back but I need to centre myself again, I know who I am and what I represent and so long as I can steer clear of other people’s nonsense I will be able to achieve things that I can be proud of.

I put a call out on Facebook today asking everyone what there favourite thing is and the responses have been rather fascinating. A very old friend and a fellow cancerian gave a list of the most exquisite creature comforts that really made me smile. There was lots of nature, lots of walk, lots about the sea and sun lots about good friends and family. Surprising little about booze and no one so far has mentioned sex or even their partner strangely enough. Lots about children and also lots about the absence of their children (usually the same people) Creature comforts but no stuff, no cars, no tellies, no trainers. 

So what do I like? Well I’m feeling the loss of one of those and I’m done with talking about it now. Apart from her…. Art, the making, painting and drawing thereof. The sea, I am away from it for the day today and I feel its distance like a niggling pain. Books, real proper paper books with weight and pages and that smell. Nice clothes, shoes, really nice pants. People obviously but only the lovely ones, particularly my family. The interesting thing though is no one has come out with anything nasty or cynical. I have managed to lose those sort of people over the years and the few frenenemies I have under sufferance are now being very very quiet. 

The thing I seem to appreciate most though are the absences. Absence of pain most importantly, followed closely by the absence of awful people, that is the best thing about some people, them not being there. I think, on reflection, the best time I had with my ex (certainly the easiest) was when her single white female friend flipped out and frightened her away. My heart sunk the day she came back on the scene. Absence on noise is also a big one, that wonderful moment when someone’s awful music finally stops, that is a big deal too.  I guess I could probably cognitively reframe each of those things if I thought about it hard enough but I think seeing absense of any kind as positive is a good thing as it helps counteract the elephant in the room large one. 

Well there is one thing I never have and absense of and that is ideas and with the raw material I gathered today I should be kept busy and out of trouble for ages. As for time though, well that’s another matter. Who knows? 

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