Shoe Heads – surrealist sketch

Surrealist shoes

Shoe Heads
Ink sketch on paper. 23cm x 23cm. August 2018

An ink sketch of two figures with shoes as heads. The shoes are a pair.
This is one of a series of concepts involving shoes and other footwear in varyingly surreal contexts.
My intention is to create a sculpture of this group.

Bird Form – an abstraction from a raven or crow

Semi-abstract artwork of a raven or crow

Bird Form
Ink on paper with digital additions. September 2018

A drawing based on an abstracted raven or crow-like bird.
The creature in this drawing is only superficially meant to resemble a raven or a crow. It’s actually meant to resemble something rather simpler – not a lot more than just a triangle on legs with a beak (Other drawings of similar creatures bear no resemblance to any recognisable biological genus at all). The body is meant to have very little form or obviously functional components (There are no eyes, wings or arms for example). The body is simply a structure for holding the legs and beak in place.
The creature is meant to convey a form of mindless brutality, largely conveyed by its posture, its lack of eyes and its vicious beak. Real crows, ravens and other members of the corvid family are, in contrast, are far from mindless, being renowned for being among the most intelligent of birds.
The image is in some ways a study in anthropomorphism. Crows are often perceived as being malevolent creatures, largely due to their appearance (The black feathers, the large beak). If I’d created the image using, say, a robin as the inspiration for the bird, would it have looked so full of foreboding to us as a human audience? Even though robins are in fact a particularly aggressive species.

Ball and Chain – pencil sketch

Pencil drawing of a ball and chain

Ball and Chain
Pencil on paper, 9cm x 9cm. August 2018

A sketch from my imagination of a ball and chain that may or may not be flying through the air under their own power (In other words, they aren’t flying because they’ve been thrown).
The ball and chain in the drawing is meant to evoke a sense of freedom instead of a sense of being restrained.

Stone eye

surrealism in contemporary art - giant stone eye

Stone eye
Ink, gouache, digital. July 2018

A sketch of a gigantic stone eye resting on the ground. A mysterious pipe-like cylinder extends upwards from the eye. A similar eye in the distance shows the pipe-like structure extending unfeasibly high into the air.
The eye and pipe bring to mind some designs of stove.
Perhaps the image is influenced by Celebes by Max Ernst, in which the rotund form was derived from a Sudanese corn bin..

Sketch of an imaginary organic form

contemporary art monochrome sketch - unsettling imaginary organic form

Sketch of an imaginary organic form
Gouache with digital additions. Height: 32cm. July 2018.

This is a sketch from my imagination. I think that the body of the organic form in the sketch is probably inspired by the nests created by potter wasps. I used to watch potter wasps creating their pot-like nests when I visited France.

Dancing teapots

I like to sit down with a sketchbook every so often and draw whatever comes into my head. Objects with bird-like features are a recurring theme. These slightly surreal dancing teapots are a good example.
This is a pen, ink and watercolour sketch drawn in Cornwall, April, 2018.

Abstract watercolour

contemporary art abstract geometrical watercolour

An abstract watercolour.
The painting is meant to be partly suggestive of pure abstract forms and partly suggestive of half a sphere hovering above a column.
The texture on the forms is created using a watercolour pencil.

Umbrella Cone

contemporary art drawing - surreal umbrella

Umbrella Cone
Ink drawing with digital colour. June 2017

A sketch of an umbrella protruding from the top of a cone.
This sketch combines my interest in umbrellas with my interest in vaguely geometric forms in the landscape.
The stone-like objects (which may be organic) with points or spikes protruding from them add a further surreal component.
The reversed signature shows that I’ve flipped the original image round, which I do quite frequently in order to evaluate the composition of images. I obviously decided to leave this one reversed.

Pen and ink drawing from my sketchbook (and from my subconscious)

contemporary art drawing from the subconscious

Pen and ink on paper. Height: 2.5inches/65mm

As an exercise in creativity I make a habit of sitting down occasionally and just drawing whatever comes into my head, giving the process as little thought as possible. I call it “drawing my subconscious”. I do the drawings in pen and ink on paper, usually in a notebook that I reserve specially for the purpose.
This image is a scan of yesterday’s effort, drawn on a sunny afternoon while sitting in a wood full of bluebells in the very pleasant grounds of Hatfield House, a stately home dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. As you can see, my surroundings had little impact on the workings of my subconscious. Which is a bit worrying.

Spontaneous watercolour sketch

Contemporary art watercolour sketch - spontaneous painting from the unconscious

This watercolour sketch was an exercise in creating something without any preconceived idea about what I was about to create.
It turns our to be a slightly sinister landscape, in the centre of which there is something that may or may not be a living entity. Originally this object looked more like a strangely shaped rock, but the addition of colour to it removed it from the rest of the landscape and turned it into something separate from the landscape. The blue dot in the image, which is just a circle of coloured paper placed on the image, gives the possibly living entity an air of sentience, as it seems to be contemplating a strange sun in the sky.

Umbrellas in contemporary art

contemporary art drawing - umbrella sculpture sketch
A sketch of an idea for a sculpture, showing an umbrella mounted at the top of a conical structure that has short filaments protruding from it.
I have a fascination with umbrellas for some reason. I think it’s possibly due to a mixture of their slightly Heath Robinsonesque mechanical structure – the hinged flexible rods that are levered outwards to support a stretched fabric cover – and their pleasing form when in the open position. Not to mention their practicality.¬†And the fact that they are, despite their mechanical intricacy, very much taken for granted and dismissed as objects of great mundanity.
My first ever published image was an absurdist redesign of the umbrella, published in the Sunday Times in about 1974.

Dandelion seeds and anthropomorphism

contemporary art drawing - anthropomorphism in dandelion seed

Anthropomorphic dandelion seeds: Pen and ink sketch: September 2015

A dandelion seed head in which the seeds have human form.
The image is disturbingly ambiguous. Is the fact that one of the seeds is drifting away from the seed head a sign of freedom or simply a sign of fate? It also looks as though it may be a suicide attempt (although the ‘parachute’ would prevent It being successful). And what can be read into the fact that the humans in the anthropomorphic seeds have no heads?

Anthropocentrism and pareidolia – an orchid flower as a human head.

humour in contemporary art - an orchid as a head (pareidolia)

Photograph with digitally drawn additions. September 2013

A humorous image: a human body drawn onto a photograph of an orchid.
I like this image’s comic/sinister quality.
It’s a work that’s about the way that people interpret the world around them in anthropocentric terms.
The phenomenon of seeing faces where there aren’t any is called pareidolia. I suspect that the condition evolved because for our hunter gatherer ancestors it was very important to be able to see their enemy’s faces hiding in the undergrowth.