Conic construction in a landscape

contemporary art watercolour painting

Conic construction in a landscape.

Watercolour and gouache with digital additions. 2023.

A watercolour and gouache painting of a cone in a landscape, with additional features added digitally.
The original watercolour painting was scanned to create a digital file to which additional features were then added in Adobe Photoshop. The digital additions were created as spontaneously as possible, without too much conscious consideration. The results are similar to other works that I have produced using the same process, but I suppose that’s only to be expected. Next time I’ll consciously try to do something different.
The image partly resembles a creature of some sort, maybe with a beak and what may be an eye. If the white blob that may be an eye had a dot inside it, it would obviously be an eye, but it would lose some of its slightly sinister mystery.
Maybe it’s not an eye at all. Maybe it’s a hole in the top of a wigwam. Those straight lines protruding from the top of the cone look a bit wigwamy now I come to look at them.

Stone eye: surrealist sketch

contemporary surrealism - giant stone eye

Stone eye

Ink, gouache, digital. July 2018

A surrealist 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 image is almost definitely influenced by surrealist art, including the surrealism of Max Ernst and Rene Magritte.

Surrealist photomontage – wellington boots with arms

contemporary surrealist photomontage - wellington boots with arms emerging

Surrealist photomontage – wellington boots with arms

Photomontage. June 2018

A photomontage showing arms emerging from the tops of a pair of wellington boots.
The arms are sinking down into the boots, as though the footware is devouring the owner of the arms. The theme of predatory footwear is one that I’ve explored several times over the past few decades. Another example can be seen here – shoes with teeth.
Or are the arms emerging from the boots? An example of ambiguity in art.
This photomontage was created while I was exploring various options for creating a sculpture that included wellington boots. I feel that these boots have a strong sculptural presence, and I’m quite surprised how under-represented they are in the field of sculpture.
The image, which I think probably falls into the category of contemporary surrealism, is meant to be both humorous and unsettling.

A surreal chance alignment of heads (unedited photograph)

surreal photography - strange alignment of heads

A chance alignment of heads

Unretouched photograph. May 2018

A photograph of two people standing in a way that makes their heads seem to merge in an unsettling and humorous way.
The bizarre, surreal effect of the photograph is enhanced by the uniform bright red background and the colour and style of the clothing. The glasses help as well. The photograph was taken on a ferry between Oban and the Isle of Mull in Scotland, May 2018.

Surreal anthropomorphism and a kitchen sink

contemporary art surrealism anthropomorphism - the eye of a cyclops

Anthropomorphic kitchen sink

Photograph: June 2015

A slightly surreal, slightly disturbing (to me) anthropomorphic photograph of a kitchen sink. The texture of the sink’s surface along with the staining round the plug hole and the shape and position of the overflow give this image an anthropomorphic quality in which the plug hole may be an eye while the overflow could be a nose or a mouth (or a mixture of both). If this sink does indeed resemble a human face the fact that the face only has one eye in the centre of its head suggests a cyclops.
The plug hole and overflow can also be seen as being suggestive of other human orifices of course.

Sketch from the imagination – dancing teapots

surreal sketch from the imagination – teapots

Sketch from the imagination – dancing teapots.

Ink and watercolour on paper. 7x9cm. April, 2018

I like to sit down with a sketchbook every so often and draw whatever comes into my head. Surreal objects with bird-like features are a recurring theme. These slightly surreal dancing teapots are a good example.

Last Cigarette – a surreal found object sculpture.

Surrealist dada contemporary sculpture involvinng pareidolia - cigarette and shoe last

Last Cigarette. Found object sculpture.

Shoe last, cigarette, lamp base. May 2018

A surreal or dada found object sculpture made from a cobbler’s shoe last with a cigarette inserted into the circular hole in the last that is designed to accommodate a handle. The last is mounted on a lamp stand.

The sculpture utilises the human sensory condition known as pareidolia, the interpretation of shapes as human faces, to create a surreal head. Pareidolia is essential for the interpretation of a lot of art, especially art in which faces are merely suggested by, say, a few strokes of a paintbrush. In some art pareidolia is actually a curse though – think of the number of abstract images that are ruined when you see an unintentional face in them.
The sculpture’s title, Last Cigarette, utilises the human tendency to reinterpret words to create puns – in this case the word ‘last’ referring to the wooden cobbler’s last, meaning that the cigarette is the last’s last cigarette.