I love rain. It is a wonderful warm experience to wake up with heavy rain on the roof. It starts as a sound as if a distant part of a dream and then the realization that the wet is outside and the sheets are dry causes a womb-like feeling of protection and safety. It doesn't happen very often so it is a mixture of familiarity with unreality.
Later I had to go to Macquarie Street to take photos to upgrade a website. On the way back I saw dozens of Sacred Ibis digging worms in the park. Photographing them lead to photographing reflections on the path and then to leaves and then to two leaves that seemed to interact with the lights and darks on the wet path in an extraordinarily beautiful way. I couldn't stop. Well, I could, but only after around 300 photos and the battery was getting low. I loved those leaves.
Walking further I discovered blue shed like constructions around two large equestrian bronze sculptures. A Japanese/German artist, Tatzu Nishi has enclosed Gilbert Bayes bronzes so that they now appear to be inside a room. My favorite is the one in the photo that looks like the horse and rider are stepping onto a bed. I know that it is a rather fashionable idea to dress up someone else's artwork to give a new appreciation from a new perspective, but this was a particularly good version of that genre. Like the rain on the roof it had a delicious unreality about it, as if it was a Magritte painting that had just come to life.
I went to the shopping center on Broadway for some RCA plugs and walking back took about 80 shots on the iPhone, mostly of the old brewery site which is in the process of redevelopment and other subjects along Broadway. I love that area for taking photographs but the old brewery half demolished as it is is particularly attractive. I know most people see such industrial urbanscapes as an eyesore but I love it - to me it is like a dystopian monster in a moonscape and I love that sort of thing. To me it is pregnant with the poetry of the city. By being so empty now it is as if it is full of ghosts of stories and speaks more of people now than when it was a busy working factory such a short time ago. I have intended for photography and painting for quite some time.
It is a huge site but now it is largely leveled dirt with the core of the complex and the old chimney eerily alone in the center. It reminds me of Hopper. Hopper never actually painted scenes quite like this - it is a subject more typical of George Bellows, but the feeling of the emptiness in the midst of the city, that is pure Hopper.
The second photo is actually off the brewery site on the other side of Broadway. I loved the scraggly old tree hanging on for life with just a few lonely leaves among the upper branches and twiggy bits. Of course we all know that as new apartments get built that the city council in its infinite aesthetic wisdom will see such a tree as a blight and replace it with something "pretty" and new with lots of leaves - a botanic version of the cult of youth. I must be one of the odd ones because I see such things as this tenacious old tree as pure beauty, but then, I am just an artist - what would I know about beauty?
A lot of people seem to struggle with understanding what it means to be a digital artist. Sure they know that we work on the computer but apart from that they just don't understand. For people like that traditional media like paper and charcoal and oil paint and canvas are "real art" and everything else isn't quite the same. They are right you know - it isn't the same, and if anything, I look back at my time painting with paint as being a bit limited.
Anyone who has never owned an iPhone thinks that they are merely a cool looking phone and so wonder what all the fuss is about but those who have made the leap into the iPhone world know what I mean when I start talking about the iPhone in affectionate terms. Most people soon discover that the phone functions of the iPhone are actually only a small part of using this device because it is the ease of use of the software and the apps that make this mini-computer such a delight and the most useful mobile phone in existence.
Here is a link to an Apple ad for students which gives just an inkling of what is possible:
For an artist (especially painters and musicians) it is an amazing creative tool. It is great for sketching, and all sorts of other creative note taking. I have come to love the ability to record lines and phrases for poems in the middle of the night when the ideas come to me. I usually do that by using voice recording. I have other ideas and email them to myself. I can draw, edit photographs, create digital artworks, read from a book, check Facebook, IM a friend, watch some video, do a crossword or a jigsaw puzzle, or just listen to a podcast.
This video was a lot of fun to make. It may have a practical purpose but I am pleased with it for the way it ended up. It is also amazing to upload and see how quickly it finds an audience. It might not be as large as the big hits on YouTube but the steady stream of viewers is very gratifying. It is part of the deal of being an artist to to interact with an audience and as much as these videos are very humble they are a growing resource for my students and others interested in art. I am reminded daily of the democratization of culture due to the internet and the way it enables an artist to communicate directly with an audience. It is wonderful thing and is fundamentally changing the definition of what being an artist means.
What a week full of surprises from friends. Firstly Saul visited, then yesterday Phil Aspden arrived just after class. Phil is the other of my closest friends who I met when I was 20 and living in Jake's Monastery. Phil was the one responsible for me moving into the monastery. (in case you are wondering the monastery was not a place of monks - it was an old rooming house full of artists, writers, poets, musicians, writers and other bohemians. I met Phil at an exhibition we both were in just 3 weeks after I moved into the Cross (again - not a religious institution, just the common name for Kings Cross used by locals). He was living in the monastery and let me know a few days later that a room had become available. Saul moved in a few weeks later.
Phil is a very valued friend but he lives a long way away and so we don't see each other very often, although it would be more often if I wasn't such a workaholic. Last night I had a lot of work to do too - I had to do the covers for the sketchbooks for the hens this weekend. But we went up to the Kings Cross Hotel and had a drink at the cocktail bar on the 5th floor. Many years ago Phil had lived there when the hotel was run down. Afterwards I worked on the sketchbooks until 7:30am.
What has William Shatner got to do with Christmas cards? Not a lot really, I suppose, since he's Jewish. Although if he is like a lot of my Jewish friends he knows a lot of people from all sorts of backgrounds most of whom don't think about religious issues much and he probably receives a few each year and may well reply to some of them where appropriate. But that is beside the point because I was thinking of another more indirect connection earlier.
I couldn't sleep. It is that betwixt and between sort of weather at the moment where it can't make up its mind whether it is winter or summer so if the choice of blanket density is wrong when going to sleep I can wake up from either being too hot or too cold. I experience the same thing at the beginning of winter. I hate this time of year - I would prefer it if the weather would just make its mind up to be consistently hot or cold and make it easier to sleep. Today I woke up too hot.
I had only been asleep for a couple of hours but when I wake up like that the mind starts working and it is hard to get back to sleep. So I got my iPhone from under my pillow (yes, I have to admit to sleeping with my iPhone) and did a few emails, went onto Facebook, said hello to a couple of people, did a quick crossword puzzle and was still not sleepy so I did a quick jig saw puzzle (yes I have a jig saw puzzle app on the iPhone. It is called Allis Jigsaw. It is great - I can recommend it.
Still not sleepy. So I thought I would do some reading. I have just finished the Steve Jobs biography and intended to read George Takei's biography but then I noticed I had an interview with William Shatner in the iPod (for those who are unfamiliar with the iPhone it has a great iPod as part of the phone). I figured it was perfect. The interview is a little less than an hour and a half and would be perfect getting his perspective before starting Takei's book as they both starred on Star Trek together. I only need a few minutes before sleeping.
So, almost an hour and a half later I had finished the interview. Oops, didn't mean to do that but the interview was dangerous in that once started it was impossible to put down. William Shatner is a real gentleman, he has a wonderful attitude to life. At an age when most people start slowing down he is a whirlwind of activity. Best of all - when he speaks he speaks from the heart, a quality which has probably given him a few personal problems over the years but which also endears him to his audiences as a general rule.
Before my iPhone 3G S I had never owned a video camera, had never made any kind of video. Now I have made 3 and number 4 is in progress as I write this (processing the clips for stabilization which takes quite a long time). With 3 movies on YouTube and viewing numbers going up quickly I am having fun but also experiencing a crash course in editing. The editing process is at least doubled because I spend as much time with my nose in the manual as I do making the edits. Fortunately Apple's iMovie makes it easy for beginners like me. My rapid progress is obvious in the 3 clips (all now on YouTube) however I don't think that the Academy Of Motion Pictures is going to be contacting me any time soon to clear shelf space for an Oscar.
As good as an Oscar (for me), however is going on YouTube. I think YouTube is a huge social change. It removes the artificial barriers of the past between "real artists" and everyone else and gives everyone the opportunity to be a filmmaker and share slices of their life with the world. By uploading videos I had to "sign up" for YouTube which is really easy and has expanded my YouTube usage to more than just looking at videos. I never knew before that YouTube Channels existed. I am loving it.
On Sunday I took the train up to Windsor, partially to see Saul, my sculptor friend, and also to try out mobile drawing, especially on my new iPhone. This little drawing is my first result. While I had drawn and painted a few experiments back at the studio, this is the first true sketch outside. I love that the iPhone is so flexible that it allows sketching like this. The possibilities are endless, and I look forward to what I can do as I gain skill using it.
To highlight the abilities of the iPhone, this entire post is composed and published on the device.
Seeing Saul was great, but sadly, I was so tired when I returned, I managed to accidentally delete all 88 photos I had taken. Fortunately, my sketches were here on the iPhone.