Monday, 12 January 2009

The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown

Saturday afternoon and I’m upstairs with The King. My occasional bouts of activity over the festive period have resulted in a space large enough in my office for my easel and canvas. Both cats are soundly asleep and even the dulcet tones of Elvis aren’t enough to rouse them.

To be honest Elvis wouldn’t normally be my first choice of creative accompaniment. Much as I like him I tend to prefer something a bit more chilled out: some Pink Floyd maybe, or Peter Gabriel – maybe a bit of world music. But today we are creating with The King because it so happens that I recently bought a 3-CD set of his hits really cheap and haven’t got around to listening to it.

The canvas I’m using is a £1.99 canvas from a bargain basement store in a nearby town. Nigel, the well-meaning but slightly annoying Sontaran that I work with, picked it up for me just before Christmas. I waver in favouritism between oils and acrylics, having never got to grips with watercolours (Rolf Harris says you have to plan watercolours like a military campaign, and anything Rolf says is good enough for me!) – I like the final texture that Oil paints give, but dislike the waiting around for 6 weeks whilst each layer dries. Plus washing the brushes is a pain – involving stinking out the house with turpse and frantically trying to clean the bathroom sink before it dries on. Acrylics dry faster – so they fit my temperament much better.

However, the problem with acrylics drying much faster is that they dry much faster – often before you’ve finished using them. To compensate for this instead of a palette I have a tray into which you fit a water-absorbent sheet, over which you put a second sheet which is similar to grease-proof paper (used in baking)., which you then run a small amount of water over (enough to soak it) before running off the excess water.
So – whilst Elvis warbles away I start to paint the background colour. In the original photograph this is black, but I know that you should avoid black wherever possible (it can produce a very dead look to the picture and absorb the other colours), so go for brown instead. As I paint the brown I use a cheap D.I.Y. brush and apply a bit too much water (hint: if using one of these try to avoid dipping the metal clip of the brush into the water, as it retains it) but refuse to panic.
Leaving it to dry for a while I continue with a smaller D.I.Y. brush from the local hardware store and begin to add a few reds before realising that I need to start with the lighter colours and build up

By now Elvis is singing “Return To Sender”, but I’ve done as much as I can for the day, so I turn the painting upside down so that I can paint the area where the easel was (if anyone knows another solution to this please let me know) and leave it to dry overnight.
Sunday comes and, having turned the picture the right way around, I revert to my actual art brushes and mix some yellows and oranges.

Just as Elvis reaches “The Wonder Of You” and thus the end of the CD I leave it to dry whilst I make some lunch. Coming back to the picture I decide that the white is too strong and add some more colours on top as well as the detail for the bottom of the picture using a purple that I mixed myself (note to self: it may be wasteful, but always make more than you need as otherwise you WILL run out whilst you still need it)

Finally, and working from the top, I complete the trees in the same purple and add a few more touches to the flame

I’m pretty pleased with the final result (and Elvis isn’t complaining either), but am stuck for a title. So far the best I’ve come up with is “The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown” – an extremely obscure reference to a one-hit wonder.

Suggestions on a post-card please…


The Clandestine Samurai said...

"My world's ablaze because of you, Happy Valentine."

Or "Remember those trees* we burned in my room before History class back in college? Yeah, those were the days, dude. Happy Birthday."

Terrible, terrible, I know. But those are my suggestions. The picture actually came out pretty good.

*slang word for marijuana.

Buddha said...

I did not know you have so many talents.
I am jealous.
One of my New Years resolutions is to be more creative.
I would like to do something more artistic than painting my house!
I love your burning trees! Let me look out of my window.
Yup! Very realistic. – You know, LA, fires…

Lydia said...

I like this painting, and really enjoyed the process. My first thought was something to do with autumn, even maybe a Thanksgiving Day card. Then I read Buddha's comment about the LA fires and I saw it in a whole new light. Seen destructively that way, fire racing down the hillside to claim those trees, could make this a powerful poster for a fire department or environmental organization....

Anne-Marie said...

Mate, you are one talented pixie! My first thought was Australian bushfire - seen one of those before - but perhaps that was just the mention of Rolf Harris. I think your title is good, although I don't get the obscure reference.

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Samurai - i like your titles, they made me smile (i never give my work sensible titles - people might think i was taking it seriously!)

Buddha - thanks. I have a long way to go yet; but being creative can be a pain as well - especially when you get woken at 4am by an idea that you just have to write down...

Lydia - thanks. Some interesting images there.

Anne-Marie: The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - the chap had a one hit wonder which started "I am the god of hell fire and i bring, i'll teach you to burn" etc etc. His act consisted of him wearing a flaming hat that often set fire to his hair! Very odd!