Monday, September 13, 2010

The Zefrank Scribbler

What A Tangled Web We Weave

This morning while checking out the latest contributions to Julia Kay's Portrait Party on Flickr, i came across the wonderful work of Maureen Nathan. Among her drawings was a one entitled self from memory.

At first i thought it had started life as a doodle but closer inspection revealed it was done with a computer program called The Scribbler by You probably already know it but it was the first i had ever heard of it.

It is a web-based drawing program where you do some free drawing with your mouse cursor and then, when you are ready, the program re-draws what you have done with those evocative web-like structures.

Needless to say i then also tried a self-portrait from memory, the results of which you see above.

You can have a go on Scribbler for yourself here. Have fun.

And by way of appreciation, i used Scribbler to draw a portrait of Maureen for JKPP from this photo.

This was the result.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Father, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Masque Goes On

The masque goes on, oil and crepe bandage on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

Are we really happy
With this lonely game we play
Looking for the right words to say?
But not finding understanding anyway
We're lost in a masquerade

We try to talk it over
But the words get in the way
We're lost inside
This lonely game we play.

No matter how hard we try
To understand the reasons why
We carry on this way
We're lost in this masquerade.
adapted from This Masquerade, Lyrics by George Benson, cover made famous by the Carpenters  (hear it on Youtube here).
I wanted to explore a bit further the use of crepe bandage in my art practice. I liked both its symbolic associations and the sculptural qualities of its surface.

And so, I  created this 3D piece. The nose and mouth are an impression taken from a plaster caste of my face. The impression was made by smearing the plaster with petroleum jelly (as a releasing agent) and then impregnating some crepe bandage with acrylic polymer gloss and pushing it into place to dry.
I wished to play with flat plane of the canvas. I was hoping for a tension of realities - through which channels do we get our information about a person? Which provides more readable information, the flat and barely suggested eyes, or the textured and fully-formed yet dark mouth? Do all the impressions we have of a person even sit together?
And how much of what we see of another person is mask, persona, social face? What lies beneath? Who is peeking out through the mask?

Society is a dance and we all come in costume, each wearing our masks. I was always struck by the line in T.S. Eliot's Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, that we "prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet".

The masks are not there simply there to conceal, but also to reveal. Or rather, to manage. Through our Persona we manage the impression we make on others. Our masks are a translator that conveys our inside world to the outside world in a way the outside world can receive and understand and embrace.

But one's social mask can also become a prison, locking us into a way of behaving and being that feels alien or that daily bruises the personhood within. The Man In The Iron Mask.

Though perhaps the worst fate of all is to identify totally with one's own mask, to believe there is no other mental reality, inner life or personal identity than our social face.

Or is that just a Western myth?

Enough musings for today. Below is a second photo of The masque goes on, but lit from right side.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jigsaw Man

Jigsaw man, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm

"... he began to feel as if he had as much effect on the final outcome of the operation as a single piece of a jumbo jigsaw puzzle has to its predetermined final design. Only the addition of the missing fragments of the puzzle would reveal if the picture was as he guessed it would be.              Stanley Kubrick

puz·zle (pzl)
v. puz·zled, puz·zling, puz·zles
1. To baffle or confuse mentally by presenting or being a difficult problem or matter.
2. To clarify or solve (something confusing) by reasoning or study.

1. To be perplexed.
2. To ponder over a problem in an effort to solve or understand it.

1. Something, such as a game, toy, or problem, that requires ingenuity and often persistence in solving or assembling.
2. Something that baffles or confuses.
3. The condition of being perplexed; bewilderment.
                                                              The Free Dictionary

Birchall's Tertiary Art Prize

Last night I attended the opening of the Birchall's Teriary Art Prize Exhibition at the University of Tasmania's NEW Gallery.

I was delighted to have been selected as one of the 23 finalists from the field of 43 artists who had entered works. This being the first time I have ever first participated in an art prize competition it was exciting just to see my name neatly lettered on a gallery wall!

The judges were West Tasmanian coast artist and gallery owner Raymond Arnold, a previous Glover Prize winner, and Bala Starr, senior curator of the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne.

The winner was Hirad Yousefpour (congrads, Hirad) whose entry was Knock Me Not (hung to the left of the door in the photo above). His painting features the surreal image of a door-knocker over a cloud, a work questioning access to personal memories. On the right of the door is my entry, When your outside's in and your inside's out.

Big thanks to Birchalls of Launceston for sponsoring this acquisitive art prize worth $2,500. It sure is encouraging to struggling art students and is a great occasion for meeting fellow artists.

(Not to mention my catching up with the Professor of the Art Faculty, Noel Frankham, once himself a student of mine some decades ago! Doesn't life have its twists and turns!).