You’re Hired!

Much like the TV show,  I recently applied for a Website/Software Development Apprenticeship via an agency called QA. The interview went well, they liked me, I really wanted the opportunity- a small, friendly web development company called Module Media. I also fell in love with the beautiful surrounding lanes of Blackfriars, which link up to St.Paul’s Cathedral in a maze of narrow alleys filled with high quality eateries and galleries (I even showed Visualizar to a lovely gallery owner/opera singer who was super nice).

To cut a long story down a bit- I revised really thoroughly, completed the second part of the interview (building 3 web pages in 3 hours) and they offered me a job!

Things I learnt that could help you secure a web developer apprenticeship:

  • Work on your personal skills- show passion and dedication.
  • Read up thoroughly about who the employer is and what they’re about.
  • Sharpen your skills and keep them sharp- free time = sharpening time.
  • Just like Alan Sugar- they’re looking at you as in investment. What will they get back in return? 

I’m super stoked to have got this far and am already imagining what skills I’ll have a few months from now. Look out world!


I finally airbrushed a skull- sorry!

Airbrushing skulls, half naked women or flames is a standard practice of airbrush art, especially if it’s on the side of a motorcycle fuel tank. Sorry but it’s a bit stereotypical and unoriginal… and now I’ve done one!

I recently treated myself to an Iawata airbrush (quality Japanese brand). So far I’m very happy with the build quality but ideally I should have chosen a smaller needle to allow finer detail work. It’s still a damn nice and reliable brush. To break it in, I made this skull on a ‘reclaimed’canvas and did it from start to finish in one sitting. I’ve gotten into the habit of painting the canvas black then using chalk + Visualizar to draw the outlines and features.  The original image was taken from Google Images.I don’t intend to sell it or make money from it. 

I painted on a shop!

I was super excited to get the invitation to paint my friend’s juice and coffee shop in Peckham- The Pony & Scallop. My two amazing friends Steph and Andrei opened the shop in late wintertime and were keen to transform the appearance to suit the vibrancy that is Peckham. Steph (who is an amazing artist by the way) came up with a brilliant fusion of pony and scallop.I reinterpreted the design into my more macabre style and then used Visualizar to chalk the design up onto the wall. I was very happy with the result.

Unfortunately there was an issue with the lease and they had to return the shop to the lease holder! However it was a great bit of exposure as it was my first ‘fresco'( I can’t bring myself to call it graffiti). 

You can still find the ‘fresco’- it’s up Rye Lane, the shop is down an alley with fruit and veg shops which is situated right next to one of the railway bridges half way down the road.

Little Piggy

I thought a splash of colour might do me some good. I created this Celtic golden piggy by chalking the outline onto a canvas using my trusty Visualizar app. I then added layers of acrylic colour followed by oil glazing. 

Tate the Sequel

Apologies for being away from the blogging for a while!

I was lucky enough to be invited to jam with the lovely people of Digital Maker Space– a collective of UAL Alumni, lecturers and students that make digital based art. Think robots holding pens!

As there was a Picasso exhibition next door in the main area of the Tate, I thought that it would be fun to use Visualizar to make a knock-off Picasso exhibition. So I created a bunch of picture frames from my previous business Framething (its a postcard with a built in, pop-up frame that I designed). 

Members of the public used some downloaded Picasso drawings and paintings to trace over, then we put them into Framethings. 

Highlight of the event for me was when a man with special educational needs made a picture, both he and his sister were quite timid at first but by the end we were laughing and chatting. It was a beautiful moment 🙂 

The Digital Maker Space people were also so lovely and I think that more collaborations may happen with them at some point.

I created this picture using a robotic drawing machine created by the great Damien Borowik.

All you need is a bit of chalk and a cool AR app

I had a happy coincidence the other day.  I have been interested in African masks for a while now- the cool shapes and the responses they evoke are really powerful and alien. I found a book on them at school and quickly used Visualizar to create a chalk recreation of one of my favourites. 

Strangely the art technician mentioned that Picasso was obsessed with African masks… so that’s one thing we got!

One of the days that changed my life part 1

This image was firstly drawn using Visualizar, the main shadows and grey tones were added in airbrush, followed by a full coverage in compressed charcoal.

About a year ago I accidentally discovered something at the school that I work at. The art department in this particular school had dated back a very long time, (the school itself even had former pupils enlist in The First World War) the building is very old and as the pace and style of education has changed over the years, so had the odd collection of artefacts in the recesses of the largely unused cupboards in the classroom. I was having a bad day and wasn’t feeling my usual self. On a free bit in my timetable I looked around the empty classroom and something called to me, to start looking through the locked cupboards. Well, there was one in the corner which I had never looked in. To my amazement, inside was a series of draws containing airbrush equipment that accompanied an air compressor in the cupboard next to it. It had never occurred to me that airbrush was something that I should experience. All that I knew about airbrush was that you needed lots of stencils and you had to be very careful. It sounded boring. However I was curious by the mysterious parts and smells of paint. I asked my next door teacher, mentor and father figure Mr.Benjamin (that’s all one person by the way) about the airbrush kit. As far as he could remember it had lived in the cupboard, unused even before he had been at the school. From the look and condition of the kit, I estimated it would have seemed very cutting edge  around 1980-1990. My heart wells up when I think of the 90’s!

So, I sifted through the scores of cheap and damaged airbrush guns, pipes, nozzles, hoses, nuts,springs, jars, lids, trying to cobble what might be a working airbrush. There were a few unloved, damaged  chrome ones. All the parts seemed to have a different broken feature, like a collection of guns from different eras that had been broken in the heat of battle. I tried all combination of different parts, tantalisingly probable that amongst all three draws of equipment- something had to fit together. But they wouldn’t!

Eventually I did manage to put something together. I plugged it into the compressor and powered it on and it began subtly chugging and hissing. I hurriedly began my first baby steps in a particularly unpleasant magenta ink. All my intuition based on the unclean equipment in the draws- like discovering a long dead civilisation and trying to pick up where they had left off. Quite fittingly the first image I remember drawing was of a bison that looking similar to the early cave paintings found somewhere in Spain. I still have the painting.

With a few more goes and some quick video tutorial I learnt some control and was now spending hours after school at the airbrush kit, with Mr.Benjamin showing appreciation for the work I was producing. He also had a compressor in his classroom, although it had been ravaged of its working parts. Mira the technician brought in her airbrush for me to use (as I clumsily broke the delicate parts of the remaining airbrush equipment) and there I was- in the zone of being in love with painting as an art form.

I turned my subject matter very quickly to observations of masks, as they were kind of human like, but also abstract. No one was going to notice if they looked out of proportion ( I still didn’t have that much control),  plus they just looked cool. With ever increasing control and more video tutorials I reached the higher ground- managing to create some life-like texture. It felt godly, I had found something I was good at and interested in. From that day,  many things, including Visualizar have come as a product of the contents of a forgotten locked cupboard in an old school. I created Visualizar after having the genuine need to want to draw in proportion and quickly, so I could get on with the painting part. 

A year from that day and I still use the airbrush (the image at the top is my latest experiment) and although the app has taken a lot of my time, I still aspire to return to painting in a serious way, like when I first fell in love with it.

Tate Aftermath

The Tate Modern have a cat that lives in the staff entrance! He even made his way into my artwork!

Wow,  what an experience! The South London Raspberry Jam at the Tate Exchange was a truly energising. The organisation paid off, having seen other events in the same space, we truly delivered engaging activities that inspired the public, rather then just delivering to friends and family of SLRJ. It was truly rewarding to see parents and kids learning, making and most importantly- having a great time in the process.

In short, 12 gifted coders devised Micro:bit workshops to the general public. With only a day’s worth of preparation, they did a fantastic job and grew in confidence with every minute.

As for everyone involved in the jam, we quickly bonded and formed a wonderful community, a team,  a family even! If the Tate Exchange had transformed into a space ship and we left Earth on a never ending exploration of space, I’m sure we would have a great time together, thanks to the skills, personalities and beliefs we share. Events with a range of ages and backgrounds are very rewarding indeed.

As for my contribution to the jam, I downloaded pictures from the twitter feed and then used Visualizar (what else!) to draw a montage of images on large scale paper. With a flash of inspiration from another parent, we then added micro:bit’s to the artwork and ran scrolling text from the speech bubbles in the picture.

For another piece, kids used Visualizar for the first time to draw images onto paper. We then decoupaged the pictures onto a large sheet and then drew a large cartoon-like character around the edge of the page, as if the pictures were drawn onto his skin.

My good friend and film maker Alex from Neon Forest kindly came along to film some footage for my website. It quickly turned to chaos as we were swamped with interest in the app, but he did a fantastic job and was my right hand man throughout the entire time. Thank you Alex!

Thank you to everyone who helped me- Phil, Helene, Raj, everyone at SLRJ and the nice people at the Tate Exchance and all the people I met and talked with. There’s so many but you know who you are!

SLRJ dudes on the swing! (to be honest the best part of the whole experience was using the swing every morning)

Here is my cat observing the picture. He always sits on the most important thing in the room! 

Here’s the decoupage picture made on day 2.

Visualizar is coming to the Tate Modern

Exciting news! Through my links with the amazing coding community  that is  South London Raspberry Jam  I will be demonstrating and creating a mural in the Tate Exchange area of Tate Modern. 

On Tuesday 13th of February 2018,  SLRJ will be jamming on the 5th floor of the Tate Modern with workshops to sign up for and drop in sessions throughout the daytime. 

I will be demonstrating  Visualizar  by creating a Modigliani-inspired mural. Everyone is invited to download the app and participate in adding to the mural. I’ve also been working on an IOS version of the app which I hope will be available for the big day. 

Here’s the link to the official event site

This one for the Tate Exchange Website

Acrylic Glazing

Can glazing only be accomplished in oil paint? The answer is no- you can glaze in any paint medium that can not be made wet after  drying. For example poster paint or watercolour wouldn’t work, but acrylic would. A glaze is a transparent layer of colour- think about glass panels (glazing, double glazing), they’re layers that you can see through, as well as something shiny. It’s the word ‘glaze’ that sounds like something that has to be shiny, like an egg glaze in cooking or the stuff that goes on pottery. I might be going out on a limb on this one, but I’m sticking with my statement- glazing isn’t exclusively a shiny word. There’s also a difference in washes over glazes, transparent over translucent but that’s still a little out of my current focus.

After discovering the incredible world of glazing and looking at prolific renaissance artists such as Titian and Rembrandt, I have begun to prepare a scheme of work for my year 8 art class looking at the renaissance era. I wanted to make a quicker, more child friendly, safer and quicker approach to the glazing method. 

To create my Kanye West portrait, I used Visualizar to create a basic outline and map the areas of light and dark. I then painted in the darkest and lightest areas in pure black or white acrylic. I then added layers of glazing over the top in either red, yellow or blue. The paint was extremely thinned down with water. To speed up the process I carefully dried the glazing layers with a hair drier. Correcting the form was achieved by going over again in white, then re-glazing to adjust colour. Finally I stretched the paper and coated with a PVA solution. One coat would have been okay, but the second coat remained slightly opaque. Darn it. I am really happy with the painting all the same. Read on to find out why I painted Kanye West…

Now this post is going to go in a different direction. Let’s talk successful creativity.  In 2017 I watched an amazing ted talk about about the 7 habits of successful artists. As the speaker explained the rationale behind each rule of successful creativity, he linked each idea to a different person in the public domain. One of the rules was gathering feedback from others. Gaining feedback is essential for understanding what works and more importantly,  what doesn’t work. The film production company Pixar start off with average ideas and turn them into perfect, well shaped masterpieces through lots and lots of valuable feedback during every step of the production process. The other person mentioned was Kanye West. Despite his Jesus complex and massive ego, even he has his head screwed on when it comes to making music that people want to consume. After all, you need to please an audience if you want to sell some records.

This brings me on to my final mini rant… Rian Johnson’s butchering of the Star Wars saga. Having recently watched it (and hated it), I listened to the 5 live film show, eager to hear Mark Kermode rip it to shreds and was aghast that he actually gave it a glowing review. Rian Johnson is living in a bubble. I was admittedly satisfied to hear that Rian didn’t follow the 6th rule of creative success. I needed to hear that he was wrong. That his vision was flawed. In the interview he said that he was nervous at the premiere as he had only previously shown the film to a few film maker friends,  yet hadn’t actually properly shown it to anyone prior to the premiere. The premiere was the first test screening! Let’s take a second to absorb that.  Pixar continually gather feedback and make adjustments to make sure that people like the film. That’s really important if you want to make a film that people respond positively to. Rian Johnson didn’t feel the need to create a healthy creative environment where all feedback is welcome. Rian how could you?

What’s your opinion of this post, feedback welcome.

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