Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Rua Presidente Gama Rosa, Trindade; British trip 2011

Rua Presidente Gama Rosa, Trindade, oil on card, 12.9 x 10 cm

Another of the paintings of streets in Itacorubi and Trindade.


I shall be in the UK in July. I will be in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and London. I hope to spend some time in London, probably exploring the suburbs of South London which for me often have a romantic appeal. But that depends on where I might stay.

I also want to go to Glasgow again, because I like the atmosphere there, the wonderful buildings of Alexander "Greek" Thomson , the red sandstone splendour of it all.

I'm pretty happy going where the wind blows me though, because I just like changing places.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Condominium life, Brazil

The letter reads:

"Notice- infringment of articles 35 and 46 of R 1, you are advised in accordance with article 67

"Occupant without a key to the entrance gate using the wall as an entrance in the absence of a nightporter*, if seen by third parties putting the security of the condominium at risk, an irregularity seen by our camaras on 17 November and 00.30 hrs. Florianopolis, 20 of November 2010"

*customarily the nightporter would open the gate.

The wall in question is about 50 centimetres high. I did have a key but I carry so many that it's easier to climb the wall than to find the right one.

The condominium is run by a diminutive fat man with a beard and glasses that seem too big for his face, who has an intense love of rules ( he is called a sindico). He has no sense of humour, but he has been fair. However, he has a bunch of sidekicks who are quite unpleasant, and who enjoy catching people infringing the rules. I guess it makes them feel somehow complete. There are many rules, so the sidekicks are generally very happy people.

I was putting my little business cards in the mail boxes in the condomium, not realising that this was an infringment of the regulations. The janitor, an old man with a lined face and a limp came to me, and said, "You know that isn't permitted. But don't worry, I didn't see anything."

So I thanked him, what a decent old guy, I thought: he warned me, but he didn't make a big deal about it.

But the following day, when I was being questioned by the Sindico about climbing the condo wall, up steps the janitor- "he was putting card in the mailboxes too", he said to the sindoco, gleefully.

So I asked the janitor, " Why did you lie yesterday? You said you wouldn't mention anything?" In response, the janitor started shouting, "go away, go away!" and limped off.

I guess he saw a chance to curry favour with the sindico (who to his credit chose to ignore what the janitor said), and if that might cause me problems, or he might have promised otherwise, so be it. The janitor has a slyness that I've seen a few a few times with people form the island: a rapacious peasant quality, in which immediate private gain is the only objective.

The little story illustrates a number of features of Brazillian life:

1. Superficality.

The janitor pretends to be my friend. Fake friendly abounds here. If you come here as a holidaymaker its charming, but once you live here and realise it's fake it loses its appeal.

2. Dishonesty.

Making promises you have no intention of keeping because it will make you seem more likable (this is especially common with invitations, and takes the form of, "what are you ding next weekend? I'm going to invite you for a  drink/ to meet my wife etc. They don't mean this at all- they are trying to be charming, but it is confusing and annoying.).

3. Rule obsessed.

I think, because their public spaces are degraded by violence, squalor, grafitti, filth, stray dogs,  sewage and violent mayhem, and they've in large part abandoned them, Brazillians become obsessive in the readily controllable zones of the home or condominium. There also might be a Portuguese element here of legalistic pedantry.

Rules are not evenly handled: the security guards in the offices I work are considerably more pleasant to some than others, depending on their status- Brazillian society is very hierarchical.

Because I ride a bicycle (I suspect) and in Brazil only students and poor people ride bikes one of the security guards thinks it's acceptable to speak down to me. Or maybe she is just a rude cow.

4. Obsession with security.

Actually. it would be pretty hard to steal anything from here at night. None of the apartments have ground floor windows, the apartments are close together and nestle about a courtyard.

An Englishman in New York (2010): review: 2/10

Quentin Crisp is in New York where his individualism and wit make him popular, until he upsets people by describing AIDS as a "fad". His editor friend, for whom he writes reviews, tries to persuade him to retract his remark.

The film also traces Crisp's friendship with a young painter.

The film is not unenjoyable, but it is not good either: Hurt's performance is heavy going, arch and unsubtle, as if translated from the stage to the screen without consideration of the differences in the two media, and the other actors, especially Cynthia Nixon (of "Sex and the City"), are are two dimensional.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Shop window- a homage to William Sickert...or perhaps Edward Hopper..?

Shop window, oil on card, 14 x 9.5 cm

The first of a run of pictures of shop windows: a sort of homage to Sickert, or perhaps Hopper. I'd intended to start this investigation some years ago, but somehow never got onto it.

I'll paint them mostly in the centre of Florianopolis, at the weekends when it's quiet there.

Friday, November 26, 2010

View from a business park, Florianopolis

View from a business park, Florianopolis, oil on card, 12.9 x 10.2cm

Here is another picture describing the suburban, or car-based landscape, which I shall be concentrating on over the next few days.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Air conditioning units at the back of a building

Air conditioning units at the back of a building, oil on card, 12.3 x 9.5 cm

One of a number approaching suburban / modern themes.

Should the paint be squidgier?

Passage to Marseilles (1944): review: 2.5/10

How some French convicts escaped Devil's Island during the German Occupation of France to fight in the Free French forces, in the UK.

All the convicts turn out to have hearts of pure gold, and the whole is nothing more than an exercise in pro Free-French propaganda, told in flashbacks by cardboard characters and interspersed with speeches exalting French patriotism.

Even Bogey cannot save this one!

To Have and Have Not (1944): review: 8/10

American Bogart is in Vichy Martinique, where he runs a fishing boat : he is approached by French Resistance to assist them, but is initially to selfish and cynnical.

The film is saved from obviousness by his sexually charged relationship with the extraordinarily feline Lauren Bacall, an amusing alchoholic sidekick and Hoagy Camicheal's crooning. The camerawork is exquisite too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Praia Mole, Wave

Praia Mole- wave, oil on card, 14.7 x 10 cm

The final painting from Praia Mole this week.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Praia Mole: The white horses flow

Praia Mole: the white horses flow, oil on card, 9.1 x 11.2 cm

The second of this week's series of paintings from Praia Mole.

The title is taken from a line in singer Jeff Buckley's "Mojo Pin":

Well, I'm lying in my bed
The blanket is warm
This body will never be safe from harm
Still feel your hair, black ribbons of coal
Touch my skin to keep me whole

If only you'd come back to me
If you laid at my side
Wouldn't need no Mojo Pin to keep me satisfied

Don't wanna weep for you, I don't want to know
I'm blind and tortured, the white horses flow
The memories fire, the rhythms fall slow
Black beauty I love you so

Precious, precious silver and gold and pearls in oyster's flesh
Drop down we two to serve and pray to love
Born again from the rhythm screaming down from heaven
Ageless, ageless and I'm there in your arms

The welts of your scorn, my love, give me more
Send whips of opinion down my back, give me more
Well it's you I've waited my life to see
It's you I've searched so hard for

By Jeff Buckley, Gary Lucas (© Gary Lucas Music BMI)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Waves, Praia Mole

Waves, Praia Mole, oil on card, 9.9 x 11 cm

The first of four Praia Mole sea paintings I shall do this week, using increasngly limited colours.


Paintings from this site are for sale: please click on the label "sale" below for details.

Whatever Works (2009): review: 7/10

In New York, an opinionated misanthrope meets and helps a simple young woman from the south.

The piece has the construction of a sitcom, with plain sets and uninteresting photography.

The script is often extremely funny, making a virtue of the -somewhat obvious- set-piece character contrasts that lend it momentum.

Choke (2008): review: 2/10

An actor on a colonial heritage visitor centre is addicted to sex. He attempts to find out who his real father is by visiting his demented mother in a mental institution: she is relucatant to help him.

Although the film has flashes of comic excellence, it lacks a core and meanders hopelessly.

Fight Club (1999): review: 8/10

An insurance evaluator seeks escape from his alienation, first by visiting support groups (for conditions for which he does not suffer), then through fighting.

This film is diverting: violent and comical- simultaneously a satire on consumerism, corporate values, therapy culture, the "mens' movement", and anti-corporatism.

The denoument is far too long, however, and the film could happily be reduced by 20 minutes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A kilo restaurant

A kilo restaurant, oil on card, 14.5 x 9 cm

One of the good things about Brazil are these kilo restaurants where you can get a cheap, healthy lunch.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Third Man (1949): review: 10/10

Just after the war an Amercan  writer of Westerns goes to occupied Vienna to take from emploment from his old friend Harry Lime, a racketeer.

The themes of friendship, evil, love, and loss are pursued though Graham Greene's witty script- the film wears its messages lightly, it's seriousness countered by playful aesthetic effects of lighting, music and an almost insoucient acting style.


Rome- Piazza Venezia, oil on card, 14 x 9.6 cm

This is the last picture from my recent travels.  It doesn't quite sit stylistically with the rest.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Two from Rome


Ponte Pietro Nenni, Rome, oil on card, 12 x 7 cm

Rome in Autumn is very beautiful.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two From Pompeii

Pompeii- near the amphitheatre, oil on card, 12.1 x 9.5 cm

Pompeii- ruins, oil on card, 9.4 x 12.5 cm

Two from Pompeii, with brush for scale

Pompeii in November is really beautiful: there are few tourists and it's a joy to wonder about the ruins imagining life in Roman times.


Paintings from this site are available for purchase: please click on the label "sale" below for details.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Larissa Pereira de Silveira, blog entry

Architecture student Larissa Pereira da Silveira, who currently is completing her studies in Taubate, SP, Brazil has written a blog entry introducing my recent work:


Two from Naples


Naples- Piazza Dante, oil on card, 12.2 x 9.6cm

Naples- Capodimopnte Museum, oil on card, 9.3 x 12.2 cm

Two from Naples, with bruah for scale.

Like Catania, Naples is a great city for painting, with a splendid bay, super Baroque architecture, atmospheric alleys and hills offering all kinds of views. And like Catania, it hasn't been annexed by the tourist industry.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Cemetery Junction (2010): review: 7.5/10

In a small town in 70s England, a young man attempts to advance himself in insurance sales, attempting to rejecting the culture of his group of friends.

Amiable black comedy which reveals much about the English distrust of strivers.

Kiss Me Deadly (1955): review: 7.5/10

A private investigator picks up a hitchiker, leading to all kinds of mischief.

Violent, long, diverting noir with a confusing plot and great photography.

Peter and Vandy (2009): review: 8/10

Ennui and irritability wreck romance.

Witty and observant with much good, if occasionally stylised, acting, and an interesting use of flashbacks. It has something in commpon with Linklater's romance films.

It also includes splendid arguments about the tipping of bar staff and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

The Answer Man (2009): review: 5/10

In middle class Philadelphia, the charmless author of self-help books assists a bookshop owner and begins a relationship with a chiropracter.

Coy, somewhat preachy offering, albeit made with a definate efficiency.

Four from Catania, Sicily; tourist painting

Four from Catania, oil on canvas with coins for scale

Catania is a strinking city- dilapidated, dirty and gorgeous. As I walked from the train station past the seedy harbour area to the fish market where my hostel was, lines from Tom Waits' Tom Traubert's Blues  played in my mind:

"No one speaks English, and everything's broken", or "And it's a battered old suitcase to a hotel someplace, And a wound that will never heal."

It's a great place for painting, there's that variety of textures and sensations you get in places with haven't been sterilised for tourists- the mess, the squalor: the wounds unbound - lending you intimacy. The baroque architecture of Catania is fantastic and the city has hills that variety of levels which allows for varied perspectives. And at night the city has a sinister allure.

View near the Garibaldi Gate, oil on card, 10 x 11.5 cm

Catania- view of the city from the south, oil on card, 11.5 x 9.6cm

Catania- opposite the Agora Hostel, oil on card, 9.5 x 11.5 cm
Catania, Sicily- view near Piazza Curro, oil on card, 12.4 x 9.5 cm

I had been thinking of doing some paintings in London whcih specifically tackled known tourist sights- Houses of Parliament, Nelsons Column etc- but I think that the idea is poor, because these places so control resposes, denying intimacy and nuanced responses from visitors. They are propogandist, like official portraits lacking personality, and it would be better for me to do a series set in London's non- touristy neighbourhoods, such as Brixton or Battersea, where it is easier to locate one's subjectivity.


Paintings from this site are generally available for purchase. Pplease see label "buying art" , below, for details.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love (2010): review: 2/10

A narcissistic woman, played by Julia Roberts (whose mouth is incredibly wide) leaves her husband, then proceeds to Italy to eat, to India to pray and to Bali to discover love.

Stange, overlong offering which illustrates the self-obsession of contemporary western women without analysing it, and which features pretty, if obvious, touristic imagery of various places and a pleasant soundtrack.

Double Indemnity (1944): review: 9/10

"I was thinking about the dame upstairs and how she'd looked at me and I wanted to see her again- close"

In LA, an insurance salesman and married female client fall for each other: they concoct a scheme to make some money from his firm and get rid of her husband at the same time.

Magnificently acted throughout, with splendid cinematography, shot through with laconic wit.

The Fall (2006): review: 4/10

"Googly! Googly! Googly!"

In a hospital in LA, an injured stuntman and a small girl entertain each other with heroic tales.

Both stuntman and girl are most beguiling, as are the fantastic shots from India, but the film is simply too long, so it's charms become lost as ideas are repeated or over-explored, rendering them wearisome.

Thus the film sadly serves to illustrate the wise artists maxim "concision is a virtue in art".

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007): review: 3/10

The last days of Jesse James and his gang, which largely focusses on the behavious of his young follower Robert Ford.
The story is told through a series of mumbling encounters in wintry Missouri.

The film can be judged a failure for the following reasons:

1. Pacing painfully slow.
2. Lack of examination of character and motive, with the exception of Robert Ford's, which is dwelt on to the point of exhaustion.
3. Few exciting moments: remarkable given that this is a gangster film.
4.  Pitt's silly hamster smirk throughout.
5. The cinematography is beautiful, especially in the train robbery scene but this is not, in itself, enough to justify such a long film.

What Women Want: (2000): review: 8/10

An advertising executive, known for exhibiting sexist attitudes, loses his position as creative director to a woman: not long after he mysteriously gains the ability to hear the thoughts of women. He also has to deal with his 15 year old daughter.

A highly successful romantic comedy, full of amusing incidents, perfectly paced and scripted.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Three from Sicily; tourism, photography and plein air painting

I took the ferry from Malta to Sicily, staying for a couple of days in spledidly sited former Greek Empire city of Syracuse, where Archimedes lived and which features ruins of some importance.

Much of the city has recently been restored, though the place still has some rough edges.

Three from Sicily (Syracuse and Taormina)

Corso Umberto I, oil on card, 13 x 9.6 cm

Greek Amphitheatre, Syracuse, oil on card, 9.5 x 12.6

I met a charming French-Spanish couple while painting here, at this greek Apmhitheatre, which is quite enormous. Thanks to them for buying me lunch. I hope they find this site.

View of Taormino, oil on card 12.6 x 9.5 cm

Taormino is one of those places that is so touristified that it is quite unpleasant, the entire length of the main street taken up with shops selling souvenirs. The tourist industry has this amazing capacity to destroy the places and cultures that it supposedly celebrates: everything becomes commodified, including aspects of interpersonal relations.

The views  from the town, however, are quite breathtaking.

My picture owes something to Kokoschka, the itinerant Austrian, whose painting journeys might become a model for me, along with Edward Lear and the Scotsman David Roberts.


Digital cameras have made photography easy, cheap and fast and I see tourists, including myself, wandering about snapping away, scarely seeing the world save through a lens. Given that images of most places tourists visit, quite probably of superior quality, can be found on the web, their reason for snapping must really more to do with the desire to say "I was here", than to record or understand a place.

In the face of this barrage of fast photo images there is obviously place for slower, more considered meditation on places. Plein air painting provides this.


These paintings are for sale- for 100 Brazillian Reals or equivalent in another stable currency (at the time of writing this is roughly 58 US$ or 42 Euros or 36 GB pounds). Post, packing and handling are not included.

More details can be found under the label "buying art", below: please contact me with any enquiries.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Five paintings from Malta


The next few posts will feature paintings from a recent trip to Malta and Italy. All were painted plein air on a more or less one or two- a- day basis.

Five paintings from Malta, with coins for scale.

I had wished to post these images while travelling, but this prove difficult because the internet cafes often disable the USB connextions to their computers, making it impossible to download images.

Clearly, for future trips I shall have to consider taking along a little laptop- not something I'm keen on doing because of the additional weight and bother. 


The trip began badly, I was down with flu much of the time, so I just managed a couple of interiors, and  views from the balcony of the flat in Marsaxlokk, including these:

Marsaxlokk, Interior with woman with a "bowl" haircut, oil on card, 14 x 10 cm


Tomorrow I shall post some pictures from Syracuse, Sicily.


Nineteen paintings from Malta and Italy

From top: row 1- Malta; row 2- Sicily (Syracuse and Taormina); row 3- Sicily (Catania); row 4- Naples and Pompeii; row 5- Rome.

Plein air paintings from recent travels, all oil on card. I've included sunglasses and my paint box for scale.

For more detailed descriptions, please see individual pictures, which I shall put online over the next few days.

All these paintings are for sale, at 100 Brazillian Reals- or current US$, Euros or Sterling equivalent (as I write, 100 Reals converts to 59 US Dollars,  43 Euros or 37 GB pounds).

Payment is by cheque or SWIFT or direct transfer from a UK or Brazillian Bank. These prices do not include postage and packing/handling.

All paintings described as "pochades" or "postcards" are priced as above (100 Brazillian Reals or equivalent)

These prices are deliberately low because I am keen to make my work available to those on ordinary salaries and to people who are normally excluded from the pleasure of owning original artworks for reasons of price.