Sketchbook notes from the drifting spaces

Small sketchbook drawings Ardfern – perception/intuition

Shodo zen calligraphy practice




Trying out the zen enso circle, symbol of universality and the idea of beauty within imperfection.





Small to medium fude for sho on single hanshi sheets.





Working on the character nen – commonly translated as mindfulness or mindful, also attention or care. There is a balance needed between the two parts of the kanji.





The fude brushes hanging to dry – looking like they need another good rinse!

flux – interchanging – equalising

Sho calligraphy mark making




Making some marks with fude brushes and fudepen using Japanese sumi ink. Beginning practicing for a series of three Drawing and Painting Studio workshops. Experimenting with the brush stopping and flicking, speed of the marks and energy.

In the first Shodo group the Kanji characters ten – heavens/ sky and shin or kokoro – heart/ mind. I have chosen zen related characters for participants to practice.

Beyond Kyoto on the Nishiyama mountain trail



Nishiyama 8 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama Drawing 2 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 6 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 4 (www.blairthomson.com)


off the beaten track, drawing through the dense foliage
impenetrable undergrowth
seeking colour and light blasting –
near the magical ponpon yama hills


Nishiyama 1


Nishiyama Drawing 1 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 7 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 2 (www.blairthomson.com)


Nishiyama 5 (www.blairthomson.com)

Season’s Greetings 2016

season's greetings (www.blairthomson.com)1


Have a great 2016 and all the very best wishes.

Spatial trail – neither above nor sideways

line red grey

artwork

red purple indentations

Tonedown characters part 2

Fude brushes and acrylic and ink jars with prep

sky space lines drawn into wash


expanding ink wash space


linear structure reconfigured by yellow orange space

tonedown

investigating elements T – S – I – D

actions in times present, past and futures – neither the same nor different (zenki)

Volumeless

Tonedown 1 (www.blairthomson.com)

Tonedown 2 (www.blairthomson.com)

Tonedown 3 (www.blairthomson.com)

Tonedown 4 (www.blairthomson.com)

Pier Arts Centre ‘Living Colour’ Exhibition, Stromness

Probably one of Scotland’s best art galleries although far from the cities in the beautiful Orkney Mainland, the artwork at The Pier Arts Centre in Stromness (which has a connection to the Tate) is often nicely presented and curated. And so I wasn’t disappointed by their recent exhibition ‘Living Colour’ which a friend had recommended to me. This was a tremendously exciting show, in a way a retrospective documenting, and also repositioning, animation and especially hand painted artwork onto film (rather than filming with a camera) as truly powerful artistic statements that were ahead of their time.

Monochrome drawing of fishing boats near the pier in Stromness Harbour, Orkney, with the town on the hill behind and the mountains of Hoy under cloud in the distance

5 minute sketch with marker of Stromness harbour and the Viking Monarch

Digital photo of the Pier Arts Centre on the shore near the pier, with the rear of building and modern extension with glass, town of Stromness behind

The Pier Arts Centre, photo John Ireland (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Highlights of the show began right away with Oskar Fischinger’s ‘Radio Dynamics’, a transcendental and fast paced trip of a film with a an experimental range of shapes and colours to lose yourself in. This piece pushes the visual boundaries, taking abstract expressionism into moving image in a forward pulling relentless exploration that is mesmerising. Seeing its mature combinations, reminiscent of that of the American based painters Hans Hoffman, Josef Albers and Mark Rothko, questions our understanding of abstraction at that time.

Part of the McLaren 2014 programme, the next strong piece was by the pioneering Scottish filmmaker himself, Norman McLaren, from 1949 – ‘Begone Dull Care’ (see the 7min 52s video below, courtesy of The National Film Board of Canada). Watch the visuals of this frameless film flow with the jazzy music and especially piano by the Oscar Peterson Trio. The splashy and textured mark-making slides from very simple and funny-quirky to more heavy, built up and layered surfaces, but mainly has a delightful drawing feel, and one which is so in tune with the processes as well as the free sounds of the instruments.

Begone Dull Care by Evelyn Lambart& by Norman McLaren, National Film Board of Canada

Moving towards the end of the show’s chronology, more recent work included a speedy piece by self taught filmmaker Ian Helliwell called ‘Get Set’ – here the artist made the excellent soundtrack with a toy organ. It was great to see that the seminal ‘Dresden Dynamo’ (16mm film, made 1974, 5 mins, colour, 4:3) by Lis Rhodes was on display too.

I had enjoyed seeing this very electronic feeling piece in the Tramway art gallery in Glasgow, through the LUX Collection, a year or so ago, and although on a smaller screen, the cadmium red and cereleum-cobalt blue linear minimalism was again highly striking. The pureness of the abstraction seen here in her earlier work hits the mark, thematically totally non verbal or language orientated, stemming from the method of sound creation that the projector bulb would interpret the sound of the images…

“It was perhaps the question of sound – the uncertainty of any synchronicity between what was seen and what was said that began an investigation into the relationship of sound to image. Dresden Dynamo is a film that I made in 1972 without a camera – in which the image is exactly the sound track – the sound track the image. A film document.” – Lis Rhodes

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