I’m a Free Man

tracesI’m a free man!

As some of you know, I quit my studies of mathematics with the Open University. It was just too much. Work is pretty stressful and time-demanding these days, and has to be my priority. Spending every spare minute morning, evening and weekend studying rather than relaxing and re-charging my batteries turned out to be unhealthy on all accounts, so I pulled the emergency breaks and quit. T’is a shame, but since I study for my own pleasure, and find studying right now not a pleasure, I think I can justify the decision.

It certainly feels like I pulled the stopper out from somewhere else. Since quitting the course, I built a crafts table and my head is full with creative ideas in all forms: sculpture projects, painting and drawing projects, computer art projects, even fun programming projects. I even got some of my filing done, how’s that?

Seems like it was time to quit. All I need now is lots of more time to pursue all those interests. Too bad I can’t pull the emergency breaks and quit paid work, too.


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My Motif

motifA motif is the centrepiece of a Roman mosaic. Not the square yards over square yards of dolphins and nude girls, 3-dimensional optical illusions and fighting bulls, straight lines and wiggly lines, stars and ships and lizards, but the small piece in the very centre of a grand floor.

It’s the mosaic’s valuable part, the part you treasure, the part you take with you when you move from one villa in the south of Rome to another in the North, or whatever the Romans did.

Here is mine.

It’s made of approximately 120 pencils, coloured and standard “HB” ones, cut into 5..7mm discs (using my Dremel 3000 and it’s diamond cutter tool), laid upside down and cemented together with Copydex, a rubber-like arts and crafts glue.

We don’t have a Roman villa to surround it, and we don’t have a grand marble mosaic floor to surround it either, but we are quite happy to have it hang on the wall.


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Corporate Meeting Results

doodles_lowresI need to be on full alert in some meetings that I attend at work, while some other meetings require just listening in at a reduced level of alertness. When attending teleconferences of the latter kind, sometimes I make use of the spare capacity, get my graphics tablet out, and doodle around with Artrage. I like these six doodles shown here, which I drew in order from top left to bottom right.

Each is a very simple random doodle, filled with plain colour. None has any artistic merits, but I like the fact that you can see a plan emerging from a random doodle top left, to something like a flower bud in the bottom right. Oh, and I also like the bold colours.

The plan improves and colours are chosen more considerately, as I move from doodle to doodle. Predictably yet frustratingly, the spontaneity of the first doodle is lost. I need to learn combining the spontaneity of the first with the planning of the last.

Time to join more meetings. Bring it on!

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A Project Proposal

DSC_0239No This Week I’ve Been Mostly Eating this week. I am stuck in a studio apartment with a tiny kitchenette and mediocre equipment. Cooking is limited to salads, sandwiches, pasta with simple sauces. Not very exciting.

Instead, let me tell you about an arts project idea that came to my mind:

You start by talking to those people who make the colour mixing machines found in the paint departments of supermarkets, D.I.Y. stores and hardware stores. Dulux comes to mind, but others have pretty daughters colours, too. Somehow, you make them surrender their colour mixing statistics: on this day, we produced 5 litres of a paint made of 3% apricot and 1% lime, and 2 litres coloured with 1% ochre and 0.5% bright red (plus the bulk in white), etc.

You’d collect this statistical data over a long time, preferably a year, and preferably in different countries and continents.

Then, you go and chose a colour chart. I like the idea of using a standard IT8.7 target, but some of the fancier colour rendering index methods with all colours of the rainbow, arranged maybe in a circle, could be a good start.

Next, you devise an algorithm that lets you plot this chart, distorted by the statistical data retrieved. For example, one might expect that bright yellow and lime colours play a larger role in spring than maybe in summer, or one might expect that ochre and beige shades play a larger role in California than in England. Will the winter be predominantly dark or bright?

It seems plain to me, even though I won’t normally shy away from making an effort, that this is a tiny little bit too large for me. I guess this could be a digital art major project for one or two students, for example, so if anyone out there reads this and plans on doing it, good luck, and be sure to show me the results.


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A Cook, an Artist, And a Poet

DSC_0738-largeA cook, a visual artist and a poet are among the professions required for a great chef.

Have you seen Claire Hutchings’ menu for an event at The Bunk Inn, Curridge Village, Thacham, 28th & 29th of February? Probably not, but if you want to, here is it:  http://pic.twitter.com/ZoT3p0Uf.

I don’t mean to be picking on Claire. I am certain her food looks stunning, and tastes every bit as good as it looks. I liked her on Masterchef Pro and even thought she could win it. I also don’t mean that she’s alone in this, but seriously? This is not a menu. It’s a list of ingredients. Maybe Masterchef spoilt her, since they seem to do this forever and ever: I made you a blah-blah-blah on whatnots, accompanied by this, that, and something else, with a jus from something and other and a foam made from whatever, topped with a shard of…

This is where the chef needs to put her poet hat on for a while, and invent a name of a meal, and a menu, that is not a list of ingredients or preparation methods. Something intriguing, something that arouses curiosity and imagination alike, something amusing. Maybe there’s a job opportunity here for someone with inspiration, language skills and a good understanding of food and cooking.

I am not offering my services here, and I am not claiming that my Christmas 2011 menu sets a standard, but honestly, I find it much more appealing to read and look at, and much more intriguing. Honest.

Would all aspiring chefs please give this more thought and come up with more original menus?

Thank you.


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Toys for Grown-ups

DSCF0377I am pleased to report that I am working on a little arts and crafts project right now. The missus is even more pleased, I think. It’s one of those crazy ideas that might just be a lot of work and might just take some while, but with luck, it will be worth the effort.

So, without giving too much away, I wanted to tell you that I am now a very happy and very proud owner of a Dremel 300 multitool; the Swiss army knife of rotating electric tools. One of those little hand-held motors with tens of attachments for cutting, sanding, polishing, grinding, cleaning, …. It is just a.m.a.z.i.n.g. It even includes a flexible shaft, which I find even a.m.a.z.i.n.g.e.r.

I think this will be an enormous help with this little project. I have now stopped counting the “oh, I wished I had one of those when I did this or that” thoughts, too. My life would have been easier, and the results much better (and faster, and neater) many times. I wished I had bought one much earlier. This tool seems perfect for little jobs around the house and garden, and certainly is perfect for many jobs in craft and hobby affairs.

I can’t wait to take it to stone, too, but one thing at a time.

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Not Sure if I Would if I Could, But if I Had…

2011-09-25 12.59.33I couldn’t quite figure out this Nicholas African guy until I re-read the De Young museum‘s exhibition sign (luck that I took a photo): It is Nicolas Africano, silly me!

Nicolas Africano. He’s an unknown to Wikipedia, but not to a wealth of arts- and sculpture oriented sites. Here are a few more examples of his beautiful cast glass sculptures:

Woman Eating Fruit by Nicolas Africano 1997 Cast Glass (on Flickriver)

Untitled by Nicolas Africano 2006 (De Young Museum, San Francisco) (on Flickr)

Untitled (Standing female figure in skirt), Nicolas Africano 2005 (on cva.edu)

I find his cast glass sculptures insanely beautiful. Breath-taking, leaving me at a loss for words but with tears of joy. I don’t have money in the area of $30,000 to spend on a piece of artwork, and I am not sure if I would if I could, but if I had, I’d sink onto my knees in front of it every day under the sun in admiration.


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DSC_0734For those of you who know, this is an obvious choice of subject for this Friday’s post, but as we remain pretty pleased with our new front door, this event certainly deserves a mention here: our new front door has arrived.

Designed by ourselves – with many thanks to everyone who contributed with discussion, sketches or ideas.

Thanks to Woodland Products for the smooth and timely execution (and showing commitment for sorting out various special requests and issues along the way).

Thanks to our stained glass artist of choice, Simone Kay, who helped turning a vague idea and some rough sketches, combined with lots of photos and discussion, into a beautiful piece of art.

We couldn’t have asked for better partners on this journey.

The mini-album with “before” and “after” images is right here: http://gallery.gauweiler.net/misc/front-door/.

You should probably come over and take a look yourself, just make sure to be here between 7:30 am and 9:30 pm. You wouldn’t wake-up the neighbourhood with spontaneous applause and excited screams, would you?

Well – OK. You’re perfectly entitled not to like it. For us, it is a very personal design, and this is exactly what we wanted. Which makes it even more personal, of course.  In short, we love it.

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Public Art

assemblyHallBall Don’t you love public art?

I’m serious.

There’s an awful lot of awfully expensive and hideous public adornment around. I do, for instance, recall a supersized string of toothpaste, made from concrete, outside the courthouse in my home town, and a poorly manufactured stainless steel monstrosity in the same town.

However, some public art pieces are just brilliant. Most of their brilliance steams from simplicity and accessibility.

Just look at the giant marble in the London Assembly Hall forecourt shown in the little picture here. It’s just a big black ball in the middle of a public space, but it encourages people to interact with the ball, the architecture, and themselves.

Another great example is the Weather Project, a few years ago in Tate Modern, or the binoculars that allowed (through hidden cameras and monitors) looking through from one end on London‘s South Bank to some place in New York.

Love it.


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polly (Detail)Allow me to introduce my little blackbird: Polly.

Nothing much to say about this quickly done simple oil painting, using a pretty good but terribly sticky acrylic medium: Daler-Rowney Alkyd Flow Medium, diluted with 25% of purified linseed oil.

If you are experimenting with oil paint, I surely recommend this medium. Among the acrylic media, this is far superior compared to Liquin or Galkyd.

Oil on canvas, 10×12″
February 2009

As always, click here, or the thumbnail, for the complete picture. The real thing is on permanent exhibition somewhere in W7.

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