This is the project I’ve spent most of 2022 working on. On A Dark Raging Sea: stories inspired by the band Low is a book like no other, featuring 11 stories inspired by songs from Low’s 30 year back catalogue. I have made full page illustrations for each story, along with other drawings featured throughout the book, which I fully designed myself. Martin and I, together with the contributing authors, have created something unique and regard it as Exile In The Margins going to the next level.
The books will ship in January 2023 but you can pre-order a copy now. There’s a limited number of copies available, so don’t hesitate.
A4 landscape format. 60 pages. Colour covers and black & white illustrations. £12 & shipping. Pre-order a copy HERE
To quote Jesus: “It is finished.” My first portrait for several years. The title I eventually settled on was actually one of the first I’d considered, inspired by the Dave Gahan & Soulsavers cover of Cat Power’s ‘Metal Heart’. The original is a broken alt-country ballad, whereas the cover is a rock/gospel behemoth that unlocks the hidden power of the song, it’s emotional impact deepened by Gahan’s distinctive vocals. “How selfish of you to believe in all, the meaning of, all the sad dreaming of…”
How I made it:
Pencils, 02 Oct 2022
Undercoat, 08 Oct 2022
Part finished, 27 Oct 2022
Final stages, 20 Nov 2022
Finished, 02 Dec 2022
In 2017 I participated in the Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year competition. The heat I was invited to was held at Knaresborough Castle in North Yorkshire, and that’s where I met the artist John Ball. A top bloke, fizzing with energy and possessed of a subversive sense of humour, I was stationed next to John during our 4-hour painting heat. The utter abortion that I painted is long gone, painted over with something much better, and the lesson learned is that I can’t do what I do in 4 hours. I can spend all that time in a single square inch of canvas, and would much rather work that way. Anyway, after the filming was done John and I caught the train back to Leeds, where he was connecting to go south back to LunDun. John made some interesting suggestions about what I could paint next, and one of those stuck with me. Back home I went looking for source material and found two images I could amalgate into what this painting eventually became. As I recall, this painting sold within a week of my finishing it, and this was during a period when I was relying on sales for half of my income, so it was all thanks to John for planting that seed in my mind. He really is a great artist in his own right, and you can see more of his work here:
John Ball is an artist based in LunDun whose work I’ve admired since we first met on the Sky Arts Landscape of the Year TV programme, filmed in Summer 2017 at Knaresborough Castle. John won the heat, and rightfully so, as his work – knocked out in 4 constantly-interrupted hours – was a tremendous effort under difficult circumstances. I’ve followed his work ever since, and enjoyed seeing him stick to his guns, never deviate, never be swayed by passing trends, and just stay true to his personal vision.
As with Chris Campbell, whose work I’ve featured here, John is interested in painting the things that are not typically regarded as fitting subjects for paintings, but any man who can see the beauty in a length of shredded plastic snagged on a barbed wire fence is singing my song. I love his compositions, his slightly acid-tinged colour palette, and the sustained vision that runs throughout all his work. The everyday world is far stranger and more interesting than it might seem, and sometimes you need an artist to remind you of that fact.
See more of John’s work:
‘A Gyrfalcon for a king.’ With this one I was aiming for the same kind of emotional intensity of the song I used as its title. And what a song. I really like the last few albums Nick Cave has made – Push The Sky Away, Skeleton Tree, Ghosteen – powerful stuff. If I can get anywhere close to that effect in my art, I will be satisfied that I am doing something worthwhile.
This version of the song, performed with Sydney Symphony Orchestra, is incredible, bringing an almost religious resonance to something that is “just rock and roll.”
Chris Campbell is an artist whose work I’ve admired for quite some time. We share some common traits, principally in finding – for want of a better term – the sublime within the mundane. After exchanging emails and messages for several years we recently met face-to-face in a crowded Leeds pub, where we sank a few pints and discussed our influences and interests, our passions and peeves. I am a Leodian born and bred. Chris is a Midlander, who came to Leeds in the 90’s, around the time I moved South. Despite that, I found we have a lot in common in terms of what we like and don’t like in art, and that neither of us wants to try and over-explain what we do. The paintings either speak to you, or they don’t.
Chris can turn his hand to a Caspar David Friedrich-esque sombreness when he wants to, but he is a bolder artist than I, daring to paint subject matter that most would not even consider viable as source material. This for example:
We’re beyond “nostalgie de la boue” at this point, and in the realm of art not always being about depicting beautiful things, but dealing with the ugliness of the world and finding some meaning in that also. He’s recently begun experimenting further, attaching materials to the painting’s surface and then going at with the angle grinder to create dynamic textures and a sense that something is trying to break free out of the painting itself. Wild stuff, and further evidence of his creative restlessness and eagerness to see what’s possible with the medium.
We also share similar tastes in music, and it’s with Chris and friends that I’ll be seeing the mighty Mogwai when they play Leeds on Feb 11th next year. As a parting gesture after our meeting, Chris kindly gifted me one of his original canvasses, which now hangs in my studio/crypt:
See more of Chris’ exceptional work here: https://www.instagram.com/christophercampbell1975/
This is my personal favourite of all my landscape paintings. The time: dawn in late November 2016. The place: the park in the village where I grew up. And there was I, on the edge of a momentous personal decision, and what a place to bear witness to it. So many memories, so many ghosts. Against the silver birch in the foreground is where I had my first kiss. This is holy ground as far as I’m concerned, but for the locals it’s just the path to the shops. But we find the sublime in the most ordinary of places, and to be honest, if you can’t find it in such places then it’s probably not worth looking for.
My latest painting, as of this morning. Some may feel is already looks finished, but I can still see areas that need tightening up and I’m not about to cut corners now. My inner Millais wouldn’t allow it. No painting is ever truly “finished” of course, you just learn to abandon it at the right moment. I reckon I’ll be at that stage in about another week or so. Then I have to come up with a title…