The Passion

The Passion

Finally, it is finished. I’ve been working on this painting since December 2014. I took the photo reference almost a year ago, pencilled the canvas a day or so later and, after that, it became a Sisyphean ordeal. For weeks the canvas would sit by my desk, untouched, and several times I thought about sanding it off and starting again, but within the past month my attitude has been affected by forces beyond my control and the necessity to get this thing finished became all consuming. The scene depicted is about 5 minutes walk from my house, a place everyone knows as ‘The Three Trees’. I’ve walked past here hundreds of times, but on the morning I took this photo the light was extraordinary – a low winter sun that erased the horizon and cast a holy light over a late 90’s housing estate. In that light the trees became transformed and I saw an allegory for Golgotha, where Christ was crucified, flanked by the thieves Dismas and Gestas. Now, whenever I walk past the trees that image comes back to me, which probably tells you all you need to know about how my mind works.

Here’s how the painting progressed over the course of the year:

The Passion pencils 18 Dec 2014

The Passion 31 Jan 2015

The Passion at 10 May 2015


The Magus

The Magus

It is not only species of animal that die out, but whole species of feeling. And if you are wise you will never pity the past for what it did not know, but pity yourself for what it did.
John Fowles, The Magus

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley

When things go wrong, don’t go with them.
Elvis Presley

The Falconer

The Falconer

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

W.B. Yeats, The Second Coming

Frankenstein’s Monster

Frankenstein's MonsterHateful day when I received life!’ I exclaimed in agony. ‘Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.
Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

Portrait Of The Artist As a Young Man

Collage 1990

I made this in 1990. A quarter of a fucking century ago! I was 22 years old, wide-eyed and wide-open to influences and possibilities. I had no idea what I was going to do with what talents I had, but I was incredibly eager. How I wish I could go back and siphon off some of the seemingly-boundless energy I had back then.

Damsels Of The Night

Damsels Of The NightAt first I believed
that those 3 a.m. taps on the window
were a delightful miracle,
and I would
let some night creature in
off the boulevard
with a cheerful “hello there!”
and she would respond
with some brisk joke
then she’d move
uneasily about,
looking into the refrigerator,
opening and closing drawers,
making odd conversational observations,
then finally use the

I would sit with one damsel
or another
night after night and
they were all of a similar stripe and
there would be
smoking and
quiet talk
some laughter
but there was seldom any
sex, and then only at
some wild suggestions of

Most left before noon
and I’d make ready to sleep
thinking of them
sitting there
combing their hair,
swallowing a pill
now and then.

I was never sure
what the damsels really
or why they came
to visit me
and as their 3 a.m. visits
some of the miracle
wore thin;
in fact, there were times
when the damsels made
stupid and vicious demands
or even threats
as if I was in debt
to them in return
for their very

They were fair ladies-all
if you didn’t look too close
and if you did
you saw faces
hard and brutal as an
beyond compassion,
beyond any real interest in men,
beyond their own female natures,
their vulnerability long ago

I tried not to look too close,
only allowing myself to be
superficially aware of their bodies,
their hair,
their clothes,
their smiles,
and even
their colourful street

The vulnerable ones
not yet hardened by the streets
(if there ever were any such)
seldom if ever
and if they did
I was so used to the others
so used to
the women who were
tough to the core
that I didn’t recognize
the difference
and I suppose
if there were any still vulnerable
I discouraged them
with my indifference
the shrews grimly hung

Still you know, each time
there was a tap
at the
and a strange damsel
entered in a
with a burst of cheap perfume,
with her
high heels clicking
on the floor,
a bright joke on her red lips
sent to visit by one of her
sisters of the street,
I could not help but
wonder, will this one
be different?

within minutes
I’d realize
that this one
was no different
I’d go and
play the game
sit and smoke and
listen until
when a reality would enter
that was much harder
more relentless
than they were
and they would leave
before the force of it
became too obvious
damsels of the night
and I’d go back to
bed, alone,
the next poor
son of a bitch
is going to have to
be satisfied with
what just

Charles Bukowski, Damsels Of The Night


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 65 other followers

%d bloggers like this: