Monday, April 30, 2018


Over the years I've painted a lot of self-portraits. It's useful to have a live model who's always there and never complains when being stared at for hours or is offended if portrayed unflatteringly. I try to be as truthful to the moment as my inevitably subjective perception allows and am inevitably surprised, often uncomfortably, by the result.

Here's the latest one, finished (maybe) yesterday. Yes, I've deliberately put one eye higher than the other and yes I've exaggerated everything but there's plenty to exaggerate: the eyebags, the deep crevices etc. Flattering it most definitely is not.

Self-portrait, NdA. April 2018. Oil on canvas. 25cm x 30cm (10" x 12")

Friday, April 27, 2018


On this day fifteen years ago I started a blog called Blaugustine.  Augustine is my cartoon alter ego born in 1984 in a series of comics, The Augustine Adventures also known as Small Packages - details are on my website in the Comics section.

Anyway Blaugustine the blog: if you have nothing better to do for the next hour, two hours or 48 hours you can scroll down down down to the bottom of my blog archive and read your way up all the posts from 27 April 2003 to the present. Nowadays, since hardly anyone blogs or reads blogs anymore, I duplicate most of my blog posts to Facebook.

Friday, April 20, 2018


I was at the private view of Shani Rhys James exhibition This Inconstant State yesterday evening at the Connaught Brown gallery in Mayfair. If you're in London do not miss this show. If you're far away, look up some of her work on this BBC video.

It resonates deeply for me, strikes chords I am in tune with. Shani salutes Van Gogh and Soutine and the Fayum portraits of ancient Roman Egypt but without a trace of hero worship or imitation, simply out of comradeship. She is very much her own person, with an uncompromising gaze focused intently on what is around her but through a lens which reflects her interior world. The eyes are all important in her paintings, they have an unquiet, absent expression which at the same time manages to be wholly engaged in the present moment. I love Shani's strong, bold sense of space and drama, her rejection of prettiness and sentimentality - even her flowers are free from 'floweriness'. Yet there is tenderness in all her work and intense empathy with others. Two stunning paintings of Shani's mother in bed (she has suffered a stroke) are almost unbearable in their unvarnished truthfulness from both sides of the trauma: the mother's, and the daughter who is looking on, and looking after.

The colour red plays a dominant role in all the paintings, both as a formal element of design and an emotional key - emotional intelligence you could say - and the thick, sensuous paint seems to me like a fierce struggle to give flesh to memories or moments before they vanish - the paint as a sort of trap for ghosts....this inconstant state.

Shani Rhys James - Quinces 2017
Oil on gesso on board.
29 7/8 x 18 1/8 in. 76 x 46 cm
Connaught Brown
2 Albemarle Street London W1S 4HD

Shani Rhys James, Two Gourds 2017
Oil on linen.
39 3/8 x 39 3/8 in. 100 x 100 cm
Connaught Brown
2 Albemarle St.
London W1S 4HD

Shani Rhys James, Blue Top Orange Hairband, 2017
Oil on gesso on board.
24 1/8 x 24 1/8 in. 61 x 61 cm
Connaught Brown
2 Albemarle St.
London W1S 4HD

Thursday, April 19, 2018


My boxwork, Cosmic Sadness of a Teenage Girl Crying in the Shower, which I posted in its early state a while ago, is now finished. The box is deep but the photo doesn't show this three-dimensionality at all. I cut a window into the lid to let more light in. The frame fixed onto the front of the box will have glass fiitted in.

Cosmic Sadness of a Teenage Girl Crying in the Shower

NdA 2018   Boxwork, mixed media 28cm x 28cm x 23cm ( 11" x 11" x 7.5" )

Saturday, April 14, 2018


In my next life I want to be a physicist. Or whatever they'll be called when my next life comes around. Pshaw, I hear you say, there are no next lives. Are you sure? Consider this: there are much stranger things in physics than multiple lives.

It doesn't feel like it but the fact is...the absolute fact which physicists can that past, present and future are illusions. They exist simultaneously in spacetime or as I prefer to call it, timespace. Think about it and watch the above fascinating Youtube lecture.

And there's this:
Julian Barbour, theoretical physicist, author of The End of Time, describes time as "a succession of pictures, a succession of snapshots, changing continuously one into another. I'm looking at you; you're nodding your head. Without that change, we wouldn't have any notion of time."
"Isaac Newton insisted that even if absolutely nothing at all happened, time would be passing, and that I believe is completely wrong.
"....all the evidence we have for time is encoded in static configurations, which we see or experience subjectively, all of them fitting together to make time seem linear."

Sunday, April 01, 2018