On Bondays we celebrate not having 9-5 jobs by doing all the things we dreamt about doing while we had 9-5 jobs. Now that we live out in the (low) Mojave desert, we are spoiled for choice. A few weeks ago we drove up the road to the Coachella Valley Preserve Oasis.
I knew Oasis existed, but I was not prepared for how they make you feel once you step under 60ft tall lush palm trees. The world turns all sorts of green and aquamarines, the Californian glow turns the air pink and there is water, in the middle of absolute desert. Lots of water. So much water that these gigantic palm trees are over a hundred years old. All these pictures were taken with an iphone within an early afternoon, and somehow, the sky looks so different from one to the next. You look behind you, and as far as you can see there are only arid dirt roads, boulders, cacti, rocks, mountains... And ahead of you, this! They should change the name to 'Jurassic Park'.
The last picture is of a mini oasis nearby. Bring a hammock.
staring at the waves above
stars coming into the water
strikes of light piercing my toes
nailing me to the reefs
where the breathing is easy
and the mountains purple
where I can be and no apologise
for wanting you, for us
tangled hair floating towards
other kingdoms growing faster
electric skin that you cannot touch
there is no flesh
no bones for you to lick anymore
and with a knife
you get my kiss
(c) BB Nielsen 2012 - from Fear The Poet
These two girls came up whilst listening to Radiohead. I did not paint them via synesthesia, I find that most of Radiohead's music is very white, almost as if Thom Yorke's voice was mixed as an additional instrument, and it takes over because he tends to sing throughout the entirety of their songs. I am a huge fan of their music. Hail to their sound engineer, painting any of their songs with patterns and textures will be a challenge like no other, the layering seems to twirl into the infinite and I would forever be trying to deconstruct the songs just to find out where to begin the painting from. Maybe one day, the first time I listened to 'The King of Limbs' I sat there not listening to the lyrics, just crying out of soundscapes. Although it is nowhere near (real) noise/experimental music, and I would love for them to push further that way, it incapacitated me to do anything for the rest of the day. This from someone who finds Merzbow perfect for centering. I laid on the floor, crying happily and let them beam me way outterspace. So far only some of Zeppelin, Coltrane, Betty Davis, Pink Floyd, Hendrix and Cpt. Beefheart had driven that ship.
The lady on the left was inspired by Kid A's 'How to disappear completely', in particular by the line 'I walk through walls', the little girl on the white dress belongs to OK Computer's 'Paranoid Android', line being 'When I am king, you will be the first against a wall', in this case, when 'she' is 'queen'. The originals are bright coloured, their skins an electric blue, the background of the 'Queenie' is a very sharp edged red.
Branchlers (a combination of Branches and Antlers) are nothing new these days, but I had a drawing I made age 11 that I was never able to bring to a wall. In comes my (sound) engineer partner-in-all-crimes.
He takes a look at my cockeyed drawing, blinks a few times. Tilts head. Swallows snickering - I am watching like a hawk, his dinner depends on it - then he slowly tells me he knows how to mount antlers. I know where to find branches (dead oleanders where art thou?!) so we divided and try to conquer.
Joined effort, as in, I made a terrible drawing, trimmed a couple of dead oleanders from the side of the house, and gave both to him.
He later told me he thought it was a stupid idea (he had originally referred to it as a 'very European thing to do') but after wrestling with the branches, the windspan, the weight, the hold-ups and whatever aerodynamics engineering (almost dangerous!!) situations he encountered, he gained some respect for the project.
He eventually admitted he wants one in his studio. Can I get a 'yeehaaww' then.
A while back I was contacted out of the blue by a fellow painter, Mr. Graham Carrick, who introduced me to The TOP 100, an open submission art exhibition inviting artists to submit work inspired by a piece of music, lyric or a musical artist. This could be a fantasy album cover for a favourite artist or an interpretation of a song or lyric. Photography, painting, print, drawing, graphics, comic strip, collage or whatever medium was a Go as long as it was a 2D 12"x12" (record sleeve size).
Back then I was still shy about my abstracts, fending on the illustration sidelines so instead of finding a complicated favourite song/album/artist and with 24 hours to enter the contest, I went for the first two songs that came up on a random shuffle.
As always, when I try to be cool, the universe is sporting a royal flush. Ever so casually.
Sticking to both choices, I had no time to waste, I just went for it paying a little homage to 2000AD comics in both backgrounds, for some reason the true campiness linked everything together, in my mind at least.
1. 'Yes Sir, I Can Boogie' by Baccara
2. 'Robot Rock' by Daft Punk
Glad I owned up to the choices, both got shortlisted, Daft Punk's stayed amongst the top 10 and Baccara's was 2nd runner up.
Cookies for everybody!
A couple of Yules back I painted this 'Smallest Things are Golden' (70x58in). As we were celebrating away from home, I had to improvise a studio in the patio. One has not lived until painting at 1C/34F in high winds. It now hangs in one of my sister's hall.
I used household paints, tempera, acrylics, twigs, golden dust, and anything that flew in from the nearby flower bed. If you can't beat them, paint over them.
There are 4 generations involved in the making of this painting. The tempera, dust and acrylics came from nana's mom, it is nana's garden that attached itself to it, my sister in law owns it and my niece inspired the pink tones.
Based on Psalm 19:10 'More to be desired are they than gold, yes, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb' what kept on ringing in my ears as I twigged away was:
''And as we wind on down the road, our shadows taller than our soul, there walks a lady we all know, who shines white light and wants to show how everything still turns to gold. And if you listen very hard, the tune will come to you at last when all is one and one is all, to be a rock and not to roll.''
The solo guitar dripping from the top is Robert Plant all by himself. The acoustic, the recorders, his voice and the folk tint remained on the lower whiter part. The crescendo crosses over a little frozen branch that fell in. It may not be my favourite Led Zeppelin song (and I have painted a few of them) but it means a lot to me that it stayed in the family.
I am told I was a lovely kid for the first few years, quiet and industrious, seen but never heard type of 'thing', always in some well lit corner reading and surrounded with pens and crayons and ink.
Plain white paper did not do it for me, I needed already-there backgrounds. It started with money notes, which my dad had no problem with but my mom was horrified and kept wallets in high shelves. Then I stepped into newspapers but the ink destroys my fingers, so... I moved into her VOGUE magazines. Talk about 'horrifying mom', she called me 'Damian' (devil child) for years.
This is to this day (it has been decades) how I doodle whilst my mind tidies up itself. It's a constant, and probably subconscious study of Light.
We are all engineered the same. Just a bunch of angles hit by the sun. The fascination for what's beautiful has always amazed me. I pick up more on people's colours and tones than on actual facial features, so I don't see the fuss about Handsomeness. I guess that as a kid I attacked fashion magazines to deconstruct beauty. To understand the ratio or the harmony behind what's a 'beautiful face'. I had a broken face and live scars for a while, maybe because I was too young to care (9) it didn't bother me, but there was talk of plastic reconstruction around me. Luckily it healed by itself, sort of, but at that point I started analysing bone structures (on photographs) as there are no voice distractions to them.
I am still none the wiser, I love angles, but there are angles in all of us. The trick is to find the right angle that would highlight one's features and then play with shadows until it fits. And voila! (Unless they have a nasal, whiny, yappy voice) - Everybody is quite beautiful!
I am constantly on the look out for further collaborations with fashion/editorial photographers that would allow me to cube or paint their images, of course I would credit their work and if put up for sale, share the potential profits. (Or just simply let me enjoy being inspired by their work.) If anybody knows someone of interest or interested, please leave me a comment clicking on 'Kommentarer'' below. Thank you very much!
Another week, another Bonday, currently enjoying these guys music. 'Tears of the Moosechaser' are an americana/noise band straight out of the Mojave via LA.
Sounds of sand, whiskey, wood and rusty metal.
I lack the music knowledge to review their style, however if you would like to know more about them and their album, Mr. Alder Bloom from American Pancake is more than capable to do the honours. I like their music because it has so many layers of strings and an impecable orquestration, because they are not background music and because the lyrics are true poems to an era that we still have much to learn from.
I am watching them live at 'Red Handed Festival' in Topanga, CA - Aug 4th, all day all-timey music and variety show from 2pm - 8pm, free entry (donation based) and you get free barbeque. I mean, seriously.
thick snow falls this spring
from here I can see the thieves
gambling your wishes away
amongst sparkling golden lamps
inside your left hand
trying to scratch it out
you live nowhere
you need nothing
and they are angry they cannot touch you
why do you still feel you have to be on the run?
they can not touch you
don't need to pay for living
can't afford to survive
and in every corner
the youth falling apart
shaking their heads
staring at the cards they got
the house always takes it all
and I stare into the neighbourhoods of my night
and the city lights trap me in
if I was any better at lying
I would tell you
that I can't fall in love with you
(c) BB Nielsen 2013 - Fear The Poet
A while back whilst in London I had the pleasure of coming across Shadow XXVII's photography. Here are a couple of my paintings inspired by his fantastic work. His ability to turn the mundane into magic never fails to make my mind get lost. The paintings shown here stroke a cord because of the negative spaces and the combination of colours. I simply regurgitated them into a synesthete plane.
When we moved into our home, it looked like it had been bombed with a deadly vanilla sorbet. Everything was caked on cream and magnolia and just plain, plain, plain everywhere. I didn't mind the plain or boring walls, but I did mind they were a pastel shade of fake ice cream. With Paint in the brain, I went for a black wall in the lounge to get me through the weeks before taking on the full job of whitening the place. One black wall in a vanilla house is an effective way to break things up. Since then, we have turned all the creams into whites and added a few more black walls for good measure.
Here is my Wall of Fame and Shame displaying little windows of the trajectory of my illustrations through the years. There is photorealistic, which nobody succeeded at making me enjoy, but the lady portrayed is my amona and I like having her around. There are some Marvel style drawings, some 2000 AD style, some cubed, and more recently some Pirates of the Galaxy, cherry on top is the suitcase boombox, exchanged through Soze Gallery for a midnight poem.
Here are some of my girls that got pasted around London a few years ago. The series are called 'Pirates of the Galaxy' - A fleet of alien girls from the future.
Textured Abstracts are what I enjoy painting the most. Every time, the paint teaches me something new. I apply different temperatures to a latex paint base and then I watch it do whatever it wants. It is only then that I begin working on it, sometimes I have a previously sketched piece, however most of the time, I listen and I paint accordingly. This abstracts happen when I am at my happiest.
Here is one of my old time favourite ladies. For her intelligence, for her attitude, for her music, for her musing, for her drive, for her beauty, for being banned, for staying clear from drug habits, for still being alive, for not apologising for challenging people, for introducing Hendrix and Sly Stone to Miles Davis. The Absolute Queen of Funk.
For reasons I can not explain Funk music has a lot of black and white when it processes through my head. Drums and most beats turn my background black and a slap bass with a wah pedal makes anything a bright shade of white, which melts into voices perfectly. It is far from simple though, the complexity and syncopation of the beats folds patterns upon themselves, twisting and spiralling and merging with the bass and the singing (most of rich, quality voices are a sharp white, and create vivid shapes).
This is how I trip out any given day.
As it happens, I have very talented friends. Introducing Monsieur Rouby and one of his projects, which has been going on for the last 5 years. Constant traveller that he is, he decided to draw a parallel to the abstract expressionism of the crisp lines delineating our daily motions. The road strippers at Caltrans cover more mileage than any of us will ever get to paint, they follow complex guidelines and keep us all driving as safe as we are capable of. Simon shadowed them and filmed them at work also enabling them to run their trucks through canvasses. There are real people behind every single line that you drive by, every inch, every corner your turn, every yield you make, they are watching out for you. It's mundane, it is beautiful, it is a quiet map of our cities infrastructure.
The show is up at the Caltrans HQ in dtLA until the end of September 2012. Here are some snaps from the opening, which included a short film by Rouby and audio designed by Sage Lewis.
Downtown LA was a hub of excitement Thursday night. Add an Art Walk to an Occupy Wall Street protest and you get the LAPD being fuller than their usual selves. As we were happily chalking away early in the afternoon (advertising for the show and handing out leaflets) we got detained and lectured on the 1st amendment. We were held behind our own Yellow Line and had to wait on the Sergeant to come and establish whether we were as 'dangerous' as the 'Occupy mob'. Chalking the pavement was illegal (on that specific Thursday night). It must be nice, to be able to make up rules as it suits, especially if you can justify the unnecessary violence and chaos inflicted throughout the night.
Interviewed by Drew Tewksbury here.
Here comes Sunday. Instead of leaving the week with one of my poems I thought I would introduce my ways of poetry with a vignette. My words are uncomplicated and automatic. Short stories and poems mainly, 20 years later I have compiled around 200 pages of poems in a book titled 'Fear the Poet', which will be available soon.
These are my daily charms. Verses from Neruda seem to always sneak through my daily crevices. There are a couple of bracelets, one given to me by my family a few yules ago, made with Mauritanian stone beads, which I had as a necklace I never took off as a kid. What I love about those is that no matter how (if) you crack them, the inside follows the outside pattern throughout. It's not just little ripples, it's bright coloured full circles, stars, rhomboids and dots and parallel lines, all perfectly made by nature, which sort of explains how I see inside my head. The other bracelet was given to me by a friend of mine I very much admire, the brains behind Soze Gallery in dtLA, the bracelet is by Onyx and Chains and everytime I glance over to check my non existing watch, it reminds me that it is 'Time to Shine', as her favourite saying goes. A green beetle in my pocket, allegory to the Heart chakra and my link to California. His & Hers 'soulmate' rings and my golden double necklace holding a sparrow, a clock marking 10 minutes to 2 and a feather. The latter for the pagan/native-American beliefs of connection to the skies, the spiritual plane, the sparrow as a homage to the first poet (Gustavo Adolfo Becquer) that got through to me (at 13)) and saved me from 'undying love'. The poem rang true because I could see sparrows out of my bedroom window and his opening line referred to how they would return year after year. Glad I was only a teenager for a couple of months. And finally, the clock. It points exactly my time of birth, which was whole 5 days later than scheduled.
And down the rabbit hole and forevermore, 'I shall be too late!'
This is something that I had been for so long reluctant to try. My husband, with his BA in Fine Arts (he is a multimedia composer) had the wonderful idea of complicating my life by challenging me to mix all of my abilities into one work. Textured, somewhat figurative and angular, inked and painted and pasted about, sound based too. Oh! And it also had to tell a story. Without words. Well give the man a cookie.
'Self-Portrait, (part of) Sæglópur in the background'
Since I can remember I have been wishing upon my own habitat to do whatever I want to the space. It became a bit of an obssession after I began serial renting attending university and working in a foreign country. Tired of renting, finally at 34 we managed to get a place of our own in the low Mojave Desert, CA. London's property was impossible to own and Los Angeles was getting hectic and felt unsafe, the sun was not making it shine anymore, so here we are, out in the desert, Joshua Tree National Park up the road and Mid Century Modern gems round the corner.
Needless to say we are quickly running out of wall space but it is in constant turnaround. Like this blog, our home is as black and white as possible, although both our studios self drenched in a colourful chaos without consult.
Until we can afford updating doors, I spray-painted the scary golden doorknobs Montana Black and made an angular shape around them. It will have to do for the years being.
Once a week I like to look back at my London years. I miss my friends and walking around.
I illustrate, ink and (used to) paste away around London streets. Cities should not exist to begin with, defacing them in any way is just a beautiful crime. Then I realised I didn't particularly enjoy living in big cities, all that glossy grim and detachment rubs in so I moved to a fawaway desert-land where I don't feel the need to beautify corners.
Trees grow out of rocks in here. How can anyone top that?
7' tall 'Essence' at Upfest Festival in Bristol'09
These are my favourite pastime, it has always been.
Since I can remember, I sketched my family based on colours and textures, unknown to me that I was impersonating their voices on paper. They all thought my notebooks were a hot mess until my nan started recognising patterns (same people in different pages). I believe my synesthesia comes from that side of my family, her sister apparently had similar (chaotic) notebooks but at the beginning of the century nobody had paid much attention, nowadays they probe you through childhood to diagnose not-crazy, just funky-wired.
While everybody in preschool was having a go at stick figures, I would argue that the yellow triangular lines and scratched paper folds were clearly my mom, but a bubble head and 5 sticks had nothing to do with her. Consequently my teacher used to display my 'abstract' works as how-not-to-draw stick figures. Fun times.
I still wonder what part of a stick figure is not an abstraction.
Details from 'Into the Gramophone' Series © BB Nielsen 2008
(The original artwork is not in B&W)
Hello Tuesday. This is how I used to draw as a kid. I almost lost the angles, trying the photorealism that my school was so fond of. There was not much room for creativity, anything that did not portray the ultimate likeness to real life was not even considered a drawing. I got in neverending trouble for drawing however I wanted. I am still in love with angles, maybe because they line up real life, this way of drawing is still my favourite, I guess I am still 5 and a half.
Photorealistic drawing requires specific skills, mainly extraordinary observation and a very steady hand, but it does not make for a better quality drawing.
I believe everybody can draw, if only they dare to sketch up their realities however they want to perceive them instead of trying a classic way to replicate how daily light hits.
Hey! Teacher! Leave the kids alone!
''Dance, Dance. Dance' © BB Nielsen 2011
Today is Bonday.
On Bondays I try my best to slack off from actually doing any work. As a high five to myself for all the 8 am meetings I had to endure throughout my twenties.
I am watching Eraserhead (not a first), amazed at the quality of work happening while I had not even learned to suck my thumb... Lots of catching up to do.
Black and white movies are pretty much the ones I enjoy watcing the most, it is not because they are vintage, or have a nostalgia to them, less over produced, analog sound or more compelling stories, it is because my colourful add ons travel through a black and white field of images without feeling invasive. When there is too much colour around me I feel crowded. Black and white rooms, films and book pages are the perfect background for a sound attack.
It's 46C/115F outside and I am not brave enough to walk across my patio to open my studio, so here is to me and Mr. Lynch. Love him or hate him, Eraserhead is one in a million, disturbing in so many levels that it would destroy any future perfect nightmares one may have but in some way, so spiritual. Hands down fascinating and gross in equal meassures.
After many years of fighting social networking and trying to keep up with my own website, I find myself wanting to have a more direct dialogue with anyone interested. I paint, I write poetry, I laugh too much.
Contrary to popular belief, people who are dedicated to Art (of any kind) work constantly. There are no days off, no logging out at 5. Something always triggers a frantic search for anything to make a note to self, be it mid-morning coffee or mid cloud bursting.
My brain suffers from colour excess (audio-video synesthesia), hence this my virtual home will stay as black and white as my desert home. You may also notice that every post has a day-of-the-week topic. I am not that scheduled in real life, I work on different things any given day, however setting the publishings to a weekly routine allows me more flexibility.
My reasons for this blog don't have much of an ego foundation, but instead, a need to show my appreciation and eternal gratitude to the universal forces that allow me to make something everyday.
Talk to me, comment and ask me anything, teach me something and I will try and cruise you through my life as a synesthete.
Thank you for Free-play.