Portfolio Link

Should you be interested in viewing a more "formal" portfolio site, please visit: http://www.carlverster.com

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sources of Inspiration

"Bella 1, 2 & 3" Oil on Canvase Each 20cm x 20cm x 4cm, Oil on Canvas
From time to time I am asked questions such as "what insipred you to paint that?" or "where did you get that idea from"? They are good questions, and oddly enough I don't always know the answer.  Often I know exactly what prompted me to paint something or write something, but from time to time it just happens ... it whells up like water seeping from the ground, impossible to identify the root source. Those instances are I guess the reult of a number of triggers, all coming together at once.
So, what are these triggers?  What prompts my little creative outbursts?
Here's me opening up ... Pretty much every painting I produce stems from an inability to express intense emotion; either not being permitted to, being denied the opportunity to or literally being unable to contain it and erupting so as not to be overwhelmed by it. All it takes is one small trigger to release it.
It's much easier to tell you what inspires in terms of those triggers that to tell you what actually drives me to create ... that emotional source.

There is no mystery in what those triggers are ... everyday things that everyone experiences. Some of the usual ones are:
  • song, music, lyrics
  • pictures or paintings that successfully capture something I long to capture
  • passionate, well written poetry
  • films that echo anything I feel
  • memories of something said, something felt, something seen
  • immediate experience
  • a look, expression or voice that triggers memories
  • a dream
  • passing places that mean a lot to me
  • seeing someone else in pain, overjoyed or alone.
... and on that note.

  • says please do yourself a favour and WATCH THIS! (Seriously a beautiful little movie ... every little kid who has never belonged will identify with it to the point of tears. Trust me, you will love it.)
  • has been listening to a lot of this.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Just News

Well I got word yesterday that my paintings all arrived safely in Arusha, which is good. (Just a pitty that a hefty bribe had to be paid to have them "released" from the postoffice up there ... $375!!!). These paintings all now have to be re-stretched before being hung at "Exhibit!"  Good luck Kerry!

This weekend I am off to Clarens (just for one night to go to the opening of Frances Lozear's exhibition called “l’amour eternal pour venir” (the eternal love to come).  I will also be dropping off a few paintings to be hung there.  Hold thumbs that they sell!

Started a new secret portrait last night.

Carl is:
listening to this and that.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

2nd Every One Counts Contribution

This is my second painting created for the EveryONECounts project ... see http://www.everyonecounts.co.za or the FB group.

“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”– Hellen Keller
Daniel Lost, at Rest
Oil on canvas 30cm x 30cm x 1cm

This is last nights work ... these three will go up to Clarens next weekend along with "Wuthering Heights" and "Edge of Desire", bound for Mercia's gallery, EssensualArt.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Call me Betty

You know, every now and then I feel like I am talking to myself with this blog and am wasting my time. Today is one of those days.  I say "feel" ... I know I'm not, and that there are people that read this thing for some unfathomable reason, and to you I am profoundly grateful (even you who doesn't give a fig about me, that little scruffy bloke at the back who stumbled in here while looking for a porn site; and the guy over there who just came in the hope that there would be free food). I realise that the content gets a little (lot?) self absorbed at times, and I should probably apologise for that and try and mend my ways, but then I think "stuff it! it's MY blog, in this instance it IS actually all about me" (I googled it to check and Google confirmed that it is indeed all about me!). Blogs are SUPPOSED to be personal ... without your opinions and feelings they are just a list of facts and stats. So call me selfish, but this post is going to be about me (again). "Was that the door slamming? I think we just lost the guy who came for the food."

I said last week I would tell you why I will answer to the name "Ugly Betty". If you haven't guessed it, I now am a metal mouth ... yup braces. It sucks. It hurts. It's humiliating. It's inconvenient. But, it seems I have no choice. Some retarded dentist in my youth mistakenly removed two teeth from my upper jaw  ... that has resulted in a whole crappy knock on effect thingy (technical orthodontic term that) which means if I don't have them now I will be in serious poo by the time I hit my late 40s ... so braces it is; and unless you have a fetish for railwaytracks my unatractiveness ratings are now at an all time high! My pride has taken a heavy beating in the last 2 years. This helps. God's plan for humility? Either way I look forward to the promised moviestar smile at the end of this rainbow.

If you are fearing there is no art connection in this post at all, fear not! 
WIP 2 of my newest EveryOne Counts "Daniel Lost at Rest"contribution.  Here it is (about 80% finished).
30cm x 30cm Oil.

This whole braces thing has got me thinking a LOT about perception, facades and outer image versus inner truth. Something I have always strived to do is to somehow display the inner goings on of a subject while at the same time keeping true to the outer perception, even with my wildlife paintings ... I'm not sure I'm achieving that, and it's bothering me.  Expect to see me experimenting a bit for a while.

(Photo: Me at present. You know ... I had NO idea what a mission these things are to eat with! Apologies to everyone who I ever met that had braces and I offered tricky food to!)

Listening to  ....nothing (somebody give me something to listen to!)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

"Exhibit" Delivery

A total of 18 of my paintings (26 canvases) left for Tanzania yesterday, bound for a new gallery in Africa's safari capital, Arusha.  I was quite sad to see them go, but can't wait to see how the tourists in Tanzania react to them. "Exhibit", owned by Kerry Radloff will feature 2 artists work exclusively at this stage; mine and a local Masaai artist who is exceptionally talented. Here is a sample of his work.

I promised a WIP of my newest EveryOne Counts contribution yesterday.  Here it is (about 60% finished).
As mentioned it will be called "Daniel Lost at Rest" and is 30cm x 30cm Oil.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another One Counts

So in honour of today, I decided to paint another piece for the EveryOne Counts project.
I will post the WIP a little later today (Can't seem to get it to upload this morning!!!!). I've titled it "Daniel Lost at Rest".

Still reading Umberto Ecco which is quite heavy going.
Listening to Primal Scream's first and best album ever.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Emotional Fuel

This has not been a good week for me emotionally, (way too much going on inside my head at this time of the year), and unfortunately to a degree that even my art productivity has suffered.  I am by nature a bit of an emotional seesaw in any event (good to know). Thing is I am pretty plugged in to everything and I allow that to affect me... and it does, hugely. It has it's downsides, but I guess that sensitivity also has advantages. My art and writing usually feeds off my "moons" quite significantly.  It fuels me. I should point out that both sides of the scale are productive for me, both depression and joy. I have heard of artists who require depression to paint; that is not so with me, I am exceptionally productive when happy, in fact probably more so. It's not often though that the ends of that scale floor me completely ... this week that has been so.
Bring on the weekends work to be done!

By the way ... as of today you may call me Ugly Betty. I'll tell you why next post ;)

Speckled Bean

Article in Speckled Bean (Local Clarens Magazine) Page 6 about EssensualArt Gallery, http://www.speckledbean.com/Issue%203/pageflip.html 
My art gets a mention ... nice.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dark Places

My mind is in a dark, dark, mineshaft of a 'not good' place at the moment.
I can't work up enough will to post right now.
Will try to paint myself out of it all.
Sorry. :(

Friday, March 12, 2010

Writer's block

So the poll is over ... the results clearly indicating that I leave the format of this blog the same, and that any serious writing I want to post I should post elsewhere.

to only post artwork
  0 (0%)
to post art and carl's babblings
  6 (60%)
to post art, babblings and carl's more serious writing too.
  4 (40%)

I fully respect that and am pleased with the result.
Your wish is my command, *bowing* and as such I have created another seperate blog for writing (off my profile on this blog).
I have yet to decide whether to leave it public or not.

Carl's theme tune for the week.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Taking on the attitudes of the Avant-Garde

The "Avant-Garde" was originally a term used to describe art movements that were "cutting edge", were groundbreaking, trying to push the boundaries of art and focus on "truth" as an ideal in art. In other words, literally the "advance guard". The name has stuck to movements now long dead, such as Dadaism for example, which achieved their avant-garde status and retained it, even where, in the context of todays art they can no longer be regarded as avant-garde. What was avant-garde then, can obviously longer be considered to be so when out of context.  The principals that Avant-Garde artists aspired to then and now however, are, at heart, the same. Now I applaud the effort to push the boundaries of art, delight in the principal of "art for art's sake", and I can even (begrudgingly) nod in the generally accepted circular argument that a piece / artist / movement "can be defined as Avant-Garde if it is avant-garde". I believe that these things are admirable, and are intrinsically linked to human nature. Who wouldn't support a quest for truth?

Where Avant-garde is referred to as "true art" and anything created for the purposes of beauty or aesthetics rather than the ideal of "truth"; this is where I step off the avant-garde bus. If you are going to argue over whether the purpose of art is truth and that any 'art' produced solely for the purpose of beauty, aesthetics, sentimentality, pathos, melodrama or human feelings is not true art, I will always disagree. I don't believe the two are mutually exclusive. Art is expression, be it shallow and self indulgent or be it in pursuit of truth. Just because a work is beautiful for beauty sake doesn't automatically prevent it being art.
I hope I don't sound pretentious or like I'm trying to be intellectual, heaven knows I'm anything but intellectual, but this IS what I think. I think art has been too elitist in it's dealings with the world, either financially, through limiting access to art to those with money,status and power, or intellectually, excluding anyone without the academic qualifications from having a legitimate opinion.
If you ask me, Avant-Garde has become more kitsch than Kitsch. Trying too hard to be original and being too clever means you can forget about art simply for the joy of creating.

Just for fun here is a work in progress shot of a commission I am working on at the moment. LOTs of work still to do! I'll post a pic when it's finished.
 Carl is:
  • reading this but doesn't think it's as good as "Foucault's Pendulum" was.
  • finished watching the whole series and loved it to bits! (You can watch it here!)

Saturday, March 6, 2010


Before I start this I should warn you that I am not myself ... I am sick as a dog, in a deep, dark hole of despair and generally not in a good place, so take whatever I say with that in mind.  Two conversations this last week prompted this post. One was with a fellow artist, the other with an acquaintance who's wife, it would seem, has artistic aspirations, but is too scared to put her work 'out there'.

All three of us have something in common.  We are all terrified of people seeing our pictures.
Two of us however, have overcome that; the acquaintance's wife is still struggling. I feel for her, and know exactly how she feels.  I think the majority of artists (performing artists, musicians, painters ... ALL artistic sorts), suffer from the fear of putting themselves out there.  More specifically, it's not the display that scares us, it's the potential for rejection.  We are terrified of putting ourselves out there and our work not being liked. Okay, so I acknowledge that this is dime store psychology ... anyone could work that out, and obviously it affects some more than others.  Those with a low self esteem will really suffer.The trick is how to overcome it. Now my artist friend had these three things to say, which I though made a lot of sense:
  •  "we tend to take other people's opinions and project them into our own movie theatre and tend to only see the negative;
  •  but u know what - there is seriously only one you - whether they can appreciate that or not - the fact is - that is THEIR problem, not yours;
  •  so I took a conscious decision long ago to make an effort to get rid of the shyness."
Now I thought that was pretty good advice; and as I thought about it I realised that those were the steps that I had taken to get over the hump of putting my work out there. It just takes a couple of life's beatings to reach the realisation that what people think of you is not as important as what you think of yourself. So what if people think your work isn't worthy of public consumption ... stuff them! Do what you need to do!
So to put it bluntly (remember I'm not in the mood for talking sweetly tonight), this is what my acquaintance's wife needs to do: She needs to 'grow a pair'!
  1. Decide if you actually DO want to be an artist. If not, stop; and stop saying that you want to be one one day!
  2. If you do, do you want to be an exhibiting artist or not? If not, stop; and stop saying that you want to be one, one day!
  3. If you do, then DO! As they say in the classics, "either piss, or get off the pot"! Here I should make all sorts of noises about the quality of your work, and how long you should be painting before trying to sell your work etc etc etc.(Please note this isn't an excuse for shoddy quality and low standards ... you'll soon learn that the market won't tolerate that and neither should you!) You know what .... let the market decide! Stop worrying about what people with think ... I promise you, no matter how good your work is, someone WILL think your work sucks. So what!?  At least you put it out there!  There are only so many pictures you can paint and give to granny, thrust on friends and horde in cupboards before people start NOT taking you seriously. If you don't take yourself seriously, no-one will. ... and if you find that once you are out there and no ones buying your work, then learn from it ... maybe you do suck ... so paint more and learn ... or maybe you are a genius, ahead of her time, only to be recognised sometime is the distant future ;o).
As some insightful person recently noted ... "to bare one's body is nothing compared to baring one's soul"  - Anon.
Yes, you will be exposing yourself, and yes that does leave you vulnerable. All I'm saying is this, if you never try, you'll never know ... and one day, when you're lying on your deathbed I promise you won't be thinking to yourself, "man, I'm so happy I played it safe and never took any risks!"  Where's the fun in that?!?

So ... Just frikken do it! (and if you're not going to ... then shut up and let us do it!)

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Naming of Names

I promised some more writing about the processes I go through with my art. Obviously naming the piece is an important part of that process. It's one of the joys of being a creator. I'm sure God got as big a kick out of naming Adam as I do naming my pics.
I was asked the other day while dropping some paintings off how I come up with names for my work. The buyer was particularly impressed with the name I had given one specific painting, felt it was completely apt and wanted to understand my thinking.  I fear however that she was disappointed with the answer.
I wish I could pretend that there was some really intellectual process that I go through in picking my names; that I dwell on each painting, obsessing for hours over what it should be called. The truth however is a lot more prosaic and rather self gratifying.

Generally I name my paintings this way:
  • Frequently I use the name of the song that is going through my head and being played frequently while painting that particular picture.  I listen to a lot of music while painting and there is no question that there is a relationship between what's happening on the canvas and what's happening on my speakers.  Somehow, in my mind, the painting becomes imbued with that music and becomes a visual representation of that musical expression. Sometimes the song (or rather the sentiment of it) has even inspired the painting,  ... Okay, now that I read all that back to myself it sounds a lot deeper that it feels when I actually do it. Trust me, I'm only marginally "deeper" than the average bath.
  • Sometimes, there may be something within the painting that resonates strongly with some event or something going on in my life and I will name the painting accordingly. ... See? How boring is THAT?
  • When I'm doing a series, the name is generally related to a my art life, and what I am trying to achieve with that series. Example? Bygone Era. I always associate the term with those old sepia tone photographs, the tones wrong, the highlights blown out, and yet there is something sentimental in those photos. Particularly old wildlife or safari photos. They capture something of the romance and adventure of a time I always felt I belonged to. Sentimental old me. (Hint ... this is why Avant-garde and I don't see eye-to-eye, I'm far too self absorbed ... but more of that next post.)


    "He Was the Moon"(L) & "She Was the Sun"(R)
    (Named from the lyrics of a Minnie Driver song)
    Oil on Canvas
    20cm x 20cm x 4cm

    Usually, I know what a painting will be called before it is signed. Are there times where I feel I have 'misnamed' a painting? Once or twice, but hardly ever. And hey, I'm the creator, if I want to rename it I will!

    Carl is: