It’s been some time since my last post and I owe the world some news. The last few months have been more productive than my DA account suggests. I spent much of this time drawing and have another 25 pictures waiting to be photoshopped. They’re mostly surreal works which will end up in my Dreamscapes and Kerembesi Dir collections. I’ve also spent some time reorganising my DA account. It now better reflects some subtle but important differences. Most of my lighter surreal work went into my In Extremis collection, which I started during my last year in Melbourne. It was partly inspired by local artists who took themselves too seriously but was first and foremost meant to be fun. I’ve since done a lot of work that could be called surreal and/or fun, but a lot has changed since 2013, and I feel the resulting divergence of work belongs in separate categories. There’ll always be some crossover, but In Extremis is still mostly fun, Kerembesi Dir has a slightly darker carnivalesque aesthetic and tone, Culture Wars contains more direct – and often scathing – reactions to popular culture, Lost and Forsaken concentrates on tragi-comic storytelling, and Dreamscapes focuses on mood, space and atmosphere. I can’t say this system’s perfect and I’m sure it could be improved, but I’m content with it for now. I’ve also removed a lot of allusions to past friendships and relationships as they’ve been a sensitive issue at home. My partner deserves this, and more, as she’s been an extremely supportive, patient and forgiving influence. I’m more than content with our offline achievements, which include renovating and landscaping, and now that spring’s here we can finally have a real shot at making things grow.
I’m collecting books again, though most have come from local op shops. I need more classics and nonfiction, but I’ve enjoyed some trashy paperbacks (James Herbert’s The Rats is an angry, punchy splatterfest, Scott Smith’s The Ruins is a slower, more methodical one) and got some good brain food from Andrew Keen's The Internet is Not the Answer, which despite its title, is not an anti-Internet rant, but a reasonable critique of tech industry and online culture. I found an unexpected gem in Hector Berlioz’ Evenings in the Orchestra, which gave me a lot of extra insight into the life and times of an underrated French composer (Berlioz shocked audiences who were used to Beethoven and Mozart with more jarring and discordant music that contained more disturbing themes – if you’re new to this stuff, try reading the synopsis for his Symphonie Fantastique, or at least listen to March to the Scaffold, my own favourite track from it). It also dispels a lot of assumptions, eg. classical music is for snobs, its fans and practitioners lead charmed lives. Berlioz was never particularly rich or famous in his time and relied primarily on conducting and reviewing other composers’ work for a living. His Evenings in the Orchestra is a collection of short stories and anecdotes musicians in an orchestra – who are tired of playing Big Hits night after night – tell each other to pass the time. Composers, songwriters, musicians, singers, patrons and the general public all get a thorough grilling, though it’s more darkly humorous than truly malicious, and often feels quite contemporary – you could write similar stories about the vain celebrities, fawning fans and unsung heroes of today’s music industry. It’s less The History of Western Music than Red Letter Media – an irreverent but witty journey through a field of human endeavour that, despite his frequent disappointments, the writer clearly knows and loves.
I haven’t made sci fi or horror my main focus for a while, but it still attracts a lot of interest and I’m tempted to return to it. If all goes well some pictures from my Scorched Earth collection will be used in an RPG, though I’m not going to hold my breath as some of the Occult Creatures are also languishing in development hell. It’s still encouraging to know I’ve gotten enough right in the past to strive for more, or better, in the future. My biggest problem these days is finding a good balance between offline, online, romantic and creative affairs, but this is a challenge, not a complaint! I hope this has been a worthwhile read and hope to have more work for you soon.
All the best until then,