Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Portraits and politics. And history.

I have been continuing with my portraiture. I find it relaxing and I use it to research things that interest me. For example the paintings below. The first is of Pancho Villa, the Mexican revolutionary general, who led successful battles against reactionary forces, who were (of course) supported by the USA. Villa's army was not ultimately successful, and he was assassinated in 1920.

Throughout the 20th century (and beyond) the USA increasingly used its growing power and influence to undermine democratically elected governments of South American countries, whose politics the USA felt (and feels) is/was undermining of US capitalism. The role of the US in these acts of oppression throughout the American continent ( and elsewhere) - it's extraordinary what sort of anti-democratic acts America has got away with - and continues to - whilst it defends the (ahem) "Free World"

Pancho Villa 
The second portrait is of Earl Browder, the former leader of the US Communist Party. These days the whole concept of a thriving Communist, Socialist, Anarchist movement in the USA seems so unlikely and so against contemporary mainstream thought, because people like Browder, and others were suppressed, repressed and persecuted. The reference for the painting is a photo when a young Browder was jailed as a conscientious objector during the first world war.
Earl Browder

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

More portraiture, me and Sacco and Vanzetti

I am continuing with portraiture, with varying degrees of success. Unposted is a portrait of my wife, which (despite many days' work) I just can't get right. I seem to have a greater problem with painting women than men, and I am sure someone will give me a good Freudian reason for this. So instead here's a self portrait, which I'm quite pleased with, and a portrait of Sacco and Vanzetti - two innocent anarchists who were executed in the USA for crimes they didn't commit. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacco_and_Vanzetti  for a decent bit of history and background. Poor guys,

Self Portrait
Oil on Canvas 64x56cm

Sacco and Vanzetti
Oil on Canvas 60x60cm

Sunday, 9 July 2017


After my fun and games with Simon Bolivar, I have followed it up with three more traditional portraits, copies of paintings that give me the opportunity to experiment with oils further, and with various methods and surfaces. I am still following my revolutionary theme however and below are three portraits, of Thomas Paine - great American-British-French thinker, philosopher and revolutionary - oil on wood, Anacharsis Snoot - another revolutionary in France - oil on clay board, and finally Joseph Proudhon (based on a Courbet portrait) great thinker, anarchist and revolutionary.  Oil on canvas, but much bigger. It's inspiring living in a country with a long history of revolutions. And inspiring personalities, be they French, British, American or Dutch.

33x41cm, oil on wood

Anarchasis Snoot
15x15cm, oil on clayboard

76x60cm oil on canvas

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Simon Bolivar, Hearts and the problem with Blogger

I have been doing both abstract and figurative work recently. I felt in the need to undertake a copying exercise - I think a useful training thing. So here's a painting, in oils, I have done of Simon Bolivar, the great South American revolutionary. It's interpretive copy of a painting of Bolivar by someone I cannot find out who! There are lots of paintings of Bolivar, including numerous versions based on the same image. Confusing.. Anyway, here's mine:

Simon Bolivar
Oil on Canvas 22x33cm
I have also been working on a series of abstract heart paintings. I am often inspired by death and dark things. But I felt I wanted to do something more positive, and produced one for my wife . Following that I have done some more. I am pleased that she likes hers best.

Finally, I am frustrated by Blogger making it so hard to update from an iPad. Like many people I use my tablet and phone for internet stuff more than 90% of the time: but I can't update my Blog, and, to be fair, neither can I update my website, except from my PC. This all seems a bit out of date. I am thinking of changing everything to WordPress or Wix or something, but it's a bit painful...

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


As mentioned in my last entry In have been working on illustrations for a book. Some however, didn't get used, so here they are (the other ones will be available in the book which is due to come out in the autumn):

There are 26 (or 27?) other illustrations that did get used- the title of the book is "Alaskan Lonely Hearts Club…And other unlikely travel tales" by Paul Gogarty. I don't think I'll get in trouble for that!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Painting over things - illustrations - book covers - acupuncture - pain

I was looking for a painting recently that someone saw on line at my website davidabse.com but I couldn't find it for a while, and I wondered if I'd painted over it. I don't remember exactly, but I remember my wife not liking it at all and not being that keen on it myself, so I though it was entirely possible I'd painted over it. But while I was looking through my stock of paintings I came across loads of other old paintings of mine that really I don't like. They don't exist on my website, but still do on other websites, so I have always been reluctant to paint over them - just in case! I did sell a painting last year that I'd forgotten about and didn't like - and that made me a few hundred quid, so I have been reluctant to paint over them. But no more!

What they generally are is failed abstract compositions that just don't work as far as I am concerned. There are some I have that haven't been sold, haven't ever been liked by many people but are significant to me, so I'm leaving them alone. But this pile - about 15 canvases in total, none of them very big (except one which I will get to another time) to me are all no good as they stand - but offer something to me in terms of background work. I am probably too interested in Jim Dine's hearts at the moment but anyway, I'm going to see what happens.

Meanwhile I have been working on black and white illustrations for a new book by Paul Gogarty based on his travel writing experiences over the last 25 years or so. Here's a couple to keep you interested - I think the book is out later in the year.

Whilst on the subject of books, one of my recent paintings "Revolutions" features on the cover of Jeremy Robson's new book of poems, to be launched in March by Smokestack Books. Here it is: 

Finally, I should add that the Parsonage-Turner Syndrome (PTS) hasn't departed. I am only able to draw or paint a couple of hours a day before descending into horrible shoulder and arm pain. None of the drugs they have given me have worked, unfortunately, so I am trying acupuncture. I had my first session yesterday - and as I was warned, today I am in bad pain. Mostly I am just trying to get along with my life, but pain is bloody tiring! Ah well, I hope that the acupuncture starts to take effect soon. Or at all. Or the bloody PTS just goes away!!