The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class

In our uncertain political landscape, there will be many who can currently identify with Standing’s insights. Well worth a read.

Working-Class Perspectives

Across the world, more and more people realize they are in the precariat – or may be soon – and that they are not alone. That is bringing a change of mood, from being defeated and dispirited to being defiant and demanding. Old sociologists may be bewildered, but precariat groups are moving from mass occupations to political re-engagement. They know there is no unified working class and do not want to go back in search of a phoney unity. We need an alternative progressive future, forged for and by the precariat.

Most fundamentally, the 20th century income distribution system has collapsed. The share of income going to profits has rocketed and will continue to rise, the share going to rent will rise even more. Real wages will continue to stagnate.

In pursuit of competitiveness, governments have implemented policies of labor flexibility, making labor more insecure, leaving millions without health…

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Viennese Splendour

In my efforts to play catch up with this blogging lark, I ask you gentle reader to step back in time with me, back by over three months to the 26th of May, when life didn’t include commuting or paperwork or deadlines.  Ah, those were the days…

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I had left Prague after a whirlwind visit, still aglow from my encounter with the treasures of Mucha and his contemporaries.  Art Nouveau held me in rapture and I was clamouring for Klimt.  For those not of an artistic persuasion, this is an Austrian painter and not something you’d find on Urban Dictionary describing a hard-to-find part of the female anatomy.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Gustav Klimt ever since I first clapped eyes on “The Kiss”.  The painting hangs in the Belvedere Gallery in Vienna and is something Austria is rather proud of.  It’s also something I had high on my list of art to see, so I booked a ticket to this magnificent city during my tour of Europe earlier this year

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I’d imagined Vienna to be a regal city of grand proportions.  The sort of place where operas were written and opulent balls were held.  I wanted to find more art nouveau (there was a bonkers building designed by Klimt and his cronies called The Secession amongst the plethora of Jugenstil architecture in this city) and perhaps see some of the old haunts of one of my favourite composers, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.  I also had in mind Viennese biscuits and coffee, because my brain seems perpetually wired up to seek out cake and hot beverages.

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As ever, the trip was made memorable and marvellous by the presence of a couchsurfer host.  In the case of Vienna, my kind and considerate guide was a Buddhist named Karl who was keen to show me the sights of his home city.  I instantly identified his apartment at the address he gave me from the riot of luxuriant foliage spilling from his windows on one of the uppermost floors.  His profile described him as someone who’d typically have a small rainforest in his flat, keen on gardening and yoga and arty things.  His apartment was so wonderfully quirky and creative, decorated with objects he had sculpted from upcycled materials.

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We instantly clicked and had lots of stories to tell each other, as well as a shared sense of humour; after exploring the famous landmarks of Vienna by day, we spent the evenings cracking up over The Graham Norton Show and old sketches from British comedies.

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My initial tour of Vienna was through the museum quarter and into the area around the royal palace; we passed the museum of natural history, wandered into the gardens of Heldenplatz and through the buildings of Hofburg Palace before strolling through the winding streets of the city centre.  The architecture of Vienna is truly grand and something I will remember fondly for a long time.

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My second day in the city was spent visiting Schönbrunn Palace walking through its ridiculously vast gardens.  The topiary, fountains and flowerbeds were a welcome visual break from the urban landscapes I had been touring through that month. Exploring cities is a fun pastime but my heart is where the green things grow, even if it’s manicured lawns and geometric gardens.

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After the obligatory coffee and cheesecake in the tearooms of Café Gloriette we meandered down through the forested parkland to the nearest metro and boarded a train bound for the food stalls of the Naschmarkt.  Apparently the market has 16th century origins and still boasts a huge selection of colourful and fragrant food.  It was a feast for the senses!

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After strolling among the stalls, we saw more of the Art Nouveau decoration I had been seeking in Vienna, as well as the famous Secession building where Klimt’s famous frieze can be viewed in the basement.  If you visit Vienna, don’t miss this amazing combination of architecture, interior design and spiritual vision.  The restored building is wonderfully unique.

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On our meanderings around this city, we also paid a visit to the national postal savings bank, or “österreichische postsparkasse”; Don’t be fooled by its mundane-sounding name.  The interior and exterior of this building is another marvel in this grand city and definitely worth a visit if you love Jugenstil.

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Vienna was one of my favourite places in Europe, with its magnificent architecture and beautiful art, grand boulevards and lush green parks, food from a rich mix of cultures and indulgent café culture, there really was something lavish and luxurious about the whole place. It is definitely a city I would return to, not least because I made a new friend in Karl there.  His hospitality and generosity were much appreciated, as was his marvellous historical and gastronomical knowledge.

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I feel like this post has taken a turn for the somewhat serious, but I guess this is an adjective that certainly suits this Austrian city.  It is a very sober and somewhat taciturn place, perfect for contemplation and inward searching.  I’m sure there is a vibrant nightlife there, with bars full of raucous Austrians glugging beer, but my visit was memorable for being a peaceful, calm and soulful experience.

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Aubrey Vincent Beardsley

One of my students has posted about an Art Nouveau hero of mine, so I thought I’d share her research.

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Aubrey Beardsley was born in Brighton, England. He was educated in music and books by his mother before he had been sending to boarding-school at seven. He is also be a musical prodigy. In 1898, Beardsley died of tuberculosis when he was 25.


  Aubrey Beardsley was influenced by the style of Japanese Woodcuts, which is drawing in black ink. By 1892 to 1894, he stared his art as “fresh and original”.
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Aubrey Beardsley’s “The Peacock Skirt” (1894) is the one of his illustrations in the set.


cover_Londons_VA_Museum_announce_Alice_in_Wonderland_exhibitionIn 1966, the advertising was showed Victorian-styled ankle boots called “Alice” which was based on the work of Aubrey Beardsley.

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The perpetual nomad

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It’s been a long time since I last used this blog.  Not that this was unexpected of course.  Millions of people create blogs and then fail to keep them updated.  But a lot has happened since then, and I decided it was time to revisit and report on the changes, especially since lots of people requested it!

I’m now single.  I had a six month break from painting.  I went to Africa and back.  I’m still homeless.

And being homeless is actually rather nice.

Of course, it’s not real homelessness, the sort that so many people have to endure for years, living on the streets, hungry, cold and desperate.  This is more a sort of travelling homelessness, like a modern-day gypsy or happy hobo. My ‘homelessness’ is entirely a lifestyle choice.  And after labelling it so, a friend suggested that I write about it, so here I am.

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It occurred to me whilst on the road that I had been living out of a bag for almost five months.  I was on a minibus, hurtling through the wilds of South Africa in the Eastern Cape, staring out at the dramatic mountain landscape zipping by.  I was feeling incredibly introspective and reflective.  Travelling alone does that to you.  You meet all sorts of similar wanderers on the road to keep you company and share amazing experiences, but there is a lot of time spent in your own company: tramping through forests, strolling along deserted coastline, enjoying a meal by yourself in a restaurant.  A lot of people find this sort of idea sad and pitiful, but if you’re a traveller and a lover of the road, this sort of experience is quite empowering and serene.

As I sat on this bus, staring out of the window at the incredible landscape, I realised I was completely and utterly serene and happy.  The happiest I’d felt in a long time, in fact.  It’s easy to romanticise and perhaps hold the beautiful weather and holiday-mood accountable for this feeling.  But this was something else.  I was happy because I was free.

And then I started thinking about my return to the UK, which would happen a month later, after my adventures in Africa.  I had a job waiting for me, and a new course to start.  I’d be back in the city, working long hours, constantly busy but enjoying the buzz of metropolitan life and all it entails.  The return to civilisation and departure from such a spectacular country didn’t phase me.  Things aren’t meant to last.  We move through spaces and periods on a journey.  Too many people focus on an end point, instead of enjoying the moment and living in the present.

No, the thing that filled me with a tinge of trepidation and inkling of dread was that I would have to live somewhere less temporary again.  I’d have to acquire a room and a bed that I slept in for more than a week, and pay money to have a space for the contents of my bag (which, aside from a few boxes of books scattered around in the UK, is pretty much all I own).

This idea appeared ridiculous to me.  I thought back to my life in the UK before Christmas and before I flew to Cape Town.  After leaving my partner of four and a half years, I’d rendered myself homeless but had resolved to sofa-surf it out until I could spend the festive holidays with family and then start my adventure.  There was absolutely no logical reason for paying rent.  I was lucky enough to work in a job that only required me to work three days per week, so the rest of the time I could journey around the UK visiting friends.  Between October and December in 2014, I found myself in London, Nottinghamshire, Dorset, Surrey and Cornwall, and even a week in Edinburgh.  I was on the move every week.  And I was beginning to love it.

So there I was on the road in South Africa, realising I’d been living out of a bag for so long it had actually become normal.  It came with a sense of freedom, liberated from possessions and responsibility to manage or pay for real accommodation.  Of course, there are sacrifices too.  In the entire five months, especially during my time in the UK flitting between friends’ houses, there were feelings of being an imposition and a ‘sponger’.  Feeling like you were only showing up to see someone because you needed a bed for the night.  It’s difficult not to feel like that, even when you’re welcomed with open arms.  And I’m fortunate enough to know enough people who are welcoming.  By December, word had spread of my ‘plight’ (a word other people might have used, not my own description of my situation!) and I ended up having more offers of a place to sleep than I could accept!  It was genuinely heartwarming.  The other sacrifice I should mention was not having anywhere to invite people to; not being able to host friends or family.  These two feelings were always strongest.

Many people have asked me “Don’t you feel tired all the time?  Doing all that travelling would exhaust me.”  Sure, there are days when I’m ready to sink into whatever sleeping place is waiting for me that day, but usually that’s due to work!  I would actually say I’m looking fairly energised recently.  Lots of people have passed comment that I’m looking very well.  I’m putting it down to feeling happy, rather than just the result of a two month holiday, lol.  But you get my point.

The other question I get is “Don’t you miss having somewhere for all your stuff?”  But what ‘stuff’?  I barely own anything any more.  I downsized years ago, having sold a house and emptied it of six years of accumulated knick-knacks and furniture, and reducing my possessions to all I could fit into a suitcase I was taking to Australia.  Everything I own can go into a backpack.  I actually find it really hard to go shopping now, because every purchase is accompanied by thoughts of where I would put the item.  This lack of possessions and detachment from material things is very liberating and totally separates you from advertising.  I end up watching TV and wondering why on earth anyone would want to buy anything.

I’m sure there will come a day when I will want/need/have to settle into a less temporary living arrangement.  It’s not an impossible thought for me.  I did have a mortgage once!  But perhaps it will be somewhere small, and on wheels, with just enough space to contain me.  I’ve seen some amazing houses on the internet, like the woman who built her own cabin and pitched up in the garden of a friend, or the man who built a tree house and lives off-grid in the forest.  These sound up my street, for wont of a better phrase!

All I know is that my unconventional, travelling lifestyle suits me right now and works for me right now.  And as soon as that feeling starts to change, then it really will be time to lay my hat.  Until then, the road beckons!

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Time is money? I beg to differ…

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As the excitement for my first ever solo show in London builds, I’ve found myself talking incessantly about the exhibition and all of the preparations surrounding it.  Today at work, I was asked by my colleagues about the sale of my paintings, and a rather troubling idea surfaced.

When you’re invited to a friend’s art show, do you feel obliged to buy something?

It had never occurred to me that people might think this when deciding to come along to an exhibition.  One of my colleagues said he and a group of friends went to see a solo show hosted by an artist they all knew very well.  As they stood contemplating the art, they all began to furtively ask each other if someone was going to buy something.  The artist was selling paintings at a price well above their budget, but certainly not above the value of her work.  My work colleague said they all felt obliged to buy something because they’d gone to see the show and support their friend, but all they could afford were the postcards!

So this leaves me wondering… do most people feel like this when they go to a friend’s exhibition?  When you go to see a friend’s art show, does anyone expect you to make a purchase?  I think my favourite response to this question was from my friend Pam, who said “Well, it’s not like going to a Tupperware party, is it?”

For me, the simple fact that people have shown up to view the work is support enough.  I’d never expect anyone to come along and actually BUY anything!

I suppose this is because of my reasons for producing art.  I don’t make art to make money.  Sure, if I made a sale on a work, it would be a massive help in funding more creativity, but in truth I paint for two reasons, both of which will probably sound cheesier than the Elvis Presley portrait created entirely from Cheetos cheese puffs – I kid you not: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SXigfZGqsLM The fact is, I paint because I love doing it and because I have this inexplicable urge to communicate something to others, whether it’s the beauty I see in the surface of an insect wing, or the bleak story of another species being eradicated from our planet.

The fact that people are willing to exchange money for art is something of a bonus.  Don’t get me wrong – I completely understand why it’s important for artists to be valued in monetary terms as well as aesthetic, spiritual and philosophical ones.  And naturally there are numerous degrees of value across all of these spheres, all according to individual and societal taste.

In our capitalist, commercial, cash-focused culture, an obvious way to show appreciation of anything is to wave the moolah around.

I think people sometimes need to be reminded that giving time is a much stronger way of acknowledging someone else’s endeavours.  I have a lot of respect for people who make the time to come and take a look at anyone’s creative efforts.  These people don’t even have to like the art they’ve come to see; to be moved by the work, whether positively or negatively, is the important thing.  Art should alter someone’s perception of the world, whether as a subtle shift of perspective or a mind-blowing realisation of something new.  It’s enough for me that someone has walked away from one of my paintings with a question on their mind (even if it’s “Why the hell did he bother?” lol)

Time is precious.  Time given is a generous gift indeed, and something that should be appreciated.  And so I’ll end with the somewhat obvious quote of entrepreneur Jim Rohn: “Time is more valuable than money: You can get more money but you can’t get more time”.

“Hidden Dragons” opens 18.30 July 17th 2014 at /i’klectik/ art lab & cafe; nearest Tube stations: Waterloo/Lambeth North
Art Workshop for 6-11 year olds on Sunday 20th July 10.30-12.30
Artist talk: 18.30 Thursday 24th July 2014
Closing show: 18.30 Thursday 31st July 2014

For more information go to http://www.markjnewton.com/news-and-events.html or find it on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/markjnewtonart

Adrian Ghenie: The Darwin Room and deliciously luscious paint

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I took a trip to the Royal Academy today and ventured inside their Pace Gallery; What a wonderful surprise to find the work of one of my favourite living artists on show there: Adrian Ghenie.

I first encountered the painter in Vitamin P2, a huge tome that showcases modern painters across the globe who are carrying the medium of paint forward.

I’m familiar with Ghenie’s darker,  more obviously figurative works in which human bodies stand or hang isolated in decaying industrial environments.  I’m drawn to his use of light and exceptional draughtsmanship but the biggest pull for me is how Ghenie fully utilises and highlights the materiality of paint itself.

I really felt that the works currently on show at Pace exemplify his love of the medium.

Blobs, smudges and swirls greet the viewer in a storm of colour and for me there’s a real sense of an artist who is passionate about paint.

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Ghenie’s subject is both figurative and abstract,  with many of the works featuring a bearded man emerging from a maelstrom of marks,  joined by elusive, distorted objects to create a narrative.

I later learned the bearded figure is a reference to Darwin,  and that much of Ghenie’s work in this series allude to the publication of The Origin of the Species (London, John Murray,  1859) and the subsequent misappropriation of its ideas by leaders such as Hitler and Stalin. Ghenie’s paintings explore how this rich history can be represented in the textural quality of paint, with caricatures of Darwin appearing as a recurring theme.

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In a separate room at the back of the gallery, linked by a near pitch-black corridor,  is an installation named “The Darwin Room”, which consists of 19th century furniture and construction materials arranged to form an antique, life-sized study room. The whole composition is intended as a sort of three-dimensional painting. I found the space incredibly dark and foreboding,  as though something sinister had happened (or was about to happen!) Was this the scene of a grand scheme or a place to hide from something? The austere space with it’s illuminated corner was one of intrigue.

I left the RA thoroughly inspired today and would recommend everyone (especially fellow painters) to visit this exhibition. I’m already a lover of paint and need no persuasion to take up the brush and create, but Ghenie’s luscious,  generous brushmarks make me feel like I can do so much more with this centuries-old material.

Adrian Ghenie “Golems”
Pace London at the Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington Gardens until July 25th.

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Grayson Perry meets The Boy with the Dragon Tattoo

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Why does celebrity have such allure, such seduction?  Living in London, I’ve walked past, cycled alongside, shared a bar with and served coffee to a handful of famous people, A-listers and Z-listers alike, but normally I like to think I’m a sensible enough person to treat them like any other human being going about their business.

So I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit that tonight I was shamefully starstruck and actually asked a famous artist for a photograph.

First I want to explain myself a bit more.  The bit about seeing celebs as being normal people, I mean.  Oh and to forewarn you, gentle reader, be prepared for some name-dropping in this post.  But only for the purposes of the subject, I promise you.

I once told a friend that I see these personalities as people who simply do a different kind of job and at the end of the day, if they’re in a bar enjoying a drink, the last thing they’d want is some stranger coming up to them and asking for a photograph/autograph.  If it was me in their shoes, I’d be rather annoyed by the hassle and just want to enjoy my rum and coke in peace.  This scenario actually happened in the Conaught in Mayfair, when the actor Chris Hemsworth (aka Thor) strolled into the hotel bar with his entourage and enjoyed a drink on the other side of the room.  We were all rather starstruck by his presence, but I insisted on leaving him alone because I imagined how I’d feel if some daft bugger wanted a photo while I was out boozing with my mates.  Despite refraining from harrying the gorgeous actor, we all left the bar feeling a bit cheated, as though it was our right to be seen schmoozing with this celebrity and then post it for our friends to see on Facebook.

But why was this so important?!  He was, after all, just an attractive actor who has starred in some successful Hollywood movies.

I suppose another example is the time I once met a politician.  Picture the scene: It’s a dark, rainy night in November, I’m cycling home from my shift at Costa Coffee, pedalling through the puddles on Embankment.  Ahead I see a distinctive blue bicycle from the Barclay’s Hire Scheme, also known as a Boris Bike by us Londoners because the mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is associated with championing the scheme.  Perched atop this blue velocipede was a similarly distinctive form; his white hair peeking out from under his cycle helmet, the tailcoat of his suit flapping in the wind.  It was none other than the mayor himself, evidently cycling home after a day at the office.

The traffic lights ahead turned to red, and I pulled up alongside Boris.  I had turned my head to see if it really was him, thus making eye contact: the deal was sealed; there was no way I couldn’t at least greet the man with a cheery ‘good evening’.  I also asked how his day had been, for good measure.  We exchanged a few lines of pleasantries while waiting for the lights to change, then Boris cycled off into the night with a quaverly ‘Take care!’

I have to say that this encounter was somewhat surreal, but I was also rather proud that I, a lowly barista working at a coffee chain, had just had a very normal ‘how’d you do’ conversation with the mayor of London.  Not a camera or autograph book in sight.  It was pretty much how I reckon most exchanges between individuals should take place, no matter what job they do in life.  We’re born, we spend some time on this planet, then we die.  If that’s a person’s lot in this life, we should endeavor to treat each other equally regardless of how we spend the time on this planet.

So why did I feel a quivering, starstruck wreck in the presence of Grayson Perry tonight?

Let’s set the scene for the evening.  I had been working with the Rebecca Hossack Gallery all day, setting up the stand at the London Original Print Fair in the Royal Academy of Arts.  The clock struck six, I finished work and stayed on at the stand as the guests began to arrive.  My colleague Emily suddenly announced that she’d seen Grayson Perry near the champagne table.  Had I seen him too, she asked.  No, I replied, but I was going to change this fact immediately.

I asked Emily if she’d like another glass of champagne and made a beeline for the beverages.  Sure enough, there was my idol, hero and a source of inspiration, Mr. Grayson Perry, stood looking reliably flamboyant in a blue cocktail frock, heels and a huge pearl necklace.

I sauntered past and noticed his glass was empty as he stood chatting to another gentleman.  I approached the drinks table and dutifully got Emily’s champagne as well as one for myself.  I looked back at Mr. Perry and had a sudden desire to walk up to this man, shake his hand and tell him how bloody brilliant I thought he was.

Despite this urge, I took my champagne and walked back to the Rebecca Hossack stand, to give Emily her drink.

But it didn’t end there, gentle reader.  Oh no.

As I returned to our stand, I thought ‘If I don’t do this, I will regret it forever.  There in the room is an artist who inspires you, and you have an opportunity to speak to him… Go and shake his hand.’  I walked right past Emily with my drinks, and walked full circle back to the beverages where Perry was still talking to his friend.

Feeling rather foolish, I marched towards Grayson & co and successfully suspended their conversation in the politest way possible:  “Sorry to interrupt,” I said to Perry meekly, “But I wonder if I could have a shake of your hand and a photograph in exchange for this glass of champagne…”

Bingo!  Grayson laughs aloud and sets down his empty glass, tucking his gorgeous blue handbag under one arm in order to simultaneously shake my hand and accept the proffered alcohol.  And bingo again, I get not just one photo, but two.

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What a legend.  He really is as down-to-earth as I’d imagined (why would he be anything else?) and seemed rather amused by my gushing display of admiration.  He asked why I was at the show and I invited him to come and see the stand I worked at.  I told him how he was something of a hero for me, and congratulated him on his tv series that explored taste in relation to class.

But for some reason I felt compelled to hurry away and leave him in peace.  Perhaps it was the unshakable fact I’d interrupted his conversation and become an imposition, asking for a photo …or perhaps it was my feelings of foolishness for having been so fawning and full of worship… either way I suddenly needed to fly away.  Curse these feelings!

I suppose the different reaction I had to each celebrity relates to how much of an impact they have had in my life.  Hemsworth is an A-list actor, adored by men and women for his attractiveness and charisma; but for me is just a performer with a very well-paid job.  Johnson is an outspoken public figure, respected and ridiculed alike as a politician and someone who for me seems to be a likeable, decent gentleman who has done a lot of good for this city, and again is just an ordinary bloke with a very well-paid job.  But Perry is the odd-one out, and not just because he’s a bloke who likes to wear frocks.

As you’ve already gathered, the man is an inspiration to me.  I respect and admire his attitude, his creative talent, his intelligence and wit.  As a successful artist who has made productive contributions to the spheres of art, politics and culture, he is someone I aspire to be.

And I suppose that is the allure of celebrity.  We feel starstruck in the presence of people we would like to become.  Or in the very least people we would like to emulate.

So while I still feel a twinge of embarrassment for my silly, adoring behaviour, I am also rather proud that I was brave enough to walk up to someone I admire and respect and simply ask to shake their hand.  And based on this experience, I’d recommend others to try it too.

Just remember to have a spare glass of champagne in your hand when you do it.

 

Using special Sta-Wet palettes with acrylic paints…

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This is my first proper blog in a long time, but I’ve been testing out some new materials and thought it’d be useful to write about it.

 

I was recently contacted on LinkedIn by Ben Smith of Loxley Arts (www.loxleyarts.co.uk), who asked if I’d like to test out some special palettes for acrylic paints.  The request was out of the blue but much appreciated, and is a testament to the ubiquity of social media these days; don’t underestimate the power of Twitter, Facebook and other online networks, as you never know who or what you may find when using them!

I started using these palettes last week: They’re called Sta-Wet by a company called Masterson’s and they’re designed to keep acrylic paint wet and workable for an extended period of time.  I’m sure most painters are acquainted with the way acrylic paint dries so fast.  It’s one of the reasons why I use the medium, as it enables me to paint quickly and spontaneously.  There are times however when I need to keep a particular colour I’ve mixed, or when I’ve had to take a break from my work and hope to continue with the same paint later.  In the past I’ve resorted to drowning the palette in water and covering it with cling film to preserve it, but after 3 or more days (especially in the warmer, drier summer weather) the paint still dries up.

 

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This is where the Sta-Wet palettes come in.  They work by using a soaked sponge placed beneath some specially prepared paper, onto which your paint is applied just like you would with a solid palette.  The paper is quite durable and even withstands my palette knife when I mix paint on it.  The sponge and paper are kept inside an airtight plastic box, so that when you’re done painting for the day, you can seal it up and come back to it later.

I’ve been using these palettes all week and was quite impressed with how they’d kept the paint wet.  I didn’t get much chance to do my work for almost four days and when I returned to my palette, the paint was still workable and absolutely wet, with no sign of ‘clotting’ or forming a skin.

You do have to be careful if there’s too much water in the sponge when you seal the box, as the humid atmosphere in the container can actually dilute the paint, but if you remember to take out the sponge and gently press out the excess water before placing the special paper back on top, the acrylic paint is pretty much exactly as when it came out of the tube.  I also think it’s a good idea to mix paint on a separate plastic/wooden palette and transfer it to the Sta-Wet surface, as I’ve found that when I’m mixing colours, they can spread out a bit and reduce space for adding more paint to the Sta-Wet palette (you can see an example of this in the photos in this post!).  Basically these things do exactly what it says on the tin: they keep paint wet, so if you want to mix more on the palette, you’ll be doing it in the wet surface on the paper.  I’ve been using acrylics on dry palettes for such a long time that I had to remind myself that in this case they weren’t going to dry in time for me to work over in-palette!

So would I recommend other artists to get these?  Given how practical these palettes have been, and have saved me the mess and minor expense of using my clingfilm/water method (!), I would say yes.  No doubt the pads of special refill paper carry an added cost, but I’d say it was worth it because you save on paint.  If I think back to all the times I’ve had to scrape off thick, stratified layers of dried acrylic from my palettes, as well as the frustrating moments when I’ve mixed the perfect colour, applied it to my canvas, been distracted away from the work and then returned to find that wonderfully perfect hue completely dry and unusable, I’d say these little boxes are very handy and economical indeed.

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