moving swiftly on…

January 2, 2012

if you believe ‘the hype’, then you’ll already be aware that we’ve only got 1 year left before the end of existence as we currently know it. are you making any long term plans? me, i’m stuck between reflecting on the past and just trudging through the grind day-by-daily day.

on that note, this was my december…

[acrylic on A3 canvas. painted 01 dec – 31 dec 2011]

it’s been a long month, in which i’ve just been trying to keep my head down and in the proverbial books. managed to get a pretty impressive 88% for one uni project, so it seems that hard work can pay off!

the highlight of the month had to be going to see the alice exhibition at the tate. seeing carroll’s original manuscript and tenniel’s preliminary sketches for publication were inspirational.

on NYE, i had a few party invites – but i felt it best to stay home. in the afternoon i had a conversation with my bud which made me realise just how important taking time out to think really is. and later while the world partied, i painted and had took some time to breathe. it was a wise choice!

books read this month: 2
burning chrome – william gibson
invisible monsters – chuck palahniuk



normally these paintings feature a couple of my artistic endeavours that i have blogged about during the month, but this month i have posted about virtually every event on the painting.

this means two things – one: that i have been very focussed on my artworks. and two: i currently have no social life :/

august was the culmination of about 3 months work getting my educational life back on track [the final project of which was the alice portraits.]  inorder to achieve this i’ve slowly cut myself of from people and the distractions that they bring. but now that im done, i find it’s rather difficult to return into those circles. tis indeed a curious situation to tackle!

the most socialable thing i did last month was to participate in a zombie walk – my own little gang of undead buddies are featured in the painting. i got oodles of fab photos on the day too, the best of which i’d posted already here. a few days later, riots took place and liverpool burned.  the official line is that the events were unrelated.  pffft!

in these paintings, there have been a number of continuing threads concerning people and events [which are more than simply the graphic tools i use to track certain things]. and after a 5 month stretch [since i started the paintings], one of these has came to an end. deadmau5 is no longer. there hasn’t been a single dead mouse in the house. i havent even seen a living one either. i can only assume they’re avoiding the place after hearing rumours about the cryptozoological project i have planned  ;]

im happy to report that i picked up a new skill this month – and it was a direct result of these paintings! i learned ‘sign language numbers’. i always track the dates of the month on the sides of the paintings, and was looking for new ways to record it. a fellow blogger [murphysrun] suggested ‘sign language’. ”fab idea,” i thought. but using all my powers of google-fu i was unable to find a drawn record of numbers 1-31, so i had to learn it and then figure out how to paint it myself. 1 through 5 were the easiest!

this month im using morse code [which i just know will be handy during the many apocalypse scenarios that i will be faced with in the coming years]. date tracking  suggestions for future months anyone..?

chris z


painting the queen

August 11, 2011

this is the third [and final] of my portaits based on characters from alice’s adventures in wonderland.

i give you, The Royal Portrait

this portrait was inspired completely by the work of alexa meade, whose work i discovered recently [and shared on my other blog here.]

im struggling to decide how successful this has been.. when you work so long on trying to create an illusion, it is difficult to see it with fresh eyes. does the illusion work?? 

when i tell you that this painting is a photgraph of a live model [my lovely friend, courtney brady], who has been painted – are you surprised? did you immediately spot the trick, did you know something wasn’t quite right, or did the illusion work? please comment – if only to let me know! lol.

my suspicion [or hope] is that you thought something was odd, but didn’t immediately clock what astray.  the eyes are certainly a give away with such a close headshot – but i think the hair betrays this more than anything else. i had intended to paint the background more, inorder to break up the outline, but what with changing light, messing with the tripod, and still getting to grips with the camera – it just went right out of my head.

next time – and i really do want to try this again – i wont forget to do that. with these illusions, it is all about getting the finishing touches just right. 

so that’s all of my alice portraits. i had so many more ideas than i possibly had time to do. these three photographs were for a university project that is now handed in, so it’d be hard to feel motivated to add to this collection. but then, there are so many other themes and character re-interpretations that hold such potential that i feel it’d be criminal not carry on working on this illusion through the lens idea in some capactity.  watch this space :]

actually, i’d been wanting to learn more about photography for ages, but never made the time or had enough motivation. so working on this project over the last few weeks has been a fantastic learning experience,  giving me my first ever decent interaction with an SLR [nikon D80]. sadly the camera is not mine, but i dont see how i can possibly go back to using a compact after this! reflecting, the scary thing is that every good photo i took only made me realise just how much i have to learn about photography. this is very much fledgling territory.

anyway, i reckon that’s me hooked on photography now – this is easily going to be the most expensive hobby i have ever had in my life!


“who are you?”

August 11, 2011

this is the next one of my character portraits from alice…


the least successful aspect of this photo?   if you didnt know this image was part of an alice-theme, you probably wouldn’t make that connection yourself – and therefore not even identify the character. certainly, all the scene elements are there… the caterpillar, smoking [although not a hookah], the mushroom, and the phone does add a referece regarding scale – as alice is tiny at this point in the tale!  ah if only i’d been able to find a blue caterpillar in the garden!

about the mushroom: in the story, the bug is sat atop the mushroom – the way ive set this up was an attempt to incorporate a juxtaposition between nature and the modern digital world.  if i was being arty, i would explain this as commentary on the way we change and modify the world with technology. i may also go on to suggest that the ciggie butts represtent the disrespectful attitude we have towards nature too. but lets not go there, eh?  those kinda artists are so annoying

i have been looking at magritte’s paintings quite a bit lately, so the whole ‘c’est nes pas un shroom’-thing kinda drifted into my head too. AND if there is a mushroom that the modern world has an affinity for, it is that one!  …and cos the caterpillar is on top of it, you could say, there’s one person up there. one up  …1up  😉 

disclaimer: no bugs were harmed during this shoot. ive never worked with insects before [probably cos i hate the critters], but this fella was quite a good model. he didnt go wandering too far off his mark, and the only time i questioned his professionalism towards his work was when he took a poo on my phone!


a cat from cheshire

August 10, 2011

i have just completed a university project, the title of which was ‘illusion through the lens’.  i was tasked with creating a series of images using camera trickery alone… after some experimenting and development i settled on producing a series of portraits of characters from carroll’s ‘alice’s adventure in wonderland’.

i ended up creating three photographs, using a different approach with each shoot in order to bring a new dimension to the subject matter. this is the first…

light graffiti felt like such a perfect medium for a cat who is barely there..  there’s a real empathy when you consider the transcience of the subject matter and it’s construction.