Ordinary

Sometimes, and this is rare, I stumble across an image that begs to be reproduced in a way that arrived fully formed in my mind. Me being me, there was always going to be an element of randomness. I knew that I wanted some drips in the background, but you just can’t control those luscious drips, and I wouldn’t want to either. This took only a few hours to make, it just leaped out of my subconscious. So in many senses, this one made itself. The human brain is just another stochastic system – at the mercy of the environment, manacled to its memorial imprints – and attributing too much (and some would argue any) credit to volition and predetermined wisdom or insight is post-rational hubris. The painting is a product of its environment. Since the source material is a very old photo, there is a irresistible juxtaposition involved too.

Ordinary by Alex Loveless (2018). Acrylic on Canvas. 60cm x 90cm.

The Seeds of Division

This piece could be considered a pendant to another of my works “The Will of the People”. They both features ladies from old horror/sci-fi films and explore themes of enslavement, brain-washing, paranoia and conformity. Both are very much a product of, and a comment upon the confusing, bleak times we find ourselves in.

The Seeds of Division by Alex Loveless (2018). Acrylic on Canvas. 24in x 30in.

The Will of the People

Many of my paintings have a implicit theme or meaning, some more obvious than others. I don’t think good art has to mean anything, but as I tend to have many things to say, painting is one way to get these thoughts, opinions and ideas out there, even if only obliquely. If a painting like this elicits more than aesthetic judgement, if it makes people feel more, positively or negatively, then I consider that a win.

The Will of the People by Alex Loveless (2018). Acrylic on Canvas. 60cm x 90cm.

Finished

It won’t find it hard to believe that I find it difficult to focus when on conference calls. A random floating piece of dust catching a mote of sunlight is enough to draw me a away from the matter in hand. The ceaseless distraction that is the social web is like a black hole sucking focus to be forever lost among images of kittens and inane chatterings. In reality, I can be distracted by my own thoughts. You can lock me in a featureless, windowless room with load speakers blasting the call at me and I’d still daydream. It’s what I do, how I’m configured. It’s also fair to say that I can easily wonder during in-person meetings, but this is much less of a problem since a) people tend to notice quicker so I’m forced to make more effort, b) what’s going on in the room tends to occupy me – I like to try and read the room, understand the interpersonal dynamics, dissect what’s really happening and c) half the time, everyone else has their nose stuck in their laptop or phone anyway, in which case the etiquette is loosened due to shared defiance of the general order.

Nevertheless, on most occasions, if you’ve been invited to attend, and more so, if I have arranged a conference call, it’s customary to pay attention. To not do so is at best rude and unprofessional, and at worst results in potentially disastrous consequences due to misunderstandings and offense taken should there be someone important on the other end that you are ignoring. That moment when you catch your name being mentioned on the other end of a question, and you’ve been tuned out for 5 minutes, is never a comfortable one. I have strategies to dig myself out of such holes, but I’d rather not need to deploy them. I recognise the need to pay attention, I’m just not very good at it.

So over the years I’ve developed a technique for focusing when on conference calls, that I also use in face-to-face meetings that are especially important to pay attention in: I do something else. It sounds counter intuitive, since “something else” is precisely what gets me into trouble in the first place, but certain types of activity allow me to occupy my fidgeting mind and wondering fingers, while maintaining sufficient focus on the matter in hand. For example, sometimes I put myself on mute and run scales and exercises on my unamplified electric guitar. Fidget spinners really do help for shorter periods. Just pacing is also a short relief. But mainly I doodle. Not in a directed, specific way, I just pick up a pencil and let my hand and subconscious wonder. I have an A3 pad under my keyboard for this very purpose. Sometimes these doodles appear quasi-realistic and/or geometric, sometimes they are haphazard scribbles. Rarely do they resemble anything of this world. Somewhere from deep in my subconscious, odd creatures and bizarre, Escherian landscapes emerge. I don’t try and interpret these, they just are.

I decided to see what would emerge if I unleashed that same odd corner of my cognitive nether-regions upon canvas, which is what you see below. As it emerged over days, my environment and thoughts began to bestow some meaning and it became less “random”, but the marks that appeared continued to be driven by urge rather than conscious intent. The extent to which this is a manifestation of some facet of my subconscious or some Freudian complex I’ll leave to the those psychoanalytical witch-doctors who enjoy such speculation. I know not what it “means” outside a vague sense that there is some statement on evolution, ecosystems, the environment and Man’s influence on this, among the slops and dribbles that adorn the canvas.

I did not know at which point this painting would be finished since I had no sense of what shape the final piece would take. I stopped when I felt that further marks or textures on the canvas would be to the detriment of the painting to that point, and also because of the more practical justification that I had other stuff that I needed/wanted to be getting on with. It is partly for this reason that I named the piece “Finished” as an invitation for the observer to precis this assertion and decide whether it really is. But there is also a metaphor to be eked from that title, the sculpting of which I’ll leave to the Freudians.

Finished by Alex Loveless (2018) - Acrylic on Canvas - 60x80cm

Finished by Alex Loveless (2018) – Acrylic on Canvas – 60x80cm

Pay to Win

I find myself increasingly concerned for the plight of the younger generations. The older generations, who supposedly should be benefactors, mentors, and protectors of their kids’ and grandkids’ futures are repeatedly selling out their futures in favour of short term self interest, base prejudice and ego. While they frown on the kids as video games supposedly rot their brains, those same kids rebuild the foundations of the future underneath the old guard, to the extent that (as Zuckerberg’s recent appearance in front of congress, and the world, demonstrates) they cannot, even vaguely, comprehend what is happening, so their natural instinct is to brutalise, obstruct, litigate, smear and propaganda-ise it out of existence. Recent history has shown that this will not work yet, in the meantime, the younger generations bear the financial and social brunt of their elder’s continued, and increasingly feverish and seedy hubris and ignorance.

Pay to Win by Alex Loveless - Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas 50cm x 50cm.

Pay to Win by Alex Loveless – Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas 50cm x 50cm.

Samphire

This is what I saw sitting at the dining table in a holiday cottage in Devon on a recent trip. It suggests that I can see through walls, which I cannot, but my human brain is clever enough to infer what might be there.

Samphire by Alex Loveless (2018) - acrylic on A3 watercolour paper

Samphire by Alex Loveless (2018) – acrylic on A3 watercolour paper

David

This one kinda hacked and cajoled itself out of my brain. The collage base took by far the longest time. It is, without doubt, the most personal piece I have ever produced. Cathartic and therapeutic. It’s highly textured and features a variety of mediums, including Tetley tea! The colours mostly come courtesy of the fluorescent acrylics in Sennelier’s Abstract range. It does, of course, depict Karloff’s iconic Frankenstein’s creation, an analogy I sometimes gravitate to when in reflective mood.

David by Alex Loveless - Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas - 60cm x 90cm

David by Alex Loveless – Acrylic and Mixed Media on Canvas – 60cm x 90cm

Self Portrait – Light and Dark

This self portrait was submitted to and rejected by Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year. I’m sort of glad it didn’t make the cut, as being subjected to an intense four hours of painting surrounded by onlookers and TV cameras would, I think, be a little much for my already hyperactive brain. I accompanied the image with a short (and not very erudite) commentary which I’ve included below.

Self Portrait – Light and Dark by Alex Loveless (2018)
Acrylic on Canvas

I’d recently got back into making pictures on the advice from my therapist as a great way to help keep my hectic, wondering ADHD brain in check. The 2017 season is the first Portrait Artist of the Year I’ve watched, and forced my family to watch, and my wife ‘dared’ me to make a submission. Since my last self-portrait was painted 20 years ago I had to create one especially. I actually painted two, of which this I felt was the better and the most illustrative of my style and of me as a person. Anyone who knows me knows I come in two flavours 1) dark, brooding, moody, with a love of the macabre, angry music, and all things dark and sinister and 2) passionate, enthusiastic, animated, gregarious, outgoing and optimistic. Some times you get one or the other, some times you get both at once, which is a little scary. With this portrait, which is referenced from a selfie taken on my phone, I wanted to illustrate the dark and the light that characterises me. In addition to this I love painting contract in light and colour and I really enjoyed making this.