Misc

Amsterdam's best Coffeeshop \ Abraxas

I lived in Amsterdam for two years of my drawing adventure and the place was nothing but good to me. Amongst the drawings and eventually paintings I made, great friendships were forged, stories were shared, projects created and some of the greatest of those moments happened in one of my favourite coffeeshops in Amsterdam. The Abraxas lies in the heart of the city in a tiny alley way under the shadow of the grand palace. The atmosphere is more than cosy with the organic wooden seating and mosaic designs that cover the floors. There's a social vibe here rarely found in coffeeshops around the city. The staff are friendly and the coffee is great, what more could you ask for? In the beginning of my time in Amsterdam, a few events and "small world" stories occurred around the shop which lead to some of my most treasured experiences in life and of Amsterdam..

Firstly, in my search for a job and asking in the Abraxas I became acquainted with another customer, a lively 19 year old Dutchman who shared a passion for great coffee and just so happened to be opening a lunch room restaurant with his family. What followed was too surreal for words. I had my first job as an artist painting the tables for the terrace of the cafe, which lead to me working in the cafe itself, working the food, drinks and service, and eventually being semi-(no paperwork)-adopted by the most beautiful of families. I cannot put a value on the 18 months of living with 'The Kroons", They taught me more of life's worth than I knew possible. The mother and father are embassadors of the purest love I have ever encountered. Life's truly awe inspiring people who I can admire as peers and role models, for if I gain a fraction of what they have created, I will be naught but a happy man. The 4 Brothers too, unmistakable of the same kin, yet icredibly unique and individual characters in their own right. I have no doubt in my mind that they will all follow in there parents foot steps and make great things in all aspects of life.

Another time, in the exact same spot where I encountered Jesse (my now dutch brother) did I meet a middle aged bearded Norwegian, coming from Berlin to find an apartment in Amsterdam. After small smoke on a magic dragon, I find out the guy is a painter and we spent the rest of the day hanging out. After this day I did not hear from or speak to Lasse for some months, until one very normal day I was enjoying a lunch with a regular customer of the family cafe when suddenly she had to dash. Over an hour she left her brother and I talking and eating her delicious burger. Upon here return she was so happy and buoyant, she had just sold her apartment and all the things inside! You'll never guess who bought the apartment, yep, Lasse, the Norwegian Painter I met that one day. The world is too small. We got back in touch once he made his move, and what followed was the making of a gallery. Everything Is Fucking Art, Lasse's brainchild of a gallery space to exhibit his paintings in Amsterdam. We dicussed our ideas of what a gallery should be, and from this he asked me to get on board and help me make his. 

There was another chance encounter related to the coffeeshop, however this took place on the terrace of the family cafe where I served a kindred spirit and after some chatting she agreed to let me make her portrait. All normal so far I hear you say. Well, the portrait went smoothly, I caught the girl reading on her sofa in the living room of her apartment. After the portrait we continue talking, at some point the girl mentioned that she was in the area a lot because of the Abraxas, which I thought was quite funny as the girl, to my knowledge, did not smoke. I mentioned that it was my favourite coffee shop, she followed with the words "I Know". At this point, I'm a little stunned, how did this girl know this, was she psychic? (it wouldn't have surprised me), I had just that day met this girl, how did she know this. She continued with, "you're the kid that draws.". Now I'm really freaked out. Turns out there was no mental telepathy going on here, but the girl, just so happened to be the daughter of the owner of the Abraxas. Apparently word went around the top that there was a new kid in town and he comes armed with a pencil!

The girl and I became good friends and it was no long before we were talking Abraxas design ideas for the Souvenir shop. So here are he drawings I've made in the name of my favourite Coffeeshop. I highly recommend you check it out if you ever find yourself in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. 

www.abraxas.tv

Mandala Madness \ Feeling the Vibes

I went through a what I would call a mandala madness phase not so long ago, every page of my sketch book was being attacked with a compass and ruler, a few pencil lines followed by few hours each with pens. As well as being very peaceful and meditative to create mandalas it also allows you to explore and improve your drafting skills and penmanship in the process. The best thing is that you never quite know how your mandala will turn out in the end. Despite laying down similar pencil foundations in the beginning, the outcomes seem to be dramatically different. 

So here's what one week of 'Mandala Madness' looks like:

Painters Palace \ At its best.

The Painters Palace has been a hive of activity over this festival period Budapest. It's buzzing with the creativity of artists and musicians. Over the 2 days we've had a visiting Italian artist Lou Rido stay with us. He's travelling with his chalks and laying his swirls where he can, incredible drawings. For some reason there seemed to be an overwhelming amount of French people with two large groups passing through. We've had numerous noise complaints, even the police called once for just one guy on guitar at 5:30 in the afternoon. The music in general consisted of violin, flute, dijurido, saxophone, guitar, Cajon and guitar along with many 'un'classical instruments, beer cans, wine bottles etc. Sewn into the life music we had some improvised life drawing session, mixing up the models and times of poses as we went.

For me this is the palace at its best. People drawing and painting (creating in general) good live music (most often improvised by spontaneous meetings of musicians) casual nudity (its a must, it works so well with life drawing and pushing peoples concept of a 'normal/steriotypical' scenario or social situation) New people, when the palace has just over a few people inside it becomes a even bigger magnet for even more people. Its great to see so many faces in such a short amount of time come through the doors and experience a new type of space, it's even more exciting to see so many happy faces. The palace has been humming with good vibes and its been getting people to hum in tune. What more could one wish for?

Here's some of my drawings from these days, as always, enjoy.

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Taka Tuka 2017 \ Drawings speak louder than words.

When it comes to describing Taka Tuka Festival in words things become a little tricky, its somewhat the same as trying to render the idea of enlightenment into written or spoken language, you fundamentally just cannot and actually, the more you try, the further you get from explaining it. Thats because its a feeling, and feelings must be felt, not understood. 

The best way I can describe Taka Tuka however, would be to imagine the period surrounding Christmas, when you know Christmas is just going to be the best Christmas ever, your extended family is complete with around 350 beautiful people with lots of energy and special musical/artistic skills. Put all this festivity onto a small island on the Danube with a limited supply of electricity yet unlimited supply of alcohol, food and music, pepper that with casual nudity and glorious sunny weather and you have the recipe for a great festival.

Compared to last year everything was 100x better not only from the weather, the fact that there was a well and access to abundant clean drinking water, but also the construction and basic infrastructure were massively improved. Previously the bar and kitchen in the main area were basically built from oversized twigs, however this year, tree trunks set a solid foundation for the structures to live on for years to come. Even better is that no trees were cut down to build the structures but the trees had been fell by beavers and reclaimed by the gang to build. The dance floor went from flooded muddy swap land to smooth beach stones centred with an all new DJ booth which took the form of a pirate ship extending from the base of a dead tree. The ship was complete with its own sails and mast, which you could really climb! The tree house was also more solid and better established with ropes, rings and things to play on. A new addition was the hate bar, here you could release your inner demons and let it 'all' out. What was the chill/jam stage last year was only a seating platform for the new Esperanto stage. A medium sized tensile structure over a solid, surprisingly flat, stage and this year there was a much needed bar in this area too. There was also a new area, probably my favourite addition, the Garden of Eden. This area was located a short walk down the island, separated from the music, it was a paradise in its own right. Even though there was no stage so to speak, here I heard some of the best music of the festival as musicians would rock up with their instruments and go acoustic and jam together. Best of all were the dijurido and the flute, both sounds sent from above!

My personal experience of the festival was one of much drawing and a lot dancing, I held an Adam and Eve themed Life Drawing session in the Garden of Eden then became horrendously ill with flu and other things... The sickness stopped me for 16 hours but not for longer, I continued to draw and dance and see out the rest of the festival in good spirits. I drew so much that in 5 days I filled an entire sketchbook (roughly 150 pages) with pen drawings of various moments I found myself in.

Here is a selection of the best drawings. Please bare in mind that a lot of the drawings were made with in extremely low light conditions which makes legible drawing a challenge.

A few more...

I hope you enjoy these drawings, whether you were able to make it to Take Tuka or not, I hope they give you an insight (or my insight) into the island and the people that inhabited it for this small period of time. Maybe you recognise some of the faces in the scribbled lines, possibly even see yourself. I cannot thank the Taka Tuka crew enough, the Brothers, their lovers and everyone who pitched in big or small, you made the best festival I've ever been to, with that you get all my love and respect & my attendance next year! 

"Thats a Wrap." / Painting the movies.

For sometime now they have been shooting some movies in my area, as I walk to and from my house I see shooting in action. First of all it's great because I love films and seeing the makin gof them is a pleasure, I love the extremes that blockbuster shows push in terms of amount of technology, equipment and coordination, the whole operation is a performance in itself. However what I always happen to see is people (usually extras dressed in full costume) standing around waiting for their call to scene. Now this is where I see opportunity, they would make perfect models in costume especially now as they seem to filming two period pieces set in 1920's. People everywhere dressing in ornate hats and dresses, surrounded by horses and carriages in these smokey ethereal street scenes. 

Today the opportunity to paint these scenes metaphorically slapped me in the face and quite literally landed on my doorstep. Right outside my studio on the Brody Sandor in Budapest, the whole of the Vas Utca was cornered off for filming. The street was hung with oversized Hungarian flags, which instantly reminded me of Monet's Paris scene with French flags flying everywhere. There were small legions of foot officers or soldiers, I couldn't see from the distance and the smoke and also there where troops on horse back riding up and down the street. The rest I hope the pictures will explain. 

This is the final painting from the day. I gave the painting away to a young security guard who took an interest in it. 5 Minutes later, the special effects guy gets a call saying the Oscar award winning director, László Nemes, wanted the painting. Shucks, could have met a super star.

UbikFarm Festival \ One night in Drawings

This last weekend I attended the much anticipated UbikFarm Festival, the little sister of the wicked festival UbikEklectik. The event was hosted by the guys at Farmunk in Vértesszőlős and I recon about 250 people in attendance. A petite festival that was overflowing with kindred spirits and feelings of free love and good vibes. I took A fresh sketchbook to see what would come of one Saturday night on the farm. Below are the results in order. I arrived at around 5pm on the Saturday and the last drawing was from 10am Sunday morning, when I wasn't drawing I was dancing and dipping (in the lake). Please bear in mind it was very, very dark during the majority of these drawings, and that I was drawing with speed to capture more of an idea of the festival rather than a realistic image. Some images I missed, like the piglets running behind the bar and the goats cruising with a rattle through the trees but I had a wicked night and am happy with the sketches.

Biggest Thanks to the Ubik guys, Taka Tuka crew and the wonderful folk of Farmunk for, as always, a great gathering of people combined with all sorts of fun. You really know how to do it. 

For More info check here \/

UbikEklektik  \  Taka Tuka  \  Farmunk

GALLERIES ARE DEAD \ Long live the Painters Palace.

  I set off on an adventure to travel and draw, I had a dream of opening studios. Studios to accommodate drawing and painting but most importantly studios with open doors and public participation. All in the aim of supporting and connecting travelling or local artists on their journeys but most importantly, studios that support and to every extent encourage, the creation of art itself, by anybody who feels that desire to create.

The magic of art is lost in galleries. And the connection between audience and artist severed. They are dead spaces with (not often enough) some nice "art" on the walls. My studios would be tactile and approachable, inviting not only the artists inside to work but the laymen, the public, the people who normally would not have the connection to art, artist or 'the process'. There is a little bit of artist in all of us and I want my spaces to nourish that character.

Im writing this post as it so happens to be the one year anniversary of the first major step towards my dream. I came to Budapest little over a year ago to open my first studio, I arrived with my Dutch brother Jesse, who wanted to help build something special. Armed with big ideas and a crumbling basement we set upon opening the Painters Palace. An open studio space in the centre of Budapest where people could feel free to be themselves, create their art and connect with others along the way. 

It's been a truly great year, most days we have welcomed people from all over world through our doors. (This is great because if I'm not travelling go its nice having the world to come to me instead.) During the first year establishing a core group of artists was key to keep the paint of the palace flowing, thanks to this core group the studio has hosted a multitude of events beyond the realm of drawing/painting sessions and workshops. From concerts, jams and recordings, markets, parties (may we not forget Indian New Year...). From all this the Painters Palace has inspired life and art in people, it has brought them together and forged tight friendships. Encouraging all to be and express themselves. 

Don't get me wrong, it has by no means been a breeze. Reality is that 99% of the big ideas you have at the beginning of a process do not come to fruition in the first year of operation or in other cases tested and proven to be a sour tact. But that's just life, you win some and you lose some. For now my aim is to keep the palace rocking the best I can, we will see what comes of it.  

So Happy Birthday to my studio, may the Painters Palace live forever! 

Sneak peak from the party:

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It was a great party to celebrate, we had food, drinks, life drawings, portraits and Palinka Republic took the rook of the place with their epic upbeat tunes which eventually lead to the police being called and party time capped! Thankyou to all those who came down, and to all those that have made the palace what it is, no matter how big or how small your contribution, it is invaluable! 

Trip to Taka Tuka

This week I visited one of my favourite places on this planet!

Taka Tuka is an island on the river Danube in Kimle (Hungary). It is owned by friends of mine who host a festival there every year for the last 2 years. Prior to the festival there is a period of build up, as there is no infrastructure on the island (water, electricity etc.) so everything needs building.

This year there has been a huge improvement, with a more permanent bar and kitchen area built up, improvements have been made to the toilets and tree house, new paths have been forged from the reeds and now, for the first time, there is running water thanks to a well that the boys installed! 

Of corse I helped as much as a I could, but it was no secret that I wanted to paint. I got my chance, from one of my favourite views of the island, seen from the beach looking upstream. Its a view that if you've seen once, you will never forget it.

Session 1: I spent about 2 hours on location working gout the composition and general colours.

Session 2/3: After bringing the painting home I worked more into the brush and directional marks. whilst building contrast and definition into the trees. 

 

 

Apple Pencil 2.0 \ 8 ideas for the ultimate digital pencil.

I've had roughly a ten year history with apple now, I started using Mac when I was 16. Safe to say I was converted by mostly the user experience and quality of their products and in many ways their company ethos and morals. With the WWDC now past, although it was a good one and I would love to get my hands on the new 10 inch iPad, I was hoping to see more improvements to the Apple Pencil hardware. I know there were some software updates, which is cool, it has a few more little nifty features in notes and the lock screen, also the benefits of the new display with high refresh rate and less reflectivity. but just software updates did little to excite me. When the pencil first came out, I was excited, I predicted it 5 years prior to release, I knew apple would never make a stylus, but a pencil now thats a completely different story, the pencil for me is the most powerful tool in my arsenal. The Apple Pencil in its own right is a great pencil, the pressure is smooth at 1024 lvls, tilt and palm rejection, all is good. But in my opinion it could be soooo much better, so much more! The pencil is not just a drawing instrument, its a fully fledged tool, in the right hands it could conduct an orchestra.

Heres how,

1. user awareness, imagine if your pencil could distinguish whether it was you, your friend even your grandma who was using it. You could separate and view input into collaborated documents such as movies, drawings and notes (contextual)

2. multiple pencils on one device (video editing, collaboration drawing/painting, air drum sticks in garage band)

3. local notes, carry your notes with you in your pen.

4. A button... or two, yes the pencil has its pure slick design, but that doesn't mean it has no need for a button, I can. live without the eraser on top, but adding a custmisable button or two built into the apple pencil would make workflow a dream. It doesn't have to be a classic push button, I'm imagining more of a tap ribbon/zone setup with perhaps haptic feedback that wraps around the pencil, you could single tap to invoke an action or double tap to get a a quick menu, brush presets, colour palette etc, embedded Touch ID would be an ideal way to get into your cloud files on others hardware, 

5. Siri notes. Imagine if you could just speak memos to your pencil, you don't even need to get your iPad out but they would be available later.

6. measure more with sensors, what if you could use your pencil as a drumstick in garage band, to tap out a tempo or a rhythm. As a 3D brush, just imagine for a second if you could wave your pencil around and draw in thin air and the lines would appear in AR. With camera and sensor tracking the pencil could be orientated in space and hey presto, your painting in 3D! Or use your pencil with Apple TV and other apple devices. Open out the pencil platform, allow developers access..

7. Other colours! Product RED, jet black, c'moooon this ones a piece of cake and very disappointing not to see introduced at last weeks event.

8. Wireless charging, its not going to happen to the pencil until at least the 3rd iteration. Yet we all know, its a must and its coming, one day.

I realise that to maintain the current and essential form factor of the pencil, then some of these updates would involve huge tech advances in terms of battery and processing power/efficiency. Whilst on the subject of form, the pencil is comfortable to hold with great balance, however, and maybe its just my hands, the pen could be a hairs width thinner in my opinion.

All this said I cannot wait to see how the new iPad refreshes feel of the pencil, I'm most excited to see how the screen refresh rate smoothes the experience of drawing digitally. I don't see that happening other than in stores at the moment though unless I sell a painting or two! Does anybody know if apple does artist sponsorship? 

Wall Art \ Hostel 1, Budpest

Recently the Painters Palace was asked to add some excitement and colour to the white walls of the newly renovated hostel. This was my contribution, right newt to the reception.

I used some good quality acrylic paint and finished with markers. Overall I think the piece is about 2m by 2m. 

drawing \ eye of Ra

Before I left Amsterdam for a period of travelling, I was gifted a necklace with an eye of Ra attached by somebody I love. The eye mainly represents protection and good health amongst other things. Definitely a good omen for my travels. Its a bizarre feeling you have a third eye that always watching out for you - comforting, once you get used to it.

I took it off one day to make this drawing. Completed with only a Bic biro.

Text reads:

RA, Creator of all. Maker of me, Shine your light. See my soul, it is Yours. Not part, But Whole. RA...

I struggle with writing so much. I always want these poetic moments in my life and then reading back it all sees so cheesy. 

I ended up getting very frustrated with myself one day and ripped this drawing up and put it in the bin... long, different story.

 

Stadspaleis & I \ mini documentary

A lovely bunch a film making students recently fell in love with the adorable cafe, Het Stadspaleis. They asked very politely if they would be able to make a documentary of the place, me and how it came to be.

Thankyou guys for the great documentary, it really captures the stads-vibe. A slightly embarrassing first film experience for me. I think it shows...