Japan & The Fear

Japan & The Fear

So its only 28ish days until I go to Japan. Some pretty wild emotional swings and general fear.

All the preparations are going well, I have got my camera lens repaired and new batteries, cards etc. Not taking my art materials as I kind of want to see what is available in the art shops there. Get some new brushes and maybe some new paint. I have been looking at my art books as to clues in the techniques of some artists. Materials I am not familiar with.

Found a pretty amazing looking store called Pigment. I shall be visiting there for sure.

Before I go I have rephotographed all of my remaining work. The website has been totally overhauled all nice and fresh. I got some pictures newly framed like these two. ”Misty Forest So Silent” & ”Blossom”.


Blossom” Acrylic paint, sepia inks, sumi ink, paper cut blossoms.


Misty Forest So Silent” Graphite & Pencil on Paper.

There are a number of really good paintings I would love to find homes for before I go. Its all part of returning to a fresh point to produce new work.

This is where I am going in Japan first. In winter. Its gonna be, I think, the ultimate reality of what I want to paint. So all the sales of remaining work goes into me spending time immersed in this place. Drawing and painting. Its gonna get interesting!

My main painting this year is a follow on from last years ”Dance To The Music”.  In this one I took the style of the Tomioka series of paintings and made the tree zones a uniformed tone. I really liked the look of this.

dance to the music painting by gilles

So this was 4x5ft and was the biggest surface area painting I have undertaken. For this years painting I got 2 of these 4×5’s and turned them upright making the canvas 5 high by 8ft long. Its a really nice size.

For this painting I kept with the uniformed tone zones. And once that layer of the painting was complete I added a spray paint design over the top which was intended to be the visual representation of the energy that trees and mountains and all the nature produces. This energy all connects to a grid powered by everything. The grid gives and it takes.

This is ”Transmissions”.


Its pretty monumental. Works great above a hi-fi and fits very well with music. Its quite a quiet painting, and good for spending time in. Which works well for listening to music at the same time. With a coffee.

I wasn’t meant to be doing any art this year (part of clearing the decks) but earlier in the year my favourite band Blackalicious announced a new album, first in 10yrs, and a tour. I booked the venue across the street from the gig to do a 1 night exhibition of work some way connected to Blackalicious.

I listen to them all the time when I am painting especially. Music while I am working is key, you bring yourself up and you chill it out in accordance with how the painting is going. Its like Dj’ing a party just between you and the painting.

So I use their music in that way, but I also find a lot of the lyrics very spiritual. Growth, education, understanding of the self. The energy that can be utilised. So I took some things from their words and I also looked at the album art work.

These are the 3 album covers so far.


I like the cut & paste thing going on. ”Nia” 1999


”Blazing Arrow” 2002. Still with the cut n paste like the first one but and the two people are grown up. Still with music but looking like hunters. I like the arrow vibe in the sky.


”The Craft” 2005. Different style on this one, the back cover had lyrics overlaid  it was really about the whole ‘craft’ of what they were doing. Think they were mid 30’s. If I ever met them I’d like to know if they did go to India after making the album.


‘Imani’ 2015. So this one seems to be to bring back the hunter figure from Blazing Arrow. But this time he’s like transcended into being way more powerful. And what I liked in particular was the power grid design on his legs.

So I took all of that, and what I get from the music and combined that with what I was working on. So I wanted to show the energy of the forest.


The exhibit went well. I invited my friend Calum Carr who is an Illustrator to show some work to. He has just finished the art work for a breweries new range.

I had invited Blackalicious through the FB and that, dunno if they got the message but they didn’t come. That was fine though the point was just to do it. It was a personal challenge and the outcome was a beast of a painting. And plenty of friends came, and many were coming to the gig also. Was a good night.

You can see the ‘Transmissions’ on the web page here and I uploaded a FB album of the work in progress shots I took while working on it over the 4 weeks here.

I am busy wrapping up parts of life, preparing what goes in my bag and the slightly harder task of deciding what doesn’t go in.  Its getting really wintery now, working outside is gonna be harder over the next 3 weeks.

Here is some highlights of my life over the last few weeks. The has been a lot of sitting in the van on the M8. In various degrees of horrid weather.


Not long to go now…. not long at all. Ive also been reflecting on how long its has taken me to to this. I think all the trouble was just committing to booking a flight.

Just pick a date. Thats when its happening. Deal with it. So I am glad I kinda forced myself into this. Slight concerned over the fact I could continue working where I am, and its not often that work comes up so its a gamble but this may prompt unexpected doors opening, life has a habit of doing this I have noticed.. You need to knock on the door sometimes.

But I also have not had a break in like forever. For my own mental stability I need a little time out. And also artistically I need a refresh. Well actually its more than that. I feel I am ready for the next part. I have been training for 10yrs now I feel. The ideas are going good, my whole creative place is in good order so the next step would be to push it. For me thats got to be going in reality to the places that are the focus of my work. And that starts with Japan.


Sunday 1/2/15

Sunday 1/2/15


This is my first post of the year. I think a lot of last years posting was reflective and unsure about where I was going and where this blog was going. Still no closer to an answer for that! Hopefully you will stick with me if what I am doing is interesting…

In the last 2 months of 2014 I produced a number of paintings, the main set was the “Tomioka” series. Over the last 2 weeks I have produced another painting which I would include in the set, although its called “Dance To The Music“.

dance to the music

Image shown here just a crop of the full work. Its a large canvas at 5×4 ft, and you can see the full work here, within the Tomioka section.

The reason behind the title? Well roughly I take a lot of inspiration from the Scottish landscape, more in terms of energy not direct visual copying scenes. When you listen to music, if its good it ‘moves’ you spiritually ,then it will begin to move you physically.  You dance.

When you look out upon a beautiful natural scene and it moves you spiritually then why not also let it move you physically? Dance to the music the mountains are creating. The music of the trees and the sky. The stars.

(Its also the title of a brilliant Sly & The Family Stone song…)

There was a second reason that kind of kicked this line of thinking, as I painted the tress and as opposed to blending and merging the tree areas into one another as I normally do I made very defined blocks of uniformed tone. As the painting progressed I thought the ridges of the tree line looked a little like a sound wave.


(image source)

This got me thinking of music and I went down a wee rabbit hole of thought and concepts about if I could take a particular bit of music, view the sound wave form like above and paint my trees just like it, perfectly…

Then I thought about reversing the process and taking my painted scene and using that as a sound wave pattern and could a program generate a sound from the forms I had painted….. What does a painting actually sound like?

Yes I know, bizarre thinking. But not that crazy as some technology has been developed and I think there could be a concept project in this. I made a video with a very basic program I found.

I also decided to restore the first window I had ever made, from way back in 98/99 when I did the NC Decorative Glass work course in Glasgow.  It had been in a garage ever since and the lead had deteriorated past just giving it a brush up. The general leading could of been better, well it was my first window, so I decided to take the whole thing apart and rework it.

The design was good essentially, I just made some adjustments using as much of the original glass as I could.

This window was originally inspired by Neil Young’s first album cover from 1969.  I have called it Dawn and its available to view on the webpage also.

stained glass dawnstained glass dawnCurrently I am gearing up to the Southside Fringe Festival. If you follow the blog you’ll know what I did last summer, and this year I have been asked to coordinate the arts side of things. So lots to do. 96 days away!!!

In line with the efforts that will take both time & finance I am having a studio sale. I also just want to start this year with a bit of a fresh palette. Clean water in a way.

I did produce around 30/40 works last year alone, but I am sitting on some paintings 2/4/6 even 10 yrs old. So I’ve made sweeping reductions on the prices in a bid to clear some space for myself.  After producing a lot of good work last year I want to maintain that, and not have to spend my time on sales of old work.

Most of the works are now under £250.  Those that are not, are the largest paintings which just took a long time to complete and I feel are worth more than punting for less than I spent on making them. To put it bluntly!   But if something is outwith your budget do let me know and we can agree on something! I do need the space first and foremost. I am sitting on around 70 works!

(I thought I might stick in a brief bit about how I come to the conclusion what a painting should cost. First up is the surface, a canvas may cost £20/100. A frame anything from £30/100 Materials inclu paints sprays inks pens tape and varnishes £70 average spend on bits and bobs. So we are already in the region of £150+.  Then there is the time, if I was to work minimum wage stacking shelves 40hr a full time week I’d get £250aprox.  So if I work for 2 weeks on a piece, and I far exceed 40hrs a week, is it unfair to ask the same? Aside from this work is a unique one off idea using skills I have spent years developing. Its not stacking shelves which can be repeated the same way the next week. This is a one off situation. Is there a monitory value to that?  So quite quickly after a week working on a painting and upwards of 150 on materials and finishing even abase price of £400 is minimal. So thats how I price.  Add together time &materials.)

That said it does get to the stage where if something is priced at 500 legitimately do I hold out for that price for a month, 6 months, 3yrs, maybe never. Or just set a limit on time and cut the price. The longer I have something the more chance I have of damaging the work and potential losing its entire value.  I just got one large painting back from London with both stretcher bars on the back on the canvas totally busted. I cant sell that now.  Everytime I put something into exhibit there is the chance of the a sale, also the chance of a wrecked work.

So its a hard place to be in, unfortunately that is the artist life, right now I just want to paint.


 Check out my webpage www.gilliesart.com and see the sale reductions, and feel free to like and share something you like from my FB page.

Cheers see you soon.