Wulf's Webden

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Tuesday 23 January 2018
by Wulf
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The Same But Different

How do you cover an instantly recognisable song but without being a slave to the original style? One trick to rework the mould is reharmonisation; keep the melody but change the chords into a different set that still fit. The new chords don’t easily fall into the same old rut and thus blank canvas is revealed.

Rehearsing last night with Kitchen Funk Experiment, we were looking again at Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. There was a tendency to end up back in grunge rock territory but, during one of the resulting bouts of noise, the idea struck me to change the chords (and, under that cover, an opportunity to experiment a little). The original is all power chords (roots, fifths but no thirds) but it sounds like the harmonic progression is Em Am G C (or i iv III VI – the original is, I think, in Fm). I tweaked that to Em7 F#m7 G Am7 – effectively dropping the bass note of the second and fourth chords down by a minor third and taking some ear-led liberties with how to build each chord up.

I’d say instant nirvana… but far enough removed to let us put a soul funk spin on their classic song.

Monday 22 January 2018
by Wulf
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Worth Less Than Half

They say “buy cheap, buy twice”. Ironically, the Kitchen Craft Peeler we picked up from Steamer Trading just over a week ago was a second purchase and about half price in the sale… and completely useless. I think the peeler we had been using has migrated into the compost heap again (it has done that before) so we picked up one a couple of months ago which was okay but I didn’t find particularly good at peeling – not enough room under the swivel blade. However, it has done better than the Kitchen Craft one, which looks nicer but (IMHO) has a shank that is far too short.

Peeling some parsnips the other day, the shank popped out and despite trying to squeeze it back in, reinforcing the socket with some wound wire, it gave up again today. An extra 5mm of metal would probably make all of the difference, spreading the pressure rather than concentrating it.

Time, I think, to go back to the original plan B, which looks like it is made to last.

Sunday 21 January 2018
by Wulf
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Charcoal and Chalk

One more picture from Friday’s Observation to Abstraction session:

Charcoal and chalk drawing

Dogwood stems

Out of all the work I did, this is the most representational. You probably can’t read everything in the picture – for example, that little eruption at the bottom is the top of a hyacinth, preparing to flower – but you can see the stems. You might even have guessed the plant type from some of the details although, without colour, you probably wouldn’t have pegged it as Cornus stolonifera (Yellow-barked Dogwood).

I can’t remember the last time I did a charcoal and chalk drawing. Working on grey paper, you can darken, lighten and, to some extent, even undo the marks. What I am most pleased about with this one is the subtle changes of tonal value along the stems, which along with crossing twigs and shadows, generates a reasonably three dimensional appearance.

Saturday 20 January 2018
by Wulf
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Blind Painting

I have enthused about “blind drawing” several times. This is the practice of tracing the shapes of objects while looking at them rather than down at the paper. One of the new twists I explored in yesterday’s Observation to Abstraction session was the related method of blind painting. Below is the result from still life – click the image to view the full set of pictures from yesterday with some more representational views from the same set of plants and twigs in jars:

Abstract still life watercolour painting

Blind Painting

In some ways it looks childish but there is also an element of sophistication. I am pleased with the colours I mixed, the interaction of the lines scribed over the top and, in particular, the overall composition. There is an energy emanating from the bottom left, anchored by the darker, duller colours marking the corner (black card along the base and a greenish vase in the setting) bursting into the bright explosions of pigment; orange and pink held together by two different but similar patches of green. Above all, it is deeply honest portrayal of what I saw and responded to – indeed, observation to abstraction.

Technical notes – all colours were mixed from Schmincke Helio Turquioise, Lukas Genuine Rose, Daler Rowney Green Gold and Winsor and Newton Paynes Grey. Brush work was done with a 1″ flat brush and the lines were added with brown and green watercolour pencils.

Friday 19 January 2018
by Wulf
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Back to School, Again

Jane’s Christmas present to me was to let me sign up for a three session art course this term – Observation to Abstraction with Ella Clocksin, who led the Oxford Summer School course I attended last summer. Today was session one and, in the morning, it was lots of blind drawing, like this:

Abstract drawing

Blind Drawing – stems and hyacinth

In the afternoon (picture to follow once I’ve figured how to scan or photograph it) we got the paints out and tried a monochrome piece from memory, a directly painted piece and, my favourite, a blind painting – splashing colour and line around without looking at the paper.

I have been doing a fair amount of blind – or contour – drawing recently; you follow the edges of what you see with your eyes while echoing the moves with your drawing implement and thus not looking or editing your line while it plays out. However, it was good to try a few exercises to stretch that further including using the non-dominant hand and, in the picture above, using a Sharpie marker which produced a much longer line for me in the time exercise as I followed Dogwood stems up and down (look for the downward pointing triangles which are the main visual clue to what I was looking at).

Thursday 18 January 2018
by Wulf
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Contemporaneity

When I did my Digital Forensics course a couple of years ago, one of the main themes drilled home was the importance of contemporaneous notes – writing down what you did while you are doing it. This has two purposes. In the courtroom setting, it demonstrates your competence (or otherwise) as an expert. Ideally you need a way of putting in incontrovertible timestamps and other measures to prove that the record has not been altered. More usefully, in my subsequent practice, it provides enough description of the path taken that it can be followed again from the same starting point to arrive at the same conclusion.

Earlier today I had cause to turn back to one of the assignments I submitted during the course, in order to look at the the contemporaneous notes I submitted to demonstrate how I had evaluated, installed and tested a hex editor. I am in the process of checking another program, Eraser, to see that it thoroughly deletes data to the standard I need. The hex editor lets me look at exactly what is on the disk. I can locate my file and (since it is a simple text file) read it directly; after deletion I can return to the same location and look to see what is left. After regular deletion, the contents will still be largely readable even if not directly accessible by the regular operating system; afterwards, all traces should be expunged.

It isn’t something I have had cause to do since the course and I was getting a little bogged down trying to figure out what tool to use until I remembered to look back at my notes. Job done and, next week, I can conduct my tests. Hurrah for good notes!

Wednesday 17 January 2018
by Wulf
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Looking Down on the Back Garden – January 2018

View of the back garden from an upstairs window

Looking Down on the Back Garden – January 2018

That’s the view of the back garden this morning. Stems and structures standing proud, a few evergreens … and I notice that the Buddleja globosa by the fence on the right still has quite a lot of leaves on. Looking back, that seems typical although it is nothing compared to the profusion of leaves that will be covering it in 3-4 months.

You will also notice a dusting of snow. That was unexpected but it is already disappearing and has remained much warmer than the -60°C conditions I was writing about yesterday!