John Cerney and his Gigantic Paintings

thumbnail of title
Giant Baby With Tractors 1998
(Click on the thumbnails to enlarge)

(This painting was 20 feet tall and located in Goodyear, Arizona, about 10 miles West of Phoenix on Highway 10. It was commissioned by the Duncan Family Farms as a ‘marker’ for travellers to spot before taking the next exit to their educational farm that closed in 2004.)

After graduating from Cal State Long Beach in 1984, John Cerney embarked on a career initially as a portrait artist and then as a muralist and sign painter in his native Salinas Valley, California.

In 1995, he created a series of 10 large fieldworkers (18 feet tall) for a local farmer who wanted to pay tribute to the agricultural labor force.

thumbnail of title
Gigantic Field Worker 1995

He then had his Satori moment.

thumbnail of title
Meridian Winery

Striking out from his large mural paintings like the winery above, John Cerney began to abandon the traditional grounds for his paintings and focussed his art onto large cutout billboards that utilised the natural environment for backgrounds.

He stayed grounded to his locality in the Salinas Valley and his farmer clients happily accepted the new direction he wanted to pursue.

And this is what he went on to produce.

thumbnail of title
Marylin Monroe, Artichoke Queen

thumbnail of title
John Cerney in his studio

thumbnail of title
Farmer and Irrigator

thumbnail of title
Iowa Landscape

Cerney’s brand of extraordinary vision was bound to attract the attention of art galleries sooner or later, even though he himself has studiously avoided giving himself or his work any high art credentials.

So the Rice Gallery in Houston, Texas (They like things that are BIG in Texas) has organised a show called “Big Landscape, Big West” featuring Cerney’s work.
The show runs from the 9th of November to the 11th of December 2006.

thumbnail of title
After “Nearing Camp on the Upper Colorado River”

As a backdrop for his enormous paintings, Cerney has painted a hommage to an early American landscape painter called Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
who also liked to big it up.

thumbnail of title
Rice Gallery: John Cerney’s Show.

thumbnail of title

There’s a six minute video of John Cerney’s work on YouTube, and what comes over strongly (for me at least) is his total lack of art-speak bullshit. He’s an utterly straightforward person going about his art work with amazing vision.

Alban The Elephant

Alban the Elephant is a hilarious semi animated / semi strip cartoon by Laurent Larapidie, AKA Mister Pili.

thumbnail of title

Mister Pili, a veteran 3D designer, lead artist and instructor for games, illustration and commercials, has been developing his own stories in 2D.

Using Flash and Painter, he has crafted seven episodes (so far) of Alban The Elephant, a thoroughly modern pachyderm who doesn’t hesitate to use the odd existentialist manoeuvre to get out of trouble.

thumbnail of title
Even though the site is all in French, you can easily find your way through the stories on the TV because the graphics are all self evident.

thumbnail of title
Alban Discovers Viagra

These are humourous stories for grown-ups.

thumbnail of title
Alban Rolls a Spliff

thumbnail of title
Alban Flies to Pachrystan

thumbnail of title
Alban Argues With God

I don’t know where this series is going, and there doesn’t appear to be a distributor attached to the project so far, so just enjoy it for the laughs!

I’ll be keeping my eye on Alban.

( Via Catsuka )

Do We Feel Safer Yet?


thumbnail of title

Last week, an EU-funded body entitled the Future of Identity in the Information Society (Fidis) issued a declaration on machine-readable travel documents such as RFID-chipped passports and ID cards.

It said the technology was “poorly conceived” and added: “European governments have effectively forced citizens to adopt new … documents which dramatically decrease their security and privacy and increase risk of identity theft.”

Read the whole Guardian story here.

I Think I’ve Seen This Somewhere Before…

I ran across this the other day. Don’t ask how, I was looking for something quite other.

thumbnail of title

Whenever I unexpectedly see my own work out there on the net, I always react with a mixture of pleasure at someone else’s valuing my work enough to use it on their blog or website, and a mild irritation that they have not asked for permission or even sent a trackback.

Ah well, that is the nature of the net. At least, since I started using an .htaccess file to stop the practice, they haven’t hotlinked to the picture.

Here’s the picture at higher resolution:

thumbnail of title

The location in the picture is the amazing 210 feet high junction of the M25 and the M23 south of London. It’s 3 or 4 miles from where I live.

I’ve shown it here in a rather dilapidated state several decades after “peak oil” has made carbon based fuels unaffordable for transport use. So it’s a painting whose subject is missing from the painting.

As you can imagine, it’s a bit tricky to sketch this scene from life, especially from this angle, so I used a camera. It was relatively dangerous taking the photo while driving along at 70 m.p.h. (That’s why I gave the job to my 4 year old co-driver).

There’s a walk through tutorial of how I painted the picture against the clock, for an art contest on Animation

Here’s a link to the blog post where I saw my picture being used.

At It Again: Banksy’s Adventures in New York

thumbnail of title
(Click the thumbnails to enlarge)

Planted in the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday 18th November by Banksy.

thumbnail of title
The painting in situ.

thumbnail of title

Glued to the wall of the Metropolitain Museum.

thumbnail of title
The painting in situ.

thumbnail of title

I have no idea what the New Yorkers made of this essentially British iconic graphic, slapped on the wall of MOMA. (It took the staff 3 days to remove it.)

The next one is my absolute favourite, parked on the wall of the New York Museum of Natural History.

thumbnail of title
Withus Oragainstus”

Quote from Banksy: “They’re good enough to be in there, so I don’t see why I should wait”.

Go to The Wooster Collective to read the whole story.

If You Live In The United KIngdom, Please Sign This Petition

Somewhat amazingly, the UK Government have set up a petitions website so that members of the public can bring matters of concern direct to the Prime Ministers Office. This is in beta at the moment.

At the time of writing, the most popular of the many petitions is:

    1) Repeal the Hunting Act, 2004, and
    2) Scrap the proposed introduction of ID cards

If you feel strongly about the proposed introduction of ID cards in this country, may I urge you to click here and add your name to the petition.
This will take you directly to the ID card petition page.

If you want to either start a new petition, or add your name to an existing one the design of the website has made the whole process very easy.

There has been a huge response to this new service, with over 500 petitions being started in the first couple of days.
There are inevitably a few silly ones, such as the proposal to ban the sale of baked beans, as well as proposals that are basically sensible but almost unenforcable, such as “to force all road designers to cycle on the cycle lanes they plan”. I personally liked the idea:’Change the electoral process to include a binding “None of the above, re-open nominations” on every ballot paper’.

Some of the really daft petitions get weeded out, but mysteriously the following proposal is still riding high on the list: “We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stand on his head and juggle ice-cream.” This has the support of over 800 votes, so it would be a bad judgement to remove it from the list, I guess.

Here’s the quote (below) from the website, and here’s a link to is the charitable project that runs many of the UK’s best-known non-partisan political websites, like and
Continue reading If You Live In The United KIngdom, Please Sign This Petition

Pete Nidzgorski & Open Source Storage

Looking at my WordPress dashboard recently I found that Pete Nidzgorski was linking in.

What immediately struck me about his website was the super cool and ultra restrained intro.
On top of that there’s a wicked selection of mp3s for your downloading pleasure. The more you dig around the site, the more sounds you find. Not all of them are music. Some are just shards of conversation or phrases snatched from film soundtracks. This man Pete loves his audio clips.

Pete runs a second site called that shows sophisticated pairings of pictures and music.

Take a look at Pete’s Open Source Storage Units. He has designed a couple of cabinets that you can make from single 8′ X 4′ sheets of Europly. That’s right: 1 sheet of plywood = 1 cabinet, and Pete claims you can make the whole thing with nothing more than a power drill.

thumbnail of title
Cabinet #3 in progress

thumbnail of title
Cabinet #3 complete.

thumbnail of title
Cabinet #4 in progress.

thumbnail of title
Cabinet #4 complete

The “open source” bit means that the plans are free. When you e-mail Pete, he will point you to a couple of downloadable Acrobat files, and some cutting diagrams that will impress the people at the timber yard when you ask them to cut the wood for you (highly recommended).

Constructed dimensions are: 45″ wide, by 31″ tall and 15″ deep. The cabinet is designed to be used against a wall because there is no back panel.

You will need slightly more than just a power drill, but not much. Pete lists a hammer, a screwdriver, clamps and a nail set as being helpful too.

There’s a discussion at Apartment Therapy that probably answers many of the detailed questions you might have about constructing these units.

These look just right for studio brush and paint storage.

Acrobat files here:

The Mystery Baby

Remember a portrait of an impish little baby I posted a while ago?

Here’s a reminder: (Click the thumbnails to enlarge).

thumbnail of title

That painting was not done from life, but from this photograph below:

thumbnail of title

I admit that the picture doesn’t really enlighten you much as to who its subject is.

Have a look at this next one and see if you start to get an idea of who it might be.
It shows that the baby has now grown into a baseball loving boy:

thumbnail of title

The eagle eyed among you will also have noticed straightaway that the picture was taken before the invention of Photoshop.

thumbnail of title

I’ve blanked out his father’s face. He doesn’t really wear a rectangular black mask. That would be too eccentric for this family.

OK, if you’re still guessing, this next picture of the growing lad will dispel any uncertainty about his identity. Click the word “More” to reveal all.
Continue reading The Mystery Baby

Some Bamboo Drawings, 20 Years On

thumbnail of title
Arundinaria tessellata Artwork

It occurred to me recently that it is now 20 years since I founded the Bamboo Network, that evolved into The Bamboo Society which is still going strong.

At about the same time, I also started a specialist nursery called Jungle Giants.

Part of the marketing emphasis of Jungle Giants was the level of well presented information about the plants it sold. At that time there was very little knowledge of temperate bamboos and so I prepared a series of illustrated data cards showing the merits of the 32 species in the Jungle Giants inaugural range.

Here are just a few of the original illustrations which were printed out fairly small on the individual data cards (see below), which were presented in a spiffy looking silkscreened transparent pack.

thumbnail of title
Jungle Giants Bamboo Information Pack Cover

I remember paying what seemed a fortune for the cover illustration by Ashley Potter, who also did the calligraphy for the logo.

There was a spoof guarantee / warning on the reverse of the pack’s cover, inspired by a Frank Zappa album cover, mashed up with the warnings on the back of cigarette packs of the era.

thumbnail of title

thumbnail of title
Arundinaria tessellata Card

thumbnail of title
Phyllostachys aureosulcata Artwork

thumbnail of title
Phyllostachys nigra henonis Artwork

thumbnail of title
Phyllostachys viridi-glaucescens Artwork

thumbnail of title
Phyllostachys viridis mitis Artwork

As a brief it was quite a tough call to illustrate 32 bamboo species in black and white line drawings, but the drawings drew favourable comment from specialist bamboo collectors (Yes, there are such people!) for their portrayal of the different species. Given that many bamboo species are incredibly difficult to tell apart from one another, I had to accept that as a compliment.

By the time I sold the company to Michael Brisbane in the early 1990’s I had amassed about 140 species of mostly temperate bamboos.

I’m scanning a folio full of these drawings to prepare them for auction on eBay in a couple of weeks time. The original selection of 32 bamboo species grew and grew season by season, so there’s a big stack of artwork to put through the scanner.

The artwork images above are all drawn in acrylic paint onto A4 sheets of bristol board, or some similar type of hot press illustration board.

Here’s a link to the current online catalogue of plants offered by Jungle Giants (Prop. Michael Brisbane).

There’s a wonderfully old school web page showing the Bamboo Society’s activities, and a brilliantly eccentric collection of 1000 things made of bamboo put together by Wolfgang Eberts, a 3rd generation nurseryman, bambusophile and dendrologist from Baden-Baden.

The picture below might help you to understand my fondness for bamboos.

thumbnail of title
Drepanostachyum hookerianum