Author: commaandco

I want to be exhibited! if only…..

Brooklyn Art Library keeps a collection of sketchbooks submitted by drawers/painters like yourself.  You, yes you.  They take them and exhibit them for you.  Yes, you.

Sign up by January 5th, 2018 for next year’s challenge.

Send a sum of money to get a sketchbook sent to you, fill it, return.

2018 themes to choose from are: Underwater, This is now that it seems, Textures, Lines and Graphics, Long stories with short endings, A Comic Book ending, Connections, People I wish I knew, No Worries, Tacos.

What does it even look like?

Here are a couple of books sent by one illustrator, Clare Hemingsley

who enjoyed it so much, she did the project challenge again the following year:

Looking for a challenge in 2018?  This could be it.

Fancy an unusual line on your artistic cv?

Just want someone to see what you make, because you think it’s actually good?

This could be IT.  Apply.


Creativity and Spirituality

Erwin McManus wrote the book “The Artisan Soul” – when asked to sign it, he often writes “Dream. Risk.  Create.”

Today, I’ve been energised by his short inspirational video here.

“Creativity takes incredible courage – to live out your most creative self, to live out the core essence of who you are as a human being, the dreams that truly consume you and must be expressed and lived by you – that takes tremendous courage because it’ll push against what other people want for you

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still from the Artisan Soul video

“What I love about the word ‘artisan’ is that artisan bread is really very primal – you get rid of all the artificial ingredients… and you just get down to simple things like flour.  when you go back to the simplicity and the beauty of it, something extraordinary begins to happen – it becomes authentic, it becomes real and healthy and whole”

It probably helps that I love the visual work done by the videomaker Travis Reed and his Work of the People studio.  There’s thought-provoking and eye-inspiring words and visuals.

Enough speaking, energise is the word – I’m off to make and create.

Window – Clement McAleer

Northern Irish painter, Clement McAleer, has done a lovely series of paintings, themed as windows.


“Glasshouse Shadows” 


“Attic Room”

The attic room reminds me of a poem by Seamus Heaney – another wellknown Northern Irish man – who wrote about something as mundane as getting a velux window in his study.  (At the moment, I can’t locate it to pass on to you, unfortunately).




Nile Rodgers – Making it in the Music Industry Part 1

For anyone wanting to be a musician, these 3 programmes by the BBC are full of 40 years of experience and advice from Nile Rodgers, who has been at the forefront of popular musicianship for so long, he’s practically the figurehead on its prow.

His CV (the 2 minute version)

Basically, as I hear about the famous singers he worked with, over and again I find myself saying “Oh THAT song, I loved that song they did”….. and lo and behold, it was Nile behind the studio screen or in front, making it sound irresistible.

Here’s what his tips are:

1. Begin with soaking up musical/arts influences

He was born in the Bronx to young teenage parents, into an environment of beatniks, heroin and, more importantly music.  Everyone made music around him, his life was an uncertainty of living where he was considered unusual and bullied or living where there weren’t other kids.  Music was his constant.  He created his own world in it, soaking himself in film, art and music.  (Great combo).

2. The preparation: study music

He always wanted to be a musician; his father was a percussionist and got him interested in different rhythms, a national musical programme got him playing different instruments.

Whether you want to sing, write songs or play an instrument, you’re gonna spend most of your life practicing, practicing, practicing.

He took classes in classical guitar and studied music theory and harmony and learn to read music.  “A lot of rock musicians don’t but for me it really paid off.”

3. Play variety of styles – be professional

I took every opportunity to play different styles of music.

As he comments, the discipline is to give the person who’s paying you exactly the performance they want “and make it really good.”

4. The Apprenticeship – play with the best

He eventually got to play with the world-famous Apollo house band (R&B) – and as house band, they had to play with a wide variety of singers and songs.  This was his apprenticeship.

“I’ve probably learned the most by playing with musicians that were far above my level and me not really hanging in there – and making them like it.”


5. Develop a unique sound

To be a success in the music business, you shouldn’t follow the pack, but bring a uniqueness to the music projects.  Play things a little bit different.  Add your own spin.

Those who copy their heroes have short careers.


6. Form a band/get writing partner

Find your writing partner.  Nile immediately hit it off with bassist Bernard – they went on to found Chic.


7. Be willing to change to get Your Sound

Bernard persuaded Nile to swop his much-loved jazz guitar for a solid body Fender electric guitar – which he did and got a guitar described by Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran as a “mongrel” – the neck of one guitar, the body of another and a bit of mirror stuck on.

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The guitar “is as much part of my sound as these are” (his hands)

Immediately, his sound changed and he was on the way to developing his unique playing style.

The beatup guitar is now called “The Hitmaker”.

These are my personal notes on a BBC documentary series, currently on air, called “Nile Rodgers: Making it in the Music Business”



8.  Write/record/release the first song with no budget

Bernard and Nile formed Chic the group, aimed to break into the new disco music world and wrote “Everybody dance”.  With no money to record, they managed to get a friend to let them pop into a music studio to record, between their performance sets.  Total cost $10 (to bribe the lift attendant not to tell the studio boss that they were in there).  Unknown to Nile, the studio engineer, a friend, made his own copy of the song and began playing it at the disco where he was dj.  Next time Nile was in, his friend put it on, and Nile was electrified to see the whole room respond with joy and recognition, singing his song.  “At this point, it no longer belongs to me, it’s theirs”.

And I realised I connected spiritually to an audience – a hit record speaks to the soul of a million strangers.

9.  Get a personal Look

Get a distinctive look that defines who you are.

See something you are blown away by, which will be attractive to your audience – Nile saw and loved the dressed up style of Roxie Music, so Chic developed their own take on this, with sharp suits.  Suited to their aspirational audience.

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10.  Always be aware of new audience/opportunities in social change

Chic identified their target audience as the new black upwardly mobile, urban professional young black people – a movement happening in America. (Called Buppies)

It was the right concept at the right time – the music fit, the look fit the music – it was us acting out this whole new way of portraying ourselves as artists.

This helped the band land a contract with record giants Atlantic.

BBC 13 October 2017

Today’s favourite quote…. Success is:

Nile Rogers said it:

Success is a by-product of hard work, consistency and luck.

Nile has 4 decades of success as innovative bassist and record producer/music arranger.

If you want to hear more of his insights – and music – then there is a new documentary series (3 programmes) by the BBC.  If you live in the UK and are a licence-player, it’s on BBC i-player here.

If you live outside the UK, keep an eye on your national TV channel, because this programme has such high quality footage on an international music performer, that it’s bound to feature on stations across the world, in due course.


Cartoon view of Medieval Art

Roz Chast takes us through her favourite type of art at the Met – Medieval paintings.  She has a distinctive eye and commentary.


Roz brings her humour to the pictures and a strong sense of where the artist is not quite sure if they’re good enough to draw certain parts of the picture – and how they cope with that.

The general effect is of going around a gallery with a witty companion who makes you snigger and yet wonder – but not be overawed by the art – to still see it as paintings done by humans, with very ordinary human concerns, as well as a sense of the exalted (most art of the time illustrates religious, biblical themes).