'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Jeff Hayes, artist.

For some time now I've followed the art blog of Jeff Hayes. He works small. His latest, this lovely orange, for example, is 4 ins x 4 ins (10 cm x 10 cm).

The astonishing vividness and immediacy of his works is no accident. This guy uses colours well and has painted for years. There are minute dabs of many more colours than you'd realise and he's especially adept at placing tints of turquoise and pink in a way that makes his subjects seem to almost glow like diamonds in a jeweler's window. And look at that reflected bounce in the shadowed part of the orange - on the left it's warm from the light off the table, on the right it's cool, perhaps from the sky through a window. And I don't think he uses black anywhere. You don't get rich darks like that background with black pigment. There are lots of layers there.

What I especially like is that although Jeff's works would be classed photographic realism, they still generate a sense of mystery and ask questions of the viewer. It's something to do with the rich backgrounds, and the way the objects seem to emerge into the light from that background (chiaroscuro) , the strong shadows, the colours within those shadows, textures, translucency, bouncing light, the interaction between the objects, the shapes of the objects, and the negative shapes they leave....

These questions are what draw us in, engage us, and keep the art in our memory.
The questions are an essential feature of good art.


  1. Those are very beautiful miniatures! I love them.

    Not sure they ask me any questions though. The way he has painted them, his technique and composition skills, they cause me to marvel, but not question - except perhaps to say 'how the heck did he do that?'

    I think they're too static to ask much, but that's just my personal opinion.

  2. There's something almost metaphorical about the last picture and I'm left wondering about the imperfect circle of the cup's rim. The shadowed background is richly mysterious. The designs on the teapot are there to be seen yet tantalisingly half-hidden. Thank you.