A Poem and a Painting (and a book)

The full cover of Blodyn – my latest collection of poetry
Blodyn the Painting

acrylic on board 520mm x 670mm (20″ x 26″), 2001

Blodyn the Book

Collected poems 2017

Blodyn the poem

You are a creature
Petal-haired
Mouth-organ lipped
Smudge nose askew

You are a flower (an open flower)
A head on a stalk (A face on a stick)
Seeds like eyes
Seed-like eyes

You absorb the earth
Soak up the sun
Flow with the wind
Grow with the rain

You are raw life

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about Being Stupid

I’m not stupid. At least that’s what my family, friends, and teachers have always told me. And there is evidence to support this view. For example, I once sat the Mensa IQ test. I think it’s agreed that intelligence is the opposite of stupidity, and I soared to the top of the class in that test with a supposed IQ that was higher than more than 99% of the rest of humanity’s.

I’m not convinced.

I mean, if I’m not stupid why am I broke?

And if Donald Trump is stupid why is he the billionaire president of the USA?

That’s it!

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An Ordinary Bloke writes about Aliens, Drugs and the Nature of Reality

Yesterday, after a breakfast of tea and toast with tahini and yeast extract we went to the Farmers’ Market to buy organic vegetables. We’ve been going to the market for years and once ran a stall there selling our own handmade soap and body products, so we know a lot of the regulars and stallholders.

I know that last paragraph makes me sound like an over-privileged hippie but I’m not, we actually spend a lot less on food and suchlike than most people do and cook everything from scratch in our pokey little kitchen. We just like to eat healthily.

I got chatting to a friend next to the fair-trade beverage and snacks stall, and, as it does when you engage in a bit of small talk at the Farmers’ Market on a Sunday, the subject got around to the nature of reality, involving life, death, and the hallucinogenic drug DMT.

The theme of the conversation was that we, i.e. human beings, or possibly all beings, project our own realities. We are all from the same source and each of us is an expression of that source but essentially we are one.

While we were pondering the imponderables, my wife carried on walking alongside the stalls. When I caught up with her she was talking to one of the other stallholders. He was nattering about aliens and about how there is incontrovertible evidence that they walk amongst us. He described a species of very short (compared to humans) hairless aliens. He also said that there are many proven examples of UFOs visiting our planet but that it’s all been covered up.

When I got home I did a bit of googling about DMT and discovered that those who take the drug sometimes ‘see’ small alien-like creatures, similar to the ones described by the UFO man. On my Twitter feed was a quote from the work of the Irish poet Medbh McGuckian: “There is only One universe at a time”

So, that’s the point – yes, life is so random there’s no way of working out what it’s all about. Maybe aliens do zip around our skies; maybe the universe is a personal projection, and this is only one of an infinite number of possible universes. Certainly, in the context of all time and all space then whatever our world is it’s less than microscopic.

But, you can only deal with what’s in front of you now – one universe at a time, no matter how insignificant it seems. If you need to have a purpose then your job is to contribute to the coherence of it all, because without your contribution then none of it would matter, or even happen.

Because you are it.

Love yourself. Go on.

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An ordinary bloke writes about the Gents

Due to my cisgender conditioning the inside of women’s public toilets are not familiar to me, but as someone who seems to urinate twice as much as I drink I am a frequent visitor to the Gents. Maybe I’m anti-social but I’ve got to the point where I prefer to use a cubicle even if all I want is a pee. I’m not comfortable standing thigh-to-thigh with strangers as we merge our steamy urine against the ceramic. It’s not them, it’s me, and that’s just the way it is.

The consequence of this is that I do spend more time than most out of sight behind a closed door, so get to hear the comings and goings of others as they use the facilities unseen. I hear them come in, position themselves at the urinals, and release their streams. Sometimes you hear only one person at a time and sometimes you can hear more. After they’ve wetted that wall I’ve noticed that people behave differently, depending on how many others are in the toilet at the same time and where they are.

A row of urinals in the toilet at an arts centre

For example, in scenario one; if I am alone in the cubicle and a solitary bladder-emptier comes in to the room, it’s more than ninety-percent certain that when they’ve done their business they will leave immediately without bothering to use the hand-washing facilities. That is probably the most consistent behaviour pattern I have observed but there are many other scenarios and responses, for example:

Scenario two: If when I walk into the gents there is only one person already relieving themselves, then after I’ve gone into the cubicle and they’ve shaken it dry the probability of them walking out without washing their hands is reduced to around sixty percent, although I think that more than half of the people who do visit the sink don’t actually wash – they just push the tap and walk. The other half of those ‘gentlemen’, splash about a bit then put their hands under the blower for a couple of seconds in a pretence at cleanliness.

In scenario three, when there’s more than one other person using the urinals then the first one to finish will actually wash and dry their hands. All the others will behave the same except for the last one to finish, whose behaviour will revert back to that described in scenario one above.

Scenario four is a variation of scenario three, based on the times when I finish and come out of the cubicle and there is still someone lurking or peeing. Of course I walk immediately to the sink, wash my hands then dry them thoroughly. If the other person is ready before I leave then they too will walk over to the sink and go through the motions. If I leave before they finish then my educated guess is that they revert to scenario one.

There are many other variations on these scenarios but the moot point is that if no one is looking then the overwhelming majority of people using the male toilets to urinate do not wash their hands or at best make a feeble pretence at washing them.

I don’t even want to think about the other things they do in the Gents, especially when they’re cosy and invisible in a cubicle.

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An ordinary bloke writes about Dog Shit

Before we start let me say that I love dogs – well, maybe love is too strong a term, let’s just say I respect them in the same way I respect all other living things – who all have the same right to make use of the facilities our shared planet offers. Obviously you’re not going to let a person-eating tiger lodge in your kitchen, but as long as an animal doesn’t directly threaten your well-being you should just leave them alone to get on with things in their own way.

On the council estate where I grew up hardly a dog had a lead, let alone a poop scoop or a biodegradable poo-bag. Dogs used to shit anywhere they liked and nobody judged them or their humans. We had a dog ourselves and like its peers it didn’t usually wear a collar, but it did crap on the pavement. We generally side-stepped the decaying stools until they were washed away by rain, or dried into white powder and blown to the gutters by the wind. The powder was something to do with the massive amounts of calcium in tinned dog food then. I suppose the manufacturers, to save on costs, added the calcium-rich bones from the uncountable carcasses of animals whose flesh had been stripped and swallowed by omnivorous hominids.

Of course these days, every local authority is cracking down on dog fouling. Now, according to the BBC, South Ribble Council is taking it a step further by restricting the number of dogs allowed per person.

That’s probably a step too far but despite my respect for dogs as fellow living creatures of this universe I could never ‘have’ one now. What it boils down to is that I cannot bring myself to follow a canine around and pick its poo up. Is this where human evolution has brought us? God I hope not.

Cat people are just as bad. I mean, since when has it been the done thing to allow cats unfettered access to every corner of our dwellings. My granny’s cats lived in the alleys behind her house and sometimes sheltered in the coal-shed; they were fed scraps and if they got ill they crawled into a dark corner until they got better or died. When we first had cats ourselves it was a given that they were not allowed upstairs and were put outside before we went to bed.

Now pussies sleep on people’s faces for goodness sake, and their human companions bring them gourmet snacks on blue velvet cushions trimmed with gold braid; they are so pampered and spoilt they have begun to think we are their servants. And maybe they’re right, because cat-shit can infect rodents with a parasite (Toxoplasma gondii) that makes them in thrall to cats, and helpless victims to their murderous claws. A growing number of people are convinced that the parasite can infect humans in the same way, turning us into mindless slaves desperate to do the bidding of our feline overlords.

But then again, sharing your life with pets, or companion animals to give them a more respectful term, has been shown to have positive effects on your mental health. So maybe it’s a trade-off. You pick your dogs’ shit up and they will reward you with a sloppy tongue and a cuddle now and again, while in turn you can give the same love to your cats and get lost in their beautiful eyes . . . .

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An ordinary bloke writes about being culled

Have you ever been ‘culled’?

Yes, removed from the herd because you are surplus to requirements; more than that – you are persona non grata. I’m talking about social media in general and Facebook in particular.

The other day I was browsing my wife’s Facebook page, as you do. After decades of being together we don’t have any secrets, not one, zilch; well apart from the little bit of ‘private browsing’ I do now and again, just to see what it’s all about like. Anyway, enough of that . . .

DJ Self Portrait digital version

So there was a post in her newsfeed from one her ‘friends. Not that they’ve ever met in real life of course, this was one of her ‘Facebook Friends’ who only added her up as a friend because they mistook her for someone with influence in the publishing industry. They are more of a networking contact than a friend, but that’s how it goes on social media – everyone’s got something to flog, even if it’s just their blog, the one where they like to entertain you with ramblings about what sludge they had for lunch or what they thought of the over-hyped gig they went to last night,

OK, I know it’s ironic that I’m doing the same thing – sort of, but I’ve long since given up actively trying to sell or promote anything. I won’t even draw any attention to this post except maybe by way of a solitary tweet to my meagre hundred or so alleged followers.

So this post, from one of my wife’s friends said “Congratulations! If you’re reading this then you have survived the cull.” Now I was initially quite pleased by this, because I had thought of this ‘friend’ as an interesting person who possibly had some talent in the writing department, and who was my Facebook friend as well as my wife’s. But then I remembered that I was reading my wife’s Facebook feed instead of my own.

I jumped back to my computer and looked at my own Facebook feed, just to make sure. Nope not a sign of that post, and when I checked my friends’ list the person was missing.

So yeah, I had been culled.

What am I supposed to do about that? Do I just accept that I’m the sort of person that gets culled, i.e. either a non-entity or an annoyance, then just shrug and get on with my pathetic life? Or do I log in again to my wife’s Facebook account and defriend the offender on her behalf?

I don’t know what to do, I’m just an ordinary bloke.

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Orange Mess

Orange Mess: Oil and Acrylic on Canvas – 2010 18″ x 22″ – 45mm x 56mm

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Does this pen work?

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A couple more poems from Blodyn

Jackdaws in CAR PARKS

Jackdaws
in CAR PARKS
where they shouldn’t be

But then
ppl
eat cheap tarts
and drop crumbs
everywhere

I wouldn’t like to be a jackdaw
Being a bit of a fussy eater

FOR INSTANCE

I wouldn’t eat a slowworm
even if I was starving

BUT JACKDAWS
eat almost everything

They have no lines in their minds
except that possibly
(and I don’t know this for sure)
They won’t eat their own eggs

I suppose if they did
they wouldn’t exist

Imagine that you’re the last jackdaw
in the world
and the only thing left to eat
is your one remaining egg
which is about to hatch

do you gobble it up
even though you know
that however long you live
afterwards

There’ll never be another jackdaw
or maybe you could

MATE with a sparrow

and have babies
called
Jackrow or Spardaw

What if you lay on top of your egg
and quietly died
Your decomposition
feeding your young

Then it’d grow up
and have a different dilemma
but at least it’d have

A LIFE

What comes last?
The jackdaw – or
THE EGG

****

If we were rich

If we were rich, would we still have a table like this?
A table covered in the most recently used bits of shit?
Like scissors and glasses and ashtrays and tips.
Like candles and radios and needles and sticks.

There’s last Tuesday’s mailshots and yesterday’s news.
There’s this week’s TV guide and half a pair of shoes.
A table that’s creaking and sagging with clues.
Yes, we’d still have a table like this – it’s the truth.

****

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An ordinary bloke writes about ‘Lessons you learn’

An ordinary bloke writes about ‘Lessons you learn’

I was standing in the queue at Iceland, the frozen food store, yesterday. I was clutching a modestly-sized bag (700g) of McCain’s skin-on fries. We were having a dirty burger night and it was the last item on the shopping list. I’d already bought the Linda McCartney chunky vegan ‘meaty’ quarter pounders (from the big Tesco), 4 crusty white rolls from Brutons the bakers, a small tray of mushrooms from the Co-op, a bag of ‘washed and ready to use’, salad leaves from the small local Tesco, and a block of Violife vegan mozzarella ‘cheese’ from Beanfreaks, the health food shop.

At home already were the seasonings and additives, like a litre of rapeseed oil (from the Co-op), a large squeezy bottle of Tesco mid-range own-brand tomato ketchup, a bottle of Biona cider vinegar (with the mother – Beanfreaks), a tub of Saxa finely-ground sea-salt (small Tesco) and a jar of gorgeous home-made mayo, whizzed up from a block of silken tofu, a cup and a half of own-brand rapeseed oil, half a teaspoon of said salt, the freshly-squeezed juice of a lemon, and a couple of tablespoons of co-op brand Dijon mustard.

Anyway the point is that there was a woman behind me in the queue. She was quite young, probably late twenties, though it is difficult to be precise because she wasn’t in good shape, I mean, for example, she was quite short, just over five feet I’d say, and she was very obese, huge in fact, by any method of measuring. The trunk of her body was a large ball, like one of those orange bouncy things from the seventies that had evolved to an adult size.

She was wheezing and moaning out loud about how long she’d been waiting in the queue. I thought, at first that she was trying to garner my sympathy so that I would let her go first, but she had a large trolley full of the sort of cheap frozen stuff they sell in Iceland, like hot and spicy chicken in breadcrumbs or bags of 22 skinless pork sausages, and I had just one moderately-sized packet of skin-on fries and I had the correct money ready (£1.50), so I decided not to be chivalrous and duly ignored her.

She turned her attention to the person behind her in the queue and said: “They are a real bargain and only 50p each. I turned involuntarily to look at the conveyor belt to see what it was that was such a bargain. There were six 250 gram packets of full-fat butter making their way along the belt, at the beginning of their journey to her already engorged tummy.

I shook my head inwardly, judging her to be a sloppy, lazy, dullard, who if only she stopped eating dirty rubbish like butter, would lose weight, become much fitter and happier, and would not be metaphorically bouncing with joy just because she’d managed to contribute to her undoubtedly early death for such a bargain price.

It took a while, in fact it was tonight, more than 24 hours later, for me to realise how utterly crass and judgemental I’d been, if only in my own head, especially since I am going on for 4 stone overweight myself, and at least half the food I eat is not at all essential to my survival or good health.

So now I’m thinking :-

Nothing is worthless
Everything has a value
No one deserves disrespect
Everyone deserves respect
Everyone is unique and beautiful
Everyone hurts – it’s far better to behave in a way that ameliorates that hurt than in a way that exacerbates it
blah
blah

So, today’s lesson is that what you learn from teachers who don’t even know they’re teaching can sometimes be the best lessons of all.

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Outside in October

Outside in October

The stems of the bamboos
in my neighbour’s garden
are tall and waxy cream.
Their leaves like the bad hair
of an animated villain.
They sway like an armoury
of thin spears;
rattle, sometimes, in the wind.
It’s a small innocent valley,
where the crabplant
and the blonde-haired pampas
jostle with potatoes;
buried like eggs of ants
in well-tilled mounds,
dissipating,
like mist, evaporating,
under the sun.
Betrayed, their fragility stalls,
and I expect to see
a black-and-white giant
panda
sleeping on the lawn.

From ‘Blodyn‘, my latest poetry collection

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Helo

I can’t do anything better than anecdotal and observational so I might be wrong and I can’t be bothered to do any real research because if I’m right it would be a waste of time since no one would read this anyway.

I mean even if I don’t bother to do any research and this does get read I’m still quids in aren’t I?

I am aware that the chance that anyone who is actually another person and not some automatic bot-type thing that visits random websites in the hope of finding something of value – like a list of email addresses that they can sell to their fellow bots who send emails offering riches galore, is minscule.

So, the point is: no matter how obvious I make it, no matter how honest I am, it won’t matter because no one is going to read it anyway,

Why do I bother to continue writing then?

Because part of me wants to read what another part of me wants to write. Maybe it’s just one part behaving in two different ways? I don’t know, but here it is, my voice in the void.

Is anybody out there?

(Doesn’t really matter so don’t bother responding, even if you are one of the anybodies out there)

Nos Da

(p.s. This is not as self-indulgent as it seems)

 

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Some birds and their poems

A few short poems

about birds

from my last poetry collection

 

 

Blodyn

Robin
Pecking up the scraps of summer
He comes hopping –
and perching –
in cute poses;
Makes you wish you had a camera, ready.
Pictures of Robins
do well at Christmas.

Jackdaw
Where I live
There are families
of Black Birds
They live on our roofs
and ramble on our lawns
They never stop nodding
and they make you feel
cynical.

Turkey
These are birds too,
even though
they’re cajoled
and crammed
and clipped
and co-erced
until they bleed for us,
at Christmas.

Gull
A varied people
Albatross-sized
or sharp white darts
tipped with black.
They argue a lot,
eat anything you throw at them,
and try to tell us
about the weather.

Duck
They are mostly seen
on man-made ponds,
and amuse us,
occasionally,
with their courting.
You somehow
feel obliged to them
and wish you’d brought
some bread.

 

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* An Ordinary Bloke Writes About . . . Uber

Uber, the new-fangled taxi people, are in the news after being banned from London. Apparently more than half a million people have signed a petition to have the ban lifted. I don’t believe that. Many of these people are supposedly concerned about the loss of driving jobs the ban will cause, but, everyone knows that Uber’s aim is to become world-dominant in driverless cars, don’t they? There won’t be any driving jobs then, except for the odd human playing with a virtual-reality steering wheel, making sure that the robots are behaving. In time even that will be automated.

Uber is an Uber-Capitalist company and will use the profits generated by today’s drivers to create their empire of driverless cars in the future. OK, maybe I’m being too cynical and Uber’s aim is simply to make a better society and relieve us precious humans of the burden of work as they and their cohort of altruistic billionaires conspire to gift us an army of robot-slaves and pay us all a generous citizen’s income irrespective of whether we work or not.

What do you reckon?

A: Uber wants World Domination

B: Uber wants World Happiness

Answers by Ubermail to the usual address.
All respondents will be entered into a draw for a free Uberrail season ticket.

A Driverless Car (not really)

* DISCLAIMER:  I’m an ordinary bloke, inasmuch as any of us human beings are ordinary, however extraordinary they seem to be.

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Work in Progress – Extract from “Beats”

This is an extract from Beats, the second novel in the Bums, Beats, and Bones trilogy. Bums has already been published. Beats will follow in 2018.

But it’s not really about the music is it?” Old Steve knew he was pushing his luck but he’d had decades of Billy’s bullshit and now and again he challenged him just for the hell of it.

“Don’t be bloody daft, it’s all about the music – the music is all there is,” Billy huffed.

Old Steve shook his head. “Nah mate! Believe me, you may think that – but all those punters out there – they don’t – not really, not if you dig a bit. Not if you get inside their skulls.”

Billy sighed. “You know what Steve – we’ve known each other since we were kids, a long time – what is it now? Fifty years near enough, but you ain’t got a fucking clue.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know; it would be impossible for you to admit to something contrary to what your whole life is based on. It would turn your brain into mush if you did that – not that your brain isn’t already mush – you lost that in the seventies.”

“Shut the fuck up. You’re doing my head in.”

“That’ll be the drugs too.”

“Who the fuck do you think you are? Without the music you wouldn’t have fuck all. Without The Redcurrents you’d be driving a bus. The music has given you, us, a good life.”

“You could say that about Val Doonican.” Old Steve chuckled at his own joke, it didn’t take much to wind Billy up, he was so insecure, but he’d better not start with all that crap about ‘electrifying’ the seventies with their radical socialist songs – that was pure luck, and Tommy’s lyrics of course.

“Please, I’m not in the mood,” Billy pleaded.

“OK, all right, I’ll shut up. Now, do you want another pint?”

“Ah, go on then, I’ll get them.”

Billy got up, went to the bar and waited for Andy to realise he was there and get off his fat arse to attend to him – he couldn’t be bothered to call out. He stared into nowhere, his mind meandering back through the decades. Of course, Steve was right – the actual music was just the wrapping – like the coloured cellophane around a cube of fancy chocolate. He knew as much as anyone that talented musicians were as common as yellow daffodils in March and good music was as ubiquitous as white seagulls on the inhabited coastline. It was pure luck, with a good dollop of ruthlessness that made a successful career. He knew because he’d been there, done that – got his fucking face on the T-Shirt. But you had to keep up the act – the moment you let it slip, it would be over, you might as well put a gun to your head.

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Extract from Work in Progress – ‘Deceit and Delusion’ Novel

This from the thoughts of Brian Llewelyn, formerly The Greatest Living Artist in Wales

Fucking tiny-minded people. If I hadn’t realised this and adjusted the way I engage with the bastards decades ago I would not be the success (that’s debatable I know) I am as an artist now.

The thing is most arbiters of culture are shallow and fake. They use what little knowledge they have to mask the gaping hole of nothingness that is their existence. I know better – I always have. Problem is I’ve allowed the bastards to subjugate me, to judge my work. Other problem is that most of the rest of the population need these hedgehog-brained existentialist angst dodgers to tell them what to think, what to buy, what to sacrifice their pathetic lives to.

Well fuck them – I’m back.

NOTES:

Deceit and Delusion is the follow up novel to Cheats and Liars

There are also several other novels in progress, most notably: Beats, the second in the trilogy of Bums, Beats and Bones and The Flying Boy, kind of meta fiction, told in the second-person present tense – sounds a bit affected but it’s not.

Better get on with it.

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The Flying Boy – Work in Progress extract

A short passage of work in progress from ‘The Flying Boy’
(one of the novels I’m working on)

There was a girl once, almost fifty years ago, at the end of the sixties, beginning of the seventies. You were seventeen or eighteen; she was a year or two younger. She played a guitar and sang her own songs. You can’t remember now if she was any good and don’t know if she became successful, whatever that means, but she at least had potential, and now and again over the years you think about her and wonder if she ever got anywhere with her music. According to Wikipedia there is a singer with the same first name as her from the same town who might be the same age and could be the girl herself, but you don’t want to research it any deeper than that because whatever the result it would tarnish your timeline. Continue reading

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Facebook and Twitter stole the Internet

Blog: From Web Log, From ‘Logging your thoughts and activities on the World Wide Web’

Once upon a time there was a thing called blogging. It still exists in name of course, for example this website is built on WordPress which is known as a blogging platform.

I first started blogging around the turn of the millennium when it wasn’t much more than a few nerdy types writing the odd banal paragraph about their lives and opinions. I didn’t do much at that time but I set up a website to use as an online journal. The website was built and edited using raw HTML.

Around eleven years ago I started a new blog using the Blogger platform. Then moved it to my own site using WordPress. The blog was anonymous at first under the pseudonym Skintwriter. It wasn’t long before I was just one in a worldwide community of bloggers. We each kept a blogroll, i.e. a list of links to other bloggers, who we hoped would reciprocate with a link back to us.

Anyway, because I used my own domain name there were no adverts on my site, nor on most of the others. We paid our dues to the purveyors of internet access and started building a community. No one else had control of the content of my site, no one could tell me what to post, no one made any money when others read what I wrote. Continue reading

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Gallery of some recent paintings

Most/All of these paintings are documented in other posts but here’s a little gallery as a quick reference:

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5 more acrylic paintings

Also featured in this Gallery of Recent Paintings

Mosaicness: Acrylic on Canvas. 24″ x 20″

F: Acrylic on Canvas – 80cm x 60cm

High H: Acrylic on Canvas, 24″ x 20″

M: Acrylic on canvas – 80cm x 60cm

Space SOS: Acrylic on canvas – 24″ x 20″

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