Sunday, 3 November 2013

Are we living in the end-times of art?

John Martin : The Great Day of His Wrath : 1853
I've been following Grayson Perry's series of lectures on Radio 4 - he is the 2013 Reith lecturer. His take on art in the present is witty, entertaining and erudite, and I thoroughly recommend listening to the whole series. I do take exception on one point, though, and I'm surprised he made the assertion in the first place. It is that (and he did repeat it at least twice in the third lecture of the series) we are "in the end-times of art". That is, if I understand correctly, that as we live in an age where everything can be considered as art, there must then be nothing more to be discovered. Since Duchamp declared that found objects were as much art as paint placed painstakingly on canvas, there is no further scope for novelty or shock value.

I have myself thought before that there must no longer be a way in which a new art 'school' or 'movement' could develop to surprise the art world and delight the dealers and collectors in the way that say, impressionism did in the 19th century or pop art did in the 1960s, but then the 'lowbrow art' movement came along and proved me wrong. (Yes, I know it's generally considered to have stemmed from the 70's, but I would contend that what artists like Audrey Kawasaki and Mark Ryland are doing now really constitutes a new thing in itself). Not to everyone's taste but of course, isn't that the point of a new movement? I know that movements are not exactly what Grayson had in mind, but the point is that it shows there is still scope for change and novelty.

So do we live in an age where art is static, in the sense that everything has been done, or more accurately, is being done? - where we poor derided painters must live side by side with people who balance stones, exhibit vacuum cleaners, pile up naked people for photos, detune old t.v. sets to show nothing but static and, dare we say it, throw pots, and everyone calls it art? Well, yes and no. Just because everything can potentially be considered as art doesn't mean it always will be. To prove a scientific hypothesis (and I think the assertion that art has nowhere to go may indeed be considered an unproven hypothesis) is very difficult. The only way to do it is to demonstrate that logically, no alternative is possible. To disprove it, on the other hand, is easy. One must simply demonstrate a single alternative scenario. So...

Hypothesis: "We are living in the end-times of art"
Supporting reasoning: As anything may now be considered as art, no further development is possible.
Antithesis: What is considered as art is a product of social reasoning.  Everything is art only because we (the artists, the dealers, the collectors, and the general public) say so. If we change our minds, then a urinal or a pile of bricks lose their artistic significance, and art becomes what we say it is now.

Allow me then, to introduce the new movement of Restrictionism. In the future, not everything will be considered art. Art will consist of only what I say is art, and I say that this week, only hand-thrown pots will be true art, and all else is dross. Reductio ad absurdum, quod erat demonstrandem. Now is the time to invest in Grayson Perry!

Of course, art does not only consist of what one person decides is art - it is necessary to reach a consensus. The point is, though, that the consensus changes over time. That everything may be considered art now, at this time, in this century, is as transitory a phenomenon as any other previous restricted movement. In this case, the restriction is in that innocuous word 'everything'.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to paint some irrelevant pictures, with oil paints, on canvas... and make a video... and install an 'intervention' to bemuse the public. After all, you never know what might be the next big thing in the art world.

(You can also read Vivi-Mari's take on this year's Reith lectures here.)


Sunday, 6 October 2013

Windows 8 tablets for artists – a review

And the winner is ...
I've been deep in the process of preparing a grant application to the Arts Council of Wales for a new project recently. One of the things I want to fund is the replacement of my tablet PC, which after several years and a couple of repairs gave up the ghost at the end of my last project.

The last model was an HP Tx2500 series convertible tablet. It originally came with Windows Vista 32 (in Spanish), it weighed a ton, it had a battery life of less than 3 hours, and it overheated to the point where it was uncomfortable to hold, which was eventually the cause of its demise, as the graphics chip eventually de-soldered itself from the motherboard. I installed the Windows 8 Beta release on it, and it worked great, but I had to get it fixed twice, but eventually decided it was beyond repair and sold it for spares on eBay.

The point was, it had two major advantages – it had a Wacom pressure-sensitive pen for screen input, which meant I could draw on it, and it ran Windows. “Why would that be an advantage?”, I hear you ask ... simple – because my weapon of choice for making fabulous drawings on a tablet is ArtRage, a 'natural materials' graphics package which is absolutely the best thing for drawing on a PC. There is also a version for iPad, but Apple never designed that for a pressure-sensitive pen, so that makes it a no-brainer (that and the fact I want to run Zbrush and other packages on it as well).

So ... the tablet market is changing fast, and I looked for a comparative review of all the available models which might be specifically suitable for artists. Guess what? There isn't one, so.... here we go. Disclaimer – I haven't been able to try these – I'm just comparing features here. It took a while just to compile the list, and it will doubtless be out of date soon, but:

Some of these models aren't yet available at the time of writing (Oct. 2013) but are expected soon, so they're in. The list of features I've included in the table, by the way, won't be relevant to everyone, and is based on things that I've found an irritation in my current cheap Android not-very-arty tablet. The important stuff is there, though – screen size, resolution, CPU, memory, storage space, and price. Remember, the common factor here is – they all have pressure-sensitive pen input. I haven't bothered noting the number of pressure-levels, as my old PC had 512, so pretty much anything is an improvement.

I'm not going to discuss every model in detail – you can go read the manufacturers' blurb for yourself, but I will comment on a few particularly relevant points here:

Samsung ATIV Tab 3
First up is the Samsung ATIV Tab 3. It's just become available, and it gets a special mention because it's cheap and compact. Cheapest (£489) and most compact of all the models here in fact, so if you're on a very limited budget it's probably worth a try. It's basically like a Galaxy Note 10.1 with the Wacom S-Pen – except it runs Windows 8 instead of Android and will therefore run standard Windows 8 software like ArtRage. A very elegant solution as far as I can see. Not ideal in my case – low CPU spec, low memory, and I had the Note 10.1 for a while and found the S-Pen too small and fiddly, and it skidded on the glossy screen. As I say though, if you're on a budget and you'd like a Win 8 sketchpad – this could be ideal.

Panasonic UT-MB5
Let's jump to the other end of the scale – the humongous Panasonic UT-MB5 will be released shortly. It's a Windows 8 tablet with a 20 inch (yes, you heard right) 4000 pixel display. Aimed squarely at architects, car designers and the like who need precision ... maybe it would be great for art, but the pen looks quite big and clunky to me – not sure why it should be. Also, you'll be using it on mains power most of the time as battery life is a stated 2 hours (!). The main disadvantage, though, is the price of £4,500 – I can't see the Arts Council springing for that!

In the mid-range of prices there's quite a lot of choice, and I suspect one is pretty much as good as another with the choice being mainly down to looks, and where you get the fastest CPU/most memory/most storage for your money. The MS Surface Pro is a good bet at £719 for the 128GB model, but wait a bit and get the Samsung ATIV Tab 7 when it arrives and you'll get the same spec. with a bigger screen (11.6” as opposed to 10.6”) for £31 more.

The Toshiba is overpriced, and the HP is under-specced (plus, sorry HP but my previous experiences with your laptops have not been good – see above – and that's sadly not the only example). Panasonic have the extra-tough FZ-G1 on the cards, but it's much more money (£1,800) than similar spec. machines from other manufacturers. If being able to drop your tablet in a bucket of water from a great height and retrieve it unscathed is a priority, it might be for you, though.

The Lenovo ThinkPadTablet 2 looks like an elegant device. It's low-spec, but it's cheap at £540. It's one of a trio of devices with a smaller 1366 x 768 screen (most of the ones above are 1920 x 1080), the others being the Fujitsu Stylistic Q572 and the Asus VivoTab TF810C.

So - given that I'd like a large screen with as high resolution as I can, with decent CPU and memory, I'd pretty much settled on the Samsung ATIV Tab 7 as being the best feature/price compromise... but wait ...... !!!

Just as I thought it was safe .... I happened across this ...

The Wacom Cintiq Companion
... and it was love at first sight. Any artist who uses graphics on a PC knows Wacom as a manufacturer of PC graphics tablets, from the budget Bamboo to the designer's standard Intuos. If you're into design, you are also probably familiar with their Cintiq range of touchscreens – external monitors you can plug into a graphics PC or Mac which give you a write-on screen you can use with the whole super-sensitive range of Intuos pens. Now – they say in response to artists' and designers' not-so-subtle hints, they have released a couple of stand-alone tablets with their 13.3” screen. One, the Cintiq Companion Hybrid, operates as a normal Cintiq input device when connected to your desktop graphics machine, and as an Android tablet when on its own, with some sketchbook-type apps by Wacom themselves for working on the fly. Sounds nice, but ...

The other model, the Cintiq Companion, is a whole new ballgame... because it's a stand-alone Windows 8 tablet which will run things like Photoshop, Zbrush, Maya etc... and my favourite ArtRage – and has the fabulous Intuos pen with 2048 levels of sensitivity, tilt function, and all the other specially-for-artists features of the Cintiq range. Added to that, although the price is predictably quite high (£1,650 – mind you, that's still £150 less than the FZ-G1), the spec. is also higher than all the other tablets examined here. It's the only one apart from the Panasonic monster with 8GB of memory as standard, and 256GB of storage. It's the only one with a core i7 CPU instead of core i5, and it has Wacom's standard productivity devices (programmable physical and on-screen buttons) designed specifically for artists. The point, basically, is that of all the models compared, it's the ONLY one specifically designed for creative visual artists, so the choice suddenly becomes quite simple. I want one. Now.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Want a cool new website of your own ?

Don't you wish your website was just like me ... ?
Note: If you want to start with the cheap deal, skip to the end before you go back and read the rest of the sales pitch!

I know there are plenty of artists out there who, like me, would like a clean simple web presence with a contemporary feel and no clutter, where it's easy to add new work and manage things without having to pay your web designer to update the site when all you want to do is put up the new painting / installation / photos / construction / video etc. you just made.
  • You don't want it to cost a fortune and take weeks to set up.
  • You do want it to be a highly professional showcase for your art and an easy point of contact where people can find you.
  • You don't want to have to divert yourself from the business of making art and teach yourself web programming because it's too expensive to get someone else to do it.
That's why I decided that, having had fun setting up my own site, and seeing that I think I have a good idea of what most artists want from a website, AND since I was a computer programmer and website guy in a previous life, I'd offer a cost-effective solution for other artists. So here's the deal:
  1. Setup: £395 gets you up and running with a new clean and contemporary artist website with your own domain name, similar to my own site at It should take around 2 weeks from when I receive your content. You pay a deposit of £195 when you order and the balance when it goes live.
  2. Maintenance option 1: If you are happy managing your own site content and reasonably confident that nothing will go horribly wrong then you can pay £12.50 a month (or £140 a year) to cover domain name renewal, hosting on the web server, and email/phone support for minor issues. I will give you instructions on how to upload your own content to add new work to the site and so on. If you need me to do more work on the site, then it costs £50 per 'incident' (which is tech speak for fixing something when it goes wrong).
  3. Maintenance option 2: On the other hand, if you'd rather not get involved with managing the site at all and you just want me to look after everything for you, then you can pay £25 a month (or £275 a year) which means I will upload all your new work, make all and any changes you want and fix absolutely anything, as quick as I can. No extra costs (unless you want a total rewrite of the whole site of course!).
I think that covers more or less everything! If you'd like to talk about putting together a new artist site, please get in touch via the contact form on my website (click here) or email martin [at]

One last item: I need to do a couple of websites quick so I have more to show to potential clients, so I'm offering the first two sites at a knock-down set-up price of £225. If you'd like a really CHEAP deal, get in touch quick!

Peace and stuff, 

Now, let's just start again ... with a new website

(Nov. 3rd): Hmm... just realised this post never actually got published, for some reason. That might explain a distinct lack of interest from my adoring public...

So, there's a new website right here -> All new clean and contemporary design with some of the best of my past artwork, and just being to be filled up with new stuff, some of which is already in progress. You'll find not only past visual arts projects, but also some music to stream (or download and keep) and a couple of videos to play.

Please take the time to go and explore, see what you think, and please get in touch via the contact page if you have any comments you'd like to share. (Especially, please let me know if you find anything that doesn't work. I know there are problems with the horizontal scrolling on Android - I'd be interested to know how it all looks on iPad...).

While you're there, you can also sign up for the newsletter, which will contain news of new work, invitations to exhibition openings and other items of interest. Generally speaking, there are one or two issues a quarter, so you don't get bombarded with irrelevant stuff, and it goes without saying, of course, that your email address will not be used for any other purpose.

Please note, also, that the old domain name will cease to function at the beginning of October, so if you have my old email address in your contact list, please change it to the new one - martin [at]
Go take a look!

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Last day of trading ...

"What Snake Saw in the Smoke" : Digital Painting : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert
On sale at!
So... end of an era!  Today is my last day of trading under the name "Spirit Visions". For reasons previously noted (here), I'm abandoning all the branding and concentrating on making fine-art under my own name. From now on I'm leaving the selling and making money to the people who are best qualified to do it - i.e. the dealers and gallerists. There is something considerably liberating in freeing myself from the self-induced pressure to be marketing manager, advertiser and salesman as well artist. Hopefully that means a lot more time and energy to make a lot more art! To that end there will soon be a new website at, and to keep in touch you can follow this blog (see "Follow by email..." at top right) and subscribe to the newsletter (click here).

(Of course there remains the small matter of finding one or more dealers who are actually prepared to represent me, but, hey ... details. Actually, of course, I wouldn't be making this move if I didn't have some encouragement in that direction!).

Anyway... today is the last day and I should, for the last time, point out that all fine-art prints, posters and greetings cards in my shop at are on sale for the last time today at HALF PRICE.  Enter the discount coupon code CLOSING50 during checkout for 50% off your whole order. Click here to go to the shop.

There ... that's the last time I will need to make any crass commercial announcements through social media! Time to celebrate!

All the best,

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Last week of online sales - everything half price at !

"Encyclopedia Xenopelagica Plate VII" : Digital painting
Copyright © 2005 by Martin Herbert
So, as per my previous posting, I'm ceasing all on-line operations from 31st August. (Well, it might take me a while to get everything taken down after that, but that's the general principle).

Hence, for the last week, starting today - Sunday 25th August, everything at is HALF PRICE (woohoo!).

Enter the discount code CLOSING50 during checkout for 50% off your whole order. This is in addition to any individual item price reductions I might already have made.

Additional bargains on other sites as already posted - see here for details.

Bargains!!! Go get 'em!!! (etc.)

Monday, 5 August 2013

CLOSING DOWN SALE! ... The Big Momentous Decision

Coupon code for
OK, so... Big Momentous Decision made.

I am getting out of the more 'commercial' and illustrative art business to devote my time to developing more 'serious' work, so as of 31st August 2013 I will no longer be selling artwork (originals or prints) online. There are a number of reasons for this:
  • Print-on-demand sites like and 'crafty' sites like don't make enough sales to justify the time and effort I spend in maintaining them and fulfilling orders.
  • I have reached a point where I really need to concentrate on developing my artwork to a highly professional standard and so I really need all that time and effort for painting!
  • The image presented by these sites conflicts badly with the needs of professional dealers and gallerists who need artists to present a coherent and professional image to potential clients.
  • The style, content and technique of my artwork has evolved to a stage where I no longer feel a connection with many of the projects I've undertaken in the past. Having started to find a 'voice', there is a lot of stuff out there which I no longer relate to ... basically I need to leave the artistic past behind and continue developing the directions in which I've been moving for the last couple of years.
I'll shortly be launching an all-new website at, and I will also be maintaining this blog, which will get a major makeover in the near future.

This is basically a Big Scary Thing, and I am launching off into a foray into the serious fine-art world with no guarantee whatever that it will pay off, and resigning myself to the fact that I am likely to make more or less nothing for the next 1 - 2 years. The good news, however, is that until the end of the month I have reduced the price of everything currently for sale online in a grand closing-down sale so...

At, enter the discount code CLOSING20 to get 20% off your whole order.

At Fine Art America (or Fine Art Europe), enter discount code VEMDUU to get 20% off your whole order.

At Saatchi Online, prices of originals have already been reduced by at least 20%, with as much as 50% off some items. All prints are on sale at the minimum price allowed by the site, a large saving on some items.

and finally, at RedBubble, I've reduced my markup by 50% on everything, which is as much of a discount as I can afford - don't make much here anyway!).

There will undoubtedly be a lot happening over the next 12 months or so, so keep an eye on the blog, make sure you're subscribed to the newsletter (see below!) etc...

Note: This does mean that our project will also not be going forward, but we will fulfil all our obligations to our funding partners - you'll be getting the first prints soon, and they will all be signed and numbered limited editions, so hang onto them - they could be worth real money in the future! (If you never signed up to, sorry - it is no longer possible to add new subscribers).

All the best to everyone, and I'll be back with more news soon!

Subscribe to the mailing list

View previous campaigns.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Another new artwork for sale - "Amazon Grace"

"Amazon Grace" : On-demand print & poster - various sizesCopyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert
Another day, another frivolous piece of frippery. Available as a print, poster and greetings card in various formats and sizes from a number of outlets.  Note: Fine Art Europe (a.k.a. Fine Art America) will print works on acrylic sheet and metal in addition to paper and canvas. "La Rive Gauche" is also now available there...

Fine Art Europe:

(If you buy from etsy, you get it printed by me and signed - the other sites are all print-on-demand)


Happy Amazonian expeditions!

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Like some art ... get it cheap!!

Go to the shop ... get stuff!  Now!  (Is this working yet?)
OK ... new policy ... from today, whenever anyone adds one of my pieces to a treasury on, I'm going to reduce that item in my shop by 10% for a week - keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for announcements!  (Click on those links right there to follow me on FB or Twitter if you're not already doing so!).

So - if you have an account and you'd like 10% discount on any of my work, you know what to do ... go create a treasury that includes one of my pieces and tell me about it.  It shall be announced to the world AND that piece will be discounted for a week!

Go treasure, now!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

About time I made some new art ... prints and posters available!

While recovering from exploratory surgery yesterday (good news - apparently I do not have furry arteries - must celebrate with a fry-up!), I thought it was about time I made some new art, so dashed off a quick quirky little whimsical contemporary print for your quick quirky little whimsical contemporary walls.  If it sells I might expand into a quirky contemporary whimsical series ...

"La Rive Gauche" : Print/poster - various sizes
Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert

"La Rive Gauche" (This Page Intentionally Left Bank) is available as a card, fine-art print or poster in various formats including paper, canvas, framed, matted etc. from a number of outlets.

In the US try Saatchi online here -

In the US, Australia, or NZ at Redbubble here -

.. or you can buy an A3 fine-art print made, signed and dated by me via right here - ... in which case it will ship from the UK.

Please feel free to comment!


Monday, 24 June 2013

Taking it to the next stage .... and the next ...

"Everything in the Garden was Beautiful" (work in progress) : Acrylics on canvas : 24" x 24"
Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert

So ... this is actually really three stages further on from the last posting. I meant to take another photo in between before I started applying colour to the background, but I forgot. Similar to the last (yellow) stage though, I glazed over the whole thing with 2 different blues (cerulean and ultramarine), both with quite a lot of mixing white, until I reached what I thought was a good balance of colours - and suddenly we have rainbows! The aim is to get an overall 'grisaille' effect - i.e. a grey monochrome underpainting, which is actually made up of lots of different colours that look grey from a distance ('optical' greys).  I then lifted up the brightest highlight areas with titanium (i.e. opaque) white.  Kind of like turning up the contrast in Photoshop, only it takes a whole day rather than 2 seconds!

Of course I added another layer of white flowers at this point. Can't have too many flowers ....

Lastly, I brushed over the background areas one by one with plain water, and floated some bright colours in over the flowers, using the acrylic like watercolour.  Just applied the hair-dryer and am now hoping the surface is tough enough for me to glaze over the background areas with some dark blue and green to finish them off (for the moment at least).

Onward ...!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Painting - first stage done. Work in progress.

"Everything in the Garden was Beautiful" (work in progress) : 24" x 24" : Acrylic on canvas : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert

The first stage of painting complete. I sealed the surface of the drawing with a couple of coats of matt acrylic medium. (This was the point at which I didn't really know that the whole thing was going to work - it could have just dissolved the whole surface and I would have lost 2 weeks work!). Then I covered the whole thing with 2 successive transparent yellow glazes, one in lemon yellow and one in deep cadmium with a bit of mixing white. I blotted off some colour at each stage with a rag to get in a bit of texture and depth. Once that was all dry I washed a very thin veil of titanium white over everything. That makes the next stage highlights easier to feather and blend.

After preparing the surface as above I worked on reinforcing all the highlighted areas in titanium white, improving the '3D' modelling of the shapes and adding specular highlights. This process gets continued in the next stage, but hopefully I'm beginning to get a bit of depth appearing. At this stage the colour ranges from white through various shades of yellow and orange to the dark red / terracotta background which is still evident in some areas. That last is important - I don't want the red to get completely obscured since it's going to make an interesting violet (I hope!) when combined with the blue glaze that goes on next ...

Oh, and I added a few more flowers for luck.

All the way through here I'm using ordinary Windsor & Newton Finity & Galleria acrylics, mixed with Daler-Rowney System 3 glaze medium for the transparent colour glazes. I'll be getting on to the fancy new Atelier Interactive acrylics in the latter stages.

Today I'm concentrating on getting the next colour glazes onto the surface - that's where the magic happens, I hope! While coats are drying I'm off to the builder's merchant to pick up wood for the custom frame...

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Work in progress again ... drawing completed

Finally finished the base layer of my painting "Everything in the Garden was Beautiful". First time I've tried actually painting directly over the drawing itself ...

"Everything in the Garden was Beautiful" (work in progress) : Ink, pencil, acrylic, egg-tempera on gessoed canvas : 24" x 24" : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert
Since the last stage I deepened the shadows using sepia pencil and ink and lifted the highlights, using white acrylic in this case rather than gouache as I'm going to cover it with a water-soluble medium.  I also deepened the background colour then painted in some 'millefiori' texture in the white. Next stage is to let it dry completely overnight then seal the surface with a couple of coats of matt acrylic medium before I start actually painting (finally!).

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Work in progress ...

Work in progress - first stage of drawing complete, 3 whole terracotta pencils later.  Now have a month to make this into a finished framed painting ....! Eek.  Next step - bring out more contrast with some sepia pencil.

Work in progress. Working title "Everything in the Garden was Beautiful". Terracotta pencil on gessoed & sanded canvas with egg-tempera imprimatura. 24" x 24".

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Last chance to see ...

At the opening on May 18th. Photo by Arvid Parry-Jones for the Cambrian News
Don't forget, "Synthesis: Works on Paper by Martin Herbert" finishes at MOMA Wales in Machynlleth this Saturday 8th June! Don't miss the last chance to see the exhibition.

In the meantime, I haven't had time to prospect for other galleries to show this work, so to save it all being propped up in the corner of the studio doing nothing, anyone have a suitable space which is crying out for a ready-made exhibition of large-scale figurative drawings all framed and ready to go?

Monday, 13 May 2013

More private view news

Just so you know - the exhibition private view on Saturday 18th May at 12 noon also marks the opening of  2 other exhibitions at MOMA Wales.

The upstairs galleries will feature the annual exhibition of the Watercolor Society of Wales, while in the cafe there will be an exhibition of photographic work by Margaret Smith, so there'll be a lot to see!

We look forward to seeing you there! For full details click here.

Friday, 3 May 2013

It's Summer!! No, really! Let's celebrate!

I decided to celebrate the onset of summer by having a sale in my store, and doing a bit of a feature here about the stuff there, as there's quite a selection of different styles (over 140 items on sale at the moment!).

The most important bit: You can enter the discount coupon code MAYDAY2013 at checkout to get 20% off your entire order - anything in the shop... and you can get to the store by clicking Right Here.

Moving on ...  prices in the store range from just over £2 ($3 US) for greetings cards, through £16 ($25) for mounted mini-prints, typically £25 ($40) for a medium sized print, and £100+ ($150) for a large one.

There are some original drawings available with prices ranging from $60+ ($90) to over £1,100 ($1,800).

A lot of the items are already priced low as they are surplus stock from my former real-world gallery here in Mid-Wales where we live.  Some are in styles I don't really work in any more so are unlikely to be repeated, but some are more contemporary.  Take a look at some examples (click on the headings to go to that section of the shop):

Greetings cards:

For a start, there's a whole series of 12 birthday cards featuring birthstones for every star sign, as well as many cards featuring my older artwork.  I'm not printing any more at the moment - it's not really economical to print small quantities, so these are the last!  I recommend a set of all 12 crystal cards - that way you'll always have a spare on hand at the last minute for those colleagues whose birthday you've only just remembered!

Mini prints:

There's a selection of older artwork available in a small print size with a 10" x 12" mount included, suitable for a standard sized photo-frame, like this painting "The Rebirth of Venus".

Full-sized limited edition prints:

Last stock of signed and numbered limited edition giclee prints, e.g. "I'm for the Hare that Runs by Night".  (24" x 36" approx on fine-art paper).


A few posters on lightweight paper - really cheap!  On the right the standing stone with sun-goddess picture ... "Unto us a Sun is Born".

Original drawings:

... and some more recent work - a few original drawings available, like "That Tracey Emin Says my Art Looks Like a Plane Crash" (see left).

Organic abstract prints:

.. and lastly some small versions of the organic abstract prints from the 'unlikely realms' collection, which are featured in the video installation at my current exhibition "Synthesis" at MOMA Wales in Machynlleth.  I'll be adding some of the full-sized limited edition versions to the shop later in the month - watch this space!

So - I hope to look in a bit more detail at some of the older work over the rest of the month.  In the meantime, remember, the 20% off sale lasts until May 20th!  Enter the discount code MAYDAY2013 at the checkout!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Here's lookin' at you, kid ....

Poster for the show at MOMA Wales ...

Self referential

I was inspired to take this screenshot of our various blog feeds displayed in the Pulse news aggregator. It would seem we are basically complex and richly textured old parchment colours.

Monday, 29 April 2013

Check it out! I have seen the new show and It Is Good -

General view of the show at MoMA Wales
We went by MOMA at the Tabernacle Arts Centre in Machynlleth the other day to deliver a new DVD (now up and running - hooray!) and a piece I had to re-glaze after a mishap on the way last week (now taking up residence in the gallery window), and found that gallery technician Peter has done a great job of hanging. Amazingly he managed to get all 15 pieces into the space available and it's all looking very splendid.
The exhibition continues until June 6th, and there will be a private view on Saturday 18th May at midday.

Photos by Vivi-Mari Carpelan.

Not my pic behind the desk - that's a Kyffin Williams from the permanent collection.  What illustrious company I keep!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Exhibition open at MOMA!

"For the Girl Had No Clothes On!" : Ink, red chalk, gouache & pigment on Khadi handmade paper : 70 x 50 cm
Copyright © 2012 by Martin Herbert
We delivered the work for my new show at MOMA Wales on Friday and apparently it's already up on the walls, a week ahead of schedule! The exhibition is the result of my Arts Council funded project "Synthesis" which ran for 6 months last year (well, the money ran out after 6 months - the project continues!), and is of large-scale drawings in traditional media (ink, red chalk, white gouache) on handmade Khadi paper (made in India from 100% recycled cotton rag). I haven't even managed to get over there to see the results of the hanging yet, so not sure exactly how many works they managed to fit in the space, but I'm told its looking good! They will also be a video installation just as soon as I get the DVD working!

There will be a Private View at midday on Saturday 18th May 2013, to which you are all most welcome. Two other exhibitions will be opening at the same time in the upstairs galleries so there'll be a lot to see.

Many thanks go to Ruth Lambert and all at MOMA, who are not only hosting the exhibition, but whose help in securing funding for the project in the first place was absolutely invaluable!

Here's a more comprehensive description of the work (scroll down for the Welsh version), and I'll be putting up images in an online gallery page on this blog as soon as I can find the time!

Hope to see you all on the 18th!

Project ”Synthesis” - Introduction:
Prosiect  “Synthesis” – Cyflwyniad:

This project has two distinct strands with one theme in common - they both concern the reconciliation between digital 'new media' and traditional drawing and painting techniques.  My goal is to explore ways in which computers and the internet can be used to source material which inspires illustrations and innovative new work to be carried out using traditional materials and techniques.

The first strand concerns the production of new organisms, machines and organic constructs using 3D computer modelling technology, which I then use as inspiration for new drawings done using the earthiest and most organic of materials - sepia ink, clay pencils, earth pigments etc.

The second strand involves sourcing written material from the internet - I am using these texts as the basis for new illustrated editions of neglected or beloved books which have now passed into the public domain through expiry of copyright and are now available to anyone who cares to download them from web archives.  The illustrated editions will then be uploaded back to the internet as e-books, completing the cycle.  The first book to receive this treatment is Irish author James Stephen's 'fairy tale for grown-ups', The Crock of Gold. The illustrations are a work in progress, leading up to publication of a new illustrated edition in 2013.

Mae dwy elfen bendant i’r prosiect hwn gydag un peth yn gyffredin - mae’r ddau’n ymwneud â chysoni’r ‘cyfryngau newydd’ digidol a thechnegau arlunio a phaentio traddodiadol. Fy nod yw edrych ar ffyrdd y gellir defnyddio cyfrifiaduron a’r rhyngrwyd i gael hyd i ddeunyddiau sy’n ysbrydoli darluniau a gwaith arloesol newydd sy’n defnyddio deunyddiau a thechnegau traddodiadol.

Mae’r elfen gyntaf yn ymwneud â chynhyrchu organeddau, peiriannau a lluniadau organig newydd gan ddefnyddio technoleg modelu cyfrifiadurol 3D y byddaf wedyn yn eu defnyddio fel ysbrydoliaeth am arluniau newydd a wneir gan ddefnyddio’r deunyddiau mwyaf priddlyd ac organig – inc sepia, penseli clai, priddliwiau ac yn y blaen.

Mae’r ail elfen yn ymwneud â chael hyd i ddeunydd ysgrifenedig o’r rhyngrwyd – dw i’n defnyddio’r testunau hyn fel sail i argraffiadau darluniedig newydd o lyfrau hoff neu anghofiedig, sydd bellach wedi mynd yn eiddo i’r cyhoedd wrth i’r hawlfraint ddod i ben ac sydd ar gael i unrhyw un sydd am eu lawrlwytho o archifau’r we.  Bydd yr argraffiadau darluniedig yna’n cael eu lanlwytho i’r rhyngrwyd, gan gyfannu’r cylch.  Mae’r llyfr cyntaf i dderbyn y driniaeth hon yw’r ‘stori tylwyth teg i oedolion’ gan yr awdur o Iwerddon James Stephens, The Crock of Gold. Gwaith ar y gweill yw’r darluniau, sy’n arwain at gyhoeddi argraffiad darluniedig newydd yn 2013.

Project Synthesis has been made possible with the support of:
Mae Prosiect Synthesis wedi’i wneud yn bosibl â chymorth:

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

New art! - "A Hat that Stirred Her to the Top of Rapture"

"A Hat that Stirred Her to the Top of Rapture" : Red chalk, ink, sepia ink & dry pigment on handmade Khadi paper : 70cm x 50 cm : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert
"A Hat that Stirred Her to the Top of Rapture" : Red chalk, ink, sepia ink & dry pigment on handmade Khadi paper : 70cm x 50 cm : Copyright © 2013 by Martin Herbert

Just finished the last piece for my solo exhibition "Synthesis" at MoMA Wales, Y Tabernacl, Machynlleth, which opens on 29th April.  This is one of the ongoing series of illustrations for James Stephens 1912 book of Irish mythology-based fantasy "The Crock of Gold". There will be a private view of the exhibition at noon on Saturday May 18th - please be there, and bring friends!  Mail me for further information.

In the meantime, to receive prints of art by myself and my wife Vivi-Mari Carpelan, (here seen wearng The Hat) in our brand new radical 'change-the-art-market' publishing venture - please check out our crowd-funding project at !  Don't forget, the funding campaign closes on Monday 15th April, so please go check it out soon and if you can, contribute a modicum towards our small yet significant total!

More exhibition news soon ...!
Bye for now !

Monday, 11 March 2013

Our new project is up and running!

Well, better late than never ... I've been so busy getting the new project up and running AND creating the new blog at wowlookwhatigot that I haven't actually has time to announce the whole thing here! So... without further ado, I give you .....

Click here to go to

The crowd-funding campaign at is now up and running, from 1st March to 15th April 2013.  That's the important bit - PLEASE go there and find out all about it!  Most of all, please share this post with your friends, colleagues and professional networks - we need as many people as possible to pass on the news.  For those who would like some more background though, here goes ...

I'll start with a heartfelt plea - we HAVE to raise our first funds within a few days to even appear on the indiegogo website campaign browser so people can actually find us, so to all our friends & family, please visit the funding page right now and make a contribution - the minimum is just $1, about 70p, so it's not going to break the bank!  Also the more visits we get, and the more comments, the higher the campaign's rating is, and the more it is likely to be featured on the site.  Read on for details of the competition for the first 50 contributors - Thanks!!

From initial concept through talking over the idea, to outline sketches, to planning the details. From deciding on the crazy colour of the logo to putting together the website, then this blog, shooting and editing the video, setting up the crowd-funding site, drafting newsletters, press releases, social media updates, and finally ... pressing the (virtual) big red Go!button ... it's taken 4 months to get this far.

To recap, the basic idea was simple - for artists, there is a basic flaw in the art market - not enough customers! Why? Because art is expensive - original art often has to be expensive - it can take weeks or months to create something, and it has to be sold for enough money to feed, house and clothe the artist for the weeks or months it takes to make the next thing.  How many people are willing and able to pay that kind of money? Hardly any, and they are spending their money on artists who are well-established. Collectors, understandably, have an eye on the resale value.

So who makes all the money in this world? Generally the people who can sell a lot of something cheap (look at the pound shops!).  Why not apply the same principle to art, so that those people who love art but aren't rolling in money actually have something real, attractive and engaging to buy?

Hence - a simple deal - you pay us £5 a month, we send you a fine-art print every month. Our problem - no money to start up the business. Solution - should we go borrow £10k from a bank at a punitive interest rate that guarantees we're going to fail before we even start? Er, nope. Should we ask our friends, acquaintances  former co-workers, previous customers and collectors and complete strangers who we can inspire, each to invest just a few pounds each in our future? Sounds like a plan!

Invest in for a chance to win a dragon!
Oh, and to make it even more interesting, the first 50 contributors to the campaign will be entered in a draw to win an original dragon drawing by Martin, so get in there quick! (By the way, you are not committing yourself to subscribing by contributing to the campaign - we'll ask you about that later, when you've actually received some samples!).

Go for it!
Martin & Vivi-Mari

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

What's happening in artist land?

Long gap, no writing. Been busy putting together the blog for, which has taken over my morning tea-drinking time. This seems like the first morning for a long time when I haven't felt I need to get up and start work right away. The promo video being almost done, we're dangerously close to being ready to launch the business... At the same time I'm applying for an  actual job (you know, the weird sort of thing where you do stuff and other people pay you money for it - strange concept). The sum effect being that life may be about to change drastically, or things may be about to stay absolutely the same, with the exception of my having wasted the last few months fruitlessly trying to develop a new business concept which no one is interested in and applying for a job I have no chance of getting. One hopes it is the former, of course.

The photo in question ... Are the branches on the left 3D ? Or is it just me ?
"Pond" by Helen Sear ... exhibition at Oriel Davies, Newtown, Powys
The other significant thing that seems to be happening - my vision seems to be changing  somehow. Which is to say, not my actual sight, thank goodness, but the way I'm seeing things. It's as if I've always known in an 'academic' sort of way that lighter areas aver shadowed areas (for instance I noticed this yesterday in a much enlarged photo of some leaves on a tree) are supposed to 'pop out' creating the illusion of depth. I use it all the time in my own paintings and indeed I've been told on several occasions that my paintings "really pop", and nodded appreciatively while not being able to see it myself. In fact I've assumed that I can't really see it myself because when it's my painting I've already spent hours behind it and am 'jaded'. On a few occasions over the last few weeks, though I've actually looked at some photos and paintings and noticed a real '3D' effect- as if I was actually looking at a stereogram, or watching a movie with 3D glasses (not that I've ever actually done that).

Now this raises a number of questions: is that actually the way everyone else sees, and I've been missing out all these years? Is it something which is peculiar to me, and I'm the odd one out? Am I in some way weird for being able to see this effect, or in some way weird for not having seen it for the last 50 years? Discuss!