Canned Butter

Category: London

The Best of London

Renoir at the Courtauld Gallery

Some of the finest colour Renoir ever laid down.

Van Gogh at the Courtauld image

I’ve been in London for more than a month (this is unbelievable to me), and I’ve been to pretty much all of the galleries some two or three times. However, it wasn’t until yesterday that I found the quintessential London art experience… The Courtauld Gallery in The Strand on the River Thames. In all of the London Galleries what you’ll find is an endless about of stuff whether it’s paintings, sculpture, or artifacts, and the amount is so vast that it is utterly exhausting. However, the Courtauld is different. The amount of works is relatively small, and it is as if each one is delicately chosen to be a part of the harmonious whole. All the greats are here as well, but decent works from them! Ruebens, Gainsborough, Renoir, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh, the list goes on… Seurat, Degas – haha. I think I have to go back and see it again.

So then, if you’re ever in London for the briefest of time, and you have time to see one art gallery The Courtald Gallery is the one you want! Cheers to that place.

PS… I believe this place houses the finest Renoir I have ever seen… my camera broke though so the image here is a low quality web find.

Dial “M” for Mosaic

Hitchcock street art image
Psycho Mosaic image

In an eastern neighborhood of London called Leytonstone, a baby was born in 1899. That baby was given the name Alfred Joseph Hitchcock. Ever heard of him?

I caught wind that as tribute to this cinematic icon mosaics (17 in total) were created in the tunnels of the Leytonstone underground. Being the fan that I am, I decided to give my Oyster card a swipe and head out on the Central line to investigate.

It was a fun jaunt, and it made me crave popcorn and Grace Kelly.

Badass Brompton Bikes of Britain

Me Upon A Brompton Folding Bike image
Howler Monkey Street Art image

OMG – Those are Howler Monkeys

Shepard Fairey Street Art image

OMG – It’s a Shepard Fairey!

Haring Banksy Street Art image

OMG – It’s a Banksy!

I’ve always been leery of these folding bike critters. They never really looked legit to me. However, very recently (during my university program here in London) I was a part of a street-art bike tour here in East End, London and these were the mode of transport. Perhaps I was sorely missing the experience of propelling through the atmosphere on two wheels, but these bicycles are bad ass! Amazingly comfortable, easy to pedal, light-weight, and just pure fun. Granted the selling price is rather steep, but once this graphic design degree finally starts paying off, I could easily see myself walking out of the flat with one of these in hand.

Incidentally, street-art is a huge thing in East End, London these days. I couldn’t believe how many tours our own crossed paths with during our afternoon excursion. Tourism brings in money… duh. So what if graffiti brings tourists? Graffiti becomes something of respectable artform that’s what. And it’s not hard to see how lenient authorities and building owners have become with graffiti/street-art in the streets of East End. It’s everywhere! And it’s tasty and tasteful… American cities will soon take note.

The tour we took was put on by these friendly ladies:, and they definitely get the Canned Butter stamp of approval!

Rembrandt’s Last Selfie

Kenwood House - Front image
Rembrandt's Last Selfie image
Kenwood House Landscape image
In a Kenwood Mirror image

I thought I had seen mansion previously, and then I went to Hampstead in the north of London. Wow, there’s some amazing homes up that way. Among them is Kenwood House, which is part of the “English Heritage” and is open to the public. Inside you’ll find Rembrandt’s final self-portrait. It’s an amazing bit of paint, and I loved how you simply walk into a room and there it is hanging upon the wall.

Actually Kenwood House is the closest my imagination has ever met reality to what a 19th century art gallery/salon must have been like. Gloriously majestic rooms with works of art adorning the walls like a priceless game of tetras. It was a nice departure from the galleries I’ve been haunting for the past month.

The ground of this palatial estate were equally impressive with rolling meadows of tame green grasses. Given the fine art and the beautiful August day, the only thing lacking was a muse of mine own and a picnic lunch.

Here’s some more info just incase you’d like to further your imagination: Kenwood House in Hampstead

Luxury Les

1957 Gibson LesPaul Custom image

1957 Gibson Les Paul Custom

Today was a milestone in this boy’s life. For today, I caressed the oldest guitar I have ever handled through probably the oldest amp as well. Waiting for a table to open up at my friend’s cafe, Franz & Evanz, in Shoreditch, I slipped into a vintage guitar boutique for a spell to see what was lurking upon the walls. What a difference it makes to present one’s self as good-natured and in the market for a Les Paul in these London guitar-shops.

The first one that came off the wall was a 2009 Honeyburst with some sort of asymmetrical neck. Fun, but not the one. By the time had “earned my keep” playing this one, the manager of the shop (who looked like the singer from Blue Oyster Cult) was pretty friendly. He suggested I head down to the basement vintage showroom.

Once down here, I was helped to a ’78 black custom Les Paul, then a ’72 Black custom Les Paul, and then the manager pulled a ’57 black Les Paul down from the high reaches and said to me, “You might as well try this one.” That was a sweet ride. I cranked it up through some super old Fender tweed with only 3 knobs. I think it was a 1957 or close to it. Anyway the guitar was a babe, but since it probably doesn’t get played too much, it definitely was in need of some new strings. It’s strange how the more expensive a guitar is, the better it plays… I suppose this should be of no coincidence. Quite an opportunity that came from simply being good-natured and knowing a few tasty licks.

Obviously the big question you’re asking yourself: What was the price of this 1957 six-stringed muse? £13,000!

London Homework

Songwriting in London image
Homework in London image

The lovely people I’m staying with in Mottingham, London had to travel north to Leeds this weekend so they so kindly offered me their newly purchased house for repose this weekend. After all the graphic designing, website building, and fine art viewing (let’s not forget globe galloping) I’ve been up to these past couple months, on Saturday I was in the mood for some manual labor. So after a brief song-writing session, with a pair of pliers I worked the recently stripped stairs of leftover carpet staples. Sometimes it’s just down right good for the soul to work up a sweat working with one’s hands. I also took apart a window locking mechanism and realigned the device back to working order. While I definitely have no prospects of home-ownership in the near future (especially in London – eee$h), it was most gratifying to help busy friends with menial tasks within their new investment.

That’s Mottingham, not Nottingham

Eltham Palace Art Deco Mirror image
Eltham Palace Exterior image
Eltham Palace Dressup image

I’m currently in Mottingham (often misconstrued in conversation) on the London’s southeast side staying with friends whom have just moved into a lovely new home. It’s honestly nice to get out of the hustle and bustle of London proper for a spell to catch a whiff of open, fresh air.

Today I was treated to a tour of the Elpham Palace, which is an art deco designed palace about 2 minutes from where I am staying. What a scene that place was!

“Eltham Palace is one of the few important medieval royal palaces in England to survive with substantial remains intact. Initially a moated manor house with vast parkland, it was acquired by the future Edward II in 1305 who subsequently passed it on to his queen, Isabella.”

The Swedish designed art deco portion of the house was only built in the 1930s by the wealthy couple, Stephen and Virginia Courtauld. Upon their leaving the residence in 1944, the site was turned into an Army educational barracks, and it wasn’t until 1992 that it was turned into a spectacle for public consumption.

Pimm’s Panacea Party 2014

Pitcher of Pimm's image
B-Boy Loi image

Early on in my London adventures in one way or another I came to find that many of my Portland colleagues had never had the pleasure of indulging in a well crafted Pimm’s cup on a hot July night so I took it upon myself to organize a bit of a bash to initiate them into the culture. It all went down last night (not Wednesday as the flyer would have you believe). And before I even go into any of the sordid details, I’ll mention it was a fine bit of collaboration that made the night such a success. While hanging out front of the V & A museum I happened to catch a glimpse of Grace Kelly Song’s sketchbook, and a day later I asked her if I could use an illustration for the flyer. Thanks Grace! You’re a dear! I also must give a huge special thanks to Young Yoo for coming shopping with me on a blistering hot London afternoon and making the planning of a party feel like a party in itself. Young, thanks so much for your friendship and generosity in London! You’re one of the greats! There’s nothing like making new friends.

The party was a success. I mixed and poured Pimm’s all night and gladly handed over the bbq’ing responsibilities once more capable friends took interest with hungry bellies. Turns out Young and I shopped the perfect amount of eveything! Pimm’s, fruit, sausages, crisps, biscuits, and even fake ‘staches— minimal left-overs and not a frown in the crowd… except maybe security at the Don Gratton House. And now, no one leaving London will ever forget what a Pimm’s cup is all about. Victory!


Don't Die poster imageDon’t Die.
Vanity Poster imageA Waste of Precious Time
Remember Names poster imageAlways Remember…

Introduced in 1986, the Risograph is a digital high-speed printer. I liken it to a hybrid of lithography and a xerox machine. Instead of printing all colours at once like you would get today, the Risograph prints each colours individually. The result is a nice colour separation that feels imperfect and more unique from print to print. The quickness and ease of obtaining this effect has recently brought the Risograph back to popularity with print-makers and graphic designers. The old always becomes new again at some point!

Our project this week for our graphic design program was to develop a series of prints for the purpose of a group exhibition that was to occur very shortly. When I say shortly I mean our deadline to have prints in hand was something like 48 hours! Crunch time.

Throughout my European adventure I’ve been sketching and sketching and sketching. Mostly portraits I’ve found in the great galleries of the land: The Louvre, The Orsay, The Vatican, etc. Going into this Risograph project I instantly got the idea to use my sketches as the graphic basis for my prints. From this along with always trying to make meaningful work, a concept emerged to develop “travel tips” that I feel are actually important idioms to recall daily, but especially come to the forefront when traversing this great globe.

Sleep When You Die #13

Party People London image
Sleep When You Die #13 image
Royal Academy of Arts Brochures image

This edition is perhaps even bigger than the double feature last time around!

The adventure began with my need to do some laundry! haha. I went up to Islington, London last night to use some good friends’ appliances and that turned into some much overdue guitar playing on a third-story balcony as the sun sunk low in the UK sky. Then our party went out for some rocknroll at The Old Blue Last. The band was great! A female duo called Honey Blood and they brought it well. The venue was, however, not ideal. Jam-packed and stuffy as a toaster on a humid day. We didn’t last long. Soon we were back on the streets drinking beer and jiving. The nights ended with amazing bagels from an Uncle Nick’s place in Shoreditch. amazing late night snack-ums. Clean laundry was a big victory as well.

I took a 24-hour bus back to my quarters, showered, put on my new suit, and headed in the Queen’s direction. I shot some photos in the early morning hours as usual, and it was relaxing.

The special treat of the morning was that at 7:45am I had an appointment with a good friend for a special private viewing of 2 exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Arts over on Picadilly. Amazing! At 8am the place was our own! Unfortunately there was no photography allow – boohoo luvs! However, due to a bit of a lark / misunderstanding with the head security guard upon Lucy’s and my arrival, after our viewing the two exhibitions we had passes for this head of security invited us to go and have a view of the Dennis Hopper photography exhibit that wasn’t suppose to open until 10am. Tickets to this were an additional £11.50 each! Not to mention that we strolled through the entire exhibit by ourselves!! It was spectacular, and we felt like rockstars being escorted through the Academy to the exhibition at such an early hour. Lesson: It definitely pays to remain good-natured at all times. Exciting times here on the island, indeed.