Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Kenny for your thoughts

A couple of moons ago when the Melbourne International Writers Festival was all a buzz the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield gave a keynote speech at the Melbourne Town Hall to publicise some book he's just written. I love everything to do with space and space travel and so my fingers typed at the speed of light to buy a ticket to hear him talk.

During the talk those same typing fingers made this drawing.
Chris Hadfield is the astronaut who filmed himself singing Bowie's Space Oddity while he was in orbit. You might remember it? It went viral and was on the news for a day or two a couple of years back. 
Performing the song is also how Hadfield finished his talk at Town Hall, it was pretty incredible, here's a little video of the night so you can get a better idea.
I was hoping the video might've captured my drawing a bit better but you can't really see it, instead I think all I captured is just how dark it was when I made the drawing, which I don't think can be overemphasised. It was almost as dark as space itself. (Actually I might've just proved myself wrong, maybe how dark it was can be overemphasised.)

One thing I noticed during Chris Hadfield's rendition of Space Oddity is that he changed the words to one of the lines in the song, the original Bowie line is "Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing I can do" but in his Town Hall performance Hadfield sang "Planet Earth is blue and there's so much left to do". I really like the revision, especially in the context of it being sung outside of Earth. Just a second ago though I rewatched Hadfield's Space Oddity performed while in orbit and in that version he sang a different line again, this time he sung "Planet Earth is blue and there's nothing left to do", which although is definitely a valid comment on his own phenomenal achievements I still think it's the least inspiring of the three, so I'm glad he's since updated his version. Ha, but I'm pretty sure changing the end of the "Planet Earth is blue..." line is only interesting to me so I promise not to spend any more time writing about it. Is anyone still even reading this? Can anybody hear me? What if I scream? Can you hear me then? arrtrgghhhhgtkgjgmffnghjgykjvjbj

Yes Kenny, I can hear you scream, you're not in space, you're just sitting by the Yarra river, stop being so needy, it's about to start raining so go back to your studio.

Alright already. Knock it off will ya. Jeez.

Ha, anyway, the Chris Hadfield talk was out of this world, he was astronomical, I was over the moon, the guy is a real star... etc. etc. It was really awesome!

As soon as he finished his talk Chris Hadfield zipped backstage, slid into his rocket ship, blasted through the ceiling of Melbourne Town Hall and after doing a quick lap of the moon he landed safely in his Canadian backyard. By leaving so quickly it meant that he forgot his instrument though, so here's an uncomfortably goofy photo of me with a space guitar, (much better than an uncomfortably goofy photo would be of me with an air guitar).
And it made me really happy to see that the guitar strap has space invaders on it.
After that I went home and tweeted a photo of the drawing saying what a good time I'd had, I then spent an hour or three wondering if I would ever have the guts to go into outer space, I decided that yes I would but I guess it's easy to say that, and then I fell asleep standing up. Good night. zzzzzzzzzz

As the sun came up the next morning not only did Chris Hadfield see my tweet but even more amazingly he retweeted it, and because of that it then went on to get a ridiculous 51 retweets and 233 favourites. My phone vibrated off the table from all the notifications twitter was receiving. I may as well just delete twitter now, it doesn't get any more bonkers than that. In fact for getting over 50 retweets twitter itself even sent me this congratulatory image;

Actually no, twitter didn't send me that, as a nice little joke my best bud Cherie Peele made it for me and pretended it was from twitter, it looks pretty official though huh? Cherie made it after I told her that I always thought if you ever get over 50 retweets then twitter would send a congratulations, like how you get a letter from the Queen when you turn 100.

But my tweet of the drawing didn't just receive all dem RT's and favies, it also received a couple of actual comments from all kinds of people I don't know, and after a few days went by I decided I should start replying to them.

The first person I picked was @robknox11 who has 18 followers and lives in Brisbane. Rob sent me a one word tweet that said "Jealous..."

I replied "Hi @robknox11, I would be too, he was great! Hey just for fun here's a painting I just did of your profile picture", and I included this image;
Painting of @robknox11's twitter profile picture.

It's hard to tell whether or not @robknox11 was head over heels about the painting, he replied "cool... thanks..."

Ha, so with encouraging feedback like that I decided to do it again, this time I responded to @CNilar, who according to her bio is an author from Sydney. Cheryl very generously tweeted me saying "You're v talented in what you do. Great drawing #ChrisHadfieldnGuitar. Seeing the great Astronaut today. TY for sharing"

I found it so interesting that an author would write v for very, TY for thank you and  n for and, not to mention giving Astronaut a capital A. As well as that she used a pretty peculiar hashtag, and in just a few dozen characters she also used the word great twice. It was such a kind tweet but language wise, there's a lot of funny things going on in it. I really like it.

I replied to Cheryl saying TY, telling her how I really appreciate it v much and lastly I also included this drawing of her profile picture.
Drawing of @CNilar's twitter profile picture.

Cheryl favorited the tweet and that was all the positivity I needed to draw another profile picture, so I did this one of @jellibat, who tweeted me the message "Nice drawing". I didn't have any paper so I just drew her profile on my hand.

Here's her profile picture 
and here's my hand.
I was trying to get both my hand and my face in the photo, basically a selfie, but I couldn't really get it, so the two strangers I was sitting nearby offered to take it for me. They were cool people, one of them is currently studying film writing at the VCA, she told me she's working in the genre of "political thriller". "Kind of like Frost Nixon?" I asked, "Yes exactly!" she said, and I felt very clever. I don't remember what her name is, which makes me feel much less clever, but so yeah, who knows, she could be writing the next big Australian masterpiece, right up there with Rabbit Proof Fence and Kath and Kimderella, the Kath and Kim movie from 2012. The political thriller is set in Darwin immediately after the 1975 Cyclone Tracey. I asked the writer who she had in mind for the lead actress and she told me that ideally it would be "the blonde woman from Modern Family".

The guy sitting with the film student was the film students housemate, he works full time in a pizza shop. I said "hey, how're you going?" and he said "Camberwell". And then time stood still as I thought long and hard about whether I should point out that I'd asked "How're you going?" not "Where're you going?" I decided I should point it out because even if it'd be a bit awkward for a moment better that than he think the first thing I'd said to him is "Where are you going?"

Ultimately I didn't need to tell him he'd misheard me as luckily the film student said it for me, and we laughed it off and spent the rest of the train ride talking equally about the effects of Cyclone Tracey and the possibilities of pizza. 

They got off at Camberwell but before they did the guy took a photo for me, and so here I am on the last train home handing out @jellibat's profile picture. (The guy behind me is juggling.)
One of my favourite responses that my tweet about the astronaut received was from someone called @TearsnRain, he or she (I'm not sure which) only wrote two words; "He's married".

Naturally I responded by tweeting back "Fewf, good thing you told me, I was just about to ask him out. Oh well, here's a drawing of your profile picture"
Painting of @TearsnRain's twitter profile picture

The other cool thing about having my tweet reach out beyond who would normally see what I put online is that I got messages from two strangers with the last name Pittock. The first was @codypittock23, who tweeted "I'm a Pittock, you're a Pittock, we should be friends."

Cody Pittock's tweet reminds me of a couple of years ago when I discovered that there are two other Kenny Pittock's on facebook. Straight away I sent both the Kenny Pittock's a friend request along with the message "I think we have something in common."

Neither of the Kenny Pittock's accepted my friend request and so because I know first hand how hard that kind of rejection can be I made damn sure that I replied to Cody Pittock by saying that yeah, we should absolutely be pals. I also asked for his email address so that I could send him some Pittock related questions. That was over two weeks ago and I haven't heard anything yet. As far as I can tell he hasn't even been on twitter since then. The only explanation is that he's dead. It sucks losing family, right when we were just about to become friends too. RIP. Cody Pittock is gone and we have to carry on.

In my tweet to the late Cody Pittock I also included this drawing I did of his profile picture.

Painting of Cody Pittock's twitter profile picture.

The second tweet I received from a Pittock was from @susternable, who explains in his bio that his real name is Chris pittock. Chris tweeted "Great drawing Kenny. Love the @metrotrains nice surname by the way! #pittock"

Now let me tell you it is very exciting to hear from a #pittock, but it is especially exciting to hear from a #chrispittock, because that just so happens to be the exact same name as my Mum. 

As well as telling Chris that he has my Mum's name I also wrote a similar reply to him as the one I sent to Cody, again saying thanks, asking for an email address and including a painting of his twitter profile picture.
A couple of days later my Mum was giving me a haircut and I said to her "Guess who I got a tweet from?" And she answered "I think you should be careful with twitter and if anybody on there asks you to go with them for a walk along the beach you shouldn't do it". (Mum doesn't fully understand social media, I guess it's fair enough though when her only context of it is when it's in the news.)

I said to Mum "I got a tweet from someone named Chris Pittock. Is there anything you'd like me to say to them?" Mum said "Yes, tell them to change their name, it's mine", and I laughed. A few seconds later she said "Actually, ask them whether anybody ever pronounces their name as Pittlock, I think Pittock is pretty easy but people always seem to say Pittlock." 

I said "Mum I meant if you had any questions specifically for a Chris Pittock, you could ask that to any Pittock. Also, what the heck are you talking about, I've never heard anyone say Pittlock before in my life."
Painting of @susternable's twitter profile picture.

I might not have heard Pittlock before but Mum's certainly right about people struggling with the name Pittock, it's a bad name. 

Most peoples first attempt is Pittick. 

It's just Pitt, like a plum pitt, and tock, like the tick tock of a hickory dickory clock. 

One time I tried to update wikipedia to say that Brad Pitt was actually born Brad Pittock but that he dropped the "o c k" off the end of his name because he was tired of living in the shadow of Kenny Pittock, his famous artist identical twin. Even though Brad and I clearly are identical twins wikipedia wouldn't let me do it, maybe one day someone will make a wikipedia page for me and we'll be able to slip it on there.

Or maybe I should change my name to Ken Pitt. 

Any name would be better than this one. I remember being in year eight and the girl I liked calling me on the home phone, (this was just before Nokia's were a thing), and over the top of her giggling friends she asked me "Hello, is this Kenneth Pincock?" Ha, that's the kind of thing that stays with you forever.

Actually on that subject, just a couple of weeks ago I checked my P.O. Box to discover a letter from a guy named Billy, well I assume it was for me, although it was addressed to Kenny Pittcock. 

Ha, what a nerve, especially since this guy Billy was trying to buy a work from me. Where's the professionalism, ha, this is why I need gallery representation. Nonetheless I was obviously wrapped to receive the letter and of course I thought the name thing was really funny, but so when I replied I made sure to bring it up and say "yeah, yeah, very funny".

Billy's response to my comment was really great and it makes me think it might've just been a genuine mistake. I asked Billy for his permission to share here what he told me and he said absolutely I could, so here it is verbatim, 
My best friend's name is Ryan Hancock, maybe thats where the misspelling came from. 'Pincock' is very mean. But poor Ryan couldn't avoid the 'Hand-on-cock' in high school. His unfortunate nick name meant that post footy training it was hard for him to rearrange his jocks without feeling self conscious. He's come through the torment with gusto. I saw him last night and you could say has tickets on him self now - big turnaround.
I agree with Billy, Hancock is worse than Pittock, so I don't know, maybe I should take a page from Hand-on-cock's book and I too should put some tickets on myself. 
Photo of me with tickets on myself. (parking tickets)
Photo of a friendly stranger taking a photo of me with tickets on myself. (parking tickets)

Anyway, Chris Pittock, not Mum, I'm talking about the twitter one, he sent me his email address and when I wrote him an email I made sure to ask him whether he'd ever been called Pittlock

I was very stoked to get a reply from Chris. It didn't say whether he'd ever been on the receiving end of Pittlock but it did say "yes, humourous and annoying mis-pronunciations are a regular occurrence." 

One fun fact I found out via this correspondence with Chris is that Chris' grandfather had a coach building business in Warrnambool and that his tools are now in the process of being donated to a museum. Really cool. I like Warrnambool a lot, it's 3 hours out of Melbourne in Regional Victoria and also happens to be where only a couple of months ago I was exhibiting my art. Next time I go up there I'll be sure to look in the museum. Too bad Cody isn't around to come with me.

Chris' Dad is a mostly retired atmospheric physicist. His most recent work (since the mid 80s) has been on climate change impacts and modelling. One of Chris' brothers is an electrical automation engineer and the other is an environmental scientist and academic studying in Canberra. It's only really recently I've started to wonder a little about my family history and the more I know the more exciting I'm finding it. I wish I had a smart job like all those people. How would I be described? Kenny is an artist. What does that even mean? My title sucks. I wanna be an electrical environmental atmospheric person like these other Pittock's.

I don't even know if I have any relation to these other Pittock's. I'm not sure how it works. Are all Pittock's related? Or are our same names just coincidence? Apparently Chris' Dad did some looking into his history a few years ago, visiting family graves in the UK, he says Pittock is derived from Pittuck.


Kenny Pittuck. Imagine that. Kenny Pick yuck. Can he Potluck. Kenny Pitty-duck. Candy pink sock

Twice in my life when someone's asked me what my name is and I've said "Kenny" the other person has said "Did you say Candy?" Twice. Ha, Kenny and Pittock. What a name combo. I guess I should blame my parents. Or my parents parents. Or my parents parents parents parents. Ha, or at least someone who isn't me.

But so yeah, whats the opposite of blame? Thanks, that's it, thanks. All thanks to Chris Hadfield the astronaut I'm suddenly connecting on twitter with all these people.

This one was maybe the most wonderful message I received, it was by @kristellemd and it said "Just discovered you and I absolutely love your drawings! Can you possibly draw me? You can look at my pics and chose from there".

@kristellemd lives in Sandiago, California, it totally blows my mind to think someone so far away knows I exist. California Love, like Dre and Pac. I did my best to paint her and here's the result. 
While I was painting this I was pretty sure I was painting a 15 or 16 year old, but then I saw one of her tweets had hashtag unilife so now I'm thinking she must be older than that. 

I tweeted it to her saying I hope she liked it, and she said she loved it which made my day.
The last tweet I responded to was by @kjginnane, AKA Karen Ginnane, a writer of short stories who's an "Aussie with a strong streak of London". Karen tweeted "great drawing! Hey, you were sitting just a bit to the left of me :-) What an amazing guy..." And I responded saying that yeah he is, and thanks so much, and that I hoped my drawing hadn't distracted her, I tried my best to only draw it during the bits of the talk when everybody was either laughing or clapping.

Like Karen I also ended my tweet using a smiley face emoticon, the same one as hers with the dash for a nose. Usually I don't put the dash, I just go :) instead of :-), but maybe I should change that, I have a big nose so the latter is much more accurate. Perhaps even this :---)

And so that was that.
Portrait of @kjginnane's twitter profile picture.

As the sun came up last Friday morning I awoke from my zzzzzzzzz's and when I looked at my phone it said I had 81 notifications. It was a pretty alarming thing to wake up to, almost more alarming than my alarm. 

The notifications were from twitter and this time the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield hadn't just retweeted one of my tweets but he'd written a tweet directly to me. It received 73 favourites and 20 retweets, which although isn't nearly enough to get you a congratulatory message from twitter/Cherie but it was still totally surreal.

Amazingly it was the amazing people at the Melbourne International Writers Festival who had sent him the drawing. So thank you to the amazing people at the Melbourne International Writers Festival. I'm pretty sure it was specifically someone named Merrilee McCoy who helped give Chris Hadfield the image, so thank you so much Merrilee! 

Merrilee, Merilee, Merrilee, Merrilee. Acrylic on 22gsm paper. 29 x 42cm. 

And yeah, look, here's evidence of a real life astronaut writing to me!
And so when writing "thanks!" to Chris Hadfield I drew his profile picture as well.
Painting of @Cmdr_Hadfield's twitter profile pic.

To finish off this blog post I'll talk about one more tweet, I only received it just recently, it's from @CLittlehands, AKA my pal Cassie who's a great artist that I studied honours with last year. The tweet says; 
hi. Can you title one of your blog posts "a Kenny for your thoughts"? 
Perfect, and so by the time that you're reading this I will have replied to that tweet saying "consider it done :-)"

Here's a drawing I just did of Cassie's profile picture.
Drawing of @Clittlehands' twitter profile picture.

But ok,you've been pretty patient with me to continue reading all this way, I should start wrapping this up so I can begin carefully storing these ten paintings in the black hole underneath my bed, where they will never see the light of day again.

So long, cya later, and until next time feel free to post me a letter, send me an email or write me a tweet, perhaps even with an invitation for a walk along the beach, maybe I'll say yes, just so that I can rebel against my Mum. I'll just have to cross my fingers that it won't result in me going the way of the Cody Pittock.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Get Bus livin' or get Bus dyin'

Hi four eyes, really great to see you! I know I only wrote a new blog post yesterday but I wanted to say hi again to tell you about how this week is a double header.

Hey you know what else is a double header? The two-face in this drawing I just did. (I gave myself the goal to make a drawing in the exact same amount of time it took the 7-11 robot barrister to make my coffee.)
Ha, anyway when I say that this week is a double header what I really mean is that I'm in back to back exhibitions that open this Tuesday and Wednesday night, and yes of course the reason I'm telling you this is because I'm officially inviting you to please come to them both!

First off, tomorrow night, (A.K.A. Tuesday, September 23), I've got a little collection of work in a group show at Death Be Kind, which is the awesome gallery above The Alderman bar at 134 Lygon Street in Brunswick East.

The show's been curated by two rad Melbourne artists Nick Devlin and Fergus Binns and it's called I Probably Don't Like You

(Pssst... even though that's the title of the show, just between you and me, I probably do like you.)

On the juan hand I'm especially excited to be in an exhibition with the great Juan Davilla, but on the other equally gripping hand who even cares about the names of who's in the exhibition I'm just excited cause it's a really good show.

Ha, if you do care about names though, here's the flyer.

Actually the show has two flyers, so if the elegant simplicity of that first flyer didn't hook you in then try this one on for size.
Also, here's a photo I just took in 7-11 of one of my sculptures that's in the show, it's an acrylic on ceramic and it's titled tinder surprise.
tinder surprise. Acrylic on ceramic. 7 x 5 x 5cm. 2014.

So that's one of my sculptures in the show, I've also got four others and a drawing. So yeah, the opening's tomorrow night, 6 to 8pm, above the The Alderman, 134 Lygon Street, and so if you're around then please come join me for a beer.

And so ok, then the night after that, (A.K.A Wednesday September 24), I've got a piece in the exhibition on at Bus Projects, which is at 25-31 Rokeby Street in Collingwood. This show's been wonderfully curated by Kim Brocket and here's the Busload of roBust blockBuser artists who are in it;
Agnes So, Annabelle Kingston & Brennan Olver, Centre for Style, Christo Crocker, Georgia Hutchison & Arini Byng, Greatest Hits, Joshua Petherick, Juliet Rowe, Kate Daw, Kenny Pittock (that's me), Madeline Kidd, Nathan Gray, Nick Selenitsch, Noriko Nakamura, Peter Tyndall, SIBLING, Simon Zoric, Tin & Ed, Tully Moore, and Matt Griffin.
This is a fundraiser exhibition to try and hopefully raise some pennies for the gallery. The idea of it is that everyone in the show was asked to donate a work that has then been professionally printed as an edition of 5. All editions are 29 x 42cm and cost $250 unframed, and $395 framed. All of the moneys go towards supporting the awesome Bus Projects, (and of course by supporting Bus Projects you are supporting The Melbourne Art Scene, which in doing so is technically supporting me, so that's nice too.)

The loose theme of the show is emotions and so my piece in it is my drawing Self portrait as a train wreck. Here's a photo of me holding the drawing on a train.
Click on this sentence for a link to an article about this Bus Projects Fundraising Exhibition written by Sarah Werkmeister and published on The Thousands.

Or click on this sentence for a link to the facebook invite.

But so yeah, I think that's everything I wanted to say; tomorrow night 6-8pm at 134 Lygon Street and Wednesday night 6-8pm at 25-31 Rokeby Street. If for whatever reason you can't make the openings, (and you provide me with a doctors certificate explaining why), then worry not as the show at Death Be Kind will remain open until October 12 and the show at Bus will remain open until October 11.

Ok cool, thanks so much for reading, I hope things are going really good with you and so yeah hopefully I'll get to see you one of these next few nights, it should be a real hoot!