Neil McChrystal Art

Artist and Illustrator


Small abstracts

I’ve been working on some small abstract “doodles” for the Gibson St. Gala next week. These are little acrylics on board based on songs mostly. It gets me some good painting in without committing to a major piece (I’ve been missing the ‘surrender’ of the acrylic abstracts) and gives me something to show and sell at a low price at the event.

The Upper Sky
The Upper Sky


Three Wishes (provisional)
Three Wishes
(might not keep that title because I’m not really sure it suits it, but if I’m being strict and using the song that was playing when it came to me, it has to)


Braw opening

Thanks to everyone who came along to the Braw! opening on Friday – great turnout and great to see the wide variety of work on show. The show is open for the next month, so get down to Offshore if you can to see it.

Here’s me looking smug next to Portrait of a Scot and Two Roads.

me at braw


Making an exhibition of myself



I’ll be exhibiting in the ‘Braw’ exhibition at Offshore, Gibson Street, Glasgow later this month.

The opening is Friday the 24th of May from 6pm but the show is on for a month after that if you can’t make that. I’ll have Two Roads (as long as it’s back from the framers in time!) and Portrait of a Scot on display and on sale in the show.

Also under the ‘Art Fusion’ banner, I’ll be working “live” and al-fresco on a large abstract in the Gibson Street gala during the day on the 2nd of June, so pop along and see how it’s done! Here’s hoping the weather holds ūüôā


Brian Eno

In those games where you have to list your dream dinner party guests, Brian Eno is always high on my list. In my case it’d be less a dinner party and more an evening listening to records and sipping single malt but the concept’s the same. Michael, of twistyfoldy fame, recently brought this interview to my attention. It’s long – over an hour – but the best insights are in the first 30 minutes before the interviewer starts derailing his train of thought with specifics around certain compositions. It’s worth your time.

It discusses one of the most eye-opening ideas I’ve ever heard which Eno has been teaching for many years – the concept of ‘surrender’. Surrender is willingly giving up control on our own terms with an understanding that we are better when working in conjunction with our materials, our subject, our team mates, our orchestra, our choir. In our society we constantly revere and reward those who are experts at control, but seldom do we encourage or¬†acknowledge¬†surrender behaviour – despite the fact that so many great discoveries in both science and the arts have been arrived at through at least partial surrender. It’s something I recognised immediately in my own work – what I call the ‘letting the painting inform itself’ experience, constantly moving along the control/surrender continuum works best for me but it has to be said that the more surrender involved, the better the piece usually works out.

New Eno ideas in this video (to me):

  • Why the most innovative art comes from the most restrictive media – simply because it’s far quicker to exhaust the opportunities of the¬†instrument¬†and start working on the opportunities of the artist. In digital music the possibilities are almost literally endless; on a drum kit you’re pretty much hitting stuff with varying power and rhythm, so the process of “how can I *misuse* this?’ is reached earlier. Again, I¬†abandoned¬†digital media because I couldn’t get past what it did to reach what I could do.¬†
  • The concept of ‘scenius’, which really hit home to a few discussions I’ve been having with friends of late – about of all things The Beatles, and whether or not they are worthy of the status they hold in popular culture when so many others laid the way for them and others still took their work and turned it into their own. Reading about Einstein, or Picasso you find a myriad of other creatives who created the scene for their genius to flourish. Without them, would either man be the household name he is today?
  • Why we disown the popular. Nobody admitted to liking Abba in the 70’s because that meant that we were admitting to being just a bit like everyone else, and that’s about the worst thing for anyone who is too much on the control side and not enough on the surrender side to do.
  • Polish v Creation, and how deadlines make good art. The fact that we all like art which is a bit ramshackle over that which is highly polished is another example of our desire and affinity to surrender over control. The inspiration happens under surrender – the polish and packaging is control and whilst it has value, can obscure the value if the balance is tipped.

In short though what I really love about Eno is that he talks about music and visual art together. To him there is no separation and therefore no need to reconcile them.