Rainbow Parade – A Duet in Two cities

On the 9th of December “Extended Vision” ventured forth to perform a duet composition simultaneously performed in Canberra and Melbourne. The Canberra site was the legal Graffiti practice wall on the McCulloch St storm water underpass down from the Cotter road in Curtin, and in Melbourne the famous Hosier lane.


Finished work by Euan B Graham








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Finished work. Rainbow Parade ((male Theme)





“Nexus” performance 1 of a duet score composed by Baden Johnson and Euan Graham 2006.

The first “tag team” score emerged in 2006. Baden and I sending 4 turns at a time by post until 4 complete scores were realised. The first of these was adapted to become a performance ready duet composition. Baden conducted a number of public performances around Melbourne of this score which marked the beginning of the “reunion” of Extended Vision.

Nexus by Baden
Baden Johnson’s original studio performance of Nexus 2006 Acrylic on canvas
Euan Graham’s First performance of Nexus 2009

“Nexus” was performed by Baden Johnson in a number of locations including the “Bannock Burn Show” in 2009 and in the “Off The Curb” Gallery Melbourne 2010.

Baden performing “Nexus” at the “Off The Curb Gallery” 2010


NEA composition, composed by Euan & Baden 2006. Painted by Baden, Tiahna & Sam



Divergence Part 1 – Baden Johnson


By the end of 1993, Baden Johnson returned to painting the landscape, utilizing aspects of thematic form and merging it to greater and lessor degrees with more traditional depictions. He also kept exploring performance art and developed a show incorporating New Epoch Art as well as physical theatre comedy. Baden had a passion for performing and after appearing in school plays had determined that he was either going to pursue an acting career or painting. That was the great appeal of New Epoch Art performance, being a platform where he could engage with both simultaneously. Toward the end of 1993 he became involved with Saint Martins Youth Arts Centre in South Yarra and work shopped some performance ideas with a young dancer looking to combine large scale NEA compositions with physical movement – constructing the paintings on stage incorporating painting, dance and assembling a stage set. It never got beyond about early planning stages but it had opened the door for Baden to look beyond “Extended Vision” in combining painting and theatre. His work at that time was exhibited at St Martin’s as “Recent Themes” works he described as inspired by Peter Graham’s Western Port era Notation paintings.

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In 1994 Baden used New Epoch paintings as props in a comedy act he developed for the Melbourne Fringe Festival performing at the National Theatre in St Kilda. In the 600 seat venue his 15 minute act used paintings as props to help tell the story of the tribulations of a starving artist. I didn’t get to see the show but Baden played me a video that impressed. In a short space of time he had honed his stagecraft and held the audience at attention. When he introduced his painting “Search” and then proceeded to place it against his face hand out in front as if above his eyes in the manner of a search, the audience responded with hearty laughter. In this way he managed to take his painting to a larger audience in a most unique fashion.

This experience in turn drew him toward participating in the stand up comedy circuit around Melbourne where he got paid gigs alongside the likes of Dave Hughes; Elliot Goblett and Merrick Watts culminating in an appearance at the 1995 Melbourne International Comedy Festival at the Melbourne Town Hall in a show called “Mixed Bag”. He worked night shift as a cleaner to afford the time during the day to develop his stage act. This endeavor came to an abrupt end on the eave of the 1996 Comedy festival with the death of his grandfather, an event that triggered another change in direction and he once again returned to the studio to develop new landscape paintings again incorporating thematic line and a series inspired by the John Lennon song “Across The Universe”.

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In 2000, Baden and I exhibited at the Charles Smith gallery in a show titled “woodlands and Wastelands” combining Baden’s lush green plain air paintings with my “hungry country” landscapes of central Victorian sheep paddocks. The show was well received and pointed once again to future collaborations. Personal loss of significant family members once again disrupted Baden’s course, but with his late mothers encouragement to keep painting, he once again embraced images of the landscape, but now with a broader focus on themes surrounding globalisation and our exploitation of natural resources.

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After seeing an exhibition by the New Zealand artist Colin McCahon, Baden painted religious paintings using abstraction and text on large scaled unstreatched canvas. “I wasn’t religious but I like the way he (Colin McCahon) told religious stories through painting. So I made a series of works that were later destroyed and recycled for my next series of landscapes. I did create a score from one of the paintings. An eye for an eye. They looked more abstract expressionist due to the scale, despite being purely thematic.”



Possibly the greatest accomplishment of these early years of New Epoch Art was the writing of a handbook by my brother Philip Graham. It was a project that had begun in 1987, a labour of love, informed by the arts practice of “Extended Vision” and a completed and functional document by 1992. Philip had found it increasingly difficult to maintain focus on both his theoretical work and the performance agenda of “Extended Vision”. The Handbook encapsulates all that we had learnt and projects into the possible applications of a notation system in the future.



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How I Wrote This Book

Artists attempt the physical resolution of dreams. One of my dreams was to be wisked me away on a wonderful adventure by a wizard, and it came true. The wizard was my father, Peter Graham and the journey he offered led to a new visual performance art, New Epoch Action Painting. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know of NEA painting. My adventure began gradually as I grew aware that my family’s values and activities were quite different from most artists, let alone other people. Today I can make three observations: first Peter Graham admitted he wasn’t single-minded enough to complete the NEA project; secondly I was born to to write this book and finally, wizards and magic are real.

Philip Mitchell Graham

Canterbury 18/10/89


The first task was to define the method of composition, the functions of and reason for, each of its parts as is set out in The Handbook of the New Epoch and then to hand it over to those adventurous people who will, with imagination and skill, display and develop its full potential.

For the composers and performers of New Epoch works, the following principles are a ?default? guide for the practice of this language as a tool for visual expression and inventions, and for the many viewers who will see and hopefully enjoy New Epoch performance.

To arrive at these principles, a collective total of approximately fifty years of empirical ?anti?? experiment have been spent to date.

What was never mentioned? (and what took up most of our time avoiding), was a mechanistic, highly structured system that infringed upon the long practical values of the paintist.

(Comments on digital and analogue systems)

The freedoms and skills of the paintist are unique. The centuries of accumulated knowledge and skill already in existence as part of our culture, not to mention the many years of practise and study that may or may not enable the individual paintist to develop a personal style, cannot be treated lightly.

Each paintist’s work can be described as a distinctive expression of a personal means of improvisation upon themes that they feel are of importance.

These themes are derived from that inner core of what Satre would call ‘the aging of existential decisions’, or by what others have described as the entry into the labyrinth of the unconscious where the subject os hidden among the convolutions of the mind.

It is not our intention to subscribe the magical touchstone or golden path that few may tread, but to present a useful tool that can give the paintist even greater freedom to compose, paint and enjoy the pleasures of expressing and communicating feelings and ideas.

Notation = Assurety of purpose

Notation means more than just simply painting. To me it means the structure by which you can interpret what you are. It doesn’t necessarily mean just an analysis of who you are and what you are.

You have to project yourself forward and state ‘I am going to attempt! — I am going to say!’. It makes you aware that you have to attempt to try and you have to sit down and plan it all first and then crystallise your thoughts and then act. It saves all this great torment that a man like Polock must have gone through. He had to really set himself up so that he could project himself into his work. Then he used every part of his own feeling — sensation in order to produce the work. He used himself up, in other words and at the same time he had this terrible problem of identifying himself afterwards because he would exhaust himself then feel all of the doubts.

What notation should produce is assurety of purpose and the ability to destroy your idea before it gets to a silly situation rather than destroying yourself and the object.


Artforms are fertile. I don’t mean this in its usual context, I mean it literally. Existing artforms sometimes give birth to new ones. This doesn’t happen by itself. It happens when an outstanding individual, working within an old artform, uses existing knowledge as a stepping stone to open up a wholly new and independent avenue of expression.

Normally, a new artform is born almost by default when a new medium of communication is adopted by an outstanding artist, for example cinematography. There is, however, an opposite and much rarer way. When an existing medium with a long history of artistic use, is re-evaluated and a totally new method of applying creativity to the medium is developed. This method of cultural fertility is very difficult because it often opposes conventional wisdom within the cultural environment of the ‘parent’ artform. It is also for the most part an intangible arena of change, which presents social problems because it is vulnerable to dismissal by proponents of the status quo, particularly within artforms dominated spiritually by their associated crafts such as painting. In creating a new aesthetic with an old craft rather than applying a pastiche of old values to a new one, you expand the significance of art rather than its hardware. This act is potentially of far greater significance than simply taking advantage of virgin technology, because it relies on introspection and so opens the door to a greater understanding of the art process.

This book is about a new artform developed in this second rarer way. It is a performance artform called New Epoch Art Painting or NEA painting. It is, as far as I am aware, the first visual artform based on a thematic structure and to incorporate a comprehensive notation system. This visual language permits paintings to be composed and later performed in a totally separate interpretative act. It has evolved around the traditional crafts of painting and drawing but that is virtually its only similarity with conventional artistic painting.

How do I explain such a new artform? Very gently, for as a good friend once said, receiving a full-on introduction to NEA painting can feel like plunging into a fast flowing river without knowing how to swim. There is just so much to say.

This book is largely a technical handbook on how the notation system behind NEA painting works. It is called naturally enough, the NEA language. Reference has been made to painting only, throughout the book, though the reader can substitute any two-dimensional visual art medium. A three-dimensional version of the NEA language is still in the early stages of development.

You will find a great deal of the book is written in the manner of a scientific text-book and I wish to stress to the ‘artistic’ minded that the book’s construction and the NEA language it describes, may seem clinical, but the artform they make possible is capable of expressing all of the emotion and spirituality associated with art.


A beginning is a very delicate time—particularly for ideas. It is so easy to destroy so hard to create one is tempted to wonder why rather to do the latter. The answer is that creating is much more interesting, more demanding and much, much more fun.

This book is the result of a long and bitter struggle against self-doubt and a hugely successful victory of patience over a desperate desire for recognition on the part of its all too human authors.

We are not unaware that ideas, concepts and philosophies exposed within this small work may cause some consternation even animosity among certain members of the artistic community but this has not daunted us. There has been a tendency during the Modern and Post-Modern eras for different schools of thought to engage in conflict. This has been one of the main unfortunate aspects of these eras particularly since the world, far from lacking room for different art forms is, and possibly always will be, desperately lacking in them.

We the proponents of New Epoch Art are not concerned with such childish political battles, we are not presenting ourselves as the right way for art to change nearly as an alternative that is open to you and everyone.

That after some twenty-seven years of exhaustive research and development, spaning two generations of artists, we have come to the conclusion that our system does work—astonishingly well!—but we would most certainly welcome any constructive criticisms to the contrary for the purposes of review.

However, no matter how many minds melt and re-mould this system in the future, we all should remember that it is Peter Graham’s vision and courage that made it all possible.

Notes on Vocabulary

Two new words are worthy of attention. ‘Paintist’ and ‘Monoform’. Both are designed to be generic so they don’t have to be jargon if they become accepted.

The word ‘paintist’ is a hybrid of artist and painter. It is intended to be a noun to describe the artistic painter and thus relieve the pressure on the generic, artist. Why? Because the label, artist is often difficult to live with, particularly in that conversation that begins with, ‘what do you do?’. On the other hand, if you use the word painter, you run the risk of being asked to give a quote on a house. This is something that sculptors, musicians and playwrights enjoy.

A ‘Monoform’ is a ceremonial garment that is designed to characterise a certain occupation but is unique in its detail. It is the antithesis of the uniform, evoking discipline or purpose and individuality at once. It makes the ‘look’ associated with any organised activity where absolute unity among practitioners is discouraged for a variety of reasons.

In addition to Paintist and Monoform, some words within the book have been given specific technical meanings for example ‘Turn’. These words are capitalised.

The NEA language

The basis of every part of the NEA language is simplicity, but simplicity does not necessarily imply easy understanding. Learning the basics can take as little as an hour or so, practical familiarity with the score will take about three months of regular work, but the mastery will take a lifetime.

A notation system is a set of signs or symbols used to represent qualities and/or quantities. They are guidance systems for human thought. Human thought and the use of human intelligence cannot expand in the true sense of the word without new avenues in which to travel. The NEA language was developed to allow the paintist to explore different realms of creativity for which a notation is the only practical solution. It was not developed as a new academic toy with which to analyse retrospectively, existing modes of artistic painting for they exist quite happily without this language.

If a new language is to work effectively, in conjunction with the activity for which it was designed, it must be constructed from the ground up to meet these requirements. The NEA language contains and consciously integrates the three major skills of painting: colour recognition, drawing (the derivation of themes), and the act of coordinating eye with hand (gesture or performance). It also allows for group co-operation, communication and individual specialisation on a level unprecedented in the visual arts. It could lift the art of painting from an often self-indulgent isolated profession, however well meaning, to a social act of great potential value to society. Composers are free to experiment with an idea before committing themselves to the time-consuming act of painting. They could conceivably by-pass the act of painting altogether and become visual composers exclusively. Compositions can now be attempted that would be impractical or impossible for any single human being to execute.

A qualitative analogue notation ( ) the NEA language ( ) concerned with recording the different qualities of a phenomena rather than quantities. Its symbols make visual analogies to these different qualities rather than relying on numbers or graphs. ?? was developed with a built-in component of interpretive elasticity in all of its symbols and grammar. This permits all of the accumulated techniques of paintists over the centuries to be utilised freely, yet allows composers as much control over the structural elements of the composition as desired so that the works remain recognisably their own. The score is a means by which the composer records the sensitive perception of visual experiences in a manner that enables the performer to interpret those perceptions in an equally sensitive way. In short, the composer determines what to paint, the performer determines how to paint it.

The control and integration of colour, form and gesture within the mental process of artistic painting is far too complex to notate exactly. To develop a notation able to contain all of the permissible variables would be a waste of time in terms of workability and also inhibit the quality of interpretation possible for each performer. The score also had to be designed for people used to working visually. There are relatively few symbols, but their position on the staff determines much of their meaning. Paintists tend to think very intuitively during performance and do not need complex numerical systems and graphs to get in the way of the emotional rapport with the painting as it evolves. For all of these reasons, the NEA language can be said to be constructed along analogue or qualitative lines.

Neither my father nor I have ever thought that the solution to this problem offered within this book is ‘the’ answer. Indeed, that would be contrary to the ideas on which NEA painting was constructed and contrary to the spirit of the age. But it works.

NEA Performance

The reality of New Epoch Notation painting

Imagine if you will, an image, the size of any large wall; more than a shape, a whole universe of form displaying the bewildering detail of a bed of grass. Every line and every shape put where it is on purpose, no happy accidents, no random use of gesture, and no reliance on drips or splatters. Every shape asymmetrical, and unique in form; its nature and position related to every other; and its position, the overall structure, never repeating the entire evolution of the image during its making, also premeditated and in fact, containing much of its meaning; a composed image that although subject to determinism, will never repeat itself even if the entire process of making begins with identical working conditions. The child of relatively simple rules that can be applied almost effortlessly be people with reasonable sensibility and craft skill but who NEED NOT BE ARTISTS; the participation of professional artists only serving to increase further the diversity of invention.

Imagine once more: a party. A room is set aside from the food and music and is transformed into a studio-cum-gallery. The paintists in their intricate monoforms stand on drop sheets of similar beauty. The performance is expected to last six continuous hours. It begins casually, people coming to watch as they please. Some quickly move on, some stay for a while, leave, and return as the performance progresses.

The canvasses are turned. Some people stay for hours, away from the noise, even for the entire performance. The paintists swap canvasses on cue.

People chat casually as they watch and talk to the performers as they paint. They ask about the workings of the score and a thousand other questions. An odd mingling of intense energy and meditative calm fills the room. Time ceases.

The paintings begin to take on the appearance of the drop sheets and the monoforms worn by the performers; more and more the paintists seem to be within the paintings. As the party begins to swing and inhibitions drop, the paintists invite others to participate. Interest in the performance begins to intensify. Those who observe periodically are astonished at the rapidity of change in the deceptively slow performance and that their friends are partially responsible for this change. Those who stay become devotees of the details, the technique and gestures used by the different performers.

The artists take back the helm towards the end in order to resolve the paintings. The finish! Where did the time go? Audience applauds, job well done. Paintings and memories are one.

Imagine also: a teacher on a pleasant Saturday afternoon, shopping. Passing a bookshop, he suddenly remembers the year eights have reached a point where they need a new ‘Set’ to master. After checking the catalogue, he selects a promising score.

The introduction gives the usual social-historical background to the composition, the composer, incidents surrounding its creation, and even a history of notable performances or the set.

In his studio the teacher studies the score, the ‘how-to’ of the composition. Colour, and structure are all conveyed in chronological order and a step by step rough simulation is given at the end for those who require additional help.

The set happens to be a trio, one performer will use green-blues; the second, yellows; and the third, red and white. The year eight class has eleven children perfect! The teacher makes four copies of the score and spends the rest of the evening pondering the scale of the performances, which medium to perform with, and which part he will paint.

Before I go on to describe the nature of a performance in more detail, it is important to mention a technical term known as the Basic Plane or BP for short. The Basic Plane or BP is simply a generic term for the surface on which you are going to paint a picture, be it a canvass, a sheet of paper or a wall.

What takes place on the BP during the performance is both the product of the act of painting and of the act of reading the score. The interpretive act of painting transforms the two-dimensional abstraction of the score into the two-dimensional abstraction that the painting has always been.

The contention of the score is a complete work of art in its own right, at least in so far as a play script, or a piece of music is complete. A Set cannot paint itself. In performance however, the paintist must follow the score or the whole point of having a score is lost. Any addition to the composition not indicated on the score would be as undesirable as adding a new extra notes in a composed musical performance as an afterthought.

Champions of creative freedom should not judge the New Epoch paintist lightly or quickly. When watching a lesson in the formal mechanics of artistic performance, one could be forgiven for thinking that the act of painting was nothing more than knowledge and organisation. As with music and drama, there is far more to a performance than a mere technical recitation of the score. There is never a right way of doing things in any aspect of art. Neither is there any opportunity to pass the buck.

The act of painting is always a leap into the dark. The structured guidelines offered by the NEA language can only soften the blow but this framework is only a starting point. After all, there are at least two major factors involved in a performance of NEA painting which are just part and parcel of all artistic activity. The performance always depends on the quality of the composer’s score which then has to be performed by paintists of quality whose interpretation will always be individual but still entirely valid.

Manipulation of the score on a minor scale to help overall composition is a necessary part of the give and take of any interpretive performance. The score may contain passages where outright improvisation is permitted, provided such ad-libbing enhances but does not fight the composition as a whole.

The acts of reading and painting must be given an equal amount of consideration by the paintist. Ignore the act of painting, and the performance becomes a mediocre and lifeless event, either chaotic in execution or pedantic to the point of tedium.

The creative act of the paintist is to bring the cultural event to life, yet this cannot be done without the positive interaction of paintist and audience, the audience being the most important members of the performance for they are all humanity.

Achieving a balance between score, painting, and keeping the audience in mine in everything you do will tax all the wit, intelligence, imagination, knowledge and skill you possess.

Mistakes during performance

Of course, the score is no guarantee that something won’t go wrong. Mispronunciation is a common occurrence in all languages; however, the score provides its own framework for determining what went wrong and learning from the mistake in a concise down-to-earth manner. Don’t worry about mistakes, including running out of time to complete a Turn, just go on—everyone makes mistakes. You are bound to make at least one mistake in a performance, no matter how simple the composition. Just treat it as part of the performance and use your skill to make it work in the overall composition. Skilfully disguising mistakes is part of visual poetry that makes artefacts reflect human characteristics; and correcting a blunder without anyone noticing it, is a mark of technical excellence in any activity.

Multiple BP composition and group performance

Scored New Epoch visual compositions are built around the interactive performance of two or more BPs and are for this reason called ‘Sets’.

They are performed by groups of paintists whose number corresponds to the number of BPs in a Set. ‘Doubling up’ of paintists etc. could occur on very large-scale arrangements of a performance such as community art projects.

Apart from the concept of public performance itself, the Set illustrates one of the major fundamental differences between conventional and NEA painting.

If we set aside public performance for a moment and concentrate on the Set, what advantages does the Set have over a single work? Quite simply, the same advantages that all sequential painting has had over the centuries. It facilitates the presentation of different aspects of a subject. But more than this, the complex organic nature of thematic composition actually requires composite BP structure to realise fully its inventive potential where such sequential treatment is deemed appropriate for the subject by the composer.

Paintings are shown in groups, preferably in some kind of sequential order, to create a consistent cultural environment with a sense of purpose. To the audience, this is associated with the virtue of discipline and this serves to attract attention to the subject/s, promotes discussion through comparison, and generally raises a sense of social occasion. Furthermore, all judgements as to the worth of a paintist as an artist, are in keeping with the environment of group display for they are made by examining and comparing as many artefacts as possible, instead of a single one.

The physical and artistic connection of the BPs within a Set is very strong. Each BP is not merely a part of a series of related paintings, it is part of the one composite work. In the successful Set, this should be apparent even if they are leaned haphazardly against a wall. This connection is dramatised and brought to the forefront by the act of interactive painting where each paintist works on each BP in Turn. The power of this slowly-evolving relationship will dominate any performance situation and it can only get stronger as the performances progress and the connection becomes more sophisticated with the addition of detail. The audience is compelled to compare the BPs.

A change in position by the viewer relative to the BP (despite its motion) will alter the play of light across its surface as well as bring detail or overall structure to light. It is possible from a certain angle to get a radically different impression of the image. This is an integral part of the reality of observing paintings and it can be a useful tool in observing textual variations and other subtleties on the painted surface.

These methods of observing and evaluating paintings can now be utilised as the principle means of ‘tapping’ into the performance and remain the basic tools for all detailed study, judgement or other commentary. For this reason, it is natural, and therefore important, that the various parts of the Set are performed reasonably close together, certainly in the same immediate space. The alternative is to link remote paintists and artefacts together via telecommunications link-up and computer graphics. This could be very useful in taking the artform to remote areas of outback Australia for instance, or even conducting a single performance across the globe.

Group performance

Collaborative activity in the visual arts is nothing new and has often been the norm. Without it many of the world’s greatest artefacts would not have been possible, For example, town planning, architecture, public sculpture and murals.

Through the intellectual co-ordinating powers of a notation system, NEA performance groups should be able to extend these traditional activities far beyond those of previous eras both in terms of creative sophistication and technical practicability.

It was also thought that to expand the technical and artistic scope of NEA performance to interactive team work, would enhance the social nature of the performance. Group performance solves the technical difficulties that would soon present themselves if you were doing the performance by yourself. The problem is akin to one person trying to rush madly from one musical instrument to another in order to perform at a live symphony concert. The role of the score as a guidance system for group performance becomes more apparent at this point.

The communal aspect of NEA painting seeks to counter the formless sea of schisms that have plagued conventional painting this century, dividing individuals, creating much bitterness at times, and generally exposing the entire artistic community to exploitation.

The desire to invent a new kind of visual art form was linked with the desire to gain a greater potential for touching the audience. The enormous success of the motion picture this century has demonstrated the power of the dynamic visual artefact to reach the audience. People find it easier to relate to an artefact that unfolds before them, rather than having to do all of the work themselves.

The domination of commercial interests, equipment costs, and literary content over the visual aspects of film, have made the more profound works in this medium increasingly rare.

In contrast, a relatively inexpensive but highly sophisticated dynamic visual art form capable of reaching out to the audience is possible in live NEA performances.

The difference between the effect of conventional painting and NEA painting on the audience, can be compared with the musical concert and the dance. Traditionally, the concert is the pure listening environment for music, just as the gallery is the pure observing environment for paintings, because everything is geared only to listening and observing respectively.

It is interesting to note that though the environments of these artforms are completely opposite to one another, there is another quite important distinction between the two (i.e. the concert audience is static, and in the exhibition, the artefact is static).

In the ‘applied’ environment for both artforms, the dance and NEA painting, the static elements of the pure artistic environments are set in motion.

At the dance, the audience comes to life, while in NEA painting, the artefact and the paintists are seen to move. It must not be inferred that concerts and exhibitions are somehow lesser art forms. The fundamental activities of listening and seeing are not changed. The added dynamics of the total artistic environment provides a greater range of sensual responses for the audience, that is if art, not hedonism remains the primary goal of the event for all participants. Having fun is fine and NEA will lend itself to entertainment like other forms of theatre (or ‘show biz’), but because the artistic environment of NEA painting is more intimate, the audience becomes more aware of mistakes that occur. The creation of a truly great NEA performance is just as difficult as the performance of a quartet, quintet or symphony.

The anatomy of a NEA performance group

Most small groups should be able to handle all the decisions that arise fairly democratically, but specific jobs within a larger ensemble may need to be defined for the purposes of co-ordination. Further divisions may have to be made to fit specific circumstances by the basic roles are:

  • Producer
  • Director
  • Turn Master
  • Colourist
  • Formalist
  • Craft Assistant.

Producers are responsible for the running of the group, handling the accounts, lining up performances, co-ordinating public relations and advertising, hiring, buying and ensuring the maintenance of equipment, and arranging transport etc. In short, every preparatory craft aspect of performance.

Directors are the artistic co-ordinators. They decide what is to be performed, organise practice sessions, supervise the artistic direction of the group and generally act as a combination of mother surrogate and devil’s advocate.

Turn Masters are utilised in the large and/or highly formal performance and act as conductor, acting director, concert master, officiator, time-keeper and master of ceremonies rolled into one. The Turn Master’s duties involve opening proceedings, conducting the performance by literally calling the Shifts and Turns, thus setting the pace of the performance. They also make various notes amounting to a record of the performance. Opening proceedings could perhaps include an explanation of the piece by a reading of the introduction to the score, a listing of the instruments and medium to be performed.

The Turn Master mediates between the audience and the paintists, makes public announcements when necessary. They are the organisational pivot of the performance, yet they remain very discreet so as not to draw attention away from the performance itself. The position calls for etiquette and refinement of the highest order, yet originality, personality and approachability.

A Colourist is a term used to denote a paintist who is mainly concerned with plane work in the performance.

A Formalist is a term used to denote a paintist who is mainly concerned with the line work in the performance.

The Craft Assistant (or CA) is in charge of the preparation and maintenance of the performance instruments in a large NEA performance. They interpret the colour symbols subject to previous consultation with the Director, as well as ensure the paintists have an adequate supply of clean brushes, cloths, etc. during the performance. This is done in front of the audience as part of the performance as a whole.

Preparation for performance

The title of any Set should be a clue for the paintists, a way into the composer’s intentions or at least a starting point for interpretation. One should familiarise oneself with ideas related to the title—personal research—the more you know of the subject, the more sophisticated your input can be into the performance.

The first interpretive act of the performers is to determine the scale on which they shall work. While the composer can notate the proportion of a work, the actual scale (size) of any given performance is free to be determined by the performers.

The first important physical things to do before a performance is mark the orientations X on the appropriate side of the BP so that the X and the BP are identical to the first BP diagram in the score.

The second is to number the back of each BP sequentially so that each performer can be sure that he or she is working on the right BP. This is very important in performances involving more than two BPs.

The scale of a painting is one of the most luxurious feelings that the paintist experiences. To ‘feel’ a large work or a small work is one of the prerequisites to the joy of scale. The size of any work is a subjective value judgement, part of the inner concept of the composer but very much the prerogative of the performer’s outer display.

It is the composer’s role to stimulate this sense of scale in the performer, and it is the performer’s role to perform the work in a way that enhances the composer’s concept.

Scale, however, is subject to practical considerations. While it is wonderful to become involved in mammoth performances, or in the delicate skills of minute manipulation, the performer has to be practical. The composer must temper ideals to the physical limits of performance that perhaps not the present, but the future, may impose. It should be expected of the performer, however, to stretch the bounds of possibility as far as practicality allows, for example, the possibility of commissions for specific sites.

Concerning conduct during performance

This, I suspect, will largely depend on the composition, the occasion and the ‘image’ of the group, but the invention of little ceremonies to enhance the effect of individual performances may be advantageous, providing they relate to some practical aspect of the work and are not synthetic embellishments. Affectation should be avoided at all cost.


If you are a performing artist it is important to live up to the sense of occasion, after all, NEA performance is in essence, theatre.

There has always been an element of performance surrounding the unveiling of a painting or the opening of an exhibition. Conventional non-performance painting, however, has no established traditions of suitable formal clothing.

Our solution to this problem is the Monoform. As the name suggests, it is a formal garment suited to the practical needs of the activity and theatricality of the event.

The Monoform for NEA painting is based on the concept of a full-length smock with its decorative design constructed by using the techniques of Thematic Orchestration.

Aside from general instructions given in the score, the design of the Monoform is left largely to the performers and so provides an avenue for considerable personal expression relative to the Set and performance in general.

The themes and colours used should come exclusively from the score to be performed. Each Monoform represents the Working Pallet of each paintist, so if one paintist is to use two reds, the Monoform should be decorated only with those two reds. The one exception to this, of course, is in solo performances. A set of Monoforms can be prepared for many performances of a particular Set, or they could be made especially for a single event.

Buy why bother, why not use ordinary clothes? Simply because they lack a sense of occasion, and collective purpose. Casual clothing is an easy cop-out that exudes non-commitment to the artistic event.

It is fine to dress casually during practice where the paintist frequently stops and backtracks at will and is not committed to a full recitation of the composition. The pursuit of technical perfection in this manner is good craft but poor art. In actual performance, all energy should be directed to creating an event of cultural excellence in the spirit of ‘the show must go on’ and the paintists’ clothing should reflect that.

Why not use the smock? Because it is a special type of studio garment, designed to be used in a place of study and preparation. To expect anyone to turn up to a planned formal engagement in their ‘working clothes’ is inappropriate. The messy chaos of the paint-splattered smock belies the care and discipline required in painting, as in any art form.

If you are going to perform in public you must PERFORM.

Monoform construction is the most time-consuming element of preparation, yet its effect during performance warrants the effort. It catches the eye of individuals who are not necessarily attracted to the performance and so widens the potential audience. To quote Constance Lambert: ‘It is an unfortunate but unavoidable fact that one has to be a little pompous whilst performing anything—it is boring for the artist but on the whole less boring for the audience’. The Monoforms make the paintists literally a part of the performance and gives them a sense of belonging to a team. This galvanises the entire event into a single whole.

The Monoforms put a little space between the performers and the audience, but taking things out of the ordinary has the effect of attracting the audiences attention. No matter how informal and approachable you are to the audience during the performance, your significance is not lost in relation to a crowd. The Monoform remains a strong and effective reminder to them that you are performing, and allows you the freedom to continue working even if you occasionally answer questions. It is up to the individual paintist to keep this a positive phenomenon by adopting an approachable attitude.

Drop sheets

Ground spillage of paint is an important factor in any performance. Depending on the individual paintist, work using relatively viscose paint should produce little or no drips. Washes, on the other hand, almost always make a mess, so the craft assistant should be particularly vigilant when selecting and positioning drop sheets.

Drips occur mainly along the line directly under the BP. Due to the nature of brush strokes during plane work, many drips end up behind the line of the BP so this must be taken into consideration.

Paint on occasion, also runs down the handle of the brush and onto the floor directly in front and centre of the BP. This in addition to any spillage from the cup is the most ‘dangerous’ mess as it tends to be picked up by the paintists’ shoe as they step back to look at the BP and then forward to paint once more. Allowance for this movement, which is generally around one and a half to two metres for a smaller area than the height of the paintist, is the most important factor in determining the size of the drop sheets. BPs on a larger scale will need very much larger drop sheets as the paintists’ point of observation will be further away.

The drop sheets could be decorated in the same manner as the Monoforms, thus increasing the overall impact of the performance. They could be used many times, with the drips decorating further.

Practicing difficult Turns

Practicing difficult Turns in a Set seems a logical thing to do, yet it presents problems unknown to intangible performing arts such as music. How does one take into account the significant effects any previous work on the BP will have on the Turn?

If it is line work to be practiced it can be done on a blank BP without even the correct colour. Plane work and the various forms of restatement cannot be done out of context to the whole score. The best thing to do is study the score carefully and decide for yourself which parts of the composition need to be present in order to practice the Turn. Then you can prepare some practice BPs for repeated attempts and go for it.

At the end of a performance

The paintists can individually sign and date all BPs or a group signature can be utilised. New Epoch paintings are signed on the diagonal in the centre of the reverse side, so as to maintain the compositions’ omni-directionality.

The individual pieces of a Set can be separated or kept and arranged in whatever order is most desirable for the audience. In the case of a quartet, for instance, the possibilities for arrangement are virtually limitless. For example:

Take in Fig. 123

The incorporation of other performances of the same and/or related Sets in such arrangements is quite permissible, although the arrangement of unrelated works is intellectually and aesthetically unsound.

As has been stated, the BPs may not have a top or bottom orientation but such a structure may be introduced during the final Turns of a performance by the composer. Once the BP is in the hands of the audience, they have the final say as to the way the BP is hung, even to the point of confounding any representational elements connected to the introduction of a top and bottom, because of the synthesised nature of the composition. This allows the audience the opportunity to participate in the composition as the physical display of Sets will provide considerable scope for thought on the part of the viewer.

A problem with music

Making an association between NEA painting and music is not a good idea. NEA painting is admittedly closer to music in many aspects than it is to conventional painting, however, the differences are critical. NEA painting has absolutely no direct connection with music. It is therefore far wiser to think of it in its own terms.

In the twenty-seven years my father worked developing the New Epoch project he tried to describe it to several people and came up against many intrinsic obstacles. By far the greatest of these, and one for which he never found a solution, was the fact that there are virtually no useful reference points for people to tap into the concept of NEA painting. How does one explain a totally new set of aesthetic values in a few minutes of conversation?

Many people are understandably perturbed when faced with even a single profound idea let alone a matrix, and have a tendency to dismiss it out of hand or trivialise it in xenophobic amusement. Even if they are at least willing to let you have a go, the desire to make a connection with existing ideas and objects is almost irresistible.

In the case of NEA painting, this manifests itself in an association with music. There are two reasons why this is a worse reaction than dismissing it. The first is social; if your knowledge of music, particularly contemporary experimental forms is rudimentary and you are not familiar with the workings and the true value of specialised notation systems, then you are stacking ignorance up against ignorance. This makes understanding NEA painting doubly hard.

Knowledge of music can also be a trap. To see NEA painting through knowledge of music, one is forced to associate the process of visual expression with that of aural expression. This cannot be done on a totally objective level because of the profound physical differences between sound and light. These differences work against NEA because it appears to be merely a bizarre variation on the established values within the art of music: something very easy to pigeon-hole and conveniently forget. When associated with musical values it can also appear totally unworkable because it is based on fundamentally different ideas that are easily ignored.

It is much simpler to embrace NEA painting on its own terms. Don’t think you will know or recognise anything, just take it step by step. The NEA language must not be thought of as: writing for pictures, music for pictures, diagrams for pictures, formulas for pictures or plans for pictures. It is itself a language in the form of a score that enables the composition and later performance of New Epoch Sets for pictures.

The second argument against association with music centres around the technical difference between visual and audio phenomena. One of the first things my father found was that a modified version of a musical score was next to useless because the temporal aspect of painting is different from that of music. Sounds fade away, pigmented colour shouldn’t in most cases. Visual mediums of creativity tend to be tangible and relatively permanent. Moreover, the duration of time during the performance of a painting is considerably longer.

Music is basically made up of sounds and silences of different duration—a series of on’s and off’s. The time elapsed during each note is the critical variable that music notation must contain. Thus musical notation can be said to be digital in nature.

Any visual notation must contain the relationship of colour, form and gesture. In music, gesture is still subject to the basic reality of sound and silence, although it is of immense aesthetic importance. It can be communicated by relatively peripheral symbols and grammar. But because gesture can have a permanent effect on the canvas and on the painting structure, it must be treated in a more profound way within the structure of a visual language. The time duration of single acts of painting, although of significance in terms of technique and minor gestural control, are not central to determining the structure of a visual composition.

The decisions surrounding the time taken during performance are made inadvertently by the materials used, the conditions under which they are used, and also the intuitive manner of the paintist. Since the composer cannot foresee the circumstances surrounding the length of the performance, this aspect of the total activity of painting is left to the interpretation and resolution of the performer. The result is that the length of the NEA score cannot be used as an arbitrary guide to the length of a performance. Indeed, I have found myself in the position of lengthening a score in order to shorten the performance time.

Paintings that are highly finished can take hours and paintings that look rough and spontaneous may be the product of years of painstaking preparation and work.

The formulation of an idea for composition may easily take years, even decades. The scoring of the work may take only weeks, even hours. As far as painting is concerned, it would be difficult to get a Set with any substantial content to run under two hours. Most ‘short’ performances on a reasonably small scale (BP dimensions under one metre square) will take three hours, discounting preparation time. Some larger Sets can take several days to complete.

Such lengths of time sound daunting to the layperson but in most conventional painting ‘a day at the easel’ could be up to twelve solid hours for the serious paintist, even longer. Painting could be described as an ‘endurance art’ akin to long distance running in sport—it’s a relatively ‘slow burning’, if energetic occupation. It’s far from monotonous though, one never touches a brush without the desire to do so. To pursue the act of painting, even as a hobby, requires a considerable measure of love for the act and yourself, and love melts the hours away as if they never existed. Three hours will pass before you know it.

Mental and physical endurance have to be practised for longer projects as the will, if unchecked, can drive the body to its knees blindly. Aside from the wear and tear, it is easy on the whole, to see a day slip by in what seems an hour or so. Indeed, I have often thought to myself jokingly, that there is no better way of travelling into the future than in front of an easel.

The time experienced by the observer can vary radically from that of the performers and the composer. It will be extremely rare for the audience to experience even a small part of the composer’s time. As in all performances, no one is forced to observe the whole thing, indeed, life being what it is, it would be impractical to do so in many instances. Their temporal experience of the performance may therefore be only partial and fragmented. Such a fragmented experience in which the gradual changes are made distinct, could be a useful means of introduction to the artform.

Again, as with any art form, what time is spent experiencing the performance will pass slowly or speedily according to the measure of effort on the part of the audience. Even the passive observer must come half way towards the performance and the performers to get anything out of it. The viewer who rises to the occasion hops on board the time machine.

In an ‘open’ or workshop performance, the audience can even be encouraged to participate in the event. This can provide the basis for a whole range of social, educational, and entertaining events.

Finally, if the audience were to buy the artefacts, the performance time would certainly be over but the act of viewing together with the memory of the performance, may last a lifetime.

How The Score Works

Types of scores

There are at present, five kinds of score, each has evolved to fulfil a specific purpose. Each can be said to represent a dialect of the NEA language. These scores are called Turn Master’s Score, Paintist’s Score, Craft Assistant’s Score, Composer’s Master Score and Short Hand Score.

The first three types of score are the most common, since these are used in performance. The Turn Master’s Score is the equivalent of a conductor’s score, showing the entire Set with all of its parts. This is the score from which all other performance scores are derived. Individual paintists can use these scores if logistics prohibit the time or expense of buying or preparing individual Paintist’s Scores.

When a shift is indicated in the Turn Master’s Score, each BP remains in the same position as you read down the score. A paintist using a Turn Master’s Score will therefore have to look across the page from BP to BP each time a shift is indicated. The colour symbols that the paintist has been assigned will determine exactly which BP to follow.

Paintist’s Score

In a Paintists Score the simple BP shown from Turn to Turn does not always represent the same BP, unlike the Turn Master’s Score. This is because the Paintist’s Score leads the paintist from BP to BP showing only the portions of the Set that he or she is to perform, rather than showing the evolutions of each BP.

The numbers written on the back of the BP assume their importance at this point when Paintist’s Scores are used. In addition to the staff mark, BP numbers or letters corresponding to the number on the back of the appropriate BP is placed on the right end of the horizon line within a small circle. Letters may be better so as to avoid confusion with the Turn and Page numbers. For example:

1 or A

2 or B

3 or C

The score MS

The score is a group of notated staffs which comprise a single completed composition. Each staff in a score holds a single ‘turn’ or stage in a New Epoch Art (NEA) performance.

The staff is the support on which the notation is written. For added clarity, printings of blank ms. paper should be in a dark mid-range green and all subsequent notations should be in black. Unlike the musical staff, the scale of the staff can very from composition to composition and even during single work to show with greater clarity any highly detailed or complex symbolism that may occur. The scale of the staff is determined by the measurement between the horizon line and either definitive line. (See Figure 1.)

The staff is composed of three parallel lines: the upper definition, the horizon line in the middle and the lower definition line. On the extreme left is provision for the colour notation (the instrument) which is what you paint with. On the extreme right is the theme—what you are going to draw. These are placed outside the three lined section of the staff to avoid any possible confusion of lines. The staff is used to define or register the Basic Plane (BP) or overall shape of the canvas to be used. (Figure 1.)

Within this BP is given all the necessary symbolism to direct the act of painting itself, i.e. looking, direction, proportion etc. In other words where you are going to draw the theme using the instrument (colour). For example:

Take in diagram

The upper and lower definition lines give the top and bottom definitions of the BP relative to the chosen scale of the staff. The central horizon line serves the dual purpose of linking the three main sections of the score and indicating the primary lateral division (one half) of the BP. This horizontal division represents a psychological structural norm in painting, and enables easy identification of a workable ‘top’ or bottom section of the BP at any given time during the performance even if the composition is omni-directional. This is a great help in judging proportion on the BP. It is also a physical balance related to the attitude of standing whilst painting.

Registering a Set

New Epoch compositions are usually composed in ‘Sets’ (see act of painting). Usually, each BP in the composition is shown or each Turn (see figure 2), unless during that Turn, work on a given BP in the Set continues from a previous Turn (see arrangement of scores, p. ••).

In the case of a duet:

Take in fig. 2

Reading the score

The score is read from Turn to Turn vertically, down the page. The notational instructions for each BP remain in the same position on the staff as you read down the score.

Take in fig. 3

Reading each Turn

Weaving with your eyes and mind.

The instrument (colour) on the left is read and selected first, then you cross to the extreme right of the staff to study the Theme. If no theme is indicated, then plane work is required (see Act of Painting, p. ••). Then look back to the centre where the Act of Painting shows you where to paint the theme on the BP. After performing the Turn, the performer moves down to the next staff and repeats the process.

Take in fig. 4

‘@’ The Repeat sign—for use in every section of the staff

In printed scores and fair manuscripts, this symbol should be used to save time but as sparingly as possible. It is to be used in place of any notation repeated to the right of its first appearance but only that single Turn. It must never be used arbitrarily throughout a score in successive Turns. On the Turn it can only be used in lieu of one specific symbol. There are also certain symbols which cannot every be substituted with a repeat sign and this fact will be mentioned in the description of each specific symbol.

Numbering of Turns

The first Turn is marked ‘one’ by placing the number one in a square directly above the black indicator with its bottom edge in line with the upper definition line. For example:

Take in diagram

Score page numbers

To avoid confusion with the Turn numbers, the page number of the score is placed in a square in the top right hand corner of the page. For example:

Take in diagram

Shifting mark

During the Set the paintist will at various times, swap BPs with the other paintists in the performance so he can paint their assigned instruments on each BP. The paintist only paints with the instruments they have been given in the score throughout the performance (see Reality of Performance, p. ••).

When a shift is indicated, a long horizontal hook is placed between the Turn you have just completed and the Turn which represents the new BP that you will be performing on until the next shift. For example:

Take in diagram

Types of scores

There are five kinds of scores each designed to fulfil a specific purpose. Each could be said to represent a dialect of the NEA language.

Turn Master’s Score (TMS)

Paintist’s Score (PS)

Craft Assistant’s Score (CAS)

Composer’s Master Score (CMS)

Short Hand Score (SHS)

The first three will be the most common since these are used in performance. The TMS is the equivalent of a conductor’s score showing the entire Set with all of its parts (see Chapter Reality of Performance). For example,

Take in Diagram

This is the score from which all other performance scores are derived. Individual paintists can use these scores if logistics prohibit the time or expense of buying or preparing individual Paintists’ Scores.

Paintist’s Scores show only that portion of the Set which the individual performs. Each paintist involved in the performance has his or her own score. Its advantage over the TMS for the individual paintist, is that it is not crowded with unnecessary information relating to the roles of the other paintists. For example,

Take in Diagram

Bradley Score is a specialised score used by whoever is in charge of the preparation of mediums for performance (see Chapter The Craft Assistant).

The last two types of score are used exclusively in composition and so will be dealt with in the Composer’s Handbook.

Prompting sheets

Several types of lists giving information useful in the preparation of a performance usually accompany the performance scores.

Monoform design specifications (MDS) See Reality of performance

Working Pallet         See Colour: The Instrument

General Pallet See Colour: The instrument

Take in Performance Start Diagram

Number of single pigment colours

Dynamic profile

Instrument arrangement (TIA)

These lists are mostly explained elsewhere in the handbook with the exception of the last two.

The TAP is a chronological list of all the Primary Instruments (see p. ••) used each Turn on all BPs in a Set, building up a profile of what colour is being when and where.

Dynamic profile

BP         BP     BP

Blue       Red    Yellow

Blue       Red    Yellow

Blue       Red    Yellow

Yellow    Blue   Red

Yellow    Blue   Red

Yellow    Blue   Red

Red       Yellow         Blue

Red       Yellow         Blue

Red       Yellow         Blue

Working Pallets show basically who is painting with what colours (Primary Instruments). Allocations of Primary Instruments (see colour as an instrument p. ••).

Working pallet

Paintist one    — red

Paintist two    — blue

Paintist three — yellow

General Pallet shows all of the individual colours to be used in a Set.

The TIA is a more elaborate TAP which has exact symbols for each colour used each Turn in a Set instead of listing the appropriate primary symbol and is in effect a chronological extract of all colour symbols from the Score.


Colour has a long association with personal preference. Subtle decisions are often a matter of intuitive likes and dislikes, but the visual artist associates broader colour choses with the form of the painting and the reasons behind this form.

The Composer determines ‘what to paint’ through a score, but subtle intuitive decisions during the act of painting remain intact. New Epoch usage of colour, drawing and gesture requires a completely new training method.

NEA colour instrument notation is an analogue system that shows the various qualities of colour in visual terms using simple geometric shapes. It is not as technically accurate as conventional colour charts, but accommodates the needs of practicing visual artists in three important ways.

First it is very easy to use. The alert individual should have no trouble in learning the basics in a half hour. Fluency should come with regular use in a few months.

Second the language accommodates thought processes involved in artistic painting. The use of geometric shapes to represent colours suits the Paintist’s used to associating colour and form. Complex numerical codes and graphs can frustrate intuitive craft decisions. A digital system would involve continually translating abstract information into visual terms, disrupting the intuitive art process.

The third is artistic freedom. It was never the author’s intention to create a system that dictates absolutely. Obey symbols and gramma as far as they go, but interpretive lee-way is in the system, making its precise interpretation the prerogative of the individual.

For example, if the score indicates a blue-green wash, the language would give you a fair idea how green the blue should be, or how transparent the wash, but not exactly. The Paintist is free to use current feelings, individual personality, invention, skill, knowledge, and their interpretation of the compositions raw subject. The performer must make a contribution to the performance if it is to be unique.


Colour As An Instrument

The NEA Colour Instrument Notation describes individual colours prepared by a paintist to perform a score, referred to throughout this Handbook as Instruments. Peter Graham conceived it after a life-long study of colour theory in his capacity as a professional colour separator and in his art.

Peter wanted a colour notation that would accommodate the practice and tradition of manipulating pigmented colour for painting a work of art, rather than describing broken light from a chromatic continuum. So NEA describes pigmented colours as objects called ‘Instruments’ and eliminates the conventional colour wheel or strip. The bulk of the notation’s gramma accurately describes the preparation of pigmented colour for painting.

The word ‘Instrument’ keeps you conscious of colour in an applied context, ie. A visual artist uses an ‘Instrument’ of colour to ‘perform’ their paintings. Although they have the same function, it is ironic that musical instruments are physical and visual instruments are a theoretical convention.

The composer selects Instruments from the Primary Groups and allocates them to a Paintist through the score. Ironically, the composer must define an Instrument before a performer can feel free to use it. Unlimited choice is no choice at all, a chaos only the most powerful creative minds can navigate with any profundity. Selecting Instruments to create harmony or dissonance on the canvas demands an empirical understanding of the Seven Primary groups.


The Seven Primary Groups

The seven Primary Groups divide all Instruments, not to examine colour but to organise the symbols used to describe Instruments. The composer must make an intuitive decision when an individual pigment or mix could claim membership either of two Primary Groups. Base this decision on the localised, or intrinsic appearance of the Instrument and describe it in the introduction of a score if it is obscure.

The seven Primary Groups are: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue, Brown, Black and White. Each Primary Group has its symbol known as a ‘Primary Symbol’.

For example.


What the Instrument Symbols Represent

An Instrument symbol relates to the intrinsic appearance of a colour smeared on a white surface not its physical or chemical properties. The Paintist must never use these symbols as a rough guide for how much of each colour to add.


Describing hues – The absence of Orange and Purple

In reading the list of Primary Groups just now, you will notice there is no mention of Orange or Purple. The Notation does not assign these colours with their own Primary symbol because their definition is so ambiguous. Instead, describe Oranges as ‘yellow reds’ or ‘red yellows’ and most purples fit into the ‘red blues’. Describe Mauves and Magenta as ‘blue reds’.

‘Orange’ and ‘Purple’, like ‘warm’ and ‘cold’ are just words. Composers can set up various scales of Instruments to examine their qualities in each Primary Group. The precise nature of these arrangements depends on what the composer is looking for rather than any absolute order, particularly if used in conjunction with instruments from other Primary Groups.

Describing a Purple as a red-blue stimulates a broader, more practicable attitude toward Instruments within each Primary Group. For example, a red-blue can harmonise with an Instrument of red or blue hue from another Primary Group.


Describing Hues – Dominating the Primary Symbol

The most important quality to describe in an Instrument is its hue. The Notation describes hues by overlapping the Primary Symbol with a ‘Dominator’. A Dominator is basically a smaller modified primary symbol that is open at the top or bottom.

For example.



The large circle in the centre is the Primary Symbol for Blue. The ‘U’ shape overlapping the Blue Primary is the Green Dominator. It is just a green symbol cut in half.


How the Dominator describes hues

The Composer places the Dominator further into the Primary symbol to describe a Blue with a stronger Green hue. For clarity, reverse the breach when placing a Dominator below the Horizon Line so the open end always faces away. The rectangles to the left and right are the Black and White indicators. Their most important use is tinting and greys but cross them out with a single diagonal stroke when not in use as they are above. (See p       )


Yellow-Red Hues

The Composer places the Yellow Dominator deeper into the Red Primary Symbol to indicate a Red with a stronger Yellow hue.

For example.


Blue-Red Hues

The Composer places the Blue Dominator deeper into the Red Primary Symbol to indicate a Red with a stronger Blue hue.

For example


Deep Reds

In special instances such as the Cadmium series there are grades of Red that appear to range into ‘darker’ rather than ‘bluer’ hues. A small Red Dominator describes progressively ‘deeper’ reds if a ‘deep’ red needed. Never use the black symbol to indicate dark reds, only Black tinting. (see p     )

For example.


A very yellow red is a difficult instrument to use and categorise since it is trying to be a yellow and a red at the same time. It can sometimes have a ‘dirty’ appearance and for this reason presents a harmonious link with the earth reds.


Red-Yellow Hues

The Composer places the Red Dominator deeper into the Yellow Primary Symbol to indicate a Yellow with a stronger Red hue.

For example.


Green-Yellow Hues

The Composer places the Green Dominator deeper into the Yellow Primary Symbol to indicate a Yellow with a stronger Green hue.

For example.


Pale Yellows

The Notation indicates Pale Yellows with a smaller open Yellow Dominator placed into the Yellow Primary Symbol.

For example.


The Green Symbol

The Composer must draw the rectangle Green symbol with care in rough manuscripts so not to confused it with a Red square symbol. The Green rectangle is always vertical and should be a little longer and distinctly narrower than the Red square. This ensures two points of reference to distinguish between the red and green symbols.

Take care reading the hue of a Green because its Primary Symbol is slightly larger in vertical scale compared to the other Primary Symbols. This will slightly exaggerate the relative position of the dominator to the rectangle’s top and bottom compared to a similar degree of hue on any other Primary Symbol.


Avoiding confusion between Red and Green Dominators

The Notation avoids confusion between the Red and Green Dominators by cutting the Green symbol open, away from the Horizon line. The Red Dominator remains a whole square! (See ‘How the Dominator describes hues’ p     ).


Blue-Green Hues

The Composer places a Blue Dominator deeper into the Green Primary Symbol to indicate a stronger Green with a Blue hue.

For example.


Yellow-Green Hues

The Composer places a Yellow Dominator deeper into the Green Primary Symbol to indicate a Green with a stronger Yellow hue.

For example.


Green-Blue Hues

The Composer places a Green Dominator deeper into the Blue Primary Symbol to indicate a Blue with a stronger Green hue.

For example.


Red-Blue Hues

The Composer places a Red Dominator deeper into a Blue Primary Symbol to indicate a Blue with a stronger Red hue. Remember a Red Dominator is a closed square to distinguish it from a Green Dominator!

For example.


Mid-range Hues

The Composer places double vertical lines within the Primary Symbol to indicate Mid range hues. Never use Mid-Range symbols with other Dominators. The performer decides what is a Mid range hue compared to other hues.

For example


Earth Instruments

The Notation divides most Earth Instruments into four of the seven Primary Groups described above: Reds, Yellows, Greens, and Blacks. The Composer indicates Earth Instruments by changing the black and white indicators from rectangles to ovals.

For example.


Earth Instruments And Browns

Not all Earth instruments are ‘Reds Yellows’, ‘Greens’, and ‘Blacks’. ‘Earth/Brown’ Instruments are easy to label but difficult to define. For example, you can describe a Raw Sienna is a ‘Brown’ and a ‘Yellow-Earth’. Also you can describe Burnt Umber as a ‘Black-Earth ‘or a ‘Very dark-Earth/Green’.


The ‘Earth/Brown’ Primary Group (never Brown/Earth)

The Notation describes Earth characteristics and Brown as a distinct Primary Group. The Earth/Brown Primary Symbol is a diamond. Refer to it as the ‘Earth/Brown’ instrument, never the Brown/Earth instrument. I want you to relate Brown and Earth characteristics, but I do not want you thinking all Earths are Brown.

For example.                   Earth/Brown


Earth/Brown Hues

The Notation ignores ‘darkness’ and ‘lightness’ of earth instruments, in favour of Hue as the principle means of identification. However, the oval black and white indicators do not absolutely describe the ‘earth’ element of earth Instruments. The ‘earth’ component is a qualitative variable, not simply a common characteristic.


The Earth/Brown Dominator

The Notation treats the ‘earth’ quality of any Instrument as a ‘Brown’ Characteristic. For example, use the Brown symbol to dominate a Yellow Primary symbol when describing Earth-Yellow. The Earth/Brown dominator is a small enclosed diamond.


The Three Mid-Range Earth/Browns

Unlike any other Primary Group, Earth/Brown Hues can occur within four other Primary Instruments: Red, Yellow, Green and Black. This generic relationship means that there is no single Mid-Range Earth Instrument and it is not sufficient to indicate double vertical lines in the Earth Primary symbol.

For example.


Earth-Red Hues

The Composer places an Earth Dominator deeper into a Red Primary Symbol to indicate a Red with a stronger Earth Characteristic.

For Example.


Earth-Yellow Hues

The Composer places the Earth Dominator deeper into a Yellow Primary Symbol to indicate a Yellow with a stronger Earth Characteristic.

For example.


Earth-Green Hues

The Composer places an Earth Dominator deeper into a Green Primary Symbol to indicate a Green with a stronger Earth Characteristic.

For example.


Identifying Earth Instruments

Remember, as always, The most important factor in identifying Earth Instruments is their appearance when smeared on a white surface. If, as in the case of Burnt Sienna, the ‘Earth/Brown’ qualities of an Instrument are stronger than its Red characteristics, then describe it as an ‘Earth/Brown’ and dominate it with a Red symbol.

Red-Earth Hues

The Composer places a Red Dominator deeper into an Earth Primary Symbol to indicate an Earth Instrument with a stronger Red hue.

For example.


Yellow-Earth Hues

The Composer places an Earth Dominator deeper into an Earth Primary Symbol to indicate an Earth with a stronger Yellow hue.

For example.


Green-Earth Hues

The composer places a Green Dominator deeper into an Earth Primary Symbol to indicate an Earth with a stronger Green hue.

For example.



Avoiding confusion between Black and White Hues and Tinting.

If the Composer wishes to indicate subtle hues as apposed to tints of black or white, the black or white indicators become Primary Symbols and what are normally Primary Symbols become Dominators. The composer places brackets around what is normally the Primary Symbol, to avoid confusing it with an invitation to choose any hue of a Primary Group with black or white tinting.

For example.





The Notation describes Black/Earths with a greenish tint as a Black/Earth tint dominated with an Earth-Green.

For example



The notation does not anticipate a range of Black-Earths with differing degrees of ‘Earthiness’ so there is no distinction between an Earth-Black and a Black-Earth. Indicate such a gradation by varying the amount the Black symbol inside the Link Bar. (See Greys or Black and White Tinting).


Metallic Instruments

The Notation indicates metallic Instruments with diamond shaped black and white symbols.

For Example.



Fluorescent Instruments

The Notation indicates fluorescent Instruments with black and white symbols shaped as cycloids.

For example.



Iridescent Instruments

The Notation indicates iridescent Instruments with black and white symbols shaped as inverted isosceles triangles.

For example.



Black and White

The Notation shows Black and White using symbols built into the staff on either side of the position normally occupied by the Primary Symbols. Black to the left and White on the right. The Composer crosses them out with a diagonal stroke when not in use.

For example.




Black or White

The Composer indicates Black or White by crossing out the indicator not required and leaving the space in between blank.

For example.









Transparency and Opacity

The Notation assumes all Instruments are opaque unless the score has transparency or translucency symbols. Transparency and translucency symbols only use to affect the immediate Turn. The Paintist must make transparent pigments opaque with a little White if no transparency symbol is present, even without white tinting symbols present.



The Composer indicates washes with a circle to the left of the Black Symbol.

For example

Faint Wash: Hint of the colour described, acting as a filter. Tones or colours of some value will disappear.






Darker Transparent Wash





Translucent Wash: Change the colour and quality of the surface of a zone without putting an obvious extra layer of colour over the BP.





Fairly Opaque Wash: You are only just able to see things underneath. This wash will change the structure of the BP.





Choose your own Wash







The Composer indicates glazing with a square to the left of the Black Symbol.

For example

Faint Glaze: Hint of the colour described, acting as a filter. Tones or colours of some value will disappear.






Darker Transparent Glaze





Translucent Glaze: Change the colour and quality of the surface of a zone without putting an obvious extra layer of colour over it





Fairly Opaque Glaze: You are only just able to see things underneath. It will change the structure of the BP.




Choose your own Glaze’



Wet, Buttery or Stiff Body Paint.

The Composer indicates wet, buttery or stiff body paint with a triangle to the left of the Black Symbol.

For example

Very light transparent body paint: hint of the colour described, acting as a filter. Tones or colours of some value will disappear.





Darker transparent body paint





Translucent body paint: Will change the colour and quality of the surface of a zone by putting an obvious extra layer of colour over the BP.





Fairly opaque body paint: This paint will change the structure of the BP. You are only just able to see things underneath.






Choose your own body paint density




The Composer indicates impasto with a vertical rectangle to the left of the Black Symbol.

For example

Very light transparent Impasto





Darker transparent Impasto





Translucent Impasto





Fairly opaque Impasto





Choose your own Impasto density



Dead Greys

The Composer indicates a Grey without any hue by connecting the Black and White indicators with a ‘Grey Link’. The Notation treats a Dead Grey as a single Instrument even though it is a mix of Black and White.

For example.


The Composer determines the appearance of a Grey by the proportion of the Black and White symbols placed within the Grey Link.

For example.


Grey Link indicates appearance not physical mixing

The Grey Link is never a guide to mixing. A 50/50 mixture of Black and White for instance would not produce a 50% Grey Tint because the average Black pigment is more powerful than the average White. Different pigments of the same colour can have different strengths and these vary from batch to batch.


Unusually Light Or Dark Pigments

The Notation assumes some Primary Groups have a natural light or dark bias without needing to indicate it with Black or White symbols. For instance, most blues are naturally dark and spectrum yellows are usually light. The Composer uses the following symbols if an Instrument uses a pigment that differs from its Primary Group, eg. A naturally brilliant Blue.

The Composer links the Black or White Symbol to the Primary Symbol to indicate unusually ‘light’ or ‘dark’ pigment and place horizontal lines above and below the black and white indicators.

For example:


The Notation uses the same straight lines above and below earth black and white oval indicators.

For example:


The Paintist can prepare the Instrument as a tint if a single pigment is not available.


Bi-chromatic greys

When indicating a grey with a hue, (eg Blue-Grey, Red/Earth-Grey) the Composer must think of them as tinted greys, never a mix of Grey with another colour. What is normally a Primary symbol becomes the grey’s dominator, (see black earths p. ••). Brackets around the central symbol indicate that it is a Dominator.

The Composer describes the strength of a Grey’s hue is by varying the width of the Grey Link. If the hue is strong the grey link is wide and more of the Dominator is within the link.

For example:


Mid grey with a little red:

Dark grey with a moderate amount of red:

A very light grey saturated with red (pinkish red with slight tinge of grey):


Black, white and grey tinting

A white tint can achieve a different effect from a naturally lighter pigment or increase the opacity of an Instrument. The Paintist can add White to increase opacity as part of interpretation unless the score specifically prohibits it. (See Transparency, p. ••.)

The Composer links the appropriate indicator to the Primary Symbol to indicate a Black or White tint.

For example


Gloss and matt texture

Gloss and matt texture are part of the performer’s interpretation.


Turn Pallets

Until this point we have discussed single Instruments, but the score may direct the paintist to use a selected palette of Instruments in a single Turn called a ‘Turn Palette’, eg. A Turn Palette could consist of red-blue, yellow-green and an earth-red. This allows for subtle application of small areas of colour, without the tedium of a Turn of each instrument.

The Notation for a Turn Palette depends on how much interpretive freedom the Composer gives the Performer. There are four ways to write a Turn Palette, each with different levels of freedom.

The Paintist must use every Instrument in a Turn Palette, but they decide how much of each to use.


Simple Turn Pallets

The Composer states a simple Turn Palette with a Primary Symbol and a succession of smaller concentric symbols within it. The Paintist determines the number of Instruments in the Turn Palette is by adding these symbols, including the outer most Symbol.

The Composer indicates hues of Black or White by placing a number between the Black and White symbols. The paintist must select the specified number of hues from the Primary Group described.

A Simple Turn Palette has two limitations. One: The Instruments come from only one Primary Group.

For example


Two: The Paintist must tint all selected Instruments identically, if there is a tinted Primary symbol.

For example


If the Composer wishes to tint only some of the Instruments in a simple Turn Palette, they indicate the number immediately above the Black (or White) tinting symbol. The Paintist decides which Instruments to tint.

For example


Instrument Scales

An Instrument Scale sets limits to the range of hues chosen by the performer from a Primary Group. It involves stating two Instruments on the upper and lower definition lines. Both symbols act as the ‘margins’ within which the Instruments must be selected. Place the number of selected Instruments in between the black and white indicators. (See p. ••.) An Instrument Scale is limited to Instruments from one Primary Group.

For example


Complex Turn Pallets

Complex Turn Palettes have symbols for each Instrument. This allows individual tinting and the selection of Instruments from different Primary Groups. Place relative Harmony and Dissonance Symbols to the right of each White symbol (see Harmony and Dissonance below).

If only some Instruments need accurate definition within a Turn Palette, show the others in simple collective form as above.

For Example:


The Composer describes a Turn Palette that contains more than three sets of Instruments in the Colour Recipe.

For example:


The Composer describes a Complex Turn Palette containing an Instrument Scale in the Colour Recipe for clarity.


Tonal harmony and dissonance

The Composer uses Harmony and dissonance symbols to fine tune tinting, but these cannot substitute Tinting symbols. Harmony and Dissonance symbols without tinting symbols fine tune the selection of hues.

For Example


Since everyone has there own idea of tonal harmony; and pigments differ considerably in strength; it is up to the Paintist to feel how much an Instrument needs to be tinted

If the Composer desires tonal harmony within a Turn Palette, they place a heart symbol on the horizon line to the right of the White symbol.

For example


The Composer indicates harmony with colours already on the BP, by placing another heart symbol inside the active zone of the BP diagram.

For example


The Composer indicates tonal dissonance within a Turn Palette, by placing a lightning symbol on the Horizon line to the right of the White symbol.

For example


The Composer indicates tonal dissonance with colour already on the BP, by placing another lightning symbol inside the active zone of the BP diagram.

For example


The ‘General’ And ‘Working’ Pallets

Every Paintist is responsible for their own ‘Working Pallet’, which is a list of every Instrument they use during the performance of a score. This includes reminders for Instruments kept for later modification or given to other Paintist’s during the performance. The Composer lists all Working Pallets in the ‘General Pallet’ at the front of the score to assist in preparation.


The Colour Recipe

Colour Recipes use the same staff format as other scores, but are entirely devoted to colour. The principle function of the Colour Recipe is the detailed preparation of complex mixed Instruments. If the Composer does not need the Colour Recipe for mixing, use it to describe large Turn Pallets. If mixes and Turn Palette both occur in one Turn, then mixing takes precedent and describes the Turn Palette on the Paintist’s score. Allocate a separate page in the Colour Recipe if complex mixing and a large Turn Palette occur on a single Turn.

The is subservient to any Instrument symbols on the Paintist’s score. In theory it belongs to the left of the Paintists score but for easy reference, place it near the preparation table.

When used for mixing, the Colour Recipe provides detailed descriptions of ingredients, a flexible guide to mixing proportions, and a loose description of the completed Instrument.

Describe the appearance of the main ingredient to the left of the Colour Recipe staff. The composer can arrange up to three main ingredients together in the main ingredient section. If all ingredients are to play an equal role in the mix and there are no minor ingredients in the centre, place the symbols evenly over the left and center of the staff without brackets.

In the centre of the score and enclosed in pointed brackets are the minor ingredients of the mix. Treat tinting pigments as ingredients in the Colour Recipe, but not ingredients such as solvents.

Describe the target Instrument on the right of the score and on the Paintist’s score so it’s possible to separate them during performance.









Annotating a Colour Recipe With Paint Consistency And Volume Symbols

Consistency and volume symbols are a necessity for large scale performance involving Craft Assistants, many performers, many materials and no time for error. The Composer cannot anticipate the scale of the performance or the physical properties of the medium chosen so performers must add these symbols.


Consistency Symbols

Consistency not only depends on whether the paintist needs to use a wash, glaze or solid colour. Highly absorbent surfaces will dry quicker and are less likely to run than less absorbent ones. The effects of atmospheric conditions and performance time are also important. Performers add Consistency symbols to the Colour Recipe in consultation with Turn Master’s Score if required during preparation.

Place consistency symbols below the UDL between the main ingredient and the brackets on the Colour Recipe.

For example


Very light and watery wash – hollow drip

Darker transparent wash—still watery – solid drip

Translucent wash –

Fairly opaque wash

Fairly watery paint but with some body – hollow tongue ‘hanging’ from the UDL

Highly ‘brushable’ paint with definite body – solid tongue ‘hanging’ from the UDL

Buttery paint – Hollow vertically extended Inverted cycloid ‘hanging’ from the UDL

Stiff paint requiring firm brush – Hollow elongated horizontal rectangle ‘hanging’ from the UDL

Impasto – shape with a jagged lower edge ‘hanging’ from the UDL

Fairly watery paint with some body –

transparent body paint

Buttery paint –

Stiff paint –

Impasto –


Paint Volume Symbols

Volume symbols are not absolute. They relate to every Turn of the score and the scale of the performance. As a rule, line work requires less paint than plane work.

The Paintist adds Volume Symbols along the LDL under the target Instrument.

For example:


The Volume Symbols represent the standard cup used by the performance group.

Tiny amount not covering the bottom

Amount just covering the bottom

Quarter full

Half full

Three quarters full

Full cup

More than a cup uses a combination of the Volume Symbols


Reserving Instruments For Later Turns

The Composer can reserve the Instrument the Paintist is currently using for later use by placing a Reservation Symbol above the Primary Symbol. The Composer places all Reservation Symbols in octagons to distinguish them from other symbols.

For example



The Performer must make allowances for a Reserved Instrument’s next use when judging the amount of paint to prepare.

The Composer can direct the Paintist to reuse a Reserved Instrument as is, or modify it for its next use. The Composer forewarns the Paintist that a Reserved Instrument will need modification before reusing it. Without forewarning the Paintist may think they can afford a short break before performing the Turn while other Paintist’s prepare their Instruments. The Composer describes mixing a Reserved Instrument with another Colour in the Turn Palette.

The Composer places an asterisk above the Primary Symbol to reserve an Instrument, for use without modification.

For example





If the Composer places a question mark above the Primary Symbol to reserve an Instrument, the Paintist must modify it before its next use.

For example







The Composer names a Reserved Instrument with the number of the Turn in which it was reserved, and the identity of the Paintist who reserved it. For example, the Composer calls an Instrument reserved on Turn Four by Paintist Two ‘T4/P2’. The Paintist can use their first name as a substitute for a Paintist’s number.

For example








The Paintist organises reserved Instruments in a labelled rack on the preparation table. Some quick drying mediums will need constant attention.

When it is time to use a Reserved Instrument, the Composer indicates its use by placing its name in a hexagonal symbol between the Black and White Symbols.

For example





If a reserved Instrument appears twice on the same page, the Composer can link the Turns with a bracket in the left margin of the score to re-enforce the reservation symbols. This is not advisable if more than one reserved Instrument occurs on the same page.


For example















If the Composer cancels a Reserved Instrument by placing an X above the name of a reserved Instrument, the Paintist can then discard it after the Turn.

For example








The Composer indicates the reuse of a Reserved Instrument without modification, by placing an asterisk above its name

For example


T4 P2


If the Composer places a question mark above the name of a Reserved Instrument, the Paintist must modify it before its next use.

For example








Exchanging Reserved Instruments Between Paintists

The Composer can direct Paintists to exchange Reserved Instruments. A succession of Paintists can possess and modify an instrument, often using earlier mixes later discarded. These complex mixes are unique to a performance and impossible to reproduce. Treat these Instruments with care until the score tells you to discard them.

A score can direct the Paintist to use a Reserved Instrument several times before giving it to someone else. The Composer must warn the Paintist they will exchange the Instrument later, so they can make allowances for other users when judging the amount of paint to prepare. The Composer warns the Paintist by placing a small Black Octagon inside the Primary Instrument, between the Black and White symbols and inside the Reservation Symbol after its first reuse.

For example







The Composer reserves an Instrument from someone else, by placing the other Paintist’s number in a special exchange Symbol above the Primary Symbol. The Composer omits the solid octagon in this Turn because it is not necessary.

For example, if Paintist Two reserved an Instrument in Turn Four, for Paintist one.

P1 P2






Once the donor has used the Instrument, the recipient is responsible for retrieving the Instrument and confirming it is the right one.

The Turn in which the Composer reserves the Instrument and the number of the Paintist who reserved it, identifies the Instrument after it changes hands. Every time the Composer transfers a Reserved Instrument, they also change its name. The new name consists of the number of the Turn in which the new exchange took place and the number of the new previous owner.

Paintist’s can trace former ownership of an instrument through retrospective analysis of the score.


Splitting Instruments for different uses

The Composer can split an instrument to use portions differently. The Composer can only split an Instrument that is in current use.

A split Instrument becomes several distinct Instruments with different names. Split Instruments always become Reserved. The Composer can split normal Instruments and previously Reserved Instruments, but cannot split and discard an Instrument in the same Turn.

The Composer indicates a split by placing two or more different Reservation Symbols side by side above the Primary Symbol or the Reserved Instrument’s name. Each Reservation Symbol indicates whether the Paintist will be keeping it as is, modifying it or giving it to someone else. The Composer cannot direct a Paintist to make or exchange two or more identical Instruments at one time, but in practice an Instrument maybe in several containers if it is a large scale performance.

For Example     ?   *


The Composer shows the relative size of each portion of the original Instrument in the Colour Recipe, along with the Reservation symbols in the Paintist’s score.

The Composer shows Instruments split evenly without brackets. If some Instruments only get a small proportion compared to others, treat them as minor ingredients in a mix and place them in brackets. The Composer treats the larger portions like major ingredients and places them to the left in the Colour recipe.

For example

T4 P2

T4 P2                           T4 P2

      *                         ?





Arrangement Of Instruments On Multiple-BP scores.

The Notation calls an Instrument use in all the BPs in one Turn a ‘Common Instrument’. The Composer curls a single line from right to left and under the colour symbols, then extends it underneath all the BPs performed using the Common Instrument. BP diagrams using a Common Instrument do not need a repeat sign.

For example


The Composer puts brackets around a BP with different Instruments between two BPs sharing a Common Instrument. The Composer treats the Common Instruments as described above.

For example


Structure is the most important element in any artform. It is not the strength of subject matter, nor the sophistication of its metaphysical treatment that determines the profundity of works of art. It is the virtuosity of the paintist’s visual literacy.

Structure is largely the domain of the composer in any performing art. Since this Handbook is intended for performers, I shall not delve too deeply into the intricacies of NEA structure here. A detailed treatise on compositional drawing etc. in NEA painting will be included in the Composer’s Handbook. It is necessary, however, to give a brief description of NEA’s compositional techniques in order to understand how the artform works.

It is vitally important that you do not attempt composition until you have become a competent performer due to the complexity of dynamic visual composition.

NEA performance was developed around a total re-assessment of the nature and use of line, plane and form. Therefore, I feel it is prudent to begin with an outline of that re-assessment.

Types of line

Unreal lines

The simplest type of line is the ‘unreal’ line which only exists environmentally, ie. it has no positive existence in its own right. It is quite simply the edge between two planes that are distinguished by different colour and/or texture; a one-dimensional object, with no width or area. The most profound examples of the use of unreal lines can be found in the mature paintings of Mark Rothco (1903–1970).

Real lines

The simplest form of ‘real’ lines compose the words you are reading. They are a mark between two points constructed with even width and tone. Like unreal lines, they are objects of intrinsically neutral tension and symmetry, but they may show environmental tension on the BP (see Seven Decisions of Drawing—linear Orientation, below). Even though they are made by a positive gestural act, instead of being formed by default during the making of shapes, they, like unreal lines, are also regarded as one-dimensional objects because they have negligible perceived width and/or area.

The length of a line is always its dominating characteristic, however, it does not have to be the only one. The characteristics of every line in existence, is governed by seven distinctive types of decisions. Six are objective, the seventh is subjective. These seven are:

1  Placement on the plane

2  Linear orientation

3  Straight line or curve

4  Length

5  Width or gradation of width

6  Ting

7  Intuitive co-ordination of the first six.

The first six decisions, which need not be made in this order, are basically self-explanatory and can be performed by any one or anything possessing the technical skill required. The seventh decision can only be made by an artist. It is often composed of a complex synthesis of many individual intuitive decisions. Without the seventh decision, any purposefully constructed Zones (see page ••) will be lifeless, executed with tedious accuracy, and without the slightest sensitivity to the composition as it evolves as a whole.

The seventh decision is closely related to the intuitive co-ordination of the hand and eye as it interacts with the internal conceptual vision of the paintist’s imagination. It embodies the commitment to the execution of the line and is the prerogative of the performer in NEA painting, except for a few general guidelines from the composer (see Act of Painting, page ••).

The paintist must at all times maintain a balance between the intuitive feelings, the composer’s intention as dictated by the score, and its subject matter and remain vigilant to these factors.

There are three basic combinations of the six objective decisions resulting in three types of line: ruled lines, calligraphy and drawing.

Ruled lines

These are the most devoid of any human content as their execution is entirely mechanical and the influence of the gestural avenue of expression and structure is almost eliminated. The drafts person has total freedom in the first three decisions, but cannot use gesture to control length of ruled line or its width. If there is any gradation of width, the line will usually be constructed synthetically from two fused semi-parallel lines. Tint is the only area in which some significant gestural content may occur, though it is more likely to occur in plane work in association with the colour instruments in use.


A calligraphic line is technically a line without character or form in its own right. This, of course, excludes the highly expressive calligraphy that originated from Asian traditions, but the ‘unmodified’ quality remains essential to both kinds. The means of inventing the inherent design characteristics of the calligraphic line are dominated by gesture. Placement on the plane and linear orientation remain under conscious control depending on the mode of creativity and the subject matter. Straight line or curve is determined considerably by gesture, as is length. Width or gradation of width is determined totally by gesture, as is Tint.


The design characteristics of a drawn line are either created by simultaneous intellectual and/or intuitive evaluation as the work progresses, or follow a pre-determined formula. The first method of drawing is most likely to produce an intelligent and profound response to the creative idea (see Leo Steinberg essay, The eye as part of the mind and Reflections on Art: A source book of writings by artist’s critics and philosophers, Ed. Sussanne K. Langer, Galaxy Books, 1961).

Calligraphic line work may at first be used, but it is subject to subsequent conscious modification. Intelligent variation of line is implied and this may include selected understatement of certain ruled or calligraphic lines first used to ‘sketch out’ shapes, configurations and establish form. All six physical decisions are subject to similar conscious consideration.

By consciously modifying the intrinsic symmetry of a line, the paintist varies its width. This has the result of increasing its perceived gestural effect without relying in kinetic gesture. The line then becomes more interesting to observe. This is a major attention-getting device at the disposal of the paintist, which is used to draw the audience into the composition’s detail.

In giving a line character, you are more or less explaining the reason for that line’s existence. It is also a way for paintists to insert their own personal characteristics and express their own understanding of the creative idea into the most intimate elements of the composition. With a little of themselves in each line, every line can truly be said to count for something. Of course, this is a sensation thing; a feel thing; you must feel.

The more you eliminate your own personal contact within the act of drawing, the more you eliminate yourself from the artefact. This will limit personal expression to the manipulation of shapes and Zones, and place an undue weight on the circumscribed form of the BP as an artistic statement. If this occurs in NEA painting, the interpretive aspect of the score will be frustrated; the artefacts will become cruder, lose their ability to contain complex information and become less versatile as a means of conveying a physical manifestation of the composer’s inner vision.

Of course, such an understatement of personal content, if it were made consistently throughout a work, would in itself become a device of profound statement just as the occasional understatement of a single line can add interest to a composition and so is a welcome technique within the range of conscious manipulation. Similarly, selected use of calligraphic techniques can also fit within the bounds of personal characteristics, again providing they are used consistently.

Visual literacy

This combination of personal mannerisms and ways of drawing combine with taste, time and experience to make up your own ‘visual vocabulary’. Parts of this vocabulary will inevitably be unique, not just in terms of the physical result, but in the way they are used during the act of drawing. Unique, because these skills have been accumulated to perform certain acts permitting you to realise successive, imaginative visions in works of art. They are woven into your experience gradually with an order as unique as the make up of your personality. The ‘direction’ of your life’s work, your inherent creativity, external influences, and personality are all interrelated determining factors in developing the extent of your visual literacy. It can differ from others enormously in terms of profundity, application, versatility and, most important, adaptability.

Implied lines

Implied lines are the precursor to forming inner planes (see page ••) and unreal lines (see page ••). They don’t really exist but are created in the paintist’s mind to fill in any gaps in partially enclosed inner planes so that they can be performed. For example

Take in Fig. 51

Implied lines can be either straight lines or curves, but they must complement the existing structure and the score. The choice of exactly which implied lines are to be used is a major interpretive act of the performance; for instance, some implied lines could be ignored altogether and the partially enclosed shapes performed as one. (Implied lines are especially important during SOPO, see Act of Painting, page ••, or the technique of Skip One Perform One, see page ••.)

Implied lines are ??improustional?? lines of composition. Their composed equivalent is the MDL in the score. Implied lines can be used by composer—performer to create shapes not related to existing form.

Linear phrasing

The final term I’d like to introduce concerning lines only is phrasing, which embodies a neat way of describing complex linear configurations. A phrase of line is simply a line between two ‘joins’, for example,

Take in fig. 52

or, it is a stretch of line between two kinks in the line. For example,

Take in Fig. 53

A phrase can be recognised and treated as a line in its own right and a three-phrase line (see above) could be seen in several ways including one phrase as one line and the other two as another. This is a major area of interpretation for the paintist and its implication for Line Targeted Restatement, in particular, is profound (see Act of Painting, page ••).

Line and plane

The character of a line can change through the manipulation of the seven decisions of drawing (see page ••) to the point where it can assume the proportion of a shape in its own right, even though its linear tension remains the dominant characteristic. These lines can be perceived as two-dimensional planes of division when their width and colour become significant, relative to the surrounding planes and their colour. They can even alter the perceived shape of the BP itself as in the case below. Lines are not dependent on colour but can be enhanced, even dominated by it.

Under certain conditions, a line can be perceived as an extremely elongated plane. The local colour surface of the line can be more structurally important than the linear tension of the line. This situation can be controlled by the educated eye. Alternatively, the paintist can manipulate the uneducated eye to one bias or another through chromatic and textual contrast of the surface area of the line or the surrounding inner planes, (see page ••). Other lines added can also affect the perception of a line depending on their local colour.

When does a line become a plane?

Technically a line ceases to be a line and becomes a plane when it takes on the appearance of a shape in its own right as stated above. Obviously, the linear tension becomes subordinate to this shape, but this is a relative concept. The scale of the BP and related work can determine the compulsive form any shape or line takes for the viewer (as can the colour). Even these factors can change if the viewer moves. The point of observation relative to the BP is changed. Then there is the ‘Billboard’ effect where the overall scale of a work is so large that viewers cannot perceive its massive linear elements as lines because they are unable to get far enough away from the BP. An excellent example of lines refusing to be perceived as such, can be found in the stark bleak and white abstract expressionist paintings of Franz Kline (1910–1962).

Negative lines can be formed in the same manner as unreal lines with the exception that a gestural gap is left between the edges of two planes. For example,

Take in fig. 54

This negative line, having been constructed from understatement (that is more often than not previous plane work), is technically the quintessential plane of division, though its relatively narrow width may make its appearance undeniably a line. Of course, negative drawing can also involve the re-statement of an existing positive line which is often a so far un-drawn calligraphic line. This involves cutting into one or both sides of the existing positive line via aggressive plane work.

The techniques and uses of line work must be totally, but gradually, absorbed before it can be said you have obtained visual literacy. It is not how to draw that should concern the visually literate, it is where to draw on the BP.


There are four kinds of planes and they occur in every two-dimensional work of visual art; the basic plane or BP mentioned at the outset of this chapter, the form the Zone and the shape.

The shape is any two-dimensional area that is either enclosed or implied by lines on the BP (see Implied lines, page ••). For example,

Take in Figure

A zone is a term used to describe any chosen configuration of shapes and lines in a two-dimensional work of visual art. The form is an arbitrary term used to describe the entire configuration of lines and shapes within the BP. In other words, the entire positive image. For example,

Take in Fig. 56

Area shaded is an Zone area within the thicker line is a form.

During the act of painting, lines are continuously creating and destroying shapes and Zones.

Perception of shapes during the act of painting

A shape is perceived in a geometric sense immediately after lines have formed it within a BP. The act of perceiving a two-dimensional Zone involves comparing one shape with another, ie. an inner area and an outer area. For example,

Take in Fig. 57

This relationship has the capacity to be defined as either positive or negative by the viewers. Playing with these relationships is a major non-representational avenue for composers.

For the performer it is not what to form that should concern you, this should be well-planned beforehand and grow naturally from the composition, ie. the score, regardless of the mode of painting you are pursuing, the alternative is to forgo all pretence at accountable creation and rely on chance or whatever metaphysical belief takes your fancy. My own experience is that it is neither the beginning nor the conclusion of a creative event that is important to the artist, you are only truly alive during the process of making. It is the journey through the evolving artefact, the manner and purpose for which you take the journey that really matters. It is not what to form that should be concerning you at the time, it is how to form.

Conventional use of line work

In conventional improvised painting, such as observational translation of visual appearance, line work is usually applied in two ways that evolved around the need to translate three-dimensional reality onto the two-dimensional BP. One is ‘analytical drawing’ in which the paintist, acting as a composer, produces an un-resolved sketch in order to feel out a composition. The other is the so-called finished drawing, in which a paintist uses a dry medium deliberately in a serious attempt to resolve an artistic event.

Both of these methods revolved around representational modes of visual creativity which were improvised and the paintist acted simultaneously as composer and performer. As a consequence, both modes of drawing have an established conventional structure and tradition with an aesthetic of a sequential inevitability. The paintist was always sure that the structural intention that sparked the work, would be realised, and could predict the details of the journey. This is not a criticism per se of these techniques, but it is an indictment of their unsuitability for use in a composed performance artform.

It is not our intention to attempt to create yet another synthetic pastiche of old techniques or aesthetics, rather to create a new aesthetic that is flexible enough to pay homage to the past but strong enough to do so on its own terms. NEA painting began with the design of new structural techniques and aesthetics. The concept of performance and the NEA language developed from this naturally, opening up the possibilities that these structural techniques allowed.

The mode of line work I shall now describe was conceived primarily around the idea of conscious creation of structure written down in the form of a composition rather than a spontaneous improvisation.

Visual rhythms

Lines can be used to make the structure which guides the eye to combine or separate visual rhythms. Rhythms are the product of sequential proportional elements or measures which create forms displaying repeated characteristics. In visual terms, these are often seen as a pattern, however, the colloquial implications of pattern, ie. being seen as a series of identical or monotonously repeated structures, belies the value, importance and true versatility of visual rhythms. The structural characteristics of NEA painting are based on the manipulation of complex visual rhythms.

An introduction to thematic infinity

NEA compositions ‘grow’ from a complex lattice of building blocks known as themes, which are overlapped to create enclosed shapes. No shapes (or lines for that matter), are ever added to a new epoch composition unless first they form part of or are formed by the interaction of these themes or secondly, improvisation is indicated in the score. This method of drawing is called Dynamic Thematic Orchestration. It’s a bit of a mouthful I admit but it’s every bit as involved as the subject, but most of the time, it can be shortened down to Thematic Orchestration.

What is a theme? In one sense, themes are very much like building blocks; in another they are more like organic cells with their own DNA master plan of the whole organism within each. Each theme is subservient to the scores grand plan, yet ultimately responsible for the performances existence and nature. Themes are small configurations of lines which, when repeated sensitively, and then overlapped on another orientation, build up a very strong configuration of enclosed shapes, displaying similarity and yet infinite invention. They are not symbols per se, but symbols can be used as themes if the composer desires.

The role of the theme is Dynamic Thematic Orchestration and bears a striking resemblance to the so-called ‘strange attractor’ in chaos theory. The theme can be described as a set of simple rules governing a dynamic process that generates unpredictable behaviour. Judging by the diverse nature of the individuals working in the field of Chaos today, it would probably not surprise many that visual artists have been working in parallel since the science was stumbled upon by Edward N. Lorenz in 1960.

The safest point to make about this connection is that NEA painting is an artform which was independently developed and practices certain principals of Chaos theory.

For eighteen years, my father was unaware of the science of Chaos, until he read an article on Fractal Geometry by Benoit Mandelbrot in the June 1978 edition of New Scientist.

Themes can be non-objective or synthesised from nature. Unlike some early twentieth century formalist aesthetics, for example, Neo-Plasticism, which placed stress on static structural relationships, dynamic thematic form allows for a more holistic approach to subject matter. The conscious control of dynamic and organic structures permits the direct exploration and expression of environmental hierarchies and essential rhythms within a dynamic subject. These include all the various forms of growth interaction and decay.

The nature and derivation of themes will be dealt with at great length in the Composer’s Handbook, as it is the primary act of composition, but a brief description is necessary at this point.

The true New Epoch theme is not derived just by simplifying the form of the raw subject. The process first involves an analysis that encompasses not only structural characteristics of the subject, but also its kinetic, environmental, temporal, poetic and social aspects.

Extensive representational analysis is often used as a preliminary mode of gaining familiarity with the subject over an extended period using many techniques of drawing etc. Technical virtuosity and a good knowledge of past drawing techniques is essential.

From all of this lengthy analysis, the composer derives a group of what is felt are the ‘essential lines’ that represent the raw subject and its environment. This is referred to as the ‘primordial theme’. At this point, the raw subject is left behind and the theme becomes the subject, but the raw subject can continue to have an indirect influence, so as not to pre-empt the process of ‘extension’. Do not construct themes with enclosed shapes.

Thematic extension

The primordial theme is repeated across a BP in various pre-chosen configurations so it completely covers it evenly. The theme is slightly modified each time it is repeated using gesture, but no so much as to distort the theme beyond recognition. The BP is then turned either 90 or 180 degrees and the process is completed ignoring the previous line work. This is referred to as the process of Thematic Extension. The process of Extension continues as many times as the composer desires.

Having extended the primordial theme, the drawing created can be re-analysed and a secondary theme can be derived from this first extension to provide additional themes or create a theme that works better as a structural element or reflects the essence of the raw subject more lucidly. This analysis by synthesis can continue as desired resulting in an unlimited diversity of possibilities by this multi-directional operation. One could spend a whole life time consciously creating different compositions and new themes from the one primordial theme.

Thematic Orchestration is a more sophisticated version of the extension process because it involves treating at least one part of the BP differently from another in any number of ways. An over-all form could be imposed on the thematic structure thus creating blank areas on the BP; two or more themes could be used; or the drawing techniques could differ, or the colour etc. The combinations are endless.

Thematic Extension, by its very nature, not only creates its own enclosed shapes but places those shapes together, thus creating the composition’s form. The conscious and sympathetic manipulation of thematic form (and more importantly its evolution) in dynamic thematic orchestration, requires the additional organisational structure of the score. Indeed it is the temporal manipulation of form that makes up the bulk of the NEA language’s function. (See Act of Painting pp.••.)

Thematic and TV

The total synthesis of raw subjects that occurs in Thematic Extension and Orchestration can be related to visual broadcasting and reception. The subject’s appearance is broken down by the camera and reassembled within the TV, the point being that what you see on the screen is not the real thing but an assimilation created around the physical characteristics and limitations of the equipment. The fact that the image is representational is not intrinsic to the situation as the signals from the camera could be processed in any order if you re-programmed the equipment. Doing so in an ordered manner would allow a visual artist of any king to ‘play around’ with images creatively and thus provide a medium of considerable versatility to the art community.

The desire to re-think and/or re-feel an image in order to pursue avenues of visual thought is now over a century old in post Christian culture; however, the processes developed around the re-processing of images, are surprisingly crude and remain rare. If one is to chop up a whole with the intention of re-assembling it in a new and enlightening way, it goes without saying that the finer you mince it—the easier it is to incorporate additional material on a more profound level and the more sophisticated and subtle will be the re-assessed object, provided you remain faithful to what you want to say.

Of course, the more complete the synthesis, the harder it is to co-ordinate the process and avoid a mess and this is where the score comes in. This reduces the need to add synthetic devices and techniques to the work of art, as the structure has not been reduced to a bleak and limited skeleton.

The average thematic orchestration contains a richness which is almost irresistible to a willing audience.

Fig. 58

Related subjects      Primordial subject         Related subjects

Analysis         Analysis      Analysis

Synthesis of essential lines

Primordial theme

(new subject)

Thematic extension

Secondary analysis

(re-evaluation and observation)

Tertiary analysis     Thematic derivation


Secondary theme

(new subject)





Controlled       improvised  Composition

thematic        performance        (synthesis)

orchestration (visual jazz)

(non-performance)           Score

(new subject)


(public or private)

The performer and the theme

In composed thematic form, the theme itself is a microcosm of the score and must be respected in the same manner. The paintist develops a relationship with a theme: a rapport. Some themes appear awkward and impossible when you first see them on the score, but are a joy to work with. Others stir expectations but can prove a battle to bring to life.

Distortion of the theme during performance

The temptation to distort the structure of the theme beyond recognition should be avoided unless indicated otherwise in the score. As with the BP, the scale of the theme is a subjective value judgement but proportion and rhythm that largely determine sale are related objective values that are dictated by the score. (See Act of Painting pp. ••.)

The NEA language’s thematic section

The theme is indicated on the extreme right of the score. If plane work is required, the theme section is left blank or is used for symbols that work. Only one theme can be stated and used in a single Turn.

Importance of the raw subject

Normally, New Epoch Sets are performed independently from the raw subject matter. If the composer requires the paintist to keep the raw subject in mind (as indicated by the title of the score) a small solid dot is placed on the horizon line immediately to the left of the BP diagram. eg.

Take in fig. 59

Non-thematic exercises

When first learning how to use the score, the instructor may decide to familiarise the student with the NEA language instead of starting with non-performance Thematic Orchestration. Or the instructor may start both aspects separately and connect the two later. The non-thematic mode of the NEA language is referred to as ‘Basic Mode’. Basic Mode is indicated by substituting an iris (looking point) and a mobile definition line for a theme in the theme section. (See Act of Painting, pp. ••.) eg.

Take in Fig. 60

Wobbling themes

If the composer wants the performer to alter the theme’s orientation in relation to the BP slightly, each time they repeat it, a small solid inverted triangle is placed to the left of the theme on the horizon line. eg.

Take in Fig. 61

Purpose of time signatures

The orchestration or extension of themes is governed by a time signature to the right of the BP diagram (see Act of Painting, pp. ••), in relation to the Zone designated for performance within the diagram. One must try to match the number of themes indicated by the time signature yet keep them at a scale that covers the Zone completely.

Interlocked themes

During normal repetition of the theme across the BP, individual themes should never touch each other as they are repeated, but if the composer wishes them to overlap slightly a special symbol, ‘≈’ appears on top of the theme. eg.

Take in Fig. 62

Coupled themes

A more precise interlocked theme may be required: one that links each theme with the same line in the same relative position within the theme’s structure. To indicate the precise position within the theme where it is to be linked to the next one, place a small hollow square in the link position and on the end of the ‘link’ line. eg.

Take in Fig. 62A

Touching themes

If the composer wishes the themes to touch but not overlap the symbol ‘≈’ appears on top of the theme. eg.

Take in Fig. 63

The performers are allowed to decide which themes are to be connected and how.

To control theme orientation

If the theme’s orientation is to mirror the contours of the mobile definition lines and not the BP, an encircling arrow is placed around the theme section. eg.

Take in Fig. 64

Dropping themes

In some cases of large repetition of small scale themes (relative to BP), it may be advantageous to add more variation to the extension by ‘dropping’ phrases or parts of the theme and thus breaking up the sequence of the visual rhythm. eg.

Take in fig. 65

A fraction representing the proportion of phrases within the theme to be ‘dropped’ is placed on the upper definition line near the upper right of the relevant BP diagram. These phrases are then chopped off or dropped from the first theme that is drawn and then added onto the last theme in that line of repeats. The theme could be drawn as indicated on the first line of repeats, then phrases shopped off progressively for each successive line of repeated themes. Each line would begin and end on a different phrase within the original theme creating the illusion that different themes had been used and producing a different range of enclosed shapes. eg.

Take in Fig. 66

The over theme

Selective destruction of existing forms on the BP during the performance can be achieved with Number Plane Work (see Act of Painting pp. ) Rather than using an arbitrary plane, a wide version of a theme can be used by normal orchestration to do the same job.

These Over Themes cannot be overlayed except with Aggressive LC Chording (see, pp. ) or Pi plane work (see, pp. ), but only in restrained manner. To indicate Over Theme place Theme within a square or rectangle eg.

Take in Fig.


Line chording is the multiplication of each theme on the same spot eg.

Take in Fig. 67

It is indicated by adding the number of additional lines to the time signature, which occurs to the Right of the BP diagram on the horizon line. eg

Take in Fig. 68



There are two kinds of line chording; Parallel Line Chording and Convergence Line Chording. In Parallel Line Chording the Addition Number is enclosed in a square:

Take in Fig. 69

In Convergence Line Chording, The Addition Number is enclosed in a circle.

Take in Fig. 70

If the choice is left to the performer as to which type of Line Chording is to be used then the addition number is not enclosed.


If different themes are required for different BPs in a single Turn, each theme is placed in brackets and the order in which they occur corresponds to the respective BPs in the act of painting: eg

Take in Fig. 71

If one theme is to be used in two planes, and another separate theme for a third, etc put brackets around the themes to be used only once.

Take in Fig. 72

Brackets enclose all symbols relating to one theme only. No general symbols.


By far the most difficult part of the score to develop was that portion which determines the act of painting. For the performer, it essential that the spontaneity of the act of painting with all its convolutions of thought and act are able to be practiced within the composition. The paintist’s sensibilities must be fostered in ever a so that the sense of spirit (inner necessity) is set free as an observable phenomenon during the performance. Performance is prevented from becoming robotic. Instead, it becomes a creative act in its own right that involves the performer in the sympathetic trilogy of composition, performance, and appreciation, thus permitting the sensitive experience of artistic expression. Balanced against this, the composer must have enough mastery and freedom to produce and maintain a coherent and perceptible rationale for the composition.

The symbols used in the score are built around the acts of looking and doing. The paintist’s interpretation of this is one of judgement and evaluation of area, proportion, vertical and horizontal balance or stress, and length. In fact the relationship of every element of composition to each other and to themselves. After each act of painting (making a mark) there is always an evaluation of these structural and gestural relationships on a macro and /or micro scale relative to the entire composition.

To the performer, the score is in effect the subject to be painted It is read as a set of linked pre-determined acts and pauses. The theme on the extreme right of the staff indicates the linear structure to be performed.

The process and subject of the performance is determined by the score, the quality of the performance by the paintist The time involved in the actual performance is set by the arranger of the score and the producer of the performance, and plays a vital role in determining the nature and quality of the performance.


The act of painting is designed to co-ordinate the use of performance instruments on the BP. It is both visually and technically the central unifying element of the score situated on the three lined section of the staff. The main purpose of this three—lined section is to define or ‘register’ the diagram of the BP to be used in the composition.

The three lines are referred to as the Upper Definition Line (UDL) the Horizon Line and the Lower Definition Line (LDL). Both the UDL and the LDL define the largest vertical points of the BP thus establishing the scale of the BP relative to the staff. The diagram of The BP remains in the same scale relative to the staff but the staff and everything in it can be enlarged or reduced in scale during a score in order to show a greater or lesser degree of detail as desired by the composer.

Basic planes can be symmetrical or asymmetric, geometric or organic. Their structure can become extremely complex but since we are dealing with the basics here l shall leave a more detailed explanation for the Composer’s Handbook.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 73


The central Horizon Line indicates a psychological norm in the physical act of painting related to the attitude of standing in front of the canvas during painting. It is never stated on the canvas in reality, but in the score provides an arbitrary division of half the BP regardless of its orientation creating a top and bottom section even if the composition is in reality omni-directional. This makes identifying positions on the BP much easier.

The central point called the axis of vision is the ultimate point of orientation even though it occurs only on the score (and then only when needed), because as you turn the BP the score remains in a constant position regardless of the circumscribed form of the BP. The axis of vision is the most reliable point to work from in conjunction with the horizon line.

To the individual used to judging proportions by eye it is simple to find the axis of vision with the Horizon Line as one set of measurements is already established.



An X usually marks the original orientation of the BP at the beginning of a performance (other symbols can be substituted for the X to show which paintist is ‘leading’ the performance in terms of setting the pace. see pp. ) Whatever orientation symbol occurs on the score during the performance, the paintist places an X on the top edge of the real BP to correspond to the ‘top’ indicated on the first Turn of the score.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 74


The BP diagram together with the X are rotated on the score usually each Turn to the orientation required. Turning is usually clockwise but there is no strict rule on this. A curved line is placed between the present orientation of the BP, (as marked by the X) and the previous position of the X to make it very plain just how much the BP has to be Turned just before the Turn is performed.




All lines and symbols, etc should be read in the score and obeyed on the BP as you see it when you stand directly in front of it (assuming vertical orientation of the BP) The score itself is not turned, the actual BP is. The only exception to this rule occurs when you are performing on a BP that is impossible to move: eg a wall mural or where the physical nature of the materials used make it impractical or dangerous to do so: eg, a stained glass window. With painting it is essential to turn the BP where possible to allow the effects of the paintists’ gestural bias, (right handed or left handed etc.), to be fully exploited in all orientations. All shapes are painted in a certain way by an individual as determined by their gestural technique. To draw a certain shape upside down would produce a different effect from drawing it right side up on an inverted BP.



The number of different orientations a performer works on, effectively multiplies the total number of gestural effects which they are capable of. This can increase the depth and subtlety of gestural invention and produces the true omni-directional performance faithful to the intentions of the score.



Gesture will always be the domain of the performer in all the arts Because gesture plays such an important role in the structure of the plastic arts, the composer should be able to give some general instructions so that the performer’s gestures don’t fight the intention of the score. These gesture symbols are by no means exact but they do enable composers to relay to performers that they would appreciate some restraint at times.

Gesture symbols for line work are round, solid or hollow dots that appear in the top right hand of the BP. The absence of any symbol indicates the use of drawing. (see Drawing. Pp. ) A solid dot indicates a calligraphic line is required.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 75


A hollow dot indicates a ruled line.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 76



Gesture symbols for planes appear at the lower left of the BP. The absence of any symbol indicates the plane should be ‘drawn’. In other words, relatively controlled use of relevant manipulative tool can be used to create texture. A solid dot indicates the use of expressionist techniques, (notably the chemical effects of paints to gain variety of texture, air brushing and passive rub back – see p ) It should be noted, however that structural elements created by chemical effects should be treated as subordinate to the thematic structure set down by the composer. But this is an area that should be left to the discretion and sensitivity of the performer.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 77




Indicating Expressive Plane Work allows the paintist a great deal of licence. Not only can the surface of the plane be manipulated at will or left to chance. A liberal degree of understatement or overstatement is also permitted, provided that the division of plane by unreal lines does not fight the thematic structure of the composition.

A hollow dot indicates a perfectly flat area of colour is required (as in hard edge abstract painting) eg.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 78




If the composer wishes the paintist to give a specific directional stress to either line or plane work, a double pointed arrow is placed on the upper definition line just to the left of the BP diagram, in the direction the stress should be made.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 79


There is no reason why this kind of directional stress could not be added to a performance as part of the paintist’s interpretation when not specifically indicated on the score.



Until now, I have not mentioned the hallowed company to all previous theoretical works on visual structure: the point. The point, because of its conceptual rather than actual existence is very important to the score. Reference points are just about the most important symbols


used within the BP diagram. They convey the position of lines or planes to be made in relation to the circumscribed form of the BP, the horizon line and the axis of vision.

There are several kinds of ‘Looking Points’. They are constructed around the basic abstraction of an eye. The point itself is naturally called an ‘Iris’ and represents the precise point the composer desires the paintist to begin the work. The point is partially surrounded by a ‘Lid’ that is placed on the opposite side from which the act of making is to proceed. The lid distinguishes the iris from any accidental marks on the score and gives a guide to the extent the paintist should use their observational powers during the act of painting.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 80


Look in relation to the whole BP


Look in relation to the immediate Zone only.


Look and ignore everything already on the BP.


A hollow iris is used only if the point happens to occupy the axis of vision exactly


There are also looking points for inaction. These are placed at the lower right of the BP.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 81


Pause and look (rest).Place number of minutes rest between points (optional)


End of the score (cease performance and become an observer for a while).

The number of irises per lid can be greater than one but that is best left explained after Direction and Time signatures (see pp.


These are basically arrows which are used in conjunction with looking points when a theme is stated to show which direction from.


  1. Notation

Take in Fig 82


the point the act of painting should proceed. One always starts from a looking point and goes in the direction indicated by the direction symbol. This saves indicating a looking point for every time a theme is repeated, which would make the score unnecessarily complex and hard to read. Of course, there is nothing to stop the composer from doing so, particularly if there are very few repeats of the theme required. eg.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 83


In this case the looking point is placed at the beginning of each theme. The composer might mark the position of each individual theme if required the paintist to distort the theme with an appropriate direction symbol.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 84


This technique has the capacity to create some very complex rhythms,

A looking point can be stated at the end of a direction symbol if a precise end to the theme repeats, is required. If there is no terminal looking point, it is up to the discretion of the paintist.

The gradation of theme scale during extension can also be controlled by specialised direction symbols.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 85




In the case of plane work, the direction symbol becomes a mobile definition line or MDL. as opposed to the fixed definition lines that make up the staff. The MDLs used in conjunction with looking points determine the shape of any required in the composition. The one-sided head of the arrow used to indicate direction now determines which side of the MDL you are to perform on.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 86


MDLs can also be used in line work.(see pp. )

There may be too few extensions to warrant MDLs, as in the case of a single row of themes drawn diagonally across the BP:

eg Notation

Take in Fig 87


In this case, the width of the lid will determine the maximum width the theme can be performed. The length of the theme is then judged by the proportions stated in the theme section.



In the early development of the NEA language, the Time signature was used to give the performers a kinetic rhythm to pace their gesture. The paintist literally strokes the brush to a set rhythm. (see pp. Reality of Performance. ) Later on, as the language grew more sophisticated the use of the time signature was used to regulate the actual number of times the theme is repeated on the BP during the process of Thematic Orchestration.


The time signature is placed on the horizon line to the right of the BP. A time signature of 4/4 for instance, would require an extension four times along the line stated by the direction symbol, and four times across, making a total of sixteen individual themes.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 88


The act of painting these themes, particularly the order in which they are painted, is determined by the use of looking points and direction symbols. Performance of the themes could start at the top or the bottom, but each line of themes must be worked in the direction given by the direction symbol away from the looking point.

Themes may be required to be extended at an angle, the top number refers to the number of theme repeats (in the direction) given by the direction symbol; the bottom number refers to the number of theme repeats to be performed at right angles to the direction symbols.



There is rhythm in all visual art: the rhythm of objects oscillating or repeating any other form of kinetic movement, and the rhythm of repeated objects.

There is also gestural rhythm in the act of painting as mentioned before, and this rhythm plays a vital role in determining the character of the brush strokes generally.

NEA performance is executed in a rhythm which may or may not be the same as the directional signature. If it is the same, no rhythm signature is indicated; if it is different the rhythm signature is placed to the left of the motif in question. As one paints, one literally thinks the rhythm; for example: one, two three, one, two, three. etc. and the kinetic formation of your strokes are dictated by this method. The result is a composition in which the stylistic traits of the performer have been regulated in a uniform and thus consistent manner, adding to the strength of the composition. This rhythm is used in drawing, calligraphy and in the painting of planes (in this last example, rhythm is used to regulate the texture in a co-ordinated fashion.)

In the future, composers looking for extra subtlety, may even with to give a general indication of the velocity of the brush strokes, which also plays an important part in determining brush stroke character. Performing the Set fast will obviously change the appearance of the composition dramatically. This is an extremely beneficial way to paint NEA Sets because it reduces the time involved in performance considerably and actively promotes the feeling of spontaneity in an artefact which is so indicative of live performance. This skill takes time to master, however, because regular rhythms can put the brain to sleep, which is precisely the opposite to what the paintists must do if they are to respond to the score intelligently and to retain vigilance towards what is happening on the

The very nature of thematic orchestration is that the BP is treated in a diverse manner. Most themes will be extended within the bounds of a Zone as marked by MDLs. In line work, if a theme is to be performed in a specific Zone, the division of the basic plane is shown with the use of mobile definition lines.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 89


In this case hooks on the MDLs are not used because any symbols within the Zone will make the side to be performed obvious and so as not to confuse plane work MDLs with any line MDLs within the Zone

Themes must be performed as large as possible, given the confines of the area stated to be performed and the number of individual theme repeats as determined by the time signature. It is


through the combination of Zone regulation and time signature that the scale in which the these repeats is determined.

The Zone defined by the MDLs is the only area that should be performed in, regardless of the iris positions, time signatures or required scale of theme. Any part of the symbolism outside the MDLs should be performed in your mind. This enables portions of themes to appear as if they were peering through a hole in a wall, which is a useful effect at times.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 90


If few actual repeats of a theme are indicated by the time signature for example; 1/4 1/2 1/6 etc. the composer can use a looking point for each repeat. This allows the composer to place each theme repeat exactly in the inner plane indicated, and not worry about the strict sequential nature of extending themes. It also allows for the grotesque performance of themes.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 91


If during thematic line work, a time signature were given that did not correlate with the irises and the MDLs within the act of painting the time signature is given only to indicate kinetic rhythm in gesture.


If the number instead of the scale of the themes is required to increase, MDLs are used in the BP diagram as usual. In order to set the scale of the theme relative to the Zone to be performed, a hollow square or rectangle of the appropriate size is placed within the Zone. The scale of the staff and all symbols and diagrams should be enlarged in order to give greater accuracy to the indication of theme scale.

Instead of a time signature, the total number of repeats is placed immediately to the right of the BP and just above the Horizon line.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 92


Looking points and direction symbols can be given within the Zone to give general information as to the direction of repetition. In an irregular Zone their is still no lee-way to change theme scale in this procedure, so each theme must be fitted into the Zone without keeping to strict rows of themes.

In addition, if you have to begin with a large number of themes and work down to a smaller number, it may not be practical for the composer to mark in so many looking points. In the case an extended lid is placed around two irises at each end of starting ‘line’ for the theme

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 93




Structural ‘restatement’ is-additional line or plane work that either conforms to, or opposes structural elements of the composition already performed. All ‘over painting’ is restatement, and often the evolution of a composition may largely comprise a gradual build-up of successive restatements during the performance.

Plane restatement that complements or destroys existing line work is fairly simple to visualise apart from the intricacies of various techniques. It should be noted that the techniques involved in both line and plane restatement don’t necessarily have to be used as restatement. The restatement of line work is a very exacting activity that can never be taken for granted.

The restatement symbol must be observed with line work because to mistake it for normal line work would involve the introduction of new line work instead of the restatement of exacting structure. This would utterly destroy the composer’s structural intent and the performance work would collapse beyond redemption.


The restatement symbol for plane work is a hollow square that is placed on the Horizon line to the of the relevant BP.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 95



During restatement, the relationship between Zones and forms becomes very important. New forms can be effectively created by glazing over or obliterating selected line work completely. On the other hand, quite different effects can be obtained by redefining a form by restating its component shapes. This can also give the simultaneous opportunity to redraw existing lines in a negative mode. (see negative drawing pp. )



To facilitate the kind of effects just described, many various techniques of plane work can be indicated in conjunction with the restatement symbol.

There are four types of plane work, each named after their symbol:

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 96


Pi plane work involves the preservation of all line work within the form to be performed. The plane work is extended right up to the line and can even cut into the lines where negative drawing of line work is desired by the performer.

Pi plane work generally creates a more placid overall effect, subjectively akin to legato in music (if the plane work is reasonably complementary in colour in relation to the line work).

X plane work involves not only preserving the line work within the form to be performed; but also requires the paintist to leave a gap between the plane work and the line work; much in the same way as the paintist would be compelled to do if the line work to be preserved was exactly the same colour as the plane work. This creates a series


of ‘colour chorded lines’ (lines that are composed of more than one colour ie. welded lines made of different colours, see Line Colour Chording, pp ). Naturally, the edges of all shapes involved can be drawn as described by the paintist.

X plane work tends to exemplify the structural contrast between shapes and lines creating extremely sharp and above all ‘busy’ images that could be subjectively compared to ‘staccato’ in music.

# Numbers plane work is simply the arbitrary destruction of all line work within the form to be performed. The effects of this destruction can be lessened by indicating a transparent instrument, ie. glazing (see pp. ) If more than one kind of theme occurs in an inner plane to be restated, indicate the specific theme once more in the theme section)and glaze over or obliterate the rest according to the score.

Diamond plane work is a combination of both line and plane work and because of the complexity of its notation, shall be described after the next section. (see pp.


If the composer desires a number of shapes to be performed within the form stated for performance, this number will be indicated directly by placing the relevant number of solid squares within the Zone.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 97



Exactly what constitutes a shape is up to the performer. In some areas where there are a great many small shapes, paintists can use their discretion as to whether they follow to the letter the proportion given or count the performance of small forms situated close together as one shape.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 98

Performance (Thick line indicates possible ‘Shape’)



Sometimes the nature of thematic orchestration does not allow you to judge exactly how many shapes are going to be performed and one must resort to a proportional system.

In the case of preserving line work, the inner planes within the form defined do not have to be performed with the same instrument If an evenly-distributed variation in two or more performance instruments is required, the performance technique of SOPO can be employed.

In SOPO, the paintist performs a set proportion of the inner plane in one performance instrument, but does not let the same instrument occur in two adjacent planes. Where this cannot be avoided, let understatement come to the rescue.

To vary the proportion of single planes to be performed, place a diagram showing the proportion of inner planes to be performed in the section. This diagram can mirror the form in the BP diagram exactly.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 99


Or it can be a simple diagram as shown below.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 100



SOPO can be thematically targeted or targeted to every line within the Zone indicated in the BP diagram. It is very important to note that if SOPO is targeted to all lines, this can include any lines created by previous expressive plane work. This option is subject to the discretion of the paintist and is extremely useful when the thematic structure is relatively bleak in detail, but it should always be done in sympathy to the score.


Again it is up to the performer as to what actually constitutes a shape. (see pp. )

If the proportion marked out in the symbol is solid, then the shapes (and/or small forms) performed should be evenly dispersed throughout the entire form to be performed.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 101


If the proportion is indicated with a micro grid, then the shapes and/or small forms are to be performed in clusters.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 102


If the proportion is indicated with diagonal shading, then all of the shapes and/or small forms are to be performed in one cluster.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 103




If the performers are drawing a series of lines that are particularly thick and aggressive there is often the possibility that some detailed structure from previous smaller scale line work will be destroyed. Often this destruction takes the form of fusing smaller lines together in an arbitrary combination of line and plane work.

Composers can encourage this by indicating thick plane work but they cannot forbid it as drawing lines thick can be part of the performer’s interpretation of the score.


On the other hand I think that insensitivity towards the score, though it might produce an interesting result does negate the work of the composer and the spirit of the NEA form.

There is, however, provision in the language for the composer to indicate the deliberate use of a combination of plane and line work called Diamond plane work.

Diamond plane work is not strictly plane work. This symbol is utilised during the drawing of line work and permits adjacent line work of identical theme and instrument to be transformed into planes as desired by the paintist. This allows for extra variation in the composition generally)and permits a combination of line and plane work to occur in the one Turn. These planes are defined by the configuration of their parent lines (calligraphic, or drawn) or a combination of both.) Foreign lines (not connected with the instructions of the current Turn) that are present in the form and which cannot be avoided, can be treated as planes in the X or Pi mode and negatively drawn but cannot be destroyed.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 104


If the proportion of line to plane work is to be regulated, use the symbols and grammar described for SOPO with the proportion of planes being the marked quantity. (see pp. )

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 105



As I said from the outset, all of the above methods of treating planes need not be restatements at all, and can be used on virgin areas of the BP (in which case without the restatement symbol) but the same cannot be said for line work restatement. The procedures outlined for line restatement above must not be used during the introduction of new thematic structure.


If the composer desires to place only a certain number of planes within an inner plane, the technique of Shape targeting can be used In terms of grammar it is very difficult to tell shape targeting from the restatement of lines since a theme or a special guide (explained below) will be present in the theme section. It is, therefore, impractical to pursue any further explanation of shape targeting until the various forms of line restatement have been explained in full. (See p )



Line colour chording, (LC chording), is an advanced group of techniques designed to add depth, subtlety, and strength to thematic structure.

Chording the colour of a line painted in a single colour into a composite line composed of two or more colours is the game. These colours can produce a poly-chrome harmony or dissonance depending on the group of colours chosen by the composer (see p. ).

LC chording was designed as a single performance instrument method of building up single pigment colours within thematic structure, to make possible a gradual crescendo of colour diversity over many Turns. (But there is nothing to stop this technique being over used in combination with composite performance instruments if the composer so depsides.) This process of building up can be continued


Diamond plus ◊ + x

  1. Notation

Take in Fig

Performance (includes π plane work in association with x)

x + π =


at the composer’s discretion to the point where the lines grow into composite planes rather like a layer cake. These ‘layer cakes’ are in effect mini-compositions in their own right, built up in relation to themselves as well as the composition as a whole.

The symbols used to indicate LC chording relate to which lines are ‘targeted’ for chording, the proportion of those lines to be targeted and to a certain extent how they will be treated.

There are three pairs of decisions associated with LC chording, producing a total of eight different methods: –

Free or Controlled LC chording

Aggressive or Passive LC chording

Thematic or Line Targeted LC chording

I shall first explain these techniques and their use, then list the various combinations of them. (see pp. ). In plane restatement, a restatement square appears at the top left of the BP diagram. What initially distinguishes LC chording from plane restatement is the theme or grid (all line work) stated in the theme section. This is the first thing to look for in distinguishing the two techniques.

LC chording is either thematically targeted or line targeted. The target is exactly where on the BP you are going to find the lines you have to chord.

In the restatement of lines obviously the material to be restate is already on the BP, however, the process of overlapping-(which is the basis of all thematic compositions), will often make it difficult to find the lines you are about to chord. Simple MDLs and looking points are not enough and so a separate system called ‘targeting’ had to be developed.

Targeting is basically a systematised observation technique guided towards analysing thematic form. There are two main types of targeting. The first is Thematic targeting in which the paintist looks for a specific type of theme and chords only the lines of that theme (wherever it occurs in the form to be performed).


Thematic targeting produces LC chording which strengthens the presence of specific themes, possibly adding contrast or making sure a specific colour is only associated with a certain theme.

The second type is called line targeting, where all lines, regard of theme are treated as potential targets for LC chording if they occur within the form to be performed. Line targeting produces LC chording which tends to bind different themes together, creating a more generalised strengthening effect with less tension.

If the LC chording is to be thematically targeted, the target theme is stated thus on the score.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 106


An identical theme performed with a different instrument during another Turn is regarded as a different theme. To distinguish which is the correct target, place a small version of the relevant colour symbol underneath the target theme. In some instances, an identical theme using the same instrument can be super-imposed in separate Turns. In controlled LC chording this presents a problem, for it doubles the potential themes to be targeted. Instead of following the directions literally, the paintist should carefully observe forms made by the composite themes, and treat each form that roughly corresponds to the original theme, as the target theme. (See Phrasing pp )

  1. One Theme

Take in Fig 107

Two Identical Themes (Extended)

Obviously the paintist should avoid lines that are of the wrong theme and/or colour.


When all lines regardless of the theme are to be fair game for LC chording, a square grid should be placed in the theme section instead.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 108


In the case of line targeting, one can either target a specific colour of line by placing the appropriate colour symbols under the grid, or all lines can be left as fair game



In normal plane restatement, the restatement square is invariably hollow. In restatement of line work, however, there are two basic techniques of treating the target line or theme. As a consequence, there are two kinds of restatement squares to denote them.

Passive LC Chording – indicated by a hollow restatement square.

Create a line chord by placing a line NEXT to the target line without leaving a gap between them or, more importantly, without significantly cutting into the target line. All previous chords should be preserved in the same manner, but any existing plane work can be partially destroyed, (see defacto shapes, pp )

  1. Take in Fig 109

Plane work

Original line work to be chorded

Previous chording

New Chording

Aggressive LC Chording – If the restatement symbol is a solid square then most of the chords will be performed or cut into the existing line and will not add width unless desired occasionally by the paintist, (see defacto shapes, pp ) In performing on existing work the paintist makes a suggested form or creates a new form.


  1. Original Line

Take in Fig 110

Line Aggressively Chorded

In the interests of maximising the scope of creative invention, the language does not dictate the course of action absolutely but merely indicates how the majority of chords should be performed in a specific Turn.



In free LC chording, exactly what proportion of lines are target in a theme (or a form in the case of line targeting) is left to the discretion of the paintist.

In controlled LC chording, the number of lines within a theme or form to be chorded is regulated by placing the required number of solid squares within the act of painting in the Zone to be performed eg. If three lines per theme are to be placed within the Zone

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 111


An important area of interpretation for the paintist, is the calculation of how many lines are to be chorded within each theme. It could be a single phrase of a line)defined by two intersecting lines. (See Phrasing pp. )

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 112




There are three pairs of alternative acts in LC chording which make up a total of eight different techniques.

1 Free or Controlled LC chording which related to the extent of LC chording used on the BP.


  1. Aggressive and Passive LC chording which is related to the treatment of target lines whether they are within a theme or a form.

3 Thematic or Line targeted LC chording which is related to the type of linear configuration the paintist is looking for within the BP, in order to chord its component lines.

The eight techniques that are derived from these alternative acts are listed below.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 113




Existing plane work can be partially destroyed in LC chording learning in mind that to destroy it completely and paint the entire plane so that it meets all other lines is not line work but plane work which should be avoided as this is not what the composer has indicated through the score.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 114


This rule can be stretched if desired so that the line chording creates a ‘shape’ and effectively turns the under-lying plane work into a negative line. This plane is a defacto shape.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 110


Previous plane work.

Wide line – defacto shape.

This is one of the options of interpretation facing the paintist when confronting LC chording that must not cut into the line to be chorded however, it should be used sparingly. Any small scale forms immediate associated with any form of LC chording can be treated as desired by the performer.



Shape targeting is a controlled form of plane work that is either Line or Thematically targeted. The techniques and grammar of shape targeting are virtually identical to LC chording and so need no further explanation.

The only indication that shapes are required and not lines, is a special symbol that appears below the theme or grid. It can appear above the theme if the space below is occupied by a colour symbol. The symbol is derived from the black and white indicators and the grey link and works along the some principles. A rectangle representing plane work and called the shape indicator is placed to the


left. A small horizontal line representing line work and called the line indicator is placed to the right and linked together.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 116




This shape targeting symbol, by its very nature, allows the composer to indicate a combination of lines and shapes. The proportion of lines to shapes is determined, as in the colour system, by the placement of each indicator within the link.


Take in Fig 117

All shapes –

Half shapes half lines –

Nearly all lines –

Only the complete omission of this symbol means lines only. Ie LC Chording.



This a thematically-targeted technique. The proportional symbol is placed to the left of the theme or grid.

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 118


In the case where themes are not indicated (line targeting) the paintist should target forms that are of a similar scale to the themes used, and skip and perform themes according to the SOPO symbols.



As far as the score goes, improvisation is basically a matter of whatever is deliberately omitted gets improvised. To ensure


the paintist knows that the omission to the score is intentional and not a printing error, a double lined cross is placed on the score wherever an omission occurs (except in the colour section, see below)

  1. Notation

Take in Fig 119


The cross is variable in size so that it corresponds to the size of the symbols omitted.

For improvisation in colour, see first kind of composite performance instrument ( pp )



Improvisation in the act of painting: place cross in the form to be performed within the BP diagram. Improvisation can be thematically targeted by stating the theme and indicating restatement. (see above) Can also be combined with other types of line and plane restatement. To improvise on plane work leave theme section blank as usual and place the cross in the form to be performed within the BP diagram.


THE PACING MARK. (Optional for large performances)

These symbols are used occasionally by the composer to manipulate the nature of the performance or to solve logistic difficulties in a ‘badly / balanced’ score. It is intended, however, that this symbol will be pencilled in by the individual performance group to suit their techniques, abilities, and their overall presentation; to test each other’s endurance or stagger the work load, so no individual becomes exhausted. This can be done in a ‘hands on’ performance by each paintist alternatively setting the pace whilst another takes a small break and possibly takes up a discussion with the audience.

Whoever is setting the pace should not be disturbed, and could


carry a sign of some kind to this effect.

It is always likely that unforseen incidents during the performance could alter any pre-organised arrangement and it will be necessary for the Turn Master or Director to communicate suitable adjustments on the spot. Whoever is setting the pace must complete the Turn and everyone else must attempt to complete their Turns, but must leave them unfinished if their time runs out.

On the paintist’s score the pacing marks may be used casually, where the score is unusually unbalanced or they may only appear on the Turn Master’s score, who would call the Turn then the pace setter as indicated is seen to have finished. This maybe kept secret in certain performances depending on the humour of all participating.

The pacing mark is put in place of the standard orientation mark on the BP diagram.


Take in Fig 120

Ordinary orientation mark, no pace indicated.

You, (the paintist) are setting the pace you must go as fast as possible or desired. (subject to intention of Director).

You, (the paintist) are setting the pace, and you must take you time.

Whoever is working on BP number three is setting the pace.

Whoever is working on BP number three is setting a slow pace, you must work as fast as possible in order to finish your Turn or leave it incomplete.

This last symbol is only used when the pacer has relatively little to do and the others have a lot!



I threw myself during the Christmas break, into the task of contributing new compositions that reflected advancement in my understanding of the tonality of colour and complex colour mixing. To form this link was becoming urgent in order for me to maintain a creative interest in New Epoch Art. The jazz paintings created through the year had made significant advancements in the complexity of our use of shape and colour, and had left behind to some degree the few scores still active with the exception of ‘life in the Garden’, which continued to be interpreted in surprising ways.

Philip, Baden and I attempted one group composition at this time, a score written simultaneously to an improvised studio performance in the workshop. For this venture we employed a greater emphasis on glazing, fading from dark to light, and targeted plane work that caused the pictures surface to swell with vibrant activity masked in colour and augmented by a complete avoidance of geometric form. These works were different to the visual jazz coordinated chaos that had been emerging for some months, in which brush marks seemed to pile up on each other, themes strengthened and sometimes lost in the web of gesture. Having the language, and its disciplined cohesive syntax in mind changed the decisions we were making, all be it in a subtle fashion. Being used to a more conservative approach to structure in our formal scored sets, the images like a landscape of storms and weather garnished in the fizzle of extreme temperatures were discarded as being an interesting experiment, not quite successful. We were still very much burdened with the fear of losing our selves to the expression of the moment, forgetting the unique manner in which the notation may capture it and transcend its butterfly life with a noble longevity. I look at these pictures now as most effectively catching our running speed, our changing through light and dark, failure to triumph and later I coined the title ‘Red River’ in recognition of the passions that forged Extended Vision and our artistic cohesion.


‘The Tempest’ was a more disciplined attempt to create a performance ready set, again written in unison to its formative performance as was the custom at that time. Again the scale of these initial studies created a bias or predisposition to those proportions. An artist’s sense of scale is always linked to a medium in this way, as a title seemed for me to frame the intended finishing point and overall concept. It is the rhythm and flow of the paintings progression that is so critical to a successful performance.


“The Tempest”


Following on from the ‘Summer Blaze’ composition of the previous year, ‘Transitions No.1’ shows a composition type focused more on the evolution of the paintings than a series of acts leading to a finished work. This makes seeing the performance in all its stages of equal importance to its conclusion and the memory can live on to enrich the viewing experience of the end result. This idea was brought to the fore during public performances, where you were constantly aware of being judged by the audience and having to justify the appearance of the paintings at every stage of their development. The most radical expression of this idea was the ‘Hidden Imagination’ score that I wrote born out of a conversation with Baden. On the final turn the paintings are completely obscured by white, nothing remaining except the memory of the performance.




“Transitions No.1”


“Hidden Imagination” – Single plain composition returning to white on last turn.

In composing ‘the tempest’ and ‘Transitions’ I found that the language was not equipped to handle these new instructions for colour mixing, and this became a new source of tension within the group. Deciphering the rough draft scores like bad shorthand, was difficult enough without the feeling that I had broken some unspoken rule, and intruded on the domain of ownership. The New Epoch Art colour system represents a significant shift in the way we perceive the relationship between hues. It was born out of a life-long study by my father into the nature of colour, its associated theories and his own practice in both his trade and his art. While traditional theories have seen colour as a continuous gradated phenomena, the NEA colour language treats colour as seven totally separate primary ‘instruments’: red, yellow, green, blue, brown, black and white. My father asserted that every mix of pigment reduces its strength and should be avoided. Philip held firm on this position, while I advocated the subtleties achieved through mixing pigments were an essential part of the artist’s intuitive language. I did not understand why any limitations needed to be placed on the way a composer can manipulate ‘instruments’. The need for information such as when to preserve a prepared colour for the purpose of mixing later in a performance for me exposed considerable deficiencies in the existing notations capacity, a position that Philip instinctively recoiled from in the belief that it undermined his work, and violated the teachings of our father. At our ‘Art Around Town’ workshop and exhibition at a vacant shop front in Temple Court in January 1993, we rehearsed ‘The Tempest’ and Transitions N0.1’, both scores which were beyond the parameters of the language at that time.





Relations reached a new low on the first morning at Temple Court, and as tempers flared it became clear to me that this phase for ‘Extended Vision’ was coming to a conclusion, despite Baden’s enthusiasm to continue working. We had forgotten the keys to the shop, so it was charged to me to find someone in the office block who could help out. The elevator was larger than necessary, its buttons still gleaming from factory polish. It opened on to a grey corridor lined with easy clean carpets the texture of a clothes brush. This lead toward a world so foreign to me that I almost felt I needed a map and an English to office translator to proceed with confidence. There was a slight absurdity in my presence, and my reflection in tinted glass and burnished silver could have been any hobo out of time. A secretary quizzed me with a vague disregard. She was young, only a year or so my senior, and pretty in an air brushed magazine sought of way. She was dressed with a crisp clean style and with a walk that owned the carpet and the walls that were conspicuous in their lack of adornment. Her reflection in the high sheen was all that was necessary to complete the picture. Those few minutes away from the conflict waiting down stairs was enough to bring me to my senses. I didn’t want to be that person, fighting his brother. There was too much pain and it seemed so divorced from this other reality. We could hardly assemble the change for the parking metre through the day, our resources were low, our energy dissipated, and with just a dribble of passersby mostly from within those strange offices, the feeling of absurdity flourished into a full-blown melancholy trapped behind glass like a bizarre exhibit, my first taste of claustrophobia.

It was at this time that I began to feel that the language was too rigid, too restrictive to give rise to further innovation. The personal quagmire needed to find form in an intellectual argument. I remember feeling that we had put more energy into ‘the performance’ than we did composition, and I wanted to take it back to a more fluid state, and reinvestigate the motivation behind the symbols. Recapturing a spirit of experimentation was at odds with the public performance agenda of ‘Extended Vision’. Philip was justifiably protective of the language and adopted at times an authoritarian stance in its defence, frustrated by my needing to break the rules. There was not a specific moment that we made a decision to cease performances, it just occurred as a natural consequence of moving on with our lives. We remained locked down in our respective positions and for a long while Philip and I found even simple communication difficult, let alone complex negotiation.

What appealed to me was the experiment, failed or otherwise – keeping it in a state of evolution. This was akin to the assertion that art school was a place where you paint bad pictures; where you can make your failures free from the preciousness inherent in grasping for a success. The danger then is you end up recreating an elusive achievement, duplicating technique in a contrived fashion in pursuit of another favourable communication. Critical opinion only serves then to heighten ones self-consciousness of achieving worthiness. Painting is a private world, even when conducted amongst the challenges of a public place, where a clown may identify you as a target around which his whole act may be constructed.

A new score “Day After Day” contributed by Baden during the Christmas period of 1992 further illustrated the divergence in each of our approaches to painting, and seems to present more as a visual argument than harmonious collaboration, with the canvas predominantly worked on by Baden holding the melodic centre ground. This was an interesting composition holding much potential which did not get a chance to be reinterpreted repeatedly. The studio had a calmness this day, and shows Extended Vision at its peak working through new material and continuing to incorporate the “jazz” aesthetic into composed sets.




Extended Vision ventured forth once again to the Canterbury Jazz festival on the 28th of February 1993, with a new member Bernard Stahr taking centre stage in his first public participation. The performance got off to a less than ideal beginning, essential equipment having been forgotten and an extra journey home needing to be made to enable us to proceed. Tempers boiled over briefly before we settled in to a good days painting. The clouds were threatening on and off and eventually brought proceedings in a premature conclusion, but the event went some way toward restoring the enthusiasm and excitement of earlier performances. I fashioned a brush out of a fallen twig to make my themes appear more organic and scratchy, but reverted to a more traditional means after finding I was behind Baden and Bernard in getting through my turns.

The Canterbury Jazz Festival had been a staple of our public performance calendar and always seemed to lift our spirits as it was a happy occasion, and the audience was particularly accepting of our presence. It was a fitting venue to be our last public outing as “extended Vision” for many years to come, although we were by no means aware that this would be the case.

Philip continued to pursue the idea of establishing regular workshop sessions and Sporadic performances continued in the back garden at Canterbury through 1993. Philip was particularly interested in investigating the educational potential of the New Epoch language as so many of our participants in the community were of a younger age.  A number of these events were very successful and provided valuable knowledge in relation to how to adapt New Epoch Art to an Education setting. We talked about making this a career, a living and Philip espoused passionately the possibility that we should make this our future direction. I was not sure I wanted to pursue the path he was illuminating, and Baden was still very much wanting to push the public performance in a theatrical direction.


New Epoch Workshop Proposal – by Philip Graham

Maximum size of class 17. Duration: one day camp. Two meals will need to be provided. Ideal location for workshop is a shaded outdoor area or a large well lit hall. Workshop environment is passively exotic, providing a non threatening but profound distraction from emotional and interpersonal baggage of the participants. it is a low stress environment, where participants can establish their own pace. it is relentless, slow burning, interactive, egalitarian and cooperative. Workshop activities Unpacking and assembling of equipment (one hour) Learning a new language (Half hour) Painting and drawing with acrylic paint on stretched canvas. Sharing and cooperating with other participants in the creating of complex images on different canvases. (four to six hours) Clean up (half Hour) Pack up of equipment (Half Hour) Comparative analysis and discussion. (Half hour)

Strengths of New Epoch Action Painting

It allows anyone to paint a picture even if do not know how or ‘where’ to start. Children as young as 7 have anticipated the meaning and purpose of notation structure. Demands social interaction and thereby over rides student rivalry. All of the composition advantages of the literary and musical arts become available to the visual and plastic arts (arts involving the manipulation of physical materials). A child can learn enough to start painting like an adult in an hour. The child can complete a mature, fully resolved painting in a day. A student can absorb the empirical knowledge necessary for ongoing study in a day. Depending on the individual, public performance is feasible with a few months of regular work. Mastery takes a life time. Workshops structure will quietly demand the following from the participants: Full physical mobility and flexibility, physical and mental endurance, rapid acquisition of new skills in the field, s concentration over an extended period, Advanced colour recognition advanced hand-eye coordination intimate but mostly non-verbal cooperation and goodwill between participants over an extend period, Expected outcomes. Participants will be exposed to a challenging creative experience with a guaranteed positive outcome. They will come away exhausted and dazed, but with a profound sense of accomplishment and physical proof of that accomplishment.



The value of the public performances conducted by ‘Extended Vision’ cannot be underestimated, even though they probably are to date a pale representation of what a properly orchestrated performance could be like. There is no doubt that we always tried to assimilate the spirit of the moment, even if I sometimes found the performance to be at a distance – to be edited at a later date. In this case the idiosyncrasies presented themselves to me in snapshots or dazzling snatches of memory. I was soon left with a vague notion, a numb glow bearing witness to my participation. Now the real snapshots seem lifeless fragments, not at all correlating with my memory feelings. The deeper immersion was always hidden within the words passed out to onlookers. We were throwing ourselves out there making the parks and streets our studio exposing our considerable vulnerabilities; but with all the skin deep confidence that comes with youthful exuberance. We could feed off a positive reaction, be buoyed by enthusiastic banter, be amused by puzzlement and be clipped by disregard. My father once said that the worst thing that could happen to New Epoch Art was that it be ignored. Whether or not we achieved ‘success’ in our endeavours is then secondary to the fact that we were visible and noticed by many and our extensive archives bear witness to the fact.

It appears now that we caused many small explosions of interest, evident in wide-eyed participants, and those respectful of a new idea, with little to no outside help. We operated with limited resources stoked by our enthusiasm and commitment. We presented a uniquely inclusive art experience and although we never advocated a subversive stance against prevailing trends in the art avant guard, in effect we represented a substantial alternative. In the early 1990’s, Postmodernism in art had reached an impasse, and with the catalyst of the stock market crash of 1990, enthusiasm for the movement had evaporated rapidly around the world. The precepts of appropriation, simulation, parody and pastiche, were now widely viewed as synonymous with plagiarism and cynicism. In this vacuum, a new acceptance of street art has emerged, but once again, art as commodity has sabotaged its merit. An image intended for the exposed bricks below a billboard advertisement or railway overpass, divorced from that context and placed in an expensive frame in a prestigious gallery seems to lose its soul. The new heroes of ‘Street Art’, Banksy foremost among them, have now been taken up by galleries and collectors scrambling for a piece, but there is a growing discontent within the ranks of the street art community with the blatant disparity between this success and the spirit that gave life to the art form in the first instance. New Epoch Notation Painting in comparison adds a new tool to an artist’s stable. It is not meant as an attack or affront on other forms of visual art, or as a replacement for traditional modes. In the words of my father, it represents “an attempt to project into the future, to formalise ideas and concepts that will inspire future generations to express their thoughts and feelings about the wonderful, complex experience called life”. It can be provocative, it can be avant-garde, and it can be closely aligned to traditional forms of visual art, depending on the composer’s intent.

Street art has emerged in recent decades as a significant force in contemporary art expression. A movement defined by its embrace of hybridism rather than by its adherence to prescribed boundaries. The urban environment then becomes integrated in the conception, purpose and display of the art works – it becomes the new canvas. Museum and gallery art has become largely about preservation of the art object, as something to admire and value. Street art attacks this idea, born of a need for artists to engage with the emotions of the audience in a direct and powerful way, uncluttered by art theory and esoteric conceptual frameworks. It is this desire for accessibility that drives its conception. While street art is identified as being ephemeral with scant consideration for the durability and longevity of the piece, it still relies on the artefact to carry its message. New Epoch art can contain all these same ingredients. By becoming part of an environment by sheer force of proximity and through the raw experience of seeing the marks go on the canvas, it achieves an accessibility that goes beyond the understanding or appreciation of any single static art object. The art of Banksy at least on the surface seems to derive its strength from the post modern preoccupation with obtaining meaning through critique of the patterns of authority and mainstream values in the visual arts. Now some of the buildings he worked on are heritage protected forcing housing prices up in suburbs where traditional residents are no longer able to buy into their place of origin, replaced instead by the new chic. Extended Vision aimed to share the experience of creation in an honest and heart-felt manner with the score acting as a measure and as the subject, not in a clandestine fashion or as an act of defiance or rebellion. Yet its potential to break open the debate about what constitutes good art and bad art is unparalleled in the modern era. The performance fades away, the canvases re-primed, but the score remains ready to be interpreted, and re-assessed again and again. In this way New Epoch Art is truly timeless.








New Epoch Experience

Toward the end of my studies that year, I researched the Dada movement for a presentation for my tutorial group, which included a spirited rendition of a Kurt Schwitters ‘Sound poem’. I marvelled at the diverse nature of the events held at the Cabaret Voltaire, a Mecca for young artists in Zurich during the first world war, wishing to challenge the status quo and combine the exposition of new art with a political agenda. The Cabaret Voltaire proved to be pivotal in the propagation of those art ideas that served to challenge existing conventions. They presented themselves as a progressive zeitgeist as the world raged around them in murderous combat, featuring artists working across a diverse range, with an experimental spirit, many of whom went on to redefine the nature of their discipline. I envisioned our own happenings taking place, being uniquely inclusive events offering a smorgasbord of artistic enterprise and a holistic approach to art presentation. I had imagined the audience entering via a sonic web of ‘sound Extensions’ with strategic lighting inviting visual insights into a larger universe of invention.

I set about rallying Philip and Baden to the cause of emulating these ventures over the Christmas break. The idea was to facilitate a gathering of like minds and supporters, an ambition we had always sought to pursue, but in a more concentrated fashion under the banner of ‘A New Epoch Experience’, conducted on the 5th of December 1992. Our ambition flew us into action, picture rails with a rough bevel adorned the ‘Green room’ and the whole house was transformed into a suburban gallery for a time. No one could find fault with our energy and commitment, though our presentation was a far coo wee from polished and our exuberant ambition a malaise of the young. My rather difficult atonal audio experiments were eventually replaced by cool jazz, and the billed appearance of composer Sonny Chua replace by an apologetic absence. No such event would be complete without a manifesto, and the ceremony of its signing was then conducted by the light of the same orange lamp that had illuminated children’s skits beyond the French doors in a previous time. My main regret was not having the courage, or theatricality to launch into my own abstract poems assembled with random words cut from a newspaper.

We launched ourselves into a second large jazz canvas approaching the proportions of the Canterbury mural and taking its lead from that composition. This created a false wall between the kitchen and dining room. The Jazz painting was built around balancing diagonal tensions, which provided a structure upon which details clung like debris around a drain hole. The rhythmical, abstract composition continued to assert a Jackson Pollock influence, particularly the linear contours of his earlier totem paintings before the more overt architectural qualities of his work were replaced by the signature free-flowing ‘drip’ technique.

Philip’s contribution to the exhibition was a selection from his ‘yellow period’ paintings merging non objective exercises in thematic complexity with the emotive values belonging to the instrument yellow. These included a large canvas ‘Yellow Death’ which tried to resemble an imaginative idea of the form of a cancerous growth. It was aiming to depict a morbid subject using a colour traditionally perceived as bright and cheerful. This painting relates to a fine drawing of the same subject that had impressed me greatly which was worked on during the time immediately prior to our father’s passing. My display included one wall full of the garden pictures of the previous summer, and the other given to my ‘Soliloquy’ paintings that Philip dubbed naive figurative. Baden showed a number of canvases relating to his reversal art ideas that were the basis of his first one man show earlier in the year. When you look at a painting, all you see is the end result of a complex process. Reversal art involved the exploration of the whole visual experience of creating a work of art, from its beginning, to its end. With this in mind, Baden reversed the techniques of his painting in order to analyse that process. Of particular interest was his concept for a self-portrait, where the score allows characteristics of the performer to be incorporated, ensuring that the self portrait is always of the performer, rather than the composer.


“Bamboo” 1992 Oil on Canvas
"Gentle Night Rain 1991 Oil on canvas 160 x 100 cm
“Gentle Night Rain 1991 Oil on canvas 160 x 100 cm

We put together a second ‘Experience’ exhibition staged on February 13th 1993 buoyed by the reaction our first venture received. It was a smaller turn out which aided a truly interactive performance of “Life in the Garden”. We set up an easel in each main room of the house and completed single basic plain scores without shifting between turns. It was a good day resembling more a master class than a public performance.

We struggled to ignite the same enthusiasm for the exhibition in the following weeks, however I did manage to sell five works, ‘Bamboo’, a painting from my Garden series hung for the first ‘Experience’ exhibit, and four small drawings from a set that were based on a vivid dream sequence involving magical resistance fighters, strange transformations, courtship and romance. People in the dream had been transformed into colourful creatures, gardens into aggravated havens of ‘witchful’ danger, the sequence progressing rapidly and without clear explanation. Essential to the working of these images was keeping colour selection, and form creation, as spontaneous as the dream had been. At the conclusion of the exhibition, I swapped a small canvas ‘Forrest Glade’ for an electric guitar owned by Baden. This added another sound and texture to the recordings that followed, and coupled with a borrowed Dx9 Yamaha keyboard, I embarked on a new collection of musical experiments later titled ‘The Sculpture Garden’, initially intended as a sound track for a third “experience” exhibition, and achieving a more harmonious and ethereal quality.

“Forrest Glade” Oil on Canvas 1992
“Vision” 1992
“In the Gift Shop” 1992
“Somethings Happening to the Garden” 1992
"The Black Cat Princess" 1992
“The Black Cat Princess” 1992
"Tomorrow Never Knows" Oil on canvas 1992
“Tomorrow Never Knows” Oil on canvas 1992

We didn’t have huge crowds at these events, but we did have a core group who continued to support us by their reliable appearance, the most dedicated of these being Linton Mcfadzean. Linton represented a link to an earlier time, having been involved with a small set of recordings made of my father in 1978 talking in front of his retrospective exhibition at his Queensbury St Gallery. The small production company known as ‘Stringybark’ was headed by playwright Paul Davies and the grainy super 8 footage was intended as the beginning of a larger essay. Linton was a character wedded to the art opening, with a perennial wit caught between insight, irreverent fun and intoxication. Dark tragedies were hinted in his eyes and were temporarily resolved in the bustle of the party crowd. His arrival was always a welcome omen, as if festivities or commiserations could only then truly commence. I often wondered what part a frustrated artist had played in his making. His laughing voice seemed to uncover amusements in even the dowdiest of gatherings and greyest of weather. His unheard compositions and theories were in-turned and so forsaken in casual conversation sparkling with bubbly – the opulent music of the soul.