That afternoon, in the front room of the house, where the furniture was old but cared for, I looked for the first time for weeks at the typescript of the book I had tried to get started on in Victoria, the sequence about freedom and loss. I found it better than I had during the writing. I even saw the sentence where it had come alive – a sentence written out of concentration, from within the mood created by the words. That critical creative moment had been missed by me in
Victoria, perhaps because of my anxiety about what was to follow in the writing; and perhaps as well because of my anxiety about what was to follow . Victoria
Now, recognizing the validity of that good sentence, I surrendered to the pictures the words created, the other pictures they trailed. I summoned up again, and sank back into, the mood of
Africa, the mood out of which the sentence had been written. I heard – or created – snatches of dialogue from different stages of my story; this particular story in the sequence was full of dialogue. I made brief notes. And it was only when I came back from the mood or came out of the concentration that I understood how far away I had been.
-- V.S. Naipaul, in The Enigma of Arrival, 1987
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Thursday, December 6, 2007
This was an effort to draw ripples on a pool. I see it as a drawing even though it's in paint and in colour, because I was trying to work out the forms and shapes of the ripples (which were in constant movement). I have yet to find a satisfactory definition for drawing that includes this kind of situation, but I most certainly felt I was drawing with the brush while doing this little piece (oil on linen, about 7" x 5").
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Why not? No harm trying. One needs plenty of cheap paper such as newsprint, and a drawing tool such as charcoal that moves easily over the paper and leaves a good dark mark. The model performed a repetitive movement in one place, such as turning to one side and back, or sweeping (pretending to). After a while I put a sheet of tracing paper over the scribbled figure and continued to draw while the model continued to move.
It might seem daft. It’s hard to draw a thing when it’s still, let alone when it’s moving. But strangely enough, the results weren’t all that bad. Of course the drawings are only scribbles. I wasn’t looking for perfection, just an idea of what the person was doing. On the positive side, the fact that the model was moving made me freer and braver and less finicky about detail. I ended up with quite a few ideas from a series of drawings of this kind.
And it sort of broke a spell. Since this series I’ve been trying many more moving things, such as ripples on water and animals at the zoo. It doesn't matter if they turn out a mess, just one good scribble in a batch is enough to make me happy.
Monday, December 3, 2007
How do I know something is the best I can do? This might sound like an excuse, but it’s not – everything can’t be “best”.
But that’s not what I meant to say. What I was thinking is . . . when I start to do something, it has a better chance if my intention is simple and clear. Not a great vague thing like “best I can do” (though that too, in a corner of my mind), but something much less ambitious. In a still life it might be . . . correct observation. The act of correct observation. When the going gets rough if I can remember to run this through my mind it nearly always helps.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
"In the midst of this desert, we artists' job is not to discuss the war, nor waste time by gossiping and foment uneasiness among our residents. But our utmost effort should be given to develop culture and soften the people's hearts which somehow seem to have a tendency to harden under the circumstances.Matsusaburo Hibi, in Beyond Words: Images from America's Concentration Camps. From an exhibition at the Smithsonian Institution
Existence of an art schools is now more necessary and essential than ever before, especially in such a place as Topaz, where it is like a lone beautiful flower with a sweet fragrance in bloom....It is not for the mere existence of teaching technique, but also to foster infinite inspirations, emotions, and peaceful thoughts in the people, young and old."
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
660:Leonardo da Vinci (1452--1519), from his Notebooks, available free from Project Gutenberg.
That painting declines and deteriorates from age to age, when painters have no other standard than painting already done.
Hence the painter will produce pictures of small merit if he takes for his standard the pictures of others. But if he will study from natural objects he will bear good fruit; as was seen in the painters after the Romans who always imitated each other and so their art constantly declined from age to age. After these came Giotto the Florentine who--not content with imitating the works of Cimabue his master--being born in the mountains and in a solitude inhabited only by goats and such beasts, and being guided by nature to his art, began by drawing on the rocks the movements of the goats of which he was keeper. And thus he began to draw all the animals which were to be found in the country, and in such wise that after much study he excelled not only all the masters of his time but all those of many bygone ages. Afterwards this art declined again, because everyone imitated the pictures that were already done; thus it went on from century to century until Tomaso, of Florence, nicknamed Masaccio, showed by his perfect works how those who take for their standard any one but nature--the mistress of all masters--weary themselves in vain.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Saturday, May 5, 2007
Friday, May 4, 2007
Tuesday, April 3, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
41 × 33 cm. National Gallery of Art, washington DC
This piece is one of his rare paintings. It shows a young artist asking advice of an older one. I love how Daumier has managed to make the youth so callow, and how he has created a relationship of deference vs experience between the two men with a minimum of means. And I also love the way the feet of both figures are flat on the ground.
Image from Wikimedia
More Daumier images from Wikimedia
Saturday, March 10, 2007
"I want to find out whether or not I'm looking at a good picture and just what is good about this particular work. I don't want to examine the common feature of a series of works or the difference between two series of works -- no such pursuit of history for me -- but to consider the individual act in itself, and were it only a single work that had the luck to become good, as recently happened with two or three of my 'paintings.'
For the fact of my not painting good pictures with a certain measure of regularity results precisely from my imperfect knowledge of what makes a good individual work."
Monday, February 19, 2007
I decided to post two images today because I'm expecting to be busy for the next few weeks. The bottom of this one is cut off, it didn't quite fit on the scanner. It's based on a drawing of a heron and a gull on an estuary in West Cork, Ireland, and except for the birds it's imaginary. In fact it was done before my last show but it was so different from the rest of that work that I kept it back, and now it's all on its own, a strange and lonesome little piece. Maybe I'll do another to keep it company.
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Thursday, February 1, 2007
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Saturday, January 20, 2007
Monday, January 15, 2007
This photo of an electric company worker and the previous two photos (one of a car repair shop and one of lifeguards) have a common theme of "Men at work", which is not entirely accidental. The theme reminds me of a secondary school art exam more than 40 years ago. Students were required to make a painting, on terrible paper and with terrible paints, on this very theme. I don’t believe any of the students had ever done a figure drawing from life. Whatever art teaching we had may have done no harm but I don’t think it did much good either. In fact I don’t remember being taught anything at all, though I could be wrong on that point. In my memory, art classes were for daubing around with no very clear purpose, though I remember liking art a good deal. So how would a class of 16-year-olds, with no knowledge, no facts, no experience, have tackled the theme of "Men at work" out of their heads? I know my own effort was pathetic. I did a variation of a picture that the teacher had praised in the past, containing a dramatic rearing horse. The trouble was, its relation to the theme of "Men at work" was tenuous at best.
Art was a Cinderella subject in my school at that time. The other subjects were fine. We even got to blow glass in the Physics lab. I often wonder about art teaching now, especially in secondary school. How does it differ from the bad old days?
Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Read the whole article
Kitsch (from German, pretentious trash, kitschen, to smear, verkitschen, to make cheaply, to cheapen).
“Kitsch” has sometimes been used (for example, by Harold Rosenberg) to refer to virtually any form of popular art or entertainment, especially when sentimental. But though much popular art is cheap and crude, it is at least direct and unpretentious. On the other hand, a persistent theme in the history of the usage of “kitsch,” going back to the word’s mid-European origins, is pretentiousness, especially in reference to objects that ape whatever is conventionally viewed as high art. As Arnold Hauser has remarked, kitsch differs from merely popular forms in its insistence on being taken seriously as art. Kitsch can thus be defined as a kind of pseudo-art which has an essential attribute of borrowing or parasitism, and whose essential function is to flatter, soothe, and reassure its viewer and consumer.