"There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion" Francis Bacon 1561-1626

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Some Thoughts After Scotland

Almost back to regular work after a couple of short breaks. One in Scotland…wonderful. If you are thinking of a gorgeous tranquil place for a few days try Seafield Farm Cottages. Just the most beautiful place even in the rain.

seafield s

Two days there then a few days driving up the West Coast which was a first for us, finishing in fabulous Glasgow.

I have had many thoughts since I returned and cannot help but compare the vibrant “makers” scene that I found there with the dreary lack of anything so interesting around here. I think this area has the problem of being too near and yet too far from centres of excellence and innovation.

As we travelled around we found many small producers of art, craft, food and drink. Excellent dedicated makers, not the vanity dabblers who assemble bits of things that others have created or do a step by step painting and call it their own. 
There is an interesting piece in Robert Genn’s last newsletter about the Dunning/Kruger Effect which “showed that unskilled individuals tended to rate their competence higher than average”.
It is a piece I would like to set in front of many artists I come across. But I think their level of self delusion would make them blind to its point.

Question everything…..

I subscribe to many online magazines from both ends of the “art”world and on the one hand I am depressed by the flimsy premise of most conceptual work and equally dismayed by the rising tide of dull if highly skilled renderings of lifeless fruit, cute children, and formula watercolours and oils. I struggle more and more to find work I really admire.
This is perhaps the result of years of questioning everything and not really coming up with any answers. My main guiding principal in life after all is “Nullius in verba”. 

……but carry on.

Applying all this to my own work sometimes brings me to a complete standstill. But making stuff, drawing and painting is an itch which has to be scratched and refuses to go away and I have to continue on this endlessly frustrating journey.
Every time I pick up a pen, a brush or make a print I hope for something better and sometimes, just sometimes, there is progress. A little glimpse of the summit appears, only to find more and more ridges in the way.

My position with my work, if I have to choose one, is that of Hokusai, whose words I  have quoted before.

“Nothing I did before the age of seventy was worthy of attention. At seventy-three, I began to grasp the structures of birds and beasts, insects and fish, and of the way plants grow. If I go on trying, I will surely understand them still better by the time I am eighty-six, so that by ninety I will have penetrated to their essential nature. At one hundred, I may well have a positively divine understanding of them, while at one hundred and thirty, forty, or more I will have reached the stage where every dot and every stroke I paint will be alive.”

I think I had better get a move on and just keep working!

Prints to come…..

4 comments:

Caroline Gill said...

Thank you for a most interesting post. And that quotation at the end is real cause for artistic optimism! Thank you, too, for sharing your Scottish adventure. I know part of the region, though know the west coast better once you get higher up. We go to Skye sometimes, and I'm always drawn to the pared-back (yet at times exuberant) nature of the art I see.

Harlee said...

Robert Genns newsletter very good link, loved the difference in perceptions between USA and the East :)

sharp green pencil said...

Caroline many thanks for your interesting comment. Pared-back is a wonderful description. We were really drawn to all we found there.
I had a look at your poetry blog, Fascinating and I will be in touch soon.
Val

sharp green pencil said...

Harlee. I hope you know that you are one of the excellent dedicated makers! Robert Genn is good and has some very interesting things to say about art and life!