What I’ve found out: Adrian Hill presented BBC “Sketch Club” from 1958 to 1962 (way before Tony Hart‘s show), was commissioned by the Imperial War Museum in London during the First World War (the first, according to his Wikipedia entry, which also says he went back to art college afterwards, worked as a professional artist and art teacher, and coined the term art therapy) and he wrote quite a few books. There are a dozen of his paintings on the UK public art collection website, and a short BBC radio interview.
But back to the book I found. It’s written in a style you don’t find in contemporary photo-led books, when sentences could be longer and have more complex constructions, language more descriptive and poetic, and opinions more strongly stated. It’s like listening to an artist thinking aloud on various aspects, with the thoughts organized not random.
I suspect quotes will make their appearance as Monday Motivators, but here’s one for today, from Chapter 6 which is called “Timidity and Courage”:
“…once perfect freedom of execution has been enjoyed, a little self-disciple will generally make itself felt, and the rebel will turn docile; whereas the law-abiding student will rarely ‘break bounds’ without persuasion.”
I do wonder if it caught my eye because my mind’s been on my introduction to watercolour workshop on Monday (still spaces if you’d like to join us). How when you know next-to-nothing about a workshop attendee other than they want to learn about watercolour painting you have to prepare approaches that’ll work for wherever they turn out to be on the spectrum from cautious (timid) to expressive (courageous).
Remember: it is always more wasteful to botch a wash in a painting because you run out of paint (and must stop to mix more paint that will not match perfectly the color you mixed before), than it is to throw away a little excess wash mixture. — Bruce MacEvoy
I came across it via a circuitous journey that involved a new book on trees by the photographer Art Wolfe. Initially it wasn’t anything in the poem that struck a cord, but rather that it’s dedicated to the painter Wolf Kahn, who’s on my list of favourite artists.
The poem overall is one that’s in the “mmmm” category for me, but the line above intrigues my imagination. I find myself replacing “colour” with “branches”. Possibly because at certain times of year the sun sets ‘through’ the woodland at Uig. As yet ill-defined thoughts of a tree painting with sunset colours collapsing into the branches.
“We all take pleasure in dazzling technique. But there’s a risk in making the brushstrokes the main subject of painting. …
“The paint strokes have taken on a life of their own. It’s a bit hard to tell what the strokes are trying to represent. …
“It’s easy to make a painting look like paint. But it’s a lifelong challenge to use paint to evoke the chill of autumn or the smell of a rose.” — James Gurney, Pitfalls of Virtuosity, 3 January 2008
Some paintings are of course about the brushstroke, think those single wide calligraphic strokes. But fan-brushed trees and grasses that stop at the “looks like repeated dabs with a fan-brush” stage are a distraction I can’t easily see past.
“Observation is like listening with your eyes, but you have to be quiet for a moment (stop working) and just look, the longer the better. …
“The mind loves to smooth things over, straighten things out, making forms more perfect and symmetrical than they are.
“All of those wonderful little idiosyncrasies, the odd twists and turns that give things their character and visual truth are lost when we rely on memory.” — Christopher Gallego, Why My Art Students Hate Me
“Remember, your purpose at this point isn’t to create a masterpiece. Your purpose is to create the state of mind that will allow you to create a masterpiece. Work precedes inspiration, not the other way around.”
“A reliance on repeated happy accidents is indeed a slim reed to lean on, and the phenomenonalistic painter must exert as much unobtrusive control as he can to capitalize on accidents and to arrange or predict what might happen as a result of various manipulations of surface and medium.”
Edward Betts, Creative Landscape Painting, p102
Note to self: “remember ‘phenomenonalistic’ to throw into a conversation about happy accidents in painting”.
“…as we grow older … seeing becomes dulled. We begin to look in a practical manner just to get enough information to function. We know where the doorway is so we don’t walk into the wall. We spend more and more time mentally running around, looking at one thing, thinking of another.” — Albert Handell and Leslie Trainor Handell, Intuitive Composition, page 12
How many different doorhandles did you touch yesterday? How many doors opened to the left and how many to the right? What colours were the doors?
While there’s no point clogging up our brains by remembering such things, does it mean you also don’t notice unusual doors because you’re in “going through a door” mode?