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Following the crowd

Flicking through the fly blown organs that nowadays constitute the news, I read about how most people, most of the time, just want to fit in. They want to make sure that largely they do what others do, possibly with their own stylistic flourish but certainly avoiding challenging any of the accepted mores of their time.

Artists of course are different. They choose a course in life which sets them against the orthodox, they point things out that others haven’t seen, when others turn left they turn turtle and make soup. Prominent artists in history tend to be remembered more for what they did differently than what they did well.

One of my favourite quotes – I don’t recall the author – is that if your work looks right, it probably isn’t. If it looks right that is because it looks familiar, derivative either of your own work or another’s. If it looks wrong that may be because it is new. Or rubbish. But let’s concentrate on the new.

To present your own work when it doesn’t look like anyone else’s is unnerving, it requires courage to tell your truth. There are flamboyant souls who revel in being controversial but most of us don’t want to make a fuss. When we see that our own work looks odd we want to cover it up, make sure no one has seen it and move on. In so doing we deny the world of one of the most important things we can give it, our personal insight.

When others are moved by what we have seen, it can liberate them to move in similar ways. With time what was seen as apostasy can become the mainstream.

What will stop us is fear, for fear is very effective at closing down our critical faculties. What conquers fear is love because love is substantial and fear is a wraith, an imagined possibility. When we love ourselves we honour our output and value it. When we take the risk and put our work out there, that is an expression of love for the rest of humanity.

“It is only when we are no longer fearful that we begin to create.”
J.M.W. Turner?

National treasure Neil Oliver has some interesting reflections on fear here. (Warning – it’s not very polite about our government!)

Learning from each other

We sent out a sort of questionnaire to everyone who has been painting and drawing with us this year, thank you so much to those of you who responded. We were a bit overwhelmed with the number of responses, almost exclusively positive, so thank you all for taking the trouble to share your thoughts with us. It will take a little time to digest all of your comments and respond.

The New Year

Whilst the studio is closed, Ana and Simon are busy updating the website and getting everything ready for New Year, we hope that you will be able to book courses by next week. You might note that David Sawyer has kindly agreed to work with us again, probably on Thursdays, details to follow. We will also be offering a short Introduction to Oil Painting on Friday afternoons, Simon Dunstan (that’s me!) will be getting you going with oil paint and colour.

Our Spring Term starts on the 4th January for all of the ‘drop-in’ style groups and on the 10th January for the more formally structured courses.