Aug 12

The impossible need for help

Vincent and the impossible need for help: Dale Carnegie (1888-1955), the American writer, said, “Most important things in life have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all”. I try to cling to this thought when things go bad or I feel intellectually and creatively abandoned. The most important people on this planet are Enquirers after Truth, and the function of the artist (along with ‘genius’ surely the most abused noun in the English language) is exactly that. It's what, I'm convinced, Dale Carnegie was on about.

As warned on 17th May, here is a bit more about ‘truth’, or at least my take on it. Despite the need to keep body, soul and family together, everything I’ve ever done – writing and teaching, natural history and science – has always been about that quest for truth; and it applies to the subjective matter of art as much, if not more, as anything else.

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Jun 4

Empty Surfaces

Paul Cezanne wrote to his mother in September 1874, “I have to work all the time, not to reach that final perfection which earns the admiration of imbeciles. [T]his thing which is commonly appreciated so much is merely the effect of craftsmanship and renders all work resulting from it inartistic and common. I must strive after perfection only for the satisfaction of becoming truer and wiser. And believe me, the hour always comes when one breaks through and has admirers far more fervent and convinced than those who are only attracted by an empty surface.”

Two years later, at the end of a letter to Pissarro, he wrote,

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May 17

Truth, Blood and Fashion

Truth, Blood and Fashion, Andrew Graham-Dixon in The Art of Germany on TV a few years ago described the German character by listing four couplets: 

1. Passion & precision,
2. Craftsmanship & The impulsive gesture,
3. A love of nature & A love of the machine, and
4. A need for escape & A desire for control. 

Each of these traits rang true for me. I thought Donner und blitzen! - which (with Achtung!) was my sum total of German learned from war comics. [Incidentally, this elementary expression is a mixture of German and Dutch – which I’m told is my paternal grandfather’s side.] But are those traits all in my genes from Luther and before? Somehow meshing with the Irish blarney or whatever other characters lurk there from my mother's side? 

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Mar 23

Portraits and presentiment (part 2)

Portraits and presentiment (part 2)

Portraits, so I’m told by gallery owners, are virtually unsellable. I think this is disingenuous nonsense! To back up such a bold rebuttal, I cite the case of the Fowey River Gallery www.foweyrivergallery.co.uk who told me this but took one anyway. It was this one

 

 Naomi

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Mar 23

Portraits and presentiment (part 1)

The MarmosetMij


Over the last 12 months and more I’ve been debating with myself (there being no-one else really) about the path work takes and to where. You may (or may not) find these experiences a) interesting, b) helpful, c) provocative, d) irrelevant or e) just plain boring, so skip ahead if you don’t wish to read of someone else’s toils (but, as humans, don’t we enjoy some schadenfreude?!

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