A friend of mine, a former student and a very talented painter, Ryan Daffurn has recently been in Russia and sent me a link to the work of a Russian artist he rather admired. His exact words were "there are painters, then there are painters!". I have to agree, this guy can paint - his tone, observation, color are all superb. His subjects are very simple - mostly busty nudes, and they often display a bit of humor.
I have heard some people describe his work as "its only illustration" as if that makes it somewhat unworthy to be taken seriously. I have heard the same thing said of the work of John Singer Sargent and if more people in the Anglo Saxon world knew of Joaquín Sorolla (a Spanish painter I admire and a contemporary of Sargent) I am sure I would hear the similar comments.
I never have figured out what the great difference is between us visual artists, illustrators, designers, photographers, cinematographers, musicians etc is. We are all artists. It is true that some have a particularly beautiful heart or poetic vision that we might find easier to relate to than with some other artist, and there are some who have better skills than others. In most of the arts great skill is regarded as fundamental. The more skillful a guitarist is the more we clap and cheer. It could be argued that the greater the skills, the easier it is for an artist to convey the feelings and thoughts behind the performance.
Mel Freedman has been coming to my sketch club for more than 10 years. He is from Glasgow and his happy Glaswegian accent and his passion for drawing are well known in the studio. This year he did the big tour of Europe and naturally did lots of drawing while there. He was happy to let me video him showing the art class his drawings from the trip and afterwards I asked him a few questions about his artistic adventures and why he draws so much. This is the result.
What a week full of surprises from friends. Firstly Saul visited, then yesterday Phil Aspden arrived just after class. Phil is the other of my closest friends who I met when I was 20 and living in Jake's Monastery. Phil was the one responsible for me moving into the monastery. (in case you are wondering the monastery was not a place of monks - it was an old rooming house full of artists, writers, poets, musicians, writers and other bohemians. I met Phil at an exhibition we both were in just 3 weeks after I moved into the Cross (again - not a religious institution, just the common name for Kings Cross used by locals). He was living in the monastery and let me know a few days later that a room had become available. Saul moved in a few weeks later.
Phil is a very valued friend but he lives a long way away and so we don't see each other very often, although it would be more often if I wasn't such a workaholic. Last night I had a lot of work to do too - I had to do the covers for the sketchbooks for the hens this weekend. But we went up to the Kings Cross Hotel and had a drink at the cocktail bar on the 5th floor. Many years ago Phil had lived there when the hotel was run down. Afterwards I worked on the sketchbooks until 7:30am.
I couldn't sleep. The change in weather does that, but I had also suffered from nightmares. I was in a car being driven by a woman I did not know and she decided to commit suicide by driving at high speed into oncoming traffic. I don't think her death wish had anything to do with me - I was just the unwitting passenger who couldn't do anything to stop events unfolding. Hate that and especially hate that a dream like that stops me from sleeping.
I had had about 2 hours sleep at most but since I couldn't sleep I started to do emails and catch up on some things. It was fortunate really because ordinarily I would have been asleep at the time, but being up I heard a voice from the street calling out to me. It was an old friend from up the country who had come into town unexpectedly. It was Saul Munro and it was wonderful to see him and have him in the studio for a few hours. Friends are such a reassuring aspect of reality after nightmares have earlier been unwelcome guests.
I have known Saul since I was 20 years old. He is a sculptor (very talented) and with an admiration for Zadkine and ancient Middle Eastern cultures. Over recent years he has dealt with the digital revolution by ignoring it. After all clay and stone are timeless materials that existed long before modern electronics and will continue to exist long after humanity has morphed into something else and things digital are long gone. Can't argue with that - it's true.
It is almost a year since my last post, a very emotional year. Sometimes dealing with the ups and downs of life requires a little privacy, or in this case a lot of privacy. Hence my blogging has taken a back seat for a while.
Not that it has been a year without good things. Some of them have been very good. I went on an extended holiday to Queensland with my boys in a mini-van so they could have Christmas with their grandparents. It was very special. It was also a big year for computer purchases with 2 computers for my boys, and an Axiotron Modbook for myself. There has also been the joy of the iPhone and most recently making iPhone videos to upload to YouTube. Over the next few weeks as I get back into making regular diary posts I will intersperse them with posts under the general heading of "The Lost Year" to detail some of the major happenings so we can catch up better.
Recently I returned to Facebook after an absence of several months. It was wonderful to catch up with all my friends. I know that this diary has a good readership so to all of you - it is a good feeling to be back. I love social media and the way it has revolutionized life.
Already it is the second term of art classes and sketch club. It hardly seems possible that time could go so fast. The classes are busy and have a wonderful buzz about the artists who come along. Some are just beginners and some are very experienced, but they all feel like part of a family. They probably don't realize that the principal reason I hold the classes is simply because of the joy I feel in seeing artists gathering with the model and each discovering their personal triumphs and frustrations as they take charcoal and chalk and pencil, watercolor and ink, and make marks on paper (whether perfect or imperfect) that reflect that deep human need to make sense of our world through making pictures.
The afternoon was busy with hanging and dealing with the difficulties artists present hanging crews. It seems many artists think that somehow magic is involved in holding an artwork on a wall because sometimes there is no easy way to get excessively heavy, warped, and poorly constructed "stretchers" hung in any kind of professional looking manner.
Miracles are necessary. A little swearing sometimes helpful. But some how, some way, the last of the paintings were hung just as the first visitors arrived. Just enough time to quickly change into a suit and get presentable for the show.
My role from there is to greet visitors and speak. Lesley welcomed everyone, then I did a small talk and thanked everyone and then introduced our official opener - alternative media publisher Lawrence Gibbons.
At the exhibition opening visitors vote for the Peoples Choice award. This year it was a thousand dollars donated by a lawyer who likes life drawing and remaining anonymous. Her generosity is appreciated by all.
Over the last month I have been busy creating 4 new web sites, one for poetry and the other 3 are for erotic images. They all have a structure and appearance closely integrated with Gatherr.com They are loads of fun to do.
po-mz.com This is a simple site that consists of poems that I post there as I come across poems worth sharing. Some of my own poetry gets put there too. The poetry crosses barriers of culture and time and reflects my personal favorites and reading habits.
Mango and Lady Finger Bananas. A plate in from of the computer, and the list of things to do today. A simple ritual that I love. I read emails, check Google News, and enjoy the fruit. The classes have been draining me of late, but I need to thank them for this breakfast. There were many dark years when I could never afford fruit except as an occasional treat. So for me I value the simple pleasure of a bowl of diced Mango as a great treasure to be savored and enjoyed as a special gift. An artist who has been through very hard times appreciates very simple and basic things.
Yesterday I had the great privilege of listening to Christo and Jeanne-Claude talk about their work, and afterwards actually meet them. As a couple they are as fascinating as their art works. Two beautiful people with an extraordinary vision. They are a delight to listen to. Like great performers they know their lines well, and have developed impeccable timing. They play the audience like puppetmasters, yet for all that they are open, and surprisingly candid about the intimate details of how their work comes to fruition.