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Saturday, December 13, 2014

Art Afternoon

Slowing down, doing other things than I'm used to, I discover the Saturday afternoon arts show on SBS. I used to watch similar programs on the ABC years ago (on Sundays) then they gradually tailed off. Perhaps they've been on SBS a long time; I just never looked. Too busy keeping busy. Wasn't looking for that today, either, just happened to notice. I'll be looking on future Saturdays!

I love the arts, though I don't consider myself a scholar. They feed me.

It's 20 years since I lived in a big city. We do have an excellent regional art gallery here, with wonderful, changing exhibitions as well as a substantial permanent collection. But it's rather small, let's face it, compared with the big city galleries. And if I want to see top-notch live performances, I have to travel, which I am more and more reluctant to do as I get older and poorer. So it is great to live in an age where I can see so much brilliant art in cinema or on TV.  (And let's not forget online.)

First there was a program on an artist called Edward Hopper, whom I knew nothing about. Now I do. it was fascinating. He was an innovator. He is dead now. (If you don't know about him and want to learn, you must Google. This post is not to describe or discuss his work.)

Then there was a thing called Music in the Air, a history of musical events on television: exactly what I was just talking about, making art widely available — and preserving it too, in the case of live performances.

I listened to that with only half an ear (or rather, watched it only partly) as I also used the time to do a water-colour sketch. I intended to make this sketching a hobby, when I first began doing it some months ago, but I haven't indulged in much of it lately. I've been experimenting with kiddies' crayons too, and with pastel pencils (although the pencils are not new to me). I've decided I like water-colour sketching much the best.

You mustn't think I mean water-colour painting; what I do is different from that. No washes, for instance. I use a small spiral notebook of special water-colour paper. It's nice and thick so the colour won't run through to the other side. (Well, not usually. I have had the odd mishap from over-enthusiasm.) I use a little tin of kiddies' paints like we had at school, with two tiny, skinny little brushes. I found another brush someone had dropped or thrown away on the ground. I thought it was a gift from God, so I took it home and cleaned it, and now I sometimes use it too. It's a bit thicker than the others. 

I have a screw-top jar made of thick, clear plastic which I use for water; carried, for extra safety, inside a plastic bag knotted at the top. And I have four little plastic pots, very small but deep, that I can use to pour the water into to wash off my brushes between colours. They are really for mixing paint, and the lid of the paint tin could also be used as a palette, but I don't do that yet. So far, if I want to mix the colours, I do it directly on the page. Sometimes I paint with plain water to thin the colours, or with a dry brush to make lines across them.

What I have discovered is that it's good not to know how to do it — which I don't. This means I'm free to play and experiment.

After the music program, there came one about a painter and sculptor called Marc Quinn, who is very much alive. Another fascinating show in quite a different way. This fellow is very innovative too. He plays and experiments. I'm sure he knows how to do things, in terms of being trained; in fact they said he had studied Fine Arts — but he finds new ways, new approaches, things not done before.

He was quoted as saying something I like: 'With our desires and choices we create the future. We don't even know we're doing it.' That was in the context of his interest in evolution. The way he explained it, as the long-term effects of human attention and consensus over time, made a lot more sense than the usual New Age version of 'You only have to think it and it's yours'. (You could Google him too.)

I don't relate either of these artists to me with my sketching games, and I don't want to sculpt or paint with oils anyway; but it was still a treat to look at their art, with a knowledgeable guide in each case, and to get to listen to the artists themselves talk about their work.

What a lovely, leisurely afternoon feeding my soul!

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