Saturday, 17 November 2007

Words with Angie 1 - from Dai Harding

Words With Angie: 1 - Nov 3-4: 2007.

A few thoughts on looking at a picture: Like listening to a piece of music - you have the actual thing itself: The image and style and colour - the sound, which directly impinges, impressing or otherwise - and the works presence as it directly and often unknowingly effects ones emotions.
In music it is all readily apparent - we have no difficulty in saying we love this or hate that, we love the rhythm, the instruments, the solos, etc etc. We can be quite vocal and hold strong opinions.

With painting, even tho some of us would not like it to be so: it's different and more difficult. Images are common – but art is not. It is a more rarefied artform and its market has not had ( even tho prints of all kinds are very common) the 'market penetration' that music has had with the introduction of mass production, promotion, and sales, and structure of recorded music as a product reaches a worldwide audience in many formats – including broadcasting.
Because it's a 'time' discipline like film/video, it allies itself with them naturally and each becomes enhanced by the other to mutual sales and promotional benefit. Mostly our culture is so awash and full of images from TV Film, Advertising, products - the humble and silent drawing/painting does not 'give' of itself in a culture that expects to be 'entertained' - that expects to be given the answers - and indeed is supplied well with such. If a painting cannot compete with all the worlds technology and the business of marketing and product - it must have something not found and not available in the daily rush.

This is the thing that excites me about paintings. They are silent.
( Each has an inherent ‘music’ if you like - but they do not give that out, it keeps it like a secret for any looker who may be willing.)

That silence speaks to all minds, of whatever culture, upbringing and quality of intelligence and learning. If one doubts this – think of the paintings on the caves of Lascoux etc. – they range from some 40,000 to 10.000 years old, many predating european language – certainly written language – and done for who knows what purpose – but they still speak today even tho they hold their magnificent silence. They are human and they are our heritage of the astounding early stirrings of the creative mind. It’s like the life of Mozart – we can read volumes and volumes – which I have by the way- and listen and listen – even see the flawed film Amadeus – read all his letters and weep, like those of van Gogh - but he eludes us. We have the material, it penetrates us – so which is the most opaque, us to ourselves or the material. Also like the fresco’s in The House Of Mysteries in Pompey – all silent and singing quietly, of a Romanic people in a pre Christian culture, still singing for us.

These are the kind of ideas and allied thinking that allows an artist in some way to have a quality of distance – not in an uncaring way – but as armament – say f’rinstance against those who say ‘ you are not an artist’ or whatever. Were the prehistoric cave painters artists? – certainly not in the sense that we mean it today – well, that heritage is denied to no one. Yet the most Modern paintings, and all artists of any worth agree, that you can see, are still those prehistoric animal paintings. Their magnificence is everyone’s.

So Angie - what is to be done: First, like ‘classical’ music – painting has a friend – it is a difficult friend, but it’s at the root of many human experiences and expressions.
It is Poesy. Poetry resides in music and poetry resides in all good art and painting – it can be put there by design or it can be hinted at or it can fall into ones hands like a gift – sometimes an unknown gift.

Angie it has fallen into your hands – your own piece of poesy has come with you – and is speaking. If you think about it, it has probably been with you all your life in one way or another. It is no small thing – that’s important – It Is No Small Thing.
It can move almost effortlessly over everything – think of the poetry that Lowry found in those then dismal midland cotton mill towns. Think of – and you said you liked him – of the stark, and in a way terrible and almost confessional poetry Lucian Freud finds in the body – think of the your painting Hidden Woman – I have it up on screen as I pop away at this keyboard. Goodness knows it’s not my place or job – or need or want – to be overly personal or to give psycho-drama to my observations.

( In theatre one must be careful with students when going into those areas, we are all different, and the experiences each of us have, and have had are invisible to most people – so good drama teachers – must be on watch for those students that need a pastoral care in some situations. When one is dealing with emotions – and creativity deals in them – care is needed.)
I think the woman has BEEN hidden, it is not so much that it is simply ‘Hidden Woman’ – think on it – It’s not ‘Hidden Figure’. Maybe in the act of painting, first in acrylics perhaps, there was a figure – a woman - then you covered her up. I don’t know Angie but it is a terrific title for both its clarity and its simple poetry. It speaks easily without convolution.

I have many pieces that I either haven’t had time to pursue further or I’m not sure how to – I put them in a place that I adopted long ago called ‘The House Of Mysteries’ that gallery used to be part of my website once – it’s a limbo place that I can go back to and retrieve lost little ideas and unfinished thinking.
My point is – it would be good for you to be able to catch onto what I’m saying about ‘Hidden Woman’ and do a series of them – say – 6 paintings about ‘Hidden Woman’.
Hidden Woman 1 – Hidden Woman 2 – etc. Remember you are not overtly making a political statement about ‘hidden women’ – you are not ‘illustrating’ hidden women as in trying to paint someone in a Burka – you are trying to contact the deeper poetry that resides in those two words – you are trying to see ( again). It will come to you when you are working with a brush in your hand – or it will flash and send you to the brushes. Don’t get caught up too much in ‘I haven’t got it right’ and those things – you have to work with the techniques that you have at the moment, as we all do - just trust the idea that you carry all the poetry you need to playfully work with it – not against it by being ‘overmind’ critical of your efforts. Breath with it and be gentle on yourself. They will stand as themselves outside you and one day it woyuld be great to see them in an exhibition. In some ways you aught to keep in the back of your mind that you are working toward an exhibition called ‘Hidden Woman’ You could sell a title for a show like that and sometime next year –wherever you are it would be worth me helping you to organise such a show. Why not.

Think of Georgia O Keefe’s flower paintings. It’s a good example: Flower painting!! what could be more innocuous? - what could be more worldwide and common – think of all the Leisure painters who are painting flowers – but what O’Keefe did with her own person poetry and visual sense was to make us look again at flowers in a new way.

On the Painter site – soooo many flower painters, all deep down recognising the silent poetry there – but it’s like a whisper they can’t quite catch and they paint the ‘ flower thing’ that’s ok, it makes people happy and gives a great feeling of some connection to nature - and some people aren’t interested in a piece of advice anyway unless it’s directly about liking or not liking the painting at hand and the small technical qualities. Having said that – it’s not that I don’t appreciate peoples need and complete right to paint ‘the flower thing’ – it’s that I often say too much from too wide a perspective to be of any use to them. Often no comment is the best comment.

I just popped over there and lifted a few comment I made that you might not have seen, to illustrate: – work posted by ‘Linda Miles’
‘ Hi Linda -I've been a looking at y'r folio here. You obviously love painting and the colour and physicality of it - and probably had some training - or been doing it for a while - don't know yr situation - but my eyes tell me this: Forget about Picasso - except for the early stuff - he's no good for you - you need to look n look n look at Matisse more and see how the flowers above fit in with the abstracts that you want to let yrself go on - you need to LOOK and re integrate these two things into one vision - and then y' might really do some stuff - and stop y'rself doing things like homage to Picasso - as if he needs 'em.’
Perhaps I wasn’t diplomatic enough there – but no one else had said anything about her stuff ( I think Chris Salt dropped a line in)and she didn’t bother to reply. Ce la vie.

Here’s another:- Summer In A Blue Jug – posted by Sara Rigby
Hi, You need a better photograph of this. what you have here - and have 'chosen' - as much as it has chosen you - is absolutely timeless. The timelessness of a still life? no, there is often a too composed element within them i.e. they are the 'subject' - this is clear and unadorned - just simple budding flora in a plain jug. A plain jug has clarity and beauty of purpose - and the buds have their own universal poetry. A timelessness of Landscape? no, that is specific; this subject crosses all culture, and place. It allows all poetry. In the past I've favoured Oranges in a dish to do that - but it is, in the end a needful subject because of course Oranges arn't available everywhere. If these spring/ summer flowers were in a vase - it wouldn't have it's quiet understated power. People think they can - but not everyone can do something like this. Stay with the clear and the unadorned. All the best - Cheers. Dai Harding.

I was and still am ‘jealous’ of her little watercolour – I need to do that simplicity of subject again.

Hidden Woman is worth working with – it will help you. Note that it shouldn’t be THE Hidden Woman. Too specific, too self involved. That in many ways are what artists are of course – self involved – but not in a Narcissistic way – you must look at your work like a stranger - often.
Just seen your Blue Woman on the site – great to see something not overly worked by you for a change - That would certainly form part of a ‘Hidden Woman’ series in a show.

I would like you to find a little time to do some colour work specifically – carry on with what you want to paint and I’ll comment and answer any questions about anything – but a bit of colour work will help in all sorts of ways – that’s why I was asking if you had a palette knife, not for painting with but to put down a strokes of pure colour next to each other.
It’s one thirty now so I’ll leave this now and write about what I want us to do with colour v soon.

1 comment:

Angie Phillip said...

re the silence of pictures
- This is really interesting. I have wondered how pictures work, and I don’t know. Music has seemed to me to be easier to understand – as you say, the rhythms and the harmonies pick you up and carry you along, but a picture is still. I had never thought of pictures as silent even though they are. Thinking of them as silent makes me look in a different way, because I’m now trying to listen to what they’re saying.

re artists are those who create art/ the power of images/ art belongs to us all ...

- There is a lot to think about here. I’ll come back to this later. I like the idea of the distance and the way of arming yourself against those who say ‘you’re not an artist’ or ‘you can’t do that’ or ‘you’re mad’. I love the image of the frescos ‘singing silently’. Is it an image?

re: The gift of poesy

- What a moving piece of writing, Dai. I can see that you have it, that it is in your work, and I can see it in the work of others, but I’m not sure about my own. Every so often, it does feel as though a picture ‘arrives’ as a gift. What I am not sure of is whether it will keep on coming or not, but then I don’t worry about that. All I worry about is having enough time because there is always so much to paint.

re: L. Freud

- I find Lucian Freud’s bodies incredibly beautiful. I can’t understand those critics that write and say that he paints ugly bodies. And yes, there is poetry in all that he paints.

re: Care needed + Hidden Woman
- yes, you’re right, Dai, and I know that, too, because I’ve worked as a teacher for many years. But please don’t worry about me – you can say anything.
- Yes, you’re right, I actually covered up the woman but I hadn’t really realised it.

re: House of Mysteries
- Yes, I’ve got quite a few pieces like that, too. I’d like to see yours. But I’ve got lots of your pictures that I need to spend much longer looking at – that I’m looking forward to spending time with (feels like a feast in waiting – I keep going to your website to have another look).

Hidden Woman series
- I’ve thought about this all afternoon and evening. I’ve already had some pictures that appeared as a series e.g. I had a Red Man series and a Green Man series, and more recently a Two Heads series. I hadn’t thought of the hidden woman as a series, but as I thought more, I can see that some of my other pictures might be hidden woman too, or some aspect of hidden woman. I’ve ended up quite excited about following this plan, and can’t wait to get on with it. (Have also done a sketch which I thought was the next one of the two heads series and which I want to make into a picture, although the first 2 two heads ones were only drawings.)

re: play, go gently and don't worry
- What incredible writing – have never known advice arrive in the form of poetry before. I can’t believe how lucky I am to receive this. I think, too, that we must find a way for this to be made available for all people. It’s too good to keep hidden.

re: Hidden Woman series for exhibition
Yes, yes, yes. Maybe I should say things like ‘I can’t’ but actually, with your help, I’m sure I can. I will get there. I was going to write ‘I’ll show hidden woman in all her forms’. And then I laughed. If I show her in all her forms, will she still be hidden? Well, she probably will…..

- I’ve been to look at Linda’s work and have read your comment again. I wouldn’t rush to conclusions just because she hasn’t replied. Maybe she didn’t know how to reply. The silence doesn’t necessarily mean that your comment hasn’t been appreciated. Let’s see what she does next?

- Yes, I will try to look at my work like a stranger.

Just seen your Blue Woman on the site – great to see something not overly worked by you for a change -

- Yes, you’re right again – I think I do overwork paintings sometimes/ often.
That would certainly form part of a ‘Hidden Woman’ series in a show.

I would like you to find a little time to do some colour work specifically – carry on with what you want to paint and I’ll comment and answer any questions about anything – but a bit of colour work will help in all sorts of ways – that’s why I was asking if you had a palette knife, not for painting with but to put down a strokes of pure colour next to each other.

It’s one thirty now so I’ll leave this now and write about what I want us to do with colour v soon.

- Yes, I’ll look forward to doing that.