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Good writing Bad Story

I tip my hat

The power of good writing. Does such a thing even exist?

It does.

Currently I’m reading the Norwegian publishing phenomenon that is Knausgaard.

With more than a passing nod to Proust’s ‘Remembrance of things past’ he narrates the uneventful story of his childhood and early adult hood.

There is nothing compelling in it, but the drip drip drip effect of detailed description does draw one in.

It could be roughly summed up as ‘He drinks a lot of coffee and smokes a lot of cigarettes’

So why can’t I put it down?

Because it’s so good – and it shouldn’t be?

Did you ever see a painting like that? A painting that’s so so bad it actually comes full circle and is in fact genius.

Children’s art? The Naive school? Expressionism in general?

I can’t see, only you recognize it when you see it?

Could be even a few lurking here, but these are meant to be good in the old fashioned non-loaded sense of the word!!

I won’t complain.


Quashing Whiteness


With each end comes a new beginning.

I’ve spoken a lot over the past few days about the process of bringing a painting to a close. The varnishing, the framing, the saying goodbyes, now its time to change the tempo.
We find ourselves invariably drawn to beginnings. Our greatest enemy is the blank canvas, but it is also our truest friend. It holds possibility and hope.

Potential waits to be unleashed, yet it is hard to stay in that place of anticipation. Our greatest fears lie in anticipation so we want to quash them immediately by quashing the whiteness of a new virginal canvas.

Instead sit back and think of all that is possible.

Do something different purely for the sake of being different.

It might open new pathways, then again it might just irritate, who knows?

You’ll never know till you try.

Till tomorrow


Finishing touches


Varnishing, framing, and presentation.

Even if you have no one to present the final work to, no audience in the wings, every painting is presented as finished at some stage, even if it’s only to the cat looking in the kitchen window.

It’s a process, and drawing a line under the work, metaphorically speaking, is a very important part of that process.

It allows you to give yourself permission to move on. To entertain new ideas and to plan your next masterpiece.

We can’t forever be going back and fiddling, trying to ‘fix’ old paintings. I, myself have been guilty of this in the past; I think its a common beginner’s mistake. The belief that you can make things better if you just keep working on them.

Learn from your mistakes and also learn from your successes. Build on those hard earned lessons and apply them readily, with more skill in a new work.
Varnishing the old ones is a good way to remedy the urge to re-touch. Stacking neatly is another one. If all else fails turn it in against the wall behind a pile of old stretcher bars.

When you come across it again in six months, the ointment of time might have done its work and you could be pleasantly surprised.

There will always be something worth salvaging, even if it’s only the canvas.

Luckily, these paintings here got it right first time. It doesn’t always happen, but it did for these.

Till tomorrow.


On Finishing and Final Flourishes


Sometimes finishing a painting can be just as hard as starting one.

I’m good at middles. Beginnings and endings and the bits immediately either side of them offer difficulties.

Or should I say challenges? – challenging difficulties.

It’s about having the confidence to leave well enough alone. To resist that one final temptation to try and make things better.

It’s too late to make things better.

In many respects, for me at least, the cast is die; there can be no improvements because everything has followed a natural sequence in development from the foundations you laid at the beginning.

‘Dtus maith, leath na hoibhre’

An old Irish saying – a good start is half the battle.

I’m sure every culture has their own variation on these words.

They point to a fundamental truth that’s easily evidenced in the painting game.

But not too worry, one of the great things about life and painting, is we can always begin again and chose differently.

That’s why no matter how I may improve with the years, I would never change these works. They hold a precious germ of truth and for that I thus honor them.

Another happy Monday in the beginnings of spring.


Them and what they do say


There is meant to be a solar eclipse this morning. Mid morning to be exact, the most dramatic of its kind in decades.

They always say that.

The proverbial ‘they’ also say don’t look at it, which make me question why ‘they’ told us about it in the first place? – if we weren’t meant to look at it.

‘Struck blind’ one passing medical commentator said on the radio this morning.

‘Possible irreparable damage’ intoned another, hedging his bets.

If you did look at it, and did manage to see it and did on the off chance end up blind, I was thinking you would have to live with a pervading feeling of stupidity for the rest of your life.

‘Why DID I look at that damn solar eclipse thingy!!’

As you search aimlessly for your white cane.

They would be right, won’t they?

So I’m not going to look at it, and I would advise you the same.

If you are however in need of viewing some natural beauties, please indulge your need here.

You won’t be struck blind, but you might be kicking yourself in years to come.

Or perhaps not, who can say? Hedge your bets.

Have a lovely, non-visual impairing Friday!


Italian Style


Sometimes, most times, you can’t surpass the Italians for style and panache.

Especially when it comes to the arts.

Pinterest is a waste of time as a social media outlet, frankly like most social media platforms, but occasionally it throws up a life changing experience.

Enter the horse and rider images of the now deceased Marino Marini.

What a great name. What a great artist.

I can’t do better than quote the following –

” Marini’s great subject was the horse and rider, a theme he returned to time and time again. He saw the relationship as representing the tensions between man and nature, or reason and sensuality. This theme was also linked to theatricality: Marini would often feature dancers, jugglers and acrobats in his work, such as in the ‘Grande Teatro delle Maschere’ portfolio.”

His paintings are sparse and real.

‘Profound’ is another word I would use, after that I’m silently in awe.

They really struck a nerve with me. His use of colour, the sameness of the subject matter yet the differences.

What more can I say? Except check him out on the platform of your choice.

While your at it, check these out also, the trail far behind, but they are all going ultimately in the same direction.

Happy Thursday.


Paddy’s Day Blues and Greens

I tip my hat

The day after.

Another St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone. National Holiday, free excuse for excessive drinking, a day off work (for some).

It can mean different things for different people.

For me, it means an over indulgence in the colour green. It’s everywhere to be seen. Even the spring landscape obliges with the first shoots of fresh spring growth.

Green, in energetic terms, is the colour of the heart centre. I only learnt that fact recently, having previously believed it to be red.

Red is the complement of green, and vice versa. Both colours accentuate the other, so not all is lost for a heart felt red.

Then you have the parades. A lot of work goes into the various floats and a lot of creative thinking. A combined effort of energy and resources for a twenty minute display down the main street of the town.

I don’t think it’s what Andy Warhol had in mind when he spoke of each person’s fifteen minutes of fame, it goes deeper than that.

To create is to be alive. To create is to be human. That desire never goes away and is deep in the heart of each person. And parades are a very communal act of creation.

Worthy of standing back and tipping of hats, no matter how weak the effort might first appear.

Post St. Patrick Day blues don’t reside here, only these, and a lot more like them.



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