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The Beauty of Imperfection. I learnt something today. Every day is a school day, but suddenly it made sense - of what I try to do. It is something that gets lost in the glossy slick of cool art that spreads like a contagion: photo-based, photo-shopped, photo-realist, minimalism, film/video, conceptual and/or installations, not excluding all that relies on novelty.  It might or might not be art, but is it enough just to say ‘contemporary’ or ‘original’? as justification; art with a shiny face, which values presentation and technique more than substance; or just a show that relies on cleverness and trumpets this.

There is so much trickery, and, yes, it is often very good (all the best tricks are of course or they wouldn’t be tricks) - it is how tricksy folk manipulate us.

I saw the French film about Pierre-Auguste Renoir last night, and although I thought it lost its way and got stuck with his son Jean's love affair with the old painter's model, Renoir said a thing which stuck with me: "Art is about making something with your hands that lasts for ever."

So, what was it that made such sublime sense...

ART TREK in North Devon and my own to see GF WATTS, MARY SETON WATTS & FRANK HOLL in Surrey.  As mentioned on the Home Page under "News", Art Trek was, for me, if not a 'wash-out' then a 'scorch-out' (if there can be such a thing).  My fortnight of inactivity coincided with two big W's: Wimbledon Finals on the first weekend and with what people continually told me was "Beach Weather" for the second and in fact everything in between; I regularly recorded temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius. 

Apart from friends, neighbours (the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive) and personal invites, I had precisely five (5) visitors over the ten days I was open, and one of those was a passer-by, so really only four from official Art Trek effort.  Perhaps I should increase this by two, for literally two minutes after arriving home from my own mini trek (see below), two more stalwarts turned up knocking on my door, having failed to notice my time was through.  'Stalwarts' because they successfully navigated their way to the house from a closed and locked studio which must have looked decidedly unwelcoming.  No matter, Brian & Janet and myself trudged back to the studio, and I think they enjoyed their visit, even though the place looked neglected. [There are those who say it always looks neglected but in fact this is just an inevitable consequence of what I laughingly call my working practice.]

As a footnote, I did actually sell two paintings, but not unfortunately technically to Art Trekkers.

The reason I was not open for the third week was due to personal commitments, which involved driving an exceedingly luxurious car all the way to Norfolk for friends, staying there for a couple of nights, then returning in another large car - luxurious on the inside but with recent exterior battle wounds which included the plastic bumper thing which holds the number plate (cars no longer have bumpers but you know what I mean) being tied on with string. 

Speed and Complexity.  Despite the misunderstandings I seemed to create with my last posting, I refuse to be intimidated! So you may notice a subtle variation, namely, me trying to be clearer and more explicit in my attempts to ponder on the second branch of that same plank (OK, so planks don’t have branches but they do kind of come from them, don't they?).

Anyway, if my final remarks last time didn’t convince, I wonder if this entry will succeed any better.  Can we establish that when I talk of speed, I mean the manner of attack within producing a work, and not the overall time it takes to complete it: more like the pulse or tempo within a piece of music.

If we think of great painters who worked quickly and directly (and the ones that leap to mind are the Impressionists), because of ever-changing climatic conditions and all the other variables beyond our control, which all plein air painters face, they had little choice... (click "Read more")

Speed and Quality.  There are surely too many examples to cite which could prove or, indeed, confound the idea that speed = the inspired red-hot-heat of creativity or, conversely, speed = suffused high-minded contemplative reflective craftsmanship.  I used to think that the reason I painted too slowly was not the latter of those two equations, but rather that I was stumbling around in the dark seeking excellence without knowing how to get to it directly. 

The 11th Open Exhibition at the North Devon Museum is ending; tomorrow is the last day I think. For those unable to attend, or just didn't want to, here are a few shots of the overall display.

 

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North Devon Open Arts Show: Exhibition, Award and Talk (+ one new work): I went to the Museum of North Devon at Barnstaple for the preview of the 11th Annual Exhibition on January 21st where I have 6 paintings on show, and was surprised and delighted to receive an Award and small bursary for which I'm very grateful (may I now assume the moniker "Award-winning" and thus, it seems to me, join the main throng of creativity?).  The event and award is at the behest of the Barnstaple Museum, and it is to them principally, as Stella points out below, that I am indebted, and I am grateful to her for the opportunity to correct that.  It is to North Devon Arts that I am progammed to give a talk in March at The Broomhill Sculpture Park.

A friend gave me a superb bottle of Oban Malt whisky in exchange for a painting - which seems to me quite a good deal; he thought so too.

One new painting Witch Hazel Oil on canvas 40x40cm 3 (Witch Hazel) is on the website, click on the image here to see a larger reproduction.