Cooking and Art

Cooking with J W Turner, Rachel Khoo composes a pickled treat.

Sitting in the gallery, she sketches ingredients suggested by the picture, works on them in her kitchen – and eats the result (see video by Tate Galleries, below)


Creative Takeaways

Having watched the video – is there a favourite picture/painting you have?

How about sketching what ingredients the picture suggests to you – and then experimenting with them, to see what it produces – as Rachel Khoo does?


Quilt making 101

If you’d like a guide in making a quilt, let me introduce you to “atree3”, (Margaret Fabrizio) a fascinating woman with a passion for quiltmaking and a sense of verve about living life.  Lesson one: a couple of minutes with a camera moving about a bit much, but persevere – or jump to next video – it gets better.

(This covers the first 3 days of the quilt… deciding what to aim for, which fabrics to use…)

Next, in video 2, with calming camerawork, 2 minutes of deciding to just go freeform, (more…)

7 actions for beginning writers

I found myself writing this encouragement to a young writer approaching a course in Literature at University – but much of it is useful to any beginning writers:

1.  Believe that you are a writer already.

This is tough.  You think “But I haven’t had my first novel published!”  “But I haven’t sold my first filmscript…..” and the minute you say “I’m a writer” to other people, they will ask “So what have you sold?”  – which doesn’t help.

But being an artist and selling work don’t always flow together.

Van Gogh was a painter to his fingertips, worked hard all his life and only ever sold ONE painting, while alive.

2.  Because you are a writer, you can begin planning a writing career.

Think of what you want to have achieved in 5 years.

Aim for it.

Don’t just meekly do what will get you good marks in School and University.  People who only concentrate on getting a good degree come to the end of it and are still waiting for someone – a lecturer – to tell them what to do, to set them a writing project.  Actually, University works best if you’re already reading and practising the art and the uni course just gives you better skills, and a chance to meet likeminded people and discuss different ideas.

3.  Look at any opportunities you have to attend workshops, lectures, writing groups – and take them.

Any local Book Festivals or writing centre?  Any free workshops on a weekend?  Consider also volunteering to help out at festivals – your face will become known.

4.  Network.  Be pleasant to people, the publishing world is small.

5.  Write often.

If it helps to have a deadline or audience, consider what you could write for a friend/family member’s birthday.  Then give it to them.  (Helps you get practice in getting your work out there).

6.  Avoid writer’s block.

Listen to Audible recording of Anne La Mott’s book “Bird by bird” – it’s a series of interesting, constructive and easy to listen to, talks by her on how to write.  (Also written in her book “Word by Word” if you prefer the written form).  Her big theme is “write shitty drafts” – write down even really poor sentences, because you’re going to refine it later.  But if you wait to write perfect sentences in the first place, you don’t even begin, you freeze up with writer’s block.  The way around writer’s block is to lower your standards and keep writing.

7.  Get the reading list for the course you want to do at University.

Usually a library will have a list of set texts online or if you phone up.  Read those key texts yourself in your holidays now, before you go to Uni.  That way, you’ll have your own thoughts about them by the time you come to study them.  It will give you less reading work to do when at college.  Even if your plans change and you end up in a different college/course – you’ll still have read some great books.  And you will have some references to bring into your commentary on other books.  If you’re an older beginner writer and not planning to go to University – these books are still worth reading, to get a grounding in what is considered great (even if you disagree).

Next Gen artists and engineers

Problem: The Creative Industries are expanding rapidly but schools are not increasing arts training. Solution: free Sat Morning Arts clubs with college lecturers, for 13-16 year olds.

The red dots in the map indicate where the classes are available.  (Just one in Northern Ireland, just one in Scotland.  What’s that about?)

Listening in on other people’s conversation this morning (well, it wasn’t very private as it was being broadcast on BBC Radio 5 Live) – National Art and Design Saturday Morning Club  came across as an exciting innovation. 

The idea is to offer free Saturday morning classes for 13-16 year olds, to compensate for less art on offer in school.  This helps prepare the next generation of artists, designers, engineers for the rapidly expanding creative industries.  Subjects taught are art, science and engineering, fashion and business, with writing and talking as the latest club.

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In the studio – Will and fellow presenter Eliza, interviewee Frances Sorrell (John out of camera sight)

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This morning’s interview on BBC Radio 5 Live was Will Gompertz (BBC Arts Editor) interviewing the designers of the scheme: Frances and John Sorrell (Newell and Sorrell Design Agency), on his programme (Will Gompertz’s Heat Map)  The Sorrells came from a not very wealthy background, where education didn’t favour arts subjects.  Fortunately they benefitted from art clubs at the weekend and went into successful highflying careers in design. The original weekend arts venture died out, and this is now the duo making it available for the next generation, at 52 sites in the UK (see map).

How can they afford to provide free classes?


Learn to draw WITHOUT talent

The whole point about Danny Gregory’s course is that even if you can think you have no art talent – yet he can teach you how to draw, in 26 video lessons.  (NB Lessons have a 20% reduction only if booked this week – advert popped up on my soc media feed 20 mins ago)

“Learning to draw is like learning to drive a car,” Danny says. “You just need a few basics and a bit of practice.”


The absurdity of writing/not writing poems

If writing a poem seems absurd – still, why not?  Perhaps it’s equally strange not to write? Our encouragement to write, today, is from Nobel poet, Wislawa Szymborska of Poland

I prefer to leave early.
I prefer talking to doctors about something else.
I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations.
I prefer the absurdity of writing poems
to the absurdity of not writing poems.
I prefer, where love’s concerned, nonspecific anniversaries
that can be celebrated every day.

These few lines are taken from her poem, “Opportunities” – and a lovely example of her (more…)

Scandinavian home craft

Lotta Jansdotter has a worldwide reputation for handprinting patterns which are used on textiles, notebooks and household interiors.

“Can’t find what you want?  Make it!  Don’t know how?  Learn it!” is how her website describes her pragmatic approach, much of her printing based on simple potato cut prints, in repeating patterns.

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Her fabrics are stocked by Windham Fabrics but you can learn the techniques of (more…)