What does art do?

This tremendous quote was drawn by artist David Bailin – more at his website here.


When you think about it – has this quote applied to you recently?  And how could you build that expectation into your next artworks, or the way in which we see them?  Does it have implications for the cinema and the way in which it shows its artworks?


Cartoons Exhibition: at the Oxymoron Museum with John Atkinson

Always one to darken the door of an art exhibition, and having curated two myself, this diagram, spotted on Twitter this morning, made me laugh.  Delightful.

Plan of Oxymoron Museum

categories of display at the Oxymoron Museum

John Atkinson, drawer of this cartoon, has his work exhibited in Time Magazine.  There’s a reason: it’s clever, perceptive and give you a smile or roar with laughter.  (Which, after all, is what we want from a cartoon).

You can follow John’s work at his website Wrong Hands.

Here are a few more gems:


Progress of a Painting

Watching paint dry” is an English expression for a very boring experience – but when it’s watching time-lapse of a fine art painting, it’s rather more interesting.  This video shows us a few weeks’ work on a painting by artist Jean-Jacques Pigeon.  At which stage do you most prefer the picture?


You can find more of Pigeon’s artwork on his website.

More videos made by production company L’arte en boite



Rhythm of time – editing film/video

Youtube channel Every Frame a Painting (Tony Zhou) has featured on this blog before, illustrating action gags on film by Buster Keaton.  Today, I got caught up in another of his masterful short 10 minute videos “How does an Editor think and feel” – about finding rhythm in film/video editing.  However, as I listen, I hear it as more than that, it’s about finding rhythm in poetry, in speaking, in life – and the importance of time for thought process, belief and experience.

People aren’t machines – we need time to feel the emotion – and if the movie doesn’t give it to us, we don’t believe it – Every Frame a Picture


Colour, textiles, art – Sheila Hicks

I’ve already posted an article on Sheila Hicks earlier in 2017, but I just came across fresh evidence of her adventurous colour palette and soft touchy-feely art.  There’s a playful inviting fun in her Venice Biennale giant pompoms – see this 3 minute video:


and her simple but gorgeous wall piece in a formal company meeting room:

As you approach the work, you begin to see great subtlety in the range of coloured threads used – what looks like a block of the same colour becomes a mix, as you see it up close.

People who cry in front of paintings

I’m making soup and reading this book: “Pictures & Tears” by James Elkins.  His theory is that “Most of us, I think, have never cried in front of paintings, or even felt anything very strong.” (page ix) so he then examines the ‘unusual’ cases of those who do find artwork moving.

Right off the bat, this book interested me: because I strongly disagree.  I have definitely found paintings moving and that has included tears.  Anecdotally, I find my friends tend to be moved, also, by art – although admittedly many of my friends share my interest in art.  I was intrigued to see what his findings were (he invited fellow art historians and put general inquiries in newspapers and journals – he had 400 replies).

Who is the author?  James Elkins is an art historian and critic – he wrote this book in 2001, but has published many art history books and continues to tour and give lectures, worldwide.  He’s refreshingly readable and understandable.

When the book arrived, it was a gift – part of a range of books all given to me at the same time.  So, of course, it was difficult to settle on one.  In the end, I have read the book in parts, but not totally and not from page one to page 272.  So – here I go.  I’ll let you know the book review, once completed.

Creative Takeaways

In the meantime, Dr Elkins has given some tips to encourage deeper experiences with paintings:

  1. Visit galleries alone
  2. Don’t be overwhelmed by trying to see everything, pick one or two rooms and then pick ONE painting/artwork to concentrate on
  3. Minimise distractions.  Pick an artwork in a space where fewer people are passing e.g. in a corner
  4. Take your time.  Look at it.  Stand back. Look again.  Sit down and relax.  Walk away, come back and see it afresh.
  5. Pay full attention, until you are almost absorbed into the picture.
  6. Do your own thinking.  You can read up a bit, take an audio tour – but still think for yourself about the artwork.
  7. Look for people who are really looking.  If they spend time with the same artwork, and will talk to you later, they often have an interesting story to connect with it
  8. Be faithful.  Keep coming back, to look at the same artwork.


Having written all that, it strikes me that this could be interesting dating advice, in moderation.  The other person/artwork could certainly not complain of lack of attention….




A sight for the ears – exhibition tie-in

Edinburgh, Scotland: Last night, I was at the book launch of a pamphlet book of poetry “Seen/Unseen” written in response to the artworks in an exhibition “Hidden Gems” at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh.

There was a brilliant turnout, in part due to the fact that there were 30 poets involved and most of them were there to read their poems.  Kate Hastie mc-ed the event, having curated the book and the writers – all like herself drawn from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities.  Or, to put it another way, many doing Masters and PhDs in Literature or Writing.  And to put it another way, rather likely to be our next generation of published professional writers.

The poets were responding to artworks such as the picture and sculpture shown (photos from City Art Centre website)