Apr 29th

Cats of Skaboeuff

By Mat

Cats of Skaboeuff

 

95% polished toward sense, my 'play' for today - over on Drysailorboy - f f ref :) 

 

Union jack: hugely symbolic.

Top floors overhang the glistening cobbles.  Houses have names like Captain’s Rest, the Skipper’s Return; narrow dwellings toward a delightful harbour.

Our own rental is the narrowest of all the houses.  At  Boatswain’s Folly, and as is our rental privilege, we removed the rusting eighteenth century name-plate, retired the letters to our skip, and now gleaming and welcoming Seaview hangs over the entrance-way.  Much more appropriate and revealing of the property’s quality.

Although, as I alluded before, our house serves as Seagulls’ Toilet.  Windows are lacquered in sheets of shit, guano curtains the vista.  Other gulls live in cliffs to our left side under the castle walls.

The cats, constant companions, are resilient in the face of the bird menace.

bagpuss

Boris prowls the alleys, his todger scents every lamp post – and our kitchen – if he has broken and entered again.  I rush him with the broom handle when he ejaculates on my socks, my washing piled, [although advantages – see M&S patrol].  I am grateful for the social interaction with a real man, and for because Pepper, our own official cat is a dreadful guard cat and gay, probably, difficult to establish and not relevant.  I love gay cats, quite gay myself but not a gay cat.  STOP.  He lies bare-chested and alluring whilst Boris ravages teacups and our biscuits.  Boris completes the nap in my armchair and farts,  prowls for skank Shelby and her alley-cat attitudes.  Dirty Shelby is the white cat and very dirty, a smudge of black on her thigh.  Harlot of all the hours, she runs up into the centre of town with the folk, and is more of a rat cat, I believe.  Shocked to find her drinking at men’s feet outside the terrorist pub.

The town, home to this one [and only] Red Hand Commando, [& Rangers FC] outpost in the whole of England.  Exotic blue, white and red banners billow above windows proclaiming Britischer Velkommen [good], and where, on our special days, the 5th, the 12th,  and the 25th, our men in the bowler hats and the orange sausages, sasheses, and drums, the whole pot doggerel, bang past our windows.  A key in my door and I am unavailable for lynching.  Bloody marvellous in my estimation, bastion of Ulster pop music unheralded for one hundred miles. ’Take me home Shankhill Road’ blasts out the pub doors.

Enoch rushes to this hardest pub in England.  My boy is indestructible.

twits in Cov

Enoch & Companion Lyserger Acid

‘Hallo chappies,’ he says, ‘wonderful, your sectarian nonsense, and my father’s hobby, y’know?’ he says.

Surrounded by bullet heads he is flushed seven times according to the masonic ritual, and  throttled among drip trays.

‘Stop,’ cries the landlord, who finds him the amusing dandy souvenir, aside parrot and bullets.  And such is my quality in rearing eccentric history fanatics.

Enoch relays to them,  he shall be back to play guitar medley for Battle of the Boyne fireworks, but stumbles, a traitor across the cobbles, to the Happy Shamrock which dominates the left curb, and he consumes eight pints of their Guinness novelty.  Skaboeuff is like Lilliput.

As to my own outpost and flagpole – the hotel bar years might be upon one? Thinking to find the swishest hotel up in in town, don military blazer from the Oxfam, set me  barside as raconteur,  and poppy the size of my face.  Maybe some medals, my Blue Peter badges?  I’ll keep you all posted.

In reference to primary Olympian pursuits, the 4000 is jolly polished.  I think ten days until my deadlines [or get a job, prick].  I insert extra erotica, and find the erotica more stimulating than the boring story laid underneath her metaphor. Maybe I should cut to the chase, write a 4000 gang-shag, by god what stamina, BORING maybe I should smear some shit on our walls?

When I feel this way in my shit it is time for a swim.  It is like Reykjavik  in that North harbour, and I am certainly very brave with a total nude immersion and strokes in the steely waters, my hands are numb, and my head aches, my penis is a sturdy rudder, as ever.  I swim in full view, but to date none of the tourist buses have slowed, and none of the by-standers have cheered me on, although the black dog took my boots.  A fool stood in the off-licence, with my one boot and my two feet on my feet.  They would, finally they would take my card and the lady said – did I need a lift to my hospital?

Probably that’s what she said.  I have said how pipple talk the 18c English up here in the regional masterpiece, and I am learning fast, luvves.  Yes, I think another display swim @ 4pm.  Surf report says 10 foot for Tuesday.  Great anxiety for I shall die in the sea on Tuesday.  All the best, Alfred the Great exile, retired amateur-pro surfer, and blogger. x

 

See below – proper Brighton surf  @6 foot 2016

board n boat

shorts c/o Powerpaint, thank you

Apr 29th

The music of the times. Well, the 'Star'

By mike

The music of the times - well, the ‘Star’

 ‘.....It was a time when I was not the lenient, almost foolishly good natured critic I have since become...’

                                        Bernard Shaw   (The ‘Star’  15 August of 1877.  ‘Vocalists of the Season’)

 

      There is a source for the music of the late Victorian period.   Bernard Shaw had been a music critic.  He reviewed concerts from 1876 to 1893 for the ‘Star’ newspaper

     A London theatre has been presenting a season of Oscar Wilde plays and a few days ago I saw their new production of ‘An Ideal Husband‘  Among the cast are Edward Fox and his son Freddie Fox. 

     A local cinema lists this production as a live screening on 05/06/2018.  It might be shown at a cinema near you.

   Edward Fox plays Lord Caversham and his son plays Lord Goring.  Goring is the son of Lord Caversham.  Goring is often portrayed as an image of Wilde.  When Lord Caversham asks his son, “Do you always really understand what you say, sir?” and his son  replies, “Yes, father, if I listen attentively,”  perhaps a certain frisson has been added to the scene due to the actors’ relationship?

   In these productions, the theatre curtains are drawn while the set is changed.    

   During these intervals, some of the cast emerge from the wings and entertain the audience with  songs and music of the period.  In ‘An Ideal Husband’ a violinist plays what I think is ‘salon’ music.  

 

   I have three huge volumes of Shaw’s music criticism on my bookshelves.  I cannot really recommend them as general reading.  I think I got them in a remainder shop many years ago.  I thumbed through the first volume last night.  In an article published in the ‘Scottish Music Monthly of Dec 1894, Shaw explains why he became a music critic.

     ‘.....My own plan was a simple one. I joined the staff of a new daily paper as a leader writer. My exploits in this department spread such terror and confusion that my proposal to turn my attention to music criticism was hailed with inexpressible relief.....’  

     In the ’Star‘ ( 4th October 1889)  he begins a review titled ‘A Defence of Ballet’ with the comment: ‘....it is all but thirteen years  since I went to the Lyceum  theatre one November evening to hear the Carl Rosa Opera company perform..”    It was a time, he comments, when: ’.... I was not the lenient, almost foolishly good natured critic I have since become.....’

 

    The English musical word can only offer great thanks for the mellowing of Mr Shaw.  On the 15 August of 1877 in article called ‘Vocalists of the Season’ he notes Madame Antoinette Stirling’  ‘......She is a perfectly unconventional artist....of the safe old croaking school..”  

      Shaw approves of her recital but notes the accepted method of singing ballads:

     “Mrs Stirling’s style is coloured by a remarkable mannerism.   Such peculiarities, however, are invariably attractive.  It is only affectation that repels.  Ballad singing is usually accompanied by coquettish smirks a smile at the end of each stave, and an absurd prolongation of the pathetic phrases, by way of apology for the absence of legitimate effect.  The mob applauds and the judicious hearer recoils ...’

      This must be the Puritan Shaw speaking but he was an advocate -almost a disciple  - of Wagner.   His portrayal of the ballad singer of 1877 is much as the singer would be portrayed today. I recall they were portrayed in this fashion in the two earlier plays in the Wilde season.

      An American paper ‘The Poverty Bay Herald 29, June 1893’  reviews a recital of Madame Antoinette Stirling in a favourable light and lists the ballads she sings.  ‘The Lost Chord’ by Sullivan is s ballad that is still recalled.

Apr 26th

The Jewelled Sea  

By Gerry

I’m just being a bit mystical here, so please feel free to ignore.

 

*****

 

In 627 A.D., King Edwin of Northumbria considered converting to Christianity but first he consulted his advisers. One spoke up approximately as follows: “The present life of man upon earth, O king, seems to me like to the flight of a sparrow through the house where you sit at supper with your ealdormen and thanes, while the fire blazes and the hall is warmed. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out another, is safe from the weather for a short space, but then it vanishes from our sight. That is how our lives appear, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing certain at all” (adapted from Bede, Ecclesiastical History of England, chapter XIII).

 

For many people “nothing certain at all” remains more or less the verdict, though there have been attempts to remedy that.

 

In 1882 the Society for Psychical Research was set up to collect and scrutinise the numerous accounts that suggested some sort of afterlife. The accounts kept coming, mostly published independently of the SPR. For instance, in 1940 Air Chief Marshall Hugh Dowding, the victor of the Battle of Britain, was sacked for saving world civilization so decided to fly even higher by investigating the Beyond. Casting about for the best sources of information, he chose the likes of Life Beyond the Veil (Rev. G. Vale Owen), The Living Dead Man (Elsa Barker) and Gone West (J.S.M. Ward), publishing extracts from these in his resulting book, Many Mansions (1943). More recently, celebrated mediums such as Betty Shine, Gordon Smith and Doris Stokes have published well-received volumes of their experiences.

 

Not everyone is impressed by this. A frequent verdict is the revelations are either too saccharine or too mundane. To put it flippantly, post-mortem existence reduces – in some accounts at least – to a matter of mixing with nice people in nice places and finding nice things to do – unless, of course, you’ve been nasty, in which case you find nasty people, nasty places, and not much nice to do.

 

Some descriptions, however, are more inspiring, carrying a sense of extra dimensions. Like actually seeing the sap in a tree. Like actually perceiving the life force in each creature. Like actually seeing the soul inside a person (so there can be no fibbing in “Summerland”; you’re an open book.) And the colours are more glorious. And everyone looks closer to their ideal self. And everything shimmers at the edges.

 

Of course, the sceptic can retort, “Nah, it’s just a load of wish-fulfilment” but such a verdict, though pleasingly emphatic, is hard to prove. It’s a bit like claiming the town of Los Cristianos in Tenerife cannot exist because, for some people, it fulfils their wishes as a holiday destination.

 

Talking of holidays, let’s stay with Tenerife because the island provides a handy angle on travel writing, which is what we’re talking about here – for both the saccharine accounts and the inspiring ones are travellers tales of a sort, albeit to destinations where return travel is notoriously difficult to arrange (though not impossible if we’re talking about those deathbed resuscitations known acronymically as NDEs – or Near Death Experiences).

 

Consider it like this. First-time visitors to Los Cristianos might be delighted to find Irish pubs aplenty and no lack of cafes serving full English breakfasts. Their postcards home might therefore describe the pleasures of quasi-familiar treats, along with a certain amount of adapting to local practice. In effect: “mixing with nice people in nice places and finding nice things to do.”

 

Other travellers, though, may head out of town and send back very different reports, enthusing about the volcano and its quasi-lunar surroundings, or heading away from tourist spots entirely to seek the lesser known spots in the island.

 

So far so familiar, but let us now despatch our correspondents further into the metaphorical Beyond. Some will explore so far they send back tales of scarcely describable scenery, scarcely describable experiences, scarcely describable relationships.

 

After a while, they go so far out that words can’t do the job any more.

 

And eventually “the dew-drop slips into the shining sea” (as Sir Edwin Arnold put it: The Light of Asia, 1879).

 

So let us not despair if a few accounts are thuddingly mundane. Descriptions will be as variable as the people who send them.

 

If this analogy doesn’t do a complete job, let’s try another. I’ve always quite favoured the great water-cycle view of human existence. The idea is we fall from clouds in the form of raindrops, then arrive on earth where we have various adventures – soaking into the soil perhaps, getting drawn into grass, eaten by a cow, leaving the cow by a milking machine, arriving in someone’s kitchen, being poured onto Weetabix, getting scraped down the sink with the portions that weren’t eaten, flowing through various pipes, becoming cleaned in a sewage farm, and so on. The analogy is somewhat rambunctious, but the key point is all the adventures happen in or on solid ground, and can therefore represent earthly existence. So far.

 

Eventually, though, the myriad drops arrive at a river and move away from solid ground. They have now arrived metaphorically at the first part of the Beyond, staying approximately within sight of terra firma and therefore maintaining semi-earthlike outlooks and concerns. Finally, however, the river widens, the banks recede, and they flow into the sea, leaving the land behind and becoming absorbed in the magnificent rolling immensity.

 

(Ah yes, how I loved to play on the beach at Whitby – age eight or nine – stopping every now and then to stare at the great blue yonder. Just that, stopping to stare.)

 

By the way, if you favour reincarnation, the droplet can always evaporate again – maybe from the sea, maybe the river – and return to the clouds, ready for another episode of earthly ups and downs.

 

Here comes a big question, though: would it be the same droplet? Let’s remember that line from Sir Edwin Arnold: “The dewdrop slips into the shining sea.” Does the drop lose its surface tension and thereby merge entirely with its neighbours, thus ceasing to be itself?

 

Annihilation or expansion?

 

There’s actually quite an appeal to the great merging, the great absorption – even the great cosmic loss-of-self. (Come on, it can be a drag, can’t it, staying relentlessly tethered to yourself?)

 

But there’s also a substantial appeal to not getting annihilated. After all, it would be a mighty waste if, at the end of a life – or perhaps numerous lives – well spent, with lessons learned, virtues stacked and merits accumulated, we promptly cease to exist.

 

So what’s the solution?

 

Well, let me tell you about a dream.

 

To be honest, it wasn’t a dream but a session of hypnosis. I’d decided, somewhat untypically, to indulge my curiosity and try some past-life regression. The hypnosis itself was a delight: you’re both awake and not awake (a state worthy of much pondering), but the results were mixed. I found the alleged past lives tedious – can scarcely remember them now – but the in-between portions were thrilling, especially as follows.

 

A tedious ex-life had just finished, and I was most likely travelling towards another, but in the meantime I was afloat inside a jewelled sea. Diamonds, rubies, amethysts, sapphires, emeralds, citrines, aquamarines, every colour imaginable – and you can add a few that aren’t. They floated over and about me, welcoming and rounded. Maybe the resulting environment should have been sharp-edged and jostling, but my clear recollection is the jewels were soft as bubbles, amiable as balloons.

 

Nonetheless, they still had their facets, myriad and glittering.

 

Now, those facets seemed – and this is a key impression – to be hard-won personality traits. I felt I was surrounded by actual beings, human or otherwise, each jewel shining with hard-won virtues, its rough edges smoothed, honourable scars perfected, and facets dizzyingly multiplied.

 

But how did they shine? Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and the rest are dull unless light passes through and around them. They need an environment of light. Otherwise they are scarcely worth calling jewels. Blank. Empty.

 

At this point I must go beyond the dream – extrapolate from it rather than just remember – because it seems to me that the light can provide a response to the great mystical question: are we ultimately annihilated? Or not?

 

The latter, I would suggest.

 

What happens, arguably, is the light renders each jewel greater than it ever was. That light – here’s the mystical paradox – gives each being access to the entire universe. The furthest jewel is joined to all others by light, as if via a vast cosmic internet. The most obscure details and wonders become shared because of the light that shines through all. It is omnipresence. It is the fibre-optic cable without need of fibre. It is the whole universe. It is home.

 

Well, anyway, that’s how it appears to me when I contemplate the dream from afar. And yes, it was a dream under hypnosis, which may or may not affect its validity. But – getting back to earth – does it have any resonance? I mean, we’re all built on standard mammalian lines: head, thorax, abdomen, four limbs, five senses. We are regrettably delicate creatures, with easily lacerated skin and cringingly vulnerable innards. So, here’s the thing, can we really contemplate ourselves as jewels?

 

Not physically, no. Not literally either. But how about imaginatively? Could I envisage you, the next person, the creature in the mirror, as a jewel – unlimited by size or situation, lit from within and without, facets shimmering till they swallow the entire person in dazzle?

 

Well, we all have our aspects, our hard-won struggles, we are all multi-talented authors of our own lives, amalgams of scarce imagined capacities, midwife helpers of others, co-creators of the planet around us. Connected. Shining. Being.

 

So let’s not rule it out.

 

No, let’s not do that.

 

And the raindrop that fell to earth may have had a Dickensian life of tough luck and lowly transformations, poor thing, but every now and then it could nonetheless catch the light and sparkle with riotous glee.

 

And the travellers to Tenerife may have rolled drunkenly from pub to breakfast caff with only a few snores in between, but they could still exult in the glorious sun and smile its reflection to each other.

 

And the sparrow that flew across King Edwin’s feasting hall was not so much a refugee from harsh weather as an ambassador from regions of infinite rolling colours – swarming with light, nay dazzling with light, indeed jewelled with light unending.

 

*****

 

Footnote: I do not, of course, seek to persuade anyone by this piece. I am merely enthusing, as I might about, say, the music of Louis Armstrong or the paintings of John Martin.

Apr 24th

That telly thing

By Skylark

There's a telly thing I've not been allowed to talk about and now I can talk about it a little bit. If you're interested in finding out what I've been up to in the last year, turn on ITV next Tuesday, 8pm. That's all I can say for now!

Apr 20th

Victorian Gothic

By mike

      A billboard at a London railway terminus advertises a work of contemporary fiction with the words ‘All the sinister thrills of Victorian Gothic‘  Over the past week I have been reading one of the sources of this Gothic:  ‘The face in the Glass and other Gothic Tales’ by Mary Elizabeth Braddon’

    I picked this off the shelves of my local library.   It is a selection of her stories published by the British Library; the selection is made by a curator.  Until relatively recently these stories were not available. They were originally published in Victorian periodicals and access was limited to universities and the library itself.

    I checked on google and the book is still available. Perhaps it is on the shelves of your local library?    There were three comments on Amazon, the third being ‘boring and dated’  This may be the contemporary verdict.  It is not my opinion and I enjoyed reading all the stories.  I have read other of her novels.  She is best remembered for ‘Lady Audley’s Secret.’ but I recall ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ which is Madame Bovary transported to the English countryside,

    I notice the BBC are producing yet another version of ‘Wilkie Collins’s ‘A Woman in White’  I saw a musical of this earlier in the year.  The composer is Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber. On the day I saw it, the very small theatre was half full/half empty.’ I enjoyed the production which made the most of the ‘sensational’ novel.

   I have no critical abilities and thought the stories well written. I am, however, used to reading Victorian popular fiction.     Some of you write ghost stories and the book might be of interest to you.  Perhaps the book is on your library shelves?  The price on Amazon is £8.99  which seems a bit steep,  Somebody posted ‘would  read a story that is badly written?”  Or one that is ‘boring and dated?”   I certainly can.   Her spirited heroines ride carriages with Cee springs and, if you know South London, one heroine on hard times lives off the Walworth Road and, for recreation, walks to Dulwich picture gallery. 

    From previous researches, I understood that there had been an attempt to give Mary Elizabeth greater recognition.  It is a pity the BBC had not dramatised ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ rather than ‘The Woman in White’ as her novels had been as popular as Collins had been.

    Braddon had been an actress and a few of the stories reflect the Victorian theatre . One is a rather horrifying variation on ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray.’

 

 

Apr 20th

Hindsight

By Dolly

The only time I seem to talk simple, straight forward, unambiguous sense, is in hindsight. I'm looking at a teabag in an empty cup waiting for the water. A thought walks slowly and deliberately to the front of my mind and says: 'I really shouldn't have said that, or not said it, or done or not done it.' I say this because my mind is in hindsight and that's the only thought I have. I suppose, in some sense, its an original thought, as there aren't any other thoughts there, which would mean it wouldn't be an original thought, because millions of people must have thought the same thing at one time or other. Unfortunately, this situation doesn't last long, as other thoughts amble up, gather round the original thought, and mutter among themselves. This creates a slight hum, which slowly increases in speed and sound until a babble ensues. This in turn, also gathers in speed and sound, signalling the end of any sort of common sense.

Apr 18th

What's in a name?

By Tony

I met a guy last Sunday who had been working in Egypt for the Petrescue Bible Institute; he showed me his card and that's what it said. I had to ask.

'What's a Bible Institute got to do with pet rescue?'

Turns out the founder of the Institute is called Petrescue - pronounced pe-TRESS-cue. I never found out whether it meant anything significant in Egyption.

Have any of you guys come across odd names on your travels?

Apr 14th

a few seconds of fame

By mike

  

    Yesterday I had my few minutes of fame.  This was no choice of mine and events occurred at random.   I had attended a play in which the theater had been turned into a TV quiz show.  We, the audience, doubled as the audience of this show.

     That morning, I turned up at the theater and the usher at the kiosk allotted me a seat for the evening’s performance.  It was a random choice of a seat with a restricted view.

      My appearance at the theater on that day was a random choice too. I had intended to go to the opening night, but there had been a gas leak in the road occupied by the theater. It had been closed for that evening. The next day the road was still closed.  My attendance was postponed till yesterday.

      In the evening, I took my seat at the theatre, and found I was in a box to the side of the  stage.   An usher then spoke to me and said that I should leave the seat to my immediate right severely alone.  It was to be used an actor.  

     It transpired that this actor was the wife of the hero of the play who is a contestant in the game show.  He  is later prosecuted for attempting to defraud the show for their million pound prize.

  I have absolutely no idea why his wife should have been in the audience next to me.

    There were two video cameras on the stage and a screen to the rear of the backdrop, unto which images were projected.

    When a video camera was pointed at the wife in the box, I found that my face was also projected onto the screen at the rear of the stage.

    At the conclusion of the play, I left by an exit which had been opened into a side street. On the pavement, one of the audience was being slowly lowered into a wheelchair.  I waited in the doorway to prevent the people behind me pushing us all  into the wheelchair.  

    The gentleman turned to me and said, “Ah!  You were the face on the screen!’” 

     In that second my moment of fame occurred.

     We laughed and I proceeded on my way home.

 

   This sort of dramatic presentation is not new to me.  About thirty years ago, I went to theatrical evening classes and my ideas were met with rather blank incomprehension.  I remember suggesting that Hamlet should be staged around the National Theatre building and not in the theater itself - though one could stage the play within the play in one of the auditoriums.   I  saw a play there a few weeks ago in which two of the actors played a scene by the river in front of the theater.   The actors had left the stage and their images were projected on a screen at the rear of the stage.  This stage  represented a TV news programme.   Why two people going for a walk by the river  - to be on their own - should be accompanied by a video camera, does rather escape me.  The same couple bonked on the stage in a restaurant which was part of the stage set, The director is Dutch which might explain things.   It was all great fun and quite a whiz round the topic of internetology.

  As for  my suggestion of taking the band out of the orchestra pit and putting it on the stage all that time ago!   Well!  Total  disbelief!   It is now difficult to see a play where there is not a band on the stage.  I was thirty years in advance!

 

  The view from the box was restricted, in that the left wing of the stage was not in view and, occasionally, an actor was out of my site line. But I could see and hear everything very clearly.  

   

Apr 11th

Writing a series?

By Squidge

Just embarked on book 2 of 5 in a series; book 1's out with both my current publisher and a UK based one to see what they think.  

Series writing has its own pitfalls and problems, so I've linked to a couple of articles over on the Scribbles, and mused a bit about the new addition to the Doubt Demon family who's appeared, simply because I'm trying to write a series...

Wondered if any cloudies have anything else to add to the list of what to avoid in a series (either through writing or reading), or anything you've done that's helped you write your own series? 

 

 

Apr 10th

Is It Art?

By Barny

Clebs and I moved recently, from Surrey to Devon, with the aim of getting a slightly different lifestyle, and we’ve rented a house close to the centre of a small-but-not-too-small town, chosen specifically so we can easily walk to its facilities. That has worked rather well: it’s rather pleasant, Clebs and I have found, to be able to walk for five minutes to get necessities or to indulge ourselves, without having to drive. The town has enough shops to meet most needs, including an impressive hardware store that sells nails by weight :-)

Last night was my first watercolour class at the local Arts Centre, which is a three minute walk away. Not quite so big as the arts centre I used to go to life drawing classes at in Bracknell - like maybe two rooms and a kettle instead of twenty including a bar and delightful small cinema - but ten miles closer to our home.

I’ve dabbled in watercolour a little before and just like writing what I’ve discovered is that going to a class forces me to do some art that I otherwise would find some excuse not to do.

Picture this: Barny meanders out of the pouring rain (the weather options this year seem to be rain or snow, don’t they?) into the classroom five minutes early and everyone else is already there and obviously knows each other well, and our tutor Richard (a cyclist, which seems very optimistic considering the weather options this year) then points at an arrangement of a vase of daffodils and a red metal coffee pot and optimistically asks/tells us to paint a still life without perspective! And using solid blocks of colour! This was a shock, because for me the challenges of painting have been mainly about getting better at drawing in perspective to be able to then paint a realistic scene in perspective, and using colour mixing, wet-in-wet and other techniques to build form (as they say on the Great British Painting Challenge). This abrupt pulling away of the rug of 3-dimensional representation was a bit like telling an author to write with only words of six letters or less, or using sentences of no more than eight words. That sounds a bit over-dramatic, doesn’t it. Yes it wasn’t that dramatic really, but still it was a surprise to me.

I won’t share the resulting painting with you. It wasn’t so bad, but also not that good, despite Richard’s optimistic encouragement. What I’m really hoping is that by practising I’ll get better, because I do believe strongly that the whitespace ‘unknown unknowns’ territory beyond what we can already do automatically/easily is a place that can only be explored by taking a step into that unknown: sometimes you’ll stub your toe and promise yourself never to put your foot in that particular spot again, but sometimes you’ll step into a whole new world and discover something new and interesting with scope for further discovery.

And that’s the point of this blog: what have you discovered by trying something different that you’ve never tried before, by taking a bit of a risk? And how much has failing contributed to your learning?

 

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