Friday, 11 June 2010

Reflections on art and music a parent’s perspective or why I can’t get out of the back French windows due to the string.

My children are to a greater or lesser extent able to play some musical instruments and although not at all good at this myself, I have always insisted on certain criteria for this endeavour, namely that the musical instruments they use must be of reasonable quality and in tune.

I also insist that if they play a chord it must be one that actually exists, I am sure that there are areas where free expressions is a good idea, but for one reason or another I prefer it if it is other people’s children that go on the quest to find the lost chord and from a long way off.

With this the music lessons that they get as extras when at school have the same rigorous demands, by this I mean that when one of my children are for instance playing “Ode to Joy” it is recognisably that tune.

Now for some reason that is quite beyond me this quality of recognition doesn’t seem to extend into the visual arts, nor to the other criteria of good quality materials and a framework similar to chords so that things appear right rather than wrong.

Now my feelings are that it is much easier for the teacher to look away than to shut off their hearing, so if say a child is taught to paint a picture of a particular garden and it isn’t recognisably that particular garden , then for some reason this doesn’t matter.

I believe this is called free expression, unfortunately the idea here was developed by artists who were able to draw a garden that was defiantly recognisable as the right garden and then wanted to go one further.

Now there are loads of things that I have great reservations about their ability to be taught to anyone regardless of their natural ability, singing dancing to name two, but I would honestly say that there isn’t a person in a normalish state of physical health who cant be taught to play the lead to “smoke on the Water” on a guitar that is in tune or “Ode to Joy” on the piano, at least to the point where anyone can recognise it.

The same applies to drawing, hence the string, now if you stand say a yard or so away from an open window and look at the view from it, it is not for most people easy to draw what they see, so this is what I did today with respect to teaching children to draw.

The picture above shows this and it may be helpful to anyone wishing to teach their children to draw too.

You really do need an artists easel for this and Lovely’s in Cliftonville have some good ones on special offer at the moment.

First get a tape measure and mark of round your window frame equal distances, I used distances of one foot for this, then get some drawing pins and string and square of your open window as shown in the picture above.

Next get some paper attached to a bit of stiff board and square that off too.

Place your child where he she wants to stand to paint and draw round their feet so they are always standing in the same place when looking at what they are going to draw the picture of.

Then tell them to draw in what they see through each string square on the corresponding square on the paper.

One final thought it is important to shut one eye when looking at the view through the string squares.


  1. Hmmm. I think you could have wangled your way into a job at the Turner Centre there Michael! lol

  2. No way doc the youf of today’s picture is already looking recognisably the right garden, see what I mean, I don’t think anything would be acceptable at the TC that was either – recognisable as art outside of a gallery or worst still you could recognise the place the art was supposed to represent – perhaps something that represented gardenness is about as far as you could get away with.

    Next time you are in the Droit House observe how careful the people who work there are not to leave anything about that could be mistaken for art, their shopping for tonight’s salad could for instance have the critics raving about sculptic representations of horticultural symbolic dietary harmony.


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