Sunday, 15 January 2012

David Hockney and other thoughts about art in fact a Sunday ramble

David Hockney portrait, well a quick sketch really as he was on the today program this morning, apparently he is the greatest living artist, what with Richard O'Dwyer being extradited to America to stand trial for breach of copyright, where if found guilty he could be locked up for years, I am being naturally cautious about using any pictures from elsewhere on the web, hence the sketch.  

I guess it isn’t so funny down Graduate Lane these days, some of the things we did when we were students, dear oh dear.

Not quite sure how you measure the greatness or for that matter smallness of an artist, however I would guess that whatever the measurement I would count as one of the smallest.

What’s all this got to do with Thanet? Well I suppose I was thinking about our own Turner Contemporary art gallery and what sort of future it has, after all David is showing a new exhibition at The Tate starting this week. At £14 per ticket and booking strongly recommended there may be some potential for The Turner to recoup.

Would I go over to Margate and spend £14 to look at these pictures? Well the answer is yes I would, would people come from all over the place and pay to look at an exhibition like the Hockney one? I think the answer is that they probably would.

I was trying to do a sketch of our own dear Tracey Emin that wasn’t as unkind as my previous ones, as I don’t really think that caricature is the way I want to go with the pencil, when the Today program came on.

Although I don’t use the rubber much for adjustment, I guess most of the whole sketches get rubbed out to make room for more, most just aren’t any good, here are this mornings you see what I mean.

I thought though the Hockney one had better have a bit of watercolour, pencil sketches don’t seem to agree with my camera, which seems to make the paper rather grey and the pencil rather grey.    

I had a chat about the Turner gallery with an artist friend the other day, he didn’t think as much of the youf exhibition as I did, badly hung, he said, the early Turners I said, dreadful he said. Well I won the Turner argument on the palate, which in my opinion hardly changed from when the gallery label said he was 9 but I thought were done when he was 11. Badly labelled I conceded.  

What with Miliband saying that if Labour get in the cuts will go on and one thing or another I guess there will come a time when the Turner will have to look to its laurels, so I wonder out of the 300,000 was it in seven months and guessing only a third would be going too look at the pictures. The rest going to use the café, which after all is the only bit if the building that has the window pointing the right way, at the sunset, that is, or to use the loos, they could still be looking at £1,400,000 I guess more than enough to run the gallery.  

Incidentally a useful tip if you want to add watercolour to a pencil sketch, is to spray it with fixative first as this prevents the pencil from smudging.

Back to David Hockney, it may interest people that for the last few years David, I guess since 2001as my copy of his book about this, “Secret Knowledge” and I doubt he would have said much about it before the book was published, or it wouldn’t have sold that well, came out then. David has been working on a theory that some of the old masters where not as masterly as we thought.

The gist of the thing is that hundreds of years before film was invented they were using something like a camera without film and putting their paper, canvas or possibly even slate where the film would go.

It seems there are a lot more left handed people than one would expect in great paintings, because the lens, pinhole or whatever turns people into a mirror image so the right handed people become left handed, one to look out for in the gallery.

There are often problems on the blogs with people quoting other people wrongly or out of context and a certain amount of editing has to be done, however imagine the difficulties for the people who quoted Martin Luther King Jr. out of context in granite, see 

I guess that as the day progresses I may watch the various Martin Luther King speeches on youtube and have a go at drawing him. Frankly I find it easiest to get a likeness drawing women aged between about 20 and 50. So a black man may present too much of a challenge for me.

I also have considerable difficulty telling if I have managed to get a likeness of anyone because I have a mental block when it comes to recognising anyone. The people who know me well tend to remind me of who they are, it isn’t a case of all black people looking the same to me, but one of trying to recognise who people are regardless of anything much. In fact Jocelyn who is the sectary of the Ramsgate Society and I see about once every two months, the problem goes away with people who I see most weeks, despite the fact that he is a tall black Jamaican, knows me well enough to say, hello Michael it’s Jocelyn when he comes into the bookshop. 

So yes despite the fact that I have drawn him several times if David Hockney came into my bookshop I would probably only get a bit of a notion that I ought to recognise him and try and sos out during any conversation who he actually was. 

When it comes to the watercolouring there is no such thing as a black or white person, just various mixes of red yellow brown and sometimes blue, I suppose if one was really good at it, it would be possible to make up all of the colours from red yellw and blue, like a colour printer does.    
I will ramble on, probably.

Here is a first attempt, to illustrate the point, trying to get at what makes this individual different from the rest of the individuals on the planet.

What I am saying is something like I am in the right ball park and then there is the human propensity to see what we expect to see, I couldn’t for instance draw the inside of a mask, it’s impossible, no matter how well I drew it, your brain would turn the back of a mask into the front of a mask, because it has a propensity to see human faces the right way out.    

After my first attempt at drawing MLK we had a power failure, one thing I can’t do is draw without fairly good light and by the time we had done all the things that needed daylight, that was it. The power is back on now but it is really too late in the day to have another go.


  1. From John Kirby - the Davus Hockney Exhibition has really captured an unknown part of Yorkshire - the Wolds - which he has caught absolutely brilliantly. We saw the programme last week and having known the area fr0om when we lived in Yorkshire for 17 years there is a wealth of history in the East Riding of Yorkshire which is toally unexplored from the the south of england - go and enjoy it John |Kirby

  2. Why don't you go an enjoy it?

  3. From John Kirby

    I have lived in and enjoyed many parts of England - especially Thanet - what a sad response from the anonymous person above me on 1734 - probably needs to get a life -sad man

  4. Well said John Kirby, glad you especially enjoy Thanet - if only some others realised that it could be a lot worse here and there are a lot of nice places.

    The only thing with your post is you say "sad man" - do you know who it is or is it an assumption? If it's an assumption, in the current climate you may be accused of sexism and maybe moodism too! Though you're probably right! It must be about 50% chance in any case. I am not anonymous 17:34 by the way.

    Is East Riding where they grow the lovely tea?

    Keep enjoying Thanet!

  5. From John Kirby Thanks for that 20-47 -seems like a numbers game - i had not considered the sexism bit - but never mind - the tea i believe is based in Harrogate where i used to live - Yorkshire Tea - but the Wolds is on a line from York to Bridlington and is the most under-discovered part of Yorkshire. David Hockney captured the area in all it's beauty - and if I do need to move - which I currently do not - to be with my family - i would certainly enjoy the area as I do the beauty of Thanet.

  6. John I should very much like to see both the exhibition and the Wolds. Anonymous comment is a bit of an odd one, but I don’t think you need to worry that much about being PC when responding to it.

  7. What a total load of Tosh.

  8. I lived in York for a couple of years. It's a wonderful city. So were the people. Yorkshire has some stunning scenery. Which is best viewed on TV. Yorkshire has a foul climate.

  9. I love Yorkshire and I love Thanet, but I can see beauty in most places. It is people I have difficulty with.

  10. Careful John H you used a word with "mate" in it. This could be misconstrued as sexist, or indeed any other "ist". Better stick to "long term weather patterns".
    And why isn't Harriet HarMAN really Harriett Harperson?


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