In 1970, Geoffrey Bardon was teaching elementary school art in New South Wales when he could no longer ignore the emotional struggles of his Aboriginal students. In an effort to gain insight, he applied for a teaching post in a remote government assimilation centre 240 kilometres west of Alice Springs. In his diary, he described Papunya as “a hidden place, unknown on maps, considered by officials as a problem place,” where 1400 people had been gathered from scattered tribal groups, having been forced from their land and way of life.
Monthly Archives: December, 2017
In 1954, when Ernest Hemingway learned that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature, he remarked, “This prize belongs to Cuba, since my works were conceived and created here, with the inhabitants of Cojimar, of which I am a citizen.” Attracted at first by marlin and swordfish, Hemingway fell in love with Cuba and moved here in 1939.
For Hemingway, Cuba meant new scenery, new people and a clean start.
At the foot of an apple orchard in the village of Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire stood a hut that for 36 years was off-limits to all but one person.
Nestled at the end of a lime-treed path, the hut paid homage to another, distant hut — a converted garage perched on a cliff edge overlooking the Taf Estuary in Laugharne, Wales. This is where Dylan Thomas spent the last four years of his life, writing, among others, Under Milk Wood, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night, Over Sir John’s Hill and Poem on His Birthday.
Did you ever stop to wonder why Inuit art is so expressive? Swept up in its mystery and magic, did you ever wonder if you could learn anything from it? In my books, there are five main elements that have brought us this gift from the north. I think they’re worth taking a look at:
The natural, childlike nature of the artists. The Eskimo are playful. Traditionally, they met the stresses of long winters in close quarters with games and amusements.
In 1898, 28-year-old Charles Frederick Goldie returned to his hometown of Auckland, New Zealand after studying painting at the Academie Julian in Paris. He moved into his former art teacher’s studio in Auckland and the two began co-working on a large-scale, historical painting – like Raft of the Medusa – depicting the arrival of the Māori people to New Zealand.
Friends give books because they need to help you with their thinking. Fortunately, or unfortunately, most of my friends are pleasantly agreeable. Here are some from under our tree:
Vincent van Gogh: The Drawings — This is a big fat museum catalogue with lots of illustrations and touching excerpts from Vincent’s letters to his brother Theo, and others. We see his life-loving, inventive, optimistic mind as well as technical delights such as the ‘perspective frame’ that Vincent used for six formative years.
In R.J. Palacio’s 2012 children’s novel Wonder, about a boy living with a rare medical facial difference, a middle school teacher named Mr. Browne encourages his fifth grade class to use precepts to guide the school year. “Like a motto,” says Mr. Browne. “Any saying or ground rule that can motivate you.” On the first day of school, Mr. Browne writes on the blackboard, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.”
Artists and art-material suppliers come together at Pearl Paint’s Great American Art Event in New York. “Secrets” here are bought, sold and given away. Popular instructors demonstrate “trees, rocks and water” or “fruit, vegetables and lace” or “how to paint ‘itty bitty’ paintings” or “how to master abstraction.” With lots of free paint, brushes, stretched canvas and art boards, it’s a creative rummage. For many, the gods are in the equipment. Others come for motivation or inspiration. Most are looking for techniques to match the quality of today’s materials.
A subscriber wrote, “Do you ever get stuck? I’m not producing, yet I have endless ideas. I have a studio doggie, take walks in nature, eat well — all the right stuff — but I’m still stuck. There’s some kind of block when I come back to the cabin. Any ideas?”
n addition to the pillars of a studio dog, a daily walk and a quality snack, one other mysterious component could perhaps aid in the recovery of the blocked artist.