The Old Person of Basing
Perhaps you are familiar with Edward Lear and his ‘Nonsense Poems’. Well I’m not an avid reader of same, but he seems to have had some fun writing his stuff. (Or is it strutting his stuff) Anyway…
‘The Old Person of Basing’ painting is based on the poem of the same name, by Edward Lear.
I got off into one of my studious private viewings of my ‘gallery’. And the whole Turner idea of looking at my ‘family’ (at least I think it was Turner who considered his paintings to be his ‘children’) led me to the fresh realisation that I’m interested in almost all marks I’ve ever made. Now that is quite a confession. As of course I am the only person in the world who is interested in every mark I’ve made.😆
As I might have mentioned in an earlier blog – I hardly ever throw a piece of work away. There are no failures. Are there any successes? – I’m not sure – depends how you measure success.
What I am sure of is that I made every mark. And sometimes as I view them, especially at a much later date, I wonder how on earth I arrived at the finished product. And did I really do these?
A failure is a failure only when tested by academic standards, therefore ‘weighed in the balance(s) and found wanting’.(a biblical quote misplaced here…)
Therefore there must be quite a few of these failures I surmise.
But I’m afraid for me, none of my scrawls are failures, because that presupposes they were made to be successes.(?)
If they weren’t made to be successes how can they end up failures? Some logic uh? I’m smiling at how humorous this is to me, but also how liberating!
I’m staring across the room at a painting I’ve placed on my portable easel, and enjoying my own playfulness. Expressed in both the painting and how it is inseparable from the title.
The next step is to share it with someone else, but of course it doesn’t have to be the next step. There doesn’t have to be a next step. But the idea that someone else might enjoy it, motivates us to share. It’s very human to want to share with others, we are made that way. (I’m sure I must have said this before…?)
But my enjoyment of all my marks, is challenged by the standards of academic art, that lives by the necessity of valuation through set standards of skill.
Edward Lear must entitle his work as ‘Nonsense’ because of course it does not reflect reality and normality. Therefore it must be clearly ‘labelled’ so that society will know it to be what it is.
Therefore it needs that distinctive title/description of ‘Nonsense…’
Likewise these marks of mine will be satisfied by a jury of one – me! As they could be disliked, laughed at, discredited, trivialised, dismissed, and at worst disposed of. But not if I say they are nonsense. ‘Edward your poems are nonsense!’ ‘Thank you’ says Edward, ‘glad you like them’.
You will notice the ‘tongue in cheek’, regarding the above remarks.
But is all this talk an excuse by me to excuse my work, a clever smoke screen to hide my zero estimation of my own work, and to hide my underlying insecurity when it comes to the worth of my paintings?
Wanting then, to cover up and justify them under some other kind of invented alternative means of measurement?
It’s like candidates for the next round of some ‘pop idol, X factor type’ competition. Some folks are so ‘far out’, so way-off the mark, so unable to sing a note that their entertainment value is based on their total inability to sing. They totally fail when greeted with societies expectation of what can pass as good or skilful.
Yet some of these dear folks genuinely think they can sing! So, some artists genuinely think they can paint – but they cant paint a note. Is that right?
Well you know it isn’t as simple as that, yesterday’s rejects can be tomorrow’s geniuses (or so it can go).
As far as the untalented songster is concerned and as far as the shower or the bath are concerned, where no one else hears them (‘hopefully’, I hear you say?), – they pass all the tests, and their audience (themselves) enjoys every minute of their performance.
So let us dream on. Isn’t that ok? You sing in the bath and I’ll scratch on the paper, and enjoy every minute. But let’s also be honest if you think the work is good and you like it – come on you know I’ll be pleased.
What Im trying to say is that painting is firstly and foremostly a means of great enjoyment. To lift a pencil and jump right into another world, like Alice in Wonderland – discovering things never before seen.
Never before seen! Thats it! What enjoyment I don’t know what I will produce, until it is produced. That’s the joy of having kids! Why rob yourself of this by the idea that you can’t ‘draw a straight line’ I might not enjoy your attempt but you will!
Listen – ‘Viva Normality!’. Normality is like a calm mind. In everyday life, in the running of society, please give me normality. Give me morality and normality, give me ‘love power and a sound mind!’
So that when I get surrealistic, or playful, or imaginative, or cartoonish, or experimental in art – I can call it exactly what it is and separate it from normality.
If I create an abnormal world on a piece of white paper, (like Edward), let me buy the paper in a shop where people act in a normal community-sensitive manner.
Often my most ‘obscure’ pieces cause the most self-satisfaction, but there is also the reality of the fact that when they are shared with others they are a cert to get the treatment Rothko feared.
Namely jokey-jibe time.
Like the gentleman who liked the cat on the mantelpiece in my painting titled: ‘Sunday afternoon’. Heh! that was funny – as it’s not a cat its’ a clock!
But jokey-jibe times can be fun. Only if the conversation that includes the banter, is good hearted and mutually enjoyed. Pieces of jokey-jibe-time Art can bring some communication and fun, even if the swan is saw to be an ugly duckling.
You probably knew about jokey-jibe times – right Vincent?
Today he’d be laughing all the way to the bank.
I’m looking across the room at that painting again. It’s titled: ‘Most profound Cacti Apparatus’. And already in my mind within a few minutes I re-visit the story it illustrates. The story came after the ‘illustration’.
A gardener has grown the most unusual cactus ever. It grew to such a size and in such a peculiar way, that he had to invent a contraption to suspend it and stop it from falling over. From all over the world they have come to see it. The gardener’s name is Hugh Mare. (not illustrated)
The painting illustrated at the start of this Post, is based on Edward Lear’s poem: The Old Person of Basing. The scene I imagined of the riding ‘at full speed’ prompted the overall ‘blur’ of the rendition, expressed in the somewhat uniform tonality. Here is the poem:
There was an Old Person of Basing,
Whose presence of mind was amazing;
He purchased a steed,
Which he rode at full speed,
And escaped from the people of Basing.