A nice little visit to The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria yesterday had me thinking about how people respond on my blog to loose and tight. I saw this note on the wall and it contained the answer that I have been on about for many years “Abstraction can only be done well after mastering realism.” Have you ever looked at the cover of Daniel Rhodes book and seen the amazingly strong teapot by Peter Voulkos. I used to stare at that teapot for hours.
When I was teaching throwing I would have these amazingly creative students in my class but the work they produced on the wheel was most often horrifying. They were frustrated that their creative juices were stymied by this thing called “the wheel.” It was my usual custom to bring in a bag of lemons one for each student in the class. I would ask them to go home and bring back for next class a cup made from the lemon. I would hold a competition for best functional and best conceptual with prizes of pots, t-shirts, pottery tools etc. Many of the prizes I had picked up at Nceca or were graciously donated from my clay suppliers. The cups were always over the top AMAZING. They could be lined with orange peel, or limes, they were decorated with coloured thumb tacks, had Home Depot washer stands, some came in cut and frozen, fluted, faceted. In short they were nothing short of the amazing creativity you would expect in a top notch School of Craft and Design. Then back to the wheel and more “so what’s”. I almost always found that the students that went and worked for the summer at a production pottery came back with the skill to make pots that came close to what they had in their mind.
Look at this abstract painting of Jack Shadbolt- amazing. It ain’t a picture perfect rendering of the city. Look at the sureness of the brushwork of Lee Nam. Lee Nam a Chinese immigrant had asked to take painting lessons from Emily Carr and she wanted to take lessons from him. The ceiling was covered in hundreds of paintings of Lee Nam’s roosters. Repetition, repetition, repetition. I tried my first drawing on my new I-pad today. I think I will go buy some charcoals and draw, draw, draw while I am off the treadmill for awhlle.