Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Who can't draw?

A few days ago I posted a page from my copy of Wreck This Journal on my Flickr account. One of my Flickr contacts, byot commented "You'll be a conceptual artist before you know it!" When I saw my friend's comment I laughed at the idea of me being an artist,
claiming I have no artistic ability. So my friend responded, by saying "we do need to define what you mean by artistic ability". To me the answer is obvious - I can't draw or paint anything that looks like whatever it is I'm drawing! However, even as I typed this reply, I knew there was something inauthentic about it.

The first problem is that I would not say that this piece by Jérémie Iordanoff is not art. I might decide I don't like it but, in my view, it's clearly art. But what does it depict? Where is the artist showing his ability to paint something that exists in the physical world?

If this is art then, clearly, the ability to draw or paint something that looks like anything is not a requirement! Although this wasn't entirely satisfactory as most artists can draw - just look at some of Picasso's early work, to see his enormous skill at realistic painting and drawing! Even Isambard Kingdom Brunel could manage a decent sketch and he was an engineer!!!

The second point was that, for some reason, I was reminded of something I read in Richard Box' book 'Drawing for the Terrified'. At least, I think that's where I read it - I can't find the book, so I can't check the exact quote. But the gist of the piece was that we learn that we can't draw. If you give a young child paper and paints, they will happily paint a picture - they have no concept that they may not be able to paint.

So, if for a moment we assume that, at some point, I did believe I could draw when did I learn this wasn't true?

I'd certainly learnt it by the time I was 13 and picking my options for my 'O' level exams at 16, as I didn't take Art because I couldn't draw! But I did take Technical Drawing - I actually have a grade B at 'O' level in Technical & Mechanical Drawing. But the basic skill required for technical drawing is to be able to use a t-square to draw a straight, horizontal line, and a set square to draw lines at 30o, 45o, 60o or 90o to that line - it's not, exactly, the free-hand sketching I associate with an artist! But, thinking back to my school days, I remembered having to do homework, and being set the task of drawing a ball-pein hammer, and having to ask my Dad what a ball-pein hammer was, and whether he'd got one I could draw! Actually, I recall ending up with a drawing that looked remarkable like a ball-pein hammer. It was certainly good enough that I didn't get in trouble for not doing the homework!

So, at 16 I couldn't draw, but I was happy that I could do a pencil sketch of a tool that looked reasonable. I decided to find paper, pencil and raid the toolbox!

OK, if we're being picky there are several things wrong with this. Firstly the paper ended up filthy - I remember that used to happen when I was studying technical drawing, and my Dad commented that he'd had the same problem when he was a

student! Also I haven't got the ring end quite right but, on the grounds that it'd get me a pass mark for homework, I didn't bin it. These two points (and probably several others) aside, it is recognisably a 5/8" spanner.

So where does that leave my claim that I can't draw?!?!?!

I wonder if there is a niche market for slightly quirky pencil drawings of tools :-)

Monday, 3 October 2011

BookCrossers on the radio!

Ipswich has a community radio station - Ipswich Community Radio - which is always on the look-out for people to interview about local events. I'm not very sure how but one of the researchers - Leona - found BookCrossing and realised there is a local meeting (It's on the second Saturday of the month, from 12:00, in Coffee Link and everybody is welcome). Leona contacted local BookCrossers, asking if any of us were willing to be interviewed. samwiseuk and I went along, very early, on Friday 9th September 2011, and did our bit to explain how BookCrossing works. That was the easy bit.

We were promised a recording of the show would appear on the 'Listen Again' slot on the ICR website within a day or two. It didn't, but the station is run by volunteers so I waited, and waited... then shows from the 8th and 10th September appeared, but nothing for the 9th. I e-mailed the station and was promised a CD, so I waited a bit longer, until I got an e-mail to say the CD was ready for collection :-)

Then I wanted to share the interview with my family and friends but it's too large to e-mail around. "No problem", I thought, "I'll load it on the web." But all the websites I use - like this Blog and YouTube - will allow you to upload a video but not an audio track :-( So I decided to find some photos and attach them to the audio thus making it a video. I even found some software I could use for free, providing that I just wanted to load my finished video on YouTube - "Perfect!" I thought. YouTube will allow me to upload a 15 minute video and the interview is 14 minutes and 38 seconds, so this is going to work :-) I spend ages finding some photos, arranging them in some sort of order, leaving them all on the screen long enough to cover the whole audio, etc. etc. Then I tried to load it on to YouTube.... but the software would only allow me to load a 14 minute 30 second video :-( Well, OK, this can still be fixed - I just download the video from the software site and upload it to YouTube.... except downloading is a feature that, on the site I was using, you have to pay for. After all the hours I'd put into this, I paid for a month-long subscription and down-loaded my video.

So, here is the interview, attached to a random selection of photos that generally have something to do with books, or Ipswich, or - in just a few cases - both!