I have a new pink hair-do, which is making me feel more colourful, vibrant and alive!
Gorgeous fireworks danced before our eyes on Saturday night, making us oooohhhh and ahhhhhh!
We went to a car-boot sale on Sunday and I discovered the best stall ever. This guy was selling art papers and old fashioned school books for writing in, dirt cheap. 12 x A4 books for £2! Lined, graph, squared in small, medium and large squares, half blank half lined - I couldn't resist. Poster paint bottles for £1 each! Pencils and pens of all colours and varieties.
I'm going to let you in on a little secret. I have a serious stationary fetish. I might have been dribbling a bit on that stall!
So fired up by all this colourific inspiration, we've been doing some pretty interesting art here today. The kids immediately took to the squared sheets of paper, and started producing 'pixelated art'.
We had a K-9 pixelated Dr. Who robo-dog, a new colour-coded system devised to go outside Herbie's bedroom door, and some other interesting pixelated ork.
Which led to looking at lots of pixelated artwork on google images, which was also fun.
But then they asked to watch a programme called Mr. Maker on CBBC. This guy is scary.
I thought, ok, let's watch a little bit - but was getting really really angry watching this. This?Is?Art? Ok it's aimed at pre-schoolers, but still - is that the best they can do?
Why does everything aimed at young ones have to be so insulting to their intelligence nowadays? As if kids don't understand what you say unless you look like you are on drugs? You can't just be some normal person. No. You have to be KRAAAAZY! With a K. Uggghh. I hate it. I really hate it.
Art for children honestly seems such dumbed-down rubbish these days. If you go in most 'art' shops, or major craft stores, there is so little open ended material available. Instead it's just wave after wave of unimaginative kits which tell you exactly what to do - where's the creativity in that? Stick this here, put that there - voila! You have copied a picture someone else designed. Well done. No imagination required whatsoever! And it's all made of crap plastic horrid man-made material, totally throwaway, basically junk. Where is the beauty? Can you really call such creations 'art'? Even junk modelling makes me angry - often turning recyclable stuff into tat models that won't last till lunchtime - and in the process they now have to go to landfill because they've been made un-recyclable!
After tutting and bitching and moaning I turned Mr Psycho off. "I'm going to show you something much better than this" I promised the kids.
And so we had a fantastic couple of hours watching Tony Hart's episodes of his art programme from the late 70's and 80's called Take Hart and Hartbeat on youtube. Remember him?
Tony Hart's programmes were where Nick Park first introduced us to Morph...
Yeah ok there was still some 'disposable' art stuff going on in these programmes and in one episode there was some weird janitor guy who obviously marked the BBC's attempt to start 'getting down with the kids' by giving us a whacky idiot for 5 minutes of the otherwise excellent show to keep things exciting.
But generally, these programmes were way more experimental. More daring. They used real materials, inks, pens, colours - not just brightly coloured bits of foam and pom poms. The Gallery was a showcase of beautiful artwork sent in by children - using real materials - fantastic pictures in chalks, inks, watercolours, charcoal. Often really highly quality, and looking amazing in terms of the standard, the quality for children so young.
Have kids really become any less able? Are they really much less talented these days? I don't think so at all. They just have so many other all-singing-all-dancing activities to do instead. Computers can do art for you so you don't have to - right? I think there is perhaps a mentality of why-bother-producing anything-imperfect-when-you-can-make-a-perfect-piece-of-crap? There is a serious trend of dumbing down that I think we can't afford to go along with much longer. Will people forget how to paint? How to sew? How to make lasting artwork, to be enjoyed for generations to come? Art work that means something? Do kids know how to really look at anything any more? To savour... to see beauty in the simplest of things - in nature even?
It's insulting to children to assume they're only capable of producing art from a ready-kit.
Some element of impermanence is perfectly necessary in art - a sandcastle being the perfect example - you know the tide will come in but that doesn't stop you making it, eh?
The impermanence of nature means an ever-changing pallette, and life, as it moves on, will show up as different kinds of art throughout an artists life. That doesn't mean that as a child, it should involve simply glitter, pom-poms and glue - let them get into some real art.
Maybe for Christmas - how about buying the kids some really 'grown up' art materials? How about taking them to more art galleries, installations, and talks?
We recently went to a talk by Anthony Penrose, who wrote about his childhood friendship with Picasso, in the book
He was such a colourful, eccentric and at the same time sensible, and warm person, who we were lucky enough to sit just a metre or so away from, and my eldest son Finn just drank everything he had to say. His tales of growing up with what sounded like the most wonderful parents who were best buds with Picasso just had us in awe. At the end, after Finn patiently waited in line for about 15 minutes, he called him to the front of the queue, and drew something wonderful for him - and Finn, took one look at the picture and added his own addition - drawing a boy's face around the word 'boy'.
Anthony had a twinkle in his eye and told Finn how pleased he was that he drew on the book and encouraged him to doodle on all the other pages when he got home if he wished!
Now that is real magic and inspiration!!!