a christmas without art...

away from the computer, away from instagram...will I cope? This year I did not haul my desktop computer (NO apologies for my preferred tool not being a slim fold-up tablet with voice input, auto-white-balance and coffee grinder) across 10 counties, nor even bring a "project". (Flashback to my mother's panicked phonecall of many christmases ago demanding that I set her a knitting project, in dread of being "stuck in the house for 4 days with nothing to knit"). Instead I thought, a refreshing break, with visits, conversation, crisp winter walks and maybe funnelling creativity instead into hideously difficult cryptic puzzles. But somehow being drawn in to making christmas hats for the aunties, and customising a ragdoll from the elements of a toy-in-a-tin kit. Redesigning the rooms. Problem-solving garden layouts...almost as if being an artist were the natural state...
Sketchbook untouched, but that is nothing new. Nowadays my drawings happen on whatever paper I can grab - including the white space of a newspaper advert if that is all there is to hand - and are binned as soon as they have made it into a film...or pasted into an ideas scrapbook for future consideration. Similarly preparatory sketches for films. I don't do pencil tests, but I do try-it-and-see, and then draw-over-the-top-of-the-old-ones-til-it-comes-out-right. Sorry, anyone who might be hoping my old work will one day be worth millions. Ghosts of old tutors clutch their heads in hands, horrified by the lack of life drawing, the lost art of making beautiful marks in graphite sticks that capture energy of the moment, blah blah, yes I never really got drawing from (still) life. No patience. Not enough room for messing about - observational drawing, so useful but so much less fun that doodling a man with a spaceship growing out of his head or a dog doing aerobics. My serious colleagues tutting over the necessity to make numerous studies from life before starting the project-in-hand, while I always wanted to just plough in and start the building (yeah, painting is building. If you do it right). BUT...animation has done what years of actually filling sketchbooks and painting from life couldn't, free me from the tedious compulsion to make everything "realistic". From the thought that the beauty of the shape of a hand or the line of a cheek is necessarily any more beautiful that the joy of red and purple, unconstrained by realistic representation.
So, if new year is a time of reflection, I propose to reflect on this: Freedom. Experiments unconstrained by timescales, must-do film festivals or REF submissions. Mucking about with ideas, stories, shapes and colours. Fun. And a quiet belief that it will come to something, will end up being time well-spent and resolve itself. Not into a "message to the world" but a small voice that will bring a challenge, a question, a new idea... and a moment of joy to the little slice of the world that engages with it.
Happy New Year to anyone who is reading this, and I hope your year will bring you a challenge, a means to funnel your creativity, and some joy.

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