'It's the only thing he can rely on in his chaotic life' said the teacher as the aggresive boy turned up once again to my summer workshop. It had been hard, challenging as we're now taught to say, this young man had driven me to the brink of despair with his shouting, swearing and anger and yet each morning he turned up throughout the summer. School was all he had, breakfast was a bag of crisps and every morning glowering in the corner he would munch and glare, a ball of weary anger that would gradually subside as the day wore on, but the next morning we'd be off again. Eventually he settled down and we talked about films and his ambition to be a film director and especially the bit where everyone would listen and do as they were told and he would have loads of money.
I often think of this young lad and wonder if he ever came close to realising his cherished dream, I suspect not but at least for awhile in his mad life, the school provided the one point of stability he could rely on. I sometimes wonder if our life drawing sessions serve a similar function, they provide stability and continuity in our creative lives, the steady light on the horizon glimpsed weekly (or is that weakly) as we navigate unpredictable currents. Is it wrong to be predictable, is continuity such a bad thing, why do we always equate creativity with change? I suppose the answers are fairly easy, a creative person is so often considered to be a restless person, a person ill fitted to the humdrum routine of daily life, a person full of questions, the mighty 'What if', a person who is both catalyst and vessel for change, change means progress, advancement, the old Modernist notion of a ladder to the stars, we stand upon our parents shoulders to see the next horizon, but I wonder.
I wonder if the journey is actually inwards, if the external manifestation (the artwork) is but a meaningless drone, a chant to enable inner enlightenment, our hand moves, marks are made, relationships established but in the quiet of the studio we're seeking some form of peace and stability by joining up all our previous drawings and knowledge, gathering this amorphous matter into some workable form which we hope might just be the next rung in the ladder, the ladder that might allow us to glimpse however briefly the further horizon. The solid ground of repetition and continuity may well be the means by which the firmest foundations are made. This is not an argument against change but an argument for continuity, it's an argument against my own capricious nature and one for the steady certainty of those who week in week out seem to do the same thing. I see them now as monks collectively gathering those cosmic forces of memory and tradition to create enlightenment, I feel this spiritual journey beckoning if for nothing more than the stability, reassurance and inner peace of humdrum routine.
The model was the lovely Belle and the fine drawing is by Tony and all this talk of ladders and foundations and horizons might be something to do with my present day job.
The paintings and drawings this week are by Barry, Chris, Clare, Dick, Fiona, Hadyn, Ian, Ivan, Patrick, Sandra, Steven, Sue, Terry, Tom and featured artist Tony.