‘Hopefully I won’t get any better.’

Yesterday our son Stan completed work for his degree in Illustration. He describes himself as having an unconventional mind and aims to create authentic drawings, not getting in the way by thinking too much or trying too hard. The Alexander Technique work he’s been exposed to all his life may have something to do with this approach. Here’s his website.

Cheryl and I have been watching Grayson Perry’s Art Club on Channel 4 during lockdown. The programme encourages viewers to make art to help us through this period of change and isolation. People send their work in.

I was particularly struck by the words of Clare Warde, the artist whose ’view from my window’ picture was Grayson’s favourite in this week’s show. Her view includes a wheelie bin which someone has written ‘nuts about life’ on.

Clare hadn’t made any art since primary school, but she’s taken up painting in lockdown for something to do, as a kind of therapy. She says, ‘When you haven’t studied something, you don’t know any of the rules, you have this freedom which makes it all so much more enjoyable… I don’t know what I’m doing wrong or what I should be doing – perspective or whatever. It makes it more kind of free.’ Picasso said all children are artists, the problem is keeping that spirit when we grow up, Grayson says. Clare responds, ‘Hopefully I won’t get any better.’

There’s a direct parallel for people who want to learn how to enjoy the water. To discover the joy of swimming without worrying about the rules is just what children do, if we let them. It’s a freedom easily lost once we get interested in the strokes, and strive to learn or practise them. A spirit Stan has endeavoured not to lose through his years of art school.

‘Hopefully I won’t get any better.’ What a lovely thing to say.

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