by Dick Millott
As I write this I am standing on a ladder in my back yard, having fastened a rope round my neck which - in between jottings - I am trying to fasten to a branch on one of my Plane trees for the purpose of ending my life. I have decided there is simply no purpose in going on.
What you may ask, has brought about this rather dramatic change of countenance from the art loving chap with the never ending supply of optimism and the vapour-faint promise of future artistic greatness, whom you have tolerated these past five months? Why have I decided to jump the creative twig so to speak?
Well let me break it down for you. It's a mixture of things really. You can blame Andrew Tischler. And another chap called Warwick Fuller. These two - one a mere youth - the other a bit of an Australian character with his signature pony tail and Hoss Cartwright hat, have finally brought my quest for artistic brilliance to a screeching and life changing halt. With the finality of swinging by my neck from a rope, being the most emphatic life change you can get.
Plus- you can add in the editor and manager of this wonderful blog who asked in her teaser for the last blog "How much Dick is too much.....?" Realising that I was obviously now on a slippery slope to artistic oblivion, I emailed her to see if I was for the high-jump, but she heard the quiver in my voice and apologized profusely - wonderful woman that she is - but it may have been too late. The seed of redundancy had been sown. My impulsive fragility had surfaced and this was further fatally eroded when I purchased this month's edition of Australian Artist to see what the Antipodean art community had been up to brush wise lately.
And there on the cover was a kid belting out huge canvases of the Kimberley Region with such breathtaking precision, that it makes artistic pretenders like myself assume the mantle of pointlessness, throw all their art supplies and easels into a bin and look for the nearest length of rope and a good stout tree to sling it over.
It would be alright I expect if I hadn't already had an overdose of Fuller. The chap with the pony tail and the Hoss Cartwright hat. I devoured everything he has done in the past few years last week, looking at every brush stroke and his perfect grasp of colour. Of course - I could never attain such perfection in the mere handful of years I had left, I reasoned.
So I invite you to do the same under strict family supervision and the additional proviso that all lengths of rope you have laying about over four feet long, be destroyed before you push the search button. Look up Warwick Fuller who has a partiality for his stamping ground - the wonderful Blue Mountains of Australia. And then - before you find yourself looking for a stray packet of razor blades - look up young Andrew Tischler the Texan born Aussie kid who rises each morning somewhere down there on our most perfect coastline, where he spends every waking moment belting out another masterpiece with every hue and leaf and droplet done to wonderful perfection. He's done the Kimberley, the Grand Canyon, the Great Ocean Road and Monument Valley in exquisite flawlessness. His exhibitions sell out before people have even finished looking at them and there are queues of people around the globe, clutching their black Amex's to obtain his latest offerings for their walls. I mean he wasn't born until 1983!! I'd had six cars and 17 girlfriends by then! (I kid of course. I'd only had 5 cars at that point.)
So if you've done what I've suggested - you may be feeling the same feeling that I felt. You will be feeling a trifle pedestrian. A bit superfluous. A twinge dull. A bit of an old hack. A bit of a sacrificial anode on the hull of life. You are to art what Sylvester Stallone is to brain surgery.
Go onto You Tube now and look up Colley Whisson. Another of our home grown wizards. He's terribly unassuming - and he slaps the pigment on with gay abandon and just when you reckon he paints just like you - he then applies half a dozen quick deft flicks with a rather dog eared old brush - and his painting suddenly acquires a maturity that is breathtakingly wonderful. Everything is perfect - his take on the light, his water and his skies. Perfect! And quick too!
Colley has taught me much about colour in his videoed tutorials. Silly me - I've been looking at my wonderful line-up of colours in every hue, when several artists now tell me that I only need four. Four pots of paint! Plus a pot of Titanium White and Carbon Black. And scrubby old brushes that you throw away when you are finished! Of course I scoffed at this internally - until I saw what they do.
See - my trouble is 'I'm not loose enough'. Being an old designer who specialised a bit in graphite and Staedtler Lumographs - I'm too bloody precise. Photo realism will do that to you. If I'm honest this has applied to many things in my life.
I can remember a woman I was steering round the waxed dance floor of Ormond Hall saying to me one night - "You're too stiff Dick!" And she was right. But in the dancing world I was unable to relax my perpetually clenched frame which in those days looked somewhat like a greyhound with a dog collar around its waist. This was not helped of course by actually holding something called a woman AND delivering a series of slick Astaire-ian moves that would impress a lady enough to take me to the next tier of our 'relationship' which had been going swimmingly for some three minutes to that point. Which is how it was in those days.
Of course these days it's all different. 4,258 texts and you're suddenly living together! Pffft! Without one circuit of a dance floor - or even actually talking to each other. With children being given iPhones on their second birthdays these days- there's no need to talk to them either. But I'm digressing.....
There's someone else I would like you to look up too. She's a New Zealander and our American readers may not know this but Australians and New Zealanders are practically joined at the hip despite being separated by a ditch of 2000 miles of heaving cobalt Tasman Sea. We are family. We fought together in three or more wars. But apart from the fact that they do talk funny - they are our much loved kin. I've never met a Kiwi that I didn't like and Sue Dent falls into this category - a woman, housewife and I daresay mother who has turned what used to be their family home into an art studio and gallery where she pumps out very competent acrylics and advice to a throng of students who wish they were as good as she is.
Her homeliness is all part of her complete charm -if not only for the fact that she is perhaps more representative of most of us. But she is hugely commercial - paints superlative pictures and teaches dozens of people to be better artists. Type Sue Dent into your search boxes and learn something terrific from the land of the long white cloud.
I've got to say I'm feeling a little bit better now - so I might go inside and have a cuppa and a nice lie down.