Deadlines and decisions

I'm sticking with the Big Painting Challenge, more because I don't like to give up on something, rather than that I'm particularly enjoying it. Did you see this week? They had to do quick drawings of flamenco dancers and working from those only (no iPads here!) go back and make a painting. What could make that more difficult? Oh I know, make them use pastel! I think at that moment I might have run for the hills.

I have read other blogs reviewing the show. Some say that the contestants should have expected such harsh critique and that it is a competition not a painting holiday. Maybe my issue is with 'critique'. It's too easy for that to be interpreted as a need to be purely 'critical' when in fact critique can equally be about finding merit in something. Having done an art degree, I've experienced enough 'critiques' to know that it is a process of analytical discussion, not merely a thrashing. This programme is neither lightweight fluffy entertainment nor intellectual exercise.

Oh, and of course, there's the whole issue of judging art. Poor Anthea who kept drawing the heads too big. So what! There are great artists who've drawn heads a bit big, or legs a bit long or features a bit wonky. Maybe the fundamental flaw of the programme is that you simply can't judge art. No-one is right, wrong or better. All artists are individuals and their work, as an extension of themselves, is also individual. Can it be measured against some scale of correctness? Let's face it, the Bee has it easy, the skirt fits, or it doesn't fit. The BakeOff easier still, it's cooked or it ain't! Art, well it's all a bit more shades of grey.

With all that in mind, the entry form for Festival of Quilts lurks on my pinboard. I'm tempted to enter, but it'll probably end in tears.


  1. It was terribly challenging wasn't it? Just draw some Flamenco Dancers, and here's a Rythmic Gymnast with a huge ribbon whizzing around..just do something in proportion, accurate, showing movement, colourful, well composed, and oh, do it in pastels. I loved Anthea I thought she was great, and was sad to see her go - she did a cracking self portrait.

    As for Festival of Quilts, well, you must be as mad as a bucket of frogs, but you only live once! Go on, give us a treat - love to see your work there.

  2. My painting teacher, who I had for Painting 1, Painting 2, and Intermediate Studio class (like an independent study) at least a half dozen times, ALWAYS found something positive to say but would not hesitate to explain what you could do differently ( he did not frame it as "better"). It was a perfect balance and you LEARNED from him!
    Janet in Tennessee, USA

  3. The critique of the portraits reminds me of a comment I overheard Grayson Perry make in the National Portrait Gallery recently. He was being interviewed on camera, and I was earwigging out of shot. He was challenged with the statement "your artworks are not always a good likeness", to which he responded words to the effect of, If you want a good likeness, take a photograph. His art is about expressing something about the individual, and that means a portrait may not be a good likeness but needs to say something more.

    There have been times in history when it was fashionable to portray legs longer or faces whiter than reality. This is why we need artists - they portray things to challenge perception and make us think. Long live the amateur artist, and all the people who support their efforts.

    Well said Laura.

  4. Well, you should hear the viewpoints of dressmakers about the Sewing Bee. It's not just about the fit! and one person's idea of suitable and suitably made clothing differ widely, too.
    Not tempted to watch the 'art' though!
    Sandy in Bracknell

  5. Laura, my Finish Me journal arrived today - the perfect antidote to a cold (-14C) day and the flu. I can't wait to get started - thank you for sharing a wonderful idea and great materials!
    One question: some of the pages have glorious iridescent colour on them but it doesn't look like paint. Are you using an iridescent ink? I'd like to buy some and experiment with whatever-it-is.
    Thanks again!

  6. Laura go for it. You can do it. And I am looking forward to see the results in Birmingham.

  7. in the landscape prog someone was condemned for it looking like a photograph.... but later prog the result wasn't realistic enough. couldn't understand the crits for abstract or cartoonlike, surely that's individual style. i find the programme is like the sat nav, not always going down the right road.... and for shouting at!

  8. Hi Laura
    I recently had a little rant about this show on facebook page as I too am trying to stick with it. I feel strongly that 'art' should be for eveyone and we should take every opportunity to encourage people to have a right good go and enjoy themselves. Unfortunately this programme seems to be doing the exact opposite for me. With each episode I see the enthusiam being stripped from them and it is sad to see. It reinforces a view that art is only for a certain type of person and rules must be followed slavishly. Such a wasted opportunity to prove that isn't the case. Second rant over!

  9. Hi Laura,
    I must say I didn't know if I want to watch the Painting challenge after reading your first post about it, but we did with my partner and are hooked on it. I feel with every contestant, woudln't want to be in the skin of the judges. As you said there is no right or wrong and it's only about the viewer if he likes it or not. I thing what the show is missing is actually Claudia from the Sewing Bee!! She knows nothing about sewing, renamed overlocker to overlord (which is BTW how we call it now at home) BUT ... she is funny, she eases every situation, encourages people and for me, she makes the show the fun it is to watch!! I think this painting Challenge is way too serious for what?!?! Life is fun and specially something as expressive as painting should be!!!


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