Thursday, 4 March 2010

Masters and Learners

There are a large number of cookery programmes available to view in the weekly television schedules. Many of these programmes take the format of the masters sharing their knowledge and in the process achieve the status of celebrity. The ones I prefer to watch are those where the cooks are not the masters. They cook and are judged by the masters who make comment and decide which cooks progress to the next round and who go no further. The mistake made by many of these cooks is that they try to impress too much and flood the plate with so many flavours that the palette is in a whirl. The person who progresses is so often the one who had only two or three items that could each be savoured and tasted to the full.

It is not only in cooking that this is true. I remember our annual flower festival. Flowers were arranged on a theme with each floral artist making their own interpretation. Those new to flower arranging had large numbers of blooms for their arrangements, others just two or three magnificent blossoms. One arrangement I remember vividly was one that contained only one bloom some greenery and some lovely bark and twigs. I can still see that arrangement vividly as if it was only yesterday, such was its impact.

Often at momentous occasions in life people feel the need to express their inner feelings in words. Maybe it is a poem about a loved one who has died, or a recitation about the bride or the groom at a wedding. So often these poems are lengthy and very wordy. I remember clearly though one such that spoke volumes in four lines and no rhyme.

I remember one summer when I was on vacation visiting attending a church service. The preacher was not long out of university. As we were leaving the church he recognised me and asked my opinion on his conduct of the service. I gave him my honest opinion, it was excellent but he had enough material in his children’s talk and sermon to get three of each. he needed to be more selective.

The artist so often feels the need to paint and paint. Long after they have reached the point where the painting is making a full and wonderful statement we continue to dab and change and tinker. We feel the need to add just a bit more detail another tree or flower, more grass, another pattern and often worse, another colour.

When I look at the work of Turner I see everything and yet there are so few brush strokes. The masters had that magnificent ability to express much with just the odd dab of paint. I on the other hand often feel the need for one more flourish. I am told by many other artists they have the same tendency.

Those who follow the Tao know when to be spare in what they do and to seek quality. They know that little is often more.

1 comment:

  1. So right Ralph. I am always being accused of over-tweeking. Should have left well enough alone. It is almost like a disease with me and a constant sturggle to know when to simply or stop. Ah, the ails of being an artist