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First Draft

Food for thought for artists? What do you think of this?

G. I have sent you my first draft of my explication for my new (landscape painting) works.

I would welcome your thoughts and comments. Regards, D  David_Folley__painter_11.01.07_e.JPG

Jan 18th 2010

Fragments: A short introduction

Upon reflecting Kandinsky‘s statement on duality: where the ‘art[s] is the child of its time’; and ‘mother of our emotions’.

I have come to realize the statement offers a challenge for the ‘serious’ artist to wage war against the ‘beast of banality’, the ‘still-borne’ ossifications created by their contemporaries.

Progression or ‘going beyond’ in art is a fundamental necessity for every serious artist’s to consider: firstly, their reasons for creating a specific artwork and how it should be rendered; and secondly, how
will their artwork be received and perceived by the individual and broader community.

It is this desire to ‘going beyond’ as a serious artist which has given birth to my interest in the concept of ‘Fragments’.

With a linear understanding, the term Fragments are by their very existence dualistic and is either: holism – where the individual parts cannot be fully understood without reference to the whole; or atomism – their separate parts are interpretable and complete in themselves.

To transcend the ordinary (objective or subjective modes) and exploring Fragments multi-dimensionality enables me the freedom to reconsider an exogenous propositions – an alternative stance where society presents ‘what’ or ‘how’ the viewer should interpret the artwork.

In this respect I have become increasing interested in the controlling aspect of the image, either by the artist or societal agencies.

The inference of the societal agencies (government or media) serves the community through editing, faking or distorting the image, which inevitably leaves the viewer with an incomplete truth and the inability to reason upon a ‘lived experience’ as regulated and imposed by others.

There are several of these faculties: external and inner sense, imagination, understanding and reason.

The implications of this might be the speculative ‘infilling’ of subjective reasoning, which Rimbaud called ‘a disorder of all the senses’.
In this respect, the individuals’ voracious gluttony ‘consumes’ all that they are ‘fed’ by a proliferation of external societal agencies.

To attain ‘true’ freedom of thought the individual must disengage from the accepted convention of image promotion.


1. Kandinsky, W., Concerning the Spiritual in Art, Wittenborn Art Books,
Inc., New York, 1976. P23

2. Deleuze, G., (Trans., Tomlinson, H., & Habberjam, B.,) Kant’s Critical
Philosophy: The Doctrine of the Faculties, University of Minnesota Press,
Minneapolis. 2005 p. xi.


Interesting first draft?

My reaction is:

Maybe we could discuss this sort of thing more often and more deeply???

You have asked for my reactions so here are a few of many which I hope will help.
Over all I like very much the direction and flow of where you go, here.
I don’t doubt this sort of discourse would appeal to many influential intellectuals in Universities and big name galleries, good PR for you, maybe leading to them adopting you.

As a practical artist I have a dread of “college professors”.
My experience is for example,  that while practical seamen were reporting 100 + foot waves the “professors” were saying that was impossible.
Recent satellite technology has revealed 100 + foot waves are not uncommon…
As a youth I was told, dinosaurs were slow and stupid, animals could not “speak” to each other, ours was the only solar system and much more of that sort.
I did not believe it then and I still don’t.
Seems to me, “Science”, the “professors”, the Popes etc, have caught up with what a child / adolescent perceived to be true.

What does this teach us?

I agree the term “Artist” should not be applied to hobby painters, people who paint pleasant scenes for tourists and wall decore, people who paint for reputation and other trivial reasons.
I’d rather think of that sort of endeavor as of artisans not artists.
That is not to say I do or don’t “approve” of such work.
On the contrary, it often has much merit, certainly does not need my approval or disapproval, as with all art and artisan work, it just is and one of the tests of real “Art” is how is it received in the community, another is does it endure?

I think the bottom line is when we paint, much of the time it is not for us to overly concern ourselves with that question, “a challenge for the ‘serious’ artist to wage war against the ‘beast of banality’, the ‘still-borne’ ossifications created by their contemporaries”.

“…where society presents ‘what’ or ‘how’ the viewer should interpret the artwork”.
I find this very unfortunate.
However I recognize we are all ignorant in varying degrees and it is inevitable given the pressures people inherit and put upon them selves in our modern world, that most people exist on disinformation,  half truths and “sound bite information”, we have to much of our time.
Inevitable and we can’t change it for many reasons not least of which it is deeply embedded in most people as the habits of comparing their experiences and reacting strongly to novelties.
This in turn a close neighbour to narrow minded of prejudice added to which very few people take time to think problems through and consider likely consequences.

My current view is an Artist is some one who is for what ever reason is in pursuit of and some times produces influential, some times  startling and original work, most often does not.

Great Art endures, trivual and novel art may make a fortune but does not endure, right or wrong?

A healthy mental attitude follows this train of thought.
Rather that over intellectualize and attempt more than we can fore fill; which usually leads to “writers block”, we do some thing that is “good enough”.

To put it another way, to be committed to the work and do our best at that moment is enough and all.
Leave great Art to history, “to thine own self be true”, as best we can which includes the option of being very involved with contemporized happenings as JMW Turner was with political issues and Kandinsky the art of his day.
To try to do well what we do is in its self a HUGE challenge and curiously often leads to what eventually is recognized as “great Art”.
I see producing great art as a bonus not a goal.
I have been very fortunate in that a few of my paintings have received wide recognition, “Roaring Forties” (of a young Sir Robin Knox-Johnston), “I have urgent dispatches” (HMS Pickle with the news of Trafalgar) ,”Waterwitch off Gribben Head“.

Much of the credit is due to the Internet reaching a wider audience or rather a wider audience discovering my art work on my web site via the Internet, also to the many journals, magazines and newspapers which have featured my work and activities in particular my marine painting.

Maybe those pictures are famous?

Certainly I can say, they will endure long after we are gone for various reasons.

Some of my best known pictures have surprised me not being the pictures I guessed might achieve renown.

In that sense I painted them partly because as my son would put it, “it needed to be done” so in that sense you may agree they are art in the classic Art for Art’s sake mould?

I see this as a bonus while I struggle to produce interesting Art for the people around me, in a vast Universe I can never fully understand.

My some times amazing landscapes wait to be discovered.

This is partly a fault of mine.

I don’t promote them.

Indeed, many of the most recent and best are not even on my web site so only the occasional personal visitors get to see them.

That fame may yet happen for these landscapes, as interest is being shown in promoting them by a director/ownwer of a chain of New York/London based advertising agencies.

Artists as with artisans, must pay their bills and live so I have no problem with work created knowing it will sell.
I dom have a problem with artists who paint bizarre pictures which seem to me self indulgence and in the meantime sponge off others.

I appreciate some times very personnal expresions can be very worth while  and that one must shift a lot of rock n mud to find a little gold.

All of the illustrious artists in history who I recall tried to do that but the great majority had an eye on what might sell and thus pay their bills.

I think the starving artist struggling to be “special” is not noble, rather an illusion, irresponsible and an idiot, largely a victim, sold a dream created by Art schools, media and art critics, another form of insincere bullshit.
The success rate from following this route is what?

One in 10 million?

You may notice I don’t include galleries ?
This because the vast majority of galleries know an artist must have financial as well as ethical merit.
Some of course are very reluctant to admit this for their own devious “political” and PR reasons, the various Tate Galleries being an example, but they use the principal all the time…

I am also acutely aware, while we revere Kandinsky and many of the other artists from the past, known and unknown, our human society, world, has changed more in the past 30 years than at any time in our history.

What does this mean to today’s artists and Artists?

Seems to me it means much (not all) of what they did and thought is out of touch, out of date, barely relevant to our experience of today and tomorrow so choose carefully what rather than who you emulate and the torch you pick up.

I am very wary of the relevance of historical artists, theirs was another time, another place.
As a 21st century man I only partly agree with Kandinsky‘s statement on duality: ‘art[s] is the child of its time’; and ‘mother of our emotions’.
I agree enough to see the statement as a torch he has had to lay down when he died and is maybe worth you picking up and running with.
Are we dream weavers, poets in paint, story tellers?
What strikes me as truly wondrous about poetry, writing, painting and to a lesser extent, photography (still and motion) is it can go anywhere we can imagine and beyond.
This is also strikes me as a daunting obligation.
Do you  think we have a duty (an out of fashion word?) to carry on with the best ideas and work our predecessors produced if it is relevant in tomorrow’s world?

Thus I find the whole subject a contradiction. I chose to be mostly practical and not worry about it, ditto having a “style”.

I think both can be huge assets but also false friends.


I was asked very recently by a radio interviewer, if I could have one luxury what would I choose?

What would YOU choose?

It took me a while to find an answer (so I changed the subject and came back to it later in the conversation!)  that I felt said what I meant and meant what I said.

My eventual answer was not to have to worry about my bills, to be able to paint freely in a manner true to myself and destiny.

Time flows swiftly, an artist’s lack of recognition is frustrating, time may well run in more directions than forward but as yet I’ve not see time run any way but forward.

Time to paint, back to the studio, a very cold night here, beautiful full moon and stars have now turned to excellent light for painting.

Painting what?

What we can and a bit of what we must?

Cheers mate,