The Big Brushoff
I GOT A BIT OF A PLEASANT SURPRISE THIS MORNING when I turned on the TV. Most mornings when I turn on the tube I am inundated with infomercials of all sorts and reruns of Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger. I don’t mind the last two, but nothing great.
This morning however I was greeted by a blast of something both fascinating and cultural. On channel 198 here I bumped into a show that I had been watching while in Ireland. On what is called the Ovation Channel here was a program called “Portrait Artist of the Year.”
“Portrait Artist of the Year” is a painting contest. I know what you’re thinking, “Boy that sounds as exciting as…as…as watching paint dry.” But it is fascinating in my diseased mind.
To watch talented artists work, under a four hour deadline, in front of an audience, to capture live models on canvas is magic to me. I can’t draw flies and these people make incredible beauty out of thin air before my bleary eyes. I can sit here and watch people with more talent that I can dream of having pick up the brush, the pencil, or the pallet knife and turn an empty space into Life.
There is no way for me to give proper description to great art or artists. They both defy and outstrip the limitations of language. Watching an artist of any kind at work is almost a spiritual thing to me. That TV program is High Mass to me.
My mother was an artist and I took painting lessons for years…but I never inherited her talent, just her chubbiness. I found the ineffective brush in my hand to be painful to watch. I quit painting, burned my brushes and picked up the pen. The rest is anonymity.
On the “Portrait Artist of the Year” today there was one artist who was doing his portrait using only colored pencils. He was incredible to watch work and put the model onto his canvas that way. The host asked him why he used pencils instead of the more traditional oil paints. He gave a wonderful and insightful answer.
He said, “I only know how to use pencils and, unlike using paints, every time I pick up the pencil it is the exact same color.”
I laughed out loud. If you have ever tried mixing paints to match you know what he’s talking about.
I do hope that they continue showing this show. In Ireland we watched the 2019 season’s competition, but the one I watched this morning was from the 2018 season. I’m going to scour the net to see if I can find all of the seasons. I don’t know how long it has been running but I’ll find out.
There was another version of the Portrait shows on the Telly in Ireland. That one featured Landscape Artists being taken around the country, dropped down in some location and given four hours to paint/draw/scratchboard a finished work of Art. I found it equally enthralling.
I know that shows like these are not everyone’s cup of tea, but they really get me excited – more so than any CSI, NCIS, orBF’in D cops and robber show.
Hand me my easel.