It was mostly not at all impressive, and I kept concurring with those other visitors who were saying "there's nothing in this room that I like". But then I thought, if all this is so achievable and within my grasp, why don't I do it?
Partly nowadays I don't do much big-scale art - or even pictures on any other surface than my diary - because I haven't got any space - space either to do it in or to store it. So I have to throw away more things than I can keep. The other part though is just sheer lack of ambition and the feckless lack of organisation and commitment that it takes to "produce better work".
So at this exhibition I took some photos of the pieces that I liked most, or felt most that I could imitate (if imitating was my thing):
Lots and lots of squiggles, together make something that impresses the eye. A high proportion of the artworks were basically simple shapes repeated, and they look good once the hours have been put in.
At first this looks impossible to replicate with your own efforts, but it's really just a straightforward composition, with the majority of spaces left 'empty', ie. coloured planes. Then the impact comes from the repeated leaf shapes and the fact that these Autumnal trees are bloody beautiful and we love to see an elegant version of them.
There is a grand old cherry tree near where I work, which looks glorious in Autumn and Spring. The thought went through my head that "I could do a version of that in this style!" . Fortunately I think I know myself enough not to mistake idle thought for actual plan. (But I could).
Weird fantasy doodle on a page. I make loads of fantasy doodles on a page. I just don't plan them, create a neat layout and apply myself consistently then colour them carefully. Minor details! (although I don't like this style)
Clear, symmetrical, clean, achievable. Nothing stops you or I from producing something this pleasing.
The quirks of these portraits are I guess what makes them distinctive? Which means the quirks in my doodles that I naturally interpret as 'a bit shit' could also one day be viewed as distinctive. I still do not know what kind of person would buy this stuff though, and maybe very few actually do. I did once used to work for a rich couple who lived in a bit of a rented mansion and they bought art to place in it. They had awful taste.
I liked this for the composition and the individuality of the body type drawn - it's not smoothed to the usual ideal, it's an actual body shape. More to the point though, I too could apply a bit of acrylic or oil and convert a line sketch into an actual painting - there is nothing complex in the shadows or tones of this piece. It's just about the doing of it.
I'm drawn to group scenes like this. Probably easiest to take a photo and then paint it. Also achievable (if I had any friends that is).
Why do I (why do you) not draw the slightly knacked, slightly normal backyard of your friends? Why am I not outside now drawing the back of my hosts' house instead of sitting on the the internet? Then we too could pencil it out and add a load of little effort and make something to exhibit in the RSA.
Again, daft fantasy doodle done more carefully and made into a notable form by adding simple colour. Each time a diary doodle of mine develops daft fantasy elements I sigh and think 'well that's gone a bit pointless' - but if people here actually share, exhibit, hope to sell their daft fantasy doodles, maybe even mine are worth more effort.
Likewise, the drawing above is no greater than yours or mine. It's the application that is a bit greater. And the artist hasn't taken out the bits that diminish its clarity (hands, basically), so maybe I shouldn't worry that each unnecessary addition should've been left out.
My favourite image. If I do try to replicate a style then it would be to draw a room that I know, inhabit, a lot. To remember this time to do no shading at all on the white spaces, to keep the square lines clear and keep the shading neat, illustrationer-style, within the still-life shapes. And maybe, breaking my usual habit, to do a pencil sketch first!
You could wear a tie, I could wear a tie, we could draw the lines of shirt and tie, we could keep it simple, a pleasing shape, and we too could produce this sort of simple but effective image.
Impressive at first look, but up close you could feel 'crap, messy, smudgy, wrong lines, inaccurate' etc.. But here, we can see that the result even-so is nice, impressive indeed, and if you knew the landscape, it would be a treasure.
A print, whose technique is unknown to me. I like it, it's daft fantasy art again, almost by-the-numbers, but the choices and the skills deployed all seem attainable.
Not about the print technique, but about the very nice room architecture. I thought of nicking the room for a comic panel, though I'm unlikely ever to do so.
I visited the same exhibition last year and this chap had his comics in there then, which I recognised from their occasional inclusion in Viz.
I quite like the guy's confidence. The story's another fantasy fluff, but the pace and the fullness of its creation makes it all somehow worthwhile. It's been thought through more than the conceit would at first seem to merit. I mean, these panels are WELL done, the references satisfy, and the captions are multi-sentence paragraphs that most comics would avoid, but here, they add up to a greater whole.
The two comic strips formed part of my favourite wall in the exhibition, the black and white print wall.
As a body drawing technique, I have never tried the style above, but I like it, and again I feel that it wouldn't be beyond me - if only I had the gumption and focus to do so.
I also went walking, looking for locations on the Edinburgh Art Festival map.
This, Nicholson Gardens, has had an arty greenhouse made, which again can be broken down into achievable steps, but it is great largely because of where it is. Location, doing things in a particular place, is also achievable. Do we do it as often as we should?
A conclusion to this post? Not really, except that knowing what we could do, is not q.the same as what we should do. So although I feel a bit better realising I COULD mimic some of the creations of exhibiting artists, it doesn't mean I'm about to choose that I SHOULD do that, instead of browsing 2nd hand book shops, seeing Anoushka Shankar tonight, and trailing around the city and its people till then.