Online article on childhood art. Henry Hussey and I critique a painting I made when I was around four years old.
AB: Right, so this is my painting, it’s a picture of the seaside that I painted from memory as a kid and I.. the white section at the front, that there is the sea, not the beach because I’d just picked up on the idea that the water was clear and therefore (decided) I would paint the water clear and not blue-green or what have you.
HH: (laughs) very good. because I thought that that thing in the foreground was a horse with a person on it on the beach.
AB: Ha yes, and I’ve thought before that it looks like a mouse. I’m not sure why it.. I have this vague memory of painting it and of that mark being a complete mistake – accidentally getting some of the blue (sky) in the sea and not really being able to do anything about it, other than make it worse.
HH: The first striking thing is the size of the sun.
HH: It’s like a Sun God type piece.
AB: It’s gigantic! It takes up a third of the entire section of the sky.
HH: Well just talking in terms of landscape, we generally consider the sun to part of a landscape.. and that’s not a landscape piece, that’s a figurative piece. That’s a human form almost.
AB: As though the sun is a character?
HH: Yeah a character as opposed to just something in the background. It’s almost how you’ve done, almost as though these thick strands of light are these fingers gripping outwards.
AB: Nice! although actually I think what I might have done is sort of started over here and thought ‘right this is how big the rays are going to be’ and then made the classic mistake of running out of space at the top of the paper and been bound to finished with these smaller ones.
HH: Out of curiosity what was the memory you were painting it from .. was it a single memory or lots of memories put together?
AB: No I think it was just the idea of what a beach is, like, today I’m going to painting a sea side.
HH: It wasn’t that you’d had a particularly hot day at the beach?
AB: H’yeah maybe..!
HH: Because that’s a particularly hot day on the beach!
AB: Haha.. look how hot the middle of the sun is! It’s bright red.
HH: That’s wiping out the planet hot.
AB: I may title it now ..twenty-five years on Total Wipeout. The sky around (the sun) I think is pretty impressive, how solid it is, full of paint marks.
HH: The sky is more of a seascape definitely.
AB: Should I tip it upside down? oh no my phone won’t let me do that.. here.. oh no that won’t work, that would mean the sun was in the sea, it could be a reflection..
HH: Why is the land so thin?
AB: I don’t know. I also think .. it looks green to me, it looks like grass so I don’t know if it was meant to be grass or if I was just really bad at mixing the paints. oh actually, I reckon I probably smushed the yellow into the sky a bit and it’s gone green accidentally, but it’s a pretty nice line, I like the way it fades out a bit there.
HH: no it’s a good use of colour especially on the sun, that’s a great orange in the middle, really strong. I’d almost like to see the counterpart to this one and what you would have done for the moon.
AB: I had a poem about the moon. It was, it went something along the lines of (laughs) oh no it was really dismal.. like ‘the moon is cold, the moon is dark, the moon has no flowers, moon has no trees’. That was it! It’s quite depressing, so if there had been a counterpart painting it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as devastating as .. what were we calling this piece.. Total Wipeout.
HH: They’re far more like tentacles than anything else, almost like a star fish.
AB: I like that you likened it to a Sun God.
HH: If you look at Inca or early South American civilisation imagery, their suns are always just huge.. big and strong. It sort of has that sense about it. It’s funny how every civilisation is fascinated by the sun, the sun is almost a universal symbol.. and the fact that you were a child and even a child picks upon the fact that the sun is so integral and so important. I was listening to something on Radio 4 recently, Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time, it was on the sun and he said ‘So tell us about our sun’ and the specialists were like ‘Well, it’s not a particularly remarkable sun, it’s a pretty boring sun actually’ and Melvyn Bragg got really defensive saying ‘But it’s our sun! You’ve got to be nice about it, it’s got to be special it’s our sun.’
AB: Don’t dis our sun
HH: ‘no well it’s halfway through its life, and it’s an okay size and fairly alright but it’s not particularly interesting’ – it was really funny how defensive one person got about our sun.