Lost in admiration

I’m wrestling with the aftermath of a heavy cold which has left my head full of mucus, and my painting thoughts decidedly stultified.  The best course seemed to visit the past and find a useful painting I can talk about.

This seemed a good one, on the face of a picture full of interest with splendid machines and a lively crowd.  Actually there are two pictures here and the dual focus is destroying the composition.  The title is “Lost in admiration”.

Just for a moment put your hand over the little girl in red and her friends and family.  Now the focus is on the traction engines and their admiring crowd especially the boy in the white jacket.  Deep maroon paintwork, the sun of the brass and the tyres, the long shadows, the crowd with their backs to the autumn sun, form an agreeable whole, and satisfy the eye.

Now hide that part of the painting and concentrate on the group of friends.  This is a good assembly, people of differing sizes and mutual interest except of the little girl who is “lost in admiration” of the mud squelching round her red wellies.  We focus on her, her red coat and boots, her bright hair, her serious concentration.

We have contending foci and an uncomfortable painting.  This is quite an old painting. Because they were all in the photo, they are all in the painting.  I could change her clothes to green or blue so as to avoid drawing the eye,  –  but I still like it the way it is and since it’s oil on stretched canvas I’m not going to do anything about.

MathsJam is here again!

I enjoyed the MathsJam I attended last year, but this year was better.  For one thing it wasn’t as cold outside (and there is some open air walking to be done), and, of course, I knew more faces.   Added to that, the talks, limited to 5 minutes – yes really! – were mostly more digestible for a non-mathematician.  I could follow the argument, though not reproduce it, join in the ever-present hilarity, engage in problem solving.   AND I got eight of the mathematicians , all of them “I can’t drawers”, drawing beautifully.  One of them even displayed lovely free-flowing line! and at least two wanting to know more.  Result.

I pootled about sketching people when they were engaged in puzzling, pondering, deep discussion, or just having a good time.   Bottom left sketch on this page is MathsJam to a T; the folk leaning over the balcony had been attracted by jingling bells (there was a Christmas Fair on downstairs).  Since you rarely have more than 30 seconds to get something down, it’s a good exercise in isolating the important lines.  Somehow nearly every time I started a face, someone stood in front of the victim or engaged them in conversation.

I was luckier with this group at one of the stand up tables in the coffee area.  They were very interested in the topic under discussion and apart from restless legs as they got to grips with said topic, they stayed put for five minutes!