At the back of the stables.

I have almost forgotten when I last had face to face contact with students but gee I miss them. Both of my painting teachers seemed to enjoy teaching, Alan Martin more than Shirley Bourne I think but she showed real interest in what we were doing and always encouraged us to strive for better results. For many of us teaching is a means to an end, that of financial stability, but I don’t subscribe to Shaw’s notion that “Those who can do and those who can’t teach.” If in the past those who could refused to teach, then the quality of painting would not have continued at such a high level to this day.

Those who know me will be aware that I don’t put much store in the idea of the born genius when it comes to painting. Max Meldrum has commented on the lack of prodigy painters and I tend to agree. In earlier times painting was considered a craft and artists took youngsters into their studios at an early age as apprentices and so by their early twenties they had undergone at least 10 years of intensive training, some to the point of establishing their own studios. We marvel at these painters today and rightly so. They may have had some intellectual qualities that many don’t but I believe that that their achievements came about due to good training, hard work and interest in their craft.

Going on a bit I’m afraid, but we don’t train painters like that any more. Painting is no longer considered a craft and has been lumped into that great amorphous conglomeration called art. These days anybody who wields a brush, or anything else with a flourish is labelled an artist. This is not a term that I enjoy being applied to me.

I am a painter. I teach people to paint and I am missing doing it! BRING ON THE END OF COVID.

Don James August 2021

4 Replies to “MISSING THINGS”

  1. Thanks Don for your post! Always interesting. Bring on the end of Covid, because it has brought on the end of life as we know it, the gathering of friends, family, events, everything we relied on for our well-being. It is very hard. Luckily, you taught me about painting so in these awful times, when all the energies come together in me, I can practice this amazing craft. It is about the only beneficial thing in my life, apart from a kind and loving partner. Stay well Don. Leonie Khoury xo


    1. Thanks Leonie. Always good to see that someone is looking at the site. Ido tend to rave on occasionally when I get the bit between my teeth. The lockdown has been difficult as it has for everybody but now vaxed I feel a little more confident. It is always good to see your lovely work on line. Your paintings are ever fresh and full of light. Keep up the good work and give my best wishes to Tony. You stay well also. Don xx


      1. Dear Don, thank you so much for replying, I don’t know what I would do if I hadn’t learnt to paint from you, especially in this era we are living in, when I paint using the technique you taught me (as much as I can) I forget EVERYTHING, how marvelous is that! I will pass on your regards to Tony. I have been thinking of you a lot, lock down must be so hard not to see your grandson and extended family, it is what life is all about. But I was only just thinking, while teaching recorder online to grade 1 primary students, that it it is our job to stay positive even if we crack up behind the scenes. Also thank you for your positive remarks re my painting, it helps a lot coming from you. I send you my very best wishes and I hope one day to come and visit you in your studio. Take care and my warmest regards to you and Marie.


  2. PS I do enjoy reading your raves, they are so real, and of course I like reading other people’s views, always interesting coming from experienced, thinking people!


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