Wednesday, January 06, 2010


Love Oil on linen 100 x 100 cm

Happy New Year to everyone! I actually saw the New Year in this year...on a boat [quite a big one too] moored off Moreton Island, Queensland, Australia. It was a really fabulous way to see the New Year in. I have a story about me and boats, but that's for another time...I MUCH prefer big boats to small boats.

I am still reading 'The Brain That Changes Itself' by Dr. Norman Doidge. Yes, I am taking it slowly, but I read at night and fall asleep far too quickly. This book is one I will be re-reading though. The idea that the brain can change itself has been refuted/questioned for a long time, but this book chronicles the many years of research and evidence that the brain can, indeed, change itself. It is a multi faceted book looking at how the brain can change to accomodate and override impediments such as blindness, illness and injury amongst other things including attention deficit disorders. It also looks at the changes caused by culture including technologies such as TV, Internet, video games etc... and etc

I have some ideas about visual art [specifically painting] and changes to the brain. These ideas are not whole yet, as they seem to drift into my thoughts and then slip away. I am thinking to myself, is this me experiencing changes in my brain...and if I give up trying to 'catch' my ideas will my brain just slide into a comfortable but not invigorative life? Well, I am going to 'catch' my thoughts, for a couple of reasons, one being that I [humbly I might add] think they are potentially really interesting thoughts and secondly I am now determined that my brain will not slip into a lazy atrophy.

Apparently, the brain changes and is invigorated by doing new things, not necessarily or just by getting better and better at those things one does all the time. So, new concepts may trigger off new ways of thinking and thus neuronal activity, just as learning to dance will stimulate our neurons. It is called brain plasticity or neuroplasticity.

So, I am thinking I might take dancing lessons, because whilst I love to dance and I think I am a really good dancer [my children laugh at me though!] new dance steps will get my neurons dancing too. I want to learn how to dance like Brazilians! Our lovely Brazilian student who stayed with us for 5 months in early 09 could dance OH so well.

I have even started doing some of those quizz type activities in the newspaper...just to get my brain going in different directions. I am not having a huge amount of success, but I am improving each day!

But, back to my fleeting thoughts about visual art and its potential brain changing agency. It seems to me that there is a very fashionable taste element in contemporary art. This art has a graphic appearance, often almost cartoonish. Very realistic images with quirky graphic or colour elements are also fashionable. So, I ask fashionability an outcome of mass incremental brain changes in the general population 'fashioned' by influences such as TV, video games etc? If it is, then any art which is fashionable cannot be provoking in the sense of contributing to changes in thinking, outlook or perspective. It is a follower of fashion rather than a leader.

So, let's move on from fashionability to art which is not fashionable. Does, non-fashionable art hold the potential to stimulate change and activity in the brain? I mean the kind of thinking or imagining which is not just a repeated version of a the broad visual genre offered by television or video games or advertising. I would say that non-fashionable art is successful in its non-fashionability if it causes people to wonder and ask questions...not questions that sit on the surface of description, but questions that probe our consciousness, beliefs, history, memories and relationships. Art which stimulates those Ah Ah moments when a new realisation hits you with a bang and you can almost feel your brain jolt with the stimulation. And yes there can be some Ha Ha moments too, but not the kind of humour which makes fun of others, is a repeated version of a sitcom type situation or is grounded in superficial slapstick.

So, I will keep thinking about visual art and its agency as a neuron stimulant! But, as readers of my BLOG know, these thoughts fit with my ideas of art as a catalytic agent for agenda-less, but not directionless conversations. It seems axiomatic to me that these conversations would be new, revelatory and cause change not only within a person but potentially throughout the world.

I suppose the clue is to be able to sidestep 'fashion'...maybe that's where dancing lessons will come in handy!

LOVE Oil on Linen 100 x 100 cm 09/10 SOLD

This is a subtle painting using my much loved transcultural/religious tree-of-life motif. There are two trees which form a circle and where they meet the colour turns to a soft purple. I have to say, when I look at this painting I feel something right in my heart. I know this sounds really gooey but even my children have said the same thing. When I was painting this work I knew I wanted to paint 'love'...and it just came out. I did not title this painting after it was completed as it was always going to be 'Love'. And this love can be whatever kind you want it to be...and it can change from day to day if you like! As, I have said before every converstion, whether it be with oneself or with others, that is triggered by one of my paintings, provides another completion. I do not complete my work...and I like the idea that there maybe multiple completions.


Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Unknown said...

You know? Anonymous stopped by MY blog and said exactly the same thing. Hmmm. One track mind, do you suppose?

Anyway, one of the things I love about coming here is getting the Artist's view and understanding of the piece. When one goes to a gallery, the Art is there, on the wall and interpretation is left to the viewer - which, I suppose, is the way it must be for most people - Art must speak to the viewer in order for the viewer to say "I want to take you home". But, as an Artist still learning to be an Artist, seeing the work of others and growing an understanding of the thought process behind the works displayed has more value, I feel, than any number of DVDs and Videos explaining the process of Art.

Audubon Ron said...

Love the love.

You want non-fashionable art, I saw Francisco Goya in a museum in Europe. I saw his pre and post when he went all loony tunes and completely unfashionable so much so he went from a carnival mind to a bundle of psycho-adjustment issues mind. Now, I, for one, do not see the French/Spanish Peninsula War as the reason he went over the edge. It might have been the trigger, but we all handle stressors differently and in his case he painted about it. I understand the catharsis. He started as an apprentice painter at age 14, so I suppose for his day and for his father to afford such luxury he viewed life with vantage. Under any circumstance, war is grim. I assure you; his new realisation Saturn Devouring His Son hit me like a ton of bricks. Why Saturn and not Mars? Well, the answer was Saturn, the myth, feared his children would overthrow him, so he devoured them. But, it made me think nonetheless, to go from the Eros of The Maja to the pathos of Saturn Devouring His Son scared Ron’s mule. Let’s say, though non-fashionable for its day, Goya’s art left a long lasting impression on me remaining some of my favorites. These were complex impressions on my teenage mind when I first saw them at a time when the windows of deeper learning were beginning to open. I hope I haven’t missed the point of your note entirely?

Anyway, as the old Chinese proverb goes, a picture paints a thousand words. Every picture tells a story. Let us also not leave out the influence of the artist. With the art, I also want to experience the artist. That’s half the unique and individual charm. In your case, the art and the artist are appealing and both tell a story.

Love the love.

(You know me, always having to interject an epistle on the matter).

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I want not acquiesce in on it. I think warm-hearted post. Expressly the designation attracted me to review the sound story.

Anonymous said...

Love the painting.

It says anonymous but could be Audubon Ron, one never knows, after all, I am anonymous, which I realize how I might be needing to sneak in a few “short” comments apparently. :)

Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox said...

HI Lou and Ron,

Thank you both for visiting again. I have been away in beautiful New Zealand. Lou, really appreciate your feedback!

And, Ron, I saw the Goyas in Madrid and coudl not get over how 'modern' they were. They seemed to transcend time. Your comments about your teenage experience with Goya is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking causing a departure of thought...a growth...hard to articulate it really. But, I htink you got it!