The art of slimming

Book Cover of Modern Art CookbookAre you in a wintry rut? Sitting in your little corner: fat, demotivated and glum. If you’ve given exercise its chance, and it’s too cold to diet, try Art.

That is correct, Art can make you slim. Here’s how:

Ease into this gently. First establish Art as a pleasurable activity. What makes you happy? Food. There is a beautiful book that connects Art and food  – The modern art cookbook by Mary Ann Caws. In this stunning book, you can relate to food (madeleines, red snapper, rare roast beef) as if you were already a famous artist like Monet or Salvador Dalí.

Next step, arm yourself with philosophical arguments that will put all the naysayers in their place. And who better to have on your side than Everyman’s Philosopher Alain de Botton with his academically entertaining Art as therapy. de Botton’s approach could satisfy your senses better than a plate of macaroni cheese. Or not.

Book Cover of Kitchen KitschShould Philosophy fail (as well it might), move on to a bit of aversion therapy. Take a trip back in time, before food photography became the art that it is to-day. There is some scary looking food on display in Kitchen kitsch: pictures of a nightmarish pie on page 15, overly shiny pineapple slices and sliced food trapped in lurid jello might help you lose your appetite.

But if you still just want to e-a-t, you will need to up your game and draw everything that you eat. This is what Danny Gregory in The creative license demands that you do. Every Day. It’s brilliant, you eat less because you are terrified of trying to draw that cheeseburger and fries. Or you are so busy sketching, you don’t have time to munch.

Oh, and you get really good at drawing. I like the look of this!


Why your five-year-old could not have done that

Ever stood in front of a work of modern art – all spots and dribbles, or with child-like figures and random words scrawled across it? Or been mystified by an installation of a toilet (which won an art prize and got sent all the way to Paris)? If so, you may have had three thoughts in rapid succession:

  • I could do that
  • Hell no, my five year old could do it
  • Crikey, I hope they didn’t spend any of my taxes on this

If this sounds like you, you need to read Susie Hodge’s book: Why Your Five Year Old Could Not Have Done That, in which she takes us for a look at one hundred works of modern art and talks us through  them to show exactly why our five year olds could most certainly not have produced a dribbly Jackson Pollock or even the simplest looking Mark Rothko. According to Hodge, it’s got to do with intention, technical skill, layering of ideas, sheer inspiration, pushing new boundaries and historical context. Sure, maybe little Johnny can copy it now – but that’s only because he’s seen it done already.

Cover: My Art BookIt’s a fascinating little book for anyone who is interested in art, especially art education. I read it hand in hand with with My Art Book, which is a Dorling Kindersley publication for children. In My Art Book, art masterpieces are deconstructed to encourage children to copy the techniques of famous artists like Kandinsky and Van Gogh. It is a colourful book, fun and full of ideas. But I found it disturbing where children were really just copying masterpieces, like the little girl on page 37 – earnestly hunched over her ballerina, smudging it for all she’s worth to get it to look exactly like a Degas.

Irrespective of which of these two approaches you prefer, if you come along to the New Brighton Bookish Artists Art Exhibition in May (featuring art works by library staff), we won’t mind at all if you look at our work and think: “I could do better than that”, and what is more, we’d be only too delighted if you set out to copy us!

Here’s a taster from last year’s exhibition:

Painting Painting

An Outsider in the Art World

cover of Seven Days in the Art WorldSarah Thornton considers herself “an outsider with good access” who has used that access to write a fascinating bestseller about the world of contemporary art. Called Seven Days in the Art World she goes behind the scenes of auctions, prizes, exhibitions, studios etc for a witty and informative look at what goes on. We all know that for gossip and scandal the art world probably outdoes literature, music and even the theatrical worlds. Discuss.

Her next book will be on artists and Banksy is top of the list to interview. The elusive street artist is one of the delights of being in London. She describes it as “magical when you come across one of his murals”. The destruction of one of his murals on a Post Office back lot after only a few days she describes as tragic. The Royal Mail “couldn’t distinguish between vandalism and creative appropriation of a public space”. She thinks he is an interesting communicator, on a lot of different levels, and to different ages.

Her flying visit to New Zealand includes tackling “What Good are the Arts” with John Carey and Denis Dutton and going to a group show opening which includes artist Fiona Jack who appears in her book in the chapter about The Crit session. She is also visiting a couple of major collectors in their homes to see the works they have.

Her official website has a great list of articles if you want to find out more about contemporary art. If you are lucky enough to travel she recommends the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate Britain and the Tate Modern in London and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.