On being human in your work

Writer Jason Reynolds:

I’m kind of old school in terms of the way I think about the work that we do. I don’t believe in any of the romance involved with being a writer. Writing is one of those strange crafts where everybody romanticizes it. We grow up looking at these images and photographs of our favorite writers, sitting at their typewriters in their offices. The truth is that this is my job, so I find time by making it. I make time.
If that means writing on airplanes, then it’s writing on airplanes. If it’s writing in the backs of cabs, if it’s writing on trains, then that’s what it is. If it’s writing in hotel rooms, then that’s what it is. For me, it’s about practice, and practicality. There’s nothing to do with any muse or inspiration or any romantic incubator for me to do this work. I make no excuses for myself.

Creating art out of past experiences

The New Yorker on director Joanna Hogg:

She didn’t release her first feature film until a decade ago, when she was forty-seven, and “The Souvenir” is only her fourth movie. This summer, Hogg is shooting “The Souvenir: Part II,” a continuation of the story of Julie’s early adulthood. Together, the films will implicitly tell another story: that of a female artist’s belated emergence in middle age, and her discovery that she could create art out of experiences that had once seemed like lost time.

Joanna Hogg’s self-portrait of a lady via The New Yorker

Robert Macfarlane on his preference for physical notebooks

Author Robert Macfarlane on his preference for physical notebooks over digital notes:

People sometimes ask me why I don’t use a phone to take notes when I’m ‘out’ in the field. The answer is that phones smash, while notebooks bend. I also like the way that notebooks record where they’ve been not just in terms of what’s written in them, but also in terms of the wear they bear as objects.

On the types of notebooks he uses:

The notebooks vary from a tiny lilac-coloured Moleskine just seven or eight centimetres high, to robust hardback journals, tough enough to withstand being dragged through limestone tunnel systems and soaked in slate mines.

One of the advantages of carrying around a physical notebook is the ability to tuck found objects into the pages or the envelope sometimes found at the back:

I also tend to tuck things into the pages of my notebooks, which flutter out later and surprise me. When I was in East Greenland, camping for weeks by the calving face of a huge glacier called the Knud Rasmussen, I picked up three ptarmigan feathers, and two iridescent ‘books’ of mica, and put them into the back of the two notebooks I filled up in that time. Two years later, I opened the notebooks again – and there was the mica, glittering away, and there were the feathers, as if fallen straight from the bird, pulling my memory instantly back to the cold, off-planet atmosphere of the glacier.

via Penguin Books from an original post by Austin Kleon

Nick Cave on the key to living

As we go through our lives we take on the expanding burden of our own distress – as we are abandoned, broken apart, betrayed, isolated, lost and hurt. This is essentially part of what it is to live. This despair will overwhelm us and turn inward into bitterness, resentment and hatred – worse, we will take it out upon the ones closest to us if we do not actively live our lives in the service of others and use what power we have to reduce each other’s suffering. This, in my opinion, is essentially the key to living. This is the remedy to our own suffering; our own feelings of separateness and of disconnectedness. And it is the essential antidote for loneliness.

The Red Hand Files #39

Sean Scully and the Art of Everything

Screenshot 2019-05-07 11.35.16

Really enjoyable documentary about the painter, Sean Scully, shown recently on the BBC: Unstoppable: Sean Scully and the Art of Everything.

On what got him interested in art:

“I can’t really explain why I got hypnotised by art. I don’t really know how I managed to get there from where I was. It’s sort of inexplicable to me, but I used to look at books. I loved these books and they had almost this kind of religious importance to me. And the ones that were the most approachable were these books by Thames & Hudson called The World of Art.”

How Van Gogh’s Chair got him into art school:

“When I was trying to get into art school I had to find something that I could do, that I could teach myself, because I was self-taught. And, some of these things, I can see, are a bit too complicated, but I thought this painting looked as if anybody could have painted it. It seemed as if it was something I could do myself. So I made all these little Van Gogh’s and I got my portfolio together and I got turned down by eleven art schools. All of them. And it was unbelievably discouraging. And finally I came upon an art school that had a little vocational course – not a degree course – in Croydon. So I applied and I miraculously got in. And that’s the beginning.”

On doubt:

“I don’t have self-doubt. I don’t have doubt and I don’t think that doubt is useful, or constructive. It doesn’t create anything. You have to have faith and commitment and belief to do something that hasn’t been done before or to create something extraordinary. It’s already difficult enough without you putting roadblocks in your own way.”

On America:

“People like to pretend that America is the Land of the Free, but it’s not. It’s the Land of Weapons is what it is.”