With a forward by Sophie…
This is the fifth and final post from Janet Hope as ‘artist called anyone in residence.’ If you haven’t been introduced yet, do meet her, She is awesome! click here Her first four posts were If Art were a person, what would your relationship be like?, Tell me a story, Embracing embuggerance and Dog poo moon fish.
Here is Janet with Little Miss Earnest
Well, it’s the final Wednesday in October and I have to confess that behind the scenes there has been a teensy panic going on.
If you’ve been reading this series since the start, you’ll know that my old mate Art and me don’t do deadlines. She and I both make our living elsewhere. On the infrequent occasions we manage to get together, we revel in being dilettantes. We dabble, we potter, we tinker, we trifle, we dally, we muck around, we mess about. When we get exhausted from all that activity, we like to do a little pootling or, more rarely, tootling.
This is good. When I was four years old I had a music teacher whose ultimate censure was to hint that I might not be “serious”. Horror! Our dad used to leave notes sticky-taped to the TV, forbidding us to watch until we had done something “worthwhile”. In every area of my life other than art, the earnest inner child who desperately needs to do things properly is constantly piping in my ear.
When I hang out with Art, that poor little tyke finally gets to go and have a good lie down. Usually she’s quite willing: being earnest all the time is pretty draining. But today’s deadline has caused a bit of struggle, as follows:
Inner Child, a.k.a. Little Miss Earnest: Hey J, whatcha doin’?
Me: A picture. Time for you to take a break.
LME: Can I help?
Me: Nope. Run along now.
LME: I don’t think you’re going to get this done on time.
Me: Doesn’t matter. Off you go and have a chillax.
LME: You probably need my help or it’s going to be lame.
Me: Probably, but that’s not important.
LME: It’s kind of slack to do a lame job for the blog.
Me: Yep. It’s pretty slack. So be it.
LME: I think we should cancel everything else so you can do a better job.
Me: Are you still here? Off you go.
LME: Given there’s not enough time to do a good job, I think we should quit work, leave the family, catch a plane to darkest Peru and hope nobody ever tracks us down.
Me: Sure, sure, of course. You go lie down and plan the trip.
So I’m talking to myself along these lines (but not moving my lips – I’m not crazy or anything) when I have what seems like a brilliant idea.
It so happened that my lovely young friend Lili was visiting, on an after school playdate with her brother and my son. The boys wanted to play a particular card game, and Lili was feeling bored and left out.
Lili loves to do art, and she is a very helpful soul. I figured if I gave her the Bygum Girl story and some drawing gear, she could create her own interpretation of the scene I’ve been trying to illustrate these past few weeks. She’d generate the image that we needed for this blog post, and I’d have something to write about, comparing the two interpretations.
In retrospect, I totally know whose idea this was. At the time it seemed ultra-reasonable, but really it was like this:
LME: It’s panic stations! We’re screwed! This is a disaster!
Me: My stars, you’re right! What are we going to do?!
LME: Why don’t you find somebody else to do the picture?
Me: But that’s a cop-out.
LME: I’ll stop bugging you if you do….
Me: Arrrgh, all right, all right! You win. I’ll ask Lili.
So I was duped. But as it turned out, Lili was into it. Over the course of about an hour, she came up with this delightful picture:
I particularly adore the fish, with their tubular form and gormless expressions. As my son described the moonfish, they look like real fish. When you touch them – no matter how delicately – their fragile outer layer slips apart like the skin of an overripe peach, releasing the soft, rich redolence of freshly laid stool with a gentle ‘pop’.
I can easily imagine one of Lili’s fish coming apart in my hands in this manner, the eye still looking accusingly up at me from the end of its stalk. Bleargh. I don’t blame Bygum Girl and Bygum Boy for keeping their distance over there on one of the spherical ice-chip stars.
Seeing Lili’s work inspired me to have another play with my earlier picture after all. I decided to abandon the colour inversion technique (for now) and colour the existing drawing with watercolours. I used felt-tip markers for the wings. I cut it all out with scissors (I really need to learn how to use Photoshop) and scanned it against a black background to represent the darkness of space.
I still don’t think it’s anywhere near done, but the deadline has arrived. So how to score the tussle between Little Miss Earnest and me?
Well, I didn’t run off to Peru. I enjoyed hearing Lili hum a happy tune while she created her own art. And I managed to snatch some last-minute fun for myself from the drooling jaws of perfectionism. So I guess I’m going to declare it a draw.
Oh, and there was a big mess to clean up. Which means that at the end of the day, I think we can all agree:
Art is the winner.
Janet Hope (an artist called anyone) artwork is original by Janet Hope and Lili