The small joy of tidying as you go.

Sunday’s go far too fast. I’ve already been outraged at least twice today and I have had breakfast and written a bunch of other blog entries and it’s already 10am.

I came across a couple of the Marie Kondo books in Easons the other day while trying to find their art section – the bit that wasn’t 100% colouring books. They didn’t have a techniques section (Hodges Figgis moved Art around as well and now Art Techniques is not near Art which made that trip interesting) but they had both Marie Kondo books on sale for around 16E.

I love bookshops but I’m not sure I want the Marie Kondo books for that much money. Anyway, I remain astonished that she, or indeed anyone else, makes money out books which are essentially about house keeping.

But then, I get surprised by many people in the world. When nearly every “Tips to keep your house uncluttered” starts with “It sounds crazy but if you make your bed…”

I used to live in student accommodation when I was a student. As I lived, worked and drank tea in the same 10 square metres for months at a time, and eventually lived in small studio apartments, I worked out fairly sharpish that no matter what clutter was on the floor or strewn on my desk, the world looked a lot better if I at least made the bed. It is not in me not to do it now. Even in hotels I make some effort at order.

Anyway, I suspect the issue for a lot of people is the inability to make a decision. My small piece of advice for life in general – and let’s be honest, I don’t always manage it myself – is “do it now if it means your life will be easier later”.

No one wants to have to make their bed before they get into it. Ergo, do it in the morning when you get up. Wash the breakfast dishes in the morning and come home to a reasonably uncluttered kitchen.

Make your life easier by doing it now. I can’t spin it into 160 pages to sell in its millions but that’s the way I see it.

Also, try and figure out why you buy stuff. For me, half the time it’s because getting some stuff in Ireland is hard.

Advertising is not the answer

In the grand scheme of things, the biggest two internet business are basically advertising agencies. We really need to think about that for a while.

I’m thinking about this because the number of promoted tweets arriving in my timeline is going through the room. And during the week, my google now, which is semi like an organiser software, had ads for Uber in it. This made me angry and since Google’s journey prediction times for Dublin on public transport are hilariously way wide of the mark, I’m looking at how I can set my life up to use software provided by people who allow me not to have to run the gauntlet of advertising. I’m willing to pay for it provide it works on my desktop and my mobile devices. Google are not doing this.

The ongoing battle over adblockers misses a salient point. No one minds advertising if it’s not too intrusive. Unfortunately, as far as advertising is going, the Americans don’t actually know how to cope with the idea of “not too intrusive”. As a result, they shove ads in everywhere, and because that’s what they are used to, they think the rest of the world copes with it. We don’t. I mean, RTE has ads but not that many. The advertising went down the quantity line. They could get more money for their online ads if there were far less of them polluting the average punter’s experience.

Pinterest hasn’t worked out how to annoy my feed with advertising yet. When they do, that’ll be another one gone.

Deceptively spacious

From among the pile of email newsletters I subscribe to came one describing the redecoration of an apartment in Dublin. The apartment, to be fair, they had managed to do quite a lot with. I went through a phase of wanting to buy my own place (fortunately I could not then afford one and now know I am safe from any bad news stories) so I’ve seen quite a lot of the smaller apartments in Dublin.

There is very little you can do to a small apartment to make it bigger. Loads of storage does not exist in a 60sqm appartment and a room which is maybe 15 square metres and which is living room, dining room and kitchen will never bee a big room. Ever.

And it is not going to get any better.

Blavet

My mother spent years trying to get me to paint and I think she had oil paints in mind. When push came to shove, I went for water colours instead and now I have discovered that actually, art supplies are a much greater problem in my life than camera gear ever was.

Anyway. It’s pouring in Dublin today and I am feeling somewhat lethargic, so I am whiling away the time by occasionally doing some tidying and cleaning, and by reading a new drawing book (which is tempting me to buy even more drawing supplies) and doing some painting and drawing. I do not know how many sketchbooks I have on the go at the moment but I think 6 is not an over estimate.

I usually have no difficulty in identifying things I want to draw or paint when I am driving,. When confronted with a sketchbook and some of my art gear, it’s a different matter. The fear takes me.

For some reason, because I was traveling in my mind, I suppose, I decided to draw (let’s draw first anyway and see how I get on) and possibly paint one of those soul food places. Everyone has them. Mine include the point in Doolin (which was really gorgeous the last time I was down there), the Pointe du Raz at a pointy bit of Brittany and the boat graveyard on the Blavet river outside Lorient. I’d love to give you directions but I absolutely get lost every time I go looking for it. And I can’t remember the last time I was there but I have a nasty feeling it is at least five years.

Lorient is a fine big city so it comes as a surprise that you can be really near it – up the river from it more or less – and be completely immune to the feeling that you are anywhere much near civilisation. The Blavet is very wide at that point, so that probably explains why it became a place to come and scuttle boats. Most of the boats there are wooden and in varying states of decay. For me there is one iconic boat which, at high tide just has its prow sticking up out of the water. This part of the Blavet is also tidal.

Most of the time I’ve been there, I’ve been either on my own, or there has been at most 1 or 2 other persons there. I brought my mother once. There is reasonable amount of parking, and that is probably less to support the beauty spot that somehow, illogically, a dumping ground for boats who have outlived their usefulness (most of the boats if not all were working boats and the tuna fishing fleet was dumped there at the start of the 20th century). Really it should look like a scrapyard, and, somehow it doesn’t. I suspect the reason for that is that the overwhelming majority of the boats are not made from modern ship building materials like metal or fibre glass. There are a few, and yet they seem curiously out of place. The river side hosts an open air theatre and I suspect that is why there is sufficient parking there. It’s in a beautiful location.

I don’t know that we really have places like that, and where boats have been abandoned in harbours, they have often been cleaned up or taken away and broken up.

The boat I elected to draw was the sticky up prow which has a comparatively modern look about it in terms of having a reg number. But like all the others, it’s made of wood for the most part, with some metal that is gradually rusting away. Ironically, when I sketched it, I got the prow wrong (I call these learning experiences) but otherwise…I’m happy with it.

 

Somehow, the fact that it’s still raining in Dublin seems hardly relevant.

Other things I learned today – titanium white in the Sennelier half pan set is not fun to work with. I must see what WN has to offer on that front. I need something that doesn’t turn other colours into what looks like pottery clay.

12 Sketches by Leonardo da Vinci

I always get very disappointed when yet another survey demonstrates that the biggest tourist draw in the country is the Guinness Storehouse. All the more so bearing in mind that we have, in Dublin, a gem of a Museum of Archaeology, and, especially, a gem of a National Gallery.

At the moment, and until mid July, you can go to the National Gallery to see 12 sketches done by Leonardo da Vinci, on loan from the Royal Collection. They are wonderful. Not only are they wonderful, they are inspirational. Some of his drawings make things look so easy. I know they are not (for me at least) easy but…Anyway his sketches of cats are worth going in for anyway and entry is free. There really is no major excuse.

Thursday mornings aren’t mad busy either.

I must confess I loved the cats, I loved the work being done to support other major work he was planning. And in some sense, I found it remarkable to understand that this drawings, on cotton rag paper, have existed for the guts of six hundred years. The average piece of electronics hardly lasts five years lately. These drawings provide a line of communication to a man who is dead for ages and people who were his contemporaries. In a way, they are as much a piece of social history as they are a piece of the history of science and art.

I wish I had been able to see these things when I was 13 years old. I might have started drawing sooner as his lines just make things look very clear and comprehensible.

Facets

The sound track to the film Am̩lie РI am never really sure what the exact title is, but everyone of an age knows which film it is Рis on in the background. It conveys an interesting atmosphere in my life Рthe noon soon is starting to breakthrough the clouds and it may be a lovely afternoon. I have a painting started, and I am waiting for a yellow wash to dry before I start painting buildings of Paris on on top of it. It is purely coincidental but here we are.

I have never worked out how much of the thoughts that go through my head are linked to the fact that I am me, or the fact that I am getting older. I remember telling a friend once that everyone had midlife crises all the time, except no one called a decision to change jobs completely at the age of 27 a midlife crisis but once you were 10 years older…oh boy. But the thing that strikes me most is that living has changed completely since I was 27, probably more profoundly than it did for previous generations. This morning, again, I saw another piece of advertising blurb designed to remind people they weren’t good enough.

I have no doubt that the person who wrote it would hide behind the theory that they are advising people to maximise their potential. But no one’s potential lies solely in doing stuff for their professional potential. Is it so reasonable to spend hours learning to write some Javascript when what this means is that for the rest of your life, you will be spending hours learning the next de facto standard, and those standards change every five minutes? I somehow doubt it. Is someone’s potential maximised if they put all their spare time into learning Google Analytics when perhaps, they should be outside tending plants because gardening is what gives them headspace?

I believe people need to be in charge of their potential, and not slaves only to one aspect of it. Work, job, career, is not the holy all of everything. It is at best a part of everything and it supports everything. But it shouldn’t govern everything.

In the meantime, if you’re writing puff blog pieces for a commercial entity about maximising your potential and you are talking about learning 3 technical skills, you are not really advising people to maximise their potential. You’re narrowing their potential remarkably.

I’d argue that a lot of people would be better off reading more, drawing more, doing stuff which has an indeterminate return on investment in terms of money but which has returns in terms of perspective. You can learn to code all you like but it is unlikely to give you any sense of your place in the world, and somehow, without that sense of their place…no one reaches their full potential.