October 6, 2013

Churchill on Painting

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I'm listening to an audiobook on Winston Churchill by William Manchester. In volume one, during World War I, as First Lord of the Admiralty, he was scapegoated by a host of incompetents in charge of government and edged out of public office. In an interlude before he rejoined the British Army and served in the trenches of the Western Front, he started painting -initially introduced by his wife as means to distract him from his troubles- and he took to it avidly and naturally. But his entry into this new world wasn't without difficulty or risk:

With everything assembled, "...the next step was to begin. But what a step to take! The palette gleamed with beads of color. Fair and white was the canvas. The exotic brush hung poised heavy with destiny, irresolute in the air. My hand seemed arrested by a silent veto. But after all, the sky on this occasion was unquestionably blue and a pale blue at that. Then there could be no doubt that blue paint mixed with white should be put on top of the canvas. One does not need an artists' training to see that. It is a starting point open to all. So, gingerly I mixed a little blue paint on the palette with a very small brush and then with infinite proportion I made a mark as big as a pea upon the affronted snow white shield. It was a challenge, a deliberate challenge. But so subdued, so halting indeed, so cataleptic, that it deserved no response."

"...deserved no response..."

A horrible feeling, that.

Posted by Dennis at October 6, 2013 10:48 PM

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