Every year there’s a conference held in London, UK for all things “Boring”. Sounds dull right? Not really – considering it’s been sold out for the last 6 years. I only found out about it 2 months ago and I am pretty upset I missed it this year. I now have my calendar alerts on for 2017 ticket sales. I can't wait!
So what is this conference about and why am I writing about it even though I've never been? The conference discusses an array of topics, from post card collections to sounds made by vending machines; it’s apparently where people congregate to discuss the most mundane topics one can ever imagine. The founder, James Ward, seems like an interesting enough character. I read his blog and LOL’d my way through it. It must annoy him that ‘being boring’ is the new interesting – those hipsters. I even contemplated writing in his style for this post just to reflect the irrelevance of it all, but being satirical isn’t the point of this entry. The point is that finding genuine interest in our surroundings is what makes life less boring (for some).
In painting the piece ‘Neighboring Back Alley’, my father spent hours studying how the light reflected off the tire tracks in the snow. He was fascinated with the subtle contrast in the whites and how it created a dynamic palette; one that is not so easily captured in an oil painting. He wanted to be firm and decisive with his brush strokes and probably thought more about his technique than anything I’ve ever contemplated in my life. We sometimes question why he just stares off into space when he paints, making the assumption his mind is blank. The reality is that his mind is constantly turning and observing his surroundings. He is pulling from old references and memories while looking at photos and his paintings in different lights. He's studying and researching how other artist have stepped up to this challenge and absorbing it to formulate what fits his style. Sounds almost as exciting as understanding the design of a spoon right? For my father, this is one of the most motivating things in his life (aside from us, his family, of course). Getting lost in the depth of one color and finally achieving the visual affect he wants will have him glowing for days. It's the satisfaction that what has taken him hours and perhaps days to conjure up looks effortless and carefree. It’s even better when he gets recognized for his obsession too; this painting won second place in the landscape category of the 2016 The Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition. Something that the whole family is very happy about and proud of. This painting was not only picked because it reflected my father's abilities, but also because of the ambiance it embodied.
The subject matter of the piece was the alleyway by our home. One that we pass by on a daily basis and one that few would take notice to. Maybe that's why its such a lovely piece, because it brings our attention to the daily life. It turns something common into art through a collection of emotions and atmospheric references. Something that many artist, like Monet and Warhol, and photographers, like William Eggleston, have been doing for decades. Finding beauty in the ordinary is something we are not wired to do, but ought to learn how to do. We live in a society that chases the bold, new and innovative and we forget that the humdrum things in our lives come about in extraordinary fashion; usually in a painful manner which requires a lot of diligence, thought, and perseverance.
For more about this post:
Publication of my father’s piece in The Artist Magazine will go on sale November 2016...more details to come
James Ward’s Blog: I like boring things – www.iamjamesward.com
Boring Conference (if you want to fight me for a ticket in 2017): www.boringconference.com
Read for more 'interesting' boring stuff:
Stuff Matters by Mark Miodownik
The Thing Explainer by Randall Monroe