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Iain the Person

Some Quotes from the Artist's Notebook

Among the many things that Iain collected were words of wisdom – and humour – from a wide variety of sources and these we found scattered throughout notebooks, photocopied, and scribbled on torn-out sheets of paper.  It was obvious that many of them strongly influenced both his personal life and his art.


We thought it would be nice to share some with you – in no particular order but just as we found them.


“Painting to me is something of a tightrope between representation and the other thing - whatever that is. It is difficult to keep one’s balance.” - Ian Fairweather.

“Fail. Fail again. Fail better.” - Samuel Beckett.

“Be orderly and regular in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be wild and original in your work.” - Flaubert.

“Don’t just do something. Stand there!”

“I’ll play it first and tell you what it is later.” - Miles Davis

“We live in a rainbow of chaos.” - Cezanne

“How did I come to be an artist? Endless curiosity, observation,
research - and a great amount of joy in the thing.”
- George Grosz.

“Do not fear mistakes - there are none.” - Miles Davis.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes..” - Marcel Proust.

“The more you reason, the less you create.” - Raymond Chandler.

“I grapple with a vision I can neither realize nor abandon.“ - Gwen Harwood.

“Words that come from the heart go into the heart”. - Talmudic saying.


"Life is bio-degradable art" – London WII graffito      


"Lend yourself to others and give yourself to yourself." – Montaigne.


"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards." – Kierkegaard.


"Everything in the Universe goes by indirection. There are no straight lines." – Emerson.


"You must play the fool a little, if you would not be thought wholly a fool." – Montaigne.


"When you start working, everybody is in your studio – the past, your friends, enemies, the art world and above all, your own ideas – all are there. But, as you continue painting, they start leaving, one by one, and you are left completely alone. Then, if you are lucky, even you leave." – John Cage.


"There is as much difference between us and ourselves, as between us and others." – Montaigne.


"I don't mind being in touch with reality, as long as I don't have to live there." –  Frank & Ernest (Cartoon)


I'd like to do it all over again, knowing the things I should know now." – Frank & Ernest (Cartoon)


"Why is it that the only people who know how to run the country are either driving cabs or cutting hair?" - Vancouver B.C. graffito

"We don't have a plan, so nothing can go wrong." - Spike Milligan.


"You are not thinking, you are just being logical." – Physicist Niels Bohr (admonishing a student).


"It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that things are difficult." – Seneca.


"Only ideas won by walking have any value."


"The more you try, the luckier you are." – Pee Wee Russell  (jazz clarinetist).


"The essence of things is by no means linked to their reality, there are other relations beside reality which the mind is capable of grasping , and which are also primary – like chance, illusion, the fantastic, the dream." – Louis Aragon.


"All art is a challenge to despair." – E.C.Bentley.


"It is wild as a cat, and quite separate from civilisation." – Stevie Smith (on art).


"The tree that moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing in their way." – William Blake.


"A problem will not be solved within the mind set that produced it." – Albert Einstein.


"Put an end once for all to this discussion of what a good man should be – and be one." – Marcus Aurelius.


"Quite often I find I have spent hours producing nothing.  But these unproductive periods are not wasted because one is solving problems and making discoveries every time one paints. One has to paint the pictures that fail or one wouldn't paint

 the pictures that come off." – Sidney Nolan.


Nijinsky was once asked how he managed to leap so high. He answered that he saw no problem in this.  "Most people when they leap in the air come down at once. Why should you come down immediately? Stay in the air a little before you return… why not?" – Isaiah Berlin (Personal Impressions).


"To know nothing of the time before you were born, is to remain forever a child." – Cicero.


"My image of TAO is not a continuous line, but just many dots." – Toru Takemitsu.


"You're not supposed to understand it.  You're supposed to buy
it." – Frank & Ernest (as artists to a reluctant patron.)



There are many more but for now we will leave the last word to the Leicester graffiti artist who left this message on a dirty roller towel: –


"You are advised to wash your hands after using this towel." 




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Caption pending
Untitled (1986)   Ed. 10
Etching   14.5cm x 10.2cm
Caption pending
Untitled (1986)   Ed. 10
Etching  18cm x 6.1cm




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