Listening to David Hockney

I was listening to an interview with David Hockney on the radio this morning; there is an exhibition of his work shown beside that of Van Gogh in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. This might seem an odd pairing of great artists, but it’s not, they both use bright colours and they both experiment with perspective. Hockney has been very influenced by Van Gogh so it must be wonderful to see the two artists in conjunction.

Listening to the conversation was most interesting – not only because it was preceded by the story of how the interviewer and interviewee had been trapped for an hour in a hotel lift and had to be rescued by Dutch firefighters! It was also interesting because there was a discussion about art, about painting and about drawing, and I couldn’t help but reflect that a lot of what was said could be applied to writing.

I jotted down some notes on what David Hockney said and changed the word drawing to writing:

Writing is about looking… looking with intense concentration and feeling. It’s that concentration which gives intensity, the intensity of vision… and clarity.
Look with intensity of vision, look with intense concentration and vision
Teaching writing is about teaching people to look.
Writing has not been about looking for a while.
We don’t all see the same in the same way
The world does not look like photographs
Draftmanship is the key to the whole thing

I’ve mentioned that I’m doing a course about writing fiction, and the very first exercises were about observation… it seems one of those strange coincidences that the day after I mentioned observation and writing, I should hear this interview!

here is a link to the programme – you may be able to listen to it for a while; it starts at about 2 hours 17 minutes into the broadcast:

… a BBC article about the drama:

…and a link to the Van Gogh Museum:

Here’s a link to the course – we’re on the third out of eight weeks so it’s not too late to join!

… and here is a link to my books:



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