Short Thoughts – Can painting learn anything from knitting?

Hand knitted jumper with fair isle pattern by Madge Gascoyne, mother of the artist Lee Gascoyne

Jumper – Madge Gascoyne 2013

My mum is a bit of knitter when her arthritic fingers allow for a good run when knitting a jumper, which she has done on more than one occasion for me, as well as other family members and friends. She recently gave me a jumper she’d knitted in my chosen colour, where she’d incorporated a Fair Isle pattern, pockets and a zip up the front. It fits really well and is lovely and warm. This got me thinking.

Over the last few months I’ve been digging deep into my motivations as an artist. I consider myself to be at the early stages of what will become a mature art practice and so feel like I’m in the process of establishing its foundations. As the cliché goes, a house built on poor foundations won’t last long, but as with most clichés there’s truth in there. My motivations are tied to the purpose of my art and its intrinsic meaning (or intent). To take the time to knit a jumper (which takes an obvious amount of developed skill and patience) with the knowledge that throughout it’s making it will be a gift rather than a ‘look at what I’m capable of’ object, can only be done and repeated if it’s motivations are correct. Those motivations must surely be love and generosity?

A painting can’t clothe someone or keep them warm, but it can be made with love and generosity. An artist can choose to attempt to make work that gives, that uplifts and has qualities that encourage inclusion. We’re all in it together. We should act like it. Painting can learn a lot from knitting.

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