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The motif - a painter’s thoughts

Andrew Marr shares his thoughts on abstraction and the picture-making process as he analyses how ‘the subject’ is represented in paint


Andrew Marr

Is a writer and broadcaster. As a political journalist he has worked for the Scotsman, the Independent, the Economist and the Observer and was political editor for the BBC from 2000 to 2005. Andrew is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books and currently presents the Andrew Marr Show on BBC1 and Start the Week on Radio Four.

Powerful contemporary painting must have a subject. By that I don’t mean that it must look like something directly, but more that it must have a point, a meaning. That can be, by and of itself, colour – and the emotions summoned by colour – or the texture and the doing of the artwork itself. Or the simplest compositions can summon existential thoughts. It isn’t ‘pseudy’ or unusual for people standing in front of paintings by Rothko to feel that they confront death and obliteration, and even to be made dizzy by them. Kazimir Malevich’s famous black square – it is what it says it is – summons up a different kind of confrontation, the world-ending despair of global war and revolution.

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About The Artist

Welcome to our December issue, packed with inspirational workshop-style features from our team of top professional artists and tutors. This month David Curtis demonstrates an oil painting of a corner of his garden, Graham Webber shows how to paint boats in the landscape, Judi Whitton shares her 'creepy crawly' drawing methods to help you produce unique sketches without a viewfinder and Penny German reveals her tips for setting up and lighting a still-life subject. Watercolourists will love learning how Claire Harkess paints her prizewinning wildlife paintings, and how to paint a successful botanical subject using just three primary colours following Jarnie Godwin's advice. Writer, broadcaster and painter Andrew Marr discusses his thoughts about abstraction with reference to the development of one of his own compositions, as well as much more to keep you inspired, informed and, of course, drawing and painting!