I’ve always approved of how-it’s-done programmes (cookery, gardening, that funny little ten-minute “tips for” series), even for disciplines i’m not much interested in —> and there’s plainly a kind of overthrow-of-everything loopiness to getting um Modern Master Rolf Harris to demonstrate the Technique of the Old Masters. (Hey it’s like when he revived his own (and Led Zep’s) careers w.that cover of Stairway to Heaven.) It’s not as if he can’t draw or paint in the basic technical sense: he can (anyway he can do everything! even swim and save animals’ lives!) — It’s more that his aesthetic is so, well, what exactly? So fantastically “straight” – = hardline representational – that it’s not even reactionary or threatening. He knows how to make things look like things, esp. things in semi-motion, with just a less-is-more dab of a brush: and presents it as a learnable skill not a transcendent wonder beyond your reach. Good for him.

My actual real first ever memory of wanting to be a painter (aged five) came after watching Rolf do one of his lightning daubs, while singing. The song was an aboriginal chant about “The Dreamtime”; the painting wz of the land we sail to when we sleep. I tried to paint it next day at infant school. Mine was quite poor. You also learn things from when copying goes bad: this is the secret hidden unsayable centre of the Rolf on Art series, maybe.

Anyway, this prog had three aspects to it.
i. Rolf talks to experts (art historians and collectors) abt his idol: basic documentary fodder
ii. Rolf sits in the Rembrandt museum in Amsterdam (surrounded by ppl who have come to look at paintings by Rembrandt), and
iii. Rolf paints a SELF-PORTRAIT “in the style of” (while the ppl all around watch in jaw-dropped awe at a. his talent, or b. his chutzpah).

The best bit wasn’t that his self-portrait caught a genuine likeness of him , though it did (maybe there were dozens of rubbish ones thrown away off-camera). It was when they morphed through all the OTHERS he’d done of himself since he wz an art student in the 50s, and he let out a giggle of pure self-pleasure.

(ps ok aaargh his colour sense is ubergharstly)

(sorry i meant to blog this a few days ago, but i had a lot of stuff on)