The Sparks Brothers film and going your own way.

Posted by Julia Ogden on

A while ago I watched "The Sparks Brothers' film. I half wrote this blog post and then left it sleeping as I wasn't sure how it fitted with my other posts.

Anyway on a reread it is quite nice, so...

Probably like most people I only knew a handful of Sparks hits.  I remember seeing them perform "This Town ain't big enough for the both of us" on "Sounds of the Seventies" and thinking what the heck was that?

For those that haven't seen this unusual duo; I will describe... they are two brothers; one on a keyboard and one on vocals and flamboyant dancing duties. The brother on the keyboard looks sternly into the camera in all performances. The contrast between them is so strange.

The film stayed with me for days, not because of their strangeness ironically but because of self depreciation, humour (yes from the stern one! ) and pursuit of art rather than commercial success.

I began to think how that applies to my own art. I started out years ago painting landscapes with elements of abstraction or room to breath in them. They were loose minimal pieces about colour and shape. Sometimes of Brighton (where I was living at the time) and sometimes just of imagined places.

As time went on I worked for galleries and they made suggestions of what I could paint. Eager to please and make a career out of things I worked hard at fulfilling their requests. My work became commercially successful, and I started to make a certain amount of paintings per month for a publishing company and got a regular wage that way.

But. Fashions and tastes change and my sales began to drop. The recession happened. The company didn't really know what they wanted from me and I was still stuck trying to please them. I didn't really know what my style was.

So the regular work from them stopped and it did take me quite a long time to find my feet again. This came with a move back to Yorkshire. Having my feet in the north seemed to inspire me. I began painting landscapes again. They were a bit more sophisticated than my very early ones (I had completed a teaching course by that time and because I was teaching techniques I was learning techniques). But they still focussed on colour, shape and space to breath. So that brings me back to Sparks; they have always done what is in their heart and worked tirelessly at it. They have made 26 albums! And I really feel I am painting from the heart rather than second guessing what people would like. It feels good; like a breath of fresh air.

My most recent painting. I enjoyed being lost in the mist (and not putting everything in).


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