Posts Tagged ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’

“Violence does, in truth, recoil upon the violent, and the schemer falls into the pit which he digs for another.”

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

There was a popular book in the early 1970’s that I enjoyed as a teen that was later turned into a film starring Jerry Orbach and Robert DeNiro. The book was much better than the film. It was from Jimmy Breslin and was called The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. It told the story of a gang of smalltime NYC mobsters who try to turn the tables on the Big Boss. Unfortunately, every trick and device they tried in doing so turned back on them. 

In this book, as in real life, it seems there is a sort of instant karma for scheming weasels.

I think we will be able to witness this firsthand in the next two weeks. There are those who will stoop to the lowest of lows to try to keep their chosen one in power and they are already at it. They are currently following the same script that the Russians and every fascist autocrat have used in trying to discredit their opponents.

Of course, they have been doing such a lousy job in hiding their intentions over the past few years that their actions are fully anticipated and unsurprising. Plus, the gang that is carrying this out is such a sorry group of miscreants and caricatures (a Kremlin based Russian intelligence officer) that any credibility they sought for their revelations is quickly dispelled. 

If Jimmy Breslin were still alive– he died in 2017– I think this story would be right in his wheelhouse. Might even call his book Gang of Weasels.

The next few weeks will be interesting. The Gang of Weasels will be desperately taking aim at every possible target.

Let’s just hope they only shoot themselves in the process.

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“It has always seemed to me that so long as you produce your dramatic effect, accuracy of detail matters little. I have never striven for it and I have made some bad mistakes in consequence. What matter if I hold my readers?”

― Arthur Conan Doyle


Who would have thought that the creator of Sherlock Holmes would have some good advice to offer to artists?

The words above from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle about how he he would sacrifice accuracy of detail in order to gain greater dramatic effect in his work are very enlightening.

And reassuring.

I have been going through a lot of older work from over twenty plus years back when I was still in a formative stage with my painting. I hadn’t read these words from Doyle but one of the first conscious decisions I made about my work was that I would not be a slave to detail, that I would slash away as much detail as possible while still conveying a sense of what was being represented. Oh, I would use smaller details when they served the greater effect of the painting but the fewer the better.

One example from this early work is the piece at the top that is from around 1997. I was surprised when I came across this small painting in a file folder that I hadn’t examined in many years. It was a solid example of the work I was doing at the time, mainly in watercolor with the beginnings of my relationship with the acrylic artist inks that have long been a staple of my work.

It is sparsely detailed with little consideration to trying to replicate natural color. It just allows the colors and the shapes do what they will in communicating a sense of place and feeling. It works pretty well for what I want from it.

Over the years, I sometimes have strayed from this credo of spareness but I always find my way back to it. There just seems to be more space for the expansion of feeling when details are cut away. It’s a good thing to keep in mind.

So, thanks for the reminder, Mr. Doyle. I can use all the help I can get.

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