TONY HART TAKE HART 1976 clip from first series





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Published on Mar 5, 2007



1980s TV ART with ROLF and TONY. If Des Lynam the long-standing Grandstand anchor gets a new year's honour for years of sports presenting then so should Tony Hart. Tony Hart is the talented TV presenter and teacher who spread his interest in art to children well into the 90s, set up the rudiments of arts and crafts for children's television, and whose formula and style of TV work were followed in Blue Peter, Corners, ArtAttack, Bitsa, and Smart.
This TV mainstay began with 'Vision On' (for deaf viewers) and went on to make art accessible to children of all talents and persuasions. As anchoring presenter and artist he had been inspiring school kids long before the 'Why Don't You' motto, to look outside to do sketches and paintings, study objects from life or using your imagination, or else stay inside to stick collages. Since Vision On he made art fun and accessible without throwing the baby out with the bathwater, not dumbing down to kids, and simplifying methodologies in arts and crafts. Like Aussie Rolf Harris, he's a very able fine artist.

I put this here as I enjoyed watching another youtube clip (NOT the cheap piss-takes) where he used a paint-roller to draw on a huge area of concrete outside a school (a trademark). When asked, he comments about marking out in advance what you'll draw. He says he NEVER does it, because you'll be looking at where the marks instead of expressing yourself.
People might agree it's a mistake, as it stilts a lot of the creativity so important to develop early on. Edgy, on-the-spot creativity mattered: the quick, the spontaneous, the lively. This was typical of his programmes, and like Harris (and other 'old-skoolers') he probably knows a vast amount about the classics hanging in major galleries. Millions relied on Tony Hart as the genuine voice of kids' art. This sort of cred counts for something, and is sorely lacking in kids art TV today.
With Hart, quick 'craftsy' methods like tracing, playing with glue and shiny shapes feature widely through TAKE HART and HARTBEAT which I watched. He designed the Blue Peter badge. So there was a place and time for every methodology. Despite sounding like boring backseat educationalists, I'd say there was both an 'exchange' and a 'clear margin' between the craftsy and the refined sides.

CARAVAGGIO, VELAZQUEZ, TITIAN. There's a reason they're great, they are 'natural' artists they study from live sittings, don't trace/ measure studies and sketches ..this has become a bugbear for fine-art purists, and I understand why. So-called 'methods' of teaching are changing for the worse in areas of art (observational drafting becoming ignored as it can't be mastered easily). But I can't see teachers in the 80s educating kids to throw out the well-studied manual skills trained by the great masters, from the get-go. Or to sub'ing it, for what are wholesale shortcuts and cheats basically (which some painters are totally dependent on to win their crust). Nowadays some people parade pre-measured, tool-assisted drawing (using rulers and photos) as a replacement for skilful, freehand live studies (as with true observational portraiture e.g. colour, tone, form.) For one thing consider this: lighting, angle, composition etc. for a photo is the actual photographer's skill, plus rapport, timing. Similarly near-total reliance on a light-box, and other reverse engineered skill-cutting DIY 'techniques' seem all designed to make you FEEL like an accomplished master, but as sophisticated as 'painting by numbers'. Actually watching these people working, people don't exclaim: 'GOD! Look at his tracing skill and hand-eye ..measuring-with-a-ruler'. That's not portraiture, it's CDT! It doesn't show the life-study skills of a portrait artist proper, there's a different place for photography and join-the-dots (..stencils, collages). I'm sounding grumpy, yet these are important points many 'classical' artists have thrown out from the process of being genuine. If you have to use a crutch, using a grid involves a level of freehand ability. It helps you to draw objects (from life) without relying on a photo and ruler.Watch Rolf Harris painting the Queen for observational painting, he does it on-the-spot, 'look no rulers'.
On a lighter note, Tony has said he'd beat Rolf in a fight because Rolf wouldn't stop his ...verbal flow (might take him seriously, as he was a Gurka officer). From the start, the multi-faceted Rolf catered a more zap-zang animation-based tastes. He delved into new cartooning methods, along with his wobble-board and zany presentation-style. He was really 'down with the kids'! Search 'Making of Real Ghostbusters'. I didn't know Rolf was professional-standard painter until 'Rolf on Art'. There are some good 'Cartoon Time' clips on youtube now, enjoy!


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