Tuesday 31 January 2017

Tate Britain: Drawing Tuesday

  Last week's 'Drawing Tuesday' was at Tate Britain  where I followed the exercise we'd done there when I  visited with advanced painting group.  I concentrated mainly on work in the galleries  from  end of 19th beginning of 20th Century . Canadian  artist Elizabeth Forbes  was new to me -  what drew my eye was the interesting composition  and her treatment of  the subject matter ( we've a lot of marshes and channels in the 'land between' around here ) Although quite a gentle palette of colours, I liked the use of light outlining of dark and the brushmarks follow the contours

 Dora Carringtons' 'Farm at Watendlath'  is an old favourite , it really does capture the  Lake District , the lines of the walls and the monumental nature of the fells. It's basically a palette of greens and greys   but with strong contrasts of dark and light. The figures add a sense of mystery.

Whistlers ' Nocturne Blue and Silver  Chelsea'  was an interesting challenge in trying to analyse the colours  in such a subtle piece ( and also  a lesson in accuracy or not in reproduction) The top image is from the Tate website, the photo below what I took with my phone which show how much more varied and subtle the colours and tones were.  It  demonstrates  how important it is to see artworks in the flesh. The  bushstrokes were very evident - it looks like glazes over a darker ground  and the boat looked like paint had been removed . Lovely murkiness ! It reminded me how much I enjoyed the exhibition 'Turner, Whistler,Monet' and had me returning to the catalogue!  
 I only realised a bit later that all 3 examples I chose to examine had high horizon lines - obviously a subliminal preference of mine that I should take heed of .
After lunch in the  Djanogly cafĂ© ( a bit peeved that  unlike  V&A and British Museum, you don't get a  discount in their restaurants  for being a member ) , I revisited the Paul Nash exhibition and  drew a few pieces of work, it really makes you  see what's going on.

Meanwhile,  I've finally finished painting the dining room , it looks so much lighter and  warmer (it's North facing and the coldest room in the house). I'm  pleased with my work, particularly that I haven't lost the knack with skirting boards. When I worked  in a  Youth Hostel  30+  years ago, we were closed for a month for repairs and repainting - I did miles of skirting in the dormitories, hard on the knees  with no carpet and no heating.

Friday 27 January 2017

Dress to Impress

 A week ago ( Friday 20th)  we were at Adam and Kate's 30th Wedding Anniversary party at the  Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House .  The invitation said 'dress to impress' so  I wore the silk velvet jacket I made over 20 years ago and the Syrian silk scarf I bought in Aleppo in 2000.  I  haven't really worn it much   partly because it's very large but also the tassels were rather tatty. I've now removed these and look forward to wearing it more often.  It was also appropriate for the event as Adam and Kate have special memories of the  trip they took to Syria  with their children  when they were small and the  kindness and hospitality they met on their travels.    The Aleppo I knew no longer exists, I feel so sad  wondering what happened to the lovely people I met.
 Ian was 'toastmaster' giving an excellent speech (  he introduced them to each other while they were all students at SOAS )

 It was a privilege to look round the building and the small museum had been opened specially for us.
Some fascinating sketchbooks in the 1914-18  display showing  intricate drawings of terrain and topography.

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Inspired by Turner

 It's a while since I've posted , mainly because I'm currently doing a different kind of painting: decorating the dining room. Last weekend was spent moving heavy furniture around after reorganising the  garage  to receive some of it and find what I had in painting equipment. Turns out not a lot so a trip to Sittingbourne was required ( atmospheric  pictures from the train below). After a week of tedious prep work, I've got  2 coats of 'magic white' on the ceiling, made easier by my new favourite piece of kit  - a work platform in combination with indispensable  Ikea  wooden stool.  I rewarded myself with watching 'Mr Turner' on DVD.
On Saturday we went to John Lewis to look at replacement hob and oven ( what exciting lives we lead!)   now ordered for installation in February, then   treating ourselves to lunch at Savoir Faire. We haven't been for nearly  a year so it was lovely to catch up with Irene.
Rather than using DLR, we walked through Westfield shopping Centre to  change trains  at Stratford  which was a bit of an eye-opener . Rather more to our taste was the evening  light over the marshes  between Ebbsfleet and Rochester  ( above)

 I've been recording the 2nd floor views from our bedroom and my studio   of morning skies ( above) and  our first snow (below)

  My studio is now advancing along the corridor towards the bedroom  with the installation of a design wall . Ian is more  bothered I might fall backwards down the stairs than my encroachment.
 Had a super trip on Friday 6th with friends from CQ Kent  group to Turner Contemporary in Margate  to   catch the Turner exhibition before it closed. 

 The emphasisis was on  colour and it was  great to be reminded of  his watercolours, in particular those on toned paper . I made colour notes in my sketchbook  to remind me of the details and then searched online ( photos  below are from the Tate  resources,  easy to spend many happy hours browsing....) 


 I caught an earlier train than planned so had the opportunity for a bit of beachcombing  for stones and shells - a friendly local showed me his finds of bits of clay pipe and pottery found on the rocks ( it was a very low tide) . Mainly though I took photos ( too cold to sketch) , lots of inspiration for painting and  quilts. I'm itching to play about in Photoshop but the dining room calls- I need to finish  sanding the woodwork.

Wednesday 4 January 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Birch Baskets at the British Museum

Yesterday  was the first Drawing Tuesday of 2017 and  10 of us turned up at the British Museum ( must be all those New Year resolutions about drawing more...)   We had a very convivial lunch  spread over 3 tables, but  first the drawing . The  venue was room 91 , the shadow puppets,  which were wonderfully  intricate, colourful  and diverse but  after my visit to the BM in December, I knew I wanted to spend more time with the vessels and prints  next door in Room 90

 This  display was the print 'Winter Soderstorm' by Gunner Normann  with various  baskets by Finnish artist Markko Kosenen.  I loved the  combination of the delicately observed trees in the lithograph with the vessels made of the  material of the subject matter.  
  I started off with a very rough sketch  of the objects over a faint version of the trees, soon discarding the idea of drawing the willow basket, , gorgeous as it was.

 The notes on the construction of this birch bark basket were informative  about the use of  white birch  asymetrically woven  so the outer white part of the bark was inside. It really glowed.  It was challenging to draw, I kept getting lost, but persisted.  So many ways it could be represented, I  got involved in the quality of the edges, it would be interesting to have a go drawing it on a larger scale.
After such a labyrinthine  subject , I turned my attention to  the more substantial vessel made from layer upon layer of birch bark  which was then hollowed out, very satisfying to attempt to capture it's combination of fragility and solidity.  

 This exhibition   is so well thought out , every object and print so pleasing,   that I'll definitely be  making a repeat visit.  That  could not be said for 'South Africa' Art of a Nation ' which I visited after lunch.   I wanted to like it having  very fond memories   of a plant conservation  work trip there  several years ago but was underwhelmed.  It was just too broad  with  tribal artefacts  mixed up with contemporary art, neither a historical  or an art exhibition but a mish-mash.  The African  gallery downstairs is  far more interesting.    

Iron Wharf Abstracts

 Our walk on New Year's Eve  finished at Iron Wharf  Boatyard , such an inspiring place, I added  further  images  to my impressive bank of pictures, this  time concentrating on these instant abstract compositions.

 This boat with it's tattered covering  is  a favourite  of mine - it's  up for sale ( well at least the boat is!)