Tag Archives: artist

Trees

Who doesn’t love a tree?

When I walk through the woods with Elsa in the winter it’s always slightly warmer among the trees, during the summer it’s always cooler and the leafy canopy above means we get rained on less.  I take photos of birds in the trees, bees, butterflies and insects on the leaves and if I look closely, I usually find a face in the bark.

They remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, provide a habitat for animals, birds and insects, provide shade and shelter, timber for house building and furniture, fuel for heating, fruit and nuts to eat and sticks for dens.  TREES ARE BRILLIANTTreesTrees 2

Inspired by my recent floral painting course I decided to try another class and signed up for ‘Trees in Four Seasons’.  Trees are structurally beautiful and provide unlimited inspiration for painting, even during the winter months.  This is what I produced from the first session:  “WINTER”Tree collageIt’s not always easy to photograph artwork indoors given the poor light and often overcast British weather, so I took the canvases out to the woods and made my own little art installation.Tree art installationThis is my favourite, probably because the canvas is an unusual size and the blue background worked better in my opinion; a proper winter scene.

Winter Trees resize

(Acrylic on canvas 100 x 30 cm)

As always I have far too many projects on the go.   I need to complete this course;  there are three other seasons after all.  Yesterday I bought a bunch of huge beautiful peonies and I’m itching to go back to the Abstract Florals class and have a go at painting them …. but I couldn’t help myself,  I’m working on something new and very exciting.  More to follow soon :)

Abstract Floral Paintings

At the beginning of the year I bought an online class to learn the art of abstract floral painting.  Easy, you might say ….  but allowing myself to free up every brush stroke has been a challenge.  Putting down a chaos layer and ‘finding’ the flowers within has been fun but not always successful.  Sometimes I’ve worked it too hard and lost the looseness of the painting.

Practice3

I’ve made a lot of mess splashing paint about, our dining room table is out of use and there are traces of paint on the walls and floors but I’m loving the process.

Out of the dozen or so canvases I’ve painted so far, I’ve kept one for our spare room and two are now hanging on other people’s walls, so that’s not bad.  It’s such a great compliment when someone wants to live with a piece of my art in their home.

Pink roses Blue background resize

Tulips resize

Roses resize

The online class still offers so much more so no doubt there’ll be more to come.  Watch this space :)

JACK

You may know the Fab Four as John, Paul, George and Ringo.  Well, not where I live, we had Harry, Jack, Blue and Elsa.  They were well known in these parts.  Three Lurchers and a Collie cross.  On any given day we could be seen crossing the meadow, woods and park with the Fab Four or, should I say, the Fast Four. They would run and run and run, in big loops before coming back for treats.  My friends and I had to stop meeting for morning walks because the dogs were all over-exercising and beginning to suffer muscle related problems.  I miss those days.

Jack & Elsa

This is Jack and he is fast and funny and if you stand still chatting for too long he can jump as high as your shoulder from a standing position just to remind you he’s there … and bored … and wants to go home to crawl under the covers.

Jack

Jack bed 3.1

 

 

Frida Kahlo

I don’t know when I first became aware of Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo and, if I’m honest, I don’t know what I like more, her paintings or her image – because she was also a work of art – but I do know that I was thrilled when I learned an exhibition was coming to the V&A London and I bought tickets as soon as they went on sale.

I remember my son coming home from school and telling me his class were studying Frida’s work and I remember telling my daughter how much I loved Frida’s floral headbands and months later her presenting me with a handmade headband to thank me for all the lifts backwards and forwards along the motorway to Uni.Frida catlo_Fotor_CollageI have two portraits of Frida, a ‘Frida Catlo’ pin (cats and dogs are another obsession), matchboxes and Christmas decorations all bearing Frida’s image.  My DVD “Frida” staring Salma Hayek has been played many times.  I believe I’m a little bit obsessed!  As you can imagine, I was quite excited about the exhibition, but then again, so were many others.

Frida & Me2

We had lunch in a nearby restaurant and then rushed over to the beautiful Victoria & Albert Museum.  I didn’t have the confidence to ‘dress up’ in my Frida headband but I was so happy to see that other ladies did.  One lady in the gardens was wearing a pink outfit with matching pink hair and floral band.

Frida garden

Frida headress frame

Inside the exhibition rooms lots of women wore pompoms, flowers or fancy headbands.  The spirit of Frida was very much alive.  It was in stark contrast to many of the exhibits which dealt with her disabilities;  polio as a child, the bus crash as a teenager and the subsequent operations that followed throughout her life.  French writer, André Breton once described her art as ” .. a ribbon around a bomb”.  I felt like this could also be applied to Frida.  She said of herself “I have enjoyed being contradictory”.

Her costumes and jewellery were exquisite;  seeing her make-up, perfumes and nail polishes was insightful, but I felt seeing her medicines was a little intrusive.  Her medical notes lay in a cabinet for all to see and I couldn’t help wondering if that was something that should have been kept private.  It felt a little like the exhibition was feeding the beast of celebrity and we, the paying public, were eating it all up.

I learned a little more about Frida Kahlo, her relationships and her life.  There are many, many books available telling her story but it really hit home seeing the prosthetic leg, plaster corsets and the body braces she wore.  The pain she felt must sometimes have been unbearable and yet she found the strength to paint, she dressed her hair with ribbons or flowers and her body in beautiful clothes and even matched her nail polish and lipstick.

Frida poster

Photography was not allowed in the exhibition so I visited the shop and bought lots of postcards, a poster and some little Mexican figures and I came home with even more respect for the Mexican artist (if that’s even possible).

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Now I would like to have a moan about the exhibition, or should I say the curating of the exhibition.  At this point I would like to remind anyone reading this that these are my opinions and this is my little space on the internet, so I’m going to voice my thoughts.  Someone else might visit the exhibition and have an entirely different experience or point of view.  Don’t let my opinion stop you from going.

When we arrived at gallery 38, our tickets were scanned and we were allowed through the door – and this is where my disappointment began.   Just beyond the doors was an information panel outlining the exhibition which was being read by at least ten people, the small entryway was almost filled with people arriving, reading at different speeds and causing a bottleneck.   We then entered the first room which had framed images lining the walls with information panels that were printed in what seemed like font size 10.  To read the image details I had to stand about a foot or so away, but that was not always possible because virtually everyone there was of a ‘certain’ age and probably needed a larger font and was also trying to read up-close.  At one point a rather large lady even rested her breast on my arm in order to lean over and get a better view!  Bustling for space continued throughout the room so after a while we skipped ahead and entered the next room.  To add to the small font size problem, the lighting here was so bad it made it almost impossible to read the information.  Even with reading glasses on I still couldn’t focus on the writing.

I understand the need to protect the exhibits from light but I also think there must be alternative solutions.   If the flow of visitors were fed through the entrance at 2 or 3 minute intervals it would allow more time and space to study the exhibits.  The information panels should be printed on a

MUCH LARGER FONT

and perhaps they could also be illuminated.  There also seems to be too many tickets sold for each 15 minute time slot because we were continuously jostling for space and needed to check we weren’t about to step on anybody when we moved along.

The Victoria & Albert Museum is light and bright with ceilings seeming touching the sky but the gallery where the exhibition was held was dark, claustrophobic and hot.  A few years ago I visited the exhibition “Shoes: Pleasure and Pain” and I left with a terrible migraine, probably for the same reasons.

On a positive note, unless you are able to travel to La Casa Azul in Coyoacán, Mexico you may never get the opportunity to see Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up and if you are a fan that would be a terrible shame.

Fidget aka ‘The Fudge’

It’s so nice to meet the ‘sitter’ of a portrait before I start to paint.  I always work from a photograph and if I haven’t met the pet it’s sometimes hard to gauge their personality.  When I dropped off the portrait of Tèa in May I was lucky enough to meet her brother Fidget, a Pomeranian/Spitz.  Even with his mohawk haircut, he is just a bundle of fluffy loveliness.

Fidget

It’s easy to see why he has the nickname ‘The Fudge’ because he is so sweet.

When I deliver a commission there’s always ‘that moment’ when the client peels back the brown paper to reveal the portrait – What if it’s not what they wanted?  What if they don’t like it?  What if I haven’t captured ‘the look’?   My fears were allayed when I got home and my phone went ping.  When I opened the notification and saw this I could’ve cried.

Fidget smiling

HE LOOKS LIKE HE’S SMILING !!

Fidget, Tea & Paris

Fidget has now joined the gallery wall alongside Paris and Tèa :)

 

BP Portrait Award 2014

I’ve just spent the afternoon staring in wonder at the BP Portrait Award exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. To be honest some of the painted portraits could easily have passed as photographs.

As soon as you approach the exhibition you are met by the outstanding portrait of Simon Weston, turn right into the hall and there is a painting of Dame Kelly Holmes which, try as I might, I could not see a single brush stroke.

Amongst my favourites was the 2008 photo-realism portrait of Sir Paul Nurse (Geneticist and cell biologist) by artist Jason Brooks.

Sir Paul Nurse

There is something mesmerizing about this portrait.  I spent ages studying the contours of his face, his skin, eyes and hair.  When I paint I use a grid to copy the subject onto canvas so I was happy to see the Artist’s grid still remained in the background of this painting.

Sir Paul Nurse (1)

After dragging myself away from this room I went into the 2014 exhibition hall where 55 new portraits hang from around the world.  Many are outstanding.  There are informal and personal studies of friends and family, portraits of famous faces, a skateboarder, tube travellers, the list goes on.

Thomas Ganter became the first German to win the BP Portrait Award with his work Man with a Plaid Blanket. The 40-year-old wanted to paint a homeless man in the style that nobles or saints were portrayed in traditional portraiture “to emphasise that everyone deserves respect, attention and care”.

bp-portrait-2014-winner-world-arts-news_web_image

If you get the time go along to the exhibition, it’s well worth a visit.