Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Big Painting Challenge - a memory jogger for those watching the reruns

I noticed that the BBC is rerunning The Big Painting Challenge on BBC2 at 2.15pm on weekday afternoons. Episodes are all also available via the BBC iPlayer

I thought I'd resurface my blog posts about the three series.

In every series I comment on what seem to be me to be the key themes and the lessons to be learned from what happens in the programme. Plus just a few thoughts about the delivery of the programmes by those involved! ;)

The Big Painting Challenge - a Memory Jogger!

Series 1 (2015)

The artists at their exhibition in Highgate after the series was finished

Series 2 (2017) 

Although they try to reinvent it as Series 1!

The story so far for Series 3 (2018)

PS Sorting things out for life after surgery has taken a lot longer than I expected. I'm about 85% of the way there - and pretty knackered at the moment. Although I've had my second pre-surgery assessment appointment and everything seems to be OK....

Just need a date now....

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

REVIEW: David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020

This morning I went to see David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 at the Royal Academy of Arts. Below are some notes I made while in the exhibition - of assorted thoughts it prompted.

It was the earliest time I could view and the ticket has been on my wall for months! The exhibition finishes on the 26th September and I'd be very surprised if there are any tickets left. 

It's moved from the galleries where they normally hold the Summer/Winter Exhibition (because of the hang for 2021) to The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries in the Burlington Gardens part of the Royal Academy of Arts. It appear they've maybe been hung closer together than in the video below of the hang in the main galleries.

You can find the preamble introducing the exhibition on the RA website - and new the works  in this video

You can also download a large print guide of the paper publication you collect on going into the exhibition. This provides dates for th artworks but not times of day- which I think he did in previous exhibitions

Notes on an exhibition by David Hockney

There are no paintings in conventional art media - they are all done in digital software on his iPad.  There are 116 works in total.

These are the images released as press pics - but to be honest while some are good they don't include the best ones. See if you agree with me when you watch the video.

All works by David Hockney. © David Hockney

Clockwise from top left: No. 125, 19th March 2020. iPad painting. No. 340, 21st May 2020. iPad painting. No.186,11thApril2020.iPadpainting. No. 118, 16th March 2020. iPad painting. No. 316, 30th April 2020. iPad painting. No. 88, 3rd March 2020. iPad painting.No. 370, 2nd May 2020. iPad painting. No. 259, 24th April 2020. iPad painting. No. 133, 23rd March 2020. iPad painting.

The sum of the part

The exhibition is greater than the sum of the parts and it's a mistake to look at them as individual paintings

The impact of seeing them hung - in themes or series - close together on a wall reminds me of exhibitions of Monet's Haystacks (see Monet's series paintings - stacks of wheat (2008) - from which the following quote comes)
Monet was adamant that the series of paintings had an aesthetic quality of its own and that the value of the paintings could only really be appreciated when they were all seen together.
The artworks present well on the background of a dark teal wall. Some would look like quite insipid on an ivory or light coloured wall - but with a dark background they have more impact.

The series I liked the best included:
  • The nocturnes - with very bright moons and deep blue skies - which interestingly were not hung together
  • the blossom - trees / branches
  • plants in pots - indoor and outside (eg 15 and 18 daffodils outside and in bowl indoors)
  • pond paintings
  • paintings of rain

Monet and series paintings in Normady

It then occurred to me that one of the features of Hockney is that he has at various times reflected on various great artists of the past and created his own interpretation of their works.

It struck me that it's no coincidence that he did these in Normany which is Monet's "home turf" - and that Monet was particularly given to creating series of paintings of the same motifs - seen in different weather / seasons / time of day

A number of the motifs in this exhibition are portrayed in a similar way.

Seeing pictures 

One of Hockney's skills is the ability to "see pictures". A lot of what he's portraying is of absolutely no consequence. Indeed many have commented that his paintings are similar.

I think those critical of the iPad paintings in this exhibition forget two things:
  • his age - there are very few artists who continue to create as well a they did in the past as they near he end of their life
  • the context - However at a time when the world turned upside down, recording the simple and the familiar and looking closer at nature is something a lot of people did to help keep a grasp on what is real. (I took to posting my photos of plants every day on my Facebook account - from the same date in the past - to keep a grasp on the world outside when we were locked up at home - when Hockney was creating these artworks. Today I posted #492).
What I noticed was that some of the subjects he took great care over - the notable examples being the trees in full blossom - while others which held less interest (bare trees with no foliage) seemed to receive less attention. 

No 57 was particularly joyful and I was surprised not to see it chosen as an image for the postcards.

The colour of skies

I realised partway round how important the colour of the sky was to some of the images and what a variety of colours he had used for skies


He uses the mark-making available in his Brushes software - but I sometimes want to see him experiment more with available software to see what else it can do.... 

The mark-making hasn't really changed over the last decade. Which is a pity.

The visitors

A very white set of visitors in terms of both skin and hair. It's always interesting to see what older ladies think is appropriate dress for a Hockney exhibition at the RA - but then right now, an expedition into central London is something to appreciate and I dare ay a lot were going out for a very nice lunch afterwards

Which I would have been too - but my ankle rebelled....

Friday, September 03, 2021

SURGERY UPDATE #2: Still prepping with a steep hill to climb

SURGERY UPDATE: I had one of my pre-surgery assessment interviews - by telephone this week and am going in for tests in the middle of the month - and then surgery should not be too long after that. My current assumption is probably October.

This is an update following on from Get ready for surgery: Update #1 last month.
Despite everything achieved to date, today I'm feeling rather overwhelmed by the amount I've still to do - with a very steep hill still to climb!

Mont Ventoux from Crillon Le Brave
(pen and sepia ink and coloured pencil)

I've acquired a knee scooter, smart crutches suitable for somebody (me) who also needs a shoulder replacement and various other bits of very necessary kit for life on one leg (and no cheating) for 8-12 weeks.

Plus worked out the hall carpet needed changing, the old sofa had to go to be replaced by one that has a high enough seat I can lie down on to do nose to toe elevation of my ankle and get up again from it(!) - I haven't been able to sit on my old sofa in years! - and my riser recliner also needed replacing.

Plus identified a massive need to get rid of lots of clutter and do a lot of reorganising.

Yesterday I ordered 
  • a nice looking commode - which doubles as a chair - for when I'm flat on my back elevating my foot nose to toe for two weeks....
  • an indoor rollator which has a TRAY which resolves one of the major issues - how to get food from kitchen to where I eat when hands are occupied with steering! So VERY relieved to have finally solved this problem! I use it by braking and then hopping.... brake, hop, brake, hop etc

On its way to me - my new Tuni Novi Indoor Rollator with a TRAY!!

However I've just worked out what I've still got to do to get my home ready for surgery.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

"Chelsea Physic Garden: a year in the life" at the Bankside Gallery

I saw the exhibition about the Chelsea Physic Garden: a year in the life at the Bankside Gallery on Friday. This is an exhibition of painting and prints by members of the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE). It was really nice to see such a lot of decent proper watercolour painting on the walls of the Bankside - and a lot of the prints are great.

Chelsea Physic Garden: a year in the life at the Bankside Gallery

You can see all the artworks online if you're unable to visit the Gallery before the exhibition closes on 30th August.
  • Click an image to see more details and
  • then click the image again to see a larger version.
You can also get a much better sense of the size of the different artworks in my Facebook Album of the photos I took on Friday. As always online exhibitions can be very confusing in relation to size. Some of the artworks are much smaller while others are much larger than you might think!

View of the end of the Gallery - with display cases for sketchbooks and postcards

I'm still deep in "getting ready for surgery mode" at the moment, so this is going to be something of a shortcut review, i.e. the pics are on my Facebook Page (in an album) - with a few in this blog post.

The topic was a refreshing change. I've never had a sense of either the RWS or the RE being much interested in either plants of gardens. Maybe they've spotted the popularity of all things 'botanical'? Personally, I'd have timed it to coincide with  COP26 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference due to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. 

COP26 has six major themes and one of these is

Nature - to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet’s biodiversity
which - given the Chelsea Physic Garden's perennial focus on plant diversity and plants from around the world - may well probably have garnered a bigger audience for this exhibition.

That said it was interesting to see the approach of the different artists to the exhibition - which was explained on a large information board

I really liked the paintings of the Garden by these painters
  • Mychael Barratt PPRE, RWS - has produced a wonderful annotated map of the Garden as a hand coloured silkscreen/etching. He's an artist I would collect if I had more wall space!
  • Liz Butler RWS - several small paintings in her inimitable style demonstrating an expert watercolourist's grasp of the full tonal range
  • Claire Denny ARWS - five paintings in watercolour and acrylic ink of various very familiar views of the Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Wendy Jacob RWS - views of the garden and accurate but stylised portrayals of plants, bushes and trees
  • Annie Williams RWS - Annie normally paints very carefully constructed and beautiful still lifes so it's fascinating to see how she approaches painting a garden.

I also liked the artworks about plants by these artists
  • Emiko Aida RE - her etchings of white flowers on a very vivid orange background both echo conventional botanic art and provide a counterpoint to ideas of how flowers should be portayed
  • Meg Dutton RE RBA has drawn several ink and watercolour artworks of the profusion of plants in the glasshouses. I'm also familiar with similar drawings she did of the plants in the glasshouses at Kew Gardens.
NOTE: What used to be a quick jaunt for me is now a very painful expedition even using my rollator due to my severe osteoarthritis. Walked way, way more than I should have done n Friday. Exhibition visits between now and surgery are going to be very few and far between - and involve lots of sitting down and long rest periods!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Rivers of the World - an art project at Bankside

If you get the chance, do go and look at the splendid Rivers of the World screens erected between Tate Modern and the Bankside Gallery at Bankside on the south side of the River Thames. I think it might be a repeat of a Thames Festival Trust exhibit from last year.

It's one of the most impressive art projects I've seen in a long while.

All the art is created by children in primary schools!

An exhibition of river themed artwork created by young people under the guidance of professional artists during the lockdown.

Young people from London, Peterborough, Warrington, Halton, Coventry and Stockton-on-Tees in the UK and Ethiopia, Sudan, Morocco, Tanzania, Lebanon and India have created artworks from their homes under the direction of artists who provided briefs and films to guide their work.
You can read more about the project in my photos which you can see in this album on my Facebook Page.

Note: My ankle was extremely unhappy about the idea of taking a trip to see an exhibition at the Bankside Gallery - despite the fact I had my rollator with me and sat down quite a bit. I'm beginning to wonder if my exhibition visiting might be over until after surgery. Either that or spending a lot of money on taxis..... :( Or maybe getting a knee scooter for outdoors??