Saturday, July 31, 2021

Lockdown Art #5: Weird and Whacky Recycled Waste Hats by Lynn Chadwick

One of the really joyful aspects of the lockdowns was seeing people released from their normal timetables finding time to explore new avenues. 

For some this was because "needs must" as in the need to keep income streams flowing. 

For others it was more about needing to keep creating in the face of the vast endless vacuum which was a lockdown.

For yet others there was a need to create joy in their lives at a time when it much was frightening and depressing. 

Fabrications out of single use plastic waste materials by Lynne Chapman

One of the more rewarding experiences I had was watching Lynne Chapman continue with a project she'd started prior to the pandemic - about using waste materials to create art.

She started back in 2019, thinking about ways in which she could use single use plastci within her textile art.

She progressed during the pandemic to creating hats. Much of which looked weird and whacky - but ALWAYS brought a smile to my face. She certainly succeeded in creating joy for very many people during a dark time.

Friday, July 30, 2021

How to list artwork dimensions

Which way round should the dimensions of artwork be listed when providing information about an artwork (i.e. drawings / paintings / prints)

Height and then width OR width and then height?

There appear to be a diversity of views. My own personal view is that it should always be height and then width.

One of my personal missions in life is to persuade all art competitions and open exhibitions to get their forms right and list the dimensions the right way round! Hence this post!

So I decided to take a look to see if I could prove I was correct - having been irritated, yet again, by seeing artwork on a website with the dimensions listed (in my opinion) "the wrong way round"!

I looked for sources of information from:

  • leading art galleries and museums
  • reputable websites
HOWEVER I also found that there was a different perspective in the graphics and digital image / photography world!

So the answer is "it depends on what your are measuring" BUT 
  • if you're measuring artwork then there is only one right answer!
  • it's different if you're measuring photographs!

According to Art Galleries and Museums

It's height then width and then depth.

I'm listing below the art galleries and museums which were reviewed - with artwork inspected on a random basis. Plus I'm including some images from those websites to prove what I'm saying!

Basically I stopped looking after the National Galleries of the UK and USA plus the Louvre in Paris. I've no doubt there may be some cultural dissension on this matter in places where people read from right to left - but I'm only trying to persuade the organisers of juried exhibitions in the West to get it right. I've not gone for global domination - yet! ;)

Dimensions at the National Gallery (London) - height first and then width
A Young Woman Standing at A Virginal by Johannes Vermeer
51.7cm x 45.2cm

Height first - then width

  • National Gallery (London)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington)

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

How to see inside art materials / supplies shops

I've just discovered something which allows me to see inside shops which provide art materials, equipment and related supplies - on my own screen!

It's probably been around forever but I've never ever seen it before. I suspect this might be because, this age of ordering online, shops are making greater use of it to market their premises as a "go to" place for art materials, equipment and other supplies.

How to see inside art materials shops

So what you do is 

  1. Go to Google Maps
  2. put the name of the shop into Google Maps 
  3. Click search
  4. Click on the picture of the shop which comes up top left of Google Maps
What happens next is you get to see all photos posted on Google which relate to that shop.
SCORLL DOWN on the left hand column to see all the available photos - and you get a really good idea of the amount and type of art materials available in the shop.

Check out some art shops

Below are some art shop where this works. 

Why not have a go yourself with the art shops you know - or have always wanted to visit?

UK - London

L. Cornelissen & Son, Great Russell Street, London

Monday, July 26, 2021

Is Venetian Red the key to the zappy red in Thomas Lawrence's portraits

For years I've been trying to work out why the red much used by Thomas Lawrence in his portraits should look so vibrant and have remained in such good condition to this day.

This post is about a possible explanation involving a colour - Venetian Red.

About Thomas Lawrence

Sir Thomas Lawrence (13 April 1769 – 7 January 1830) was a leading English portrait painter and the third president of the Royal Academy of Arts - holding the position for the years 1820-1830.

Born in 1769 his talents found early recognition and he became something of a child prodigy among the fashionable crowd of the 1770s.

When he became the effective successor to Sir Joshua Reynolds after Reynold's death, he was able to command fees far in excess of other portrait painters and he made (and spent) a lot of money. He was knighted after painting the victors of Waterloo.

I first came across Lawrence in 2010 - at an exhibition of his portraits at the preview of the major exhibition Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power And Brilliance at the National Portrait Gallery  (There are 689 portraits by Lawrence listed by the NPG in their index of artists and sitters)

About Lawrence's approach to portrait painting and use of red

This is my Exhibition Review: Thomas Lawrence at National Portrait Gallery which summarises both his career and comments on his approach to portrait painting and his use of colour. I won't repeat the background here except for this comment

"his use of colour is absolutely stunning - he uses vivid colours and in particular a deep red to exceptional effect"


Lawrence's portraits in the exhibition

"(I) wondered why his paintings look so fresh and which sort of red he has used which continues to look good some 300 years later. The curator I spoke to confirmed that these these are some of the best looking portraits they've ever had on display and yet there's no or very little evidence of restoration or cleaning."

Besides being an excellent portrait painter, he very clearly knew a lot about how to use art materials to ensure a portrait painting had both impact and longevity.

Red is a colour which immediately attracts attention. Most of us know it is as a "come and look at me" colour.

The really odd thing is that while paintings by other artists of his era may look good, inspection up close shows that the paintwork has deteriorated in some way or other - or may just have changed colour. Especially if a colour which is frequently seen as prone to losing saturation.

By way of contrast, Lawrence's portraits all looked as if they'd been painted the previous year and the reds were all exceptionally vibrant and in good condition.

I was immediately intrigued as to how come his paint looks so good compared to other painters. I concluded it had to be something to do with how he mixed his paints and what he used for pigments and media - and maybe what he used for a varnish.

Saturday, July 24, 2021

Lockdown Art #4: Spring Lockdown by Sarah Godsill

My lockdown art this week is by artist and illustrator Sarah Godsill.

As we all know when the first lockdown was announced on March 23rd, everything seemed to grind to a halt.

Sarah found it increasingly hard to concentrate on work and ignore news bulletins. So she decided to use the strange circumstances as a way to connect with friends and family by asking them for photographs of themselves in their most typical lockdown activity for a painting.

This is what she has to say about her painting shows people at work and play, round the table, cooking, reading, gardening, getting out for walks or stuck at computer screens. They come from all over the UK, Spain, USA, Canada, Chile, Venezuela and Singapore.

"I started to envisage a Zoom screen full of everyone’s images. I didn’t know how many photos there would be and I had originally planned to do individual paintings, but on a practical level it was easier to grid a canvas into 64 slots and add the images as they were sent to me.

As I worked on each individual image it was comforting to think about the people represented, whether they were far away geographically or just around the corner here in Frome. We couldn’t meet in person and hug - we still don’t know when that will be possible - so it was a lovely way to feel a bit of a connection with everyone.”

Spring Lockdown by Sarah Godsill
oil 100 x 120 cm

“It’s been a challenging year for most of us and especially difficult for those who have been affected by Covid19 or are shielding or caring for vulnerable people, but it’s also highlighted the most valuable things in life and all that we’re grateful for.

The incredible weather made it more manageable in the first few months and that really stood out in lots of the photos I received; I never used green in my paintings before this year.”
The resulting painting has now been accepted for hanging by 

  • the Annual Open exhibition of Bath Society of Artists  at the Victoria Art Gallery in Bath, which opens online on November 2nd.
  • the Annual Exhibition of the New English Art Club - where you can see it on the wall. I'm thinking it must have been spotted back in November by Peter Brown who is also a member of the Bath Society of Artists
Her photo (below) of the mandatory "me and my painting" illustrates neatly how big it is.