Monday, January 30, 2023

Review: Lucian Freud - Plant Portraits at the Garden Museum

I went to see Lucian Freud: Plant Portraits at the Garden Museum in Lambeth this afternoon. It's an exhibition I've been meaning to go and see for ages. I even got there just after New Year - only to find they were having an extended seasonal break.

The exhibition is on until 5th March 2023 and the Garden Museum is open Monday – Sunday 10am – 5pm - and has an ace cafe! Entry to the Museum - which includes entry to the exhibition varies by status. I used my Art Fund pass and got in for £7.

Mostly small - but some larger artworks

Anyway, for those who like Lucian Freud here's a summary of the exhibition:

  • It's not a big exhibition
  • most of the artwork is either small or medium sized - but there are some larger paintings
  • However it displays a good range of the artwork he produced in relation to plant
    • produced at different ages
    • in different media
    • of different plants
For those who'd like to know more I did a VERY long post about Lucian Freud - paintings of plants and gardens back in 2018. This includes an inventory if all the paintings - in a timeline - with
  • notes about their context and location
  • links to where you can see them and
  • quotes by people - including Freud himself - about his paintings of plants and why he did them.
Below I've posted 
  • some more of the pics I took of the exhibition - with comments
  • videos made about paintings in the exhibition
  • links to more of my blog posts about Lucian Freud and his paintings / past exhibitions and [a
These are the childhood drawings of plants that he produced. His mother used to save all the artwork he produced as a child. It's amazing how some of the characteristic way he portrayed objects can be seen even at a very young age.

Childhood drawings and paintings

The next part of the exhibition, you can see in the first image above. This part includes a very fine but small painting of bananas on a tree.

Bananas by Lucian Freud
on loan from Southampton City Art Gallery

This was painted from life at Goldeneye, the home of Ian Fleming in Jamaica. Freud spent the tip painting banana trees on the estate.

Bananas is acutely observed and painted in precise, naturalistic detail. Freud said that the subject was a welcome release from portraits: "I noticed I switched away from people when my life was under particular strain...Not using people is like taking a deep breath of fresh air". Bananas was first exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1954 in a joint exhibition with Ben Nicholson and Francis Bacon.
You can see more of his paintings of plants from Jamaica online - such as this one Plants in Jamaica which was sold at Sotheby's (but is not in the exhibition). 

This is a closeup of the one very large painting called "Two Plants".  Below it are the quotations I used in my 2018 post plus a video about the painting.

Saturday, January 28, 2023

Tyre Nichols - in his own words and images

I read that Tyre Nichols loved photography and went looking for his website after the news of his death and the absolutely appalling videos of how he was murdered by five Memphis policemen.

What I was not prepared for was the irony of both his words and his images - in the context of a death which was revealed to the world via a lens.

Tyre Nichols Photography
The website of Tyre Nichols Photography

This is what he says on his "about" page. My bold highlights the words which really hit home.

Hey guys,

My name is Tyre D. Nichols. I am an aspiring photographer. Well I mostly do this stuff for fun but i enjoy it very much. Photography helps me look at the world in a more creative way. It expresses me in ways i cannot write down for people. I take different types of photography, anywhere from action sports to rural photos, to bodies of water and my favorite.. landscape photography. My vision is to bring my viewers deep into what i am seeing through my eye and out through my lens. People have a story to tell why not capture it instead of doing the "norm" and writing it down or speaking it. I hope to one day let people see what i see and to hopefully admire my work based on the quality and ideals of my work. So on that note enjoy my page and let me know what you think.

Your friend,

Tyre D. Nichols
It's appropriate to remember Tyre as more than just a victim. That wasn't his life.

It's too late to tell Tyre himself what I thought of his photographs - but I can do here.

Check out his Masterpieces page - he really had a good eye for a great picture.

I liked the care with which he found places to take great photos and the angles he got. He took time out to capture sunsets and iconic venues associated with Memphis blues at the right time. His images tell a story of his home town and his life. He makes Memphis look great.

Memphis Blues and Sunsets

I loved this strapline for his home page
A good photographer must love life more than photography itself
Let's remember Tyre Nicholas as a man who loved life, sunsets, photography and his home town of Memphis.

Let's hope that Memphis gives him justice.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Review: Episode 3 of Landscape Artist of the Year 2023 - Castle Ward

This week's episode has generated a lot of critical comments - much more than usual.

This week, artists travelled to Northern Ireland for Episode 3 of Landscape Artists of the Year 2023.

The episode covers (as usual):
  • the location and weather
  • the artists' profiles
  • themes arising during the episode
  • who was shortlisted and who won
plus information about
  • the call for entries for the competition this summer
  • my reviews of the episodes so far.

Episode 3: Castle Ward


Location and Weather

the view of the gothic facade of Castle Ward 
- at the top of a very significant sloping lawn

Castle Ward is an 18th-century mansion and estate in County Down, Northern Ireland. It's a National Trust property.

It was used as a filming location for Winterfell in the HBO television series Game of Thrones

However, the house is very odd and reflects both partners in a marriage. The house is divided in two - both inside and outside - so that it represents the differing tastes of 
  • Lord Bangor - the entrance side is a classical Palladian style with columns supporting a triangular pediment,
  • his wife, Lady Ann Bligh - the half to the rear and nearest the sea loch is Georgian Gothic with pointed windows, battlements and finials.
The weather was very cloudy in the morning - with very flat light. In the afternoon, the sun came out and the light improved.

The Artists in the Pods


The artists - after they had finished

Episode 3 pod artists are listed BELOW in the alphabetical order of their surnames.
  • Links to their websites are embedded in their names.
  • Social media platforms are also referenced.
The artists came from England, Ireland, Italy and Scotland.
  • Maryem Arif (Instagram) - an artist who likes working in Indian Ink and Watercolour - from Pinner. 
  • Celina Buckley (Instagram) - a full time practising professional fine artist, author, children’s book illustrator and part-time primary teacher from Co. Cork, Ireland. She creates her artwork using collage. Her collage papers are prepared using oil-based etching inks, an etching press and by mono-printing various textures onto the surfaces. 
  • Nicola Hepworth (Facebook | Instagram) - an artist, an Art Teacher and a History of Art teacher from Walthamstow who lives in London Fields, Hackney. Has a Fine Art MA (Hons) from Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art. She is passionate about art history. Her submission is titled 'View of the Graveyard from the Art Room'! She taught KS3, GCSE and A level Art in London Secondary Schools between 1998-2022
  • Chris Macauley (Instagram) - an art teacher and painter - who needs to say a lot more about himself and his art on his website! (It's not often I write this)
  • Leah McEvoy (Instagram) - a pastry chef from Galway
  • Richard Rees (Instagram)  - from London. Has painted and drawn for over 50 years. Trained and practiced as an architect before becoming a professional architectural illustrator in 1984. Now retired he has specialised in roof top vistas all over the world - but drew a ship for his submission! He also happens to be 
  • Stefano Ronchi (Facebook | Instagram) - from Italy, lives in Hackney and can work big. He describes himself as a "punk surrealist painter". He has been influenced by Leonardo, Brueghel, Dali, and Hieronymus Bosch mixed with comic book art. His very large impressive submission was called The Hill (Acrylic on canvas, 120x80 cm 2017)
  • Nicholas Walker (Instagram) - a landscape gardener and self taught painter from Manchester - who paints very fast and did two paintings during the heat. His submission painting of almond blossom was called First Blossom and can be seen being painted plein air on his website


The Wildcards


The 50 Wildcard artists were also able to paint the house but they got the other side of the house to paint - the rather nicer Palladian side. 

The Submissions

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour - 142nd Annual Exhibition

The 142nd Open Annual Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour has opened at the Royal Scottish Academy building on the Mound in Edinburgh. 

RWS website

The purpose of the annual exhibition is to 

  • showcase the best painting in Scotland in watercolour and water-based media.
  • exhibit over 300 paintings by RSW members and other artists who responded to the call for open submissions from Scotland, the UK and around the world. 

For those of you like me who can't visit in person, you can see the artwork selected for this exhibition in the virtual exhibition which can be accessed via the website.

I'm going to highlight below the artwork which "jumped off the screen" at me.

What I found very confusing was that the online exhibition works in a very peculiar way. So, for example, I know I saw Anita Barley's work - because I wrote it down - but now cannot find it again! It's very confusing.....

In addition, it's just one artwork per artist online - so we don't see all 300+ paintings which are in the exhibition. Which is a pity....

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Social Media - Recommended Images Sizes in 2023

For all those using social media for their art - particularly those who use it for social media marketing - it's absolutely ESSENTIAL to know what are the best images sizes for use on the different platforms. 

It's simply NOT a case of one image fits all!

I always look out for the posts which provide this information on an annual basis and Hootsuite provides one of the best.

I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you read and bookmark/file Hootsuite's 2023 Social Media Image Sizes for All Networks [CHEATSHEET]  by Karin Olafson and Tony Tran - as I will be!
The most recent image size specifications for different social media networks, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.
It provides:
  • this quick summary image for different types of format and different platforms 
  • PLUS infographics with much more detail for individual platforms.
  • AND detailed written information and advice and tips for every type of image possible
As it highlights - and as I have found out from bitter experience over the years - trying to find the "best" image sizes for different uses is very far from easy. As they say.....
It doesn’t help that information about official dimensions and image sizes is harder to find than a civil discussion on politics on Facebook.

The post is comprehensive and provides the following

Their infographic images for every platform are excellent and provide detailed pixel sizes for every format on every platform.

Plus they provide lots of detailed written information - for each platform - about;
  • what size to upload - including recommended sizes and minimum sizes
  • what resolution to use
  • maximum file sizes
  • how different platforms will resize your image 
  • what image size will display
  • PLUS lots of additional tips for making your social media marketing more effective.
It's very much one of those articles which is worth printing off and pinning up next to your desk - or at the very least bookmarking for reference.

One cautionary note

Following the advent of AI, I'd caution it's even more important than it has been in the past to only post images of your artwork at a size you are comfortable with.

Plus ALWAYS keep the original of your image at its original size and filed away as a record of your art-marking. That way if you ever want to get into a "discussion" with somebody who has nabbed your image and used it for their own benefit outside the fair use / fair dealing copyright conventions then you have a basis for disputing that it was their image in the first place. 

For more about what to do in the event of copyright infringement - see my page What to do about Copyright Infringement - for Artists on my website Art Business Info for Artists

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NOTE: Hootsuite is a social media management platform which has been around for a long time in social media times. It was created by Ryan Holmes in 2008 and is based in Vancouver. It's commonly used to manage social media messages to multiple social media platforms. It's no surprise to me that it is now regarded as an industry leader and is used by 25 million customers! 
Hootsuite provides a suite of social media tools is built to simplify your marketing, accelerate your sales, and streamline your customer service