Saturday, March 31, 2007

The end of Waterhouse month

This has been Waterhouse month - and I did try but I'm afraid John William Waterhouse did not make me want to do anything in the visual sense. However I did do some research and make some notes however about some of the aspects I did find interesting

The rise and fall of Waterhouse
He was a contemporary of both John Singer Sargent and Vincent van Gogh. However his his profile during life, at death and since provides a salutary lesson in how an artist can be very popular during his lifetime and yet fall out of favour. His death in 1917 went unremarked by many. After his death the value of his paintings plummetted and his widow disposed of many at much reduced prices. His art was ignored for many years . His grave in Kensal Green Cemetary now seems neglected.

His subjects
His paintings were Pre-Raphaelite in subject but not in style. Subject matter was often about mystical experiences of emotional or physical transformation. he illustrated myths and poems which were at the time very familiar to people. He painted Ophelia three times and you can see two of them in this post.

Anybody interested in wanting to explore his art more can study the themes present in his work by following links on this page on the Art and Life of John William Waterhouse.

Wild women to winsome waifs
(It would have made a great blog title.!) Trippi commented that Waterhouse's figures are convincing but lack that rigorous anatomical precision that makes some academic classical art quite intimidating.
Feminine figures with a palpable sense of blood flowing through their veins.
Many people have praised "The Waterhouse Girl" - the idealized nymph. She often seemed to be very much the same type only varying due to the colour of her hair. Cathy Baker has written an essay about 'The Waterhouse Ideal"

His female figures were identified by Trippi as being quintessentially English (even when given a classical name), always fashionable, thin without being sickly and fit without being muscular. The consensus seems to have been that the level of nudity and decorously positioned wisps of fabric and long, long hair achieved a deft balance between sensuality and decorum.

I found it fascinating that nobody knew much about his models although it's apparent that some appeared in numerous paintings. The red-haired lady appears in more than 60 paintings.

Why was his art highly regarded?
Trippi suggests that colour was very important. His figures had exquisite colouring and there was an innate Englishness about his colour palette which linked him to the other Pre-Raphaeilite paintings, Constable and Turner.

I know that Maggie was particularly struck by the colours and the glazes he used when she tried to reproduce some of the paintings.

His technique
Millais and Manet both influenced Waterhouse's style - his figures were in sharp focus while his backgrounds were in soft focus - a style which remain pervasive in modern advertising today.

Interestingly, like Van Gogh, he too was influenced by the Japanese woodblock prints. He juxtaposed areas of saturated pigment, used blod cropping and often eliminated the foreground.

His style has been characterised as realism with an impressionist flair. His technique indicates that he had absorbed lessons from the Impressionists. He changed the consistency of the paint and its application to suggest spatial recession and also to draw attention to the figure. Figures frequently have many layers of paint or thick paint while backgrounds may only have thin washes.

Trees were important in his compositions and he studied his subject by drawing foliage of all descriptions. He also used trees to structure compositions and direct the viewer's eye. Trees in his paintings. began to play a symbolic role - they reached up to the sky and down into the earth. They began to be used as symbols of poliferation and acted as a screen between one world and another - such as in "The Naiad where the screen of trunks exists between the watery domain and the earthly one.

and finally....

I'm not sure why I wasn't much enamoured by Waterhouse. I puzzled about it and I guess that maybe the mythical and classical themes are not ones which do much for me personally.

My personal favourite out of all his paintings is probably one of the ones that looks least like a Waterhouse. It appears to be a study of a real place and real little girls - and I love his trees!

  • Making a Mark: Introducing Waterhouse and the pre-Raphaelites
  • The Art and Life of John William Waterhouse
  • Paintings (in the order above):
    • Ophelia, 1889, oil on canvas, 38.5 x 62 inches, Private Collection UK (Lord Lloyd Webber)
    • Hylas and the Nymphs, 1896, oil on canvas, 38 x 64 inches, Manchester City Art Galleries, Manchester, England
    • Ophelia, 1910, oil on canvas, 40 x 24 inches, Private Collection
    • A Naiad, 1893, oil on canvas, Private Collection.
    • Two little Italian girls, c1875, oil on canvas, 24 x 16 inches, Private Collection
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Friday, March 30, 2007

Royal Watercolour Society: Art Event Day 1st April

Café Interior Paris
Francis Bowyer PPRWS
copyright Francis Bowyer

The Royal Watercolour Society is having an Art Event Day this Sunday 1st April at the Bankside Gallery in London. I've been to one of these before and they're very interesting.

Between 12.00 and 4.00pm you can:
  • watch while six members of the Society draw and paint a model. Admission is £5. Free for members
  • have a personal critique of your own portfolio of artwork with artists June Berry and Olwen Jones. £20 for half an hour. Friend - priority booking and reduce fee of £15.
To book, phone 020 7928 7521 or e-mail

It's a great opportunity to see the techniques of different artists and to be able to ask questions. The six members participating in the art event are: Francis Bowyer, Past President of the RWS, Tom Coates, Karolina Larusdottir, Michael McGuinness, David Paskett and Michael Whittlesea.

You can see examples of their work and mini bios about them on the members page of the Royal Watercolour Society. Just hover your mouse pointer over the RWS bit at the bottom of the Bankside Gallery website and then select Current Members and then select a members name.

And you can also see the Spring Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society which I reviewed last week here.

Note about the artist:
Francis Bowyer is a Past President of the Royal Watercolour Society. He gained his BA (Hons) in Art & Design from St. Martin’s School of Art and studied figure drawing and painting at the Chelsea School of Art. A winner of the St. Cuthberts Mill Award, the Arts Club Prize, and the W.H. Patterson Fine Art Award, his work included in the Royal Collection and H.R.H. The Prince of Wales’ Collection.

Like many of the previous Presidents of the Royal Watercolour Society, Francis Bowyer comes from a family of artists; both his parents, his brother and his wife are all painters or designers. He himself spent a few years designing toys before returning to paints his pictures, which are full of colour and light. Much of his painting is does at Walberswick where the Bowyer family have a home. Bowyer now also teaches life drawing at the Royal Academy schools.


Thursday, March 29, 2007

CPSA Explore This 4! Brea California

Prismacolor Award for Exceptional Merit - Jeff George
17" x 35" coloured pencil
copyright Jeff George, CPSA - California

The Coloured Pencil Society of America has an “Explore This!” Exhibition, every other year. This show allows other media as long as 75% of the surface is colored pencil as well as three-dimensional, collage, and relief artwork. In 2007, the 4th “Explore This!” exhibition is being held in Brea, CA. and is hosted at the City of Brea Gallery by the Los Angeles District Chapter of CPSA. The show opened on March 24th and finishes on May 4th.

90 artists, from all over the USA, were accepted into the exhibition. The images for the artists who received awards for their work are not yet displayed on the website but should be shortly. You can see one of them above. Jeff George, member of the host chapter, won the Prismacolor Award for Exceptional Merit for his work "Baggage" which you can see above.

Linda Lucas Hardy, CPSA - Texas, won the CPSA Award for Exceptional Merit and EXXPY Trophy for "Tenderly Morning Comes; Night Slips Quietly Away".

My good friend Louise Sackett (remember Louise from the big expedition to the CPSA convention in Albuquerque last year - as in "2000 miles later - Louise drives the desert in style") had one of her pieces accepted into the show and so went to see the exhibition last weekend. The following is a synopsis of some of her comments about the show.

The exhibition is in a very nice modern gallery which is centrally located. Work is lit well. In relation to the prizewinners, Louise was impressed with the work of Linda Lucas Hardy "an amazing tour de force"and Jeff George "technically superb, executed as a master". Louise commented that Jeff's piece (see above) was absolutely huge for a coloured pencil piece - which makes it a complete contrast to his very compact piece which won a prize in the International Exhibition in 2006.

Pat Averill had produced "the most amazing, magical, and beautifully lit shorescape I have ever seen". Louise also loved Allan Servoss's work "an amazing balancing act of an entire tree and one lone leaf - beautiful".

There are some very interesting pieces which use CP within the context of constructed artwork including what I understand was a 3D staggered wooden cacti with resin. Some people had worked on wood, others had produced collages, while yet others had mixed CP with pastel, watercolour or clay.

Check out also the website of Los Angeles District Chapter 214 which is hosting the exhibition - they have some excellent and prize-winning artists among their members - including Jeff George - and have galleries of their coloured pencil artwork.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings

Claude Monet "Fruit Trees" 1865-75
225mm x 292mm
Private Collection

Pastels, drawings, sketchbooks and Monet - four of my favourite things are combined in the new exhibition about "The Unknown Monet" at the Royal Academy of Arts until 10th June 2007. The exhibition then moves to the Sterling and Francine Carter Art Institute in Williamstown in Massachusetts from 24th June until 16th September 2007.
‘You must begin by drawing … Draw simply and directly, with charcoal, crayon or whatever, above all observing the contours, because you can never be too sure of holding on to them, once you start to paint.’ CLAUDE MONET, 1920

Despite his statement, Claude Monet (1840–1926) spent most of his life staunchly denying the role drawing played in his creative process. Critics, biographers and journalists did not write about it, and his paintings were often praised for their lack of it. The reality, however, is that Monet carried pocket-sized sketchbooks with him throughout his life, setting out into nature to make notations and jot down scenes and people that caught his eye.
This exhibition is a first in more ways than one.
  • It's the first exhibition to be solely devoted to Monet's pastels and drawings.
  • It's the first time his use of drawing in the preparatory stages of full scale works has been examined and displayed.
  • It's the first time it's been possible for the general public to access and review the contents of his sketchbooks - examples are available within the exhibition as online digital images online
  • It's the first time that some of the works have ever been seen as they belong to private collections.
I'd recommend this exhibition to:
  • all those who like Monet's art - you'll probably see and learn new things
  • people interested in nature of artistic process - to see how graphic works can be produced before, during and after the execution of a painting
  • people who use pastels and/or sketchbooks on a routine basis. It's always interesting to look over somebody's shoulder and see how they do their work.
  • and, slightly facetiously - people who collect 'firsts' and historical events - I don't expect this exhibition will happen again in many people's lifetime.
Claude Monet "Waterloo Bridge" 1901
305mm x 480mm, pastel
Triton Foundation, the Netherlands

I saw this exhibition last Saturday with Vivien and Glen and had a big blog post worked out on Monday - and then lost it due to the computer having a tizzy. I'm now torn between trying to remember it and writing a different one with the benefit of an extra couple of days distance from having seen the exhibition.

The exhibition broadly follows a timeline but with different sections having clear themes. You can read more about these on the website here. I can't do better than use the exhibition's own summary of its scope.

Drawn from major public institutions and private collections, the exhibition consists of 80 works, many of which have never been exhibited. Beginning with the artist’s early caricatures and landscape studies, the exhibition explores the genesis of his drawing skills and powers of observation during his teenage years in Le Havre, while also showing his awareness of the prevailing graphic modes of the 1850s. The exhibition moves on to examine Monet’s use of drawing in the preparation of paintings such as the large, but aborted, Déjeuner sur l’herbe, and the Normandy landscapes of the 1860s. His mastery of pastel and the medium’s relationship to the oil paintings of the period is explored in telling juxtapositions.

Links between drawing, pastel and painting are further established through Monet’s works in mid and late career. They include the scenes he executed at Etretat on the Normandy coast in the early 1880s; the series of Views of the Thames such as Charing Cross Bridge and Waterloo Bridge, begun on Monet’s trips to London between 1899 and 1901, remarkable for their fusion of pastel and paint; and the waterlily panels of the late 1910s, which stem from line drawings in sketchbooks inspired by his water gardens at Giverny.

A further section of the exhibition is devoted to the drawings Monet made of his paintings for reproduction in lithography in art journals such as L’Art dans les Deux Mondes. They highlight his engagement with printmaking techniques and the freedom with which he translated the painterly forms of his canvases into a personal language of line suitable for mass reproduction.

Fundamental to our understanding of the artist’s œuvre is the dialogue between line and colour in Monet’s drawings and pastels. This important exhibition, the product of entirely new research, sheds new light on the role of drawing in Monet’s working practice, making direct connections to his paintings and exploring the often-overlooked links between the series paintings and his sketchbooks.(abridged from the text of Introduction to the Unknown Monet - a guide for students (pdf) )

The exhibition contains examples of pages from his sketchbooks and loose leaf sketches executed from when he was young through to later life. Use of and frequency of use seems to have varied during his artistic career. Although his earlier work shows he was a competent at landscape drawing, content from his later sketchbooks is rather scratchy and minimalist. He mainly seems to use sketchbooks to plan compositions and work out crops for different images and series of paintings - including the haystacks and the front of Rouen Cathedral. I'd personally liken his lines to those you trace in a rough way when trying to work out how an object works and which are the most important graphical elements in a piece.

The pastels don't appear great as pastels if you're more used to a traditional approach and lots of attention to detail. However they're very interesting and demonstrate clearly the dominance of colour in his work. Some of the ones of Charing Cross and Waterlook Bridges in fog are colourist in nature and look amazingly contemporary.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the light that was shed on Monet's early life and artistic development by a new document which was made available to the curators during the course of preparation for this exhibition. For more information about this click the link to read about The Grand Journal.

A well researched and comprehensive catalogue is available for the exhibition. James A Ganz and Richard Kendall The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings (Clark Art Institute) Yale University Press 2007. And the postcards are rather good!


Monday, March 26, 2007

LS Lowry and a Manchester perspective

LS Lowry (1887-1976) "The Pond" 1950
Tate Britain

This is probably only going to appeal to anybody who ever had a copy of a painting by LS Lowry on the wall of their primary school when they were children - and who wondered what made him tick. Or knew a place or a person called Pendlebury. Or people who have a connection with Manchester and understand how you can leave Manchester but how it never leaves you. Or anybody who has ever wondered at the gulf in perspectives between the north and south of England.
If you ask me how you can simultaneously be an artist and a man sceptical of art, I answer that you can if you are a Mancunian.........In Manchester you are taught to make fun of whatever smacks of pretension, not least if that pretension happens to be your own. (Howard Jacobsen 25.3.07.)
What is it? It's the transcript of the LS Lowry Lecture given yesterday by Howard Jacobsen and published in the Guardian Unlimited Arts online today (or 'The Manchester Guardian' as some of us like to remember it!)
The LS Lowry exhibition at the Royal Academy just after he died aged 88 in 1976 broke all attendance records for a twentieth century artist.

I'll leave the final word to Lowry
"If people call me a Sunday painter I'm a Sunday painter who paints every day of the week!" LS Lowry
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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours Annual Exhibition 2007

Richard Plinke painting a watercolour
8" x 10", pen and ink in a Moleskine sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The 195th Annual Exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours runs until the 5th April 2007 at the Mall Galleries. I visited the exhibition yesterday with Vivien and Glen before we moved across to the Royal Academy in Piccadilly to see the Unknown Monet exhibition - of which more in a later blog post.

The RI exhibition is much bigger than the RWS Spring exhibition at the Bankside Gallery which I covered in my last post. The RI exhibition has 510 paintings, priced between £200 and £9,000, from artists working in any water based paint (ie including acrylics). Unlike the RWS, it also includes paintings from artists who are not members of the RI. The catalogue is excellent with very good colour reproductions of some of the members' work on the front cover and in the centre pages. Unfortunately, the society does not have a website, so I'm going to highlight a few who caught the judges eye and a few that I liked. In the absence of an artist's website I link to what appears to be the best website illustrating work similar to that in the show.

Vivien and I were both taken by the work of Mat Barber Kennedy, who lives in Illinois but is represented by two galleries in this country. He does very individual portraits of architecture - in this instance of Cuba. For anybody who likes a looser style do take a look at his site. He combines an excellent eye for composition with skills in an informal style of architectural rendering and a 'wet' approach to watercolour. David Walker RSBA also produced architectural renderings - but his were more restrained, using muted colours and had compositions with a strong abstract quality.

We all admired Carl Ellis 's exquisite portrait of two grayling. Carl is a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists whose site indicates he's taking 'a fresh look at sea fish'. Take a look at his page on that site if you want to see the technique of somebody mixing watercolour with oil pastel.

Felicity House, whose work we admired in the Pastel Society show, had yet more work to highlight in this show. "Journeying" displayed her particular talent for informal and naturalistic portraits which combine excellent draughtsmanship with a loose style. You can see more of her work on her page at the Bridgeman Art Library.

Still life fans will be interested in the work of Janet Skea RI and Sue Read RI. Both use expert skills to do very finely observed paintings of still life subjects. Sue tends towards the more traditional subject matter of English watercolourists featuring porcelain bowls and fruit and small objects d'art. Janet's work in the exhibition featured exploration of the subtle colours found in creams and greys and some interesting designs.

Sue Rubira is showing 'Big Tom' - another of her excellent watercolour macro face portraits. Sue does demonstrations of how she builds up her portraits on her blog.

Fay Ballard had yet more her botanical work displayed in this exhibition - but this time rather smaller works: Raddichio and Dockleaf Root - click on the image on her website link to see more of her work. Presumably this will be her last RI show as she's just been elected to Associate Membership of the RWS and apparently convention (or maybe it's the rules?) dictate that you can only be a member of one or the other.

In the past Geoffrey Wynne has won 3rd prize at the Singer and Friedlander Watercolour Competition with his painting Quayside. He seems to specialise in large aerial views of crowds in open spaces and is showing Djemaa el Fna, Morocco in the show - an overhead view of a Moroccan marketplace. He also had a large painting of fishermen in Portugal which displayed some wonderful washes.

The work displayed by John Yardley RI was, as always, incredibly simple, loose and effective - and had sold out. You can see more of his work here - keep clicking the icon at the bottom to see more.

Ronald Maddox RI, the President of the RI for the last 18 years, won the Ranelagh Press Award. His views of the English countryside displayed in the show are similar in style to this watercolour which is included in the Government Art Collection.

Mike Bernard RI won the Donald Blake Award given by the Lincoln Joyce Gallery.

Shirley Trevena RI won the John Blockley prize given by the Marine House at Beer. (Shirley has a website at but it seems to having problems.)

The display of work by Bob Rudd included a simply enormous and very colourful painting of Coire Mhic Fhearchair, Torridon (which is in north west Scotland) which won the Debra Manifold Memorial Award given by the Linda Blackstone Gallery. Personally I preferred the smaller works that were included but that might be because his large piece demands lots of white space around it which unfortunately isn't available in a society show.

I've got Terry Watts RBA down as having won an award but my scrambled annotation doesn't seem to match any listed in the catelogue. Terry works in acrylics and paints sharply realistic landscapes - often with big skies.

Cecilia Matson works in ink and her very striking cityscapes won her the Winsor and Newton Young Artist Award

While waiting for Vivien and Glen to arrive I did a very quick sketch of J. Richard Plinke RI producing a watercolour painting in the gallery (see top).

This is Vivien's review of the exhibition - she's got some links to slightly different artists.

The Mall Galleries are in The Mall in London - the Admiralty Arch end - and the exhibition is open daily, including Saturday and Sunday, between 10am and 5pm. For those UK readers thinking of visiting and making a day of it, it's very easy to get from here to:
  • the National Gallery or National Portrait Gallery (short walk across Trafalgar Square)
  • the Royal Academy (a longer walk or very short taxi ride)
  • Bankside Gallery (walk and tube or longer taxi ride). This is the gallery holding the Spring Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society.
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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Royal Watercolour Society: Annual Spring Exhbition 2007

Listening to Jonathan Cramp RWS
pen and ink, double page spread in Daler Rowney A4 sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The Annual Spring Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society - the oldest watercolour society in the world - is currently on display at the Bankside Gallery in London until Sunday 15th April. There are 187 pieces in the show all by members of the RWS and priced for sale between £395 and £6,000 with most work being in the £700 - £2,000 range.

I'd highly recommend that anybody wanting to improve their watercolours should make a point of getting to see a show such as this - it really gives an insight into what can be achieved. Examples of the work shown by RWS members from last year's (2006) exhibition can be seen here.

I do think it's a very great pity that digital images of work in the current exhibition cannot be seen on the RWS website while it is actually on (as happens with the NEAC website/shop). Also, online access to members' work is limited to clicking on a members name - at which one point one image pops up - but that's it. There are no website links. It would be very helpful if the society's website provided a page for each member to be able to display their work (if they so choose). I had to search for links which show more examples of members' watercolour work - and was not always successful - rather a lot of them don't have their own individual websites.

David Firmstone, the Vice President of the RWS was showing Persimmon Tree a very large and striking watercolour on gesso. He displays more work and describes something about his technique on his website. The exhibition was positively awash with the work of Past Presidents including Leslie Worth, Frances Bowyer, John Doyle and Charles Bartlett. Denis Roxby Bott is a stalwart of the society and his architectural watercolours again demonstrate his skills in draightsmanshop and dexterity with a wash. However they do look rather better in person than on his website (although it could of course be my screen!). Michael Chaplin has some lovely work included in the exhibition - take a look at more on this site.

June Berry delighted as usual with her scenes of country life - my dim recollection is that she lives in France. (You can see examples of her work on the NEAC site). Jenny Wheatley's extremely colourful work - included Arundel Castle which you can see on her website (note for aspiring watercolourists - Jenny teaches). Diana Armfield RA had some small but tempting works at the entrance to the show. I do like the way she works in mixed media - this time combining watercolor and gouache with pastel. Liz Butler has a work which is quite out of the ordinary - an aerial view of Sussex - through the clouds.

There were several pleasing still life works by Annie Williams - a very popular artist and an Associate Member of the Society. I was pleased to see that Fay Ballard has been admitted to Associate Membership following the 21st century watercolours show. This time she was showing "Weeds" (which looks very similar - but much better in colour terms - to "Perseverance (after Durer") and "Oak Tree Stump" (very similar to this one).

What I found extremely curious at this exhibition - which I haven't visited for some years - is that some of the RWS members whose work I usd to very much enjoy seeing no longer appear to be either members although they continue to exhibit with other major national art societies. Very puzzling.

On Wednesday evening I went to the Bankside Gallery gallery for a talk given by the Featured Artist in the exhibition - Jonathan Cramp. The drawing at the top is of audience members listening to his talk with slides. This is an example of a drawing done in the half-dark of a slide exhibition which helped my eyes to adjust later to drawing night at night (see Drawing Night - bu the Thames)!

Jonathan Cramp mainly paints the harbour, beach and boats at Fishguard in Pembrokeshire and achieves some quite incredible things using watercolour. However, it was very interesting to hear a painter who produces very realistic work talk so much about the design and the balance of shapes, values and colour in his work. I think the conclusion drawn by many listening to him was that he was actually an abstract painter masquerading as a representational painter of realism! One of the revelations of the evening was when he highlighted how much how he has been influenced by John Sell Cotman - and four of his paintings including the Wheatfield (Leeds City Art Gallery - see image) - which although painted in the nineteenth century looks thoroughly contemporary.

Today I'm going to see the Annual Exhibition of The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours at the Mall Galleries which runs to Thursday 5th April 2007 - report back on Sunday! The main difference between the two societies is that the RI has shown the work of non-members alongside members right from the beginning rather than in a separate show.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Drawing a Head - 22nd March 2007

Drawing Two Heads - 22nd March 2007
each drawing is approx. 23" x 16", pencil
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
(click on image to see larger version)

Two drawings from my "Drawing a Head" class at the Princes Drawing School. I've been having terrible problems all term with my tenosynovitis which means that sustained drawing over a period of two and a quarter hours (in 3 sessions) becomes very difficult and I've been having to leave class early. I tried a new strategy yesterday and changed the timing of the medication which deals with the inflammation and pain so that hopefully it was full-on as opposed to 'running out' during the class. It seems to have worked because while the back of my hand swelled up as usual and I had some pain it wasn't enough to stop drawing.

For a class which is supposed to be about drawing a head the one thing I haven't tended to do is draw just one head. But I did this week - in fact I actually drew two heads!

I'm quite pleased with the chap although there's one area which I messed up and another which I think I could have done better. His drawing took just over an hour.

The girl is the same model as the one in "Waterhouse meets the dreadlocks". The position of the girl's head was my perspective on her while drawing the male model and I decided not to move - on the basis that drawing a head is about more than drawing a face! Drawing her took about 50 minutes. I rather like this one.

Please excuse the photos - the light here is dreadful at the moment and these are far too big to scan. I'll try and get a better photo later if the light gets any better.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Drawing Night - by the Thames

Have you ever tried drawing at night? I've done it a couple of times recently when down at Bankside next to the River Thames seeing exhibitions. There are some great views (and lights) and, of course, the shapes and values all change from the daytime. Here are some sketches and you can read more about the experience on my travel sketchbook blog here.

These 5-10 minute sketches are of:
1) the view of St Paul's Cathedral through the avenue of Silver Birches planted outside Tate Modern - great lighting effects and shadows.
2) St Paul's Cathedral from Bankside - looking even more imposing at night
3) the Millennium Bridge and the bridges beyond it looking west. This started off looking interesting and got even better as I sat there when a boat went past.........

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Have your say on the future of the arts in the UK

The view across Westminster from the top of the National Portrait Gallery
11" x 32" pen and ink (two double page spreads in anA4 daler rowney sketchbook)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

What do you value about the arts and the public funding of the arts, and how might the Arts Council better meet your needs? Luke Smith, Project Manager of the Arts Debate sponsored by the Art Council, UK has left a comment on my earlier blog post about the The National Virtual Museum - 24 hour culture (March 16th) inviting people reading this blog to contribute to the online debate about the future of the Arts in the UK.

Here's what he said........
24hr Museum is a great resource, but should we expect more online facilities from 'physical' cultural institutions. If Making a Mark readers have views on the responsibilities of publicly funded arts organisations then lets hear them at the arts debate. This is Arts Council England's first ever public value enquiry and we've already had a lot of lively online contributions. Luke Smith, Project Manager, The Arts Debate
The debate is about public investment in the arts. The Arts Council wants to hear people's views about
what really matters to all the communities its serves and is consulting about the future of public investment in the arts in this country.

With better knowledge of people's views they aim to make more informed decisions in planning for the future. There's no requirement to comment on any specific proposal - it's an open ended debate aiming to get
broad views about how public value of the arts and how this value might be increased. I think Luke also wants to try and get a better insight into online access.

Here's the link to The Arts Debate on the Arts Council website with appropriate links in the extract below if you want to join read what people have said so far.
Have your say on the future of the arts:
I'm happy to have comments left on this blog post - but please remember to go and post them on their site as well! The debate finishes on May 11th.

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Taking a Line for a Walk

Pages 84 and 85 Lucca
"Taking a Line for a Walk"
copyright Christopher Lambert - used with permission

In future the new revamped version of my Travels with a Sketchbook Blog will contain reviews of various books relevant to individuals travelling with a sketchbook. I'm anticipating this will include:
  • the published sketchbooks of other artististic travellers
  • 'how to sketch' books
  • good travel guides for an area
  • maps I've found useful in the past
Since I have bookshelves weighed down with the above it should mean I can avoid the stop/start frequency of a blog which is just about trips!

The first of these book reviews has been posted on my other blog this morning. "Taking a Line for a Walk: 1000 Miles on Foot - Le Havre to Rome" - a facsimile edition of Christopher Lambert's sketchbook journal as he walked over 1000 miles on foot between Le Havre and Rome, crossing France, Switzerland and Italy. Here's the first paragraph of my book review.
Paul Klee once explained that "a drawing is simply a line going for a walk". In the summer of 2000, Christopher Lambert drew a straight blue line between Le Havre and Rome on a map of Europe when eighteen months short of his 70th birthday. He then set off with his all leather Brasher walking boots, a small rucksack, a couple of pens, some watercolour pencils and a sketchbook journal. 1,075 miles and 71 walking days later he arrived in Rome having taken a page each day to sketch and write about what he saw on his trip.
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