Sunday, April 20, 2008

20th April 2008 - Who's made a mark this week?

woken by lousy alarm jangling and cats telling me to hurry up

one cat wants to pursue his hobby of ornithology NOW!
The other says her throat has been cut and noone has fed her for a week - hmmmm - see her shape!

Cup of tea in attempt to surface and deal with day
Drive to work, nice, watch the sky and the light of the early morning on the fields.

Vivien wakes up, feeds cats and faces the day ahead...

(For the rest of her day see my day - cartoon strip)

copyright Vivien Blackburn

Drawing from memory

I think Vivien Blackburn (Paintings, Prints and Stuff) in Leicestershire may have started a new trend on illustrated blogs.
I went to an artists talk by illustrator Liz Minichiello on Thursday, which was interesting. After the talk about her work she gave out A2 sheets of paper with rectangles printed and asked us if we would do sketches of our day, with detail and tone, and email/post them to her. 12 rectangles, each about 4 x 2.5 ins. The brief was to do this from memory rather than observation.
Vivien Blackburn
Vivien posted the above - and six more which you can see on her blog last Sunday in my day - cartoon strip. She invited people to have a go - and Robyn in Tuscany (Have Dogs, Will Travel) took up the challenge and produced a wonderful strip cartoon of her day, featuring a lot of Dermott!

Viven has an alternative challenge - which is about sketching simple subjects - paintbrushes. I loved her link to Jim Dine's etching of his paint brushes.

Sketching and painting plein air

From drawing from memory to drawing through observation. Plein air sketching and painting is beginning to get off the ground in the northern hemisphere although the weather is being "very April" and is still hit and miss. You can start - but will you be able to finish!
I would like to make a bit of a picture feature of artists working plein air on a future 'who's made a mark this week' so if you've got a good pic of yourself on your blog - or maybe just your set-up please let me know by using the comments function.

Art Blogs
  • This may seem odd coming right after a section about plein air painting/sketching but Robert Genn had a really good letter about the Tyranny of Reality - which is definitely worth reading by all those planning to work from life this summer. Plus let's not forget the scope of the imagination - see top! ;)
When we are overloaded with subject matter, we have an automatic tendency to neglect style and imagination. Subject matter is no match for spirit. Too much observation can change the creative event from one of spirit to one of rendering. Surprise, chance, illusion, personality, audacity, confidence and desire are the most affected. Abandonment and even desertion may have to be contemplated.

Sad to say, but glorious nature stomps on creativity. The artist becomes not a master, but a slave.
Robert Genn - The Tyranny of Reality
One of the hazards of art instruction is where you suggest one person might loosen up, and you tell another to start looking more carefully at things. Within earshot, people are getting the opposite information. It's not like accountancy at all
Robert Genn - The Tyranny of Reality
Art Competitions
  • The Threadneedle Figurative Prize (prize money of £25,000) - an update - "living or working in the UK" can mean an artist's nationality can be Australian or American or Russian or whatever - just so long as they have an address here. Similarly if UK artists living abroad maintain an address in the UK and they haven't emigrated on a permanent basis then it seems that they're also eligible.
  • The RWS / Sunday Times Watercolour Competition 2008 invites entries (prize money £25,000) - this is the biggest and most prestigious watercolour competition in the UK - but intersted artists should note the change in sponsor, venue and regional pick-up arrangements.
  • I've heard on the grapevine that Jeremy Clarkson has been asked to be one of the judges for this year's ING Discerning Eye competition. Jezza???!!! It's an "interesting choice" given that this is the man who is a dedicated petrolhead and lover of all things engineered, who put a jet fighter in his front garden (sculpture maybe?) and does a great imitation in the Sunday Times of "Disgusted of Chipping Norton" when ranting at Arts Council decisions! Victoria Ward had a good response to the Sunday Times article - apparently people now blog their 'rejected' letters - and it makes a good read. I can't give you a link to the 2008 ING competition because it's not yet available on the Parker Harris website, however here's a link to my post about the 2007 ING Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries.
Art Exhibitions
Art Fairs
  • The Chelsea Art Fair is on next week 24-27 April at Chelsea Old Town Hall in the Kings Road. 40 galleries are showing mainly contemporary art with some 20th century work. I'm going to be trying to pop along to see Tina Mammoser who is there with Skylark Galleries on Thursday after 3pm and all day on the Sunday.
Art Materials
Art Videos
Book reviews
  • Watch out for my book review of a book I bought this week - all about composition. I started reading it yesterday on the trip down to Kew and was very impressed with what I've read so far. No - really, really impressed!
Blogging and websites

I don't know what was in the air or the water this week (maybe it's just Spring and it's time for a spring clean?) but lots of key sites were changing things or announcing changes.
  • Alexa has changed its rankings system. You can also read about - with comments on the Alexa Blog. Check your own ranking by using the search function. The key changes are
    • rankings are now based on more sources of data (They used to be skewed towards the techie community which used its toolbar - and that has now stopped)
    • traffic is being normalised on a global basis
    • they assert the new rankings are an even better indication of website popularity.
  • I'd recommend taking a peek also at the content of the different categories for art history, visual arts and illustration. They all have meaningful sub-categories.
  • According to the BBC, Paypal is saying that it is going to start blocking unsafe browsers. When was the last time you updated your browser?
  • Squidoo changed its format for lens sites yet again. There were things to like and things which were less likeable. After getting used to it and a few days of tweaks by Squidoo staff, my view is that the font is still too small for most of the lens but I'm pleased the stark orange which was too garish has been replaced by a softer blue tint which is much easier to read. I'm 'getting there' in terms of having to make changes to 40+ lenses if I want to avoid so-called "related pages" with completely ludicrous links. There continues to be a major issue about the moderation of lenses which assert they are "safe for all ages and all eyeballs" but where some contain links to overt 'adult' content. I am not impressed with the speed at which this is being addressed.
  • For those who missed it - I did a post this week about How to add a sitemap to your website
and finally......

Here's a date for your diaries if you sketchcrawl but haven't subscribed for e-mail announcements. The 19th International Sketchcrawl will be Saturday June 21st - or 61 days time.


  1. It´s amazing that the week is already over again ! You have hammered out a real rally of decent posts over the last 3-4 weeks and it´s difficult for me to keep up and digest all the good things you reported about. Thanks a lot Katherine.

  2. Clive Bell via Robert Genn. This is a treasure, and I thank you for bringing this reference to me.

  3. Thanks so much for the mention. Glad my easel expenditures have at least served as a source of interest and entertainment for fellow art travelers ;-) As always, an exhaustive, mind-spinning list of great artists and great links to explore. Did I read this maintain 40 lenses on Squidoo??? (Head is spinning again!)

  4. Thanks Casey and Martin

    Jennifer - I do indeed maintain 40 information lenses/sites on Squidoo! I didn't realise it was that many until just recently when I put them all into one group to make life easy for me.

    You should see how long the list of draft ones is!

    Calling all botanical art lovers - I've now posted about the new gallery at Kew today (Monday) although it's going to have to be two posts in total - and then some (as they say!)

  5. Thank you for your kind words, Katherine. Dermott has now replied in kind.

    I'm trying to stay away from your post about the book of the Shirley Sherwood Gallery. But I know I won't be able to resist for long.


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