Tuesday, June 30, 2009

MAM Poll June RESULTS: Preferred plein air painting media

Making A Mark Poll (June 2009) - Which is your preferred media for painting plein air?

At the beginning of this month I asked Which is your preferred media for painting plein air?. Artists and companies involved with the production of painting media, art education and art instruction might want to reflect on the results of this survey.

In total 116 people provided 161 responses which means each respondent uses an average of 1.42 types of media (compared to last month's survey about drawing media where 183 respondents provided 532 responses). That basically means three things:
  • many more people draw compared to those who paint plein air
  • people who draw experiment with far more media than those who paint plein air
  • people who paint plein air tend to lean towards to one type of media
One might infer - by implication - that those who draw may also spend more money on their media of choice than those who paint plein air.

The top three media for painting plein air

The most popular media for painting plein air is watercolour (29% of responses) followed by oils (24%) and soft pastels (16%).

The fact that watercolour came top won't be much of a surprise. However people might be surprised, as I was, by some of the results and in particularly the relative popularity of alternative media. There are some significant implications for art instruction and art classes/workshops.

Interpretation of results

What follows is my analysis of the results. You're invited to add your own comments about the results and/or any insights you may have about preferred media for painting plein air.

Watercolour versus other water based paints
  • When painting plein air, watercolour is the contemporary water-based media of choice - just as it has been for very many decades.
  • Other media which are water-soluble (eg Acrylics, Acrylic inks, Gouache, Water miscible oils, Casein) attracted only one sixth of the votes at best - and none at all at worst!
  • Only 1% use tempera plein air - I'd love to hear from this person as to their experiences!
  • Nobody uses casein - despite this being a very popular paint prior to the advent of acrylics. There is virtually no literature on how to use it.

Casein was widely used by commercial illustrators as the material of choice until the late 1960s when, with the advent of acrylic paint, casein became less popular.

Traditional oils - little impact by newer alternatives
  • There's a very low take-up rate for media which was designed to overcome the problems with the drying time of traditional oils.
    • Alkyds (fast drying oils) attracted 4% of responses while water miscible oils did even worse at 2%
    • I suspect this might be because there's not been enough information or education for artists who might be interested in using this type of media.
  • Another way of looking at this is that painters who love traditional oils have none of the ever-present studio problems with fumes from turpentine etc when painting plein air. The ventilation comes free!
  • I'm not in the least bit surprised to see that traditional oil paint (24%) is 400% more popular than acrylics (6%) for use plein air. The main problem with acrylics is the drying time and the tendency for this to vary with the environment. This is of course infinitely variable when painting with acrylics plein air. What works one one day won't work on other days when the temperature, humidity and breeze/wind factors are all quite different.
Soft pastels four times more popular than oil pastels
  • Soft pastels attracted (16%) four times more responses than oil pastels (4%). However I was somewhat surprised by how popular oil pastels were and wondered whether they are used - with solvent - by people who usually like working with oil paint.
  • The popularity of dry media (ie soft pastels) in this survey might be because this blog often features articles on various aspects of dry media - pastels and pencils
Alternative non-traditional media
  • The non-traditional media (eg acrylic inks, alkyds and water miscible oils) don't appear to have attracted much support despite the fact that they are actually well suited to painting plein air.
  • Neither acrylic inks nor alkyd paints (for art) get a page in wikipedia! (However wikipedia is particularly poor on art media)
Mixed media
  • The very low response rate for mixed media (2%) suggests to me that this is an aspect of painting plein air which gets very little air time in terms of instruction books, videos or tutors. Which I personally find really surprising.
The importance of tradition, education and instruction

I've drawn two conclusions from this survey:
  • the use of a particular media for painting plein air relates closely to how comfortable an artist feels using it. Artists stick to tried and trusted art media until they have a jolly good reason to change.
  • If plein air causes problems, they won't use it.
  • If they can't find media easily they won't use it.
  • If they don't know how it works and/or have never received any tuition in its use they won't use it.
  • alternative / modern painting media is not used very much due to a general lack of knowledge about the media's properties and how to use it.
  • Oils and watercolour and soft pastels are all traditional media which have been used for centuries by a lot of artists. There are also a lot of art tutors who can and will instruct those wishing to learn about how media properties and how to paint with oils and/or watercolours and/or soft pastels
  • What it suggests to me is that there are major opportunities for those who want to educate artists about the use of new and alternative media. They won't attract a popular following quickly - BUT they won't attract a following at all unless both media and instruction is easy to obtain!
That's my hypothesis - what do you think? Leave your comments below

A reminder about criteria

A quick reminder that the poll defined a painting executed plein air as something that is:
  • not a quick sketch
  • not a drawing
  • probably covers all or nearly all of the support being used
  • possibly a plein air study for a studio painting
  • possibly a painting which will go straight to a gallery!
This meant that the purely sketching media in May was not identified as an option. Note: In May we found out which media people like to use when drawing or sketching.

The poll allowed multiple responses based on media used on a regular basis rather than those you might use occasionally. Based on previous response rates to MAM Polls 161 responses from 113 artists indicates that only a proportion of readers responding to MAM surveys also paint plein air.

Tomorrow, I'll be posting the MAM Poll for July - which will be about preferred painting media in the studio. This will test out the differences in popularity of different media in different contexts.

The June scenario of painting plein air - with all the difficulties that can pose if using certain media - will now change to a scenario of painting in the studio - with all the control that offers.


Monday, June 29, 2009

When you want to show the computer who's boss!

This morning I had a long review post done and finished. All I had to do was copy and transfer it over to Blogger when something went wrong and the whole thing was lost.

Every single link lost. All the structure. None of the text left. The air was blue for a good five minutes.

Then I decided to switch off the computer to teach it a lesson and go and draw Rembrandt instead.

I actually went into town to a lunchtime event at the National Gallery to hear about Degas worked (fascinating - more about this later this week). After which I treated myself to a nice lunch and a long sketch of people at lunch - which you'll see tomorrow on my sketchbook blog.

After Self Portrait at the age of 63
pencil and coloured pencils in sketchbook

Then I went off for a tour of the National Gallery and decided to have a go at drawing Rembrandt. So here's my version of Self Portrait at the age of 63. It's not very good - the shape is wrong and the colours are wrong - but it was very nice to just sit and draw in the National Gallery.

I think I might have another go at getting it better.

What do you do when
  • you've just had a major technological frustration?
  • and/or you want to show your computer who's boss?

Making a Mark reviews......

Sunday, June 28, 2009

28th June 2009 - Who's made a mark this week? #102

Somebody said this weekend that there are going to be a lot of people who will remember where they were when they heard Michael Jackson had died.

I was out sketching in Hampstead on Friday. All day, all I heard was the sound of Michael Jackson coming out of cafes, houses and cars.

For those of us aged 50+, there's something very poignant about the loss of an artist who was part of our own childhoods and who was also younger than us when he died.

I've never ever been somebody who has been in the least bit interested in drawing celebrities - however I've always found it very helpful to draw somebody whose death has touched me in some way. For all of us who kept thinking all Friday about that very small boy on the Andy Williams show with the incredibly beautiful and soulful voice on "I'll Be There'', this is my drawing of a very young Michael Jackson. RIP.

Making a Mark Survey (June)

Before I start - a quick reminder that you have two days left to vote on Which is your preferred media for painting plein air? (or choose more than one if used regularly). The survey is in the right hand column (scroll down).

The results will be posted on Tuesday 30th June and a new survey will be posted on Wednesday 1st July.

Art Blogs

Some of my recent sketches of people in interiors in London
pencil or pen and ink and coloured pencils

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

First an apology. I've had all sorts of problems with the feed and related statistics for Making a Mark reviews...... but since sorting the problem out I've discovered that my new blog now has very nearly 100 subscribers. Many thanks to all of you who have been subscribing - and welcome to my review blog! Sorry it took a while for me to catch up on just how many of you are reading it!

Drawing and sketching
Coloured pencils and pastels
PaintersALERT: On Tuesday 30th June, you can see a BBC programme David Hockney, A Bigger Picture (Tuesday, 10.35pm), he discusses moving back to his Bradford birthplace from Los Angeles after a personal crisis left him "feeling alone and empty".
Filmed over three years with unprecedented access, this documentary captures the return from California of England's favourite living artist.
Art Group Blogs

Art Business and Marketing

Art Collectors

Art Competitions

  • For all those artists producing small works - take a look at my post about the ING Discerning Eye 2009 - call for entries. PLUS I've now had confirmation from the organisers that this art competition is indeed open to an international entry - if you can resolve the issues re logistics

Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

Art Education

This experimental one-day workshop presents a contemporary take on the traditional life class. It incorporates hi- and low-tech digital media and performance to create an inspiring visual experience, presenting the life model in a completely new way. Participants creatively respond to the life model in the digitally manipulated environment using analogue techniques such as drawing and collage as well as simple digital tools (printed and photocopied images).

Tips - working plein air
  • I wrote about The Magic Hour - which includes a link to a website which enables you to work out when this is on any day of the year anywhere in the world
The Magic Hour
8" x 10", coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Tips and Techniques - photographing artwork

Art Exhibitions

Art Museums and Galleries

  • I wrote about the National Gallery - new website and paintings for iphones
  • The City of Cologne's Historic Archive was the richest collection of medieval records of northern continental Europe. It survived World War II but the building which housed it fell into a massive hole in March - created after tunnelling for a new Underground line generated a major collapse. The Salvage operation after Cologne archive disaster now estimates that 85% has been retrieved - but that recreating the catalogue for it all may take up to 30 years.

Art Studios

Art Supplies

Book reviews

Websites and Blogging

and finally........

The Daily Telegraph has reports that Angel of the North sculptor and Royal Academician Antony Gormley will appear in The Archers - that well known tale of countryfolk on Radio 4. Now I've heard everything!

Making a Mark reviews......

Saturday, June 27, 2009

National Gallery - new website and paintings for iphones

I'm not quite sure when they did it, but the National Gallery has definitely got a new design for its website.

It's got a much cleaner 'look' and is also much easier to navigate, although there's still a bit of scope for further improvement.
  • Down the the left hand side there are clear menu tabs for all current exhibitions events and recent news items.
  • all the important navigation and action words are in a nice large font - much easier to see. It also looks like they've also improved the accessibility of the site for those who have impaired vision or other disabilities.
  • The monthly focus painting gets much more screen space and has a much better impact than hitherto.
  • There's an opportunity to provide feedback at the bottom of the home page
  • It's a lot easier - and faster - when trying to access the different art in the collection.
  • Some of the parts of the site have pretty much the same structure as before - but a more attractive 'look' eg the Learning part of the site which focuses on different types of people who want to learn and different events.
  • However Learning in the top menu does not connection with Learn about art in the side menu (a sub domain of the collections part of the site) - which just seems very odd to me.
  • The new website also seems to be linked to some new events at the gallery eg Talk and Draw
National Gallery paintings on iPhones and iTouch devices

What's more this month The National Gallery announced that it has decided to become the very first make its paintings accessible through a downloadable iPhone application called Pentimento. It enables you to take a mini tour of the Gallery no matter where you live in the world.

This page explains what Pentimento is and provides answers to frequently asked questions. Basically it's a new art application for consumer mobile devices which combines software and digital media assets to create new and innovative ways to experience art. Art can be accessed through item lists such as artworks or artists, by theme such as period, emotion or movement or by gallery views.

I've not seen it, haven't got a clue how it works as yet, but this is how the National gallery application is described in the Press Release

This Pentimento application, called Love Art, features 250 paintings from the collection along with around 200 minutes of audio and video content, including interviews with National Gallery Director Dr Nicholas Penny, dramatist Robin Brooks, artist Maggie Hambling and Girl with a Pearl Earring author Tracy Chevalier.

Making use of special iPhone features such as its large touch-screen, zoom, Rolodex and scrollable menus, Love Art offers a playful exploration of the collection, together with informative commentaries.

The paintings are showcased to the best advantage using high-resolution images on the iPhone’s excellent-quality screen. Due to a tactile interface the experience gained through this application is not only highly enjoyable, but also lets you zoom in to see details that are often missed.

Do let me know if you download it and try it out!

Making a Mark reviews......

Friday, June 26, 2009

Calling all bibiliophiles and art historians

Guess where I was yesterday - an in art bookshop in the St James's area of London. Check out Art Bookshop Review: Thomas Heneage Art Books over on Making A Mark Reviews if you're seriously into books about artists and art history

Lots of excellent art history books
all photos copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The One Show's Summer Exhibition

There's more than one Summer Exhibition!

I had a very nice email from the BBC yesterday asking me whether I could highlight a new art competition - and it's my very great pleasure to do so!

The One Show has been inspired by the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition and have decided to celebrate the talent and creativity amongst us all. So they're going to have their very own Summer Exhibition!

We heart your art! Here at The One Show we know that many of you are passionate about creating art. So we're asking to see your masterpieces!

The competition launches tomorrow on Friday 26th June 2009 when you will be able to get more details about how to enter your work.
Whether it's watercolour, printwork, crochet, pottery or other kinds of artwork, we want you to submit a photo of your original art to The One Show website.

The artwork that catches our judges' eyes will appear on The One Show - in front of an audience of millions.
So all you have to do now is make sure that you visit The One Show website tomorrow to read the terms of conditions and get more information on how to enter your work in The One Show Summer Exhibition - and maybe get it seen by millions of people watching this very popular magazine programme on the BBC!

In the meantime, why not:
  • see the videos relating to Phil Tuffnell entering a painting in the RA Summer Exhibition
  • have a read of this online debate on the One Show website about Graffiti - art or rubbish?

Making a Mark reviews......

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Exhibition review: The Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition 2009

I visited the Royal Academy of Art last week to see the Summer Exhibition 2009. I honestly can't recommend the exhibition this year. I found it boring and badly organised. There were individual works I liked by individual artists that I like. However the overall impression is of an extreme of eclecticism. The sheer nature of the chaos makes it difficult to see certain works which to my mind merited a much better display.

However I stress my views reflect my own personal taste. Not everybody thinks the same way - and I've provided some alternative views in links at the end.

The only thing I could find positive to say about it was that it was at least better than some of the self-indulgent rubbish I saw in the Royal Academy Schools show (continues until 28th June 2009) which I saw beforehand. Here there was even less to interest or admire! In fact, the only really interesting bit was seeing the studio space which the artists get to use while atttending the Schools.

So what's different this year?

The co-ordinators of the Summer Exhibition this year were Royal Academicians Ann Christopher (sculptor), Eileen Cooper (Printmaker) and Will Alsop (architect) who selected works for the exhibition around the theme of 'Making Space'.

Joining them on The Selection and Hanging Committee were Ivor Abrahams (sculptor), Basil Beattie (abstract painter), Gus Cummins (painter), Michael Hopkins (architect), John Hoyland (painter), Allen Jones (printmaker), Mick Moon (printmaker), Eric Parry (architect), Mick Rooney (painter), Richard Wilson (sculptor).

Maybe the lack of figurative painters is why I don't like this exhibition very much?
  • The rooms didn't feel very coherent. The hanging committee changes every year. Last year there was evidently a very strong design ethic and it looked an awful lot better. There appears to be some sort of consensus that this year's exhibition appears to be even more chaotic than usual.
  • An awful lot more limited edition prints. No longer are they contained within the Large Weston Room - they were everywhere - pushing out paintings in some places. Maybe the excess of prints is due to the fact that there was a printmaker Academician co-ordinating the show! Alternatively it's possible that the penny has finally dropped with some of the RAs and other artists submitting to the Summer Exhibition. If you develop a fine limited edition print it's possible to achieve very good sales at the Summer Exhibition as the print is (1) not unique and (2) can be sold many times over. I went round the Summer Exhibition towards the end of last year's show and saw an awful lot of unsold pieces - whereas the Large Weston Room (the print room) was a roaring success with most works selling and some of them selling extremely well with very many buyers. I multiplied the price of some of the prints I saw last week by the number of prints sold already (eg 50+ by the second week). I reckon that some of the print sales of individual images will well exceed sales of paintings. Hence why I think we're seeing more prints this year. I wonder how long it will take before the RA also notices that animal and wildlife art always sells well? For example, the print of the black labrador highlighted at the end of the Daily Telegraph video (see below) had sold to 53 people when I visited a week ago. That's £15,900 in sales in just the first couple of weeks!
  • Fewer figurative paintings of the type I like - but then I'm no great fan of abstraction, New Painting and post-Pop (see the review by the man from the Independent for a different perspective). It's so sad that artists like Dianne Ibbotsen - whose painting Star Shine won the Insight Investment Newcomer's Prize in 2007 following a public vote has no work in the show.
  • many fewer small paintings - the Small Weston Room - always the most popular with the public has lost its largest wall of small paintings to small prints. This is the room which tends to house the most works from non Academicians. Given that some of the individual works in the rest of the exhibition equate in size to this wall, I think a different approach would have made for a more open exhibition - but maybe this wasn't the aim.
  • sculpture is being subdued again - it's back to being seen against masses of work on the walls - which is another way of saying you can't actually see it properly at all. Last year's room for sculpture which had no paintings has not been repeated - more's the pity. Damien Hirst's silver sculpture of a skinned saint is quite vile and is just one example of the boring work being produced by 'name' artists. (Bear in mind that if you go to this show every year and keep seeing the same old same old from some artists it just gets very boring. The one trick ponies really need to be put out to pasture.)
  • one room has been given over to film and video. Which I guess is an inevitable progression. The room of photographs which were only allowed in for the first time three(?) years ago now provide some of the better works of art! I wonder when they're going to have their first photographer Academician? They certainly don't yet have a category for photographers.
  • no work at all by some Academicians - I always wonder if there's a trade-off between featured one year and not at all subsequently. There are no works for example by David Hockney - maybe because he has two exhibitions of his work running concurrently with the Summer Exhibition?
What else did I notice?
  • Wittgenstein's Dilemma by Tom Phillips RA (Tom Phillips ) - this cubic construction of words in steel is a development of earlier word cubes in other media. I found it both fascinating and aesthetically pleasing - however the challenge to read the words is impossible in a gallery which is full of paintings. It needs to be seen in a 'clean' space. You can see an 'inside view' of this work in the Guardian's slideshow
  • Fred Cuming's paintings - which I'm very happy to stare at for absolutely ages. You can see more of his work on his website - Fred Cuming RA. Those who like the coastline and skies around Britain will appreciate his work.
  • Presidents of other national art societies downsizing the work they submit - presumably with a view to getting in
  • Apparition - a beautiful silverpoint drawing in the Small Weston Room by Dylan Waldron
  • oil paintings of still life subjects by Jennifer McRae and Elizabeth Blackadder
  • Jerwood Drawing Prize winner Warren Baldwin's drawing totally swamped in the Small Weston Room.
  • ING Discerning Eye Purchase Prize winner Cedric Huson's paintings "skied" in the Small Weston Room (meaning far too high to see and appreciate properly - which is quite ridiculous for his type of painting).
  • Angela A'Court will be pleased to know that I spotted her pastel drawing of Dog and Arches
  • the public continue to buy images they relate to - and those continue to include dogs and cats!
You can see room guides to the exhibition - text, no images - in the links which follow

Annenberg Courtyard
Gallery I
Gallery II
Large Weston Room
Small Weston Room
Gallery III
Gallery IV
Gallery V
Gallery VI
Gallery VII
Gallery VIII
Lecture Room
Gallery IX
Wohl Central Hall
Gallery X

When oh when is the RA going to invest in putting at least some part of the exhibition online? It's perfectly feasible to charge an admission in the same way as you have to pay to get in. Have they not yet realised that it is also possible to sell art online? Or is Internet art beneath them?

If you'd like to see what others thought of the show take a look at the various articles in the broadsheets:
At the end of the day the thing which needs to be remembered about the Royal Academy is it's really just a gigantic art society - with all the politics and other shenanigans which go on in any art society in terms of who gets to decide "who's in and who's out".

It's got precious little to do with whether or not the art is any good.

Let's not forget that this is an Academy where, for example, artists who have created genuinely innovative art are not members - people like Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Long and Banksy. In fact I found it rather amusing that Banksy's current exhibition in Bristol has garnered rather more column inches in the national press than the Summer Exhibition this year. I don't think the timing is coincidental.

Not the Royal Academy

I'm hoping to see a few more paintings at the Not the Royal Academy exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery. You can see some of them on their website. This exhibition hang's the best of this year's work which is submitted to the Summer Exhibition but not hung. Hundreds of artists collect their rejected works from the RA and bring them to the Gallery on the South Bank (opposite the Old Vic theatre). Artists are told immediately whether or not they have been successful or not. The works on display are hung for three weeks and then a fresb batch of 'rejects' are hung in this modern day Salon des Refus├ęs

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ING Discerning Eye 2009 - call for entries

The Call for Entries for the 2009 ING Discerning Eye exhibition at the Mall Galleries has been issued. The exhibition is an opportunity for lesser known artists to hang alongside internationally known artists

Every year, in November, the The ING Discerning Eye Exhibition shows a number of small works which have been selected by an indendent panel of six prominent figures.

There are two artists, two collectors and two critics. The exhibition groups the works of each selector so that in six areas of the gallery, the works have a coherence in terms of what appeals to each selector. The work of very popular artists may pop up in two or more of these 'collections'.

How to enter

There are two ways to have your work exhibited
  • either through submitting work via the open submission (see below for a summary). Last year 279 (49%) of the 572 works on display were from the open submission artists.
  • or by being invited by show work by one of the selectors - an opportunity which is used very different ways by different selectors
This is the website of the Discerning Eye Competition and Exhibition. (For some reason the hyperlinks work - and then subsequently return errors(!) - so I'm going to give the full URL here http://www.discerningeye.org/_i/index.htm noting that there is an underscore before the letter 'i')

This art competition is administered by Parker Harris. On their website you can find more details about the exhibition and download the following:
The basics are as follows:
  • drawings, paintings, sculptures and photographs are admissable
  • all work must be submitted unpacked (ie no support for unpacking/packing)
  • final deadline for receipt of entries in London: 5th September 2009. The guidance provides details of receiving dates for 15 towns and cities throughout the UK besides London. The earliest receiving date is 25 August.
  • all works must be handmade and within the maximum size limit (20 inches including frame or plinth/stand)
  • submission fees £9 per work
  • all works will be included in the online catalogue - and artists have to supply a suitable digital image if selected
  • up to 600 works could be on display. Based on last year, one might expect about 300 to be from the open entry
  • all works must be for sale - and 40% is charged on all sales. Last year 180 (31%) of the 572 works sold and of these 52% were from open submission artists (who did a little better than invited artists).
  • work not sold in the exhibition will remain on display in the online exhibition until 1st january 2010
  • detailed guidance on requirements for frames
  • unselected works to be collected 11-12 September
  • unsold works to be collected 27th November

This year’s selectors, who will chose from publicly submitted works and works from invited artists are as listed below. It's a very curious mix which should produce some interesting results.

  • Lincoln Seligman (painter and sculptor) - an interesting choice as he is best known for his large scale works of art for modern buildings around the world
  • Gus Cummins RA (painter);
I find that Gus Cummins, although a particularly individualist artist, exists in a space somewhere between the thinking of the surrealist painters and the experts of the magic realist painters.
Sir Roger de Grey
  • Peter Bowles (actor) - previously Lord of the Manor
  • Laurence Llewelyn Bowen (interior designer and television and radio personality) - one might add that the website cuts a foppish dash too!

[update - I forgot to mention the prizes yesterday!] There are a number of purchase prizes from the ING Purchase Prize which is worth £5,000 to the Humphreys Puchase Prize of £750. Further details are available in the leaflet.

There are also 8 prizes of £250 each for outstanding entries from (sic) "the national regions". I'm not quite sure how artists in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland might feel about their countries being designated 'regions'! I worked for a number of years in different contexts with colleagues across the UK and Ireland and I remember it being drummed into me that one always has to avoid the word 'region' being used for any area which lies outside England!


Dates for the 2009 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition at the Mall Galleries in The Mall, London SW1 are as follows:
  • opens to the public on Thursday 12 November 2009 at 10 am
  • closes Sunday 22 November
Links to previous posts on Making A Mark about the ING Discerning Eye - which include images of previous exhibitions

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Magic Hour

The first and last hour of the day provide a colour and quality of light which can often be dramatically different to the light during the rest of the day. It affects colour, tone and shapes in the landscape. Artists are often recommended to try and make the most of this lighting in their work.

The time of day when dusk and twilight approach is known by many as The Golden Hour or The Magic Hour. It's not an exact hour as such. How fast the light changes depends in part on the season of the year and the latitude you're at.

The Magic Hour
8" x 10", coloured pencils on Arches HP

copyright Katherine Tyrrell
Typically, lighting is softer (more diffuse) and warmer in hue, and shadows are longer. When the Sun is near the horizon, sunlight travels through more of the atmosphere, reducing its intensity, so that more of the illumination comes from the sky. More blue light is scattered, so that light from the Sun appears more reddish. And the Sun's small angle with the horizon produces longer shadows.

“Hour” is used here quite loosely. The character of the lighting is determined by the Sun's altitude, and the time for the Sun to move from the horizon to a specified altitude depends on a location's latitude and the time of year
Wikipedia - Golden hour
Find out where the Golden Hour is where you are

While researching this post I came across a website which actually allows you to calculate the magic hour anywhere in the world. The site is called The Golden Hour.

You can locate yourself anywhere in the world and it automatically calculates the transit of the sun through the sky and display it in the panel below the map. You can find out when the best times are to catch that special light at dawn and dusk as the sun rises and sets.

For example, I found the location for the above drawing - St James Park in London. Today, 22nd June 2009, if you hover your cursor over the gold coloured portion of the display of hours abox pops up which tells me that the Golden Hour starts at 7.28pm and continues until 9.09pm when measured at sea level. The angle of the sun at sunset is 311.1 degrees East of North (ie in the west!). What this means is that you can work out what time to be ready, how long you've got and where the sun will be setting.

That said, the light is still going to change very fast through the Golden Hour!

Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour

I also came across an exhibition of photography done during the twilight hour on the website of the Victoria and Albert Museum - called Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour.
It explores a time of day and a quality of light that presents technical challenges but also embodies a haunting mood and the possibility of narrative intrigue or psychological tension.

At twilight, the colour and quality of light go through rapid and dramatic changes. For photographers, who are highly attuned to the subtleties of light, this is a particularly significant and poignant time. The artists in the exhibition have all made work that focuses on the end of the day and investigates twilight, as distinct from night.
Twilight: Photography in the Magic Hour
You can see how photographers responded to the challenge in a photography competition which is now closed.

Annual Exhibition of the United Kingdom Coloured Pencil Society - deadline for entries: on 24th June

I think this is going to be a last minute entry for the UKCPS Annual Exhibition this year. I may write the reminders for the UKCPS blog of what you need to do (see FINAL REMINDER: 24th June - deadline for UKCPS exhibition entries) but that still doesn't stop me personally umming and aahing right up to the last minute as to what I'm going to submit.

This particular image has been 'calling' me to do it for ages so I started Friday night and finished this morning!

St James Park - Trees Study #3
8.5" x 11.5", coloured pencils in Daler Rowney Black Sketchbook
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

I first sketched this scene (see right) of the trees on the island in the middle of the lake in St James Park last year.

According to the data collected by my camera for one of the reference photos I used it was five minutes to six on 8th October.

I was sat in a deckchair on a grassy knoll just above the path which goes round the lake in St James Park. (It's a great place for sketchers due to the proliferation of free deck chairs - no need to bring a sketching stool!).

This particular golden luminous light probably lasted about 10-15 minutes in total at its most intense, although it had a lighter version just before and a softer more muted version just after. I was scribbling away like a maniac trying to get the intensity of the colours down before they went. This, of course is where coloured pencils are absolutely brilliant as sketching media as I can be getting colour down on paper within seconds of sitting down.

I think I'm beginning to detect a theme for this year which involves trees and water. You can see more of my drawings of trees and water in the galleries on my website. I couldn't decide which one this rawing belonged to do I popped it in both!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

21st June 2009 - Who's made a mark this week? #101

Yesterday was a big day.
  • In the morning the scales told me that I'd lost two stone (28lbs) since the beginning of the year (partly due to Sketchercise) despite being more or less housebound for three weeks in March/April
  • Last night this blog had its 500,000th unique visitor.
I hope you all enjoyed Monday's Highlights from "who's made a mark this week"? (June - December 2007).

I'm planning to continue next week with some more highlights from the first three and half years of Making A Mark!

Plus some tips for how to grow your readership and visitors. Above you can see what the graph of growth in visitors looks like.....

Art Blogs

Drawing and sketching

Coloured pencils and pastels

PEACH Prunus persica 'Springtime'
Janie Pirie SBA GM
coloured pencils
copyright the artist

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Art Group Blogs

Art Business and Marketing

  • How to progress your career:

Art and the economy

  • Bloomberg's reported
    • Warhol, Prince Works Fail to Save Art Sales From 70% Decline and that sellers are now trying to negotiate private sales
    • Sotheby’s Rating Faces Downgrade by Moody’s in Market Decline - what this means is that the people who rate different companies as to their relative value for investment purposes are uncertain about the state of the auction market. This reflects caution amongst investors in relation to art which in turn signals disquiet about the level of sales and the values likely to be generated by auctions of art. In theory there should be a ripple effect ie just as contemporary art values soared to reflect prices paid at auction so they should now reflect the level of disquiet that the values have been over-inflated in the recent past.
Moody’s Investors Service, which already rates Sotheby’s bonds below investment grade, or junk, said it placed its debt on review for a possible downgrade.
  • Art Tactic characterises itself as an insider's view of the art market. Estimates for contemporary-art auctions have contracted more. The average auction price of contemporary art has fallen 76.2 percent since May 2008, according to London-based ArtTactic.
  • Online sites selling art are facing a similar situation to auction houses: Sales are down - according to this article Online art auctions take hit from economy in the San Francisco Chronicle

Art Collectors

Art Competitions

Art Education / workshops / Tips and techniques

  • the new Channel 4 project Life Class: Today's Nude is a Jerwood/Artangel Open Commission
  • Live life (drop in) drawing classes next week: 22 - 26 June /29 June - 4 July in five locations across London – in the City, Soho, Covent Garden, Canary Wharf and Bloomsbury – and in four cities across the UK: Manchester, Bristol, Southampton and Glasgow prior to the screening of...........
  • Channel 4 Broadcast: 6 - 10 July 2009, 12.30pm with John Berger, Judy Purbeck, Maggi Hambling, Gary Hume and Humphrey Ocean
  • the panel discussion on Today's Nude is on 7th July at Conway Hall at 7pm.
Alan Kane, Maggi Hambling and Humphrey Ocean discuss their individual perspectives on life drawing, its renewed popularity and the aim of Life Class: Today's Nude in disseminating the activity via television.

Art Exhibitions

Peter Monkman - winner of the BP Portrait Award 2009
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The BP Portrait Award was announced on Tuesday evening and I was there! The exhibitions for the BP Portrait Award and the BP Travel Award opened to the public on Thursday. Here are my four posts!
Futurism opened at Tate Modern on 12th June. I'm no fan - and it's maybe the case I've got company - at least in relation to this exhibition. Here's a few reviews
You expect an exhibition on futurism to clamour with the noise and energy of modern life, but this utters barely a whisper........But Tate Modern's new futurism show, which has travelled from Paris and Rome, feels staid and dull, flat and sluggish. Many of the best works have not made the journey
The show, which opened in Paris and has been seen in Rome, is an ambitious attempt to present Futurism as European-wide art movement. What surprised me, however, is how little truly important art was made under its influence. ...........What should have been an eye-opening, groundbreaking show was spoiled for me by a more or less incomprehensible open-plan installation........(and) the verbiage of a poorly designed catalogue.
Paradise in Plasticene - which is a plasticene sculpture created by James May and others and first seen at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show can now be seen at Royal Festival Hall, Level 2 Green Side (I don't think that's a pun!) until 5th July.
Paradise in Plasticine is a sculpted art installation, inspired by nature’s variety and fecundity, and framed in the guise of a mystical secret garden from the dreamscape of childhood.

Art History

Art Museums and Galleries

  • The Hermitage Amsterdam (Amstel 51, Amsterdam) opened yesterday. Thanks for the tweet from the VanGoghMuseum which alerted me to this (and thanks for following me too!) The first exhibition At the Russian Court should be one of the most largest and most lavish exhibitions ever presented in Europe - it will have over 1,800 objects on loan from the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg on display. I'm going to be looking up options for visiting!
Hermitage Amsterdam is the only dedicated, independently managed venue in the West of St Petersburg’s magnificent State Hermitage Museum. At the Russian Court — a scholarly researched exploration of the opulent material culture, elaborate social hierarchy and richly layered traditions of the Tsarist court at its height in the 19th century — will remain on show from June 20th in the new institution until January 31st 2010.

Art Supplies

Book reviews


This video about creativity came to me via Enrique Flores - thank you Enrique. It's very profound and it's very funny

and finally........

a bit of fun!

Maybe next year the platform for the guest speaker at the BP Portrait Award won't be placed right in front of a picture of a pink toy cat which appears to want to play 'rabbit ears' with Sebastien Faulks?

Sebastien Faulks with Yvonne Peachey (winner of BP Travel Award 2009)
.....and a pink cat!

photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell