Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Society of Feline artists - Annual Exhibition 2011

Pure Gold - British Shorthair Blue Cream by Jacqueline Gaylard
Winner of the Llewellyn Alexander SOFA Award for 2011
Acrylic on Board (£1,900)

Jacqueline Gaylard won the Llewellyn Alexander SOFA Award for 2011 at the Private View of the Society of Feline Artists Annual Exhibition at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery in Waterloo this afternoon.

Her handling of the subtleties and colour tones of the fur in the acrylic painting of a blue cream British Shorthair cat is superb.  While clearly being a painting it's as if this is a living breathing cat.  This is a cat which has frequently featured in Jacqueline's paintings before now but this paticular painting is especially appealing.

Jacqueline was displaying a suite of top notch work - with her five other paintings also setting an equally high standard of both composition and execution for others to emulate.  She's also an artist who pays meticulous attention to backgrounds!

Artwork by Jacqueline Gaylard

Pastel paintings by Natalie Mascall
The other artist who stood out for me was Natalie Mascall.  Her works in pastel are full of character at the same times as being technically very accomplished.

Natalie recently featured in the August edition of Artists and Illustrators Magazine.  She was also BBC Wildlife Artist of the Year in 2010 - awarded for a pastel painting of tigers at play.

I was particularly taken with "Prowler on the Roof" (top right) who, it turns out, was a visitor to the Mascall household and was genuinely stuck on the roof!  He looked like a very naughty boy who was slightly out of his comfort zone!

David Grant MBE, Patron of SOFA had this to say about the exhibition
The exhibition goes from strength to strength.  The artists really capture the personality of the cats.  As a vet, I can look at these cats and pretty much know what would happen if I tried to touch them.
That's probably the unique thing about this exhibition.

Every artist is painting the same subject - a cat (or cats).  The breeds vary - as do the personalities of the cats and the media used by the artists.  However at the end of the day, all the artists will have been very dependent on using photographic references to supplement their personal knowledge of each and every cat.  (As we all know cats roll over the minute you think they might be posing for you!)

However the variety in the way people portray and represent the cats is simply amazing.  With the best artists - like Jacqueline and Natalie - it goes way beyond the technical excellence.  Much is rooted in the composition and crop and the personality and character which emerges from the painting.

You can look at images of some of the paintings in the exhibition on the four pages of the gallery website - which provides details of title, size, media and price.  Click the details or the image to see a larger version and if you;re interested contact the gallery.

Black on Black by Gayle Mason (sold)
General observations about the show this year are as follows:
  • a lot more artists are working in pastel
  • fewer big cats.  I'm guessing that this may be because the alternative wildlife shows are now so well established.
  • some very good black cats this year - all of which seemed to be very popular!
  • lots of familiar names (although some submitting fewer works than usual) - but more new names this year than I've ever seen in previous years.  I was told there were 44 new Associate Members this year.
Other artists I noticed were as follows
  • Dominic Callaghan had a couple of pencil drawings of cats looking through windows which I found particularly appealing.  It's a pity they're not on the gallery's website - I'd have liked to have highlighted them - and my photo didn't turn out well
  • A couple of artists - Alex Johnson and Avril Sleeman - impressed with their linocut prints 
Linocust by Alex Johnson and Avril Sleeman
  •  The artists producing the "cute cats" paintings had produced some attractive offerings.  Ones I noticed in particular were by Toni Goffe pen and ink and watercolour paintings of cats having fun (eg traditional jazz band); Tamsin Lord and Alice Woudhuysen - whose paintings you can see below,  (Note the one of the "Royal Wedding!)
Paintings by Alice Woodhuysen
 Here are some more photos of the exhibition

The End Wall
Feline Art by Anne Aggett and Denise Laurent

As always the exhibition is a MUST SEE for all cat lovers and fans of feline art.  The exhibition continues until 16th September at the Llewellyn Alexander Gallery 124 -126 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1 8LN UK (Opposite the Old Vic Theatre)

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