Sunday, August 29, 2021

"Chelsea Physic Garden: a year in the life" at the Bankside Gallery

I saw the exhibition about the Chelsea Physic Garden: a year in the life at the Bankside Gallery on Friday. This is an exhibition of painting and prints by members of the Royal Watercolour Society (RWS) and the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE). It was really nice to see such a lot of decent proper watercolour painting on the walls of the Bankside - and a lot of the prints are great.

Chelsea Physic Garden: a year in the life at the Bankside Gallery

You can see all the artworks online if you're unable to visit the Gallery before the exhibition closes on 30th August.
  • Click an image to see more details and
  • then click the image again to see a larger version.
You can also get a much better sense of the size of the different artworks in my Facebook Album of the photos I took on Friday. As always online exhibitions can be very confusing in relation to size. Some of the artworks are much smaller while others are much larger than you might think!

View of the end of the Gallery - with display cases for sketchbooks and postcards

I'm still deep in "getting ready for surgery mode" at the moment, so this is going to be something of a shortcut review, i.e. the pics are on my Facebook Page (in an album) - with a few in this blog post.

The topic was a refreshing change. I've never had a sense of either the RWS or the RE being much interested in either plants of gardens. Maybe they've spotted the popularity of all things 'botanical'? Personally, I'd have timed it to coincide with  COP26 - the United Nations Climate Change Conference due to be held in Glasgow in November 2021. 

COP26 has six major themes and one of these is

Nature - to safeguard and restore natural habitats and ecosystems to preserve the planet’s biodiversity
which - given the Chelsea Physic Garden's perennial focus on plant diversity and plants from around the world - may well probably have garnered a bigger audience for this exhibition.

That said it was interesting to see the approach of the different artists to the exhibition - which was explained on a large information board

I really liked the paintings of the Garden by these painters
  • Mychael Barratt PPRE, RWS - has produced a wonderful annotated map of the Garden as a hand coloured silkscreen/etching. He's an artist I would collect if I had more wall space!
  • Liz Butler RWS - several small paintings in her inimitable style demonstrating an expert watercolourist's grasp of the full tonal range
  • Claire Denny ARWS - five paintings in watercolour and acrylic ink of various very familiar views of the Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Wendy Jacob RWS - views of the garden and accurate but stylised portrayals of plants, bushes and trees
  • Annie Williams RWS - Annie normally paints very carefully constructed and beautiful still lifes so it's fascinating to see how she approaches painting a garden.

I also liked the artworks about plants by these artists
  • Emiko Aida RE - her etchings of white flowers on a very vivid orange background both echo conventional botanic art and provide a counterpoint to ideas of how flowers should be portayed
  • Meg Dutton RE RBA has drawn several ink and watercolour artworks of the profusion of plants in the glasshouses. I'm also familiar with similar drawings she did of the plants in the glasshouses at Kew Gardens.
NOTE: What used to be a quick jaunt for me is now a very painful expedition even using my rollator due to my severe osteoarthritis. Walked way, way more than I should have done n Friday. Exhibition visits between now and surgery are going to be very few and far between - and involve lots of sitting down and long rest periods!

Saturday, August 28, 2021

Rivers of the World - an art project at Bankside

If you get the chance, do go and look at the splendid Rivers of the World screens erected between Tate Modern and the Bankside Gallery at Bankside on the south side of the River Thames. I think it might be a repeat of a Thames Festival Trust exhibit from last year.

It's one of the most impressive art projects I've seen in a long while.

All the art is created by children in primary schools!

An exhibition of river themed artwork created by young people under the guidance of professional artists during the lockdown.

Young people from London, Peterborough, Warrington, Halton, Coventry and Stockton-on-Tees in the UK and Ethiopia, Sudan, Morocco, Tanzania, Lebanon and India have created artworks from their homes under the direction of artists who provided briefs and films to guide their work.
You can read more about the project in my photos which you can see in this album on my Facebook Page.

Note: My ankle was extremely unhappy about the idea of taking a trip to see an exhibition at the Bankside Gallery - despite the fact I had my rollator with me and sat down quite a bit. I'm beginning to wonder if my exhibition visiting might be over until after surgery. Either that or spending a lot of money on taxis..... :( Or maybe getting a knee scooter for outdoors??

Sunday, August 15, 2021

An introduction to Japanese Art on Making A Mark

One of the most popular of my themed projects related to Japanese art and artists - and Hokusai and Hiroshige in particular - and the impact this art had on later artists. 

This post highlights my past blog posts on these topics

The Making A Mark Japanese Art project

South Wind, Clear Sky (Gaifū kaisei) By Katsushika Hokusai (1760 – 1849)
also known as Red Fuji, from the series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Fugaku sanjūrokkei)
Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper, 9 5/8 x 14 in. (24.4 x 35.6 cm)

Introducing Japanese Art

Below are links to the various posts about Japanese art which have appeared on Making A Mark. 

The majority are associated with an art project I undertook in 2008 to research Japanese art and find out more about the main artists associated with ukiyo-e.

The Making A Mark project serves as an introduction to Japanese Art and ukiyo-e - the Japanese wood block print. 

A significant element of my interest related to the compositional devices used in japanese art - and how these went on to influence western art in the latter half of the nineteenth century.

I created the blog posts from various resources I found online - and I also created a website to record the links as I progressed with the project. 

Each of the links below is explained in the short descriptions

The influence of Japanese Art - a long detailed post!
  • There's something about Japanese Art which draws me in. I'm not sure quite what it is however I'm very sure that learning more about it will help me with the development of my own drawings and artwork. It had a significant impact on the artists who I studied last year so I feel that being open to its influence can only be beneficial. 
  • I'm going to look first at resources and then at how I might usefully frame my approach to this project.
  • These include:
    • books about Japanese art
    • profiles of individual artists
    • Context for the development of ukiyo-e
    • Compositional devices learned from Japan
    • Formats derived from Japan
    • Subject matter
    • Making connections - between Japanese art and other artists, notably Van Gogh, Whistler, Degas and Cassatt
The concepts and characteristics of ukiyo-e
This week, I'm going to try and summarise what seem to be the subjects and characteristics of the Japanese wood block print - ukiyo-e. I'm going to move from overview through to detail as I work through this project so I'm starting with the big picture.
  • This is an attempt an overview of the subject matter.
  • Then I'm going to use the western conventions of elements and principles of composition to organise new information so that hopefully it makes more sense to me within a more familiar context.
  • This post aims to provide an overview of the different elements of design used in a Japanese wood block print - ukiyo-e. (For an explanation of the elements of design see this post Composition - The Elements of Design)
Principles of design and composition and ukiyo-e 
  • My intention was to do an overview about the principles informing the design of Japanese art and prints - but I'm overwhelmed and becoming aware of how absorbing this project might become! My new aim is to set down some initial impressions - and I'll revisit this topic again towards the end of this project.
  • I'm also trying to relate a Japanese way of making pictures to western concepts of what's important in terms of Principles of Design (as discussed in the last project) Again this is more about me finding a way to understand what's going on initially rather than saying the western way of looking at things is best. As we'll see as this project progresses, there's an awful lot of western art which adopted conventions which originated in the East.
  • I came across this fish in a book I bought last Friday. It's called Japonisme - Cultural Crossings between Japan and the West, Lionel Lambourne, Phaidon Press. Lionel Lambourne OBE is the former Head of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum (1986-1993) and a curator.
The Visual Translation of Japan in Late 19th-Century Paris
  • Japonism is the term used for the influence of Japanese art in the west. This post is part of my Japanese Art project and is a combination of my own initial research on this topic and notes I made at a seminar I attended at the National Gallery in February called Gained in Translation: The Visual Translation of Japan in Late 19th-Century Paris - given by Karly Allen.
  • Whistler, Tissot, Monet, Manet and Degas were all buying up Japanese prints. Comparisons were made with the great artists of the western traditions of printing eg Durer. Europeans were 'discovering' Japanese art - which of course already existed even if the western world didn't know about it! Many of the artists developed very significant collections of Japanese Art
  • This blog post is part of my project on Japanese Art (see other posts) and is concerned with how Japanese wood block prints associated with ukiyo-e were made. It contains an overview of what they are and how the prints were made and provides links to further information.
  • We visited the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew this week and I attempted to draw the Japanese Gateway (the Chokushi-Mon) while at the same time trying to remember all the things I'd been learning as part of my Japanese Art Project. This post is about I designed my sketch and the things I now need to do to translate it into a more formal drawing.
The Art of Hiroshige
  • Throughout my Japanese Art project, I've become more and more aware that Hiroshige produced some really stunning woodblock prints and excelled at landscapes. So for my last post of April I'm going to focus on Ando Hiroshige aka Utagawa Hiroshige.

    Later posts on the topic of Japanese Art

    Hokusai, Van Gogh and the iris paintings (2009)
    I've been studying an expert - Vincent Van Gogh - who, in turn took pointers from another expert - the Japanese artist Hokusai. This post comments on their various approaches to iris paintings.
    • This is the third of a series of exhibitions dedicated to Japanese Artists and Printmakers to be held at the Royal Academy of Arts.
    Hokusai and Hiroshige: Great Japanese Prints (2012) 
    • This is an Asian Art Museum video about Great Japanese Prints by ukiyo-e printmakers Hokusai and Hiroshige
    OASC for Metropolitan Museum of Art Images (2014)
    • This includes who to locate the the ukiyo-e prints of Hokusai
    Refreshed Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art at the V&A reopens (November 2015) 

    Tomorrow I'll reproduce one of the websites I produced which is no longer online.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2021

    Get ready for surgery: Update #1

    Here's an update on what's going on behind the scenes, on my "get ready for surgery" journey

    For the last 15 months my focus has been entirely on losing a lot of weight getting fit for surgery - i.e. being able to move on one leg without falling over! I'm nudging towards nearly six stone lost to date.  

    In the last 10 days I've switched to spending a lot of money on new kit, updates for existing furniture and other essentials for what's going to be a challenging recovery period.

    To date I have ordered and received my new knee walker - behold below! 

    This is what will be playing a big part of getting me about for my three months (plus??) of mobilising on one leg after the operation on my ankle while I grow lots of new bone. My right ankle will be 100% non-weight bearing for a long time.

    I'd just assembled the Strideon knee walker at this point - but still needed to raise the handle to make it safer.  

    Me and my new Strideon knee walker

    It's currently parked - with parking brake - next to my new rollator. I expect you may eventually see me at exhibitions with this - but it's much heavier and weighs 13kg and will be much more difficult to get up and down the stairs on the tube compared to my 5kg carbon fibre rollator

    Plus I've also got an iWalk which is a hands free crutch which provides me with a peg leg with a ledge for my calf.  That's quite a lot of fuss to get on and off so will be used sometime after the operation when I need to be on a my feet for a while.

    Then there's the boring bits - like what you need for sanitary ware. Try standing up from being seated using only one leg and you'll see why! 

    Sunday, August 08, 2021

    The Elements of Drawing website

    One of the most popular of my past posts relates to the website about The Elements of Drawing - John Ruskin's Teaching Collection at Oxford

    I wrote about this is this post - the New website: John Ruskin and The Elements of Drawing in 2011. Since then:

    • new resources seem to have been added to what was originally there
    • sadly, it is now designated a legacy website - and the Through Ruskin's Eyes links to learning resources at Ashmolean Online are now broken
    However, there's lots to see though and explore. 

    I'm now of the view that every time you come across a good online educational website - which makes EDUCATIONAL resources available for free online - and available for downloading - you should immediately assume that it
    • will become neglected when whoever invented it moves on 
    • assume it won't be there forever and will be much lamented when it disappears 
    Hence you should download every resource you can NOW!

    Thursday, August 05, 2021

    Painting and paintings by John Singer Sargent

    My second post from the archives is about John Singer Sargent and his approach to paintings.

    Below are past blog posts which are well worth a read to look at the resources I accessed while writing about him in the last 15 years
    An Artist in His Studio (1904 ) by John Singer Sargent 

    Approach to Painting


    Wednesday, August 04, 2021

    Three ways to hang a picture

    This is about three different ways to hang a picture - whether that's a painting, a drawing or a fine art print - and whether it's a small, medium or large artwork.

    Hanging gear for hanging pictures
    - photographed at Green & Stone

    As I indicated in my last post during August I'm going to highlight previou posts which are useful and popular - or maybe less well known!

    Today is about hanging artwork and the three posts I'm highlighting are:

    I hope you find them useful.

    You can also find more about How to hang a picture in the Framing section of my Art Business Info for Artists website

    Monday, August 02, 2021

    Getting fit and ready for surgery

    A quick note just to say that during August, there won't be so many blog posts. What's currently way more important than blogging is resolving my severe ankle arthritis problem i.e. remove the pain and the scope to grind to a halt when walking!

    So I need to:

    1. Get fit for surgery on my ankle (see Ever so slightly distracted) - which I've been doing for weeks already - hence the dropping off of blog posts
    2. Source / ordering / practising with all the aids I'll need - which is ratcheting up right now
    3. Organise my home differently to make moving around a lot easier - lots of measuring coming up - plus moving furniture around and clutter out the door! Which must be done in August!

    Which might sound a bit over the top if you don't know I'm facing 
    • up to a minimum of six weeks and maybe three months or more on ONE LEG! 
    • Absolutely 100% non weight-bearing on right ankle for 6 weeks minimum.
    • Plus elevation ("Nose to toe") of operated ankle for weeks (and weeks) on end.  

    Absolutely no cartilage left in my right ankle
    This is what bone grinding on bone looks like!

    I'm having either an ankle replacement or an ankle fusion (not decided yet) are both way, way more difficult and challenging than knee replacements or hip replacements.

    If I have the ankle fusion I need to keep the ankle completely immobile while it grows bone to fuse the ankle so I have no movement - and no pain!

    Unfortunately the left leg which has to move me around is also a leg which has had a major injury (I tore the meniscus in 2016) and that has taken ages to get anywhere back to normal so getting fit for surgery is a really, really serious matter for me.

    That said I've lost 36kg so far (or 5.7 stone in "real money") in the last 13 months in order to try and make life easier.  There's a really huge incentive to lose weight when you realise you can't move a muscle when using crutches!

    (Did I mention my severe osteoarthritis means I also need a shoulder replacement!!)

    This is what the new slimline me looks like. I'm getting friends saying they hardly recognise me

    Sunday, August 01, 2021

    Yayoi Kusama - her life and art

    I watched a documentary film about Yayoi Kusama this last week which I found fascinating.  

    She's exhibited internationally all over the world and her artwork has achieved both the highest turnover at auction in one year and the highest price paid for a female artist. 

    Her current exhibition at Tate Modern is sold out until it finishes in October 2021 - but if you'd like to see more of her work and find out about her as an individual and as an artist It's a programme worth watching.

    Yayoi Kusama

    Kusama: Infinity

    Kusama: Infinity (1 hour 20 minutes) is a documentary made by director Heather Lenz in 2017, published in 2018 and broadcast by Arena in 2019 - and repeated last Monday on BBC4. 

    It's available for the next 24 days on BBC iPlayer. I'm going to be rewatching it before time is up!.

    It provides an insight into the extraordinary life and world of this internationally renowned artist.