Thursday, September 30, 2021

Two new Royal Art Society Exhibitions in London

There are two new exhibitions by national art societies opening in London this week. These are:

  • RSMA Annual Exhibition of the Royal Society of Marine Artists at the Mall Galleries 
  • RWS Autumn Exhibition of the Royal Watercolour Society at the Bankside Gallery

I'm hoping to visit both of these exhibitions in the near future. 

They both include paintings - but those of the RWS are in water soluble media and the RSMA exhibition at the Mall Galleries includes all media plus sculpture.

You can easily see both exhibitions in one day.

Royal Society of Marine Artists 

The Royal Society of Marine Artists is the focal point for much of Britain's finest contemporary marine art, and many of the country's leading marine artists are elected Members of the Society.
This country is an island nation with a proud maritime heritage. The coastline of Britain and its principal islands measures some 19,400 miles, presenting a wide variety of often spectacular scenery.
The sea is part of who we are as a nation. It is this heritage and this environment that we aim to celebrate.
Title of Exhibition: RSMA Annual Exhibition 2021 
I actually prefer the online perspective on artwork by members on the RSMA website - mainly because the images are much bigger when scanning through to see which ones you want to take a closer look at. On the other hand, if you click on an image twice on the Mall Galleries website, you get to see an even bigger image. Lots of clicks and navigation though to do this for several exhibits!

The Private View and Awards Ceremony were held yesterday (which I no longer go to as I'm avoiding crowded events). Those artists who have won awards in this exhibition have been announced - and you can see the artworks on the Mall Galleries Facebook Page plus prize details and the artist who won the award.

It's very interesting, at this stage of the exhibition, to see which artworks sold online prior to the opening of the exhibition and/or sold yesterday the Private View.

Royal Watercolour Society

View of some of the line artwork from this exhibition

Title of Exhibition: RWS Autumn"Now and Then" 
This exhibition of works by Members of the Royal Watercolour Society showcases paintings created in the very recent present alongside those at the earliest points in their career, and everything in between. The display promises to provide visitors with a rare insight into the development of each artist's creative output, as well as the opportunity to take a piece of work home, whether from now or then.
To my mind RWS has still not recovered from their disastrous attempt to "look contemporary" as opposed to painting for the reason they were chosen to be a member and slowly developing their work over time.

Furthermore, despite the scope and intention of the exhibition, I'm left wondering whether member artists read the brief! That's because, 
  • to be perfectly honest, when viewing the works online I can't see very much change in artworks - except for those submitted by a very few artists.
  • when I checked the dates on some artwork it's also very evident that the watercolour painting styles of some artists have changed very little in the last 10 years (June Berry), 30 years (Richard Bawden) or 40 years (Dennis Roxby Bott) 
I shall be intrigued to see whether buyers are purchasing old or new work - and will probably wait to visit until I get an answer to that question.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

How to paint the Mona Lisa - a Channel 4 documentary

This is an alert to say you can see my old friend Adebanji Alade tonight on Channel 4 documentary called "How to Paint the Mona Lisa" 

  • on the More4 Channel 
  • at 9pm 
  • today (Wednesday 29th September, 2021) 

Adebanji Alade is the Vice President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters (ROI) and has made a name for himself beyond art gallery exhibitions and with a wider community of television viewers in recent years through his many appearances in art related events on television - notably on the BBC.

This time he's the main man in a Channel 4 documentary about painting the Mona Lisa.  

Artist Adebanji Alade unlocks the secrets of the world's most iconic painting while making a replica using traditional methods. What will the experts think of the finished piece?

You can see him getting excited about it on his Facebook Page

Here's a 40 second preview - and it looks fascinating as he finds out about all the materials and techniques used by Leonardo da Vinci - and has a go at painting the famous painting himself.

Should be good - I'll be watching.

Below you can see another video - done for the ROI - of a his studio tour

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

More about Van Gogh and his drawings and drawing techniques

One of my most popular posts - on a perennial basis - since I started this blog is one about Van Gogh: Drawing media and techniques which was published in February 2007 as part of one of my very first learning projects recorded on this blog.

This 'resources for artists' post summarises:
  • what the 2007 post covers
  • new information about Van Gogh's drawings, swing materials and drawing techniques made available since 2007
"Garden with Flowers" (August 1888, Arles) by Vincent Van Gogh
Reed-pen and ink, Height: 61 cm (24 in); Width: 49 cm (19.2 in)

Van Gogh: Drawing media and techniques  (2007)

In summary this post focuses on 
  • Van Gogh's drawing materials (pencil, pen and ink, prints, brush and colour) and 
  • how they influenced his techniques and style.

New Information about Van Gogh and drawing

What follows was mainly published AFTER my blog post from 2007. It's not comprehensive but provides a good overview of what's been added to resources in recent years - and that includes some of the Wikipedia information!

Cafe Terrace at Night (Sept 1888, Arles) by Vincent Van Gogh
chalk, reed pen, India ink and graphite on laid paper
Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection

This post lists links to more information about Van Gogh and the way he drew
For the first three years of his career, he worked mainly as a draughtsman. A good command of drawing was traditionally considered to be an essential basis for painting, and Van Gogh cherished that principle. As a result, he became an excellent draughtsman long before his paintings started to show real promise. Van Gogh Drawings in Arles | Foundation Vincent Van Gogh Arles

This is a video of Van Gogh sketches - Vincent van Gogh: A collection of 1185 sketches (HD)

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The Big Painting Challenge - a memory jogger for those watching the reruns

I noticed that the BBC is rerunning The Big Painting Challenge on BBC2 at 2.15pm on weekday afternoons. Episodes are all also available via the BBC iPlayer

I thought I'd resurface my blog posts about the three series.

In every series I comment on what seem to be me to be the key themes and the lessons to be learned from what happens in the programme. Plus just a few thoughts about the delivery of the programmes by those involved! ;)

The Big Painting Challenge - a Memory Jogger!

Series 1 (2015)

The artists at their exhibition in Highgate after the series was finished

Series 2 (2017) 

Although they try to reinvent it as Series 1!

The story so far for Series 3 (2018)

PS Sorting things out for life after surgery has taken a lot longer than I expected. I'm about 85% of the way there - and pretty knackered at the moment. Although I've had my second pre-surgery assessment appointment and everything seems to be OK....

Just need a date now....

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

REVIEW: David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020

This morning I went to see David Hockney: The Arrival of Spring, Normandy, 2020 at the Royal Academy of Arts. Below are some notes I made while in the exhibition - of assorted thoughts it prompted.

It was the earliest time I could view and the ticket has been on my wall for months! The exhibition finishes on the 26th September and I'd be very surprised if there are any tickets left. 

It's moved from the galleries where they normally hold the Summer/Winter Exhibition (because of the hang for 2021) to The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries in the Burlington Gardens part of the Royal Academy of Arts. It appear they've maybe been hung closer together than in the video below of the hang in the main galleries.

You can find the preamble introducing the exhibition on the RA website - and new the works  in this video

You can also download a large print guide of the paper publication you collect on going into the exhibition. This provides dates for th artworks but not times of day- which I think he did in previous exhibitions

Notes on an exhibition by David Hockney

There are no paintings in conventional art media - they are all done in digital software on his iPad.  There are 116 works in total.

These are the images released as press pics - but to be honest while some are good they don't include the best ones. See if you agree with me when you watch the video.

All works by David Hockney. © David Hockney

Clockwise from top left: No. 125, 19th March 2020. iPad painting. No. 340, 21st May 2020. iPad painting. No.186,11thApril2020.iPadpainting. No. 118, 16th March 2020. iPad painting. No. 316, 30th April 2020. iPad painting. No. 88, 3rd March 2020. iPad painting.No. 370, 2nd May 2020. iPad painting. No. 259, 24th April 2020. iPad painting. No. 133, 23rd March 2020. iPad painting.

The sum of the part

The exhibition is greater than the sum of the parts and it's a mistake to look at them as individual paintings

The impact of seeing them hung - in themes or series - close together on a wall reminds me of exhibitions of Monet's Haystacks (see Monet's series paintings - stacks of wheat (2008) - from which the following quote comes)
Monet was adamant that the series of paintings had an aesthetic quality of its own and that the value of the paintings could only really be appreciated when they were all seen together.
The artworks present well on the background of a dark teal wall. Some would look like quite insipid on an ivory or light coloured wall - but with a dark background they have more impact.

The series I liked the best included:
  • The nocturnes - with very bright moons and deep blue skies - which interestingly were not hung together
  • the blossom - trees / branches
  • plants in pots - indoor and outside (eg 15 and 18 daffodils outside and in bowl indoors)
  • pond paintings
  • paintings of rain

Monet and series paintings in Normady

It then occurred to me that one of the features of Hockney is that he has at various times reflected on various great artists of the past and created his own interpretation of their works.

It struck me that it's no coincidence that he did these in Normany which is Monet's "home turf" - and that Monet was particularly given to creating series of paintings of the same motifs - seen in different weather / seasons / time of day

A number of the motifs in this exhibition are portrayed in a similar way.

Seeing pictures 

One of Hockney's skills is the ability to "see pictures". A lot of what he's portraying is of absolutely no consequence. Indeed many have commented that his paintings are similar.

I think those critical of the iPad paintings in this exhibition forget two things:
  • his age - there are very few artists who continue to create as well a they did in the past as they near he end of their life
  • the context - However at a time when the world turned upside down, recording the simple and the familiar and looking closer at nature is something a lot of people did to help keep a grasp on what is real. (I took to posting my photos of plants every day on my Facebook account - from the same date in the past - to keep a grasp on the world outside when we were locked up at home - when Hockney was creating these artworks. Today I posted #492).
What I noticed was that some of the subjects he took great care over - the notable examples being the trees in full blossom - while others which held less interest (bare trees with no foliage) seemed to receive less attention. 

No 57 was particularly joyful and I was surprised not to see it chosen as an image for the postcards.

The colour of skies

I realised partway round how important the colour of the sky was to some of the images and what a variety of colours he had used for skies


He uses the mark-making available in his Brushes software - but I sometimes want to see him experiment more with available software to see what else it can do.... 

The mark-making hasn't really changed over the last decade. Which is a pity.

The visitors

A very white set of visitors in terms of both skin and hair. It's always interesting to see what older ladies think is appropriate dress for a Hockney exhibition at the RA - but then right now, an expedition into central London is something to appreciate and I dare ay a lot were going out for a very nice lunch afterwards

Which I would have been too - but my ankle rebelled....

Friday, September 03, 2021

SURGERY UPDATE #2: Still prepping with a steep hill to climb

SURGERY UPDATE: I had one of my pre-surgery assessment interviews - by telephone this week and am going in for tests in the middle of the month - and then surgery should not be too long after that. My current assumption is probably October.

This is an update following on from Get ready for surgery: Update #1 last month.
Despite everything achieved to date, today I'm feeling rather overwhelmed by the amount I've still to do - with a very steep hill still to climb!

Mont Ventoux from Crillon Le Brave
(pen and sepia ink and coloured pencil)

I've acquired a knee scooter, smart crutches suitable for somebody (me) who also needs a shoulder replacement and various other bits of very necessary kit for life on one leg (and no cheating) for 8-12 weeks.

Plus worked out the hall carpet needed changing, the old sofa had to go to be replaced by one that has a high enough seat I can lie down on to do nose to toe elevation of my ankle and get up again from it(!) - I haven't been able to sit on my old sofa in years! - and my riser recliner also needed replacing.

Plus identified a massive need to get rid of lots of clutter and do a lot of reorganising.

Yesterday I ordered 
  • a nice looking commode - which doubles as a chair - for when I'm flat on my back elevating my foot nose to toe for two weeks....
  • an indoor rollator which has a TRAY which resolves one of the major issues - how to get food from kitchen to where I eat when hands are occupied with steering! So VERY relieved to have finally solved this problem! I use it by braking and then hopping.... brake, hop, brake, hop etc

On its way to me - my new Tuni Novi Indoor Rollator with a TRAY!!

However I've just worked out what I've still got to do to get my home ready for surgery.