Lilies in oil

February 17, 2013

lilies 1

lilies 1

This is a painting that I wasn’t satisfied with. For me it was overworked and I couldn’t get the background to resolve.

So I decided to use it as the basis for an experiment. As I wrote a few posts ago in  Painting more directly  I was taken with the colours and way of applying paint in the work of the Scottish Colourists as well as contemporary Scottish artist,  Shona Barr.

Actually, in reading the biographies of Scottish artists from about 1750 to the present, I was struck by how they learned to paint. Some of them had little or no classical training, others went to renowned art colleges. But for the majority, it was exposure to other artists, either French, Italian, or Scottish contemporaries that propelled them into new way of approaching their work. And paradoxically this led them eventually to their own style.

All the artists I love, took nearly a lifetime to arrive at their clearly recognisable way of working. You see their early work and it looks similar to every other painter in the searching stage- conventional still lifes, nudes, landscapes, composition and colours.

Then, when they mature, usually after years of steady work, their own visual vocabulary emerges, their way of handling paint, the colour paths, their eye for composition, their personal mark-making.

All aspiring painters want to reach this stage too soon. Me included. I’ve been an artist all my life, but a painter for only about 10 years, and that not consistently.

So this is a chronicle of the part of the journey I’m on.

OK, back to the lilies. I let loose this morning and coloured the hell out of the above dry painting. This is what emerged, using Shona Barr’s painting as a direct example of colour and brushwork.  There is lots wrong with it, but at least it is alive. I’m leaving it as it is and taking my next step with the next painting, wherever that will lead.

Lilies abstract

Lilies abstract

collage 1

collage 1

We did a collage session in my drawing class this week and I worked along with my students. I use collage a lot in my work generally, and I was pleased with this result, it opened up some new ground.

I used photos of paintings only (no landscape photos), from a cultural events page in a magazine. I started with the large painting of the nude and cut various shapes out of it to suggest a landscape. The ‘sky ‘is also made up of paintings of nudes.

The ‘discoveries’ for me were the houses and churches silhouetted in the background- they were simply fantasized and cut out of the dark foreground of another painting. Also, the two houses and the paths in the foreground are from other paintings.

Painting more directly

February 13, 2013

Still life, slightly truer to colour then previously posted one

Still life, slightly truer to colour then previously posted one

I’d promised Kristina I’d post a new photo of the still life with colours closer to the original. The orange tones are less harsh in the painting than in the photo, and the contrasts a little less sudden.

Meanwhile, after spending hours on that one, I was kind of in between inspirations. In a book of Scottish art I ran across a painting that lit my lights by the colours used and the direct way of painting. When I was in Glasgow 2 years ago, I stumbled across an exhibition at the Hunterian Museum and Gallery, of the Scottish colourists featuring JD Ferguson and also showing works by Samuel Peploe and Ann Redpath..  I was breathless going from one painting to the other, they were so vivid and alive.

The painting I liked, ‘Tulips in the breeze’,by a contemporary Scottish painter named Shona Barr is below.

Shona Barrcopied from Bridgeman art.com

Shona Barr
copied from Bridgeman art

So using a recent photo of Rende’s, a large brush and a small canvas board (about 8″x 10″), I gave myself two ultimatums:

1 No going back and fixing things or blending too much

2 Complete the painting in one sitting.

I did ok- went back to fix an out of kilter oval, but basically stayed to the brief. I loved doing it and will be exploring this direct way of painting more.

Bottles Feb 2013

Bottles Feb 2013

The new Drents museum

February 2, 2013

20 minutes ride by train from Groningen (the northern Netherlands), is the small town of Assen. Recently they have built an addition to their beautiful historical and fine arts museum there. It is called the Drents Museum and I visited yesterday. There was so much to see, I’ll concentrate here just on the building, and talk about the exhibitions another time.

The old museum housed Dutch art from  1885-1935,as well as applied art and exhibitions featuring local history and collected  ceramics, textiles and porcelain. It has something of the flavour of the museums I love best in London like the Victoria & Albert Museum. the building is as much a work of art as what it holds. In the V&A sitting at the coffee shop, for instance, you can hardly stop feasting your eyes on the ceramic wall tiles and mosaics.

Here are a few pictures of the old building and it’s interior. You’ll notice that no new modern wing is visible to mar the historic appearance of the outside. How, then,  did they add the huge, spacious modern gallery spaces? You’ll see in a moment.

old museum building

Original museum building seen from the new garden

old section

old section

tiles in the hallways

tiles in the hallways

OK, here are some views of the inside of the new modern wing, designed by Erick van Egeraat.

I’m allergic to the White Cube Syndrome in modern museums, but even though there are some areas that threaten to succumb to that like the rest rooms, the main interior is exciting and welcoming.

And the new light, spacious, airy wing is all below ground level!

Look at the pictures above, where you see the skylights and vertical wooden beams in front of the windows, especially the close up with the partial moat outside the window. That is ground level. OK, here is how they did it.

The newly landscaped museum garden actually is a feature of the roof of the new wing.

In these pictures, I gradually moved closer to the skylight and eventually looked down into the gallery.

I can’t wait to see it in the spring when things are in bloom and filled out a bit. I love it.