Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sam Motherwell's Exhibition

In previous blogs I have spoken both of charcoal techniques and working “en plein air”.
In his new exhibition at the Barnabas Gallery in Cambridge, Sam Motherwell manages to combine the two. There are over 30 charcoal drawings done on the spot in Iceland, Scotland, Finland, India, Nambia, Spain , Egypt and Greece

Dr. Sam Motherwell

Done quickly, Sam’s drawings retain a freshness and spontaneity that can so easily be lost when using charcoal as a medium. He has a very individual style which reminds me of the work of Paul Hogarth. Like Sam, Hogarth worked almost exclusively in black and white, illustrating books by Brendan Behan and also those on his own travels around the world. Both artists balance line and mass, shift perspective and create almost abstract patterns out of everyday scenes and people.

Sam and Pat Motherwell chat to Colin Hayes at the Private View.

Other guests.
As well as showing Sam’s drawings, this exhibition offers the rare opportunity to view a working studio and print workshop, and to discuss other processes such as lithography, etching and linocut.

Sam’s studio within the St. Barnabas Press.
Sam Motherwell’s Exhibition runs from 25th April- 16th May at the Barnabas Gallery, Coldhans Road, Cambridge CB1 3EW. Mon-Frid. 10-6, Sat. 10-4
Also worth checking out is Sam’s recent publication – “Mill Road stories without words”. It is a book of 114 evocative linocuts of Mill Road, one of Cambridge’s most colourful streets.
Finally, Sam in flamboyant mode. Behind him, a portrait I painted last year as his term of office as the President of the Cambridge Drawing Society drew to a close.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Cambridge Drawing Society Exhibition

This last week, I have been wearing one of my other hats, namely that of Treasurer of the Cambridge Drawing Society.
Throughout the country, the Exhibition season is underway with artists rushing to finish and deliver paintings, and organizers trying to cope with all that involves.
Tuesday was the handing in day for the Cambridge Drawing Society. Wearing my “official” badge, and sitting behind the desk, I was able to observe the scene from a very different perspective. Amidst the sea of wrapping paper and bubble wrap, there were those who nervously handed over their works and fled as quickly as possible. There were those who saw it as a social occasion and wanted to chat with friends and officials, blissfully unawares of the queues building up behind. There were those who had followed all the instructions, filled in correctly the forms and labels, and there were those who had done none of it. There was the sound of snipping scissors and shouts for string and pens all adding to the general atmosphere and tension of “Sending in Day.”
Wednesday was the Selection Day, crunch time for all. It is the second year I have in my official capacity been witness to the procedure where all the paintings are brought before the Selection Committee for their decision. It is wholly democratic, with one man one vote, and everyone, whether they be President, Treasurer or Candidate must abide by the judgement, no matter how wrong or unjust we think it might be . Not for the faint hearted the inevitable rejection artists have to endure!

The Selection Committee at work.
Following over 3 hours of judging , the selected works are laid out ready for hanging. It is a time to see everything that has been accepted and to begin to get the feel of how the exhibition will look.

Time also for a brief lunch break!

In the afternoon, screens are erected and the process of hanging begins. This is an art in itself, balancing subject matter , colours and trying to ensure that every painting is seen to its best advantage, an almost impossible task with over 300 works on display. And there are , of course, good spots and bad spots within any exhibition area, so somebody is bound to be upset by where their work is hung!
The Private View looms. Activity becomes even more frantic as labels and catalogues are organized and food and wine “magically” appear.
The Private View took place yesterday evening and was very well attended.

Tania Verdejo, Andy Mc Kenzie and Karen Stamper.

Gavin Clark

Rachel Haynes and her pastel paintings.

Lynne Woodhams, a newly elected member.

Mrs. Gavin Clark.
Founded in 1882, the Cambridge Drawing Society is one of the oldest art societies in the country. Former members have included Cecil Beaton, Ronald Searle and Gwen Raverat. Despite its name, the Society encompasses all forms of artwork, from oils to acrylics, watercolour,gouache, pastel, linocut, etching , wood engraving and sculpture.
In this exhibition, I am showing two works.
The first is an oil portrait of Tony Langford, Managing Director of John Smedley Ltd. ( 2003-2009.)

The second, is a charcoal sketch of “Granny Mc Leod” a 94 year old Scottish lady of great character.

The Cambridge Drawing Society Annual Exhibition at the Guildhall runs from 25th April -2nd May and is open daily 10- 5.30

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pastel portraits

When I consider pastels, the words that leap to mind are, freshness, delicacy and spontaneity. It is the closest one can get to drawing and painting at the same time. They don’t require drying time , they don’t “sink” and the colours do not fade.( assuming you treat them carefully)
They have a relatively short history, being popularised in the 18th Century by artists like Quentin de la Tour, Perroneau and Chardin. In the nineteenth, Manet, Degas and Mary Cassatt were the leading proponents.
In this blog, I will demonstrate how I develop a pastel portrait and also show you a few other samples of my pastel work.

I work on tinted paper, the colour usually determined by the complexion, and character of the sitter. I initially block in with willow charcoal, trying to establish the likeness.
When fairly happy with that, I begin to apply colour.

I usually start with hard pastels, working boldly. It can be a little daunting, (particularly for the sitter), when this patchwork of bright colours appear. But I am thinking ahead, planning what I will overlay to modify them.

Here, I use a variety of techniques. I cross hatch, allowing the original colour to show through. At other times I apply solid pigment and blend with either my fingers, a torchon or soft cloth. As you will see I am now introducing a background, earring and jumper.

The process continues as I modify and adjust the colours and tighten up on the accuracy of my drawing.

” Mrs. Pat Motherwell”
In this final stage, I added stronger highlights and reflected lights on the nose, a bit more detail in the hair, and more modelling on the chin and neck. All that remains is to finish the jumper and necklace.
The following are pastel demonstrations or sketches I have done, usually in about an hour.

“The Commander"

“Young girl”

Pastels are also lovely to use for life drawing

Or, as I demonstrated in an earlier blog, for landscape also.

” Kirkcudbright Harbour”. A pastel drawing of Kirkcudbright Harbour. I did this as a short demonstration in the pastel medium for the group who came on one of our Painting Holidays in the town.
Tips. I use a combination of both hard and soft pastels. The general principal is that the soft are applied over the hard. Any areas, like the eyes where I need a fair amount of precision, I will use only hard pastels, pastel pencils, or conte chalks.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Video of Painting Holiday

Some while ago, Philip put up a video of one of our painting holidays on YouTube. It occurred to me that those of you who had not seen it would like to take a look.Certainly it shows the sort of things we enjoy on our painting holidays in Menorca. I’m seen slaving away over a hot easel – oh yes, the weather is usually pleasantly warm in Menorca when we are there. If you are wondering what the TV crew is doing in some of the shots, they were filming a piece for the local news channel. We were famous! Anyway, enjoy the video and we’d love to see you on one of our holidays very soon.