Jed goes West
I worked in San Francisco long, long ago so it was interesting to note the small changes in California life, rather than the big changes in the White House.
Cash has disappeared - even the smallest purchase is now on the contact credit card (no pin number - you are supposed to sign the receipt).
Watching American TV would turn you into a hypochondriac - all the commercials seem to be for over-the-counter medicines "but talk to your Doctor before taking"
SFMOMA is Modern Art West Coast and I spent a few puzzled hours trying to work out what the exhibits were all about - they were certainly not art as I know it, dramatic ideas rather than performance: Robert Rauchenberg took a de Kooning drawing and erased it almost completely displaying the result as "The erased drawing of de Kooning"
The next gallery contained a room-sized vat of bubbling mud - and so on and on it went.
My friends were producing happier work that I think you would like - Kate Solari Baker -images of the varying seasons in Napa Valley vineyards.
Mik Katagawa - figure sculptures like the one below that Degas would have loved.
And me? I did some drawings of the Half Moon Jazz Band at Moss Beach ...
... and the wonderful Davenport Landing on the Pacific Coast where the whales were spouting just off shore. Also - love the warning sign on the beach.
But a little sad news to keep our feet firmly on the ground: Stamford University Press decided not to go ahead with an American version of my book (damn!)
Jed April 2018
The Moor Otter Project
If you or your family and friends travelled around Dartmoor last summer,
you may have seen large sculptures of otters, displayed on plinths, which were painted by 100 British artists. Some of these were painted in a humorous way, such as Jailbird Otter’ and ‘Elementary my Dear Otter’ whilst other artists produced romantic paintings of Dartmoor. The idea behind the project was twofold. First to encourage children, with their families or teachers to explore the Dartmoor National Park, but also to raise money to train young rangers and continue the conservation work of the moor.
Alan Cotton, our President, was asked to select 30 ‘Golden Artists’, whose work was auctioned at Bearnes, Hampton and Littlewood. The remaining 70 were sold at an online auction and as a result we were able to hand over a cheque for £100,000 to the Dartmoor National Park Trust.
The Park Authorities said that the whole event was an overwhelming success from every point of view, with a 25% increase in visitors to the moor during the summer months.
Following the success of the Moor Otters,
a similar project will be staged in
‘Tarka Country’ in North Devon.
This will be to raise money for
Children’s Hospice South West where
Alan is their Patron of ‘Art For Life’.
Plans are at an early stage so we will keep you posted about when the Otters will be exhibited throughout North Devon.
Thelma Hulbert Gallery Charity Exhibition and Auction
of which Alan Cotton is Patron, is being held in Honiton on March 2nd. They are working to raise money to employ an Admiral Nurse for East Devon and below is the text of Alan's Foreword to the catalogue, which will be out shortly and give you some background to the work that they do.
The aim of this exhibition and auction of donated paintings by well known artists is to raise funds for an Admiral Nurse for the Honiton area. Most people will have known someone amongst friends and family who has suffered from dementia, and those who have had a loved one suffering from this cruel illness will know the daily strain of caring. We ourselves remember when my wife’ Tricia’s Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers and it was heartbreaking to watch the person we knew and loved disappear, yet still be with us. However much family and friends want to help, they often simply don’t know how best to do it and some even shy away, just not able to cope..
An Admiral Nurse provides that specialist support, in so many ways to carers and those suffering from dementia .. They have skills to help you stay connected with the person you love. If someone with dementia is fearful or distressed they know how to help the carer manage this, or if a family is simply not coping, they will sort out problems and know where to go to arrange additional support. They give real practical help, in the home on a regular basis..
In raising funds to support an Admiral Nurse it has been heart-warming to see how many people have come forward to help. As Heather Penwarden mentioned in a report in the Midweek Herald, many groups and individuals have already engaged in activities to fund raise for this cause. I would like to personally give a big thank you to all the artists – almost 50 of them, who are so frequently asked to donate paintings for charity auctions, and who have once more produced this amazing exhibition to support such an important cause.
The Thelma Hulbert Gallery also deserves a huge thank you, for not only giving the town a first class exhibiting space and craft workshops, but for opening up the gallery for fundraising events and it is thanks to the staff and supporting teams that we have this exhibition, followed by the auction which will take place on 2nd March. Thanks also to East Devon District Council and other organisations, who recognise the value of the THG and give their financial support. It has been a pleasure once again to work with such an enthusiastic and organised team. My thanks to everyone on the committee who has worked so hard to make this the success I am sure it will be
Now I hope that the general public will add their support, by not only coming along to see the exhibition, but by giving us a packed auction room on 2nd March and record breaking bids to give Honiton the Admiral Nurse it so needs and richly deserves
Alan Cotton D.Litt, FRSA, Hon SWAc Patron of the Exhibition and Auction.
Quick on The Draw
Over the Christmas and New Year holiday I came across this website about an artist from Oregon, US, called Cathleen Rehfeld. http://crehfeld.blogspot.co.uk
Do take a look if you have a moment to spare – her paintings are full of vitality, colour, bold brushwork and an absolute joy of rendering images quickly and accurately. Her subject matter is – well, everything really - and she paints daily, any subject that excites her.
I just love her brushwork and the confidence borne of what I think is a sound knowledge of underlying draughtsmanship. Scroll down the subjects listed at the lower right hand side of her blog page – lots of ideas that show how just about anything can be interpreted into a glorious painting.
We might try a Club session of speed painting – anyone up for that?
John W. January 2018
Albert or Marilyn?
This picture is a well known optical illusion. It is both a picture of Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe depending on how far away the viewer stands from the picture. You can try it yourself: if you get back from your screen, you will see Marilyn Monroe slowly emerging.
When looking at a person from about fifteen feet, the face is still recognisable but details like eyebrow hairs, wrinkles and small moles are much less visible. This is why the photograph looks like a youngish Marilyn Monroe at a distance – we see no wrinkles or blemishes. Close up, we see various lines denoting Einstein’s eyebrows, nose and moustache and wrinkles, especially about the eyes.
If you still can't quite see the transformation, try squinting at the image... Marilyn should appear as if by magic!
I actually have no idea how this really works or indeed who thought to construct it in the first place - it's just amazing though. Any one else have similar optical illusions?
We're looking for a short item after the season's celebrations to
start the new year with a blog.
If you have an art-related story, a painting, pastel, sketch or other artwork that you've seen or created and you think other members might be interested to hear about it, please e-mail John Washington - address in the members area.
We're getting a lot of hits on our website and people are always keen to hear about members' experiences and creative work in our blog section.
BACK TO THE '40s
and rekindling happy memories
Julie Bingham’s Blog
I recently came across an old monochrome photo which belonged to my mother and
was taken in 1942 during the War. It’s a photo of four ladies, including my mother Jean
and my twin brother’s Godmother Joan, who is still alive and lives in a nursing home
with her husband in Sidmouth.
I love this photo as it appears to be a time of happiness during what was an awful time, particularly in London where they lived. I know that three of the ladies, including my mother, were secretaries in a large factory in Wandsworth which made engineering components for the war effort. I remember my mother telling me that when the air raid siren went off
they often had to take their typewriters to the underground nearby to finish off their work for the day.
I imagine that this photo was taken on a Sunday and I know it was taken in the beautiful grounds of a large estate near Wimbledon owned by an Italian Count and Joan was due to marry the butler’s son, John the following year. Apparently the Countess invited them to come and have afternoon tea and pick flowers in their lovely garden.
I was so inspired to paint this picture
which I've now finished and you can see below.
You will see that I have captured the essence of that day and have not captured them individually. In fact I really struggled with the second lady on the rhs because I didn't get her position correctly at the beginning. I never draw but go straight in with my palette knife and brush. I’m happy with it although it could be much better.
This Christmas I plan to give this painting to Joan and John, which I hope they will enjoy.
An Autumn blog
on the progress of a portrait
from John Washington
For those who attended November’s visit to the BP Portrait Award at RAMM, and indeed for other members and friends, I thought it might be interesting for the Club to follow progress online of a portrait of one of our members.
I should emphasise that I’m not a professional artist and there will be all sorts of issues along the way so I can only hope that the end result does some justice to the likeness and character of the subject, Alan Emery.
Remember, there are as many techniques for painting a portrait as there are portrait painters so this is simply one of the ways that suits me, in particular for this project.
Following an initial chat to establish how and where to paint Alan, we agreed that the best place would be at home in his study, surrounded by pertinent objects as clues to his professional life and interests. Dressed casually in sweater and cords, Alan was very patient while I spent a morning sketching him in different positions and arranging the background to work as a satisfying composition.
I chose a 20”x16” canvas board to work on using a limited repertoire of Winton oil paints. Yellow ochre, vermillion, ultramarine and cerulean blue, burnt sienna, black and of course, white. For dilution and cleansing purposes I like pure turpentine and Liquin. And lots of rags.
To start with I laid down a rough, pale yellow ochre wash so that I have a colour base to work on. Frankly, I don’t much like painting directly on to a white background – a bit cold and daunting in my view (and frankly, I need all the help I can get!). Also the ochre gives an immediate warmth which I hope will come through in the finished painting.
Following this, I started drawing out the basics to ensure the composition would work with all the elements in place.
I prefer to paint initially with broad brush strokes using at least a number 8, stiff hog hair brush. It helps to get shape, light and shade down as quickly as possible as a basis from which to work. My brush size will decrease, the further into the details I get, probably going down to a number 2 which will give me a fine point for more intricate work.
You will see that I’ve started with the head albeit only very rough, just so that I’m happy I'll be able to achieve some sort of likeness. Having done this, I’m a bit more confident that I can move on and start to introduce other elements – his sweater, the chair on which he’s sitting and eventually other parts of the background.
On to some detail. Alan's work has centred around research and teaching and he's written many, many scientific papers on medical genetics. The microscope has played an essential part in all this and one of his beloved originals is a permanent feature in his study. Being a scientific instrument, I wanted to ensure that the basic details were correct so although it certainly won't be a technical illustration, the construction is essentially sound.
Also he has a small bust of Socrates reflecting his interest in ancient Greece so this forms an important ingredient of the portrait.
You'll see from the following pictures how I’m working on the background in stages to ensure it blends and becomes part of the painting. I start off by just what you might call ‘roughly knocking it in’ and then I'll add further detail at a later stage.
Eventually I'll have the entire canvas board covered with sufficient information to enable me to put in some finer detail where appropriate. Having said this, I’m not a great enthusiast for photo-realism so I want to retain a degree of painterliness (if that’s a word) in the finished portrait. In my view it encourages the viewer to use his or her imagination to complete their own interpretation and suggest the character of the subject which of course is vital if the portrait is in any way going to be successful.
At this stage I think should 'fess up and admit that for the background details like the microscope, books and finer points of his likeness I’m using photographic reference – Alan’s time and availability is of course limited so using the camera I can progress without having to impose on his time and goodwill. That is unless and until it’s vital at a later stage when we’re nearing completion.
Now the background is starting to come together and the next stage will be to put in a bit more detail work – but only where I feel it’s necessary. There’s a balance to be struck and I don’t want what’s behind Alan to detract from his portrait. For example, the books will only have an indication of a title apart from two that are featured as examples of his interests in art and poetry.
When this is done and the paint has more or less dried, I shall then use glazes to blend and unite him with the background. This simply means diluting a chosen colour with turpentine and Liquin to an almost colourless fluid consistency and floating it over the areas that require this. Sometimes it’s useful to use the technique on skin tones as it generates a sort of living glow to bring it to life. And if you mix it thinly, you can lay this on in stages until you achieve the density of tone you want.
Well, it’s finally there. I’m happy that the tonal and colour balance between the figure and the background is now ok and the glazes have helped them to blend and work together. The painting has now dried sufficiently for me to varnish the surface and this should take just a day or so to harden.
The painting and the varnish dried nice and quickly so it’s been to Talisman for some expert framing. I chose a wide, matt black frame with fine, gold, inner brush lines to reflect the warm colours in the composition. Just picked it up so this afternoon I shall deliver it to Alan and Marcia. If you thought portrait painting was difficult, waiting for that first reaction from the subject is really worrying. Just hope he likes it – otherwise it’s back to the drawing board. Only kidding – I hope it’s not that bad! So here’s the finished portrait – it’s taken a while and there have been quite a few corrections along the way but as far as I can be, I’m happy with the result.
That completes this blog and I hope you've found it interesting. If you have a painting, drawing , sketch, a favourite artist or an exhibition you've recently enjoyed, please share it with members. Anything art-related that you think would be of interest, simply e-mail me - details in the Members section - and we'll do what we can to get it posted on the blog.
Enjoy your painting