Is it a painting of an object or a “painting”

I recently attended the last of three “Alumni” days at West Dean College.  There were 13 students all working on their own projects and two tutors were on hand to guide and support us in our work.  My passion is for found objects but I struggle with how to move them on in an artistic way when I consider them to be beautiful in their own right.

A year or so ago, I found a strip of seaworn rubber on the beach:

Seatown - rubber 1 Continue reading “Is it a painting of an object or a “painting””

Candida Stevens Gallery, Chichester

In a word – GO!!  The Candida Stevens Gallery is at 12 Northgate, Chichester, West Sussex PO19 1BA (near the roundabout with the fire station) and is open Wednesday – Saturday 10 – 5pm and by appointment until 7th July.  The current exhibition is “Geology of Landscape” showing a range of paintings and Intaglio monoprints by the wonderful Jeremy Gardiner.

You can read more about him on his website but here is an introduction from it: “Jeremy Gardiner’s artistic excavation of the geology of landscape is shaped both by human activity and by the forces of nature. Gardiner interprets, through his painting and printmaking, a variety of landscapes that contain the marks and secrets of their own distant formation, giving them a unique, contemporary depth and beauty. His artistic exploration has taken him from the Jurassic Coast of Dorset to the rugged coast of Cornwall, the Oceanic islands of Brazil, the arid beauty of the island of Milos in Greece and more recently the Lake District and its numerous waterfalls.

Gardiner’s spatially probing and texturally explicit pictures creatively transform the lessons learnt from pioneering modern British landscape painters such as John Tunnard, Ben Nicholson, Peter Lanyon and the American artist Richard Diebenkorn.

Jeremy Gardiner is a graduate of Newcastle University and the Royal College of Art. He exhibits regularly with Paisnel Gallery in St James’s, London. His paintings have been exhibited in Europe, the USA, South America, Japan, Australia and China. He has won numerous awards throughout his career including a Churchill Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a Harkness Fellowship. Gardiner’s paintings are represented in public and corporate collections including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Government Art Collection, BNP Paribas, Vincent Masons and Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi.”

I have his book “Unfolding Landscape” and “Pillars of Light” should arrive today.  But, the books cannot do justice to his work – you really do need to see the paintings in real life to appreciate the depth and texture in his work.  Here is one of my favourites –

Golden Cap, Dorset by Jeremy Gardiner

“Golden Cap, Dorset, 2007” – acrylic and jesmonite on birch panel.

Those who know me will understand my love of textured paintings and Jeremy’s use of layers built up out of  acrylic and wood relief or acrylic and/or watercolour and Jesmonite on wood panel in sculptural waves and ridges is very exciting.  He often works on wooden panels which are not driftwood but feel as if they might be and if you watch the videos on his website you can see how a blowtorch and a chisel help him create the lovely surfaces.   Recognisable features of the coast are part of a complex unification of shapes and textures and sometimes there are lovely details of buildings amongst the curves and sweeps of landscape.  Here are a couple more examples:

“Against the Light, Trevose Head, Cornwall, 2016” Acrylic and Jesmonite on poplar panel

Image result for jeremy gardiner pendeen sheer cliffs

“Sheer Cliffs, Pendeen Lighthouse, 2011” – acrylic and jesmonite on poplar panel

I understand that Jeremy’s next project will be Sussex so I look forward to seeing his new work in due course – please go and be inspired – prices from £1,750.

All images produced with the kind permission of Jeremy Gardiner.

Playing with Scale

I have recently attended a couple of Alumi days at West Dean College.  They have been excellent – two tutors Kate Boucher and Mark Anstee have guided, assisted and otherwise inspire a group of us whilst we work on our own projects.  The day starts with a statement of intention and closes with a look at how each of us have got on achieving those objectives – a great opportunity to work with a group of like minded people all working on different projects in different ways.  I hope that we have many more opportunities to do this at West Dean.

I have already posted about the first of these days.  On the second day, I wanted to explore gesso so started by preparing a host of postcards by adding gesso.  This was either left to dry or was scratched and scraped into first.  Once day, I added ink and wax and scraped and scratched some more.  Here is an example of the outcome:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt the end of the day, I was set two challenges – firstly, to try (for the first time) working with oil paint and the other was to think about working both very small and very large.

I decided to start with very small and an idea was borne!  Next year my husband and I will exhibit at the Oxmarket Gallery in Chichester.  As he is a photographer, I decided to set about creating a body of work responding to his photography by working in my own way using mixed media but utilising photographic equipment.  To date, I have acquired two ancient cameras (the box brownie brings back childhood memories!), a hundred plastic slides, several hundred slide holders and some lovely vintage spools.  Paper slide cases are on order and I shall have fun deciding how best to work with all of these.  Whilst the objects are not found, I like the ethos of re-using vintage items in a new way.  Here is a taster of what I have in mind:

I am creating a quantity of similar pieces to display in groups.

The next challenge – oils.  I have just three tubes of oil paint and some cold wax medium. Should be fun!

I plan to experiment with working big at College in July.

A few days in Eastbourne

Last week I did a second course with Debbie Lyddon.  I have long admired Debbie’s work and when I spotted a course with her, I jumped at the chance – twice!  I blogged earlier about the Winchester course so here is a little more about the course at Studio 11 (an excellent place run by Christine Chester right near the railway station in the town.  I would heartily recommend all concerned – Debbie was very generous in sharing her knowledge and Christine provided excellent lunches and all day drinks and biscuits and the studio has just about everything there for you to make use of if you have not managed to bring the kitchen sink with you to the course!

The first thing we did was to take a trip to Birling Gap.

Chalk two ways
Birling Gap chalk

We took 10 minutes just to sit and take in the view, the atmosphere, and to look around at the cliffs, the shore and the sea.  We then spent an hour walking and collecting things that caught our interest.  I am always one for found man-made objects so was delighted to find a “rock-hopper” on the shore, and a special one at that!  I also collected an Evian rubber stopper and a couple of stones of particular merit, together with some dried seaweed, a piece of twine, a piece of fossilised wood and a lump of chalk.  These items were to form the basis of the course.

Back at the studio, we made sketchbooks and drew our chosen items first thinking about texture and then form. From our drawings, we then made a paper model of our favourite drawing.

 

The next step was to render the model in fabric.  I have yet to complete my Rock Hopper work but watch this space.

Debbie also taught us how to make vessels from fabric, rendering them firm enough to stand alone using home made gesso (from the chalk we had collected) and wax.  On the last afternoon, we returned to Birling Gap to photograph our makes in the place of their birth!

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My gesso vessel
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My three wax vessels
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Vessels in situ

Dungeness – Britain’s only desert

Dungeness, at the Southernmost point of Kent, is unique – no boundaries, a desolate landscape with wooden houses, power stations, lighthouses and expansive gravel pits. Yet it possesses a rich and diverse wildlife within the National Nature Reserve in one of the largest shingle landscapes in the world.Dungeness has been designated as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). It is home to 600 species of plants which is a third of all plants found in the UK. The National Nature Reserve stretches across Dungeness to encompass the vast RSPB reserve and is intended to help protect the landscape and its wildlife.

My husband and I visited for the first time recently and it is an extraordinary place.  As the introduction above states, it is desolate.  We were only there for a few hours and will return without our dog so that we can explore the RSPB reserve and spend more time walking.  Even if you were only to stay for 5 minutes you would be struck by what a special place this is and I urge you to visit NOW before the changes that are starting get a real grip.

The contrast between the decommissioned nuclear power station and the beautiful flora and fauna is quite shocking. The windswept 468-acre estate, on Romney Marsh,  has just 22 properties, mostly converted railway cottages, which are largely owned by fishermen. But change is happening – some of the old wooden property is being replaced by  mini “Grand Design” houses.  Although the new properties are fitting in well, being a modern version of their predecessors and remaining low-key and modest, I could not help but wonder if the replacements are owned by second home owners.  As the owner of two holiday cottages, I cannot be so hypocritical as to condemn this but, in such a small community, I feel that even a few holiday homes would have a massive impact.   I note that when the estate was put up for sale in 2015 at £1.5m, the agent said: “It has considerable potential for increased income from tourism on top of the substantial income it already produces.”  It is now owned by EDF Energy and a quick search today found 7 holiday homes there.

Before, During and After ….

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Flattened
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A new build in progress
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Grand Design

Having said that, Dungeness is far from ruined and there are few outlets for the tourist to spend his money.  Long may it stay that way!  So go, take it in, draw, paint, walk, photograph, and enjoy … while you can!

With apologies to my husband, Alan, I could not resist turning a few images into black and white – it so suits the place!