30 June 2014

The importance of green

Monday miscellany

An artist who embroiders obituaries - Christine da Cruz also commemorated the writer of Elizabeth Taylor's obit, who had died six years before Taylor; his work was "too good to throw away" said the editor.


Spot the cookie alert -
IanVisits, source of many things to do in London, has had a thought about these alerts, which EU legislation (bless 'em) requires websites to display. Along the way, it's interesting to note that the shade of blue affects click rates: a slightly purpler shade is more conducive to clicking than a slightly greener shade ... to the tune of an annual $200m of ad revenue to Google.


The annual pavilion at the Serpentine Gallery is now open - see pix here (or here, the source of this one). But don't let the pix put you off - these pavilions have to be experienced ... it's all about moving round in the space.

"To see things properly, it is not enough simply to look. People who look at life - purely as witnesses, spectators - are not rare; and one of the strangest lessons to be learnt from our literature is that professional spectators, judges by vocation and witnesses by predestination, contemplate life with less understanding and grasp of its rich content than anyone else. There really is no substitution for participation!" - a quote from space-theorist Henri Lefebvre


I've been enjoying The Londonist's podcasts, which are about an hour long. Great listening when you're resizing etc pix for the web. This week’s guest is David Mantero, who works for one of London’s oldest map-sellers, Stanfords in Covent Garden (where you can walk over London - or the world - on different floors), established in 1853; he's talking about the history of the firm, monopolies, Michael Palin, and the threat of Google maps.


For a summer's day - a walking tour of gardens/parks within the Square Mile


"Quentin Blake: Inside Stories runs at House of Illustration 2 July-2 November 2014. Tickets are £7 (adult) or £4 child, and must be bought in advance from here."

"MUST be bought in advance" online - ? You can't just turn up and get a ticket at the gallery?

With an imperative like that - with such need for planning - would you bother to go at all?

29 June 2014

RA Schools exhibition

A few things that caught the camera's eye...
Hold by Ariane Schick ("Hole, plexiglas pole") - and a bit of the corridor

Hold from the other side
Monotypes by Aimee Parrott (and note the many-times-painted floor)

Untitled by Daniel Lipp

Two interspersed works by Natalie Dray - Zone Heater and 6 Sheets

This sound sculpture by Hannah Perry is a shivering mirror

Paintings by Alex Clarke

It's done with mirrors, and louvres ... captivating ... Ariane Schick again
From the outside, the studios look like garden sheds; they're tucked away behind the main RA building
Students in the postgraduate course at the Royal Academy are there for three years - less than 20 are selected each year from about 1000 applications. 

In my concurrent post on Ragged Cloth Cafe you can read about the education of women artists in Britain, in relation to the history of the Royal Academy. The first woman slipped in (almost) unnoticed - L. Herford turned out to be Laura, not Lawrence. The year was 1860 ... and fairly soon, women outnumbered men at the RA Schools. So, what happened to the men....

28 June 2014

Daily painting project continues

... with just the one painting at the moment - and that singularity is a good thing (for now). I'm still channelling Bridget Riley* ... and through the ever-changing juxtaposition of colours, information about interactions is trickling into my subconscious. 

The painting process with the ever-changing stripes is about making bad choices and then being courageous and being patient, and redeeming the picture through adding unexpected colours and carrying on with more till it looks better - and it's about repeating that circular process with the next bad choice ("fail again, fail better").
Using a picture of a print by Gillian Ayres as source for choosing colours
Using the "colour dictionary" as a source for choosing today's colour
"Joke blue" and "ledger magenta" have been added, as have some more narrow stripes
However this fascination means I'm not following one of my rules - to try different things. Here are some possibilities for different things to try -
Wild strokes and zingy colours - but where, how to start?
(By Jesse Willenbring, via)

Sparse shapes, clean edges, patterning; different formats
(Pink Plant With Shadow #1 by Jonas Wood, via)
Painterly marks and brushstrokes
(Artist and title not given; via)
Denser, varied patterning; contrast of shape; letting the background show through
(Veilles maisons sur le bassin de Honfleur by Raoul Dufy, 1906; via)
What's needed is another kind of subject matter for a new evolving painting ... or a theme for a series - this is meant to go on for a year, after all. 

My hurried attempt with unfurling peonies from a bouquet of buds fizzled out when I missed some of the stages of their unfolding -

but it got me looking at "pink" more carefully, and using brushes in different ways. 

*Bridget Riley has a show in London (till 25 July) - on three floors of a gracious old building, it includes some of her "working drawings" as well as large paintings spanning her career. 

Experiencing the large paintings face-to-face is very different from seeing them in books or on screen - at different distances, the colours have strange effects. All of which has been carefully worked out via the drawings, and then painted by studio assistants. 

In a 2009 essay on her work and process in "The Eye's Mind" she says: "Although careful never to presume 'to know' what the pictorial elements would do in a particular situation, I began to feel that experience was fuelling my enquiry and that, whether I felt prepared to make some advance - or not - I had no choice but to do so." and "You cannot deal with thought directly outside practice as a painter: 'doing' is essential in order to find out what form your thought takes."

Previous incarnations of the stripey painting were shown on 10 May,  31 May, and 21 June.

27 June 2014

Seen at Sotheby's

Going, going, gone at the Modern and Impressionist Art sale, 24 June ... which brought in a sale total of £23,177,550 (if you're interested in those sorts of numbers).

Sotheby's comprehensive website has auction results and, via the listing for the auction, catalogues of current and previous sales, with lots of clicking options and information - as well as a gallery of current and past exhibitions. Many of these works will disappear, or have already, into bank vaults, so it's wonderful to be able to browse through them with just a few clicks.

I was interested in the framing as well as the works themselves. 
Casino de Nice by Raoul Dufy, c.1930
Dufy made many images of the casino

Drawings by Henry Moore

A  gorgeous Kandinsky (title etc not noted)

Dunes by Lyonel Feininger, 1949
It previously came up for sale in 2008

Maurice de Vlaminck, Les bateaux de voile a Poissy, 1909

Max Ernst, Configuration, 1974

Joan Miro, drawing for Ubu Roi, c.1953
Wax crayon, brush, ink ... and you can just about see the collage

A luminous Chagall, Coq rouge dans la nuit, 1944
It sold for £1.87m

Paul Klee, Blumen-Pfannen I, 1939

An "achrome" by Piero Manzoni  (kaolin on sewn canvas)
My favourite of the day - cloth covered with clay!

A little monotype by Oskar Schlemmer

L'ecole maternelle, 1954, by Tsuguharu Foujita
The print catalogue for this sale is available at sothebys.com/pdf/2014/L14007/index.html, to be clicked through page by page. Here's an example of what you'll see -

26 June 2014

Poetry Thursday - I Will Keep Broken Things by Alice Walker

I Will Keep Broken Things

I will keep
The big clay
With raised
Of their


I will keep
The old
To my

By Mississippi
A jagged
In its sturdy

I will keep
The memory

I will keep
In my house

On which
I will

Their beauty

I will keep
It is now

I will keep

Thank you
So much!

I will keep

I will keep


I will keep

Alice Walker (via poemhunter)
After seeing the broken mirror on the street, I had to find a "broken" poem - and am doubly glad to find this one: for itself, and for the encounter with other poems that Alice Walker (b.1944) has written. (To an editor, it's a treat to find a poem that mentions the importance of commas!)
"Walker has been an activist all of her adult life, and believes that learning to extend the range of our compassion is activity and work available to all," says the official website. She is "an internationally celebrated author, poet and activist whose books include seven novels, four collections of short stories, four children’s books, and volumes of essays and poetry. She’s best known for The Color Purple, the 1983 novel for which she won the Pulitzer Prize."
She writes regularly on her blog site at alicewalkersgarden.com.

25 June 2014

Mud and sky and art and life

Kathy has written about a "personal museum" resulting from the collection of mud from various places, as souvenirs of travel.
Kentucky mud (via)
The samples bring to mind the student at the Royal College of Art whose degree show (in the 90s I think) included a montage of photographs of the same patch of sky, taken every day at the same time. This was in the days before digital photography, and what with the variations in processing the films, as well as in the sky itself, the colours ranged from brown to green to grey to blueish. Most colour films are notorious for not being able to deal with the colour blue. The more you think about it, the better this simple little project is.
These are not the sky pictures I remember from
last century; these are by Lonnie Dean, 2011(via)
First question - were the photos really taken every day? Can we believe the student, or anyone who commits to a "daily" project? ......and, does it really matter?

As for colour photography - my own (digital) photos of my stripey painting show how treacherous the camera, or the light, is; how fickle and fugitive the "real" colours. There is simply no consistency from day to day. 

The thing that interests me at the moment is the trigger for these sustained projects (let's call them practices) - whether daily or tied to some other kind of repetition like visiting a new place. Use of mud as pigment is definitely an art practice; collecting tickets during travel might be; writing a travel journal, would you classify that as an art practice? Do they nudge at the border between art and life, or is art life and life art, sometimes or all of the time? What do you do with the collection once you have it... is collecting an art? ... are days a collection, or is the collection the detritus of the lived days, the outcome of the repeated action?

Oh, and ... when is a habit a "practice" ... and how does (daily) art practice become a habit? Is it a good thing to have habits in art, do they detract from the process of challenge and response that is the core of "doing art", or do they free the mind for clearer focus? Too many generalities ... too many questions!

Large sketchbook class - week 7

One evening instead of watching the football I spent a happy time working on the sketchbook, adding lines and shapes here and there, and painting the back of the "template" page in hopes that the colour would reflect onto the white paper beneath. It does, to some extent, when the page is turned -
Mostly it shows through the thin photocopy paper  -
To try to prevent blobs appearing I closed the holes with masking tape and tried out this improvised technique on an "unwanted" photocopy, which is currently on a blank page -
and used the painting idea again on another photocopy (its imagery extended to fill the page during my football-avoidance session) -
by painting on the back of the previous page. The pages will be glued together and the painting will be hidden, apart from the glimpses of colour -
The additional pages fold out to give three-page spreads and four-page spreads. They make the sketchbook into a labyrinth of sorts. Or is it a landscape with changing vistas? Or simply ... a playground.

These images from the Museum of Childhood - shadows and reflections through and behind perspex plinths -
are "sister images" to the flaps cut through a page, which were based on the plinths in the cast court. I'd intended to work with the dark and light rectangles on new pages, but got carried away by other things in class - painting the page of stuck-down "bits" white, for instance, and cutting further flaps in an earlier page, which folds out and then folds back on itself -

 The pieces of masking tape, reused after the painting of the template page, might migrate to the "white" pages, which hold shapes cut when a newspaper was used as a cutting mat. Possibilities that result from accidents - creative potential...  The masking tape on the page that was painted black was re-used on the page that already had some tape. I still have several "negative" pages from which shapes have been cut - they might be useful...

The cut-through pages make lovely shadows as they are turned -
Developments in some of the other sketchbooks -

(Earlier posts: week 1, weeks 2&3, week 4, weeks 5&6; two more classes to come, by which the sketchbook could or should be full.)

(This post is part of Off the Wall Friday.)