2015 Diary

w/c 7th DECEMBER:

Bit of a hiatus in outings but I made it to the latest set of exhibitions at Pallant House Gallery. David Jones‘ amazing inscriptions in watercolour on Chinese White were so beautiful and I found his engravings very strong. A variety of his work can be seen in the film on the gallery site. I admired the quiet humour and skill in Evelyn Dunbar’s ‘lost’ paintings too. The weather ignored the forecast and the showers had run together into steady rain by the time I set off for my intended walk. But driving through the woods on country roads in West Sussex was like going through a David Jones’ watercolour painting – rather grey background, dead, brown bracken and weeds and dull green trees.

I went to the latest exhibitions at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings. The gallery is always worth a visit and I was pleased to see most of the pictures from Kettle’s Yard again. Winifred Nicholson’s Daffodils and Hyacinths in a Norman Window is so charming. It is far more intense colour than this photo. An extraordinary glasshouse made of salvaged bits of old stained glass windows stood outside in the courtyard. Although the concept was ‘unusual’, the colours were rich. (It brought to mind the strange events in Oscar and Lucinda if only because of its contrariness.)

w/c 26th OCTOBER:

Amazing autumnal London day – the best sort with clear blue sky, very gentle breeze riffling through the dry fallen leaves, and a beautiful light. I went to Tate Britain in time for one of the free guided talks on a few of the Victorian paintings. What the youngster in the group made of the interpretation of the symbols for fallen women, death, facial features, flowers etc., I can’t imagine – but the speaker was both entertaining and informative for the rest of us! Then I went to the Frank Auerbach exhibition. Although I went in the spirit of ‘you should look at pictures in the flesh that you tend to criticise in books’, I was completely bowled over by the amazing colour of the earlier paintings in particular. Also with two big portraits in black and white on paper with charcoal, patches, and watercolour. Very powerful. Sadly there isn’t one in the pictures on the link. Cliff Holden (mentioned in my last post) belonged to the Borough Group along with Auerbach and others, but there was a rift between them long ago.

Then I walked through the streets of Westminster and across St. James’ Park to the Royal Academy to see the Ai WeiWei exhibition again plus the free audio commentary.   (Free to me – though the attendant was keen to point out that it wasn’t free but had been paid for?!) This made the items that were discussed much more interesting.

w/c 5th OCTOBER!:

Whoops! Time has been passing me by. I have done a first whiz round the Ai WeiWei at the RA  and caught the last day of some wonderful stuff by Anthony Gilbert.   On a beautiful autumn day I went from one delight to another in a very small area: a few works by Terry Frost and a whole gallery full of fantastic examples of the linocut by the star practitioner Sybil Andrews and then beautiful mixed media paintings by Kurt Jackson. At Waterhouse & Dodd I saw a great collection of paintings from the Borough Group including one by Cliff Holden.

(Rather like the song I’ve danced with a man…, I went to a workshop with Gary Ratushniak who was a student of Sybil Andrews and spent an extraordinary time painting under the eye of Cliff Holden in Sweden many years ago. Maybe a few glimmers of stardust rubbed off on me?!)

Continuing with online courses including fingerpainting (!) and word play. Had one of my pictures on show in the studio at Pallant House Gallery and now the autumn-Christmas round of exhibitions has begun so will be exhibiting more of my work around and about.

w/c 10th August:

Continuing with Carla Sonheim’s courses. Followed the Kids’ Art Week and posted my efforts on my language blog.

Up to Lesson 15 on Year of the Spark and had to do a large painting based on a child’s drawing. Have to say the child’s drawing was impossible to compete with – such a beautiful contrast of waiting and movement in it! Here they are:

child's drawing of figures
child’s drawing
based on child drawing of figures
Walking the dog

Otherwise, I have just revisited many of the London exhibitions mentioned below – such good stuff and some will close soon.

w/c 13th July:

Went to one of the most fascinating exhibitions I’ve ever been to of Joseph Cornell’s work. Incredible life story and the amazing things he made showing the knowledge he’d acquired in his home town. Follow the link for more information. I remembered painting and filling the glass-fronted IKEA boxes below several years ago for an exhibition of my own work. They are 12×8.5×3 inches. Nothing like the scholarship of Cornell’s work but fun to do.

Got to Tate Britain to see the Barbara Hepworth exhibition. I loved the figurative work in wood and some wonderful abstract bronzes. Alongside the pieces by her were small sculptures by others and many paintings by Ben Nicolson. I did some iPad sketching.

Colour notes on Ben Nicolson painting
rough sketch of Ben Nicolson painting

w/c 6th July:

Noticed that it was the last day for Paintings from the Fleming Collection at the Jerwood Gallery. So visited that to see some of my favourites by John Ballany, Craigie Aitchison and Anne Redpath, with others. Also went round the other current exhibitions by Lowry and Quentin Blake. And enjoyed the current display of paintings from the Jerwood collection.

A visit to Somerset House to see an exhibition of work from Ben Uri’s 100 Years in London. Huge breadth of art included in the Our Story, Your Story title e.g. between the heart-rending Children on the Way to Auschwitz  (Leo Haas) and the sunny Summer Morning in Madeira (Irma Stern).

Moved just next door to view some old favourites at the Courtauld Gallery and see the ongoing exhibition Unfinished.

Rest of June(!):

Went to show including live bees in a travelling hive with glass sides, poetry and my friend Elizabeth Clayman’s fantastic structures made of natural fleece representing wasp and bee nests.

Indigenous art from Australia seems to be in focus again. Went to the British Museum to see exhibition.

From the BM I walked to Tate Modern to view the retrospective of Agnes Martin’s work. It takes some getting used to – the first impression is that the canvases are blank! But it’s very tranquil.

Had lovely trip to Dulwich Picture Gallery to catch the Ravilious exhibition. His quirky subjects and the use of pencil and watercolour are so charming. (And Dulwich Village is so attractive to walk through…)

The weather has been warm and a trip to Eastbourne included a walk on the very English genteel promenade enjoying the maritime flowers and the view of Beachy Head. Also visited the Towner Gallery with some of their amazing collection of work by modern painters on view.

And last but not least this month I found my way to the Watts Gallery to see some pictures by Richard Dadd in a temporary exhibition, as well as the huge paintings and vast statues by Watts. G.F. Watts drew my Gt-Grandfather in 1898 – the same year as the consecration of the cemetery chapel near the Gallery. (The chapel was designed by Mary Watts advised by Architect George Redmayne).

Cemetery Chapel near the Watts Gallery
Cemetery Chapel near the Watts Gallery
Photo of George Tunstall Redmayne in his garden
Photo of George Tunstall Redmayne in his garden

w/c 1st June:

Went to see the RA Summer Exhibition. Be sure to look at the staircase covered with specially cut bits of coloured tape I saw people measuring and sticking on at my last visit. I fear for migraine sufferers. Usual crush of Friends’ Days. Admired some of my favourites: Barbara Rae, Philip Sutton… but most of all the vista of the newly painted walls with pale aqua, through deep turquoise to bright magenta! Fabulous. (Thinks: why don’t they have paint spatters all over the floor as I would?)

So many people it was hard to move about and I progressed to the Fine Rooms to admire the show of Eileen Cooper’s drawings which were funny and individual. Such style.

Walked to the Serpentine Gallery to see some striking paintings by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.

w/c 25th May:

Yes, I have done stuff in-between! Driving to framers, driving to pick up framed pictures, delivering them, painting some more, binning them – not very exciting reading!

And I went to a performance/workshop to watch Sue MacLaine presenting An Audience with Henrietta Moraes. Read about it here: http://www.suemaclaine.com/still-life . A very interesting hour and I just kept drawing on my iPad. No one will probably make anything of this selection but I enjoyed myself!

w/c 27th April:

Visited Pallant House where several exhibitions were particularly appealing: the end of the Alice Kettle embroideries, a collection of Leon Underwood’s work, and British Self-Portraits including one by Cliff Holden of the Borough Group (with whom I spent some time painting in Sweden years ago) and one by his Master: David Bomberg.

wc 27.4.15 022
sculpture by Leon Underwood

And also to Tate Britain to see Sculpture Victorious

wc 27.4.15 024
sculpture by John Bell

and sketch some of the Henry Moore pieces (extremely difficult) and attend one of the excellent free talks.

w/c 13th April:

Visited The Estorick Collection to see drawings by Modigliani. Most seemed quite early by the dates but this one was undated. Some of his drawings have such an assured pencil line. Beautiful. 17.4 003

And then Tate Modern to see Sonia Delaunay’s work which is so cheerful and uplifting. Such a breadth of art activity through a long life. I did some blind drawings of a short slide show of models in costumes she’d done.

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w/c 23rd March:

Down to Hastings to visit the Jerwood Gallery again. This photo is one of the 1st floor gallery windows with its view towards part of the Old Town.YOTS 004.bI saw the current special exhibitions of work by Chantal Joffe and Edward Burra and looked at the things from the collection out on view. This is the head of a bronze by Michael Ayrton (1921-75) called Oracle.2396.b

w/c 16th March:

Here are some of my one-liner drawings (done on my iPad) for Y0TS (Year of the Spark):

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and this is one of the pieces of ‘art’ I left during my afternoon walk for others to find:

YOTS 6-11.b

w/c 9th March:

Enjoyed a visit to the National Gallery to see Inventing Impressionism. Then proceeded to the Royal Academy to see the Diebenkorn exhibition. Having thought I would find the huge pictures from the Ocean Park series the most appealing, I actually liked three little versions of the same ideas painted on the lids of cigar boxes. It never does to prejudge things!

Lesson 10/10: I am not usually a drop-out but… I decided not to spend a week designing my own lesson and having the plan critiqued, and then doing the pictures. I release myself from the commitment! Hurrah! Looking forward to getting on with other projects on hand. Such as my new range of picture books and enjoying time with Carla Sonheim and Lynn Whipple in the

w/c 2nd March:

Well, 100 Drawings is drawing (ha ha) to its end with lesson 9/10. We haven’t actually done a lot of drawing! This week I have failed again with my attempts at monochrome with 20% of something else. I would have said three of my eight were in the pass mark area but only this one was reckoned to scrape in. One week to go! (Yes, I decided to leave it this direction even though it makes an unplanned face if rotated 90 degrees to the left.)

lesson9 hodgkin.b

Day out! Began with the Premiums at the RA. A mixed bag! Is it disrespectful to wonder if the students ever ‘take the mick’? On to a couple of the few galleries left in Cork Street since the redevelopment. Saw Elizabeth Blackadder’s work including a wonderful oil of a pair of mulberry and navy gloves on a yellow-green background with a dragon fruit. Amazing colour work. And then a brilliant joint show at Messum’s: James Dodds’ boat paintings and Guy Taplin’s bird sculptures. (And to think: the first time I fell in love with Taplin’s birds was in a gallery which showed two tiny gouache paintings of mine about 25 years ago. I couldn’t afford a bird then and I seriously can’t afford one now!) From there I walked to a startling and powerful show at Tate Modern: Marlene Dumas. Such strong portraits – you can see some in the video clip and hear her talking. Her written comments by the paintings were really interesting.

w/c 23rd February:

lesson8-4.bWell, none of my ‘busy focus, transition and quiet’ pieces got approval without being severely covered over so I’ll just pick one of the ones I like!

w/c 16th February:

I can do it in red, or blue, or green… as long as it’s stripes or allover. Three weeks to go – what will this week’s task bring?

w/c 9th February:

6-8

This time my score is 1/9! This nasty piece was considered fairly varied if cut into four. The rest hung together a bit more and were discounted! Oh dear.

w/c 2nd February:

abstract in colours

One piece from this week’s task: one layer of intense colour with tints made with white but no shades/muddy/brown colours, with another layer of marks. My scanner is not good enough… (that’s my excuse)! No excursions for days – too busy at home.

w/c 26th January:

study in black and white only

We are allowed anything – as long as it’s black or white! Each quadrant is meant to be different. Some of mine are failed. Oh dear.

w/c 19th January:

egg shapes with texture part 1

Aim: Shapes with texture and added opaque paint. The left-hand one also has collaged shapes with dark grey texture.

Another task in 100 Drawings: veiling colours with different thicknesses of paint. I like this one from my first batch:

acrylic painting with line, opaque and transparent layers

Took part in a Sunday Art Class about Terry Frost: Poems and Illustrations run by Derek Matthews at Pallant House Gallery. I chose the lyrics for Four Last Songs (the poems that comprise the final song cycle by Richard Strauss, in translation) to work from.

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With the flaps folded, the front conveys the phrases ‘the night mist rises’ and ‘two dreamy larks sally forth’. With the front flap opened, you can see ‘the world sparkles in the light’ and ‘gold, drop by drop, falls from the tall acacia’. With the other flap opened, the ideas are ‘the flowers fill with cold rain’ and ‘the dark comes early to our valley’. After a year trying to illustrate fairy tales, I found it hard to escape from drawing the scenes. Derek suggested using just one or two shapes and I also restricted myself to the colours in tissue for this collage that were available.

w/c 12th January: Caught the Moroni exhibition at the Royal Academy. Amazing portraits – I could decide instantly whether I would have liked to meet each person. His beautiful painting of fabrics and embroidery was also incredible. I, meanwhile, have been struggling with line and ‘veiling’ the line to make layers as a task on my latest online course with Jane Davies. (I am following the current, first time for 100 Drawings obviously!) And here is the one I like best of my first week’s effort:

lesson1 G2nd

w/c 5th January: What a contrast! Before the year end I went to see the beautiful Jerwood Gallery in Hastings to take a look at Jake & Dinos Chapman’s show entitled In the Realm of the Unmentionable. To start 2015’s gallery visits I went to see The EY Exhibition: Late Turner and marvelled again at his mastery of watercolour with gouache. My visit included one of the excellent free talks in the galleries and we visited (among other pictures) Mark Gertler’s Merry-Go-Round and Stanley Spencer’s The Resurrection, Cookham – both startling, colourful, wonderful compositions.

New Year’s Resolution #1: Try and remember to write down how I painted something! It is so frustrating to look at a picture and think, ‘I wish I could do that again’ without the first idea how to!

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