Saturday, 31 August 2013

At last...

Now this isn't my most productive post ever, but I don't care! Finally, after 2 months of slog, some of it full time, some of it part time, some of it when I've walked away in disgust or tried to go away and come back with fresh eyes, I have finished my first painting of Ankerwycke. Its been in prep since February or March, cost me sleep and sweat and destroyed and rebuilt my confidence a dozen times but, as of a few minutes ago, it's finished.

The painters among you will know that sometimes a painting paints itself, you just have to hang on to one end of the brush, and they're the best. Other paintings fight back, challenging every stroke and every preconception and they can be the best too. This painting did both in different passages and in the process it has pushed me to new heights from a technical point of view. It takes an impossibly complex avenue of trees and makes it simple, a few painterly tree trunks set against a glittering, glowing infinity of summer green, a perfect moment in time made permanent. I can almost hear the leaves rustling. There's no photo yet, that will have to wait for an overcast day with no wind as it's too big to photograph indoors, but right now I don't care, it's over and it was worth every second.

Now, with the aesthetic and the language defined and developed, I can make it some friends. I think they'll be a lot simpler in conception though ;-)

Friday, 30 August 2013

That went quite well...

Officially my exhibition is now over and overall I'm quite pleased, especially with some of the contacts I've made. If you wanted to visit don't fret though - the unsold work will be remaining with the gallery for the foreseeable future and will be available from both the Chertsey and the Bramley branches. The prices are very reasonable! The gallery also sells online if you can't get there. I'd never recommend buying a painting without seeing it in the flesh because monitors will never be accurate enough with the colours but there is no issue with the monochrome linocuts they have so check out the No Naked Walls website - the link at the top of the page here will be staying there for as long as they have my work.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

John Nash - The Cornfield

First of all, ten thousand apologies for the recent lack of updates here as I have been tied up with things as far from art, the blog and the mead as it's possible to be over the last couple of weeks but normal service should be resumed at the weekend.

Secondly, as promised and because fields are being harvested now, here is John Nash's more famous cornfield.

It's the not the best quality image, but they enforce copyright quite strictly on this one and its hard to find any reproductions at all - so enjoy it while it lasts as it may have to come down again! Nash is firmly of the generation of painters that was trying to finding England again in the aftermath of the Great War, and he found it in the downland and arable farmland of Southern England. He lacked his brother's intensity but there is a simple charm in all his work - its the sort of art you could live with on a day to day basis very easily and the older I get the more I appreciate that as a quality in art.

The original, as with so many of this country's finest, can be found at the Tate.

Friday, 23 August 2013

The Burrell Collection

Degas - Jockeys in the Rain

Honoré Daumier - The Print Collector
The BBC has done well this year.

Over the last month or two it has focussed more on collectors and their influence than it has on individual artists or movements and this week it introduced me to Willie Burrell, a Glaswegian shipping magnate. The show, called "The Man who Collected the World," is without doubt a reason to hit the i-player if you're in the UK and I'm sure if you look hard enough you'll find it elsewhere too.

Perhaps the most notable aspects of his collecting were his eye, his wandering passions and the sheer personal-ness of the collections. Burrell had different passions at different times and he followed them around the world. He could spot quality both in artistic interest and craftsmanship but above all he bought things himself, he didn't depend on agents. Everything he bought, he bought because he liked, and that is truly unusual in a collection of this size.

Edouard Manet
The Beer-Drinking Manet about 14 minutes in is exquisite, the stained glass breath-taking, the Degas collection beautiful (although the National Gallery still trumps it with what Matisse and I believe to be the best Degas of all). The alabaster St John at 26 minutes couldn't be finer and as for the paradise carpet at 45 minutes... You have never seen the like of some of the things here.

The collection is in the Pollok Country Park in the south of Glasgow. I think I need to head to Scotland as soon as I have some pocket money!

Marriage at Cana

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Summer by the river and the living is easy...

Well, it's properly here. My harsh little water-meadow has emerged from the floods and the frosts, blossomed, bloomed and grown, dried, and now, finally, begun to ripen. We are into 6 - 8 weeks of abundance. In fact, my favourite type of blackberries hit their peak last week and are fading already but there are plenty of others still growing. The elderberries are turning dark, the sunniest sloes need just a night in the freezer to make them right and the plums are perhaps a week or two away. The second-best apple tree is more than ripe enough now, the apples sweet enough to be nice but still sharp enough to fizz on your tongue. The best one isn't far behind.

I've done a grand tour of the nut trees. The squirrels, greedy little short-sighted thingummies that they are, are attacking the hazelnuts before they're ripe so I don't know whether I'll get many or not. I don't know about chestnuts yet as the trees are too tall, but it looks like it'll be an outrageous year for walnuts. Not only is every tree full, but I'm finding more trees all the time.

This time of year sees me on more of a caveman diet, with berries now and nuts later forming a large part of my meals. I lose weight but gain health. I would have to say that harvest time is one of my favourite times of year, right up there with winter, spring, autumn and early summer.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Review: Roberson's Oil Primer

Some materials happen by default. You use them because you've always used them. In the case of primer I, and I suspect the majority of painters out there, default to acrylic gesso. There are actually sound reasons - it dries quickly, is affordable, can be used below both oils and acrylics, can be sanded down to an ultra-smooth surface (depending on what you've applied it to), is easy to clean up and has a useful amount of absorbency - but for many the actual reason will be that pre-made canvases come primed with it, so it's a familiar and natural choice when stretching your own or preparing boards.

Familiar and default do not necessarily mean best. I am now near the end of a painting I've been hacking away at for the last two months, and it will be the first painting I have completed with Roberson's Oil Primer.

This primer is perhaps the anti-gesso. Whiteness aside it is different in every way, from chemistry to application and to the way it takes paint. What makes it so different? Firstly, its an oil paint. It cannot be used beneath acrylic paint, clean up involves spirits or solvents and in the tin it smells and looks a lot like domestic gloss paint. Secondly, it has an extra ingredient: China clay - that's right, the stuff they used to dig up in Cornwall to make English porcelain.

In practice, this makes all the difference in the world. The runny consistency - like gloss paint whereas gesso is more like emulsion - makes it easy and quick and messy to apply but it gives you a choice - it lets you brush out most of your strokes but it doesn't self-level so it will retain your marks if you'd prefer. This decision will have implications further down the line for your painting so think hard! The marks it retains are more fluid and flowing than those retained by acrylic gesso and I have found they give an interesting surface well suited to woodland when applied chaotically. I suspect this would be just as useful for portraiture and figure work.

The other difference the clay makes is that the primer is far less absorbent than acrylic gesso especially when two coats are applied. This is the key difference and leads to a different way of working. Firstly, paint takes a lot longer to touch-dry. Not only does the drying time increase but, given a strong enough surface, brute force and solvent can knock back areas even weeks after they've been painted. Secondly, the almost watercolour techniques I use in the lower levels of a painting behave fundamentally differently. On gesso, as you've seen from my skies, the paint sinks in and gives a real softness, especially when worked over with a rag. On the oil primer, I'm more sparing with the technique due to the old "fat over lean" rule, but where I have used it it looks more like a stain than a wash. When worked over with a rag, you achieve a more mottled softness, and the brush marks in the primer give the colour a real complexity which is why it suits foliage so well. It also means it enlivens fairly flat areas of transparent colour as more paint is retained in the furrows. This applies to any glaze you add later on. Thirdly, thicker paint behaves very differently too. The primer is slippery where acrylic gesso is grippy - paint really can be pushed around and this can even get out of hand if your brush is too stiff. In fact you have far more options for manipulating paint but the paint is harder to control.

So there we have it, the anti-gesso. The two primers are truly worlds apart and experimentation is needed to see which suits you best. I will have both in my armoury from now on; acrylic gesso for the simpler, softer compositions, wide skies and wide spaces like the night paintings I am working on and oil primer for the more textured subjects like the avenue at Ankerwycke that is almost finished, for more complex compositions where I'll be changing my mind a lot and for subjects in front of a distinct and plain background.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Watts Chapel

Back in 19th century, the Royal Academy ruled British art and one of its alumni was George Frederic Watts. Now our George Frederic could really paint, but being Academy through and through his interests were so far removed from mine that I've never been able to get excited by it. His portraiture is on occasion truly special, but underneath the skilful brushwork and delicate light his more ambitious work was filled with nothing but allegory and symbolism and stultifying dullness. I have no issue with interweaving allegory and symbolism into a painting to add long-term interest and extra layers to appreciate but when that's all that's in the painting it becomes impenetrable to all but the initiated.

Watts was hugely appealing to Victorian sensibilities though and died a famed and wealthy man. He ended up as the kind of wealthy Victorian to whom Good Works were the order of the day and his co-philanthropist was his second wife, Mary Seton Watts. Mary was a potter and together they more or less took over the small village of Compton, a few miles from Guildford. Mary set up a pottery to revive traditional crafts, provide employment and keep the locals out of pubs and out of trouble. The biggest project by far was the Watts Mortuary Chapel, the centrepiece in Compton's then brand new cemetery.

The link in the last paragraph gives you the facts and detailed photographs but in truth all the words in world can't prepare you for a visit. When you pull up at the entrance to the cemetery there is no real clue as to whats within. The land rises steeply, and a raggedy path of terracotta tiles weaves between yews. Suddenly, the chapel is there, looking for all the world as though its in the wrong country. Its plan is based on a celtic cross but it has a Roman feel to it. As you draw closer the decoration becomes overwhelming and difficult to take in; if you walk round the outside every surface that can be decorated is decorated in a mish-mash of motifs which overall come under the umbrella of Arts and Crafts. Slowly you reach the door, old oak, black and hard as iron and decorated in a Celtic style and set into an intricately decorated and layered arch. Open it and gasp.

The interior takes the exterior decoration and multiplies it. Whiplash lines and Celtic knotwork and a Watts mural and religious iconography and arts & crafts and biblical phrases in stone and terracotta and wrought iron and plaster and ceramics and paint and gilt and glass come together in a collision that somehow floods the room and your senses with an extravagant stillness. Sunlight tumbles through one of the four windows, shimmering off the iridescent walls and plunging half the single room into deep shadow. A quick image search will give you thousands pictures of the deep colours and endless decoration and even a Google streetview of the interior, but I have yet to find one that gives a true feeling of being immersed in that small but endless space, so that's what I tried to capture.

You know how when you click on an image here it fills the screen? If you right-click on it
and choose "Open link in new window" or your equivalent you'll see it full size.
If you want it really big, email me and let me know how you'll be using it.
As you trawl the internet you see the building described as Italianate, Arts & Crafts, Neo-Gothic, Neo-Byzantine and more besides. In truth it's all these things and none of them and to the best of my knowledge there is nothing else quite like it anywhere in the world. Almost everyone in the village helped design, build and decorate it and I think its design-by-committee at its absolute best, because the basic framework is strong and the vision of one person and because what was included wasn't a compromise that everyone could accept; it was instead pretty much everything that anyone proposed just slightly modified to fit together. Click here for visitor information for both the chapel and the nearby gallery of GF Watts' work.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Alan the Businessman

Well I finally did it, albeit 6 months late. I've got proper business cards!

They're really quite nice. As and when I need to re-order there is a little evolution to do - I'll make the drop shadow a lot subtler for a start - and obviously every batch will have different pictures but overall I'm very pleased indeed.

I'm especially pleased with the quality of the reproductions of my work. I've seen business cards from some of the big companies like Vistaprint and Saxoprint and this is much more finely printed. The colours in particular are surprisingly accurate so thats kudos to the printer and to me - I can do colour correction!

I was a little in two minds about ordering because I used a company I'd never heard of with only a mobile number and no address on their website. I know my website is the same but I don't sell direct online. Add in too good to be true prices and I had my doubts but I'm glad I took a punt.

The company is Studio 828. They're not the absolute cheapest but they include as standard things everywhere else charges extra for (including delivery) and print on a very heavy cardstock - add up the extras and they are very good value indeed. Comparing like with like (or at least as close as I could) for speed and spec Saxoprint would have charged about £10 more and Vistaprint about £20 more which on a short run of 250 is an awful lot. I ordered on Tuesday morning and they were shipped on a next day service on Wednesday which is ridiculously fast.

I wouldn't normally do a plug like this but credit where credits due.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Seven Deadly Sins against Presentation: A Rant about Exhibition Submissions

A week ago I was involved in hanging an un-juried show. As you would expect, the standard was very mixed. Such is the nature and the charm of the breed. What you wouldn't expect though are some of the sins against presentation which were there. If an artist shows a piece in an exhibition, it is reasonable to assume that he chose that piece because he is proud of it. You might also assume he would want that work to look its best, especially if he is trying to sell it. Granted frames can be expensive, but in our era of Ikea, Poundland and charity shops they don't have to be.

I give you Seven Deadly Sins against Presentation:

  • Not reading the instructions: Every show has rules about how work is to be shown. Read them, follow them, simple. Failure to do so will usually lead to rejection or, at the very least, arguments.
  • Pretending a picture is framed when it isn't: Really? Take a long dispassionate look at your ability with a paint brush. Do you honestly believe you can paint a trompe l'oeil frame onto your canvas? One with straight, consistent edges? One where if you've masked it the tape was perfectly square and no paint has bled onto the picture? One where the decoration on the faux frame is consistent and regular? A professional sign-writer would struggle! Far better not to waste a few frustrating hours on this but to do odd jobs for the same amount of time and use the money you earn to buy a real frame.
  • Making your own frame without using the proper materials: Frames can be made from all manner of things if you have a good eye, the right attitude and the right skills. If however your idea of the right attitude is to go to the DIY store, buy some cheap strip wood, nail it to the side of your canvas and smother it in leftover emulsion then it's not going to work.
  • Not thinking about the wrapping or the back of mounted work: Bevel cut window mounts are easily available in every art shop but don't usually come with backing boards. But look! What's that against the wall? Can it be a rack of mountboard? Mountboard? You mean the exact same archival quality board that this mount I want to buy is made from and that can be easily cut to size with a knife? Seriously, how difficult a connection is that to spot? If you don't want to mess around cutting card, an internet search will reveal hundreds of places which will cut a custom sized mount and matching backing board and sell you a poly-bag the correct size for very little money indeed. So why, I ask myself, are all these mounted pieces looking so motley? Why, there's one in a plastic bag thats been re-used and look! the price for whatever was in it has just been crossed out. And gosh! there's one with Christmas wrapping paper instead of backing board. Of course that won't damage the drawing; its bound to be acid-free, and of course it won't show through the paper even though it's a very bright and bold pattern.
  • Not paying enough attention when recycling old frames and mounts: By all means re-use frames but take a long hard look at them in bright light. If chunks of the decoration are missing, if the mitres no longer join properly, if there is any damage they're not usually worth using. If the frame is sound, for pity's sake clean it! This includes both sides of the glass and replacing the mount if necessary. If you don't bother to clean the glass how do you even expect people to see your work?
  • Spending so much money on the frame that everything else has to be bodged: One piece turned up in a pristine, solid oak frame; great! Only the mount inside the frame had been cut with scissors from thin brown cardboard and the glass wasn't glass, it was a clear polythene bag. Not only did this fail to do the picture justice but it will damage the picture because the board will cause the paper to yellow and is not thick enough to keep the picture and "glass" separate, and the "glass" will offer no protection from knocks or UV light. Oak veneer would have looked the same and left some change for a piece of glass; looking in supermarkets and home shops would have revealed frames the same size with glass and board included.
  • Not using proper hardware: Galleries ask for work to have string strung between eyelets or d-rings for reason. If you try to tie your string between two nails instead, not only does it increase the chances of your work crashing to the floor but there is a very real danger of whoever is handling the work catching and hurting themselves. This only costs a few pence to sort out.
So there you have it: seven ways to make your work look worse than it should and annoy the people hanging the show. All it takes to rectify these things is a little thought, time and pride. The worst of it is that members of the group in question have access to an impossibly cheap frame-maker who will solve all these problems for them. If budget is as much of an issue for you as it is for me, then think about presentation before you even pick up your brush; you could either work to a few set sizes and re-use your frames (cleaning them each time of course!) or you could work to standard photo-enlargement sizes which opens up a world of cheap but respectable frames. I used to be a manager for a major supermarket; you'd never know it from their stores today, but once upon a time they instilled a mantra into all their staff - WIBI. This was short for Would I Buy It? and every time stock was being handled that question was asked to try and make sure no unsaleable goods were on display. Its a good attitude, and one everyone should have whenever they show their work.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Egham Races: First thoughts

I don't have a clue where I'm going with this but I've started researching the horse racing which took place on the mead. I think I find the visual side of it very attractive; given its proximity to London and Windsor I'm hoping for a real mixture of pageantry and chaos and early indications are that that is exactly how it was.

I'm reading old newspaper clippings and have found hundreds of race reports, court reports and social vignettes. The racing was very different back then with each race of between 1 and 4 miles long being run up to 4 times to find an aggregate winner, but otherwise it seems very close to a version of today's Derby in that it was attended by every social class from monarch to mongrel, it was effectively a fairground with betting on anything and everything including fighting (the reports read as though professional fighters from London and rowdy locals were all but queuing up to face off) and was also a centre of informal trading and scams galore (hence the court reports) before closing down for good due to pickpocketing.

My favourite thing so far took place at the meeting on Tuesday September 2, 1806. As the horses were often racing up to 16 miles, jockeys were instructed not to take the lead but to follow others and overtake at the last minute to keep the horses fresher. In the Gold Cup race every jockey received this instruction and, in front of Queen Charlotte (George III's queen), the royal princesses and the Dukes of York and Cumberland, the entire field tried to stay at the back and walked for a whole mile before one horse eventually started racing. In the end it was a good race as the first 4 horses were abreast with just a few yards to go, but early on there must have been a certain amount of embarrassment amongst the owners and unrest amongst the crowd.

The big question of course is whether or not I want to turn this into art and, if so, how. Landscape I can handle, figures too, chaos is absolutely my element but horses? and dealing with that level of complexity? I'd need a totally different language to the one I'm using now although the method of painting could stay the same. One to tuck away and let ferment for a year or two I think, unless I stumble across some really compelling imagery I can appropriate. In the meantime, I'll keep digging.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

John Nash - Cornfield at Wiston by Nyland

Yesterday I had a meeting down in Guildford. Since its an awkward journey and I had a free train ticket I thought I'd make a day of it and went for a long walk with camera and sketchbook down the banks of the Wey almost to Godalming, zigzaging across to the Hogs Back and then dropping off the ridge back to town.

It was nice to get back into proper downland in summer as once upon a time that was the kind of place I lived - rolling chalk hills instead of the clay flood plain and sandy heath you get round here.

You'll find out why I took that particular route in due course but overall, especially around Losely Park, the landscape put in the mind of the Nash brothers. You've seen a bit of Paul here and will see plenty more, but here is one of John's.

It's called Cornfield at Wiston by Nyland and is from the early 30's and its the long and the short of chalky arable farmland in Southern England at the moment. He did a far more famous - and indeed far more striking - one of cornfields earlier in his career but you'll either have to find it for yourself or wait until the harvest when it might pop up here.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Summer watch: Blackberries and other fruit

News Flash: The first blackberries around the mead are ready and we are going to reap the benefits of that long wet spring - they are unbelievably juicy!

In other news, it looks like we're in for a decent crop of apples this year after last year's fiasco of a crop. Only a couple of the wild trees are any good for eating but the rest are either good for cooking or brewing. I haven't been to look at the plums yet (they're not strictly speaking on the mead so I might not tell you anyway!) but the peach tree looks promising, the sloes are ripening ridiculously early and the 'hips and the haws are shaping up nicely too. I don't know about the elderberries as my access is limited this year ("keep out" does mean don't go in and out too much and be discreet doesn't it?) but that should mean there's even more than usual as fewer people will have picked the flowers. In fact the only potential disappointments are the bullace (it never does well) and the wild redcurrants but its too early to be sure about those.

I'll get some pictures soon because I suspect most of you won't know the English names for some of these things.

Expect fewer posts over the next 8 weeks or so as I'll be busy preserving, bottling, wine making, ketchup, jam and chutney making and eating lots of pies and this blog is not the right place to go into depth about all that ;-)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Plea for information: The Egham Races

One unexpected thing I found at the weekend was in the gallery's kitchen. On the wall is a copy of a plan of the Runnymede Race Course. It turns out that before Kempton Park was built, horse racing took place on the mead and apparently only moved on thanks to gangs of pickpockets from London.

Thanks to the Your Paintings archive, I've found one painting of the races. (I don't think I've mentioned Your Paintings before - its an astounding resource on the BBC website which has every single painting in every single public collection in the UK.) The painting is by John Spoade and titled "William IV Arriving at Long Mede, Runnymede at the Point of the One Mile Winning Post."

I'm going to transpose the map onto a modern one so I can trace the course as it is now and see what other tidbits I can find, but being lazy I was also hoping there might be people reading this who already have information or documents.

Any help will be appreciated, either via comments or email.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Runnymede show: in conclusion

I've just got back from helping take down the art society's show in the National Trust's gallery.

Its a really nice venue when there are things on the walls, with large windows and sensibly sized rooms. The young lady based there was very helpful and utterly charming, the show looked good, there was plenty of footfall and sales appear to have outstripped all bar one of the different local societies' shows this year. It was a good occasion and I was pleased to be part of it, with two major caveats.

I beg any members of any art societies reading this to read my post on pricing from a few months back. This especially means you, the person who put a painting in a £20 frame up for sale at £25. This especially means you, the person who put in a small but decent acrylic painting which had plainly had many hours spent on it at £20. This especially means you, the person who put a substantial and detailed watercolour of a fisherman in at £20. Show some self respect! 13 year old paper boys get paid at a higher hourly rate than you! If you price your work as though it is worthless, that is how people will see it. I will be lobbying for a clause in future shows which says "we reserve the right to mark any piece at a higher price than the artist has specified."

As one of the people who hung the show, I will also add a tirade about presentation in a few days. I've touched on this from a "benefits of..." approach before, but some of what I saw demands a proper rant. Presentation doesn't have to be expensive but it should be competent, careful and considered. Even the amateur-ist amateur will find their work transformed with a few simple and inexpensive steps.

I don't want those outbursts to detract from what was a good and largely successful show. I enjoyed it, and I hope the visitors did too.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Colin Kirby-Green: Alresford Creek 1 & 2

Chance is a wonderful thing, and thanks to its good graces I recently stumbled across an artist by the name of Colin Kirby-Green. I was out window-shopping when I spied two aquatints at a price that didn't reflect their quality in a place that plainly didn't recognise what they had and now I find myself, for the first time in my life, as the owner of original artworks by someone else. It's a nice feeling and I recommend it wholeheartedly.

Alresford Creek I; 18 x 13 cm aquatint edition of 50

The prints were made in 1980 and show Alresford Creek near Brightlingsea in Essex. They show the creek wending through its flood plain below a flat sky which takes up half the plate. There are three simple transitions of colour. The creek area is a soft, dirty green. This fades into a delicate deep pink for the distant hills and the sky is a gradual transition from clean paper to a barely-there grey-blue. As Colin himself is quick to point out, the nature of the colouring strongly resembles a watercolour. The delicacy of the print combined with the flatness and haziness of the subject means the pieces are very relaxed and have a real stillness to them.

Colin has had a long career and is still going strong so I thought rather than just force my thoughts upon you I ought to find out his memories of the pieces.

Primarily an oil painter, he had been working in watercolours to great success. His gallery, the Grafitti Gallery in London, had the sense to see the potential for prints in his way of working so made their facilities available to him.
"I spent many interesting days learning to etch in copper, especially combined with the subtle use of aquatint. Their studio employed very talented printers to actually print the work on their top of the range etching presses. They specialised in one plate editions and with great care different colours were worked into different parts of the plate so the results were produced in one printing, with no over prints for different colours. Alresford Creek 1 is based on a view local to where I now live in Brightlingsea and because I was so new to the whole process I hadn't thought to draw it all out in reverse in order to have it come out the right way round as a print! Pretty naive eh? The studio owners were very pleased with the result but I was not, and said 'I must do this again in reverse because the landscape is actually the other way round'. So I made the plate for Alresford Creek 2 in reverse and this was a success."
There are enough differences between the two pieces that I didn't realise they were the same scene made twice. In fact I assumed they were the same place from opposite sides of the creek or in opposite directions. That knowledge makes the differences between the two fascinating; it reveals Colin's "handwriting" as an etcher and starts to trace his development in the medium. The second print is far more delicately drawn and the textures more refined as he has plainly taken on board lessons from the first plate. I am unsure whether some differences are down to differences in the aquatinting process or the printing but regardless, when 1 & 2 are interpreted as a sequence and a progression rather than as two views of the same subject the work takes on a sudden extra level of interest.

Alresford Creek II; 18 x 13 cm aquatint edition of 50

Its now more than 30 years since the prints were made and Colin is still working. One thing he is especially enthusiastic about is the painting expedition to Umbria he leads each year. To find out about the next one, which takes place next June and looks like good value, click here.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Runnymede Gallery 3rd & 4th August 2013

This weekend the Runnymede Art Society has its main exhibition. Its taking place at the Runnymede Gallery (if you don't know it, it's the National Trust Lodge at the Windsor end of the meadow, opposite the tea room and next to the boat house) and is open from 11 to 4:30

From my point of view it will be interesting because it will be the first time I've seen what everyone is capable of when they're trying - a lot of the members use the meetings as a social club rather than a work space so I don't know whether I've seen people's best or not - and I'll admit to being really curious.

I held back one of my skyline paintings to put into the show. Its the one that shows the Air Forces Memorial because that's the one which has a viewpoint closest to the gallery. It'll be marked as not for sale but that's a lie - its a reflection of the fact that although the series looks very good value in a commercial gallery it would look very expensive in an amateur context - in other words, if you want just ask. Alongside it are two sound watercolour sketches which were part of my preparation for the painting so it should make a nice show-within-a-show if I can get them all hung together. There will also be some cute colour studies of evening skies (shown above) which are mounted but unframed and an excellent price - I have tried them in a simple dark wood frame and they really sing out. Venues like this are probably the only chance you'll get to buy small, loose watercolours like this by me and owning one is a really good introduction to the way I use space, light, colour and transparency.

The weather looks like it will be ideal for exploring, so if you haven't been to the mead before come along. Between the exhibition, the riverbank, the meadow, the woods, the memorials, the pleasure-boats and open buses to Windsor, the tea-room and the café it should be a nice day out.