Gotta love Derwent! I've just received this amazing box of art supplies. It's my first class tomorrow at the V&A in their sculpture dept and I will be sharing these pencils out amongst myself and fellow students for the day. Can't wait. I feel the urge to start sketching out some new ideas for paintings too.........
So...finally getting started on some landscape work. I'm a bit nervous. The last landscape I did was on the Big Painting Challenge. It's taking me what feels like an age to get started and decide what to do...how to approach it. I don't normally work from photo's but my holiday in the Lakes was a holiday holiday, not a painting holiday, so the camera became the tool to use, rather than paintbrushes.
I'm findng the photo a bit restrictive - it was taken through the windscreen of the car as we were zooming down country lanes, but I do remember the amazing colours and have decided that that's what I want to bring to the fore - colour and shapes. This is sort of a tester landscape, a warm-up if you like......there are a lot of ideas for me to play with yet.
Lovely write-up in the July issue of The Leisure Painter magazine. Myself and the other artists from the Big Painting Challenge talk about our favourite painting made during the programme and how we created it.
Definitely on the case with my blog at the moment! Here I am, standing in front of my piece of work being exhibited in the SWA exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.
Photo taken courtesy of Matt, my partner, who had to battle with my little camera a bit to get a decent photo!
It was a wonderful private view. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Possibly the sunniest day of the year yet. The pv was absolutely packed with people and the work was generally quite fabulous - a wonderful mix of paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints. It's definitely an exhibition worth going to see.
Had a lovely chat with Anne Blankson-Hemans, my fellow compadre from the Big Painting Challenge. Anne is a member of the SWA and had 3 pieces of work on display. Fingers crossed we both sell.
We had a bit of a natter about the forthcoming Pintar Rapido challenge. I'm not totally sure about taking part in this one. I may have had enough of challenges for the time being, but it is a day to paint as opposed to a BBC 3 hours, so I may give it a go. It's outside though.......and architecture........not my best subjects. Let's see how I get on with my Lake District paintings, which I am hoping to start this weekend. Very excited and really looking forward to mixing up some oil paints for colour studies. Hmmm, I can smell the turps already!
I've very pleased and excited to have had a piece of my work accepted by the committee from the SWA (Society of Women Artists). It will be showing at the annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, London, from 5th-13th June. Fantastic!!!
I definitely have a good excuse for being so late with posting on my blog. The final episode of The Big Painting Challenge finished and just 2 weeks later we opened the doors to our first group exhibition of our own work. I was a major player in putting together this exhibition, so my time has been totally eaten up with organising the venue, the sponsor, artists, marketing, advertising, a band; all the things you can think of that go into putting together a large show. My promise (mainly to myself of course) that I would keep up the blog on a weekly, if not daily (ha!) basis, fell totally by the wayside.
So here we are, just over 3 weeks after the last post. Oops! Time for a bit of a catch up, starting with the very last episode of The Big Painting Challenge, when Paul (very deservedly) was crowned the winner and handed his trophy.
I have to say I think this episode was one of the best of the entire programme. I found it very compelling and although I knew where they had gone and what the challenges had been, I had no idea what work they had created, so it was as much a surprise for me to see it all on the screen as everyone else.
Let's start with the Naval College. Can I just say how much I would have hated having to do that challenge. I'm so glad it wasn't me there. I thought it was a very masculine choice of subject and I'm really curious as to why it was chosen as a subject matter. But, there you go. It was. If I had been there, the things I would have homed in on would have been the mess kit, the dorm and the old sofa. Nothing else. I can see in my minds eye a row of neatly place kits on or next to that tatty old sofa, or perhaps the mess kit lined up along the bunks or something similar. Or perhaps a background of flags with the scruffy sofa in the middle. The juxtaposition of supreme neatness with abject scruffiness would have been the thing that inspired me.
I had heard from the others that Paul had done well throughout all the challenges, so I was really excited to see how he tackled it. I have to say I really loved his painting. This was obviously a subject matter that he found really appealing and I loved the fact that he used himself as a model to be photographed in different positions, so that he could add figures to his painting. I know that Daphne said the figure on the top bunk didn't quite work, but, you know, when you consider the idea was constructed in a very short space of time and executed in just 3 hours, I thought the end result was really amazing. I loved the idea, the colours, the light reflected on the floor. It was a good painting to look at as well as well executed.
Richard's painting - well he told me that he didn't really like being in the naval college. It reminded him of being a cadet and he didn't feel good being back in that kind of environment. Knowing this, I expected his painting to not turn out well, but I have to say I really really liked it. I loved the view of the dorm through the eyes of a cadet on his bunk, with his feet in the painting. It totally puts the viewer of the painting in the cadets shoes. I thought it was an interesting concept and although some may feel the addition of a photo made it a bit sentimental, it told a story and Richard likes to tell a story. It got a big thumbs up from me.
Amy's painting I thought was very much in her style and it was a shame she didn't quite get the time to tweak it as she would have wanted. I like the rows of irons and can totally understand why she homed in on that. I was sad to see her getting upset when she thought it wasn't going well and I think that was tiredness kicking in. There had only been a few days rest between that and the previous set of challenges for episode 5 and that's not enough time to properly recharge your batteries.
The person I totally felt for though was Claire. Watching her sitting on the floor, going through squares of colour in order to make an abstract composition was a bit painful. I could see she hated the subject and I thought it was very bold of her to decide to step away from figurative painting and make an abstract image. It was totally against what the judges would have wanted, but I think at the time she was too tired to think clearly about that, otherwise she might have attempted something else. But, I also think it was a brilliant idea and I loved it. She did her own thing and responded in her own way and was true to herself.
Bravo Claire! I loved your Regrectangle as she now calls it.
Quick draw round - what can I say. A marching platoon of cadets! Not something I would have relished. Claire came totally unstuck - again I think that was tiredness. She'd had enough. Paul aced it really compared to the others. I don't know why this was chosen as a good subject matter. It would be a killer for most people I think.
The last round - Dartmouth harbour. I loved it. I thought they all did well. For me, Amy's boats bobbing on the water was one of her best paintings in the whole series. It was colourful and lively and energetic. I loved Claire's painting and was glad she had decided to take her time and work in her own way, rather than rushing and trying to please the judges. Even though it ended up only half finished, it had masses of charm and sensitivity already. Richard's had his personality stamped all over it, that slightly surreal atmosphere that all his paintings have. I loved the fact that he changed the way the coastline physically looked in order to make it what he wanted! Typical Richard, making what he sees into what he wants. Paul's - well it was just beautiful, wasn't it? Thick impasto creamy paint. Wonderful colours. A gorgeous painterly painting that summed up the subject matter beautifully.
The bit you see at the end, where all 6 of us who had been previously eliminated turn up to surprise the finalists, was totally genuine. We had all journeyed up in secret at the request of the BBC and been staying in a hotel together far away from the others in Paignton so we wouldn't get spotted. On the day of the final judging and announcement of the winner, we had been sneaked into the Naval college and kept in a separate wing out of the way. We had practiced our 'marching out as a surprise' a couple of times into the empty room while the finalist were being kept in elsewhere, presumably being told that the judging hadn't ended yet. We were supposed to walk in, surprise the others and wait neatly in a line. No breaking ranks and hugging or anything. Of course, that's not at all what happened because as soon as Claire saw me walking in at the head of the line she ran over and gave me a big hug and the other followed suit! The smiles and emotion you see are all completely real. It was lovely to be back in our group again.
Congratulations to Paul who deserved to win that trophy. He worked hard for it and deserved every inch of it.
Congratulations to us all for being selected from 6,500 people to make it onto the show. The 10 people considered to be the best of all. Commiserations to Melvyn for being the person who was eliminated first. That's a tough thing to be. Congratulations to us all for getting through any of those challenges! It wasn't an easy thing to do. But.......it was a fantastic experience and one I personally will never regret or forget. I met 9 fantastic artists who have become my friends. They really are brilliant people and I love them to bits (and they are all extremely good painters).
Our first group show, The Bigger Picture, was the real end product of being on The Big Painting Challenge. Our chance to show the world what we really do, what our passions are, what our painting styles are like when we're let loose on canvas or paper without any restrictions or judging. Just being us.
Thing thing that made me sad about watching this episode is that I didn't get to be part of it. The body, the human form and movement are my strongest skills. I absolutely adore looking and drawing the human body. They're a set of challenges I think I would have done well at. If only Blenheim Palace had come afterwards, not before I'd had a chance to prove myself more..........
Tough challenges though. The human body is fabulous - all curves and colours where sometimes you don't expect them. Very classical poses, with the spear and loin cloth. It would have been great to get my teeth into drawing those lovely muscle shapes, the curved back, shapely calves, sinewy veins, making sure the head was in proportion, getting the foreshortening on the arm holding the spear correct. A 2/3rds pose allowing a little zooming in to focus on skin colour would have been great.
I thought they all did pretty well, especially as I know some of they guys struggle with figures. I love the fact that Amy chose inks to use and Anne used watercolour, layering her colours up. I liked Claire's painting, even though her model did end up with one very large leg (how did that get past you, Claire?). And.... I just noticed that Claire paints left handed - that might be the reason why she makes those lovely indiosyncratic marks. I liked Anthea's too, even though the head was a bit big. I thought it looked very tribal.
The human form in movement - that's really challenging. Exciting though! With this kind of drawing you need to sit back and observe first before starting to put anything down on paper. Look for the rythmn, look for the repetition and decide how you're going to capture it on paper. Not easy to do. Definitely not easy to do when you're being interviewed and have to stop what you're doing to talk to a presenter (which also breaks your concentration). It would have been nice to see Lachlan sketching a moving person in his 'how to' section, rather than just a balloon though......
I used to do fashion illustration classes a few years ago, where the models sometimes moved, or at least, only held a pose for a few seconds before changing again. I loved it. It's amazing what beautiful (and accurate) lines you can capture on paper when you're really concentrating. Personally, I always found I needed a warm up, something you don't get time to do on the BPC. I've also sketched models coming down the catwalk. There you really do have to co-ordinate your hand and eye quickly, capturing the look and detail of the garment as accurately as you can so you can convey it to the head of your design team afterwards.I thought they all did well considering the circumstances and I have to say I thought Anthea's was really very nice, even though it did get pretty knocked by the judges. I certainly didn't think it was worse than anyone elses.
The flamenco challenge - wow, a difficult one. To capture the movement, the sexiness, get the proprotions right, the colour, convey the feeling...... I thought it was very brave of Amy to start her work again with only a short while to go and it definitely looked better the 2nd time around with some great twisting movements and I love the way she put her colour down in heavy strokes. I thought Paul's worked really well as it had a very sensual feel to it, whereas Claire's had lots of energy. I think keeping things like facial details to a minimum so you focus on what the body is doing would have been really important. Perhaps that was part of Anthea's downfall on that challenge - the details in the faces were distracting. I loved the intense colours of Richard's which I think echos the way he paints and I thought Anne's figure placements.
They all worked really hard and it was so sad to see Anthea go (although I already knew she had come out in that round). It was strange watching them on tv and wondering what it would have been like to be part of it, sweating over the challenges, getting nervous, getting bored in the long breaks between filming and larking about, eating too many sugary snacks......
I had been out myself for a week by then and missed them all so so badly.
So that's episode 5 done. Only one left to go. Time seems to be speeding up and the programme feels like it's whizzing by. In an blink of an eye it will all be over. I feel sad about that. I'm enjoying watching it on the tv. It is strange to not be included as a painter, but we're all so connected now, good friends, still with a common goal which is our forthcoming exhibiton. I want it to go on a little bit longer. I'd like there to be more challenges and I'd like to join in again! I'd even paint some architecture!!!
I've never had the chance to visit Liverpool yet. I know it won the title, City of Culture a few years back. From what I saw of it on the programme, it looks like a very bustling vibrant city.
I thought the first challenge was great - painting an urban scene - and it was lovely to see that everyone chose a different angle to work from. I thought Claire's geometric abstract approach to painting the shopping centre was a very bold and refreshing. It's certaily not a subject I would have tackled. I hate shopping centres at the best of times. All that concrete leaves me cold. I really liked Richard's choice - the 2 converging streets and thought the way he painted it was very lowry-esque and very different from his usual painting style. Anne's choice of the park didn't have such an 'urban' feel, maybe because the focus was the band stand. I've not seen the park so I don't know if there was a different view point that would have fulfilled the brief a bit better. However she tells me it was one of the places they were encouraged to consider, so it seems a bit of a shame that she ended up being marked down for chosing it. Over all though, I thought all the finished pieces were pretty good. I think if I'd been there I would have gone for either the street scene that Richard worked on or the pub which looked like it was in the middle of barren urban land.
The quick draw - well I have to admit I'm glad I didn't have to tackle that. It definitely would have been another Blenheim Palace! Mind you, having tackled a tricky building once, I probably would have been a bit more selective in my choice of area to focus on. Anyway, well done guys. Not an easy thing to tackle in 30 mins with a film crew peering over your shoulder...... All those fiddly bits and all that perspective!
The last challenge, the view across the mersey, well I have to say I loved each painting they created. I've never tackled anything like that before and I'm sure it's not easy to deal with a vast amount of ever changing sky and a vast amount of water, so I take my hat off to them for doing it (a big yellow vintage hat obviously!). Paul's fauve-y colourful approach reminded me of his style of painting from the very first episode - lots of colour and expression going on the canvas. I really liked Claire's - there was a very subtle beauty about it and her mark making and soft tones were very evident. I think Claire's style is definitely becoming more confident with everything she does. Richard's was really atmospheric. Anne approached hers with her trademark bold ground and I thought it was brave of her to include the ferry which she would have had to have painted very quickly. And I like Amy's which was blocky and bold and very Amy.
And then there were 4! Sad to see Anne leave, but as with Anthea, I knew her time was up then. It's hard being eliminated, particularly when it can hang on how you perform on that day and that day could be an off day for you.
So...... 2 days to go till the winner is announced. My lips are sealed!