Most of what I do has some sort of arty element and a recent trip to Brussels has been no exception. I usually discount the day you take to get there and the day it takes you to get home; they feel like blank days to me, as I am usually too tired to do much other than think about food and drink. But with Brussels, like Paris, a little time to do nothing but think about food and drink is really not a chore.
We started a day’s sightseeing with an Art Nouveau walk. It was lovely to see so many buildings with original features dating back to the late 1800’s. Our walk culminated in a visit to the former home of the architect Victor Horta, a truly wonderful building especially considering how long it has been there. The queue to get in took about an hour but it was well worth the wait.
Another highlight of the trip was The Atomium which is a monument in Brussels originally built for Expo ’58, the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. Designed by André Waterkeyn and Les Architectes Polak, it stands 102 metres (335 ft) tall. It has nine steel spheres connected so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times. It was a truly impressive sight though I had confused the meaning of the structure with a comment about the European Parliament!
We visited the Rene Magritte exhibition at the Musee Magritte. I have a fondness for surreal art and I thought the exhibition was very inspiring, odd, but inspiring.
I couldn’t begin to explain any of his work but there is a huge level of technical skill in the painting. If you are interested you can click here to see more of his work.
We were wandering down a back street where we cane across the Krethlow Gallery seeing the work of the Swiss artist Wolfgang Zät, truly amazing work, massive hand cut lino prints. I could have lost myself for hours in the intricacy of his art work.
It was a great break away, can’t wait to go back to Brussels!
His take on it is why you should draw every leaf, every branch, twig. Surely if you want an image with that level of detail, why go to the trouble? Isn’t it all too fussy? Surely, art goes beyond and transcends that nit-picky level of detail, surely you would take a photograph?
He makes a fair point. However my argument would be, if you want to draw it why not? Why not display your skill as an artist? Why would you not want to? You don’t have to do it every time, but when you want to why is it such a bad thing?
We usually go on to state examples, his being the Impressionist examples of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Cezanne and Turner. And I agree, they are all great artists. And I counter with Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, Botticelli and Constable. My argument would be not that one is better than the other; I simply don’t see art in those terms. There is art that speaks to me and art that doesn’t. There is art where you can admire the skill of the artist, yet not really like the subject matter. There is art you love and yet you would not want to hang it on your walls. And there is art that strikes you dumb with admiration, there is one that stops me in my tracks every time I see it and when I am at the National Gallery I feel the need to pay homage. It is The Experiment by Joseph Wright.
The reason my mind has settled on the subject of detail is that I have just finished my latest pencil study, Making the Boy Presentable.
I am pleased with the picture and, along with my leopard piece (see below) from last year, I hope to have then out at exhibitions and available as prints very shortly.
Drawing every blade of grass was not necessary, nor was drawing every leaf or whisker, but I enjoyed every one of the 65 hours it took me to draw them
Just finished my latest pencil piece of a tiger and cub and wanted to share it here on my blog. It has taken approximately 65 hours of work and I’m very pleased with the finished picture. I have titled the piece, Making the Boy Presentable. It’s still on the drawing board currently but it will be off to the printers this week and prints will be available very shortly.
I saw a show in London the other day “The Pitman Painters” the show was great; rather poignant. It looked at the questions, what is art all about? What is art for? Is there good art? And just what is bad art or proper art? And does art really matter at all? We saw the show in context of a day going round the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. When you look at pictures in a gallery the view of art you have is very personal to you. Your view of the art might be informed by your knowledge of the art history, or knowledge of the technical execution of the art, or simply whether you like it or not on a subject or aesthetic level, but your interaction with that art is also very personal to you.
I have questions of my own. How is art judged? How and why does art fail? And how does the artist separate themselves from their art, is a criticism of the art a criticism of the artist? And how personally should the artist take that? And indeed the other side of that coin, how seriously should an artist take any praise heaped on a piece of work?
I am certainly not qualified to answer any of these questions, but I would love to hear from anyone who has any opinions on the subject.
Sorry, I have not written over the festive period, it is always a tricky one for me; it is that big deadline…. “We need this for Christmas!” So there tends to be a degree of pressure in the studio and suffice to say it was a normal Christmas in the studio!
2011 was an interesting year, full of contrasts, with good and not so good aspects. A couple of exhibitions were really not good and a couple of exhibitions were really great. I had a year of painting pictures of aircraft for an on-going exhibition in Coventry. I completed some erotic art work that I am rather proud of. I also brought my tally of book covers to 74. There will be a big cheer and a pop of bubbly when I hit the 100, which hopefully I will do later this year.
I don’t like to crow too much about forthcoming events. With that too there is a divergence of thought. For publicity you should shout from the roof tops, but there is a big part of me that worries that if I say anything I will put the mockers on it! A good example of this is an exhibition in London at the end of the month. I have had two pictures shortlisted. Now do I yell from the roof tops? But what if neither go into the final exhibition? I hear my marketing gurus shouting “Tell the world! Getting shortlisted is pretty good!” They may well be right. And yet…… I would feel a fool if I did and no pictures are selected.
I have the feeling this will be a good year for art…. Watch this space.
It has been a funny old year for art in general, what with the recession and all, and it has been an unusual end to the year with regard to shows; for the last five years the exhibition season has been pretty much the same. The run up has been a series of smaller exhibitions culminating with “Erotica” at London’s Olympia exhibition centre. I have always enjoyed this big finish.
This year the organisers of “Erotica” seem to have changed their tack. Art was always a big focal point of the show. For the last five shows I went to the art gallery was the first thing you encountered when entering. This year art has been dismissed to the balcony and given the costs of exhibiting I reluctantly made the decision not to show my work there this year. It is a great pity as I will miss the camaraderie of The Guild of Erotic Artists, the excitement of the big event and meeting friends and clients. The show is a melting pot of ideas, a mix of the exotic and bizaare and I am sorry not to be a part of that. I wish my friends and fellow Guild members all the very best and wish I could be there with them.
On a much more upbeat note I have done a couple of smaller shows that have proved lucrative and fun to do. I was down in London a few weeks back, it was a great show and it was great to see some of my “Erotica” regulars and make a number of new friends who I look forward to getting to know in the fullness of time. Last weekend’s exhibition was at my own Cambridgeshire studio.
It is always good to see folk in my own working environment as it has a much less clinical and all together more homely feel to it. I shared my studio space with two friends, the photographer Rob Morris and the jewellery and assemblage artist, Marian Savill.
We held a preview night on the Friday. It was a lively night, see link to a short video below, and we were supported well by the press.
All in all, it was a great event and I would like to thank everyone who visited over the three days.
Writing this has brought to mind my change in attitude. Going back ten or fifteen years, I had some pretty strong ideas about exhibitions. I am not sure if it is my natural shyness when it comes to being in public or my Englishness, as in the English rather think you are showing off if you are out in the lime light. Back then I got embarrassed is somebody said they liked my work. My attitude has changed; it has had to change. You can’t really survive as an artist if your skin is that thin. I have had people like my work, and others hate my work. I have developed an indifference to either reaction to my work, obviously I would prefer people to like it, but I can’t get too distressed with negative comments. What interests me more is why they like or dislike a piece of work. I suppose my attitude to being in a spotlight has changed because of the need to sell my work and the profound change that occurred because of working with Americans. When you work for American publishers they don’t take kindly to the English self deprecating attitude. I was told once quite bluntly “If you don’t believe in your work why the hell should I want to buy it?” and that is a fair point. These days, when exhibiting, I stand there and chat to anyone that shows interest and I am happy to do so.
Looking to next year, I am hoping to launch my new non fiction book “Beauty in Every Form” at a London gallery in the spring. There will be several events to launch this book, watch this space for further details.