2016 Finale

Well here it is, the end of a year – and what a year it has been. My new years resolution for 2016 was to start posting regularly on this blog – once a week – which, apart from the week I spent abroad, has been successfully achieved. From my own artwork to exhibitions I have visited, I have covered a broad range of creative topics, and rekindled my enjoyment of both drawing and writing.

The images above are a few of my final sketches this year. In November I decided to stop attending art group (for a number of reasons) but remained determined to produce a drawing once a week – and to prove it, there they are! As you can see, however, I have not been that adventurous, preferring to stick with monotone tonal drawings. I did, on the other hand, experiment with water-soluble graphite (pic.2), although I think I need to practice my technique a bit more.

1As well as drawing, I have spent the year colouring – books and loose sheets. I would not be surprised if I counted them up to have completed a hundred or so! I have reviewed a couple of the books I own, but you can expect more within the next year.

One of the more recent colouring sheets I enjoyed working on is this picture of candles and poinsettia. This was for a colouring competition, so I used it as an opportunity to really focus on the colours and tones I was using. I think this make the final image more affective in comparison to single block colours.

 

My Number One Drawing, 2016

7

The piece of art I am most proud of is the cyberman a drew as part of a task in the book Think. Draw. Create. On this particular page, the task was to “transform the emptiness” which I decided meant “do want you want”. I had already attempted an illustration using fine liners and pointillism, which I was pleased with, so decided to have another go.

I think this technique looks really effective, and I like how the different pen thicknesses help to create different tones. The downside to this method, however, is the length of time it takes. I produced this illustration over a couple of weeks, working for no more than half an hour at a time. It is very tiring to sit and dot the paper over and over again, and before long your wrist begins to ache.

I’m not setting a definitive resolution for 2017 – too much stress – but I hope I get the chance, and the energy, to try producing more art work in this style. I also aim to continue blogging on a weekly basis, and already have a few ideas to write about in the coming weeks.

Thank you to everyone who has followed this blog or at least taken the time to read a post once in a while. I wish you all the best for 2017.

 

Merry Christmas

2016-copyHave a Cool Yule!

What do reindeer hang on their Christmas trees?

Horn-aments!

Did Rudolph go to school?
No. He was Elf-taught!

What do you call a bunch of chess players bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!

A Politically Correct Christmas 
Anon

Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck…
How to live in a world that’s politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to “Elves”,
“Vertically Challenged” they were calling themselves.
And labor conditions at the North Pole,
were alleged by the union, to stifle the soul.

Four reindeer had vanished without much propriety,
released to the wilds, by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear,
that Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his beautiful sleigh,
because the ruts were deemed dangerous by the EPA,
And millions of people were calling the Cops,
when they heard sled noises upon their roof tops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe, had his workers quite frightened,
and his fur trimmed red suit was called “unenlightened”.

To show you the strangeness of today’s ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose.
He went to Geraldo, in front of the Nation,
demanding millions in over-due workers compensation.

So…half of the reindeer were gone, and his wife
who suddenly said she’d had enough of this life,
joined a self help group, packed and left in a whiz,
demanding from now on that her title was Ms.

And as for gifts…why, he’d never had the notion
that making a choice could cause such commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur…
Which meant nothing for him or nothing for her.
Nothing to aim, Nothing to shoot,
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls and nothing for just boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific,
Nothing that’s warlike or non-pacifistic.

No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish upon the truth.
And fairy tales…while not yet forbidden,
were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden,
for they raised the hackles of those psychological,
who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

No baseball, no football…someone might get hurt,
besides – playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist and should be passe.
and Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

So Santa just stood there, disheveled and perplexed,
he just couldn’t figure out what to do next?
He tried to be merry he tried to be gay,
but you must have to admit he was having a very bad day.
His sack was quite empty, it was flat on the ground,
nothing fully acceptable was anywhere to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might,
give to us all, without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy – with no indecision,
each group of people in every religion.
Every race, every hue,
everyone, everywhere…even you!
So here is that gift, it’s price beyond worth…
“May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on Earth.”

Caravaggesque: the Master and Beyond

If you visit the National Gallery’s current exhibition Beyond Caravaggio, you will only get to view a handful of paintings by the powerful 17th century painter. The majority of the artworks are by other respected artists who, either through direct contact or posthumous influence, replicated Caravaggio’s original style.

Often, paintings produced during Caravaggio’s era were mistakenly accredited to him due to the similar techniques and subject matter. Caravaggio’s works are recognised by their darkness with dramatic usage of light. Some of the pieces painted by his followers do not quite replicate the ethereal beauty he achieves with his depiction of naturalistic lighting. If the scene relies on a visible light source, it is not a Caravaggio, for he never painted candles or fires.

So, the National Gallery shows us Caravaggio’s influence on other artists, but who was Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio?

Born in Milan, 1571, Caravaggio, despite having such a great influence on his contemporaries, only had a very short career. Due to his death in 1610 aged 38, Caravaggio only has about 60 surviving pictures to his name, however his naturalistic, bold style lived on for many more years.

It is hard to imagine Caravaggio struggling as an artist, but as a young man he spent many years enduring hardship in Rome until he was finally recognised as an artist with potential by Cardinal Francesco del Monte, who subsequently became his first patron. Through del Monte, Caravaggio slowly began to get the attention he deserved, eventually receiving his first public commissions. Caravaggio’s first documented works were for the Contarelli Chapel in S. Luigi dei Francesi: Calling of St Matthew and Martyrdom of St Matthew (1599-1600).

The choice of religious scenes – familiar stories – produced with immensely dramatic lighting and shade, established Caravaggio as the most exciting artist of his time, overshadowing the previously admired artists of the day.

Caravaggio’s fame spread throughout Italy as a result of self-inflicted exile after he accidentally killed someone during a fight over a wager of a tennis match. Although constantly on the run, Caravaggio had the opportunity to work on important commissions, influencing many local artists with his poignant artwork.

Unfortunately, Caravaggio died of a fever (possibly brought about from a infected facial wound) before he got the chance to see his influence in action. His legacy lived on for the remainder of the 17th century with many artists imitating his revolutionary approach to painting.

The Caravaggisti (Caravaggio’s followers) is a term applied not only to Italians, but other European artists who flocked to Rome to witness Caravaggio’s form of Realism. Some believed his previously unseen style to be a kind of miracle, and being keen to paint as pure a picture, painstakingly copied his brushstrokes, lighting and tones. Eventually the style broadened out as each artist added their own twist – for instance including candles, fires etc – until the movement gradually faded away during the 18th century.

Other than being a drastically different approach to painting in the 17th century, what did the Italian art world find so fascinating about Caravaggio’s masterpieces? Perhaps the key thing that stood out for them was the chiaroscuro (lit. bright-dark) technique. Most artists rely on contrasting light and dark colours to make their paintings work, however the contrast between the shades in Caravaggio’s works are so strong – it is almost as though a light has physically pierced the picture. It is this aspect that is most noticeable regardless of subject matter.

When standing in front of a Caravaggio, it feels like the light source shining in the picture is situated behind you. As a result, it is almost as though you are part of the scene laid out before you. You are not just looking at a painting, you are interacting with the characters depicted.

Having been to see the Beyond Caravaggio exhibition, I have another theory as to why Caravaggio became such a celebrated painter. Firstly, I was struck by the realistic representation of material and clothing worn by the characters in the displayed scenes. It was so accurate, it could have been a photograph. Secondly, speaking of photographs, the paintwork was so smooth it was impossible to see the brushstrokes – it was so flat that, apart from the slightly flawed facial and head shapes, it could have been a photo.

I particularly like Caravaggio’s choice of colour. Of course the dramatic lighting is attractive, but I was also drawn to his use of reds – it made each painting extremely powerful and contrasted well with the dark backgrounds.  Nonetheless, I agree that it is the light – the chiaroscuro – that makes a Caravaggio a Caravaggio. My favourite painting is The Taking of Christ (pictured above) in which Caravaggio has produced a realistic shine on the Roman soldier’s armour. Absolutely phenomenal. I wish I could paint like that.

If you have time to go to London before 15th January 2017, I recommend taking a look at the National Gallery’s exhibition. Caravaggio’s paintings are impressive when looked at online, but to get a sense of awe, you need to see them first hand.

Bringing the Bible to Life: Let’s Colour

Since the colouring book phase does not to appear to have faded, Bible Society have produced a colouring calendar for 2017. With twelve pages to complete for the year ahead, there is a lot of fun to be had personalising each design.

However, this is not just a promotional item on behalf of Bible Society, it is designed with the intent of sharing Scripture and encouraging people to engage with specific bible verses.

I hope my work helps people recall the Bible, so they can remember it or visualise it. I want what I do to be an encouragement, and to help people trust God.

Emma Skerratt, a British graphic designer, spends hours illustrating Bible verses. For this calendar she has selected twelve powerful verses from the English Standard Version that particularly stand out and illustrate God’s love for each and every individual.

Due to the size and scale of the illustrations, there are quite a few tiny sections to colour in. Sharp pencils will definitely be needed – pen will probably bleed through the double sided pages. Whether you are a pro, or just enjoy colouring, there is enormous fun to be had with this calendar. As a bonus, you get to feel closer to God. With a suggested donation of 50pence, there is not much to prevent you from getting your own copy.

Really COOL Sculptures

It is under a month until Christmas, but the world seems to think it is already here. Christmas trees are up, lights are on, shop fronts show festive displays… Far too early! Yet I still managed to find myself at Winter Wonderland in November!

One of the biggest attractions at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park has got to be the Magical Ice Kingdom. The largest of its kind, the Magical Ice Kingdom is an enclosed, walk-through experience of amazing sculptures… and subzero temperatures. Every year the park hosts a new display with a different theme; this year is An Arctic Adventure.

From polar bears to shipwrecked explorers, the display contains ice sculptures of numerous animals, scenery and native objects you may expect to find in the Arctic. The scale of the carvings are phenomenal, as are the intricate details painstakingly etched into the ice. You’ll want to spend hours looking at them… alas, the temperature will prevent you.

Plenty of photographic opportunities can be found as you make your way around the Kingdom, including an official photograph of yourself sitting on a throne of ice in front of a foreboding palace. And, if you are brave enough/not too cold, you can enjoy a turn sliding down a slippery, icy slope.

Whatever your age, whether you enjoy the cold or not, you will be impressed by these unique sculptures. Looking at photographs does not do them justice; if you can, you must go and see them for yourself. Sadly, the artists involved are not named, but they definitely deserve recognition. Although created for winter entertainment, the sculptures are true works of art and ought to be celebrated. So go along and appreciate the craftsmanship.

—–

Whilst on the topic of sculptures, I have another cool (in the awe-inspiring sense) example to show you. When researching for my previous two posts on Recycled Art, I came across a sculptor/artist called Lin Evola and her project Pax Angeli (The Peace Angels Project).

renaissance-pa

This conceptual art display is to serve as a reminder of the wars and conflicts that have occurred throughout the world, and emphasise that it is up to us, people, to prevent them. Using the stainless steel found in weapons and missiles, Evola has melted them down and reshaped them into figures of angels to represent peace and unity. Evola’s intention is to install a 64′ statue in major cities throughout the world.

As well as being a powerful message, these Peace Angels are  formidable works of art. Their height, detail and quality create a sense of awe, which with the force of the mission behind them, emphasises the vast amount of weapons in existence and the need to diminish them.