Since the New Year we have been meeting virtually and enjoying sharing some art stories. Here are some of the contributions from our last meeting, where we were discussing animals in art.
One of my favourite contemporary artists is “local” artist, Peter Goodfellow. Originally from the north east of England, he studied art in London, and started his professional career as a freelance illustrator, making an international name for himself in the field of book jacket, advertising and packaging design. One of his best known images is the crossed fingers of the National Lottery. In the mid nineties, he and his wife moved to Scotland and he concentrated on painting, mainly landscapes, but he is an accomplished artist in many styles. They run the Lost Gallery, several miles up Glen Nochty in Strathdon, where he exhibits his own work alongside an impressive collection of contemporary painting, photography and sculpture by Scottish artists.
We are fortunate to own two of his paintings; a beautiful snowy panorama of the Cairngorm plateau, and this Nuthatch, which we bought from Gallery Heinzel just before the latest Lockdown.
A few years ago I visited the Tandanya Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Adelaide, South Australia to see art by different Aboriginal communities. I particularly liked “Journey of the Coastal Koori” depicting the route of the Worimi people from the sea to an inland area where they traded ochre. Aboriginal art uses paints made from ground-up seeds, plants and insects, in red, white, brown, yellow, blue and green. They often depict a journey, real or imagined, featuring a map with animals, landscapes, waterholes and the route. Traditionally painting was done directly onto the ground or on rocks and not protected in any way. Thus the transient quality of Aboriginal art expresses its deeper spiritual meaning, reflecting existence – it is not bounded by time or space, or by what is real or dreamed.
While on a trip to Jurong Bird Park, Singapore, I photographed the Black Francolin. This is the Male of the species and is native to India, usually found in long grass and along canal banks. I painted the bird in Alkyd Oils and glued the feathers, which I found laying around the area, on the wings. The park had over 3,000 exotic birds.
Animals Featured in Berardos Pottery: This Portuguese vase, found in an English antique shop and probably dating from the 1970’s, is hand painted with a XVIIth century folk art design featuring whimsical animals set among flowers, foliage and castles. People in Portugal have worked clay since prehistory and Berardos is a well-known pottery which opened in 1884. These features of animals, exotic birds, busy, intricate foliage and patterned borders found on a wide range of decorative pieces and in a variety of glazes make this style of pottery very distinctive.
Although Janet was not able to take part in the Zoom session she has sent me a beautiful painting she did of her last cat Tabitha (Tabby) . I love the detail of colour and texture of her coat and such a sweet expression too. Janet said she was a lovely cat, she died in July last year. Janet’s latest cat is called 2B!
I don’t think I can say I have a favourite artist on any theme. It is very much an emotional response at the time and can be entirely different from one week to the next although there are some which remain firm favourites.
Here is an image which is not a painting but a double exposure photograph of a animal by an artist I have just come across. I love the story and location within just the animal itself. Is there an idea here for the artists of EDAG – highland hills within a stag perhaps…… forest within wildcat….? ANDREAS LIE is a Norwegian visual artist who merges verdant landscapes and photographs of animals to creates subtle double exposure portraits. Snowy mountain peaks and thick forests become the shaggy fur of wolves and foxes, and even the northern lights appear through the silhouette of a polar bear. Lie is undoubtedly influenced by his surroundings in Bergen, Norway, a coastal city surrounded by seven mountains.
The Barn Owl picture was made as part of a two day workshop on Batik. This was the 2nd item I made. The tutor had brought along a picture of a Barn Owl and I decided to try to copy that, not realising the challenge this involved. The material was stretched on a frame and the image sketched. Molten wax was painted on where the white areas were to be. Because there were such large areas of white/pale on the bird different pale blues and pinks had to be used. I found it difficult to “paint” the pale parts first, and if you missed an area, it was too late! The pale blue dye was washed over the whole picture, then wax was painted on using metal pens, before pale pink was applied. In this way, applying wax and progressively darker dyes alternatively, the picture was “painted”. As well as not adding wax in the correct order there were also times that the colour was wrong because some wax dripped onto the canvas inadvertently! There are many faults with it, but I’m very glad I did it.