Relaxation of Covid restrictions and a spot of decent weather has allowed us to return to our outdoor gatherings down by the river in Ellon. We are planning to continue these throughout June, and then take a break in July, though we hope to have a summer outing [date and venue yet to be arranged]. We are all looking forward to being able to return to our art sessions inside, but at the moment we have no date for when this might be. Although many of us have continued painting and sketching throughout the pandemic, we have all missed the camaraderie, mutual support and social aspect of the group, so here’s hoping it won’t be too long.
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In our recent on line meetings we have looked at various styles and types of painting, illustrating our thoughts with examples from both renowned artists and our own efforts. We discussed the use of light and dark to emphasise and create drama and there are many examples of this in classical art, but we also had some interesting home made examples in Barrie’s Buddy Holly picture and Sheila’s of Billy Connolly. In another session, with Hilary’s guidance, we created a still life arrangement which some of us intend to paint. Finally we have looked at how the impression of movement can be created. We showed some beautiful examples, again from established artists and our own attempts. These sessions have allowed us to explore fascinating topics and learn a lot and we are considering continuing in some way when we move back to ”in the flesh” art meetings
Recent Zoom Sessions have been spent relating how we have developed our creative talents, and what and how we now enjoy painting. We had an interesting contribution from Janet who described how her work had metamorphosed from black and white photography through precise, detailed watercolour paintings to her current softer, more spontaneous style, experimenting with different colour palettes, paper and techniques along the way.
In the latest session, led by Hilary, we participated in a fascinating exercise on setting up a still life, learning by trial and error, how tiny changes in position can transform an arrangement, and how subjective a process it is. The final composition is to be a subject for everyone to have a go at, and we look forward to that challenge in the coming weeks.
Several members of the group have artistic talent in their family; Sandy’s granddaughter, Rebecca is studying art at West of Scotland University. Collieston is one of her favourite places and here is her painting of the village entitled Collieston at Low Tide.
In our latest Zoom Art Session we focused on flowers. During Lockdown some group members have been reconstructing Van Gogh’s Irises painting, each doing a section. There was a discussion about how we should piece it together, virtually or otherwise. We are looking forward to piecing the whole painting together at some point and seeing how our styles and interpretations vary.
Several people showed and talked about flower paintings; their own work or favourites by other artists. Hilary introduced us to some work by Margaret Drummond, a self taught Scottish artist who does beautiful floral paintings, often using rags or her fingers. The discussion then moved on to art suppliers; which were the best, and where we might obtain discount for group members. We also chatted about what sort of canvases we used and ways of preparing them. We learned a lot from the session, and hope we can continue coming up with informative topics, as well, of course, as just catching up socially. We are looking forward to the next session, hosted by Barrie, where we will chat about how we have developed our artistic skills.
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.
Neil Simone was born in London, but was captivated by the Yorkshire Dales and has lived and painted there for many years. He is entirely self taught and produces work of great imagination. Although originally inspired by the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, his paintings encompass a huge range of subjects, using many different techniques. His style is distinctive and unusual, and has brought him international acclaim
Southwold Gallery, Suffolk
This painting in water colour and acrylic depicts the windswept marshes at Walberswick, near to the sea side town of Southwold. Between the 16th and 18th centuries, the marshes were drained and used as farmland, they were flooded during the 2nd world war to act as invasion defences and in the 40’s and 50’s they once again reverted to marshes, creating a range of habitats which remain to this day. The area has now become the Suffolk Coast National Nature Reserve and it lies within the Minsmere – Walberswick Heaths and Marshes Site of Special Scientific Interest.
On honeymoon, in Southwold, we wandered in to a large shed –like building crammed with paintings and ceramics rather haphazardly displayed where space could be found. The Grey Winds painting fascinated us both and as we gazed up at it, for it was hanging several feet up, Franic, the artist came over to us. He was pleased with our choice and was quite dismissive of the boats and harbour scenes that he needed to paint to satisfy the tourist market and to earn his living. We settled on our painting at a cost of £20, leaving us with just £20 more to last us the holiday and pay our petrol home and it was only Monday.
We had a fascinating tour of his workshop and then out of the blue Franic said he believed we were musicians, (which actually was the case) and we must come to his home for supper and a musical evening.
We learned that Franic had escaped Poland when the Germans and Russians invaded in1939, and had eventually reached Britain where he served with the R.A.F. During an E.N.S.A. concert he fell madly in love with the soloist, the notable Wagnerian singer, Maud Heaton, pursued her, and eventually they were married. After demob, in order to launch his painting/ceramics career, he decided to hire the top floor of a local department store, fill it with art and ceramics and wait to see if he could realize his dream. His huge effort paid off, sales were good and the Southwold Gallery was born.
Maud and Franic’s home, much of it designed and built by Franic himself reflected their great artistic talents with hand painted ceramic tiles adorning the bathroom and kitchen and centre stage in the sitting room a magnificent grand piano draped with a lace shawl and displaying photos of bygone operatic days.
We were in our element and so thankful for the warmth and kind hospitality as well as the music that we shared on several occasions that week with such a remarkable couple. Occasionally, their artistic temperaments would flare in light hearted argument when she would accuse him of being deaf and he would accuse her of being blind. Much laughter ensued.
Our’ Grey Winds’ has given us and our family enormous pleasure over the years and though the name of Franic Zajdowski can’t be found in any internet search, his work remains very significant to us.