Painting by William Nicholson

News, Gallery Visits, Exhibitions and more…

Well, it feels like a really long time since I posted very much at all. I have several new little nude studies and a couple of larger portraits to photograph and put online over the next few days, as well as some general prepping and re-organising of the studio ready to start some new, possibly experimental, work over the summer.

The main pull on my time has been the Cotswold Open Studio event that ran for most of June. I can’t believe how tiring talking about yourself is, although I very much enjoyed discussing aspects of the creative process with visitors. We had great support from family, friends and interested strangers (who we will hopefully remain in touch with). While sales were very good (enabling re-investment for the coming year), I can genuinely say that simply opening the studio and getting out of our sometimes quite isolated world was incredibly rewarding. Just meeting people, talking about art and process, sharing what you’re doing and getting outside feedback made all the effort worth it.

Since closing the doors I’ve had a break from painting and have been thinking a lot about the kind of work I want to have a go at creating over the summer. More still life for sure, but also landscape and a push towards more colour and expression, while still retaining the touch that I’m starting to feel is bedding in as my own kind of calligraphy (if that makes sense). I’d like to do more works on paper – larger charcoal landscapes, and (a first) perhaps some oil pastel landscapes too. I also want to gesso paper and see what different effects oil on paper might make. If this works out I’d like to use this support for some figure work too.

With some of this in mind I have been especially inspired by some exhibitions that I have visited in the last week. Seeing the ways other artists have prepared their grounds and put down paint is so motivating. The challenge then is to filter what has influenced you into your own ideas and mark-making. How successful that is, is just a matter of putting in the hours and being mindful of developing your own approach.

Beaux Arts Bath, Artists of Fame and Promise

The first exhibition I visited is currently showing at the lovely Beaux Arts Gallery in Bath. Several artists who have been loosely on my radar for some time have work exhibited. These are some of my favourites. Apologies that all photos are just iphone snaps and I didn’t note titles and other details.

I really enjoy the light, calm and elegant palette of Helen Simmonds; just beautiful, sensitive work. Simon Wright also has this quality although I find more tension and ambiguity of emotion in his spare working of single items of focus. Nathan Ford has an instantly recognisable style that is pared down to find the essential essence of his subject with deft and sophisticated draughtsmanship.

Masterpiece Fair 2015

Next was Masterpiece 2015. This is an extraordinarily high quality art, antiques and design Fair that takes place annually in London at The Royal Hospital Chelsea. Only on for a week, it is well worth a visit (even with the entrance charge of £25 per ticket – although I think that admits two). As well as being a supremely glamorous day out (if you like that kind of thing, which I admit a part of me does), the range of outstanding, museum quality work on show is breathtaking. Everything from works of Antiquity to Old Master and Contemporary paintings, sculpture and design is there. It’s a feast for the eyes where pieces from private collections come out to meet the public gaze before once again disappearing from view. What’s more, you can get really up-close and study the handling of each piece in incredible detail. I could have photographed much more than I did. For one reason or another these are a few that caught my eye and I wanted a record of. Perhaps it was the psychology in a portrait (Augustus John), or impasto brushwork, scratched into with a sense of the physical hand of the artist (William Nicholson), thin paint on a smooth board (Eakins and Boldini), the use of a particular material (Monet)… whatever the reason, each of these hold a small lesson for me that will quietly inform my practise.