As it’s been 130 years since the first British Impressionist Exhibition we decided to revisit the Impressionist movement: what the themes were, the techniques that were used and how the work was received. Looking at contemporary artists it is clear how many have been influenced by the Impressionists and use part of their approach in a modern way. This article also gives tips on how an artist can paint with this approach.
[The image featured above is by John Stillman RSMA, it is End of the Day Strand On The Green, 7 x 10, to see more of his work please visit his website here.]
The Formation of Impressionism
Berthe Morisot, Dans les blés, circa 1875, oil on canvas, 47 cm x 69 cm
The first exhibition of Impressionist work took place in April 1874, at the time they were considered ridiculous, shortly after they were seen as groundbreaking and now many of their views and techniques are taken as the mainstay of painting. Most people, who aren’t even interested in art, will know the names of the main Impressionists (Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Sisley, Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas) and their work and approach is still increasingly popular with collectors, hotel owners and artists alike.
Philip Wilson Steer , Girls Running, Walberswick Pier, 1888-94, Presented by Lady Augustus Daniel 1951
During the first exhibition, the term ‘Impressionist’ was coined to be derogatory, the art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel was unable to even pay the artists the agreed sums due to lack of collectors and when several French Impressionists were staying in Britain their work barely sold. However, by the time of the first English Impressionist exhibition in 1889, the term Impressionist had become synonymous with modern life, spontaneity, independence and the future of art. James McNeill Whistler brought many of the then solidified Impressionist techniques to Britain showing them to his pupils Walter Richard Sickert and Wilson Steer, who then promoted the approach in England through creating the New English Art Club.
Walter Sickert, The Camden Town Murder, or What Shall We Do For the Rent? , c.1908 – c.1909, oil, canvas, 25.6 x 35.6 cm
Modern Impressionism Compared to Traditional Impressionism
Michael Alford, Nude Reclining Striped Cotton 1, Oil on Board, 14 x 22 [modern]
An Impressionist approach is still favoured by many British painters working today. Panter and Hall Gallery is holding an exhibition of contemporary British Impressionists, Michael Alford, John Martin and Richard Pikesley, Susan Ryder and Robert E Wells, this month (view details here). But, has the intention of Impressionism changed in its modern form? It was revolutionary at the time because it did away with the hard lines and clear forms that the art world had made mandatory, and instead relied on rapid brushstrokes and colour. This is no longer revolutionary so does it change the nature of the work?
Roger Dellar RI, ROI, PS, Painter in the shade, 12×12, Wapping group day (Roger Dellar is part of the British Plein Air Painters)[modern]
Some modern artists, follow an Impressionist approach that hasn’t really changed in over 130 years. They work predominantly outdoors, focus on light and work spontaneously to describe a moment. This means their work has similar themes and intent to the original Impressionists, however, while Impressionism was revolutionary at its inception it is now seen as traditional and part of the institution, meaning modern ‘Impressionists’ cannot be viewed as rebellious. A perfect example of how equivalent groups to the Impressionist communities are still thriving is the plein air groups the Northern Boys and the British Plein Air Painters, both of whom work predominantly outdoors and use some techniques that can be seen as Impressionist. There is currently an exhibition being held in Manchester and a paint out arranged at Manchester, Piccadilly Gardens on the 13th April 2019 (you can view details on the British Plein Air Painters here). Lois Griffel’s book Painting the Impressionist Landscape builds and further looks at contemporary Impressionist painting compared to the original Impressionist paintings and describes how one can mimic an Impressionist working style.
Haidee-Jo Summers, White dahlias, oil painting on panel, 16 x 12 (part of the British Plein Air Painters and a judge for the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2019)[modern]
Key Techniques of Impressionist Painting
Claude Monet, The Seine at Lavacourt, 1880, oil on canvas, 98.4 cm x 149.2 cm
Some of the key features of Traditional Impressionism are in play in modern work as visible throughout this post. There tends to be slightly less optical mixing now as the abundance of per-mixed colours has made it redundant as a necessity while working outdoors but many artists still opt to use optical mixing as it’s visually alluring.
They focused on the effect of light, especially at dawn or dusk and at the golden hour.
Distinctive fast brushstrokes rather than delicately painted details
Then as now, in order to produce an impression of a scene with true atmosphere the Impressionist worked outside rather than in a studio (this was also partially why their work was accused by some of being “sketches”). This made it essential to have a proper plein air set up, while the focus on colour to guide the eye instead of tonal form or strong lines meant purchasing high pigmented, bright oils or other colour was a must.
Adebanji Alade is the Vice President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and has sketched and painted for almost all his life. Adebanji is currently working on a project which involves painting 250 small portraits of people. They are of anyone he knows or meets, from willing volunteers and friends to celebrities and iconic people. He is self-sponsoring the project and Winsor & Newton are providing the materials. Adebanji is doing it to improve his portrait painting skills through repeated, daily practice. When the project is complete he will publish a book with all 250 portraits, discussing the processes and what he learnt along the way.
I love drawing people. I sketch people on public transport almost every day – a habit I’ve developed over the past 20 years. What I have noticed is that I am now able to sketch people almost effortlessly because I have done this repeatedly over a long period of time. I recently found out from an artist I admire that this is called ‘Deliberate Practice’. I decided to do a bit more research on this idea I discovered from Bryan Mark Taylor and found out that there’s a whole theory on this.
I noticed that a whole piece has been written about this – it can be a bit of a long read but interesting too. It’s titled ‘The role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance’ by K. Anders Ericsson, Ralf Th. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Romer. The main gist is that if you are able to have focused practice that is purposeful, regular and deliberate over a period of time, you will be able to become an expert in any area of such concentration. This whole concept really inspired me because, without knowing this theory existed, I had already seen great results in my sketches of people.
I developed this over a long period by sketching on public transport every day and working en plein air, which I developed by painting 212 small paintings of the City of Bath in 4 months – I called it my Bath Marathon! Through plein air work and sketching people, I can easily say that I have become an expert in these areas with the deliberate practice concept.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #4 – Selfie
But, there is one area of my work I want to gain mastery in – painting portraits. I love painting portraits but I have never really gained the mastery of it. Sometimes it’s on and sometimes it’s off and this has really been quite embarrassing for me. So, once I heard of this theory, I decided to give myself the challenge to paint 250 portraits in 250 days.
Now, that didn’t quite work out last year due to some factors but I am determined to complete them this year. I am already past number 60, so I have got roughly around 190 left! I work on 6 in x 8 in or 8 in x 10 in surfaces. If people are interested in purchasing them I let them go for £375 a piece (unframed). I work mostly in oils and I paint them on a thin gessoed MDF board.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #13 – My Daughter
My goal is just to paint people I know, people I meet, strangers, iconic people, and friends, just anyone. These can be from life or from photographs, it doesn’t really matter – I just want to improve my level of painting portraits to a level of mastery. I believe by constantly painting with a goal not only to get a resemblance but to fashion out a language of my own by experimenting with different techniques and procedures, I will eventually get the full hang of it.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #15 – Arsene Wenger
It’s not been easy. As with any other project, the beginning is always fun and explosive but there comes a time when the wear and tear sets in and the spice dies out. This has happened with this project, life has got in the way, but I have had to revive my goal and purpose again and again!
Deliberate Portrait Practice #30 – Big Issue Seller Charing Cross
I shared my idea with Winsor & Newton who produce most of the oil colours I use and they have been pleased to help with sponsoring the project with a generous supply of oil colours. At the end of this project I plan to produce a book with all the paintings, explaining why I chose the sitters and my experience of painting them and what I have learnt. I called the whole series my Deliberate Portrait Practice. I hope I can make this happen. There is always a price for any worthy endeavour and this is my next challenge.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #49 – Harry Kane
I have always loved a challenge and this one is really daunting! What I have learnt so far when it comes to painting portraits is that the drawing must be spot on. If the drawing is awkward, lacks a bit of accuracy, and misses a major angle or measurement; no matter the amount of fancy painting that comes on top – the portrait will never be a successful one. I have had many wipe-outs and many that have not made the cut – I am going to publish some of the failed attempts in the book too.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #51 – Stranger making up
Below are two portraits – the one that made it (right) and the one that didn’t (left). With this piece, I learnt that speed doesn’t help with portraits. I also learnt that portraits where the person is smiling with teeth showing are better done on a bigger surface than my normal 6 in x 8 in format. I was more careful with the drawing on the second attempt and I used an 8 in x 10 in surface.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #60 – Graham’s Son
If you have an idea or something you really want to gain mastery over, try this method of deliberate practice. You might need a mentor or a tutor to guide you along the way, but face your fears and go for it. It might be a long task and you might get a bit discouraged along the way but just don’t give up until you get the results you were looking for at the beginning. I have really seen a great improvement since the start. I even gained the confidence to accept a teaching job at The Art Academy, London – I took their Advanced Expressive Portrait Class for 5 weeks. The students really enjoyed my wealth of knowledge and experience. What they may not know is that it has been thanks to this project. I wonder what I’ll be able to do when I complete this project! Let’s see what the future holds. You can follow this project on my Instagram or Facebook page.
Deliberate Portrait Practice #56, #57 – The Connection
About Adebanji Alade
Adebanji Alade, b.1972, is the Vice President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and one of the most exciting artists in Britain today. He has exhibited widely throughout the country and has won numerous awards for his dynamic, mostly urban, paintings that are full of people and life. He currently works full time as a painter from his studio on Lots Road in Chelsea, London.
Whether he works indoors or outdoors, Adebanji strives to bring the life, vitality and movement of ‘the sketch’ into his paintings. He is inspired by the atmosphere, historical importance, mood, and the play of light that a particular place can offer at any point in time. Adebanji frequently presents films and interviews for BBC One’s The One Show and his sketches of commuters on the underground have also been made into the Channel 4 animated short film Two Minutes.
Jackson’s Professional Oil Paints are luminous, vibrant, and full of character. Made in the UK by skilled artisans using only the finest grade pigments and the purest refined oils, this range rivals leading oil colour brands but at a fraction of the price. These gorgeous paints are made without extenders, fillers, or drying modifiers. The intense colour saturation and purity of the professional colours is achieved by high pigment loading coupled with our traditional production process. Each pigment is treated individually according to its own properties. Each absorbs a different amount of oil and some pigments like Ultramarine Blue only need gentle milling, whereas coarser earth pigments must undergo a lengthier process on the mill to achieve optimum dispersion of the pigment in the oil.
We occasionally expand the colours in the range when we think a colour would be really useful. We’ve recently added four new colours: three convenience mixes and a single pigment colour that is a particularly good mixer. All four new colours are available in 40ml or 225ml tubes.
Pigments: PW4 PW6 PR188 PR209
A mixture of transparent white and opaque white with the orange-red Naphthol Scarlet and the intense, slightly cool, middle red Quinacridone Red. This creates a warm, intense orangey-pink perfect for catching the eye or for bright underpainting. A warm, clean, opaque colour with lots of zing. It has an average drying time and tinting strength and excellent lightfastness. It has a lot of white in it so using a small amount in a mix is useful for lightening and warming the mixture.
The Brilliant Pink will warm up other colours quickly. The Manganese Violet and Sap Green in differing ratios make some useful dull darks. Some white was added to see the colour better.
Pigments: PG7 PBr7
A mixture of transparent, bright Phthalo Green and natural Iron Oxide. A classic warm, dark, mossy green capable of a wide range of tones, from a yellow green in a thin layer to a rich near-black when applied thickly. It has an average drying time and tinting strength and excellent lightfastness. It is semi-opaque.
Modifying the King’s Blue Deep with a touch of the Brilliant Pink and Sap Green makes some nice warm and cool greys.
Pigments: PB29 PW6 PW4
A mixture of transparent white and opaque white with Ultramarine Blue. Designed as a deeper replacement for the historic pigment Smalt. It has an average drying time, is opaque and has excellent lightfastness. It has a lot of white in it so using a small amount in a mix is useful for lightening and cooling the mixture. Also a good base to start mixing sky colours. Adding a little Sap Green makes a dull, light blue-green, useful for sea colours. Adding a small amount of the other three new colours easily makes a series of useful warm and cool greys.
A small amount of Manganese Violet in the King’s Blue Deep makes a dark, violet grey that can be lighted with white – useful for shadows or skies.
A deep, reddish violet with a balanced neutral temperature. It has an average drying time and tinting strength and excellent lightfastness. It is semi-opaque. It is great for shadow mixtures and for darkening colours. Mixed with Alizarin Crimson it creates a rich maroon colour. Mixed with Sap Green it creates a dark blue-grey similar to indigo.
Manganese Violet works beautifully to modify the Sap Green making usefull dull greens and grey greens. A bit of Sap Green in the Manganese Violet makes rich, dark brownish violets. Brilliant Pink and Manganese Violet mix to a cool magenta.
This columns on the left and right start with Manganese Violet and add more of the mixed colour as it descends. In the centre are 4 variations on the colour you get in the centre of the column, a 50:50 mix. I am highlighting these because the maroon colour on the left and the indigo colour on the right were interesting, useful results.
Manganese Violet mixed in different ratios with four earth colours.
Read our earlier articles about Jackson’s Professional and Artist Oil Colours
The Shortlist for Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2019, celebrating exceptional artworks by artists at all stages of theirs careers, has now been decided. Our Expert Judging Panel have selected their favourite artworks from the Longlist of 420 entries and they are now available to view.
Congratulations to all the artists whose work has made it to the Shortlist this year.
They are: David Micheaud, Shanti Panchal, Magdalena Gluszak-Holeksa, Paul Smith, James Moore, Gisela Banzer, Adam Baker (featured), Fiona Long (featured), Nadja Gabriela Plein, Jonathan Dickson, Rosso Emerald Crimson, Naima Aouni, Hector Chan, Caio Locke, Ruairi Fallon Mc Guigan, Claire Cansick, Paul Stone, Judith Tucker, Christopher Campbell (featured), Kae Sasaki, Sorca O’Farrell, James Tebbutt, Daniel Yeomans, Karen Spencer, Paula Urzica, Michelle Wilson, Mark Finch, William GC Brown, Polly Townsend, Stephen Palmer, Marc Standing (featured), Clare Thatcher, Aldo Balding (featured), Iain Nicholls, Philip Tyler, Jenny Fay (featured), Sam Rahamin, Hilary Carr, Catherine MacDiarmid, Esmond Loh, Jennifer Nieuwland, Josh Hollingshead, Mark McLaughlin, Michael Sheldon and Tess Gray.
Each of these artists have been invited to submit their work to our finalist’s gallery at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead and they are all in the running to receive the Overall Prize of £5000 cash.
Click here to view the Shortlist
Read interviews with each of our 2019 Expert Judges:
Jennifer Conner – Curator, Publisher & UK Regional Managing Director of the Affordable Art Fair
Tom Down – Artist and Winner of Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018
Public voting is still open for the People’s Choice Award
In order to vote for the People’s Choice Award, please register as a user on our competition software. You have until noon on the 24th April 2019 to log in and cast your vote. Please feel free to invite your friends and families to vote too. The winner of the Peoples’ Choice Award will win a £1000 cash prize.
*Please note: if you have an existing user profile and you are trying to access the longlist, make sure you are logged out of the competition software and clear your internet cache as your browser may be saving an old version of the page that is preventing you from viewing the new version.*
Key Dates Remaining
6 Category Winners Announced: 18th April, 2019
Public Voting Closes for Peoples Choice Award: 24th April, 2019
Overall Prize, People’s Choice Award & Emerging Artist Award Announced: 26th April, 2019
Shortlist Gallery at the Affordable Art Fair Hampstead: 9th – 12th May, 2019
Jackson’s Competitions Panel Discussion – Affordable Art Fair Hampstead, Sunday May 12th – Re-Balance Room, 1.00 pm – 1.30 pm
We were very impressed to hear of the work being done by Hospital Rooms, where they bring artists into facilities to encourage creativity and revive spaces. Artist Katharine Lazenby has kindly explained for us how the project operates and how one can use art to both promote wellness and make a difference, through colour, thoughtful work and workshops, to those in hospital. We are committed to supporting the work of artists that help people and are amazed by the effectiveness of this project.
By Katharine Lazenby
Hospital Rooms is a charity dedicated to transforming clinical environments with extraordinary bespoke artworks, driven by a commitment to ensure that the environment within mental health care settings supports and enhances the therapeutic care service users receive. The charity commissions world-class artists who work closely with service users and staff throughout each project, collaborating to transform typically uninspiring, clinical spaces with site-specific artworks which bring joy, offer comfort and hope, and have the power to stimulate and heal. The charity works in some of the most challenging clinical environments, believing that acute mental illness and the need for intensive inpatient treatment should not deny people the opportunity to experience the arts and engage in creativity.
How it works and making site appropriate artwork
Hospital Rooms commissions artists specialising in a range of disciplines, from photography, to painting, to installation. They have worked with established world-class artists such as Gavin Turk, Bob & Roberta Smith, Mark Titchner, Julian Opie, Richard Wentworth and Anish Kapoor as well as many new up and coming artists who are building an international reputation for cutting edge art, such as Tschabalala Self, Gordon Cheung and Nengi Omuku.
The artists produce work which responds sensitively to the environments they are working in, thinking about the function of the space, how it is currently used by service users, their opinion of it and what kind of creative intervention could enhance its therapeutic impact. Each project begins with the artists visiting the ward to meet service users and staff, providing an opportunity to hear directly from those who are living and working in the spaces the artists will be transforming, a chance to not only familiarise themselves with the physical space but gain a greater insight into life on the ward and how it might be improved.
Using Experience to Create a Work that has an Emotionally Calming Impact
Often the conversations held during such visits directly inform the final work made. At Highgate Mental Health Centre’s Garnet Ward for older people with dementia and other mental health challenges, painter Sutapa Biswas invited residents to share their recollections of places they had lived or visited, gathering stories about gardens service users had once tended, exotic flora and fauna, and childhoods spent in countries abroad. Passionate about nature and interested in the presence of distant places in the memory, Sutapa channelled her conversations with service users into the immersive lush and verdant garden mural she created in Women’s Quiet Room at Garnet Ward. Her painting brings the outside in, providing a space for retreat and reminiscence, incorporating plant life from climates all around the world and reflecting the patient community’s wealth of experience.
Sutapa Biswas at work in the Women’s Quiet Room at Garnet Ward.
When Yukako Shibata met residents and staff at Garnet Ward she shared examples of her paintings and small sculptures and was inspired by the diverse response to her work. Selecting a small enclosed sitting area in the ward, Yukako created a stunning abstract wall painting composed of layer upon layer of transparent colour. The indeterminate nature of the artwork allows residents to project onto it their own associations and they have described it as like ‘light’, a ‘chapel’, ‘tranquil’ – ‘it is not sky, it is not sea, it is just beautiful’.
Yukako Shibata, Sitting Area in Garnet Ward
Art Workshops as a Form of Creative Healing
Every project also includes onsite artist-led workshops for staff and service users which run for the duration of the project. These not only provide invaluable opportunities for therapeutic art-making but often generate material which ends up feeding directly into the work the artists finally produce for the inpatient environment.
Turner nominated British artist Mark Titchner made a number of visits to Snowsfields Adolescent Unit at The Maudsley Hospital before embarking on his wall painting in the ward’s Family Room. Mark met with service users and staff on a number of occasions, seeking to understand the particular uses of different areas in the unit and how various spaces are experienced by different individuals. During an art workshop with the young people at Snowsfields, Mark encouraged participants to create personal slogans and inspiring messages, exploring the impact of different combinations of words. This creative collaboration with service users fed directly into the mural Mark finally created for the unit – an incredible, intricately patterned, layered design, meticulously hand-painted and revealing the central message ‘Believe Dreams’.
Wall painting Believe Dreams by Mark Titchner, in the Family Room at Snowsfields Adolescent Unit in The Maudsley Hospital.
Mark recently joined Hospital Rooms again, for their project at Bluebell Lodge, an inpatient mental health rehabilitation unit for men. His mural ‘Please Believe’ has transformed Bluebell’s TV Room.
First layers applied to Mark Titchner’s mural Believe Dreams
Applying the finishing touches to Please Believe
Please Believe Wall painting by Mark Titchner in the Bluebell Lodge TV room
Mark Titchner leading a group painting workshop for service users at a Mother & Baby Unit in Exeter, where Hospital Rooms’ latest project has just got underway.
Site Specific Installations
During workshops, artists occasionally use small-scale models to explore with service users and staff possible creative ideas for transforming particular spaces. At Bluebell Lodge, for example, painter and Hospital Rooms co-founder Tim A Shaw used this approach to work closely with the residents on a new design for the corridors and Dining Room. After discussing ideas and trying them out on small models, the chosen design of clouds against a blue sky was then transferred by Tim onto the walls and ceiling of the spaces. The clouds were painted in a shiny silver – chosen for the way it reflects the light and creates a more textured, dynamic surface.
Tim A Shaw – Bluebell Lodge (One of the silver clouds painted in the corridor at Bluebell Lodge)
Artist Rachael Champion created an immersive digital print collage for the Telephone Room at Bluebell Lodge, informed by the workshop she led for residents. Titling the workshop, ‘Finding Terraspheric Forms’, Rachael brought some wooden mock-ups of the Telephone Room and residents used collage and clay sculpture to explore ways of altering the space.
Rachael Champion material from workshop
Using Vibrant Colours to Connect with Service Users
For two of their projects Hospital Rooms has worked with scenic painter for the Royal Opera House Michael O’Reilly. Following an extraordinary trompe l’oeil mural Michael created at Phoenix Rehabilitation Unit in Springfield Hospital for Hospital Rooms’ very first project, the charity commissioned him again for their project at Garnet Ward.
When developing his idea for the ward, which cares for older people effected by dementia and other mental health challenges, Michael drew inspiration from his grandma, who herself experienced dementia. While in hospital his grandma had been captivated by a stained glass window in the onsite chapel. With failing eyesight, Michael’s grandma had enjoyed the sparkly vibrant colours and bold outlines. So for Garnet Ward Michael designed a large wall painting depicting a woodland scene as though viewed through a window. Responding sensitively to the nature of the difficulties suffered by those with dementia, which often includes visual impairment, Michael used warm luminous colour and strong lines to create a clear, dramatic and engaging image. The painting is full of life with small details which attract attention and allow residents to keep discovering new things within the painting over time – a beehive, a cat attempting to catch a fish, a distant cabin and smoke curling up from a campfire. The image invites exploration, prompts reminiscence and has brought much joy to the service users and staff at Garnet Ward.
Michael O’Reilly’s completed wall painting in the dining room at Garnet Ward – photography Jennifer Moyes
Practicalities of Creating Reflective Art Work within Facilities
The management of each project requires careful risk assessment, carried out through close consultation between Hospital Rooms, the artists, the onsite staff and service users, to ensure that all who are involved can participate safely and get the most out the project. Collaboration with fabricators and material suppliers is also key, as the artists and Hospital Rooms endeavour to identify the processes and materials which will be durable, wipe clean, long-lasting, and safe for high risk environments whilst still being of the highest quality.
Since its very first project, Hospital Rooms has been supported by the international art suppliers Colart, who have provided the charity with the highest quality professional materials from their brands Liquitex and Winsor & Newton. The donation of such materials has not only enabled the creation of extraordinary artwork by Hospital Rooms’ commissioned artists but also resourced the many workshops Hospital Rooms have facilitated throughout their projects for the service users and staff they work with. [Jackson’s Art Supplies is also now supporting Hospital Rooms.]
Using Practical Materials for Medical Facilitates
Painter Nengi Omuku thought carefully about the materials she would use to create the large wall mural in the Family Room at Eileen Skellern 1, a psychiatric intensive care unit for women. Specialising in oils, Nengi chose to use water-soluble oil paints for this project, to avoid the need for any powerful solvents like white spirit. The image Nengi created depicts an abstract blending of three figures who offer one another comfort and care. Nengi’s work often sits on the border between abstraction and figuration but at Eileen Skellern 1 she decided to move even further away from explicit figurative representation. Conscious that depictions of faces and bodies can be a trigger for individuals experiencing psychosis, Nengi decided to avoid overt references to the human body. She was also interested in showing the human body as patches of colour and geometric shapes, held together within an overall form, representing feelings of fragmentation and alienation which Nengi experienced when she moved from Nigeria to England and which she believed some of the service users at Eileen Skellern 1 might be able to relate to: ‘It came from my own experiences of dealing with challenging situations and figuring out the ways I needed to mentally adapt in order to exist’. Nengi’s great skill with this work, however, has been to create an image which communicates a feeling of unity and warmth, a sense of embrace. The figures are wrapped in a traditional Nigerian fabric called Blangidi, which is a defining feature of major family events. The figures hold one another and blend into a continuous form, the fabric encircling and intertwining with the bodies further emphasising Nengi’s overarching message, ‘we are together’.
We were interested by Donna Bailey’s comment ‘I was looking for a table top easel where the central support rod could be lowered in order to work comfortably on larger works while sitting down. Given my lack of space, I also required the drawer to pull out sideways as opposed to forwards. The Jackson’s Wentworth Box Easel ticks all these boxes and it’s hard to believe that anyone can make a profit particularly when it’s on sale.’ We asked Donna to expand on what she liked about the easel and to explain how she combats any issues with it. We also awarded her a £25 Jackson’s Gift Voucher for writing the most informative and useful review of the month.
Changing the length of the support so that the Jackson’s Wentworth Easel can hold a larger canvas
Jackson’s Wentworth Box Easel is a H-frame construction able to support canvases up to 85cm. This is generous for a table-top easel and is thanks to the design of the lower canvas support.
Ordinarily, these cannot be set below the base-height of a box easel, yet, it is possible to adjust the Wentworth up to 28cm. When done so, the lower support hangs in front of the edge of a work surface to accommodate medium-sized canvases. It is a clever configuration – perfect for the artist whose workspace is small.
This design is not just practical though. It is also ergonomic. For myself, the ability to lower the height of a canvas is as important as being able to raise it. I have found that since switching from my traditional box easel to Jackson’s Wentworth, I no longer experience discomfort in my arms, neck and shoulders caused by working at the wrong height.
Jackson’s Wentworth Table Easel inner draw in use
For added convenience, the easel incorporates a large side-loaded drawer with wooden dividers. The two biggest sections are 36cm x 10cm and I am able to store my long Shinku Synthetic brushes (Jackson’s) inside. The two smaller sections measure 17.5cm x 10cm, which is perfect for pencils or charcoal sticks. The drawer when pulled out reveals dove-tailed joints and a sturdy base, which I am confident should not buckle or warp. The gold latches close securely and the carrying handle is comfortable.
Wentworth easel with drawing board
There are only two points to note. First, it is practical to place something underneath the easel to prevent it from sliding backwards when in use. I tend to affix a small amount of a kneadable eraser to the four corners of my easel and this solves the problem. Second, the frame will start to slip back if too much weight is applied against it.
Resetting the position is as simple as pulling the frame forwards and tightening the adjustment screws again. I have found that the only way to prevent this from ever occurring is to adopt a gentler hand. That said, it should not deter one from purchasing Jackson’s Wentworth Box Easel. It is, after all, a practical and ergonomic choice for any artist.
Jackson’s Wentworth Table Easel in use sketching at home ‘studio’
About Donna Bailey
Donna is a self-taught artist living in Staffordshire. After leaving a career in academia, she started drawing in 2017 and now works full-time as an artist. She uses graphite and charcoal to create portraits in a mostly photorealistic style.
We would like to encourage you to write a review on our website of any products that you have used. Simply navigate to the product you wish to review and click on the ‘Reviews’ button beneath the product image. Be thoughtful and detailed – think about what information will be useful to others.
Each month we will be selecting several well-written examples which will be published on our blog. The writer of the best review will receive a £25 Jackson’s gift voucher plus a photograph of them in their studio (if they wish) and a link to their website will appear alongside their review.
As an artist it’s important to sell work. If you’re looking at how to make your work more profitable these tips from art historian Anna Tietze may help you understand the commercial market more or think about how you produce a series you intend to sell and what palette and subject matter you choose.
Success: it’s the elusive goal artists are continually striving for. And yet every artist has experienced the disappointment of work that goes unsold and grappled with the fear that their subject matter simply doesn’t have an audience.
But while there is no magic formula to produce success, there are techniques you can employ to raise your chances of hitting it big. Skill, talent and sheer good luck are the intangibles in the equation, but by following some of the methods outlined below, you’ll have every chance of selling more of your work – and selling it at a better price.
Claude Monet, Sunlight Effect under the Poplars, 1887, 60x81cm, oil on canvas, Staatsgalerie, Stuttgart
What we can learn from art history
We chatted to art historian Anna Tietze of the University of Cape Town and posed the question: what has sold well historically?
She points to two books for inspiration. The first is by Philip Hook, a senior director at Sotheby’s in London, and is entitled The Ultimate Trophy: How the Impressionist Painting Conquered the World (2009).
Some key takeaways from Hook’s work are as follows:
‘The enduring appeal of Impressionist painting has proved to be its capacity to uplift the spirits of the spectator, its mood-enhancing effect’ — Philip Hook
Ergo, feel-good paintings have traditionally sold better throughout history. That’s not at the exclusion of moodier artists like Francis Bacon, of course, but it’s a consistent – and noteworthy – theme nonetheless.
Look no further than dentists and doctors’ practices around the world, with reproductions of ‘sunlit Monets and Renoirs’.
The second, by Don Thompson, The $12 Million Dollar Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art (2008) goes even further.
Colours matter. Red does best, followed by white, blue, yellow, green then black. ‘When it comes to Andy Warhol, green moves up [in position]. Green is the color [sic] of money,’ — Don Thompson
Andy Warhol, Green Coca-Cola Bottles, 1962, Acrylic, screenprint, and graphite pencil on canvas, 82 3/4 × 57 1/8 in, 210.2 × 145.1 cm
Some other findings:
Bright colours have more appeal than pale colours.
Horizontal canvases trump vertical canvases.
‘Nudity sells more than modesty, and female nudes for much more than male.’
‘Figurative works do better than landscapes.’
Thompson ends with: ‘A still life with flowers is worth more than one with fruit, and roses are worth more than chrysanthemums. Calm water adds value (think of Monet’s Water Lilies); rough water brings lower prices (think of maritime pictures). Shipwrecks bring even less.’
Though no painter should feel beholden to these maxims, they’re an interesting reflection on the art market historically.
Lasse Moller, Visible signature in the corner of the canvas
What to bear in mind when creating the art itself
Timeless flourishes are a must. Grand masters recognised the importance of titling and signing their work and though the world is fully digital now, these are all touches that will tell collectors you’re serious about your craft.
Add a title to the back of the artwork and sign a section of the canvas.
If you’re creating a series of paintings, number each and every one, and stick with a series size. Simply adding extra paintings to the collection will devalue your work, as collectors want to be able to buy an entire collection in one go.
Dates don’t need to be added to the work itself (you run the risk of making work appear outdated) but do keep a record of the month and year the work was created in, as this can be useful to collectors down the line.
Look to employ a signature style. This doesn’t need to be a cynical appeal to taste, but it should reflect what you’re passionate about, and it’s generally something you develop over time. With practice, you’ll be able to work out types of things you like to paint; the style in which you’re going to do it; perhaps the tools you’ll use. Don’t be afraid to experiment with styles that are well-known before making it your own. No work of art is ever truly 100% unique.
As an artist, it’s tempting to take the high ground and to resist self-promotion. But you run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot. The internet has opened up so many avenues to explore, and you can market your work with the minimum of effort.
Create a website:
A portfolio can easily be created using Wix.com or the cheaper but more labour-intensive WordPress. To get a domain in your name, you’ll need to pay a small fee, but if you want to actually sell your work online, the effort is worth it. [Jackson’s Art Sites is a service which provides great websites for artists without the cost and hassle of setting one up, you can find it here.]
Cultivate your portfolio:
If a website is outside your means, at the very least upload a cross section of your work to portfolio websites like Behance, or DeviantArt.
Start a blog:
If you have a website you can use free tools like Keyword Planner, or Google Trends, to investigate trending topics in the art world. Whether you want to blog about David Hockney’s latest record-shattering Portrait of an Artist or profile the billionaire collectors of priceless works, it’s never a bad idea to intercept topics that are trending globally. It only makes your site more likely to appear in search results when people Google these stories, and it’s another way to reach out to a potential audience online (over and above the works you create).
For every success story there’s a long-travelled road that artist has walked, with an unappreciative market, and a series of disappointments along the way. In the end, the most important thing is to keep at it.
Some artists that like painting on canvas do not like the bounce you get with a stretched canvas and find canvas panels the perfect solution. You can attach your favourite primed or un-primed canvas to a wooden panel to paint on a rigid surface that still has the texture of canvas.
There are other reasons you might want to paint on a canvas panel. A thin panel will fit in a pochade box for plein air painting, where a stretched canvas will not. In addition to the bounce during painting, the movement of the canvas can cause problems with the dried paint later. A rigid surface is required for some mediums such as encaustic painting where the flex of a stretched canvas would crack the surface. Also, it is considered more conservationally sound to use a rigid surface for oil painting, to prevent cracking over time, though with large paintings you have to balance the considerations of weight and transportability, so stretched canvas might be a better choice for large paintings.
You can purchase ready made canvas panels but if you make your own you can get exactly the size, depth and canvas you want. It’s a straightforward process to make your own custom canvas panels and you can make a stack in an afternoon.
Making a Canvas Painting Panel
Choose a rigid surface
The Jackson’s Smooth Plywood Panels are great if you want an edge of wood around the back side so you can hang the panel on a screw or attached a wire for hanging, it can be a standard depth or a deep-edged panel. You can also use many other rigid surfaces like wood, MDF or gatorboard. For panels that fit into plein air painting pochade box slots you will need a thin, un-cradled panel like MDF or mountboard.
Cut your canvas piece
Making small canvas panels is a great way to use the off cuts of canvas you have after stretching canvas, that are too small to do anything else with. Or you can purchase canvas by the metre. When cutting your piece of canvas be aware that the glue will wet your canvas so it may shrink a few mm as it dries, so cut it a few mm larger than your panel. I trace around the panels (on the wrong side of the canvas if it’s primed) with a pencil and then cut a little outside the line. Because the line of the weave may show, cutting in line with it looks tidy and reduces the distraction of a slightly diagonal grid pattern, so you may want to line your panel up with the weave before you trace around it.
Apply the adhesive
The most commonly used glues are soft acrylic gel or PVA. Brush your chosen adhesive evenly onto your wooden panel. Do not be skimpy as most glues shrink a lot as the water evaporates and you can end up with too thin a layer.
Apply the canvas
I lay the canvas on the table and lower the glued panel down onto it because I can see the edges better to line things up, but you can also lay the canvas on from above. Then smooth it with a brayer/roller or a palette knife and work out all air pockets as you go, paying particular attention to getting the edges pushed down.
Dry it under pressure
Glue needs to be firmly in contact with both side of what it is gluing. If it does not have pressure pushing the canvas against the glue and board, then the glue will shrink away from the fabric, create a dried skin between itself and the board or canvas and you may only have a few spots glued well. (This is true for all PVA type gluing, including when you are gluing a wooden batten to the back of an aluminium panel.)
Lay your board with the canvas side down and place heavy weights on the back so it dries under pressure. You can make a few boards and as each one is finished add it to the stack under the weights. When stacking be sure to line up them up pretty evenly or add a larger board in between, so there is pressure all the way to each corner. Another good way to create pressure is to put a plain board against the front and use four strong clamps all around to press the canvas flat and let it dry for a day. I use clamps if I am doing one or two boards and weights if I am doing more, because I don’t have enough clamps.
Trim the canvas even
When it’s dry put the panel face down and trim the canvas flush with the edge of the board using a utility knife. It is so much easier with a new sharp blade, so be sure to snap off your knife.
If you have used primed canvas you may not need to do any priming, though some artists always add another layer of primer to any ready-primed canvas to get the surface they prefer. You can choose chalky and absorbent gesso primer which is great for encaustic or non-absorbent for oil paint or many other characteristics. Apply one to three coats of primer, smoothing it as you like with a brush, palette knife or squeegee. With acrylic primer any brushmarks will become less visible as it dries and shrinks.
If you are using a panel with sides and you will be priming the surface you will need to decide if you want to prime the sides white or leave them bare wood. If you wish to leave them bare wood, you may wish to use masking tape to keep the sides clean, as I have done with the green tape shown below.
Treating the sides
If you have left the sides bare wood you can still treat them to keep them from picking up stains and finger prints by either sealing them with a varnish, wood sealer or clear wax.
Read some of our other articles about canvas and panels
As our offices are based in Dalston, we heard last year about a Walthamstow based, political art project called The Bank Job. After awarding their print the Jackson’s Prize at The Festival of Print exhibition (you can read about it here), we looked further in to the group. Hilary Powell and Dan Edelstyn have set up a fascinating project that combines economic activism, political performance art, filmmaking, printmaking and altruism into one succinct, streamlined, successful piece.
Bank Job by Hillary Powell & Daniel Edelstyn
Tegen: Could you tell us a little about The Bank Job? What is your mission statement?
Dan: The project started when I (Dan here) heard about a group of New York based anarchists who had bought up and abolished over $30m of student and medical debt.
At the time I’d just finished working on my debut feature length documentary with Hilary – and I had never studied much economics. My only understanding of debt was that very basic moral one – that we all have, which goes like this: “you should pay your debts.” I had never given that a second thought – yet this group clearly had other ideas, and I felt simultaneously attracted to finding out more about them and also slightly terrified of them – as they seemed radical and a little dangerous.
Promotional material for ‘How To Re-Establish a Vodka Empire’ Dan Edelstyn’s debut feature length film
The trip out to New York to meet and interview them went well / and I read their movement literature which introduced a concept called “Creditocracy” whereby our democracies were being systematically attacked by a creditor class who were stripping away access to the basic public good – and becoming gatekeepers to housing, healthcare and education. This was an interesting concept – and it was well argued. I began to wonder whether Britain too was a “creditocracy” and on coming home began to search my home borough of Walthamstow for clues.. bit by bit, Bank Job came into being. It probably really truly started the moment we found out how banks create cash – just by typing numbers on a screen – and we thought – if they can do that – why can’t we. I asked Hilary if she could start printing out some cash for us – and when she agreed, we were in business.
Our ethos or mission statement is very much to intertwine our ideals with our practical actions – and to try and create the world we want in the here and now. It hurts us all to live in a world of massive inequality – and to use art to pierce the lame belief that nothing can be done is an immense privilege and a duty we feel we have to discharge.
HSCB Bank in Walthamstow – headquarters of the Bank Job
Tegen: What would you define ‘The Bank Job’ as? Is it conceptual art, grassroot activism, a community project or all three?
Dan: I would say it is all three. There are plenty of concepts at play – and it is very multi-layered. On the one hand it’s contained within an old bank, which gives it a sort of living and breathing status – for instance I’m reclined on a chair typing this, my feet on top of an old bank desk, which gives it a certain nonchalence and in a sense a bit of theatricality.
Within the bank we have all sorts of local collaborations at play – we work with freelance screen printers, letter press specialists, designers and photographers, as well as people who help us pack the orders – so it does have a deep community connection – and of course at our events we have loads of people we know from the borough coming in – that said, the word community has a strange connotation when used to describe art or filmmaking – somehow it detracts from the importance of what’s happening – it seems to be a way of emasculating things – if you say so and so is a ‘local writer’ or ‘local filmmaker’ they seem to confined to a lesser category, so we are careful with branding ourselves as a community project.
On another level we’re a documentary feature film, not just documenting what’s happening within the bank, but really asking questions about who we are, and what we’re doing as artists – and who we are as a country too – and what we really want as an economy going forward. All these different levels co-exist harmoniously – or relatively harmoniously – but they are a lot to take on.
Buying bonds finances this explosion – its filming, exhibition transformation and distribution. It increases the impact of this act of debt cancellation and explodes the conversation into public consciousness.
Tegen: What is the 2019 Explosion?
Dan: The explosion is called Big Bang 2 – it takes place on 28 April and will be amazing for us. The idea of calling it Big Bang 2 is to put it into direct conversation with Maggy Thatcher’s Big Bang, in which she liberalised the rules that governed banks and the stock markets. Many economists see this as the turning point which led towards the massive personal debt crisis which is facing us now. In many ways we see it as one of the root causes of the decline in our manufacturing base, and the decline of some of our industries. There’s a connection to all this and Brexit.
Mock ups of the coins made from the exploded van that bond holders over £5 receive as ‘Yield’
Tegen: Could you give us a timeline of how this project started, the different events that have happened and the different stages that are coming up?
£1000 HSCB BOND. Gold . 255x204mm. Screen Print, letterpress, foil blocks, company seal. Somerset velvet antique 250gsm paper. Gilt edge. BUY £1000 BOND. The above is a digital version. Return: coin.
Tegen: Could you explain in layman’s terms for us the economic structure that allows you to buy up debt and how it benefits people? (if possible)
Dan: Yes – if a debt’s not paid for a few months, then it becomes a distressed debt – which means a bank will sell it, perhaps at 50% of its value to a debt buyer. The debt buyer acquires a book of these debts and he tries to collect as many as possible – if he has trouble with a certain proportion, he may sell it on at a lesser cost – and on and on this goes, till it gets towards the bottom of the barrel. That’s where we came in / buying up very distressed debt, at a value of 2p in the pound.
Framed Bank Job bond collection
Tegen: You’ve had a huge amount of publicity and your notes are in collections worldwide [you can view their press page here], how do you think this has affected the project?
Dan: It’s been great to feel that the project has touched so many people. The personal debt crisis won’t go away any time soon – particularly while most politicians don’t understand where money comes from, and hence the true routes of the issue. The publicity has been good as it’s helped us to sell first our money and then our bonds to audiences all over the world, this has been vital as we have struggled to fund ourselves and the work. We come from an older school of art production, perhaps harking back to Aristotle where art, philosophy and the ethics were all intertwined. I’ve been reading a lot about all this lately, as we have been asked to write a book – and it’s important to be able to clearly articulate our beliefs and to find that our methods are similar to other artistic movements of the twentieth century, there are definite connections with dada, the surrealists and the Situationist International. All these movements had their day, they had grand theorists and they seemed to be poised to change the world. We have been quite intuitive with all this, we have tried to be sensitive in our working methods – and we have tried to take as many with us on the journey towards a parallel world of possibility as we could. We really want to see a fairer economy working in all our interests. Sometimes we just look at Westminster and despair – doing the Bank Job is the thing that reminds us we can make a difference, starting locally.
Tegen: Where do you see The Bank Job ultimately ending up? In an ideal world what would you like it to be?
Dan: We don’t see the Bank Job going on for ever – the explosion is definitely the climax and then the film and the outreach will be where we really get the maximum possible impact for the ideas and change as much as we possibly can for people across Britain and beyond. We are creating a learning portal / membership site, through which we hope to keep building audiences and training them in all aspects of the work we have learned along the way.
We have plans for a related project once we get this one to bed – but it’s best not to talk too much about that here, as revealing things that haven’t happened yet doesn’t often make them come true.
One Hundred Pound Bond
Tegen: How can the public help and get involved?
Dan: The best way to get involved just now is to either buy one of our bonds – they start at £10 – and allow you a ticket to the explosion, or come to one of our events – we’re currently scheduling these in – through May and June.
Tegen: Which part of the Bank Job do you feel is most effective?
Dan:We don’t believe that scaling up the debt purchase is really hugely effective – we need a structural solution to the debt problem – by which i mean that banks need to be creating a lot less debt / money – or else we need a massive personal debt bailout across Britain as a start.
The film will end up being our most effective and enduring tool / particularly once it’s incorporated with the membership site. These things will be useful to many people – in educating them and raising awareness of the issues we are all facing.
Here you can find all of our recommended art exhibitions in one place. Below is a list of our 7 must-see art shows for the month, along with a navigation that can take you to smaller weekly listings that are worthy of note. This section is updated with new shows every week. If you want to see exhibitions in London or in your area simply go to our Artist Calendar – let us know about an exhibition using the form at the bottom of that page for the chance to be included in one of our Art Exhibitions on Now posts!
7 Unmissable Art Exhibitions on in April
This month’s not to miss choices include works never seen in the UK before, as well as exhibitions that offer an insight into some of the most dominant traditions in Western art.
1. Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light
Joaquín Sorolla, Sewing the Sail (Cosiendo la vela), 1896, Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna di Ca’ Pesaro, Venice
Known as the ‘master of light’ for his canvases filled with beautiful dappled light, Sorolla was a Spanish painter working around the turn of the twentieth century. Between the waves of innovation of the French Impressionists and before the birth of Modernism, Sorolla’s works stand out because of the sun-drenched depictions of the life, landscapes and traditions of Spain.
Whilst these types of work sealed his fame, Sorolla first won international acclaim for works tackling social subjects. In this exhibition these prized early social paintings will be brought together, including his ‘The Return from Fishing’ and ‘Sewing the Sail’. This is the first UK retrospective of the artist since 1908 when Sorolla was promoted as ‘The World’s Greatest Living Painter’ at London’s Grafton Galleries.
Titian, Venus Anadyomene, 1520, Oil on canvas, 75.8 cm x 57.6 cm
A tradition in art that dates back to Ancient Greece and beyond, the nude has long been used to express ideals of male and female beauty, along with other qualities. The 15th and 16th centuries were a pivotal time for the nude in Western art. A renewed interested in ancient Greek and Roman art brought the human body to the forefront of artistic innovation. Artists were copying from classical models, as well as exploring new, non-religious subject matter. At the same time the nude was transforming Christian art, encouraging modern representations of age-old themes.
This exhibition comes at a pertinent time, in the midst of modern debates surrounding nudity and expression; it is fascinating that one of the few places where we can gaze at images of the naked body in public with impunity is the art gallery. Whilst exploring and celebrating this tradition, this exhibition makes visitors aware that the idea of the Renaissance nude is quite misleading. Many people would consider Titian’s Venus Rising from the Sea (pictured above) as a typical Renaissance nude, however, the exhibition provides evidence that nudes were much more diverse and often reflected different ideas of beauty.
From paintings and illustrations to bronze statuettes and anatomical studies, the works in this exhibition contrast idealised beauty with the ageing body, and public images with more intimate, private works.
3. The Northern Boys: A Celebration of Plein Air Painting
Painting of Manchester city centre by Michael Ashcroft
The Northern Boys have become a regular sight in recent years – they can be found stooped under umbrellas, poised in doorways or working through the rain in Manchester. The group have quickly become known as the Northern region’s finest plein air painters and have poured their skills into capturing the pubs of Manchester, trams, city streets, and the historic and glitzy buildings.
Each of the nine artists will contribute a number of plein air paintings to the upcoming exhibition, including paintings from Manchester, Venice, London, and more. Each has his own style and yet the group are united in their love for painting outdoors. Painting en plein air is not for the faint-hearted and requires great persistence against the British weather and inquisitive public, all of which creates an unmistakable freshness and energy within the paintings. The Northern Boys members are the recipients of three national British plein air awards: Pintar Rapido, PaintOut, and PaintLive, and the group’s work is a mainstay at the annual exhibitions of the Mall Galleries in London, the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, and the New English Art Club.
Leonardo da Vinci, A Map of the Valdichiana, c.1503-6. Royal Collection Trust
This ambitious series of 12 simultaneous exhibitions will stretch across the country to mark the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. The nationwide event will give the widest-ever UK audience the opportunity to see the work of this extraordinary artist, with 144 of his greatest drawings from the Royal Collection forming the 12 exhibitions.
Revered for his technical ingenuity and the diversity of his talents, this series of exhibitions will focus on examples of all the drawing materials used by Leonardo, including pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint. There are 12 drawings at each venue, all selected to reflect the full range of his interests – painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology, and botany.
Curated by Lubaina Himid CBE, winner of the 2017 Turner Prize, this exhibition presents the work of three artists who explore the poetic investigation of place, space, and time through painting, sound installation and place-based research. All three artists use their work to understand a place as it is experienced by those who know it well and to remember apparently unknown histories.
Rebecca Chesney will be showing three pieces, including a line drawing measuring 8.75m long, showing 102 years of mean sea level recorded at Newlyn’s Tidal Observatory. Magda Stawarska-Beavan is showing several pieces, including Translating the City, a sound piece featuring the interwoven voices of two women, Ekin Sanac (from Istanbul) and Lubaina Himid. The work captures the voices and sensations from unknown cities from a personal viewpoint using binaural microphones.
As well as curating the exhibition, Lubaina Himid presents a suite of paintings in the drawers of a dressing table. Sometimes they are hidden but more often completely exposed – this acts as a reminder that lives lived below the surface are as important as those we find in history books.
Installation view, Emma Kunz: Visionary Drawings, conceived with artist Christodoulos Panayiotou
The work of Swiss artist and naturopath Emma Kunz shows her deep awareness of connections that contradict both normal experience and scientific interpretations of the laws of nature and art. In attempts to find a universal connection, Kunz’s drawings connect viewers to a geometrical world that is both calm and deeply evocative.
Kunz lived in rural Switzerland and was known as a healer and researcher of nature. She created geometrical images as part of a complex practice of healing, done so with the help of a small pendulum. Visitors to the Serpentine can view Kunz’s drawings from the comfort of a number of benches made out of Aion A, a healing rock discovered by Kunz that is still sold in Swiss chemists.
The abstracted works are quiet and calm. They invoke the feeling of a church or a shrine – they transform the space into a sanctuary of tranquillity. As more and more of the public look to producing colourful, therapeutic forms of art as a means of disconnecting from our busy, media-saturated world, it is no surprise that such meditative work has found its place in the Serpentine.
Charlotte Brisland, The Circus Within, 2018, Oil on canvas, 150 cm x 180 cm Winner of the Landscape/Cityscape/Seascape Award in the Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018
Directly translated to ‘homesick’, the artists involved focus on a psychological response to the space we live in and the sense of displacement and longing. The idea of displacement is relevant in the current political landscape and each artists has made a commitment to this idea in their work, whether through painting, film, photography, textiles, or collage.
The title references Freud’s essay ‘Das Unheimliche’ (The Uncanny) which focuses on the strangely familiar or the doubling of that which is familiar in a taboo setting or in an unexpected way. Through this idea, each artist explores various interpretations of home – a longing for home when it is no longer readily available, an attachment to the home, or an inability to connect to the idea of home. For some, the home is a place of comfort, everything emanating from its centre. For others, there is the traumatic loss of the home. You can read our interview with Charlotte Brisland here.
Interesting Upcoming Artist Shows on this Month:
This is a selection of UK art exhibitions, including group, solo, artist-led and gallery curated shows, that we think are interesting or unusual in some way. We update this section every week so you know the exhibitions to see now. If you want to submit your own, follow the link at the bottom of this section.
Exhibitions on at the Start of April
Lucy Marks: Big Skies, Land and Sea
4 April – 4 May 2019
Lucy Marks, Wild Skies, 2018, Oil on wood panel, 120 cm x 120 cm
Known for her dynamic compositions that communicate the changing energy and movement within the landscape, Lucy Marks’ work is recognisable by their highly textural nature, generated through a combination of painterly mark-making, layering and the application of found materials directly onto the canvas.
Lucy holds an MA in Fine Art from Brighton University and has participated in numerous group shows. She has also won two awards through The Artist and Leisure Painter Open Exhibition, Calverton (2017, 2018). You can read our interview with Lucy ahead of her exhibition here.
Tom Farthing, Departure, Oil on canvas, 110 cm x 90 cm
A solo exhibition of new paintings by Tom Farthing, a young emerging artist, looking at his recent travels to Iceland and other places. Tom Farthing gained his MA in 2013 from Chelsea College of Art, and his BA in 2005 from the Ruskin School, Oxford University. With a palette reminiscent of Sickert’s landcapes, these contemporary works have a timeless quality. Tom Farthing is also a printmaker, creating thought-provoking, semi-abstract screen prints.
Sam Windett, Untitled (Double Form Destroyer), 2018, Oil and collage on calico, 61 cm x 43 cm
In this exhibition British artist Sam Windett will show recent paintings produced through his distinctive process of layering paint and paper. Windett works through a system of continuously adding and subtracting materials, modelling and remodelling the canvas surface.
‘I always start with a rough idea of how each painting might look, drawing first in charcoal or pencil, but through the process of its making, the painting becomes remodelled from its initial idea to something far removed: a version 2.0. Conceptually, the title also reflects the revealing or concealing of an idea. When I’m making a show, I’m usually conflating two things, remodelling them so that they work together; something personal, alongside a cultural reference, a pop song or something I’ve read.’
1st Floor, 47 Approach Road
RWS: In The Studio
29 March – 27 April 2019
June Berry, Autumn Studio, 69 cm x 58 cm
The place where an artist works is a fascinating reflection of their personality and the pieces they produce. The studios where RWS artists work are no exception. Some artists need a tidy, empty space, while some can only work surrounded by a clutter of inspirational objects. Studios, whether large, small, quiet, noisy, at home, away, shared or private, are very special places.
This exhibition will capture the essence of work made in the studio environment with a display of artworks, photographs and short films exploring the theme of the ‘studio’.