Exhibitions & Books

Museum of Contemporary Art, Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife

A small collection of 20th Century Spanish and international art housed in the beautiful old customs building in the harbour.

The style of these 2 portraits really interested me having just completed a couple of fauvist style portraits myself. The earlier 1954 portrait is painted with a fairly rough brush and has unblended areas of colour. Some realistic skin tones along with greens and blues. Background plain colour with some tones for shadow. The later 1963 portrait is much smoother and blended, mainly realistic colours. Don’t know what the figure in the background is about though – rather feminine shape, possibly his mother? why is it included? Both portraits include rather more body than is usual with the head taking up less than half of the height.

Two artists with similar surrealist styles which draw you in to unravel and figure out whats happening. ‘Bullfighting’ appears to be 2 donkeys (teeth and horizontal ears so not horses?) being attacked by a smaller bull. Perhaps the oval shape behind is the bullring? A second set of bull horns (they are drawn the same as those on the bulls head) with no body are by left donkey, why ??? Ink drawing using mark making patterns of squiggles and cross hatching. Limited colour palette. The other painting is harder to make out. A multi-limbed dragon being slain by a figure with a spear. There appears to a some cowboy type spurs and a hand holding some hair. Tones of black on white with outlines, no patterning this time.

Figures portrayed with much simplified outlines and detail though still very much human.

Again I love the colours in this and the challenge of un-puzzling it. Table with lemon and box, dice, view to the outside showing blue sky, plants and trees. Geometric lines taking your eye from one place to another. Blocks of colour, no blending or shading.

Exhibitions & Books

Trinity Buoy Wharf Drawing Prize – Salisbury 12th Sept 2019 with OCA SW students

Visit to an exhibition in The Salisbury Museum of this years top 68 drawings from the 1800 entries.

There was a feeling amongst my fellow students that this years panel of judges were rather different in what they liked and struggled to reach any consensus. One obviously liked realistic careful pencil studies with great detail, but lacking originality. Another liked very rough sketches that would normally then progress into a final piece. And finally there were the more contemporary, concept type pieces.

This is the 1st prize winner. Rather a puzzle as to why it won – no great study of her skin tones or how the light fall on it, and that eye is just too minimal for us to see into her soul …

Now everyone agreed that this piece is stunning and really should have won in our rather uneducated opinion. The mood and stance of these figures is captured to a tee with minimal lines or fuss. The texture of the shiney surface added to the feeling of isolation, perhaps in mist or rain but certainly in their own worlds. Negative space added last.

This is a crop from this beautiful study of two women holding a boat. The movement of this woman is captured by drawing 2 adjoining views of her face. But it is that central eye that captivates me – how clever to get it to look perfect for both views – love it.

An abstract doodle carried forward with details accentuated. Perhaps started as those runs of yellow and black ink. Blue and yellow with touches of their secondary colour green.

Also in the museum, an exhibition by Ann-Marie James called Alchemy, Artefacts Reimagined. These were a series of large, gorgeous paintings in gold and white. Layers and reflections, runs and accidental marks together with printed geometric shapes and lines. Interesting to reflect on whether these would work as stand alone pieces or whether, as we suspected, it is the fact that there is a series with so many variations that is its appeal.

Exhibitions & Books

Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow: 8 Sept 19

I focussed on studying the variety of painting techniques that had been used, noting similarities/differences and new ideas to me:

I hadn’t seen a non-industrial scene by Lowry before so was drawn to this. Very limited pallet used. Calm sea and calm sky. Seascapes are usually painted with dramatic skies and sea, with colour and tonal variations, rocks, boats etc. None of that here, just the small changes in tone and scale as we go into the distance to the dark horizon line.

More the typical Lowry: full of interesting details to study. His usual simple brushstroke people that do the job without fuss. Perspective changed to get all the view he wanted (eg side streets of bunting). Buildings fading out into the distance but enough to create impression of very industrial city scene. No tones or shadows, all detail kept to a minimum.

Millboard = Heavy duty cardboard made by pasting thin sheets of paper together to make a painting surface.

Broad brushstrokes that would appear rather rough on close inspection but stand back and it comes together wonderfully – note to self: remember to take a step back, don’t get fixated on fine detail.

Country lane in bold strong colours painted as irregular dots that blend together into a tranquil scene.

Again, painted as dots in a range of tones that seem to glow at the horizon. Trees reflected into still water.

Painted almost entirely in tones of red with a little blue for contrast. Gives it a very warm and calm feel. No fine detail of the fabrics.

I have the feeling that I’ve seen some contemporary artists working on copper – something for me to investigate.

Great tones and blending for the skin showing his aging features in detail. Very direct gaze at the viewer giving him authority and presence. Almost photographic.

Same artist but very different atmospheres created by colour choice. Bright colours and sweeping lines show joy and life. Dark grey tones with hard to make out detail, just the white moon illuminating small parts give a scary, gloomy atmosphere.

Another Anthony Green multi-perspective piece using cut-outs of board to accentuate the dimensions and angles of the room – I keep coming across these now. The tall triangular shape of the ‘floor’ gives the impression of expanded time as well as the size and grandeur of the room – it is based upon a memory of breaking his mothers best china.

Light and airy impressionist painting. Apparently finished within a few hours – the close-up shows how the light brown base layer can be seen still.

Exhibitions & Books, Uncategorized

Drawn to the Valley Open Studios: Friday 30 August

Artists of the Tamar Valley opened their studios. Highlights for me were:

Roger Pyke (Callington), acrylic and mixed media incorporating relevant text (sometimes on edge of canvas). Uses photographs of local areas – perhaps projecting onto canvas? Artist not available to ask. Lots of textures.

Oonagh Glancy (Callington), sugarlift and ink. Spoke to artist at length – uses Drypoint etching initially for her main black outlines and then uses a cardmaking press (cheap) to print several copies. She then adds detail in ink making each copy slightly different. Also uses ‘Sugarlift’ and ‘Aquatint’ processes (see this site for what they mean: http://www.blogmuseupicassobcn.org/2015/07/sugar-lift-aquatint-by-pablo-picasso-the-delicacy-of-the-etching-of-pictorial-effects/?lang=en ) Also uses a quicker and easier method of etching using sheets of acetate which she scratches her marks onto (rather than metal plate) and then prints off those – only works for a couple of prints though.

Joely Swift (Callington), stitched felted silk. Beautiful landscapes with textures eg the rock columns which stand out. Irregular shaped supports = more organic.

Paul Jeffries (Callington), mixed media. Rather muted colours for me but the textures are magnificent – carefully placed and work so well for the rough rock cliff faces.

Rosemary Wood (Callington), mixed media. What was astonishing was her vast range of materials and techniques used – textiles, collage, resin, drawing, printing. She said she loved to play and didn’t want to settle on one style.

Jackie Lowman (Gunnislake), mixed media. Uses acrylic inks because she loves ‘their jewel like colours’ (Jackie Lowman). I agree, I love the vibrancy they give and found myself constantly returning to use them in Drawing 1. Colour was the main focus of some of her work – woodland silhouettes over sunsets of vibrant reds and oranges. Others were landscape scenes incorporating found seeds, leaves, bark etc. And this mystical piece of ruined buildings high in the forest – imagine your own dream story for this one!

Allie Cole (and other artists at Calstock). Prints of organic shapes, very clean and neat. Some including fabric (as above). Also Hot knife fabric cutting being demonstrated – looks like a soldering iron but with a point end – uses it to join coloured silk fabric strips together to make abstract arrangements to put on cards. Quick line will melt fabric enough to join together, slow line will cut through ie can cut shapes through some layers and leave lower layers.

Colin Pethick (Gunnislake), oils. Colin has recently been on Portrait Artist of the Year (Channel 4) so it was great to have the opportunity for a proper chat with him in his studio. He had just begun a 1 hour portrait in oil and the likeness, especially around the eyes, was already there. He says to always use the largest pallet possible so that you’re not tempted to skimp on putting out the paint. Rarely rinses brush, just wipes quickly on rag. Uses large brush strokes, doesn’t fuss over them, if they’re not right it’s easy to go over. Uses swipe of finger to soften paint when too bold. He runs classes on fridays in this studio and has spaces! Definitely giving that a go.

Large portrait of a local fishman above doorway. Skin really looks weathered and textured. He has painted the lower eye lids watery – makes them so real.

Absolutely love this ‘simple’ still life of coffee pot and lemon. Great study of the reflections in the metal and also on the table. I need to find a coffee pot and have a go at this.

Exhibitions & Books, Uncategorized

Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition

My first visit to this fabulous exhibition of work by both well known and new artists.


Just some of the highlights of my visit on 8th August 2019 are:

1.Thomas Houseago, Large Walking Figure 1 (left) and Untitled Red Man (right), bronze

Both enormous sculptures of intriguing humanoid figures, rough castings with finger prints still visible. Enlarged feet and hands, skeletal face.

2. Alexander Mochalov, Rachmaninoff: Piano Concert No. 2, Oil

Abstract and mosaic-like, black outlines Full of things beyond the orchestra that you don’t at first notice: children, bells, a couple of horses, a snake and a man with a spear. I guess these relate to the underlying meaning of the music but even with a quick google I’m none the wiser.

3. Alison Watt, Entente, Oil

Incredible use of tone variation to paint what looks like a real piece of folded paper – wow!

4. Alselm Kiefer, Five years Vainamoinen lived on the unknown island on the treeless land (translated from German) (left) with detail (right), mixture of paints

Enormous piece with limited pallet, german wording included and texture. Like a field after harvest with plant spikes in lines leading the eye off into the distance. Certainly gives the feel of the bleak barren land of little hope.

5. Anthony Green, Mary and her Mother – Parkinson’s (left) and Mary Cozens-Walkers’ World (right), both Oil on board

Several pieces by this artist which are easily recognisable by their pallet of golds and oranges. Very sensitive portrayal of the lady with her personal possessions around her. Left piece is layers: 2 boards with a small window in the front one to view the one behind we can also look around the edges. The right piece particularly interested me as it uses multiple perspectives of the room in a similar way to my Drawing Assignment 2 (link below). Love how he has used an irregular shaped support and added the door and picture from the wall behind the painter.


6. Christopher Oldfield, Graduation (with detail on right), Oil

Intriguing; we start with 2 figures (or is that a third on the left?) smiling at the viewer, these than blur as if a ghostly figure has taken them over by the last frame. Spoilt for me by the highly glossed layer over the paintings which detracts from the images, like viewing through glass.

7. Ed Gray, Silicon Roundabout, Old Street. Acrylic, Ink, charcoal and chalk on board.

A busy street of people going about their own business. Figures are almost skeletal. Limited use of mid tones – all dark or light. White outlines to distinguish detail in places. Perspective skewed on left side to include the view further down the road.

8. Emily Allchurch, Babel Britain (after Verhaecht), transparency on LED lightbox

‘Babel Britain (after Verhaecht)’ once again adopts the Tower of Babel theme, (previously used by Allchurch to portray the city of London in 2005 and 2015), but this time as a comment on the state of Britain in its entirety. This piece is based upon Tobias Verhaecht’s (1561-1631) large-scale painting of the ‘Tower of Babel’, displayed at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. (From: https://www.jamesfreemangallery.com/artworks/emily-allchurch/babel-britain-after-verhaecht viewed 11/8/2019)

This piece stood out from all the rest within the room with its illuminated sky and water – the wonders of using a lightbox. A thought provoking composition deserving a longer detailed study to spot all those little details (castles to tower blocks to car parks, flags and cranes, every type of building materials possible…)

9. Grace O’Connor, Blonde on Blonde, Oil

A scrap book style poster wall of blondes – all painted though and the tape isn’t real either. Beautifully done, I guess painted from a real wall.

10. Hilary Paynter, Herculaneum, Wood Carving

I was drawn to this before looking up its title and thought it must be these Roman ruins in the shadow of Mt Vesuvius – the city as was complete with harbour arches, overlooked by the city of modern buildings and with the towering volcano behind in silhouette. Very detailed and planned out. Recognisable yet not true to life.

11. Ishbel Myerscough, Lily and Quaye, Oil (cropped detail on right)

Beautifully realistic painting of skin tones against silky background. Not sure about the overall composition myself, too predictable? made to fit the canvas with feet and head touching edge? I love the contrast of the dark skin against the white belly – perhaps a crop as above would work better.

12. Marcus Harvey, The Victory, Oil on inkjet on board

Photo of sea and sky with painted ship. Abstract images used to make up the ship – female figure, letters A and D, icy spikes and round shield like shapes. Would love to know what it all symbolises.

13. Melissa Scott-Miller, Islington Back Gardens with Self, Oil

Interesting composition of a view usually unseen of peoples private gardens. And viewed from a high point looking down on the artist herself. Makes you feel that you’re really being nosey and looking into their gardens without their knowledge.

14. Mimmo Paladino, Untitled, bronze

Imposing figure holding a branch and tangle of wire containing numbers – why? this is one piece that definitely needs a title!

15. Nicola Bealing, Darn, Ink Oil and spray paint on linen

A darn as in a sewed patch to mend a woolen item but it’s actually snakes! Good use of light and tones to make bodies 3D and real. Each pattern different. Snakes and Ladders. Great composition combining real and abstract.

Chiholy Glass Exhibition at Kew Gardens:

Spectacular display of blown glass by Dale Chihuly. The enormous size of each piece is it’s real attraction together with the vibrant colours of the glass. Base colour attached to rod and blown a little then rolled in granules of each contrasting colour in turn. Granules used so as to give the irregular variation in tones (through thickness of glass). Settings used to really shown each piece off to best effect: red/orange rods like flames in wild grasses, spheres in raked gravel, huge string of flowers hanging from glasshouse roof and intricate shells of cups within cups well lite in spotlights.

Exhibitions & Books

Local Exhibition visits

1. Lifton Art Group exhibition 27th July 2019

Approx 20 local artists gathered to show their work. Traditional water colours, acrylics, some collage and pastels. Interesting that virtually everyone had postcards of their main pieces available for purchase.

Chatted with one of the water colour artists about her techniques which she was happy to discuss. Using granules of salt on wet water colour – the pigment is attracted to the salt and forms an interesting effect. Leave to dry and then brush off salt. Quite tricky to get the amount ‘just right’. Also using cling film onto wet water colour – leaves a mark similar to texture with random lines and tones where water collects.

2. Drawn to the Valley exhibition 2nd August 2019 Tavistock

Drawn to the Valley is a large group of artists based around the Tamar Valley. This was a large exhibition with perhaps 50 artists showing work. Some of the highlights for me:

Julia Odell, Propeller Repair, Charcoal

On thick cartridge paper with lots of texture showing. My photo doesn’t do it justice unfortunately as the sun was shining in from the window above. Neat bold lines and lovely use of rubbing out lines as outline which really sets it off.


Nicholas Palmer, Elephantine Landscape, Pen & Ink

Imaginary landscapes, almost doodles, with masses of tiny marks giving dark toned areas with light. Variation in marks too from straight lines to dots to squiggles. Is that the elephant standing on top of the rocks? Pulls you in to study them – where is this world? What’s happening in the cave? Are those ruined bridges in the background? …

Nicholas Palmer, Estuary, Acrylics

Same artist but completely different style! Vibrant colours draws me in, almost iridescent and oil like.

Katy Choroszewska, Lily of the Valley, Paint and Stitch

On first look a watercolour with black outlining but the black lines are actually extremely fine stitching. Very unusual and a new technique to me.

Janet Brady, Mt Fuji Dreams, Watercolour

Janet and her husband Peter live just around the corner from me and have both produced several pieces based upon a trip to Japan last year. This is a calm watercolour with lovely reflections in the mid ground and trees in the foreground.

Jackie Lowman, Enchanted Wood, mixed media

Jackie Lowman, Wistman’s Wood, Dartmoor, mixed media

Lots of texture in both of these including using real fern leaves I think. Texture on the rocks. I wonder if these are the same setting with the top one being more abstract? Limited pallet of greens.

Gudrun Taresch, Tree of Life, Stained and Fused Glass with hardwood

I love the use of glass here with a strong light coming through. I have done several pieces myself incorporating glass into wood or stone carvings – the materials go so well together. Interesting overlay on the glass of a branch like form.

Exhibitions & Books

Galleries Day: 18th July 2019

A couple of friends and I traveled down to the end of Cornwall to see a few galleries.

Newlyn Art Gallery and The Exchange:

Fathom, exhibition of video, drawings and photos by Simon Faithfull.

A collection of works related to the artists interaction with water: Sinking in a mangrove type forest, walking into an aeroplane fire that is being hosed with water, fully dressed and walking beneath the sea, standing on top of a futuristic house in the middle of an endless ocean. Thought provoking images, especially the videos. What is the person doing? what will happen, if anything? Shown on massive screens in a dark room which adds to the dramatic effect.

Sixteen, photos of sixteen year olds in Penzance by Michelle Sank and questionnaires they completed regarding their lives.

Very interesting to read the feelings of these young people and their hopes for the future. Quite depressing though to find such poverty and lack of hope. Tried to match up questionnaires with photos but quite tricky to do.

Cornwall Contemporary: gallery with work of many artists but with current exhibition of paintings by Maggie Matthews.

Daisy Patch and Into the Light, mixed media. Interesting technique – appears to be base layers applied and scratched back with lines and shapes where detail will be eg daisy flowers are painted within a scratched circle. Limited pallets used, usually blues, with small areas of a contrasting colour for interest. Abstract with recognisable flowers, seed pods, trees.



Nicky Huxham, Open Studio:


Interesting backgrounds of red tones with mystical figures. Also portraits in white pastel on black gesso backgrounds – interesting to see it this way around.

Lighthouse Gallery: various artists

Paintings by Rachael Mia Allen especially catch your eye – land and sea scapes of Cornwall. Uses Printing Ink to paint with – applied in many layers with rollers, credit cards and drips.

Beauty of the Bracken and Evening Stroll, realistic and vibrant colour pallet, detail in foreground fading in a misty blur towards back. Really catches the feel of the landscape in quite an abstract way.


Makers’ Emporium, Cooperative Gallery in St Just:

Starlings by Carrie Taylor, mixed media. Not sure what technique was used for this but possibly some sort of wax for branches and ink sky added after? Lovely effect.


Kurt Jackson Foundation Gallery, St Just:

Huge gallery of his paintings. Mainly the Thorn bush series of paintings of a single tree in a variety of weathers and seasons. Lots of textures add interest and depth – each painting draws you in to study the detail and marks. Incredible how diverse the paintings can be. Also Crab and Lobster series which is more a series of realistic drawings, almost textbook illustrations.