Tuesday, 26 July 2011

BP Portrait Award 2011

Today I visited the National Portrait Gallery to see this year's BP Portrait Award. Once or twice a year my work puts on a free coach to London and I always sign up with a couple of my work friends (previous trips have taken us to the London Dungeons and the Science Museum).

I've been to the show a couple of times before and even had it suggested that I should enter but felt that my work may not be up to the standard required. Having seen this year's show I've changed my mind, it struck me that it not just technical ability gets you in to the final 55 (although some of the paintings were incredible in that respect) but the ability to the draw the viewer in. With varying degrees of skill in the paintings, one thing they all have in common is the ability to draw you in for a closer look. Either through the challenging stare of the subject or some finer detail in the colours or techniques.

Here are my top three from this year's show (I wish I could include pictures but I don't want to breach anyone's copyright. Instead, I've linked the painting titles to their pages on the NPG website)

Jakub by Jan Mikulka - No matter how close you get it still looks like a photograph and glows with beautiful luminosity. It's so incredibly realistic I even felt like I was invading Jakub's personal space by studying his nose so closely. This painting was absolutely flawless.

by Harriet White - I loved the brightness of the sitter's eyeshadow in this painting. The artist has managed to create the appearance of metallic sparkle simply by combining different shades of dazzling blue dotted with white.
Despertar - Awakening by Manuel Ferrer Perea - I voted for this painting as my Visitor's Choice. The artist has beautifully captured the sleepy expression on the face of his daughter, she looks like she isn't quite ready to get up.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Comuni Art

Yesterday morning I was contacted by an old school friend who had spotted a poster in a cafe in Cambridge that she thought might be of interest to me. She emailed me a photo of the poster (I love modern technology!) which was an advert for Comuni Art inviting local artists to sign up.

According to their website Comuni Art works to make art more accessible and affordable, from an artists point of view they provide a profile page to showcase work, the opportunity to set up a page of work for sale and the option of setting your profile to indicate that you accept commissions so others can use the site to contact you.

I had previously heard of Comuni Art but for some reason thought they were more for London based artists. According to the poster I was wrong, so in the evening I signed up. It was really easy to register but to join as an artist you have to send a message requesting to be added along with some examples of work. I don't know if this is just a formality to prove that you are not just pretending to be an artist or if they genuinely judge the quality of your work before deciding if you are good enough. As I can happily confirm that I got an email accepting my request I like to think it is the latter.

Here is my profile on Comuni Art.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

My early days

I first got properly into painting at sixth form college. I was certainly already into my art in a big way having opted for a GNVQ in Art and Design with A-Level Art History (all eggs in one basket there!). The GNVQ was a great introduction to a wide variety of artistic disciplines but I settled on painting as my main focus and it was at this time that I started using oil paint. I loved it. Having previously only used acrylics, which I found tricky as they dried too fast and were difficult to correct mistakes, oil paints were a revelation. I had been given a set of oil paints when I was about 7 but I wasn't allowed to use them because of the toxic lead tubes. When I was a little older I was given a beautiful set of water colours, I used to mix them to the consistency of poster paint and copied the flowers from Cicely Mary Barker's book of flower fairies. I never did learn to use water colours properly, oil paints suited my style a lot better so I stuck with them.

After sixth form I went on to art foundation which was much like the GNVQ in terms of variety but crammed into one year. It was here that I developed an interest in life drawing which continued as the bases of my work into my first year at university. At the start of my degree my paintings centred around life drawing but I had no confidence in painting faces or hands and feet, so they just disappeared off the edges. At the suggestion from one of my tutors that this made my paintings akin to pornography in that they were just bodies on display, I started to include faces and the moved on to portraiture. I can see now how my tutor arrived at this conclusion but at the time I just thought he was being arty and trying to read things that weren't there.

For my graduation show I produced a black and white display of portraits of my cousins and my boyfriend Mike.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Taking the Plunge

Welcome to my new blog where I will be sharing my painting and crafting escapades. I studied fine art at university and since graduating in 2003 have completed approximately four whole paintings (and numerous crafty projects). While at uni I hoped that I would one day make a living from my painting. However, in the real world what I needed was a job. I do get the bug every now and then and spend some late nights at the easel but with a full time job it's easier to plonk yourself in front of the television at the end of the day. Over the past few months I have been thinking more and more about getting off my bottom and getting more creative. The time has come.....

In order to give myself a much needed nudge in the right direction, I spent the weekend visiting local artists through Cambridge Open Studios (something I would love to be able to do one day). It seems to have done the trick and I have spent the morning thinking about how to get started. I think in reality this has as much to do with envy for the people whose homes and studios I visited as well as inspiration.

Starting this blog is my first step.

Next I'm off to pop out for some paint! On Saturday evening I came home from visiting no less than six Open Studios and wanted to get cracking only to find I have run out of yellow paint. So with my day off (while my landlord repaints our patio door), I'm off in to town for supplies!

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