Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A canter through the National Portrait and National Galleries.

I thought I'd re-blog some posts from an old blog of mine as there are some inspiring traditionally painted portraits from a couple of London galleries.

Above is Arthur Scargill done with a suitably red palette.  I was looking at technique/brush work on my visit and this is the first one that struck me. Not only the colour but the energy of the brush work fills the painting with movement and fire - very Arthur Scargill who is a British trade unionist and politician and President of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1982-2002. He used to get quite cross.

(above) A complete contrast to this one of Diana.  Calm, pretty colours, elegant. Also very precise.

(above) Chris Ofili - one of Britains leading artists. It's a self portrait done when Ofili was a student in 1991 and is oil on canvas (although his work often contains collage, resin, glitter and multiple layers of paint).

Another painting with bags of energy.
Self portrait by RB Kitaj called Hockney Pillow.

The artist is in bed. He has darkened features and reddened eyes which gives an intense emotional charge..........  could be he had man-flu?!!

All of the portraits are likenesses of course but they are conveying something else too about the sitter and their character or where they are in life.

Andrea Mantegna (1430-1506)

The Introduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome  (Glue on Linen - no idea how that works). 

In 204 BC the Romans brought the cult of Cybele, the eastern goddess of victory, from Asia Minor to Rome. Cybele is represented by a round stone and a bust with a mural crown. The painting was designed as a frieze - hence the imitation of sculpture, used in antiquity for friezes.

And by complete contrast!

Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73)

Oil on millboard

Landseer was friends with Callcott and they collaborated on many pictures.  The 6th Duke of Devonshire commissioned Landseer to paint the Scene in Olden Times at Bolton Abbey, and Landseer persuaded Callcott to pose for the head of the abbot.

The label said this was painted and finished in a sitting of 3 or 4 hours.  Sorry, but I just don't believe that!
The portrait below was not at any of the galleries but one I came across on the interweb and is by Nick Gentry.  Can you guess what he's made it from? Possibilities there for patchwork fans!

(above) By Tom Phillips (1985ish) of Brian Eno. Seen at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

Apparently Tom Phillips is also a composer and taught Brian Eno.

I like the mark making of red lines which lift the turquoise colours.

Could you recognize Eno? Does it matter?

I had a go at a portrait inspired by Tom Phillips. Of course my rendition just about touches on the colourings, and I used some red paint graphically to show highlights, but it left me feeling uncomfortable and unsatisfied. There is quite a lot of skill in Tom Phillips painting even though it looks like random splodges, and I wasn't quite able to get that. I found it hard to let go of what I knew and what I felt I needed to put in in order to read a face. Phillips didn't put in Eno's left eye and the right is without a pupil or highlight to bring it to life, but he's managed to convey a sense of the sitters gaze and state of mind.

I loved this one.  Obviously Judi Dench! A white coat and grey hair against a large white background - which has absolutely nothing else in it. It's a massive painting, and the bare space focuses your eye on the sitter.

(above) A complete contrast.  Flattened people stuck to the wall.  They do have individual features though. They're all lavishly dressed with halos around their head (but placed so it doesn't interfere with the features I noticed)  What you look like is obviously very important, and fine clothes and your attendance at church showed your piety and status. 

(above)Isn't this stonking?  Again a neutral background but not empty.  Cups of tea float around out of perspective and with the tea remaining in the cups!

(above) I liked this one for the excessive amount of pink.  My own feeling is that apoplexy is just around the corner.

(above)This one was part of a larger picture featuring Queen Victoria. I just thought it was beautifully done, and I loved the glow of light on dark skin.

(above)Just beautifully painted - like porcelain.

(above)Very dramatic and loose paintwork.  I liked the use of red and green (opposites on the colour wheel)

Finally, part of a much larger picture.  I loved the green in the face, the intense look in the eyes, and the use of text mixed in. I wonder if the lack of that spot of white paint we often put in eyes to bring life to them, helps to make the portrait unsettling and dramatic.

 (all photos by Annabel Rainbow)

Monday, 24 April 2017

We've received our first portrait!!

We're very excited as we've just received our first portrait for the shuffle.

This lovely piece is by Vera Holmgren and comes all the way from Sweden! Thank you Vera. You can catch up with Vera on her blog here: http://veriquilt.blogspot.co.uk/

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Great news and starting with a background?

The great news for today is that we have sold the first batch of Portrait Shuffle Packs. Fabulous and thank you so much!! More packs are on their way, so please continue to sign up and we'll do our very best to ensure that they wing their way towards you as soon as possible.


Making a background.

Thinking what to make for your portrait can be tricky but also enormous fun! You may not want or feel able to complete a portrait in the traditional sense – it might not float your boat, or it could be challenging on the scale of an A5 canvas.

Perhaps you could try to think about your subject beyond their looks. What makes them tick? What do you know about them? If it’s yourself, think about what makes you, you! Here’s a line from a piece of poetry that has appeared in more than one of the Life Story quilts –  Fair Seed Time Had My Soul, by Wordsworth. The words have meaning to me.

“Fair seed-time had my soul, and I grew up Fostered alike by beauty and by fear.”

You will need to make sure that it's ok to quote and that you're not breaking copyright for example, as text is covered in much the same way as images.

Anyway, I wrote these words on some calligraphy paper with a view to collaging them on the canvas to make a background. Not sure how I’ll progress – maybe an image of some seed heads/pods.

Image 1: Using a marker pen to write on calligraphy paper. This is thin, strong and smooth, and tears well. This was stuck to the A5 canvas with acrylic gel which dries clear.

Image 2: Using a bradawl (with a rubber underneath to protect the table) to punch holes through the canvas.

Image 3: Sewing some stitches onto the canvas using a stranded embroidery thread.

 Image 4: Making it into a background by giving the whole thing a coat of gesso.
Image 5:  Here's some sketching of seed heads that could be worked into with collage or paint, fabric, gold leaf - anything!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Portrait making idea - A Portrait in Parts!

For this portrait I'm starting off by using some stencils and stamps to make a background. I especially like the stencil with the jumbled letters and numbers you can see below all the others. There is also some acrylic paint, disposable palette papers, and sponge rollers.

I used the first colour paint over the stencil (left hand side) which leaves some of the white surface of the canvas showing. I then flipped the stencil and used black paint on the remaining bit of canvas. I continued to flip and apply paint.

Time for a few stamp impressions.

I now have a background on the canvas - I may need to over paint to make it more black later.

Next step, is to make a similar effect on some card which I'm going to cut up into labels.

 Cutting up the cardboard prints (which have been backed with black card)

Using a bradawl to make a hole.

Threading with my chosen thread, and attaching to the painted canvas.

 Adding more. They hang loose from the top. When happy I'll fix them permanently with a staple gun and hide it all under a piece of fabric or similar.

 Showing the reverse of my tags. There's nothing on them yet, but I shall fill with sketches/paintings etc of eyes, noses, mouths, ears - whatever takes my fancy!! A portrait in parts.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Jenny Wren Portrait

Of course, a portrait doesn't have to be of a person - you could for example, choose your pet or any animal. We have a pair of wrens in our garden, and they often flit about just the other side of the window in an old honeysuckle. If I stay really still, I can see them at close quarters from the settee.

I'm not a good enough drawer to catch their likeness whilst they're flitting about, so I've copied an image from a book. I had no idea how complex all those feather patterns were!

I drew the wren onto caligraphy paper (a new purchase - I was eager to try it out!) but I think I used the wrong side as it has a slightly rough surface, whereas the other is smooth. Never mind, it still worked well with pencil.

Having stuck the finished paper to my canvas using acrylic gel, I thought it needed something else. I drew a circle and used gold acrylic paint to infill. I could have used gold leaf which would have looked even better I think, but I couldn't get the lid off the size.

I liked the sparseness of the white and gold with the pencil drawing, but decided to be reckless and add a spot of blue.

Of course, once the blue had dried, I decided I preferred the white!! I compromised by putting a coat or two of white acrylic over the blue except for the bottom right hand corner. Why did I leave that? I have no idea - I just liked the weight of colour at the bottom and the design made by the blocks of colour.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Festival of Quilts - ticket discount!

Ticket lines for The Festival of Quilts 2017 are now open. Don't forget to use your discount code (found in your Portrait Shuffle Pack) to receive an exclusive discount on the entrance price -£2.50 discount on adult advance tickets and £1 discount on advance concession tickets.

The portrait below was done by monoprinting using a photocopy of my face and open acrylics onto a white gessoed background  and then coloured with acrylic washes.I decided not to put all my chins in.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Just having fun!

Experimenting with portraiture

I like glass perfume bottles and have collected them over recent years. Can you see the little one in the collection below with the glass strands around the outside? Graham gave it to me for a Christmas present about 5 years ago.

If you've decided to join in the TOH Portrait Shuffle, you might be wondering how a perfume bottle fits into the theme. You may also be looking at your blank A5 canvas and wondering what on earth to do!

To help explain, the TOH gallery at Festival of Quilts this year will be about portraits and will be full of quilts and textiles made by 27 different artists, and their work will be very different from each other as it will be based on their own interpretations and how they identify themselves and others.
Some of the accompanying text to exhibition:

A portrait can be almost anything, from a face to a bouquet of flowers. It’s an open term allowing for discovery, experimentation and interpretation of self and others.

A perfume bottle is an interpretation of self in that it is about my loves and relationships, and perhaps says more about what makes me tick than an image of my face.

Image 1: Making a background using a stencil and waterproof pen.

Image 2: Filling in the stencil shapes with some marks.

 Image 3: I've left a perfume bottle shaped hole!

 Image 4: A pen and ink drawing onto caligraphy paper, stuck into place using acrylic gel medium.

 Image 5: Painting over the background using watercolour.

Image 6: A wash of white paint tones it all down a bit, and provides a better background for some stamping.

Image 7: Adding texture and text with stamps, and a final layer of gel to seal it all and lift the colour with shine.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Even more good news!

We are being joined in the Shuffle, by TOH artists, Eszter Bornemisza, Els van Baarle, Mirjam Pet Jacobs, and Linda Barlow! Perhaps you'll get a piece of work from one of these wonderful artists??

The first batch of Portrait Shuffle packs are nearly ready to go and should be with you in a few days.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Great news!!

We have the wonderful news that Through Our Hands Affiliate Artists, Michala Gyetvai, Bente Vold Klausen, Jenni Dutton, Alicia Merrett, Sue Stone, Sandra Meech, are all donating and A5 piece of their work to the Shuffle!

Who's work will you get? Here's some images of their work from our website to inspire you. www.throughourhands.co.uk for more.

Bente Vold Klausen

 Alicia Merrett

 Michala Gyetvai

Sue Stone

 Jenni Dutton

 Sandra Meech