Category Archives: Part 3 Modern art and still life

Reflections on Part Three

I enjoyed this part more than I thought I would. As I’ve already mentioned I didn’t like or understand Modern Art, but after studying the different Art Movements of the 20th century I have changed my mind about some but not all of it.  I’m still of the opinion that some of it is a case of the ‘experts’ telling us that it is art so it must be.

Surprisingly as well as Cubism I’m interested in some abstract art now.  I’m not saying that I appreciate or like all the work by all the artists who practice it but perhaps it is because I am studying Textiles that I am drawn to the works of artists that use colour and texture in their art.

A course like this couldn’t hope to cover over a thousand years of art in detail but it has given me an insight in to how art has changed over the centuries.

I had already learnt a little about the different genres of art when I studied with the OU,  I’m looking forward to studying them in more depth and already learnt some interesting things about Still Life.

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“There’s more to still life……

…… than I thought” a previous students statement.  Do you agree with it?

To some extent Yes I do agree with this statement.  Until I did some research on this genre I just thought they were nice paintings of flowers or fruit etc but now I know that some had a hidden meaning it adds a new dimension to them.  This applies mainly to the 17th century though as by the 18th/19th century and the advent of the Academies in Europe ‘Still Lives’ had been relegated to the lowest level in the hierarchy of genres after History, Portrait and Landscape painting.

I was also surprised to learn that they were considered to be the easiest to paint because of the inanimate subjects used and needed no imagination on the part of the artist who unfortunately was also paid less.

Félibien believed that:-

‘…., the artist who does perfect landscapes is superior to another who paints only fruit, flowers or shells.  The artist who paints living animals deserves more respect than those who represent only still, lifeless subjects.  And as the human figure is God’s most perfect work on earth, it is certainly the case that the artist who imitates God by painting human figures is more outstanding by far than all the others.’

References:-

(Félibien, Art and Its Histories, pp 35)

Kandinsky

Wassily Kandinsky was born in Moscow in 1866, his parents were upper-class and well educated. His mother was from Moscow, his father came from near the border with Mongolia and his grandmother came from the German speaking Baltic region. He spent most of his childhood in the cosmopolitan city of Odessa and he artistic talent was encouraged by his father, although he didn’t pursue painting until he was 30 instead studying law, ethnography, and economics.

Kandinsky’s interest in colour symbolism and its effect on the human psyche grew throughout his time in Moscow and after a trip to northwest Russia he became interested in folk art which stayed with him through the rest of his life

Kandinsky was one of the pioneers of abstract modern art. He believed that when an artist copied from nature it interfered with the transcendental expression offered by total abstraction.

His art and ideas inspired many artists, including his students at the Bauhaus and the Abstract Expressionists after WWII.

He wanted to convey a spirituality through a visual language that was universal using colour and form that would transcend cultural and physical boundaries.

How to paint Abstract Art?

I’m still confused by Abstract Art.  To me it either looks like a load of paint just thrown on to a canvas which in some cases it is ….. but others are more considered with shapes and colours where I suppose the artist has taken their time placing the paint on to the canvas.

I thought I would have a go at my own abstract art to see if it helped.

I used acrylics on a piece of watercolour paper 14 x 20 inches applied with an old credit card for this:-

Abstract Acrylic

Next I tried using oils on a 12 x 16 inch canvas using a palette knife:-

Abstract Oil

I’m pleased with both paintings but I prefer using the oils, you can blend the colours better .

I thought that I was just putting the colours on to the canvas in a pleasing pattern of colours but have I inadvertently painted an abstract impression of ‘reflections’ in oils :).

Giorgio Morandi

I chose a still life by Giorgio Morandi for the copy I painted for Assignment 3.  I found these videos while I was doing some research.

It is a long time since I’ve done any painting especially in oils so it has made me want to do more.  My copy turned out different to Morandis’ original, I think it was because I used a synthetic brush so my brush marks don’t show up like his do so I’ll have to try using a hog bristle to see if I can get more texture next time.  I’m inclined to be to precise when I paint or draw so I need to loosen up as well.

Research Point: Pop Art

While researching Pop Art I was surprised to learn that it hadn’t started in America as I thought but in the mid 1950’s in Great Britain. It challenged the traditions of Fine Art by including images from popular culture.

According to this glossary from Tate http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120203144956/http://www.tate.org.uk/collections/glossary/definition.jsp?entryId=286

“A Still Life is anything that does not move or is dead in other words a Still Life painting usually features an arrangement of inanimate objects and traditionally the objects in the still life would have had a symbolic meaning.”

Still lives have a long tradition going back to Ancient Greece/Rome right up to the 20th century and Pop Art still lives are just a continuation,  although in a simplified form compared with the height of this genre, in the 17th and 18th century.

This is a late piece of what could be classed as pop art from the late 70’s in the Walker Art gallery collection in Liverpool.  Patrick Caulfield has transformed ordinary things into extraordinary things “what we call inspiration results from a careful sifting of everyday experience.”  Where he differs from American pop art is his use of interiors and everyday objects instead of advertising products and popular culture.

caulfield(c) http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk

‘Still life: Autumn fashion’, Patrick Caulfield, 1978

Leeks in a trug and oysters on a plate (the right ones are very realistic compared to the more graphic ones to the left)  and typical 1970’2 wallpaper 🙂

You can see more of his works on the BBC Your Painting website

References:-

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120203144956/http://www.tate.org.uk/collections/glossary/definition.jsp?entryId=286

http://painting.about.com/od/artglossarys/g/defstilllife.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_art

http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/search/painted_by/patrick-caulfield_artists

http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=10

Visit an Artists studio part 2

As a Textile student/artist I was interested in the craft rooms/studios I found on YouTube.  Most of them are from the USA and I am so envious of the large spaces they have 🙂  I could spend all day watching them.

If I ever won the Lottery and was buying a house I would make sure there was room for my ideal studio and WOW this one would be ideal.

This lady says this must be one of the untidiest studios –  I can’t move in mine.  I’m so envious of all the storage space she has.

How does she keep it so tidy and organized?