I went to see the Rembrandt film a while ago – the cinema was full and hot, hard to stay awake and several people dozed off. The film felt too long (but was only about 90 minutes). It didn’t stick to a timescale and jumped around Rembrandt’s life and paintings in a hard to follow theme. A lot of different talking heads. A philosopher linking Rembrandt to Descartes in a speculative may-have-met musing. The sliding, morphing style made for a slow film with many apparent endings before the end. It is always good to see the paintings but I didn’t enjoy the film much and felt that it missed the point though I am now not sure what the point was. I think the TV series is better but maybe at three hour-long episodes that too is too long. I think I am distinctly lacking in patience!
My paintings didn’t get shortlisted for the Bath Artists show but no surprise. Having had one accepted once I persevere in hope each year. E has one through to the next round which is very pleasing. I am in a can’t think of anything to paint phase.
I went to see the current exhibition at the Victoria Gallery today. Called Sharmanka Travelling Circus it combines mechanical bits and pieces of scrap metal, old looms, cogs, bells, together with carved figures made to bang and hammer and make things move - a bit like a Heath Robinson contraption. The changing colours of the lighting casts shadows that become another version of the animated elements. And the music reflects the different stories being told (these passed me by). The industrial scenes, with cranes and meccano-like skyscrapers, accompanied by a kind of 1920s jazz and big band music reminded me of some of the paintings at the exhibition of American art at the Ashmolean. It all felt industrial, the noise and clang of construction in 20th century America, and then I read the leaflet. Sharmanka is Russian for barrel organ; the concept was created in Russia in the 1970s; and though some of the sound and performance relate to industry, there were stories, fables and allegories that I, being literal, didn't pick up. I loved it for the sight and sound and the kind of artist craftsman who has the imagination and skill to invent it.
I watched some of the rugby on TV this afternoon, in the spirit of trying to keep up with the men in my life, many of whom love and/or play the game. I can't get the hang of it, it looks like a large-scale wrestling match with complicated rules and a ball. At least I will know the score at a family meal tomorrow. I wish I liked sport but I don’t. Roll on autumn and Strictly.
I framed an old painting, might include it in the exhibition but we don’t have a lot of space. The flowers are anemones which were my mother’s favourite. I painted them and then scrubbed the paper in the sink to get this washed-out effect. It looks like the kind of painting people might like more than my others. Haven’t been able to start any new paintings, I just have to let go and wait for inspiration.
It’s a time for feeling quiet. Maybe it’s just unsettling going to funerals and thinking of an “in memoriam” space for Costas’ paintings at the next exhibition. Everybody feeling sad and relieved it’s not them. This was a burial in over-bright sunshine, the cortege approaching down a very yellow path across very green grass under a too-blue sky as if we were all in a film. I remembered bits of a poem I wrote a long time ago. “Churchyards are such still places, / As if everyone buried in them / Had managed to book a peaceful death, / Brief and simple like each epitaph.” Ok, a bit sub-Plath. And it was a cemetery, not a churchyard. I like the silence in the house today, the solitude, the only song I listened to. Music today would be too loud.
I am completely enamoured of the cello. I love particularly the 2cellos (even when they perform with an exotic pin-thin pianist called LoLa with glossy hair down to her waist and impossibly high stiletto heels). I love the oldest beardie best of all. But a cellist called Norman Angell is nearly as good – nothing about him on Google which is overwhelmed by someone of the same name, a long-dead knighted recipient of the Nobel peace prize. I listened to some tracks on YouTube played through the speaker Tom bought for me – I Will Wait and Love Story better than Highway to Hell! No accompanying videos. I think I am still a groupie of the 2cellos who play from inside the music and get to the heart.
I like autumn, am less keen on spring which is unsettling even though it is lovely to see the sunshine. All seasons are interesting and colourful but autumn is my favourite. This is Autumn Mist, one of those barely there pictures. Maybe it will be more to the taste of those who are less keen on my usual very bright colours! Not sure that I like it much – it may yet be overpainted as something else. And a photo of the rabbits who have chewed all the bark off an apple branch.
Two of my paintings and one of Ele’s sold at the RUH exhibition which is a nice surprise and has the feel-good factor of knowing that the commission goes into the Art at the Heart hospital fund. We collected the rest of the Combe Down artists’ paintings yesterday. The hospital was very hot, very busy and slightly manically full of artists from all five groups trying to find and pack their paintings. But at least none of ours went astray! It is a lovely exhibition and it is really good that patients, visitors and staff stop to look at the paintings and even buy them. These are the two paintings; I am almost sorry to see them go. Maybe it's time to stop painting blobs and go back to fruit and imagined corners of Tuscany.
Just been with Ele to see the Gainsborough theatre paintings at the Holburne. Lots of people there but no-one I knew. Portraits of 18th century actors, managers, playwrights, dancers, who performed at theatres in Bath and London. Interesting to see how loosely the garments and backgrounds are painted compared to the faces - which are all recognisably Gainsborough faces. Also on display was Hockney's "Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy" which was much bigger than I'd thought, about 3x2 metres. Striking and very posed, somehow more artificial in reality than when reproduced as a small image in books. How amazing it would be to be painted by Hockney!
Yesterday I saw the film The Favourite which I hated. The acting was tremendous but I thought it was one of the worst films, a sort of cross between a Restoration tragi-comedy (wigs, white powdered faces, etc - mostly the men), farce, gratuitous sex (ok to have a couple of scenes in case we missed the lesbian theme), overloud intrusive music including some meaningless bonging, mangled history, shallow, overlong and just deeply unpleasant (that polite word). Not to mention the rabbits (they did at least steal the scenes where they hopped around the Queen's bedroom). It's sure to win lots of Oscars.
I like the trees in the Blue Roofs painting, not sure about the rest of the picture. Will think about it for a while.
The last life painting class had the male model in the same pose but I painted it from the other side of the room so a little different. My first attempt was so bad I washed it off in the sink (which resulted in a rather distressed faded-fresco image) then carried on painting – the tutor liked it looking a bit scrubbed and this painting sort of now looks alright. His hair is blue to carry on my obsession with blue!
The college has security people in the foyer making sure everyone has an electronic badge. There are three posters in the ladies’ toilets: Advice on what to do in the event of an armed or weapon attack (Run, Hide, Tell); Warning that child porn is illegal (Don’t do it); Awareness of female genital mutilation (Let’s talk about FGM). In town there are more anti-terrorist bollards. Feel momentarily very perturbed and alert.
A different female model in Life Painting. All these poses are tricky to get right – crossed legs, folded arms, cushions and drapery. I drew her first in white chalk on black sugar paper and then painted. Which was interesting – the paper (which is about the cheapest rough and ready) randomly absorbed the paint giving a stripy/blotchy effect which I quite liked. It took ages to get the feet right, ie one foot flat on the ground, the other in mid-air.
One of my paintings has been accepted for exhibition at the Pound Arts Centre in Corsham. I’m pleased, especially as it is one I like and is in a different style - the title emerged while I was playing with the paint and the image suddenly looked a bit retro.
Another autumn painting in oils. I’m not sure about this one, it seems a bit flat. Still getting used to painting in oils. I’m not adding the latest life painting to this blog as it was beyond bad. I tried to capture the (male) model using a palette knife and acrylics. The paint dried in blobby ridges, partly because the art room is very warm and partly because I made such heavy weather of it. E did hers in collage which looked good.