Review – Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting

The National Gallery is hosting a free exhibition until 21st September 2014 in the Sunley Room.

NG739 Carlo Crivelli  The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius, 1486 Egg and oil on canvas 207 x 146.7 cm Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864 © The National Gallery, London

NG739
Carlo Crivelli
The Annunciation, with Saint Emidius, 1486
Egg and oil on canvas
207 x 146.7 cm
Presented by Lord Taunton, 1864 © The National Gallery, London

The influence of Renaissance architecture on many facets of modern life is often underrated. In this exhibition, which brings together works from different collections and locations for the first time, the influence of Renaissance architecture is explored.

A great way to start is to watch short documentaries in the film room (you can also watch the videos online– see link at the end of this article). These explore how Renaissance works have influenced everything from computer-generated imagery technology (CGI) to the designs of the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor.

CGI developers who studied Renaissance paintings noted that the architecture portrayed in them is perceptibly flawed in order to emphasise figures. Marcello Venusti’s The Purification of the Temple  was a collaborative process between Venusti and Michelangelo, whose drawings were used for the figure composition. It has recently been used to form the background inspiration in a computer game about ancient Rome, continuing that tradition of artistic cross-pollination.

The videos also show how Renaissance art influenced modern cinema, with some great archival footage.

The next time I watch an opening scene in a film with the camera panning from outside in, I’ll understand a little more the debt this technique owes  to Antonello de Messina’s Saint Jerome in His Study. 

The exhibition leads us from the documentary films to the paintings via drawings on loan from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Queen’s private collection. The idea of staging a picture is presented. Each composition is a theatrical scene in which the buildings form a support and background for a narrative expressed through human figures.

Among my own favourites was Sebastiano del Piombo’s The Judgement of Solomon (c.1506-11), on loan from the National Trust. This ambitious large-scale narrative painting, which remains unfinished, shows figures nestled among classical architecture, with the focus on Solomon as he ponders the case of the two mothers in conflict over a child. The architecture in the painting reinforces the narrative.

NG3919 Sandro Botticelli  Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius, about 1500 Tempera on wood 64.8 x 139.7 cm Mond bequest, 1924 © The National Gallery, London

NG3919
Sandro Botticelli
Three Miracles of Saint Zenobius, about 1500
Tempera on wood
64.8 x 139.7 cm
Mond bequest, 1924
© The National Gallery, London

Ruins were used in nativity scenes to show that Christ was bringing in a new order, and to contrast the transience of the material world with the eternal nature of the spiritual world.

Ruins are used in Baldassare Peruzzi’s Adoration of the Magi  (c.1523) a wonderful pen, ink and wash drawing copied into a painting by Girolamo del Treviso. This highly finished drawing is worth seeing in and of itself, with archways in a semi-ruined state, trees intruding on the ruins and a parade of strange people and animals. Elephants and strangely horse-like giraffes walk towards the foreground, where human figures are tucked in close with a rearing horse and treasure boxes.

In Ercole de’ Roberti’s Nativity (1490-3) the small tempera painting is dominated by the stable in a totally convincing illusion of an impossible space.

The process of making works is shown through the squaring-up visible in a drawing by Giorgio Vasari on loan from Christ Church, Oxford. The drawings are a real compliment to the painted work on show, and further reveal the artists’ thought processes. The choice of landscapes, objects and architecture all reveal the passing of time.

Among the most cinematic of the works is da Messina’s Saint Jerome in His Study. You see St Jerome at his desk in the centre of the painting, but you also see the slippers he left at the base of the stairs before he stepped up to his room.

NG4758 Sassetta  Saint Francis renounces His Earthly Father, about 1440 Egg tempera on poplar 87.5 x 52.4 cm Bought with contributions from The Art Fund, Benjamin Guinness and Lord Bearstead, 1934 © The National Gallery, London

NG4758
Sassetta
Saint Francis renounces His Earthly Father, about 1440
Egg tempera on poplar
87.5 x 52.4 cm
Bought with contributions from The Art Fund, Benjamin Guinness and Lord Bearstead, 1934
© The National Gallery, London

A similar sense of time passing is also suggested in Saint Francis Renounces His Earthly Father (c.1440) by Sassetta (see left). The artist uses a built structure to suggest the conflict between the secular and the spiritual by placing some figures inside and others outside.

Carlo Crivelli’s The Annunciation with Saint Emidius (1486) is full of glorious details (see main image above). It is an intensely complex scene with repeating motifs of rug, plants and figures, and the isolated presence of the Virgin in a tightly enclosed area seen from the side.

As you go around the exhibition, here are a few fun things to look out for:

  • Spot the monkey in Botticelli’s Adoration of the the Kings.
  • Spot the giraffe in Baldassare Peruzzi’s Adoration of the Magi.
  • Find the model city in Carlo Crivelli’s The Annunciation with St Emidius. 

A really worthwhile exhibition to visit.


Editor’s note:

Sketch by Charlie Kirkham ASGFA of The Anunciation by Carlo Crivelli

Sketch by Charlie Kirkham ASGFA of The Anunciation by Carlo Crivelli

Building the Picture – Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting is the first exhibition in Britain to explore the role of architecture in Italian Renaissance painting of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It’s on at the National Gallery until 21st September 2014. For more information please visit the National Gallery’s web site http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/building-the-picture

Video link: Five contemporary perspectives on imagined architecture and how closely the modern arts of design parallel those of Italian Renaissance painters.

http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/channel/building-the-picture/

Charlie Kirkham ASGFA is the Society’s Associates Representative on the SGFA Council.

 

 

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Artist in Residence – Peter Baker ASGFA at Meeth Quarry

I n t r o d u c i n g   o u r   n e w   o c c a s i o n a l   s e r i e s   A r t i s t   i n   R e s i d e n c e

Meeth Quarry Works 1

Meeth Quarry Works 1 – pen, ink and wash 43 x 33 cm

Meeth Quarry Works 2

Meeth Quarry Works 2 – pen, ink and wash 33 x 43 cm

When Peter Baker moved to the village of Meeth in 2012 he found a muse at the bottom of his garden. 

The Tarka Trail — part of the Devon Coast-to-Coast Cycle Route — runs alongside Peter’s new house, and beyond the back garden fence lies the 150-hectare Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve. Two large lakes in the reserve were once massive stone and clay quarries. Its numerous ponds originally allowed china clay to ‘settle’ out of waste water, and these in turn were connected by ditches and sluices.

Peter took up his sketchbook and began to explore the lakes, paths, woodlands and abandoned structures of the reserve. Soon the reserve would become almost a second home.

Ash Moor - pen, ink and watercolour wash  19 x 28 cm

Ash Moor – pen, ink and watercolour wash 19 x 28 cm

Meeth Quarry, Autumn - pen, ink and wash  33 x 43 cm

Meeth Quarry, Autumn – pen, ink and wash 33 x 43 cm

The quarry had ceased operations in 2004. Seven years later it was reopened as a wildlife reserve under the management of Devon Wildlife Trust. Peter moved to Meeth the same year, and before long the Trust had appointed him to serve as Artist in Residence.

Blue Nocturne

Blue Nocturne – pen, ink and wash 19 x 28 cm

Bridleway Bridge - pen, ink and wash

Bridleway Bridge – pen, ink and wash

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peter has spent a year drawing on site, studying the changing atmosphere of the reserve through the seasons and in all kinds of weather. He has used his field drawings to develop studio paintings that are part of his latest Meeth Quarry Nature Reserve portfolio, on show  at Salar Gallery in Hatherleigh from 17th July until 13th September 2014. 

The Long Pond - acrylic on canvas 50 x 40 cm

The Long Pond – acrylic on canvas 50 x 40 cm

The Lost Pond - acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

The Lost Pond – acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

Winter Flooding - acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

Winter Flooding – acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

Bend in the River - acrylic on canvas  40 x 50 cm

Bend in the River – acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

The Small Pond - acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

The Small Pond – acrylic on canvas 40 x 50 cm

Profile of the artist

Peter Baker ASGFA was born in Rochford, Essex in 1948. His outstanding talent as an artist was evident when Peter was a child. At age ten he exhibited at the Mall Galleries, and when he was 15 Peter won a scholarship to study graphic design, illustration and printmaking at Hornsey College of Art. He went on to study at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London. Peter has exhibited paintings and drawings in galleries and one/two-man exhibitions ever since.

Peter’s art also features in many private collections in the UK. He trained as a teacher of art at Bath College of Higher Education and then at Bristol University, and taught drawing and painting in schools and community education with South Devon College. Peter was elected an Associate Member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art in 2010. For more about Peter and his art please visit his web site http://www.pabaker.co.uk

Devon Wildlife Trust http://www.devonwildlifetrust.org

Salar Gallery, Hatherleigh http://www.bohdgaya.net/salar

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Image of the Month – Two People by Barbara Sykes SGFA

Two PeopleCharcoal, graphite and acrylicWinner of the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize in the Summer Exhibition 2014 at the Royal  Academy of Art

Two People
Charcoal, graphite and acrylic
Winner of the Hugh Casson Drawing Award in the Summer Exhibition 2014 at the Royal Academy of Art

We had already invited Barbara Sykes SGFA to be our Image of the Month artist for July when we learned that her drawing Two People had not only been selected for the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition 2014, but had also won the Hugh Casson Drawing Prize. In this article Barbara talks about some of the ideas behind her award-winning art.


“My work for the last 20-plus years has been concerned with the human condition from birth to death. It is often tinged with humour, female symbology and very occasionally mythology.

When I first saw drawings and prints by Henry Moore that showed Londoners sheltering in the Tube during the Blitz, I was very moved. I am also affected by the beautifully sensitive art of the 20th century German painter and printmaker Käthe Kollwitz.

I think I can say that they have both been a great inspiration for me. I also love Rodin’s magnificent drawings of dancers, and the fact that many things can be read into these drawings.

Three People Charcoal, graphite and acrylic on paper

Three People
Charcoal, graphite and acrylic on paper

Henry Moore’s “sheltering in the Tube” drawings have influenced those of my artworks that show one, two or three figures in an empty space. They are based on certain narratives, but I also like to leave my art open to interpretation. My drawings are meant to leave you wondering what the people are doing, what they might have been doing or what are they about to do.

Mark-making is the foundation of all my work, be it painting or drawing. Sometimes you can’t tell if my art my is painting or drawing, but to me that doesn’t matter.

Soliloquy Charcoal, graphite and acrylic

Soliloquy
Charcoal, graphite and acrylic

Charcoal and water-based paint are my media. I stain paper with paint, allowing it to flow as I pour. For me the process is organic and the results evocative, suggesting the visceral but uncertain relationship we have with our own bodies. The purity of marks I make with charcoal or graphite can evoke a strong emotional reaction, and for me that is a constant source of delight.

Dialogue Charcoal, graphite and acrylic

Dialogue
Charcoal, graphite and acrylic

I am currently working on drawings of heads – Soliloquy is one example, Dialogue is another — that are concerned with the way we humans relate and communicate with one another and with our own selves.

Other titles in the series are Don’t Look Back and a diptych called Departure. This new body of work is for my next exhibition later this year at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

 

 

Barbara Sykes SGFA with her painting Five

Barbara Sykes SGFA with her painting Five

In this photo I’m standing in front of the large head painting Five, which is part of a large body of work that occupied me for several years. Five refers to the five senses, and the head seemed to be a very appropriate place to start with this sensitive yet sometimes difficult subject. The painting is built up with layers of paint, paper, charcoal and varnish and it’s framed behind glass.

Behind me in the picture, though you can’t quite see them, are hands being held out. They are collages of my own hands. I will never part with with this painting.  I return to it time and again.”


Profile of the artist

Barbara Sykes SGFA lives in Oldham and keeps a studio at Dean Clough in Halifax. She was born in Doncaster in 1944 and worked for many years as a textile designer for two Manchester studios, followed by freelance work in design. Barbara returned to full time education and graduated in 1993 from Bretton, Leeds University with a B.A. (Hons) degree in Fine Art. In 2005 she graduated from Bradford University with an M.A. in Printmaking and Art Theory.

Barbara has led workshops, given lectures and exhibited extensively in both municipal and private galleries. Her work is in public and private collections in the UK, France, the USA, Slovenia and Malaysia. She is a member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Art (MAFA) and the National Acrylic Painters Association (NAPA). Barbara’s next exhibition is at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery from 2nd December 2014 until 14th February 2015. For more about Barbara and her art, please visit her web site www.barbarasykes.com


Henry Moore’s Shelter Drawings at Tate Britain: With the advent of war Henry Moore gave up sculpture for drawing, but continued to explore familiar themes: “the Uncanny, claustrophobia, apprehension, the violated body…” His  Shelter Drawings became official ‘war art’, [transforming] his reputation.” For more information please visit Tate Britain’s web site  http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/exhibition/henry-moore-0/henry-moore-room-guide/henry-moore-room-guide-room-5

The Käthe Kollwitz Museum, Berlin: Please visit the museum’s web site at this link http://www.kaethe-kollwitz.de/museum-en.htm

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The Sketchbook Series – In India by Will Taylor SGFA

photo courtesy of Tessa Spenser Pryse

photo courtesy of Tessa Spenser Pryse

Motorbikes and lumbering cows, intricate arches and lake reflections, tangled cables, watchful locals, the flash of colour against earth tones  – Will Taylor SGFA tries his hand at capturing the look and feel of India.

“In February 2014 I set off on a painting trip to Rajasthan, India organised by James Horton, President of the Royal Society of British Artists, together with eight other artists. I was excited, but didn’t know what to expect. We were all from different backgrounds, and for me it would be a crash course in plein air oil painting. Amongst other places, we visited Udaipur, Dungapur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, and I returned home bearing sketchbooks filled with pencil, pen and wash and watercolour sketches, as well as oil paintings on board and about a thousand reference photographs.


.

The Camel Fair at Jaisalmer – pencil in A6 Moleskine sketchbook

The Camel Fair at Jaisalmer These are really quick sketches made while standing on the dunes. Camels, monkeys, tuk-tuks and hand carts invariably move off when you stop to look, someone will stand in your sightline, and the always-astute locals will look directly at you even when you try your best to draw or photograph them discreetly.


Main Square of the Old Fort, Jaisalmer

Main Square of the Old Fort, Jaisalmer – pencil in A6 Moleskine sketchbook

The Main Square of the Old Fort, Jaisalmer A good vantage point is often a restaurant table, where an added distraction is your travelling artist companions. Sometimes just drawing what happens to be in front of you works as well as fussing over what to draw.


Back Street, Udaipur

Back Street, Udaipur – pencil in A4 cartridge sketchbook

Back Street, Udaipur I made this pencil sketch in seconds as a layout prior to painting. With so many different ways to approach a scene, a quick first sketch helps to set a framework.

Your chosen subject matter changes from moment to moment: light moves and changes character, delivery lorries stop for long periods at a time, people and animals pass through and shop shutters open and close at odd times. There are also practical impediments. Your subject may be well lit, but you on the other hand must avoid direct midday or afternoon sun. If you’re not sitting against a wall, a large crowd may form behind you, keen to “help”. If you’re painting when school finishes for the day, a boisterous young crowd will pester you with requests for pens and brushes.

Back Street, Udaipur

Back Street, Udaipur – oil on board 8 x 10 in (unfinished)

The oil at left was my first effort at a street scene. It was completed in two hours as I sat on the front step of a house while balancing a pochade box on my knee. I was under constant threat from pigeons, and endured the close attention of children in the house.

 

 


Hanuman Ghat, Udaipur

Hanuman Ghat, Udaipur – pencil in A4 cartridge sketchbook

Hanuman Ghat, Udaipur  James recommended this relatively quiet spot at a temple by the lake. At various times during the afternoon, women came down to wash pots and then wash at the end of the day. Arriving there first and sitting quietly in the background, I found that no one seemed to mind my presence in such an intimate setting, and I was able to made fast pen sketches of the figures. For the rest of the time I worked on another oil-on-board sketch. I had a wealth of images from the afternoon here that I could later work up in the studio.

Washing at Hanuman Ghat Udaipur - Oil on Board 8 x 10 in (executed in the studio)  

Washing at Hanuman Ghat Udaipur – oil on board 8 x 10 in (executed in the studio)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Clock Tower, Udaipur

The Clock Tower, Udaipur – pen and wash in A4 cartridge sketchbook

The Clock Tower, Udaipur   It was difficult to know how to prepare for the trip, but before I set off for India I had seen the wonderful plein air work of Peter Brown NEAC, in particular his India oil paintings. This clock tower was the subject of a number of his paintings, so I was fascinated to find and draw it for myself. I drew with the sketchbook on my knee in one of the busiest spots in town while sitting over an open drain.


Jaisalmer Fort - oil on board

Jaisalmer Fort – oil on board 8 x 10 in

Jaisalmer Fort  The large square under the daunting fort façade was a wonderful place to paint. I arose very early before breakfast, partly because I was eager to start, partly in order to work during cooler hours in early light.

The scene ran east to west, and the light and shadows moved very quickly over the façade. I made three oil sketches here. This oil on board was created in situ. Working quickly, I had no particular oil technique in mind and my natural style was to create something more like a line and wash drawing.  I later worked this into the larger format etching shown here.

Jaisalmer Fort

Jaisalmer Fort – etching 30 x 40 cms (studio)

 


var. Jaisalmer, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur   One of the things I learned on the trip is the importance of working at scale. But I enjoyed the freedom of working quickly in this small book with a small brush and a limited palette. This worked particularly well at hotel tables with a view and a beer.

var Jaisalmer, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur

var Jaisalmer, Mehrangarh Fort, Jodhpur – watercolour in A6 Moleskine landscape watercolour sketchbook.


Street Scene beneath Fort Jodhpur Old Town

Street Scene beneath Fort Jodhpur Old Town – watercolour on Arches paper 23 x 31 in

Street Scene, Beneath the Fort Jodhpur Old Town   I completed this in situ in two separate sessions. It was a good painting spot just outside our guest house. It may be overworked, but it was a useful exercise to keep developing the sketch when much of the other work was done with necessary speed.

 


Groom at an Indian Wedding, Dungapur

Groom at an Indian Wedding, Dungapur – pen and wash in A4 cartridge sketchbook

The Groom at an Indian Wedding, Dungapur    I liked the simple sketches from the trip, the simpler the better. They may have more vigour and movement than my worked paintings. I drew this while standing on shop steps amongst a large, friendly and boisterous wedding crowd. Whether or not it has merit as a drawing, for me it captures a vivid and special memory of India.”


Profile of the Artist

Will Taylor SGFA is an artist and printmaker. He grew up in Liverpool and now lives and works in Rye, East Sussex UK. He is a member of the Society of Graphic Fine Art and the Rye Society of Artists.

Originally educated at Imperial College as a mechanical engineer, he attended short courses at the Slade School of Fine Art and Kent Institute of Art and Design, but is otherwise a self-taught artist.

Will works in a variety of media, each relying on clear draughtsmanship. In printmaking he uses traditional etching techniques and explores the strong use of line; in his large charcoal studies he explores tone, texture and character. Will’s subject matter is mainly figurative, and draws on an eclectic range of subject matter, from science and engineering to architecture and animals. He develops ideas from notebooks, his local environment and worldwide travel.

Will Taylor’s work has been exhibited in London, New York and across the South of England. For more about Will and his art, please visit his web site http://www.willtaylorart.co.uk/index.html

 

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Artist’s Proof – Mixed print media by Olive Webb SGFA


“When asked to describe the type of work I create, I tend to fall back on the vague term ‘mixed media’ or more recently ‘mixed print media’. No single technique gives me everything I need to develop an idea. 

Hunting Magic by Olive Webb SGFA

Hunting Magic
58 x 64 cm
Winner of the Cass Art Award for a Work on the Optional Theme of ‘Graffiti’ in DRAW 11, the Society’s 90th Annual Open Exhibition in 2011

 

The One Who Got Away by Olive Webb SGFA

The One Who Got Away 47 x 61 cm


I like to call my work ‘narrative-constructions’. Each artwork is built slowly layer by layer, starting with the germ of an idea — often a narrative — which becomes the first layer.

I do make traditional etchings, but am rarely satisfied with them. I work on zinc plates with nitric acid, usually a 10-1 dilution. When it comes to aquatint, I don’t use the more  traditional resin dust method, as I am asthmatic and very wary of dust in any form. Even when I wear a face mask and use an aquatint cupboard I am uncomfortable, so as an alternative I use an air brush and diluted liquid hard ground to make the necessary fine dots ready for the etching process. The air brush tends to clog up quickly no matter how thoroughly I clean it, so I spend more time cleaning it again before the next use. This does not improve my temper, and could explain why the resulting prints might not attain the same standard as those of a a ‘true etcher’.

SGFA Journal - Bull Running by Olive Webb SGFA

Bull Running 65 x 65 cm

A lot is left to chance, but the element of happenstance underpins everything I do. No print I have ever made has ended up as I first envisaged it, but many of my prints find their way into my multimedia work.

I start with an idea of what I am going to use. At the moment, for example, I am fascinated by pre-historic cave art, and I make drawings which I then enlarge or reduce with scanners and photocopiers.

At this stage I will have a whole pile of drawings in various sizes and colourways which I can then cut and paste and generally play around with until I’m satisfied with a particular layout.

In the Beginning by Olive Webb SGFA

In the Beginning 58 x 70 cm

Next, I need a setting or background. This is usually a monoprint with collaged elements.

I take the components of the layout I’ve created, turn them into stencils and print them onto my chosen background. Or I might use the cut-out image itself, inking it separately and collaging it on. For areas that need softening or bringing forward, I use tissue paper that has been inked and crumpled and torn in a random fashion. Sometimes I add gold leaf or strip away parts of the paper’s surface.

I experiment endlessly until I am satisfied.”


Profile of the artist 

The Cow Who Jumped over the Moon

The Cow Who Jumped over the Moon 48 x 42 cm

Olive Webb SGFA came to printmaking somewhat late in life. She studied architecture and worked in architectural drawing offices in London, then taught for ten years before gaining an Honours degree in Fine Art from the University of Hertfordshire (formerly St Albans  School of Art). 

From 1995 until 2005 Olive exhibited her art with the Heiffer Gallery in Highbury, London. Through the gallery she exhibited her art at the Covent Garden Festival and the Mayfair Arts Festival. Olive is a Member/Director of Bath Artist Printmakers and exhibits regularly with them. For more about Olive and her art, please visit her web site www.olivewebb.com 

Bath Artist Printmakers are the only fine art printmaking group in Bath. To mark their 30th anniversary in 2014 Bath Artist Printmakers are exhibiting at the Royal United Hospital and Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution. http://bathartistprintmakers.co.uk

 

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Image of the Month – Granite Faces XIII, The Cormorant’s Bill by Kit Surrey SGFA

Granite Faces XIII, The Cormorant's Bill, Cormorant Promontory, Land's End, West Penwith  Graphite, compressed charcoal and Conte crayon on paper

Granite Faces XIII, The Cormorant’s Bill, Cormorant Promontory, Land’s End, West Penwith
Graphite, compressed charcoal and Conté crayon on paper 100 x 80 cm

“When I was a child my family would rent a small farm cottage in Snowdonia. On wonderful walks in the mountains I would catch glimpses of brightly clad figures high up on seemingly impossible rock faces. Years later I found myself in Cornwall at the great sweeping faces of granite cliffs poised between the sea and the sky. My drawings are an attempt to express my excitement at these landscapes, and the sheer drama of the places that I am drawn to.

Granite Faces XII, Chair Ladder, Gwennap Head, West Penwith Graphite, compressed charcoal and Conté crayon on paper

Granite Faces XII, Chair Ladder, Gwennap Head, West Penwith
Graphite, compressed charcoal and Conté crayon on paper

I count myself very fortunate to live in such a beautiful part of England. Dartmoor is virtually on my doorstep.

All my work is intimately bound up with the landscape. My life-long passion for walking and climbing has led me to explore the magnificent South West coastline and its cliff faces, especially in West Penwith, that part of Cornwall beyond St. Ives to Land’s End. The sweeping granite and slate faces, the quality of the light, the elemental landscape where land meets sea hold an irresistible fascination for me as both a climber and an artist.

I use graphite and compressed charcoal to emphasise the theatricality and the strong chiaroscuro of these impressive places. Each drawing portrays a particular climbing cliff. I identify each one very precisely, not only by the name it’s been given by climbers, but also by an Ordnance Survey grid reference and a small map.

Rock Faces 3, Right Angle Cliff, Gurnard's Head, West Penwith Graphite, compressed charcoal and Conté crayon on paper

Rock Faces 3, Right Angle Cliff, Gurnard’s Head, West Penwith
Graphite, compressed charcoal and Conté crayon on paper

The drawings are nearly all about 100 x 80 cm on a heavy, slightly textured paper. I “map” the drawings out with a hard graphite pencil, which leaves a slight indentation. When I work over this initial line with compressed charcoal, the indented graphite reads as a white line, almost as if etched. I use a finely sharpened eraser for large white areas, I scratch through the charcoal with a scalpel, and for the brightest whites I leave expanses of paper untouched.


Profile of the artist

Kit Surrey SGFA was born in Birmingham and studied at Southampton College of Art and Wimbledon School of Art, graduating in Theatre Design in 1967. He has lived in Devon for many years, working all over the UK and abroad as a freelance theatre designer and a film art director. His drawing Granite Faces XIII, Land’s End, West Penwith, Cornwall won the Stabilo Award for Drawing at DRAW 11, the Society’s 90th Annual Open Exhibition. Kit has exhibited regularly with the SGFA, the South West Academy and the Alpine Club, and in 2013 his drawings were selected for the Draw 13 exhibition of the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol.

 

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Artist’s Proof – Le Morte d’Arthur by Melvyn Evans SGFA

Editor’s note: As we were putting the final touches on this story it was confirmed that Le Morte d’Arthur and Landscape with Figure and Sacred Well will be shown in the 2014 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art.

Le Morte d'Arthur  Linocut

Le Morte d’Arthur
Linocut 37 x 48 cm Edition number 100
Selected for the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition 2014 and the National Open Art Competition 2013

Le Morte d’Arthur is based on Thomas Mallory’s 14th century collection of tales relating to King Arthur, and also the poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson.

I’m fascinated by connections between aural traditions and the British landscape. There is a sense of prehistory in old place names and early monuments. Le Morte d’Arthur is part of a series of prints exploring these ideas, in which the figure is contained in and imprinted onto the landscape, symbolising our connection to it.

Sketch

Sketchbook Landscape
Charcoal, conte, graphite
12 x 15 cm

I have been relief printing for about 25 years, but still feel I’m exploring the process and have a lot more to learn.

I generally start with small drawings, just ideas thrown on to paper. Some of these ideas I scale up into larger drawings. I’m very interested in composition, creating a flow through the image. Once I’m happy with the drawing, I reverse it and transfer it onto the lino ready to start cutting. I use a separate lino block for each colour, the colour separation being worked out at the drawing stage.

For me there is a very close relationship between the printmaking process and drawing, in that I am asking a limited number of colours to achieve a desired effect without the use of a key block.

The key block is generally the last block to be printed, usually a dark colour, creating the line work around the shapes in the image. My prints rely instead on a balance of shapes and tones worked out through repeated drawings.

Landscape with Figure and Sacred Well

Landscape with Figure and Sacred Well
Linocut 45cm x 37cm
Edition number 100
Selected for the Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition 2014

As this series has developed I have used texture to soften the graphic look that is so characteristic of linocuts and to impart a more painterly quality to the final image. In Landscape with a Figure and Sacred Well, the figure is almost entirely textured using caustic soda and then scratched with the cutting tool. The distressed surface connotes erosion, which adds another dimension to the artwork by suggesting the passage of time. The use of texture also introduces an element of chance, offsetting the hard-edged graphic look and fairly controlled process of cutting with steel gouges and knives.”


Profile of the artist

SGFA Journal - Melvyn Evans SGFA

Thames People and Tides won the Silver Award in the 2013 Serco Prize for Illustration organized by the Association of Illustrators

Melvyn Evans SGFA has been a professional illustrator and printmaker since 1992. Originally trained as a marine engineer, he began a foundation course at Carmarthen College of Art in 1981 and went on to complete a BA (Hons) degree at Exeter College of Art and Design. Melvyn moved to London to study at Goldsmiths College, and took up drawing classes at the Royal College of Art under the tuition of Bryan Kneale RA.

Le Morte d’Arthur was selected for the National Open Art Competition exhibition in 2013, and in 2014 both Le Morte d’Arthur and  Landscape with Figure and Sacred Well were selected for the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art.

Melvyn joined the Society of Graphic Fine Art in 2011 and won the Serco/AoI Prize for Illustration Silver Award in 2013. For more about Melvyn and his art please visit his web site at www.melvynevans.com and his blog  melvynevans.blogspot.co.uk  and follow him on Twitter  @Melvyn_Evans_

The Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art runs from 9th June till 17th August 2014 www.royalacademy.org.uk

Association of Illustrators www.theaoi.com

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