Sunday, 1 September 2013

thirty six views of Mount Fuji

This week; something a little different  from the norm

Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is a series of large, color woodblock prints by the Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). The series depicts Mount Fuji in differing seasons and weather conditions from a variety of different places and distances. It actually consists of 46 prints created between 1826 and 1833. The first 36 were included in the original publication and, due to their popularity; ten more were added after the original publication
In some of the images, he draws Fuji with  a single, simple outline which describes the distinctive shape of the mountain.. Hokusai didn’t carve his own blocks, nor did he make the prints himself. Apparently;  ‘ukiyo-e’ artists did not carve the blocks or produce the prints what they did was to produce the  produced the original drawings from which the prints were made. 
I think I could quite happily live with these on my walls. I love their simplicity, their clean lines, their subtle colours and the intricacy of the drawings.

Full set of prints found here

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Henri Rousseau

For now I’m still going with the ‘walk on the wild side’ theme. Henri Rousseau’s paintings are always on the wild side and today; instead of the usual jungle scenes with animals, I’ve gone for the ones with people. The people in his paintings really do ‘walk on the wild side’.


Henri Julien Félix Rousseau  May 21, 1844 – September 2, 1910 was a self taught French Post-Impressionist painter who painted in the  Primitive style. 

He was also known as Le Douanier (the customs officer), a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector. Another artist whose work was ridiculed during his lifetime, he came to be recognized as a self-taught genius whose works are of high artistic quality.
Read about him here.

Time, gardens and more.

Art Sunday; Time, gardens and more…………………………….

This Sunday is supposed to be a catch up day, it’s raining, but that’s good, temperatures have been soaring recently and I have spent many happy hours walking along the edge of the sea and following the grandchildren out to the rock pools. Yesterday was a scorcher; we were out from 10m in the morning until after 9 in the evening. We’ve had a couple of thunderstorms this last week, and now we have this humid heavy rain, I think the heatwave is coming to an end but it has been totally glorious while it lasted. .

I think this will be a short post. I haven’t even checked out all of last weeks Art Sunday posts yet, I don’t know where the time goes these days. Inspiration for today is just bits of this and bits of that. Mostly long summer days, the peace and inspiration found in the garden, the joy of the grandchildren and my utter, utter delight at being alive these days.

 Religion and spirituality is something I rarely, is ever, mention, but there is something my mind keeps coming back to these days, which I think is worth mentioning. I find myself sitting by the sea, or sitting in the garden, or just watching the grandchildren play together on the beach; I find myself noticing the deep blue of the sky, the sound of the sea, the way the gulls float and glide on the air currents, I’ve been watching families enjoying the sunshine, so many little children discovering the joys of being outside;  and all I can think is ……….’This is no dress rehearsal, this is the real thing’.
I hear so called religious people talking about how their life is little more than preparation for another life, the one that begins after their death, and I feel sorry for them. From where I’m sitting we already have the best, it really doesn’t get any better. This constant lusting after more and belief in a life and a world that is so much better than what we have is, I think, at the root of my disillusionment with organised religion. I’m totally satisfied with the world I have, I don’t feel the need to hanker after more once I’m dead. What I would like, is to spend as much time as possible, with as much good health as possible, right here in this world. I don’t think we need paradise in a next world, because you don’t have to look very hard to find it right here in this world.
Random thoughts that are totally out of character I know, maybe I have sunstroke.

I came across this blog a while ago; this is a lady after my own heart, an artist and a lover of gardens. She doesn’t want her art of photos used without permission so I’ll just leave the link.

And Monet…………..he is exactly what this is about, I’m sure he saw the joy of the blue sky and the peace of the garden. You can’t really mention paintings and gardens in the same sentence without thinking of him.

A couple of paintings by Davey Brown, Scottish Artist from here

I think this David Hockney painting
Nichols Canyon, painted in 1980 expresses a joy of life


Found here

And finishing with an old favourite of mine, American artist Connie Tom, from here

The Beach with Sally Swatland and Robert Graves

More days spent on the beach.
The grandchildren and the dog are going home tomorrow and although I’ll miss them, I think I need the peace, I’m verging on exhausted. We have spent the last few days on the beach; and still the sun shines  I’m going with the beach theme for this weeks Art Sunday. 

The art work is by American artist Sally Swatland and the poem is by Robert Graves. I don’t think either are what I would normally chose but they fit exactly with the way I feel right now. Sally Swatlands paintings reassure me that the way my grandchildren have behaved these last few days is typical of children the world over and from all generations.
Robert Graves poem shows that even the most intelligent and talented of men………..can be seduced by the simple pleasures of the beach.

(b. 1946)

Memories of Summer

Sally Swatland was born in 1946 in Washington, DC and moved to Greenwich, Connecticut when she was seven. Her father was a successful attorney, which allowed her family to spend long periods in the countryside with many vacations at various seaside locations throughout the United States. She shared a passion with her family for beaches, sunshine, and fresh air. Most summer days were spent at the beach playing in tidal pools, chasing minnows, collecting shells and exploring.


Read more here

Poet Robert Graves has an extraordinary story;
The Beach Robert von Ranke Graves (also known as Robert Ranke Graves and most commonly Robert Graves) (24 July 1895 – 7 December 1985)was an English poet, scholar/translator/writer of antiquity specializing in Classical Greece and Rome, and novelist. During his long life he produced more than 140 works.

Graves's poems—together with his translations and innovative analysis and interpretations of the Greek myths, his memoir of his early life, including his role in the First World War, Good-Bye to All That, and his speculative study of poetic inspiration, The White Goddess—have never been out of print.

Read more here

by Robert Graves

Louder than gulls the little children scream
Whom fathers haul into the jovial foam;
But others fearlessly rush in, breast high,
Laughing the salty water from their mouthes--
Heroes of the nursery.

The horny boatman, who has seen whales
And flying fishes, who has sailed as far
As Demerara and the Ivory Coast,
Will warn them, when they crowd to hear his tales,
That every ocean smells of tar.

Summer, Poem by Robert L Stevenson, Paintings by Matisse

In the middle of all this glorious weather I have to post about …. SUMMER. And because I liked doing the poem plus painting thing last week, I’m going to do it all over again this week.

The poem is
The Summer Sun Shone Round Me
Robert Louis Stevenson

above; landsape at collioure

THE summer sun shone round me,
The folded valley lay
In a stream of sun and odour,
That sultry summer day.

above; le bonheur vivre

The tall trees stood in the sunlight
As still as still could be,
But the deep grass sighed and rustled
And bowed and beckoned me.

above; les toils cullioure

The deep grass moved and whispered
And bowed and brushed my face.
It whispered in the sunshine:
"The winter comes apace."

 above; luxe calme et volupte

 above; out of the window

The paintings are by Matisse;

Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse; 31 December 1869 – 3 November 1954. A French artist, known for his use of colour and his fluid and original draughtsmanship. He was a draughtsman, printmaker, and sculptor, but is known primarily as a painter.

The Glory of the Garden

( above; painting by contemporary artist George Birrel)

The Glory of the Garden

Today has been spent in the garden. There was no rain, some wind, and not too much heat, perfect for working in the garden. I began thinking about something many of us participated in back on Multiply. 

( above; tea in the garden by James Guthrie, Scottish artist)

Every Wednesday we posted a poem and the post was called (collectively) Poetry Wednesday. One poem that really took my fancy was this one By Kipling, I seem to remember posting it several times and every time I included paintings of gardens by different artists.  
( above, Bessie MacNicol, Scottish artist, 'a girl of the 60's') 

Anyhow………… I began thinking of it again, I can’t remember which paintings I originally posted with it but today I’ve chosen a couple of gardens buy different Scottish Artists.

( above; A Hinds daughter, James Githrie, Scottish artist 1859-1930) 

The Poem; The Glory of the garden by Rudyard Kipling

OUR country is a garden that is full of stately views,
Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues,
With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by;
But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye.
For where the old thick laurels grow, along the thin red wall,
You'll find the tool- and potting-sheds which are the heart of all
The cold-frames and the hot-houses, the dung-pits and the tanks,
The rollers, carts, and drain-pipes, with the barrows and the planks.

( above cottage by Largo by George Lesley Hunter)

And there you'll see the gardeners, the men and 'prentice boys
Told off to do as they are bid and do it without noise ;
For, except when seeds are planted and we shout to scare the birds,
The Glory of the Garden abides not in the words.
And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose,
And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows ;
But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam,
For the Glory of the Garden occupies  all who come.

(Above contemporary Scottish painter George Birrel) 

Our country is a garden, and such gardens are not made
By singing:-" Oh, how beautiful," and sitting in the shade
While better men than we go out and start their working lives
At grubbing weeds from gravel-paths with broken dinner-knives.
There's not a pair of legs so thin, there's not a head so thick,
There's not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick
But it can find some needful job that's crying to be done,
For the Glory of the Garden glories every one.

Above; contemporary Scottish painter George Birrel)

Then seek your job with thankfulness and work till further orders,
If it's only netting strawberries or killing slugs on borders;
And when your back stops aching and your hands begin to harden,
You will find yourself a partner in the Glory of the Garden.
Oh yes, man  was born a gardener, and thankfully he sees
That half a proper gardener's work is done upon his knees,
So when your work is finished, you can wash your hands and play
And hopefully this Glory,  may never pass away!

 ( above George Lesley Hunter Scottish colourist) 

and finally; Sweet Blosson by Edward Atkinson Hornel

Sir James Guthrie (10 June 1859 – 6 September 1930) was a Scottish Painter best known in his own lifetime for his portraiture although today more generally regarded as a painter of Scottish Realism.

Tea in the Garden and A Hind's Daughter - Sir James Guthrie painted at Cockburnspath, East Berwickshire (1883)

Bessie MacNicol (1869 – 1907) was a important woman painter in Glasgow at the start of the 20th century. She was an artist respected by her contemporaries and exhibited in Scotland and London, in several European cities and at Pittsburg and St Louis in the USA.

A girl of the 60’s painted 1899
George Lesley Hunter

Hunter was born in Rothesay, a town on the west coast Scottish Isle of Bute, in 1877.

he died in a Glasgow nursing home in December 1931, aged just 54.

Cottage, near Largo by G.L.Hunter (c.1920)

Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864–1933) was a Scottish painter Artist 

Sweet blosson


George Birrell was born in 1950. He trained at the Glasgow School of Art (1967 - 1971) and was involved with the Hospitalfield Summer School in 1970.

Ian Hamilton Finlay's Little Sparta: An Artist's Garden

Andrew Dickson visits Little Sparta, for 40 years the home and studio of Scottish artist Ian Hamilton Finlay, who was also a poet, writer and gardener. Richard Ingleby, co-owner of the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh, takes us on a tour of the garden in the Pentland Hills, which is filled with the artist's work. The exhibition Ian Hamilton Finlay: Twilight Remembers is at the Ingleby Gallery until 27 October 2012

A few thought about Jack Vettriano

Jack Vettriano
Every one knows who Jack Vettriano is, he consistently outsells other artists both in original work and in limited edition prints of his work. He is one of the most commercially successful artists of all 

( above a couple of the seaside scenes he is so famous for)

He comes from a working class mining family, he has never had any formal artistic training and no one from his family has ever ventured into the art world before. As artists go, his commercial success is phenomenal . He has one other distinction, he is shunned by most critics and galleries, his work is not hung in any of the major galleries and it’s very difficult to find any serious art critic who has any thing good to say about his work.

So… where do I stand on this?? Well I never paid much attention to his work, obviously I’ve seen it, who hasn’t? Initially I thought there was something slightly, nostalgically appealing about his work, (or at least the ones that haven’t descended into some sort of school boy, fantasy, soft porn). Not that there is any thing wrong with school boy, fantasy soft porn, its just that not being a school boy, it’s not really my cup of tea. However; once I began taking a closer look, I could see where the critics are coming from. Viewed close up, I understood why it’s been called ‘painting by numbers’. I still think that ‘painting by numbers’ snipe is particularly cruel but I understand why it was said.  His work IS reminiscent of that old childhood favourite. 
It is  particularly noticeable in paintings like this one, look at the shirt, the hair, the ‘shadow’ on her face, even the pattern of light left by the lamps, that shirt in particular is exactly what I remember from my old painting by number sets. It used to fascinate me the way you could fill in blocks of colour using a colour chart and end up with something that, from a distance, looked like  shading and shadow.  In fact this particular painting almost looks like comic book art. Not that there is any thing wrong with comic book art, providing its not masquerading a something else.  I also looked at some of figures, and I have to say, some of them are quite anatomically incorrect. 
This young woman has the most peculiar neck and shoulders I’ve ever seen. I know sometimes artists DO draw figures that are anatomically incorrect, but this man only paints figures, he specializes in figure painting, and he has done enough by now to learn how to draw them properly. Anyhow, the point is, I understand why critics dismiss his work and seem irritated that it is so popular. I understand why major art galleries reject his work despite is appeal with the public.


And that was more or less my critique of him, and then I watched this video documentary. This is the whole thing from YouTube split into 4 sections, I know people don’t have the time view an hour long documentary but if you dip into it, listen to some of the things he says, you will understand why I came to have a grudging respect for the man and his art
He comes over as a genuinely nice man, a very down to earth man, a self taught man who comes from a humble background with no ties past or present to the art world. He explains how he started painting by meticulously making copies of old impressionist paintings. He became relatively good at copying and started to think about creating his own original work. He claims to have had no style of his own or any idea of subject matter. From what he says I think this romantic, nostalgic style was not a gradual development from something else, he thought about what he would like to paint, thought about what makes him happy and then thought… ‘’I know’ women and romance’, that’s what makes me happy so that’s what I’ll paint’’. I think that’s a simplified version of his thought processes but it’s more or less how he ended up painting as he does. He has been criticized for copying figures for his earlier paintings from old artists copy books, they were books filled with photos, drawings and designs ready for commercial artists to copy from. These days people just use the internet. He has no shame about using these books; his attitude is … so what?? That’s what the books were intended for. These days he pays a photographer to take specific photos of models, whom he also pays. He then uses the photographs to paint from. He says he likes to paint from photograph, he likes to get to know the model, he chooses their clothes, chooses the location of the photo shoot and then goes with them on location. But he doesn’t want the model sitting next to him for days on end while he paints. He likes to paint in his own home on his own. I completely relate to all of that. That’s exactly how I like to paint, from a photo, preferable one I’ve taken myself, at home, alone, usually on my kitchen table with the front door locked and the phone disconnected. Yes………..I relate to his working method.
I also admire his attitude toward the critics. His attitude seems to be; ‘At least I’m out there doing it, I’ve got what it takes to do what I want to do and make a success of it. I’m not hurting any one, I’m earning an honest living and I don’t just sit around criticizing others. He is proud of himself and what he has achieved. I think he is proud of the fact that he has achieved world recognition without any formal training and without any help from any one. And for that I think he deserves to be proud of himself. His attitude is who cares if you don’t like my work, I like it and my millions of fans world wide like it. 

I think he is someone I would like to meet. I also think he is someone I would like and respect. I may never hold his work in such high esteem as his fans do, but that doesn’t really matter. He is happy, his millions of fans worldwide are happy, he is one of todays most successful artists, he is earning a more than decent living doing what makes him happy without exploiting anyone plus his work ethic appears to be as intact now as it was when he was a miner. What more can you ask?

Every one has seen his work, there are probably more of his contemporary prints in homes and offices across the world that any other artist dead or alive. He is somewhat of a phenomenon. He is loved by his public and equally despised by the established art world. 

This is the painting of Kara Tointon, the actress he painted in the documentary, Its called, Suddenly one Summer.