Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bill Guffey paints a winter landscape plein air (video)

This is a two hour plein air painting session in January by Bill Guffey reduced to eight minutes.  He's painting a winter landscape of woods and water in the snow.


Quick two hour painting effort
at Salem Park in Cumberland County, Kentucky
on January 22, 2011. Oil on oil primed linen panel
If you have published a painting video of you painting plain air do let me know.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Painting tropical landscapes in Bali


Rice paddies, Ubud (SOLD)
12cm x 17cm (4½"x7") oil on board
Copyright Julian Merrow Smith
I'm having a lovely time at the moment revisiting - via Julian Merrow Smith's paintings of the paddy fields and tropical landscapes of the island of Bali in the Indonesian Ocean.

Postcard from Provence has temporarily relocated to Bali in Indonesia.  I'm loving it because this is an island I've visited twice - in 1992 and 1997 (see my sketchbooks here Katherine Tyrrell travels with a sketchbook - in Bali)

The critical thing about tropical landscapes in places like Bali is to forget every colour you usually use for greens and to start afresh assessing the colours of the landscape - the green is vibrant and the browns are sundried - and the colour of the water obviously depends on what the sky is doing!  The other thing I remember is that the quality and the nature of the shadows are completely different.  Partly because of the strength of the sun but also because of the humidity in the air.

Julian is doing a fabulous job of capturing Bali as I remember it. He's even painting the places I know well - rice fields near Ubud (the artist's village) and Penestanan in the north of the island and Tanah Lot on the south coast.  You can see a photo of him painting the paddy fields in Ubud at the top of this post on his wife Ruth's blog - The first day in Ubud

Here's two more samples of his work in the paddy fields.  You can see paintings of the coast on his blog and follow him by subscribing to Postcard from Provence (in Bali).


Track through rice paddies, Penestanan (SOLD)
20cm x 16cm, oil on board
Copyright Julian Merrow Smith

Temple in the paddy fields (SOLD)
20cm x 16cm oil on board
Copyright Julian Merrow Smit

Here's part of my comment on Julian's blog - about the Penastan painting

My goodness - this takes me back. I've walked through these paddy fields in Penastan. I've even walked them in the dark and very nearly fallen into them! Try walking along the edge of a paddy field after it's dark with a pencil torch!

You are absolutely spot on with all the colours - the lush greens and the faded muted browns. You're really catching the shapes and the look of that part of Bali.
Have you ever been to Bali?

Do you have any tips about painting tropical landscapes?

Friday, 14 January 2011

John Constable documentary - view online

For those who like John Constable's work there is an excellent documentary by Andrew Graham Dixon about the painter currently available to download from BBC Two iPlayer Secret Lives of the Artists - 1. Constable in Love
John Constable's painting The Haywain embodies pretty and cosy England, adorning many a tea towel and postcard. But behind the image of rural calm lies a passionate artist whose pictures hide an erotic undercurrent - a story of forbidden love to rival even Shakespeare's ill-fated lovers. Andrew Graham-Dixon reveals the true story of Constable and an untold love story sublimated on canvas.
I've watched it through once and can highly recommend it.  I'll be watching it again before it expires in six days time.

"Salisbury Cathedral from the Bishop's Garden," by John Constable.
oil on canvas, 13.63" X 17.32"
Ostensibly about the love story between Constable and his wife Maria Bricknell, it also tells us a lot about how Andrew Graham Dixon and other art historians see the role and impact of emotion and personal relationships on his landscape paintings and career.  It also tells us about his relationships with others in his Circle such as John Fisher, the Bishop of Salisbury, who commissioned the painting below and who is included with his wife behind the fence and under the shade of the trees.

You can also view clips via Andrew Graham Dixon's website where Andrew Graham-Dixon explores the life of Constable, his painting and love life.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Virtual Paintout is in Boston, Massachusetts

The award-winning art blog The Virtual Paintout is in Boston, Massachusetts this month.  The area is basically everything inside the 128 / 95

Map of Boston Massachusetts - everything inside the ring road Highways 95 / 128

I passed through Boston a couple of times on my visit to New England in 2006 and remember that most of the time I had my eyes glued to the traffic signs to make sure I navigated my way round "the big dig" and got to and from the airport without going in the wrong direction!

However I also stopped in the middle of Boston and went to see an exhibition about artists sketchbooks at the Fogg Museum and walked through Harvard Yard.

I've just discovered through trying to find it again on the map that the Harvard Art Museums have a major construction project underway to "facilitate the centralization of the collections, galleries, and curatorial staff of the Fogg Museum, the Busch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum in one state-of-the-art facility" at 32 Quincy Street.

Think I might go and try and find the Boston Museum of Fine Art instead.........

Instructions on how to participate can be found on Bill's blog - see Boston - January 2011

Friday, 7 January 2011

The 'Virtual Paintout' wins The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup


It was my great pleasure last month to award The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup to Bill Guffey's The Virtual Paintout as part of the Making A Mark Awards for Generating Art.

Here's what I had to say.
The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup
Art can be quite a lonely activity and it's noticeable that people often like to have some sort of involvement in groups and projects related to art! This award is for:
  • EITHER a major and reputable new project which adds value and involves a large number of bloggers
  • OR a project which has grown over the course of the year in question or otherwise had some significant impact during the course of the year
Nominations for this award were:
The Virtual Paintout by Bill Guffey nominated by Charlene Brown  Seconded by Leslie Hawes
My nomination for the Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup is The Virtual Paintout by Bill Guffey.  Using Google Streetview as a source of inspiration for paintings provides just the right degree of unity around a shared theme, and diversity of subject – and lends itself to an incredible variety of interpretations. It’s hard to say which is more fun, finding your perfect location by navigating around the selected area on Google, or looking at all the great stuff other people have found!

The "Creative Every Day Challenge" and the associated challenge, "Art Every Day Month" hosted by Leah Piken Kolidas Nominated by Peggy Stermer-Cox 
To explain, the challenge runs all year long with a Monday check-in. Then, in November, check in is daily. Optional themes are given each month for exploring, or not.  What I think is special about this art blog is the vast array of artists who participate: fine art, fine craft, writers, dancers, photographers, etc. Leah started the challenge in 2008. I also like the wide range of experience in the participants.
The Creative Every Day Challenge is an older and bigger site and obviously attracts a lot of participants.  It's also very laudable to be promoting creativity amongst art bloggers.  However in terms of accessibility I found it a bit difficult to navigate and I did notice you didn't need to be an art blogger to participate - and these awards are about art blogging.

By way of contrast, the joy of Bill Guffey's Virtual Paintout site is that it has a very simple concept which is the same every month - painting scenes from specific locations using Google Streetview.  The only thing which ever changes is the place and the map.  The participants get to choose the location they want to paint and then provide the link to the map and the image of what they've produced to Bill for posting to the blog. 

Two paintings of County Clare, Ireland from the December thread

Bill has succeeded in attracting a large number of participants every month - and the benefit is that you can see all the pictures on the blog and that makes it very easy for non-participants to understand the project and see its results. I also like the way that it shows people that they can find places to go and paint plein air using Google Street View and consequently its impact is not just limited to this blog!

Finally to top it off, Bill managed to get himself on TV when Prince Edward Island in Canada discovered they were the chosen location of the month!  I like both the accessibility and the impact of this art blog project and so.....
The 2010 winner of
The Best Art Blog Project Virtual Challenge Cup is
Bill Guffey for The Virtual Paintout

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year! (plus a landscape art reading list)

Happy New Year to all subscribers to and readers of The Art of the Landscape.

Tomorrow this blog - and this project - is one year old.  This was the very first post on Saturday 2nd January 2010 - Introducing the The Art of the Landscape Project

A View in the Alps
John Ruskin - 1835
Private collection
Painting - watercolor
Height: 21 cm (8.27 in.), Width: 27.5 cm (10.83 in.)
Very early this morning we had a powercut in the area where I live.  This morning when I woke up I discovered they hadn't even started to fix the problem - which made a very grey day even greyer.   I couldn't see to read - having discovered last night that my torch wasn't where it should be!


Study of Gneiss Rock, Glenfinlass
by John Ruskin
Pen, brown ink, ink wash (lamp-back) and bodycolour,
47.7 x 32.7 cm.
Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England

That's when I discovered that an ipad screen with a nice light background - such as can be found with a good downloaded book - doubles as a torch!  It certainly makes for very easy reading in the middle of a power cut.

Which is how this morning I came to be reading an ibooks version of John Ruskin's The Elements of Drawing and most particularly how to draw trees and landscapes while I ate breakfast.   

(In brief, Ruskin was the man who championed the landscape art of JMW Turner and fostered the development of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.  He also was an inspiration for the Arts and Crafts Movement, the founding of the National Trust, the National Art Collections Fund, and the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.)

When the power came back on I decided to see which other books were available through ibooks and discovered I could access a number of works including
Modern Painters (1843) is book on art by John Ruskin which argues that recent painters emerging from the tradition of the picturesque are superior in the art of landscape to the old masters. The book was primarily written as a defence of the later work of J.M.W. Turner. Ruskin used the book to argue that art should devote itself to the accurate documentation of nature. In Ruskin's view Turner had developed from early detailed documentation of nature to a later more profound insight into natural forces and atmospheric effects.

Ruskin added later volumes in subsequent years. Volume two (1846) placed emphasis on symbolism in art, expressed through nature. The second volume was influential on the early development of Pre-Raphaelitism. Ruskin also added third and fourth volumes in later years.

I then took at look at the Project Gutenburg site - and found that has a lot of his writing (and associated images) is available to download in various formats - see links at end for just some of them.

So one of my New Year's Resolutions will be to read Lectures on Landscapes!

The Field behind Ruskin's House at Denmark Hill by John Ruskin
1860. Watercolor.


This is what Wikipedia has to say about Ruskin's theories about art
Ruskin's views on art, wrote Kenneth Clark, "cannot be made to form a logical system, and perhaps owe to this fact a part of their value." Ruskin's accounts of art are descriptions of a superior type that conjure images vividly in the mind's eye.[10] Certain principles, however, remain consistent throughout his work, which Clark summarised as:
  1. Art is not a matter of taste, but involves the whole man. Whether in making or perceiving a work of art, we bring to bear on it feeling, intellect, morals, knowledge, memory, and every other human capacity, all focused in a flash on a single point. Aesthetic man is a concept as false and dehumanizing as economic man.
  2. Even the most superior mind and the most powerful imagination must found itself on facts, which must be recognized for what they are. The imagination will often reshape them in a way which the prosaic mind cannot understand; but this recreation will be based on facts, not on formulas or illusions.
  3. These facts must be perceived by the senses, or felt; not learnt.
  4. The greatest artists and schools of art have believed it their duty to impart vital truths, not only about the facts of vision, but about religion and the conduct of life.
  5. Beauty of form is revealed in organisms which have developed perfectly according to their laws of growth, and so give, in his own words, 'the appearance of felicitous fulfillment of function.'
  6. This fulfillment of function depends on all parts of an organism cohering and cooperating. This was what he called the 'Law of Help,' one of Ruskin's fundamental beliefs, extending from nature and art to society.
  7. Good art is done with enjoyment. The artist must feel that, within certain reasonable limits, he is free, that he is wanted by society, and that the ideas he is asked to express are true and important.
  8. Great art is the expression of epochs where people are united by a common faith and a common purpose, accept their laws, believe in their leaders, and take a serious view of human destiny.[11]

I'll finish with another winter landscape - this time by John Ruskin - painted from his home at Brantwood overlooking Coniston water in the Lake District. 

Study of Ice Clouds over Coniston by John Ruskin
    You can visit Brantwood - said to be the most beautifully situated house anywhere in the Lake District - between March and November. 

    It also has a regular schedule of art exhibitions - many of which relate to explorations of the wonderful Lake District landscape.

    Links: Project Gutenburg - files to download

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