Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Winter Landscape: Fox Hill, Upper Norwood by Camille Pissaro

Fox Hill, Upper Norwood 1870 by Camille Pissaro
One of the fascinating things about looking at paintings from the past is that it's now possible to match streetscapes up with Google Street Maps.  A Virtual Paintout in reverse if you like.

One such painting is Camille Pissaro's painting of Fox Hill, Upper Norwood which was painted in South London and is now in the National Gallery.  This is yet another Winter Landscape - and one from before snow ploughs were invented!  I like the blues, pinks and mauves which helps to provide the structure of the snow with this snowy landscape.  I love his ladies in crinolines making their way along the snowy verge.  Makes me think of galoshes!

Pissaro was a French-Danish Impressionist painter.  His family came from French but he was born in the Danish West Indies (which became the US Virgin Islands in 1917).  He was very much influenced by Corot.

Like a number of French people, he sought refuge from the Franco-Prussian War and came to London in June 1870 and stayed for a year.  During this time he lodged at 77a Westow Hill and painted several views of Sydenham and Upper Norwood.  This was at a time when the area was undergoing a process of transition.  the railways had arrived but surburbia had not yet swallowed up all the fields.

One of the paintings from that time is Fox Hill in Upper Norwood.  This is what the scene looks like from more or less the same spot today courtesy of Google Streetview.

View Larger Map

Many of the houses in this street have been rebuilt but the general character of this view and the distinctive bend still correspond with Pissarro's painting.
National Gallery - Pissaro


Monday, 27 December 2010

Winter Landscape: Hunters in the snow by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Hunters in the Snow is the very first painting I ever saw by Pieter Bruegel.  It was of course a reproduction and it hung on one of the walls of my primary school.

Jäger im Schnee (Winter) (Hunters in the Snow) 1565 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1525 - 1569)
Oil on panel; 46 1/8 x 63 7/8 in. (117 x 162 cm)
Source: Pieter Bruegel the Elder (ca. 1525/30–1569) | Thematic Essay | Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

I loved to look at it.

First of all, it was about a snowy landscape - which is a source of great excitement to a child living in a temperate climate where the rain rarely changed to snow

Next it had such a lot going on in the picture.  You could look at it for a long time and still keep seeing new things.  I always used to think the hunters themselves seemed a bit miserable - and that all the fun was happening out on the ice.  This from the perspective of a child whose greatest excitement if it snowed was to make an ice slide and see how far I could slide and stay standing up!

Looking at it again now, what I'm struck by is:
  • How cold the picture is in terms of the colours used.  The sky has that leaden grey look associated with times of heavy snow.  The snow itself is pristine and white suggesting that not only has it snowed but also that it snows on a regular basis.
  • It has a feeling of a life lived in the snow for a long time.  The rooves of the buildings have a pitch associated with areas of heavy snow.  Lots of people are skating - because lots of people can skate!
  • How the posture of the hunters is very persuasive of a feeling of weariness and possibly melancholy.  These people really do look like they are trudging through heavy snow and have been for quite some time.  Also, although they are hunters, they don't seem to have been successful in batching very much.
  • the composition and design of the painting is intriguing.  In one sense, it's very westernised with the main figures entering from the bottom left.  There are a number of diagonals coming in from the left which all serve to focus on the skaters in the middle of the painting.  the bird and the curve in the mountain create a loop which prevent our eyes escaping out the top of the painting.  Small figures make us want to linger and make out what they are doing. 
  • the colour palette is very limited and very restrained.  However the painting employs complementary colours - the reddish brown and the blue/green/grey of the sky are opposite one another on a colour wheel.
  • how competent Bruegel is at creating living beings through silhouettes.
The painting is part of the permanent collection of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.  The Picture Gallery was developed from the art collection created by the House of Habsburg.  It is one of the more important collections of European paintings in the world and focuses on paintings between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries.

This is what the museum has to say about it
The group of hunters returns to the low-lying village, accompanied by an exhausted pack of dogs. Only a single fox hangs on one of the spears slung over the men's shoulders. To the left preparations are afoot to singe a pig over an open fire. Delightful details such as skaters on frozen ponds have added to the picture's enormous popularity. Yet it is not the sum total of details that make the picture important, rather its overall effect. In a manner both virtuosic and consistent, Breugel evokes the impression of permanent cold.
    Bruegel also painted landscape in different seasons - and I'll return to him and his paintings as I feature landscapes from the different seasons in the coming year.

    Saturday, 25 December 2010

    Winter Landscape - Adoration of the Magi by Pieter Bruegel

    Adoration of the Kings (1567) by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
    Adoration of the Three Wise Men in the snow
    Pieter Bruegel the Younger
    Two paintings of the same scene by father and son of the same name - Pieter Bruegel - Elder and Younger.  Pieter Bruegel the Elder is the superior painter. 
    Making the life and manners of peasants the main focus of a work was rare in painting in Brueghel's time, and he was a pioneer of the Netherlandish genre painting. His earthy, unsentimental but vivid depiction of the rituals of village life—including agriculture, hunts, meals, festivals, dances, and games—are unique windows on a vanished folk culture and a prime source of iconographic evidence about both physical and social aspects of 16th century life
    Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Wikipedia
    What I love about the landscape/townscape paintings of Piter Breugel the Elder is the attention to the detail in every part of the painting.  Not so much in terms of the realism of the painting but in terms of observation of the reality of a winter landscape (eg extracting water from an icy pond) and the tasks and activities of daily life which go on irrespective of the the momentous event portrayed or the fact it's being painted.

    I always feel as if I'm sat up in a nearby tree looking down on what's going on.

    There's a bit of a sense of 'painting by numbers' in the paintings of his son.
    Pieter Brueghel the Younger also copied the works his father had created by using a technique called pouncing.

    Seasons Greetings
    I'd like to take this oppportunity to wish the subscribers to this blog 
    a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

    Friday, 24 December 2010

    Winter Landscapes - Icy Winter by George Gardner Symons

    For the next few posts, I'm going to take the opportunity to highlight, for our wider appreciation, some paintings of landscapes in winters by artists from different countries, different continents, different centuries and different painting styles.

     Icy Winter by George Gardner Symons
    oil on canvas, 101.6 cm (40 in.), Width: 76.2 cm (30 in.)

    This first one is by an artist who seems to have been completely besotted by snow.  George Gardner Symons (1861-1930) is an American impressionist artist who specialised in winter landscapes.  He died in January 1930 aged 64. 

    You can appreciate a range of his winter landscapes here.  What I particularly like about them is
    • the vantage points and compositions which suggest to me a man who liked to find the best spot rather than the one easiest to paint from. 
    • the colours he finds in snow
    Symons’ exposure to Impressionism in Europe has a lasting influence on his work. He painted “en plein air” and his is generally classified as an “American Impressionist”. Though he is noted in particular for his scenes of New England in the Winter, he is considered a member of the California School of American Impressionism.

    Wherever he painted, Symons rendered his landscapes in clear, strong compositions, with a vibrant color sense, and the kind of crisp, deliberate brushwork that makes the work of so many American Impressionist painters wonderfully appealing.
    Other references include:

      Friday, 17 December 2010

      Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010

      Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010:
      Antony Spencer - Winter mist at Corfe Castle, Dorset, England
      copyright Antony Spener - all rights reserved / used with permission

      Winner of the Landscape Photographer of the Year 2010 Award - and a £10,000 prize - is Dorset’s Antony Spencer for his stunning view of Corfe Castle: Winter mist at Corfe Castle, Dorset, England.

      The ‘Landscape Photographer of the Year’ Exhibition is currently on display at the National Theatre in London.
      Here's some of the winners - and links to their websites
      • The Young Landscape Photographer of the Year award was won by Taliesin Coombes for a picture of a steam train taken from his local café in Cardiff.
      • The Network Rail ‘Lines in the Landscape’ award for the best image of Britain’s modern rail network. Chris Howe from Hertfordshire picked up the prize of a walking tour of the Forth Bridge
      • The Best Landscape on your Doorstep award sponsored by Natural England was won by Sławek Staszczuk for his intimate and striking image of the South Downs
      The exhibition runs until the 16th January 2011 and admission is free.
      • Times: Open Monday to Saturday, 9.30am to 11pm, all year round (except for Bank Holidays) and on a number of Sundays from noon to 6pm (check NT website for dates).
      • Venue: Lyttelton Foyer, National Theatre, South Bank, London SE1 9PX 020 7452 3000

      Tuesday, 14 December 2010

      Places to Paint: Adebanji Alade's Bath Painting Marathon

      Extract from Gallery brochure for Adebanji's Painting Marathon
      In 2009, Adebanji Alade won the inaugural Bath Prize Plein Air Award.  This was a new competition in 2009 for new work inspired by a location in the city of Bath.
      Artists entering the competition are also invited to compete for a special plein-air prize of £2,000 to be awarded to the best picture completed largely at the chosen location. 
      In participating in the competition, Adebanji visited Bath for the very first time and was enormously impressed by the city, its setting and architecture. 

      He decided to try and paint ALL of Bath in one year.  His aim was to have an adventure in recording an entire city from different places at different times of the year - and to produce as many paintings as he could.
      It hasn't been an easy task, but I decided to dream! And dreams do come true! This year I decided to do 500, 6" x 8" paintings of London, I discussed this with Mike Porter of the Bath Gallery. He thought I was crazy but then he said, "can you put that on hold and do 250 of Bath?". I instantly agreed! I said, why not, just get me somewhere to stay and I'll paint morning, noon and night!
      Accommodation was duly found - how nice to find a gallery which is prepared to support and believe in a painter in this way. 

      Then between July and October 2010, over a period of eight weeks spent in the city (with breaks), Adebanji produced 212 paintings of Bath with dimensions 6" x 8".  Some were diptychs and there is one which is comprises six paintings in one!

      Adebaji Alade's Bath Marathon - extract from The Bath gallery catalogue
      The paintings are currently in an exhibition at The Bath Gallery, 6 Bridge Street Bath, BA2 4AS.  It had a very successful opening on December 4th and continues until December 31st.  Most works are framed and the majority of painting are under £600.
      This December, we will be hosting the Art Event of the year. We are exhibiting the first 212 paintings of the 500 images of Bath being produced by Adebanji. Single framed pieces will be priced at under £600. View the entire catalogue here.

      This astonishing project, an attempt to paint all of Bath in a year, is truly a dedicated tour de force by a remarkably dedicated artist.
      Adebani Alade presenting "The Circus" 15 x 120 cm oil on board. 
      It is a complete panorama of one of Bath's uninique landmarks and archutectural highpoints.

      Below is a video of Adebanji Alade painting a small townscape in Bath ( he sings too!).

      Below that are links to his blog posts about his painting marathon.  They include a post about lessons learned from tackling an enterprise of this sort.

      Links to Adebanji Alade's blog posts
      To view the entire exhibition you need to email the gallery and ask for a password to view the pdf catalogue online.  

      Monday, 13 December 2010

      Coastal Painting with Adebanji Alade

      Adebanji Alade - with his painting "Summer Crowds, Pavilion Theatre, Cromer" £1,650
      While writing Review: Royal Institute of Oil Painters - 123rd Annual Exhibition 2010, I came across a DVD of the work of Adebanji Alade and one of the paintings in the exhibition - of the Edwardian pier and the Pavilion Theatre at Cromer. 

      You can see a short extract from a DVD Coastal Adventures in Acrylic With Adebanji Alade on YouTube - and below.
      On this DVD he travels to the quintessentially English seaside resort of Cromer on the north coast of Norfolk. The DVD was filmed in the middle  of summer and Cromer was teaming with holidaymaking families making it ideal territory for Adebanji. He paints his first two pictures on Cromer's Edwardian Pier before moving along the promenade a little to capture an amazing view of the pier and promenade from a high vantage point complete with scores of bustling visitors.  He finishes up with a beach scene complete with fishing boats.
      It's fascinating to see him paint using acrylics - and he makes some very sound points about what interests people about paintings!

      Tomorrow - more about his work on his recent painting marathon in Bath.

      You can see more of his work on:

      Tuesday, 7 December 2010

      Virtual Paintout December - in County Clare, Ireland

      Spanish Point Rinn na Spáinneach - County Clare
      This is my regular monthly plug for the Virtual Paintout.  This month the paintout is in County Clare.  As always the Virtual Paintout post explains the rules which must be observed if you want to participate. 

      The key things you need to do are:
      • the image has to be at a resolution of 72 and no larger than 1000 pixels on the widest side
      • each artist must now include the URL of the location that the artwork is based upon

      Wikipedia has rather less to say about County Clare than I was expecting however the map is very helpful for indicating which bits of Google Street View you can view.  Basically it's everything above and nothwest of the River Shannon.

      Here's are some Places in County Clare from a website which is keen to portray what's there.
      The place I find intriguing is The Burren with its 90 odd megalithic tombs.

      Another place which is interesting to view is Spanish Point (see top) which is where many of the ships from the Spanish Aramada were wrecked in stormy weather in 1588.  According to Wikipedia Those who escaped from their sinking ships and made it safely to land were executed by Sir Turlough O'Brien of Liscannor and Boethius Clancy, High Sheriff of County Clare.

      Sunday, 5 December 2010

      More about Painting Snow

      Brecon Road by Rob Ibjema (Painting Wales)

      Given that the Artic jet streams and New Hampshire snow seems to have moved to the UK and Europe this last week, I thought it would be apt to continue the painting in the snow theme from my recent post Painting snow - in snow

      Here's a bunch of blog posts - all of which are about painting snow and/or painting in snow.  Stapleton Kearns has written the most - and does some pretty good pics of painting snow in snow - including one of himself in his 'painting in snow'!

      The Artist's Magazine
      John Hulsey - (The Artists Road) -  Extreme Painting - Conquering Old Man Winter - Perspectives No. 5
      Rob Ibjema (Painting Wales) - Brecon road
      Stapleton Kearns (Stapleton Kearns) - A little more about snow painting Snowcamp, A note from Snowcamp, Another day at Snowcamp, Does this hat look good on me? and Painting in Northern Vermont   m 

      Régis Pettinari (Peintures de Paris/Paintings of Paris by a french painter) - Neige aux Tuileries/ Snowing in Tuileries
      Deborah Secor (Landscapes in pastel) - Chapter Eighteen - Snow

      Loriann Signori (loriann signori's painting-a-day) - Painting in the snow / sunset

      Réné (Rene Plein Air) - First nocturnal of this winter (I think)

      Keith Tilley (Painting on the Edge) - First Snow


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