Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tate Pictures: Winter Solstice

Click the frame icon above the small thumbnails
to see the paintings in large slideshow
Tate has put up a themed collection of artwork on its website relating to the theme of Winter Solstice

It includes a number of landscapes and streetscapes of places in winter and by artists of different eras and styles.

Click the box icon to see the slideshow version which is excellent.

The paintings are:

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Paintings of Australian land and landscape at the RA

You can read my review of the new exhibition 'Australia' at the Royal Academy of Arts here - Making A Mark: 'Australia' Exhibition at the Royal Academy - review.

It includes paintings from 1800 through to this year's winner of the Wynne Prize.

Left - Australian Impressionists
Right - Federation Landscapes - in watercolour

'Australia' at the Royal Academy - 21 September 2013 to 8 December 2013
Exhibition organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London in partnership with the National Gallery of Australia
Given the narrative covering the last 200+ years, I'm aiming to revisit specific aspects of the exhibition on this blog.

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Angela J Simpson's plein air painting kit

Angela J Simpson's Plein Air Painting Kit

Angela J Simpson is an artist, illustrator and landscape architect who works from her home in in the Scottish Highlands. Recently she has been challenging herself to produce a daily pochade which she then posts on her "diary without words".

Last month she wrote a post on her blog about My kit for painting outside in which she explains what she takes and why.

I love her additional photo of her thumb box and explanation - very funny!

Thursday, 22 August 2013

The Corn Harvest by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Corn is harvested in August - however what's in the landscape painting of a corn harvest varies according to where the artist painted (see explanation at the end).  In Europe corn means grain.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder- The Corn Harvest (August)
 Die Kornernte  (1564) by Pieter Breugel the Elder (1526 - 1569)
(a.k.a. The Harvesters / The corn harvest / The grain harvest)
Oil on wood,
Overall, including added strips at top, bottom, and right, 46 7/8 x 63 3/4 in. (119 x 162 cm);
original painted surface 45 7/8 x 62 7/8 in. (116.5 x 159.5 cm)
Location: Metropolitan Museum of Art

Paintings of the Corn Harvest in August

The most famous  painting of a corn harvest is that shown at the top of this post.

What do we know about 'The Corn Harvest'?

  • This painting was painting by  Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1564, when he was nearly 40 years old - some 4 years before he died in 1569.
  • It's one panel in a famous series of six paintings by Bruegel called "The Months". These paintings each different times of the year. This is the fourth panel in the series and represents late summer (July/August).  See also other paintings in the series which have featured on this blog.:
  • The "Months" series were commissioned by Niclaes Jongelinck and were used as a frieze for a room in his home.  Jongelinck was a merchant, tax collector and art collector who lived in Antwerp
  • The painting is a view of "what is" in terms of real life.  There's no sense of a need for a religious story or pretext for painting the landscape.  The emphasis is on realism rather than the religious. This is the case with all the paintings in the series - which is why Bruegel's landscape paintings are said to represent a watershed in the history of Western Art.   
  • The landscape is a dominant theme within the painting - but it's animated by the people who populate the picture plane.  The painting focuses on the harvest - the harvesters are in the foreground, their community, their church and nature in general are in the background.  The workers in the field are depicted in a naturalistic way - they are shown working, exhausted, lying or sitting, eating or sleeping.  As with all other paintings in this series there is a dominant colour - in this instance it's the yellow of the grain crop being harvested.  
  • This painting now resides in the Metorpolitan Museum of Art in New York (Other paintings in the Months series are located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and Lobkowicz Collection, Prague)

The meaning of corn

"Corn" means different things in different countries.

  • In the USA the term refers to maize (i.e. sweet corn)
  • however in Europe, the older use of the word "corn" relates to grain and cereal crops - such wheat, oats and barley (ie maize is called maize and corn on the cob is called corn on the cob!).  That's because Europeans didn't have a name for the maize crop when they first encountered it in the New World.  So it acquired the generic name for all grain crops!

Here's the definition of corn from Cambridge Dictionaries online

B1 [U] UK (the seeds of) plants, such as wheatmaizeoats, and barley, that can be used to produce flour:sheaf of corngrains of corn [U] US the seeds of the maize plant, or the plant itself

Friday, 26 July 2013

'July' by Pol Limbourg (Summer Landscape #1)

I'm returning to the representation of the seasons and months of the year in paintings of landscapes.  In part, I do this because I very much enjoy records of the land at different times of the year but also as encouragement to landscape painters to create more paintings recording the land in specific seasons and months.

This is Juillet (July) in the body of work known as Les Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry created by the flemish painters, the Limbourg Brothers working for John, Duc de Berry (1340-1416) the third son of King John II of France. It's been identified as the work of Paul (or Pol) Limbourg.

Très Riches Heures du duc de Berry Folio 7, verso: July
illumination on vellum
Height: 22.5 cm (8.9 in). Width: 13.6 cm (5.4 in)
Musée Condé, Chantilly, France
This particular painting is painted as a miniature illumination on vellum (note the size) and was created sometime between between 1412 and 1416.

 It shows sheep being sheered - using big sheep shears - and grain being harvested using a sickle.  The sky is of course blue and the clouds are high and sparse as one often gets in mid summer.  A translation of a description in French (now updated as per Alyson's comment) reads as follows
"The labours of the month of July show the harvest and shearing of sheep. Two characters mow the wheat, each using a volant and a stick. A volant is a long, open sickle with the handle at the corner of the flat of the blade. With the help of the stick, they separate a bunch of wheat stems which they then cut with a pass of the blade. The harvesters advance by going around the outside of the parcel of land, working towards the centre. One of the harvesters has a whetstone on his belt. Two other characters, one of whom is a woman, use shears to cut the wool of sheep. With the exception of the imaginary mountains, the landscape shows, in the foreground, the Boivre River where it flows into the Clain, near the palace of the Count of Poitiers."
In the background is the Palace of Poitiers - which was rebuilt by Jean I, duc de Berry between 1384-86.


Thursday, 25 July 2013

Bill Guffey's plein air painting kit

Following on from the last post about an artist's plein air equipment. here's Bill Guffey's kit which he explains in this post - My Plein Air Equipment on his blog Bill Guffey.

See a larger version in Bill's post
You can see larger images of the kit on his post - just click an image in his post to see the larger version.
I hope this gives you an idea of what, how and why I pack what I do to go paint in the great outdoors. If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll see if I can answer them for you.
Bill is a Kentucky artist who paints in oils.  He's a member of the American Impressionist Society and an associate member of the Oil Painters of America. You can see Bill's paintings on his website http://bnguffey.com/

He founded the Virtual Paintout blog for those painting from views seen via Google Paintout.

Links to more posts on this blog about Bill Guffey:

Monday, 15 July 2013

Rick Delanty's plein air kit

I love looking at the kit people take out with them - and am even more impressed when they do an annotated drawing for us all of what it entails. Below is the kit of one artist and at the end is an invitation for you to show me what your kit looks like.

Below is the annotated drawing of a photo of the plein air kit of Rick Delanty. Rick says
taking only what you need into the field is a challenge!

Annotated drawing of Rick Delanty's plein air kit
and this is the photo of the kit proper

Rick Delanty's plein air kit
You can see Rick's paintings at Rick J. Delanty Fine Art.  For 32 years. Rick taught high school drawing and painting at San Clemente High in San Clemente CA.  He retired in 2006 and became a full time landscape painter.  Artists who have influenced him include Monet, Winslow Homer, Van Gogh, James Whistler, and contemporary landscape painters April Gornik and Neil Welliver. Rick is a member of the California Art Club, the Laguna Plein Air Painters Association, and Christians in the Visual Arts (CIVA). His blog is called The Color of God.

Below you can see Rick Delanty painting in California.

Rick Delanty plein air painting

Show me your plein air kit

If you've got a well organised kit and would like to share your choices and approach to plein air kit assembly with other artists on this blog, send me a URL link to a blog post or website page which include an annotated drawing (or photo) of what you take with you when you go painting landscapes plein air!  Any explanation for your choices is also welcome.

This is how to contact me.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Your favourite place to paint plein air

Artists and Illustrators Magazine have issued an invite on their Facebook Page
We're working on a plein air painting special for our Summer issue, taking four leading artists out on location for the day to find out how they do it...

So we wanted to share the fun with you all. Tell us your favourite place to paint and why in particular you like it - the best responses will be published in the next issue!
As regular readers will be aware, "places to paint" is one of the perennial themes of this blog.

You can find recommendations on the Places to Paint Page at the top of this blog.

  • This lists all the past blog posts about places to paint chosen by contemporary artists and past masters
  • The intention is to try and an inventory or gazeteer of good places to paint and it currently includes "places to paint" in the UK, Europe, North America and Asia.

Feel free to write and let me know if you have a blog post recommending a place to paint.
HOW YOU CAN GET INVOLVED: You are invited to contribute to the project and write a blog post and tell us about where is your favourite place to paint - and why. If you'd like to share, feel free to say what's your favourite place to paint (and you don't have to stop at just one!) You need to:
  • EITHER send me a link to a blog post in which you have written about your favourite place to paint. This should say why you find it stimulating.
  • OR contact me (see column on right) about doing a guest post for this blog about the place which inspires you to paint. The post should be between 350 and 1,000 words and should include a couple of good quality web ready images.
I've not got one favourite place to paint.  I'd be cogitating for a long time if I had to make it just one! 

Here's one of my favourite places to draw - sat next to the Prime Meridian Line at the top of the hill in Greenwich Park (see Greenwich Park Panorama).  It's a fabulous view and it always looks different - plus it's just across the river from where I live!  This one was to record the Olympic Equestrian Arena in Greenwich Park last summer.  I'm thinking next time I need to take a big roll of paper!

The panoramic view from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park
- complete with Equestrian Arena for the Olympics 2012

pen and ink and coloured pencils,
11" x 48"
(3 double page spreads 11" x 16" in Large Moleskine Sketchboook)
copyright Katherine Tyrrell
(Apologies for the long gap in posting to this blog.  I've been having eye surgery. Proper normal blogging will resume in July when I get my new glasses for reading and computer work.)

Monday, 18 March 2013

The Wynne Prize - Finalists 2013 + their websites

The Wynne Prize ($35,000) for Best Landscape Painting of Australian scenery, or figure sculpture by Australian artists had 773 entries this year - which is marginally down on last year (2012: 783 entries; 2011: 712 entries)
The Wynne Prize is awarded annually for 'the best landscape painting of Australian scenery in oils or watercolours or for the best example of figure sculpture by Australian artists’.
Richard Wynne left a bequest which established the prize.  It's run and judged on an annual basis by the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney.  The prize was first awarded in 1897 when the present Gallery opened in its current home next to the Botanical Gardens and Sydney Harbour  (I know - I've been!).

Those whose artwork will be in the exhibition were announced last week.

You can find the Wynne Finalists 2013 listed below.  You can also explore past winners and finalists on the prize webpage on the AGNSW website
  • GW Bot - Glyphs and Moon GW Bot is the the exhibiting name of Chrissie Grishin, who was born in Quetta, Pakistan of Australian parents
  • Linda Bowden - The others  Linda Bowden is a sculptor
  • Jun Chen - North Queensland  Born in China in 1960, Chen migrated to Australlia in 1990 and now lives in Queensland. He graduated from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts in China in 1986 and converted from being a brush and ink painter in China to using oil paint thickly applied with a palette knife in Australia!
  • Xiuying ChenCentral Railway Station, Sydney  
  • He is a member of the Australian Chinese Painting Society
  • David Collins - Hawkesbury crossing
  • Dale Cox - Tract 17 - He paints the geomorphology of the land - above and below the ground.  I'm thinking this one might be in with a chance./li>
Tract paintings in acrylic by Dale Cox
Tract 17 (burning) is bottom right
I'm hoping they will produce the online display of the individual works as they did last year

See my post The Wynne Prize 2012 - Selected artists and winner (which was published a little later than planned)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

George Rowlett painting the River Thames and Uist

Today I saw a work by George Rowlett which had won a £1,500 Runner Up Prize in the art competition for the Lynn Painter Stainer Prize.

Advancing blue, yellow barges, Thames Barrier, early afternoon
by George Rowlett
Rinner Up, Lynn Painter Stainer Prize 2013
George's work is not so much impasto as huge slabs of paint which are trowelled onto and moved around the support - with a trowel. This is Mark Glazebrook writing about George Rowlett and the Art of Landscape
It was therefore fascinating to find out that there are a couple of videos on YouTube about how he paints plein air.  You will be amazed at the way he transports huge paintings covered in massive amounts of paint....

Here are two films:

George Rowlett painting the River Thames (and I know some of those locations!)


George Rowlett painting on Uist March 2011

and this is how he gets them back to his studio

Sunday, 3 February 2013

iPlayer: More British Landscape Painting

This Green and Pleasant Land: The Story of British Landscape Painting is still available to view on iPlayer. It's available until12 February.
Documentary looking at how the British landscape has been depicted, from Flemish beginnings in the court of Charles I to the digital thumbstrokes of David Hockney's iPad.
It's also a repeat (and I've written about it before - see This Green and Pleasant Land) but if, like me, you rather like watching good programmes more than once - or you missed it last time around - you won't mind that!

In following up on it, I've discovered a new blog called Some Landscapes - which is being added to my blogroll
This site is about landscapes and the arts. It highlights ways in which landscape has been evoked, depicted or transformed in painting, photography, literature, music and film.
It includes a blog post about the programme called The Mountain That Had to Be Painted

The Mountain That Had to be Painted - in BBC iPlayer
Here's the link to The Mountain That Had to Be Painted on iPlayer - about the painters Augustus John and James Dickson Innes - it's available until 8th February.
Documentary about the painters Augustus John and James Dickson Innes who, in 1911, left London for the wild Arenig Valley in North Wales. Over three years, they created a body of work to rival the visionary landscapes of Matisse.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

The Art of Snow and Ice

I missed Tales of Winter: The Art of Snow and Ice yesterday and will be catching up on iPlayer Click the link in the title to access it - for all those who can access iPlayer - I ask no questions as to how!;)
Winter was not always beautiful. Until Pieter Bruegel painted Hunters in the Snow, the long bitter months had never been transformed into a thing of beauty. This documentary charts how mankind's ever-changing struggle with winter has been reflected in western art throughout the ages, resulting in images that are now amongst the greatest paintings of all time. With contributions from Grayson Perry, Will Self, Don McCullin and many others, the film takes an eclectic group of people from all walks of life out into the cold to reflect on the paintings that have come to define the art of snow and ice.
BBC - Tales of Winter: The Art of Snow and Ice

[UPDATE: I've now watched it and it's excellent!  It's available on iPlayer until 1:29AM Fri, 1 Feb 2013]

Hunters in the Snow / Jagers in de sneeuw (1565) by Pieter Bruegel (Brueghel) the Elder
oil on oak panel | 117 × 162 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria
Bruegel's painting is part of a series of six paintings to reflect different seasons of the year - of which only five survive.

This painting represents the bleak and yet beautiful winter countryside in January.  Both hunters and dogs enliven the scene despite being obvious weary and downcast by a hunt which has obviously produced little.  In the background is a scene of snow and ice and that peculiar green grey sky which only appears in the depths of winter.  The trees are skeletal and any leaves are shrivelled and dried out in the cold.  The people and animals are all dark colours and are not much more than shapes against the cold background.

It's odd how a smidgen of orange draws our eye to the side of the painting and the roaring fire outside the inn - and I always wonder why it's outside and what they are doing.  On the one hand they might be preparing food - on the other do they really need a fire burning like that to prepare food?

When we used to have this a reproduction of this painting at school I was always preoccupied with working out what all the tiny people were up to - such as the woman towing another on a sled in the bottom right hand corner.

For me Breugel's paintings always demonstrate how much more we look at countryside when it includes people who are doing things - and not just there to give a sense of scale.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Frost Fair on the Thames 1683 #1

There are a number of paintings and etchings of Frost Fairs on the River Thames and elsewhere.  This painting is of the celebrated frost fair which occurred in the winter of 1683–84.   Titled Frost Fair on the Thames, with Old London Bridge in the distanceit was painted by an unknown artist in 1685 and is owned by the Yale Centre for British Art.

I've also found an etching of the same scene - also of unknown origin - but it does identify a number of the subjects in the scene.  You can find more versions at The 1683-4 frost fair

Looking at both the painting and engraving makes me wonder why more people don't paint accounts of contemporaneous events today - they're such wonderful records of both time and place!

Frost fair 1683-4

The temperature dropped severely at the beginning of December 1683.  The River Thames froze and remained frozen for nine weeks until early February 1684.   A road developed - called "Temple Street" between Temple Steps on the north bank of the Thames and Southwark on the south bank.  This road is what is portrayed in both painting and etching.  Booths and stalls developed along Temple Street to serve the people passing to and fro across the frozen river - and doubtless sight-seeing too!

John Evelyn, the diarist wrote, 
Coaches plied from Westminster to the Temple, and from several other stairs too and fro, as in the streets; sleds, sliding with skeetes, a bull-baiting, horse and coach races, puppet plays and interludes, cooks, tipling and other lewd places, so that it seemed to be a bacchanalian triumph, or carnival on the water.London: Portrait of a City. Hudson, Roger (1998). The Folio Society. 
Frost Fair on the Thames, with Old London Bridge in the distance (1685)
unknown artist, 17th century, British;
Formerly attributed to Jan Wyck, ca. 1645-1700, Dutch, active in Britain (from about 1664)

Oil on canvas | 25 1/4 x 30 1/4 inches (64.1 x 76.8 cm)
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
I've taken the liberty of lightening the painting slightly - on the basis I don't believe any artist paints a scene of this sort do that it's dark - even if it has darkened with age.  On the Yale website, there is a fascinating set of images of the painting as it used to be and following treatment.

I also found an engraving of the exact same scene on Wikipedia.  I've cropped a large version of it to show more details included by the artist in the foreground.  Below this is the text at the bottom of the picture which tells you about all the things you can see in the engraving - and the painting! It seems very likely that the painting is based on this engraving.

The National Portrait Gallery identifies William Faithorne (1616 – 1691), English painter and engraver as the probably source of the engraving - he had a shop near Temple Bar.

The Thames Frost Fair, 1683
probably by William Faithorne, published by William Warter
line engraving, circa 1684
15 in. x 18 7/8 in. (380 mm x 480 mm) paper size
Crop of foreground of the Engraving of the Frost Fair 1683
The text at the top states

Exact and lively Mapp
Of Booths and all the varieties of showes and
Humours upon the ICE on the River of
During that memorable Frost in the 35th yeare
of the Reigne of his Sacred Maty
King CHARLES the 2d

With an Alphabetical Explanation of the
most remarkeable Figures

The text at the bottom provides an explanation of the alphabetical annotations
The Temple Staires with People goeing upon the Ice to Temple Street A.
The Duke of Yorke's Coffee house B.
The Tory Booth C.
The Booth with a Phoenix on it and Insured as long as the Foundation Stand D.
The Roast Beefe Booth E.
The halfe way house F.
The Beare garden Shire Booth G.
The Musick Booth H.
The Printing Booth I.
The Lottery Booth K.
The Horne Tavern Booth L.
The Temple garden with Crowds of People looking over the wall M.
The Boat drawne with a Hors N.
The Drum Boat O.
the Boat drawne upon wheeles P.
the Bull baiting Q.
The Chair sliding in the Ring R.
The Boyes Sliding S.
The Nine Pinn Playing T.
The sliding on Scates V.
The sledge drawing Coales from the other side of the Thames W.
The Boyes climbing upon the Tree in the Temple garden to see ye Bull Baiting X.
The Toy Shopps Y.
London Bridge Z.

Source for text: visual inspection, and verified from Bentley's Miscellany, Volume 9 by Charles Dickens, William Harrison Ainsworth, Albert Smith; publisher: Richard Bentley; year: 1841; page 133, footnote 1.
In the background is the Old London Bridge which was started in 1176 and completed in 1212.  Over the years properties were built on top of it (see below an etching of it just three years earlier).  The bridge and its buildings survived the great fire of 1666 due to a fire break at the northern end caused by a previous fire.

Drawing of London Bridge from a 1682 London MapSurveyed by: Morgan, William, d. 1690. Published: London, London Topographical Society, 1904
To the south of the Bridge was a gate where the heads of those executed for treason used to be put on spikes - with the head of William Wallace being the first to appear on the gate, in 1305.  This practice stopped in 1660 - just 25 years before this painting.

The church in the background of the frost fair painting is Southwark Cathedral which lies just to the west of London Bridge.  

Saturday, 19 January 2013

The Frozen Thames - looking like the Arctic

It's been snowing here in London - so I thought I'd have a look at the pictures of Frost Fairs on the Thames.  The first one had me unpicking the trail of the story behind the painting both in terms of content and who painted it.

Here's the first one - it's a painting of The Frozen Thames, Looking Eastwards towards Old London Bridge, London - painted in 1677 by a painter I'd not heard of before - Abraham Hondius (1625–1691).

The Frozen Thames, Looking Eastwards towards Old London Bridge, London (1677)  by Abraham Hondius (1625–1691)
The Frozen Thames, Looking Eastwards towards Old London Bridge, London (1677) 
by Abraham Hondius
Oil on canvas, 107.8 x 175.6 cm
Museum of London
Abraham Hondius [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The really interesting thing about this painting is that, according to the websites which have details about when the Thames froze, it didn't freeze on 1677!  In fact, it hadn't frozen for some years prior to this.

I'm wondering whether this painting is an imaginary interpretation of what the River Thames would look like if it froze.  This would account for why it looks so much like the Arctic(!) in his painting Arctic Adventure - also painted in 1677 (see below).  This latter painting is in the Fitzwilliam Museum.  Guess which painting I think was finished first!

Arctic Adventure 1677 Abraham Hondius
Arctic Adventure (1677) Abraham Hondius
Oil on canvas, 55.4 x 84.7 cm
Fiztwilliam Museum
Hondius was a Dutch Golden Age artist who was noted for his portrayals of animals.  He moved to London in 1666 so this painting may very well have been a way of him bringing his work to the attention of collectors in London.

What's not obvious from the painting is the degree of devastation on one bank of the Thames at the time.  This is the year after the Great Fire of London and part of the City of London was wiped out (see an old map in the British Library of the impact of the Great Fire)

I'm very bothered by the church in the background.  In shape it looks like the old St Paul's Cathedral which had burnt down the previous year in Fire - but if the painting is looking east then it's on the wrong side of the Thames.  However if it's looking FROM the east then it makes sense and by definition must then be totally imaginary as the Cathedral no longer existed in 1667.

The Old St Paul's Cathedral in flames
The only church which was just beyond London Bridge at the time was St Thomas Church which now houses The Old Operating Theatre Museum - and which is totally the wrong shape.  (I should know - I used to work in the offices next door to it!)

You can watch a slideshow of 14 more paintings by Hondius on the Your Paintings website

These are the Museums and Art Galleries where you can see paintings by Hondius

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Mapping landscape paintings on Google Maps

I'm in two minds about a website I came across today.  MyReadingMapped maps places to historic events - or in the case of artists - landscape paintings to places on maps

The thing is that they're mapping the place in the picture - not the place from where the picture was seen and/or painted - and it's often the latter which artists are interested to see.  Not least because some of us are rather fond of trying to see what we make of the same view! (see my "Places to Paint" series)

The Google Map view of the world as seen in landscape paintings
Here's the link - The Works of Artists, Architects and Photographers in Google Map - and you can see for yourself.
Click on the map title below to go to the blog page with an embedded map, photos and background and source information about each subject.
I think the problem for me is that this has the potential for being a good idea - however it needs more content and the pins in the map need to be rather more accurate - preferably being placed "where the easel stood" literally or metaphorically!