A change from landscapes to life drawing this week.
I did these sketches earlier in the month. The standing poses are five minute sketches and the sitting poses are ten minutes…..good practice!
As the weather slowly turns autumnal I’m reminded of a painting that I completed earlier this year, which was inspired by the effect of the changing seasons on Richmond Park.
The park looks beautiful at any time of year and I had completed a series of small works on canvas-covered board that portrayed the different moods throughout the year. Each picture was intended to be shown alone, but in a flash of inspiration I thought it would be much more interesting to mount a selection of them together.
The completed picture shows how the seasons change gradually from the first signs of spring in the top left through to the winter trees at the bottom right.
According to the accompanying booklet, the intention of this exhibition at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool is to take a fresh look at Chagall and explore the development of his unique style. The exhibition does this very well and I came away with a good understanding of his artistic journey from his Hasidic Jewish upbringing in his native Russia, through to his later career carried out in the South of France where he finally settled.
The exhibition focuses on the work he did in the years from 1910 through to 1922 with just six works from the later years. Much of the early work is clearly rooted in his Jewish upbringing with emphasis on family and ritual. It is interesting to see how his poetic imagination gradually develops and how he becomes inspired by his move first to St Petersburg and then to Paris, which for him came to represent ‘light, colour, freedom, the sun, the joy of living’.
In recent times his work has been criticised for being whimsical and for it’s popularity in the greetings card market. This exhibition attempts to dispel this view by showing the darker and deeper side of his work. It demonstrates well how he drew on the political developments going on around him, especially in the early years of his career. However, I couldn’t help comparing his painting ‘War’ 1964-66 with that of Picasso’s much more powerful ‘Guernica’. It wouldn’t have stirred up any anti-war protest I think.
I must admit that I find the sad-eyed cows hard to take, but the overall impression that I came away with was of someone who wanted to communicate the sheer joy of being alive. So, altogether an uplifting experience and for me, worth making the journey to Liverpool.
My personal favourite painting from the show is ‘Paris Through the Window’ 1913.
The exhibition runs until 6th October 2013.
I’ve had my Ham House painting framed now. I thought a traditional style of frame would suit the historic subject. In fact it’s the fascinating history of the house that first inspired me to paint it. According to information on the National Trust website:-
‘Originally built in 1610, Ham House is the creation of an enterprising courtier, William Murray, and his tenacious daughter Elizabeth. As a boy, William was educated with the young Charles I, taking the role of his whipping boy. Remaining friends as adults, they shared a taste for the latest fashions in architecture, art and interior decoration. William was given the lease of Ham House and its estate as a gift from the King in 1626.
William’s eldest daughter Elizabeth was able to steer Ham through Cromwell’s rule by establishing good relations with the Protector. When Charles II was restored to power in 1660, Ham once again became a place for entertaining and extravagance.
In 1672, aged 46, Elizabeth married for the second time, this time to the affluent Duke of Lauderdale. He was a key member of King Charles’ inner cabinet. Sharing a love of power and decadence, together they made a dynamic Restoration court couple. They transformed Ham House into one of the grandest Stuart houses in England.
Changing little after Elizabeth’s death, Ham House was home to her descendants from her first marriage within the Tollemache family for nearly 300 years.
With only a few decorative alterations made during the 1740s and 1890s, Ham House passed to the National Trust in 1948. It’s a rare survival of 17th-century luxury and taste’.
Here is the finished painting of Ham House. I’ve done further work to the trees in this stage and further intensified the colours in the house. I’ve also added more detail to the statue and a little to the house facade, although I’ve deliberately kept this fairly vague to help with the feeling of distance.